PRISM international

Prism international Prism international 1975

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Winter igy^
VJ5  Acting editor
Associate editors
Managing editor
Fran Adler
Douglas Fir
Kenneth Barnard
Linda Gordon Boroff
Herbert Burke
Mais ou sont tous mes amours
Ophidian Design
Yvonne Cartouche
La nuit s'ouvre comme une
amande / Night opens like an
Avec tes doigts de sel... / With
your fingers of salt. . .
Tant de velles traversees en
dormant. .. / So many passing
cities veiled by sleep ...
(translated by Carl W. Hermey)
Valerie Chatterton
Stampede on Johannesburg
Fred Cogswell
Jane Creighton
Swan Song
Pier Giorgio DeCicco
Anita Endrezze
At Suicide Point
The Convent in mid-summer
Gerald Florian
(translated by Herbert Kuhner)
Gregory Grace
The Awakening
M. L. Hester, Jr.
Crows Over Cornfield II
Thomas Johnson
Burning the body's Fences
Paddy McCallum
41 Sandy Mcllwain
You forgot your hat
Peg McKinlay
That's all
Jill Mandrake
The Dawn of the Gothic Period
Ron Miles
Donald Lyall Nelson
My World is a Whirlpool and I
Am Drowning
Joyce Carol Oates
At the Seashore
Bruce Pilgrim
The Nature of the Dialectic
Robert Powell
Walter Rimler
Running Sores
Lake Sagaris
Half a poet
Day begins
Ulrich Schaffer
J. S. Bach
I turn away
David John Smith
Bus Number Six
Lawrence P. Springarn
Keeping Kosher
Warren Stevenson
John Stupp
Sweet Rain
Two Midwestern Scenes
Lorna Usher
Robert Ward
Tom Wayman
Milton Acorn: A reading in
Christine Zawadiwsky
Notes on contributors
PRISM international, a journal of contemporary writing, is published three
times a year by the Department of Creative Writing at the University of British
Columbia, Vancouver 8, B.C. Annual subscriptions are $5.00, single copies
$1.75, obtainable by writing to the Editors at that address. Microfilm editions
are available from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and reprints
(vols. 1-5) from the Kraus Reprint Corporation, NYC. Fran Adler
The tree rolls up its sleeves:
the slaughter awaits.
Years, dressed in patched whispers,
are brought forth.
From the crowd, the rustling of hunger
and the Fir, picking its teeth
swaggers over.
There is only the naked trem
bring of silence
And the sudden spurting of the void.
Lifetimes stagger
and fall considerately
into kitchens
ready for the feast.
Vancouver; October, 1974 Fran Adler
I hung my youth in the closet
and when I returned
it was gone.
I put an ad in the paper:
all the replies were grey.
I searched in the mountains
but the trees were out of breath.
And under the bed
cobwebs were establishing credit.
I think
I hear it rustling.
it is only the odour
walking its corners around me.
Vancouver; November, 1974 Kenneth Bernard
you are a lover's baby
born of liver crushed into heart
your beard tickles the genitals
your orgasm sprays the world
like coke bottles filled with blood
o smiling one of the soft skin and dreamy eyes
with ice picks in either hand
when your scabs have covered the earth
will you pierce through in your final act of love
and lave us in a hot sea of resurrection
and can we then wash clean
the dirty holes by which we loved you
their burnt edges still smouldering
like Paricutin son of Popacatepetl
spewer in the corn field
of legless children and eyeless love
New York, 1973 or '74 Kenneth Bernard
is the drink of mighty men
— high divers and adventurers all
I couldn't live without it says one
it tops off the day for me says another
women love men who drink sarsaparilla
men who drink sarsaparilla are good clean lovers
sarsaparilla drinkers never say fuck
and live long lives
America is great
because Americans drink sarsaparilla
this is an advertisement for sarsaparilla
New York, 1973 or '74 Kenneth Bernard
I am writing lyrics for songs and am absolutely into it. The one I'm
working on now has the lines
And she call,
Is Daddy home?
somewhere in it. It is going to be hot stuff with a lot of pathos.
Maybe later I'll have something like
Why ain't you home?
A real wail. I see a big fat black woman doing it. Fat but not
without shape. She's past it, but not much past it. Her man has left
her for younger women. She has known all along that this was
coming. She knows she should have slimmed down. But she works
hard and she's scared. Eating and sex are her pleasures and one of
them's getting shaky. So she eats all the more. And every night when
she comes home she wonders anxiously
Are you waitin' for me, Daddy?
She is really one hell of a woman. Strength of a horse, passionate,
sensitive. And she's lived a lot. A few babies along the way, dead or
gone. Some rough treatment by men and life. But she keeps plugging. She puts it all out for her man, and would do it until she
dropped. He on the other hand doesn't know how much woman she
is. All he knows is that he's getting it, he's getting it easy, and it's
good but maybe he ought to be moving on. There's fresh meat on
the street and it is delicious. So the day finally arrives. She comes
home to an empty apartment.
Oh! Oh! Oh!
My baby's all gone,
And my Daddy's done left me!
Everything is hitting her now. She's over forty, fat, black, and alone.
8 She's never going to get another one like that. This is the end of
some kind of line. Now it's the errand boys maybe or a drinking
man. All that heavy breathing for nothing. It hurts, but she is in a
wondering mood also. How does anyone get it all together? Should
she have gone to church and set it up with Clarence or George or
Henry? And why didn't she have more on the string? A one man
girl is stupid. She is bemused, she laughs, but the hurt stays and rises
up. She cries and hits her head on the table. It isn't the first time,
but it's really bad. It's only him she wants. Without him she's empty.
He's a no-good, bad-ass, two-timing bastard but she'll do anything if
he'll come back, even for a week, a day, one more sweet night.
Daddy, come home!
Daddy, see me through the night!
she cries. But he won't. He isn't. He's gone. He's a traveling man.
When he sees her in the street he'll smile and say
Whatcha doing, baby?
and have a beautiful young girl with a big ass with him. For a split
second his eyes will have a weasel look, a guilty look, even a sad
look. After all, she laid it all out for him, she was good to him. But
he will wipe it out, pull down the shade on it.
Because that's life, baby.
That's the way it goes.
And she knows it, right down to her gut. Until that first time she
sees him in the street with the girl she thinks maybe he'll come back,
get lonely one night for some of her special loving. Oh, how they'd
cry in each other's arms and what a beautiful sweet night it would
be. But when she sees the girl with all her juice and the skirt fitting
tight around her she knows it isn't going to happen, it isn't going to
be. He is gone. And she begins to die from that moment. The little
thing inside her has had it. What the hell was it all for? Why? Why?
And she eats. And sings, too.
Why ain't you home?
but it is different. You can't bear to hear her too long. It is too
hopelessly sad. I don't think I'll finish this one.
New York, 1974 Linda Gordon Boron"
Her mother had come all the way out here from Tennessee back in
the Thirties, a new widow with six ragged kids, a cast iron skillet
and an abiding faith in Jaysus and hard work. The family had
settled in Boulder Creek with a maternal second cousin and the
mother had opened a tiny dressmaking business, while the children
raised chickens and gardened. I see. And went to school of course.
Nobody had appreciated the virtues of education more than Ma,
who had none. She begins to smile a little, remember How It Was.
They had had a nice poignant ethical childhood; skinny blond
urchins out in the ferns and mulch, nursing injured birds and pressing leaves between sheets of waxed paper. I nod tolerantly. Once
again "The Waltons" is screwing up a case history.
"Mrs. Janss, reveries are not what we're after here. A murder has
been committed," Oh. She hunkers down meekly in her chair and
ruminates for a few seconds on what it is I want to hear. We were
bound to go wrong, some of us, she finally comes up with, Ma being
so strict and pious. I raise my left brow, a command to elaborate.
My pipe has gone out again, which is a fortuitous break; while I
fumble with tobacco and matches, she will bare her soul. They tend
to reveal more when they think you're a little preoccupied, believing
they can perhaps sneak something past you.
Six months ago I would have been mad for this file; would have
fought Ames right down to the wire for it. Now I find this damn
woman is putting me to sleep. In fact, I don't know why Beeson
ever hung around her in the first place, unless he really was into the
daughter too, hell, who wouldn't be, faced with that choice. But
naturally Stern grabbed the daughter before she was even booked,
which is his prerogative of course. So as usual, I'll have to wait his
pleasure before I find out what was really going on, probably in
some gruesome 5:30 office conference, with my stomach growling
and all the secretaries hanging around, lips parted, choosing up sides
in the drama.
It's during afternoons like this that private practice starts to look
10 inviting, a modest little practice down in Carmel: Tippling housewives, Writers' Block, a teenage suicide threat or two, half days. If I
could score one of those offices near the beach with the giant
Australian ferns in front, some good wicker furniture, lots of batik
and blown glass, local stuff . .. still, it's not a good time to open any
kind of a business and it's taken me five years to get even to this
position, which is not something to throw away lightly. In a bigger
county like San Francisco, I might still be processing food stamp
applications and AFDC. I've heard of that happening.
"When was the first time Penny threatened Beeson, Mrs. Janss?"
"Well, she didn't threaten him exactly. They were in a fight over
something and he sort of threatened her. He told her he was going to
knock a couple of her teeth down her throat if she didn't shut up."
"And what was her response?"
"She said if he ever touched her again she'd kill him."
"Oh he'd shoved her around a few times and once he backhanded her so that her lip was cut and they were both so hysterical
I called the police. And then the D.A. was going to file against him
for battery but I dropped the charges."
"Why?" Now the tears.
"Because I loved him. He was on probation already for disorderly
conduct, you know, and well, he was a little drunk at the time. It
didn't seem fair. He'd lost a good contract that morning — he did
short distance hauling you know — and it was just natural for him
to be upset. And she used to talk back to him all the time. Never
gave him any respect at all. I guess it was my fault. I never should
have let him get in the habit of coming around so much. The
children and all. He never got on with them."
"The police report says he was actually living with you."
"Well, just for a few weeks, till he got another place. He had a
hard time keeping up his rent over on Ocean View what with the
recession. He hardly had a business left." This laborious recounting
takes its toll. She becomes incoherent, drowning in tears and phlegm.
I am perplexed. How this birdy menopausal woman with her home
permanent and White Front double-knit pants could be the center
of such a vortex of emotion is beyond me. They must all do it for
kicks, those crackers. What the hell else do they have to do but
drink, watch TV, screw and occasionally murder one another?
It has begun to rain softly and the windows in my office are
11 steaming up. Mrs. Janss is now crying quietly into what must be a
handful of damp lint.
"Feel free to use the kleenexes, Mrs. Janss." I push the box at her
and she gropes for it. Middle aged women, except in the throes of
first shock grief, usually try to cover their contorted faces, which
touches me. Her daughter was in the office yesterday shrieking like
Medea and using her sleeve. Nobody could get any work done but
Stern won't prescribe tranquilizers for kids. So two secretaries
couldn't take the noise and had to go home and here I sit with the
Kenninger tape untyped and my ass on the line for about the third
time this month. I wonder how Janss is going to react if Stern
discovers that Beeson was diddling the daughter too? That might
get interesting.
"Let's call a halt," I tell her wearily. "It's been well over two
hours." She flashes me a look of sympathy over the kleenex and
mutters something that sounds like "spectacle of myself." I have to
admit that the woman has a certain self-effacing warmth, a quality
that all losers seek relentlessly and confidently. It's not unusual to
see such a person hosting several losers at once, all of them plump
and smug. The situation may even give the illusion of emotional
symbiosis for a time, but losers are greedy for losing and one or more
of them will eventually devour the host.
Mrs. Janss and I rise in unison, joints popping, and stretch. A
weary physical intimacy has grown up between us in these few
exhausting sessions; the immodest apathetic intimacy of hospital
patients. We walk out together limp and damp, and Mrs. Janss
thanks me obsequiously in front of the whole office. The secretaries'
faces are so varied in expression it's difficult to believe that they are
all looking at the same person. The consensus in the clerical pool is
that Mrs. Janss is a slave to her own foolish heart, which would
ordinarily command sympathy, but unfortunately her three children
suffered both mentally and physically at the hands of her now
deceased paramour, a thick vulgar mesomorph from the San
Joaquin Valley, violent and stupid; a drifter whose blood consisted
of equal parts bourbon and testosterone and who undeniably needed
dying, as they say. At any rate, the controversy over the Janss case
has created profound schisms among the secretaries and a long
established pecking order has fallen apart. I observe ungracious
xeroxing behavior, feverish tattling, and a scowling purse-mouthed
efficiency among them that is rather terrifying.
