Life and Loss

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.

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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.

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.

“Epic Fantasy, Schmepick Scantasy”

Epic Fantasy Schmepick Scantasy,

give me the summer of our love,
and I will forever me oval faced,
pancake iris’d, enveloped by the arrows
and pointed spears and deadly artefacts
of your bad, bad love. I can get back to it,

but as of yet I am always confined
to the scrying scope of a neighborhood crow
who took up territory a block over,
by the used car lot and corner store,
that same hot, hot year. Once in awhile

I can see a glimmer of your head from
the strict hedges, unmistakable curls
no less telling than the very fingerprints
on your charcoal stained fingers. Once I heard
us make love, me and my cackling scrawny

soul’d salut, all bark and very little, limpid bite.
You, turning out the kids from the back porch.
Walking out into the summer when all
the lady bugs were mating, like jazz-dust
shook from the blanket of the night, trailing
around your vixen, freckle crescent smile.

Caw.

Your orange zest and patchouli and acrylic paint.

Caw. Caw.

The sound of your bangles smashed against
the august humidity of midday.

Caw.

And then I’m gone again over the downtown core,
past the burger stand and the grocery store and the
tacky Chinese restaurant awning, where some angry
Chef tries to beat me to death for shitting on his clean,
recently de-shit-if-ied walkway, so I caw again and swoop.

You can keep your epic fantasy series.
I’m making my own.

The Rest & The Peace

On my tombstone
there will not be
a history
of my online debates
or a recent perusal
of my playlist or
the movie’s I was obsessed
with and there will not be room

for all the books I loved and that
is because I want my stone to
have a list of about a dozen
people I loved, trusted and learned
from in this life.

There will be some left out,
because I plan on going out poor
unless published, the stone will be
thin I imagine but my point is

treat your life like it’s going to
have about a stones worth
of space to fit in the immense
amount of booze you drank

or the many many lays you were
a part of or the jobs and roles and
dignify your every moment with
something, somehow,
more sacred than a
all the times you beat or
were beaten in a video game.

Or how quickly you got the new ifucktoy
in contrast with the other kids
or the salad you made from

the self garden you cooked from the
more the more ethical choice
in your yearly struggle to out-hippie
the last ones on the street.

Give it the chance to be a list of love.
Or fuck it, don’t.

I could really care
less,
but that would take effort,
and like most,
I save it for the few
who ill take a piece
or two or will take a
piece of me when they
too leave this digital,
fleshy, omniverse.

To be honest somewhere between
year 8 of the 9/11 discoveries and
analysts disputed claims and aliens
on the history channel and reality tv,
I just decided to say fuck it,
and accept one very important thing.

Nothing is True anymore, if it ever was,
except love. Use it or lose. Abuse it or screw
it to the wall like another bragging right.

It’s there to help or haunt.

And yet no amount of it is going ot do any good
if its wasted on shit that goes nowhere.

So keep your list short.
And keep those folks close.

And you might just get lucky,
And round out with a full dozen.

I would want to be, such a control freak.

This is why I don’t go online anymore.
Because you can’t move
without running over someone’s tow
with a “gas guzzling earth murderer”
and the second you start to wane from
your dedication to the cause,
be it the chemtrail or truthers you piss off
by saying maybe, just maybe it’s not quite
the way they think it is, but somewhere in the
uncomfortable, awkward and far less
headline catchy middle.

You’ve now got to play out like Ralph Fiennes
or Donald Sutherland in “Land of the Blind”
and suffer the rank change.

And you just know the anti-abortionist
is never going to click with the intensely
adamant breast feeder just like the rabid cyclist
vegan folks aren’t down with the family guy crowd
there are exceptions, but it’s true as the examiner,
if you believe anything, anymore. I don’t.

The problem with
thinking is it takes you away from community.

The problem with community is it isolates
You from the chance you might not be permanently
shitting the veritable truth yourself, either.

It’s a constant kerfuffle.

People are afraid to go on the bus
because of one terrible beheading,
but we rush headlong into this forum
of words energized by frenzy, hate, fear
love even- the love of the quest to figure it
all out and then post enough links to black
out all the world, even your friends too,
until it blacks out even you, from yourself.

That’s why I’m online again.
To clarify why I’m offline again.

And you can’t get the Christians
and the Scientists to stop hitting each
other back long enough to find out if
the chicken even laid an egg,
so don’t bother!

