Pynchon

Tron Soundtrack Inspired Mania

Robots Fuck When We’re Not Around.

They bicker after, too.

“You let people into the house
of your heart and then you
condemn them to watch as they
burn inside and you, you always have
an excuse for why it wasn’t you!”

and

“You, you always have a reason not to donate, and
You, you cynic, what have you done lately, that wasn’t
just to marginalize for your own ego?”

Pick up a broom. Always work in a kitchen. All that.

“You let people into the temple and you flick rocks from the
righteous belfry. You play a game of human domino,
and the shadow’s, even those fuckers get buried.
There is not a jury alive that would know your name.”

“You are like the many named demons of the old stories.
You are like the shit on hell’s waiting room urinal.
Written next to you is “Why Give A Shit Now”’

[Then they start to fuck again, ideas and concepts like shuffling deck. ]

And for a good time call someone who cares,
for a good time call the girl of your dreams only
99.99 only a dollar more, just an inch off the left,

Come back to Denny’s for the old fashioned taste of
Thomas Pynchon’s art-I-choke, come for the boot
of thy womb, Hertzog, you, you who have only ever watched

& siphoned and spoken and cried, the welp of the lot, you bitter
bastard child of Robin Hood, you, what are you doing with
the rest of that sandwich, where are the rest of your army.

What is the hold up with this extension to the Wasteland?
Where are all my vertigo comics, and what have you done with
the Vangelis synth’s, the medieval, digital doom now flops
in between the invisible gears of some hard house loom.

You, there with the ill-framed arc. Come we get ya going.
Upload. Engage. Re-form. Inspire. Release.

There now, how’s that?

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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.

She Has You

She is the one that first caught me.
The half human, half faerie half witch.

She listened to Tool and
she knew what am Athame was,
always buying books written
by women with strange pseudonyms
like Raven Moonchild.

This weird stuff was always happening.
Once she was saying the word paint
As I fished out a magnetic word from
Its frigid pagination into my typewriter,
the very word she’d said, and

“she had a dream about it all” and
“I was never going to be rid of her”

and “I have another inside me”
and “I’ve only shown it to you and
the clergy. ”

I haven’t got the heart to leave anyone
Or go on or forward someday unless
I sit for a minute and consider her
diamond-like personalities.

I had no idea what feminism was then,
but when I read “The Yellow Wallpaper”
I thought of that summer, (just before
“Kid A”) when we lived downtown
and she found this real pattern behind
the wallpaper. I saw it. She saw it. It was there.

People shuffled her into a hundred different
diagnostic hooplahs after that, but I knew she
wasn’t crazy. She was a real woman,
and womanhood Is a disease that is treated
as a mental illness, which itself?

Is just a way to keep the creative people
at a workable, distant and level, population
of shaky people in food by courts and on
corners screaming about their insect
encrusted genitals by the time the meds
have all gotten pumped in,
perched like prescription Jesus-
Zombies in rows along every major city,
reminders that thinking at all can
lead to lucid, stigmatized doom.

Anyway, every time I hear Kid A I
think about her. We barely heard it
in the same room more than a couple
times, but what was great was she
of all people had bought a cassette
of the thing and I later discovered
it was defective. It played the opposite
side Helter Skelter style in the background
on both sides, so you in effect had an entire remix
of an album that had already departed from
post-Kid A Radiohead. It was the single most
beautiful mistake that has ever existed.

And it’s gone.

Sometimes I put one on in one player
and the other in another but
it’s not the same. Plus who knows
what cocktail of wonder and drug
and what stage of depreciation the
ears were in, it’s hopeless to even
attempt a cosmetic replication of something
operatic, organic. Environmental.

The People on the Bus

The people on the bus
(go to hell in a hand basket fast without
social customs in place).

(aka “welcome to Thunderdome, bitch”)

No matter how far we come as people,
the public transit experience will always
feel cold, like communism in Western movies,
or like penal institution transport crossed with
a ship of fools motif. For me however, it’s an
essential tool in understanding human behaviour
(and its lack therein when it occasions).

