Alex Manley

Sans titre sur bois

Consider the relationship as intellectual exercise. Sketch the strange grammars of two people. There are some words you can only use with one other person, and when that person is gone, the word dies with them. Your own private hapax legomenon. Consider the power dynamics of a two-person society. Have you ever studied critical race or gender theory? In what ways do your fucks resemble your fights? Has there been a Tet Offensive yet? Has there been an Oklahoma City bombing? Study the shifts in focus between the two of you. You are like trends in art history. Glaciers, like the use of a paintbrush. Wingbeats in the night, like the white-on-white canvas. New territory gets eaten up and once it’s covered it’s covered.

Have you ever been turned on in a museum? Stroll past the walls of frames and colours until one reaches out, and cuts you open like an unhurried chef whose hands have filleted a thousand bodies before. (Consider the fish as vessel, the scales as hull. Some of them are so hydrodynamic.) And then Daubigny’s moon shines out at you from low in the canvas, and a model for Rodin’s unchosen Défense sculpture cries out in agony. How many people have you taken to a museum? How many people have you met at an exhibit, have left you studying, like an old master, the curve and line of the body? How many people have left you toiling, honestly, through the fields of your life, a labourer, a little figure in a Maurice de Vlaminck?

Like Dalou’s forlorn peasant, roll up your sleeves. There is work to be done.


Alex Manley is a Montreal writer. In 2013 he graduated from Concordia University’s creative writing program. His work has appeared online courtesy of Shabby Doll House, Keep This Bag Away From Children, the Bravehost Poetry Review, and Maisonneuve magazine, among others. He tweets as @alex_icon and is left-handed.