Elizabeth Bachinsky

Debaucher’s Trivia as Villanelle

“What does it matter what you say about people?
What’s the last word in A Touch of Evil?”
— Jason Camlot, The Debaucher

What does it matter what you say about people?
If I’m up after hours, which bars should I know?
What’s the last word in A Touch of Evil?

The biggest church? The tallest steeple?
When’s the last time Kilimanjaro saw snow?
What does it matter what you say about people?

What tool do you use to jimmy a keyhole —
And once we’re inside, where does Ann keep her blow?
What’s the last word in A Touch of Evil?

What is a handshake a Mason might teach you?
Where is Dirty Dick’s? What is Sloppy Joe’s?
What does it matter what you say about people?

What to do with your hands when you peer through a peephole?
How much should I charge when Lou asks for a show?
What’s the last word in A Touch of Evil?

In case of Emergency, where can I reach you?
Tear off or unbutton? How slow should I go?
What does it matter what you say about people?


Who Loves Ya, Baby?

Eliot was right, it’s useless to describe a feeling.
Much better to describe Silvermere Lake—
that shallow manmade lake at the mouth
of the Fraser Valley where I’m from.
Sometime, I’ll drive you by it, the lake
with the island Telly Savalas owned then lost
in the 80s. I don’t often think of Kojak,
but, when I do, I see Savalas standing
in a smoking jacket at the window of his island
home that overlooks Mount Baker and Iron Mountain
and the cool flat designer surface of Silvermere,
a lake three feet deep at its deepest, ringed
with lilies, choked with ragweed, but real pretty
so long as you’re not swimming in it or trying
to stand in the water. Here, your legs sink through
endless trucked-in silt fine as dust, slick with goose
shit. The smooth mud sucks at your feet til they pop
from the muck like corks at the shore. No Ithaca,
Sir. No Catalina. But the kind of muck-hole
into which you could sink and be preserved
for eternity. Up the highway is where
the government dug for bodies in the runoff.
From here, you can chuck a rock at Blaine.
Go ahead and grow weed. The cops can’t keep up.
But Internal Revenue will surely find you.


Lion’s Gate Bridge

For George McWhirter

You can see her from the sea. You can see cars
inch north and south under the gift of lights
a beer man gave to Vancouver’s sky at night.
Strung tighter than a junkie at either shore,
she’s nightmarish. The idea you can’t get across;
slight; anachronistic; from a distance,
thin as a hair crawling with pestilent traffic.
But, in the evening, cool air curls in through the narrows
and the traffic calms,
and lovers sit in one another’s arms
at Prospect Point and behold her. How we love
to look at what we keep and what we have.
When she comes down at last, the future comes.
with it, other lovers. Other charms.

–from The Hottest Summer in Recorded History, Nightwood 2013

You can hear Liz read in Montreal on April 18th at D&Q. More dates here.

Elizabeth Bachinsky is the author of five collections of poetry: CURIO, HOME OF SUDDEN SERVICE, GOD OF MISSED CONNECTIONS, I DON’T FEEL SO GOOD and THE HOTTEST SUMMER IN RECORDED HISTORY. Her poetry has been nominated for awards including the Pat Lowther Award, The Kobzar Literary Award, The George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature, the Governor General’s Award for Poetry and the Bronwen Wallace Award, and has appeared in literary journals, anthologies and on film around the world. She was born in Regina, raised in Prince George and Maple Ridge B.C., and now lives in Vancouver where she is an instructor of creative writing and the Editor of EVENT magazine

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