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Home Is Where You Go
When They
The Crack Train Ride
The Scene that Screams
A Five Block Skip
Fallen Player
Thoughts Three Through Seven
Outside TGH
Last Breath Madness
Your 3:57 Media Flash
We Cut Short
The Daily News
Colourful Dust
Road Kill
Survival of the Fittest

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poems & stories

Beneath the Beauty

By Phlip Arima

Two-twenty saturday night. st. clair near yonge in a round-the-clock restaurant. big mike, christine. carla, june, carl. tamarra, fred. all three steves. brian. a dave i knew and a dave i didn't. and a whole bunch of others that i'd never met. doing the caffeine scene to close the evening.

I'm at a table with four near the door. one chair sitting there available, when jeanie, lean and clean arrives and says: hi, this is my kid. sits the child on my left then buzzes off to find out what's what from the who of who's yackity-yack-yacking the talk they walk.

They called her Holiday. named after, you got it, Lady Day, Miss Billie Holiday. just ten years old was Little Day, Little Lady Day, Holiday. ten years old and holding her own with five strange guys she'd never known. sipping chocolate. eating crackers. listening then replying to everything we asked. bright, sweet Holiday, laughing at the things we'd say. laughing at the things she said.

Now, getting close to three a.m. the crowd is thin with more folks leaving each few minutes. jeanie's sitting on brian's lap and he, who knew the thread he tread, keeps right on pushing despite the fact the heads remaining scattered throughout the room were looking his direction, checking out the action.

From the side of an eye with a nod of the head, big mike tells fred, tamarra, me: shit's about to splatter, be ready to happen. and sure enough, before i can even signal acknowledgement, stan (Holiday's daddy, jeanie's old man) strolls through the door and reads the score.

The fight is quick—three accusations. a shriek. jeanie's two slaps earning her a swollen beak. one glass broken. the party over, everyone leaves for home. stan, dragging jeanie by the hair, leading the exodus without regard for the rest of us.

Holiday looks to me. i to tamarra. tamarra to fred. fred to mike. but big mike's up front pushing his face into the couples space. so i try to smile for Little Day's sake and she looks at me with young old eyes and says: it will be alright. takes my hand and asks if she can stay with me for just one night.

Well, i look to tamarra. tamarra to fred. and he says: yeah, alright, we'll take the kid home with us. so i give Little Day, Holiday, a hug good night. she kisses my cheek, pulls back a foot as if to speak. then silent, turns, takes tamarra's hand.

Home Is Where You Go
By Phlip Arima

more insidious than myth. the profile of a smile hanging above the shifting crowd. the piss in the pavement cracks turning toxic. style a cape draped across visceral response. denial is the penultimate commandment. it is also the first. ignorance the last. they alternate until all slots are full. subconscious imperatives carved in a substance less yielding than stone.

home is where you go.

the woman on the other side of the aisle is scanning through a stack of over-sized envelopes, checking labels. three: five: eleven: twelve: she shows to the man who's hand fidgets near her shoulder. he nods. he smiles. he nods. he looks bewildered. the smell of pizza through the window. i become a salivating dog. i am disappointed. thought my stoicism better equipped. wish i could crawl inside an envelope.

the profile of a smile as depicted by a dentist. a man vacates a forward facing seat. i am too slow. a globe reader gets there first. has a button-down collar and chain 'round his throat. he immediately turns to context. is deeply enmeshed in our planetary problems. mind numbing miracles. monocular thought.

home is where you go.

more insidious than myth. this is my stop. the air hot, thick on my palate. taste of exhaustion. i make the three-block walk. wait for a train to pass. cross the tracks. pull back a board from the derelict factory. climb into the basement cool. sleep.

