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You Make Junk Look Good
by Tom Walmsley

violet and i danced
the resurrection shuffle

our last night i shot all the
demerol sundown to midnight violet
drank wine the idiot radio buzzed
louder than the stones we were swollen
& tender at dawn too sore for heaven too
stoned to stop oh man it was the
drugs it was the drugs.

tommy's teeth left marks he
sucked my blood i kissed his mouth
i rocked him into dreams & stole
whatever i could carry
his leather jacket guitar 30 bucks even a
coke from the fridge &
i never kissed tommy again.

violet went to montreal

2 years later you were born.

your words are mud no
face no place tel aviv just a
name turned into winnipeg or

you were in toronto seven years
old & i was in tel aviv married -
there is no reason for mystery

i don't want to give you those things

baby they're all yours secret &
sacred you want to
find a few people who truly interest me &
go to bed with them & i want to keep it
for myself.

maybe you should have kept it to
yourself sweet thing tucked it in your
knapsack next to muddy words i can't
understand & words you've forgotten.

emails shrink & whisper after
midnight sent & read at 1 at 2
at 3 a.m. you know you'll
never feel okay about
leaving my sweetheart in
this situation.

neither will your sweetheart.

you want
respite from the shadow of
& i don't blame you but
there's no such thing, child, there
is no such fucking thing.

& if you think i have no
sense of what kind of pain you're
in or what i did to you you're

even i don't know what
you did to me baby what
did you do?

did it hurt?

after ten minutes & 30 years i shot
up again i went into vertical spin i
fell down the well i could smell the shot
the real thing
i couldn't see i couldn't stand i had to crawl
it was all wrong
angel stayed angel left i was not going to die.
smith arrived & panicked when i
said heroin like when i heard

the night my mother died words of ill
repute heroin & dead
angel on the phone calmed smith with logic &
conviction then she gave the phone to me.

i'll do anything for love i said.

there you are wearing
nothing but 23 years nothing
but nerve

flesh marks the spot
death in every breath

my age written on each
forgotten muscle the truth in
clear & violent focus

watch the naked games our
bodies public & dark your secret
emails brimming with promises &
promises showing your face
to the leather world.

let's eat.

there is no dallas 1963 no
jackie gleason no rowdy yates
not the beach boys or howdy doody
no manson family there is no
first man on the moon -
so what on earth do we talk about
they ask like it's a question.
what on earth.

bare feet creak the broken
slats a hot day bright on the deck
naked & alone smith with perfect posture
slowly passes every window & you pose
bend over raise your arms seen by a
hundred dark panes you & smith
alone & separate beautiful &

doctors scribble a few
words that bring more grief than
all the junk in mexico.

smith stripped & you undressed
& i can't remember what i did what
you did then or later you both agreed
it was hot & unhappy &
i can't remember what i did what
you did then or later was it hot &
unhappy was it
a few words from a doctor?

both angel's arms
scarred by love & drugs
wrap around his helmet his
motorcycle waits in the sun i
look at angel i can't see past
his shades
he loves the heat

it's cool in here but not as
cool as he is nothing is as
cool as angel.

angel talks & watches his
helmet & i try not to stare at
his mouth.

today is monday.

here i am with smith it doesn't
amuse anyone they don't bray ugly &
mirthless they don't fake surprise they
know they must know we were
born on different planets & this brings
no cunty smiles no questions no
one is astonished but us.

at 3 a.m. i sent a text:
i am in a tattoo parlour on
a scavenger hunt

i looked down the corridor wide
empty silent - it was the hospital the
hospital again my arm freed from med
tech i wore clothes &
there was no scavenger hunt
smith woke you & told you &
you worried & she worried &
none of us even knew
i had cancer.

she bought you a drink
it was your birthday

you deceived her
your lack of doubt your
confidence fooled her drinking
with your rival not drunk at a
party you weren't
friends didn't cover your life like
colourful clothes -
smith had that, not you & your birthday
every birthday was a day i could have wept
remembering the names you spoke wondering
where they were
where were they?

you went to the other side
of the world - are they there?

i was in the isolation ward yellow as a
crayon high on hash reading silver
surfer comics writing notes the cleaners
delivered to the girl across the hall & in
walked violet with a handful of weeds she
threw them in my face turned & walked out.

