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Kyle Kulseth Aug 2016
The date is printed orange
in the bottom right hand corner
of my very favorite picture.
     It's from two-thousand and eight

And, as my cramping legs keep ambling
every gavel foot falls faster than
the one that fell before.
     I'm wondering
where the Hell the years have gone.

You were all brown eyes and wide white smiles.
I was all youthful bravado.
As your laughter swelled to confidence,
I was sinking straight down to the bottom.

And the water rolled on past us,
          Goose Creek
swelled with the Summer run-off...
Tell me where did all this time run off to?

The moon is looming large
in the hazing, ashed-out corner
of my wine-enchanted eyeball
     on this too-typical night.

And every hyphen lends some extra space
to staggered breaths as I recall your face.
Now I'm spelling out
     my own verdict:
defendant's moving to convict.

I don't know the final cost.
     But I got enough memories
to say what future I still have,
     well it sure ain't coming free.

I got enough memories now
     that I don't know where I will be
when a year is just a yawn and a sigh,
     and you're still lodged
     deep down inside of me.

You were brown eyes' living confidence,
I was yellow, fading cowardice.
I know you were the better one,
and I've always been scraping the bottom.

And the water stalled beside us,
          Red Riv-
-er choked with Winter ice blocks.
Don't know why I was so dumb and frozen.

But thanks
     for believing
          all those years.
I basically only ever write about the same one thing. Sorry 'bout that, folks
Kyle Kulseth Jun 2016
They should still be singing stories, babe
about the fun we had.
Yeah, from the top of The Leg'--
throw an arm around your Golden Boy
dance them feet across the copper.
If those songs could take us back, I swear that I
               would live out my days
               inside of those strains
               I'd keep my word this time.
                              and I
would arc across that place with you--
off The Leg' through Osborne Village,
through boutiques and record stores and maybe they
  would hear us laughing at The Toad in the Hole.
Or we'd speed north, past Kildonan Park
'til they could hear us out in Lockport.
Hear us shout at Dubuc & Des Meurons
               while they're waiting on their bus
     to cut the frosty dusk with condensed exhaust
               we could laugh right in their face.
                      I'd live inside those strains.

If they were singing about us from the top of The Leg'
we'd stream across St. Boniface Cathedral
and some young someones
running through hip deep snow in the cold
would pause and hear us.
We'd stir their soupy breath in the night,
sifting through our history.

If they forgot the words, it wouldn't matter.
Our verses: soft breathing, our choruses: laughter.
the sound of us moving through Exchange District taverns.

I want for them to start singing us songs
and I want a pint with you at The Yellow Dog.
No more 4 years of regrets and no more sad talk.
Just you and just me and maybe a walk through the city.
Kyle Kulseth Nov 2015
Trafficking in recollections
neon nights for bygone days.
From ceiling lights to humming street signs
sealed records come untied.

Another time far from perfection
                                        close enough
for mapping smiles,
covering miles and chasing laughs
               out of throats
        and into corner booths.
Grabbing coats, it's back out into night,
sleeves shining tables the moment we go,
then arms entwining. Voices warmed,
               we sang together

               "...seemed so brief
                 but it wasn't / Now
          I know I had plenty of time..."

When was it we went out walking,
bundled up through Winnipeg?
Easter Break? Or January, drifting,
through wind or meltwash?

Calendars defy me now, though
every night recall the time,
                           the place,
           the lights of Your Great City
           flashing off your coffee eyes
and through the heavy, falling snowflakes
on a Spring or Winter night.

I'm traffic on chilly sidewalks
CO2 for oxygen.
No cars disturb the late night silence,
shallow breaths or slow footsteps.

And, as I walk against the signal,
                                       late October
snow obscures
street signs, dulling laughs from doors
              of the bars
and late night coffee haunts.
Seems so far to my small West Side home.
Heels hitting pavement and face turned to stars,
arms hanging downward, my voice, drowned
               mouths words, half-quiet

               "...dusk comes on
                 and I follow / the exhaust
              from memory up to the end..."
Excerpt(s) Citation:

The Weakerthans. "Civil Twilight." Reunion Tour. Anti-, 2007. Various Formats.
Ameliorate Jul 2015
Manitoban Skies

Clouds are the mountains of the prairies
Towering cumulonimbus masses
Incredible backdrops across an otherwise plain blue sky
Warning call that rainstorms may approach
Vertical reminders of atmospheric instability
Jetted upwards into vast formations stretching miles and miles
Promises of unrelenting lighting and thunder
Cinematic sequences is country folk are lucky to view
Humidity in the summer, ah
What would we do without you?
Rolling clouds are a fair trade for the lack of rolling hills
Clouds are the mountains of the prairies.
Kyle Kulseth Mar 2015
From the top of the Terminal,
your size was splayed out,
a grey **** carpet for the Red River Valley.
And The Forks right beneath
                      our weary walkers' feet
was a thick drop setting up in the center
of your ash grey forehead.
Traced a thumb down Taché and St. Mary's
to the peak of your left cheek on Fermor.

