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 PRUij
INTERN
contemporary writing
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around the world
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Madeleine Thien PRISM international, a magazine of contemporary writing, is published four times
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Publications Mail Registration No. 08867. November 2000. ISSN 0032.8790
incil      Le Conscil des Arts ^^■i^M^R^
BRITISH
COLUMBIA
Fhe Canada Council      Le Conscil des Arts ^F^^^^^tT      /\t\ I O   V^>(^/ \J i\ C^IIj
for the Arts      du Canada Supported by the Provincf of British Columbia Contents
Vol. 39, No. 1 Fall 2000
Fiction
libby Creelman
Emil A. Draitser
translated from the Russian
by Melissa Bowen Rubin
ShaneDeBeer
Melania Levitsky
and the author
Janice Levy
Shelia Peters
Mark Anthony Jarman
Frank and Agnes 7
The Dark Copy 22
Just Like Home 25
The Ticket 27
Hoo-ha 36
Shooting in the Dark 62
The Second Little Pig Discusses
Finances With His Wife 80
My Empty Sleeve  84
Matt Cohen
Non-Fiction
from Typing 52 Poetry
Jan Conn
Derk Wynand
Sandy Shreve
matt robinson
Zoe Landale
Adam Chiles
frances hahn
Scott Ramsey
Peter Norman
Rhian Clare Cox
Michael McManus
Leaving San Salvador 15
RioGuama 16
Fragrance of the Moon 17
The Clipped Language of Mathmatics 18
Dragonflies 20
Tropical Moth 21
Elles 29
a catalogue of scars 34
Evergreens Remind Me 47
My Mother & the Moon 48
Invocation 56
Nightmare 58
The Parish Road 59
snow 60
fruit 61
Eclipse 73
Asking for Directions 74
What He Found in the Vacuum Bag 76
Winged Pupil 77
Release of Form 78
Assuming Spring 79
Contributors Libby Creelman
Frank and Agnes
"X Tou remember that habit of hers. When she was five, six, seven?"
Y Frank said to Agnes. "It's no surprise, considering that, what she's
1. doing now."
"No."
"Yes, you do, Agnes."
"Search me."
"I have to spell it out, do I?"
"I guess so." Agnes leaned forward in the bed and reached behind her
to better prop herself with the pillows. She was laughing.
"That summer she went without underwear. Agnes!"
"Oh, Frank. What are you talking about?"
"I believe there was a tendency in her then, even at that age."
"A tendency, Frank? A tendency towards what?"
He disappeared into the bathroom, came out again in his pyjamas and
said, "Promiscuity."
"Stop it." She watched him circle the room and return to her. 'Those
summers were the best days of my life," she said.
"You sound like her."
"Should I mind that? You sound like I should mind that. She's my daughter. People get divorced."
"Adultery? I am well aware the word's passe, Agnes. Nevertheless—
" But Agnes looked so angry he stopped. He sat down on the edge of the
bed. After a while he said, "I'm losing my mind."
"Underwear," she told him, addressing his bowed back.
"Right! And I still think I'm on to something. Those Fridays I'd come
out here and invariably she'd be waltzing around in those soiled dresses—
"All that sewing I used to do..."
"—without underwear!"
"You came out Saturday mornings."
"I did not. I got off work and beat it up here for the last ferry."
"Maybe the first year."
"Okay," he said.
"Never mind, Frank. But I really can't remember her going without
underwear." "I'd step off that ferry and she'd be hanging off the railings there—
where children were prohibited, by the way—and she'd climb her feet
up the sides, her dress would fall back, and there were her privates. Certainly there are some things we don't need to see."
"You should have said something."
He shrugged. "Embarrassed, I suppose."
"I'm sure it wasn't intentional, or genetically driven, as you seem to be
suggesting. She was always in such a rush to run off with her friends, or
meet you at the ferry, that she forgot to put some on."
"I honestly don't know the answer to that."
"It wasn't a question, Frank."
"And now she's getting divorced."
"Yes."
"And..."
'Whatever you want to call."
"Carrying on?"
"Yes," she said.
After a few fitful twists and turns in bed, Frank was asleep. All this happening, and he was finding it easy to sleep. Agnes did not find it easy. She
was too hot, for one thing. Here it was fall but the cool temperatures
were slow coming. The bedroom windows were open, yet there was something about the dark out there this time of year that frightened her; after
an hour or so she usually accepted the heat and closed the windows.
There was no longer that buoyant summer promise, the feeling that during the night as you slept wonderful secret things were happening outside, so that when you awoke in the morning all those night-time noises—
the buzzes, the clicks, and in the last hours, the singing—paid off in the
deliverance of a shimmering day.
Now when she thought of the outside she thought of decaying
flowerbeds and a shredded hedge, and everywhere the colours feeble
and drained, and something else—huddled and cold, a child's bogeyman.
Agnes refused to blame herself for the current state of Julie's life, nor
would she interfere. In fact, if it weren't for those three children without
any notion of the word restraint—despite Julie's constant battling with
them—it might do Julie and Raymond some good to spend time apart.
It was only weeks ago, the middle of August, when Raymond had talked
them into going to the Blue Jay for lunch. Frank had been worn out from
getting the new screens in and the ride over that unpaved road to the
other end of the island could seem endless. And Raymond had invited
every neighbourhood child he'd laid eyes on; he and Julie had that cursed
van. The Blue Jay had not existed when Agnes's children were small. It
was a little blue building surrounded by massive oaks and a wooden patio for eating. There was a window where you ordered and paid, then off
you went to claim your table and wait an unfathomably long time with
the hornets before they called you by your first name to come get your
food, which was overpriced and tasteless.
'This place is such a rip-off," Simon said. Simon was fifteen, the oldest.
"I'll tell you what, Simon," Julie said. 'You can help pay for lunch with
that attitude and this week's allowance. How's that?"
But Agnes knew Julie would never keep to this. By the end of the day,
guilt and second thoughts would get to her.
It was crowded, as Frank had predicted, and the adults—along with
Simon—found a place in the shade while the younger children went
straight for the empty tables out on the hot lawn.
Agnes sat down, hoping they could sort out the ordering without her.
"I'll have a lobster roll and iced tea, dear," she told Frank.
"Shall I make sure they put in some ice for you?"
"Please."
"Ice. I'm sure it's just a bunch of kids running this place. Ice. You'd
think it would be included automatically." But Frank didn't move. Agnes
knew he wasn't comfortable with this business of going to them to place
his order; he'd rather they came to him, pad of paper in hand.
"Even Simon could run this place," Frank muttered.
Agnes glanced at her grandson but he hadn't heard. He and Julie were
still bickering over his allowance.
'Where's Dad?" Simon asked.
"Don't think you'll get anything out of him," Julie told her son. "If he
gives you one penny he can walk home."
"I hate you, Mom," Simon said softly.
'Well, I hate you too, honey."
Agnes disregarded this exchange, she had found it was the best approach, and Frank, she saw, had not heard. He was still standing there,
staring across at the little window.
"Go help your father order, Julie," Agnes said. "So Raymond's gone
off. It won't prevent the kids from getting hungry." The place was crowded
and noisy, but already Agnes had heard the voices of her two other grandchildren, Timothy and Emma, crescendo above all other sounds.
Frank and Julie came back with the drinks—thick with ice—which
they distributed to everyone. Intermittent shouts and screams on the
lawn made their way over to the adults, but it wasn't until one voice rose
clearly above the rest, "Mom, Emma saidfuckl" that Julie pushed back
her chair with that stony look of hers and went over to make—Agnes had no doubt—a number of threats.
At last the food was ready and Agnes helped Julie distribute the hamburgers and fries to the children.
All of the hamburgers had mayonnaise. It was apparently unexpected.
One very thin boy—Agnes had never seen him before—turned a disappointed face to Julie and pointed to his hamburger where a smear of
mayonnaise was turning transparent in the heat. "Oh, for Christ's sake,"
Julie began, then stopped, put a hand on the boy's shoulder and said, "Go
get a knife to scrape it off, Rusty."
Timothy pushed his meal away and said to his mother in that end-of-
the-world tone of his, "There's no way I'm gonna eat that."
"You look flushed, sweetheart," Agnes said to Emma. "Why don't you
come sit with the grown-ups under the trees?"
"That's a good idea," Julie said. "I meant to separate you two."
Emma followed them back to the patio, but when Simon wouldn't move
so she could sit beside her mother, she refused to touch her meal.
"Emmie's a little baby. Has to sit next to her mommy," Simon said.
After that Emma kept slipping away, back to the boys' table, and Julie
kept going over to retrieve her. Each time Emma returned she had more
and more catsup on her shirt, and was looking so hot Agnes was afraid
she'd get sunstroke. Then they heard Timothy shout, "Mom, Emma put
catsup on Rusty's hat. Mom! Aren't you going to punish her?"
"Where is Raymond?" Agnes asked Frank. Although he never said a
word, Frank was usually uncomfortable with this public scene-making.
Today, however, he seemed unconscious of it. Agnes thought it might be
time to have his hearing checked again.
She watched Emma trail Julie back across the lawn, then suddenly
throw herself down on the grass. Julie turned and said, "Get up, Emma."
But you couldn't blame Julie, Agnes thought. Raymond was always up
to this: taking them somewhere and disappearing. Right now he was probably having a drink in someone's kitchen, not far away. He might even be
watching them.
Agnes sipped her iced tea. There was so much ice it was finished already. She watched as Julie sat down on the grass beside Emma, who
was so angry she looked unwell. Despite the heat her face was white and
those brown eyes appeared to be moving inwards, closer together.
When Emma gave her brother and his friends the finger, using both
hands, Agnes almost laughed. It was not a practised gesture: her fingers
were gathered beneath each thumb so that her middle fingers stuck out
awkwardly from round little fists. She kept jabbing the air with these
fists, looking so inexperienced, and suddenly, seeing those two—mother
and daughter struggling to get through the afternoon, Agnes felt old.
Timothy began yelling, "Look! She's giving us the finger! Mom, aren't
10 you going to punish her for that? Oh my God, I can't believe it, you're not
going to punish her!" Just in case, Agnes thought, there was anyone here
for lunch not yet aware of their family.
Then, miraculously, mother and daughter stood and began walking
away
"Why are you holding her hand?" Timothy shrieked. "Isn't she in trouble?"
Emma was crying now, clinging to her mother and stumbling along.
Agnes watched them, God knew when they'd be back. She turned to
Frank, who winked at her and said, "Well, Miss America, I guess it's up
to you and me to hold down the fort now," and she looked away, embarrassed by her relief.
Agnes kicked away the sheets. When she couldn't sleep at night her calves
felt so tense, and her feet so hot, it was all she could do to stay still. She'd
like to roll around the bed, fling her legs from one side to the other,
somehow get this edginess out of her.
Frank hadn't stirred, thank goodness. He lay on his side with the summer blanket pulled up over his shoulders. All their married life he had
run cold and she had run hot, and nothing had changed as they'd grown
older. Frank would rise early, as he always did, and she would sleep the
morning hours away, catching up.
She couldn't remember whether she'd shut the windows. She hated
this getting up again and again in the night to fool with the windows, the
sheets, the door. If the windows were open it was a good idea to shut the
door or at least lodge it open with a pillow, since a breeze could come up
and rattle the door just as you were finally dozing off. Of course what was
worse was waking and not being sure which bed you were in. Which
house. Here on the island the bed faced the windows; in the city there
was only that small one on Frank's side. But just last week she had awoken
and expected the windows to be behind her, which had been unnerving—it was years since their bed had been on that side of the room.
Underwear? Agnes couldn't remember. When she searched for an
image of Julie at that age she saw Emma, slumped murderous and neglected on the lawn at the Blue Jay. What a day. Once they were home,
she had reminded everyone that the Bartletts were expected for drinks
at five. Julie had groaned. Frank went for a nap, and Raymond for the
Glenfiddich.
Joe and Lucy Bartlett brought along their granddaughter Melissa, who
was staying with them. Raymond, who hadn't showered or changed, took
the chair across from Melissa and Mrs. Bartlett and began suggesting
various cocktails, all of which Melissa refused, blushing.
"I've been trying to get your granny to run off with me for years,"
11 Raymond told Melissa. It was so absurd neither Melissa nor Mrs. Bartlett
bothered to suppress a smile.
Agnes stood by with a plate of cheese and crackers.
He leaned forward. "So, how about me and you run off for the weekend?" He looked at Mrs. Bartlett. "What's her name again?"
"Melissa," Melissa said.
Julie arrived with drinks. "A G&T for you, Mrs. Bartlett and—"
'What are you giving her? Not fruit juice!"
He sounded so crestfallen Mrs. Bartlett glanced at her granddaughter, but Agnes smiled and said, "Don't pay any attention to Raymond. We
don't."
"Get up," Julie said to Raymond. She was kicking his feet. "Go show
Mr. Bartlett your new skiff. He'd love to see it. And take Daddy."
'Yes," Mrs. Bartlett agreed.
But Frank and Joe returned within minutes; Raymond was going to
take the skiff out for a run-around on his own.
"Aren't you worried about him out on the water all by himself?" Melissa
asked, addressing both Julie and Agnes, and the question, so guileless,
took them by surprise.
When Raymond returned from his boat ride, Agnes hoped he'd behave
himself, but he couldn't stay seated and kept bouncing up to pace around
the room. He stopped in front of Melissa and said, "Come on, have a
drink."
"Leave her alone, Raymond."
"I can't," Melissa said. "I have to get up early. I'm taking the first ferry
in the morning. Now stop bothering me," she added, a little breathlessly.
"Excuse me, Raymond," Mrs. Bartlett said. She was trying to stand
but Raymond blocked her way, as well as, Agnes noted, her view of her
husband, who was discussing with Frank plans to replace the electric
cable to the island. At last Mrs. Bartlett rose, but not before Raymond
nearly sat on her lap in his hurry to claim her seat beside Melissa, who
frowned at him.
"You can have a drink and still get up early," he said. "Frank does it
every day." Now that he was close to her—as close as he'd ever get—he
relaxed. Agnes glanced at her watch.
Frank broke off his discussion with Mr. Bartlett to look over at
Raymond. "Did you say something to me, Raymond?"
'Yes, sir. Frank has a drink and still gets up early. Four o'clock. I really
admire him. Oh, you should hear him. I got up at four and did this and
this and this. Then he takes a nap. Agnes over there gets up at the crack
of eleven, then makes her way downstairs like a blind woman for her
coffee and bran flakes. She's not ready for the world until about one,
12 when she has to do something about that head, as Frank refers to her
hair."
"I'm sorry, Melissa," Julie apologized, though Agnes thought it was
unnecessary—Melissa had laughed out loud during Raymond's sketch
of their personal life. "He always does this. He always ruins everything.
He thinks he's funny, but he's not, is he? Raymond, Melissa doesn't think
you're funny for a minute."
"No, I really don't."
Now she was flirting. It was inevitable.
'Were you watching me out there, dear?" he asked her.
"Out where?"
"In the skiff."
"No. Not really."
"But I was showing off for you!"
"You don't have to shout everything, Raymond."
Mrs. Bartlett had returned from the bathroom and was sitting down
beside Julie. 'We're used to Raymond, you know that, Julie. Nothing he
says seems unusual. Do you still have that platter we gave you?"
"Mrs. Bartlett, that platter is so practical. It's our favourite wedding
present."
"And how are the children?"
"Oh, really great." Julie managed a smile and looked at the floor. Agnes
saw that the moment of willing away everything you own and love for the
chance to strangle your husband had passed. It occurred to her how
mistaken Frank was to think Julie's recent behaviour was about anything
more than staying, or not staying, in a marriage.
"You mean way out there?" Melissa asked Raymond, pointing to the
inlet through the sliding glass doors. "I wouldn't be able to see you way
out there. I'd need binoculars or a telescope or something."
But Raymond's interest in Melissa was winding down; he had been
following Julie's conversation with Mrs. Bartlett. "Our favourite wedding
present?" he wondered, looking at his wife, then added, "The binoculars
are missing in action."
'What did you say?" Melissa asked.
"I think they finally took them away from Frank."
