Life and Death

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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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.

Note of Hunger

[In The Footnotes]

There was a rat
in the heart
of Dickens that
ate away at him.

You can find everything
in the footnotes.

You can spend hours
in their margins.

You can arm yourself.
You are Spy vs Spy.
You can give
everything in the text

a shot of adrenaline,
a battery charge.

A rude wake.
A muffled tear.

The smell of the workhouses
comes up through the floor.

The sounds of
the children
as their bones
become brittle
in hard beds.

The claustrophobia
of the chimney sweep
is given legal parameters.

A rat makes its way across the
secret history of
snuff and Mudfog
to snack on the
salivating eye of a student.

I roll up my sleeves.
Not to get to work.
But because it’s warm
in the workhouse.

My eyes aren’t dry they
stayed up with the orphans
long enough to hear their
stomachs churn in on themselves,
nibbling at the lining.

The riots are breaking out,
the poor are organized
with fire and fury and
the full stomach of the court
is foul, is fallen into full view.

You can smell it on their breath.
Something is rotten.
Something is happening,

in the footnotes,
you can hear the heart
of the orphan
beating to Beethoven’s 6th.

Smashing with a frail fist,
the locks on the food cupboard.

PR men don’t exist yet,
they’re still wet dreams in
Hitler’s unborn henchmen,
but propaganda is as old
as Constantine.

All the King’s men
can’t hide the
footnote.

The one that breaks the truth up
passes it around in
edible, ingestible morsels.

The collection plate is full.
The cup runs right, right over.

Everyone asks for more truth.
Everyone dreams of escape.

Nobody gets out of it without answering.
The clergy are not even safe.

Footnotes for all of them.

Let them have knotty
endnotes, if not.

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.

Can You Do It?

Can you do it?

It is 2002 in BC, somewhere the ghosts of that night still haunt.

She went around the hotel and
asked if any of us knew Johnny
and none of us did all we knew
was fix and formula
to get some more
but she went around anyway
really just hoping to run into
anyone even a new
Johnny.

It feels like House of the Rising Son
is always playing in some room.
The hallways are all slanted.
I could be in the movie The Doors right now
when the boys meet The Velvet Underground,
but I am not and it smells like piss and sweat and cunt,
altogether, in one stank, rank miasma of odor.

But I am alive and there is some rock left in the room
past the bitch crying into a microphone
and the one filled with darkness and eyes,
and I can taste it now, covering me in sweats
and dry, insipid heart beatings, and I am there,
whenever I get caught off guard by someone on
some corner in some shitty bad place, I am there.

And then, I am not.

It is still the same cracked out place I am sure,
and the bulldozers when they finally do take it,
a plume of soul smoke will erupt in the air like Poltergeist.

She went around the place
like some dour, damsel or Susanna,
finishing the corner of every ladle,
but the corner eats everything too long
left around it, a whirlpool that leaves tragedies
hungrier than she is, before she shuts down.

She looked at me that one night
and out of nowhere asked,
pointing at the crumb on the floor,

Can you do it?

People Love Puppies

It is morning and you
cannot tell me you
are happy to be outside
in the sunshine
not if you are like me
and you stay up later
and sip beer and tap at keys.

There is no coffee shop
jazz smooth enough
to straighten your
knotted neck, and a light
but effective sharp jab
of pain around the temple region
is just praying you try
and focus on the screen
or a page or anything
that is not a puppy.

The patrons are all
gathered around one,
a baby black thing that
is going to be loud
and annoying before it dies
and leaves the family
in shaky tearful messes
on the floor, and not
before it leaves a couple
hundred runny sloppy ones,
to step in still warm,
to curse at while half gagging
on the mysteriously pungent
stank that manages
to come out of
a toy bred ball of fur
and teeth and drool.

But that’s it, nothing
you can do about it-
you cannot stop them
before falling in love.

What can be done?
People love puppies.

