Kelly Block Fire

A man is cuffed to a

wooden ladder. His body

transfixed as if the old

hag is sitting on his chest. He

cannot run or act. A piano

key depressed, jammed

and silent. A cold, damp

engine that will not turn.

His only movement lies

in his right knee which

can swing from side

to side. His face

is also free of ice and

accepts the whippings of

the north wind through

the tunnel of Kelly Block.

He is beautiful like the

frozen buildings, long

icicles adorning elbows

in a crystal wingspan. A

hero’s pinions. He, however,

will not linger until the end

of winter, a living cenotaph

for the man who died

in the part-accident. After

ten minutes, they will come

with chisels and break him off

and carry him to Dora’s

to thaw and feed

him pea soup and coffee.

Upon his aqueous revival, they

are surprised to meet a very

young man — a boy, even.

Every café and restaurant near

Kelly Block stays open all day

and all night to keep the firemen

just warm enough to continue

their work. He has frost bite

on his nose and a hole in his leg

where the chisel miscalculated.

It is forty below and most

of Winnipeg is asleep.

Jesse Matas has lived in Manitoba his entire life. He grew up in Winnipeg, graduated from the University of Winnipeg and now lives in Falcon Lake. Currently he is a songwriter and musician in the Winnipeg-based band The Crooked Brothers, touring Canada and Europe. They have released two albums and are currently working on a third. This is Jesse’s first poetry publication.