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Four Minutes to Midnight

Four Minutes to Midnight Issue Nine

9


“ flee, but while fleeing, grab a weapon …”

/ 200


FOUR


MINUTES


TO


MIDNIGHT

celia & tavish


pssst...

I was told there’s a machine that hides in the ether. It roots us out in our complacence, it wears down our instincts and dismantles our reasoning. It whispers as we slumber, seeping into our thought processes  —  attaching spores of faux-fear onto all our actions and reactions. ... pass it on.

kajin goh


FOUR MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT ISSUE NINE

December 2007


billy mavreas + john w. stuart + kevin lo


Speech as Vøid erica ruth kelly

E

ver since I was a kid, it’s in the silences that I actually hear things. It’s in the noise that all becomes silent. It’s been strange that way. I remember going to church on Sundays and tuning out during the homily. I was very attentive the rest of the time, as I had to be sure not to miss my cues as I served Mass. But as soon as the homily started, I was a goner. I heard nothing. I took the time to look around the church and think about how Christians have, in the crucifix, one of the most depressing symbols of any world religion. I looked at the congregation and wondered why there were always so many old people. I wondered why Mass had to be so damn early in the morning. I wondered if God was angry about all the bad words I’d said and for thinking about kissing cute boys at my elementary school.   I heard everything in silences.   My grandmother used to have a house in Lachine and we’d go there for family get-togethers. We would always cap off the day by making a fire in her fireplace, taking out the guitar and singing old folk songs. In the between the songs, there was always a second or two of silence, as we tried to decide what should be the next song to sing.

And in those few seconds, I could hear joy.

It was the simplest of things, truth be told. My uncle playing his guitar, my other uncle on the piano, all of us singing along, more or less in tune, to songs we’d all heard hundreds of times before, and have probably heard a hundred times since. But the moments of silence were my favourite part — I could hear the fire crackling. I could hear the love in the room. There was an unabashed and unconditional love that made weird vibrations and I knew — knew for a fact — that I was exactly where I needed to be… that all was right in the world… that I was forgiven my trespasses. 13


nadia nespeca

14


15


nadia nespeca + billy mavreas + nadia myre

16


p. 17

this all started with a ball of pain...

, I’m afraid that it was all over I m afraid of these questions.

before it began and to start it all over again is as futile as a snowf a l l .

for me, things start slow, painful, tumultuous, confusing, internal and bleak. Then, by the time the tumult becomes routine, the thaw arrives without warning and all is joy and dreamlike ecstasy straight through the extreme heat and brilliant sunlight. Following that, the heat and light dull a touch, inviting cool breezes which playfully lay atop the glow of daytime, and crest the gentle waves of nighttime, bringing a juxtaposition of powerful forces that pulls at the core of me. And soon, the cold sets in symbolizing the end as the beginning... closing the circle... answering the question... it has

to start somewhere...

what went wrong? ???

vanishing bees... are you hungry yet ?

cozmos quazar

17


18

STAY

or

19

LEAVE

V i n c e n t Tinguely

The wind seems to have been taken from my sails by the stroke my brother had a couple of months ago. Without really making the connection, I have suddenly realized that in the same stretch of time my writing has dried up, and the last time I read my poetry for an audience, something seemed to be lacking. Nothing unfolds before me in the way that it did before. I think it has to do with a weird sort of guilt over writing polemic, political pieces, attacking in a general way that which my brother represents specifically in my real life — my brother the redneck Albertan prison guard — and Alberta in general: the oil industry, Stephen Harper, cradle of good ol’ Canadian far right fascism. It’s as if my brother’s stroke was the karmic ‘blowback’ of the anger in my poetry about the oil industry, about war, repression. And what’s really hard to deal with is the fact that even though I consciously know that this is wrong and crazy thinking, there’s no real connection between my creative work and my brother’s being struck down, I still can’t seem to get past it. The falling off of my creative output has to do with moving out of my shithole apartment on Parc Avenue, too—there was an edge of real angst in that situation, a kind of desperate dead-end struggle against nothingness that drove me to produce work like a mad fuck. I’m thinking about the times I got myself so stoned I had to stand in the middle of the room in a kind of Zen Buddhist pose — television off, lights on bright overhead — just breathing. And the writing that I was doing, flowing from that.

It was war.

It was my war. My war against the indifference of the world, of the people who inhabit it. My war against a reality that seems hellbent on wrecking itself. I just got fed up with being pushed, and being pushed, and being pushed, and being pushed… Pushed by social convention, pushed by the sheer inertia of the robot


world, pushed by propaganda (of the government, corporate or interpersonal kind), pushed by economic necessity. So I pushed back in the only way I knew how: I cranked out poetry chapbooks, stories, tapes, CDs. I charged into the fray, onto the spoken word stage. I made some noise in a basement. I fell far into the vortex of my own creativity and I didn’t worry about whether it would sell or whether it was good or bad, or whether anyone was paying any attention. I just did it. And something did seem to give. The absurdly one-sided tidal wave of right wing Bush / Harper shit finally seemed to hit its high water mark and it began to roll back. It isn’t as if I wrote a poem and just like that the tide turned. It’s more like synchronicity — coincidence at any rate. I was able to burn through the bleak shitheap of existence before me and glean some little scraps of hope. Awareness seemed to gain in strength, and in scope. I achieved a clarity that I hadn’t had in years. I found a few new friends. Somehow the act, in itself, of going on — of writing, of speaking, of putting together publications, recordings on my own time, under my own steam, on a very small scale — somehow that seemed enough to set the world reeling. Now it seems that the urgency is gone. It’s not like there’s suddenly no more conflict in the world or that nothing’s at stake any more. It’s all still going on, it’s all running very hot and furious. And yet I’ve become disconnected from it, somehow. My brother’s had a stroke and he can’t drive and he can’t work; he sits at home in a sort of twilight. That’s where I find myself — in that twilight. Like one of the walking wounded, put off to one side of the battlefield, out of range of the bullets. I can’t think of what to tell my brother, except that he’s always got the choice to either give up, or go on. It’s a choice I’ve had to make for myself now and again. Stay, or go. A lot of the time, I try to figure out if it’s just me, if I’m really just making life harder for myself or if it’s just the way life is. That it’s just hard. You start out life a child, it’s all new, beautiful, everything’s free. And then it’s not — then, everything costs. I’ve always thought that was a raw deal. I’ve always asked, “Why does it have to be so hard?” Does it really need to be so hard? It all seems futile. Can I snap out of this state of mind, if it seems as if my brother can’t snap out of his? He’s had a stroke, he sits in twilight, and yet it doesn’t seem as if he’s really getting the message. It’s as if he expects someone to wave a magic wand and none of this will have ever happened. But it did happen. Shit happens. Life happens. Everything changes. That’s all you can be sure of. The wheel turns. And no matter how bad things get, you always have to make the same decision. Give up or go on. Stay, or leave.


