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SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

OCTOBER 2010

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OCTOBER 2010

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DRY R I HA


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OCTOBER 2010

Last Things (A

The world was ending again. It woke Marshall up and that took some doing. He'd heard the percussive roar of it deep down in his dream, and it woke him from that dream. The rest of them, the mobs rampaging in the street, they knew something was wrong; there was no way to miss that. They just didn't know what.

R

The ocean, all the water had been sucked far out, exposing the green-black bottom and wet hills. The populace panicked, tearing in and out of buildings and searching frantically for some high ground, but there was none. Marshall himself panicked, racing in his nightclothes up the narrow winding alleyways to the highest spot he knew, the druggist's place, ten


OCTOBER 2010

Robert Kulesz

feet above sea level. Since the Heat Storms of a century ago, the ancient Flat Earth myth was very nearly a reality. Whole mountain ranges had collapsed into the weakened crust of the planet, deserts had stretched out their needy arms and wild seas had devoured the coasts. The town was pure pandemonium; a brightness shed itself on the night as the bell struck two, and there

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Again)

was something almost beautiful about the rearing horses and the fires out of control and the babies being dropped in the straw, the sky unpredictable and alive. Car batteries failed-- there weren't too many cars left from before the Storms anyway, and the limited phone service died too. The high wail of humanity before it goes out. At the druggist's, the black and white parquet floors were running with liquid, some of it on fire. The man himself was slumped in a tatty velvet chair in his bathrobe, depressed apparently, smoking a cigarette, which he never did. His assistants were tearing the place apart, so much shouting and climbing of ladders, clearing of shelves, gathering of powders. "The ocean will be coming back soon," Marshall said to the druggist, "in a high black wall. You know that, right?" The druggist stood up from the chair and told his assistants to dispense a liquid agent which would impair the fears of those about to die, namely everyone in the room. Not whiskey. It was something yellow and viscous; the druggist said it would be like getting drunk but faster and more philosophical; it would raise the mind to such metaphysical heights that looking down on your own head you'd see nothing but a pinprick. Then the Earth itself would become a pinprick, the stars would become huge, then pinpricks again; the blackness, the void, the eternities would all shrink into a little ball that would drop into the bearded mouth of a giant upturned head, and make an Adam's Apple inside the giant throat that supported the head. Then the head would become a pinprick. By the time that happened you'd be dead. Marshall drank it down. "Death," the druggist reminded him, "a bell that wakes you from a dream."


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He sat down again. There was almost enough of the agent to go around but one man was shorted, assuring complete consciousness when the awful moment came; his bravery failed and he ran screaming into the fires in the street, maddened, in a futile attempt to outrun the onrushing deep. "Well," Marshall said, "in five minutes it'll all be over." He leaned closer to his friend the druggist and put a hand on his arm. "There's a giant hole in the ocean. The crust is collapsing in on itself. It's like a continental sinkhole." The druggist slouched back down into his wine-colored ratty armchair and raised his fingers to a tent. "Ah, so that's what it is this time. A hole. I thought it might be more storms, or another asteroid. Mountain slides. Mud quakes. Something like that. What'll they think of next?" "The Atlantic is getting sucked out but it's coming back," Marshall said. "I heard it in my dream." "What a dream that must've been!" the druggist said. Behind him, his assistants in their white lab coats sat around the large wooden table near the open kitchen, swapping sports statistics and drinking orange juice. "Death is quite the conniver, and we're perennial rubes." "It's a little unfair," Marshall admitted, "seeing as there's no sound basis for a hole in the ocean, so suddenly like that, but who can argue with a dream? I mean, it's scientifically disingenuous at best." "Disingenuous and undeniable, I'm afraid. Still, you'd think we might catch on after all the times we've died already. It's always this way, isn't it?" "I remember one time," Marshall said, "I fell through the ice. I'd gone down to the pond on my own, after my older brother had warned me not to. That was hard. They planted a tree in the schoolyard in my memory. That tree stood for over three hundred and fifty years before it went down

in a storm. It became the same man who just ran screaming down the street. I only saw the resemblance just now." "Why do we always remember these things at the last minute?" wondered the druggist, leaning back to stare at the ceiling. "Yes, you were a little girl, back in the early nineteenth century... your house was near the coast. I was the milk cow living in the pasture across the road. It’s all coming back again. It's always in the last minutes that you remember absolutely everything." Marshall nodded. "I used to pet you through the fence." "Why a druggist this time, I wonder?" said the older man, wiping his glasses on his lab coat. "If you go from milk cow to druggist, is that a promotion?" Marshall tapped his front teeth with a fork. "This is bigger. I mean it's not just us this time, not just Earth. This is an exponential thing." "Yes," murmured the druggist, putting his glasses back over his ears. "It does feel more important. We're moving past religion, I think." The windows began to buzz lightly. The room went dark. Phosphorescence lit the outside world; a blue electric line sparked back and forth along the crest of a huge wave, just visible though still miles away. "I'll see you soon, somewhere." Marshall's voice came out of the darkness. "Not this world again, I think. I can't even imagine what we might become. Something different." The world was a pinprick far below and the stars were becoming huge. "Right," breathed the druggist, closing his eyes. "Could it be stranger than this, though?" His voice was fading. He laughed. "I mean these hands, these long fingers, cylinders... and such tiny eyes!" He held up his arm and squinted but it was too dark to see. "How did we ever find this beautiful?"


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OCTOBER 2010

An excerpt from

First Aide Medicine

e d u a n t a P s u a l o h Nic

XXII

We dance with dinner suits in the shadow of two horns.

It always used to go this way: sitting in her car with cigarettes and ultra-light beers during winter months; talking about her nightmares and my nightmares; the heat on at full blast; the past never passed. Karen wore the old man’s coat. We shivered and looked through the frosted windows at her parents and my parents. When would they go to sleep? We waited chilly until the clock turned black. Brrrring…Brrrring…Brrrr— “Hello?” “It’s Karen.” She was in a bad state tonight. She cried and she cried. “You’ll meet someone someday and love will change you, Karen. You’ll see.” “But I’m already dead. There’s nobody else here.” “Then you must be an angel, Karen. Yes, Karen is an angel.” “I wore a peach-colored nightgown when the creature followed me home to my penthouse apart-

ment. He was waiting for me in the elevator.” It is horrible to talk like this. She is almost done balling her eyes out. I have to hold the phone away from my ear for awhile during the loudest parts. This is my first phone call from beyond death. She continues sobbing. The line starts cutting out. Her voice becomes distorted, deep … screechy. It becomes the disembodied voice off a black metal record sans instrumental backing. Her voice keeps cutting out.

XXIII

Karen is an angel. Her voice keeps cutting out. I look into my closet mirror and see the monster staring back at me. It’s starting all over again, but this time it can happen differently. We are angels from the land of the dead, plucking all the rotten apples from the past and sprinkling our medicine. Her voice comes back into focus. “I sing in my sleep. I went back there where black and red-striped creature trots. The old man got stuck in the pricker bush again. His huge dick pointed straight up. He was crying because he was stuck and bleeding in the pricker bush.”


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“You had blood all over your mouth and a knife in your hand. I remember the old man climbing back up into the pricker bush … acting like he’d done nothing to me at all… nothing to me at all … but he fucked me … it wasn’t rape … I let him … I even went back to him again … but I wish I could take it back … he had an artic fox for a pet that turned blue in the summer … that was the only thing I ever found beautiful about him …then his cat killed it so he had to gouge his own kitty’s eye out …” “Karen?” “He is crying in pain for me to come and save him. My parents are the size of children.”


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OCTOBER 2010 There is static. There is so much static that is howling. “Then it’s like I pick him the old man off the pricker bush like a piece of fruit. I want him to stop when he hugs me too tightly because he is fucking me when he hugs me. He tells me he invents things and he’s even more precious than a princess. The decapitated woman’s head glares at him when he says this. It is my head. Black blood continues to dribble from my head’s mouth. I try to put my head back on my body but it doesn’t fit.” “The black-and-red-striped creature sits on top of the pile of slate, double-axe pieces of the tower. He scrambles down in a mad ape rage when he catches me looking up at him… His horns cast an awful shadow. He killed me when he followed me home that night… me …the crazy girl…the stupid one who went and got herself decapitated by the blue glass noose. I turned blue in the summer just like the fox. He followed me up her stairwell when I was so drunk after work that Friday night. He hated the old man as much you do. And he looked like you when you get so angry. Rob had just dropped me off after the black metal show. His fur was so bright it made the dark seem only like pretend. But his red and black fur had streaks of blood in it…” “Karen?” The line goes dead.