When They
By Phlip Arima

when they look at me like that
the edge of my vision gets watery grey
vacuum mutes surrounding sound
spine feels like a high voltage wire

when they look at me like that
i am a bird in city traffic

when they look at me like that
i think of automatic weapons

walking down the street alone
beneath a sunny summer sky
hearing streetcars, automobiles
rock-n-roll music too
watching the world on the move

walking down the street alone
humming a song as i go
i see their eyes get a little wide
hear them hush—hold their breath

when they look at me that way
i know the thoughts they think to say

when the look at me that way
i want the strength to speak my say.

The Crack Train Ride
By Phlip Arima

Through dilated eyes
watch the world race by
on a subway train ride
that cost too much
for most to pay

when each day nothing happens
as the tunnel gets darker
and the screeching gets louder
and the guarded expressions
of others more distant

than the rats and the moles
surviving on scraps
thrown into the tracks
where he sees the spot
he wants to stop
the noise that shatters

his every thought
persistently forcing
his weakening will
to take the line
with no destination
or sense of time

he wants to get off
but fears the gap
between the platform
and the trip
faster and further
down underground
to a place where nothing
is sacred or safe.

The Scene that Screams
By Phlip Arima

High above
the oow, the goo, the oowgooy overcoats stained with dirty slush and stockings splashed with boozy vomit, the gagglely-gagglely-gagglely boo office towers dark with carbon monoxide automobile exhaust, the muck, the uck, the concrete parks, apartment complexes, houses with windows that have never been opened, the hiss and the piss and the hidden sewage system and flashing advertisements...

High above
the blah and the blech and the radio stations that repeatedly play the same fifty songs over and over and over again, the eek, the freak, the magazine shops where x-rated films are watched, the tacka-tacka-ugh-tacka-ugh spiked pumps, slick hair, polished teeth and coloured contacts, the niggilly-piggilly-wiggelly-wiggelly-wiggelly woo, smiles that swear: I am sincere while the tongues behind twists another's ear...

High above
the suckity-suck-suck and endless clean cables of television static, the ah and the awe and the over-crowded hospitals, jails and institutions designed to dull the imagination, the ikky-ik-ikkity, banking facilities, thriving rodents, parliament buildings and recruitment centres, the yummy-yum-yum-mmm-yum-mmm-yum stores that sell more than thirty-one flavours of ice cream a single parent can never ever ever afford...

High above
the kiss, the itch, the slowly decomposing cigarette tips, the one of a kind clothing shops, the gurgle-guzzel-gulp half eaten meals puked into toilets, the slash and zowwy-bash glossy publications featuring air-brushed teenagers, the coin eating pool tables, video games and slot machines, the beans, the beans, the magic-beanie-beans, the scene that screams: I am the trend you want to be in—follow me, follow me, follow me, me, meeee...

High above
the slurp, the slop, the warehouses full of alcohol, the stock exchange and traffic courts, the natter, the patter, the vacant churches and crowded discos, and noisy-noise-noise from luxury bedrooms, the cool, the rule, the hip and the hop, the funky laptops and tavern stools, the shimmy-shimmy-shame of dry-cleaned uniforms and the mould that grows in illegal basement flats...

High above
the pish, the posh, the walla-walla-woo, the caw, the coo, the chew-chew-chew, the lewd, the lame, the sane, the straight, the bent, the insane, the drained, the groan and the moan and the sob and the shriek and the laugh and the crash of three million people in search of an exit...

a gull flies in circles
before facing the storm.

A Five Block Skip
By Phlip Arima

skipping down
cobblestone streets
through chinatown crowds
where mice shoot across
noodle house floors
anxious in the mid-day rush
and rats grow huge
unseen in filthy

skipping down
through that town
where old women sell
bok choy from a crouch
on a corner
and the heavy scent
of boiling lard
blows out every
restaurant door

down through the place
alive with sound
and everyone ready
to make a deal

where the young are old
the old decrepit
age earned by working hard

skipping through chinatown
flashing signs and contraband
kung-fu films and discount toys
rich and poor and every extreme
in between


now away
to upscale queen
where the mob
don't push and shove
and the clothes
are shiny black
not stoic drab

where coffee refills
cost a buck
and t-shirt vendors
down from "city"
got paper permits
to appease policemen

where only one language is spoken
and no merchant would dream
of lowering a price
on fashion elite's
attempt at alternative

that strip of pavement
the media loves
the place to be seen
if you can cough up
the cover.

