Family

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.

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.

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.

Lou I Knew Ya

for L.R.

Took me all week to get thru to ya,
I heard the lines in NYC went black
flickered quickly without a notice
and that the hobo kings and queens all
danced for you that night I heard that
the songs were played in every country
and that every musician who had never
said it before was now saying it over and
over. How you were the greatest Lou.
I heard someone awoke from a dream
of you and Nico on some Henry James joyride,
her on the handle bars you in the clouds.
I heard it went overhead the state of Russia
and Denmark then Home, to the borough,
to the suburbs, and then downtown, back to
the easy commotion and hustle and drip.

Back to the light to bargain with.

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.

She Took My Hat

I danced with a girl in the mud once.
It was sloppy. Our feet made schlepping noises
as we strove to disengage them from each
wet, mucky step. It was like fly paper for flies.

I remember she had this big, brilliant smile like
a clown the whole time, there for my amusement.
At some point she absconded with my salt and pepper cap,
like it’s an old skipper hat black and white freckled in color,
not the hip hop all female act, Salt n Peppa.

Nobody would ever steal that shit.

Women have always been good at stealing my hats.
There was my “New York Fuckin’ City” black with white letter,
a ball hat I cherished a gift from my aunt.
Lost that one in a hospital after a friend of
a friend od’d on E like the first night I met him,
and I forever the Gordie Lachance, went along
in the ambulance along with some random blonde.

What her deal was I am not sure.
Ambulance chaser in a skirt?
I couldn’t have been any more blind.
I tried my classic lean in on her in the elevator but
she was just in love with that hat. And she got it.
Didn’t even cost her a kiss.

I’m such a lush for people.
I’ll take anything you have.
A word exchanged in an empty hospital bed,
in the dark, where nobody is around,
or a deep muddy dance to George Clinton
on some old abandoned air strip.

My fedora in 2011.
Liberated by a wild night at
some after hours bar.
Another two skipper caps at least in BC.

It’s really been a pleasure though.
Who the fuck am I kidding?

My Own Private Iola

I will stop
thinking about you
in your doc martens
and your blue bomber
in 1997,

when something comes down
with a monkey wrench
from heaven

and beats it all
out of me
for good.

For good, the bad
go hungrier for
longer than any of the
God-mammals could
ever last for.

Up our Jerusalem sleeves,
we set the records to skip
back, to the same spot
dropping the needle
again and again
into a bucket of silence.

I can’t get out of the
meta-universe
she is a pleasure to have
as a curse.

Put the posters back up,
get me a job at some
fast death food market

and eat my fingers
out from under themselves
every night, in-between
chapters like the very
Spy vs Spy that first
entertained me

more than the central prose,
the para-text is a devious,
blazing star you cannot

scrape off like gum
on your spokes,
you cannot eliminate like
Constantine blood on your Keds.

This is the ugliest in a set of three poems,
these are the stones thrown at the stoned.

You are my first fist,
clutching my first page.

Crumpling up the demons,
wrapping up our moments,
it is like getting ready
for X-mas in Hell.

But it is still better than
letting go, completely
of that story.

Burning to Matter

The easy thing to say has always
made me want to eat acid,
but, like, not the fun kind,
like the deadly-burn-yr-belly-like-Alien, kind.

But I would rather burn
than be burned.

I will be alive when you bury me, there still
when they scatter me back,
and I will be there,
there,
when all the easy things
have had their cheap dance,

to mean something,
is to outlast everything loud
and proud
and pomp.

Easy goes out the door,
when time stretches the canvas out,
large.

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.