dollarama Jesus (’cause it’s Easter)

Willy Cox, who was small of stature and red of hair, was given just three minutes by the bouncers to find his dentures after Luther Sheeny knocked them out of his mouth with a wicked right hook.

When Willy discovered them in the farthest corner of the bar, he realised, after picking them up, that his upper plate had been broken clean in two. So, after telling Luther Sheeny, the bouncers and all of the patrons of the Dover Arms Pub to fuck off, he headed down to the Denman Street Dollarama to steal a tube of super glue. And it was there, in the insipid and colourless buzzing fluorescent light of a dollar store hardware aisle, that Willy Cox witnessed Jesus Christ Himself perusing the store’s selection of multi-headed screwdrivers.

Now, Willy Cox was not religious about taking his medication, and it may also be said that the medications prescribed for his disordered mind were not always adequate or free of injurious side effects. But whether medicated or not, Willy Cox always believed that he could see Jesus and that it was only Jesus’ refusal to materialise that explained why he never really had.

Further, the Jesus Willy Cox saw in the Denman Street Dollarama, it must be put forth, was the conventional white bread European-looking Jesus that one sees in American Christian tracts and framed on the walls of downtown soup-line missions. And to some, this may have been a suspicious sign; perhaps the Holy vision was a mere memory of a cookie-cutter Jesus seen somewhere else. He was blue eyed and had brownish blonde hair. He looked freshly bathed, and His robes and sandals were spotless.

Upon each of His hands, however, was a clean and distinct nail hole, and there was a radiant halo above His head. It was for these reasons, Willy Cox thought, that this was the one and only immaculate resurrected Christ.

Willy tried not stare. After all, the other Dollarama customers didn’t seem to notice their Saviour scoping out screwdrivers, so why should he? What was the big deal? But it was hard not to take a sneaky look. Was it appropriate to ask for an autograph, he wondered. Could he approach Jesus to simply discuss the weather? Was Jesus truly divinely informed? Would He know Willy Cox for the unworthy brain disordered, shoplifting, bar fighting boozer that he was?

Jesus now had two different brands of multi-headed screwdriver in his hands. As His eyes moved from one to the other, back and forth, He slowly shook his head. “Every damn thing’s made in China, nowadays,” Willy heard Him say.

Then Willy Cox made his decision. He stuffed a tube of super glue down the front of his pants, and walked over to offer Jesus Christ what assistance he could in choosing a screwdriver.

“Hello, Your Lordship,” Willy said. Then— “That’s correct, isn’t it? Calling you Your Lordship?”

“Oh hello, Willy,” Jesus said. “Say, do you know much about screwdrivers?”

“You do know my name.”

“Of course, I’m the resurrected Son of God. I’m omniscient. And you’re Willy Cox, son of Tom and Agnes. You’re an unworthy brain disordered, shoplifting, bar fighting boozer. You frequently take my name in vain. You’ve paid for sex three different times this month, and you left the fish and chip place down the street last night without paying for your meal. But back to the screwdrivers, which one do you think?”

“Well,” said Willy Cox, a little ashamed, “pardon me for asking. But if you’re omniscient, why are you unaware of which is the better screwdriver? Wouldn’t being omniscient suggest that you have always known the ultimate truth of these two screwdrivers, and of all screwdrivers that have ever existed and ever will exist in the future?”

“Okay,” Jesus said, mildly annoyed. “So, maybe omniscience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

“All righty then,” said Willy Cox, sounding a little surprised. “What do you need to know?”

“Well, what brand do you recommend? They’re both made in China for goodness sake. Can anything good come out of China? In the way of screwdrivers, I mean.”

“I can’t recommend either of them, Sir.” Willy Cox was still unclear on the correct way to address the Blessed One.

“So,” Jesus said, “where does a deity get a decent screwdriver in this town? And call me Jeez, everybody else does.”