The Bartletts left soon after that. But before they did, Agnes had the
experience of being made privy to all the years of gossip ever said about
you. Whoosh. Now you knew.
Frank and his binoculars.
But the binoculars had not been taken away; Frank had misplaced
them early in the summer and with that vague, befuddled air that had
recently come to him, orbited away from his old habits without, it
13 appeared to Agnes, a care in the world.
It was the look on Lucy's face she took pains not to wear, and the
glance she was careful not to exchange with Joe, that told Agnes everything. For years, Frank had been watching people, people he knew, people doing absolutely nothing of any consequence, and they had all known.
It was a pastime, a hobby. Frank was nosy. There were worse things.
He watched from the window over the kitchen sink, from the sliding
glass doors in the living room, and most blatantly, she supposed, from
his boathouse. He knew who was back on the island, who had just shopped
for groceries or returned from golf, who went to bed early and who was
faithful to their gardens. And all their married life he had reported these
discoveries to her, and she had accepted each like a gift, knowing that
somehow, by keeping an eye on everyone, he was protecting her.
But did he know other things? Did he know who had visits from police
in the night, who slammed their doors and kicked their dogs, who was
really loved, and by whom?
What Agnes realized just before the Bartletts said their goodnights
was that not only had people known they were being watched—my God,
she and Frank had been coming to the island for forty years—but that
they had not liked it. There was something wrong with a man, they must
have said a dozen times, who was such a snoop he spent the good part of
his day spying on you with a pair of binoculars.
When Agnes awoke again it was finally morning and Frank was still asleep
beside her. She was surprised to see the windows were open. She must
have reopened them in the night, though she had only the faintest
memory of doing so.
In the kitchen she brewed her coffee. The window above the sink was
also open, which was unusual, and the air coming in was cool, carrying
with it the smell of the sea and a smell that Agnes could only describe as
fallish. The whole kitchen smelled/a//?s/z.
She tidied around the sink, throwing out some nasty-looking dill that
had been propped in a glass of water to freshen over a week ago, then
sponged away the black gunk around the faucets that Frank was oblivious to. Frank was usually the first up and about, as Raymond had pointed
out to Melissa; it was years since Agnes had the silent morning kitchen
to herself. She was thinking about Julie's insufficient dress code as a
child, how this was a thing Frank had kept from her, something that
would surely have embarrassed her back then, when she turned to glance
at the wall clock behind her and saw that it was ten-thirty.
'Ten-thirty already," she said out loud, surprised again by the cool air
that had entered the house in the night.
14 Jan Conn four poems
Leaving San Salvador
Tonight I should take the roan horse from the stables
and go, leave the old capital of San Salvador,
and my green-eyed beauty. She is wild, and longs for silk.
In the whole of southern Brazil, not a single silkworm.
Not even the seed of a mulberry tree.
In the rainforest, it is said, everything grows.
I know the cannonball tree—its provocative crimson flowers,
and the secrets of the ceiba tree. The capoeira master
said I should travel north to Manaus. Where the two rivers meet
in ink blue and terracotta, I may find a rumour of silk.
15 Rio Guama
All along the dark purple river, the egrets
stop feeding, just for an instant. The barge
of red and yellow painted humans churns to a stop.
Silently and gracefully, the birds rise
and disappear above the trees. People jump off the barge,
flounder in the shallows, try to follow the birds.
We pause; rewind the tape. Notice
the swollen faces under the thin layers of dried clay,
the twisted, broken spears. With a flick
the image is gone. Outside the screened windows,
the rain pelts down. A white mist covers
the world; the river empties itself of images.
16 Fragrance of the Moon
i
Ghost of Buddy Bolden strolling Shell Beach, moonstruck,
scattering high silver cornet notes. Outscatting the moon.
Notes blown so pure and loud they create new tides—the now famous
Bolden Tide that carries away sleeping babies and old men,
melancholic in their nursing homes.
II
Fragrance of the moon:
white musk or cold, like new snow on granite. Leads
to drinking, dancing solitary at midnight. Oh, give me a kiss,
a honeydew, a spray can labeled Moonlight On Demand.
Those glow-in-the-dark stars I mailed to my nephew, belatedly,
for his birthday on the Ides of March. I saw them last night,
they made the Dog Star howl; they stole Casseopia's heart.
17 The Clipped Language of
Mathematics
i
Tom in red shirt and black jeans defines, in the clipped language
of mathematics, the inverse of a matrix,
a forced translation of the life of a star. How I love you alpha and
beta, yes and even the square root of a window
where outside is blossoming the delirious magnolia
and the shy queen, crepe myrtle,
or the red-tailed hawk dismembering a squirrel.
N=l hawk a random sample too small so we throw it away.
18 II
The boulder: russet, pitted—worn out by history.
A fragment of the moon, exhausted by lovers' laments,
repository of untold numbers of tired metaphors.
Beneath the boulder the woman with lavender hair
and violet eyes strikes a pose for the sculptor:
holds together the white wraparound skirt with one flat palm.
Her calm demeanor puts her at the top of miss Elkington's charm
school,
boulder beats telephone book balanced on top of the head
for keeping the spine erect. In her mind she's hurtling through
outer space, no gravity in sight. Speaking to the stars in Arabic
and explaining the dreaded sums of squares,
the approximation of the approximation...
There are more than enough stars to satisfy sample size, like an audience.
She loves this more than anything.
19 Derk Wynand two poems
Dragonflies
Two of them
mating, a pair
suspended in heat
heavier than what
their frantic wings
seem made of.
When the sun
reflects off them
at just the
right angle (it
depends on where
and who you
think you are)
their wings and
their bodies begin,
perfectly, to disappear.
20 Tropical Moth
Large as a small bat
and inside the house as fleshy
when you slap at it in vain,
ominous in its black feathers
as any bird that's found an entry,
and attractive as any death wish—
yes, it draws the eye,
the hand, the full burden
of the mind—
and when opened screens
and windows allow an escape,
your heart goes fluttering after it.
21 Em/7 A. Draitser
translated from the Russian by Melissa Bowen Rubin
and the author
The Dark Copy
It was the month of May. And the train conductor, Ivan Gavrilovich
Sviridov, felt very good. First of all, simply because of the blossoming of
nature. In addition, it was payday.
And not only that, but the amount he received was more than expected—
more than usual. Substantially.
'What's this for?" inquired Sviridov.
"What for, what for," muttered the bookkeeper, not raising her head.
"They give it, you take it; they hit you—you run!"
"But still!" insisted Ivan Gavrilovich.
The bookkeeper sighed, ran her finger along a column and pointed to
the figures opposite Sviridov's name. "This code means a bonus."
'What for?" the train conductor broke into a smile. 'What for, exactly?"
At this, the bookkeeper tore herself away from the register, in order to
have a look at this pest. 'What's the difference! Didn't I say, they give it—
you take it..."
At this point Ivan Gavrilovich began to encounter his colleagues, the
other conductors, in the corridors. And they asked why he looked so radiant
"A bonus," he answered. "Only, exactly what it's for, I don't know..."
"They gave it to you, it must mean something," his colleagues said, and
clapped him on the shoulder. 'Why should you be surprised, Gavrilich,
when you've got twenty years of flawless service! Sure, they're entrusting
you with more responsible work. This calls for a celebration—you owe us a
drink!"
And his wife noticed his enthusiasm at the doorway.
"Look here," he said to his wife, "a bonus. For... Well, in general," he said,
"for everything good."
And his wife said to the neighbours, as if casually, "They honoured my
husband at work. And with nothing less than a bonus!"
And every time they saw him, all the neighbours congratulated him, 'To
your bonus, Ivan Gavrilovich!"
"Thanks for your kind words," he answered, and departed on his next
assigned run.
22 And having returned in a no less pleasant month—June—he went as
usual to the cashier's office to pick up his next pay packet.
Again the sum did not agree with the usual, the amount he expected.
Only in the opposite direction: it was less. Substantially.
'What's this for?" asked Sviridov.
"What for, what for," muttered the bookkeeper, not raising her head.
"They hit you—you run; they give it—you take it!"
"But still!" insisted Ivan Gavrilovich.
"This code means a deduction."
"For what?"
"For the bonus. We gave it to you by mistake. They sent us a dark carbon
copy, a very poor specimen, from the head office. And we confused you
with another comrade, who had earned it."
"But that means I didn't..."
"That's what it means."
The conductors met again in the corridors. "Ah, Gavrilich! What's with
your bonus? Did you forget about us?"
"I don't have a bonus," Sviridov said. "They took it back."
'What happened?"
"It happened," Ivan Gavrilovich said, poking the air around him helplessly. "A poor specimen, they say..."
"They took it back, it must mean something," said his colleagues to each
other, following Sviridov with their stares. "There he is with twenty years of
flawless service. And look, in the twenty-first he screws up. Who'd have
thought it of Gavrilich!"
And his wife noticed his dark mood at the doorway. She asked about the
missing sum.
"They received a dark copy..." Ivan Gavrilovich forced out.
"You're keeping something in the dark yourself," said his wife. "How
could they have taken it away, if you paid taxes and union dues with the
bonus?"
And it was the same with the neighbours. Sviridov couldn't make them
clearly understand anything at all.
"A poor specimen," he said, but not a further sensible word would come
to him. Something interfered.
He began to try to figure out who was to blame here.
It turned out to be nobody.
The top boss was not to blame. He'd signed a clear copy.
The boss under him was also not to blame. After all, he approved the
same clear copy.
And the bookkeeper was less to blame than anyone, since she herself
had received a dark copy.
There was nowhere else to turn, and the train conductor, clenching his
23 teeth, drank himself into such a ferocious state that he turned dark blue.
The colour of ink.
And when the professor of pathology led in his students, in order to
demonstrate his skill in dissection, the corpse of Sviridov caught his eye.
"So, dear friends," said the professor, rubbing his hands with alcohol.
"You're exceptionally lucky today. Over-intoxication. A ver-ry interesting
specimen."
24 Emil A. Draitser
translated from the Russian by Shane DeBeer and the author
Just Like Home
We used to bring sandwiches to work. During our lunch hour we
set up by the hot-water kettle and soon gobbled them down
with hot water. For brewing we chipped in ten kopecks apiece
and bought a large can of Indian tea.
"All we ever eat around here is sandwiches and more sandwiches!"
said one of our co-workers. "Let's buy a hot-plate and boil some dumplings. It would be quick and easy."
Everyone agreed. We chipped in ten kopecks apiece and bought a
hot-plate. And pots (you have to cook the dumplings in something). We
chipped in another ten kopecks apiece and bought forks.
And dishes. At first plates. And then someone wanted to drink the
dumpling broth, so bowls were bought to go with the plates. And spoons.
Before the holiday we got up a little party. We wanted to have a drink
of wine. We quickly chipped in ten kopecks apiece and bought wine
glasses.
I pulled two catalogues, a manual and a three-volume trade dictionary
off the shelf. The result was a mini-bar.
Now we were a lot more comfortable. An hour before lunch the women
took turns running out to the stores and doing the cooking. Now we
were able to devote lunch to walks in the fresh air and rendezvous with
lovers. The women felt completely at home. They brought their bedroom slippers and their knitting.
I started to bring my electric razor with me. And then I figured out
that I could dry out my nylon shirt, which had been washed in the institute sink, on the coat-rack. My evenings were even freer now!
I cleaned the papers out of my desk drawer and kept the minimum
necessary underclothes in there.
And in general, I finally decided, what's the point of wasting two hours
on the road to and from work every day? And so I spent the night on the
couch in the director's reception room.
Little Irina from our department also lived far away-
Soon we were married. Our colleagues gave us a refrigerator, and our
parents gave us a commode. We didn't have to buy a television; Ivan
Ivanovich, the director, allowed us to watch his.
25 Within a year our son Misha was born. We put the crib in the library.
Irochka's mother moved there from the archives to watch her grandson.
My father-in-law went on pension and managed to get on as a night-watchman at our institute. That way in the evenings the whole family was together.
Guests started to visit us on Saturdays. We received them in the chancellery. Irochka hung floral-print door curtains. We hoisted a watercol-
our called "The Early Birdie," which our nephew Tolya painted, onto the
supervisor of the provision department's door. We decorated the corridor walls with ceramic pots of petunias and cacti.
The endless telephone calls, couriers coming in and out, and the
crowds of business travellers began to irritate us gradually. I took the
institute to court to divide the square footage. By way of moral compensation, I insisted they award me the fireproof bookcase and the guest tea
service.
The litigation was successful. Our institute left.
Now we bring sandwiches to work again.
26 Emil A. Draitser
translated from the Russian by Melania Levitsky
and the author
The Ticket
Oh, how he wished that people would understand that he wasn't a
baby anymore. But they didn't get it. His mother would take him
to school on the bus and she always refused to take a ticket for
him from the conductor. If the conductor was very insistent, his mother
would push Roma into the centre of the aisle. 'Well, see for yourselves!"
And to Roma's grief and shame, usually the conductors would agree.
Some grumbled, of course, but all the same, they let it pass. He would
stand in the aisle with his head hunched and his shoulders raised—more
a bowling pin than a boy.
It was even worse for Roma when he had to sneak onto the bus unnoticed and hide behind someone's coat because his mother wouldn't give
him any money.
"It's nothing! They won't get poor!" she would say about someone, he
didn't know who, as she prepared Roma for school.
"What if they notice my satchel?"
'Tell them that you study in the music school. There they accept six
year olds."
Fortunately, no one asked him to pay. The trips only took ten minutes,
but for him they were a year-long blizzard full of danger, wind, and cold.
One day, Roma couldn't stand it anymore. He set out from school on
foot. The road went along a construction site and was mucky with puddles of melted ice. His new boots made a quick acquaintance with lime,
clay, and red brick crumbs. Roma washed them in a puddle. At first they
were okay, but when they dried they cracked and turned gray. That day
he was mercilessly spanked. Sobbing quietly, he listened as his mother
spoke to him in a strange, far-away, unmotherly voice, "Don't you dare,
don't you ever lie to me!"
What could he do? How could he go on?
That night he came to a decision. For a long time Roma rocked on his
bed from side to side in quiet joy, curled up with his knees under his
chin.
27 It was hardly daybreak when he slipped out of bed, quietly got dressed,
grabbed his satchel and made his way to escape. A door locked with a
metal hook blocked his path. The Iron Goose from a fairy tale stood
guard at all entrances and exits. His heart beat heavily in his chest like a
lead ball in a wooden clapper.
Roma tried to push the hook out of the goose's beak with his finger. It
didn't work. He grasped the cold goose-neck and yanked up. The goose
honked but did not give in. Then Roma quickly squatted, raised his shoulders, leaned with his legs, and jerked his whole body upwards.
With an iron clang, the door slowly swung open and thudded against
a drain pipe. Roma squinted his eyes shut and held his breath.
He had gotten past the wicket gate when he heard a bellow from the
window, 'Where do you think you're going? Get back in the house! Eat
your breakfast!"
The milk had a sour taste, the bread was musty, and his usual cup
looked ugly. An hour later when they were going towards the bus, Roma
looked numbly down at the tips of his boots poking out from under his
coat, right, left, right, left.
They sat down in the bus. The mother paid with a five-kopeck coin.
The elderly conductor examined the coin under his nose and said with
a sniffle, "Lady, isn't the little boy yours? What, is he by himself?"
His mother turned and said to no one in particular, "Not supposed to
pay. Doesn't go to school yet."
Her face got spiteful and haughty. Roma became hot-hot, his temples
pounded, he clenched his teeth and tore himself from his mother's hands
and burst out sobbing, "I already go to school! I am in third grade! I...I
am almost nine years old! It's just that I'm small!"
He reached the conductor in the aisle, jerked open his satchel and
still crying, began to pull out his notebooks.
"Here...here is one for Russian! There you see, it says third grade.
Here is one for arithmetic! Here!"
Leaves of blotting paper were fluttering out of his notebooks. Roma
caught at them, wet from his tears, as they fell at the passengers' feet. He
dropped to the floor to collect them, glancing fearfully at his mother from
the corner of his eye. A ruckus began above him. Roma could not make
out what they were shouting about. He cried.
