Prose

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.

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.

She Took My Hat

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

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

Nobody would ever steal that shit.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Best Friend

My Best Friend

for HJM

When I needed someone
to protect me from the car
of angry Mexicans I
drunkenly slurred at one night
by merely getting out of
the car while I shivered
a bit in the back seat with
scrawny ginger shame,
it was him.

When I needed someone
to grab me by the throat
and push my face into
a desert of glass on my patio
after roughing me up and
letting me struggle a little,
it was him.

When I need someone to
goad me into picking up the pieces
when all the whore has run out on me
and all the drunk still in me

writhes and whimpers
“like a little ginger bitch”
Again, I am indebted,
to him and him alone.

You can talk on and on
about the myth of masculinity.

You can talk about male hegemonies,
and about the patriarch.

But I still dig having a best friend
like Christian Troy, you know why?

Because the world is filled with Kimbers,
and nobody wants to be Sean McNamara

All the time.
Anymore.
Or ever.

When I come across
The newest picture of
someone having done something
too stupid not To be
internet-mummified
by way of meme;

a ghastly old woman painted
to look like a demon
or one of a ginger zombie
Ronald McDonald making love
to a deadite dressed as a nurse
while in the background
various characters from Hellraiser
and Event Horizon do foul things to
stuffed people with stuffed animals,

It’s his wall I copy/paste it to.
Not even my own.

And that is what a best friend is;
the person you excitedly take
a new piece of discovered darkness to.
So you can both laugh at it, in the face,

And try to find something to top the others
recent post. Another heaping handful of hell,
to pass the hours with.

Anything else would be healthy and balanced,
all that other boring shit reserved for those
earning their way into heaven with
public displays of pompous charity.

When we find people like that we just nod,
look to one another with bug eyes on the side,
knowing full well that shit is just for show.

Comic Book/Stored Antithesis

The soft, off yellow light often
produced in the dim chamber
of your childhood comic shop
and its ability to seem
from the kneeled position
over gargantuan strip boxes
of back issues, back then, in the
middle of your proverbial Sandlot
to act as temporal vortex.

A conversion of worlds,
a threshold.

Campbell was right.
It is all journey.

(This one shop owner in our core
had an eye patch and a limp
and I’m sure he did jail time
for weed. He hired us as helpers
me and my buddy from Sekura)

We had the whole back of the
store to go through, just tons of
back stock and all the new stuff.

It was the greatest thing that had
happened to me since Zelda and
sure, maybe even Shadowrun.
(but that’s entering the debatable)

I found The Maxx and Savage Dragon
as the boys from Image left their own
safe worlds and travelled to unknown
riches

(most of them anyway, Sam Keith
is like me I bet and re-watches Cheers,
missing Coach and Diane and the 80’s

as they go by in a slow tightening of flare
and lessening of hem’s, until culmination in
Rebecca’s premiere a la red leather mini-skirt. )

Reading a superhero like Keith’s Maxx gave
me new dreams as a writer. Aside from Steven King,
no other influence has tainted me so deeply,

as those I found in the downtown comic book
stores (there were three at one time, where now
only one will ever at a time today)

Frederick Philip Grove talks about how he
found this call to adventure in Siberia when
he encountered these Khirgiz herdsmen who
yowled and yawped and sang out the true
beatific essence of life, masked in beard and
riding a slow trail to insignificance.

I don’t regret my influences at all.
The darker the Cave, the brighter the sunshine.

Poem for the Harvey Danger song, “Radio Silence”

I don’t know that I am anything
but a Frankenstein robot, poet model,
a heart made of sound bytes
and those parts of speech
from my better friends and loves.

I don’t know that I’m not doomed
to be like
“the lo-o-o-oonie up in Togus”

I’m afraid not of patterns in the
program or the walls, but the
Dead Literary floor that’s turned
your average neighborhood underground
into a snotty man’s hyper-ceiling.

I think it’s a little demeaning to
expect your audience to know what
you’ve been feeling when it’s
layered so heavy beneath
your “intensity” which I think
we can easily ascertain as just
some assumption of superior rank

in a non-existent illuminati
of time immemorial. You think you
have the prose of an aural aurora borealis?