violet made sense to me
it makes all the difference

she threw pebbles at
my window smith cast stones
she neutered my phone -
she sat alone in waiting rooms
afraid of test results she sat
watching promises become lies

your mother told you
i should have known better
after you shared every tear your
mother condensed my epitaph & our
alliance & we began again we rolled
through my past my endless past we
found thrills with strangers &
i should have known better

i lost you to strangers &
i lost smith
i had it coming
i lost you to strangers
i lost smith to everything else.

smith keeps secret her
ordinary days i sweat over
damnation & the outer darkness
angel drives a tow truck

tuesdays i meet my priest for coffee

you left the country i stopped
praying smith won't talk angel is
driving a tow truck
too busy.

i touched him there you
touched me here are
my vile affections worse than
crossing time & laying hands on
you on your young flesh? just ask
saint paul ask about
working that which is unseemly or
go ahead & ask me.

did i ruin you with kink
even kinksters find too kinky?
i won't ask the priest &
i can't ask you &
i have other questions for angel.

smith was with a short fat sick
man who wasn't me for years & years
must be her type they met every morning
early for their walk they rode bicycles
wherever people ride bicycles they rented
cars for day trips he ate dinner with her family
& friends they all went to bermuda on vacation
they work on the same magazine live in the
same building it makes sense to everyone

leaving out omissions &
fabrications i have a few facts to make
you laugh i'll bet you'll laugh -
i don't meet smith in the morning we don't
walk or rent cars & i say fuck bicycles
i have never met her family i don't know
where they live never met her friends i have
never been in her apartment listen:
i have never been in her apartment
let alone bermuda we don't work together on
anything & i am the love of her life -
& what the fuck

my birthday was nice
my roommate had a little
party for me
i got quite drunk -
that's what I get for
letting a russian mix the
drinks -

your picture online the
camera overhead your cheek
against his young stubble faces
upside down together my
stubble old grey & idiotic & there
you are young together there you are
cheek to cheek there you are.

smith & her history the history my
sweating mind invents the only history
that counts crushes my broken
yesterdays my diseased everything
my list of
didn't do wouldn't do will never do
a list as long as her own

she turns on the lights i dash

for a crack in the plaster too
late -
she is looking down & i am

my history rolls over
your dreams turns them flat
sucks out the colour yeah i know
i know how it feels
you have nothing to fear i shut the
door this place is dark the lights are off
they don't work here
not for you not for me.

all day i knew you were
angry so angry you posted a
picture you knew i'd find you
knew i'd be hurt -
you were angry with me
all day i knew it &
all night long i knew
i was wrong

you had no me in your mind
only you both of us were thinking
about you about nothing but you &
there it is.

lying on the grass i thought
fuck it
i said i have a crush on you &
angel smiled he didn't say i was out
of luck exactly but
he did not put me on his bike i did
not circle his waist with my arms he
did not speed us home & we did not
live happily ever after.
i saw him today & i said fuck it

never love a junkie

30 years changed the lyrics but
i kept on humming the song maybe
you heard it maybe you know it &
maybe you heard me singing
just like an angel.

this birthday i knew
the rules i made the rules no words
no calls my brilliant idea
a silence too long i broke the rules
it was your birthday we said hello
all we really said was hello

i said heroin & you had words
to say the same words as
everybody else -
what is it with you people?

you stopped you were kind i knew
we'd be friends & i never heard
from you again.

the book is closed the curtain
lowered etcetera no one is crying
emily you could have said goodbye you
made us strangers
emily i don't care now or tomorrow but
you could have said goodbye emily
you didn't you haven't you won't
so i'm saying it for you

if it had been junk, had i
shot junk neck & neck with
infections & cancer, shot junk
4 years long i might have a
memory of maybe 10 minutes
worth of love maybe 10 minutes of
nostalgia i might even have
10 minutes worth singing about
but i took you instead of heroin i took
you in sickness & in health & i'll
give credit where it's due -
you make junk look good, baby
you make it look good.

10 years & 20,000 miles turned to
dust with a single kiss in quebec city it
scattered the angels & i said to her i said
to violet 2 hearts one heartbeat & she
touched my face she smiled she
shook her head & she went
home to her kids.

Tom Walmsley has written several award-winning plays and film scripts, along with four novels. He won the second International Three-Day Novel Writing Contest in 1979 for the infamous Doctor Tin, published by Pulp Press. Arsenal Pulp Press later published a sequel, Shades: The Whole Story of Doctor Tin, which was followed by Kid Stuff. His most recent novel, Dog Eat Rat, was published by Mansfield Press in November 2009. He lives in Toronto.

