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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 5: October 2020
Prose Poem: 351 words
By Lorette C. Luzajic

Billy, Don’t Lose My Number

—After Aprés-Midi by Hughie Lee-Smith *

Billy comes out of the basement, and his eyes are sore from the sudden light. I ask if he’s okay to drive, and he rolls his eyes until they nearly disappear. I’m just tired, Miss Lorette, he says. The night shift can really mess you up. That’s as close to complaining as Billy would ever get, just stating the facts. When a factory chemical spill stripped the skin off his inside arm, before it grew back as ropes and knots, he slathered his seething wrists in aloe and Saran Wrap and clocked in as usual. Billy stayed the night only once, after leaving his debit card in a nearby ATM with no way to get back to the burbs. I pulled out the cheap pleather sofa bed and the cat immediately hopped up on it and splayed himself across the duvet. I loved seeing Billy laugh like that, to have a body to love beside him. It had been years, forever. In the morning, I was going to make him pancakes with nutmeg and bananas but he was gone and it was months before he answered his phone again. Now we speed along the lakeshore, black and white, fat and skinny, and still like siblings of sorts. We see the families spreading picnics along the water’s edge, watch shirtless brown boys bumping volley balls over nets beside the highway. Billy smiles, because he thought I’d never find a boyfriend. I cry because I hope he finds a girl who will treat him the way I would treat him if it was up to me. The sun falls into Etobicoke as we slurp our way through the fructose sludge of iced cappuccinos. Billy will go back inside, hibernate through winter even though it’s only June. I will call for him in December. For now, I reach across the gear shift for his pointy fingers. He holds my secrets as if they were glass, and I hold his, too, sad and soft as dandelion seeds, weightless as they tumble over the waves.



* Publisher’s Note:

Aprés-Midi (oil on canvas painting) by Hughie Lee-Smith (1915–1999) can be viewed in this article by Alisha Arino, Distinguished black artist to be featured in upcoming Muskegon Museum of Art exhibit, at Michigan Live (11 February 2013; updated 20 January 2019).

Lorette C. Luzajic
Issue 5, October 2020

is an artist, writer, editor, and educator from Toronto, Canada. Her most recent book is Pretty Time Machine: Ekphrastic Prose Poems. She usually writes about art, whether in poetry, essays, or an ongoing column on Wine and Art at Good Food Revolution. Her prose and poems have been widely published in several hundred literary journals and a dozen anthologies, and her work has been twice nominated for Best of the Net and for the Pushcart Prize. Lorette is the founding editor of The Ekphrastic Review (established 2015), which is devoted exclusively to publishing poetry and prose inspired by visual art. She is also an internationally collected, award-winning visual artist.

Visit her at: www.mixedupmedia.ca

Artist’s column in Good Food Revolution: Wine and Art

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

A Review of Pretty Time Machine: Ekphrastic Prose Poems by Jenene Ravesloot (4 February 2020) on Facebook

Fresh Strawberries, an ekphrastic prose poem by Ms. Luzajic in KYSO Flash (Issue 11, Spring 2019), nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize

Four poems and four collage artworks from Risk Being / Complicated: Poems by Devon Balwit, Inspired by the Collage Art of Lorette C. Luzajic, reprinted in KYSO Flash (Issue 12, Summer 2019):

I Have Loved You Since the World Began,

Place Me Like a Seal Over Your Heart

You Think You Know Me

You Walk By and I Fall to Pieces

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