Holiday Blitzed

by Jordan Trethewey and Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Marveling at sparkly gewgaws
dangling from branches
of an unfolded faux fir tree,
repeatedly touching,
removing them with enthusiasm,
explaining each object’s wonder
to older uninterested guests,
is beyond me now,
if it was ever near to begin with.

Toddlers expected
to readily drop jaws
at the pageantry—
reds, silvers, golds and greens—
holiday magic consciously observed
for the first time.
But what of those unusual,
anxious three-year-olds
worried about a fat man
stuffing himself down chimneys,
to creep around homes
while people sleep?

Who is this man of limbic tethers
tundra traipsing moccasins over backs
of seasonal-hire elves,
the people wrapped in cars and cars
wrapped around poles, like bending time
with a leaky carburetor
before trees turn that cowardly
deathbed yellow.

Bearded face in sculpture,
I love the icicles like facial gargoyles.
We have piled snow together
followed mystery paws from last night
right up to the frosted glass of the door;
the winter is a villainous giveaway
of bows and ribbon.

Paw prints are no mystery after all,
they are forerunners of a curse.
If they have already circumvented
our exterior defenses,
those damned tittering rodents will never
enter our hearts,
even if wrapped
in knitted pull-overs and bell-tipped caps,
begin to sing carols a cappella—
adorable and dewy-eyed.

Last year they got their jollies at our expense—
chewed through our fibre-optic festivities
tracking the notorious cookie thief
via NORAD WiFi. The children went to sleep
and dreamt not of sugar plums,
but suffered night terrors at the thought
of the Serial Gifter flying out of control,
out of the atmosphere—
bursting like a Christmas cracker
full of indescribable crap.

Night Lizards

by Jordan Trethewey and Trish Saunders

Cautiousness instilled early
breeds future broken dreams.

Held back by ephemeral, wagging-finger
echoes of parental warning—

destitute danger and fiscal woes
to those daring to wander

on impulse toward what is seen
in Kerouac clouds from boxcars,

on park benches, bloodshot pine knot
Bukowski eyes shouting stories.

Invisibly restrained by moral coding
when all other motives breathe creation.

This is how I consoled myself
on nights when I slept in barb-wired
fields near the base, when park benches
became too crowded, and only screech owls
were around to see me peeing against an aspen
shouting Ferlinghetti fragments, while you ran off
with the bottle we had shared.

You are too clever. You will not be found out.

I ran, too; not toward your vacated steps,
but after my loose thoughts

scattered on the dewy breeze,
carried off by critical vultures,

apathetic crows, and furious field mice
looking for sustenance, or shelter

from my bloated first drafts,
sufficient for their basic purposes.

You raced toward disaster
hoping your wings would grow back in time;
I jumped into a stranger’s car.
He was hunched over the steering wheel
and he was weeping,
so I knew he wasn’t human.
Did I dare to touch him, to make sure?

Afterward, man and car still sat there,
dumb as fence posts in a disused pasture. At that
moment, I wanted so badly to be the blue
everyone flies toward.

The shadow of a cloud containing
only Rustic Sphinx Moths
falls over me—fully articulated
limbs under a yawning sphere,
before the staccato shot.

A life blistering past
shuffles our timeline in strange ways.

When you turn up: a Queen
of Hearts old enough to make plans
to drink water from Californian cacti until distended,
yet too young to follow through on
semi-arid living among Night Lizards.

Puzzling at words without costume,
while wary of their consequence,
standing outside a rusty switchyard, post-reverie.
I give my lucky dime with scarred tail
to a knobby gypsy woman, who fashions me
an origami fortune teller, after seeing
my chronic inability to declare intentions.

She proclaimed it perfect for mediating my current conundrum—
which of the four compass points would direct me
on arrival at the Four Corners intersection.

Without details, she coloured the quarter panels
our favourite primaries and tertiaries:
yellow, blue, chartreuse and vermilion.
Eight interior triangles intuited to be familial birth days.
My question contained four possible outcomes:
Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico,
all transcribed below a colour and two numbers.

Rolling at dusk under a hangnail moon,
another boxcar beggar shared stories and straw.
I asked him to pick a colour (that thar greenie ‘un),
before he rootched around, and grunted—
fumigating the latched car.
Nose lifted in disgust, I remembered,
if not for slow leak technique
I’d incur similar scorn on the daily.

Arriving at the quadripoint,
gawking with the other touristas
at the perpendicular granite pie pieces,
I opened the paper game,
over surveyed, bronze centre point.
Offered a chubby, ice-cream-cheeked, tourist tot
the chance to choose my day’s destination.
Pick a number (he spat, twenny-seben,
before parents began looking for the law,
and I hotfooted it).

