Stories

Have I Ever Told You About My Ghost Sister?

Have I Ever Told You About My Ghost Sister?

When we were young
Mom would ship us off
to spend the summer
in Newfoundland for what
must have been her
own personal bit
of relief as well.

I loved these trips.
They meant I was without
a bedtime because I
had always stayed up late
but grandparents never anticipate
their home becomes the
largest open cage for the most curious
of child-mice, and I discovered
in those summers, my love for late night TV.

Cheers was still in its glory,
Diane’s dress was pure 80’s conservative,
and Sam’s hair was still flush with colour,
even Cliff had hopes he wouldn’t die
only having lived with
his mother, who was the great
and the marvellous Jessica Tandy.

It was after 1984,
the summer when Rebecca,
as though signalling a shift
in the public conscious,
took over when Shelley Long mistook
her popularity for greatness.

I remember because I hated her at first.
She didn’t read like Diane.
She was all about money.

That was the year I met my Ghost Sister,
and just the once.

During the day I had
left my model glue under the
kitchen table where I spent many
of my days, back when being under a table
was not merely acceptable but in fact
the greatest place one could occupy in the house.

Under the table was where
you got all the best stories.

I heard my Aunt Jane tell Nan
over Tetley and Camel’s, about
her husband’s gall-stones and
how it was “like a golf ball coming
through a garden hose”, an image I
have never forgotten either when
watering the lawn or seeing a second
of golf on TV before shuddering
changing the station to, hopefully,
a pre-Becca episode of Cheers.

My grandmother had a small fit
over my younger sister, a creature
I had decided was mostly a waste of time,
except when I managed to get
a moment alone and made a grotesque,
zombie face, until she wept, and then
adults came and nobody understood why.

She had somehow gotten the cap off
the model glue, proving she was not
completely a pile of baby fat and stupid,
and was digging right into it like it was
plum sauce, her chubby fingers the chicken nugget,
and my Nan made sure I understood, in typical
“I don’t believe a child can be too traumatized” fashion,
that I had almost poisoned my sister, to death.

That night, she came to me in a moment of lucidity.
I had never seen a ghost, so it was exciting before
it became completely terrifying,
when she pointed toward me, as if to say

“soon I will be able to speak,
and your faces of zombies
will be known to the world”

before she literally tipped over,
sideways, like she was cardboard
that had been held up by a gust of wind,
and her phantom-form mist-and-blue light,
evaporated into the floor,
presumably to the downstairs of the house,
to watch something that was on TV,
or to finish eating my model glue,
and I knew then, even without being
aware of it fully,
that I loved the terror of my imagination,
and that I only had a few good months left,
before Sis learned to talk,
and then,
the gig was up.

Meanwhile, Back at the Glass Cabin…

(for R.E. and M.W.)

Up until now, I only understood my old friend in passing. I mean I knew his type of (or rather what I until now regarded to be) his type of cynic. Or even a passive aggressive way of dealing with the acceptance of legions upon legions of things one knows today that readers of Dickens’s serials didn’t likely have to bear the weight of. I’d get drunk and pick arguments that had no real conclusion, knowing he would say the same things he said, and I would say the things he said. And I would feel smug, and then shameful for thinking that of someone so important to me. There are certain voices in your life that might take you a decade to hear properly, but when you do you have one of those synchronistic clashes of a bunch of things like at the end of Signs. Except creepier because I actually do bear resemblance to the scariest 2 seconds of an alien apparently, ever.

“It’s always been bad. Have you read the Canterbury Tales? Shit has always been bad, but I believe people will figure it out. They always have.”

Then I would go on about some new internet sensation, something about Monsanto or Bees (but nothing so ridiculous as the last parts of The Happening), and we’d always end up at the same seeming loggerhead. Recently I found the center of that kernel budding in me, and much like the cocoon-gestation state for the baby face biters of Ridley Scott’s far superior, (pre-Prometheus puritan right here) Alien/s series, the early life of what I will call the “letting go of fictional friction” because I see now that is what it all is. Fiction.