By Phlip Arima

the street gets light. the building stays dark. all the water dries up. a sheet of newspaper blows down the street. dirt settles against the curb. the building stays dark.

it is mid-afternoon now. the silence is not a quiet. the silence is not a hush. the silence is an absents of noise. it is everywhere. it is in everything.

inside the building the air is stale. inside the building is a machine. the machine is made of subatomic energy. it is bigger than my hand. it is smaller than my body. it is dark.

yesterday was once a tomorrow
tomorrow will be a today

the street is light. the building is dark. the eyes of the sleeping child open. the child is awake. the child feels it is alone.

the machine and the child are one and the same. the child is insane. the machine screams.

yesterday was once a tomorrow
tomorrow will be a today

the scream moves down the street. the scream changes the silence. it is an announcement. it is a noise.

soon it will be everywhere. soon it will be in everything. rain will fall through it. dirt will vibrate in its path. newspapers will carry articles explaining it.

the street gets dark
the building light.

Fallen Player
By Phlip Arima

i went to the mall
saw summer clothes for sale
nothing fit

found in a garbage bin
a winter jacket
stained with blood

wearing it now
here in this club
i look good.

By Phlip Arima

It was starting to rain so i squeezed into a doorway
joining the girl who squatted there. she said her name
was Rainbow. that was the colour of her dreaded hair.

three doors down from the bank she sat staring at the curb
watching shoes and boots, dress pants and stockinged legs
leather cases, jewelled hands, watches bought in europe
wishing her feet were not so ripped, her jeans so tired
her face so bruised from a fight last night.

she said her name was Rainbow. a cardboard box on the pavement
a few inches from her knees. need oozing from her eyes.
asking for a quarter or dollar coin.

she said her name was Rainbow. ages old
no dole, a runaway with no place to stay.

we sat, had a chat, shared my last three smokes
and really spoke about the heat, the cost of being meat
the streets that are never clean and what it means
to look for life while clutching the knife by blade
instead of handle.

she said her name was Rainbow. Rainbow
had a self-made tattoo on her ankle
a greeny-blue outline of a flower
its empty face looking up.

By Phlip Arima

kissing with her whole body
a kiss that has hunger

i see a crucifix—
expression of agony
no bliss
wrists and ankles pinned to wood
blood seeping
from the wounds

electric guitars
a snowplough scrapes the street
as the flash of an arc
leaps from the rail

her hunger is real
need sucking me close

i hear the wind chase rubbish
down the platform
hear the shuffle of others
move forward to the edge
listen for the signal
announcing the train

shut my eyes
her need is heat.

Thoughts Three Through Seven
By Phlip Arima

and the laughter falls
falls with the crashing of glass
liquor bottles breaking
diluted dreams lost

in white noise distortion
we spoke of an artist
tired and near fifty
a portrait of ourselves

when the laughter hits
blood-soaked pavement
too easily washed

* * * * *

i am in a room of tough people learning to feel
sitting between conscience and fear
hearing the cry of a child
opening his mouth

i am asking myself questions
i do not want to answer

i am answering questions
i did not want to ask

* * * * *

there are three hundred
thousand five flies buzzing
in my room

three hundred thousand five flies
forced from the sewers
into the heat

seeking the darkness
of the basement
i rent

* * * * *

will anyone think to remember
say: i was at the funeral
laughter was still pouring
from his eyes

* * * * *

the wires have slipped enough
to make the current intermittent
the overhead lights flicker like
ideas just before i sleep

the wires have slipped inside
my head the dreams are quiet
the hope hibernating.

