where is this poem going? Toronto what does it teach us? how coincidence reaches into our lives & instructs us

 —bpNICHOL, from Continental Trance

  1. WHERE ARE ALL THE STRIP CLUBS? The city is full of babyfaced lawyers. Nightly boys working up to chest hair ride the streetcar smooth as rubber. With two boxes of Double Double pizza & a dry cleaning bag, there is still time to put the ‘man’ in manicure. Mornings they exit the subway at Osgoode or Bay & disappear into 14 hr workdays. Weekends for fashion sneakers, a real love of patio season. The city brims with bodies jostling for place where location is no factor: a crowd is a crowd is a Trenton self-storage population 2.5MM. How can there be flesh where every armpit smells like soap? Poetry is not sterile. Like the tighty whities of some babyfaced lawyer, I want to soil its silk designer drawers.   2. IS THIS WHAT YOU CALL STREET MEAT? The city procreates. Watch how the lit glass elevators glide up & down like a lover’s wet palms. There are 183 high-rise buildings under construction, a steam punk pornography. A guy with limp hair was the first to come onto me, saying we should jump a fence & go swimming at a closed public pool. At night, for context. Complexion like blood-flecked straw. I wondered if he was complimenting my physical prowess, assuming I could jump a fence. He says his band just played a v. important show in St. Catherines Ontario. Mechanical one-liners, yeast belly. Cannot fathom French. Cannot fathom how the tiny gears in our body turn.   3. SO WHAT IF I BREATHE THROUGH MY CUNT? There are 180 languages & dialects spoken here but the signs are full of anglo puns. I want to doze off or die in the air-conditioned subway but how can I, there are heroes wanted at Walt Disney World. Still places to see, Foucault-scholars to read. I want to drink in the ravines, to believe in no suicide, no Walkley Avenue, no mute red square, unilingual dream. I could tally the names & numbers of the city & be as oblivious to it as I am to my bones—also nameable, countable—until they hurt or break. I don’t even think about the structure until it aches, or hairlines. Only then do I wish I’d crossed my legs, paid more attention to the signs.   O JAMESY yes yes I said Yes[1]  calypso and liver, aeolus and wind he smoked pall malls out the window and shivered, epic of the body[2] I climbed out onto the fire escape in my slippers in my pink underwear in his long- sleeved shirt without a bra underneath a scent unweaving tobacco; sweetpine cologne; darkchocolate deodorant; a coded map in the fabric controlling each breath and stalling[3]. my speech began to imitate the rhythms of the printing press. his mouth found biting other mouths foreign[4] but soon grew accustomed to this, too[5]. perhaps we’re more sensitive to things when surrounded by a sea of noise; moments slippery, hard to stack—epic of bodily juices epic of various wetnesses[6] is it not that language is fluid[7] but that prose is a chamber pot[8] ?

[1] He got into my taxi: the darkness, the rain, the fogged windows, an odyssey, a garrison.
[2] Beard hair soft, unprickly. Public hair soft, untamed. Narrow shoulders wisped with single countable hairs. Ears little hairless shells.
[3] His eyes were a lovely bovine hazel and I was the first person to describe them thus he said my smile lit up my face and was not the first to use wording so terribly trite.
[4] Later our eyes met and bounced quickly off each other like two rubber balls.
[5] iloveyouiloveyounoyoudon’tyoudon’tknowmeifeelyouit’sagoodstorystoptalkingsomuch justgowithitwhatisloveislovecomfort?windbagwindbagwindbaghereismybagofwind
[6] ‘Water closet’ sounds poetic and surreal but is most real as synonymous with port-a-potty; I go there to dispose I suppose.
[7] My Reader’s Guide to Ulysses assures me: Virginia Woolf and Bob Dylan didn’t get it, either.
[8] Poetry as chamber music.   Domenica Martinello is a poet and Montréal expat living in Toronto. She is a Publicity Agent for The Puritan and writes for their blog The Town Crier. She formerly interned for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and was shortlisted for the Irving Layton Award for Poetry in 2012, 2013, and 2014. She ate souvlaki in the same booth where Layton once sat brandishing a plaque from the Canada Council. Her work has appeared in carte blanche, The Void, outlandish zine, and Subversions: A Journal of Feminist Queries, among other places. Find her on Twitter @domenicahope, and at home wearing lipstick in her pajamas.