Boxcar Willie (not the one who sings,
I cain’t sing fer shit) mentioned a train
headed to the Centennial State’s Mile-High City.
The boxcars this night carried a cargo
of baseballs, footballs and hockey pucks
for three of professional sports’ more erratic franchises.
Provided I could find the football car,
I’d have a semi-inflated pillow.

Waking from a salty nightmare,
in which you reiterated your dusty desire
to live in a cliff palace
like the miniature, Ancestral Anasazi,
I rolled out near Mesa Verde.

In the dream, you were the Kachina
Angwusnasomtaka Tümas-Crow Mother,
initiating new children to your kingdom
with lashes from yucca whips.
And I, a Puebloan son, am snapped
from cliffside sightline safety,
falling through sandstone,
              becoming entrenched with the river below

Ghosts of giant Douglas Fir could be seen
through the murky water.
Once I could drink from this water
and receive its calm.

Don’t ask me to forgive anything.
The water is no longer still, and I am restless-
as unable to move on as you were to commit.

Your creative mind sprouts tangible
value in the current digital zeitgeist,
but I am a sad            plodder
with pressed pulp and plant pigments,
ogling Whoopie Pie moons.

We presumed everything, believed nothing.
Never understood why creationism
and the fossil record could not evolve
to co-exist. Need and fact
flex and flux continually.

There’s even less to believe now,
the earth, our inheritance,
reduced to seven apple trees,
a red wagon, and a muddy pond too deep
for my children. Shall I tell you how I followed their voices?
Across the water? And how they fell asleep beside
the marshes? The animals they dreamed of, alive on waking,
were creatures born of deprived childhood—
from impressionable minds having only spied animals
in ancient, lacquered periodicals and yellowed colouring books.
Hobbling around on creased and disjointed limbs,
their angular heads and boxy torsos resembled toddler block towers.
Their eyes plead for clemency—
to wake from their own nightmare of existence.

As adults eager to oblige euthanization,
we set fires, mitigating migration
from the marshes to pond’s brown depths.
We became this:
New Earth’s environmental assassins—
burning, drowning; using the elements
to scour away all aberration,
while our kids shoveled the ashes of the laggards
into their squeaky wagon—secret seeds
to be sown when Big Brother blinks his tireless eye.

Haibun Cannabinoid Cruise Control

by Jordan Trethewey and MFWilkie


To witness an adult
stumble and fall,
minor god plummeting to earth,
leaves a kid feeling awkward,
embarrassed and unsure exactly why.

Help: parent feels weird.
Don’t: child does.

And a tiny seed of dread,
of parental, narcissistic fear,
cracked open by a fleeting Plank
of childish insecurity, takes root.

Our eyes lock in this understanding.
Mine look up
from a puddle of dirty slush
in the middle of the supermarket produce section.
Tallulah’s wet, stricken gaze looks down,
darts right for the safety
of something visually solid,
familiar—a display of 10 lb potato bags,
her little fingers twisting
an unpaid-for package of honey Teddy Grahams.

My left elbow feels numb
under my hornet-coloured Ski-Doo coat—
funny bone barking;
the Joker straight-jacketed
behind bars at Arkham Asylum.
I steady my painfully-soaked legs
with our shopping cart,
determined to normalize the situation,
if not for myself, for my daughter
deliberately lagging behind.


Blanched. The word fits the light from the moon.
Fits the mood I carry to the chaise on the deck.
Vulnerable and unfocused, I want some weed
that isn’t attached to a promise:
a promise to smoke it outside,
and not while their daughter is awake…
to cut back; saving some spending money,

The scrim of fog puffing
in front of an oil painting view of la lune,
and the waft of backyard campfires,
does nothing to distract from
this emo-tinted craving.

I smoke half a bowl before the cherry dies.
My mind, opens up to abstractions,
I can feel my gums holding on to my teeth.
Fully blazed, I smile away the everyday world,
my wife, the baby bear asleep upstairs…
I let the lifting effect of the weed bring me face
to face with the full on Harvest moon. Numb,
and unable to move, my wit begins to draw its everyday
daydream over the stippled canvas of its face.

A nightjar strokes its camouflaged palette
across the porch-lit, bug-thick backyard,
then dusts the sky by snapping its beak
over the meat of a dazzled cecropia moth,
leaving the clipped wings to their final,
to the needle-heaped earth.

I wonder if embarrassment is cyclical
like everything else.
My father is embarrassing, as was his father before him.
Does that automatically mean I must stumble
down the same awkward path;
wondering why my six-year-old won’t hold hands-
denying intimate connection?

The road well-trodden is inward,
seated on a sofa in front of a flickering idiot screen.
I could do something about the hitch in my giddy-up, though…

My eyes fix
on the singed marijuana
in the pipe.

I gap.

