aka: the poems

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.

“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.

House-hold

coming up the stairs
with all the lovers
you have had

at once
a party,
a rebels march,
a taking back,

of the creaking tomb
now owning your morning
and your night walks,

I can see myself,
falling, into the ocean
or, a pendulum swinging
on a crooked branch.

you can’t see me
like I can

and that’s what makes it
easy, like yours,
hard, like ours,
complete, then mine.

a set of advantages
builds,
oceanic

and all that rests
is the applause
of crowd laugh,
of foot twitch,
of airs,

untold,

of a tour,
of a chorus,
of everything,
in-between,

buy the hat,
sing the dance,
make it yours,
and mine,

mine
is an easy calligraphy
in-between the mad,
coarse
dance that
shuffles us,

into new, exotic
singularities

we want to raise
our finger
into the air

and ask it for anything
but what we already know

so that,
and this,
and our dream
meet,

a half burning finger
in-between

that stings,
and sings,
and singes,

that easy binge,
it brings
us cover
to honesty

it brings us
closer to sovereignty,

and it clings us
to the envelope
so that we cannot
grow
without
that

and we go
we go until
there is none left

and that is it
for us

isn’t it?

Freezes & Thaws [I & II]

Freezes and Thaws I

She was sure the package
would not arrive Friday.

They’re kicking up
an awful fuss!
The Post is cutting back
deliveries!

The people of St. John’s were they,
especially in matters concerning
government, doctors,
or postal workers.

In her account of things,
it’s us, vs. them.

They’re closing everything
down here now.
Nothing left in Newfoundland,
no work, sure not a store left Downtown!

I’d almost believe her
if not for the waves of
new store-fronts.

It’s clear.
Nan’s world,
not the city,
is shrinking.

Oh, no mail Fridays now
?
I ask, knowing
this is not so.

She’s a cold one today.
Be sure you keep your hat on tight,

her morning words
are often weather related.
Blow ‘da head off a ya.

It doesn’t seem that bad
by my window, Nan!

I use the fact
the living room
is at the opposite end
of the apartment,
to defend incoming predictions
of untenable weather.

Nan often concedes,
since it’s a theory
she thought up.

Yes the wind is on the back, see,
so when ya go out be careful!

We’ve lived together
since Pop passed away,
and I came from Ontario
to attend University.

Not raining at least, hey?

This is my tactic:
to negate one element,
with the absence of another.

If there’s enough wind to blow the head off ya,
at least it isn’t the rain whose
every drop would fill a bucket!

Too hot? At least it would
be dark soon.

Well, at least it isn’t snowing, hey?

and the battle continued.

No, she returns,
but they’re callin’
for heavy snowfall
around the Bay,
whether or not now
we’ll have it,
nobody knows.

Hard ole day lookin’ out!

Freezes and Thaws II

Last semester,
in German Post-War Film,
I learned about
freezes and thaws.

Relations with Nan
are like the wax and wane
of Soviet-ruled East Germany
before re-unification,
when, The Wall torn apart,
thousands of separated hands,
grasped to reconnect.

Like the professor says,
it’s a matter of
constant freezes and thaws.

This fact’s echoed again
this term, in Soviet Cinema.
Khrushchev would allow
more liberal arts to be made,
then, in a cold-snap,
everything has to tow
the party line again.

Did you hear about the
ghost ship from Newfoundland, Nan?

I don’t bother mentioning
its name, Lyubov Orlova,
is that of a Russian film starlet.

Keep it simple.
Current events.
Weather.

During periods of thaw
our exchanges are
almost fluidic.

The warm water of
communication extends
beyond courtesy.

I keep my door open and
she can see me
from her rocking chair.

This leads to
open fraternization
on a variety of news items.

Yes, and wherever that ship
ends up now my son,
them rats are getting off her!

She’s heard about the ship,
which means we can
further the discussion.

The boat is lost.

Nan suspects,
it was intentionally set adrift,
by the Port Authority,
most conveniently,
in International waters.

It’s filled with
what the British tabloids
are calling cannibal rats.