The older secretaries, iron mistresses of their own gonads, con-
12 demn Mrs. Janss with a wide nostriled self-righteous relish that
suggests Madame DeFarge. The middle aged secretaries, several
divorced themselves, identify with her and tend to resent the droopy-
lidded daughter, whom they suspect of seduction. The young secretaries are faintly puzzled at the thought of people that old still doing
it so enthusiastically and are stanchly convinced of the daughter's
innocence in matters sexual if not in matters homicidal.
A spinster typist, brow quivering, now rises, casts a lofty glance
of Christian love and hauteur at the older secretaries and proudly
marches up to Mrs. Janss with a white pleated paper cup of water
and a kleenex for the road. Playing Melanie to Bonnie Janss's
Scarlett, she puts an arm around the miscreant and proudly and
lovingly escorts her through a silent modular maze to the door, then
resumes her seat, eyes down, smiling beatifically.
"I'm going home," I announce, feeling considerably upstaged. I
see a few shrugs and nods of acknowledgment as the office returns to
business. Stern's door has been closed all afternoon. An X-Ray
would reveal him deeply engrossed in the new Time Magazine. I
stare indignantly in that direction and purse my own lips, but
nobody notices me and I give up.
Two hugely pregnant women who look like mother and daughter
lounge against the green metal wall that defines the AFDC area
and give me a casual contemptuous once-over as I pass sideways,
manila folders in hand. They see a smallish bureaucrat in the perennial graduate student's corduroy coat sporting a prissy and ochre
colored goatee beneath thin pale lips and a fleshy retrousse nose, a
man of pretensions and elaborate assertion fantasies; a mediocre but
demanding lay, unfree, a snob. These women of limp translucent
hair and broad freckled faces mock my whole existence with their
careless bestial fecundity. They are barefoot; hippie women from the
communes in the hills around Santa Cruz, flaunting elaborate
cryptic jewellry. The younger has a tiny monarch butterfly tattooed
on her left cheekbone. Eye to eye with her I whiff superheated
patchouli oil and become dizzy with sudden lust. My neat loafer
nearly catches in a pant cuff and I am ejected from the office on a
gust of her poorly suppressed laughter.
Out in the rainy parking lot I hyperventilate enthusiastically, but
the air is grim and muggy, unrefreshing. I have a sense of foreboding and remember that I am about to confront my wife again about
the Mastercharge. Lately she has been running me into debt with a
vicious joy that can foreshadow only one thing:  The end of my
13 marriage. Her spending is sensuous, precise and sadistic, punishing,
and when I pay the bills each month, as best I can, she watches me
through narrow eyes and loathes me for my martyred calm.
I don't condemn her because I am responsible for her hatred with
my supercilious preoccupation and clinical detachment. In attempting to assert my puny dominance over this emotional and sensitive
woman, I allowed her no refuge in reason or logic. My domain, I
insisted and drove her relentlessly toward pure feeling, reaction,
instinct. The heart was her natural habitat; I gazed down upon her
with cool wonder from my own citadel, the head. Hysterics were to
be expected, migraines, miscarriages; a flirtation with alcohol was
headed off three years ago thanks to my own counselling expertise
and acquaintance with appropriate agencies and staff here in the
county. I don't relish holding my wife in thrall. As I have matured,
I have become all too aware of my inadequacies and errors as a
husband. I feel remorse and I pity her as I pity myself. But I fear
crisis more than continuation. I have a natural aversion for the
amateurish verbal flailing that characterizes marital discord. I do
not believe that the truth of a situation can be revealed by that sort
of blubbering reflexive free association. This afternoon I went to the
bank and requested that my wife's Mastercharge privileges be revoked. And I took the additional precaution of calling around to
advise what I call her "target stores" of that fact.
A wan finger of sun has crept out of the dismal sky and meekly
warms my face through the car window. The traffic is heavy for a
weekday, hesitant, and my ambivalence toward my wife resolves
itself into impatience and disgust, as it always does. She has no sense
of fair play. Her nefarious tactics are those of the weak, the submissive. I turn right and see her walking down our block toward me,
away from the house. She is wearing her new 1940's style trench
coat that cost two hundred dollars. At the sight of me, she gives a
start of surprise, then rolls her eyes. That does it. I slam on my
"Get in, please, I'd like a word with you."
"Oh shit. What are you doing home so early?" She seems anxious,
evasive and suspicious. As she leans toward me, the coat gapes open,
revealing a black lace bra.
"I have just finished a marathon session with a woman whose
daughter did in her lover with a cast iron skillet. I feel I've put in
a full day."
14 "Oh. Charming." Her attention is arrested. "Why do you think
she did it?"
"Because she wanted the man dead, I suppose. He might have
been molesting her."
"Or the other way around."
"Your boss thinks it was the other way around."
"How the hell do you know what Stern thinks?"
"Because he's my lover. He's quite fascinated by the case actually.
He says Penny Janss is sociopathic. Beeson was supposedly madly in
love with her and she was using the money he gave her to finance
the heroin habit of this boyfriend of hers in high school. Leo has it
all figured out." Carol's eyes are bright and prognathous, darting
about the inside of my car. "Do you still want me to get in?"
"Of course I do."
"Well I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I just left you about ten
minutes ago. Leo's meeting me at Castagnola's for a drink and then
we're going to find me an apartment." She glances up and down the
block. "Please don't make a scene." My will gleams out at her like a
laser. In her eyes are fear and bravado and something else. Stern. I
can see him coaching her, worrying out and dealing with all possible
behavioral permutations on my part.
"I'm not about to. You know how I feel about scenes."
"I'm so glad for once. Goodbye Henry." Implementing Plan A,
Carol steps neatly around the front of the car and hurries off, heels
tapping. Dazed, I watch her in the rear view and she gives a little
gallop of jubilation about every five steps. My wrath, my indignation, even my sense of betrayal are neutralized by that little leap. I
start my car and proceed down the block.
In my shock I dread the empty house, although I know it will be
tidy, cleaned to my strictest specifications all day with the pure
energy of hate. Carol, impulsive and easily distracted, was never a
dedicated housekeeper; even her most vigorous scrubbing seemed
somehow insincere. She gave up trying to please me years ago,
although my demands had always been well within reason.
Carol has left the drapes open and the lights on. Two portable
television sets have been pushed into the living room, where they
bracket my new stereo, atop which is an open jewellry box, turned
tantalizingly away from the window. I park in front of the house
and put my face in my hands, feeling disbelief, remorse, and something akin to love. Which is all I have ever experienced, I now
15 realize. Something akin. After several moments I become bored and
start the car again and drive off.
Although I am not much of a drinker I decide to begin my
divorce in the traditional masculine way. The bar I seek must be
remote, quiet, neglected and grim. I want no brittle singles or
fleshy insurance salesmen or anonymous balding civil servants like
myself to witness my bewildered intoxicated grief. I don't want
Muzak or pinafored waitresses to soothe me. I am in the mood for
sticky formica, a jukebox and oblivion. Down on Pacific Avenue, I
find the place, next to a card room, and I park in front and walk in.
The bartender, whose brow is set in a permanent furrow of sympathy, nods to me and I hail him cordially, as my executioner. At
the end of the bar I notice a lone woman in pink pants gazing dolefully into a Tequila Sunrise. It is Bonnie Janss, and when she sees
me, she breaks into a real smile, which quickly becomes a look of
concern. She rises and takes my hand in both of hers.
"Oh Mrs. Janss," I stammer and burst into tears.
Santa Cruz; January, 1975
16 Herbert Burke
Everywhere cypresses
twist tall here stand dark
against wall against sky
drift of snow deepens on far ridges
the gypsy woman did not take your hand
there on the sidewalk in La Bocca
to trace its lines — she had an elaborate
spit curl across her cheek, heavy skirts
we never found persimmons
waxy deep orange
at any stall or stand
after supper Paul went out
it was spitting rain
he still had on a gold paper crown
from lou gatau dei reis
a novelty for us and
lou boun prouvengaou almond pastry
he went down the cobbled lane
to watch Gordon practice
17 at karate in the village foyer
he came back laughing at himself
i've a hunch it's good for them
to joke at us
either one
we never found persimmons
waxy deep orange
at any stall or stand
the gypsy woman in La Bocca
did not take your hand
or trace its lines
mai ounte soun touti mi amours?
Auribeau-sur-Siagne; March, 1974 Herbert Burke
it lay
an ophidian design
and coiled,
olive greens, was perhaps
not a rattler
no rattles showed
around its tapering tail
nor did rattles sound
as the tip twitched
a little
it lay
an ophidian design
and, coiled
olive greens, in under heavy
rock outcropping
in a kind of sandy cave
where heat lay heavy
just out of the sun
Okanagan hills nearby
we were exploring
my brothers, and i
August terrain
the dark spirits
or was it my sons, and i
Sackville; June, 1975
19 Yvonne Caroutch
La nuit s'ouvre comme une amande
Les soleils crevent sur les murs
et des etoiles de chair fraiche
vont s'accrocher a nos poitrines
Les plaies s'incrustent dans le sable
L'herbe folle de nos regards
redescend parfois jusqu'au coeur
Mais nous avons dans notre sang
l'odeur des pluies dans les forets
Nous poursuivons dans les lits froids
la chute sans fin des silences
20 Night opens like an almond
Suns collapse on the walls
and rosy-cheeked stars
Will cling to our breast
Wounds burrow in the sand
The weeds of our glances
Sometimes penetrate the heart
But in our blood are
Fragrances of forest rains
In cold beds we pursue
the endless fall of silences
Translated by Carl W. Hermey
21 Yvonne Caroutch
Avec tes doigts de sel et de lumiere, tu fais lever l'aube de ma
hanche. Entre la maison et le puits surgit le regard fragile de l'espoir,
comme un eclair a Tangle du toit. Les murs s'inclinent dans le
silence, comme si la mer en nous retirait ses assises. La solitude
martele les choses et les revet d'une ecorce d'intimite. Les mots
retournent a l'aube du roc comme un fleuve qui patiemment rejoint
les sources de la mort.
22 With your fingers of salt and light, you raise the dawn of my
thigh. Between the house and the well appears the fragile eye of
hope, like a bolt of lightning at the corner of the roof. The walls
bow down in the silence, as if the sea within us took back its floor.
Solitude batters objects and clothes them with a skin of inner being.
Words return to the dawn of rock like a river patiently flowing back
to the sources of death.
Translated by Carl W. Hermey
23 Yvonne Caroutch
Tant de villes traversees en dormant
tant de plaines tant de lenteurs
avant de reconnaitre au tranchant de l'amour
le grand corps depece
d'un dieu blanc sur la greve
Midi dresse ses murailles
dans l'abrupte clarte des barques
Furie solaire des tritons
des blasons des fontaines
Midi pour un visage
ferme comme une main
24 So many passing cities veiled by sleep
so much flatland so much languor
before the sharp edge of love
reveals the great dismembered corpse
of a white god on the beach
Midday erects its walls
in the stark light of the boats
Sun-fired fury of the newts
in the fountain blazons
Midday for a face
closed like a fist
Translated by Carl W. Hermey
25 Valerie Chatterton
Our eyes rest
in gaps in conversation
on a sleek pair of feet
crossed on the elephant's foot
four great toes
and four great nails
splayed on the carpet.
Massive, amputated — another
rabbit's foot —
mahogany surface to shield
fastidious eyes
from sawed-off bone.
Dreams of elephant revenge:
exchange of Bonzo the Bull Elephant's
rhinestone collar
for a necklace of human bones.
Prize of the elephant king:
a city of men
broken off at the ankles.
26 Fred Cogswell
though quazars pierce an emptiness
six billion    lightyears cannot hold
though light itself is trapped
in the cold of collapsed nebulae
though all our history
is dwarfed by spatial sands
the earthworm glistens in the dew
its beauty independent of
the hunger of a bird
27 Jane Creighton
There is no word from Coburg.