Even if the government is out to get you, what good is it to run around like Charlie Sheen with your crack cut off?

Our fear for the future is a frictional fiction, something we invent to justify whatever we need to, in order to survive in body and mind. This shouldn’t be mistaken for the real kind of change people pursue as a result of the need for change, like reducing ones footprint or recycling (unless you worship at the church of Pen & Teller’s bulls**t) or any number of proactive tings people are doing in hordes nowadays, like the kid in Pay it Forward Because people can do things in a calm way, a collective way, after being presented with facts and proof, and logical and sane practices in presenting them. But nobody ever changed the world with worry or the worrying of all around them. No matter of scare-mongering or chicken little-fretting ever really amounts to anything, except antagonizing one’s community. State your concerns, write them out, act them out, film them or sing them or scream them to the nearest mountain (like all those terrible Scripturama’s, or even the occasional gem), and let it be, like the song, the sentiment and the necessary sacrament to the acceptable social cues and norms.

Because otherwise you’re just waiting for someone to teach you a similar lesson. Like at the end of Rudy when the coach got the ole “we are all Spartacus” treatment. Nobody left in the Western hemisphere is going to benefit from being grabbed by the proverbial shoulders’ every day and called a “sheeple” told the sky is poison and the government is under their boogeyman beds (like Howie Mandel before the germ thing in Little Monsters).

You know what? People need solutions. People need a hundred more Venus Projects before one finally sticks, they need engineers busting their assess and they need to understand how rigged the democratic system is. They can learn all this in morsel like bits of earth shattering info, but I have yet to see anyone in my life take to the kind of fervent, snake-oil hucksterism of most extremist conspiracy nuts (Alex Jones, et al.) when they pound the same points in daily, in some effort to – for all I can seem to interpret- ascertain some level of control in their lives. Join Greenpeace. Sell your car. Dig wells. Plant trees. Garden. And yes, collectively mobilize. But there’s no need for Jerry Maguire tactics. “Gee you know, that maniac in the street daily screaming about chemtrails dear, I think we should really heed his prophesies of doom, don’t you?” – said but nobody rational, ever.

And I for one stopped reading a bulk of the more preposterous links. I don’t benefit from that kind of hyperbolic mindset even if its 80 percent true. Why? It’s gaudy, that’s why. Yeah I said it, I like my philosophy like I like my women, presented clearly and cleanly in fresh, and inviting formats. I don’t go for the bottom of the barrel assholes like David Icke and Jones et al. I’m sorry. That’s not how you win friends, and it is only how you DISASSOCIATE good people form learning anything. So from now on I read nothing that’s hackneyed and ridiculous, unless it’s my own poetry during the dreadful next day scan, like buddy with his Kublai Kahn in Pandemonium.  If it has some level of professionalism and doesn’t simply reiterate the Alex Jones “They Are All Part of One Grand (I’m kind of off my meds so I see grander patterns than usual) Insidious Plot of Illuminati”, then I just scroll on, brothers and sisters. Unless it’s Unsolved Mysteries, I have a soft spot for that level of “professional” terribleness it imprinted in childhood. Perhaps that’s why I have trouble taking people seriously that present facts like Sean Penn high on blow in Hurly Burly mid-rant.

Old friend if you are out there, know that I acknowledge it. You were right. It’s never THAT fucking bad. People will rally, and shit will get fixed, or it won’t. No need getting out of your groove over it, right? Besides how else are we ever going to get to see a post-apocalyptic world where you can buy peoples experiences on the black market like Strange Days, if it doesn’t keep on truckin’ right? We already have Juliette Lewis primed as a singer for it too…

I guess what I’m saying is, I would rather talk movies, than hollah at the masses so often, they fail to listen when I finally do, Marvel and Greek God’s forbid, say something. Leave the slaughterhouse to the task of setting about chickens sans top, now and again. It’s been happening since Chaucer and will long after “Mr. Vickers” aka “The Heff” aka “Ginger” et al.

Dedicated to the Spirit of Film Friendships,

Namely Mr. Ebert

(and the sock puppets formerly known as Theodore and Roosevelt)  

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.

