Soft Ice Cream


Excerpted from Emily Schultz's Trillium Award nominated collection, Songs for the Dancing Chicken, published by ECW Press in 2007.

In the smallest town the stillnesses fill
with crickets, the highway bright
with the dairy light menu gleaming
above the darkened counter in case
at this impossible hour
you might like to taste the trickle of raspberry
poured perfectly, curving down from
a rich creamy nipple, down into
a red and white paper boat,
pink plastic spoon standing upright.
And yellow lettering underneath —
The ground at your feet is littered
with broken glass and bottle caps,
laughter flicked from a chained-down picnic table
to a crumbling parking block,
the tall tales of cigarette butts’
mouths since gone. And every breath
is an exchange you make knowingly
with the thick night air
that squats over you, nearly solid
with its whirring of insects and stars.
The spit in your mouth sours
beneath the candy cherry
of your own tongue.
If anyone were to ask the reason for this
you could only reply,

Sadness has no reasons. Sadness is a luxury
of spare time, a piece of pie leftover,
the blueberry’s skin caught between your teeth,
the black blear of happiness.
No one knows you here, still
you wish you could throw your head back
and burst into an instant jingle,
black out the light behind the glass with a stone,
pry up the foil ridge of the sky
and suck all the sweetness out.



Toby Sharpe


I don’t know where a person can go when they disappear, apart from underwater.


Young Earle Birney in Banff: September 1913¹

what a day!at the Basin2 dove from the tufa overhanginto the water, playing my trick ofseeming to drown, not coming up until I finish wrigglingthrough that underwater chimneyand burst into air. always startles the tourists.


Zamboni Driver’s Lament

i know hate, its line-mates. believe me. you kids have, i’m sure, wasted—all early morning anxious and weak-ankled—their first impatient shuffle-kicks and curses on me.