Lisa Pasold

The Riparian - available Sept 2017

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)

From the Frontenac House "Quartet 2017" press release: "In a dive bar by the river, a stranger begins a new life. Lisa Pasold creates a rich novelistic world of finely-crafted encounters in her new collection of poetry, The Riparian. This is a book of tall tales, dreams, and ghost stories, recounted by a wise drunk teetering on the edge of a muddy dock. Pasold blurs prose and poetry, personal experience and local legends. Fashioned from interviews and overheard conversation, The Riparian steps out of the shadows of the bar and into a realm of the pseudo-real where myth entwines with workaday survival in a sinking world.