No one talks to me now.
All day
I listen to myself like an animal
Make tracks,
Turn like a wife in a parking lot
Who's been left
Full of rubble and can't ever forget it.
The heart mounts like a photograph.
Complex arching of light.
The indefinite outline
Etched like acid inside.
28 Jane Creighton
the room is still as a glove.
an apple on the window ledge,
a cup
on the table.
there isn't a sound in the house.
even my footsteps
have stopped talking to each other.
stuck in the living room are the things he left,
ashes and fruit
and sadness and despair.
you can't buy those in a store.
the room is dark
and I walk through it carefully, with fear,
holding my arms to my chest.
as if that will do anything.
the cross bars of my arms
fold over me neatly.
I'm trapped.
it's useless to protest.    I sit down.
outside, the leaves align themselves with the grass.
it's level,
sad as a whale,
and as orderly as the apple
of my true love's eye.
unhappiness exists.
29 Pier Giorgio DiCicco
i heard the story once,
of how the nazis grabbed you by
the balls & scruff of the neck
& tossed you out the window
two floors, i remember wondering
if you died of shock, the pain
or the splash of bones.
you were a kind man, lazy
& unwitting, i got that much from mother.
you'd done no harm, a little hen-pecked
with a second wife who lived out her days
gloating over her old age.
i saw photographs, you were short,
moustached, noble with indolence.
you must have been asleep when
they caught you red-handed, & killed you
for sport, i grew up seeing you killed
in your photograph suit, all tidy
30 & packaged for death, small, an easy
handful for two black uniforms.
always, you at the window, poised
for a swan dive
surprised in your sleepiness
the pain waking to the dumb fall.
just two men, emptying a house
of people, the rest of the family
went through the front door
in their heads the memory of you
caving in for years.
Toronto; February, 1975
3i Pier Giorgio DiCicco
I remember brown
& her hair in tiers,
a sparse garden,
those were my first three years.
then the stories: the solitude,
penny-pinching, the hoarding of heirlooms,
the tight-laced boots, stiff arms at sides,
one hand clenched at my mother's hand,
the stern features, pins in the bundled hair,
this was the stepmother.
around the oak table, at night, tall sons
pooling the week's wages.
the hard courtship; my mother waving to the young man
through half-closed doors.
her brothers leaving one by one.
surviving the war, every year until her death,
the cold letters, bitching, my mother writing
back, feeling sorry
an old spiteful woman in a stone house,
drawing clocks & heirlooms around her like children
she locked up the large trunk, when my sister
visited, keeping even the old toys, the mop
haired dolls; she'd saved everything from
the nazis. except that gentle man
my grandfather
Toronto; February, 1975
32 Anita Endrezze
The moon is a twisted knot
in the tree hole Owl abandoned.
Because there is nothing but dark rain,
bats suckle on a silver tree's blood.
If I stood still, I'd sing ruthless.
If I made an angel in the grass
wolves would bury their noses
into my palms.    I would learn to smell
death as I nursed their young.
I would live close to Suicide Point.
Now, my arms ache, my thighs glitter.
My back arches: if wings burned,
I'd ash over bodies like the Phoenix.
I'd rub myself to dust on a man.
At the Point, a swan rams its head
against water.    Lilies and stars float.
Under water, stammering faces vanish.
Bloodless wombs bloat and waver;
33 r973 or 74
the dead reach eagerly for mud
to shape a bone, a lost finger.
The eyes of a woman anchor weeds.
She breathes on me, my face close
to water's edge. I smell the musk
of her breasts. She gives me her skin.
We are sisters digging for roots,
cracking bones to suck sweet marrow.
Wolves devour shadows whole;
Owl swallows lost songs.
We howl our blood cold, counting the bats
as they clump on the moon's wild face.
34 Anita Endrezze
In the solid shadows
of dreamless women,
the air is still.
The midnight moon melts
its cool wings
across pure temples.
Their skin famines into stone:
their nipples are black pearls.
In the garden, St. Augustine
gleams cold and hard.
Sister Monica kneels
before his pale hands:
"And if there is no choice
between the shudder —
and the dark rooting
of stars into my breasts?"
She waits, listens, touching
the silent nothing of her thighs.
His face sinks in a circle
of clear black fire.
Slowly, a woman turns in sleep;
the nuns retreat
into their marble cells.
Outside, a rose opens to the black.
35 Gerald Florian
is a bridge
from milk days
to blood days
from owl hours
to rock hours
from insects
to lizards
from heart sun
to death sun
it swings
from clock tower to clock tower
until the dappled morning cow
grazes in clover
and elijah scatters butterflies
and paints poppy and deadnestle
on day's baptismal dress
but immanuel
is a sunflower
in a wind-swept wheatfield
cut through by a trout stream
36 he sees the city's children
sleeping in soft caves
and those who freeze and die
in foresaken mouse-holes
only compassionate galaxy hearts
fall over the railings of night
like shooting stars
but immanuel
is the night
and the bridge
from milk days
to blood days
from heart sun
to joyful death sun.
Translation: Herbert Kuhner
37 Gregory Grace
You could see thick fibres of
muscle break into the light
as he swung to turn his back
to the girl: she could still see
the dying flash of his face
immense in front of her eyes. He was
the stranger who had touched her
and turned her with his fingers
until she was a flower beneath his
touch. Her caught limbs quivered in delicate breath
as he brought her to the edge of a darkness
where all things begin: Adam
and Eve whirling through space in rocketships
cluttered with beasts chattering to no end the undying secret
of their unbroken lust. Something wobbled and
suddenly jerked. The moon was barren, full of
rocks. Her hair, undone
of her sleep, would have to be combed
for work, twenty strokes of the brush. It was
just a thought. In the dark
of the morning she walks
to where the world is, for a second time, to begin
Winnipeg; March, 1974
38 M. L. Hester, Jr.
The rutted path, the blazing sky,
The stark images of cannibal crows
Above the tender, flowing corn.
It is almost as if
The birds were bearing away a soul
Ceaselessly toward an indifferent heaven.
Van Gogh knew of his own death.
He measured it, like the faint readings
A seismograph might give
Of a holocaust a thousand miles away.
And he found in it the stark wonder
Of a wandering traveler returning home
And finding nothing is as he had left it.
That is why the crows have no faces,
And the corn tends to appear beaten down
By the flurry of wings above it.
39 Thomas Johnson
Stepping through my flesh, leaving it
Over my shoulder
Like a burnt doorframe,
I follow again the bitch hound
To a child's grave
Where stars kneel at the speed
Of light
And the mushroom stands unsexed.
I know there is a darkness so sinewy
Its silence
Clabbers the milk still hidden away
In the grassblades
And forces the dawn
Back down the rooster's throat.
I have heard my body
Reamed out, auricle and vein
By something
That rejoices on the heart's slopes
Like a knife
Traveling on the glint of its own blade.
At noon, disguised as a dragonfly,
I admired
The cool cheeks of the headstones
And the chiselled out initials
That just missed
Spelling my name.
Memphis; Summer, 1974
40 Paddy McCallum
In your father's broken english
the word for hard seems heaven.
Now & again he walks up Victoria Drive
leans on his cane
& watches Company cats
tear up the neighbours sold property.
Nowadays not even the backyard lawn holds water.
Everything seeps through.
Rising land taxes/Realestateagents . ..
All feeling points to such waste
sees but cannot recognise
the crushed tree roots
half buried in the churned soil.
(& around the cane's handle
the polished stain
Here on the road
the ragged hem of your jeans
It's not even waking time.
It's even raining!
We dance on the cracking gasoline rainbows
& hurl stones at the Douglas fir trunks
that burrow your father's garden.
41 That root out your father's garden
& arch up in the oddest places
quite high
the sort of thing a person could trip over
coming home at night.
The night as soft & fluid as silk.
Silken hope,
the sound of it tearing
it's unearthly
like something in the mind coming apart
on the telephone
in your mother's breaking english.
Your father rounds his teacup's rim
takes another walk
& another walk . . .
His fist speaks disentangled words
on the table's edge
& swaying his aimless broom
chants errors
against his daughter's morning cold.
Vancouver — the Gulf Islands-— Dublin; 1972-75
42 Sandy Mcllwain
I saw two outlaws
hiding by the river
one buried his gold
and pissed in the eddy
the other was downstream
getting water
for his children
Montreal, 1970-71
43 Peg McKinlay
When patched geometry
And flowers fray the eye —
Beware. It may be Raymond,
Singing of his flesh
And dancing nines and queens.
If copper tangle hides his face
And seats a cotton crown,
If yellowed books and amber king
From macrame,
It might be he.
His mouth has glossed
The rusted down of innocents.
His vein distends a turbid stream
Down to Stygian Delta, spilling
Laughing, ravaged queens.
If he reaches through
To trace your shadow's outline
And paints a lake of flames within;
Draws the nine of spades,
Take care. It's Raymond,
In the circle of your square.
Vancouver; November, 1974
44 Peg McKinlay
It came,
At first
Like a soft grey glove
Through a knothole of sleep
And fell
Like a hand
On the hot brow of night.
Eyes at the tip
Of a nerve on a lash
At the dark
Crack through the light
As the silence met
Where it was.
And the clouds collided.
Prisms of skin
On the fist of a spine
Dripped relief.
That's all
Vancouver, 1975
45 Jill Mandrake
Diana has given up reading fiction and now she's into history books.
She says, "Fiction's a bloody waste of time; it's all been said before."
This makes me sad because I work eight hours a day in the public
library, shelving rows upon rows of beautiful novels and hoping to
read every one of them some day. Of course I shelve other books
besides novels, but not with as much fervor. I've always felt that if
you want to learn something like history, you can do so by reading
an historical novel — not those objective and boring journals of
At any rate, here's Diana reading some book called The Dawn of
the Gothic Period while I just sit here watching her from the other
side of the kitchen table. She's so engrossed in this book that she
doesn't hear her husband Donny call from the living room, "Get me
a knife please!"
Donny is a mechanic and I'm getting him to fix my tape-recorder
tonight. Neighbours can certainly be convenient at times. My tape-
recorder is a cumbersome, four-track thing that plays reels and I
gave it to Donny a whole month ago to fix. Diana got to it first,
however. She had taken the whole machine apart, saying, "My God,
I didn't realize this thing had so many guts in it." Then she fiddled
with a few wires and put it back together.
Now it's bloody well had it. Donny is having quite a time trying
to fix it. He insisted on knowing just how I busted it in the first
place, but all I know is this: About four weeks ago I came home
from the library just dying to play three new tapes that had just
arrived. The first tape was one of Oriental music, the second was a
lecture on astrology and the third was a travelogue of Italy.
Unfortunately, the reels kept sticking on the machine and I
couldn't hear a thing. I then promptly sent the tape-recorder here to
Diana and Donny's, hoping it would be fixed.
I don't hold it against Diana for making my poor tape-recorder
worse — she does know a bit about mechanics, being around Donny
all day. She at least knows more than I do about fixing things. Yes,
46 there are a number of "how-to-fix-it" manuals in the library, but
I'm into fiction and nothing else.
"C'mon, Diana, get me a knife," Donny calls from the living
room again. She's too busy reading her book so I get up and find a
knife for him.
"Here you are, Don," I say as I bring it into the living room. I'm
rather shocked at all the parts he has strewn around the rug. It's an
endless mess.
"This machine is in bad shape, Jill," Donny says to me. He points
to somewhere inside my tape-recorder and explains, "I need this
knife to pry open these parts here."
I nod my head vigorously, but I really don't know what he's
doing. I'm not sure if he does either. "How long do you think it will
take to fix?" I ask.
"Oh, gosh, I don't know," Donny says as he looks at me. "Why
don't you have a game of Hearts with Diana or something?"
"Well, she's busy reading her book but I'll give it a try, Don."
"Yes, do. She spends too much time on those books of hers,"
Donny says.
I go back to the kitchen and rudely knock Diana's book out of her
hand. "Let's have a game of Hearts," I demand.
Diana picks her book off the floor, claps it face-down on the table
and glares at me as I pull a deck of cards from my purse. "Yes, Jill,
we'll have a game."
I give the cards to Diana to shuffle in her professional way, when
Donny suddenly calls, "I need a rubber band. We got any?"