OCTOBER 2010 The radioactive shark who scratched tropical tattoos Karen looks like she didn’t slept. That is because she is dead. I can’t tell whether she is a walking corpse or a ghost. She sits way high up there on the lifeguard chair, her hand guarding her eyes from the sun even though she wore sunglasses—it isn’t merely another hangover this time. Can you still drink in the land of the dead? I wonder if anybody else can see her. She takes off her sunglasses and I saw the white maggots crawling out of her eyes. Karen is the Ghost Witch for all remaining time. I climb up and hand her a BLT on rye. She wears pink lipstick encircled by a light green … even in death, she is still so guava. “Did you dream again?” She nods her head. It tips back and almost falls off. Maggots writhe within her slit throat. “I went back into the same dream. Only this time you and Jeremy and Rob were there too. There was a smoldering, smoking campfire. The naked old

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XXIV

man from the pricker bush squatted over it. It was like his water had just broke or he’d just peed like a girl. Black blood still trickled out of the long, black-haired woman’s decapitated head who looked like me. It was now impaled upon the General’s hook-hand. It was like something else had happened when I was away … like if you get up to go to the bathroom doing a movie or miss an episode of a T.V. show.” I begin to grow a little anxious. I was due back at the surf board shop ten minutes ago. “We knew we had to walk away from the house and the stack of slate, double-axe shapes that had been the tower. The woman’s head on the hook led the way. ‘East, southeast, and Northeast,’ she shouted I noticed General Hook’s ghastly mustache. It appeared fake and as if covering a terrible wound. I didn’t want to get too close to him. I knew the woman’s head would bite me. After an hour or so, we reached a juncture on the hilly dirt road. The black and red striped creature followed us, hiding behind bushes and trees whenever we looked back. He wanted to stay a secret from us. He wanted each of us alone in the dark, dark woods.


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We went down a steep hill. A stretch of the road ahead was flooded as deep as a river, but it wasn’t flowing or moving at all. There were fish swimming around frantically through the dark waters. The fish were vibrant, fluorescent, glowing. General Hook was stumped. Rob sweat bullets, gasping for air. The corpse of the Ghost Witch (who made the tower come apart) floated by. I jumped in the water to prove I wasn’t afraid. But then blood poured out of your mouth. I rushed to the other side and the blood flow lessened. Then you, Rob, Jeremy, General Hook, and the naked old man from the pricker bush swam across. The red and black striped creature peaked out from behind a tree at the old man. The old man had many red ants crawling all over him. There were so many that he didn’t even look naked anymore. I could only see his eyeballs and pupils through the swarm of ants.”

The flesh around Karen’s corpse elbows began to blister in the sun. “The red ants didn’t hurt him so we continued down the hilly, dirt road. The forests surrounding this road grew thicker. I looked back at the red-and-black striped creature. He looked upset and abandoned. ‘EastWest,’ the woman’s decapitated head spat more than spoke. I ripped the head off the hook and threw it in the water. The water froze and turned pitch black. The red-and-black-striped creature did an acrobatic jump onto the woman’s head frozen in the black water and then another onto our side of the shore. Everyone grew uneasy. General Hook ridiculed me for disposing of our “guide” (the decapitated woman’s head).


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Up ahead, the road ended. The forest was too thick to continue. I tried to proceed, but it was like pushing against a stack of sticks standing upward. Then the ants upon the naked old man from the pricker bush did the strangest thing: each tiny one prayed, pulled, and leaned towards the too-thick forest. They climbed upon the shoulders of others until all were standing, stacked-up on one side of the old man. They had formed a shape like a steeple … or an arrow. He was still naked except for this steeple or arrow of ants that grew and swarmed out of his side. I didn’t want him to think I was staring at his dick, so I looked away. And then you grew angry with me. You walked over and slapped me for doing it. You kept following me around the creature, trying to slap me again. He growled at you. The creature looked to the thick, thick forest. Then he removed one stick at a time from the forest wall. After a half-hour he had barely made a dent. He motioned General Hook over, grabbed his hooks, and struck them together like flint. Then he signaled you over and mimed how blood came out of your mouth before and asked you to spit some more on the hooks. An explosion went off when you did it. A deep hole was burned through the thick, thick forest. There was now a crawl space … like a tunnel. The man from the pricker bush was covered in soot from head to toe. The ants were blackened too and appeared dead.


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The black-and-red-striped creature crawled into the hole first. I called for him and he scrambled backwards. He extended a back leg and paw. It looked like a lucky rabbit’s foot, but his claws were so sharp I screamed. He retracted them. I grabbed his foot and he pulled me. I told someone else to grab my foot. We could form a chain, I said. You went next, then Rob, Jeremy, General Hook, and, finally, the old man from the pricker bush. The red-and-black-striped creature was so strong that he pulled us all pretty fast. The ground was cool, smooth … like the dirt underneath a rock, so it didn’t hurt. That’s where last night’s dream ended.”

XXV

A cunning fox avoids the wandering bullet.

“Thanks for walking me home. It’s been such a spooky day…” I wish she would put her sunglasses back on. The maggots’ children’s children begin to emerge from her empty eye-sockets and mouth. Her rotten stench makes me puke. “Ewww … god … are you okay?” “Yeah…” Death is the worst smell of them all. “Do you want to sleep over?” “Sure.” “Don’t be nervous or anything. My parents really like you.” Karen’s eyes bug out and she begins hyperventilating. Her left eyeball falls into my palm as softly as a grape. I want our blood to mix together; our drinks together; our dreams together. I hold her instead. She pushes me away and begins to weep. “Don’t look at the shadow of the horns upon my wall. We will never have sex again if you see them there.”

We get under the covers with our clothes on, too nervous to sleep. I fight the urge to kiss her. She leans over and onto me and turns off the light. She takes her clothes off and so do I. Time passes but her breathing doesn’t change so I know she is still awake. There is enough moonlight spilling in through the window. I can see her milky back and worry that her parents might burst in at any moment and find us naked like this. They might think I dug up her grave … they might even convict me as a corpse robber …


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And so there was never really a moment of peace within our parents’ midst. Their routines and histories were so deeply rooted and ingrained within the house’s fabric that their spirits were forever present in every room. And so there was always someone else. Someone there but someone missing. I am a monster in the pale moonlight wanting to chew her milk flesh into all the bloody bandages, at one with the mummies and the vampires. Fur sprouts from my face. My fingernails grow wicked. The walls offer no protection against her parents’ threats. Every boy and man she’d ever slept with was with us tonight too. Not just the boys and men but the way her parents saw these boys and men—the hyperbolic Halloween mask versions of these boys and men who stole their daughter’s heart and mind; and I am just another one too, perching over her in my carrion deathskin deathmask. I see the shadow of the horns upon her wall. I know she will remain true to her word: this is the last time we will ever sleep together. Her body is a cold mass of bloody bandages, hacked-up flesh, and white maggots about to explode from gluttony. “Why am I such a monster? What happened to me?” I hold her tight. “It can happen to anyone.” “It didn’t happen to you.” “Yes it did.” Then she hovers above her hacked-up body;

she, the sad Ghost Witch. “Why the fuck did you leave me for that ugly old bastard! He was practically a corpse when you slept with him!” “I had to get away from my parents … from your parents.” Karen flies like an angel. “He offered me comfort at a time when nobody else could. Not even you. You were just so goddamn heartbroken all the time.” The lower jaw of her corpse-body falls to the floor. I hold the rest of her corpse head, never to be decapitated again. I wonder how we did it together. How did we manage to travel back and forth between our parents houses? Our love was eternal then. It could withstand anything … except… I retain a hatred for Old Man Manson. I am sleeping with him too. I am sleeping with the devil. I am danger. I am destruction. I am the mutant the parent’s had to shield their pretty little kiddies’ eyes from. It’s felt like nine thousand years since my last confession. It hurts to remember her so much. It hurts in my teeth, which are falling out like tears. And it hurts in my eyes, which are falling out like tears. And it hurts in my heart which comes tumbling out like one giant blue tear Karen might mistake for the blue topaz ring I once gave her. MAYBE if we’d wandered outside naked and in love things could’ve turned out differently. Someday soon we’ll travel beyond the black mirror. It can happen today. Right now.


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OCTOBER 2010

The Vi

My buddy is coming over today. I’m so excited. She’s driving for two days straight just to see me. We were best friends in elementary school, but after her family moved to Tennessee, we talked less and less. I knew her way back when she was a guy. In fact, I haven’t even seen what she looks like now, as a woman, but it probably won’t be much of a stretch since he was putting on makeup and girls’ clothes even back when I knew him. I’m the only one who ever saw him do this, but I really didn’t think it was weird compared with the other stuff he did. The strangest thing he ever showed me was a list of ten things he wanted to do before he turned 30: 1.Write a poem that’s as good backwards as it is for-

Walte wards. 2. Eat clams in Stuttgart. 3. Join a band. 4. Train a chimp to mix a Manhattan. 5. Paint the backyard orange. 6. Go naked trout fishing at midnight. 7. See an exploded human face. 8. Piggyback on a police officer then run away. 9. Make a pair of mittens.


OCTOBER 2010

er Foley 10. Get a sex change. Well, #10 was checked off as soon as she turned eighteen. #1, #2, and #9 were done while she was touring Europe. She had called me last New Year’s to inform me that she completed #4-6 and #8 all in one crazy, whiskey-fueled night. And I had learned just recently that #3 was completed when she started playing fiddle for an all-transsexual Irish punk group called The Queeftains. Before his family moved, he told me he would meet

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isit

up with me again once he did everything on the list. She’s here. I open the door to see my old playground chum. Long hair, breasts, lipstick, everything. “Hey! How are you?”

A bullet shatters all of my front teeth, splits my tongue, and cracks through the back of my skull. I always assumed this would kill a person instantly, but as I fall backward to the floor, I have enough time before death to look up at her through the blood in my eyes and see her smile. I remember telling her that a trip to the coroner would take care of #7 quite easily, but she never was very conventional. I mean, really, you can just buy mittens at the store.


