A Gospel

Stevie Howell is a poet, critic, and editor. Her poetry was shortlisted for the 2013 Montreal...


That picture’s somewhere still: First Communion, 13 girls
in lace and satin “Like a Virgin” frocks,
legs crossed man-style under frills, floral hairpieces
           hanging flaccid over ears. Marrying God.

An overlit confessional, gilded chairs, Father Antony’s
embroidered bib, pew-fulls of frog-eyed
parents who’d endured years waiting for our
          exorcisms. This was just before my faith fell and

I stumbled toward Hari Krishnas at the Eaton Centre
causeway and paid $20 for a tome
they would have given away; tried to find in mock-leather
          what they found there, but it hid—

or snapped up free papers about “the 18,000 realms,”
and visited living room churches north on Bathurst
with congregations of passive mutes; or let the Bahai
          indoctrinate me on Bloor, one afternoon,

where they fed me channah in a muralized Olive Garden
basement. I left with a cassette
and a mental image of a saviour cresting a hill
          with a hankering for garlic bread.

My high school and university were poverty and violence.
A quadriplegic classmate lived in a Winnebago.
Her mother’s ex cowered in a laundry hamper with a gun
          and killed her after mass. That’s all I know.


The Return of Television and Pumpkin Spice Bullshit
Autumn is the time when the end begins again, and because I love a good ending, it’s one of my very favourites. Books, fashion and television all come rushing back into the foreground after a season of the simpler pleasure of just being outdoors. We’re back, baby. Decorative gourds , pumpkin spiced bullshit , the whole shebang.


Debt Ceiling II: Anybody Know a Good Hostage Negotiator?
If you’re suffering from a severe bout of déjà vu, you’re not the only one. It seems like only two years ago, the White House and Congress were locked in an apocalyptic bit of brinkmanship over the debt ceiling. Oh, wait, that was only two years ago. And what lessons did everyone learn? The Republicans may occasionally tend toward evil, but at least they’re (sometimes, and I assume unintentionally) honest: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters in 2011 the lesson the GOP learned from the first showdown over the debt ceiling was that, while some nervous nellies in the Republican caucus worried that maybe there were some risks associated with ransoming the fiscal credibility of the world’s financial hegemon, it turned out the debt ceiling was “ a hostage that’s worth ransoming ” if your party has bordeline psychotic demands and you’ve got no other leverage.