“I don’t know if you can get a decent screwdriver in this town, but you could try a hardware store. There’s one on Bidwell Street.”

“That may get a bit too pricy. Prices here at the Dollarama are more in line with my current economic circumstance, resulting from my general adoration of poverty. A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

“I guess,” said Willy Cox. Then he said, “May I ask you another question, ah, Jeez.”

“Fire away,” Jesus said.

“What does the omniscient, and presumably omnipotent, Son of God need with a screwdriver?”

“It pays to be prepared, Willy.”

“Yes, but can’t you just will a screw to penetrate a surface? Won’t a screw be immediately present wherever you deem it necessary?”

“I tell you this,” said Jesus. “Do not use your stolen super glue to bring together what has been torn asunder. For I say unto you, your upper plate will mend cock-eyed and leave you with visibly uneven dentition.”

“You’re avoiding the question. What do you need a screwdriver for?”

“When a flood came,” said Jesus, “the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”


“There are atoms dancing in the Dollarama,” Jesus said, holding his arms out wide, a screwdriver in each hand. “Here beneath the fluorescence, from on high. Do you hear their angel song?”

“I just hear Debbie Harry singing Rapture over the Muzak.”

“Ah, the Rapture,” said Jesus. “The tribulation and persecution that will come before the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God.”

“Nah, it’s just a Blondie song about Mercuries and Subarus, and getting eaten by Martians.”

“Is not.”

“Yes, it bloody well is,” said Willy Cox. “Listen.”

“Stand and witness in yourself, Willy Cox, the direct and transformative presence of God here in this place, among the budget-priced hammers, wrenches and duct tape. Prepare yourself to be brought forth from the multitude of man and be seated at the right hand of God.”

“You sure you’re Jesus,” said Willy Cox. “You sound a bit unhinged.”

“I am the light of the world,” Jesus said.

“Really? In the Denman Street Dollarama? Looking for a cheap screwdriver?”

“Look unto Me, and be saved.”

Suddenly interested in seeing how Jesus Christ would pay for His purchase, Willy Cox pointed to the screwdriver in the right hand of the Lord Saviour.

“That one,” he said. “It’s a pleasing shade of yellow.”

“I agree that it is,” said Jesus, after a moment’s consideration.

He replaced the other screwdriver, and walked to the checkout where He stood patiently in line while the customers ahead of Him paid for their budget priced cupboard liners, greeting cards and office supplies.

When Jesus made it to the cash register, and was asked how he’d like to pay, He leaned over the counter and whispered something into the cashier’s ear. Hearing His whisper, the cashier smiled in elation, and held her hand to her breast. Jesus smiled back and said, “Bless you, Doris,” and left the store.

Willy Cox ran to the head of the line, butted in and asked the cashier,

“What did that man in the robes just whisper in your ear?”

“He told me not to worry,” the cashier said.

“That’s it?” said Willy Cox.

“I guess it was more how He said it,” said the cashier. “Oh, and He also said that you have a tube of super glue stuffed down your pants, that you didn’t intend to pay for, but that He’d take care of it.”

“But He didn’t give you any money.”

“No, He never does.”





morning in the 1960s

there was a blue innocence
to the razor blades my father used
meek evidence on the sink
of an early rise

the car
(and yes there was a car
as essential to a factory man
as a smooth chin)
was 2nd hand, and it
idled for him on frosty mornings
as he listened to the CBC
(the big war’s
nearly 20 years past
shall we give socialism a try?)

he was a more artful man
than a labourer could let on then —
sensitive to the solemnity
that might have torn him to pieces
(perhaps it’s why he drank
so aloofly and
could depart through walls)

(should any son’s father be)
jazz beer rough handed
ghost enough
to be a poet





the moon is a lie

“The Moon is a lie.”