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Babe


OCTOBER 2010

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Rockerfeller A Canadian Gothic Lumberjack Romance

Kirk Marshall


OCTOBER 2010

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I was heading my way up north, in slow but surly pursuit of the seasonal mallard migration, in the hopes that there would be some shooting at the tooth of Powder Mountain. It had proven one helluva long racket, both in physical mileage and in manifestation, from my outpost as Store Manager of the town of Whistler’s Timber Supplies and Woodwork Shop. I’d hung our sign reading “Closed Till after fall” in our shop front window – knowing well that drifts of blue autumn snow would soon obscure the glass – and had bedded down early, with nary an eyeful of William Carlos Williams and a kick of gin before sleep stole on me. 4 am the next morning, and with a burning cigarette bummed from the deck of Red Devon quashed into my shirt-pocket, I’m surveying the lay of the country at the cabin of my Winnebago. Extinguishing the cigarette onto the sole of my boot, I crunch out of the caravan’s threshold into the snow, and of a sudden it’s falling freely onto my shoulders like the stoat-robe of a boggart-king, or the nuclear fall-out from some misbehaving hydrogen bomb. I’m breathing gin into the woodland air. The smoke hangs for a moment so that my eyes sting, and the song of a warbler resonates in the thick of the treeline. A star looms sharply at the height of the sky’s thermals, right above me, and I can still make the shape of a few others, night’s celestial survivors clustering to a raft in the wake of day. I do a hard and savage piss at the back of the truck, thrust the hood of my parka over my scalp, and shoulder the supplies. Winter game, as a stoic sort, can be pretty timid and selective in when they choose to break hibernation: but like those possessed of even the best stamina, it ain’t wrong to anticipate the transgressions of deviants. It’s near to a koan what my daddy imparted to my childhood sister and I, before he suffered a heart attack and suffocated


JULY 2010

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to death in the ore mine: You ever seen a caribou read? Nossir. And you know why? Because caribou harbour no concern for the theories of those animals who can. I wasn’t presuming to pretend that a population of buck elk would be fanging through the pine at Brandywine Mountain, especially not so early in the season. One evening at the shop, I just became consumed. A feeling of urgency descended upon me. My heart beat like the handshake of a Blackjack champion. Standing at the counter, I had to excuse myself. The sweat was streaming off me, lashes of it, and I retreated to the shed, out back in the frost, fists balled to my abdomen. Panting, I shut out the birdcall and the susurration of engines at the front of the store. I was being called. It felt like an invitation to fight, simultaneously mean and polite, and I knew the ghost of my daddy was calling upon me to forge my way northward. I’d heard tell of rogue black bear coasting like sludgetankers through autumn’s yellow revolt, and of a convoy of wapiti which made their claim of the maples in a clearing somewhere north-west of Brandywine Falls. A reverent people, elk. This herd was said to be decades old, the veteran phalanx of some lost generation, vaulting over river cascades and through bitter snowfall in a feeble plight to recreate the grandeur of a winter exodus. Either unprepared for or contemptuous of the commitment necessary to abandon the choreography of an annual migration, these elk took to the highest fucking climes of British Columbia in order to satisfy tradition, and the onus of their forebears. I couldn’t much discern the point, not at the time, but it took me more than a few months after the event to realize that I wasn’t just seeking a trophy for validation to justify the beckoning which had begun to seize me up during the day, invading the mental refuge I’d established for nights of unaided sleep. It took me more than a few months, actually,


OCTOBER 2010 when I survey its implacable contest, ingest its scorn and tiger beauty. Hunching low to the undergrowth, I squat and exhale vapour. I’ve long been loathe to exchange parry or parlance in the language of the clock, but it takes me a sure ten minutes kneeling in the new lawn of snow to fasten the gas kerosene, like a bedroll, to the centre of my back. In seconds it’s aflame behind me, a fist or blade of orange light cleaving the conspiracy of forest blackness embroidering the pinewood canopies. The flame flickers as I walk, sending and disrupting silhouettes to the borderzones of my peripheries, fire-shapes like autumn leaves dancing on the canvas of a Canadian morning. Oil fumes escort my passage as though *** the jet of ink enabling a squid’s escape. My feet are breaking tiny icicles as they fall; and At 7,700 feet, Powder Mountain prestill the buoyant squash-racquet devices atvails over the ice fields which extend from the tached to the underside of my snowshoes mouth of the Squamish River to the south of erase these furrows which my progress leaves: Whistler all the way to the furthest topogralike the ribbon of a typewriter spun from phy of Ganbaldi Provincial Park, devolving silence, quietly reclaiming words as it surfs into a ridgeback annex which wallpapers the across a page. This begins the lonely march. frozen horizon, describing a circumference of It’s an hour before I palm a cigarette into my caldera lakes and stone promontories which mouth, striking the waxen match-head against no hand of miraculous intent could properly an emery board I’d misplaced in my jacket sculpt. I’m fond to regard the summit as the pocket; another hour after that, as daylight centrifuge of some widespread storm front. intrudes with the welcome vehemence of an Rolls of thunder descending in parabolas old pro, before I stop to gauge my bearings of molten basalt. Forks of lightning carved and refill my water-flask. from granite, and wind-smoothed like stri Sometimes all this snow, all this viated glass. But I ain’t much of a proponent brant ice can make a man believe things his of narrative-fantasy, leastways not over a own blood would accelerate to disconfirm. long-haul: I can’t seem to muster the longevIt’s the violence of wind loping uncaged and ity, nor maintain the lie which an athletic luminous through the trees, or the sound imagination demands. So I’m swift to calof a branch snapping a pace of twelve feet culate that Powder Mountain is really only behind you, or the illusion of movement as vertiginous and impressive as fable might at the height of the closest foxhole underprotest, when it’s viewed in the bracing clasp growth when everything is disorientating of a chill violet dusk. Looking at it square, and obscured by log pile mists that can conlike I’m fixing to deter a returning shark, I verge to spook a man. I was being haunted can’t assemble the syntax, nor the breadth of by birds. At the outset of my trek there had wonder which that mountain provokes in me sounded the occasioned warble of a thrush,

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to appreciate that I’d long been hibernating on my feet. I had yet to endure two different heartbreaks and confront the possibilities of unnegotiable catastrophe, kill a creature that wanted my future, and dispense with daddy’s 77 magnum over the smoking foundry of Brandywine Falls before returning home. Bullet cartridges blossomed from my fist down into the swell of the rapids, darting from beneath my presiding shadow like a shoal of red salmon into rhapsody, into deep water. For hours my hands would stink of gunpowder as I tramped back up the foothills, leaving prints for a flank of wolves to divine in the permafrost of afternoon.


OCTOBER 2010 wraith engineered from this swarming, rustling roost of ravens was looking at me, manifest before me with two hundred persecuting eyes. He outstretched his arms, the forms of arms. The birds chittered like a Spanish monkey puzzle tree, the tide of quarrelling, carolling laughter shivering down the scarecrow’s body. His arms were wings, and they were the assemblages of wings. I could not discriminate a face, if such a creature can be said to possess one, but he did have a chest because it rose and fell with the breath of two hundred others. ‘What the fuck do you want?’ I screamed, my face hot with tears. ‘Leave me the fuck alone!’ A voice as bright, as accusatory, as noxious as a firework held back the advance of day. ‘I need to know the state of my son. I need to know Babe Rockerfeller, my son, possesses the fortitude and gamble to devour this fucking mountain and all its power.’ ‘Dad,’ I croaked, my voice hoarse, ‘I’m okay now. Just demonstrate me some fucking peace.’ ***

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the startled alarm of a wood-pewee as its redbreasted platitudes reverberated through the gaps of conifers, voices like bells from thoraxes of glass and throats of melody. It didn’t take six cigarettes to start hearing the whoop of a pride of kestrels hunting above me, or the manic chattering of magpies between the leaves and the opaque peat-like fog. I’d divined fresh rainwater after harvesting a bushel of ice from the edge of a snow-bank, malingering on my haunches and snapping like rabies at the wheel of a pocket-lighter with my thumb, melting the frost into the bottleneck of my flask, when I heard wind of the barks. It sounded like laughter at first, dark choleric laughter, a coughing that wheeled and escalated between the snowfall, the flakes tumbling too heavily to discern where the murder or merriment emanated from. A wing flapped. A cough, a bark. I shouldered my pack, the kerosene lamp curiously contributing no measurement of security to my passage. I forged through the snow, doubling my efforts, scaling higher ground, running, tripping, clawing without traction at the mantle of white death, forever judging and collapsing the mortar and marrow of men, snow above me, snow below me, snow sweeping into my fucking eyes, snow. The light was venomous, silvering, spangling through prismic sleet like chaos braiding chaos between strange attractors. It kept falling, would not concede, did not recede. It continued to blind me, and the voices were sharp now, viscid and insistent. When I couldn’t move any more I waved my arms about, sundering my umbilicus with the forest floor and its autumn graves. I shook off clover, snow, sky, ghosts, snow. An apparition formed before me, and I knew it was both the birds and not the birds: a scarecrow united through, and agglomerated by the forms of a parliament of ravens; black birds with red hearts and pupils, come before me to build the body of a man. The