The best time to people watch is
the morning or late night, when
the world of the worker is worn
away like reality TV 5 years ago
and people really get their zombie
looking selves into half-sleep states.

There are a variety of styles of bus rider.
Each reflects a persona in society.
There’s the tough guy/asshole.
He’s easy to spot since he’s the only of the
Male species who will sit next to a woman
when seats next to other men are available.
In some cases such behaviour is accepted- a
bar for example. Not on the long haul that is
the metro though, no my track suit friend, best
to flip that Monster Energy (death) drink ball hat
around, take those Ridiculous tri-colored sunglasses
commemorating the 1992-93 Toronto Blue Jays franchise
off, and just stand the fuck off to the side as you likely
will in other forums in life im sure until an early
death by some random douchbaggery or other.
(My guess is robbing a gas bar, who knows!)

Stuck next to him was the lady who sits as little
As possible but rather tries to hover on her ass cheeks,
and almost appears fearful of the physical bus itself
as well as our resident asshole. She’s not a lifetime rider
like him either, usually she finds someone or becomes
a driver herself.

Next you have students. Most of those are texting,
a few still read. Fewer are weirdo’s watching the rest,
like me, for non-sexualized purposes (those lot tend
to fall under the Blue Jay 93 douchebag from earlier).

Then you have a few workers, and some people running on
fewer pistons than the general “norm”, your rockers,
your cursers your rocking cursing singers, all living it up
like they just don’t give a fuck, next to them, the skeets
and the slags, the skanks and the hags, and all that glitters between.

You have a few young parents, a lot more young mothers,
the occasional Clergy or Sister, people too injured to drive,
too poor, people too drunk and (or) too high. It’s a veritable
smorgasbord of life! As a cheap student-writer of cheaper
writing still, I really can’t fathom wanting to leave the living
Opera some call “the welfare wagon” others the “losermobile”.

But I think that’s mostly peoples
pride making them feel they need to qualify their
existences as more than the rat race they are
jammed into (just like anyone on that bus) and there
is nothing that’s going to change it – no ride,
no sweet, sweet ride will ever change that.

And you KNOW what Marcellus Wallace has told us of Pride?

“The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting.
That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.”
Pulp Fiction, 1997

Psych 1000 Test

I hate tests. I don’t even
like a foot race if I can avoid it.
I just prefer to read movies.
Yeah I said it.
I scan it all.

I’m like one of those
barcode scanners at Sobey’s
but for useless movie knowledge.

So that’s how I encode
(encoding: processing of information
Into the memory system)
What I can for them.

Memory Retrieval techniques:
Free Recall is an easy
One- because Total Recall
The sequel should have
been “free,” with no prompting
of audiences to pay attention.
(Prompting-re: Retrieval cues)

Mood-Congruent memory was
my adolescence coles notes style,
so that’s nothing.

For the parts of the Middle Ear
I thought of “Middle Earth”,
then Cambridge my hometown.

This Memory Cue always brings
this comic strip me and Pugs read
at Kings Palace. The protagonist of
the strip was hailing the greatness
he saw as Hamilton
Aka “THE HAMMER” – which,
Along with the Anvil and Stirrup
Make up the middle (earth) ear.

For the Cochlea, I know it was that same
spiralling, boney liquid filled tube
a proff I knew had to have operated
on as a result of it being “off level”
and giving her extreme bouts of vertigo.

Parts of the eye and their function,
Tricky? Not for a savant as I though.

Since Rod is already conjuring
Roddy “Rowdy” Piper!
And the Rods are responsible for
white black and grey (which recalls the aliens
he so valiantly strove to kick ass against),
I have an easy They Live memory cue.

E.S.P. and Parapsychology are easy
Because they’re just silly.

Synesthesia carries into poetry
“I can hear the smell burnt toast”
also works.

For “visual cliff”
I imagine Carla throwing
Cliff off an edge as an ‘experiment’

Psychophysics? Norman Bates with
a textbook in his other hand.

The student survives.
The movie lover adapts.
The poet gets…inspired.

I wanna get high with the common people, and dream like Bunuel

My childhood went by

like a toy pushed down a long

hallway, set fire, bouncing on the

walls.