Camp Edward promises eradication of
Camp Jacob by tomorrow and the xbox crowd
has a serious bone to pick with ps3, despite
both encompassing the same trivial thing!

The People for a more Buddhist America
have begun to antagonize the American Tea Party
by online praying protests and the Jonesboro
army of faith is filling up comment sections
faster than Jesus can say “go fish”.

The Occupiers can’t seem to agree with the Truthers
as to what’s more important, truth or occupation,
and the 1% don’t say much because they own all
the websites and paper mills that profit from all
the protests and provocateurs and promulgators.

The pirates keep looting and laughing at shoppers,
who blame the looters for the deterioration of
all fandom, everywhere. Fanboy’s hate everything
except the old school and safe retro of their childhood’s

and while they espouse the extremist philosophies of
spoiler edict and Puritanism of the remake genre,
everyone else is clicking link to virus laden porn
while typing yawning emoticons to each other,
and making grand recycled hip-statements they
read on Jezebel or somewhere for “thinkers”
who constantly chastise the flock (re: sheeple)
and call the process anything but what it is,
an intellectual fleecing.

Over yonder a crowd of gawkers for every celebrity
invented for every badly written pilot or failed script, ever.
And further still the men who swear they don’t eat
but instead inhale flowers, then the ones who are
eating the fucking sun, eye’s first, noone of whose parents
are even willing to own up to giving birth to them.

It’s getting more and more crowded with assholes,
and that’s why I read Bukowski before bed now instead
of a ticker or newsfeed; no matter how bitter he gets,
His truth still beats anything online right now.

Insects we are, moving under rocks that are so
violently lifted that nobody has time to
regain any sense of composure before we’re gang
raped by the light of the modem-verse.

And that’s why I’m back online,
to discuss how much better offine was.

Ginger Rant, ‘oeuvre’ and out.

Hell & Uniformity

First Job

I remember the best and the worst of it.
The thing I hated most was the smell.
It had literally the miasma ghost odor of
every local butcher, medical lab, mechanic
and who knows what else, as its clientèle.
They washed the blood and shit, the vomit,
the grease and the chemicals. I remember thinking
the ISO 9000 and whatever on the sign looked
so Very Assuring coming in. This, compounded
by the sad and quiet Asian ladies who pan faced,
with no sympathy for you and you all fear of that deadpan,
worked the clean garments out on the other end,
in a complex splatter of trolley-style racks
that held all the shirts individually, then uniformly
by the dozen, forming clean corn rows of cotton
and polyester urethane. I hadn’t read Conrad yet, so
I didn’t know about it all yet. I had this yellow tape
player, and I remember listening to Radiohead, Kid A
and it was so fitting. “I’m not here, this isn’t happening”
then the guy yanks me on the shoulder and grabs the
thing and then and there I heard the gnawing movement
of the ornate trolleys of clothes above us on endless
shuffle, the massive washers, the cranes that hoisted
the denim dirty bags in the back, back with the little
elfish shop keeper. Reality kicked in fast. The fumes
made you high I swear, but not the good kind I had
enjoyed, more like the shitty time when I smoked
too much hash after eating a pizza sub from the Mr. Sub,
I remember it smelled just like BO and I wondered how
I could’ve ever enjoyed them, and forever associate
this factory and that smell on a submarine or pita.
The shop foreman was an ass and the manager
was better but he always treated the recent immigrant
types like shit, which in turn made me with my limited
understanding of life and heart felt connection to
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, associate labor
with cruelty and baseness for awhile I think. I found out
also that the manager, the little elf man with his ZZ Top
beard and short, stocky but frail due to limb stride,
had a sick kid. Here’s the thing though he said the kid
had leg Perthy? I have looked and I even googled it years later.
Was he a liar and a racist little elf or was he some rarer,
more susceptible to rarer, less-documented disease? My
biographers will have to ponder this and other mysteries.
(Postscript: I obsessed over this detail and gave it
one more university effort and it turns out he likely meant “Legg-Calves-Perthes”
syndrome – the French threw me off.)