Phlip Arima

hours after you have gone to sleep
i crawl under the covers into your heat

listen to your even breath
let my hand touch your breast

it is after two but before three
in four short hours i will make you tea

tea with honey
and honey on toast

toast made from the bread
you brought as a gift.

Outside TGH
By Phlip Arima

There is a wall on Gerrard near Bay painted like a hyper-neon EKG and hundreds pass it twice, four times a day on their way from the work-a-day to a bench on a train to a cafe to a club to a restaurant to work again to work again and again passing by and between burnt-knuckle sausage vendors, by and between red lights turning green, by and between structures and systems designed to remain unseen; when alone looking at the pavement or perhaps their shoes, but when in pairs blah-babbling gossip concerning co-workers or printed on the pages of national newspapers and i like to just sit here on the soft grass by the sidewalk feeling its coolness press between my bare toes so different from the warmth radiating from the sun and i like hearing bits and parts of their transient conversations, like watching their clothes crease and uncrease as they rush along the street, like knowing the wall saying: beeb... beeb... beeb... beeb... is there for me to look at whenever i wish.

By Phlip Arima

Death in the head
and expecting it to spread
to the body which shakes
with a mirthless laugh
while tears stain the lingerie
she wore on her wedding night
a short time ago
her family stood by her side
loved her for the child
she is letting go
the person she most
wants to hold
close throughout
this night of exile
alone she stands
the fall.

Last Breath Madness
By Phlip Arima

e.e.c.— u.s.a
cheap items—dollar daze
t.v news—propaganda
elusive truth—all new mandate
sanctioned life—borders locked
battleships and warbirds talk

madness burning, madness bright
last breath madness, madness i witness tonight

black-out hours—fearful quiet
shooting stars—fluorescent murder
daylight fire fight—death in black-white
phosphorous kill—chemical sin
babies wail—mothers moan
bacterial munitions attack the bones
genetic testing—poison gasses
refugee status

madness burning, madness bright
last breath madness, madness i witness tonight

martial youth—friendly fire
dogma soldier—fragging fame
geo-politic bureaucratic game
secret service diplomat
button pushing—legal traps
widows cry—kids survive
planet crippling

madness burning, madness bright
last breath madness, madness i witness
witness tonight.

Your 3:57 Media Flash
By Phlip Arima

rumour of intelligent extraterrestrial life forms dwelling beneath the polar cap has been categorically denied by every scientific and military agency that reported communication with said life forms...

you now have the right to commit suicide without a doctors consent, please make provisions for disposal of your remains...

today the sky is zero-point-one-three percent darker, but cloudless so sunscreen 102.5 must be applied...

tomorrows expected rain may melt skin and breathing has been clinically proven a major cause of heart disease...

if you plan to be above ground for more than three minutes your departure time must be logged with the proper authorities twenty-four hours in advanced...

within the next seventy-six minutes parliament will announce that "illegal use prohibited" must be visible written on all government issue paraphernalia...

next week's Insider's Report will list one litre bottles of oxygen for sale with every purchase of fresh frozen rehydrated meat...

ten full minutes of laser therapy should kill all cancers in a healthy human body and computer simulated encounters are the only 100% safe way to enjoy orgasms with a partner...

remember automatic guns, automatic rifles, automatic cannons, grenades, chemical repellents, cattle prods rated for more than two thousand volts and all chained weapons are only to be used in designated areas...

to learn how you can lead a happy and spiritually fulfilling life call this easy to dial fifteen digit number—if busy keep trying...

hassle free new and improved customized drugs can now be purchased by special delivery registered mail—one of our friendly lab technicians is waiting to assist you...

the Cockroaches take the division finals sixteen to twelve over the much favoured Satellites and Gladiator Janie Dolinski set a new world record on the extended obstacle course...

tomorrow's prime time television events can be previewed for just twenty-six dollars plus sector sales tax where applicable...

when ordering services by touch tone phone please have your credit card number ready and remove all colour contact lenses prior to retina identification verification...

the next hour is the beginning of the rest of your day—say a silent prayer to the god of your choice.