I say this into the veracigraph. An agent in a crumpled white shirt and lose tie holds a microphone to my mouth. We’re in a large damp concrete garage, lit by a few light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. The machine’s internal brainbox hums and clicks, analysing my answer. Then a green light appears on its panel. I’ve passed. I bite my inner cheek, and show no surprise. I’ve practiced endlessly for moments like these. A steady tone of voice; a relaxed diaphragm. The machine has pegged me a true believer. I remain handcuffed to a metal chair, but I live another day.

As an exercise, I run the official narrative through my head: Of course the Moon is a lie. So are its orbit and phases, especially the crescent phases, its dark side and light. The tides are a function of the whirling, shifting planet. The Moon is the enemy’s greatest symbol, a massive manipulation, placed there by the Eastern Faith States. Huge projectors, controlled by vicious Imams, in secret locations beaming it onto the night sky, and sometimes during the day. Watching over the west — over all of us who live in freedom. It is a cruel weapon of mass destruction, the Prime Minister has spoken. All Moon literature, fictional or scientific, recent or historical, are EFS lies. Only the truly radicalised believe otherwise.

So say the newspapers.

I feel dizzy in my chair, and ask for water. A full glass is placed at my feet, but the handcuffs mean I cannot reach it. The agent in the crumpled white shirt smiles.

“Please let me go,” I say to him. “I’ve passed your test, yet again.”

“Not up to me, mate,” the agent says. “There’ll be someone along soon enough.”

I’m eighty years old, in chronic pain. Rationing has made me weak. A decade of self-imposed isolation has nearly erased my memory. I no longer have conventional memories, only flashbacks. Colours mostly. Odd. Flashes of lush blues, pale purples and pinks. Vague recollections of flowers in a window, on a desk. What are they?

I’m a danger to no one. In spite of the pain, I am amused.

It occurs to me that it’s my age that makes me dangerous, if I am at all. I know truths about the Moon that come from before the dismantling of the internet, before mass communication was banned, books incinerated. I’m from a time when radicalisation was merely a basic adolescent awakening of empathy and endeavour, not a mass doctrinal psychopathy.

“You want a cigarette?” says the agent. He pulls one from a deck for himself, and lights it.

“No,” I say.

“Don’t smoke? Is that it?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“You fucking oldsters…,” he says, shaking his head. “I don’t get all your no smoking bullshit. The Gov says it’s safe.”

The Gov, short for Government. A word shortened to encourage trust and familiarity, intimacy even. The Gov is family, a warm and welcome friend. A lover.

The agent inhales extra deeply, proudly to make a point. The smoke he exhales is as blue as moonlight on wet pavement.

“I’m truly in trouble this time, aren’t I?” I say.

He half shrugs, and picks up and opens a tattered file. He reads. His lips move.

“You were a university prof?” he says.


“How’d you fucking live this long? The Gov don’t like your kind.”

It is a mystery.

“Prof of what?” says the agent. “It doesn’t say here. It’s been blacked out.”

“Mathematics,” I lie. Or perhaps it’s not a lie. I no longer know for sure.

“Mathematics is obsolete,” the agent says. “No more long division for you, my friend.”

“That’s arithmetic, long division.”


“Never mind.”

A door opens to my left and a woman in a business suit walks in, carrying a black leather attaché case. As she approaches me, I see that she has a young but motherly face. Her lipstick is the red of jingoism, however. Not a colour from my flashbacks. It’s a deep shade of blood, derived from propaganda posters. She nods to the agent. He disappears into the dark.

“Hello, Professor,” she says to me, pulling off black kidskin gloves.

I haven’t been called that in over a decade.

“Hello,” I say.

“You’ve lately come to our attention.”

“Have I?”

“Yes you have,” she says. “It might have happened sooner, but information doesn’t flow the way it once did.”

“How does it flow now?” I ask.

“Downhill. Over stone and through culverts. Sometimes it gets stuck in whirlpools and back waters. People like me have to search it out. You lied many years ago, when you first said that you were a mathematics Professor. But it was an intelligent lie.”

She might be correct, I think.

“It seems you actually professed philosophy,” she says.

