Colleen Anderson


Colleen Anderson's fiction and poetry have appeared in over 200 publications in such places like Polu Texni, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and The Quilliad. She has a BFA in creative writing and is a recent recipient of a Canada Council grant for writing. She has edited a third anthology, Alice Unbound: Beyond Wonderland published in 2018 through Exile Books. Her collection, A Body of Work, was released by UK publisher Black Shuck Books in 2018.

Braving the Storm

you writhed on the precipice

rain lashed sky

drowned in pain

tears didn’t quench fever

raging hot against the winds


your sight, lightning blinded

no sense of impending torrents

I, a shrinking oasis

vigil for your cloud-dark mind

sanctuary, anchor


a hurricane

I transgressed darkened skies

rushed around the eye of the storm

battled unseen

screamed into the vortex

you swam alone


time brooded

clouds dispersed

morning sun licked up night’s tears

pushed through

your eyes opened




Fashion Statement

At the trendy hair salon, heads held for a new veneer, that changeling time, each person feeling slightly ridiculous in rollers, clips, caps, twisted coil coiffures except for the woman next to me out like a light, chin on chest, as intrusive fingers comb paste through her hair.

We glance, conspirators of style, wondering if she’s tired or drunk, but the boyfriend comes in and coolly wakes her while I’m spun in different directions-kaleidoscopic visions of hair and mirrors.

She’s not yet done but the beau’s getting bored waiting for the do and doing what he does through endless cuts, tints, shampoos. Bam! He’s down as if felled by those spacey out-of-this-world helmets they place over heads to dry. He knocks down a chair and pink plastic rollers fly, his feet in the air. They right the chair first, pull him to sitting but he’s gone to another world and no one’s at the helm.


His girlfriend in dye yells, Chris Chris what’s my name? Get some water. What’s my name? Flesh on flesh resounds–Smack! Smack! Smack! Like a blow against the one fashionable front we are trying to present in the face of this transgression.


Slap Slap—he’s not up yet−he’s down and out so far out that they carry his body into the back to see if they can evince a statement on fashion or states of mind. Call an ambulance! No fashion crisis–he didn’t faint at the sight of her hair or the price of having it done on 4th Ave.

In the back the dryers whir, drowned by the screams the cries the repeated slaps. Paramedics arrive sporting the same utilitarian do. Is he dead? The gurney’s wheeled in. Sophie comes over from her cafe next door. They were at my place, what’s going on? Macabre humor from the stylist who threw cold water on the man already blue: Oh they say it was something he ate. He choked on life, stuttering to a stop, trying to find the vein that leads to paradise.

It took the aesthetician smashing her fist into his chest, maybe breaking a nail, to get him breathing again. Perhaps after pumping up in the bathroom, shooting some alien liquid into veins, while foreign substances changed his girlfriend’s hair but not her condition he remembered his way back. Trying to bide time seeking a place better than cool. A momentary bliss before being blitzed as they zipped him off in the limousine for crackheads, the white one with those beautiful, flashing ethereal lights. Not yet heaven not quite heaven but it was so close and so good and so real while we sat paralyzed pretending to be untouched, and the memory was snipped, shampooed, permed and dyed out of us.




The first signs

McDonalds, 7-Up, Pepsi

Sky high shrines in neon

Roads lined with palms

Sunday, every day and all year long



In the hot wet blanket calm

Trunks with gnarled finger branches

Open languid through midnight heat


In the harbor

Boats quietly bob in sleep

And straight-backed buildings

Sprout clean as crystal

From evening-swept grounds


Cars glide smoothly silent

In air-conditioned coolness

And somewhere

Neatly manicured people move




Between the Lines

Your face is opaque

revealing nothing but pages

words about him though long clasped

in clay’s cold touch.


Through you, I glimpse his life

emotion’s dark soul.

His pages, still laden with heart-stone feelings

speak an ageless thought

though plaited into one era

of Sons and Lovers, and Women in Love.


His hand has grayed your words

not with light of ideal life

nor inky with evil deeds

but a shade entwined in the thread of living


I don’t know you either

but through his fiber

woven amongst the pages

that twist through my mind

braid your fingers to the words

I have touched a part of your life.