I spun around wildly, stumbling in the snow, now succumb to the visor of blackness which had hooded me, screaming into the night, breathing hot pillows into the air, breathing lotuses. The warbling and politics and brilliant chatter of the ravens expanded, coalesced to seal me into an envelope of corvid speech and blue illumination, a realm of sound where no compass nor cartographer could have proven useful. I squared up into a boxer’s stance, my eyes and forehead lowered, the cleft of my chin sharp with my chest. I would fight the visions of the night, I decided: I would not allow the moon its crimson victory, I would violate, I would


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seize the hearts of ravens, still dark and beating; condemn them to lands leagues beneath our earthly wind. I would swing my fists. I would eat the ripest cries for mercy, never mind the bitterness, and spit out the pips. ‘I taunt you with a dare!’ I shrieked, my voice and its hoarse promise failing through the blanket of snowfall which cloaked my mouth and eyes. I spat out snow, but it did not abate: it continued to enter me, burrowing into my ears and nostrils, blinding me with a sharp frost which accumulated like glasscrafted dew over the lids of my eyes. ‘Reveal yourself, and I shall kill you without pleasure!’ I whispered, my throat strangulated by the deed of some unapologetic apocalypse. I could see nothing; the windows had been boarded from the outside, by swift and unholy hands, and I was trapped behind onceinviting walls, clawing like a feeble animal at where I guessed points of light used to penetrate. Blindness is like being in a condemned church that is about to be razed to its foundations. I couldn’t see the fire – my eyes were too fast-closed to afford me the luxury of witnessing my demise – but there was a flame forged by devils encircling me, I was compelled to admit to that much, and before the weapon of the night struck me its savage blow, I felt good about having seen my daddy, and my body exhaled like the chrysalis of a leopard moth until it was fit to rupture. Something sudden and wet and angry rustled beneath the schism of my chest, and I could feel the gin leave my stomach and exit my mouth in plumes of dragon breath, until my ears burned and my head pounded. There were sounds in my mind, somewhere, like a rage born in driving rain. I fucking hated this snow. I hated the moon, I hated the forest which had me skulking on my belly like a cornered fox, I hated the birds, conspirators on wings, I hated the witching hour and the dark which had flooded my body, burying

me whilst I still yet breathed. I tore off my gloves, and scratched at my eyeballs, unvigilant and furious, shouldering the blizzard wind and all this molten ice, unending spacejunk being shed from on high, to the hackles of my back, murmuring to myself, Get behind me, get behind me, give me only your blessing. My hands found their purchase, and my eyes graced the cold clearing, vision rushing back like sound through a wave-pounded ear.


OCTOBER 2010 contour of each metamorphic rampart gleaming like an evil prize beneath the treeline. My eyes were bleeding, the trickle feeding into the apexes of my mouth, and though my lantern was extinguished, as dead as the world in a historical photograph, I could only smile. My breath returned, ragged and euphoric, like a dog pulled from the body of a river and reclaimed by its master. The morning was trembling between the teeth of conifers

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I was standing alone, and it appeared the snow had long since stopped falling. The sun was banding the trunks and boughs of trees, emerging from between the thick of pines. The sky was light, unclouded, bearing the hue of a honeycomb city. I heard owls make off, their great wings thrashing, into the woodland’s barren centre, where the shadow of dawn retreated the slower. I stood within a cairn of volcanic stone, the surface and


OCTOBER 2010 ing in his own spew on country repatriated to the remaining ancestors of the Squamish Indian Tribe, and why does he carry nothing but books of William Carlos Williams and ten boxes of cigarettes?”’ I woke, then, all breath evacuating the fortress of my sternum. A man of Indian descent with deep-set eyes, a green so dark they appeared lapis lazuli, had the peak of his knee set with a violent mathematics squarely into my rib cage. I screamed soundlessly, my retinas casting their aspersions whilst I held clenched teeth. He observed these silent allegations with a quixotic amusement, and shifted the fullness of his weight so that my lungs could do nought but embrace the trespass. I choked, and I mouthed something from a Herman Melville novel or a Billy Zane flick. It made no impression: the blood of the Squamish ran through this man like centuries through the Squamish River. I couldn’t do squat to him that might lend an edge of *** malice to the drama of my ill-forged threats. He looked equipped to arm-wrestle the one ‘There are some who sleep as though eyed Jack of Diamonds, least of all a carpenfearful that their indiscretions might surface ter from Whistler with a receding hairline in their slumbering behaviors, thrashing and and the scar of a car collision wrapping the shunning away from the rose-dark toxicity of bridge of his boarish nose. I ascertained the dreams.’ commonplace: the Squamish maintained the The voice entered my head with a advantage. means to usurp me, upturning the furniture of ‘What do you want me to say? What fantasy to sit astride the throne of the black the hell do I have to say to get your carcass kingdom behind my eyes. It smoked sweet off me?’ tobacco, and purred its witticisms with a face He exchanged a stare with me that was like that of the red astral tiger. a dazzling thing to behold. In the spangle of ‘There are still others, however,’ the afternoon light, I could neither identify nor voice demurred, ‘who sleep with the abanguess at where the whites might be. It was don of escapologists. Succumbing to the a gaze to shovel away the violet dusk. The night’s helm to evade eyes who might wish Squamish was smiling. ‘Ah. So much depends to ask discriminating questions.’ It paused to upon the red wheelbarrow.’ He withdrew his inhale deeply from its filterless smoke. Red knee, and my lungs swelled to burst, pitchDevon. My brand. My deck of cigarettes. ing me forward until I was involuntarily ‘In theory, one such question could manifest possessed by a coughing rage, gulping in itself as: “Who the fuck is it that I find sprawl- droughts of air, shuddering with jaw agape,

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and the needles of powdered snowflake. I couldn’t fathom what I was seeing. As cool as new steel, the fist of my heart unclasped itself, wholly inviting the ebullience of this new event and embracing the sun as it gloried in my surroundings. Not three metres from the pinnacle of my shade, at the centre of the cairn of stone beat the flesh and thresh of a giant monarch butterfly, with a span of orange wings more vast than the days of spring. The insect had to be a metre-and-a-half wide at the diameter if I’m to own up to my talent for the measurement-tape at all. It was labouring over an egg of ice, drinking its fill with the singular zeal of a fey thing, all proboscis and wisdom and iridescence and wing. I lay down beside the butterfly, unfastening my pack, and watched it open and close like a fist or a flower, until my head became heavy, and sleep smote me of reason.


OCTOBER 2010 stead, I rolled the die and entered the game. ‘Okay, okay now, River Phoenix. Light me up a Red Devon, and maybe prevent your coyote from raping me, and I’ll show you a like courtesy.’ An unsealed deck of cigarettes fell on my chest, followed by a pocket lighter. The Squamish’s head cocked quizzically toward my own, his lofty eyes divined my every moral measure, drinking my frostbitten uneasiness like it constituted the best part of the milkshake. I could almost imagine the appetitive slurps. His hard face slackened. The crow’s feet which had claimed sovereign territory of the topography around his eyelids started to conspire. The Squamish was grinning. ‘Those of the Squamish First Nation who still retain the Salishan dialect call me Blue Bluff Crow,’ the Squamish muttered with a voice that pirouetted between that of a horse-whisperer and that of a wharf-blown fishmonger. He extended me his palm, vicelike and skeletal. I took it, and using the grip like a fulcrum he pulled both himself and me wholly onto our feet. ‘Of course, today a name like that’s been disinvested of both its significance and power. And it’d seem prosaic of me to pretend like I live out here in the pinewoods – perpetuating an existence of diasporic mimesis – pitching fistfuls of flammable, iridescent dirt into the autumn wind like some hokey alchemist or huckster-shaman.’ The Squamish had yet to release my hand. Still, I felt it’d be somewhat insensitive to divorce him of the chance to deliver his reverie, by alerting him to the fact that my wrist had gone numb. I felt pockets of inspiration rise within me like pearls of helium. ‘But I gotta call you something. You understand: the colonial mission’s taxonomizing instinct: 1066 and All That. If I’m remiss to classify you now that I’m within a bear’s-hug of you, I won’t ever get my name canonized

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sucking it in, all that damaged life. I watched him shrink back beside my pack, as I lay cradled like a foetus in the bower of surface snow. Laboriously, his face a crossword puzzle of scar-tissue, he sank to his ass and thrust his palm into the innards of my supply-pack. ‘Get your claw off my shit,’ I grunted, feeble enough not to mean it and smart enough not to try. I saw the coyote, then. It sat on vigilant haunches, the gums of its teeth bared and marbled-gold. It was calculating the arithmetic of a kill: how swiftly did it need to seize my jugular between its jaws before I might react, before I might demonstrate competition for my own life? Or maybe it wasn’t contemplating much at all. My daddy always said a dog’s as dim a specimen of creation as you’re likely to find during the prowess and on the plane of mortal man. Just what do you reckon a hound wants to ask of you, if it were privileged the intellect? I tell you, now, Babe Rockerfeller: Why does the master never have to lick his own balls? ‘Can you tell your ungovernable fuckdog to go eat a deer or something?’ I groaned as I struggled to propel myself onto my elbows and sit upright, with daylight encircling my gin-fug forehead. ‘You whine like a bitch,’ The Squamish trilled. ‘You best be wary. White Wake is the duke of all coyote, and never neglects an opportunity to sow the seed of future packkings.’ The dog looked to its master, before returning to entreat me with a gaunt, funereal glare. White Wake’s teeth caught the phosphorous frozen light, his tongue lolling between its cage like a gladiator at the entrance to the field of battle. I might have chosen to say something dumb and cavalier, but I hadn’t evaded death by raven to suffer murder by a wolf’s basest and most primeval prejudice within half a day’s hoof from the crag of Powder Mountain. Instead, I encouraged within the Squamish his satisfaction. In-