True, that’s it!

“Which is disturbing enough, but it is the area of philosophy you engaged in that’s troubling to us.”



She stares at me for a moment.

I leave it at that.

“Social philosophy,” she reads from her document. “Do you deny it?”

“Is it a crime?”

“You know it’s not,” she says. “And yet it is. You know that, too.”

It’s the perfect answer.

“You wrote prolifically,” she continues. “And there was one paper you wrote, in particular, before the militant Imams began projecting the Moon onto the sky. It troubles us. The Philosophy of Denial.”

“It was well received,” I say.

“Then you don’t deny writing it?”

“The question is too ironic to answer,” I say.

She retrieves another document from her case.

“In the abstract of your paper, it is stated: Interest in the problem of method biases has a long history in State sponsored denial of essential realities. A means by which to control these methods of denial and their methods of dissemination exist as a matter of clandestine fact. The purpose of this article is to examine and discuss the cognitive processes through which a population of intelligent individuals living in a progressive, affluent milieu may be convinced by the State that opposites of reality exist.”

“Yes,” I say. “That’s rather good.”

“It’s treasonous. It’s sedition.”

“It wasn’t then.”

“But it is now.” A satisfied grin. “That’s the point, and it will be as long as the article remains in existence. Somewhere, even as we speak, it is being read and rewritten. The problem is, however, that with every rewrite, it loses a little something. That’s why we’re here today.”

“Burn it,” I say, “and your problems are over.”

“Even if we could track down every copy — and let me assure you that there are many, and more are found each day — that would still leave us with the problem of you.”

“There’s nothing left of me,” I say. “A small thing would end my life. An injection. A well swung iron bar.”

“But enemies are difficult to cultivate, in any meaningful way,” she says, changing track. “You say so, yourself, in your paper. And you’re correct, of course. Genuine, functional enemies are difficult and expensive. But having a serviceable enemy on your side can pay very high dividends.”

Enemies on your side. She gets it. Clever woman.

“So you’ve read it,” I say.

“Allies are much easier,” she carries on. “The human world naturally divides itself down the centre. Despite the reality that cooperation leads to better outcomes.”

She’s paraphrasing chapter two.

“Interesting,” I say.

“When did you last have an egg, Professor?”

This is unexpected, a bit bewildering.

“At least fifteen years ago,” I say. “If I recall correctly, which I’m not sure I do. Just after the supply chain was redirected into the wars. Around the time the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was suspended.”

“A cup of coffee?”

“About the same time.”

“I have them every day,” she says. “And more.”

“How nice for you.”

“You could, too.”

I’m silent.

“You’re old, Professor,” she says. “How long do you have left, hmm? Come over to us. Join our small army of primary Villains. The world awaits you.”

“Are you serious?”

“You’ll write more of this sort of thing.” She holds up my paper. “We’ll distribute it, and punish your readers. Just imagine all of the lovely unrest, and the outrage you’ll cause. The very fuel necessary to run a formless government, indefinitely. You’ll have value again. Your photograph will deface every lamppost in every city of the country, the world.”


“You can live in comfort. Receive medical treatment. Sleep on a proper bed, without pain. In a home with heat and hot water. You’ll live longer for all of that. Think of it.”

“So, you’re bribing me,” I say. Strangely, I suddenly see orchids. The colours. I raised them once, my God. Now I remember. The joy!

“Of course we’re bribing you.”

“Then we agree?” I say. “The moon is not a lie. I don’t believe it, and neither do you.”

“Naturally, it’s an absurd idea. How we ever convinced the people it was, remains a wonderful enigma.”

“And the endless war, it’s only an empty room.”

“Yes, it is.”

My belly tightens. There’s a wicked hope in my gut.

“May I have orchids?” I say.