( untitled ) vincent tinguely The tired old Matrix mythologies ‘The One’ who will save us Der Fürher Or Christ, or Mohammed Same difference Is there some other myth Hiding in plain sight Making a door where none was before A way forward from this Quagmire of self-deceit And anger ?

christopher david ryan

Whatever moments of perfect bliss That anyone ever alive has had Bridge past, present and future Like strands of loving pearls And our aim must be More such moments forged In these terrible furnace times.

20


jp king & kyla chevrier


f.a. n e t t e l be c k

chris heldt + kevin lo

32


33


Six Years On

34


Declarations started us on this path. A week of furious dialogue and creation in the wake of a post --- world. We thought of the designer as author, a dubious yet empowering role. Six years of constant shuffly, anal begging for work and “security.” Now there is professionalism, consistency, stability–and I feel more drained than ever before. Six years of war and this certainly isn’t peace. It’s ridiculous, I’m still angsting over the same shit I was when I was 13. But now, despite all the tricks I’ve learned, expressing it has become even harder than before. I need to get out of this city. I need to get out in order to see where the hell I am. It makes me wonder whether a tree or a blade of grass ever feels apathetic or compromised by the concrete that surrounds it. How can we possibly believe suffering has borders or geography. Its a wave, it starts and reverberates, builds up until its point of origin has become so deeply obscured that the task of displacing it through artifice and distraction becomes child’s play. But it’s not displaced, just... quieted somewhat. As someone who works in “communications” its ironic, and tragic even, that I feel I have nothing left to say. Maybe we should get day jobs as carpenters, get our hands dirty, and purify our soul.

maybe...

35


DIRTY EPIC Kevin Yuen Kit Lo

A

Glass bends, swells,

. . . . . .smoulders. . . . . .

A building burns. A young woman sleeps, rolling over in bed, pulling the covers tight. Flames discriminate through the block.

B

Steam rises out of the city’s grid. A small group of homeless women and men huddle around the gusts of heat, warming their hands and exchanging stories of the night before. Lighting a stained cigarette butt, Fenn rises from the group and starts walking towards the city centre.

C

Turning up on St. Catherine’s, Fenn pulls out his sharpie and spits on the tip. After finding the most appropriate spot of wall, he writes “I was here.”

D

Bar Diana. Last stop for the sleepless. The few stragglers congregate around the video lottery machine. A man at the end of the bar leans into his bourbon. His eyes remain focused on the rise and fall of the liquid. The bartender, seeing the man sink further, walks over to him, “Shit Saul, I’m so sorry man. Maybe you should take a break...”

s h a

tt

er s,


E

Saul’s 3 1/2. Tall windows overlook the greying river and discarded factories. The entirety of the sparse room is yellowing with tobacco. Saul is sleeping restlessly, muttering in his sleep. The sun starts to rise as the pipes begin to creak and whine.

F Fenn walks past the charred shell of a burnt out apartment

building. The hoardings surrounding it are covered with an array of distressed concert posters, each one screaming for a five second glance. At the end of the block a billboard advertises luxury condos. Fenn finds a decent spot in front of the bank across the street and settles in for the afternoon .

G

Man on a stage under a red spotlight, speaking softly into the microphone as one might speak into the ear of the man who stole your lover, in the urgent seconds before deciding whether or not to kill or forgive him; ...we dedicate tonight’s performance to quiet refusals loud refusals and sad refusals we dedicate it to the imminent market collapse we dedicate it to carpenters, waitresses and drug addicts we dedicate it to secretaries, alcoholics and schizophrenics we dedicate it to the boys kissing boys girls kissing girls girls kissing boys and everything in between we dedicate it to anxiety attacks, hangovers, worried depression and all the other necessary by-products of trying to live free we dedicate it to any endeavour who’s ultimate unreasonable goal is autonomy, self-determination or joy we dedicate it to every prisoner in the world... The vibrating draw of a violin teases. The music lulls, then pounds. Another drink. Another drink. Another drink. And Saul is drunk.


H

Saul’s apartment. Saul is planted in front of the computer screen. A trail of smoke follows the crooked arch of his arm, shoulder and back. He types frantically on the keyboard while the little desktop printer beside him slowly churns.

musicians are cowards

I

The next morning. The bustling office of a small weekly. In a corner cubicle, K scrolls through page after page of unbroken dense black text. She searches for a postscript, some sort of explanation, some sort of escape. There is none. She picks up the phone...

J The phone rings in Saul’s vacant apartment.

[click] Saul here. Leave a message... [###] “Saul, it’s K... are you fucking joking? c’mon, you know you can’t get away with this. You know I can’t get away with this... please, save your art for somewhere else. Fix this and get it back to me, soon. This place’ll be hell without you...”

K Saul wanders through the warehouses near the canal. Once teeming with industry and commerce, this wasteland has fallen to nature’s conquest. Plants rise out of the cracks and nests spring up in every corner.

L

The evening brings a gentle, wispy, snow. Saul finds himself back in a familiar neighbourhood, nodding apathetically to the few passers-by. At the end of the street, he shrinks under the glaring billboard’s declaration:

“Your Place is Here!” ™


M Fenn sits next to the bank playing gently with a small white

mouse. As Saul passes by, he digs through his coat pocket, pulling out a handful of change and some loose scraps of paper. He tosses it into Fenn’s hat and moves on. Fenn thanks him and starts unravelling one of the scraps of paper. The mouse scurries into the folds of his clothes.

