Our Father Who Art in Heaven,
with your retinue of
saccharine angels and saints,
the celestial fanfare,
while we remain below,
content to breathe
the pine-filled air,
to feel the wind caress
the napes of our necks,
to see the sun
illuminate the hills
as if every morning
were the first time,
to sense the ground
beneath our feet
and not above our heads,
sealing us off
in darkness and silence
from everything we love.
We tally up our losses
and our gains
to find that overall
it’s not half-bad
to be alive.
– Arthur Heifetz…
She pours through the doors of the coffee shop near the corner of Keele & Dundas like
—–Her lips are slathered in strawberry-pink ice cream; she hand-rolls a cigarette, her
hair knots in an up draft.
—–One by one, she opens a handful of sugar packets, pouring the contents on the
table; she puts a straw to her wind-cracked lips and blows out an outline of a mountain,
humming like a harmonica trapped in a hurricane. Her moist tongue then outlines the
shape of a hip bone, then the CN Tower.
—–Dragging her fingers along the linoleum finish, she recreates Van Gogh’s Starry
Night. When it’s done, she forces her hand through the white grain like a monk through a
—–Everything is impermanent.
—–A pigeon flies into the window. It dies.
—–I once saw a dead magpie in Calgary. With rocks tied to its legs and body with
school-grade pipe cleaners, it died in pain. I photographed it and studied the
decomposition of its wings while heading North through the Ice Field Parkway, the great
gash in Western Canada. I studied it like the short stumpy legs of Deedy from the angle
of between her thighs.…
You are nineteen. It is a year after you broke up with your first girlfriend and
now your first girlfriend is standing above you as you kneel on the ground.
And while she is your ex now, she is still your friend because you need her.
Specifically, you need her to shave your head.
She shaves your head for you, and you finally feel butch—like a real lesbian.
As if there is a lesbian norm. And if there is one, then you are it with your
You have finally decided to shave your head because the older woman you had a
crush on, Emma, simultaneously broke your heart and pissed you off. This is
how you rebel. This shaved head that you know Emma would hate. This shaved
head that you actually love.
But you cannot get the thought of Emma out of your mind. She stays inside your
brain so much that you can’t do anything else but wallow in the words she last said
to you—that she never wants to talk to you again. You will remember she said this
because you did something that made her mad, that made her think you were some
silly little girl she didn’t want to waste her time on, though you will forget what it was,
exactly, that you did to her.…
The minister was over for dinner
Our precocious five-year-old son
thin blonde hair flying off his head
leaned over the table with an intent expression
and asked the Reverend
Do you know that there are over a hundred-thousand Gods?
…and some of them have elephant heads?
How did he come up with this shit?
A powerful imagination he had
I couldn’t see it as a good thing
especially after what happened next
caught by surprise
inhaled a piece of brisket
choked to death actually
neither me nor my wife knowing
that maneuver when someone chokes
My wife ran out the front door
her grey and blue plaid dress flying behind her
but by the time someone got there
who’d been seeing to one of the neighbor’s calves–
it was too late
The Reverend lay on the floor
his face blue as an elephant-headed God’s
My son learned that there is information that should
not be shared
secrets that need keeping
My son learned that elephant-headed Gods don’t want
Baptist preachers to know about them
They wanted their elephant-headed secrets kept close
– Mitchell Grabois