aging

standing by

whenever i listen to ben e king

i remember my first friend who was not white

and how we stayed up late

singing that song

and how he was this amazing light

when i left the island of my childhood home

and moved to the city, to the mainland.

if you haven’t understood

that love is the only solution

to all our ignorance

and fear of each other

you will kids.

you fucking have to.

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“Game Plan number 999” aka “The Final One”

Because the cavern walls have stretched behind me so long now, from that very first taste of it, and my path has curved deeper and into multiple directions and winding, twisting moments…I have decided to travel again. First, to complete the novel, then, to travel with it behind me, in me, and to master it’s retell. Then, to see wild animals, monkey and all manner of bird. To master something else. To teach. To teach children to master something, and to learn from the people around me wherever I roam. I’ll slowly repay my debt; well no, not the student one, it’s gargantuan by this point, haha, but maybe, just maybe, with the will of my every story, which is really 87 percent other people’s gifting me with theirs, I can carve out a travelling, learning, teaching and feeling empire of moments, to wander through as it crumbles in my old, wise because still learning soul’s, final trek.

I always save something immediately when it’s good. This one is the one. As Beck, quoting in cut-up-Negativland fashion, once quipped, “Things are gonna change I can feel it!”.

To give a Star Wars theater experience to my boy, to make my sister cry at her wedding with joy, and Mom of course too. To give Gramps a star, and Mickey a sober, dry run of it for at least a year at a time.

And then to finish the book, to continue sending messages to the people I love, but to go.

I am going to abandon, for a time, all physical connection to my past. I am going to cleanse, to de-age, and to re-connect with this path. I got back on it. But that’s nothing compared to where I’m going. Out of the cavern and into the pan-every-land triumph. I’ll die broke and most likely in debt, but will not have lived, for a second longer than necessary, for Nothing.

In life thus far I have purposefully derailed my future enough times to cause a sort of series of changes to my perspective. By finishing a commitment to school, and actually embracing changes I had not thought possible, I have gained the confidence to really continue my quest. To actually occupy my moments. And to write for all who have inspired me, a thank you letter that explodes in a dozen mini-narratives, like a fractal of a human set of memories. I have personified the fool, I have shaken the dreams of my life into the rivers of my notebooks, I have panned for something to hold up, more powerful than gold. I have found love, like Burroughs for his cats, in the eyes of strangers, and I have crept into friendships so unique and varieties in their connection’s forms that I can honestly say I am ready to know all love. To know all of the forms of the language of human and worldly connection is my ultimate end now.

If it is possible I will give everything I have for my work, but I am no longer foolish enough to think that process is anything but a divination of truth through other people.

The dark, brooding years of self-derailment are over. For all they taught, I offer a work of that long period’s reflection. To myself I offer the following promise. I will go out in the world. I will share the story, and in doing so, build an entirely new one. There is an architecture to joy and I am learning it’s finer points lately. It’s a pretty fantastic existence.

I think I’ll have a time with it.

I think I’ll make graphic matches with the sky, the ocean and the people in the cities I enter like a ghost and leave like a child, sad but alive with movement within and without, more synchronized, less defeated.

It will never occur to me that I have gone astray or I am lost, except in that perfect moment, looking out at the moon in Thailand, dancing to the craziest music, and alive in the truest sense. And I won’t stop, can’t stop, until I get there. Until I reach the personal, solitary zero hour, and am a phantom of my earlier self.

I think the evenings of my life will fill with my words thrown down at all hours, and early jogging and loads of dancing. I want to teach the kids English, teach myself humility and self-love, and just go, go, go.

I Think I finally understand Neal Cassidy.

Your Story

I met you on Route 18.
It was the ugly morning
two after my Mick’s ashes
were put besides his father
and his son’s bodies.

You could see that
I was willing to listen to just about anything
that was not my vacant body
colliding with each bump
in the road and swerve of the transit.

This is the route to his house.
The one I took every weekend I could get off
from the butcher shop in the grocery store in town.
This is the last time I am ever taking this bus.
You see that I am clutching an acoustic
in a flailing black coffin.
Like it is all I ever had.

