The Rusty Toque | Issue 13 | Poetry | November 30, 2017
From the Ocean to the Prairies is a Long Way to Go
200 km north of Edmonton I fell in love with a stationary man
who worked the projector nights at the single-screen Rex Theatre.
His family, a stationary family. The mother, a stationary woman retired
and now paints still life of fruits and her greyhound. His family from Red
Deer, pulp and paper people. They were not sick of it. My first time
In Drumheller I was like what the hell is this place. I slept well
in a motel built upon old slaughterhouse land. I had fucked
up dreams where I told upset cows I loved cows and had friends
who loved cows. I pulled cherries out of the VLT in Boston
Pizza. In the bathroom a hand scrawled how do you tell up from down?
In Reptile World I saw a green lizard in the gift shop where couples
from Nevada used all their international data on him. I believe
it was worth it. I got cold sleeping in a car dealership outside
Winnipeg under the comforter of a 2002 Sedan Ultima.
In Brandon I took a picture of Brandon University for my friend,
Brandon, and I got my palm read by a stranger named Sharon
who read sun lines through Thunder Bay and the surrounding areas.
There were so many trees, a classifier of trees could talk the entire
highway. The highway deer at night, like paper cut-outs
on hill-sides before the houses and urban sprawl, so many and identical.
Dear Ottawa Ex-Boyfriend, I heard you were dating a younger man,
and you steal everything from him and buy him bacon to make up for it.
I fell asleep near Gaspé, and woke up in Cap de la Madeline, La
Bonhomme dancing ludacris at the entrance of his ice palace, maple syrup
strips on snow. I heard fiddle, so many fiddles. A man from the bus
followed me, and I said yes, Banff is a catalogue city, of course
I was tired of the air conditioning breathing on me like a drunk guy
in a bar. I missed the cadence of my own legs, all my landmarks sore.
I wasn’t thirty thousand feet in the air
and I didn’t need to look and see if I could fly.
I had a friend who tried to write a poem with two rooms
in it. The rooms were supposed to be his boyfriend’s eyes.
He looked up all parts of the eye for terminology, as an anchor
point. I said whatever you do don’t call the poem Two Rooms
and that really cleared the room. I thought he was going to jump
from the fire escape and Patty went to go meet Patty
at seven-thirty. My mother once tried to write a love story
on the computer and I laughed at her.
I said what are you doing? which hurt her feelings and I hurt
her feelings twice in my life. My grandmother died
and I contracted a virus which went into my everything, including
eyes. My mother’s friend at the gas station asked did I have something
in my eyes. I said, no they’re infected, so a lot of things can happen
to your eyes. I think about light travelling to the forest floor
or my friend coming back looking for his debit card, lifting up
all the house plants looking for it. My friend doesn’t want his voice
too Victorian. I tell him don’t do that Byron thing. I would reflect
on the tired land of my lover’s body, but I do not love
the word lover if there is no cat in front of it. My friend Patty’s eyes
go grey to purple to grey. She says her ganglions are weather-controlled.
Ganglion is a cool word, gang lion. There is always something you can try
and do for a boyfriend. Nostalgia is good in poems. I had a boring childhood
and loved a lot my Viewmaster. I had slides of He-Man I could slip inside
to check out his butt all day. I had an eye for his green tiger, who taught me
you could not count on someone else’s mood. I tell my friend risk it,
make a sexual innuendo, just make the poem pay. I once worked on a poem
for a kill-fee. My end lines were how I walked down my boyfriend’s elbow
to all other streets and avenues of his body.
MATTHEW WALSH is a queer poet from the eastern shore of Canada, who had taken the bus twice across Canada. His poems can be found in The Malahat Review, Arc, Existere, Matrix, Carousel, and Geist online. He can be found on Twitter as @croonjuice