Alone But Not Alone
By Matthew Walsh
I think I make things awkward.
I said to another guy’s boyfriend if you come
to Sheet Harbour let me know. I think his family owns a chain
of Penetanguishene supermarkets. They don’t want men
coming to see him. I still haven’t met them.
He is sorry about boys. Porn has really fucked him up.
In bed it’s hard to keep everything hot. A man said I look
like a potato sack on my knees but I didn’t apologize for it.
A boyfriend wanted to trim me down but I evoked the spirit
of arugula and grew too big for him. Now he illustrates
on other boys’ underwear and pops up online sometimes
because the internet. I saw him on the web haggling
for cheap flights to Miami for Pride Week. Save yourself
the sun and go in December I said in one of my many voices.
Can puns be bitchy? No response from the kale—maybe
I am harshing its buzz. I miss the underwear of the people
I loved. I have an ex in Penetang who knows everything
they say is interesting so I know I am not that ex.
Sometimes I’m a good friend. Watch my garden, you say
and I am out there supporting its growth. Potatoes need
to be whispered to, my grandfather said. He was the father
of several gardens with blue potatoes,
a successful line of cabbages you couldn’t get anywhere else.
My grandmother was the real magician of the soil.
Her tulips always came back and the roses were good enough
for Miss Seaside Festival 1976. Gardening is not the blood.
I read a poem about carrots but the carrots were really penises
in this book I found on my friend’s sun porch.
It was a quiet shady place and we listened to grass grow
for we enjoyed listening to life.
And we’d whisper and I wished the grass could hear
as we twisted ourselves into the ground of the loveseat.
Do Not Touch the Notebooks
By Matthew Walsh
I don’t let boys get too close to me. Up close
I feel they will see my secrets and mysteries.
That like my mother, I am growing out
my silky black hair that sits on the bulb of my nose.
That my moustache is immaculately combed
nose hairs which are out of control.
Boys have aversions to me.
During the Olympics I would not go
down on a man who promised to burn me
into the great Canadian literary landscape.
They think these are favours, when you are
invited into their beds, given beers
they are trying to get out of their fridge.
Honey, this is the Olympics. I have not won
any medals for sucking dicks I am so sorry.
Boys tell me such beautiful eyes.
Hush up with those eyes, black as coal.
If I hook up I tell them text me to let me know
to text you. I pray no one responds
to how sharp is my widow’s peak.
Widows run in my family it is a pattern.
Boys say that I need to figure my beard out
but beards are dead material to me.
Mine is a face-hider. I want to be luscious
for me. This is my body. Lavender Lilac Potpourri.
I leave my shirt on during sex. I have a scar
once a boy licked. It transported me back
to the emergency room. He wanted to know why
my notebooks were so naked. I said I wrote. Please
do not touch the notebooks. I am growing them out.
Panic Attack w/Nights and Days
By Matthew Walsh
The only reason I have a beard is to hide
my face. People they comment you seem
so confident, outgoing
but that is just my outsides, my best
acting job to reactions.
I look for joy in usual ways:
finding the surrealness in Dream Whip
the pink-purple lid of twilight
animals who help us see the unexpected.
When I mowed lawns it relaxed me
to see my scrawny chicken
legs in basement windows
reflecting also actions of typical lawn
I never know how to feel
so I do my best guess. I love to be held
floating with two women at my side.
That is my memory of Chocolate Lake.
That was my second baptism
when I had the vision of the alligator
floating just below Earth’s surface.
At the exorcism for the antique doll
I was there to provide energy,
perhaps my life can power, I thought.
My life can power.
I loved to watch the candles twinkle,
stars of the home.
That night I ate strawberry sundaes,
I slept through the night ceremony.
As a small living form my attacks
were called spells.
Innately I knew fire was the first spell.
I traveled to the planet of Hospital.
I drank chalk with water to reveal
my true insides and true spells
and put in a tube but my body
was so mysterious to medicine people
they baffled themselves and held me
upside down like the chicken
whose neck they would be slitting
another weekend out of my life.
Really weird things have happened
to me in the dark.
I get so bored during sex
and sarcasm I feel is my weapon.
I love being asked to convince myself
to doubt my own mind. To help myself,
I walk in forests to examine ordinary things:
a Foodland bag full of earth tears, a beer can,
a porno mag with lady motorcyclists in leather.
I feel like the aftermath is interesting.
When I discovered taxidermy it was the form
of a baby alligator nailed to wood
the shape of Florida, the world bigger
by that night. Streetlamps like oranges.
During tests where I had to lay still
I imagined bravely a pickle jar
full of sparkles and water where I became
what shone when it was shaken
glitter and slight pickle smell,
what’s the price of making anything obvious?
A book of poetry made me move
so much I forgot it was a book
and not Facebook Messenger the poet
speaking directly, confidentially to me
and a place where I could respond directly
to me the ultimate poetry.
The world is strange and immediate.
I’m floating nowhere. I am in a province
in a country in a continent in the world
all around us the lights are off
we have no way of knowing really
if anything is watching us in this dark.
I try hard to soften myself and see through
people who are waiting like me
and I’ve been waiting on me in this world
which includes Florida and taxidermy
and things remembered from childhood
where I began life hanging upside down.
I loved pretending I was a zebra
animals so fast and numbered
animals large as migrations
uniform and uniformless.
In cafés I walk with dishes
like I am getting married
where finally I am the bride
not the one who poaches eggs
but maybe the one who creates
poached eggs that is my day.
In the bathroom someone wrote DREAM DICKS
and there are times I feel honored
to have accomplished this to add a comma
to DREAM, DICKS.
To have changed meaning.
Once from the café’s window I watched
a squirrel try to moonwalk up a tree
clutching a whole orange.
Have you ever seen slowly
the sun rise, night fall?
It was like that, over
and over again, rising, setting.
Matthew Walsh is a poet from Nova Scotia whose work has recently appeared in The Malahat Review. Their first book These are not the potatoes of my youth was just released this year with Goose Lane. You can find them on Twitter: @croonjuice.