You start telling me about your quest.
To bring Home Hardware to its knees.
They stole your idea,
your patent pending,
for an apparatus that is both
tape measure and magnifying glass and level.

They stole it right from under you,
and you didn’t care what stood in your way,
you were getting it back.

I thought about the windshield wiper guy,
and that movie that I think only robots
don’t tear up watching,
especially when you told me

how your wife left
and your kids were all grown up
and nobody was on your side
but you were gonna spend your days
making that corporation pay.

It wasn’t the money, either.
It was the truth.
You wanted the world to know
so you had the paper
write an article and you made copies of it.

You let me tell you about the guitar,
and how it was a piece of crap,
truly beyond repair, no strings, warped.
Mick had told me to take it one day last spring,
and it was that ugly day,
when his remaining children,
puffed chests and dry eyes,
had left the wake to go hear the will called out.

When I was told I was not to be their
upon their return, I left.
I left the crowd who
didn’t know my grandfather,
not the way I did.
Not as friend.

I walked past his house.
I finished my 6th beer.
I opened his pickup because
he never locked it.
And I turned it on and
put in the Johnny Cash cd
I had burned for him
a few years back,
when anything that impressed him
I did with a son’s joy.

I wept a little. I cried some more.
I got out with a mission.
I would go into his house
that was never locked, one more time
and I would take my guitar.
My useless, weak instrument.

And I would learn to play
Silver Haired Daddy on it.
It was a song he had cried to many nights
when telling me his own father’s story.

You, Windshield Wiper Man,
you had to ask then, why was I returning
the guitar in its tattered vessel now?
And so I told it true.

His children had called the police.
They had told them I had broken in,
like some criminal, and stolen the only thing
I had left with.

Something he had given me.

So the officer had forced me
to either return it,
or face charges.
It was only right.

Then, you looked at me,
and we shared that moment,
that realization we had both
been put on quests that were
about more than money.
More than family.

Truth.

I told it all then.
How his children had become suspicious when
I started spending time with Mick.

How they had flown in from the West Coast
most having avoided any contact with him,
unless he was buying them condos.

They had learned to roll
their eyes in every language
when he got a few drinks in
and started to tell a familiar story.

And I was suspect.
Because I was interested
in every one of them.

That was when you looked at me,
strange man on a strange quest,
and you said that
no matter what they did
they knew they would never get his
love or respect
not like I had,
and that was all they could do,
was try to take everything else,
even a broken guitar.

You told me
“your story is his story”
and nobody will take that away.
Nobody can.

Then you got off at your stop,
heading toward that massive
Home Hardware.
They were gonna hear from you.
Until you ran out of time.

Leaving Lost Angels

I am emptying at your move
I have no choice but love
I no longer fold my hands for anything
but rest
I have earned
every scar
and all I know of capes
could be squeezed,
uncomfortably into
a dire, match-book mattress,
I only give up when
it protects you.
Tonight I push the bill
off the bar and no longer
snort my way back to sick,
warm, real abandon.
I don’t live in the name of
Rimbaud, Kerouac or Morrison,
this little thing is mine,
and only mine.
The easiest part was killing it
in my head .
Otherwise,
the hardest part is being
aware you are MISSING
irreplaceable days,
and in finding your earnest hope,
for a chance
to live out
what many might call
average lives,
you get to partake of
each individual
dynastic star from
the purview of
cell, stone, and bars.

Swigging, the Light Fantastic

Give me one more big fucking swig.

I want to leap out of a window some days.
It is nothing special.
I am not infected with anything,
it is just the slow drawl of truth,
giving you what for,
while you wash the whole
floor of the library, with your eye.

I want to creep into the auditorium
and rip out all the seats
and force everyone to dance
at every event
even dog shows
even hockey
even pope visits
and especially pope visits,
but crunking, all of us, dry humping
to his slicked back religioso.

I want to sing in the basement of the madhouse
with my headphones duck taped to my ears
so they can never break me out of my routine,
not easily, you’ll never take me
from my own mad shuffle,
without a fight,
without some scratching,

and some twitching,
and some devil tongue,
and some downright tongue.

