portion of Martin Heavisides artwork

Moments of Truth
Martin Heavisides


mindworm>so tiny and easy-wriggling
fits into any available space
credit card>passport>third job on your resume
nestles there invisible>easy to maintain
master’s thesis>ph.d>honorary doctorate
sandwich wrap>chocolate tinfoil>coloured plastic condom
shoe tree>fishbait>hang glider support frame
anywhere matter goes and some it doesn’t
easi-rest cushion>easi-term casket
die now, pay later with mindworm or if you live
never be troubled again with excess brains
digest the weightiest tomes>even watch pbs with no fear
you’ll gain a single ounce of unsightly
grey matter>give a loved one mindworm
the gift that keeps on giving
space in your head for all those important concerns
mindworm clears and clears it, you’ll be positively amazed
we guarantee you won’t even trouble to remember
what we guaranteed>trademark registered
patent pending

8. (for l.j. morrissey)

so people ask, when they hear i’m from gomorrah
(not many live can say that>the double assault
of oily metal fireballs from the heavens
earth beneath us upheaving>the rubble we were reduced to
was reduced to rubble>no burning ash in the city
but had burned seven times>a very select few
we gomorrah survivors, even if that was all random
as some claimed, accidental>who died (almost all)
who lived (almost none)>we may not be all that special
but we sure aren’t all that many, you could cherish us for that)
“we all know what they got up to in sodom
the name says it all but what did you gomorrahns
do to get y-hw-h so pissed?” beats hell out of me
at least i hope so, i’ve had enough divine punishment
thank you very much>could use a virgin bride
of tender years, the ease of lands and sheep
full granaries against famine>scrape by as a beggar
hard to interest myself in the toil and speculation
that breeds wealth and ease when all i loved
is crumbled dust, still-smouldering ash in my home city

what did we do? we had the usual vices
i had an eye for the ladies, a fondness for wine
a passion for the ponies (to bet on i mean)
is that anything to rain fire down on folks for?
send earth up to smash their mansions and hovels
slash their bones crosswise so all the marrow spills?
we’d kill to avoid being killed or for reasonable profit
but turn nations into sworded meat like Assyria?
we hadn’t the army for that
or like a certain deity i could name? i don’t know maybe
a roll of the dice up heaven way>all my cities are wicked
let this one be an example>we better watch out
more general destruction might follow>not that i’m prophesying
He doesn’t keep me posted much


pour the oil in pan>fire it soon
pepper, salt, basil beaten into eggs
(would i have the heart to go on beating
if they ever confessed?) tips for omelette chefs
#1: salmon generously
when adding last night’s fried salmon
to well-whipped eggs (fish is brain food they say
but the only ones we’re able to eat
are the ones we can catch) red pepper to chop
fire (or should that be electrolyse?
you know what i mean, add element heat
to the pan on the stove now) take off the cello wrap
plastic’s an ingredient shunned by most wise chefs
a few brisk chops, whisk in with the rest
pan’s ready>in not much more than a minute
brunch will be


married endearments: “you’re so stupid i can’t stand it!”
says a woman to a man she may have clocked fifty years with
a few minutes later, riding up past dundas
on the subway they’re talking and laughing: apparently
there are other qualities of his she can stand
maybe she doesn’t even always
consider him stupid: seen that happen in a couple.
“st clair next stop st clair”
that’s where they’re getting off
i’m on my way up to eglinton
eg as we call it in the trade
saves time text-messaging>from there to sheppard/
finch, or finch/sheppard if i want to work down from the top
surface pops up between st clair and davisville
clair and dav>sky blends dirty white
luminous grey>blue nowhere in evidence
we’re promised sun this week>even maybe
scattered patches this very day>no mechanism
or established procedure for suing the weather
network if it’s wrong

anyway what’s not to like as long as fat drops of rain
hold off or even if they fall
so long as a five block walk doesn’t await you
to get a package off>shouldn’t they do that
themselves as people oft make shift to do
nights alone? packages have their points i suppose
but self-reliant they’re not>rain on the other hand
falleth where it listeth>the rhythm of rain
on a bedroom window’s been known to merge
with a compatible rhythm
a rival way of getting pleasurably wet
and why is it the first thing you want to do
to clear a day when the rain it raineth
everywhere you walk and no umbrella
the one way to work the weary wetness out
’s a long soak in a deep tub with bubbles
principle the same as hair of the dog?
bubbles are optional i suppose


