and what routes like blue veins
to the heart of discontent
that seethes unceasingly
and blackens everything
with charred ends

there are many
vines of evil
creeping and
the good fruit

the apple half eaten
in long ditchgrass
lit upon
by bugs

until eveningtime
and dimmer yet
athwart this meridian
of the untilted world
the unshaded sphere

where to go from here
if all roads like stems
lead to soil
like wells
in dark water

and the coffin
is an arkshaped house
with sharks inside
and sharks about
that swarm like flies

wherein lies
that guarantor of pain
the one wisdom
only and only
and ever evenly

spider and spiderweb
in the organ pipe
mute the note
still the sound
hollow out the chord


there’s Darlene in that hole called Hazel’s
at the stained banquette
with the little compact mirror
cordoning off her face

what she tries
to conceal
cannot be seen
or concealed

she’s got a Thomas M. Disch novel in her purse
writes the odd poem about Reptilian warriors
that traverse six dimensions and have no mercy
in a Hello Kitty notebook stolen from Dollarama

the banquette is an island
circled by itinerant men
as Darlene traces
her eyes with greasepencil

there’s never-not-drunk Rayne
there’s daylaborer Barry
Mark deals fake heroin
Q steals cars with a hacked fob

she hears Charles the cook
hacking in the back
Charlie makes her a burger
if she ever faints

he was a merchant marine
wears an apron made from
the skin of a hammerhead
lost his eye in Johannesburg

she can smell
her own menses
and it disgusts her
but it’s an excuse not to work

her dad beat her mom to death
when she was eight
she watched
he gets out next summer

the airconditioner unit
sounds like someone being choked
Darlene hits her e-cigarette
rides the temporary buzz

amid the almost dulcet click
of billiard balls
as daylight bleeds
through tinted windows

then Barry drops a coin in the jukebox
selects Many Men
leers at Darlene
who craves white silence

looking through blackrimmed eyes
at flickering wallsconces
shaped like offplanet arrowheads
pointing down at sticky floortiles

daydreaming about getting abducted by aliens
and healed and cleaned
and taken away in their spaceship
away from this cloacal void forever

now in walks Domino in crocodile loafers
wake of cologne her pussy paid for
sits with Darlene
calls her My Darlin

the other men glide away
to play Harpoon Lagoon
Domino smiles his piranha smile, checks his phone
tells her not to worry, there’s other holes

Dustin Cole is the author of the novel Notice (Nightwood Editions) and the poetry chapbook Dream Peripheries (General Delivery). He has also contributed writing to APOCALYPSE CONFIDENTIAL, Maximus Magazine, Safety Propaganda, BC BookWorld, Heavy Feather Review and the British Columbia Review.