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OCTOBER 2010 should feel right at home in saying that.’ ‘Right on, Charlie,’ I balked, retrieving my palm from his. ‘Like the brother I never had and always wanted.’ He hooted like a nocturnal visitor from out of the woodwork, directly beneath an unadulterated Canadian sky. White Wake took up chorus to Charlie’s chuckles, arching his lupine snout back and lowing with wanderlust at the distant image of Powder Mountain. It damn near sent my hackles astir, but I could still catch wind of my daddy’s voice telling me the best jokes are those that, upon hearing, give you the willies, just that itty bit. ***

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in The Century’s Great Naturalists, along with those other genius-anthropologists John Ford and Al Jolson. This is my potential for being the Great White Hype we’re talking about. You’re not so savage as to refuse me that?’ I waited, indiscreetly searching the Squamish’s wan, cobalt face for an indication that his penchant for swift-footed banter and my self-deprecatory sarcasm had somehow converged to locate a common ground of expression. His face was inviolable, impassive, weathered with its tattoo-like network of skin depressions, heavy lining and scars by either fatigue or seasonal erosion. Observing the peninsulas of flesh rippling across Blue Bluff Crow’s face was akin to contemplating cloud forms: the longer you stared, the more you’d start to see. Islands warped and waned over his countenance, like the sundering of Pangaea. Fissures bisecting Blue Bluff Crow’s cheeks and mouth adopted weird, distorted shapes, not dissimilar to the effect of pareidolia associated with the knots and callouses of redwood trees. I could see ravens flocking east; a spring ascending the face of a mountain; my daddy whittling wooden birds with a pen-knife whilst standing by the sink and whistling; white perennials strewn by my ma’s burial plaque; my first fist-fight at school; the Toulousain broad who’d fucked me for birthday well-wishes before stealing off to leave me a heartless dandy; the interior of my shop devoid of occupancy, wood skeletons engineered into familiar shapes to afford me some semblance of company. The Squamish broke out into riotous peals of laughter. ‘You fucking guy,’ he was repeating, his chest beneath its leather jacket shuddering with a private, pious mirth. ‘“The Great White Hype”. Hoo!’ I was on safe soil: the Squamish harboured a bellicose highwayman’s sense of comedy. ‘You want a name? For you, I’ll be Charlie Chinstrap. A colonized man of gentrified heritage such as yourself

I’d long since unfastened the ironwork kerosene-lamp from my pack like a limp and lurid thing, and had begun sculpting a tubular parcel of smoke-dried beef with the sickle of my hunting knife, acquiring a satisfaction and feel for the method. I was fixing to tuck in and palm a hemisphere of the preserved brown meat into my gob’s wet yawn, but White Wake wouldn’t suffer nor tolerate any of it. Fucking canine. His jaw and its legend of serrated teeth were mechanisms of unsurpassable architecture. I dispatched the log of charcoal-salted jerky directly into the coyote’s maw. Fucking asinine. ‘I know a good thing too many about coyote.’ I hazarded a philosophical leer. Charlie, for whom I’d hastily developed a perplexing fondness for, was occupied in administering dime store shaving foam in a lather to the crevasses of his cheeks, before sweeping them clean with the whetted filament of a single-edged razor. It reminded me of something; but the shape and veracity of the memory had been eroded and reconfigured by years of forgetting, so I pushed it away, and out it went again, a coracle departing the moor to be reabsorbed by a lingering


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fog. ‘I’m addressing you, Chuckles.’ ‘And I’m maintaining my damndest to ignore your every squeal for favour.’ He was proud of that one: the vertices of his mouth contorted vaguely, a grey man emerging from a snowstorm of experience; an old man reunited with his dignity, remembering how to dress himself. Such were the gravity and relevance of Charlie’s linguistic victories. ‘Ho, now, Chuckles! Reveal your intention to deploy me one of your half-liners next time.’ I hunkered over my snowshoes, fingers steepled in the frost. I began to fastidiously relace my boots. ‘Otherwise you might blindside me. I’m lucky I’m even breathing after that last palaverlanche.’ ‘Fuck your mother,’ was Charlie’s response, and I had to admit I was stalemated. He encapsulated me, attended to me with those deepest, winter-woozy eyes. Charlie’s eroded, spider-vein face was shorn of its final vestiges of decay, irradiating the new moon’s lackluster reflection. ‘What? No retort?’ He rotated to face me, and I understood, perhaps like I’d never understood before, that sometimes a person knows the exact moment when they’ll meet death, but even an agent of purpose, even a man of elegance and virtue will not betray that same confidence and slink with resignation to their venue of passing. I was staring at a boy, and I was staring at a ghost. Somewhere in the morphology between the two stood before me a regal fucking Charlie Chinstrap, and I held his gaze, because I was going to be privileged with witnessing something I sensed was both glorious and terrifying. I’d never been so scared in my life as in that unnavigable chasm of seconds prior to Charlie speaking his next endorsement. I don’t believe I’ve been ever so scared since. ‘We’re hunting, White Wake and I. If you know something of coyote that might work in my favour to possess, I’d be obliged to you, lumberjack from Whistler.’

‘I’m firstly compelled to clarify my means of employment,’ I croaked, placing a lit cigarette to the cushion of my lips. The longer and more persuasively I stalled, the more time I’d retain in preventing Charlie from whatever exigency or manufacture of death he was willing to surrender himself to. As I was standing right there, whole hours away from the snarl of mountain country I’d embarked four torrid days prior to embrace, I became sure: I would not allow this sad, time-crippled Indian man the leniency of a triumphant, allegorical death. It ain’t life’s duty – nor its responsibility – to convey the morality found in fiction. An honest man has no entitlement to demand a subtext for his plight, a meaning in the way or wend of a river. Boy: You’d be nought but a marvellous fool to hope for some final meaning, and your mother didn’t birth no fool I ever held. My daddy’s words, my saving grace. ‘I’m a carpenter: not a lumberjack. And, Chuckles, I can tell you this much, without a transitory invading doubt. Whatever the fuck you’re out here beneath the echelons of Powder Mountain to hunt, White Wake won’t be capable of taking down.’ Charlie Chinstrap became Blue Bluff Crow in the dance of heartbeats. There was no mirth here. ‘What is it that you think is out there, Babe Rockerfeller? What is it that you believe a senile old Squamish bastard and his slowstarving lap-mutt is committed to fighting? What are you convinced of?’ I extinguished the cigarette into the snow, and breathed deep from the constellation of smoke. ‘I’ve got a reasonable idea,’ I exhaled, sheathing my hunting blade to the kiss of its scabbard. If this were any sort of mythopoetic quest narrative, I’d have expected nothing less than the following; but I couldn’t consid-


OCTOBER 2010 into rumor, has faded into folktale. But I’ve seen it once before.’ Charlie’s face shone from within, made epiphanic by some secret and furious inspiration. He looked like a lunatic. I pulled away, but he clutched at my wrists, propelling me forward to hold his gaze. ‘It doesn’t take on the form of your private psychical horror – it manifests a new one. Your own father thought that if he could tame it, he might be able to locate solace in the feral eyes of the Black Stag. If you fish in the abyss for revelation, stare into that lonely chasm for some justification to continue living, the abyss fishes in you for every last hidden minnow of regret.’ ‘What are you saying?’ Charlie loosened his vice-like hold. I seized my fists into the folds of his leather jacket, pulling him back, but he was lost to me; he was laughing giddily, giggling even, and I would have slapped him of all daylight with the open splay of my palm, if he didn’t artfully dart through my grasp, and make off in a halfbent run beyond the clearing into the thick of the treeline. ‘How did you know my daddy? What do you know about it?’ I was screaming into vacant space at the centre of a cairn of stone. Screaming with me, the raucous bray of the Black Stag exploded from amongst the conifers. His brazen silver coat flashing past me, White Wake was a fleeting lupine shape whole yards away, already the size of my thumb-nail. ***

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er myself the idle construct of an author-god’s fable, the benefactor of some perverse, arduous fantasy – I stank of sweat too much, and wheezed too much from the altitude of the ascent to disprove the factual currency of my present situation. That’s why, when both Blue Bluff Crow and I heard the unearthly thunder bellow through the steaming bracken, we blanched perceptibly from the causal theatricality of the sound, and exchanged wary silences with our eyes. The noise repeated, this time accompanied by heartbeat echoes of throaty reverberence, and birds evacuated their canopied roosts, wingspans erupting near, far and away. It was the third call which reified my hunch that the entity making it was not of meteorological or geological persuasion. There was no possibility in hell, no way. An animal was advertising a challenge. It was recruiting for a purpose. ‘It wants us to find it,’ I said, withdrawing daddy’s 77 magnum from the holster on my back, and tightening my fingers around the weapon grip. ‘That’s no cautionary threat. It’s inviting us to go find it.’ I lunged around to confront the Squamish. ‘What the fuck lives out here in these blue mountains?’ ‘Shepherd’s bane,’ Charlie grinned. ‘That song’s the fighting dirge of Powder Mountain’s very own Black Stag. And hooboy, White Wake and I’ve been tracking this thing from the mouth of the Squamish River two weeks tramping south of here.’ The Indian gripped me by the elbows, and breathed something rotten, tropical and sickly sweet onto my neck. His eyes were dancing pugnaciously, and I knew then that this was how he’d prepared to do it: Charlie Chinstrap would claim the hide of this illegitimate beast, or be killed beneath its head and hooves. ‘Don’t you see, lumberjack from Whistler? The Black Stag is the devil’s hand, incarnate. It’s a creature so rare and loathsome that any evidence attesting to its existence has warped