The thought of nobody really ever giving a shit
kept me digging just those extra, necessary feet.
If I ever get out of this life alive, let me
have a night or two by a fire to tell you some more
of these wretched & beautiful work hazard stories.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legg%E2%80%93Calv%C3%A9%E2%80%93Perthes_syndrome

Losing the Teacher

I’ve always been quiet, and even more so scrawny, even frail in form, and most especially so when in that most wretched and inspiring, that most depleting and renewing of places; the institutions of education and vocation. I make this distinction not to inflate the story herein; for be assured it is a short and narrow version of a variety of moments. I have always been a thin fellow, and at 30 years and just barely entering my 3rd year of university, (and what was incidentally my first since leaving St. Mary’s in Halifax to come home, to Memorial), I was just a little less so on both accounts. I was still in that earliest of stages to the campus: when I entered the tunnels I wasn’t sure where I would end up, when I wanted to go to the Library from anywhere, I walked above ground no matter what the weather…it was…trying. Instinctually, I took a day before classes started and mapped out my class locations- I was after all, a two year vet to the game and the race.

His class was three of my mornings, every week, earliest of them too. Anyone who has had a morning class knows how debatable mere attendance, let alone the gods forbid, attention, can be at these classes. But I love short stories, and from the start I enjoyed His lectures both for their literature, and his personal asides. There is not even really much mystery to why the fondness was so instantaneous either, I hate to disappoint, although in fairness: I warned you this story was short. It’s really hard not to be content with a teacher who at once evokes figuratively and literally, the reincarnation of Santa Claus with white beard, round face, blue eyes and even pot belly, and in temperament were like the kind sort of grandfather everyone idealizes someday. He even had a couple blue wiry veins along the nostrils, like mine did, although I suspected for different reasons.

It helped that the stories were so good I think; Poe’s “House of Usher”, “Sonny’s Blues”. “The Lottery”. Oh and that one where the captain watches over his men in a boat after their ship is sunk. That was one of my favorites. When He read passages from the story He got into the roles of the different men, and even waved when reading the part about the useless priest on shore. I got a real kick out of him I must say. It wasn’t one particular thing he said or did either; it was the overall way he said it all. He was almost…sly the way he snuck knowledge into stuff. Took a little while, see, because as I said I have long been thin and quiet, and even after you age some, the rooms of uniform chair-desks, still have a way of…quieting you. The room, and my foolish choice of spots in it- they kept me uncomfortable for most the semester. But I took solace, perhaps especially so, in the Grand-Pa-Santa performed tales all the same.

Front Row, top left had corner of the class. It’s been one of my preferred seats for some time now; you are far enough away from most the students to avoid most eyes, and when the time nears you can make a decent bolt around whoever threatens your anxiety-like, sweat-drenched, and itchy exit.  All because of one unseen, but major issue which quickly, ahem…’arose’ that first morning. I hadn’t really considered, and it worsened as class progressed with such steadiness that I actually began to clear a course of each one based on my state of discomfort- each state that worsened told me we were one step closer to the climax, then the denouement, and finally, His final remarks on the story. My release from this mental ambrosia, this physical hell. You see, the entire circumference of the left bank of our class, our troop toward understanding- our exile from darkness to lights unfathomable- was window…window that called the heat of earths mother, a window that was directly and forevermore, facing the god-damn sun.

It was not even an issue for much of the left bank of the institutional trench; it was just the top corner of the teachers desk – which incidentally He never once sat at, for obvious reasons standing centre, in the beloved and cool shade of the other 80 percent of the warzone of quiet ignorance and brilliant conjecture of young minds, which somehow surmised my place in the whole of things- skinny, quiet, and usually somehow on the fringe, mature student in the hottest little corner of the room, wondering on that fateful morning when silence killed the battlefield all over- even (and be assured to my shock) my own lips couldn’t find it- the name of the town or state or city of the days short story. And there he was, finally exasperated with months of only a couple students answering the bulk of the questions, and ready to blow his top. They had finally done the impossible with their silence: they had broken the sunny demeanour and light hearted kindness of Grampa Santa. But first, a lesson in the history, short as it had been, yet excruciatingly long for me, of that very quiet front.

As established, I was older than most 2nd years, having doddled a bit with my course load and not entered University until 27. And I have always been thin, and quiet. And fair skinned. One might even hazard the term, “red haired and freckled”. There we have my state, and of course here we are  at my predicament; the sunny corner of short story class taught by coolly shaded Grand-Pa Santa, who just happened to be a naturally gifted teacher of one of  my fondest subjects, as though the torture of basking in the rising sun, magnified by double pained Atlantic ocean style windows. Already born quiet and thin, it seemed my lot to waste away in sweat during what should have been a joyous traversing of the hollows of literature. I should have been as free as that biplane pilot in the Alice Munro story, but instead I was stranded, with only one calming source of hope- the man himself.