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.

Rear Hindsight

In the room one over, the radio
dollops out bingo winners along
the southern shorelines, slowly,
patiently, the old woman listens with
poised dabber.

One floor up the old couple
try to do it to Cohen like
they used to and it is
awkward and squeaky.

Down below a near-retired
and exuberantly drinking
school teacher whips another
batch of profanities up for her
poor, meek husband, who kind
of resembles James Cromwell but
with none of the power of his roles.

I especially like the American Horror Story
Character; he out did himself there.
I wonder if any war criminals live in
this area? I don’t have any particular suspects,
The local drunks are too far gone, the
criminal element far too juvenile and high.
Nazi’s though, they make the best villains.

A couple doors down a gay couple
who have moon rays on the lawn
that are always getting
kicked over, though not for any
malicious reason
just the proximity to the
housing area where, not
As though they have a choice
in the matter, the poor pass on
criminal excuses and anger and
addiction (that’s what the screen says, anyway)

I’ve tried despite my inclinations,
to remain a more hopeful
And empathetic sort.
Lord knows they’ve tried.

I remember a bus trip from BC
o Ont, and me and this
Really nice black guy from Montreal
were sharing smokes much of the way.
I ran short half way back,
so it was handy. But anyway this
couple got on somewhere in Calgary.
Screaming baby. Memorable.
I was such a miserable young traveler.
In the middle of the
night the young couple got into
some intense thing.

It increased an audible decibel.
The look on the Montreal guys
face when we both heard the slap,
the whimper that chased
after it, and that strange human moment
where we both I assume
considered what options
were next available.

There aren’t any hero’s
In that one I’m afraid.
The fight ended and
the other passengers all
pretended to be sleeping
while the girl hid her weeping
and the repentant and shamed
young boy sternly
begged forgiveness.

Ladies Man

One of the best weed highs
we ever had was around ‘95.

We just started grade 8, my younger
accomplice, who was also a come
from Newfoundland-er.

This kid was a born hustler,
a ladies’ man at 15.

He was great for shoplifting and
in general I owe all the
(extracurricular) criminal/delinquency
to be had in my
Half-assed attempt at being cool, to him.

(Sorry, no energy
for the manic
distancing tools of reforming
grace, or redemptive hindsight,
or even casual reminiscence.

And fuck all the after
school misery, too.)

There is no
Good Will Hunting to be had,
and nobody left anyone
For better things either;
he still has a way with
the ladies, even if the fates have
dulled his senses,
encouraged by all those pretty horses,
the gunmen and the lever,
the stirred-up and the Hammer,
an anvil and a believer.

“You hit on the run,
The run hits back on you.”

That kind of hyperbolic
hyper real meta-
Monster ego destruction

of the Roman persuasion;

the kicking of
men and women into eternal fall,
the removing of hope,
the unadulterated slaughter of it,
time.

Anyway we used to smoke this stuff
up by Cherry Tree Island
(a Portuguese guys backyard
we had assumed as ours),

And one spring, a principal of a near-by
school came up and started giving us
Shit, and I (brave because I was moving
across town and this asshole didn’t
know me from Job) told him a slew
of inventive ways to get fucked, and we
darted across fences faster than he could
flair about in the loneliness of useless
threats; he didn’t fucking know us.

Fuck him.

Those early highs were so liberating
I felt like god whenever I got a few
puffs into the night. We would gorge
on Frosted Flakes and fits of near-fatal
laughing forever, make fun of his retarded
family with their accents so much stronger than
ours, and which we’d never have again the same.

Our unique speech already
like clippings of hair on a barbers floor,
got devoured by the
clean, close shaven-ness of,

The Mainland Dialect.

Inner Justice

Inner Justice

Outer Justice is mostly
pomp and shit anyway.

I have worn blue for a
year for love and

Shaved a few heads
for mistakes

And scarred myself
like Jonny Depp.

Played every record
I loved,
and wailed it under
at least one
Lilac moon.

And by rivers burned
all manner of
Bible, joint, virtue,
spirit, endeavour and
friendly fire.