Yes that’s true Nan,
I mean there is no way
to track the thing now,
since the rats took over.
No radar or nothing, hey?

I know that when I move out
in the Spring
it will be harder.

The mornings quiet
as an empty water.

Instead of painting her apartment
twice a year,
she might have to do it
every four months.

The fleet of miniature spoons
that adorn the walls
on massive collector shelves
will be taken down more often,
each one soaked in a sink
of polish and hot water,
then returned
to individual hanging positions,
like hundreds of miniature
violins, dangling by their necks.

They tell of her life and family,
who always send a spoon
when they move West.

Every province is there,
even the Territory’s.

The Prime Ministers up until,
and including, that fella Trudeau.

The royal family,
one spoon for every marriage
worth mentioning,
up until poor old Diana.

Birthstones.
Provincial flowers.

Their cleaning is
guaranteed to soak up
at least half of a day.

Well, at least it’s gone from our area, hey Nan?
Do you need anything while I’m over at Sobeys?

I’m good, Nan.
I have my key if you’re going, just lock the door.

Yeah I have class shortly.
Talk to ya after!

I sip on coffee,
and scour the paper for
something to top the ghost ship.

It won’t be easy, but,
something always washes up.

Just then,
the familiar boots
followed by the shuffling
of our mail box
being filled.

Lying, All Week

I went around with
The Blower’s Daughter and Delicate
in my ears
because I wanted to
look at every person in the street
like we were in the
credits of a movie,
of a great life,
together, and
we didn’t even know it.

I try not to do this anymore
it is too hard to go home
after that rush of eyes
meeting for once,
for only one moment,
just one brief smile,
and a hundred moments

that flicker in futures
that are no more real

than love at first sight,
left alone in an elevator
or peace on earth,
rolled up in a newspaper,
or a last unicorn,
scratching on maps
its last whereabouts,

or anything else they’ve sold
out of existence,
cornered into stalls
of soundtracks,
made typical like
lucky trolls or
Marguerite umbrellas.

I still go out.
Music is still my wet street.
It’s still filled, too,
with eyes like that.
I just don’t write about it anymore.
And that, more than any of the rest,
is the best lie I’ve told,
all week.

The Nothing and My Statue

I want to tell you
about the nothing
and how it was on my back
from late 90s to just now.

My first time was
just a six pack
of coca cola I was
12 maybe 13,

and I was up all night
with the caffeine propping up
my stinging eyes like,
twitchy invisible insect germs,
holding up heavy red curtains.

I used it to get more comic books read.
It gave me the strength to watch
entire nights of reruns.

I moved onto vodka pretty
much the next summer.
Because it made me think I was
an extrovert and a revolutionary,
and because Val Kilmer drank
as Jim Morrison and I wanted to
be a rebel like him.

I always sounded more like
the Lizard King after some drinks.
It was like the liquid gave me skill.

First pack of smokes found
in The Beer Store parking lot on
Chopin Street in Preston.
They bought me the prison yard acceptance
of first year high school.

I smoked more green any man ever seen,
we had something called wheelchair pot and
I laughed at the sky.

Our crew donned Value Village polyester and
tie dyes from local hemp shops.
We slunk through corn field grids
like eager pony tailed lab rats,
hunting down the cheese of
some wheat kings secret plants.
Dried them out in our parents rafters,
sold the shit for better stuff.

Drank a bottle of Robitussin
because some raver chick in
funfer pink told me it was like Acid,
which was hard to come by and
always made me feel like Neo,
even before The Matrix came out.

My first line was the last thing I
ever put on my back,
through my nose.

I say first because it’s all
the same line,
one massive one that stretches from
a cramped apartment on St. Andrew’s hill,
winds through the jungle of a hundred
dirty stalls, stripper’s breasts, mirror and
chipped dinner plates.

I earned a twitch in the final years,
when I would go for days at a time,
I can’t quite tell you
for too long about it
without risking the
abyss taking me back
you have to take my word
you have nothing
to lose by gaining better ground
in this war,
you lose only your mind when you
play the game with the Nothing,
the nothing,
the not-knot but
not-rope
that you see hanging
from your neck on trees
the next morning,
you’ll have to take my warning
as it is.