Every once in awhile his Newfoundland accent washed up, quite intentionally mind you, and yet he didn’t do it haphazardly. It was so sparse, see.  And He used it to both drive a point home and restate a previously “properly enunciated” version of the same sentence.

“So…what’s ‘dis all about”. “Now, what in god’s name is Poe on about with dis passage”.

That was part of the charm I guess. He already emulated Gramps, now he occasionally became the old man when he was on the piss. For like Him, Gramps could manage mainland elocution just fine- if he chose to do so. Unlike many younger teachers, he didn’t waste time trying to win the affections of his students either. And to me that was respectful of him, the profession and us most importantly- to be an ambassador of learning, a Captain of the written word as it were, this is an honourable title in my opinion, and it’s one that needn’t wilt or waiver in the face of modern youth’s expectations of “new wave” teaching. Rather than capitulation, we got these wonderfully crafted excursions into the jungles of each authors mind and life- we became enthralled by osmosis- myself perhaps also some photosynthesis- of being in his well laid path. We were safe from many things, though. We wouldn’t be spoiled. Fooled into thinking it was easy to navigate a great short story. Imbued with the notion that stand up comedy and lecturing university are one in the same. No Sir.

We were going to learn the easy way- which is to say the only way, that is, the Right one.

He was never forceful, quite the opposite in fact. He would ask and re-ask and re-ask questions, never a hint of stress level raised, never any indication, save the accent coming out in planned, perfect intervals for humour and emphasis that anything changed in him despite its obvious challenge. Especially when it was place names and easy stuff like that: stuff that was on the first damn page. But he didn’t. And I guess that’s where I found some recompense for silently melting to death in the top left hand corner of the chemistry building at memorial, those September days. To raise that arm and quietly break the calm more than usual. Because I was about to experience one of the quietest semesters…of my life. Perhaps, I thought, squinting one day with arm raised so as to both block sun and grab His attention, of all time.

Yes ,it was That quiet. Young people today, I remember thinking, are just quieter I guess. Tweet, Text, Gaming Online. It’s all very semi-social, and often with the graces of distance between target and shooter, talker and listener, teacher and student, to wit. But even by that standard, this class was a trench of young kids yet unable to even raise the white flag of uncertain hypotheses. It got so that each time I raised my holy thin branch of relief, I would first look back to the class and just make sure I wasn’t being too eager. I’m no greenhorn remember. Never once did it occur that way. Never. Once.

Maybe it was because he was so kind, the kids could sense it as a way to subvert the morning and half sleep through his lectures, my answers, the wind whipping around the curtain in the left corner of the room, the only redemptive burst of cool in the sun-lit area, which was two desks away from me at all times. And not a word mentioned that wasn’t dragged out, often with such reluctance He almost had to do it himself. It was a horror-show some mornings. If I had read the wrong story or not had a chance to re-read the one we were covering, it could get truly atrocious, even gory.

But then one day the impossible happened. Nobody could answer the first and most basic question of the story. I had been under incredible stress that week, my best friend and fatherly-influence, my grand, grand Grampa…had taken a stroke. Then a second. Now he was hospitalized. He was tied up so he wouldn’t continually rip out his own feeding tubes, with his gnarly, bar-fight-fed fists. He was 76, and still drank a flask or a half in the evenings with is best friend “Prince William”, a black lab “left on his Texada Island property by some crazy old goat lady down the way. He whined all night in my boot on the porch II wouldn’t look at em at first.” Mick had just had the second of what one day would be all three of his sons, all to Heroin and her varying side-effects; OD’s, HIV-related pneumonia. Found inevitably in parks and dirty hotels. Eaten by a war unacknowledged.  He had been my confidante for a decade or so of close conversations and laughter and home cooked meals, and now, he was one foot in the grave and refusing anyone outside his own kids the chance to visit.