I want to eat all of the spirit.
I want to fuck on tombstones and in catacombs.
I want to piss my name in the snow of your culture.

I will be the prisoner out in the yard,
collecting rocks,
making a crude chess set,
trying to learn a new way to say fate,
producing a work that is
half scream,
half tune.

Give me one big swig,
and you can have me
for another day here.
I will close the window,
quit the dance and find
my own way home.

Just give me that bottle.
Give me five minutes of your time.
Give me your first born.
Give me your Jack and
I’ll give you my Queen.

I still have the black one
up my sleeve for later anyway.

Give up already,
we’re already 9 floors down,
and 18 more to go.

Get ready for the finish,
it has nothing to do with circularity.

I wanted to give you one last
echo is all.

Is that not what you longed
for from them all?

Just one reverberating kiss
to guide your final ascent?

Or would you like to come along,
have some fun beneath?

Characters on a Cooking Show

for Chad

Two old friends, in the midst of
some really poor, broke-ass times
would make each other cackle,
on a shoe-string diet, with little else.

Taking turns putting on impromptu,
quasi-starved cooking shows,
monologues that were somewhat tired,
and giving it a bit of flare where
such fanciness was possible.

“Tonight we dine on Mr. Noodles and Tuna,
and I don’t know about you audience, but I
am just super excited to dig in and make
the meal shine, you know?”

“Today’s shoestring meal is brought to you
by the creamers I lifted at the coffee shop
earlier, making that batch of peppered Kraft Dinner
something to really write home about!”

“These peppers I shoved into my backpack
before leaving work are going to go well
with the discounted taco shells and beef!”

“We take the leftover juice from our
Tuna-Mr.Noodle Surprise, and freeze it
for later reuse in this handy margarine container!”

When you have nothing,
you have a sense of humour
about your own sunken belly.

When you have a friend with a similar
sense of survival, the cooking show
can even fall into a couple condiment packs
and a few looted, workplace goodies,
without losing any of the comic flavors,
sealed in now by time, survival
and salt.

Eat your fucking heart out, Ramsay.

Book of Epoch (First Chapter)

Here you’ll get all the generic shitting in pants.
The crying for pablum.
The open envy of breasts.

All the loathing of any available silence.
All the mysterious anger aimed at the screen.
All the red.

Here you will find a ghastly lumberjack
charges into my room screaming and paranormal.
Hoping to jar my sorrow for payment?
Impossible, Monsters Inc. is years away.

What will the childhood images that flicker on
tomorrow’s teen’s inner stage look like?
Millions of logos smashing into images of towers
and fat congealing in the narrows of their holiest places.

Where will a million humans texting end up?
Lemming-lept into concrete absence of real struggle,
into mouse-clicks that agree and share and like and
do all that other heavy emotional lifting, leaving the
psychic exoskeleton looking like a dancing bo-jangles
who can’t keep the bones from falling all over the pavement.

But that’s all middle to last chapter shit.

Bodies all over the hemisphere abandoning the struggle
of a book for an app.

Angels caught and demoted to trumpeters for texting while smiting.

God gone off-line for an hour,
to update your status.

Wonders sent to junkyards for later, post-apocalyptic salvage.

Movie sets turning into battlegrounds.

Celebrities rounded up like cattle. Forced to reenact for survival, the
hungry salvager-crowds.

It’s going to be like Burning Man.
Only hotter.
And forever.

But that’s another chapter.

The Gas Station Angel

Hell exists. I have seen it. It is contained in a stretch
of about 6 city blocks in Downtown Vancouver where
people twitch out like glitch background characters in
a sandbox game, every third vehicle is law enforcement or paramedic.

I would get up at 6 am and take a bus there, with the other
Suckers and suits. By the time the shift ended I was sweaty,
and had my fix of junkies for the week, no matter what time it was.
I had learned empathy from their ashtray faces, their rusty chain link arms.

Horror is not a genre to them. It’s a state of being,
Wedged between “waking” and “high again”.