He's in luck because I've always got a pocketful of rubber bands.
Whenever I see one lying on the ground I pick it up immediately
and shove it into my pocket. They always come in handy sooner or
I go into the living room and give Donny a number of rubber
bands in various sizes. He picks one up and says, "That'll do."
"What are you going to do with that rubber band?" I ask, a little
"I'm going to wrap it around this adjustment," Donny says,
pointing to a little gadget. I don't have a clue what he's talking
about and I'm tempted to ask him if he knows what he's doing.
Instead I say, "Well, I'm glad you're taking this time to fix my tape-
recorder. I'll be glad to pay you."
"No, no, no!" Donny explodes, "Now I've kept you waiting long
enough for it. After all, it's been lying around here for a month and
47 I'm only fixing it because I'm sick of looking at it. You don't have
to pay me nothin'. You're too wishy-washy."
Diana hollers from the kitchen: "Jill, are we going to play cards
or aren't we?"
I saunter back to the kitchen table to pick up my cards and we
get into the game right away. Diana is the slowest card-player in the
world, but she always beats me at Hearts.
Whenever we play a game she keeps biting the tops of her cards.
Tonight I don't appreciate it because the cards belong to me. She
always stares at her hand, at me, at the table-top and back to me,
saying, "What a hand I've got this time, Jill!" She makes me so
nervous; no wonder I lose.
Donny yells from the living room, "Is she cheating again, Jill?"
"No, but she's beating again," I say. Sure enough, she's a tough
card-player. She calls out suits in gruff, police-woman tones and
always has a rollie hanging out of her mouth. Me, I don't smoke.
She interrupts the game by saying, "You feel like some China
Black tea? I'll get up and make some."
"Oh, no," I say, "let's finish the game." She only says things like
that to distract me. I'm finally wise to her tricks, after all our card-
She beats me anyway, directly afterward, and says, "Let's have
another." I sit back in my chair, disbelieving. Then I call to the
living room, "How's the machine coming, Don?"
"Not too good, but I know what I'm doing," he says. "You
should have taken it to a service shop a long time ago. You let it go
for too long."
"Well, it's eleven years old," I say, "I guess I can't expect
miracles." Actually, I've become so attached to my tape-recorder
that I sure hope Donny can fix it.
Diana deals out another hand — she always shuffles — and we
begin a new game. This time I'm determined to beat her.
I discover she's found a new way to distract me during this game.
She continually reaches for a mint in the candy-dish and says, "Go
on, Jill, take some! Take two or three."
"No, thank you," I say each time but this is becoming monotonous. I'd be glad to eat every one of those mints to shut her up but I
can't stand them. They dissolve into sickly-sweet puddles in my
mouth and I'd never be able to concentrate on the game.
Just then Donny comes into the kitchen, holding a jaded-looking
48 piece of metal in his hand. "This part is shot to hell," he says, holding it under my nose.
"What'U I do now?" I ask.
"Nothing. I'll put the whole machine back together and hope it
works. There's a good possibility it will, even with its tired old
insides. I've monkeyed with it long enough. Finish your game with
Diana here and I'll have your machine ready." Donny goes back to
the living room carrying the piece of metal like a doctor with a
ruined specimen.
Diana is impatiently waiting for me to take my turn. I do so, then
she takes hers and we fall into the familiar succession. She wins and
says, "I beat you again, didn't I?"
I never beat this woman and it makes me a little angry so I say,
"We'll have another game."
She looks at her watch. "Hey, it's twelve midnight already. Tomorrow's a working day." Then she calls to Donny, "Hey, Sweetie,
you gotta get up at six-thirty tomorrow."
"Yes, I know," he calls back, "I'm just putting the finishing
touches on this machine." Then he calls to me, "Hey, Jill, did you
bring any tape reels with you?"
"Yes, I did," I reply, pulling a reel from my purse. I'm not sure
which one it is; maybe the tape with Oriental music.
I bring it into the living room, thread the machine, hit the button
that says ON and we hear a voice: "The following succession of
sounds is done with a dumbeg and an oud. It is amazing how such
a climax is produced with only these two instruments ..."
Donny shuts it off, saying, "Well, it sounds okay to me."
"Yes, me too," I say, "Thank you so much, Don. Do you mind if
I play the entire tape? I'm dying to hear it and it's probably just an
hour long."
Donny scowls. "Look, I'm going to bed. Take it home and play it.
It'll be too noisy." He then walks out of the living room and down
the hall, not concerned in the least that I'm too down-and-out to lug
this tape-recorder home tonight. This monthly depression of mine
seems to have reached a peak and, since I'm not even sure what
caused it, I have no guarantee it will go away.
I go back to the kitchen and say, "Diana, how about one more
game?" She doesn't hear me; she's engrossed in The Dawn of The
Gothic Period again.
"Hey, Diana, how about one more game before I go?" I repeat,
49 but she's totally impenetrable. That's a shame because it's getting
late and I really feel like winning someone tonight.
I sit at the table for awhile, in no hurry to leave. It's rather
comfortable here so I silently deal out a hand of solitaire for myself.
I'm going to win at this game, even if I have to keep playing until
the sun comes up.
Vancouver; November, 1974
50 Ron Miles
can, standing straight (or nearly)
grin between his legs like
a gargoyle or a baby.
can destroy a chair by sitting
a table by leaning upon,    hunching
a shoulder, can tilt a room.
can make immaculate love
to somebody's idea
before that somebody's eyes
eyeing some other body.
can, and often does, run
naked in one's mind
protesting his ignorance of clothes
waving enormous leaves
of imaginary books
waiting to be written.
can say Look
I am being sad, now
I am being sad, isn't
it lovely, I can do
other things too.
Quebec; October-November, 1974
51 Donald Lyall Nelson
Having burst to a strange midsummer's golden glory,
leaping as a leaf tearing from water tapping roots,
hoping for autumn's marriage with the future now,
crying Give me nothing less than your sun leaping
for the wind only to be carried to a spinning deception,
to your flash from this stream reflected.
Sunlight still pierces these waters — I warm myself.
It was love, immolation in that hottest fire.
Just that leap was the final casting to wind —
after that push there was to be nothing, not water
nor this twisting complication of current,
channels, and blueing pools never sensed
and still uncharted — it was to be an instant.
Slowest depth — moistened, floating, exposed —
January, 1974
52 Donald Lyall Nelson
Now they have grown old here
where they pulled up the water for
the fruit trees which now yield less and smaller.
They have their pensions and their gnarled hands,
and the roadside stand once good enough
for their road.    Hot today — Vacationland
provincial highway is fast enough to
only layer the sweet peach memories
with dust.
On the beaches the landless burden the waters
with beer cans and sit useless, unlike the cans,
not even rusting to return their iron
to the trees up the slopes of the valley.
On the beachs the would-have-been grandchildren
of the first old couple never swim but immerse
their values in a transient, broadcast vacation.
On the road ourselves we notice only
that this is no place to stop —
after a cooling swim and fresh fruit lunch
we leave.
April, 1974
53 Joyce Carol Oates
the gulls' hysterical cries
the film-cool nerveless sun
the whimpering of a child dragged by the arm
the father's muttering into the surf
Tear you limb from limb ■—
the adult's toes clutch at the sand, hard
the child runs to keep pace
/ swear I'll kill you if you don't learn —
within earshot
strangers are alarmed
exchange embarrassed looks
Do you think
should one of us
should someone
situations change
like the Atlantic
like sand blown into exotic angles
two rainstorms in a single afternoon
a rainbow flirting with the glare
and now the gulls' quieter cries
now the pale cool sun
/ swear I'll —
no:    the waves upon waves break loudly
there are hundreds of footprints now
situations shift
the sun will again turn opaque
and again burst forth
again there will be the embarrassment
the quivering wail
the nerveless silence that returns
54 Bruce Pilgrim
Alice closed her eyes and caught hold of the electricity. Head against
the shuddering window, hand gripping the railing of the seat in
front of her, she let the vibrations of the bus sweep her away. Down
a thousand humming streets. The blonde-haired lady on her right
carried on a conversation with a shopping bag. She wore matching
'51 Studebakers on each ear. Posing rhetorical questions like an old
school teacher, the lady went on and on about what the world was
coming to and the central reasons why and . . . When Alice opened
her eyes, the vibrations dimmed and a fresh wave of remembering
washed over her. And the man in her bathtub reappeared.
There was no way he could lock the door, so he propped a paint
can on top of it. The noise would give him some time. Frowning at
the cloudless sky, he walked over to the northeast corner of the
building. Twenty stories down, the cars and the walkers flowed in
complex patterns along the streets — choreographed for a symphony
he remembered. The constant flutes throughout, rising and fading up
until the middle of the piece when all the rest joined in. It grew
louder with each swell, ballooning slowly until it all reached the top
and the crescendos began, an endless chain of explosions. His head
began the flutes now and that was the only sound he was able to
hear, to think. And that was the sound inside his head when he
opened his case and began assembling his rifle.
"So then he's just climbing off of her when his friend comes back,
you know, and his friend says 'Hey, man, what's the matter with
you? Can't you see she's dead?' And the other guy says, 'Dead? I
thought she was an American!' "
Two seats back, the listener broke into toy machine gun laughter-
short plastic bursts. The narrator grunted like a wild Disney boar.
The man in Alice's bathtub laughed loudest of all, plenty of big
hahahas. Rubbing his eyes, and wiping suds from his mouth, he
asked them if they'd ever heard the one about the three nuns in the
boys locker room and ... Alice stopped it and thought about the
55 jello in her stomach. That was rather important after all. Was it
moving? Shimmering, perhaps, and growing imperceptibly? There
was no way to tell. Not yet. But she wanted to feel something, a
presence inside her, moving, vibrating like a tympanic membrane in
tune, (yes, that was it) somehow in tune with the wave that she
was on.
One, two, three steps off the curb, the girl turned towards the
honker in the Buick. Her right arm was in mid-arc, middle finger
just emerging from her fist when the first bullet arrived. Catching
her in the neck just below her ear, it came out under her arm, leaving plenty of hamburger all over her side. The street came up to
meet her very fast, leaving no time to finish the gesture. Inside the
Buick, the honker had just enough time to become a mourner. Then
his bullet came.
Upstairs the crescendos had begun. The rifle grew into his arm,
muscles and flesh forming around the hand-rubbed wooden stock,
merging into one long, powerful arm. All but the forefinger and
trigger. These were somehow not fixed, free-floating almost in midair, a hairbreadth away from the rest of his rifle, his hand. When
the orders, the orders to fire, came down his arm, they had to leap
across the gap, the neural synapse. Like a spark. And then the finger,
the trigger, would begin to move, for a slow, smooth micro-second.
Right on top of a crescendo. And the sudden lurch would send a
jolt of pain/pleasure through his body, rattling his marrow, disassembling everything. Everything would fall through the air in
chaotic slow motion until just before the next crescendo. And in that
micro-second, between and before idea becomes act, there was a
solid pause of quiet before the next explosion.
"Know the difference between a girls' track team and a tribe of
pygmies? Well, a tribe of pygmies is a cunning bunch of runts. And
a girls' track team is a running bunch of cunts!"
Running bunch of cunts. Alice rolled the syllables around in her
head. Yes, that was all, they'd taken care of all the possibilities.
Other combinations made no sense. The man in her bathtub liked
that one a lot. He'd take symmetry anyday. It always made him feel
better when everything worked out even.
"Say, babe. Wanna wash my privates?"
"No thanks, I'm trying to quit."
"Hey, babe..."
"Hey, babe yourself. How long are you gonna be gone?"
56 "I don't know. Couple of weeks, a month. It depends. Listen, I'll
call you as soon as we get to Miami. I'll mail you a coconut everyday, sealed with a kiss. What do you want me to say?"
The third one to die was the newsdealer. Moving like a fly, in and
out of the crosshairs, as if he knew it was time and wanted to delay
his death long enough to sell a couple more papers.
The fourth one to die needed change for a dollar. Hand out, he
scanned the headlines and looked up in time to see the dealer pitch
forward over a stack of papers, scattering the quarters like birdseed
all over the sidewalk. The customer was diving for his coins when
the second bullet entered the base of his spine.