classy names for establishments: big papa’s bordello
sweeny todd’s (a hair cutting place
wouldn’t be caught dead there myself)
harlot’s (a lady’s styling place
bet you’d feel special going in
and coming out of there) cheaters recently folded
newk’s bargain house and the nada boutique
are both long gone which is not surprising
went the way of burpee monkey fudge
(actual brand name i kid you not)
mcdonald’s had a close call—founded by ray kroc
easy to write the ad copy for sure
“you deserve a kroc today”
croc meat catch on then? herds of free-range crocodiles
wrangled by crocboys with elegant twirling lassos
across the african veldt? dinosaur computers out of sweden
never caught on somehow in the north american market
maybe gave microsoft an ad idea
it’s all connected>tramp is an elegant perfume
on the harlot’s hair analogy no doubt
couldn’t be bottling the smell you acquire
after six weeks traveling by boxcar
that’s an acquired taste ugh!
way wouldn’t want to taste it! softcon, educon
loads of cons in tradenames>most don’t advertise
quite so forthrightly>general accident assurance
dear claim adjusters: how much does g.a.r. charge
to assure an accident and when you say general
how wide a sweep are we talking? neighbourhoods? cities?
have to say i’d be somewhat more discreet
advertising a service like that

afterlife facilitator, that’s what funeral directors
will call themselves next, only wait a minute though
what a cool job! to die for obviously but once that’s cleared
(avoid the gehenna, purgatory and limbo bureaux
way too much processing, i hear when they fire you
that’s pretty much exactly what they do) but seeing people safely
to a better birth than the last in their upcoming infancy
send those that are ready heaven or nirvana way
i could live with that


i can’t service your sexual needs except by turning a
relatively blind eye to what you do behind my
back not literally i mean though you have brought up
threesomes foursomes and even fivesomes i know for a
fact one week you had that many others in
bed an elevator a shower a secluded
spot near a waterfall a stretch of meadow
in the middle of a valley people on surrounding
hills were witnesses upwards of
two hundred as it’s a designated trail they were snapping
digital and phone camera and even old-fashioned
polaroids one turned up on the front page of a leading
tab you have no idea what it’s like to lunch with four
friends when one of them lets her paper flap open casually
to a candid shot of the man you live with
ensconced in a stranger or had you been acquainted? and asking
how are things at home? which becomes topic A for the next two
hours ladies! ladies! could you give it a rest and wondering how many
of them with their cat-cream faces have succumbed to your
bedside manner or taken a look at the etchings you have
tattooed in out of the way places or are planning
to even as we speak trying to divide the
check the waitress has been standing there with for twenty
minutes drinking in the details not literally
they’re not allowed to drink on the job though apparently
no rule prevents them coupling in washroom cubicles or the laneways
busboys have to pass with dirty dishes and almost audibly
snickering at the wife of said couples i’d favour clear regulation
of service personnel in this area it’s not as if i’ve ever
dreamed of another lover why trade love and its sweet languors for mere
satisfaction of bodily twitches? but obviously opinion is not
unanimous on that score even when we dine tete a
tete i’m a basically faithful person even an exceptionally
patient one but really!


in terror we advanced, terror and auxiliary emotions
anxiety at shifting annual discrepancies in our
vacation pay that sometimes left us momentarily
high and dry in tropical climes and naturally prompted
fears about (god forbid, but if need arises) our severance
packages these we were told were sacrosanct
hammered in stone but if it’s possible to run short of
local currency in Bali, who can say what might happen
even if due to nothing more than clerical error
next? it was beautiful in the beginning
no one disputes that, except for the mass
slaughters, the relocations of people who died like
flies in their new happy homes, don’t think none of us noticed or
objected but it never seemed to be in the purlieu
of our department we would have fired off angry memos if it had
let me tell you some of us on our own time composed
letters to the editor even if it was frowned upon
we were not without courage even in face of redundancy
Christmas bonuses who’s ever worked out the Byzantine
intricacies of those? we were quaking in our boots
at the thought we may one day no longer be truly
special as our privileges warranted and the dawning realization

Moments of Truth grew out of a “flashathon” (with flexible rules that permitted poetry as well) in an online writer’s workshop I belong to. I suspect #1 through 6 were warm-up exercises, though one or two might be salvageable with rewriting. I like the idea of starting the series at #7, to honour in a cagey way the process of composition.

#8 is dedicated to l.j. morrissey because he once asked the question it arises from: “We know what they did in Sodom, but what do you suppose they got up to in Gomorrah?” He was a great teacher, the one professor at university who inspired me.

All of these, including the slice of life about omelette making (possibly excluding #7) are narrative poems. Could they have been done equally well as flash or microfiction? I didn’t think so for a variety of reasons—certainly if I were to convert them now I’d have to adjust the rhythms from the loosely metred cadence these pieces have now. Since I write both poetry and prose, I tend to decide about pieces like these intuitively, letting them emerge in what form they prefer.

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