Your traffic light glance blinked us
                    right to a stop
as blue bomb thoughts and temperatures dropped
at the base of our minds
and your wide, widow's peak sky
formed a cold iron bruise 40 minutes past 5.

I've held your muddy diamond eyes
in mine, how many times?
And you'd sigh, sometimes
         from your North End scar,
but the Assiniboine bends around Wellington Crescent,
a stifled, spiced laugh from the failed rebellion
of your Province's youth.
          And you know I'm no novice
to the uncouth barbs of the Winter,
'cuz you wrapped asphalt arms
                                       nice and tight
'round our shoulders.

Osborne & Morley for an A-frame embrace.
The face of a city, its wrinkles a sketch
of laugh line drives for donuts and coffee.
Crows' feet stretched through The Exchange.

We followed your grin
corner to corner,
from Richardson Airport
to Transcona Yards; one earring a lifeline,
the other, steel bones.
From your St. Norbert chin,
to your twin St. Paul crown,
we would wander,
kiss your River East temple
                  then call it a night.

I have names for every smile you gave me:
Vi-Ann in the Village,
The Toad in the Hole,
St. Boniface Cathedral, that first time
in deep snow.
                 I want you to know,
               you frozen Great City,
your terrible beauty is written on me.

Each side-slanted grin I shared with your sidewalks
               encircles my history now,
                          even still.
Fill an eye with 5 years
                of joyous, drunk laughter
which seeds your purple sand sky with fog ghosts.

Still-frame your patchwork, frostbitten face--
the Perimeter Highway's a jaunt-angled toque;
                                           keeps you warm--
I still wear you
           when late Autumn light takes me back.
At first, I kinda thought this one was gonna ****. Now, I kinda like it. Though I never really *intended* it this way, it seems I've sort of ended up composing a series of pieces about/related to Winnipeg, MB, Canada and the people I know/experiences I've had there. I'd say it sort of began (I thiiiink?) with "Re: Bells, My Note," which I still think is the best thing I've ever written...At any rate, while I love writing these ones, I think this will probably be the last of its kind that I write (at least for the time being), as I think this one ties them all together nicely and I want to avoid getting entirely too trite with them. Cheers.
Kyle Kulseth Jan 2015
I know this foreign method
     made my throbbing veins its home
'cuz the familiar's not familiar
     and I'm not fine
          lest I'm messed up on
     And 9/10 of all the times
I've tried to crack a smile
since I lost you have
turned out as half-assed lies.

I wander streets, worn out,
while I wonder where you are
and what you're thinking about while
     you drive down Henderson...
          I'll try to dry out
          from time to time
        but fall back into bouts
       internal I'm interred in
       eternally--and I'll never win them.
       I'll. Never. Win them.

Not without...


I meander through months while
     you walk through my mind

--and I'm glad if you're happy?--

     but you were quite angry
    with me that night I took
     and torched our collection
     of 5 years' shared memories
          QUITE ANGRY
             with me.
    And the things you said were mean
          but you meant them.

And you were right
About how wrong I was
how bad I am,
and how I taste
like lemon lies
on the tongue.

     You were right.
     And I'm drunk.

And sad and sorry and selfish
and stupid and absorbed by a
salted skyline of cold, purple steel
          every night.

It *****.

You teach kids for a living,
about the age of 9.
Me? I try to dry out
now and then, time to time,
but it's hard.

And you're far.

And I'd still come if I could,
     but it's hard
     following this heart
     when it's buried
     at the confluence
     of the Red and Assiniboine

Beneath The Forks...

And that heart? Like the ground above it,
     it's covered
with ******, commercial architecture
and the clothing of bureaucracy,
     but ****,
      we had fun there.

Didn't we...?
Kyle Kulseth May 2013
Gertrude, Stradbrook, River and Roslyn,
off of McMillan, my thoughts froze on Osborne
A drive through the Village on slippery streets
Bought records, drained pints
                        swallowed down summer nights
Back home in Wyoming--think I'll be fine
                         'til some night, filled to gills
                          trip through streets with a stranger
                          and sing "One Great City"
                          through swollen closed throat

And I remember...

Confusion Corner, commuting through cold streets
Watched you drive as the daylight died
I narrow my Focus,
                                     you eased into traffic
The Assiniboine ran and was watched by Riel

Johnson's Terminal.
London Fogs.
Took Yellow Dogs for long walks
and Exchanged now for then. Snapped pictures, again and again.

Snow up to my hips
Spent a night at St. Boniface
We cased a cathedral, your friends seemed to like me.

Lines ran from reserves, over oceans and borders.
Your hair ran down shoulders, brown waves for a blanket.

Winterpeg, Manitscoldout
Portage & Main
Shivering, smiling
at a Tavern Uniting with friends,
'til we took the King's Head...
We took the King's Head.
Long live the king.