The next morning his mother led the resistant Roma to the bus stop. At
the last moment he tried to break away from her, but she swiftly picked
him up and pushed him into the bus.
She extended a coin, hesitated, but nevertheless said, as indifferently
as possible, 'Two."
Upon hearing this, Roma straightened and grew quiet.
28 Sandy Shreve
Elles (Henri de Toulose-
Lautrec, 1896)
In 1894, Lautrec took up residence at the brothel on the rue des Moulins,
where he produced many drawings and paintings of the women of the house
as they relaxed, slept or were otherwise uninvolved in their profession. The
1896 Elles series of lithographs is the final result of this prolonged visit and
is the artist's most eloquent homage to the women of the rue des Moulins
and others of their profession.
—Phillipe Dennis Cate, "'Parades,' Paris and Prostitutes"
Woman Washing Herself—The Toilette
When you think about it, really it is odd
the way we choose one part
of the body
to love best. How we
bargain with God over tragedies
that may never happen—
take an arm if you must, but leave me
two good legs;
my hearing
but never my sight
This young artist
loves women's backs. While he was drawing
mine, I asked him to put down
his crayon, and wash that bit in the middle
I almost can't reach.
Me, I adore
breasts, and the way you get a glimpse
of mine, full and firm in the small
mirror above the wash basin:
my favourite part of this picture.
29 Woman with Mirror—The Hand Mirror
For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face:
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
—1 Corinthians 13.12
He has shaded in most of my looking glass
with a messy cross-hatch. All
you can see of my reflection is a corner
of my forehead, one eye and
a high cheekbone; a tuft of unruly hair.
A bit literal.
I don't much care
for the way he has my night dress torn
and falling off my right shoulder, or how
my robe is tossed carelessly across
that chair. Even though my bed is
made and my yellow slippers shout "tidy"
from the floor—I and my room
look used.
Still, he put me
in the foreground taking up a lot
of space and standing
tall, the way my mother taught me.
You ask what I'm thinking as I gaze
into my mirror. Notice
the comb in my hand.
30 Woman Combing Her Hair—The Coiffure
I sit on the floor
alone, in my darkened room—
dream of sunflowers,
eyes on the ground, looking much
like mine; the wind in their hair.
31 Woman in Bed, Profile—Awakening
Well now, would you look at us. Two whores
in the morning. Who cares? That was my
first reaction, seeing me sitting up in bed (my sheets
and velvet coverlet so neat you'd think I'd hardly
slept a wink) and Eloise standing by
like anybody's guardian.
Even so, I wish I were less rigid in this picture. I seem
slightly peeved, a little sullen. Eloise, she's all
warmth and kindness, as if she's being
patient with me. I was told
it's all about how my squandered youth has nothing
to look forward to but Eloise's sagging shape and
undesired age. So, this afternoon while we were playing
cards, I asked him. Henri, I said, since when
was getting old unique to prostitutes? He poured
us both another drink. Then grinned
and raised his glass to me.
32 Woman in Her Corset—Passing Conquest
Uncanny, how so many
men
like to watch
me dress. This one, bow-tied,
tucked into his hat and tails
is especially fond
of my corsets. He
sits
like an obedient child.
He will not lift his gloved hand
to help me.
33 matt robinson
a catalogue of scars
tonight the dishwater is hot and my hands
emerge a startled red, this is an identification
of injury, a discussion of wrongs—my tongue
and the inside of my mouth respond: falter,
and moisten in biological empathy, the cursing
follows: fluid like a wound, slick and bright.
u.
perhaps the ragged burgundy shoulder
seam mess of a touch football t-shirt, the smooth pink
slash of hockey puck memory that colours and smudges
my elbow like a rink dasher's blacks, even the darker greys
of asphalt patching and streetlight shadows on roads
all contribute to it: a narrative of sorts.
in.
and there is the way a scratch on a record is
a kiss, sudden—arresting the moment, distorting and
overwhelming the contingencies of melody, and then
receding, releasing, a passing consumption,
and the way writing is a violence, all
linear bruise and struggle: a theory of scars.
34 IV.
the manner in which granite becomes
an igneous mnemonics, a coarse sherbet of a life, all crystalline
cuts and nicks, this is a physical grammar of remembering, of
shovels and earth, and the process of grass slowly
seeding, scabbing over, the torn flesh of a field and incorporating
the rock like pencil lead in a lip: beautiful and uneasy.
and finally, her celebratory scratch
of wine left on my chest the morning after, this
ambiguity of evidence conspires to elude any
unifying theory, order: a mathematics other
than a simple counting is unnecessary, explanation
is an excess tissue, rough and after the fact.
35 Janice Levy
Hoo-ha
Ti he funny man walks figure eights in the dark, breaks the tongue
off the cuckoo clock. The house hisses. Maybelline, he calls.
Maybelline.
He jots this down: "If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?"
and files it with the others. The air smells empty.
The funny man's eyes are a half inch too close, his left eyebrow higher
than the right. Maybelline once complained he was fast with one-liners,
but slow on the uptake.
She said age doesn't always bring wisdom. Sometimes age comes alone.
He's found a shoebox of grade school black-and-whites: Maybelline flirting with the camera, head tilted like a dove, puffing a candy cigarette.
He, with his pants pulled up to his neck, his fingers in a devil's "V," wagging a hot dog near his butt.
"Screwy Louie," she scrawled on his yearbook picture.
"Maybelline the beauty queen," he wrote on hers.
'Well!" he'd said, cupping his chin like Jack Benny, "when I'm famous,
you'll want front row seats."
'Where I'm going,"she said, pumping her knee, "they won't let you
in."
She fluffed her pincurls. His ears turned red. He loved the dimple in
her chin.
Louie met Maybelline's husband, Reilly, at Herman High's 40th reunion.
"Are Irish eyes smiling?" Louie asked.
"Cockamamie kidder," Maybelline said, punching his shoulder. Louie
slipped his arm out of his jacket and swung the empty sleeve.
"How are your folks?" she asked.
"Mom's eighty-eight years old and doesn't use glasses—she drinks
right out of the bottle." Louie winked twice. "Pop fell off the wagon and
left home. He saw a sign saying, 'Drink Canada Dry!' I just got a postcard
from Toronto."
Maybelline punched Louie's other arm.
"So, how come Hollywood don't know from you yet? You were gonna
be the next Henny Youngman, maybe Milton Berle, even."
36 "You were gonna be Miss America."
Reilly tweaked his chest hairs. "You married?"
"I haven't talked to my wife in three weeks; I didn't want to interrupt
her. I miss her cooking—as often as I can."
"Hoo-ha," Reilly snorted. "Only thing this one makes is reservations."
"Hoo-ha," Maybelline said. "Kiss my ass."
Reilly flicked his nose like a light switch. Maybelline rolled her hips at
Louie until he blushed.
Three weeks later, Maybelline found Reilly face down in a plate of her
brisket, his tongue swelled up like a shovel, like he dropped dead in a
plot of dirt.
At the reading of the will, Maybelline came out ahead of the two weeping girlfriends. She said one of the whores had a wraparound nose, the
other a pimply forehead. Last time she looked, neither had been on the
cover of Pageant Digest.
Maybelline bought a black dress from Saks and a veiled hat. She sat
Shiva, her bottom hanging over a low box, her stockinged feet lightly
perfumed. She spoke of Reilly's spirit rustling through the house. One
night, she said, his pillow split open. The feathers were damp and smelled
of beer. Maybelline let a tear slip, then redusted her face.
Maybelline said they were practically cousins they knew each other so
long and the way she remembered it, if Louie had spent less time, he
should pardon the expression, playing with himself, holed up in that attic, doing God knows what with those stupid index cards, and more time
playing with her, they would have been an item 'stead of her and Reilly
and him and that shiksa, may she rest in peace.
"—she's not—"
"Divorced, dead, the same thing and anyway so pale, even with all that
shtupping, we thought she had TB." Maybelline clicked her tongue.
"Anyways, Reilly knew people. He was gonna take me around, get my
nose fixed."
'What's wrong with your nose?"
"Nothing if you want to be Miss Congeniality your whole life."
"I could think of worse."
Maybelline squeezed his thigh, then stretched, bending down slower
than she had to in her knit dress. Louie sat on his hands.
"Nice touch," he said. "The part about the pillow."
Maybelline lifted her veil. She had Bette Davis eyes.
"Listen, Louie, about your grandson—"
He stiffened.
37 "I'm sorry. If I'd a known where you were living—"
"You would have dropped everything and—"
Maybelline shook her head.
"So, why bring it up?"
"I could've sent flowers. I got a guy gets me orchids wholesale, you
ever need—"
"What a perk."
Maybelline paused. "Anyways, I heard it was an accident, him dying
and all. Falling off your shoulders and getting crushed like a latka."
Louie closed his eyes. His knees felt weak.
"Reilly couldn't give me kids. The doctors said his sperm was like
salmon." Maybelline lowered her voice. "Being alone's a bitch."
"A bitch alone is worse."
Maybelline narrowed her eyes, but then punched his shoulder.
"Hoo-ha," she said.
"Hoo-ha," he replied.
"Hoo-ha," they said again, this time laughing, half crying, rat-tat-tat
like bullets, wrung from a place tight in their throats. Maybelline grabbed
Louie and shook him still, rubbing his back, as if trying to flatten the
bumps in his spine.
"At the cemetery," he said, " I felt like I was watching a bad movie.
When they lowered the casket, I did my Edward G. Robinson, 'Mother of
mercy, is that the end of Rico?' It just slipped out. Even the Rabbi lost his
place."
Maybelline paused. "You do Buddy Hackett? That bit with the
proctologist, each time I wet my pants."
Maybelline blew dust off the mantlepiece trophies. '"Miss Yonkers Dairy
Queen—Second Place.' For three months I was up the kazoo in
creamsicles. 'Miss Red Apple Rest Stop—Third Place.' I flushed the toilet, the room shook."
"And this?"
'"Runner-Up, Miss Monticello.' I stuffed my bathing suit with footballs.
You could do a ring-toss."
"Did Reilly?"
"He was a judge. He said the winner was a lousy lay. He packed me up,
bought me a watch, introduced me to egg rolls."
"So what happened?"
"The battery ran out and Wong Lee's closed. Now it's a topless bar."
Maybelline squeezed Louie's hand. "It was a long time ago."
"Everything was."
"You've still got your hair."
'You've still got your teeth."
38 Maybelline changed into something with feathers. Louie brought in a
pizza. They agreed that in the old days you didn't have to be dirty to be
funny, and that Maybelline had bone structure like Lauren Bacall.
"Maybelline," the funny man calls out. "Maybelline."
He flicks the yellow stick-ums on the refrigerator door, looking for
clues. Maybelline called the stick-ums her "Louie-Do-eys." They added
colour to the place, she said, and besides, she was tired of repeating
herself.
Their last fight had been about him losing the dry cleaning slips. Now
she was missing her favourite blouse, the one with the sharks over the
pocket that seemed to swim when she moved. Lately Maybelline had
been wearing turbans and caftans; her new lenses were violet. She said
the hair growing from his ears was eating up his brain and that he smelled
like mothballs.
"Do you know why Jewish men die before their wives?" he said. "They
want to."
"I'm just giving you a piece of my mind."
"Can you really afford to do that?"
"From George Burns, it was funny."
"On Elizabeth Taylor, it looked good."
Back and forth they'd gone, Maybelline cursing, Louie shuffling his
index cards, waiting through the tears, watching for that look in her eye,
for the signal to pounce. Then they'd be at each other's clothes, rolling
into furniture legs, having what Maybelline called Stanley-Stella sex.
"You never see me," she said. 'You never listen."
"If I did we'd be in trouble."
"You already are." Maybelline took off her turban. Her hair was white.
"When did you—"
"Hoo-ha," she said, turning in a slow circle, unwrapping her caftan.
She held him off like a matador. Her eyes were tearless. "Hoo-ha."
The funny man looks at his watch. He takes out an index card. What's
the difference between a woman and a vulture? A vuture waits until you're
dead to eat your heart out. Maybelline, he calls. Maybelline.
"Did you know I had a brother?" Maybelline said. "He wouldn't speak."
She rubbed vanishing cream on her freckled hands. Louie counted her
fingers. This month she was a blonde, in tight capri pants, with a beauty
mark above her lip.
"My father made a call and the men came. They rolled my brother up
like a carpet and carried him off."
"Then what happened?"
"My father took a shower. My mother bought a new hat. When it blew
off her head it looked like a bird."
39 "How old were you?"
"Almost five."
"Is he dead?"
"I don't know but in my dreams he looks like Geppetto. He carries a
sack of my broken toys. He laughs but I never get the joke."
"Does he talk?"
"He sings."
"Like who?"
"Sinatra."
'"My Way?'"
"'Send in the Clowns.'"
Louie whistled. "Five years old."
Maybelline closed her eyes and smiled. "I was 'Little Miss
Pumpernickle.' I rode in a float and waved a loaf of bread."
Louie spread cream cheese on the bagel so it hung down the sides, as if
he was painting a house. He handed it to Maybelline with a flourish.
"Stop stalling," she said.
Louie flipped through index cards. Maybelline wanted him on stage,
not working at a deli. She said his side of the bed reeked like nova and
that writing jokes for somebody else was like hearing one hand clap. She
pinched his back.
"You're slouching."
"That's how I stand."
"Bad posture isn't funny. Watch me." Maybelline glided across the
room as if on ice.
Louie drew a circle on a paper plate. "Psychiatrist says to the patient,
Take a look at this. What do you see?'And she—"
"What's his name?"
"Whose name?"
"The doctor."
"Yutz, Putz—what, you want an appointment?"
Maybelline shrugged.
"So he says to the patient—"
"Personally," Maybelline said, "I wouldn't go to a doctor named Putz."
"Can I go on?"
Maybelline zipped her lips.
"So the lady takes the paper—"
"What does she look like?"
"Who we talking about now?"
"The lady."
"Who the fuck—"
"Fuck isn't funny." Maybelline wagged her finger. "Fat is. Pickles, too.
40 Stick a pickle in her fat mouth and it don't matter what the shrink said."
Maybelline lifted her skirt. "Down my leg I'm tinkling, trust me, I know
what I'm talking." She handed Louie her empty plate.
The funny man can't find Maybelline's phone book, doesn't know her e-
mail password, can't remember the last names of her friends. He turns
the radio on and off, flips the TV channels. Bruce Willis is everywhere,
blowing up buildings, hanging from helicopters. The last film he'd brought
Maybelline to was something with Demi Moore taking off her clothes or
cutting off her hair, sliding up a pole or beating someone with a stick, he
only remembered it was around the time Maybelline had brought up the
shrinking. She sat on two Little League bases in the theatre, swinging
her feet until her shoes dropped off.
"I measured. Quarter of a inch I lost already"
"Your bones are settling, is all," he'd said.
"Settling, shmettling. I do this each month I lose a foot a year. Five
years I'm gone."
On the way home, she muttered about push-up pads and firm-grip
sprays for bathing suits, of body doubles and vaseline covered lenses.
She paced the living room, ranting about stapling her jaws shut,
liposuction and bat-wings.
"Everything is falling—" she said.
"What are we talking, raindrops?"
"I went from good to bad to ugly," she said.
"Good is your wife is pregnant. Bad is it's triplets. Ugly is you had a
vasectomy five years ago."
"You don't understand—"
"Sure I do. Good is your husband knows fashion. Bad is he's a cross-
dresser. Ugly is he looks better than you."
Maybelline began to cry. "I'm losing my touch."
"Rub my lamp," Louie took her arm, "let's see if my genie comes out."
The funny man remembers his index cards scattering, a coffee cup
spilling, he thinks he'd gotten a carpet burn on his knee. But he'd sweated
too much, her breath was foul, his moustache got stuck in her teeth.
They'd turned away from each other as they dressed, both jumping for
the telephone when it rang.
The funny man checks the suitcases under the bed, sees a small one
is missing. Her make-up case and vibrator are gone. Her lingerie drawer
is empty.
The funny man leans on a hat box and writes, 'Women need a reason
to have sex. Men just need a place." Maybelline, he calls. Maybelline.
