Ali Riley

Ali Riley

Ali Riley's poems have appeared in Geist, The nth Position Anthology, Matrix, This Magazine, Event and the Moosehead Review. Her collection Tear Down was short-listed for the Re-Lit awards, and her first book, Wayward, was short-listed for the Gerald Lampert Award. Her novel-in-progress, Hag, was written on a reality show and took first prize in the Walrus magazine/SLS Fiction Contest. As an actor she won a Dora Mavor Moore award and as a playwright she wrote five produced plays, including a Marquis de Sade trilogy that played at Buddies in Bad Times and Crow’s Theatre. Her new poetry collection, Twain, is a roots-rock examination of the Fur Trade as a metaphor for love. She and her husband Darren Zenko got married last summer and live and fix leaks in a hundred-year-old house in Nanton, Alberta.

 Take Care of Evel

I gave him a blanket. He gave me his word.
-Bob Dylan

I want someone to wrap me in a pink blanket and feed me soup,
but the world would stop. By day the disgraced man convalesces,
no plans for the immediate or any other future. His heroics, if that’s
what they are, must be covert and unseen by infrared.
He speaks in complicated metaphors about grain elevators, breached boxcars.
The elevator in the distance, the one you haven’t reached yet, I ask.
Does it say Death or Intimacy?

He allows that it doesn’t say Alcoholism. Passed that one long ago he says.
O the world of sensuality only leads to misery of expectation he says.

Pretty pessimistic I tell him. I leap over tall buildings because I can.
I don’t want medals. I’ve often noticed the wounded can’t face you.
A war nurse shouldn’t mind a splash of other people’s blood.

Eventually he will be three Safeway bags full of bleached dry bones
to be carried out of the house.

I’m in favour of stuff happening. I want to motor across canyons,
leap into something rickety because it feels heroic. Skidding tires,
the sound of a stunt. My dumb Viking heart.

The Youngest Most Sacred Monster
(5 more positions of a retired child star)

Then comes pancake, Factor #1—eyeliner, rose hips and lip gloss such fun!! You’re a slick little girl.
—Lou Reed

1. Liza in Cabaret. A glamour gulag. 
2. Carl Dreyer’s exhortation to use Artifice to strip artifice of artifice. Angelica Huston drawling that “if you want something to happen tonight, paint your nails green.”
3. Joel Grey as the MC, that Capezio poster that everybody had in 1975, the stunned monkey-mouth of crap drag. Your maquillage mimics a conté drawing. Ben Nye's eye-black technique, a buildable line.
4. The palpating presque-vu of Louis B. sharing your mother’s milkshake, a studio shot in Scraftt’s. Shirley and Bojangles undulate in double-4 time.
5. You shed a tear for Laika first day of principal photography. Lonely turtles, crying trains, space puppies…I know it’s been hell for you.

Birds © 2012 Calgary Spoken Word Society