You can police the lines
or let them take you.
That’s more or less what
that therapist said.

He said he wrote in some soft,
warm retreat he
built down south somewhere
and it inspired me then
before I had read any Bukowski.

Doesn’t mean shit to me
since reading him.

How’s that for justice?

My First Third

Being a snippet from bits of sharded truth I will later collectivize so as to have tricked self into producing a sort of “novel”

I Remember Every Fucking Song I Know.

They are like hip rainbows that use primary colours to insist I keep walking straight, keep the faith alive, and keep my freedom’s mute anthem on bust despite nobody there to encircle you they keep you alert to it all anyway. Because you never know. Isn’t that how the song goes? Or is that some comic on the periphery jabbing at my memory trying to sink me when I barely just saw sea, see?

Every night I dream I am more and more trapped in Nuketown, this level we played to death in Black Ops, before I sold the system and just determined to stare at it until I filled it, this screen, with the pitter-patter oncoming of words and more of them. Marching back home like an amnesiac emperor or better like a Gibran-character, back to the boat for more adventure and bigger lines on the map to take us even to Conrad’s blurry spots. It helps they design the houses in the game like the ones in our suburbs, and my characters aren’t going to war with Fal’s and Aug’s (words I would’ve never learned-and to what image of corresponding weapon to boot- without the Baudrillardean construct) instead my troupe is enacting these crazy war call rituals, crooning and mooning. Making it, some of them, and later a great rumble (something from my childhood reading of The Outsiders?) but the thing is the music. It’s there but only in snips; it curls in Greek letters to the floor, burning still with insight.

It’s all given the soundtrack I have to assume my heart knows no division in its love for the audio-mood-swing-spectrum-saving-grace-oh-fuck-that’s-an-amazing-track-have-you-heard-their-discography? –life, it’s the one that takes you past every moment’s security detail.

Every night I dance a little then make my way into this Western Frontier town style saloon, and Juliette Lewis sings that track from Strange Days where she oozes sex into the mic and it interrupts criminal activities miles away. Later I sit with all the cast and crew of the movie, I’m sort of scribe or gopher its unclear and irrelevant. They want me to remember lines for them but I’m too busy hitting on Angela Basset who I’ve crushed on since 91 and Boyz in da Hood, and we talk about her diminished role in the movie and what it meant to the female perspective in the narrative, I even recall a rush from sounding so intelligent- and then we talk about Ralph Fiennes’ character and how useless he’d be without his one true friend.

Every night I’m another colourful lie and another impish step toward making something universally recognizable and dead inside, something epic and intentional. Maybe tonight I’ll do the poem i meant to all year about the manager Tim Horton’s, how she initially reminded me of the actress how played Arabella in the Kate Winslet version of Jude (the Obscure) just her nose and face proportions of course, and how forever I assumed that was her character until a friend mentioned her having had the lad with dreadlocks who delivered the cream and sugar. Sometime dreams are dwarfed by reality, that kind of thing.
Who knows.

Every time I think of poor Jude lying there while the world graduates another class of men beyond his reach, I just about cry. That book should be handed out and forced into the hearts of young poets like offal’s into a grinder, turned into a lesson, made a mark of. Emblazoned. I cringed when I knew, envisioning him on top of the table saying the prayer in Latin that I’d never even gleam close to Hardy’s life, or Conrad with his arms rowing, or Frederick Phillip Grove cutting dirt first for that matter in Can Lit or the rest of them, not like Blaise and her prodigious early novel , or Rimbaud’s 18 year old strokes on the board revamping versification in the late 18th.
I was just going to have to manage with what I had; comic book and horror movie references, general meta-reference obsession, a working knowledge of the humanities, some misplaced youth spent emulating the beats to a disheartening level of precision and mimicry. And yes, more than

a few addict-edges rubbed against for kicks, darkness, light, the whole show to keep a rhythm to what I felt at times might at least pay some homage to the greats.

But I digress. Back to the Arabella coffee wench. (no offense of course to my first lover of a similar name who made great Kraft Dinner as it happens.)