Best Violin

Summer, 2002 / No. 8

with the very best violin

strapped to the back

of his dad’s grey trench coat

he survived somehow

wrote bad poetry

rode that rotting skateboard

like a blocked beat poet in search of inspiration

and God, the class belle loved his scent of pallid suicide

skipping class, palms sweaty

he was chubby acid-wash jeans

she was laughing blue eye shadow, mascara smudged, black cat earrings

oh, could they ever talk on the phone for hours

they were Betty and Archie

skating in Kensington Market

a year of punks,

subway stations,


vintage clothing shops

he wrote love in her yearbook

she introduced her mother

and, though she faked it,

she never could play the violin to save her life

Emily Pohl-Weary teaches at the University of British Columbia School of Creative Writing. Her book about her grandmother, Better To Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril, won the 2003 Hugo Award for non-fiction. She is the author of the poetry collection Iron-on Constellations and the novel A Girl Like Sugar. She first contributed to the magazine in 2001. Last updated fall, 2022.