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Keep Your Distance is a conversation between two cities and two friends. It was born out of another project that was put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic hit: Tom and Kerry were planning return trips to Treaty 29 territory (Huron Country, Ontario), where they each grew up, to excavate the disparate meanings of “home” and “friendship” via images and words. Stay-at-home orders prevented that homegoing, so they decided instead to investigate the future home of their nostalgic longings – i.e., where they are now, the respective neighborhoods in which they’re locked down, the city streets they endlessly walk together, apart. Keep Your Distance is an attempt to consider, close, and crisscross the space and time between them.
Tom Cull (he/him) teaches creative writing at Western University and was the Poet Laureate for the City of London from 2016-2018. Tom’s first collection of poems, Bad Animals, was published in 2018 by Insomniac Press. Tom is the director of Antler River Rally (ARR), a grass-roots environmental group he co-founded in 2012 with his partner Miriam Love. ARR works to protect and restore the Deshkan Ziibing (Thames River). Tom is also an editor for Watch Your Head, an anthology of creative works devoted to climate justice.
Kerry Manders (she/her) is a Toronto-based writer, editor, and photographer. She contributes to The New York Times, T Magazine, The Advocate, and Aperture, among other publications, where she explores various aspects of queerness, mourning, and photography. Her first collaborative chapbook (with Brandy Ryan), After Pulse, was published by knife | fork | book in 2019. She is currently writing a mourning memoir.
2×4^2 © Collusion Books, 2021. ISBN 978-1-7772244-9-3 (digital).
All rights reserved by the named contributors. Editing, design, and layout by Andy Verboom.
Collusion Books operates in Kjipuktuk, Mi’kmak’i, the traditional, unceded, and unsold territory of the Mi’kmaq.
Quite the rake I see, holding court
confident as rock-hard abs bring
all the boys to the yard.
He weaves crinoline cages,
hoops skirts for a bustle of flowers
lighting up some seasonal collusion
or the void of missing drawers.
Pumpkin grease, queer eye –
either way, he’s got his game face on.
Missing limbs settle the score of
an odd gambling debt,
or trophies for some jealous rival.
Maybe they’re tucked in Tupperware –
a prosthetic Tickle Trunk
or the spectre of safe keeping,
the open secret undrawered.
The neighbour kids come ‘round
All Hallows’ Eve for trick or treat
(either way, they know he’s putting them on).
Everything went downhill
The crocodile always
wanted to eat the most fish.
The equal sign means
what it says:
two pullies sideways,
winched lines pulling
like the gully’s top and bottom,
and the stream that cuts
bottom and top equally,
is what math is:
gap and gash.
If two trees fall
in the forest, hear
the first crash,
but not its echo.
By day, she takes up
outside the fence
weather-worn black boards
its hot pink proximity.
Passersby mostly pass
her by, consider:
trinket, tchotchke, trifle, toy
(Made in China, natch).
Grieved or grieving –
lost or Lysol
(“free to good home”)
Under cover of darkness,
her band of racoon brothers
descend trees, declare her
“one of us,”
night of their week.
Collective animi roam the city (limits).
of narrow alleyways –
land of misfits, territorial,
combing tree-lined streets,
ready to rumble
raiding midnight snacks.
through panes of glass –
a gaze or
At daybreak she assumes the position,
leans into the pedestrian,
and you tell stories about her.
or warning –
arms scale the difference
between what she is
and what you make of her.