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Issue I – MAINTENANCE – Jay Ritchie


And there was no barrier to
Picking up a beer in ‘foreign’ script
But my fear that the untravelled slope led
Off a cliff

And here there would be no
Real consequences. No one here knew me.
The world would keep spinning
Whether I had one drink
Or ten, sleeping through
The afternoon with a hangover
As familiar as my locale was exotic

My thought interrupted by
A cyclist nearly clipping me
There is no correct way to live

The only thing to change was
A choice made within a binary system.
Just one choice after another.
A single choice like the thousand and one
I’d made before this one, my
Finger on the coin slot in the vending machine
The trail of condensation
Running down the featureless, smooth glass



Ignoring the blue note of panic in diaphragm and
My face betraying not a care nor hint of experience
When I had danced the other’s part I assured
My client I didn’t mind at all that he had
Accidentally shit all over my face
As I gave him a rimjob



Jake Byrne lives in Tka:ronto, cka Toronto. They won CV2’s Foster Prize for Poetry in 2019. Their debut collection, CELEBRATE PRIDE WITH LOCKHEED MARTIN, was published by Wolsak & Wynn in 2023. DADDY will be published in 2024 with Brick Books.