N

Bourbon. Piss-yellow lighting. On the small stage a sad group of kids struggle through some sort of ironic rip-off of Joy Division. After they amble off to feeble, polite applause, a punk band made up of three Chinese kids walk onto the stage. They launch into their songs, screaming in broken english and cantonese. Strange... stranger still, they’re good.

O

The screen or the sun, which one burns brighter on this foggy November morning? An insistent blue-white throbbing versus the encompassing pink-grey glow. tik tik tik tak tik tak. An hymn of plastic keys. Underworld in the background; any reason will do–any reason will do–any reason will do–any reason will do–any reason will do–any reason will do–everything –everything–everything... a voice like rain. tik tik tik tak tak tak. This or that, this or that?

The office hums to the subdued beat of Indie muzak. K is reading through a pile of printouts. The pages are less dense than before. Large g a ps, rivers and lakes rip through the text leaving lonely l e t t e r s to defend their territory. Their struggles form ch a ot ic patterns on the page...

P

Q

K puts down the pages and rushes into the washroom. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she begins to weep uncontrollably. At the neighbouring sink, the editor, busy adjusting her suit, sternly advises, “K, get your shit together.” An obscene gesture follows her as she struts out of the washroom.


R

K sits in a café, surrounded by papers. Pen in hand, she jumps from page to page, underlining, circling, scribbling notes and diagrams in the margins, connecting words and making images. She mumbles incoherently to herself, but it seems a melody is emerging.

S

Through the window, a homeless man is being arrested by two police officers. He puts up a decent fight, but soon ends up with his hands shackled behind his back.

T

day turns to night

it begins to rain

U

Saul dreams — his teeth are brittle, he can taste the blood on the tip of his tongue. Little pieces of tooth begin to break off, filling his mouth with the gritty texture and taste of calcium. Spitting into his cupped hands he stares at the mixture of blood, teeth, spittle and phlegm. Panic pulls him out into the streets, frantically looking for a dentist. He has no shoes.

V

Another building burns. Sirens echo over the skyline. Every corner here is an old cliché.

W The band finishes its set to roaring approval from the

audience. Saul is at the bar, looming over his notebook when K approaches, cutting through the crowd to join him. Ordering two drinks, she offers one to Saul, trying to get in between his gaze and the page. Without looking, he reaches across for the drink, giving only the slightest nod in recognition. He pounds it down. Again K orders, this time blocking him before he can reach the glass. She pulls out the stack of papers and shoves the pages in his face. “Speak to me – what the hell is this?” Saul raises his eyes, saying nothing. She returns his gaze, pleading with him in silence. He walks away as the band returns to the stage and the amps begin to howl.


X

K exits the club. The music is still raging inside. She is drunk and angry. She walks by a low dumpster and violently tosses the stack of paper into it. She walks on, but at the end of the block, she pauses. She turns around and rushes back to the dumpster, digging through it, frantically trying to rescue Saul’s pages.

Y

4 am in an empty club. A janitor leisurely mops the floor, humming a strange melody.

Z

Small flames dance in a trash barrel. Early morning under the overpass. A large crowd is gathered around the fire. Facing them, standing atop a makeshift pulpit, Fenn brandishes a thick, tattered, manuscript and begins to read...


( untitled ) john w. stuart you’ve lost sight of the sky where the birds look rabid enough to flatten the landscape they spread into a single cell of careless energy

TODAY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

remember whatever you leave behind none of it will see the end of spring   of birds

47


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~>

I and Valium are gone

brigitte henry

48


49


50


51

[ A fragment of ]

BROKEN THINGS

hilary schaenfield

…I find comfort in broken things. I grew up, playing in a scrap yard where old bed frames made alliances with sawed-off re-bar, which sat in piles with wrought iron gate work and sewing machines from the 1920’s. Everything had a patina of rust and age, so there was no hierarchy of affect. All were discarded, metal things, waiting to be claimed or re-used or flake back into the earth with each day out in the elements. These things, which let the fox tails and purple aster over take, these things, which let off a collective scent of black oil and corroded alloy, these things, which, as a small child, I would go around and itemize as stocks of treasure in my queendom, these things, some of which were brought home and positioned as “antiques” by my mother, and one, in particular, which when cleaned and given a fresh coat of paint, made it’s way to the exalted position of Her Royal Smallness’ bed, these things, which, when taken out of the yard, became separate entities of categorical difference, these things, equal only until weighed. Or sorted. Or fetishized. Tossed into piles, the untrained eye could not appreciate the difference. Tossed into piles, one takes what one can get, even if it is the abrasive, wind blown caress of fox tails. Everything wants to be touched. Even corroded things. I’d often get cut running my hand over the barbarous stacks. Thank goodness for Dr. Collins, and his swift administration of Tetanus shots.


52

[ a fragment of ] BROKEN THINGS

My friend and I, walking through an empty neighbourhood last Sunday night, came across a store of tailor dummies. Through the plate glass window, we saw them, hung from their steel posts like condemned men, and women, and small children with expandable padded ribs. All were made of stretched muslin cloth, or so it seemed, and capped off at the neck with a metal lid, as I suppose one doesn’t need a head for modeling. They had no means of escape, as they ceased being at their wrists and ankles. These crippled families of colourless, mindless creatures had such admirable firmness to their forms, and I began to wonder aloud how a seamstress could ever fully compensate for real, soft, rub-together thighs, or the pinchable back fat that rolled over the waist my trousers. “She would leave a polite distance between the truth and her thread,” said my friend, and we laughed and wished that we could break in and give each dummy a paper maché head and latex glove hands, just to freak out the proprietor in the morning. On my walk down to the library, I pass an open grave of crumbling concrete and thoroughly rusted, twisted pipe. It is the most breathtaking, fenced in scene of urban decay that has ever crossed my path. Or I suppose, I crossed its path, as it is a stationary reminder of everything finite and I am a moving example of the refusal of fact. I once dated a wreck of a man who believed he was immortal. He had put himself through the ringer so many times, and came out the other end warped, but kicking. He might still harbour this belief. Or he could be dead. I didn’t stick around long enough to see. I got on with a relatively young boy who smelled of cherries and Tide, and from time to time, clove cigarettes. He’d started smoking them after reading the opium-laced account of a British general. The decorated militant claimed they took the edge off when stronger stuff was not readily available. I’d rather come in at the start of someone’s decline than in the middle. Their body is in top form, fighting off the demons, rebelling against time, against opinion, against everyone and everything that would strike them to the ground, and hold them there forever.


