the loneliest goddam midnight of them all

She wore juxtaposition the way a cubist wears a turtleneck sweater. The bar was nearly empty that night. I ordered a double, and sat a few stools away. The room dimmed when she smiled. The lightbulbs didn’t have a chance.

I wasn’t looking for her. No one had come to this private dick weeping over a long lost daughter or a cheating wife. It was just a chance meeting. The kind of thing that happens round midnight, about when Tuesday night starts humping Wednesday morning — Tuesday into Wednesday, that’s the loneliest goddam midnight of them all.

I had a trick I did with a zippo. Most guys have a trick like that. One to compensate for their awkward misery and lack of manners. I clicked the lid back and lit the lighter with a single snap of my fingers. She watched me do it the way a dame watches a monkey rattle a nickel in a tin cup.

“I’m not from round here,” she said, holding her cigarette for me to light.

“I get it, baby,” I said. “You’re from some kooky outer galaxy, aren’t you.”

“A million light years away, mister.”

“Some planet where the years drip down the walls and pool in the corners,” I said. “Where the minutes have knives and anxious eyes.”

“Sounds like you’ve been there.”

“I booked passage once. For me and someone else.”

“…and…?” she said.

“And she never showed. The only way outta Buttville left the station as I stood there on the platform, like a chump. When I looked for her later, all there was was an empty closet and a note that said it was better this way.”

“We don’t do a man like that where I come from,” she said.

I reached across and lit her cigarette.

“Where I come from,” she said, “a girl don’t break a fella’s heart by leaving him. She just shoots him in the back, like a dog.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess that’s why I want you to take me home.”

“Fine by me,” she said, “but it’s a week ’til payday. You gotta bring the bullets.”


diary discovered written on the wall of an abandoned hotel room

Monday: We are born to disremember the chimes of life, chiming. Though hidden in our age, they are nonetheless the mud of each soul. There are Saint’s Days, quarrels and dear dead aunts. The progress of events. The steam of things. I have a wooden chair and a bed of iron.

Tuesday: There is an elevator shaft next to my room. The car rumbles past 4am. I have tobacco from an ashtray in the lobby, and the pages of a novel. A match explodes. A Hindu god sits crossed legged on a mat on the floor. I see a woman on a stoop across the street, as patient as bone.

Wednesday: Sleep breathes heavily, as though it has taken the stairs. It comes through the keyhole and stands next to my bed. I approach it like an execution, and dream of an orchard of mirrors. Its many birds are really only one.

Thursday: It’s noon. I have coffee and sit by the window. A long gone lover, ingenious in her use of zero, stares up from a pasture that was the street only hours ago. Cops on Harleys are stranded there, and the gangs and the dealers. The neighbourhood is confused. The Fire Department arrives. They talk standing next to the engine, and smoke cigarettes. One of them laughs. I am braver in the dark.

Friday: Midnight. She is tapping at my window, a gangster in the alley, with lovers dead around her. Her hot .45 has melted a Smith & Wesson hole into the dark. There are children on the doorsteps in their eager pose. There are the subways of man, the power grids of cities and the Taj Mahal. There are footsteps in the Noir and rage in the stairwells.

Saturday: I am braver in the dark. There are ghosts in the neon blue of Os, beneath the aitches and above the tees of the hotel sign. They who have disappeared into their own dreams and have had their luggage sent away.

Sunday: Something whispers, the garden is an abattoir this door has slammed for centuries better the shame you know you are the false sum. You are the shadow of an airplane across the rooftops and circus tents the car lots and strip malls the cul-de-sacs and violence the heroin crack back alleys. This has been your week. Now walk away or there will be another.

top ten reasons you probably won’t vote for Stephen Harper

10. Even though you’re a Harper family member, you think Justin has a nice ass.

9. You’re probably not a spitting-with-sloppy-rage elderly reactionary male with a swollen prostate, AWOL grandchildren, and who still measures length in cubits.

8. Your topic hashtags actually trend.

7. The Harper election machine refers to you only by your first name.

6. Though you believe all clowns are evil, you are otherwise not a bigot.

5. You love the men in your life, but don’t buy into a patriarchal system that upholds heterosexual male privilege and a status quo of control, enforced by rudimentary oppression mechanisms. (phew!)

4. Your ability to recognise and appreciate nuance helps you to live a balanced and mindful life.

3. You probably don’t have a private, artistically unfulfilled hairdresser on your campaign bus.

2. You probably don’t travel with the flag of Tajikistan on your luggage, just in case.

1. To you “Urine in the lead” means something completely different.

ancient saints

to be an ancient saint
was to be dissected
if not first burned to a crisp
by a righteous mob

it was to be boiled down to bones
or mummified then
horded in reliquaries or
any old Catholic tin can
and never to sleep in the dirt

this was the duty of saints
among others things the
honour did not come cheap
and from on high they
witnessed their place
in a pious supply chain
presided over by ruffian monks
and the gangster devout

only in this way
could a simple soul who’d suffered
have possessed twenty-five fingers