I’m just not far away from the fire yet
to turn back and laugh
without risking a salty
statuette of my good intent.

I’ve earned that much.

And how.

I sip coffee in the morning now
with all the music that
was always there to
bring me into sleep,
it is the drug I will always
lean hardest on.

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.

One Size

I can’t stand shopping.
I used to love being a kid in the cart and
grabbing stuff from one aisle when nobody looked
and then dropping it somewhere else:

maybe I was a child anarchist,
maybe I was a shit,
maybe I was a fucking artist,
without proper tools or inspiration.
so I took to the shelves and remade them
in my own twisted version of store planning,
in my own storm of shop dropping,
two decades too early,
two little fistfuls of products, poised
to my own devious ends.

Years later when I worked in a grocery store
all that karma was reduced to a single bill
I owed what I owed and at the end of the night
I had to fulfill the duty of looking for products
that been left in the wrong spot
the entire fucking store, shelf by aisle by freezer by display
for lost items, that they called “orphans” in case the
average minimum wage employee needed reminders that this
was a dire and crucial element to the job.

I think about the orphans when i shop now
and still once in awhile create a little chaos
for the next kid whose just trying to finish their shift
and get to some party where they can talk about how
it makes no sense to call them orphans since
they have never really left the florescent home
and they would by this logic call shoplifters kidnappers.

I have to shop sometimes though.
It is water boarding for my soul.
I loathe every salesperson not because
they invite it but because I just detest everything about the phony process.
I even start to sound like Holden Caulfield.

I needed boots though.
It could not be helped.
The previous week I had done a rush job of foot wear.
I had bought a pair, believe it or not, an entire size larger than mine.
This is how much I hate shopping.

They were like clown shoes after a few hours.
So I wore two socks.
but then my feet got all sweaty
and I’m pretty sure some sort of
athletes foot started to flare as a result.
They were on sale too. So no returns.
Now i had to return to the scene of the hell-crime.
I had to do twice what I reluctantly do once a year or more.

So I tried on 18 pair.
No luck.
everything felt like it was hard and designed for robotic footed beings.
everything felt like a twisted Cronenberg three hour retelling of Goldilocks,
with redheaded temper replacing blonde earnestness. Every sales clerk was
more and more a grizzly.

I gave up on Pay-Less.
It should have never crossed my mind to enter since
it looks about the quality of Al Bundy’s shoe shop,
and that can never be good.

I ended up back at the place I started.
Endless bus rides, hours of muzak and increasing
sense of panic driving into my body,
back to the fucking shire I went, seeking the impossible.

I saw them out of the corner of my twitching eye.
They gleamed like fucking Excalibur.
but then they walked like geisha clogs.
5 more pair.
5 more runway walks.
you always fucking wish the salesperson
would just fuck off
and not watch you do your test walk
like what am I going to do?
run out of the store in tight boots?
has this happened?
is it an epidemic?
i start to think about how this must be the shittiest job in the world
watching for potential kidnappers
putting boxes of orphans on shelves like a
detective at the end of some show
and finally
a pair of Timberland’s spoke
my fucking language
and I almost threw the size 13’s from hell
back at the sales clerk and
decided against it
I almost put them on the shelf
but didn’t
I just walked home
proud for having avoided a total rage out
and put the 13’s in the box the Timberland’s
my sacred number 12’s
had come in, and I put the box in the back of my closet
next to the other things
I like to pull out of retirement
for a laugh
now and again you need
to laugh at your own foolish abandon
of logic
of reason of
all fucking hope

because boots are made for walking…
and orphans are made to be re-shelved,
and shopping is for masochists,
see you again next year.

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.

The Truth

I fucking hate it all.
I hate needing it.
Having to encircle the moment
where I finally stoop back
down to the desert of tomorrow
and eat my own faith alive,
some kind of vulture for
my own survival, my own future.

I love that I can leave it all.
I want to bring them all with me
but they’ve always known that vulture kid,
and I’m heading somewhere new.

I’m heading to you, kid.