Maybelline sat in the first row, laughing loudly, rocking in her chair. She
41 gave out Louie's business cards, shook hands and snapped pictures. It
was her idea to be a heckler, responding to his put-down wifey jokes.
"Why does it take a million sperm cells to fertilize one egg? They
won't ask for directions." Maybelline shimmied at the wolf whistles, once
someone bought her a drink. Sometimes Louie bumped his head on the
microphone, dropped his index cards and forgot the middle of a joke. As
time went on, he complained that people didn't hear so good anymore,
his hands shook, his words hung in the air like smoke. Maybelline bought
moustache dye and highlighter pens. She said his act needed more umph,
it was running out of gas. Louie said he had plenty of gas—and heartburn, too, that her sour puss was throwing off his timing. She said his
timing had always been off, if he knew what she meant, and teetered out
in her gold spiked heels and spandex pants, flipping the hair extensions
she called her "Cher-locks."
'You don't stop laughing because you grow old," Louie said. 'You grow
old because you stop laughing."
Maybelline suggested he take up juggling or spinning plates.
The funny man dials his daughter's house, clenching his jaw, half-hoping
her answering machine will pick up.
His grandson had been in and out of head hospitals to teach his brain
tricks, but Paulie still wasn't jumping through any hoops, mostly just laying like a lox, with his daughter as raw as a sliced onion.
The funny man jumps at the sound of his daughter's voice.
"What's wrong?"
"Can't a father call his—"
"You don't."
"It's Maybelline."
"The mascara broad."
"She's gone."
"Well, you know, there's only a shelf life of—"
"I was wondering if you'd heard from her."
"Last picture she sent me her head looked like a pumpkin. What vegetable dye we working on now?"
"Eggplant."
'Tasteful. No suicide note?"
"That's not funny."
"Everything's funny."
"Can't you, just for a second—"
"No."
The funny man chews his lips. He fingers the index cards in his pocket.
He hears the phone click.
42 "You call this meat?
What's wrong with it?
Wrong? It tastes funny.
So laugh."
The funny man shuffles his index cards and pushes his cart through
the supermarket, thinking of the blouse he'd bought her, the closest thing
to sharks he could find was goldfish in a kickline, but it would have to do.
When she comes back, he'll say, "Have a nice walk, back so soon?" In an
off-hand voice, low key, folding the newspaper in thirds, making her sweat.
Hand her a stack of stick-ums. Whatever it is, you're forgiven, he'd say.
Whatever it is, we'll work it out. Be magnanimous, noble. Offer her his
shoulder. The funny man feels like clicking his heels, twirling an umbrella in the rain.
Maybelline didn't look her age, he thinks. She could drip with charm.
There could be someone young, rich, handsome. He kicks the wheels of
the cart. Screwy Louie, she called him. Well, screw her. He kicks the
wheels again. One of them is twisted.
The funny man puts in blue cheese and garlic pickles, thinks about
smoking his first cigar and leaving the ashes on her side of the bed,
tossing her mail in the trash, stuffing her clothes in garbage bags and
dropping them at the curb. Tell her she looks different, tired. Older, he'd
say. Those wrinkles, the ones above your lip? Watch her crumble. Tell
her he was moving to LA., something about a TV pilot script in the works.
Then he'd plant his hat on his head, he'd have to buy one first, of course,
maybe whistle, and walk out the door. He hit his chest and threw potatoes in the cart. Nobody walks out on me, nobody.
Louie wheels his cart up the baking section. He watches a child in fur
slippers poke his finger through a bag of chocolate chips, then open a
bag of coconut and spill it out. The store lights click on and off, an announcement is made about closing time.
"Mommy," the boy whines. "I want this."
A woman nearby leans on her cart, leafing through a magazine.
"I said, I want this."
"And I want Pamela Sue Anderson's old boobs."
The boy kicks aside pie crusts and climbs onto the bottom ledge. As
he reaches for the next shelf, he slips and cans fall, knocking him down.
"I swear, that alien baby they found in the desert, I think he was you."
The woman sits on the floor and pulls the crying boy onto her lap. She
holds the magazine in her teeth.
"Is he okay?" Louie asks.
"Better than me," she says. Her jeans are loose, her flannel shirt a size
too big. Maybelline would recommend a makeover, an aerobics class, a
brace for her slouch. A good fitting bra is everything, she'd say. Slap on
43 some foundation, get those bangs off her face. The funny man feels like
Batman. He will rescue her first.
"Paulie once hit a guy with a potato."
'Who?"
"My grandson—" The funny man can almost feel Maybelline yanking
his wrist, telling him to keep his mouth shut, mind his own business, that
trouble spreads like a bad cold. But since she's been gone, he's talked to
a bus driver, an elevator operator, told a cabbie about an old root canal.
The young woman looks up at him, her eyebrows raised. She's hanging
on, the funny man thinks. She's hanging on to my every word. He feels
his face flush.
"Sweet or Idaho?" She tilts her head.
"Sweet."
"Good choice." She grips Louie's hand as she stands up, holding on a
few seconds longer than he thinks necessary.
"Better get some ice."
"Scotch on the rocks sounds about right."
"For his cheek."
The young woman smiles. She has braces on her lower teeth.
The store lights begin to dim. The woman hoists the child in the cart,
wipes his tears with the bottom of her shirt, and hands him a stick of
gum. On the way to the check-out counter, she grabs some candy bars, a
horoscope pocketbook and three soap opera magazines. The funny man
follows, his eyes lowered, careful not to bump his wagon into hers. He
thinks of the young woman curled on the couch with crumpled wrappers
and magazines, her son's head resting on her stomach. She'd hear him
cough because he coughed his way through every winter, push a stuffed
animal in his arms—probably Cookie Monster like Paulie liked, she'd
smooth the hair off his forehead. The house would smell of spaghetti
sauce; Louie would bring a bottle of wine, ice cream for the boy. The
dishes would sit in the sink, the crumbs would blend into the linoleum;
bills would be paid late or not at all until everything in her life was cancelled, expired, dismissed—except for him. She'd jump on the bed and
wrap her legs around his waist. She'd laugh so the house would shake.
They'd be like Sean Connery and what's her name, the one from Zorro
with the tight ass. Maybelline? He'd answer her question. A lousy lay,
but a great parole officer. She never let anyone finish his sentence.
The boy whimpers. The funny man makes a silly face. The boy cries
harder.
"My grandson used to tell me to kiss the boo-boo and make it go away.
He'd stick his whole hand in my mouth."
"Did it work?"
"All the time."
44 "I wish my hand was small enough."
"I got a big mouth." The funny man rocks on his heels.
"Says who?"
The funny man shrugs. The image of the woman is fading from his
eyes. Her legs slip from his waist. His Scottish lisp is too thick for her to
understand. The ice cream melts.
"Next," the check-out man says. Louie catches himself as the conveyor belt moves under his hand. He feels like he's in high school. He
wipes the sweat from his lips.
"I'm a comedian," he says.
"Do I know you?"
'You could."
She digs her nail into her braces. "Do you know Adam Sandler?"
'Who?"
The young woman makes a face. She bends to stack her items on the
counter.
'What's your boy's name?" Louie says.
The man behind him sighs loudly. The cashier coughs.
"Lucky," she said, chewing the top of her pen as she takes out her
cheque book. "After Luke and Laura's Lucky, you know. He was supposed to be their good luck charm, the best thing that ever happened to
them, he was going to keep them together forever..."
Louie focuses on her lips. They are thin, not full and chewable like
Maybelline's, slightly chapped, tired lips, babbling lips, did all women
babble?
"...but then Lucky got killed in a fire, except he really didn't get killed
'cause Faison captured him, I hate that guy, somebody should tell him
there's such a thing as shampoo. I hope Lucky kicks his ass."
"Thanks for bagging. Next."
"Say goodbye to the funny man," the young woman says. "Bye-bye
funny old man."
The cashier giggles. Louie rubs his eyes until he sees spots. He takes
out his handkerchief and spits.
The phone rings. The funny man wakes up startled, knocks the receiver
off the hook.
Maybelline, he calls. Maybelline.
"Who is it? Shit." Maybelline jerks upright, banging her head against
the bed's backboard. She climbs over his body, elbowing him in the chest.
"Who is it?" Blue gel pads cover her eyes. She smells like Vaseline.
The funny man smacks his forehead, squints at her glowing face.
Martians, he thinks. They've brought her back. He moves his lips but
nothing comes out.
45 Maybelline grabs the phone. "Another hang-up, must be your screwy
daughter or maybe it's that guy with the mohawk thinks he's Bruce Willis you clunked on the head reaching for the soup cans deciding to sue us
or maybe it's the dry cleaner you were flirting with, that Hannibella Lector with the braces and shark teeth, I can't tell you the embarrassment."
Maybelline tilts the lamp. "And why you looking at me like that? It's
the silver in front, you don't like it. I look like a skunk you told me already but after the Miss Senior Pageant I'll rinse it—and wait, what time
is it in Louisiana, maybe they were calling to confirm my application and
stop squeezing your head like that your brains will fall out. I tell you, one
cockamamie joke Jay Leno says maybe he's interested and all day you're
laying on the couch like a dead peacock, like a real Liberace."
'Two guys in the deli. First one says, 'My wife's an angel.' Second one
says, You're lucky, mine's still alive.'"
Maybelline fluffs her pillow and turns over. "Hoo-ha, Mr. Funny Man,
hoo-ha."
Louie closes his eyes. Sometimes he thinks he understands everything. Then he regains consciousness. He squeezes Maybelline until she
yelps.
46 Zoe Lan dale two poems
Evergreens Remind Me
Evergreens remind me of a man's eyes;
that same vertiginous falling.
Dark behind the garbage at the police station,
we're out on smoke break.
It's four a.m. and we're floating: tiredness,
adrenaline from the night's calls,
weightless pheremones.
A hand on my arm. His voice,
water against sand, says,
I figure, you
know, there's not much point
to being an officer,
to what I do, if I can't keep the promises I made
in my marriage.
I laugh, understanding
he has been committed for thirty years,
me for almost twenty.
We each know marriage
is a boat where you are both the wood
and wind, red paint on the hull
and the creaming of liquid buoyancy beneath.
It is not until weeks later,
surrounded by evergreens,
his eyes come back to me, restless
as imagination, a raven that won't
settle down, or can't.
Temptation is a subtle pulsation,
finding resonance in places
you might never suspect.
Yielding to the clarity of trees,
I realize, Ah, he wanted me too.
Mixed with guilt,
an effervescent foaming ease
at the heart.
47 My Mother & The Moon
My mother has swallowed silence
drunk it down like the moon
white in her cup.
After decades, silence has grown large
is comfortable,
nestles in my mother's throat.
There silence whispers its tiny song,
one the colour of a wren in winter alder twigs:
dun on brown. The music of camouflage.
At seventy-eight, my mother cannot tell us how she is.
She says she "is better now." Better than falling
on ice, than nearly tumbling on stairs.
It is silence we have to ask her about, really,
and it knows more than to leave the place
where it is so round, so perfectly blocks
my mother's pain from escaping. It wants no tell-tale
whimpers that mean reddened feathers. Look here or stories
of how our mother accuses herself, she of the patience
that roots in the pre-Cambrian shield. Mother believes the best
of her family. She wants wishes to be early stars,
there for the blessing of her son and daughters.
But the moon, the moon. My mother drank it back
when her words were fire and easily called upon to scorch the guilty.
Maybe it was to cool the ache
in her tired throat, maybe it was water when she was thirsty.
Certainly her mother taught her the value of white,
how it smooths the unruly emotions
48 into a landscape of tolerance.
All that untidy brush soothed with snow,
one colour and one shape, dazzling, horizontal.
You keep your secrets, my grandmother commanded
her, in the family. Never tell. And my mother lifted that cup,
swirled the moon about in cold wellwater, drank.
She found silence
anaesthetized nicely. Her father, accidentally shot
on the porch by a drinking buddy.
Full military honours at his funeral.
The small-town Ontario street lined with mourners, his casket carried
high on the shoulders of Masonic brothers
and Mother fourteen then, desperate for the white, pulling
it from the air around her, the stiff spine
of my unbending grandmother. Clouds the shape of running dogs.
Mother also chose the moon for colour. Calm.
White would never parade before strangers the shame
of her sister at sixteen, sloe-eyed and sloping
off with every male available. White kept that locked down
under its bed of winter pearl. When her sister married safely
two years later, my mother and her mother
exchanged significant glances. No words, birds that could betray
too easily, flutter out anytime in church or living room.
And white was flattered that demand for ice was so high.
The moon was in its element then, all slip
and miss of meaning. Shadows and the smell
of lilac on warm spring nights. The misdirection of white.
49 This past Christmas. My mother lies on her couch, twisting.
'What's the matter?" I say.
She straightens: "Just a little tired."
I extract from her, finally, that her back hurts. I rub it.
My mother makes smothered noises, almost cried with relief.
The moon is laughing. "Soo much better," my mother keeps
saying. Her vowels drawn into long quavers
that make tears start for me: I stop them;
I am my mother's daughter enough for that.
I wish I could make things better.
Always there's guilt and I've never known why;
a feeling I had too much and she too little.
Maybe it's the words, how my mother keeps reaching
for them, unable to describe just the colour she wants
in the sunset, the tenderness of leaves that eludes her.
And I live in a nest of words, warmed and guarded;
they're like dogs held to the heart of the family
words move confident around the house, tails wagging
noses alert to domestic air. Waiting for handouts or pats;
the praise they know is their due.
Good words, alert for their opportunity to move in.
My mother and the moon know nothing of this camaraderie.
The silence this Christmas has intensified,
is cool and poised as air around the rim of a well,
50 shaded with ferns, and even on a summer's day,
there's the shock of a world drawn apart unto itself;
fall in July. It speaks of moisture and north, the waning
of light. And Mother, I am afraid for you. Afraid of the moon,
its gelid calm; how so little comes out
that you want. How your heart lurches as you try
and your mouth is empty and the moon
sings its private song in your full throat. Again. You turn
by the stairs, leaving unsaid what you want to say, and grumble
you will not get dressed for the holiday dinner.
Our family secrets are safe with you.
You keep your tense white bargain.
51 Matt Cohen
from Typing
On December 30,1963,1 turned twenty-one. I was in fourth year,
my last year of undergraduate studies in political economy, and
had absolutely no idea what I would do if I ever grew up. As a
combined birthday/graduation present, which was also a peace offering
after the frosty period that had followed my switching courses, my father
gave me a green portable Olivetti typewriter.
I had always believed my life would begin at twenty-one—everything
else was mere prelude to this moment. I expected that the years from
twenty-one to twenty-five, when old age was scheduled to set in, would be
an eternity of perfection. So far, everything was on schedule. As my birthday approached it seemed to me I was entering into my prime. At five foot
eight, I was rapidly approaching my full height. I was skinny, full of aimless
energy, finally coming into something that, if not happiness, was an emotional universe I was happy to live in.
At the beginning of January 19641 took my typewriter back to Toronto
to begin this real life, life at twenty-one, of which I had been so certain. On
the day of my return I saw a poster announcing a fiction contest at University College, my college, with a prize large enough to finance a summer trip
to Europe. For years I'd been writing stories and sending them to The New
Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly and, once, Seventeen. They'd always come
back, though Seventeen had liked my story so much that a sympathetic
editor had taped a Canadian quarter to the rejection letter to repay my
postage.
But now I was twenty-one. Everything would be different, including the
worldly success of my fiction. I was living at 55 Harbord Street, a dilapidated
Victorian mansion known as Peace House because it was inhabited by students who, like me, considered themselves part of the radical student left,
informally known as "the movement"—movement being used to distinguish its spontaneous participatory democracy from the top-down organization of political parties.