This whole thing teeters on the cusp of cliché. I was breathing hard, my lungs pumping. Some quiet exultation burned in my chest. I blew oxygen into the night. The branches of trees thrashed against my running legs, leaving scars and gashes like a coastline breeze. I couldn’t see Charlie, or White Wake, but ravens were flying overhead, flitting


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like kites through the greenery, and I knew daddy was directing my vengeful hand. I had the rifle lashed fast to my sternum, and the snow was as soft and forgiving as heather. A full autumn moon hung billowing above me, luminous and melancholy. It cast shadows onto the surface snow. I could feel my feet quicken, swift as a kill. I began talking then, whispering things to myself which I can neither recall nor decipher. I was vaulting through forest vegetation, my rib cage churning, and the Blag Stag’s thunderous voice remained half a yard in front of me; quarter of a yard. I could do this without Charlie, without his coyote. This belonged to me – this was the destiny I’d authored. The Black Stag’s head was mine for possessing. Racing now, I capered through pine needles and tangles of maple, blood bubbling from bitter cuts to my forehead. I broke into an up-slope culvert of mountain-rock, breath smoking like a blade on a forge. Five metres away from my entrance, the Black Stag was champing the wind with its great fleecy head lowered. An ash-black ewe with the red tufts of a fox’s winter-coat sprouting from its throat, the Black Stag of Powder Mountain snarled, stamping cloven hooves the hue of funeral soil into the plateau. I smiled recklessly, maybe the first time I’d felt closest to daddy since he’d left for that last ore-mine appraisal. I raised the sight of the 77 magnum to my right eye, caught the demon between my crosshairs. Hurriedly, I sought motivation, casting about for a hero’s sentiment. I remembered the

words of the Squamish Indian. ‘Fuck your mother,’ I told the Black Stag as it cannonaded into me, squeezing the trigger, razing the mountain with a blast

of gunpowder, the recoil and my adversary sending me without purchase wheeling into free air. ***

I was lying stunned and inert on my


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had either lost my sense of sight irrevocably, was dead, was writhing in the abdomen of a leviathan, had departed the plane of mortal territory, or had fallen into a crack of torture’s making. My body ached; I felt afire, and my stomach felt like it had suffered the brunt of a prizefighter’s wrath. I pitched

forward, throwing up the alkaline contents of my tiny, torn gut all down my shirtfront. A car had hit me. No, a freight train. A jet fighter, right in the eye of my chest. I vomited again, half-gagging when no new pre-digested remnants followed. Rocks of various shapes and classification rustled beneath my back, stabbing into the fleshy contusions between my shoulderblades. I rolled, groaning, onto my side. There was a stave of light protruding through the implacable black vicissitude presiding above me on this side of my enclosure, and I could half-make out the ambiguous, geometric shapes of abandoned pick-axes and a coiled tether of horsehair rope. ‘A fucking mine-shaft,’ I growled, coughing a pulpy slurry of blood and phlegm into the charcoal beneath my chin. I hauled myself upright, swearing, onto the balls of my knees, and squinted with bloodshot eyes into the unilluminated confines of this mine-shaft beneath the carbuncles of British Columbia. I knew where I was, though I’d never seen it before. It was like recognizing the face of the stranger you instantly wish to wed amidst a thrall of anonymous, comingling people. My deceased daddy’s supply-pack lay crumpled a handspan away from my sluggish grasp. Through the visor of a belligerent headache, I identified it with my eyes without needing to debate the obvious. My hands hunted in it, squeezing the dirt-clothed baggage beneath my nose, wanting to inhale the history of a family legacy now long vanished. I came out with a compass-watch, a cylin-

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back, my head swimmy in a poetic breed of darkness. My blindness was total. I couldn’t discern the fingers of my hand, even when I pressed my palm to the tip of my nose. I


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drical flask of water, a paperback edition of A Voyage to Pagany, its pages gummed together by dew and fungus. I was breathing so hard. My heart was booming, here, beneath the surface of the snow-dappled universe. I held it. I’d been travelling doggedly, for five days, for five years, for five million tears to feel the shape of this ending, its rectangular form, between the cathedral of my fists. I held it. A reason for my daddy’s desertion. I couldn’t prevent myself from howling. I stared at the object more fragile than an infant love in the clutch of my fingertips. I rotated the letter in my hands, exhaled, and tore open the envelope. A single page withered in my grasp. I made my way towards the light, scaling the rock, pushing against the underside of the mountain with my snowshoes until I could see that new day sky. It’s not a blue. It’s unclouded and azure. I read daddy’s words. ***

Look. The thing a person needs to appreciate is that there forever arise trials to untether a strong, generous being, and sometimes there’s no method of evasion which you might hope to call up to benefit you whilst the world shrinks to hug you in a human-chain of calamity and the basest evil. But stories neither demand nor expect a hero of an immaculate cloth. That’s not what’s expected: what makes a man into a beautiful victor, what marks a man as an agent for certain justice all depends upon the pact he’s forged with the very guts which any reputable diviner will confirm contains the most forsaken future hidden to him. You can always tell a good one from the way he holds himself! Dignity resides not at the surface of tissue, muscle, or even bone. Goodness – that rarest and most cultivated fungus – a true man’s goodness proliferates like a cluster-fuck in the blood, in the marrow,

and nowhere else. Like mushrooms chairing a committee in the dark. You can’t cast disputations. You can’t disregard the mane of a champion, no matter how gorgeous or muttugly it veils his hard, blue eyes. You can’t blow smoke-rings around his visage. You can’t hope to thwart him, not by binding yourself to his fucking ankle. You mustn’t obstruct his passage. A hero is a thing of the greatest, divine and most violent of creative acts. It is a thing that casts constellations to the winds. He is a wonder. He is marvellous and ungovernable. Do not reckon with a hero. You will only weep later, when you recall the way in which you retreated to kiss his feet. I cannot stress the importance of this thing I am about to tell you, son: When your mother died, I understood how desolate and tiny a man I was. For the first time, son. It was like squinting through the other end of a telescope to look at myself from a distance of kilometers, and I could only suffer the amazement of how so much love can diminish to something so broken and gambled and unshared. I walked down that hospital corridor. The tears were flooding my face. I fell to my knees. The wardens swarmed upon me, and my fingers hooked into the indistinguishable grooves of white adobe tiles. I probably called out names of people I hadn’t seen in decades. I know I cowered somewhere amongst a collusion of rubber-soled sneakers, spitting when I couldn’t cry and crying when I couldn’t utter the word “No” anymore. Losing your sweetheart is a wicked wound, boy. And fingers whispered over my body, kneading me into boozy reaction, but I can only accurately quantify the ache by establishing the following context: in fifty-eight scrofulous years, I’d never before been exhausted of light leaving me, like that, not ever. They say – those bad, forlorn souls with foul hearts and corrupt hungers – that when you break a man, there’s one moment be-


OCTOBER 2010 sister were. Standing there. Your faces were already shining from the tears. But it was your hands, boy. Your hands were there to lift me up, right beneath the arms, and I’ve never known a hero who had such a hidden wealth of fortitude. You’re more than a man, Babe Rockerfeller. You’re a son. And I’m a father who forgot it. Maybe for a minute. Before you buried my face into your shirt. What can I now say? I’m sorry I had to do this. I couldn’t wait any longer. Not for her. I will miss you. But you know that. You were always smarter than your old man.

--Locke Rockerfeller. ***

SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

fore his heart cavorts spastically into its awful descent. And it ain’t anything as graceful as a flock of swans bearing the newborn babes of God Himself falling without music or glory into the black watches of some silent wood. It’s the death-blow that misery anticipates. It’s the bullet to an innocent dream formed of color and revelation. I don’t think I ever explained, not to you or your tiny sister, what your mother meant to me. A man is an animal, and he must exist in solitude, and it’s an artefact of his honour to keep that moment which broke him like a whip to himself. What I’m saying is that I ran underground. I’m a coward, boy. I sought escape in my Canadian mine-shafts; some place I could sculpt a foundation and prize jewels from the bedrock of disorder; torchlight so bright I would hope to go blind and forget the joy of your mother’s face. I’m a fool, understand? I might hope to succumb to the bloom of cataracts, but what I was rejecting was the fact that I had a happy ending. It was staring at me. Like two awesome trophies waiting to be remembered with faultless patience. You’re my hero, Babe Rockerfeller. Your sister is my hero. The trick of a hero is to exchange every endless kindness until an old, sad fucking fart fails to discriminate the meaning behind that sacrifice of self. You and your sister shouldn’t have had to suffer the collapse of someone you admired, whilst life had already robbed you of someone you loved. I made a second marriage of my work. And that was wrong. I never told you that. So I’m sorry. The moment I knew the break in my gut wasn’t irreparable wasn’t a momentous realization. Not even an event lambent with fortune, promise or resolution. The hospital orderlies pushed me through the door, and there you and your