I escaped time through

‘a long, prolonged’

exposure to gamma.

And radio.

And hamstring strung up

to drain of fluids, like a butcher,

with those first lines.

Pool hall jukebox and foose ball pothead early teens.

Long before Kerouac or anyone else infested my dreams.

I found delight in my own nature first.

You can learn the only thing you need

to from a swimming whole or a junk yard,

and a few good friends.

(Cue, The Wonder Years Theme)

I don’t believe in being imagistic though.

I washed my hands of all the splices from

Ads and other suggestive thighs, crossed into my own

recollection, my calm, cool predilection

for hosting my own awkward, crazy

unrehearsed audition, (in the middle of dawn

quiet streets, walking home from another night

high on the circumstances of my own fate,

my own perceived destiny;

to outdo every writer junk head

since and including Hunke,

and with style, old Bull Lee.

(“With fucking crystal, a ball,

and the Bladerunner Soundtrack on fucking bust.”)

I don’t deny I have Eyes,

but my mind has the filter in place

that keeps it all in perspective.

I will not let anything disrupt the narrative

that gets me where I need to be again.

The more vampires who get fucked over the better.

This world needs more real heroes

and fewer celebrity cameos.

The photo op can’t cure or

absolve the cause, when the other hand just

refills the charity quota.

But I got over it.

And will again, and again,

And again,

I still have toys to play with.

I will film you a million reasons to keep reading

my shitty subversive versified kisses.

I will.

Excuse me while I set them on fire to Carmina Burana for a decade.

You know. Mature, art-house stuff. Very serious stuff.

Excuse me while I set my dead leaves in fire, dance around

Half naked, half crazy, half brilliant,

half Ontarian half Newfoundlander,

running in sometimes a literal,

others a figurative,

(but godamned if he’ll be forbidden both),

Freedom Field.

Ill grow up when I’m reintegrated with the cold polluted soil of whatever place I fall.

 “I’m not a Christian, but I’m not an atheist either, I’m weary of hearing that accidental old aphorism of mine ‘I’m not an atheist, thank God’ It’s outworn. Dead leaves. In 1951, I made a small film called ‘Mexican Bus Ride,’ about a village too poor to support a church and a priest. The place was serene, because no one suffered from guilt. It’s guilt we must escape, not God.” – Luis Bunuel

Company from the Mainland.

 

You were in for a long stretch when company was coming from the Mainland. The whole natural order of things was thrown into the grinder, mangled up, or worse, taken to the circular bone saws, whizzing like hungry chainsaws that will, trust me, take a finger tip off in nano-seconds.

 

It started with the summer line-up change, and then it became the mid-season thing to do. The “big-wigs from the mainland” would spring down for a weekend of “inspections, dinners, hotel, bitta golf” as George would coyly observe. Each time we were pre-warned, and thus each time we’d acquiesce to, the lonely dance of the overnight meat room-worker.

 

I enjoyed all their company over the years, don’t get me wrong; Eddie-from-town could tell you a different joke every night amidst a string of old ones, the occasional line changed to maintain freshness. We initially had a hard time finding common ground, and my artistic temperament when met with his outdoorsy, made for challenges. But once it was established, our love and shared passion for suddenly shouting out lines from “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid” (“Rules? In a knife fight?”),  “Cool Running’s” (“Sanka mon? Ya dead mon?”). “Braveheart”. (“Shoulda remembered d’rocks…Ey!” “Yeah…I… Y’Shoulda”), combined with a juvenile pastime of singing the same basic Cash songs (Boy Named Sue and Ring of Fire), forced us albeit reluctantly, into co-workers, then friends, and finally, consistent volunteers for the dreaded night shifts.

 

“How-ya getting-on? Sleep at all?” “Nah man. Laid down after work today, 6 o’clock, still wired. It’s not legal you know? They’re required to give us a certain amount of-” “Now listen you and I both knows that lit-tle Arse-hole don’t care about that! Nudder smoke we heads er in er wha?” “Just as Well.”