I sketch myself free of the rising downer, relight
the last of my bambalacha, my Kansas grass, my dew. Voices
from my childhood, the years I was squawky and awkward,
peel away the establishment varnish marrying my ass
to the chair, and I face a disturbing truth, the love
I feel for the ladies of the house wants to be anywhere
but here. And it’s begging.

Spiderwebs of existential rhetoric
threaten to macrame my mind once more;
can absence make three hearts grow fonder,
while remaining faithful?
Seeing a funnel cloud of flies form
amidst an unholy hum
reminiscent of long-dormant locusts,
I steady myself along the railing
of our elevated deck.
The drone is reminiscent
of my questionable sonic contribution to
the ska/reggae/punk outfit I played in in college.

Bummer. Like the common poorwill, I stretch
what remains of my insight into self along the branch
of a tree. And I hum. Off key. Try to analyze the bizarreness
of this high without laughing myself silly, maybe waking
my neighbor’s damned dog. So, in a whisper to the fractals
of the nearest leaf, I admit how much I want it, to be that crazy-
young again, a master of exaggerated imagination
burning holes in the norms of whatever art I choose—
merge and flow—a speaker of Haiku truths, a synesthesia
savant painting the world with mesmerizing colors of sound.
I feel myself disappearing, becoming cloud and water,
becoming Issa’s black cat, moving in and out of the darkness,
my affairs an unknowable universe, private as my daydreams.
I feel a gnawing beginning to pressure my psyche, a dirge, a wailing
about the loss of stabilizing sleep; it’s trying to force me back
to the shaky status quo I’m running from.


In a fit of impulsivity
I cast the remaining shake from its baggie,
watching it   d
to where the neighbour’s dog can eat it
as he shits on my lawn.

tiptoeing through densely sleeping house,
I target my banker’s box of rock ‘n’ roll-
lifestyle memorabilia in the “office”:
Spliff I. T-shirts, buttons, stickers, gig posters.
Squeaking back outside in pink Marge Simpson slippers
to the old washing machine drum cum backyard fire pit
surrounded by large, rain-washed stones, I climb in
and set myself on fire. With a flaming flap of cardboard
memory caught in a heated updraft,
alighting on my plaid pajama pants.
This is the sort of shit
I suffer unto myself while stoned;
This shit has to stop.

I find myself standing by my side of the bed.
With an indeterminately-long sigh, I consider
the import of Issa’s cat sleeping
atop her head like a purring fur hat,
while her body twists itself tightly into a duvet cocoon.
Not done with me yet, the ganja pulls a beaded chain
to the blue neon light in my skull, which reads:
I’m fucking hungry!
Framed on the wall of my “office” facing the hallway
hangs a Doritos-inspired Spliff gig poster.
In the spirit of purging a past retarding my future,
I take it off the wall and from the frame,
begin tearing it into triangular tortillas.
One at a time, I chew-swallow-repeat,
until I throw up, and in the act, smash
my head against the wall. Angry looking,
soot-faced somethings or other (where my feet
used to be) drag me to the threshold of my bedroom door
où un chat noir étrange, en ressemblant à un chapeau effrayant,
winks at me; smiling, I wink back. Before I know it, my head-banger
delirium grabs wallet, keys, flip-flops, and my wife’s new I-have-to-have-
this phone. I leave a one-word note on her box of Twinings,
say yes to Paris, then leave.

In American Airlines’ departures lounge
I tap out a plan into Issa’s smartphone,
wishing for my comfortingly pretentious Moleskine:
go to la ville de lumière: the city of romance,
without my wife;
rekindle the avant garde muse of my youth;
return fulfilled;
or purchase a wardrobe of berets,
black-and-white horizontally-striped, long-sleeved shirts
and remain, a part of the background, as a universally-
unsatisfied mime beneath the Eiffel Tower.

before boarding plane,
I do a springtime cleaning,
toss her phone, my guilt

About Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author who lives in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work has been published both in print and online in such places as The New York Quarterly, Evergreen Review, The Rye Whiskey Review, Cultural Weekly, The Dope Fiend Daily, and Oklahoma Review. He enjoys listening to the blues and cruising down the TransCanada in his big blacked out truck.

About Trish Saunders

Trish Saunders writes poetry from Seattle, Washington, U.S., and, in her imagination, from the shores of Crater Lake, Oregon. Her poems and micro-fiction have been published in Red Fez (a collaboration with Jordan Trethewey), Pacifica Poetry Review, Califragile Poetry, Open Arts Forum, Eunoia Review, and Silver Birch Press. She was nominated for Best of the Net by Fat Damsel Press.

About MFWilkie

MFWilkie, who began reading the newspaper while sitting on her father’s knee at three, wears a tri-cornered hat: poet, editor, and publisher. She is currently admin at Scribble Camp, the private online home of some very talented fellow poets.