When I think back on my time searching desperately for a direction or directive at the foot of Powder Mountain, all those years and seasons ago, the memory that comes most readily to mind is standing over the cascade of Brandywine Falls after the rifle floated away from me, tumbling and pitching with the white-water swell. A rogue elk meandered up to the river on the far bank. Its kingly crown of antlers was host to hundreds of perched and staring ravens. I cocked my head, with measured reverence, to the image of my daddy’s legacy, and turned my back on Powder Mountain, even though its peak vibrated with splendor and sunshine. I shook my daddy’s compass, turned south, and began the short, sublime march. Somewhere not quite near, a coyote lowed at the starless morning sky. I wiped my palms onto the frost, and walked into the winter of Whistler, calling out the names of the trees as I passed. ***


SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

OCTOBER 2010

THIS MONTH . . . Y R O T S I H IN

orian, st hi eo od R se or ah Se l ia fic of e from th k Moffett Patric

November 1st 1880

Alfred Wegener is born in Berlin Germany. Wegener, a German geologist and meteorologist, proposed the theory of continental drift that led to the science of plate tectonics. Wegener was not a geologist and could not prove his theories so he was almost universally ignored at the time and he died before he would receive any recognition. Those Germans were really on a roll in the early 1900s, Albert Einstein was bringing clarity to the universe around us, Werner Heisenberg was making sense of the world we cannot see, and Alfred Wegener was beginning to understand the geologic processes the make the world we live in. Unfortunately Germany decided that instead of leading the world in science they would lead the world in Crazy and chose to try their hands at mass murder and world domination. And this leads us to...

November 15th 1943

Heinrich Himmler tells Jimi Hendrix to go to his room. Okay, that is a very long stretch of a headline for this one but go with me for a minute. While the Nazis were busy rounding up the Jews and sending them to concentration camps, Himmler and friends decided they may as well collect all the Gypsies, communists, and any other persons of a different race or mindset than the regime. The Gypsies (mainly tribes of Sinti and Romani peoples) were singled out on this date and henceforth "to be placed on the same level as the Jews and sent to concentration camps." This is known as the porajmos or "the devouring" amongst the Romani people, about 500,000 are estimated to have died during this period. The good news is that 57 years after the Holocaust our cultures and governments have learned to be more tolerant and....oh wait, this just in...Italy and France have recently made news for their efforts to crackdown and remove Gypsies from their respective countries leading Vice Mayor of Milan Ricardo De Corato to say "these are dark skinned people, not Europeans like you and me." He also added "our goal is to have zero Gypsy camps in Milan." Good to see we're making progress.


OCTOBER 2010

SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

November 25th 1995

Ireland votes to legalize divorce. Really?? 1995. That's how far behind the times Ireland is. They waited until virtually every marriage on the planet had ended in divorce before making it legal for people to get one.

November 19th 1978

Jim Jones has some friends over for a little cake and suicide. After the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan (who had been investigating this cult for supposed human rights violations) at a nearby airstrip, Jim Jones convinced over 900 of his followers in the Peoples Temple to drink cyanide laced grape drink in Jonestown, Guyana. It did not take much convincing, I mean every good cult leader knows that if you wanna get some folks to kill themselves, simply poison up some grape drink and invite them to Guyana. According to autopsy, Jones took the Hitler route and shot himself in the brain along with taking the cyanide, an excellent choice when you want become really, really dead. This is considered by some to be the largest mass suicide ever, but since roughly 1/3 of the dead were children it would seem that murder suicide might be a better description.

November 19th 1988

Quentin Tarantino gives Estelle Getty a hip thrust. Before Quentin dropped some Pulp Fiction on us he made a random appearance as an Elvis Impersonator on the Golden Girls during the Sophia's Wedding episode. Mr. Brown is constantly slipping in little nuggets (Red Apple cigarettes for example) that tie together his alternate realities so perhaps this brief appearance is what inspired him to add the semi-visible Val Kilmer Elvis to the True Romance screenplay. The video of the Golden Girls appearance can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=TgcsHqgfm-Y&feature=related, Look for Tarantino in the back row snapping his fingers and looking decidedly non-King. This may be why several of his next acting gigs ended with his character taking a bullet in the brain.

CHECK OUT

Band of the Month: Band of Gypsies- Okay, Jimi, you can come out of your room.

Movie of the Month: Dr. Strangelove- Riding a Nuclear Bomb has never been so fun.


SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

OCTOBER 2010

Two poems by

Ray Succre


I am false to crave, crawled to the world bed. Half of my errand estate was learned from else, and is else, and the other, soon learned from me, remaining me, then, with none of my own. Exorcised phantoms of striped juvenescence, I cannot know you. Tabled meats and panned breads for the taking, I cannot know you. Reader of poems, you, who do not drive write them after, I cannot know you; perchance, I cannot, and each day, I cannot; like every quarry pebble locked under its pit, I cannot know what exists past my kind. The truth in life is left to hearing. So, I hardly knew.

His Cable Television

Caretaker film of health, I cannot know you. Weary debts like bat-headed licks at my back, I cannot know you, nor bronze, tawny crosses of the past.

SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

Honestly

OCTOBER 2010

Cord and unferal current state one thing, border of a television made to put shape around a sheet face, even while the signals single through one another, pieced apart, seamed together cosmetically by the cathode, his adult film singed in weather to a static rhyme of pleases-the-mind and shows-a-thing, shorting eyes out, his mother’s shriek from his kidhood, and his auger stare now measured in commercial half-years.

These people are dead. They state one thing to a man watching sadness at twenty five, and his glass of nothing special.


SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW OCTOBER 2010

Specimen


OCTOBER 2010

SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

A .J. Desmond

imen Three-Eight-C


OCTOBER 2010

SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

"When I first saw Specimen Three-Eight-C, I knew it’d be the one that would make me famous." "Pardon?" "I'm talking about Bobo, bloody … bloody Bobo." "Oh, so he was different to the others?" "Damned right, he was. One look, and I knew we'd succeeded in creating a sentient ape." "Why call him Bobo?" "Don't ask me. Ask the lab staff. They named it Bobo. To me, it's always been Specimen ThreeEight-C." There's a long silence, but it doesn't unsettle me. As a journalist I'm used to silences. He busies himself with a printout but makes the mistake of glancing up and I snatch the opportunity to speak. "I was impressed by your early work, Doctor Grant." Grant laughs. It's a weak, unconvincing sound. "Then you're the only one who is impressed. I haven't been called Doctor for a while. Say, is that voice recorder on?" "No." I lied. I'm sitting in an impressive office suite - real wood, not that MDF crap - in an upmarket part of town. Far below, in the ground-floor mall, jewellers and perfumeries are shutting up, as shoppers rush through the gathering gloom, anxious to get their expensive bargains home and unwrapped. I'm here for a story, the greatest story of the scientific age. Bobo, the first non-human self-made millionaire. Perhaps the only one, if campaigners get their way. Of course, Bobo wasn't the first animal to become a millionaire. Cats and dogs have long been beneficiaries of wills. But Bobo was different, he earned his. And Doctor Grant, the ex-Doctor Grant, was the man who made it all possible. Grant pretends to be busy. Reading through paperwork, chewing on a pen, and continually flicking long blonde hair out of his eyes. I've seen photos of him before, but I'm surprised how young he looks. And how anguished. His whole frame is tense. He fidgets, and rocks slightly. He has more angst than a Seattle grunge band. "Tell me about the process, Doc." "You're a nosey one." "It's my job to be nosey." I laugh and open my hands, showing my palms. I give him my best disarming, charming grin. And it works. "Do you enjoy your job?" he asks. "Yeah."

"Lucky you. So what do you know about gene splicing?" "Hmm, a little." He talks about restriction enzymes. And making two precise incisions, through the phosphate backbone of the DNA double-helix, leaving the protein bases undamaged. He talks about ligase. And the process of gluing a new section of DNA, often from another species, into the gap. But I'm not listening. I know the science. Or as much of it as I can take without yawning. That's not what I want. I'm after the human story. The man behind the ape that thinks like a man. I interrupt, slicing through the Doctor's speech like the restriction enzyme he's so fond of. "The DNA was human?" "Yes. Mine." He smiles. He's childless, I've done my research, but he knows what it's like to pace a corridor waiting for news of a new arrival. "We took the genes for intelligence and-" "But how did you know which genes to use?" "We didn't. We relied on the bread and butter of scientific progress. Trial and error." Grant gets up, opens a filing cabinet, retrieves a file, and sits back behind his desk. "That's why I called him Three-Eight-C. He was the third permutation of genes from the thirty-eighth group." "That's a lot of chimp." "Damn right, it is. The Institute Head joked we were starting to run low on celebrities to adopt them. I took the hint." "So Bobo was a lucky guess?" Grant looks up from the sheaf of notes. I know he isn't impressed. "We had a list of candidate genes, and hundreds of ways to combine them. We were going to get it right … eventually." "Were you there? At his birth?" "No. I was working with the older apes. Testing their IQ. Using the results to formulate the next set of gene combinations." "And at what stage did you meet Bobo?" "What is it with journalists and questions?" "Curious, that's all. It'll be good background for when I meet him." "He was three months old and already using sign language." "Impressive." "Ah, chimps and sign language. Nothing special. They can quickly build a vocabulary of simple words. But the lab staff hadn't began working with


