for Pat Moffatt
Your rusty old van, not much life left in it. Us finding our way to the yard sales of the Beach rich. That’s what Saturdays were for. On deck, old blues, or maybe Seger, maybe Steve Earle. Your flannel plaid shirts, your red and silver curls. A smattering of orange freckles under the eyes and on the back of your worn hands. An ever-lit cigarette, that grand moustache. You talked to me about Van Gogh, a hero no one guessed unless they knew you. It was all you wanted, as an artist: your life’s work chasing that blue and yellow impasto and light. After hunting for vintage catalogues I could collage, for discarded paintboxes for you to wrest back to life, we would find a bar as far away as we could get, towards the water treatment plant and the end of the line. Cold beer and suicide wings. I couldn’t have known that you would soon jump, erase the space between the risen bluffs and the great lake below, but I had an inkling. You drank hard. Said the drinker in you had never left Thunder Bay. What could I say to you? The shit I’d downed was even harder. For all those trinkets that we found combing the Woodbine beaches, I don’t have a thing from you. Sometimes you’d give me a kind of awkward fatherly pat on the shoulder and call me buddy. If I felt a kind of sadness there, at the very core of my being, I pushed it aside, brushed right by that inexplicable longing to write your name out in the sand.
The Glow in the Dark Virgins
Your eyes glitter fire, but it’s just a question. If your latest discard is really guilty of the same sins as last week’s model. Is any man innocent? You spit it like poison. Some are, I’m thinking, maybe most. And if a man is guilty for just being born, were the Catholics then right all along? Well, maybe your hurt runs so deep because of something you can’t forget, but I’m thinking of someone else’s scars. I once touched a man whose face had melted away from him in a fire. He lost himself saving strangers on the job, a mother and her infant son. I watched a boy emptied and twisted by a woman, torn to shreds like a pigeon by a hawk. All of us were, but Mother’s sadism was especially reserved for her men. I say nothing of these things, and I carry the silence somewhere so deep I couldn’t get to it if I tried. I think about you and me and the others, predators in Bonne Bell and acid wash jeans. We are so clean and light, I can see our white fangs beaming in the window behind the man who’d been erased in the flames. Don’t worry, darling, his finger to my mouth, other hand cupped at the side of my face. It’s all good, baby, it’s just ashes to ashes. It had been ten years since he’d been with a woman. He was beautiful beneath me in the flickering night. And us, we were always the virgins and the victims. Girls so pure, we glow in the dark.