Writing short stories was not exactly what revolutionaries were supposed to be doing. Nor was deserting the cause to go to Europe and live in
a garret But despite its name, Peace House was not exactiy a Dostoyevskian
cell of dedicated politicos. Like the others who lived there I had volunteered to pay my share of the rent, and I didn't mind the sound of the
52 mimeograph machines grinding out pamphlets late into the night. Where
the growing swell of political activity might lead, no one knew. In 1964 no
one in Toronto could know that the fifties were about to mutate into the
sixties, yet the Kennedy assassination, the Cuban missile crisis and the civil
rights movement in the United States had all announced that what had
seemed solid ground was turning queasy. The postwar certainties were
dissolving, and a door was opening to an unknowable future for which we
had vague but Utopian hopes (though cynics like myself tended to suspect
that the glorious unknowable future might, like so many other such futures, bear a distinct resemblance to various disastrous pasts).
In January of 1964,1 set up my new typewriter and a stack of blank paper.
Although my literary ambitions had some long-standing roots, there was
also another factor: I had a crush on a certain blonde English major who
had told me, after reading one of my juvenile efforts—the heart-rending
story of a young man walking in the rain and pining after a certain "Maria"
whose name echoed evocatively to the rhythm of his sodden feet on the
pavement, etc.—that she thought I "had talent." She was also planning to
go to Europe, on the very trip for which I was planning to buy a ticket with
my winning entry to the contest. She was—I considered—a beatnik. She
had long stringy hair, wore sandals, drank wine and, most telling of all, ate
olives. When I presented her with the magnificent news of my new goal,
she advised me to enhance my writing persona by dressing in baggy corduroys in order to look like Ernest Hemingway. Ernest Hemingway? I was a
bit puzzled by her choice. I would have expected Jean-Paul Sartre or James
Joyce. Like them I was extremely myopic; surely the rest would follow. But
Ernest Hemingway? Did she see me tramping around on safaris? Growing
a beard and getting her to call me Papa?
I had read some of Hemingway's books as a teenager and taken away
the impression of an intolerant anti-Semite, a man's man full of ridiculous
illusions about himself, a boasting buffoon. I had, however, read his books
from cover to cover and now, when I looked at his stories again and set
them beside Joyce's Dubliners, I saw in them something else: an undeniable urge to penetrate to the core of his own obsessions, however twisted,
with death and sex. I also had to consider that he was a man who had
achieved world fame and made a lot of money from his writing. And finally,
when I ignored the actual meaning of his sentences, I had to admire the
way they were put together. So I bought a cheap pair of corduroys of a deep
velvety brown and began to wear them as I typed and retyped my contest
masterpieces.
When summer arrived, I was still wearing the corduroys, by now a stained
and faded beige with a smooth seat on the verge of splitting. I had won the
fiction contest and was living in a barn not far from the Paris suburb of
53 Sarcelles. The blonde had married a fiance I hadn't known about. I was
officially a sculptor's assistant plastering the inside wall of a huge barn so
he could use it as the background for constructing a welded-metal mosaic
commissioned by a rich American for his swimming pool.
Despite the clothes, my Hemingway phase was over. More erratic mentors had gained my attention. I was now writing first-person Henry Miller-
type prose (without the sex), and a long poem in imitation of T.S. Eliot. My
diet consisted of tomatoes, eggs, baguettes and free drinks supplied at the
local tavern by old First World War soldiers paying tribute to the fact I was a
Canadian. In theory, nothing could be more portentous than spending the
summer Carnaby Street exploded in France, pretending to be an artist.
Unfortunately the details of my situation were less glossy. I was living inside a drafty bat-ridden barn with no precise idea of where I was and no
money. My bed was an old army cot.
"Had me a lot of great loving on that bed," my sculptor had told me. I
supposed I was to imagine him bringing my predecessors into this vast
empire of batshit and cement, and rocking and rolling with them while
empty plastic wine bottles danced on the floor. For me, alas, the cot was
only a piece of loose canvas slung unconvincingly between two metal pipes,
just high enough off the cement floor to allow easy passage for the rats I
was sure must be sneaking around the barn at night.
My sculptor had gone on vacation and I was broke, lost and feeling sorry
for myself. The barn was unused because his farm had been turned into a
watercress plantation. The original family—a huge group of sixteenth-century peasants dressed in smudged blue denim—still lived in the adjoining
buildings. I shared a courtyard and the prehistoric outhouses I'd been
given permission to use with them and their domestic animals.
I didn't yet speak French, couldn't keep clean, didn't know how to leave.
My only escapes were the local tavern, where in addition to being seen as
Canadian I was considered a linguistic moron, and another farmhouse a
couple of miles away where a fellow "apprentice" was doing odd jobs for a
cartoonist. Why didn't I borrow some money from my friend and leave?
First, because he had none. Second, because without money I had nowhere to go. Finally, because I was—as I would be so many times later in
life—transfixed and paralyzed by the impossibility of my situation. I couldn't
think clearly, couldn't act. Meanwhile I could eat because I was allowed to
put my groceries on the sculptor's account at the local store, I could do a
little plastering while waiting to be released, I could even think about how, if
I ever got out, this adventure could be related in a more favourable light.
There was one other reason I needed to stay where I was. I needed to know
what was going to happen between me and my pads of blank paper. I wasn't
a wild-haired student radical any more. I wasn't Hemingway in baggy cords.
54 I wasn't even Henry Miller or TS. Eliot or Anai's Nin. I wasn't anyone at all—
just a blank, a mute exile, a test case on whether the fantasy I'd had about
writing a novel was a rhetorical gimmick useful for talking to blonde English
majors, or whether there was a novel inside me to be written. In the end, I
wrote because I was lonely and I needed to hear voices and I was the only
possible source. I wrote because writing was the only way I knew to fill the
weeks between the indeterminate now and the unknown day when my
sculptor would return with, I fervently hoped, a letter from home containing money. I wrote because, having started to tell myself a story to fill the
emptiness, I wanted to find out what would happen next.
Every night I would make myself a tomato omelet and wash it down with
poisonous cheap red wine. By dark the universe would have shrunk to a
small place that contained only me, the army cot I was sitting on, the sputtering candles lighting the pages to which I applied myself. Time was the
march of ink across the page. So long as it continued so did I. Eventually my
sculptor came back, bearing food, apologies and an armload of mail, which
included money from my parents and the offer of a scholarship to do my
master's degree in political science at the University of Toronto. By this
time the designated barn wall had been transformed, albeit clumsily, from a
pitted stone reminder of the Middle Ages to a large white plaster blank.
And my notebooks had gathered a huge poem about my favourite subject,
a lovestruck young man walking in the rain to the tune of his unrequited
love, and several chapters of a novel about, coincidentally, a young musician
whose rain-inspired melodies echoed, etc.
By the end of August I was in London spending the nights in pubs with
university friends. I caught a taste of Carnaby Street after all: my time in
rural France became a rollicking series of misadventures it took at least
three drinks to relate. In the meantime I was showing bits of my "novel"
around. A family friend of a classmate, who claimed that his mistress worked
for the venerable publishing house Faber & Faber, read it enthusiastically
and loaned it to a wealthy friend. He and the friend then made me an
extraordinarily generous offer: they would subsidize me while I finished
the novel and got it published. For a few days I believed I would stay on in
London. Why I didn't I don't know. Perhaps the time in the sculptor's barn
had exhausted my desire to be with my muse. Or maybe being dependent
on the generosity of others was more than my suspicious soul could bear.
By September I was back at the university, financially self-sufficient for
the first time in my life, but with a lingering fear that by not staying on in
London I had betrayed the only chance I would ever have to get off the
academic treadmill and do something I truly cared about.
55 Adam Chiles three poems
Invocation
for Lisa
As a child I would spend my free hours
Walking the lanes,
Addressing the world by what I imagined it to be,
knowing the oaks by different names,
things seemed infinite
And complicated in bright ways.
My dilemmas were the living
Puzzles of the village, which wall to climb,
Which tree, and time passed this way for years.
Later, a woman I loved drove three miles
To where she had struck a sparrow with her car
And found the bird still there
Stunned by the side of the road.
She placed its warm body in the grass
As if to do less was unthinkable;
A violation of mourning. This is what I remember.
A child's hands digging through garbage, finding
Empty bottles and fruit skins,
The look on her face of busy wonder
As though she were living another life
Beyond ruin, and had the ability to alter
The whole day, like any child, which she was not,
Sitting there, in the silent furnace of her city.
56 Other times I would think of Tess
Locked in her room with her dying child,
Imprisoned by a father's shame.
I carried this image with me over many continents;
How she stood, candles lit, baptizing her own child
In near darkness, and I would think, as I do now,
This was a necessary grace.
In Taiwan, it rained for weeks,
And I'd walk to the noodle shop
In only my shorts. It felt good to do this,
The rain heated by such a long falling,
Covering my body in what I didn't know then was merely
Poison, an air filled with exhaustion, to some,
The land was a hard blessing, and the rain
An endless warmth in a time that remained good.
57 Nightmare
Because the flame was a small neck
of prayer, a chattering hot bone and
because the gull's cry was the body going mad
above the cliffs. Because the bird
was a bomb of spiritual matter, flung
From your own hands. Because you thought
I am Noah, and you stood alone
On deck, steering over the sad heights
And believed in another world and another
And because you failed to find the way
And knew a mind revolving in its grave,
Because you lost the way, because the gull's cry
was the body going mad above the cliffs.
58 The Parish Road
It's still there, that old road travelling
A slow circuit around the pastures
Giving way, now and then, to the few farms
Sinking deeper into the earth.
Every year it bends with similar attention
To the hedgerows, pausing awhile
To know them, other times just passing
Like the mind from place to place,
Settling nowhere and counting distance
By the fields. The road moves in its own time
And with little regret, the worn constancy
Of its circles a kind of remembering
That grows visible in the steady riding
Of the land. Even now the figure of a woman
Appearing on the road is merely the road thinking
Her back there, a century and a half ago,
As if the movement of her body is enough
To make this possible, the lane still finds itself
At certain moments, wandering
Surprised into a previous year.
And perhaps it will always be 1846
On this lonely stretch of lane between villages
That continue to forget themselves. And the woman
Whose name has long since vanished
Into a quill's impression, is still moving there,
Enjoying the body's oblivion and believing herself
Alive in another language which is the rare
Chorus of the mind, unraveling, like these fields,
The many lost histories that reach long into night.
59 frances hahn two poems
snow
so crisp the triumph
of my first conversation
months of fumbling
and only rudiment
in the bread shop
pane pane point
at the loaf i want
get ciabattine
instead of paesane
then at last
in verona a weekend alone
to recover from old
love's news
found in chaos of first
snow fall in six
years crystal white
on city grey
the stall keeper
in piazza della herbe
clipping green artichokes
asks me where i'm
from where i'm staying
and we get to the snow
storm that came yesterday
tu sai la neve
si? she's sure i'm
at home with snow
canadese i am
trained to talk
about the weather
la neve.
60 fruit
the day i visit
the royal palace
sevilla's alcazar
oranges must come
off trees they send
men up on ladders
sound the call
and shake each
branch orange heavy
rain
stops one worker
bends under the tree
picks up an armful hands one
over
fine umber of sand
silts on my skin
after each hot
february day far
from apple country
Ontario home September
apples on trees
spy jersey mac ida
red like sequins in sun
bright discs too well-
dressed for farmer's
hands
61 Sheila Peters
Shooting in the Dark
It was one of those end of August days. If the sun comes out it could
warm right up. If rain moves in you'd be wanting a down vest under
your slicker. I was breaking my last duck egg over the first pine mushrooms of the season when I heard feet on the porch. It was, let me think,
the fourth omelet I had made since I set the bread to rise at seven. By
this time the bread was hot out of the oven and I was thinking maybe if I
stayed quiet in the kitchen whoever it was would go away and let me eat
in peace.
'Why won't your gate open?" A girl in the hall.
Frankie, my idiot son, hadn't bothered to close the door when he left,
my last three eggs but one still stuck in his teeth. I beat the egg as it
spread and bubbled through mushrooms and tomatoes, flipped the whole
mess and scooped it onto a piece of bread. 'Truck backed into it. Buggered the latch."
"Mind if I come in?"
"You must be Chloe. Funny name that. Doesn't seem to know what to
do with itself at the end there."
I felt her eyes on my back. I felt the T-shirt snug against the bulge at
the waistband of my jeans, and I was mad for even thinking about it. I
turned.
A little barefoot thing in hippie clothes hanging like wet kelp off tiny
breasts and narrow hips. A limpet, for God's sake, strung onto her eyebrow ring. Like her shaved head was some kind of rock at low tide. And
sure enough, when she turned to look around the usual mess of the place,
I saw three barnacles wired up the side of one ear. And still cute as pie.
The girlfriend.
"He's gone to the ferry to pick up a car. He'll be a while. You can wait
if you want."
I tried not to gobble while she thought about it. Her feet squeaked on
the linoleum. Must have started raining. 'You are Chloe, aren't you?"
'Yeah, yeah. You're..."
"Bunny. Sit, why don't you? I've got to get some food in me. Then I'll
make a cup of tea."
"Bunny?"
"Of Queen Charlotte Automobile Lease and Service Centre. Known
62 locally as Bunny's Beaters. Wy's new business partner."
I knew what she was thinking. Looking around this kitchen. Shelves
of preserves, two fridges, the freezer, bundles of herbs hanging from the
ceiling rack. Dishes from too goddamn many breakfasts and last night's
dinner piled in the sink. Jars of salmon on the washing machine.
"But this looks so..." Her hands fell.
The pinks were running, the pine mushrooms were rising in the bush,
and the tourists were finally leaving Haida Gwaii. But not soon enough
for me. I snarled, just a little. "You got a problem with a mechanic who
can cook? Seems all most girls your age know how to do is microwave
nachos and hitchhike."
"This was a big mistake. Just tell Wy I'll see him around."
I should have said okay. Let her go. I said, "Keep your pantlets on. I
just bark a little. Don't bite. As soon as the food kicks in I'll be my usual
cheerful self."
She hesitated.
"Besides, Wy will be pissed off at both of us if you're not here when he
gets back."
"I'm supposed to tremble?"
"That's better. No cringing before boyfriends."
From somewhere behind me the phone rang.
"He's been close to moping since you told him you were going out on
tonight's boat."
I found the phone under a stack of invoices on the dryer and listened
to my son ask me a favour. 'Yes, Frankie," I told him. "I'll try to get you
one. I already told you. No, Tyler can't come with me. He does nothing
but howl when his feet get wet, for Chrissakes."
I pulled the plate across the table and ate while he accused me of a
lack of grandmotherly feelings. The girl filled the kettle and began clearing the dishes out of the sink. If you welcome people into your house,
these kind happen along often enough. The ones who can't help but pick
up a cloth and start wiping. Frank's voice a whine inside my head wanting to unload his son into someone else's care. "I don't need anyone with
me, and it's none of your business where I'm going."
I wouldn't have made her the type, but she knew what she was doing.
Piled dirty glasses in the sink, squirted them with dish soap she found
somewhere in the tangle, then ran hot water over it all.
"If I'm not here when you come by for breakfast tomorrow, ask Homer
where I keep my will."
I was tempted to unplug the phone but I had three cars out on the
road. It never pays. So I hung up and made the tea. 'You don't have to do
that," I told her though I was glad someone was.
"I don't mind."
63 I felt old that morning. My knees ached as I sat back down. You know
those kind of days? You want everyone to disappear, but you right away
feel lonely if they do. "Do you check in on your mother three times a
day?" I asked her. "At least once in person?"
She laughed and poured the tea. "My mother paid a year's rent on our
basement suite and moved to Toronto a month after I graduated from
high school. She phones once a week when she's sure I'm not home and
talks to the answering machine she gave me."
"Wow. Very impressive. If I had enough dough, I might try that. Except I have a daughter in Toronto. And one in Vancouver. A son in
Kamloops and another in Courtenay. Where would I go?"
"I'd have thought Queen Charlotte City would be far enough."
"Me too. Until Frankie moved in right down the street."
"All these kids. Why do you need Wy?"
Ah. The boyfriend. Like it's my fault he's staying here instead of going
back to Vancouver. It happens to all kinds. You're not sure why you stay
but after a while it starts to feel like home. Or as close as you're ever
going to get to one.
"I seem to prefer other people's children. I finally figured out why this
morning, watching Frankie shovel those eggs into his mouth. My own
remind me of their fathers."