She always came mid-day and always wore a cheap green coat
I was sure she bought at the Value Village next to us, along with
the strange costume bangles she wore to compliment her over-applied rouge.

It was a wind breaker, wrinkled as though left a hundred times
after rain-walks when she has forgotten her umbrella again,
and again, and now the thing was as withered as her
vein splayed hands that count loonies on the glass counter as I smile.
She was an Irish princess to someone once, and Hastings a booming community.

She looked like Jessica Tandy (whom I secretly teared
up over at 12 in Fried Green Tomatoes and feel far
less ashamed now than I did for it, thankfully.)

She would come in and buy these French Vanilla
powdered machine drinks, made buy some massive
and dark corporation with little care for the former
Princess of and Irish Poet, nor Hastings or its glitch mobs.

Sometimes her husband had a chance before work
(his suit and tie never perfect, him always mildly agitated)
and would walk the four blocks from their cramped, dim- lit apt.

I know it because one day, much to the anger of my boss,
I walked her back there when she all of a sudden, having left
and gotten ten feet, all of a sudden perked her head up like
a Scottish Terrier hearing some inaudible sound, seemed altogether
lost and out of herself. She did seem off to me earlier, but
I hadn’t noticed, busied by a slew of usual as usual.

The Greek Goddess I never had the courage to chat with
except to learn she worked in “publishing”.

The one we called “Mr. Chu” whom was the one homeless
one allowed free loitering-reign in the store (a common practice
I noticed in many stores throughout the city, something I always
rationalized was both for Karma and a handy witness to deter or
in the chance report malicious behavior, of which this neighborhood
could provide enough for a thousand gas stations and Mr. Chu’s)
of course all he ever wanted was the washroom key, he was
granted microwave access and spent hours stood at a lottery table
that nobody but him seemed to use, and scribble childish pictures,
occasionally laughing to himself, causing me to smile and stop.

The man I called “The Gambler” because he ritualistically
came in 3 times a day and dropped hundreds on Keno,
and I decided must work in some type of stereo business
or manufacturing, because his hands were clean but he was
always in a denim jacket and smoked cigarillos and what
the fuck did I know at 21 anyway you’re thinking and you are right,

I didn’t know shit.

But when I saw her there, lost, I couldn’t not walk her home,
carry the drinks (her quiet seemed to testify to accidentally
pouring a second but having been too embarrassed to say.

She had the sweetest frailty, the bluest eyes, long and straight
and still mostly blonde hair and I thought, the slightest lilt in her voice.
She mentioned having been confused, and when she realized I was
listening she calmed down pretty quickly, and we reached her apt door,
and I even came in and set down the syrupy, leaky mess of the cups.

Seeing she was safe, turning to leave, I will always remember that the
entire place was bathed in yellow light, and dozens of paintings had over
taken the entire place, everywhere space permitted they were jumping out;
each one of a sunet, or a valley, or an ocean and Cliffside

Some were quite good, but the ones closer to me revealed someone else
had painted them, more child-like, less aware.
The suns looked like burning sunflowers in the sky, the clouds and cliffs
often shared commonality to the point of bleeding into one another.

She had been slowly giving over to fantasy, as all around her the old streets
were filled with anomalies, and walking back to a reprimanding boss,
the sun cutting through the high trees, to Victoria and Hastings,
I knew there were only so many canvas’ and pages to fill before
we all end up negotiating the dark like the Irish Princess or Mr. Chu,
and all we get is now, now is heaven- now is West Hastings, clean
and ready to greet us each day.

Dancing King

The Dancing King

He gets on my route once in awhile,
or really I should say, I get onto his bus,
since he is the king of everywhere he goes.

He waves his hands around like he
is constantly doing the media propagated
“uhn-uhn, Oh, no you did-ent”
while simultaneously waving his hands
to old school-tape cassette and airline headphones.

I try to guess what he is listening to sometimes
and come up with a variety of things which suit the
hands wax and wane, the pomp, the pageantry.

Sister Act (The Official Motion Picture Soundtrack.)
Dance Mix ’94 (especially Return to Innocence)
New World Symphony or Matthaus Passion.

