No one will find us in this city — not your valentine,

not the line of dogs he’s chained by the throat. My collar

blooms chin-high, is perfumed with lilac where you

finger buttons, parse leaves and hook a flush of green


to my breast. Tell me you’re good. Tell me we’ll

lend our touch to the nearest MG, drive south on a

sucker bet until we run dry in the desert. There are

others who’ve come uninvited, who’ve come to free


themselves from their slouching skin, lose their grip

and trace in a mess of coins. Here’s my loss — fist

lodged in the maw of the first guest to speak, our

honor run aground. To stay we’ll need to slap down


the pin that adorns your jacket, bet against a snail being

able to survive the edge of a straight razor. I’ve been

told that nothing can live to know such a lean blade.

When we drive land rises and our hearts rise with it.

Jim Johnstone is a Toronto-based writer and physiologist. He is the recipient of Arc Poetry Magazine’s 2009 Readers’ Choice Award, a 2008 CBC Literary Award and the E.J. Pratt Medal and Prize in Poetry.