There is a mostly red, cylindrical ashtray. Right there. On a picnic table. Concentrate. It is mostly empty. You will notice there is one half-smoked cigarette in it. A Viceroy. The red ashtray on the picnic table is in the park and so are you.
Does the ashtray belong to someone? No. It did but it doesn’t. What kind of red is it? You don’t know the name for it yet. It’s similar to what’s left of the red on your nails. You tell yourself Pantone 185C. It is Pantone 185C.
Do you want it? You do but you don’t. You don’t smoke anymore but you want to. Cylindrical Pantone 185C appeals. Why did someone bring and leave Pantone 185C in the park? What was that someone thinking? Your first thought is he wasn’t thinking.
But if he was, what was he thinking? Did he think it was too precise? An emblem of a person he no longer wants to see in emblems? Someone who had hurt him? He doesn’t like to be hurt. So he brought it and left it. Emblems, in poems as in parks, are boring.
You know this. Why are you drawn to it? You are drawn to it because you look up and are reminded that there are old women, young women, old men, young men, children, whole families, half-families in the park. They wear little squares of Pantone 185C.
–JPF, Montreal, June 3, 2012
Jon Paul Fiorentino’s first novel is Stripmalling which was shortlisted for the 2009 Hugh MacLennan Award for Fiction. His most recent book of poetry is Indexical Elegies which won the 2010 CBC Book Club “Bookie” Award for Best Book of Poetry. He is the author of the poetry books The Theory of the Loser Class which was shortlisted for the 2006 A.M. Klein Award for Poetry and Hello Serotonin and the humour book Asthmatica. He is the editor of 24 books including Blues and Bliss: the selected poems of George Elliott Clarke, Career Suicide: Contemporary Literary Humour, and Post-Prairie – a collaborative effort with Robert Kroetsch. He lives in Montreal where he teaches Creative Writing at Concordia University. He edits Matrix magazine, Snare Books, Joyland Poetry, and the Serotonin/Wayside imprint at Insomniac Press. His next book of poetry is Needs Improvement and it will be published in 2013 by Coach House Books.
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