HILARY SCHAENFIELD

53

Including me. I’d rather bear witness to strength than love. The first is a definable concept, the latter, a nebulous idea. It is not to say that people at war don’t need affection on occasion, but only that it is third, or forth, or fifth on their list, after food, and water, and the need for sensation. To assure them that they’re still alive. At this very moment. Love is for those who plan to stick around for a while. My right foot has begun to betray me. Well, “begun” makes the process sound recent, which, if I was to be honest, is not the case. It started when I was young, with a twice-broken, second in command hammer toe. My father said it gave me character. My aunt said that I should spare the world by not wearing sandals. The older I got, the more curve it took on, and then, at one point in my early twenties, it decided to add insult to injury by losing the nail. It is now the dictatorial old crone of all my digits. It commandeered the bursa sac around the first joint of my big toe in a horrible coup de pied, commanding it to swell and displace the primary joint sideways. Now under siege of an ever expanding bunion, my foot resists all footwear, save wide width running shoes and orthopedically correct slip ons. Because of the battle of the right, the left had to concede its dreams of stilettos and feminine, yet unsupportive ballet flats. But the worst was yet to come. Or perhaps I shouldn’t say that. My foot could always fall off, in a fit of leprosy, or I could lose part of it in some unforeseen farming accident. There is always something worse. So let us just say, the situation, which I thought was bad—and have I mentioned the pain? Every morning there is an ache that I attempt to work out with stretching, or walking, or the copious consumption of pretty orange pills. So fine then, let us just say that the situation became worse than what it was…


I see it everywhere in you: restraint, Violence bleeds from your pores and I am a whip, some creature with a back that undulates to move over dry distances I became callous for your weight and a pelt for your grip

amber goodwyn

I can bear it so Fuck me

with the words you never learned translate symbols into intention encode transfer decode fucking bury me in the mattress

I am only energy now I am evolution and there is nothing I want to do more now than press rub glide dress up in the underwater garb of something more simple and feel so I can hear it cracking in my back and hips blurring every line erasing culture, composing a new language that breathes to me the meaning of Fuck make me beautiful by becoming ugly and Fuck me.


catherine rizzetto


derek beaulieu


and Fuck me...

my voice is no longer the voice my mother gave me. there’s gravel on my tongue. music in my ears. finely ground glass. spitting out stones.

3 am


&

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the city divided by footprints marking time (in rain —attempting to infuse shadows with your substance)

(in passing asses I see your arc) I look across the room for a conspiratorial glance, hope or lust,


but the stares are frozen— limpid as the fiction is devastating (on the table between us tongues roll out and crash – – – – – – – )

jean-sébastien day


(I will not write a fake poem about brown eyes shoulders or leap or pure.) haunted by phantom voices (tiny beautiful voices!) singing wanton songs— softly tY fo!uij slowly—

Óju !cpvme!ibwf!cf

e!ibwf!cffo!uivt//

m ju !dpv

(settling deeper into the moss and bundling against the loss of the light,

she is a sigh waiting to shoot)


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and remember the sound of rain on a tent during a summer storm the first time your heart was broken the murmur of a rushing river


and the ringing in my ears grew louder and I lost my vision for three and a half minutes. Everything went dark. I held my breath and prayed that this would not be the last moment of my life... I genuinely feared it would. And I feared all I would have to show for my time here would be a few poems, a song and a half, and a suddenly achingly lonely cat. This is not as it was meant to be...


lindsay foran


(the Truth)

the truth is Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been drinking for 30 hours or days, I don't even remember just flashes of time eyes rolling in the back of my head jaw clenched tight tearsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; and the familiar ache in my heart what was I thinking? s t um b ling outside the jean-coutu, where the anarchist normally stands, a middle-aged woman in a thick fur coat is begging for change... home.

lying tied to these sheets. sweating unsteady I keep thinking of old friends that I want to talk to I'll call them, soon.


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that strange night in this sad city a crack before dawn wings stretch across the sky as struggling out of sleep I reach out to youâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;hands touch curl â&#x20AC;&#x201D;warmth passes and I think maybe this is finally the time. Will I witness the idea only or join it courageously, I want to get excited. I want to get enraged. I want to feel the love of all life on the tip of my tongue. In the shape of a kiss, the agitation continues.


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BUT PUNK IS DEAD JOHN

ONE

it was 1982-3-4 ! & life promised to be little more than a series of dots stretched across a blank page. suffocating silence and a sense of hopelessness — ronnie, brian and maggie had the world by the balls, and the old hippies were too busy nosing around in a coke fueled frenzy to notice. you expected little more than 2.5 cars, 2.5 kids, 2.5 fucks a month, and 2.5 days of happiness — then you die & the page is crumpled and tossed in the kitchen trash. i was a delicate redheaded shy boy — the finger puppet for every blue hair in the postal code. somehow pigment had put me into the public domain for scrutiny that i found agonizing. not having shoulders broad enough to push away i just shrank under the blushes which only encouraged more. with no confidence i was little more than a whisper in my class when my 8th grade teacher called me “little johnny stuart” — of course blushes & blushes — when really all i wanted to do was just kill the bitch for the humiliation. her and every other adult who tried to mold me into a cypher — a flag bearer for suburban hypocrisy. i wanted none of the dour useless shit that passed as culture or the black dots they called their lives. they liked me though, i had learned well — the silent mantra of the suburbs — shut up — stay still — shut up — don’t ask — shut up — shut up. so i suffered in my silence as if it were another limb & whispered what i really thought. it was a deadening time n.amerikkka was backpedaling to a fantasy state of 1955 — with conservatism and red baiting & no one seemed to care. there was nothing out there saying otherwise.


