Canadian Tuxedo

Rena Priest


Your kiss is backlit pixilation.
It’s a problem of creative visualization
that makes it taste like data
and absence. Your presence
in the flesh, suggests an imbalance
of electrical charges
that makes my hair stand on end.
When your hand touches my hand,
a soothing, sandalwood scent sends
electrons through the length of me, 
makes me believe that you are in fact
an ingenious invention
of Mr. Van de Graaff.
I run my hand along your sleeve,
and when we kiss, the air between us
enters the fourth state of being— 
returns to normal with an audible spark. 
“Flannel is Canadian silk,” you say.
“This is a Kenora dinner jacket.”
The thing about electrons, 
is that they make capricious friends.
But don’t worry about your odds
Roy Sullivan will tell you
all about 1.21 gigawatts. 
You will tell me that denim-on-denim
is a Canadian tuxedo, but hip-thrust
and a wardrobe mix-up
caused the American king
to wear it best. 
Elvis has left the building and now
I’ll never get to wear
a purple flannel bridal dress. 
I push my pinky finger through
thousands of miles of fiber optics,
make connection my favorite project.
Babe, c'était le coup de foudre. 
The drunken monkey of truth
says, “It’s too late for you
to never tell me you love me.”
But I’ve already tasted in your kiss, 
the pixels of lightning
you keep in your lips.


Rena Priest is a writer and performer. She is a Lummi tribal member and holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. She is active in efforts to strengthen community through participation in local arts and culture, and has taught subjects in comparative cultural studies, the humanities, and Native-American studies at Northwest Indian College, Fairhaven College, and Western Washington University. Her first collection of poetry, Patriarchy Blues, was published by MoonPath Press in May of 2017.


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