Open the box at a specific pothole on the levee into which I fall while biking.
The moon slants behind me and I limp into The Rip—that’s the nearest bar. Of course it is.
The dreaded-out bartender looks me up and down and says, So you’re resisting the tyranny of pretty?
I stare at her. I’m unemployed, sweaty and bleeding where I’ve fallen from my bike.
How many wishes d’you need? says the bartender. She has splendidly-coloured tattoos.
I read the painted wooden sign over the cash. I ask the bartender why the bar is called Rip.
Riparian, darling, says the biggest of the drag queens in the bar—
Of or on the riverbank. Wetland, fenland mud flat morass, quagmire.
Her silver eyeshadow gleams. Above her, the ceiling’s missing part of its gilded plaster cornice.
She’s bewigged, cupid-bowed royalty. Let me guess, she says—
You moved here thinking we’d save you. This place never saved anyone. We just pull you down faster.
Maybe that’s what I want.
The bartender brings me a whiskey, says, Don’t kid yourself darlin’.
You’re the kind who keeps on swimming.
(excerpt, The Riparian)
Photographer Neil Petrunia created the covers for my other three poetry books, at Frontenac House, & I can't wait to see what he does for this new book (this current image is a place-holder.) For info about readings etc, drop me a line by email or keep an eye on the usual social media spiders.