The Table Must Always Be Clean Before Bed

A pair of scissors on the table is bad fortune
Shoes or elbows on the table is bad manners
Beer bottles on the table is a bad hangover
Cat on the table is a bad cat

Crossed knives or bellows
At the table mean a bad argument
Sitting on the table tempts fate
Crossed forks at the table mean bad rumour
Dropped cutlery means a visitor
(potentially bad)

But what of crumbs and grains of rice,
And magazines and papers and crayons?
What of candles and napkins,
A toy airplane and a game of cards?

If singing at the table can make you poor,
And sleeping on it can make you unlucky, then
What about just a head, resting? What about humming instead?
What about an open book?
What about a party hat?
What about chewing gum, fingers,
The future
The past
The straight flush
The Hanged Man
The hope that tomorrow will be a better day?
How clean must this table be?


Julie Paul’s debut poetry collection, The Rules of the Kingdom (MQUP, 2017) was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and is shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. She is the author of two short fiction collections, The Jealousy Bone (Emdash, 2008) and The Pull of the Moon (Brindle & Glass, 2014). The Pull of the Moon was awarded both an IPPY award and the Victoria Book Prize and was named a Top 100 Book in The Globe and Mail. Her essay “It Not Only Rises, It Shines,” won the Edna Staebler Personal Essay Award from The New Quarterly and her story “The Expansion” won The Rusty Toque’s 2016 Chapbook Award. She lives in Victoria BC, where, in addition to writing, she works as a Registered Massage Therapist.


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