Twenty stories up an eye watched it all through the scope. The
fascinating sequence: victim spotted, command given, jump-squeeze-
crescendo, and the victim falls. It was all very smooth, part of the
"Just a minute. Now given, for the sake of this discussion, that a
human can, with certainty, know something. What good is it?
Knowledge and action are polar. Each precludes the other."
"Wake up, Ray. Poles attract. You don't understand the nature
of the dialectic. Knowledge is action. The very process of knowing
something is an action in itself."
"Define process."
"Process: an action, or series of actions, that change something
into something else. From A to non-A."
"OK, then what is change?"
"What isn't?"
Alice knew there was movement in her stomach. Some kind of
process, digestive process —■ acids and muscles turning her lunch into
energy. And then the energy would cross the sea, leap the channel
to where her jello lived. There it would go through another change,
processed into something acceptable — and then absorbed and
changed again. Something was there. A vegetable instinct, at least.
"You know what a pain in the ass babies can be. I mean, I like
kids and everything, but we don't have the time for them. We'll be
on the road."
The man in her bathtub was stacking the reasons up around him.
Explaining through the soap bubbles. Alice caught hold of his eyes
and would not let go.
57 "Besides, why didn't you take something, do something?"
"Why didn't you?"
The radio she'd given him for Christmas was on top of the toilet
tank. A symphony was playing, one of those Russians. Alice turned
the man in her bathtub off and listened to the music. She translated
it for the electric spirit in her guts, the fresh jello that grew with
every note. Each cell destroyed and renewed, over and over again.
"It's better this way. No big thing. At this stage, it's nothing more
than a glob of jello or less. They say they can't feel a thing."
At first he'd played god. Holding it still and letting scores of them
pass through his sights. The flutes played inside his head and he
reprieved the blonde lady with the blue poodle sticking out of her
shopping bag, the kid with the St. Louis Cardinals' hat, the running
woman. A fine, fast sprinting cunt chasing the third street bus. He
followed this one awhile. The perfect victim. But the order never
came down his arm. He resumed his sweep of the intersection, but
she stayed with him.
Her chin rested on the toilet seat, letting her feel the vibrations,
the cool music coming down from the radio. After awhile she looked
up and saw him looking over at her. The radio! Alice had to fight
back the impulse to knock the radio into the water. One fell swoop
with GE clock radio and the final explanation. But that wasn't
enough. There w as still genetics. Heredity could not be disposed of
as easily. Alice smiled at her powerlessness. The realization that she
knew what to do and also that it made no difference. The jello
would inherit everything, all the dirty jokes, the violence, the
explanations of the man in her bathtub. There was no way she could
screen it out — all the vibrations or none. And yet Alice still wanted
to call in the artillery. Range: three feet. Height: seventeen inches.
Right between the eyes. Dlease.
The police had arrived, cordoning off the area. They were only
infrequent targets, darting in and out of cars. But he stayed patient.
Eating a grilled cheese sandwich and a thermos of homemade
vegetable soup, he made certain to aim a couple of shots downstairs
once in a while. He chewed everything carefully before swallowing
and was careful of the crumbs. His rifle arm was alive with electricity. He could have cured lepers.
58 Again he frowned up at the clear sky. A small breeze brought him
faint vibrations, alien vibrations. Quickly scanning the sky with his
scope, he could just barely make out the approaching helicopter.
No one should die without first having a name. Something for the
headstone. Fetus #8i 174. The little son of a bitch. Son of a running
cunt. Alice laughed and drew a glance from the lady with the Stude-
bakers. The runningest cunt of them all. On her way to a friend of
a friend of a friend. Not escaping from the killers, not escaping at
all, but running to — and with — and the worst part of it all was
that she felt nothing. No movement, no life inside and no pain, joy,
fear, relief. Just a kind of shouting indifference. Goodbye, Jello. At
last a name. Of course, Jello. Ideally ambiguous, well-chilled. How
did that go? There's always room for jello? Well not now, not here.
She laughed again, and quickly stopped.
The Studebaker lady was getting up to leave. For the first time
Alice could see who she'd been taking to — a blue toy poodle peeked
out of the shopping bag. Its fur had been dyed and resembled dirty
cotton candy.
Where could this person live? Who had sired this dog/baby?
Alice could see the lady in bed with a giant navy blue poodle, lying,
still as a corpse beneath the dog. (Hold still, honey. This won't hurt
a bit. There now, I've made a little deposit in there. In your baby
bank. Give me nine months interest, hahaha, and whenever I'm
ready to pull it out, I'll let you know and you can open up the vault,
When the lady was out of sight, Alice grabbed hold of the railing
on the seat in front of her. Still laughing, she pulled the bell cord
and started to get up. This was her stop.
Dayton; Spring, 1974
59 Robert Powell
The delicate girl like a seashell
shattered inside
she is mad
they have put her away
for her letters from Neptune's cellar
from the ice, from the sun
like ribbons of unreason.
The other patients report:
Her face is recognizable ocean
years drift off her skin
and when she sings
there are children in her voice.
We are afraid of her beauty.
Also we think
that the night uses her for a house.
Listen where
through barred windows
she is sharing lonely death
writing letters
to the drowning sailor
pinned to a vacant sea
from the cellar,
the ice,
the sun
He understands them
when he goes under.
Scotland; Summer, 1970
60 Walter Rimler
On a journey from San Francisco to New York via the South Freddy
Mars spent a night in El Paso and, having nothing to do there (he
was not the type to take advantage of Ciudad Juarez), he went to
see a salacious movie.
Men are supposed to leave pornographic movie houses humming
with passion, the way people used to leave Broadway theaters humming the tunes, but Freddy left this theater with the melancholy
vision of lassoing the light fixture in his hotel room and tying the
other end of his belt around his neck. Though he had been unhappy
for months about his divorce and about his inability to sell a song,
this new turn for the worse was caused by something that was said
by one of the actors in the film.
Freddy was still thinking about it the next day when he was back
on the bus:
No more films for me — no matter what dreary town I'm in. Next
time the real thing — a whore. Imagine that guy putting down the
people who were at that moment watching him in the theater.
"We're talking about men in overcoats who are watching people on
the screen doing what they're too old, too afraid to do," he said to
his lady friend about the men in overcoats who were at that moment
watching him. What a joke! As he delivered his lines the real
business end of his brain was secretly congratulating itself on the
most complex irony ever uttered in pornography. Maybe he even
felt an MSG version of art on that tongue which a moment later
was at his lady friend's crossroads. God, I'm not one of those men in
overcoats yet. I'm no Hghtning rod for misery yet. "Where are we
going to put the garbage when the dump fills up?" asks the Director
of Public Works. "Why, the same place we'll put the misery when
the men in the tenderloins fill up," answers that greatest Director of
Public Works.
I think Abilene is next. Let's see if I can fend off "Abilene". No,
here it is. A convention of banalities is in my head like a Lion's Club
picnic. No, like sloths corning to a tar pit to drink from the water
61 on my brain and they get stuck in the tar and I must listen to them
trumpet as they sink. Oh, shut up! You read a little Nabokov and
all you can do is make up metaphors. Not one of your contrived
metaphors will ever match the one he shook away today while sitting
on the can. Banalities take room and board with you. Room and
boredom. Why, you're not even adventurous in sleaze. You even
envied the misery of those overcoaters because it was so much bigger
than your own. You even admire those derelicts wasting away their
batteries — storage cells of grief. How was that, Nabokov? I'm sure
he would think I am a jerk. He treats his characters like jerks and
why should he like me any better than them?
Abilene, Abilene
Prettiest town I've ever seen
You knock it but you'd love that one if you'd written it. And rightly
so. That change from C to E works every time. When's the last time
I used it? Or C to G minor. "I wanna be your lover, baby". "It
ain't necessarily so." That's rebirth. Recharging at an old chord
change. God, I've got to sell something soon or I'm up the creek.
Meredith'd better be shoving, that's all I can say.
I begged her to have children. Is that so unnatural? So horrible? If
I had a peach tree I'd probably have to go out there on my hands
and knees to beg to get a piece of fruit.
Why not?
I don't want to have peaches. They hurt.
What an idiotic marriage. Never once was there the possibility
that we'd make a new life. Just the chance would have made it ten
times better to go to bed. We had an unconsumated marriage.
Everything was a fake. I'd go to the piano and nothing would come
of that either. It got to the point where I was hunting and pecking
with one finger to get a tune. Writing crazy bass lines to get harmony. Me! Who used to have so many ideas that I'd have to give
up ten to scribble one down. And there she'd be in the den with the
television turned up so that she wouldn't get a headache from the
62 banging. She would have been in her room watching television when
God created the universe because she couldn't stand the noise.
Remember how she seemed at first? How different she was. People
take shape in your mind slowly, the way streets do, as you find the
grocery store and then the bakery and then the laundromat. Another
banality! Get away from that tar! Shoo! I've got the running trites.
A hackneyed cough.
I wonder what this girl's been thinking so hard about. If I leaned
over and whistled "Abilene" would she say, "You're not banal like
most people"? No, she'd just think I was one more psycho riding
the Greyhounds.
"I bet people here don't treat you mean."
"Were you talking to me?"
Freddy shrugged his shoulders and smiled. The girl, who was
black and twenty years old, returned his smile but did not understand the joke.
"Where are you from?" he asked.
She was sitting on the aisle seat. He was across the aisle and one
seat over, by the window. "From Los Angeles," she said. "The last
three years, that is. But I'm going home for good to Birmingham.
And you?"
"New York, eventually."
He moved to his aisle seat so that he could hear her better.
"What did you do in Los Angeles?" he asked.
"I was making out the checks — the disability checks for a construction company."
"Disability checks?"
"That's what they said but some of those men aren't disabled at
all. The big executives—-well, you wouldn't believe what went on
there. They'd get a new check every day. Their wives, their kids,
everyone in the whole family would get checks too. One hundred
dollars for a doctor's appointment. Why, in the last month alone
there were a million dollars in those checks. I saw the same names
month after month."
"Why didn't you write yourself a check?"
"Well, I thought about it but I was too scared of losing my job.
It was too hard to get. I failed the typing test the first time. They
63 put you in a little room with a timer — the kind you use for cakes in
the oven —- and I just couldn't get my fingers going, though I knew
that I could type. So, the next day, I came back and I kept typing
after the little bell went off. I typed until I had enough words and I
got this job. But I was still really scared because they began laying
people off a few weeks later. So I would do everything just as they
said. I ended up skipping lunches and not taking breaks. They
would just pile the stuff on my desk and I'd have to do it because I
couldn't leave anything for the next day. You do that and you'll get
so far behind that those guys won't get their checks on time. But I
got smart after a few months. As soon as I knew what I was doing
and as soon as the girl who'd trained me — she was the only other
one in the office who could run the machine — as soon as she quit,
I slowed down a little. I still did what had to be done, but nothing
extra. I got smart."
''When did you quit?"
"Last Friday. I'd saved up enough money to come home on."
"To Birmingham?"
"Yes. I'm going to open up a day care center. I'm getting married
"Thank you."
"I wish you'd go back to that job just long enough to write me a
"No, I'd still be afraid of getting fired. Even if I was about to
quit, I'd hate to get fired. I thought of writing myself a check —
don't think I didn't. 'Cause they don't have anyone going through
those books."
"No auditors?"
"They don't have auditors there. They have a guy who comes in
every night and checks my totals but he doesn't have anything to
check them against. There are no books or anything. And the
records — what they have of them — are thrown out after a year."
"Maybe I'll go to L.A. and get that job."
"No, they've got someone already."
This girl, thought Freddy, doesn't have much of a sense of humor
but she sure is sweet.
He told her that he was a songwriter and named those songs of
his that had had air play. She thought she had heard of one but was
uninterested in music. Their talk drifted on into other things,
became forced and, finally, he hoped that she would get tired of
64 talking and go to sleep. It was still hard to hear her and several
times he had nodded to something he had not heard at all.
The smell of spring blossoms and the twilight air filled the bus
and the winding east Texas country road narrowed to two lanes.
Freddy suddenly thought of the night's sky as a gigantic spangled
black man.
I don't want the song to have anything to do with racial justice. I
just want it to say that the night is a spangled black man. Not a star
spangled black man. No politics. How about speckled? Or diamonds.
And make the man a woman. Still, some racial explanation seems
necessary. The night sky is a woman with a diamond necklace.
