Sadness

The Nothing and My Statue

I want to tell you
about the nothing
and how it was on my back
from late 90s to just now.

My first time was
just a six pack
of coca cola I was
12 maybe 13,

and I was up all night
with the caffeine propping up
my stinging eyes like,
twitchy invisible insect germs,
holding up heavy red curtains.

I used it to get more comic books read.
It gave me the strength to watch
entire nights of reruns.

I moved onto vodka pretty
much the next summer.
Because it made me think I was
an extrovert and a revolutionary,
and because Val Kilmer drank
as Jim Morrison and I wanted to
be a rebel like him.

I always sounded more like
the Lizard King after some drinks.
It was like the liquid gave me skill.

First pack of smokes found
in The Beer Store parking lot on
Chopin Street in Preston.
They bought me the prison yard acceptance
of first year high school.

I smoked more green any man ever seen,
we had something called wheelchair pot and
I laughed at the sky.

Our crew donned Value Village polyester and
tie dyes from local hemp shops.
We slunk through corn field grids
like eager pony tailed lab rats,
hunting down the cheese of
some wheat kings secret plants.
Dried them out in our parents rafters,
sold the shit for better stuff.

Drank a bottle of Robitussin
because some raver chick in
funfer pink told me it was like Acid,
which was hard to come by and
always made me feel like Neo,
even before The Matrix came out.

My first line was the last thing I
ever put on my back,
through my nose.

I say first because it’s all
the same line,
one massive one that stretches from
a cramped apartment on St. Andrew’s hill,
winds through the jungle of a hundred
dirty stalls, stripper’s breasts, mirror and
chipped dinner plates.

I earned a twitch in the final years,
when I would go for days at a time,
I can’t quite tell you
for too long about it
without risking the
abyss taking me back
you have to take my word
you have nothing
to lose by gaining better ground
in this war,
you lose only your mind when you
play the game with the Nothing,
the nothing,
the not-knot but
not-rope
that you see hanging
from your neck on trees
the next morning,
you’ll have to take my warning
as it is.

I’m just not far away from the fire yet
to turn back and laugh
without risking a salty
statuette of my good intent.

I’ve earned that much.

And how.

I sip coffee in the morning now
with all the music that
was always there to
bring me into sleep,
it is the drug I will always
lean hardest on.

Can You Do It?

Can you do it?

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

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

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

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

And then, I am not.

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

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

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

Can you do it?

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.

Must Be Nice

Enough?

I Don’t Understand This,
you say, you’ve had enough?
Of the stuff?

I’ve never heard of this “too much”.
It sounds pretty fucked.
Like, why would you be at in the
first place if you could’ve said no to start?

Like, how you gonna shit on addicts
when you can’t experience that your
self. Like, how many rejects you

think it takes, to get a Hunter Thompson
or an Irvine Welsh?

It takes millions to produce nation
and one mutant to tell them all
“Go to Fuck”

It’s like a feeling of satisfaction
you say, and I would love
to empathize
but I’ve done, would do
anything in a bag
any size
any way any time
when I was laid back
in the dark of that shine.
That “Mine.Mine.Mine.”

What the FUCK is enough?
Never had it,
Not one time.

But you enjoy the comfort,
That shit sounds divine.

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.

“What’s the Guy Gonna Write About?”

I was feeling blue, which, when you’re a gingery red,
feels more like a harsh purple I hear.
And it was all due I believe in my fear that

the bottle had magic I need and will now
sound like a weaker (morally tender already) writer of me.
I did what I always do (since last week)

and put on the Bukowski recording where
he says something like
“they’re always asking, you know
what will he write about now without
the jobs and without the desperation
and he was so smug and said even if I end
up in a mansion with all the trimmings

I better still be able to write.”

Last week I saw one of the saddest old men
at a food court in a mall, he had a dirty, blue
Red Sox hat laid before him as me and a friend
sat at our relatively youthful table next to him.

The other pathetic people at the food court at least had
a group to hide in, to guffaw and gum their cheap dentures.
All I got from him was his loneliness, vacuous and stolid.

It was like the whirlpool of poetry that most
just watch while idiots like me prostrate ourselves
in all manner of walked wild, all for laughs and kicks.

And here was this fucker who Just About
smudged me with tears, sitting alone.

(Not even a pad to scribble Secret,
half crazy notes and malformed nudes
of the food court wenches in

How inappropriate that would have been,
If I had…

Can you imagine if I did that?

And with that thought I was saved.
It takes me away from the muzak-neon Epoch.
(which in recall has Carmina Burana as soundtrack).

My friend, a fellow writer,
and I have a dark tradition.
We preface a rant with
“Can you imagine if I Just…”
And just let a rant off, minus

Morality,
Ethics or
Class or
Sensibility.

I would like to think this has some deep
rooted, sociological function.

“Ah yes, the Can You Imagine – it often
centers around a social hazing- a negotiating
if you will, of the social contract/narrative level
of acceptability and Norm displacement is utilized
to come of age in the driest of social morays”

Some bullshit like that.

Really though, it was born of our
constant employment of it
prior to a detailed description of some depraved,
indifferent act.

“Can You Imagine if I just went
Fucking berserk right now in this line up
And started belting out Queen loud as fuck
while some half nun/stripper unveils a Gatling?”

Shit like that will always keep me going.
Even if it’s running form an angry PC crazed mob.
Anything’s better than that food court.