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, ...AND I M GLAD IT IS

TWO

nothing or so i though until i started sneaking into my older brother’s room. he had records. lots of them, thanks to his job at steinbergs. mostly that innocuous california pop rock that muffled those years (& my ears), but as i grew i began to see smoke signals rising from the stack of vinyl. the twisted legs of elvis costello on a checkerboard field, london calling, and of course the ramones. the summer before grade 9 we lived in dread for the beatings we would no doubt endure in the coming year. in august, david returned from london, with an earring & stories of this thing called punk. it seemed to involve looking like a freak, spitting, puking, and spreading obnoxiousness wherever possible. intriguing... a few weeks later my brother told us if we didn’t dress like punk rockers on the first day of school we’d be beaten severely. thanks to dave’s first hand knowledge we did a pretty good job, he even spray painted his hair purple, but ended up looking like janis joplin. so there we were. the only ones dressed as punks, and suffering ridicule you only see in schools. we figured at least we were noticed, so we stuck to it. i began to explore the music on my own, scraping together money & scouring the city finding gems like the talking heads, slf, etc. it was music that was solely for freaks, losers, and the disenfranchised. those who didn’t buy into the sixties myth, too awkward for disco, and too smart to be heads smoking hash in the

77


quad. this was the shit. though no one had a clue what was going on — that’s what was so incredible. it was really undeground — you had to make an effort. the following year my first day of school was a manifesto. somewhere (i think it was a spiritual loan from darby crash) i summoned the balls to show up in purple leopard print jeans and a destroy t-shirt. i though it would instill fear or respect or something. not quite. i’ve never encountered so many taunts as i did that day. i was the lone mallard among the straight reeds. it was humiliating, but it was mine. until they sent me home to change my shirt... i could have stopped and just dissolved into the mix, but i knew for the first time in my life i was right. and there was no stopping me.

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THREE

everything was focused into the hours alone in my room with the pistols, clash, patti smith & a punk book i stole from the library. the glossy pix of the 100 club in 1977 were electrifying — here was something real & new — the people were daring, creative, and strange  — everything i aspired to be. it was my first sangha, even though my community was only ink and vinyl. the connection nevertheless was real and inspiring. & then i found self affliction — 14 pages of torn distressed photocopied, scrawled, screaming, mocking words and images that came from fucking ottawa! the contents propelled me into unimaginable, at least to a 13 yr old, territory. i contacted the author, dave (soon to be dave aardvark) & headed over to his place only to find a house full of punks, no parents — this was beginning to get exciting & the comforts of the burbs were beginning to seem more like a burden than blessing. i also met dug, who slowly drew me into the ottawa scene. trading tapes, stencils, and marathon phone calls debating the likelyhood of nuclear proliferation (pretty likely & it still is — fuckers). after i joined youth action for peace (y.a.p. — really the only active part of the anti-nuke movement in town), we would hold imaginary conversations with officer bob, the rcmp spy who was tapping our calls. our dharma was a radio show — “no future now” — & we would trek out to the station to watch the dj noting all the new music he was playing. then we would plaster the campus tunnels with agit-prop stencils (fight war not wars) —  we even made it into the paper once when we sprayed “stop youth oppression” in 4 foot letters across an elementary school. unfortunately our fame came due to a missing “p” in oppression.

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we spent every moment we could at “the eccles potato farm”, home to dave aardvark and honest injun. we’d sit on our assses drinking tea listening to the epic statements of minor threat, the meat puppets, hüsker dü and crass. the only honest expressions of the age. we’d jam in their mouldy basement, where I would cut my fingers on porcelain forehead riffs & dug would scream like a motherfucker. zines were another preoccupation (dave’s endanged existence & my spamzine) that connected us with kindred spirits via air mail. the community was hidden, but connected like a fucking underground railroad.

FOUR

lets take a moment here and reflect on the cops. they always had time for me and my friends when we were protesting in the streets & malls. but one time after seeing the crucifucks downtown in the middle of what you may remember as winter i missed the last bus & had to walk about 7 miles to get home. i saw a cruiser parked, and wandered over to it, knocked on the window and explained my dilemma. i had hours to walk, was half frostbitten, no money, and parents mia — could he possibly give me a lift part way home. he just laughed, and no doubt went on to roll some drunks — so much for serving and protecting. while all of this was happening my family was falling into disrepair. my dad had moved out, and this paradigm shift made everything possible. mom actually trusted me, maybe she knew that i wasn’t drinking or doing drugs... i was a straight edge vegetarian pacifist who was trying to read anarchist theory. i may have looked like a freak but i was more confident and focused than the seniors who used to kick my ass all the time.

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81

my teachers on the other hand just joined in the ridicule, revealing the fact that they were around to condition me, not to teach, because that’s too fucking dangerous — someone might ask a question. the one exception was my principal, who before suspending me for trying to start a school strike, let me know how much he respected my conviction. it’s hard to believe, but at the time the students were probably more conservative than the teachers — at least that’s what all the bruises indicated. there were joyful bruises as well. from all the shows in community centres & church basements, where local bands blistered to audiences rarely larger than a hundred. but as those audiences grew my interest began to wane. like every other precious real thing it began to fall prey to the weak minded few who were so desperate to claim ready-made identities. the freedom gave way to codification and it just died. i tried to keep the passion alive, but in the end it was no different than the mainstream. the music & ideas still have power over me today, but it is also mingled with the sad fact that nothing like that could ever happen again. i remember the vitality, the joy, pain and isolation. but punk is dead — and i’m fucking glad it is, now someone should tell all the ignorant grave robbers to move on and really DIfuckingY...


