he sank into it,
surrounded by smell, by scattered bones.
sliding fingers along voices etched on volcanic stone,
he drowned in their echoes and caught himself trying
not to breathe through his nose.
diesel belched into his face,
sidewalk fires flared in unexpected places.
delicious fish, smeared sweat, strange secretions from
an unknown tongue.
he was the bulge in a stretched net,
he was a pendulum not quite at rest.
walls formed beads of sweat
he was absorbed
into its welcoming wet.
wind like a sabre through kalibo,
and easy-listening on the air-conditioned bus.
trees pierce chain-link fences.
whole lives put out to dry on the sidewalk:
books, instruments, furniture, clothes, food;
none will ever lose the smell of the flood.
electric wires hang,
dependency droops like a noose.
our black air chokes the starving homeless outside.
handkerchiefs rise to cover mouths.
ballad melts to ballad.
the sound of the engine is the thunder of the storm
that flattened kalibo;
they stare at me, their faces like the slapped
palm trees that hold its memory in their bent branches,
like the husk of a building still standing after a bomb.
‘nothing else matters’ on the radio
as kalibo prepares for another powerless night.
i burn down markham avenue
awash in dead leaves
swirled by the breath of barely escaped whispers:
gunpowder to my bullet body.
trees flash silver by my breeze,
offering glimpses of moonlight
that, tonight, reaches the ground.
pavement fizzles as i set the fall on fire.
speed, heat, and metal
should be enough to cure the fast fever
screaming at my feet.
with fingers frozen in arthritic seizure
bark snatches at the air above.
target missed or forgotten, i aim for quiet.
the leaves are stirred silt
coming to a calm.
later that night:
light pollution sleep
and the sound of the wind finally dying.
Ian Malczewski is a writer with an interest in storytelling and the interpretation of urban space. Since 2006, he has contributed regularly to Toronto's award-winning Spacing magazine on topics ranging from community engagement in neighbourhood renewal projects to social etiquette on public transit. His poetry also appeared in TOK 2: Writing the New Toronto (Zephyr Press, 2007).
Volunteers for Issue 7
For sub-editing this issue MTLS thanks:
- Lequanne Collins-Bacchus
- Amanda Tripp
- Bianca Spence
- Rosel Kim
MTLS is grateful to Ian Loiselle for his hard work on web management.
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