 

There was George-from-around-the-bay who could tie a dozen varieties of knots, milk a variety of animals, and predict a variety of weather- namely though, (and tried and true according to him), was coppery precursor in the large of his throat, before a good shower of rain arrived. “Thought all you baymen were supposed to be inbred!” “Oh shud-up ya little mainlander!”. And so we spent our days in a constant mock-bickering that always ended in uproars of laughter. Temporary beards of breath clouding our chins and coats for a brief lull in the endless demand for production.

 

“Jaaaarge?? Can you make some more Regular?” “My ducky I would but that Idiot give me my orders!”(Anytime the term That Idiot was used, you just knew it was the one person in our department who wasn’t one of Us). “Fucking Jimmy O’Keefe. 4 Foot shag all, but a mouth on em like a sailor and no more sense in e’m then a parking-meter!”

 

“Scaaaaaaat?? Missus out dare? She wants a smaller pack of Regular tha-“ I Just Made Regular, Families and Smalls! Come on Joanna!”  “B’y she wans smaller’n than what’s out’der. You do dat for er?” “When I get a minute, sure! I have to tray up this liver first! Why does always smell like cat piss…why can’t it smell like liver? Right. Liver DOES smell like cat piss…”. Eddie would look up and chime in “held up like a douche in the middle of the fight!” – another of our long established patterns- the remolding of popular music to suit our own, sick, and shared,  sense of humor. Anything to make it closer to quitting time. We would all be found saying throughout the day, “Come On-n-n-n-n-n-n-n 5 o’clock!”.

 

But not on those fucking Company Case Nights.

 

We were always under the gun, and during the day the little boss went around rallying, cajoling, coaxing and goading. Sometimes he went into a rage, in which case the older one’s would get terse and almost fraternize with subordination amongst one other, as if to say “we’ve heard this all before, cool-it, already”, while us younger ones scattered and scrambled to unnecessarily rectify something. The biggest of us physically, Eddie, he knew ‘em growing up. “He’s always been a prick sure!” And I, always preferring to get the story from the source, I would always stop what I was frantic to finish for fucker Jimmy, to get “da real story” from Eddie.

 

They were playing road hockey.

 

“Now, this is goin on 20 years ago remember…now he was getting on like he always is right? Like a Real Prick, right? So the second the puck dropped I got ‘em behind me and I let ‘em have it with the end of my stick- Bam Buddy! Right to ‘ease mouth! Chicklets on the ice! I tell ya buddy he kept his distance rest a that season, he did! Imagine though Scotty! That was 20 fucking years ago look at em! Still a Prick!”

 

For whatever reason, the same thing occurred every time. The fact that a grocery store, well over 6000 feet didn’t matter.

 

Because Fucking Jimmy O’Keefe always managed at that very moment to burst through the bay door of the meat-room (a true cooler- a fixed temperature at all times) and seeing the new kid curled in laughter and Ed with his head facing the product- down, down, down, and then up, up and away went the little Bastards temper again! “Off his head like a child throwing a tantrum he is! Shack-In!…”.

 

It would go on like this invariably, a cold, bloody, upset dance of worker and other worker, until the cheap suits showed up in shit eating grins with clipboards and tans. What a bunch of cunts. If the weather was fine you wouldn’t see them at all. They’d be golfing and dining on the residuals of the pensions I worked around every day for those cold, bloody 8 years that eventually drove me into the warm embrace of the university library again.

 

Fuck that shit, Balki.

 

Scales (and hemorhoids and coldsores)

Starts out when I’m

away from a pen it’s like flashing

lines and images.

“First haemorrhoid. Itchy ass.

Kitchen crotch prior to that.

 

And of course the new itch.

And cold sores.

Harbingers of neutered doom,

spayed before the first kiss.”

Then I get back to my keyboard and

mine as well be a dyslexic hummingbird.

That fucking poem is gooooooone sir.

Or marred beyond recognition.

This ends up reminding me of this episode of Unsolved Mysteries;

a girl took a chunk of plywood to the head.

She was on the back of a motor cycle in

some farming town and got whacked

into an ugly coma, woke up gone from sense.

