Novel

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.

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Crazy Butterfly,

Crazy Moth

If Crazy was all moths’,
baby I’d be a bulb, like 80-watt!
I would give shop-talk
something to squawk
about and I’d chalk
my own crooked outline,

I’d rip the shadow
off-a-Rip-Van,
and do the James Brown
half walk off
the stage with it, son,
ima’ rage when the time come!

See spots? hell I see flower pots
with leering sunflower skulls on top!

I want to sing the world a
hybrid of Imagine and Hurt
turn the hysterical mob up
to full blown tangent, demand it!

If I was an episode of Crypt Keeper
Tales, they’d a never aired it!
If Crazy were a punishment,
I’d have three sleeves of demerits’,

so let’s take the concertos’ out
back and blow the angel kiss,
see how weird the symphony can get,
fantasia meets heavy metals freakiest .

I’m Always ready for all that and more, shit,
I was born crazy, practically inherited it!

If ghetto life were an asylum
I be the asshole warden,
the tremens jittery janitor
and the public enemy #1 up in it!

Come unlock the red devil.
The truth is like the shallow
to the grave to the shovel.

Un-muzzle me I promise,
I’ll quiet down.
I’ll do better.

(by promise mean never)
(by never mean ever)
(by all means not)

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.

Swigging, the Light Fantastic

Give me one more big fucking swig.

I want to leap out of a window some days.
It is nothing special.
I am not infected with anything,
it is just the slow drawl of truth,
giving you what for,
while you wash the whole
floor of the library, with your eye.

I want to creep into the auditorium
and rip out all the seats
and force everyone to dance
at every event
even dog shows
even hockey
even pope visits
and especially pope visits,
but crunking, all of us, dry humping
to his slicked back religioso.

I want to sing in the basement of the madhouse
with my headphones duck taped to my ears
so they can never break me out of my routine,
not easily, you’ll never take me
from my own mad shuffle,
without a fight,
without some scratching,

and some twitching,
and some devil tongue,
and some downright tongue.

I want to eat all of the spirit.
I want to fuck on tombstones and in catacombs.
I want to piss my name in the snow of your culture.

I will be the prisoner out in the yard,
collecting rocks,
making a crude chess set,
trying to learn a new way to say fate,
producing a work that is
half scream,
half tune.

Give me one big swig,
and you can have me
for another day here.
I will close the window,
quit the dance and find
my own way home.

Just give me that bottle.
Give me five minutes of your time.
Give me your first born.
Give me your Jack and
I’ll give you my Queen.

I still have the black one
up my sleeve for later anyway.

Give up already,
we’re already 9 floors down,
and 18 more to go.

Get ready for the finish,
it has nothing to do with circularity.

I wanted to give you one last
echo is all.

Is that not what you longed
for from them all?

Just one reverberating kiss
to guide your final ascent?

Or would you like to come along,
have some fun beneath?

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.

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.

Post-Humour

He thought he would have had it,
if he had only been richer,
or poorer.

He thought he might get a
better girl and write legends.

If he had made money
from stock exchanges.

Got his life back from the
web and the net and
all those tangled tangles.

I could’ve killed him
a hundred times:
from highway overpasses
he could’ve leapt,
or been strung
up on any number of
neighbouring trees.

I could’ve strangled him
some nights
when he went on about
how it wasn’t fair
that some
new age writer had gotten a
new
contract and here he was, just

“taking up space in spiral margins.”

I almost threw him to a pack
of wolves one night
in shame,
but I knew I would only wake up
feeling like I had chewed him myself.

So I did what had to be done.
I buried him. He’s still there of course,
Only now he’s got the weight of Hardy
and Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell
to keep the little bastard at bay.

Then I took away all his weak and
(programmed) Middle class
inclinations;

to drink as though Rimbaud
and await new lines in temper of a child.

To talk like the
Lizard King high on some psyche’s
bought with pawn shop or rent.

All of these things and more got curbed.
And only then did my Self sit down,

encouraged by having shut the hell up,
And wrote for its own reward.

And I am with him still.
And we aren’t going anywhere,
But through this stack,
Through these cracks,
Through this black old game.

Not to hijack Frost,
but that shit made
all the fucking difference
in this terrible little
bastard red-head’s life.

The Parenthesis Buzz

Note: Parental Advisory – Parenthesis Buzz Poetry is for the sick-minded, the low and base and sardonic and for anyone who can laugh at South Park, headlines and every other terrible truth on the Naked Lunch menu.

