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Issue 6: Fleeting Concern by Katherine Autio

Katherine Autiö was born to a Finnish father and a Scottish mother in Kirkland Lake Ontario, in what was then a predominantly Finnish community.  Since then, she has been a professional clown, a folk singer, an actress, a director, and a playwright.  She is currently a surrealist oil painter, poet, and for the past 30 years, a teacher of English, Art and Drama. This is her first publication.


She abhors Courtney Love; pities Carrie Fisher   

while licking liquid-gold, like laudanum   

from salty palms, stumbles toward the dance floor,   

repositions stockings for maximum thigh,    

bullet belt, a line of sharp silver incisors,   

metallic jaws biting her in two,   

cartridge tips pointed to leather sheathed cleavage,   

motionless alabaster orbs riding shotgun  –

“I need to pee!” she yells into the air,   

toward her crew, vaguely, lurches to the Ladies, nods   

to the genderless goddess who is violently backcombing  

a blue Sigue Sigue Sputnik over the jail house sink.   

“I love your hair,” the goddess says- instant soulmate,   

forcing a peek at her own sweaty black liquorice twigs,   

smeared mascara, sex-doll lips, mutters “love yours too,”   

and only then-

the careening launch into the only working stall,   

dizzy ass slams deadweight onto scratched plastic throne,   

she regroups –  

graffitied walls spinning a centrifuge:   

pornographic offers, insights into who is a cunt, 

scrawl of Platonic dialogues in ball point or Sharpie   

arching wildly, shrinking to the floor, remembers,   

ensconced in her skull purse, that mickey of generic malt  

 masquerading as whiskey, downs the dregs,   

fights panicked pounding heart: how much was that?   

6oz? Plus, plus, what? No clue.   

Finds herself sitting clothed, on a toilet,  

would rather climb Everest than peel   

a thousand black layers to pee,   

and some Olga is pounding the door anyway, cursing,   

“You done in there?” She stumbles out mid-knock  

ducking her head, avoids eye contact,   

opens the bathroom door, sound hits like a heatwave,  

strobes pulse like a stroke, silhouetting a cityscape   

of bodies moving, fists plumping,  

cloven hooves, fleshy totems flailing lust,   

everyone’s flying hair is triple outlined,  

and she thinks 

her heart will stop for the billionth time,  

battles the need to flee, Helen Chandler running,   

stage right, but chased by ghosts, not vampires,   

forces one shiny stiletto crow’s foot then the other   

toward the undulating mass until the music takes her,  

familiar arms enfold her, sweaty friends  

touting bleary stock concern in a chorus of, “You okay?”   

wrinkling by-the-book doll brows in pouted worry.   

Their embraces paid with the requisite lie,

  “No worries.” she says.  

Mini Entrée on Fleeting Concern by Catherine Owen

It’s amazing uncovering a new, as in formerly-unpublished, poet. Autio is a neighbour-friend and I knew she wrote but reading a poem like Fleeting Concern reminds me that many people possess excessive talents that they don’t feel the urge to do public things with. They create for private pleasure not just first, but possibly last. And that’s dandy. Yet I’m still happy that this poem will find a few other readers now because it’s a freaky gem. In twelve stanzas of four lines each plus a final line that repeats the well-worn response we are all supposed to give to any query, a banality that barfs out everything that preceded it, slamming it as an utter lie, this poem takes us inside the punkish world of boozy youthfulness. It’s not easy to write a poem about drunkenness and its social medium: the club or bar, and have it be so danged vivid, visceral, torrid and tawdry. Bukowski tried. And failed?

Maybe this piece is so potent because it revolves around the female inebriant, their tipsy circle, their bathroom rituals of weird politesse and woozy negotiation – a rare subject. And conveyed in such loopy allusiveness: from the Sigue Sigue Sputnik band and their hairdos to the actress Helen Chandler in 1931’s film Dracula along with diction as sharp as a ringed punch to the nose: laudanum, incisors, sheathed, centrifuge, undulating. Assonance blurs words together, linking need and pee and flee, strobes and stroke, pornographic and offers. Many of us have been somewhere close to here and now we can revisit that black-out zone from the safety of our imaginations, led by Autio’s doer more than speaker, in this poem of a time and a headspace that she conveys so blatantly with her precise pickings of sound and image. Brava. I’m proud to be your break-out printed poetry venue!

Published by crowgirl11

Poet, bassist, writer, tutor, editor, photographer, film props adventurer who lives in Edmonton, AB.

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