Literally fucked for life. Ok, that’s not fair,

severely handicapped. She still had enough

sense to know how fucked her shit was.

Which is worse?

What a shitty existence.

And to have it all summed up

by a sub-par produced, creepy

theme-songed, episode of a mystery show.

And they still didn’t even catch em.

Small town. People are afraid.

They get interviewed in corners of dark rooms.

They get robbed of even a moment of fame.

Except let’s face it, everyone home knows about it.

You just know it.

Then I grab the camcorder

and video diary all this shit up,

even spawning

the coldsore rant.

The one about how even

without anyone to kiss

at the moment, they certainly aren’t

aiding the cause.

Then something hyperbolic

about how

it was the cancer of lips,

or the aids of self-image.

It gets worse. But it’s not unlike

being  slightly ugly or a little fat or barely poor.

a harbinger of your fate,

a cyclical reminder, and a tolerable state.

An episode of life that reoccurs.

A laugh track inserted, to keep

it from being as bad as it seems,

to claim the sound and fester with it;

being human about it.

And everyone always seems

so much more beautiful too.

When you get the little

money you have

you don’t get gramma jean

the worn, 60 year old teller,

you get Jean Grey the

19 year old angel kiss.

But at least you aren’t raped

by bombs like Baghdad

Or put to death or tortured

in Guantanamo.

Or just aware enough to realize

it’s all worth nothing anyway.

Whatever you wanna call it.

Its cheaper than therapy.

The only cure to fear of loneliness

is being

alone.

The world is divided between those who can handle it

and those who want their look, but none of the real risk.

A million dealers of the stuff that holds them in tandem,

together forever, like roids and sores; varying scales of the same instrument.

Retirement Dance

I always thought there was this rebels

party going on somewhere, and I just had

to make it there. And I would never have to stop

rebelling against normalcy then.  A party like

the torch that’s burned before and will

out burn us all, still and yet to come.

Decades long. People born there and people died.

Fuck. I had this thing all planned out. And now no

matter how South I go I know not even I can

Burn the Man of time forever.

I used to think the divinity of a Doors record was

The same thing as a Beethoven one.

Now they’ve all become catalogued,

my fingers in analog

have spoken out the order,

of history in quarters.

An alignment of stars, called critics’ whose bars

imprison their words except to

bang the same damned pot all day.

Critical poker face. I want to cut out your place

at the table, like Stanley Kowalski,

but I just don’t have the biceps the time

or apparently the timing.

So here’s an alternative guide to rhyming;

don’t leave the kids table unless you’ve

given, taken or witnessed a good shining.

This is a house of lies though.

Barely a dancer in this generation.

Let alone an infinite dance.

Best to work on the two step.

Miles and Betty Davis Soundtrack

When you find another anthem,

you take it back over all the

bus routes, hallways and parks

that salt & that pepper your years,

each having previously held

warm verses and grooves of their own.

 

You walk back.

You re-rhythmically

re-mythologize the

steps to the church

and the steeple.

The prayer of her knee highs

and the black

embankments of

her hair.

 

The people on the bus and

the ones that make up the crowd.

You’ve seen most of it before,

but never to Miles or Betty Davis.

Never to Muddy, King, or Wolf.

 

People as convoluted as they become, are

all at once redeemable, by a perfect soundtrack.

 

A Kaleidoscope, wringing out the stories

in their eyes and perks; shearing off

lines of nuance.  Carving another edge.

 

The frenetic bird-mimicry

& melting of stuffy snow glazed people.

The dance of the chilled and iced.

The palace of warmth that

crystallizes them.

 

I hate a warm bus. I start to shed layers…

scribble lines at stops;

 

Holden Caulfield isn’t dead!

He’s alive and well and living in Canada!

 

A girls pink hair seems to be giving her more enjoyment as

her boyfriend shifts in his padded seat.

A symphony of bodies bobbing along.

As if perfectly,

by puppeteer of inertia,

to this seasons song,

a play were all along enacted

rarely ever changing, until we

reach our crescendo.

 

Go scouring for another score.

Something new to re-watch you dance to.