From Oscar of Between, Part 33 A Excerpt

Betsy Warland


Toronto. Rush hour beginning. Oscar on Bloor Street — steely cumulus clouds compacting air — rain soon to pelt down. Oscar walking for past couple of hours searching for postal outlet and looking for a weekly gift she sends in EXPRESS ENVELOPE to her son. Oscar. Aching to find her way into Oscar of Between: images, phrases, ideas, pulsating words have been circling in her head for past few days. Oscar. Eager to cross the threshold but there’s always the question of how to? Must be discovered each time. Impatient with herself for taking so long yet reminding herself that she just finished the Margento essay and that, unlike being in Denis’ flat near Plateau Mont-Royal, in Toronto she’s having to learn a new neighbourhood. Then. It happens!

Having found the postal outlet, purchased EXPRESS ENVELOPE, she’s walking back to the apartment amidst rush-hour-pedestrians-push while trying to insert a five-dollar bill into her change purse when coins and TTC tokens spray out across sidewalk. An approaching young man with baseball cap askew shouts to girlfriend at his side:

“Hey. Watch out! This is the latest scam! Don’t help him! It was on the news last night!”

Oscar. Squats to pick up coins and tokens, glances up at him as he stops to watch. Quick assessment. He decides. Crouches down and helps as people stream by on either side but continues on to his girlfriend:

“If you put your bag down to help them, they grab it and take off!”

Toronto. Bloor at Ossington. 5:13 p.m. It happens! Torturing array of images, words, ideas begin to connect.

Oscar crosses the threshold.


Next morn. Oscar having encountered Oscar now shy around Oscar, so tempted by distractions. To focus herself, Oscar gives her self the advice she gave to her students in the manuscript course she recently taught.

“At the heart of every narrative is contradiction. Don’t try to get rid of it. Write into it.”

Then her mind darts back to Oscar’s Salon and how stimulating she finds readers’ riffs, creative writing pieces, observations and critical thinking posted there, yet now she yearns for seclusion.


Curious. Oscar’s taken for a man more frequently in Toronto than in Vancouver, but with a difference — initial responses are more power-dynamic-infused, edgy. If someone becomes aware she’s a woman, no apology is issued (frequently is in Vancouver), which is a relief.

She ponders this as she stands in line waiting for her bank’s ATM and notices how similar ATM machines are to urinals — how men stand with their legs apart as if at. Watches how both genders use their bodies to shield their passwords as they would if their private parts were suddenly exposed in public. Muses on how stiff bills stick out from the slot into our readied hands.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

photo of a rawlings

Photo credit: a rawlings

Guest Writer:
a rawlings

Glasgow, Scotland
Web site:
a rawlings at Broken Dimanche Press

Excerpted from ÁFALL / TRAUMA
by a rawlings
Forthcoming from Broken Dimanche Press, 2016


A woman sits facing me, facing men.
A woman is feet away from men, from me.
A woman reclines— torso slumped, legs splayed, feet planted.
A woman appears large though impassive, her eyes and facial muscles the only movement.
A woman’s aura sings; my eyes focus on her and light auroras around her.

A woman sits facing me, facing men, facing each one in turn, holding eye contact with ease. I assume this ease. When a woman looks at me, I look at her. When a woman does not look at me, I look at her. I want her to look at me but I also want her to look away. I am quiet but then I am loud, muddled, wanting.

A woman and I look at each other. My face mirrors hers or is it the other way around. I am calm but busy. My forehead and chin twitch. My head cocks to the right. My lips play a soft upturned amusement. Worry lines lift my forehead. I notice my own protracted bodily shift. I notice my breathing. I notice that I notice.

A woman’s face lines. Her eye contact steadies and studies; so does mine. Our eyes connect. I look at a woman and I wonder what I see. As a woman looks at me, I wonder how a woman sees me.
Somewhere, a breast.

Photo credit: a rawlings

Photo credit: a rawlings

Photo of Carole Harmon

Photo credit: Gary Sill

Featured Reader:
Carole Harmon

Vancouver, BC
Web sites:

I read Oscar’s Salon because

I was born at zero degrees Pisces/Aries – so I’m told. Water falls. Fire rises. I grew up and lived most of my life in Banff – village within Park within wilderness, a very odd in between place. I’m drawn to locales and situations which transcend borders – of time, of place, of being. I’ve worked with ancestral photographs, the standing stones of Brittany, inter tidal zones, the plant queendom, spiritual dimensions. At the edge of the wild I ask, how can we see beyond divisions, definitions and limitations which alienate humans from nature? I enter Oscar’s Salon and am greeted by: to note each other accurately; to be noted accurately: what we long for. I feel welcomed and revitalized at this intersection where bees buzz in middle c, gender greets nature, descendent conjures ancestor and artists exchange innermost musings.


Carole Harmon has followed a winding road of theatre, photography, and regional publishing to reach the poetry workshop of TWS 2016 where she studies poetry and lyric prose under Meredith Quartermain and privately with Ingrid Rose. Carole grew up in Banff National Park and has explored our understanding of nature through photography and collage. She is working on a collection of poems, in part as a creature advocate. Previous published works include hand made artist books: Unsung – words and images and Pool. In Banff, through Altitude Publishing Ltd. and Harmon Gallery, Carole created numerous books of Canadian Rockies photography and Canadian history.

Work With Betsy


Long Manuscript Consult

Short Manuscript Consult


Get In Touch

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This