OCTOBER 2010 Bobo was more ape than man. But Bobo was smart, he never denied that. He argued that if they could remove the human DNA from his cells then he'd concede. But until they could, the parts of him that were human maintained their rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There was no precedence. And when Doctor Grant testified under oath that Bobo did indeed carry human genes, the Institute settled out of court. Bobo had made his first fifty million. "Some ape, Doc." Grant nods in agreement. "Few people know this. But I helped fund his case." "And I suppose this is payback? For services rendered?" I indicated the plush furnishings that surround me. "Yes." Grant doesn't seem as happy as I'd expect. I have one last set of questions. "Why the rap music?" Grant cringes. "Please, that's so embarrassing. I tried instilling some culture into him. Mozart, Mendelsshon. We piped it into his room. But Sarah … Remember, the girl he was so fond of?" I nod. "She left a Walkman in his room. A CD of some crass band or other. Three-Eight-C listened to it and was hooked. He started watching MTV, and the staff bought him a cheap drum machine for Christmas. A month later, he was writing rap songs, performing dance routines, signing the words. Sarah thought it cute.” “And you?” “I was mortified." "But his first album, surely you approved?" "It was his fifty million. Once he'd quit the Institute, what could I say? I wasn't his legal guardian." "But Bobo’s an international success. Gold albums. Videos with the world's greatest stars." "And that's what irks me. I knew he was going to make me famous. And I guess I am. But I wanted to be known as Doctor Grant, the great scientist. Not as personal assistant to M.C. Bobo - the rap star." A red buzzer lights up on Grant's desk. Grant covers the intercom mic with his hand and begrudgingly mutters, "Three-Eight-C will see you now." THE END

SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

him. You see, Three-Eight-C was learning from the older apes." "And you say that you knew? Instantly?" "Yes. There was something in his eyes. And his attitude." "His attitude?" "He preferred certain people. One girl, in particular. A Sarah something-or-other, I forget her full name. She'd have to carry him around the lab or he'd throw a tantrum." "What happened next?" "We postponed the next round of impregnations. And concentrated on Three-Eight-C. At a year old, he was signing fluently and using grammar. He could watch telly. And respond to what he'd heard on it. That's when the military got involved." "The army?" “Naturally.” “But why?” "Think about it. The ability to breed divisions of expendable berserkers. With no empathy for the enemy. No yellow streak. "I thought that was the reason for inner-city slums?" Grant laughs. "Yes, but apes don't have mothers waiting for the dreaded 'We regret to inform you' phone call." "Why did the army pull out?" "He failed the first test. I explained the situation, gave him a wire cutters, and asked him to defuse the bomb …" "And?" "That's when we discovered he'd learned to use swear words. He asked why we'd bothered arming the bomb if we wanted it disarmed, then he gave the wire cutters to a five-star general and told him to cut the effing red wire. Three-Eight-C didn't sign effing, either. He used the real word." The phone rings. Grant excuses himself and answers it. I wait. He puts the phone down and begins working, seeming to forget I'm here. I cough and he looks up. "So how did Bobo break free? From the Institute." "Hmm? Oh, that. I still laugh about it: the day I told the Institute Head, 'He's suing us. For breach of his human rights.' The Head blamed the idea on TV and banned it from Three-Eight-C's room." Grant and I laugh. I remember the headlines. I wrote some of them. The case went all the way to the European Court of Justice. The Institute claimed


SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

Eric Suhem

OCTOBER 2010

Hairdryers of Obedience


OCTOBER 2010 “I can look up at the stars and moon, feel the wind on my face. They can’t take that away from me,” thought Zelda one evening as she headed down the street to a political group meeting, wracked with worry about her precarious position in the group’s hierarchy, feeling the pain of a toothache. For some reason, a denture commercial she had viewed on television, kept replaying in her mind. On her way to the discussion gathering, Zelda realized that her supply of wrenches was low, and ducked into a hardware store along the way. Behind the screws, wrenches, hammers, pipes and sprinklers, was an aisle in which 3 women and one man sat in orange plastic chairs, ensconced under industrial strength hairdryers, reading ‘Field & Stream’ and ‘Cosmopolitan’ magazines. One of the persons said, “Helen Gurley Brown has often, in the most difficult of circumstances, been beneficent,” but would not elaborate beyond this cryptic oration. The hairdryers were all connected to a tangled web of cords and cables to a small glass box in the lawnmower section of the hardware store. Inside the box was a brain suspended in green liquid. The hairdryers were colored in psychedelic blue, red, yellow, purple, one word on each of the four dryers, all spelling out, ‘The-Hairdryersof-Obedience.’ Zelda focused her eyes upon the Cosmopolitan magazine cover under Hairdryer #2, burning her vision into the workman-like pupils of the cover model, as the front of the magazine began to sizzle and smoke. The image on the magazine soon erupted into flame, the smoke forming the figure of one Lottie Genderson, who sat down under a mammoth 1956 faded beige and pink hairdryer in the corner of the room, reading a copy of ‘Agricultural Cavalcade.’ Her left arm flapped about disturbingly as she burnt small holes in another magazine with a smoldering Tiparillo, cackling gleefully. The makeup on her face had already begun to run, under the intense, hot

white light. As Lottie croaked and yapped, the dentures fell out of her mouth and onto the floor, snapping up and down, moving menacingly along the linoleum towards Zelda, beckoning her to sit down under the next hairdryer. Zelda hesitated, but then maneuvered herself into the orange plastic chair next to Lottie, who bellowed, “Now honey, I’m going to invade your psyche and stomp around in there in my open-toed pumps!” As Zelda sat back under the hairdryer with a strange feeling of acquiescence, some important words trampled into her head from the hairdryer, though she couldn’t quite make out what they were, nevertheless it was the best sex she ever had. The hairdryer then switched off, and Lottie Genderson, now all business, instructed Zelda to proceed to the hardware store cashier. After paying for the wrenches that she wanted to purchase, Zelda left the hardware store and proceeded down the sidewalk to the political meeting. Mrs. Costello flew through the front door, agenda in hand. “Today we will form a committee to review the actions of last week’s committee, and we will have a referendum on Zelda’s vice-chairmanship of this organization,” she announced quickly, distributing the agenda to those in the room, all seated on creaky, metal card-table chairs. “The ping-pong balls are in the tar,” reminded Ronald. “They look like eggs deposited in the La Brea tar pits!” “Thank you, Ronald, but try to stay on task!” admonished Mrs. Costello, chalk now grinding into the blackboard at the front of the room. The political group was assembled in an apartment flat on a non-descript street. Zelda listened to the left-right propaganda that was starting to fill her ears, after the right-wing propaganda had filled her ears last week. She closed her eyes and envisioned Lottie Genderson in her wildly colored floral smock, laughing madly under the hairdryer, dentures snapping about. “I have a motion I’d like to make,” announced Ronald, standing up suddenly and importantly. Mrs. Costello glared at him. Zelda turned toward Mrs. Costello, and walked out of the room, out of the building, and onto the car-lined sidewalk, her own agenda ahead.

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SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW OCTOBER 2010


OCTOBER 2010

SEAHORSE RODEO FOLK REVIEW

Dear Revivalists,

In the act of pursuing our experiment in art promotion, time has become increasingly relative. Occasionally, it has expanded to such a point that a day has seemed longer than some years. Working diligently can stretch a single second to the point of terror. Yet, time is always responsible in maintaining its own balance and the elaborate, maddening, bulbous expanse of time is careful to snap back, collapsing on itself and racing all of us here through hours, or even days. Then, suddenly, you realize it is October and it’s been months since you started what you were working on. Many things have happened. Almost all of them good. As it stands now we have put the finishing touches on our sixth monthly issue, we have met a lot of interesting, unusual and talented people, and the project progresses at the rate of our planet around the sun. It seems intensely fast in theory, but slow, tacit, even unnoticeable here on the ground.

To date we have learned a great deal about what works and what does not. We have begun to take more care in the design, appearance and strangeness of the magazine itself. We continue to attract a more and more specific array of writers, artists and readers. Things are shaping up nicely. As ever, the goal is to build resources to aid in the success of each one of our artists on an individual level while enhancing the reach and prowess of Seahorse itself. And maybe our efforts are finally starting to take root. This January we launch The Seahorse Rodeo Circus Theatre at the Water Heater here in Portland, Oregon. It will be a veritable symphonic medley of gritty music, jazz scuba instructors, Seahorse writers and poets, artist stage corruptors, fire twisters, tambourine rattlers and projections of film, paintings, sculpture, cartoons and live reporting on a wide silver screen. It will also double as the book launch for American Bastards, a novel by me, your humble editor. We are intensely excited and cannot wait to have everyone out for the event. That said, spots are still available for people interested in getting involved. You need only send a word and we can talk about your spot in the Main Event. And, in the way of event planning, a road tour is still in the works and looking more ironclad by the hour.

That’s it for updates. We value each and every one of you for your support, readership, ideas, complaints and card houses. Don’t hesitate to write in with ideas, suggestions, questions, or requests. Seahorse is an open door and we want to hear from everyone with a heart for what we are trying to accomplish. This project, as always, is about putting the power of self-determination back in the hands of artists by uniting us under one banner, enabling us to share ideas and resources, and daring everyone to make something a little less familiar and a little more than great. Yours, Trevor Richardson Editor-in-Chief


Seahorse Rodeo Review November 2010