brigitte henry


l ov e and

colt 45

by

Shawnda Wilson


• love and colt 45 • Keliapie Winter (new girlfriend) We had two months off and the idea was that we’d ride our bikes to Newfoundland. We spent all our money on equipment; saddlebags, sleeping bags, a percolator and a trailer for the dog. The first three days we couldn’t make more than 40 km riding all day, the dog kept jumping out of the trailer and running off after something or other. Thick black gravel, wind and rainstorms didn’t help either. One day the path just went straight, a slow uphill climb until forever and I had mushroom flashbacks, feeling like I was riding in one place while the scenery changed around me. Jonny West (boyfriend, instigator of this adventure) I’d wanted to do this trip with the last chick I was hanging out with. We’d travelled around so much on trains and hitchhiking, I wanted something different. Where I’d be deciding exactly where and when I stopped, how fast I got where I was going, y’know? But she bailed on me, hopped a train out west with this other guy. I was pretty pissed off, but then I met Keliapie and she was game so I thought fuck it. We’re still good friends, the other chick and me; we’ll probably travel again together. Jolene no last name (Jonny’s good friend) He’s always followed me around, Jonny, since I’ve known him. Two years, I can just email him anywhere and if I say come, he does. We’d kinda been together all winter. I told Jonny I’d leave Dave soon and travel with him but he just wasn’t ready to go when I was. So I left with Dave and by the time I emailed him to come meet me, he’d met Keliapie. He was pretty vague about their relationship, just said he had other plans for the summer, so I figured we’d meet up sooner or later. Keliapie Winter (new girlfriend) I never wanted to go to Quebec City, especially not to stay with Marta, the girl Jonny was still fucking up until two weeks ago. I mean for one, I knew she loved him and that us showing up like that, all in love on a trip and shit would hurt her. And then what the fuck, she’s — 84


• shawnda wilson • supposed to put us up in her living room while we party for a couple of days? The whole idea felt terrible, but Jonny was sure, he said that everything was fine. That she was over him and would be super happy to see us. Marta Alhed (fuck-friend of Jonny’s for the last two years) I thought it was a dream, when I heard his voice outside my window. It was too good to be true; he’d come for me. Changed his mind about the other girls, I could love him like I’d always wanted now. Then he said Keliapie was with him. My heart dropped into my stomach, I wanted to throw up and die simultaneously. It was just my same old — I’d left Montreal to get away from him, to stop the heartache of him not loving me and me not being able to say no to him every time he showed up in my bed. I never could figure out what I’d done wrong, what I hadn’t done enough of. So we drank beer, the three of us, smoked a million cigarettes and talked about old times. Well, in truth, Keliapie didn’t say much, but I was having a hard time caring about her right then. Jonny West (boyfriend, instigator...) She’s such a hot girl that Marta. It was great to see her again. I was really happy — it had taken us seven days to get there, our first real destination, and I was ready for a break. Let loose a little, y’know? I saw a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, just drank and chilled. Marta ran around in her underwear like always, dyed my hair and made me laugh a lot. I never imagined Keliapie and I would fight the way we did, I hadn’t had a real girlfriend in like 4 years, hadn’t given a shit about anybody’s feelings really. So when Keliapie said don’t touch me and jumped back from me, well I just lost it. I didn’t want to deal with this shit at all. Keliapie Winter (new girlfriend) We never should have gone there, it was hell. I just sat in the shadows watching, wondering how I’d let myself get talked into this at all. The fight just seemed perfect, like hell should be — everything you dread and avoid swallowing you whole, but of course things got much worse — 85


• love and colt 45 • than that. Had I known then what was to come, well maybe I would have just taken off alone, like I was supposed to back in May. Marta Alhed (Jonny’s fuck-friend) I was pretty happy to have Jonny around even with Keliapie there. I mean I know her and like her enough on her own, I just couldn’t stop wondering what she’d done to win his love. Keliapie Winter (new girlfriend) When we did finally leave and got back on the road, I wanted to get as far away as fast as possible. I imagined myself in Marta’s place, how doing what’s expected of you just hurts and in order to be cool about it, you choke it back and suck it up. I wouldn’t have been so cool. Now I wanted to have fun again, me and Jonny alone together against the world. We made it across the water that day, not even an hour away. Then the rainstorm, some hot dogs, a story, dice, two beers each and no clue that anything so dumb could even happen. Jonny West (boyfriend) I thought she’d exaggerated a bit, I mean Marta’s been my friend for like two years and I’ve only known Keliapie, had her as my girlfriend, for like a minute, y’know? I was glad we’d come regardless; I had a good time... minus the fight. Jolene no last name (Jonny’s good friend) I tell everyone we’re just good friends, me and Jonny. People believe what they wanna believe. He’s my back up, my in between. It’s not a lie if everybody’s telling the same one.

Keliapie Winter (girlfriend) They kicked me in the side and stuck a flashlight in my face, blinding me. Four cops, two cars for what the fuck, I had no idea. I was so deep in sleep their words sounded like Russian to me. It was still storming — 86


• shawnda wilson • hard while they shoved our gear into their cars. The only consolation was that they were banging themselves with the weight of it all and getting soaked in the process... fuckers. They took the dog to animal control and us to the station for ‘interrogation’. Ron Vector (cowboy) That is one place I can’t stand — been through there many times and they’re always looking to stir up trouble. They were always sure there was something fishy going on, like there’s no way cowboys made a living just trading horses. If you owned a house you must be trafficking drugs. Joey Segel (self-proclaimed rambling man) It ain’t legal to breath anymore in this town or any surrounding. We got laws upheld here since the 1930’s; don’t wear your skirt too short ladies ’cause that’ll cost ya $141.00 more than it’ll make ya, no word of a lie. Jonny West (boyfriend) Violent criminal? They’re out of their godamned minds. I’ve smashed a lot of shit, but I never hurt anyone but myself. Keliapie Winter (girlfriend) I couldn’t use the toilet until I was locked in my cell, the female ‘peace’ officer refused to accompany me. I just kept feeling more and more tired. Tired of the whole world and all the people filling it. Francis Arnot (activist) They fill up jails with non-criminals; the real ones pay too well and stay free. Something’s got to be done, but it’ll take lifetimes to change. Ron Vector (cowboy) I moved to the city and got a real job driving a truck. It just wasn’t worth the hassle anymore. — 87