Homer roared up then. Her face turned watchful until she heard his
feet pound up the steps. Definitely not her light-footed boy.
"This is Chloe, Homer. Wy's girlfriend."
He yanked off his cap, wiped his forehead with his sleeve. Nodded
towards her. Such a gentleman even if he sweats like a peasant. She set
us straight pretty fast about that boyfriend girlfriend stuff.
'We're going our separate ways, so I guess as of tomorrow, he doesn't
have a girlfriend."
Homer looked bewildered. If they were fighting, why was she here?
he asked me later. If not, why was she going? To her, he said nothing.
"All those tires are coming in this afternoon, Bunny. You want me to go
down and pick them up?"
I was happy for his help, as always, and packed a couple jars of salmon
for him to drop with old Emma. Another woman pretty good at pissing
off her kids.
The phone rang again. A rental out of gas on the Rennell Sound road.
The driver unfortunately had a cell phone. Told me I should have warned
him there weren't gas stations on logging roads. The mud was awful and
what about bears? By the time I calmed him down, Chloe had cleared
enough away to be wiping the counters. I hadn't seen the colour of the
arborite for weeks. An ugly yellow.
"Customers like that are why I need Wy," I told her. "I just piss them
64 off. Give me axle grease any time. Now sit down. Drink your tea and eat
some of Bunny's baking." I cut her a slice of bread.
And we did manage a few peaceful moments. You know how they surprise you? We were drinking mint tea, and I was remembering floating
down the Yakoun, letting the canoe drift close to the bank and gathering
the mint, the smell filling the boat as I paddled down to the inlet. Outside, the neighbour's ducks quacked like there was an eagle looking down
at them. A couple of dogs barked. The wind was picking up, soughing
through the big cedars back of the house. When she broke through that,
I got angry so fast I knew I needed some time alone.
"Did you ever think most of us would be better off without parents?"
she asked me. 'When I think about all the, no offense meant, fuckups."
I felt my hackles rise, like that old bitch of Emma's. "Mostly, I think
about how much my kids—bless the little feet they walk on—have, no
offense meant, screwed up my life."
I leaned in close. Could smell her sweat. "And don't even start to talk
to me about choice."
We were ready to tear right into something, but Wy showed up. Soaked,
hair plastered to his head, standing on the mat, peeling off his anorak.
"Hey, Chloe," he said. "Kiss me now." Stuck out his chin, water dripping
off his nose.
We joked back and forth a bit. He grabbed Chloe, kissed the top of
her head, grinned at me. I remember that about him. Always figured
he'd be welcome and he mostly was. But I could feel the strain. She was
holding herself back, fingers circling the mug, other hand gathering and
spreading bread crumbs on her plate. So I told him to take care of the
empty gas tank and left them to sort out their day.
I thought that would be the end of it. I walked across to the shop, went
straight to the tool cupboard, unlocked it and pulled out my rifle. I was
not going to feel guilty about them splitting up. I didn't know Wy had a
girlfriend when we talked about the business. He never said we when he
spoke. Besides, no one at the tender age of twenty should be thinking
long term anything.
But she was a fool to give him up. I remember thinking that, remembered my first marriage. I showed Homer the picture, told him that guy
shows up he never tells him where I am. He calls me first and then calls
the cops. He's the reason I took up deer hunting in the first place. To
practice killing something with beautiful brown eyes. So I'd be ready.
His parents should have been locked up with him, rich Eastern bastards buying him off instead of seeing his craziness got taken care of. I
still wake up, sweating and cold to think he might find me, might show
up on that ugly doormat and hold out his hand like he used to. Like he
was God and I was a crawling thing. His little crustacean, he'd call me.
65 Saying it "crushtacean" or "curstacean" depending on his mood.
When I see a crab running for cover, or hungry folk crunching their
shells with pliers, butter dripping down their chins, I remember that creep.
There's parts of me that still ache from his attentions.
So I cleaned my rifle and got ready to bag a plump little deer. But my
mean streak, the part that makes sure the most impatient tourist waits
the longest for his car, that wishes Frankie would, well, disappear somehow, that part began to think it might be fun to cook up a mess of deer
organs for the girlfriend. Probably a vegan. I'd be back in time to screw
up the sexy farewell with blood and guts. See? I am not a nice person.
I made lots of noise when I went back into the kitchen just in case the
sexy farewell had already started. She was looking through the binoculars at a kingfisher. Alone. Wy had gone to refill the car.
"There was this guy, a biologist up on Rose Spit," she said. "Spent
most of the summer counting birds. Gives you a different perspective."
"Different than what?" I asked her. Damned if she didn't start twisting
that bloody shell on her eyebrow. Made my stomach churn.
'To see the same thing day after day and not get bored. Get excited
when there's a little change. Two birds come. Another goes." She
shrugged.
"Paying close attention makes what's different stand out." I was thinking engines.
"How do you decide what to pay attention to?"
I couldn't answer. When my dad died, he left me all his tools. Holding
them, placing my hands where his had been brought me somehow into
his company. Gave me the courage to gather up the kids and leave that
bastard. So I became a mechanic.
"It just happens," I finally said. "Like it did for Wy. He's a natural business guy. Has that people magic."
"Wy." Her voice thickened. 'Wy's problem is picking between the three
million things he really wants to do. He's fun. His stuff is fun." She lifted
the binoculars again. "But it isn't mine. I've been paying attention since
he told me he was staying and I'm not hearing anything telling me to
stay, too." The glasses followed a bird's flight. "Maybe my strength is
indecision."
"Wow. That's going to be useful."
"Thank you. It hasn't been easy."
"I might be kidding."
"Like I didn't notice. But I'm not going to pretend. That's all."
I didn't realize it until later, but what she said kind of impressed me.
I've always hated not knowing where I was headed. Hated it so much I
decided my way in and out of three marriages and five children by the
time I was thirty-five.
66 "Ever been hunting?"
Her nose wrinkled. "No."
'Want to come?"
It stopped her. The refrigerator hummed. A car backfired. That tap,
damn it, dripped. Still does.
"Why not? It can't be any worse than this saying goodbye stuff. He is
so damned appealing."
"You're right there," I said and you should have seen her eyes get
sharp. Big grey eyes. Same colour as the shell. I laughed. "Believe me,
when you get to be my advanced age, it's fun to look, but no one under
fifty looks back. All those years you thought how great it would be if men
would see you for who you really are and not for the shape of your legs or
the heft of your boobs. But when they do, boy, it's a shock."
I rustled her up some of Tyler's black and yellow rain gear because it
was going to be wet out in that drizzle.
"I feel like a bumblebee."
'You look like a Zodiac."
"Uninflated, I hope."
"I'll keep an eye on him for you."
"Huh?" She was bent, tucking her pants into the boots.
'Wy."
"Keep an eye on him?" She straightened. "Are you for real? You think
I'm a flake, don't you? Not that it's any of your business what Wy does, or
what I do, or what I feel about what he does, but you know, if you go, you
go. You don't make the other person wait for you. That's just some kind
of weird shit."
Her voice got high and breathy, dippy bimbo style. "We've decided to
live apart for a while, you know, and see what happens. To stay open to
life's possibilities." She gagged. Made me laugh.
But driving through the drizzle, feeling like the inside of a rubber
glove, I wished I was alone. When I'm alone, I don't notice how trashy
this place gets. Muddy trucks coming back from the west coast, piled
with dirt bikes and lawn chairs, dragging boats. The landings, a few
stunted rusty trees poking through the gravel as packed and barren as
concrete. And the bloody clearcuts. The going on forever wherever you
look gashes. The only graceful things were the deer I was planning to
shoot.
"What's wrong with those ones?"
Three, four grazed in the ditch.
"I want to get off the main road. Don't like an audience much."
"So why am I here?"
I didn't answer because I was wishing she wasn't. You know that feeling when your mind is linked to this person beside you, wondering what
67 they're thinking. Feeling. Not free to roam. I never learn.
I took the next side road. Then turned again, inward like a spiral. The
alders moved closer. It never takes long. Chloe saw one first and pointed.
Head down at the bend ahead. I pulled over and turned off the engine. I
signalled for her to keep still as I opened my door.
I slid out into the rain, took the rifle from the rack, stepped away from
the truck, and sighted. Chloe opened her door and I paused, half expecting her to yell. Scare it away. Her door brushed the alder and the deer
looked up at her. I squeezed and the black hole appeared where I aimed.
You know how the noise fills your head, the thud of the rifle against your
shoulder? I can still hear it. Feel it. The deer took ten steps into the cover
of alder, then shivered to the ground. Chloe ran towards it.
"Stop!" I yelled. I was fierce. She stopped quick. "Leave it in peace."
Her startled face, a white smear above the raincoat. "In peace?"
"I have my reasons," I told her. 'You wait."
She looked scared and I realized the rifle was still pointing. I lowered
it, knowing I looked crazy. Feeling excited and like crap both at once.
Happens every time.
When I feel like that, I don't want to see the eyes glaze, the muscles
jerk under the wet hair. Don't get me wrong. It's not guilt. I was going to
eat that deer and hunting deer makes more sense here than slaughtering cows. I can't bear to think of a cow's life, its plodding stupidity.
It's respect. Twitching and cooling into stillness. I'd like to be alone
when that happens to me. I want to pay attention to my own dying, not
think about my kids squabbling, worry about how they're feeling. I get
tired of guessing what people feel and making the daily adjustments so
they'll feel better. I wanted to let the deer die in the privacy of its own
self, not with me and my knife hovering over it.
The moment passed. A squirrel chattered insanely. A jay floated into
the trees above the deer. I gathered my gear and walked over to the deer.
"It's okay now."
Chloe was right beside me when I nudged the deer. "That would depend on whose opinion you asked," she said.
I lifted a leg, let it drop. It coiled back towards the belly as it fell. A nice
little doe.
"Those hooves look dangerous."
"They are. Little knives. You don't want to start anything until the animal's well and truly dead."
I got to work. Slit the throat and drained the blood into the gravel.
Chloe surprised me.
"This'U be interesting. We don't get much real anatomy. Pictures and
models. Computer images."
"What are you talking about?"
68 "Hasn't Wy told you I'm going back to school?"
"No. He said you were going back to Vancouver. Couldn't decide if
you wanted to stay, so you thought you'd go. Didn't you say something
about indecision?"
"Not making a decision is a kind of choosing, I guess. I haven't withdrawn, and if I get back to Vancouver before the first day of classes, I'll
probably go."
"What is it? Nursing?"
"Radiology. X-rays. MRI. Brain scans. That kind of thing. I thought Wy
would have mentioned it. I've already done one year. Doesn't matter."
It did though. She drooped a little. No matter how much any of us
pretends, we all want to be the centre of someone's universe. As I spread
the legs, she stroked the warm, white belly.
"Hold this, will you? Just above the hoof."
She squatted in the damp grass and gripped the ankle.
I cut. Anus to sternum. Heat steamed into the cool air. The guts bulged.
I reached inside, cut the membrane away from the rib cage and sat back
as the hot coils spilled onto the grass. God, there's a lot of heat inside a
mammal's body. When you're out in the cold and wet like that, the heat
scalds you.
"The peritoneum," she said, still holding the leg but talking through
her nose, trying not to smell. "The esophagus," she said as I cut it. She
looked away as I sliced around the anus, freeing the viscera.
As we lifted the body onto the tarp, away from the guts, she slipped in
the bloody gravel.
"I hate this place," she said, climbing to her feet. "The inside of this
place. The beaches are beautiful, most of them, except for that disgusting mud hole below Charlotte, but the damp moldy God-for-fucking-saken
green gloom. I am so sick of it. I'm looking forward to pavement." Blood
streaked one cheek. Mud smeared her left shoulder.
"Your city friends might think twice about welcoming you if they saw
you now."
She drew the back of her hand across her forehead, smearing water
and blood. And giggled. "Natural born killer. When you see blood and
guts spurting all over the screen you never think about how bad it must
smell."
That giggle made me shiver. You know all the talk about witches? How
women arrive on the island, in twos and threes, disappear into the bush
and come out with wild eyes. Stories about full moon rituals, fires and
dances on the beach. Sculptures the tide takes away. Sacred places.
I looked through the dripping alder to the gravel road a few yards
away. An old fuel drum rusted under some rain-blackened nettles. Blue
oil containers in the ditch. Black plastic tangled in frayed cable. We're so
69 dumb. Any place, some parking lot, the dump, for God's sake, could be
one of those special places they talk about. And we'd toss our old refrigerator right on top of it and walk away, glad to be rid of a noisy motor and
rusting wire shelves.
Looking at that blood-smeared girl who knew how to use those big
humming machines that see inside people's sick bodies, I knew for certain that not very many of us had any kind of clue about what we were
messing with as we stumbled through from day to day.
"You're not some kind of witch, are you?"
Those eyes opened wide. 'What?"
"You look pretty wild, you know."
"You don't look so downtown yourself."
"Actually, you look like a flaky piece of fluff at a primal scream therapy
workshop."
"Fuck you, too. You look like what my mother calls white trash with a
hankering for dirt bikes."
We were both laughing, the deer steaming between us.
"I used to live in Vancouver, you know. When you walked in this morning, I took you for one of those Commercial Drive girls with a hankering
for cappuccino."
"And vegan burgers. I know. I know. I am one of those Commercial
Drive girls, but I prefer samosas." She sniffed, still trying not to smell.
'What about you? Don't have any hankerings to smear yourself with blood
and dance naked? Make offerings to the goddess?"
'Well, I like to eat fresh heart and liver. Sometimes I bring my Coleman
stove out with me and cook it up right there."
Damned if she didn't stick the liver on the tip of my knife. "Don't want
to try it raw?"
I didn't, though I know some who do. I passed her the Tupperware to
stash it for later.
That girl was efficient. She pulled when I said pull. The skin slid off
easy and there was that funny moment when all mammals start to look
human. Hairless meat, still warm, rippling as the nerves cooled. But she
kept going. She steadied the legs when I quartered the meat. She held
the head and whispered to it as I sliced it off. She helped me lift the meat
onto the ice in the box in the back of the pickup.
It wasn't until we were washing up that she lost it. She shook her
hands dry, then smelled them and you know how that smell stays with
you. Back in the bush, the jay settled onto the head and went after the
eyes.
Without any fuss she walked into the trees and threw up. Her face was
so white the little bit of blond hair she had showed up almost green. She
gulped some water, spit, then crossed her arms on the rim of the pickup
70 box, lay down her head and cried.
The girl was such a mess she needed a pressure wash, for God's sake.
I tried to clean her up with some paper towels. Dabbing at the blood and
tears on her face, I felt the tender feeling you get when you hear the total
despair of a five-year-old crying. Until she opened her mouth.
"Even this," she snivelled. "I help off a poor fucking deer because I
want to make a point. Prove something to you. I don't even know you. To
Wy. I want him to get back and be mad because I'm not there. Or sad.
Something. I don't want him to think I'm waiting for him."
I packed up everything.
"I spent three days camping after he came down here. Assert my independence. Not be his little satellite."
I poured her some tea and bundled her into the truck. She kept talking. "I met this guy on the beach, this biologist."
"The one with the binoculars."
"Yeah, him. He came over on the same ferry we did. Saw him a couple
of times walking the beach. He'd spent four months basically alone. Happily. And I can't stand three days in my own company, three days trying
not to think because my own thoughts bore me to fucking tears."
I don't know which is worse. Too much self-doubt or not enough. She
probably slept with the guy to prove something, too. Felt guilty and was
mad about feeling guilty. At least she was still a baby. Not like my Frankie
who's spent thirty years blaming other people for his failings.
"He might have been pining after his girlfriend the whole summer for
all you know," I told her. "You might be able to see inside people's heads
with those fancy machines, but you can't see what they're thinking."
She blew her nose.
"You can be useful though. Help people get better."
"The machine can help. The doctor can help. I just run the equipment."
"Crap. When you're sick or hurt and that person running the machines
is kind, it makes all the difference."
