East Coast Love

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.

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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.

Seeing Permanent Red

They say us red heads have
tempers like East Coast weather
unpredictable and vicious.

I would argue this point but
it would only send me into
another full blown raging whirl wind.

I turn into a Snickers-less Joe Pesci.
I become Oppenheimer.

Without a moment’s notice.
Even my Jekyll is more like
most people’s Hyde.

Today when I could not find my hat
I felt like I needed it
like some average Junky,
then the more I couldn’t find it,
the more I became Herbert Hunke.

Suddenly I was a barrel short
of 12 angry monkey’s.

I miss a bus and start mumbling
to my room:

“How in the history
of all the holiest fucks
of fucking fuckers
have I lost this goddamn hat
when I have yet to leave the
house today?”

The theories get elaborate, fast.
Some kind of starving, stray
micro-goat-like creature
which normally subsists off odd socks
has not found one lately and has
decided to get brazen.

I must still be wearing it I say,
and pat my red, slowly
sweat-gathering
heavy hair.
Nope.

I check the legs of jeans
startling my bed’s frame
like crusty farmer clothes on
rickety, birch fences.

My inner Shining
declares that
Genes got me here
to begin with.

I go to punch air
and I hit the corner of my door
gashing open my hand,
now I’m bleeding and
cursing and mumbling and
tossing clothes around
like a baglady at the last
Sally Ann sale of the Earth
positive that any second I will
start to shit out everything
I have ever lost
and that’s a lot, a lot, a lot of shit.

By the time I give up and
put my hoody on
I’ve missed another bus
I’ve screamed in italic’s of cuss
I’ve prayed like a desperate Catholic
to a Mexican pick up truck’s Jesus-rust.

Curse this temper of mine.
All it was ever good for
were broken Super Nintendo controllers
dry wall craters covered in NIN posters
and a good post-meltdown chuckle
like the one just now,
while writing this poem.

Maybe that’s enough.

It’s a fucking miracle we survive every day.

This poem is best read to this:

It’s a fucking miracle we survive every day.
I don’t ever forget that fact that the internet shows you
that every single terrible piece of shit you thought was out there
is just the first stage of the real hell of them all out there, in their undecided,
cynical, high and drunk and violent natures, casting their own shit in verse all over the world.

You can tell me that you see a world of rainbows and honeysuckle at midnight
out there in the one and the zero forever fields, but it is also slain bodies of a million
and it is the empty crevice of idiocy that drives all of them together to fight for their
own pop star suicide and it is the end on repeat in your room for three days and
it is the spectacle of it all removed of all repercussions and given all manner
of righteousness and it will always be this way until we finally go right over the edge.

Some of us will praise
the coming back
of the night.

Some of us will go right on back to our supermarket mimesis,
wandering through a burning, rat-filled Wal-Mart
aisles of melting celluloid and human fat,
everything seeping into the new history and tainting all the fresh ideas again,
it’s a fucking miracle we are less like the matrix trilogy than we are.

But I guess we have Baudrillard
and Nietzsche to thank for that.

You can tell me all you want that it is just a movie, that it is just reality,
that it is just Africa, that it is just truth, that it is just some beat poem or elegy.

I will be left,
in the night of reason
to fiddle my way into
seeing something more.

It is just in some of us,
just in some of us
to be curious with anger
to have an angry
curiosity is the only
healthy aggression you can
ever hope to inherit from
anything you take into your body
your eye
your mind.

Treat them with some fucking Respect.
Then tell me you don’t see the potential for doom in everything else.

Tell me it’s not a miracle,
every day
we get another.

It is not

for KW

It is not for you, it is for me
to walk the streets at all hours still
and sing a little, maybe a dance move or too even
if I feel especially on the end of it all,
I’ll weep uncontrollably.

It is just when I am off the stuff for “a few”,
even text the old Argentine “Yeah no drink till June”
that he’ll get a dozen garbled after-texts
which barely make any sense at all.

Well, if they were from anyone
but me,
that is.

It is not you kicking cop cars and slipping them the finger
before running. Unless you’re one of my cohorts.
In which case you’re likely also wielding a trumpet,
the car is likely on fire, the police are likely, confused and
powerless.

I thought of him the other night
when CTV National exposed some random stories,
one where a rape chant originated at my old University.

One about a strange incident in Parry Sound,
in which dozens of Garden Gnomes,
stolen over a period of time, or was it one night?

Who can be sure, they were all lined up in a parking lot,
though
that much is for sure, all in rows, neat and uniform
and giddy and frolicking

like they didn’t give a fuck,
like nobody had abducted them at all,
like, well, foolish garden Gnomes look,
is all.

It reminded me of the great Gnome slaughter of ’98.
I wish I could remember it.
Like King and Salem’s Lot,
some of the demons are yours but
you can never get un-got.

It is not me I seek in the mad ones I have
followed, like weird news-reel made real,
it is within me, that I hope to share even a shard
of them, like a Skesis trying to get a Gelfling,
in Dark Crystal, to sell him some
more soul.

Some more time, to live in digital youth.
Let’s dance tonight, on the old downtown roof.
The one from the past, all sticky with truth.
I’ve got a story for you, that nobody else will
get but you, & just have
to hear what happened next.

I’ve got a story and
it is not
for anyone else.

And What About the Ones from The Island?

for M.L.Dawe and the gang

I mean I can sit back
for the rest of my days
and look through
a flittering landscape

a rolodex in my heart
of moments with these
absolute angels and

I can honestly,
without
hesitating for
so much as a nano declare
there have been
some truly amazing smiles,

like, the kind where you
just see their childhood
beaming out at you,

some sort of lighthouse
laugh-line-coastal curve.

You know that person
intimately, the first time
you speak,

and the only joy that
replaces it is every next
one after it.

The kind that opens
your soul like the little
cupboard in that movie
about the tiny Indian.

The kind you catch
riding through the wind
with that smile,
time and time again,
on an old schwin or

a Harley or just jogging,
just out to run through life,
like we all should-

like we are lucky to have it.

Yes, she is certainly one of those.

But it was the smile,
it was a fresh orange crisply
spreading a sweet scent over
your whole day.

It’s a thing about the ones from down here
in the East.

They all smile like it still means something.

Like it is innately connected
to survival and to
the nuance of each community.

Like the day depended on it.
That’s how they smiled at me,

like angels who knew the trick
of staying human amidst any,
and all conditions.

Like legends.
Like friends.

– Love,
the Ginj.