Phone Me
by Lawrence Shepp

I can't concentrate any more

I don't know what's wrong with me
You keep phoning all night
every night and some mornings before work

any excuse to call
Sometimes I ignore your call when I see
your name

you can't exist without that thing

you are no more
than a voice

whining pleading crying laughing
whispers and curses

Do you realize I have not
seen you in the flesh for 16 days
but we have talked for more than
11 hours in total?

One of my phone's features says this:

It shows that we have talked for 747 minutes
11 seconds
since we last saw each other

You tell me this is a relationship
what we are doing
it is what friends do
even sex partners

We had phone sex this past weekend
You said you used the phone itself as a
dildo while having my voice on speaker
and I yelled about how hard I was fucking you

Lawrence Shepp is a poet and video store clerk.
He lives in Omaha.

Brilliant Young Doctor
by Liu Chiang

I stood with the nurses and
the young physician said
this man is a bleeder

My hand covered my mouth and they
all stared at me the doctor too
We could see the man whose shirt
nearly all red with blood was bleeding

The doctor stared at me and I expected
the nurses to say something since they are
only a short step beneath him and I am
a mere orderly
but the nurses laid their hands on the
dead or unconscious man

He has stopped bleeding I said
He is not a bleeder
The doctor walked away peeling off his
surgical gloves and threw them
at a bin

You are insane said the oldest nurse
now you will never be a doctor
your parents will be destroyed and
they will die of this monstrosity

The man is not a bleeder I insisted
and added, I am already a doctor
and you are still lowly nurse washer women
cows in the field pigs running in the street
after the bus never to drive a car

and I am already diagnosing beautifully
far into the future where I will be the
respected surgeon and that fool
will admire my hands covered
in a sheen of forgiving blood
and secretly wish they would curl into fists for him alone

Liu Chiang is a translator, novelist and poet.
She lives in Shanghai.

The Heavyweights
by Aubrey Singer

john l. sullivan bent me over a

table fucked me with blood on his
knuckles fucked me

without a dab of grease &

the whole bar cheered except

the guy bleeding on the floor.

sonny liston so

long thick & delicious we

went at it 15 rounds or less -

he couldn't come out for the 6th


pumping a quart as thick

as a milkshake

down my throat.

i thought i'd die if he shoved it

up my ass

i knew i'd die if he didn't

Aubrey Singer is one of Israel's best loved
underground poets. He lives by the seaside at Eilat.

It Is Official
by Jamillah Ayoun-Frick

(translated from German)

Who asked you?
I didn't ask for your opinion, did I?
Oh, I see.
Now you've written it down.
Good for you.
You have formulated a thought
into a factually incorrect bit of prose.

I am extremely happy for you
because now you are a writer and have joined that great
snaking army.
Yes yes I know, the pen is mightier than the sword.

I have another one for you:
Paradise lives in the shadow of swords.
Go ahead,
you can use it

because it is official
according to officials at UNESCO.
The world now has more writers than readers.
The official figures indicate the current ratio
is 1.32 writers to 1 reader
and growing geometrically in favor of the writers.

So hurry to the back of the line.
I have heard official rumors it is
649 kilometers in that direction.

Jamillah Ayoun-Frick is a short story writer and poet.
She lives in Leipzig, Germany.

Ode to the publication:
Canadian Literature - A Quarterly of Criticism and Review

by Lambert G. Closse

Uh, knock knock, hello?
Hey, Whitey, you in there?
I just noticed your 50th pile of gardening magazines.
Glad you managed to chase off those dandelions after they puffed up.
And we all thought Whitey was a cold bronze statute
outside that new mall in Chief Thunder Pants, Ontario.
Nope, still gabbin' in the doorway of the English Lit common room,
still bearded and narrow footed.
Yep, of course, we get it,
you gotta rush off to a class now and
I hear your good bud Archie Lampman still gets verily engorged.
Oh, Whitey, I gotta admit, you're our DC Scott
and we're your residential school injuns.
Beat us, rape us, nail our tongues to our desks
and rent our tawny asses to those hardy Dauphin miners.
Just like Ol' DC underwrote, and his forefather,
Masta Nicky Flood Davin, had suggested to Papa John A. MacDonald,
cousin of Ronald and great antecedent
of the tam o'shantered girl on the green cigarette pack.

Lambert G. Closse is a poet and trapper.
He lives on the outskirts of Dawson City, Yukon Territory.