They'll know the woman is black. But that makes a daylight metaphor necessary, which means having to think up a jewel that looks
like the sun. The universe is a woman in diamonds. No. That's too
They pulled into Tupelo for a ten minute rest stop. He had been
dozing and when he opened his eyes he saw that the girl was still
wide awake.
"Can't you get any sleep?" he asked.
"I can't sleep on a bus."
"That's awful. You mean you've been awake since Los Angeles?"
"I think so."
"Well, can I get you something inside the station?"
"Oh, no thanks. I've got some cookies in my bag."
I wish she would get up so I could get a look at her. There's something classy about her. Anne was classy. A classy cliche. Being Anne
is like doing a dance step perfectly over and over. She's probably out
now dancing with some idiot. Dancing on her back. That's understandable. Everyone needs a mate — chicks, ducks, geese and cliches
too. They all need mates. And by now I'm sure that she's happy
somewhere with Mr. Mediocre. Mediocretes, we'll call him.
She didn't know what she had. Whenever I had a new song and
was testing it she'd stay in the kitchen or the bedroom and I'd have
to shout out, "How was that?" Except for that time when we did
the premiere but she did that because she wanted to dress up like
a flapper and sit on the piano. Still, it was fun. "We cordially invite
you to the premiere of a new song: I Drink Love Straight, Not On
65 The Rocks by Freddy Mars as sung by Anne Mars. Dress formal.
R.S.V.P." That was fun. And it was a good song. Good chords,
good introduction. That'll be one of the ones I'll play for Meredith.
She looked so good in that black gown and me chomping on a cigar
ala Gershwin and everyone sitting politely at that table with crystal.
Everyone loved her. Her smile alone — it hinted of undreamed of
heat, but it was really the tip of an iceberg and it hid a coldness that
nobody knew about but me. That big cold heart of hers. If she'd
been born fifty years earlier Admiral Perry would have set out for
her navel, just like some guy's doing right now, I bet. I wish it was
me. I wish it was me down on her, making her jump like a marionette.
This girl's not asleep. She wears pearls and the night wears a Big
Dipper. The night is at my shoulder, cold and threatening, but a
black girl's on my right —
Night is on my left
At my shoulder full of death
Black girl's on my right
At my shoulder full of life.
I was Gershwin once — cocky and limitless, knowing that I had more
songs in me than I ever could use, wondering at those who petered
out. But then someone threw a switch on my track and suddenly I
was with Burton Lane and Gershwin was chugging along over there.
Is it time for suicide? A belt from the light fixture. That's trite too!
But here's the old blood sausage between my legs. I want to sit next
to her.
To love her
Was to love the night,
Seeing nothing,
Blind with sight
Oh, why don't miracles happen? Why don't I hear a rustling and
look over and see her coming over here? She'd lose her balance on
the step and I'd catch her by the arm and help her. I'd move back
against the window and she'd get settled and then whisper, "We'll
66 do what we can". Things like that are supposed to happen every
day on Greyhounds. Why not to me? Maybe she's waiting for me to
make the first move. And if I make the first move and she doesn't
want to, what am I supposed to do then? Get off the bus?
"Are you still awake?"
"Mm hm," she sighed. "I can't ever get to sleep on a bus so I
don't try. If I had ten more days here I still wouldn't sleep."
"Oh, yes you would. You just wouldn't know it. It's like when you
have a fever."
"What?" she squinted and cupped a hand behind her ear.
"It's like when you have a fever. You don't know when you're
asleep and when you're awake."
"Oh, I know I'm awake!"
"How? Maybe you're dreaming right now. Maybe your subconscious is making this bus and me up."
"It isn't making Arkansas up!"
"Well, you've got a point there. Would you mind if I sat on your
side? I can't hear you."
"Sure," she said and immediately began pulling things off the seat
to make room for him. Freddy squeezed past her. He tucked his
right calf under his buttocks, a position which, he'd found, lasted
the longest.
"No, I'm glad I quit that company," she said. "Checks or no
checks. There was a man there — Mr. Dreyer. He wasn't my supervisor or anything but he thought he was. Every time I'd walk out of
the office — going to lunch or on a break or just to the bathroom
— there he'd be, watching, letting me know he knew just what time
it was and what time I should be coming back. I sure am glad to be
out of there. Why, whenever a friend came in to chat for a few
seconds or if I was on the phone, he'd walk all the way across the
office so he could read the files outside my door. He had no business
in the files or outside my door but he was checking up on me. He
didn't have any work of his own so that's what he did — check up
on me. He was always watching everything that was going on. Was
he nosy! He didn't have any work of his own and so he made being
nosy his work. Boy, am I glad I won't be having him around any
She paused and Fred turned toward the window and their
shoulders touched. He did not take his away. Neither did she. His
heart began racing.
I've established a beachhead on her body. Oh, Jesus, it's nice. I
67 won't give up one inch. Her back is so long and I don't see a bra
strap. I like the way her blouse is loose. It's funny how women
immediately get your sympathy and how I like this girl even though
she's said nothing to prove she isn't a dummy. You always give good
looks the benefit of every doubt.
Remember when I first met Anne, how, when we'd be walking
downtown she'd stop and look in a window while, like an idiot, I
kept going, thinking she was still there. She also loved to walk out
of the room when I was talking to her. God, it's nice just to touch
like this. I'll feel terrible if she moves her arm. I wonder what she's
thinking. She can't not have noticed that we're touching. She can't
miss the implication. I hate women who give you the line that
"touching" is natural and that it really has nothing to do with sex.
It's "sex" that has nothing to do with sex. This is sex. Two shoulders
on a Greyhound bus. This is as real as sex has been for me since
Anne. With Anne, sex was like pi, something we could carry out to
one or a hundred places. This is like pi too, but you can't carry it
out. Not on a bus. Besides, she's engaged. When we get to Birmingham she'll just shrug me off.
Some lives, though, are nothing but shrugs. All the people I've
known who did not want something desperately, just shrugging
their lives away. All the ones who married so easily and had children
so easily when, hell, getting married and having children should be
plenty hard and you should have to want it hard. When I've wanted
something I've wanted it so hard that I've broken blood vessels.
Wanting's not only built my character, it's made me a character. I
know what wanting is. That's something to comfort me now that
this disease of the enthusiasm gland — call it Mediocretes' Disease
—-has reached a terminal stage. I've still got the same genes, the
same head, and more experience and taste than I did ten years ago.
But I don't want. I don't want anything. I want this girl whose
shoulder is against mine. Yes, I do want her — I want more
than anything in the world right now some sign from her that she is
touching me on purpose. I want her to press a little harder. I don't
even want anything more than that. I'm getting old. It's happening.
"Are you awake?" she asked.
"I think so."
68 She shifted to her original position and his heart sank.
"It's going to be a long night," he said.
She sighed and changed positions again, turning away from him
entirely and he turned away from her and they leaned against each
other. Now, with his own, he could feel her entire back.
Oh, this is lovely. I would like to die right now. I want to die!
Right now! Oh, why can't you die when you want to? When am I
going to want it again? Maybe when I'm waiting like the men in the
overcoats for the idiots on the screen to spend themselves. Those
smug, jaded fools who think that they are fresh — that, because
they're getting a couple of hundred dollars to spread the petals, that
they are fresh and alive! Do they know how much you have to
struggle to be alive? Smirking, with his nose in her rose, does he
know what a tortuous path I have had to take so that it wouldn't
be just ugly flaps of skin? Why, in the mind of the ugliest hunchback
in that theater when he gets home to his hotplate — that's where
the magic and freshness of their act really is! What a laugh! And
what irony! Possibly the most complex irony ever aimed at the stars
of a hot movie. Up on the screen they taunt the wanters for their
longing and go to it with the same heartbeat they have in sports car
showrooms. But those in the audience who are catching their breaths!
Bless those sighs, bless the visions they recreate in their rooms! The
real freshness of that day belongs to them. And to me!
The sky is black
And so's my love
It wants jewelry
So does she
It wears a moon
She wears the heart
I gave to her
For touching me.
69 Lake Sagaris
'Then I asked her for it, and she, with that gentle willing obedience
that a girl becoming a woman shows a man, gave it to me ..."
Platero y yo
I dropped a gold pail of hope
into a deep well
to gather
a pure sun
It fell shining thru miles of space
The water was so deep I heard no splash
but felt the warm threads
in my brown fingers
Unaware of the darkness
buzzing in flies around my head
I drew up the pail
Night howled suddenly and a tree
stole my moon
the threads — useless sunbeams did not break
bits of pail scattered
into eggshells
Vancouver; December, 1974
70 Lake Sagaris
day begins
day begins
at sunrise
but in mauve ink darkening to
blood and dusk
rain falling into
neon lights on
city tar
feet falling into
heavy prints washed
away by gutters
and paper scraps of Margaret's nervous
idiots on parliament hill scooped
up and
dropped like
dead pigeons onto darkness
a woman cries out
in a day dream
voice strung with
thorns of fire
"even when I can't feel
I am touched
by the past."
Vancouver; January, 1975
breakdown cowboys and Ulrich Schaffer
strong where you become tender
where you renew yourself with flutes
where we must follow
into breakable sadness
because even with weights
we can learn to swim
without the lust
to see oneself die
a row of pearls
on the fingers of god
in the black light
of a world
that can not be put back together again
Vancouver; May, 1967
72 Ulrich Schaffer
i turn away
and yet i will be overtaken
by an even faster horror
coming at me
: headlines
: a bird's listening eye
: an arm at a strange angle
: nothing
Vancouver; October, 1967
73 David John Smith
It was strange, how it all happened, the whole day was strange. I
woke up at the usual time, seven twenty-eight, and the first thing I
did was turn off my alarm. Every night I set it for seven-thirty, but
thank God I don't often hear the thing. I've got a clock of my own,
a biological clock that works better than any alarm clock. But I
shouldn't praise myself for that, I suppose. Twenty-five years with
the same Company, getting up at the same time, would get a clock
started in anybody. So I woke up and I didn't move, I just lay there,
looking around at the day. It was another lousy one. I looked out
our bedroom window and felt my stomach sink, like suddenly it was
filled up with heavy, pasty dough. If there is a place on earth where
it rains all the time, where it never stops, I'm sure the rain comes
down exactly like it was coming down in Vancouver that morning.
At any rate, that was the feeling I had, that it had been raining
forever and the rain would continue forever. It was falling straight
down, and steadily. You can see pretty clearly through the thin
curtains we've got in our bedroom and the glass looked like it does in
old houses sometimes. It looked like the glass was running and
everything was distorted.
I turned away from the windows and rolled over on my back and
looked at the ceiling. I get up at seven-thirty so each morning I
have a few minutes after waking up when I can just lie there and
think. Usually its about the office: What I didn't get done yesterday
or what files have to be looked at that day. If I think about it those
few minutes I don't go into the office feeling lost like most everyone
else does. But that morning, I started thinking about my citations. I
guess the right word is ironical: It was that day, the only day in
twenty-five years that I came in late for work.
In all I've got twenty-four citations, one for every year with the
Company, except this year. The first one I got I brought home and
hung in the living room. I did the same thing the second year and
the third and the fourth. There were seven of them up there, the
frames all exactly the same, when the wife started complaining
74 about them. They weren't very pretty, she said, and they took up too
much space. So I took them all down and put them in a box that I
keep in the hall closet now. Every once in a while I take them out
and look at them and I was thinking that morning that I would like
to look at them when I got home that night. But I guess there really
isn't much to look at. All that's different is the date and every once
in a while the President's name will change. It used to be he actually
signed them, but the last ten years or so they've rubber stamped his
signature. Each one says the same thing, that I am being cited for
meritorious service and that I am now a member of the Company's
Order of Merit for being on time for work every day that year.
As I was lying there I kept glancing out at the rain. I couldn't
stop thinking about it, even though I've had years and years of
practice at doing just that. When I looked at the clock again it was
seven-thirty and I felt relieved that I could finally get out of bed.
I woke the wife, just like always. I give her a nudge with my
elbow and say, "It's time, dear." She did what she does every
morning, what I've seen her do almost every morning since we got
married, twenty-six years ago. I suppose I could say I've seen her
get out of bed a thousand times before. But that morning for some
reason I watched her get out of bed and it was like I'd never seen it
So I said, "It's time, dear," like always, and she sat right up in
bed and slid her legs out from under the covers at the same time.