• love and colt 45 • Marta Alhed (Jonny’s friend and ex-lover) I didn’t want to believe it when she came back, just her and the dog reminding me of what I wanted and couldn’t have. “Weren’t you guys supposed to be gone already?” I said to her, hoping she’d just disappear. She told me Jonny was in jail and she didn’t know why or where. She had nowhere else to go, so what was I supposed to do? Keliapie Winter (girlfriend) They let me out after one night. One crappy breakfast of dry toast and tang, bloody walls and shit all over the toilet’s non-seat. Jonny and I were trying to yell at each other down the hall, but he gave up, saying he couldn’t understand anything I said. Then I was free... sort of, with a ticket and a court date three months away and all of our fucking gear. My conditions included not leaving that shithole city I didn’t even live in. Then of course I had to go find the dog before they killed him — funny fucking joke on us. I still remember the sound of them laughing and carrying on, fascist pigs... I’ve lived my whole life trying to forget people like this exist because I just don’t understand them. People who wield power like a bat, not even trying to hide it behind their backs. Jonny West (boyfriend) It wasn’t so bad really. I mean the food is shit and everybody’s an idiot, but I’ve been here before, I know the fucking drill. I was just pissed off about my dog and my trip being fucked up, and I missed my girl. I kept telling her I never wanted a girlfriend again. I kinda forgot about that in jail. Marta Alhed (Jonny’s friend and ex-lover) We actually had a great time those three days alone together. I could talk to Keliapie about Jonny for real, not like to my friends who all just told me he was an asshole and I was better off without him. She told me things like how he truly cared about me, how he never meant to hurt me, how beautiful I was and how love is just fucked up like that. I’d still sleep with him now if he showed up, even knowing they’re together. I just can’t help myself with stuff like that. — 88


• shawnda wilson • Keliapie Winter (girlfriend) He told me, the first time we hooked up (I mean got naked together, right?), not to make him love me too much. We were drunk at a party and I’d asked if we could just sleep side by side. We’d been spending days together and I was supposed to live alone this year, I mean stay alone for awhile. Maybe subconsciously I’d wanted to have sex and ruin it, forget about him and move on. So he says that and then he goes down on me not letting me touch him at all. I didn’t know what to think, like so many other times with him. Jolene no last name (Jonny’s ‘good’ friend) She’s just the girlfriend — that’s temporary; I’ll always be here. He spends all his time with me when she’s not around. I make myself available. Yeah, he slept in my bed recently. I mean we were drunk, so why do you think he ended up there? Two perfectly good sofas to sleep on in the living room. I ended up sleeping on the sofa though; he was too drunk to fuck... too bad. There’ll be other times. Jonny West (boyfriend) I didn’t tell Keliapie why they were keeping me until the day before I was passing court. She was gone to Nova Scotia by then. The thing was, a few years ago, I’d smashed a bunch of city property during a break up. It had been two weeks by then, but they let me out right after court — 18 months probation. I told her I’d come meet her wherever she was, fuck probation. So she came home. Keliapie Winter (girlfriend) So I came home and tried to believe everything was ok. But I couldn’t. We had two more terrible fights — I mean terrible. The thing I forgot to say is how I fucking love him. How it went from one day, hanging out with someone new, just doing stuff thinking it wouldn’t mean anything to falling terrified in love, and thinking maybe I’d never actually even been in love before. I love him like a mother is supposed to love a child, like there isn’t anything he could do that would make me want him to leave my life. Dangerous, how is anybody supposed to live like that? — 89


• love and colt 45 • We were supposed to go away for a weekend together. Things had been better that week. But he bailed five minutes before leaving. After I’d wasted away the whole summer anywhere and nowhere... waiting. So I went alone and then just kept going. He was pissed off. Later, he told me he’d slept in Jolene’s bed — well, I mean, I asked, “where’d you sleep?” — but that she’d spent the night on the sofa. God whatever, right... what the fuck am I supposed to say, just pack it in my guts, say “oh” and move on... ? Avoid the fight? Jonny West (boyfriend...) So I moved in with Keliapie when I got out, I mean she wanted me to and it’s ok. Well, it’s kinda weird... My friends are all pretty far so that sucks, but I’ll hang out here for a bit ’til I figure out some other plan. Go to Vancouver or the Yukon maybe, sooner than later, I’d say. For now, I love Keliapie, so I’ll hang out here. Keliapie Winter (girlfriend...) I love him more every day. Jonny knows how I feel about Jolene, he just says that he’s sure I’d like her if I hadn’t known her through him. He’s wrong. She’s the kinda girl who’s kissing your boyfriend the minute you turn your back, the kind of girl that made me hate the whole species back in high school. He’ll probably leave me. It’ll be a first. Live in the NOW people tell me, yeah... The worst is over? maybe............................... doesn’t really matter when you’ve got love and Colt 45.

— 90


that strange night î Š Maria Mavrig

I left my insides in you, I left my,

I left, I left you.

I left mine.

I left my insides in you. In you, I left my insides.

What made me step out of my body scar into a brief fling. A moment so silently.

91

Listen, No blur can condemn the true lapse in welcoming your distraction, I say. I took you in and offered self gently reaching out from beneath the trees and latching onâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and out. And you, drinking, drinking. Until you scraped your hungry adventure.


Until, until, until Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a dubious beast whipped by unknown currents in a solarium. And I feel dreamy.

That strange night,

I found my dream in you, I found my, I found,

I found my dream in you.

92

pascal quimper


DREAMS THIEVE DICTION jp king

Penelope slept on a dictionary, pretending to be a princess on a pea. Tonight she spread the pages open to C. While she slept on a language sandwich crepuscular insects crawled across her frontal lobes. From a crack in the wall climbed a criminal, who dropped into a newspaper skiff floating on folds, waves in her duvet. The robber paddled against the current of the cloth using only a set of scissors. Her lucid eyes, active in the theft of rest, watched him moor to her neck. He climbed her face as though it were cliff. Crept through her hair like a thicket. Slipped the clippers into her head. Lacerated her imagination. Stuffed her dreams into a sac, and sailed off into the closet.