Confusion is a Kiss Best Re-heated

It does not matter that I am not always able to be water.

It does not matter that the woman said “Holyrood” (pronounced Holy-Rude)
and that the old fella heard it “Hollywood” and was at first astounded.
All that matters is me walking past, and sitting back at my desk,

and knowing 12 years ago, some poet wrote about his
apologies being like thorns, hoarded and kept in a mason jar
to solve some unknown “X” immunity, that basically
“the roses didn’t mean shit” in a bizarre dollar store notebook

where someone has written in as large as the letters can fit,
“what’s that shit smell” in bold, obviously meant to convey silent rage, letters.
Or maybe it’s just meant to be a joke, left over from some cranked out night.
Maybe it’s meant to be another of those things that doesn’t count.

But all you know is all I show, and that’s what counts.
So know that safe in heaven, dead, they all have notebooks too.
And keep going. And fill this one, too.

This is obsession. These are the rules.

Tron Soundtrack Inspired Mania

Robots Fuck When We’re Not Around.

They bicker after, too.

“You let people into the house
of your heart and then you
condemn them to watch as they
burn inside and you, you always have
an excuse for why it wasn’t you!”

and

“You, you always have a reason not to donate, and
You, you cynic, what have you done lately, that wasn’t
just to marginalize for your own ego?”

Pick up a broom. Always work in a kitchen. All that.

“You let people into the temple and you flick rocks from the
righteous belfry. You play a game of human domino,
and the shadow’s, even those fuckers get buried.
There is not a jury alive that would know your name.”

“You are like the many named demons of the old stories.
You are like the shit on hell’s waiting room urinal.
Written next to you is “Why Give A Shit Now”’

[Then they start to fuck again, ideas and concepts like shuffling deck. ]

And for a good time call someone who cares,
for a good time call the girl of your dreams only
99.99 only a dollar more, just an inch off the left,

Come back to Denny’s for the old fashioned taste of
Thomas Pynchon’s art-I-choke, come for the boot
of thy womb, Hertzog, you, you who have only ever watched

& siphoned and spoken and cried, the welp of the lot, you bitter
bastard child of Robin Hood, you, what are you doing with
the rest of that sandwich, where are the rest of your army.

What is the hold up with this extension to the Wasteland?
Where are all my vertigo comics, and what have you done with
the Vangelis synth’s, the medieval, digital doom now flops
in between the invisible gears of some hard house loom.

You, there with the ill-framed arc. Come we get ya going.
Upload. Engage. Re-form. Inspire. Release.

There now, how’s that?

My Fuck-it List

Fuck It List
For when I have testicular cancer, but not the touristy kind like Marla. The real shit.

( For when I have testicular cancer, but not the touristy kind like Marla. The real shit. )

1. Know Bill Murray. (Even if only on twitter, but preferably drunk enough to get him to do the final monologue of Scrooged).

2. Steal the Deckard trench coat and terminate the replicant known as Harper.

3. Produce a record with Immortal Technique that incorporates soundbytes of Marcos in Chiapas. Produce another record but with Ice-T, but Ice-T in Law & Order, like in character and shit.

4. Get an imdb account finally, to end once and for all the ridiculous number of misunderstood analysis of the actor known as Danny Glover.

5. Change name to “Please Take Me Now” and move somewhere literal, like the old South. And only talk to Natalie Portman.

6. Dig up Bukowski and get him laid.

7. Dig up Freud and get him cock-blocked. Take that, Mr. Mom.

8. Get lost in the woods with Stephen King and tell a decent enough scary story for him to give up the crown in exchange for my untying him.

9. Reduce the Replicant known as Tom Cruise to despair.

10. Sedate the cast of Cheers (Shelly Long AND Kristie Alley) then have them all awaken in a replica of the set. Let nature take its course.

11. Tell the hell spawn known as Ann Coulter just what I think of her, before sealing up the well.

12. Die with tears in the rain, like the Replicant known as Rutger Hauer.