Maybe so, but what’s its function aside
from your peers and a few couture critics?

I link my day to a page and afterwards,
scour with most basic set of senses,
my surroundings Are the next sentence,
line, next moment, next kiss, write, next,
dream, write wake next, sip cackle groan vent, next,
write, next.
and it just goes on like this.

If you like dj Bl3nd maybe
you’ll like my schizoid-script.

I beat the beat beaten until
Broke, and beaten, got out-spoken
and beat the silence back that beat him!

Let us beat the wool
with universal words
like Ya Basta!

And while the inner circle
of finely crafted naval gazing
fills in the required allotment
to be considered a kind of
crafty craftsmen,
help the others row the
Drunken Boat ashore.

“I get out of bed like Rimbaud,”

(Anything else you pay more)

The new words will be spoken
and will resound with a bored thud,

A Shock-Shock-Shock you
(Yeah-Yeah-Yeah)
when you see they’re just
the same primary colors’.

Poem in the Key of Shadow

I call him my pharmacological doppelganger.
He is the me I would have certainly been,
had I not jumped from the rooftops of my own
semi-serious conditions, to the streets of our
hand written to chalky wall poems.

I call him the one I am glad to have avoided,
the one whose parents must have cared so much
they made too great a movement toward the shelves

at the behest of all the recent (best selling) authors,
and got him all plump on the pills, all pale and low-pulse,
distant and dreary. He peak’s at you, a puppy under a blanket

of hoodies for bands he’ll never get a chance to see live,
and from the perforated palace of a hundred Star Wars
side-quest novels that keep his imagination resuscitating
before being re-submerged, over, and over and over.

But he avoided all the bad trips, and all the near-od’s.
He doesn’t have a single scar on him.
He’s the perfect model for how it pays to plug

the heart up and batten down the eye-lashes with
sleepy time pills and hell, what was this world going
to do with a quiet, shy type but turn him into the new
poster child for disaffection anyway?

There aren’t enough Nirvana albums yet?
We haven’t lost enough of the pumping heart of
Eliot Smith? Does Buckley wash up again?

The cure for life is quiet. It will always look
better on paper and in theory. If there is any problem
with him now, it’s the “solutions” effect.

Cue theme of The Twilight Zone. PS,
I call him my shadow.

Dancing King

The Dancing King

He gets on my route once in awhile,
or really I should say, I get onto his bus,
since he is the king of everywhere he goes.

He waves his hands around like he
is constantly doing the media propagated
“uhn-uhn, Oh, no you did-ent”
while simultaneously waving his hands
to old school-tape cassette and airline headphones.

I try to guess what he is listening to sometimes
and come up with a variety of things which suit the
hands wax and wane, the pomp, the pageantry.

Sister Act (The Official Motion Picture Soundtrack.)
Dance Mix ’94 (especially Return to Innocence)
New World Symphony or Matthaus Passion.

Or maybe Miles Davis like me.

He is the most free, least concerned with appearances
person I have ever seen, and I envy his predicament.

I have always secretly wanted to live as
though in a commercial where it’s ok to
sing aloud, where the mail delivery person
chimes in and the various ethnic groups all
jive together and the coffee looks too black
to be real, matching fanatically kempt lawns.

Everyone would follow The Dancing King,
half enchanted half epileptic, we would all
enact a masse, feverish crunking, bodies going
off script in every possible way, manically
preaching the good twitch, the holy creep, the
trippy hallways of Kubrick’s The Shining.

Arms directing the traffic of stars, legs kicking
up the dust of the Neolithic and the Tribe and Clan
Village of the Damned looking kids brought
back to life, disconnected, discombobulated then
slowly regaining their senses, like the end of Surrogates.

I get off my bus and walk the streets like
Neo after he understands he is in The Matrix.
It’s a great soundtrack too. The Dancing King
inspires like Di Caprio in Gilbert Grape or
Hoffman in Rain Man, but I’m no Fred Savage
in The Wizard, and besides, it’s the rest of the
world that needs to be rescued, The Dancing King
already found his “Cali’fooooorniiiiiiiia”.

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.