DSM 6 Preview of Trumpopathic Personality Disorder

Characterised by internalised penis envy, resulting in the erection of phallic edifices named for the individual in lieu of actual personal erectile function, Clinical Trumpopathic Disorder is a DSM-6 diagnosis. Common traits include sadistic tendencies and body dysmorphic disorder strongly associated with the hands, and an overall bodily orange tinge.

Individuals with Clinical Trumpopathic Disorder routinely infringe upon the rights of others without regret, in the pursuit of self-aggrandisement, and the sale of items such as steaks and placements in fake universities. A characteristic lack of personal insight can even lead to the failure of such failure-proof businesses as casinos.

Clinical Trumpopathic Disorder is strongly linked to unethical behaviours, criminality and the instigation of vexatious and groundless civil actions in order to manipulate and cause personal damage to others. And can also include the eviction of little old ladies from long occupied, rent-controlled apartments.

Though it is still unclear whether Clinical Trumpopathic Disorder is genetically based, some evidence exists that it can be instigated by the granting, by family, of a “small” one million dollar loan at the onset of adulthood.

The term, Clinical Trumpopathic Disorder may cause confusion for some, as the more common definitions, outside of clinical usage, are asshole, dick, dick-head, sphincter-face, jerk-off, shit head, that fucker with the dime store toupee and a “C”- word that fails to meet the high standards of clinical nomenclature, but might be spelled, phonetically, as “see you next Tuesday”.

If untreated, individuals with Clinical Trumpopathic Disorder will possess Messiahological qualities, and are experts at obtaining sympathy from others, by feigning victimisation or prejudice. A profile of those prone to falling prey to this behaviour will appear in the next full edition of the DSM (see Delusional Minionism).

Beneath the superficial charm of people with Clinical Trumpopathic Disorder, lies a pathological need to witness the fullest possible suffering in others. And hairspray, baby – lots of hairspray!








the third and last movement in the accordion suite
see #1 here
see #2 here

Misery’s a handy rag to have round, to wipe up a life and squeeze out over an open drain. That’s the kind of malarkey a guy like me thinks after a couple of shots of rye, sitting at a bar just before closing time, with nothing between his trigger finger and the gun in his shoulder holster, except a promise he made to a dame with a Nietzsche tattoo and a straight razor scar across her cheek.

Regret’s like a bottle of Aqua Velva, some dame gives it to you as a gift, and the cheap aroma lingers. It gets stale, and people stop getting close because you’re stinking up the place. I knew an old guy once who smelled like Aqua Velva, ‘til the day he died. Even his ghost stank of it, until the world forgot he’d ever existed, which took about a week. I guess I’m kind of like him.

She wore an accordion the way a cubist wears a turtleneck sweater, and she looked me over as she stepped off of the stage, after a crazy set of narcocorrido beat – songs like gunfight infernos where no one gets out alive, the evidence collected later and left out on open mesas to blow away before dawn.

She sat on a stool next to me, wrapped in fire. The lightbulbs didn’t have a chance. It was like she’d been made a saint once, maybe in a cheap motel room, by a fallen priest with a .45 on his hip. I ordered whiskey.

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, just about the time Tuesday night starts humping Wednesday morning — Tuesday into Wednesday, that’s the loneliest goddam midnight of them all.

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

I had a trick I did with a zippo. Most guys have a trick like that, one to compensate for their clumsy lusts and lack of manners. I clicked the lid back and ignited the wick with a single snap of my fingers. She watched me do it the way a woman watches a monkey rattle a nickel in a tin cup.

“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 carry knives and have anxious eyes.”

“Sounds like you’ve been there.”

“Nah, never. But I booked passage once. For me and someone else.”

“…and?” she said.

“And she never showed. The only train outta Pigeonville left the station without us. I stood there on the platform like a chump. When I looked for her later, all I found was an empty closet and a note that said she hated Raymond Chandler. I guess she was right; that made it irreconcilable.”

“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 with an empty closet and a confession meant to rip out his heart. Where I come from, a girl just shoots him in the back, like a dog.”

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

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