I had to stop there. If I'd been asked to pick someone who'd make me
think, the last person I'd have chosen would be a girl like that Chloe. But
she was pressing all my buttons. From thirty, thirty-five years ago came
this face, this tender woman with bright lipstick and too much make-up
bending over me as she arranged my arm and shoulder on the X-ray
table. The same shoulder I already felt stiffening from the rifle's recoil.
She had tears rising. She knew how much it hurt. I was whispering, afraid
that husband of mine would somehow hear me. "It's nothing," I said. "I'm
just clumsy."
"You get him in here one time, honey, and I'll turn on the radiation and
71 walk away for my coffee break. When I come back, he'll think twice about
pulling this kind of stunt."
Her voice. It was one of those whisky voices. Must have smoked. Whimpering crustacean that he'd named me, I didn't walk away that time. But
hers was the first whisper in the world's silence.
Neither of us said anything more until we drove up to my busted gate.
'Toss those duds in the washer, so the blood doesn't get caked on.
Hose down the boots. Tyler'd kill me if he knew I lent them out."
'What about you?"
I could see Wy moving around in the kitchen and didn't feel like watching his sorrow. "I've gotta drop off the meat with Frank's wife, help Homer
with those tires. Probably go for a drink after. See you sometime."
"Yeah. Maybe. Thanks, I guess." She climbed down from the cab and
her right pant leg slid up. A smear of blood dribbled down her leg. I told
her. She didn't look back. "Yeah. I know. I can always feel it begin. Just
my luck."
I dropped off the meat and went to see Emma. The one I blubbered to.
She was sitting in her chair by the window looking out across the strait.
Had the fire going. I fixed her some salmon, boiled a potato. Told her
about the hunt.
She didn't like that part about the girl bleeding. Said the meat would
be unclean. When I told her Frank had it already, she shook her head.
Won't hurt him, she said. But she made me feed the liver to the dog,
right there.
"There's some say women shouldn't hunt," she said. "I don't go along
with that. But you've got to know what you're doing."
She didn't say anything else. I didn't ask her. Seems none of us know
what we're doing any more. Now I only fire the rifle to scare the ravens
out of my huckleberries.
72 Scott Ramsey two poems
Eclipse
In the lump of wax, brown
as oiled walnut, a flame spills from its twisted
wick. I bury my face in the small of your back and go on
listening to apples fall in the grass beyond
the window: come in, come in,
twice, like a greeting in Copan, a Mayan
priest who spelled his wishes with egg whites.
Outside on the chimney's mantle, draped in jasmine strings,
my tea catches fire around its edges,
steaming. Everywhere, volcanoes
lift their heads and imagine there are no clouds.
A village boy asked me, 'Where do you come from?"
"I am an American." His gaze deepened.
"How do you know who you are?"
Tonight I wonder even more.
I clinch my hands into tight knots and ask
where he dreams, pressed against the avenues between oceans
and the sun. I ask the women of Melchor del Mencos,
mothers who colour themselves in loose ribbons,
queens with empty wombs gathering stars
for heat—how many times is an angel born? I lay awake
thinking of Xela, men who build tin shacks and sing to Gods
until their lips begin to wrinkle, their black
beaded eyes quivering beneath thin skin.
The village boy told me, "The world can forget
anyone."
73 Asking for Directions
This morning in Tamale,
a woman sprinkled dried red peppers
over a ceramic plate of plantains and yams.
Could I have known, five years ago,
a morning when a meal of boiled yams
would be all I wished?
It is the hour of feasting.
Men and children escape the dense shade of palms,
drop conversations in mid-beat as the sun
loosens its grip and everything
dreamt in the night
pulls back to let the moon pass by.
A boy sits on a rusty tin roof and draws
himself surrounded by oceans and lakes
of many colours, wooden canoes
and red clay villages. He dreams of fishing
in these rivers with a father
he has never seen.
74 My voice echoes
over the brown infant street to the taxi driver
eager to lead me through the gray,
seedless morning. Raindrops begin falling
from their nests in the clouds, leaving behind
bright shrines of lightning
to dance over tattered yellow buses
cooling their engines.
From the taxi's window,
I gather the scent of wet roadways
covered with fresh mud, a mother and daughter peeling
the flesh from ripened papayas
as the sun moves behind a calm slate cloud,
sending sapphire flames from its womb.
I collect them into my arms
and continue, wishing
for a paler blue.
75 Peter Norman two poems
What He Found in the
Vacuum Bag
Dust, vast cotton candy wads of it.
Three paper clips.
Human hair: his own and yours,
intractably entwined.
Five cents in pennies.
Veins and arteries of thread,
bloodless, unpulsing in the dust.
Crumbs of a meal you shared
with him, that night
when hope stirred bravely
in the candlelight, in the sure flow
of wine from a neck unstopped.
Fingernail clippings.
A pencil's tip.
Charred wick and chips of cork.
Particles of sound: your chair
scraped suddenly back from the table;
voices—the mounting crescendo,
a tangle of sobs and accusations.
A busted thumbtack.
A spider asphyxiated.
Molecules and atoms, a ravelled mess,
a heap of dissonances made one.
76 Winged Pupi
She dodges your gaze
circumspect as a moth savant
tutored in the ways of flame,
rapt scholar of the candle
observing unsinged.
She says she would like to learn you
as the blind learn a Braille page,
divine vowel and phrase from a blemish
pocking the smooth sheet.
She says this without once meeting
your eyes; hers flit and swoon,
thin wings over currents of heat.
In the end you will not touch her
with even one tendril of your burning.
Tentative, too aware, she hovers,
bathes in smoke, studies wick—
the single thread of fire
comprising spine, coercing you to sag,
unravel yourself around its ruin.
There will be no Braille but the droplets,
hardened, of streaming wax.
There will be no phrase but the tug
of gravity on dissolved will,
heart beaten by its own beating.
Creeping circumspect over ashen heaps
she will close her wings
and with one finger inscribe
her vowels in the black dust.
77 Rhian Clare Cox
Release of Form
John moves my bed to the window
so I can watch the whales,
their thick black bodies
made light with salt and water,
an effortless transformation
a slick glide from one
surface to another.
John cannot say
what he wants.
Instead he brings me
warm eggs from the farm,
honey trapped in the comb.
Each day he makes the bed,
pulls the sheets tight
to the corners
to keep my body here.
The cancer and the bed
contain me, housing
the small tent of my flesh.
He strokes my hand,
doesn't feel me slip
out of the window,
go to the edge of the shore
to follow the pulse
of each wave.
Each morning my skin
grows more translucent,
sharp tips of stars
push near the surface.
I want to move closer to water,
to be ready, quicker
at shedding flesh
I no longer understand,
a body that has lost my name.
78 Michael McManus
Assuming Spring
Assuming it was Spring, you called from a foreign port
to tell me the new job was fine, then asked about deer feeding
in the old orchard, if fields were plowed and seeded?
I stood by the closed window where a red maple's shadow
swayed into the den like an unsettled dream. Your voice,
impenetrable as lush undergrowth, continued to grow
with questions, ten thousand hammer taps on a tin can,
all the same imperatives impaled with ritual. I went outside
and walked you through the morning air, over the hard
grass, burred nettles, fresh coyote tracks,
hay and border rock stacked behind the barn.
There the white, hidden ground stretched for miles,
and above, closing in on every side, the sky grayed
its myopic heart. I told you the weather was exceptional,
marjoram and goldenrod flourished, our horses pounded
across bright meadows. When I reached the pond,
I described the measured sounds of fleeing ducks,
as I walked shore to shore, across the solid ice.
79 Mark Anthony Jarman
The Second Little Pig
Discusses Finances With His
Wife
I run up the stairs into the tiny deco kitchen where we kiss and kiss in
the soft light bent in old glass, on the red cupboard bread slices and
apple butter.
What do you think of wood for the house?
Wood is a sensible compromise.
I think so.
Brick we'd simply bake in the summers.
And brick is very expensive.
Money we save could get away for a week in the winter.
Somewhere close but really warm.
Maybe Cuba, the citadel, the finca.
And all this wolf nonsense is blown out of proportion.
What are the chances?
Location location location!
Get out of this little apartment.
We've had good sex in this apartment though.
And it's close to everything.
Wolves have been running about here more. You see their graffiti.
And some people call it art!
They don't stay in the forest where they belong.
They run in gangs now, stealing cars, shooting guns, killing innocent
bystanders.
We never did that.
Knives were good enough for us.
I guess it's not that bad here. That nice cafe opened up.
I won't live ruled by fear.
Like worrying about RSPs.
The banks profit from getting people worried.
She pauses, says, We should get more RSPs.
She says, Someone did break in at your brother's house.
80 All that damage, it was amazing.
Who else could have been responsible? It had to be wolves.
My brother does have a history.
He's not exactly Simon pure.
No he's not.
In high school he smoked dope a lot more than you did.
And I did a fair bit.
Does he still play flute?
At the office we never see him.
Supposedly that wolf had an alibi.
He said he was in Vegas on a junket.
As if.
More than one wolf though.
They all look the same to me—beady eyes, slouching and spitting and
scratching themselves.
How can you tell them apart?
All on welfare too.
Money just goes to drink, drugs.
Our taxes. Our money!
Those long snouts they have.
I think you like them, I tease.
The right wing parties do like scare tactics for the election.
They want to sound tough on crime.
Wolves under every bed.
I say, Speaking of bed.
I slip my hand in her waistband, cool private flesh, touch, cooler and
warmer both.
Loose running pants. I met her jogging alone by the seawall, mist rising
white from the water, white chains dripping from their painted posts. We
were so young.
Moving my hand around on her skin.
Mmm, she says.
We could use old parts of a barn for that rustic look.
Yes.
Notice how north of the river they say 'bairn'?
No.
With wood I can burn all the bits left from construction. Our little fireplace blazing away.
You and your free firewood, she laughs.
I like wood, especially free wood.
You're so cheap.
Not cheap—sensible.
I saw your new billboard by the Superstore: Pig Bros. Brothers by chance,
81 partners by choice.
Did it look okay?
Didn't you have a client who wouldn't sign unless she could sleep with all
three of you?
She was a wild one!
Wood is reliable.
Wood is sensible.
Woody. Look.
Framing goes up much faster than brick, we could be moved in before
winter.
Our little love shack.
I adore those tiny fishscale shingles, she says, a widow's walk in black
iron.
You're so much better than, cuter than that Martha Stewart.
I've noticed you mentally undressing her, she says.
What would sex with Martha Stewart be like?
In the middle she'd be saying, You can make a dandy coffee table decoration out of vaseline and pillow hair and smegma and down feathers.
I can't imagine her letting go, really getting wild and messy.
Those straw bales your brother is so keen on, they are warm and safe for
building, but it's all too hippie-ish somehow.
Like my brother.
I saw some darling house plans in the Daily Gleaner.
Look.
My hand on her seamless skin, a series of orbs, the sky roses and apples,
window light tinted, her bread and butter.
We should try Ecstasy sometime; it was in the paper.
Her pants pulled partway down.
Is the door locked?
Adults, we can do what we want now. When did that happen?
Sunday we could look at model homes in Starlite Village.
We could.
We can do anything. Even this.
Moving my hand.
Could we live somewhere that spells it Starlite?
Her track suit, elastic, hand all the way down and under her on smooth
bits with no name on the map, on the globes, feels nice down there, to
explore around the world.
Do you hear anything? The door's locked, right?
So easy to slip cotton down over plump but taut hips, biting her.
Hey tiger, watch that. I want to go out dancing later.
We can dance.
Sometimes I feel we're being watched.
82 Her hair down there shaped into a little Hitler mustache.
This excites me just thinking about it during the day, her quiet attention
to detail.
Was it for him, or for someone else, or just for her swimsuit?
Would you shave all of it clean? I ask. I like that idea.
That's because you must want a little girl, she says.
I hope that's not true.
I move my hands in slow circles.
Ok, she says, but just a quickie, I have work to do.
Me too.
Yo La Tengo on the black stereo.
I don't want to get all discombobulated, she says.
Look at it, she says, up at attention.
My long snout.
Hmm, don't eat me up, Mister big bad wolf.
You wish. I could eat you, mm yes, I could eat you all up.
Don't bite so hard, easy.
We fall on the thick duvet.
Ok, bite.
Mmm that feels nice.
Do you want me to turn over?
Turn over.
Mmmm I want it now.
Well now you don't get it. Or maybe just the tip, really slowly
If we had a nice little wooden house maybe we could start a family, she
says as I tie her to the four bedposts.
I take off my belt, lightly brush the inside of her legs with my belt.
Just a long quickie, she mumbles, head hidden under the pillow's edge.
The door locked, the front door, the back door, the forest waiting.
Do you hear anything?
In my mind I see the charming wooden house standing, horizontal clinker
planks painted lightest yellow, dawn sky alive with fever and ferns, a
white stone path to an ornate carved door, something colonial, sun in the
French panes.
Live there til you have liver spots, your Urdu face in the hardwood hall.
Move the belt lightly on the inside of her naked legs, delaying, ripeness
is all waiting on the duvet, not speaking, waiting for my wolfish ways and
I say, Yes, say, I have a good feeling about this.
83 Mark Anthony Jarman
My Empty Sleeve
Generations are split, I note, by eyewear, weight, and where they sit
on the #11. Your mileage may vary. Our bus driver motors happily
past the neo-Brutalist brick fortress; she motors straight past the
corner where we are meant to turn right, turn away every twenty minutes
from the hook of the frozen sea.
Our driver laughs at herself, says with a French accent, Guess I was
supposed to hang a right back there.
I imagine myself stranded and cursing at a stop on that lost stretch: Did
I miss the bus again! Why does this always happen to me!? No idea why.
We breeze through a neighbourhood where golden retrievers are walked
in eager unison, rich quiet houses with scented dryers on tumble and no
worries about why, confident their taupe eggs are not all in one basket.
The fortress home where our driver failed to turn: every brick,every
brick felt a hand.
Hey. Is this the 14?
Two young ballcaps at the door.
We're waiting for the 14.
This is the 11. Only the 11 on this route.
We'll wait for it.
They sit down at the stop.
Driver says, I am the 11.
You are? Not 14?
I am the 11.
Oh.
They climb up sheepish and angry because they're not from a ghetto.
By not being deprived, they've been deprived. Oh to be born in a ghetto, to
get jiggy with the rats and rasta players.
We cut toward town, a brain in every eye. Passengers look preoccupied,
working on their theory, their idea for a new flavour of ice cream: Fishsticks
On The Moon?\
Like Doubting Thomas I touch the yellow pole, jump off by the gaslit
steak house. Orestes is at the CinePlex. Downtown they are barking, breaking the statues, one memory hitting the others like a pool ball (You break).
Inside the steak house the man named Leckie says, You want to work?
84 What hours?
Full time. Work hard?
Yeah sure. What hours?
Full time. Work hard?
Pause.
Well, yeah, okay.
Leckie touches his speed-dial phone, bellows into it: WES I GOT YOUR
PERMISSION TO HIRE A DISHPIG? WES I COME IN AND IT'S A
FUGGIN MESS, NO ONE FUGGIN CLEANS UP!
Customers stare from their steak and lettuce and garlic tinfoil.
GOTTA SORT OUT FUGGIN FORKS AND KNIVES, IT'S A FUGGIN
MESS, CRACKERS EVERYWHERE, NO ONE FOLDED ANY NAPKINS.
I CANT HIRE HIM I WALK
IT'S A FUGGIN MESS.
OKAY WES YOU BETTER GET OVER HERE AND DO DISHES CUZ
I'M FUGGING WALKING.
OKAY WES I'M WALKING!
Leckie leaves, he's walking, it's not a bluff.
Waitress Sue apologizes to a pretty woman on a business trip. "Sorry,
don't know what's with him today." Sue gives the businesswoman seven
hot sauces and does her Texas waitress imitation: This one so hot it'll make
you slap yo mama\
Waitress Sue touches a blue screen, and FUCK! echoes from a hidden
kitchen, a frycook runs out in flames. The waitress calmly sprays him
down, sprays his white smock and black eyeglasses.
