The Montreal Review, December, 2010
Hang on like he'll keep you
from catching in the tires,
getting stuck and dragged
through the mud. Exhaust
is not a word you know,
except as the effect you have
without trying, or by trying too hard.
Any other day, I'd be annoyed
by the obstacle you create,
want to ignore you,
pretend you're just
some scrap of the past we hit
on the way to somewhere better.
But I saw you in the mirror,
before you got drug under,
thought I felt your dirt-flecked tears
hit my cheeks instead of the ground;
I felt myself caught underneath,
one strong arm still holding on to a ride
I should have let go of miles before.
When I brake, I won't promise
pedal will stay pressed to floor,
but I'll idle long enough to untangle
green scraps of sweater from the tire,
lay them out and tell you
you're still whole.
IF YOU NEED TO NAME IT, IT'S NOT REAL
Blame my skin for your collapse,
folding into a hand
you never saw coming.
Words so easy they fell invisible
between sand-drawn lines pushed smooth,
a crease traced by fingers daring
to navigate a silence clearer
than the definition we defy.
A RELATIONSHIP'S NOT A HOSPITAL
BUT WILL THE SAME RULES APPLY?
No news is good news,
or so they say-
when all's silent, assume
the line beeps steady
through the night.
If someone's flat-
lining, or even near,
alarms give warning,
pages ring out:
"Code Blue, Stat."
Shoes squeak on tile
as doctors rush
shock the heart
into one last chance.
Only once attempts
are all exhausted,
tactics tried, might they
step back, say "Sorry,
we did all we could."
It's only silent if all's
steady or lost, never
when no one knows; there
no one slides quietly away;
no one lets go without a fight.
SWIM IN THE SECRETS YOU THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO KNOW
You ask me what's my secret, and I tell you I don't have one.
What I mean is I have so many, I hope you like to swim.
Swim in the ego trip that alcohol doesn't impair my judgment,
just makes me act on the things my rubber band nerves won't sober.
But if you want me to, I'll still tell you nothing happened.
Swim in the uncertainty that every push forward gets closer
To dropping me off the sandbar, drowning me in the aftermath.
Of emotions I didn't know I had, and what I don't know is,
Will you pull me out, let me drown, or fall with me and find out
What the water's like past the guise of nothing-going-on?
Swim in the familiarity of these waters, and tell me
If the temperature doesn't drop just a little when you consider
That water cuts the path of least resistance, and things fall
So easy between us, that I wonder if you see the rocks and boulders
If you know what it means to get caught in an undercut rock and drown.
Swim in certain waters, and you're just asking to get carried away,
And there are some points you can't swim back from.
Keep pushing the crease you like to dance, and it's almost
Enough to make me slip from where I stand, evaluating
The white water, wondering if you can navigate my defenses.
Swim in the hesitation that's caused mostly in knowing
The only thing I can see is the surface, that there are ripples
That mean there's danger underneath, but that sometimes,
The only way to get to the other side is to push through
The Class V rapid that could kill you, or give you the rush of your life.
Amanda Papenfus earned her BFA in creative writing at Bowling Green State University. Her poetry appeared in Mélange Magazine, Perspectives, and in the anthology Velvet Avalanche. Her fiction was published in The Glass Coin magazine, Grimm Magazine and The Fine Line.
Illustration: "Old Man and Young Woman" (1945,
"What enchantment is Pellan's color! We are led from one joy to another: it shines, it bursts, it vibrates and resounds with intensity"
-- Maurice Gagnon, in Pellan, 1943
The art of Alfred Pellan progressed from representational images to abstracted simplified forms and surrealist images. He also painted murals, designed theatre costumes and stained glass, and illustrated books. Girl with Anemones (1932), an early painting that contrasts shape, colour and line, bridges his representational images and later abstract interests... | read more |
Works of Pellan are presented at
Gallery Claude Lafitte in Montreal (2160 RueCrescent, Montreal, Qc., H3G 2B8, Canada, Tel.: (514) 842-1270)