You would think she was lying there waiting for me because that's
all I ever have to say. Every night she puts her slippers out so when
she swings her legs out her chubby feet sort of slide right into them,
all in one movement almost. Then she sat on the edge of her bed
and rubbed her face with both hands. As soon as she started rubbing
she started to moan. When she stopped rubbing she screwed her
finger into the corners of her eyes to get the sleep out. One eye at a
time. She rubbed the sleep off onto the sheets, just like always.
Usually her housecoat is lying across the end of the bed but it must
have fallen off in the night. She bent down to pick it up and she
moaned again when she bent over. Then she started walking out of
the bedroom, putting on her housecoat as she left. By the time she
was out the door she had it on and her hands were limp in the
pockets with the pockets carrying the weight of her arms. She's got
big hips. She always did have big hips but they're a lot bigger now
and with her hands in the pockets like that the housecoat stretches
around her hips so they look bigger than ever.
75 After she left it really bothered me, what she did. She never spoke
until she had been up about twenty minutes, that bothered me. But
what bothered me most was her just walking straight from the bedroom to the kitchen. It hadn't bothered me for twenty-five years
before that, but that morning I thought there really should be something she should do in the washroom before she went down to make
my breakfast. But, no matter, I thought, I just lay there listening to
the rain and sort of shuffled it to the back of my mind.
It's not a sound the rain makes, really, it's more like a feeling. At
least I can't think of words that describe it as a sound. It was just
raining, that's the best I can do. Raining steadily. But the feeling I
get from that sound, that's different. It's a thin feeling at first and it
seems to spread out thinly through my whole body. But it builds up.
The thinness gets thicker and thicker. And even though it builds up
like that it still seems thin somehow. It's hard to explain.
Next I went to the washroom and did the same things I do every
morning. It takes about twenty minutes usually, sometimes a little
more, sometimes a little less. Then I went to the bedroom and got
dressed. I was choosing what suit and tie to wear that day and it
came back to me how the wife went straight downstairs without
going to the washroom before making my breakfast. I sort of
shuffled it away again. I decided on what clothes to wear and got
my shirt on, I always wear a white shirt, so that's no problem. I was
getting into my pants when I realized that I had worn exactly the
same thing last Thursday. Then I thought about it and realized I
had worn the same thing the Thursday before that and the Thursday
before that. So without knowing it I had certain clothes for every
day of the week. God knows for how long I've been doing that. But
I put the clothes on anyway and took a look at myself in the mirror.
I thought maybe I should change them, just to be different. But I
decided against that and on my way downstairs I was happy that I
hadn't changed.
I always check the kitchen clock when I get down for breakfast.
It was two minutes after eight, just a few minutes later than usual.
The wife had coffee on the table for me. She pours it when she hears
me on the stairs. She said, "Good morning, dear," and I said the
same to her. Then I fixed my coffee, half a spoon of sugar and a
double shot of Carnation milk, just the way I like it. I read the
paper while I sipped my coffee and the wife finished making my
A few minutes later I had set the paper down and was staring out
76 the window. "At least you don't have to shovel it," is what I always
used to say to easterners. Usually I get a bit of a chuckle out of that,
thinking of all those people back east shovelling snow. But that
morning it just seemed depressing. I stared at the rain for quite a
while, I guess. I wasn't thinking, just staring. Every once in a while
on the kitchen windows you could hear the pat pat against the glass.
We had the light on in the kitchen, the sky was so dark. Through
the window I could see the sky. There weren't clouds, really. There
never are clouds as such when it really rains in Vancouver. There
was a roof over the whole city and it seemed so close to the ground
you could almost touch it. And if you let it bother you, the rain, the
roof would seem to get lower and lower the more it got to you. I
tried not to think about it. I would pick up the paper and read but I
couldn't concentrate on anything, the paper sagged and I found
myself staring out the window again. The gutters must have been
plugged somewhere because I could hear a stream of water running
onto the sidewalk just outside the kitchen door. The thin feeling I
get when I first let the rain in was much thicker by then. I didn't
feel at all like eating.
"Your breakfast, Douglas," my wife said to me and I shook my
head from staring and looked at her. She looked sort of like she was
born in that worn out housecoat, though I can't think what it was
about her that looked different than usual. She set my regular
breakfast in front of me, two scrambled eggs, toast and orange juice.
I ate it, but without an ounce of appetite. She hates to see me go out
the door in the mornings on an empty stomach, so I always eat
breakfast. It makes her feel good, makes her feel like she's looking
after me, I guess.
Outside, it wasn't so very cold, really, around forty-five, I'd guess.
But I felt cold just the same, even with my heavy raincoat on. I had
polished my shoes the night before, and the rain made bubbles on
my shoes, like it does on a car after a good wax job.
When I got to the bus stop the kiosk was full so I waited in the
rain. There were several people waiting with me, outside the kiosk.
I just stood on the curb and looked straight ahead. I watched cars
go by, I suppose is what I did. Most cars had their lights on that
morning, it was so dark. The lights were gleaming off the wet pavement like they do. And every car went by with a swoosh of water.
You couldn't hear the car engines very well, mostly the swooshing
that tires make on a wet street. The cars came in packs off the last
light and after the pack went by you could hear the rain hit the
77 street. And the stream of stragglers making their own single swooshing sounds and once in a while on one of them you could hear the
wipers squeaking. In the rare gaps between stragglers I could hear
the rain patting against my umbrella. Then the pack again, and no
car had a single swooshing sound, they were all meshed together.
For what happened next my memory is still blank. I remember
listening to the swooshing sounds but after that I don't remember
anything until I realized I was crying. I suppose I must have been
staring, the empty, unseeing kind of staring. The kind you snap out
of and you can't tell how long you've been doing it, perhaps ten
minutes, perhaps only seconds. I'd guess that I was staring at least
five minutes, maybe six or seven. My bus must have been stopped
there almost a minute, there were so many people to get on. When
I snapped out of it that was the first thing I noticed, the people were
gone. The kiost was empty, I was all alone at the bus stop. And there
was a gap in the traffic, I could hear the rain pat against my
umbrella. I noticed the long splashes of light on the wet street. Then
the people gone, and I finally realized that my bus must have come.
Right after that I realized I was crying. There were tears down my
cheeks right to the corners of my mouth. I wasn't sobbing, there
were just the tears. And I felt sad, sadder than I've ever felt in my
life before.
So that was it. It was a strange day. I didn't get my citation, of
course. But that's not what bothers me about it. It's the strangeness,
I suppose. And then when I got onto the next bus I felt good to be
in out of the rain, almost happy even. That bothers me, maybe more
than anything else, the fact that I felt happy to be out of the rain.
78 Lawrence P. Springarn
Laying tvillim is not the real problem:
What about the octoroon maid down the hall
Or Little Morty who plays games with himself?
At ninety-four, Grandpa has become a nuisance;
His Menshevik beard gets into the chicken soup.
Uncle Ben mopes around, turning off the lights;
Illumination is hardly his saucer of tea.
And when I am sent to open the front door,
The elevator shouts in an Irish brogue.
No spirit can enter, none will answer me.
I have said the last prayer, eaten the tart,
Gone meekly to my narrow couch, grateful
For the silence that purrs on the blue rug.
I too have had my ration of complicity.
The furniture steeps in a bath of dumbness.
Van Nuys; December, 1974
79 Warren Stevenson
Coming into our yard this afternoon
and suddenly being confronted
by three raccoons —
ring-tailed bandits
weaving their dark ballet
back and forth across the lawn;
feeUng, for the moment, outnumbered,
as though the raccoons had taken over
and all other revolutions
were mere mutterings in the wind
beside which this was the real
and ultimate confrontation;
and then remembering
that earlier occasion
six seven years ago
when one was hit by a car
about i o p.m. in front of our house
and the mate (mother?) circled back
and grieved over the body,
her eyes glittering in the half-light,
threatening revenge.
Vancouver; June, 1975
80 John Stupp
Sad storm, whose tears are vain,
Bare woods, whose branches strain,
Deep caves and dreary main, —
Wail, for the world's wrong!
He: Our bodies were so close
to being condemned.    Yours and mine.
She: Familiar bodies, ruined tenements,
could they know the desire of streams
dogs cross in the mountains,
approaching the timber line?
Eyes, could you find the stalking owl,
or the sudden rush of the bush cougar . . .
He: At your father's funeral, there were animals
moving underneath, and I buried them.
She: You won't recognize me,
trailing an animal at the edge of an endless wood.
Burying all trace of the smell
in the dark streams that crisscross
like capillaries, this failed ground.
Feeling, in the body somewhere,
a hawk, circling its canyon,
waiting for light. He: Mother said he remembered everything at once
especially wet leaves in a wind, and your tears.
She: The memory of legs, deep in the green, waving grass.
The memory of the body, and the heart, first parts.
The memory of waking in a rainstorm,
water, the sky's cadenza over Alberta,
the Pacific sea, the blood welling up,
tears visible in the dark.
He: Our distance was no mistake,
a hand's breath.
She: Nearness is strange distance.
Spring finds shepherds walking beneath the earth,
fording the ecstatic streams, beyond which,
the dying wait, in the long shadows,
with the cougar and the owl.
He: Are you smiling now?
She: Where I am it is raining and cliffs are born,
like jewels.
82 John Stupp
The one who watches lovers
in the fields around the Great Lakes,
must be mad.
each morning he wanders orchards,
limbs shaking with fear of discovery,
tangling himself in branches.
By noon he is in high grass,
drowning once in each meadow.
In the evening, near the Canadian side,
he sleeps, listening to the desire
of the pines.
Dreaming, he loses sight of land,
floats beneath tidal scum, dream debris,
is pitched naked onto strange shores,
shaking, emptying himself in the water.
In the early morning,
groups of men are assembling
along Lake Superior.
They talk and signal
83 in the dialect of different villages,
pulling their bark canoes up and out
of the back water.
The one
wading across the smooth bottom stones,
casting his line in the center,
must be mad.
Each morning, in the watery passages,
he finds a beast among the living things,
its green shape moving downward
great distances,
brushing against the low dangling lines.
Half-singing, he fishes.
Wades into darkness.
84 Lorna Usher
The maple, dry and leafless,
Leans towards the creek.
Its roots dig only toes
Into the wrinkled bank.
One day it will topple,
Clap the water,
And dragged by a wet cord
Rot downstream on a hoof-marked shore
Where the sun will lick the color
From the rich, scaling bark.
When you feel me leaning
Push me upright,
And walk away.
Swift Current; October, 1974
85 Robert Ward
Flatness lends itself to order
though not necessarily to predictability
the way the land stretches out
in Eastern Ontario,
vineyards, apple orchards
running side by side
like a farm wife's prayers
low and tight against
a probable wind,
until finally
the lake's edge.
We stood there
and the water like a mirror
of the dusk grey sky
and only the two-masted ketch
coming about endlessly on the calmed
offered perspective.
Toronto in a faint mist
strained our eyes
across shorelines
And we joked about seeing tomorrow's
poised on the shattered rock
and the almost imperceptible waves
patting at the shore, like the silent
of a cat's foot.
Salt Point; September, 1974
86 Tom Wayman
Staring into Acorn's face: the bushy eyebrows
trail down into one eye, like rotten moss
or seaweed, nostril hair
juts out in tufts.    The pores
have enlarged all over, his mouth and nose
twisted, the skin flushed and pebbly on the sides of his face
as though seared in some frightening fire.
It's a rubbie's face: a Europe Hotel
beer parlor face, old suit jacket
and faded plaid shirt face from that
drunken animal zoo
of the Europe Hotel, like the remains of a man
who sits with his glass of beer and
argues with himself
for hours, sometimes becoming so loud
the waiter grabs him and moves him
to a distant corner.    It's a i o a.m.
opening time face, unsteady eyes
and hands shaking, the voices growling
and whining to get in, the rush to sit down
to a clean fresh morning beer
and a raw egg and another day.    Or the leftover
with long stains down his coat, who crouches
87 half-upright in front of the jukebox
lunging from side to side
while his arthritic fingers clutch
the air as he thinks he conducts the music.
