"But Still You Ask Yourself Why," "I Had A Friend Once," & "Smol Snek"

Robert Beveridge

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Light, and sometimes humorous, these poems invite us into small risks we sometimes take. In their individual worlds, everything becomes familiar, even the serial killers in the woods.

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Yolk began as an electric conversation around a picnic table in Saint Henri Square.

Our scruffy pioneer and present prose editor had previously approached each of us with an idea, a vision: We would establish our own literary magazine in Montreal. And so it was, or so it would be. After that original encounter, eight individuals devoted to the word resolved that they would gather bi-weekly, on Sundays, and bring something new into this busy, manic world—something that might slow its spin down somewhat and cause its patronage to say: “You know what, it ain’t so bad, is it, Susan?”

We are undergraduate, graduate, and graduated students of writing. Some of us learn our craft formally from accomplished authors in seminar courses, and some of us learn by looking out the window of the world and onto the streets that sing below. Some of us learn from screaming squirrels, old curtains, departed grandfathers, and bowel movements. We learn from old lovers, long winters, imperfect mothers, and from the deep internet where a musical genius remains entombed.

Yolk is cold floors on Sabbath mornings, home-brewed ginger beer in the endless afternoon, and downpours of French-pressed coffee in assorted artisanal mugs. Our first official gathering was scheduled for a duration of two hours; most of us remained for six, departing only to attend to the summons of our own beckoning realities. Together, with time suspended, we talked endlessly of contributing something to disrupt Montreal’s literary ecosystem. Something unparalleled, something true.

But what? There was nothing to discuss. There was everything to discuss.

We volunteer our time, hounding some elusive beast composed of combustible words and works. We are hopeful, truly hopeful, that we can give something new, a new way, a new light, and that if we cannot, we might at least uphold the traditions of our predecessors, cast star-wide nets to capture their echoes. We are a thousand decisions. We are a sanctuary for the orphaned word, the solitary writer, the cereal-eating artist who yearns for company, for the comfort of a like mind; we sit together with them at foggy dawn, it rains a baptism, with our arms and hands intertwined, we form an umbrella—underneath, they scribble madly, the perfect picture.

Yolk in no way presumes to be superior to its contemporaries, but its contemporaries should not presume yolk to be anything other than loud—quite, quite loud. We are yippidy jazzed to address the oh-so-technicolorful magnificence of the human experience, but we are prepared also to address the ugliness, to stare at its wet, hairy snout and into its square depth and to roar in return at the things that yearn to devour our skin, beset our ethos, and dig graves in our own backyards.

There’s so much to say, there’s so much we don’t know, but together, with you, we can placate that ignorance, render it peaceful, tolerable, and perhaps even, fucking beautiful.

And Susan says, “Amen.”
Photography by Chris Bair (@chrisbairmedia)

But You Still Ask Yourself Why
for Eumi Verse

The acid ate through
the paper and it looks
almost like lace, or
like the northern part
of Manitoba, where
there are far more lakes
than there are roads.

“I don’t know,” you
said, “how people
can read about places
and not want to go
to them.” You looked
back down, tried to find
a scrap of unharmed
paper to jot coordinates.

“Is it too much to ask
just to leave it all
behind, hop a train
in Winnipeg and head
north until the rails end,
then pull out our
watermelons and sit
on the edge of the platform;
enjoy the view?”

I mopped up the last
of it; stiff-armed
the towel and its
sizzle into the garbage.
“We still need jobs,”
I said. “After all,
it’s obvious we need
a new kitchen table.”


I Had A Friend Once

We decided to play hooky
from the theatre; spend
the day down by the water
with our hands wrapped
around the necks of the local
cattail population. If we
can find someone to boil
the blades we can make leaf
water. Add. Milk. Sugar.
Good. Drink. We loved
the cat in the manner of John
of Damascus, but between
us we managed two hands.
Wrote the hymns for next
Sunday’s Groundhog Day
service, which also falls
on the anniversary of Great
Aunt Dachau’s gallstone
surgery. Cleaned the school
top to bottom, even that grease
trap the lunch ladies have scared
novitiates with for decades.
Despite it all, we bought a paper
at sundown, checked the first
showings tomorrow morning,
committed ourselves
to the silver screen for one more day.


Smol Snek

Harry bit the tires on the Jeep, examined the toothmarks, pronounced them good. That was the last step, he told us; now all we had to do was wait for the nubile co-eds who were sure to stop for gas on their way to the armadillo ranch, be given dire predictions by Earl at the gas station—who ain’t never been right in the head. From there, we all knew how the movie would play out. It always did. One of us wondered if there would ever come a day when everyone at a gas station would be well-adjusted. Not, Harry said, as long as there are serial killers in the woods.

Robert Beveridge(he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Blood and Thunder, Feral, and Grand Little Things, among others.

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