Or maybe Miles Davis like me.

He is the most free, least concerned with appearances
person I have ever seen, and I envy his predicament.

I have always secretly wanted to live as
though in a commercial where it’s ok to
sing aloud, where the mail delivery person
chimes in and the various ethnic groups all
jive together and the coffee looks too black
to be real, matching fanatically kempt lawns.

Everyone would follow The Dancing King,
half enchanted half epileptic, we would all
enact a masse, feverish crunking, bodies going
off script in every possible way, manically
preaching the good twitch, the holy creep, the
trippy hallways of Kubrick’s The Shining.

Arms directing the traffic of stars, legs kicking
up the dust of the Neolithic and the Tribe and Clan
Village of the Damned looking kids brought
back to life, disconnected, discombobulated then
slowly regaining their senses, like the end of Surrogates.

I get off my bus and walk the streets like
Neo after he understands he is in The Matrix.
It’s a great soundtrack too. The Dancing King
inspires like Di Caprio in Gilbert Grape or
Hoffman in Rain Man, but I’m no Fred Savage
in The Wizard, and besides, it’s the rest of the
world that needs to be rescued, The Dancing King
already found his “Cali’fooooorniiiiiiiia”.

Strangers Follow Us

We are the haunted few still
undistracted entirely by screen
or pandemonium or dance, and the
stranger’s have always followed us.

This bus I was on once was
overrun with their
loud, obese stories and I
could do nothing to avoid our
imminent collision.

On my left was a young girl and
her “old man”. They
were some of the first junkies
I ever met. I was intrigued, but
wary also. I wouldn’t be taken
on my first trip out West.

I had months of notebooks and
all intents to make my mettle as per
that great Ontarian ritual-voyage
to BC. I would smoke weed and
write of all the things done wrong
by the world to the artist.

I was basically full of shit and
sure of its value to the world.

These two were heading out of
a long haul doing rehab for family
members piece of mind, all the time
planning their Bonnie & Clyde escape.

I ended up seeing them on the streets
periodically as I job hopped like some
come from away or illegal, barely keeping
some jobs long enough to take a second pay.

Behind me and junk row
was a strange solitary girl
dressed in a mix of rag and garbage bag
and patches of herself seemingly just
flesh with marker or paint.

She became if you haven’t guessed yet,
an early lesson in the unpredictability
of cross country busing,
to this younger, yours truly.

Somewhere between the beginning and
the long anticipated end of the prairies,
it started:

a noise so jarring and yet unmistakable
no matter how inexplicable it seemed,
began to emanate from the last row of
the slow going people’s Greyhound,

like a roll of tape being constantly ripped
off about 4 feet of itself at a time in well
timed, 5-8 second intervals, for at least
a half an hour although it could’ve been longer.

I slowly peeped my head up and looked
to see what was going on, since others
ahead were doing the same to me .

And there she was. Taping up her feet and
upper leg. By now she had socks of tape.
Teen junky’s Old Man got up and threatened

her, I want to say with a knife but I think he just
smelled bad and go close to me and I code him
as more harmful, more foul than he really was.
I do remember clearly the way he said. Each. Word.

“If.You.Pull.Another.Strand.Off-”

And I remember how the bus driver,
stirred to action by the Jerry Springer Show
brewing on his back rows, pulled off to the side
of the road somewhere just outside Canmore
and, making his way past each now spellbound

and rubber necked passenger, found and for some
reason I still don’t quite understand, assumed
we were all together; the greasers and the socials

and me, a young bullshit scribe, now admittedly a
little petrified at the prospect of being left in a strange
and uncertain land with such savages. I had to make it
out west, I couldn’t let it end like this.

“I have no idea who this nut bag or these
Freaks are Sir! I’m not with them!”

“I don’t give a shit, all of you make
me stop the bus again, you’re all out.”

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful.
I stayed awake in fear of reprisals against me,
besides who wants nightmares of being tied
up in tape and poked with needles when you can
scribble your first poems on British Columbian soil,

off to find some new strangers to pry another
poem from.