Screamin Skull Press is an indie publisher based in Winnipeg – and they publish some very fine writing. Here’s a review of one of my recent favourites, ‘Last Stop to Saskatoon’ by Tony Nesca.

There’s always time to dance even as
the volcano spills over the top and turns
everything to stone your eyes on mine
in those last moments,
your skin warm in the apocalypse now,
big ol’ Pete at corner store drinking
whiskey with
bible in hand
Mama Graziella thinking ‘bout life gone wrong.

There’s a concept in Zen, ensō; meaning circle, and freeing the mind to let the body create. Tony Nesca’s Last Stop to Saskatoon takes us round that Zen circle on a long, stream-of-consciousness protest poem about the state of the world, its venal politicians, stupidity and loathing, but also the love to be found in the debris.

Spontaneous prose is a hard practice. Wannabes stick out like hipster ales when all you want is a decent Pilsener. Nesca is the real deal. He knows how to let go and is gifted with rhythm, laying down a variety of beats to drive the narrative.

He’s upfront about his protest, he wants a connection because he knows we’ve all been there too. 3am and the news down low, pour another time, a head full of hatred for the hungry TV ghosts. The anger is worn well. It feels lived and honest. These are words of love and lust lost and found, the thousand hellos and farewells of our lives, and the moments to turn the music up and scream or sit back and contemplate.

But Last Stop… isn’t just a howl of despair. Nesca knows there are diamonds in the darkness. The trick is finding them, the others who know that another world is possible, and if we freed ourselves from the bullshit and the con artists then just maybe… There’s the wisdom of red wine midnights and stone-sober dawns here. And a hard-boiled determination tinged with the innocence you need to keep believing in hope and love to get to it once again.