A poem for the movie They Live,
(and people with mildly dark senses of humour)

If you’re duplicitous and you know it, make it show.
(whips a hundred treasures out a window)

If you believe in God cover your ears.
(burns every bible ever written while
dancing hysterically and naked and mad)

This is the evolution of style into bleak satire.
(empties deadly virus into water supply)

This is Sparta. (Kicks man into well)
This is Hell. (“I am God here”)

Good morning dear! (gargles acid and spews it)

Hello Ms. Jonson lovely rose garden as always!
(stomps fellow shopper on Black Friday)

The movement will not be televised!
(entire generation misses point of The Matrix)

I love coming here to eat, so delicious!
(feeds tapeworm in jar under table)

Oh Tommy I’m so glad you found a nice girl!
(spraypaints doll hooker green for irony)

Can’t wait to stretch out and chill after a long day!
(digs own grave with breaking finger nails and all, buries self.)

Poem ends with rash series of empty threats.
(Ginger. Is. Coming.)

Up Early (for Gary)

I’ve been up before;
up so early they called it
better late than never.

I’ve torn at the panties of night like
a creeper under its dominion,
but I‘ve never stolen anything
that wasn’t stolen
from someone else.

So here: a story in place of the
final pieces of the poem you were
just hustled into the heart of –

I have just enough time to tell you about Gary,
the junky piano player I ran into a few
times more than I would’ve liked,
but enough, it seems, to have educate me
on the naked and ugly edicts at the last
supper of the fallen addict.

Gary was the guy who my painter
friend introduced me to during
my first real night in BC.

Gary could go through a bar
it seemed and slap and shake a dozen
people that eagerly greeted him
for whom he had been.

None of this came immediately
to me though, I studied him each
night we were desperate enough
to have dial his number.

When every other
contact we knew who held had bailed,
& even the street strangers scuttled off to
warm holes of their own hard won highs,
then? You had to go to Gary.

And it was never pretty.

But I was still obsessed with the idea
of the junk. I had picked up a spectator love
of Burroughs and like cockroaches all
this other stuff now festered in my unkempt soul.

I had a Golem-like Huncke or two,
who skitterishly dashed into dark crevices
when you switched on a light.

There weren’t any lights left for Gary.

I can go back to the moment I
understood the drug when I saw his
life displayed before me.

He had a piano still somehow.
It wasn’t in great shape I wonder
if he still does now…

On it were pictures of the other man
he was. Suited on his wedding day,
with a pretty young thing in his arm.

Completely oblivious to the shit
that the proverbial box of punk
rock and weed were going to
carry into his soul, soon enough.

It’s really that simple.

Then he played. He played and the
first time 5 years later in Uni when
I read Sonny’s Blue’s I thought of
Gary, the same way I do when I see
a grocery store rotisserie chicken, too…

Why? Because one night I had to witness
an unnecessary further cautionary
lesson, a follow-up to the lonely
broken piano reminders that the
man had already provided.

I was with the high strung Quebecor,
“La Fletche” we called him.

He loved the powder like me,
and like me had been destroyed
by our previous peak into
Gary’s living room void.

“Faaaaaaack eh?”

So when Gary refused,
boldfaced to score for us
one night until, and I quote

“I get my fucking chicken,
a whole fucking bird right now.”

we were slower than usual to comply.
Not because we thought it was an
outrageous request,

(I once paid the line of people
ahead of me once at a Tom Petty show,
2 pints ran me 75 dollars all told,
but the experience was worth it,
so I could do strange)

The Frenchman and I saw something
that night, that horror movies can’t touch:

a grown man in a dirty black
overcoat and greasy slicked-backed
Goebbels-Nazi-hair, with pock marked
cheeks to match, hunched over beside
what remained of his victim,

a sad smattering of bone and a few inedible bits
of torso frame; a mirror of the man himself
prostrated and licking his nimble, tar/crack
stained fingers one at a time for the remains,
then, with the exuberance of a ghost-
occupied school boy jutting up, and began to
re-animate toward the door, the cause, the high.

The Truth.

I don’t have time for much more tonight,
Up early tomorrow for once for something
Far less dark and sinister;
A paper on Rome and a midterm on
Shakespeare.

Stupid Questions

What Do You Do?

I write.
Usually, at night I

rebuild streets
to Miles Davis symphonies

I erect a hundred effigies to city lights
fill dozens of chalices, full.

Oh no I mean,
what do you do so
that society doesn’t
do away with you,
call you scab or fleck,
fuck you from existence
on any given/slow motion
night?

Simple,
I find new things to write about.

I practice my funeral pyre
To the trepidations of horn
and hammer.

But don’t you need something
More?

I have the absinthe nightmare
of my adolescent hi jinx.

I replay my stupendous pride.
Internally, at my soulful cine-plex.

I sneeze and Greece eases into the ocean
a little further, I shit and LA loses a mile

of shoreline,
I trip, and dynasties lay to ruin, smoulder.

What about security, how do you sleep?

Like Kubla Khan meets Mario Bros.
With a slice of Fincher and Lynch.

I sleep between scenes, in a pinch in a ditch,
always the same; another watcher, another eye.

Dreams?

The epic fallout of our time.

Hopes?

To live long enough to see it all fall apart.
And write the first post-apocalyptic poems.