It's the face suddenly here
at our table, grasping an incongruous clean white package
stolen from someplace: you boys want to buy
some underwear?    It's a single-men-who-live-in-hotels
face, the barefoot, T-shirted miner
down to the City for his annual
time off, drinks all around, drunk and noisy
three weeks in the Europe
and then shipped north again like a rebuilt
compressor engine
for another year's work in the camps.
But then that face
weaving above some sheets of paper
opens its mouth.    And like the strange twisted dream
inside every Europe Hotel head
behind the bruised eyelids
and the black pits on the flesh,
or like the hope of every self-pitying garret adolescent poet
beauty comes out of his mouth:
beautiful words. Christine Zawadiwsky
Three wooden words, "I'm leaving, leaving,"
fall out of your mouth and hit the floor like
red potatoes, they're your lover's eyes, they're
her arms, a black and twisted tree, they're
her inky kisses, her lemon skin, her obsidian teeth
wedged with celery, they're the shining red fingernails
of never again, the smudged white lipstick of separation,
while the doorknob's a rising, foaming star and your
want's a toy stallion, a smudge on the wall; while
your nerves still meet in secret under your skin and
your heart's still a metronome, counting out fears;
while blame's still meat pierced by two chopsticks
and the sounds I never make, you hear.
And the sounds you never make, I hear:
a painted decoy hitting glass water and
falling, falling into your body, blood is
smoke and smoke is water, sucking the fluids
from your lungs, your head swimming through your
teeth to meet them, one day becoming as gray as another,
the minutes like raisins floating in blood, the
hours like hands smeared across the window and
loving, loving, waiting to be loved and waiting,
waiting, wanting to be loved while the wind
leaves its fingerprints on your wristwatch
(I'm leaving leaving leaving leaving) and
the calendar has turned its numbers into flies.
Fran Adler was born in Montreal in 1942 and was until recently a
student in the Creative Writing Department at UBC. She now lives in
San Diego, California.
Kenneth Bernard is a recipient of Guggenheim and Rockefeller grants,
author of Night Club and Other Plays. His new play, King Humpy,
had its world premiere in April, 1975 and his fiction, poetry and drama
have appeared in American Review, Harpers, Mass. and Minn. Reviews, Paris Review, and others. He is a member of faculty at Long
Island University and lives in New York city with his wife and three
Linda Gordon Boroff lived in Minneapolis until 1963, when her family
moved to Santa Monica. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1973 with a major in English. She works for a
small newspaper in Santa Cruz and says that her long-range goal is "to
write a book about Berkeley and the Sixties, which is, of course, the
long range goal of everybody who lived in Berkeley in the Sixties."
Herbert Burke teaches at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick
where he has been since 1967. Previously he taught in California and
the Midwest. He was born and grew up in Vancouver and attended
UBC. After war service (U.S.) he completed his doctorate at Stanford
University and "wherever I teach, I try to remain active with poetry,
and have published, and read some here and abroad. My wife and I
have a number of children, of whom the youngest is 14."
Yvonne Caroutch was born in Paris in 1937, of Mongolian parentage,
and has published Soifs (1954), Les Veilleurs endormis (1955), L'Oise-
leur du vide (1957), Paysages provisoires (1965), Lieux probables
(1968) and La Vole du coeur de verre (1972).
Valerie Chatterton is 20 years old and a recent graduate of the University of Victoria, where she took a B.A. in Honours English. She took a
year out in 1973/74 t0 travel in Europe and Africa and she intends to
go next year to live in West Africa. Her poems have been published in
Fiddlehead and one has been read on CBC's Anthology.
Fred Cogswell, poet, translator, editor and publisher, lives in Frederic-
ton, N.B. His latest book of poetry, Light Bird of Life, was published
in 1974 and his latest book of translations, The Poetry of Modern
Quebec, will be published in 1975 by Harvest House.
Jane Creighton is an undergraduate student at UBC.
90 Pier Giorgio DiCicco was born in Arezzo, Italy, and grew up in the
U.S. and Canada. A selection of poems will be appearing in Al Purdy's
anthology, Storm Warning 2 (McClelland & Stewart, 1976) and other
poems are forthcoming in Queen's Quarterly, University of Windsor
Review, Critical Quarterly and Kansas Quarterly. He lives and writes
in Toronto, where he has just completed a collection, The Circular
Anita Endrezze is Yaqui Indian (a tribe originally from Mexico) and
teaches in a school for socially maladjusted teenagers. She is 23, has a
Master's Degree in English, does translation from the Spanish and her
poems have appeared in The Malahat Review, Indian Voice, Blue
Cloud Quarterly and Dacotah Territory. Her work is included in
Carriers of the Dream Wheel, a new anthology by Harper and Row
and in two forthcoming anthologies, People of the Rainbow (Viking
Press) and Dacotah Territory.
Gerald Florian was born in Carinthia, Austria, in 1937. He is a poet,
composer, actor and dancer. His poems have been published in Austria,
Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Australia and England. His compositions include "Der Tierhaber beim Zeitungsstand" (The Animal Lover
at the News-stand), a canatata concertata, which was presented in the
Vienna Konzerthaus in October, 1971.
Gregory Grace resides in Winnipeg, where he works as a tape librarian.
His work has been published in more than 15 Canadian and American
literary magazines. His first book of poetry is entitled Money of the
Sunlight (Capricorn Press, Santa Barbara, 1971) and a second volume
of poems, Heaven's Door, will be published by Fiddlehead Press this
Carl Hermey studied French and International Literature at Ohio
University, and recently received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature
from the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he now
teaches. He has just completed a bilingual anthology of contemporary
French women poets.
M. L. Hester, Jr. is 27, married with one daughter. His poetry has
appeared in recent or forthcoming issues of Kansas Quarterly, Windsor
Review, Mississippi Review, Roanoke Review and Confrontation (Long
Island University).
Thomas Johnson is the editor of Stinktree and is currently doing
graduate work in English at Cornell. His most recent book of poetry is
Ground Zero (West Coast Poetry Review Press), with two new
volumes shortly to come from Copper Beech Press/Providence, and
Two Windows Press/Berkeley.
91 Herbert Kuhner was born March 29, 1935 and has published Nixe, The
Assembly Line Prince, Four One Act Plays, The Man Who Loved
Trains and poetry, prose and drama in magazines and anthologies in
the U.S.A., England, Canada, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Norway,
Yugoslavia, Rumania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and India.
Jill Mandrake is a Creative Writing major at the University of British
Columbia. She has lived all her life in the Lower Mainland area of
British Columbia and attended Douglas College before transferring to
UBC. Her work has been published in Strange Faeces * 17 and Revue.
Paddy McCallum was born in 1952 in Vancouver, B.C., where he still
lives. He has attended both Vancouver City College and the University
of British Columbia.
Peg McKinlay, "native Vancouverite, has only recently undertaken the
challenge of writing serious poetry." "Raymond" is her third poem (the
first two appear in the October issue of West Coast Review) and
"That's All" is an "edited version" of her latest.
Sandy Mcllwain is 25 years old and grew up in Montreal, where he
attended McGill University and received a B.A. He currently lives in
Nova Scotia, "unemployed and well-fed. I have been writing poems for
seven years and still have trouble with the spelling."
Ron Miles says he writes "little, having committed myself to other
important things like wife, children, the teaching of literature and
writing here in Kamloops (B.C.), and — of late — the organization of
readings by those whose commitment to writing is extensive." His
work has appeared in Quarry, Event, Concerning Poetry, The Fiddle-
head and twice previously in Prism.
Don Nelson "grew out of small town Chilliwack (B.C.), a fine compost
heap, and into my own life in Vancouver at Simon Fraser University
where a stubborn insistence on my own line of growth has begun to
bear fruit. In the present I am transcending the Canadian educational
system and a tumultuous emotional life. In the future I will be doing
whatever must be done to prove artistically and philosophically that
the aesthetic must be a part of human existence."
Joyce Carol Oates is an associate editor of a new journal, The Ontario
Review, and her next novel is entitled, The Assassins.
Morris Panych is a student of Creative Writing and Theatre at the
University of British Columbia. He was born in Calgary, Alberta in
1952, and lived in Edmonton for several years before moving to the
West Coast. He has worked as a freelance actor for the CBC and has
92 been involved with amateur and professional stage since the age of
fifteen. He is drama editor of Revue (Vancouver) and in 1975 was
awarded the Helen Badenoch Scholarship for Creative Writing.
Robert Powell was born in Ottawa in 1950 and grew up there. Since
1970 he has lived in various parts of Britain and travelled in Europe,
"returning to Canada every so often to renew my acquaintance with
certain friends and with winter. They don't have winters in Britain."
Bruce Pilgrim is a life-long resident of Dayton, Ohio, formerly the
editor of Nexus, a student literary magazine published by Wright State
University, and co-editor of Images, a poetry tabloid. This is his first
story published outside of college. He is currently employed "as a
bureaucrat" by the Dayton-Montgomery County Bicentennial Commission.
Walter Rimler was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., grew up in Los Angeles and
lives now in San Francisco. His story, "Joaquin Murietta", was in Prism
Lake Sagaris is a "radical feminist poet who has been active in the
Women's Movement in Vancouver for the past two years." She is a
Creative Writing major at the University of British Columbia.
Ulrich Schaffer was born in Germany in 1942 and came to Canada in
1953. He writes in English and German and has had five books of
poetry and meditations published in Germany. He teaches European
literature at Douglas College in New Westminster, B.C.
Lawrence P. Springarn lives in Van Nuys, California, where he runs
Perivale Press. His poetry appears in recent or forthcoming issues of
Michigan Quarterly, New Orleans Review, Massachusets Review and
Poetry Now. He is currently editing an anthology of poems from the
Western states that won a grant from the California Arts Commission,
entitled Poets West, due for publication in December.
Warren Stevenson was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and teaches English
at University of British Columbia. His poems have been published in
Soundings and other journals. An earlier poem which appeared in
Prism won a Borestone Mountain Poetry Award.
Robert J. S. Tyhurst was born in Halifax, N.S., in 1951. His writing
has appeared in a number of periodicals, including The Malahat
Review. He lives in Vancouver and is doing graduate studies in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.
Lorna Uher is an English teacher and guidance counsellor in Swift
Current, Saskatchewan. Her work has been included in recent issues of
Next Year Country, Grain, Skylark and boundary 2.
93 Robert Ward is 25 years old and a graduate of Syracuse University
with a B.A. in English and Creative Writing. He has taught high school
English but is now employed in cabinet-making and furniture repair.
He has recently completed a first volume of poetry and is now working
on a novel.
Tom Wayman is writer-in-residence this year at the University of
Windsor. His third collection of poems, Money And Rain — Tom
Wayman Live!, will be published this October by Macmillan of Canada, Toronto. In keeping with the "live" format of this book, a cassette
tape recording of Mr. Wayman reading before an audience and in the
studio will be issued by Macmillan along with Money And Rain.
Christine Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian, born in the Bronx, New York.
While growing up she lived in various East Coast cities and now lives
in Milwaukee "with my raccoon and my nightingale." She has published in over a hundred American magazines, including recent or
forthcoming issues of The New York Quarterly, The West Coast Poetry
Review, The Ohio Review, The Iowa Review and others. In Canada
her work has appeared in 3<f Pulp, Event, and The University of
Windsor Review.
for almost every taste
and purpose can be found,
easily, at
919 Robson
670 Seymour
4560 W. 10th Avenue
1032 W. Hastings
CA 4-7012
University of British Columbia
Hours: Weekdays 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Department of Creative Writing
Professor & Head
Applications are invited for the above appointment, effective July 1, 1976.
The Department consists at present of six full-time members and offers the degrees of B.F.A. and M.F.A. The
University seeks a person with an established record as a
writer and teacher of creative writing and with some
experience in academic administration. The terms of
appointment and salary are negotiable. Enquiries and
applications (including the names of at least two references) should be sent not later than January 30, 1976 to
the undersigned, from whom further particulars can be
Professor Peter Remnant
Selection Committee
Office of the Dean of Arts
2075 Wesbrook Place
Vancouver, B.C.
Canada   V6T 1W5
note: The University of British Columbia offers equal
opportunity for employment to qualified male and
female candidates.


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