Magic Thailand.
Curry soup, curried thoughts thawing,
melting, falling from pickled brains,
                      through lips chapping

I donned my Tuxedo, chopped down Seven Oaks...
Your Catholic heart spoke
     reached out for St. James.
     St. Vital answered behind Fort Garry's walls...

Our hearts, they were neighbourhoods
And the streets were all salt.

Blistered paint on your blue '02 Focus

To the City Center of the continent's middle
Form a Perimeter
Frame a city
Bullseye, center, a Gold gilded Boy
he leans into sky, as they sing, as I hear.
The road North Ended--November, it was.
I think, one year prior, in Robin's Donuts
front doors swayed, on hinges that sighed metallic,
I caught your eyes--organic, unplanned--
               through fog frosting lenses
Caught them, held on
               Held your deep brown
               In my gunmetal blue

Seasons will chase--haste to follow more seasons
White streaks to green
and the Red River runs.
When they score at the ballpark,
"Go Goldeyes!" the cheer sounds
Cheer. Cheer!
The Guess Who still ****,
but the Jets completed their round trip
"Go, Jets, go!" so the cheer goes.
"Cheers!" Cheers like bells.
Peeling like your sunburnt back
Bells singing long
Bells sounding loudly from Grace Bible Church
  baptizing Baltimore as it kisses Osborne

Bells ringing. Round sounds.
Round rings for fingertips touching
Round sounds that hang on my neck
and sing me to sleep every night--
remind me how badly you wanted those bells
                I denied you.

They sing "Left and Leaving"
             and show me old scars
          they ring and peal and strike
                         and sing

I remember March of 2008
Dropping my toque in the mud-and-slush street
            We took Pembina Highway
              Ate Vietnamese.

I remember...

Confusion Corner,
Commuting through cold streets,
Watching you drive as the daylight died
In your blue '02 Focus
Ease us back into traffic,
The Assiniboine River.
And Louis Riel.

So tell me...

Comment-allez vous, ce soir?
Je ne suis pas comme ci, comme ça.
Kyle Kulseth Jul 2014
Silver ribbon Assiniboine
a sash for a city--a Ceinture Fléchée
tied into the Red just off Highway 1
          You leak into the topsoil
           in the place you call home
          and come back up a street map
          with fingerprint roads

I remember the way you'd trace these out on my back
with fingertip pencils--cartographer's hands--
Bird's Hill and Lag' and Portage and Corydon
     laid 'em down in my veins
     just under my skin

Where are you tonight, in your smiling Great City?
Crossing the bridge and inhaling the skyline?
Or walking the river in my iced over thoughts?
Maybe walking, mid-tempo, around KP mall?

Those hipsters in Osborne Village
          and Wolsely
had nothing on us, did they?
                    Cooler than Main
                              on the 1st of the year

I trickled away
                    and I leaked into topsoil
enjambed between rhymes in apology poems.
An Irish Goodbye; a blip on the radar
stopped flashing to fade off the map of your streets.

Our voices still echo, our spectres still haunt
Dollaramas and sidewalks, Tim Horton's and pubs
Our hands still lace up--at least so in theory
Perimeter Highway's still traced on my back.

          Here's hoping our avenues
          meet again soon.
          Here's hoping that luck can outrun shortcomings
          one more time.
Kyle Kulseth May 2014
A day recedes,
     I'll chase down one more night
A lamed and hobbling Spring
     tries to outrun the tide
of all the misspent months
and all this wasted time

          The northern breeze sings cold,
          it sighs through tattered topsails
          sea of questions waits.
          schools of unanswered voicemails

My footfalls share the sidewalks,
sure­. Still young but glimpsing old and stumbling

Walking outside
soaked lungs need some new air
I'm nervous and shaking
fold the map, don a blank stare
my days wearing on
               fill 'em up with a fool's words
               I'm saltwashed, stuck and
               peeling paint off my memory
               for now.

A day's been seized--
          a metered length of life
Can't place a price on Fall
          and can't outrun the tide
of these layered seasons
as his time unwinds

          The eastern wind comes hard
          and shreds through mended mainsails
          river of answers dried
          so ask the waving cattails.

His footfalls know the sidewalks
down sidestreets' asphalt tributaries

Walking around
A hitch in his slow gait
A ghost of our town
shuffles on with a fixed gaze,
his days playing out,
               As he strides down the sidewalks
               his life plays a film,
               flashing bright on glazed eyeballs

And I'm southbound,
4 p.m. driving Orange Street
completely drowned--
               --swore I woke up in Gimli,
                Manitoba January
                seared into my youthful memories
I'm freezerburnt
                Autumn heat, don't leave me
I'll hold your hair if you're feeling sickly,
then drive back home.
                Autumn heat, don't leave me now.

                ...Autumn heat, don't leave me now.

— The End —