And here was this man, who by all accounts had given it the best fight a man can give in the battle for young minds’ attention and, god forbid, the insight of that holiest, most divine thing: an individual thought. A step. It was all he had begged for, just one foot gained. It wasn’t as though he’d expected us to win the war. Just take a yard. Even a mile. And all that withstanding, if nothing else couldn’t we please Name the god fer’saken town b’y da jeeesus. This was late November now. We had been to the House of Usher, we had survived the sinking of the Lusitania with Stephen Crane and we had even worn the smothering sad injustice of Gogol’s Overcoat, and now we would fumble and break the perfect demeanour near the end, hung up on a story I can’t even recall, though I am sure it was either Cheever’s The Swimmer or Carver’s Cathedral. I mean these were modern stories, not like Poe with the weighty tongue of old gothic- and yet I couldn’t summon the answer. And he finally broke. The man who had been by all intents my Grand-Santa, smiling back at you when you asked who is speaking in A Clean, Well-Lit Place, smiling when he agreed about the ending of “The Yellow Wallpaper”, smiling and kind despite the artillery of silence and more silence daily aimed toward him, despite all the eyes blankly unable to mouth even a guess and left him to lean on even the hope of one- had finally had enough.

“Well.”

“Well I Just Can’t Believe It. I mean come ‘Awn guys”

“This is ‘tree months IN”

“Does ANYone know the setting? It’s not a big question here guys… ”

I think of him now with the other running list of them. The good ones; Mr. Pardo and the voice’s he used to do on the side for his friends and neighbours answering machines. He decided to quit the job eventually and do voice work full-time.  Mr. Hadwyn; taught me the word ambrosia, in the context it was the word he used when he had to smooth something over with the missus- “just compare her to ambrosia, the fruit of the gods gentleman.”. Ms. Macdonald who wanted my short story to get published way back in grade nine. And Mrs. Kelland later in adult high- the one who he held all other people to as a sort of moral and human meter-stick. Who attended my first big readings. The ones who should never have had to run out of patience. Not because of that gawd fe’ersakin quiet, of all ‘tings.

I was perfectly out of place to see it all; I was older, I was 3rd year, I was the guy who’d deluded himself out of adolescence with delusions of being the next Jack Kerouac or London, but ended up looking more the Burroughs, or worse, Huncke. I could see the literal unfolding of the silence over just a single gap of time – a decade and a half or so- from my earliest years as the tall lanky ginger, wise-cracking but otherwise shy kid. In high school I don’t really remember cell phones. Just weed and hacky sack, pool halls and public parks. Now a hush comes over the titillated mind. The over-twittered, under-spoken. A nation of shyness to hold us back.  And the last few good people aghast at the funeral of conjecture, of discussion, of thought- paid to try to hustle a few marks into an average, nothing more than monks robbed of their patience, hope. Passion.

And yet, by the next class, his temper returned to the infinitely Buddha-like smile and, as though Cheever’s Swimmer, half –senile, or as even the rider who manages to escape Usher- Mr. B- made his way through the trenches of quiet once more…a few good hands to aid, be assured, but amidst the fiery true force of a silence just the same.

By the time I lost Mick, exams had rushed past. I wasn’t really there anymore though. I was finally making my way from the hellish prism of that vantage; court side to the slaughter. It didn’t even occur to me until shortly before sitting down to provide my portion of the events leading up to December 8th that he was technically only a few parking lots away the whole time. My grandfather, who hated more than anything the thought of dying for years in a hospital, visited by those he hated but loved. He had refused me admittance after the second stroke with the spastic waving of clawed hands, a childish face according to one family member, who in her usual crudeness had remade the sour pus and claw outside Carnell’s Funeral Home.

The entire time I was writhing in wonder and later despair and being powerless in his end, he had made his way closer still to my discomforted place.  Whereupon he was eventually sedated and restrained after several, quite violent and swift attempts to dislodge his air tube- he finally followed that hellishly bright light.

Mick loved a few things enough to break his staunch agnostic approach to life. “I say a prayer still for my boys dead and buried” his eyes red each time they came up, “and my old man.” (his father, a veteran at 15 – notoriously declared himself the youngest Newfoundlander to enlist, lying about his age at 14 to escape the coal mines of Glace Bay)

He loved to drink, he loved his dog, he loved a woman once, and he loved to tell and almost as much hear a great story. Maybe I am misguided in my detail of his last attempt then; perhaps; hearing the silence broken by the voice of a clearly trained professional in the trade of storytelling and re-telling and re-telling again – perhaps ole’ skipper wanted just to get a better seat for the show!

