Loss and Life

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.

Advertisements

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.

poem for La Mer [NIN]

Graduation

I am almost done it,
that quest I told you about, and
I promise I will make it back,
and I will no longer try to
save you from yourself.

I will let the kiss in the bus stop
rain go unnoticed I will not
smile at the driver from
outside, dampening with
every extra tug back toward you
in your sleek bomber
you with those Docs on your feet.

Because I have read more
of Gilbert and Gubar now.
I know it is me who,
like every power hungry fool,
has been your bane, and
I know the boon is knowing better
than to tie rocks to a feather,

I am going to shut in on myself,
I am the book of hate for objectified
love,
but I still miss you.

I will find a way
to make it back
but I will first
eradicate, even that
foolish desire.

I will run through the library
with the scissor of open books,
I will emulate no other poets.

I am here now.

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.

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.

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.

fame poetry (Poem on the Inner Mechanism of a Short Story Writer)

I want this to be a good little twister.
I want Twilight Zone style karma.
The protagonist. He’s a Jimmy.
A Jimmy Jetson.

He’s Canadian with German parentage,
and he gets teased constantly by
jerky Nazi salutes’ and bad German accents.

He doesn’t give a fuck though,
because he read Mein Kampf
and he knows Hitler was a
fucking Jerk-off artist,

and Jimmy Jetson was born
in Jasper, Alberta,
so what the fuck did he know
about his heritage anyways?

The story is all about this
great art project he is planning.

He is reading lots about Andre Breton,
maybe a few quotes.

At least an allusion.

The story hinges on his frustrated
attempt to create a work
that will dwarf anything,
anyone has ever done.

He also wants to give those fuckers
around town something, bad.
He crucifies himself of course,
and has utilized local homeless
and orphan kids
(it’s a dystopia)
stuffed in an homage
to the taxidermy of Norman Bates,
and they are all in poses
of the crucifixion.

There is even a Pontius Pilate.
Was previously a local postal worker.

I can’t decide if that is too overt
a reference to Bukowski, or not.

The end is like an
apocalyptic mass suicide-in.

All the worlds artists
and all the worlds poseurs
all jumped up on crosses,
convinced it was a sure-fire
way to secure their family name
in truly worthy artistic fame.
It gets to the point it is fused
with reality TV and a showy game,
where people get plucked
from the fringes and made
to make it through razor blade mazes

and then churches pop up everywhere,
and everything is basically
the same way it was before Jetson took off.

(Jimmy Jetson walks off
into sunset drinking bottle
while mockingly taking Christ
poses and screaming like Seal on “Crazy”)

And then the story gets lazy, up on it’s cross,
and falls down too, and gets reborn as moss.

And even the moss is a little alienish,
Steven King as Jordy saying, meteor shit!

And that’s all so far I have of it.

The Nightmare of the Zombie

It was the way it always is.
I was in a cemetery with Judith
and we were talking about how
bizarre the whole fame thing is.
How it’s absolutely the work of
bad ju-ju, of hocus pocus, of mice
transformed into the size of men,
of ants and birds and bad things like that.

I guess it was the wine, and the moon,
and the small vortex that opened up,
sort of like in Quantum Leap, so
damn conveniently at the end of each episode
before little Jerry O’Connell got shot by
angry white men or run over by a truck.

We ended up in Los Angeles, but it was
more like a Ridley Scott L.A., and I realized
I was in one of my dreams again, or
I took too much, man. Then I chuckle
while repeatedly saying,

“You took too muuuuuch, man.
Took too much.” just like
del toro’s Gonzo, until Judith
points out the old cemetery
and we wander over.

It’s huge. Like,
a shopping mall of carcass’.

And of course the song from
Return of the Living Dead
plays on some ghetto as a punk
with a Mohawk and a chain
from ear to lip walks by
and spits near my feet.

And then the first heads
start to pop up,
and before you know it
they’re all there.

Orson Welles.
He looks about the same. Belligerent, too.
Hemingway. His head is sort of a mess.
But he has the same jovial spirit!

Bukowski is there.
And Marilyn Monroe
looks pretty damn good.

Which Judith notices me noticing and
makes some ridiculous comment about

how I can only get it up for the paranormal and
cartoon chicks, and I say something like

Jessica Rabbit is practically human.
It’s all her voice.
Shut up and let’s meet some
zombie celebrities!

Everything was going really swell.
I was like a kid in a decomposing candy shop

I talked about Fitzgerald with Ernest ,
and about drinking with Chinaski,
and movies with Welles.

Then we made the mistake of going to some
fucking party and you just knew something
shitty was going to happen, it just felt bad.

The kids at the party just dissed all of them,
if they knew them at all, and called them misogynist
or said they were drunks, or both.

They said Orson Welles was
slow and over-rated.
And no Tarantino.

I wept.

They said Hemingway was
just a representation
of the patriarchy,
and a dirty man,
and Bukowski they
said made Ernest look
like a fucking saint.

I sank.

I don’t even want
to re-describe the way the
feminist crowd devoured
poor Norma Jean.

I understood
where they were coming
from but at the same time,
even a zombified Marilyn was
exhaustively enchanting.

In the end, the old stars left.
Bukowski and Hemingway said they

were gonna go to a fight,
or have one themselves,
whichever happened first.

Poor Orson went looking for some old woman.

Marilyn went out the window rather than
spend another minute with all the bores.

That’s usually when I wake up.
Sometimes me and Norma make out first.
There I said it.

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.