94

CONCERT AT THE END OF THE WORLD JASON LEWIS

people were going by, black mud on their pants • the orange-turning sky was disappearing fast • Jackie, Robbie and me sat at a tumbling down table • smoking jackfruit and eating cigarettes • watching the unending line of clowns, dictators and friends • we had brought billy jean’s big bad boat but it proved too hard to handle • so we had ditched it way back in the dukes black moat and went on with only a candle

I know I’m supposed to meet somebody but everybody else is here instead And nobody else can hear this dream calling to me in my head I know I’m supposed to meet somebody but everybody else is here instead And nobody else can know of this dream walking 'round inside my head we got up from the table as well as we were able • and followed five ballet dancers down into the valley of the lost • we weren’t really concerned with the dead because we’d already paid the cost • Jackie, he was an airman, lost his plane and crew off the coast • Robbie, he was a beggar, had lived with the dying more often than most • and me, I’m just a poet trying to sell my muddied skin • for a little bit of jackfruit and some advice on where to begin.

I know I’m supposed to meet somebody but everybody else is here instead And nobody else can hear this dream calling to me in my head I know I’m supposed to meet somebody but everybody else is here instead And nobody else can know of this dream walking 'round inside my head


95

there was music down in the valley, thumping hard and fast • we tried to hurry along, sure that it wouldn’t last • but we got held up at the quarry by the screams of Mary • who’d been tied up deep under the water • we dove down for her and she disappeared like the Pharaoh’s daughter • when we came up again the music was getting louder • and we began walking again, colder, older and sadder

I know I’m supposed to meet somebody but everybody else is here instead And nobody else can hear this dream calling to me in my head I know I’m supposed to meet somebody but everybody else is here instead And nobody else can know of this dream walking 'round inside my head we didn’t want to be here, and yet we did • we’d all crawled out from under rocks where monsters lived • we didn’t know how to handle the bright reality of it all • and we didn’t know how to handle the beauty of the music’s call • Jackie, he was a lover, but hadn’t known a woman in a long, long time • Robbie, he was a family man, but spent most of his life in line • and me, I’m just waiting, waiting for somebody to tell me • it will all be fine.

I know I’m supposed to meet somebody but everybody else is here instead And nobody else can hear this dream calling to me in my head I know I’m supposed to meet somebody but everybody else is here instead And nobody else can know of this dream walking 'round inside my head


96

jason gillingham

Nobody else can know of this dream walking around inside my head.


97


dan waber + kevin lo


thethen.thenow. catherine rizzetto back when i could still name (at least a few) constellations. like the ones on my left cheek. when you were an idealist and i was a (cynical) purist there it was — that foreign shape. pure — it seemed. ideal — you tell me... i was – so – skeptical but no other fresh bother could gnaw at the nerves like it so recently had. so we leapt! and now we find ourselves here. (broken. but. with a slightly finer glow.)

107


108


love letter after, after... kevin yuen kit lo

To my one, beautiful and strong, I’m sitting in a corner at Man-Na, polishing off a second order of kimchi as I write you this letter. If I were not to transcribe it, you would notice the spatter of red-orange stains on the page, and together we would laugh at my carelessness. A last minute love letter for you, babe. A simple sketch, lacking promise, abstracted, but true. There will be no grandiose metaphors for me to hide behind, no angelic hymns to your name or the smoothness of your skin. There is too little time. a few things to remember Three years ago, crashing back to this poor, broken, tragic, beautiful city, feeling wonderful and uncertain. The night we first met you offered me your whisky, then slipped out of your skirt and into a pair of jeans. I came back to find you. Our first song, a revolutionary cannon sung from the streets. Also sad, tragic, and beautiful. It’s still my favourite song. Long ritualistic walks from Mile End to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. It’s a long way to travel with a chicken sandwich and a six-pack. It was always worth it. Watching the seasons change on rue de Cadillac. Nights pushed through into late-morning dreams. Postal Service defining our rhythm. Falling asleep to raucous birdsong, assured in the knowledge that another day had actually begun. 109


Christmas, buried head to toe in wrapping paper. The long slow bus ride to Toronto, our fingers tightly intertwined. You, steadily gazing out the window. Six and a half hours, and one chilly cigarette break. A surprise birthday party with streamers, confetti and balloons. The casual arrival of police officers. Ending the night prone on the living room floor, having fallen prey to Salvia, Diviner’s Sage, imported by friends from Mexico. The beginning of a practice of Horizontalism. Heated arguments unfinished and forgotten. Brushed away by the new morning and my head in your lap. Your grandfather’s faltering breath. The nights spent between the three of us felt like a secret pact. The sharp taste of a Coca-Cola and vanilla ice cream became a simple elegy. Toes dipped in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Now we can safely snuggle in between them as winter approaches again. Ridiculing the television night after night; the tired, repetitive postures and unclever turns of phrase. Alone with you, the cats, the couch and the tube. Sharing in the unfortunate realisation of how sad it is that we can’t think of anything better to do with ourselves, yet laughing all the same.

colin white

begin again

110


FOUR MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT : ISSUE 9 composed by John W. Stuart & Kevin Yuen Kit Lo COPY EDITOR : Catherine Rizzetto CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS : Celia & Tavish, Kajin Goh, Billy Mavreas,   Nadia Nespeca, Nadia Myre, Christopher David Ryan, JP King &   Kyla Chevrier, Chris Heldt, Brigitte Henry, Catherine Rizzetto,   Derek Beaulieu, Jean-Sébastien Day, Pascal Quimper, Ralph Dfouni, Lindsay Foran, Jason Gillingham, Dan Waber, Colin White CONTRIBUTING WRITERS : Erica Ruth Kelly, Cozmos Quazar, Vincent Tinguely, F.A. Nettelbeck, Hilary Schaenfield, Amber Goodwyn, Christopher Mulrooney, Greg Tyce, Jay Brotherton, Shawnda Wilson, Maria Mavrig, JP King, Jason Lewis, Catherine Rizzetto PRINTING : Lovell Litho


...I did the whole edition in about 40 minutes, just rubbing one   after the other. People would come by and look over my shoulder, some would comment, some wouldn’t. One guy asked me what I   was doing and I said, as I handed him the one I’d just finished:   “I found hope, and wanted to share it with my friends.”

dan waber


Four Minutes to Midnight

Four Minutes to Midnight Issue Nine

9

Four Minutes to Midnight 09  

Issue 09: Silence and Conflict