By Phlip Arima

Bamber—a name: one who cannot be excited without hurt. Bamber—a game: one in which all players hop up and down until permanently crippled. Bamber—a bruised sunset as seen through the smog. —a colour used to paint the beds of the poor. —a sound i hear as i get excited by the score.

Bamber is a twelve year old
he has hair all painted purple
has a dream he plans to kill for.

Bamber is just so tall
already knows how to ball
he has hair cut hard and jagged
has fast pistol loaded ready.

Bamber is the kid next door
he likes to rap likes to worm
thinks he's jello thinks he's sperm.

Bamber and I kissed and kissed
under the slide we touched then pinched
then bit then pissed.

So now i've died and been reborn.

By Phlip Arima

He was out there on the lawn with his gun in his jeans
calling me—calling me to come out and play.
We were eight years old.

He was drunk in a park puking his guts
calling me—calling me to help him continue to play.
We had made it all the way to fifteen.

He was one of the thousands screaming down the street and rolling the cars
calling me—calling me to say: hey man, man-o-man, this is real play.
We had hit twenty-one in one piece.

He is dressed in a suit bought for this occasion
he cannot call me—call me to play.
I will be twenty-six in a week.

We Cut Short
By Phlip Arima

We cut short the lives of these simple carnations
artificially keep them alive with chemically treated water
take them to the hospital as a symbol of health
a representation of life.

Everyone says we are kind.

The Daily News
By Phlip Arima

I flip open the paper
glance at the meat of the day
and think it's all just sunshine
without showers: deodorant
on unwashed bodies.

By Phlip Arima

how slow the paint dries
on a canvas of spun fibre
tough enough to last
past the time when this life
is rendered complete

how slow the paint dries
as i apply layer upon layer
to create an image i will recognize
as alive—ready to appear
before society's eye

how slow the paint dries
how slow the paint dries

yet always too soon my pallet is stone
hard shades i cannot use and i must
reblend my colours to carry on living
illustrating my self.

Colourful Dust
By Phlip Arima

The colourful dust from butterfly wings
fades at the base of long
straight pins.

With nothing to say two lovers lay
tangled together naked

Road Kill
By Phlip Arima

On family trips I counted road kill:
five to Pickering, twelve on Seven to Gloucester,
only three to Burlington. Family trips to visit relatives,
obligatory teas in pressed clothes cut short
by escaping to watch television... remembering
road kill, thinking: relatives, parents, sisters.

My partner and I just got back from her brother's wedding.
Grabbing the guide, I pushed the button and only got
static. I fiddled with the cable at the back of the set,
accidentally pricked my finger

there was no blood.

Survival of the Fittest
By Phlip Arima

i am an animal in human drag
the laughter and the lie as they quietly coincide
all of the joke couched in the fashion i swallow with pride

i am an animal in human drag

scanned by an electronic eye—partially identified
listening... still... each moment held
like a syringe above a vein

waiting for the click... the trigger... the trick
there is an absence apparent in all voices that speak
a catalogue of my movements in a computer in a vault

survival of the fittest—the funkiest most vicious

she asked me to dance in a playground of land-mines
her feet are now phantoms only alive in her head
the feathers i wear the colour of her hair

he told me to kiss the earth where he shit
claimed it was all i deserved to be fed
he now has a tube to his mouth
and a tube down his leg

waiting for the click... the trigger... the trick

through sophisticated analysis
my position can be mapped or my speed ascertained
but intention remains hidden in the flesh of my brain

when their orbits decay the satellites sing
information relayed while spinning in flame
survival of the fittest—funkiest most vicious

i wear the robes of a judge—the shoes of a whore
the mask of a surgeon—the pants of a priest
the helmet of a soldier—and the smile of a banker

i am sitting in a cinema watching a horror
the feature i paid for was rated and destroyed
when i stand up my seat will snap out
of existence.

starve the brain, the mind will follow
All content © 2024 Phlip Arima