From For Your Safety Please Hold On. Published by Nightwood Editions in 2014. Czaga won the Far Horizons Book Award for Poetry and the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize. She lives in Vancouver.
Funny bone of every family. Wears the same old skull T-shirts for thirty years to unnerve his mother. Grunts his monosyllabic moniker—bob, Tom or Lou—at whomever he’s introduced to. Go ahead, he winks. Pull his finger. Braid his chest hair. Top of the oddjob totem pole. King of the all-you-can-eat. Aficionado of the naked lady tattoo. Won third in a moustache competition, punched out first place. Too young to have fought in Nam, but knows a guy who knows a guy with no thumbs. Did time a bunch of times—asks, You need meth, machine guns, snake’s blood? Late to your wedding in an alligator tuxedo, he staggers straight into the open bar. Resurfaces for his too-loud lecture on the hullabaloo of marriage. And he’d know from his three, all great ladies, mind you. He bends the conversation to confess he’s a lesbian. Wrestles his nephews one-armed and wins, tosses squealing nieces. Chases them around the buffet, brandishing dentures. Roughhouse inventor. Unexpected best friend of the religious aunt, he pecks her cheek as they hobble the two-step. Begins his stories, I had a buddy up in Fort St. James, summering in Timbuktu. Has buddies for every occasion. You can tell it’ll be long yarn, the way his eyes roll up into the water spot on the ceiling above your head. He yammers the nails, beats the dead horse, bags the wind, blows it hot and beery into your face.
It’s a slow shit, man, he whistles, staring cockeyed into the world’s faulty wiring.