To sneak one last laugh out of it all! To be away from dat god forsaken hospital. There’s a story yet to be told. It’s a good one, about two atheists who end up praying on each other’s souls, in the end.

She Has You

She is the one that first caught me.
The half human, half faerie half witch.

She listened to Tool and
she knew what am Athame was,
always buying books written
by women with strange pseudonyms
like Raven Moonchild.

This weird stuff was always happening.
Once she was saying the word paint
As I fished out a magnetic word from
Its frigid pagination into my typewriter,
the very word she’d said, and

“she had a dream about it all” and
“I was never going to be rid of her”

and “I have another inside me”
and “I’ve only shown it to you and
the clergy. ”

I haven’t got the heart to leave anyone
Or go on or forward someday unless
I sit for a minute and consider her
diamond-like personalities.

I had no idea what feminism was then,
but when I read “The Yellow Wallpaper”
I thought of that summer, (just before
“Kid A”) when we lived downtown
and she found this real pattern behind
the wallpaper. I saw it. She saw it. It was there.

People shuffled her into a hundred different
diagnostic hooplahs after that, but I knew she
wasn’t crazy. She was a real woman,
and womanhood Is a disease that is treated
as a mental illness, which itself?

Is just a way to keep the creative people
at a workable, distant and level, population
of shaky people in food by courts and on
corners screaming about their insect
encrusted genitals by the time the meds
have all gotten pumped in,
perched like prescription Jesus-
Zombies in rows along every major city,
reminders that thinking at all can
lead to lucid, stigmatized doom.

Anyway, every time I hear Kid A I
think about her. We barely heard it
in the same room more than a couple
times, but what was great was she
of all people had bought a cassette
of the thing and I later discovered
it was defective. It played the opposite
side Helter Skelter style in the background
on both sides, so you in effect had an entire remix
of an album that had already departed from
post-Kid A Radiohead. It was the single most
beautiful mistake that has ever existed.

And it’s gone.

Sometimes I put one on in one player
and the other in another but
it’s not the same. Plus who knows
what cocktail of wonder and drug
and what stage of depreciation the
ears were in, it’s hopeless to even
attempt a cosmetic replication of something
operatic, organic. Environmental.

Lady Fate

I fell for this girl who
also called herself fate
when allowed to take
another name.

We met in summer school,
this cramped class, a far too
idealistic teacher, and this
young, perfect encounter.

I read No Great Mischief and
The English Patient that year,
Both of them were the some
of the first words I really got
swept away by. Macleod and his
similes, Ondaatje and his
Herodotus histories of desert
storms. It was enough to fill my
notebooks with proud dream
journals and even six months
Sans drunk if I recall.

I was already betrothed to a girl
who had never known a trustworthy
role model in her entire life. Her family was
cold, her mother might’ve inspired
Nurse Ratchet, clamped down the kind
hearted father he didn’t even
remember having a pair by time
I showed up with my Kerouac
and my heirs apparent. I, who ordered
Salmon when we went out on their
dime because is somehow felt
like the right thing to do, like it made up
for their having ruined the girl’s youth.

This fate lady though, was different.
She was all black straight hair
and daddies attitude and heart
on her sleeveless, summer arms.

I told her I recognized her and she
just about lost it.

“How could you have seen me?
I thought that show was only on in the states!”

It was, but I had a step father who loved
technology; we had laser disc players and a
satellite which meant I had Nickelodeon
when it still had some integrity.

I had been unimpressed with her show, but
she was clearly caught between finally showing
something emotional, she was proud and
wanted to be fawned over for her claim to fame.

Then the fire drill.

I smoked then but was trying to quit, so
I was wandering outside hoping to bum one.
The crowd thinned out, and eventually it was
just me and her, in one of the few cinematic and
romantic scenes in all my existence took place.

It started to pour. Sun shower.
My personal favourite
of all the varieties of rain to stare upward into
arms outstretched, crucified by joy.

Then she did. So I did too.
There we were in the sun shower,
arms stretched out, heads raised
toward the fragments of light ripping
through the dissipating wall of cloud,
completely silent, a temporary relief.

Just like Gordie Lachance and the deer
in Stand By Me, I kept that to myself until
just now, when I reopened it for you, like
a butterfly wedged in a bible for 12 long years,
dreamt of often, but never actually let
back into existence. Still just as perfect, too.

Sleep well,
Lady Fate.