I'll just leave my application on file, okay? I say to no one. Thanks! I say to
no one. I walk into the snow, walk where the other guy just 'walked.' Days
of snowstorms, no sidewalk for freezing weeks and you miss the harvest
moon's warm grin, the moon's prepared talk: Hello son.
A little snowsuit kid tethered to a tree, four or five, about the age of my
youngest, and this kid looks at me and says, "In my world I'm twenty-one!"
In my world I'm about ninety, in my world I need a drink or two.
Bartender says fast, "JerryWho'sJerry?Jerry-atric?" On TV the Florida
Panthers: backcheck, stick, elbow, trip, slewfoot, pitchfork, spear to groin—
whistle, whistle, whistle. Try Enigma beer, says the coaster: You're never
sure what it tastes like.
A man dabbling in double ryes says to me, 'You know that old Eskimo
chief on the two dollar bill, hell you know him, well he got killed dead going
over a cliff in a snowmobile. Now if that's not a metaphor, he says, if that's
not a metaphor..."
We're paying extra to see gilded breasts, pay them to rise off the ribs,
we want that breast to be a beautiful eye that turns and sees something
special in us. I'm downtown with the pariahs—isn't this what I crave? Golden
85 naked ghosts in go-go boots, sleet in white lines like fibre optics, and more
Liebensbraum than you can possibly handle.
I rush to the bus stop, worrying I have Prog-Rock tendencies, jump on the
II once more. It goes the wrong way, circles around the zoo, the Hotel-
Dieu Hospital, the Rebel Motel. I forgot they changed the routes again.
They change them every week or two to keep us on our toes. Drive here,
drive there, turn left, turn right—soon I'm the only seasick passenger left.
The driver is short with long blonde hair. She stops the bus. She yells
something.
I'm way at the back, about a mile back.
What?
Sir, where are you getting off?
Oceanside ends the ride. The mysteries of Hicksville.
What!?
I walk up to the front so we don't have to yell, so we can be civilized.
She says, You should have gotten on the bus at SmutTek. You know, by
Tuna Pizza. That's the new stop. There were a couple tiny signs that the
wind has probably blown down by now.
Signs?
Signs. At the old stop by Eaton's.
Eaton's?
I could make you get off, I could charge you twice. I have eight minutes
here for my coffee break. This is my break. It belongs to me. Do you have
people hanging around on your coffee breaks?
I don't drink coffee. What is wrong with this picture? There I am at the
back reading a newspaper and you yell so I walk up to the front and then you
berate me for hanging around on your break. I'm not hanging around. Do
you think my idea of big fun is watching you drink coffee for eight minutes?
I'm trying to get home. This is my bus, the 11.
But this isn't the Oceanside 11, this is the Zooside 11.1 could make you
get off.
Is there the teensiest chance you and management could work this out
on your own?
Sir, you're breathing alcohol on me.
I stomp back to my newspaper and we stew for eight minutes. Devotion
comes with age but the wrong devotion. I am an animal with a product code
and I have ruined her break. Lamp globes inside the zoo are lit blood
oranges and the elephant is insane. This is not far from where they caught
the bumbling smackhead bank robbers. I wish I was shooting skeet at Bill's
farm. Five-four-three-two-one: the bus finally roars to life and glad of it we
are. Other riders climb on, but the blonde driver and I have our secrets.
A big woman trots on board by the mental hospital. Hi, how are you
86 today? she asks me in a very happy voice.
Pretty good, I lie, wondering if I have a sign on me or something.
Cold out tonight, I got a coffee at Starbuck's. I got a new job at the
hospital gift shop. Here's a nice girl, here's a nice girl. Hi girlie! How are
you?! Eggs on today at Safeway, $1.64 a dozen, one per customer, not a bad
price, bye!
She rides one block to buy a coffee and rides one block back. She rides
back and forth. We're pale passengers rejected from some vague contest
or charm school, yes we've lost some close elections.
Then we're on a country highway, we're by pine woodlots on a salmon
river, and a smell wracks us from the feed plant on Vanier Avenue. I seem to
have traveled from British Columbia's restless army of addicts to New
Brunswick river towns—a changeling country.
The bus pulls over by a shingle cabin with many lean-tos hammered to
the original and a moose in a corral. I can see in the lit cabin windows. A
mother and children have baked blackbirds in a pie.
What the hey? wonders the blonde driver at a map, must've missed
something back there somewhere. Keep changing these darn routes!
And the area code, says a white-haired passenger, they changed our
phone's area code!
After VE Day a lone U-boat refused to surrender, snuck out of the Baltic
sea, and crossed the Atlantic to South America, last of the Reich's wolfpacks.
Took them a long time, underwater most of the time, afraid to be spotted by
Allied planes or destroyers. No sunlight, no fresh oxygen, the U-boats's air
poisoned by the mammoth batteries, everyone coughing in bunks and
everything drips water, pipes and bulkheads and sausage covered with
mildew, no ersatz coffee, bread wet and moldy, the sailors' skin gone weird
haunted colours—an invisible crew caught between bottom and top.
We're trapped inside that U-boat, and I'll never see home again. Our
faces are starting to look like the pictures jailed on our driver's licence.
Inside the shingled cabin three boys chase each other with pistols that
are actually a yellow hose nozzle, a piece of wood, and a red bicycle pump.
Bang bang! Kioo! Kioo!
The eight-year-old boy shoots the four-year-old boy and the younger
boy falls.
The U-boat pipes are dripping, wrapped like a boxer's hand.
"You want to come put away some laundry?" a pretty mother asks. She
stands by the bed wearing soft PJ bottoms warm from the dryer. She wears
nothing else.
"No thank you," says the younger child pleasantly. "Right now I'm dead."
87 Contributors
Adam Chiles' poetry has appeared in The Malahat Review, The
Fiddlehead, Vintage 95 and 96, and Washington Square. His work also appears in the Smoking Lung Anthology: Hammer and Tongs (Editor: Brad
Cran). Previously a Banff Scholar, he was a finalist for 2000's Pablo Neruda
Award and a runner up for the Yorkshire Prize (England). He currently
lives in Maryland.
Matt Cohen, shortly before his death in December 1999, won the Governor General's Award for his novel Elizabeth and After and the Harbourfront
Festival Prize in honour of his life as a writer. In 1998 he received the
Toronto Arts Award for writing. He is the author of thirteen novels as well
as poetry, short stories, books for children and works of translation from
French into English. His posthumous collection of stories, Getting Lucky,
was published by Knopf Canada in March, 2000.
Jan Conn is a biologist at the University of Vermont, where she studies
malaria-carrying mosquitoes, Polynesian black flies and island biogeogra-
phy. Her most recent book of poetry, Beauties on Mad River, is forthcoming from Vehicule Press.
Rhian Claire Cox holds a degree in Writing and Philosophy from the
University of Victoria and has currently completed a Master of Arts in
Humanitarian Philosophy in England. Philosophy and our perception of
selfhood are themes she deals with in poetry, fiction and film. She is currently living in Victoria and working on her first novel.
libby Creelman's most recent publications have been in Grain, The
Malahat Review and The New Quarterly. Her first collection of stories was
published by The Porcupine's Quill in September 2000. She lives with her
family in St. John's.
Emil A. Draitser is the author of two short story collections in Russian. In
translation, his fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Partisan Review, The Kenyon Review, The Literary Review, International Quarterly,
Midstream, Confrontation, and elsewhere. He teaches Russian at Hunter
College in New York city, and is at work on a memoir.
88 frances hahn is currently a design student at the Ontario College of Art &
Design in Toronto. South African by birth, her work has appeared in
Scrivener, Montage and the Pillar. She was the recipient of the Peterson
Prize for Creative Writing.
Mark Anthony Jarman is the author of 19 Knives, New Orleans Is Sinking and Salvage King, Ya!. He teaches at the University of New Brunswick
and is director of the Banff Centre's 'Wired Writing Studio." He has been
recently published in WashingtonSquare (NYU) and Under The Sun (Tennessee) and shortlisted for the 1999 0. Henry Awards.
Mark Korn is an artist and digital illustrator whose works "are so satiated
with raw information and beauty that they begin to degenerate, becoming
menacingly poisonous." Quror's statement for 'Works on Paper: Recent
drawings and prints" 1995). Publications include "The Chicago Tribune,"
and numerous magazines throughout the U.S. He was one of many artists
on display at this year's "SIGGRAPH 2000," which was held in New Orleans this past July.
Zoe Landale's work has appeared in major literary journals in Canada and
the U.S. She has won a number of awards, including Prairie Fire's Creative
Non-Fiction Competition. Her fourth book of poetry, Blue in this Country,
is forthcoming from Ronsdale Press.
Janice Levy is the author of the children's books, Abuelito Eats With His
Fingers, Abuelito Goes Home, Totally Uncool, The Spirit OfTio Fernando,
and The Man Who Lived In A Hat. A past contributor of PRISM, her adult
fiction appears in Glimmer Train, Iowa Review, The Sun, and numerous
magazines and anthologies. She is the 1998 and 2000 winner of the Writer's
Digest Magazine Literary Fiction Competition.
Peter Norman's work has appeared in Event, Whetstone, and Windsor
Review, with poetry forthcoming in The Fiddlehead. His novel, Samson's
Tide, is about to begin the arduous search for a publisher. He lives with his
wife in Vancouver.
Michael McManus' work has appeared in or is forthcoming in journals
across the United States including The Louisiana Review, and in the anthology Decisions! Decisions! He was awarded third place in the Southern
Literary Festival for poetry. He is currently a 2000 Pushcart Prize Nominee.
89 Sheila Peters lives outside of Smithers in northwest British Columbia.
Her poetry and fiction has been published in Grain, Event, NeWestReview,
and Room of One's Own. Her first book, Canyon Creek: A Script, was published by Creekstone Press in 1998.
Scott Ramsey currently lives in and writes from his home in Washington,
D.C. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications across the country including PRISM international, Slipstream, Black Bear Review,
Seedhouse, and The Cafe Review. Within his work, readers find both dynamic spirits and a fresh approach that continues to enhance today's poetic
revolution.
matt robinson, winner of the 1999 Petra Kenney Memorial International
Poetry Prize, has published extensively in Canadian, American, Australian,
and British journals. His first book-length collection of poetry, a ruckus of
awkward stacking, was published in October 2000 by Insomniac Press. He
is a PhD candidate in Canadian Literature at the University of New Brunswick and on the editorial board of The Fiddlehead.
Sandy Shreve was raised in Sackville, New Brunswick, and now lives in
Vancouver, British Columbia. Her most recent book, Belonging (Sono Nis
Press, 1997), was short-listed for the Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award.
Derk Wynand's tenth collection of poems, Dead Man's Float, will be published by Brick Books in 2002. Also in 2002, Buschek Books will bring out
his fifth volume of translations, Midsummer Cut, poems translated from
the German of Dorothea Grunzweig. PRISM has published Derk's poetry
and translations numerous times, most recently in issues 35:1 and 37:2.
90 2000 Earle Birney Prize for Poetry
$500 was awarded to
K. I. Press
for her poems
"Apocalypse Love 2 (a pop glosa)"
and
"Apocalypse Love 3 (a pop glosa)"
which appeared in PRISM 38:3. HKISllVI  international
Annual Short Fiction Contest
$2000 Grand Prize
5 Runner-up Prizes of $200
Maximum 25 pages per piece, typed and double-spaced. Please include
a cover page; the author's name should not appear on the manuscript.
All work must be previously unpublished. Entry fee: $22 plus $5 for each
additional manuscript; this includes a one-year subscription to PRISM
international. All Non-Canadian residents, please pay in US dollars.
Contest Deadline:   January 31, 2001
Mail all entries to:
PRISM international
Fiction Contest
Buch E462 -1866 Main Mall, UBC
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1 CANADA
For more information, send a SASE to the above address.
E-mail: prism@interchange.ubc.ca Web: www.arts.ubc.ca/prism Creative Writing B.F.A. at U.B.C.
tot
<Jg> The University of British Columbia offers a Bachelor of Fine
Arts degree in Creative Writing. Students choose three genres
to work in from a wide range of courses, including: Poetry,
^     Novel/Novella, Short Fiction, Stage Play, Screen & TV Play,
^ ■* Radio Play, Writing for Children, Non-Fiction and Translation.
All instruction is in small workshop format or tutorial.
^      „,      Faculty
*s+ IJ  & "^ -^      Lynne Bowen
Keith Maillard
George McWhirter
^r      Andreas Schroeder
Linda Svendsen
Peggy Thompson
«J     Bryan Wade
For further information, please write:
~^\   Creative Writing Program
1   ~    University of British Columbia
Buchanan E462-1866 Main Mall
Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T IZl
Or check out our web-site at:
www.arts.ubc.ca/crwr EVENT
new ty established writers
$1,500
Creative
Non-Fiction
Contest
#14
Three winners will each receive $500 plus payment for publication in Event 30/3.
Other manuscripts may be published.
Final Judge: TBA. Myrna Kostash, Howard White, Eleanor Wachtel,
Andreas Schroeder, George Gait, Sharon Butala, Tom Wayman, Di
Brandt, & Terry Glavin are just some of our past judges.
Writers are invited to submit manuscripts exploring the creative
non-fiction form. Check your library for back issues of Event with
previous winning entries and judges' comments.
Note: Previously published material, or material accepted elsewhere
for publication, cannot be considered. Maximum entry length is
5000 words, typed, double-spaced. The writer should not be identified on the entry. Include a separate cover sheet with the writer's
name, address, phone number/ email, and the title(s) of the story
(stories) enclosed. Include a SASE (Canadian Postage/ IRCs only).
Douglas College employees are not eligible to enter.
Entry fee: Multiple entries are allowed, however, each entry must
be accompanied by a $25 entry fee (includes GST and a one-year
subscription; make cheque or money order payable to Event). Those
already subscribing will receive a one-year extension. American
and overseas entrants please pay in US dollars.
Deadline for entries: Postmarked no later than April 15, 2001.
EVENT
The Douglas College Review
P.O. Box 2503, New Westminster, BC
Canada V3L 5B2
Phone: (604) 527-5293    Fax: (604) 527-5095
e-mail: event@douglas.bc.ca
Visit our website at http://event.douglas.bc.ca
Douglas
College Come of
Age with
new
Quarterly
Submit to our 21st
anniversary contest—
a coming-of-age story
For our 21st year we are looking—natch—for a coming-of-age story. We invite
submissions from writers of all ages. Winners to be published in our 21st volume year.
$700 first prize
$300 second prize
plus payment for publication
Submission Deadline: January 1,2001
Manuscripts should be typed and double spaced with o separate cover sheet with the writer's name, address,
phone number ond the title of the story enclosed. Your name should not appear on the story itself.
Preliminary judging by the editors of Jhe New Quarterly.
Final judge Andrew Pyper, a fiction writer who came of age as a writer in our pages. His first collection,
Kiss Me, was published to acclaim in 1996. His first novel, (osf Girls, was published internationally in 1999. He
is also a regular contributor of essays and criticism to Canadian magazines, journals, and newspapers including
The Globe & Mail ani Saturday Night.
Entry Fee of $25 must accompany each submission. All entrants will receive a one-year subscription to Jhe
New Quarterly or, if already subscribing, a one year extension. That's $7 off the newsstand price I If a writer
enters more than once, the second subscription can go to a friend.
Send all submissions to:
Coming-of-Age with The New Quarterly Contest
c/o The New Quarterly, PAS 2082
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, ON N2L3G1   In the end, I wrote because I was lonely
and I needed to hear voices and I was
the only possible source.... I wrote
because, having started to tell myself
a story to fill the emptiness, I wanted
to find out what would happen next.
— Matt Cohen, Page 55
PRI/M   INTERNATIONAL
FICTION
DRAMA
POETRY
TRANSLATION
CREATIVE   NON-FICTION
Adam Chiles
Matt Cohen
Jan Conn
Rhian Clare Cox
Libby Creelman
Emil A. Draitser
frances hahn
Mark Anthony Jarman
Zoe Landale
Janice Levy
Michael McManus
Peter Norman
Sheila Peters
Scott Ramsey
matt robinson
Sandy Shreve
Derk Wynand
Cover Art: Untitled by Mark Korn

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