I had broken up with a girl after a long relationship. It was very complicated. I’ll call her October. I liked her. She had problems. She was very poor and very young. She was sixteen when I met her and I was 23. I think. She was very mature for her age. And I was… male. I had broken it off with October and gone to graduate school in a different city. Which is where I met September. She was beautiful. And very sexy. She was in the drama program. And I was smitten. She was depressed. Had attempted suicide before I met her. Or at least that is what people told me. People who for unknown reasons did not want me to get closer to her. Our relationship was very… peripheral. We talked a  handful of times but never became lovers. Never even held hands. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if she was interested in me at all. And I was a bit gun shy. One day I determined to see her and tell her how I felt. So I sought out one of her friends. I learned that she had gone on a shoot. I think it was a television movie, something for CBC. I did not see her again for a couple of years. In the meantime I got letters from friends in Toronto saying that October was suicidal. I returned to Toronto and found that October was in fine shape. But poor. We made up. It was a mistake. I was very fond of her but did not love her. But still, being something of a coward, I allowed the relationship to go on for a long time. It was continuing to disintegrate. Again. We never fought. But I never laughed. And I thought about September. Couldn’t get her out of my mind. Couldn’t tell October. I was a real mess. One weekend October presented me with a set of tickets. I was never crazy about theatre but friends of ours insisted that we go with them. And so I found myself one evening sitting on the lobby outside the theatre doors staring. Across the lobby. At September. She was alone. She looked at me and smiled. I pretended I didn’t recognize her. Maybe I was afraid that some fellow would pop out ofthe doors and I would be introduced as an old college friend. Or maybe I would have grabbed September and run off. But not likely. I could not hurt October. Even in my misery I  had this terrible need not to hurt her. How could I explain September. She would have seen it right away. At any rate I did nothing. A moment later I was led into the theatre. Where I sat for the next hour or so. In a state of purgatory. Another year would pass before October and I finally split. September made a couple of very successful films. One was with Burt Lancaster. After that I sort of lost track of her in my mind. Once I read in a movie magazine that she’d found her great love, her soul mate. Good for September. I began writing a book of poems called ‘murder’. September was the victim.

We were on fire. For each other. August was married. Separated. We had picnics in her bedroom. Escaped to my trailer on the highest peak in Ontario. (Actually the area in Ontario is quite flat but it is the highest elevation in the province.) Took long walks through furrowed fields. In rubber boots. I sang the national anthemn in her sweet place. The next week August said it was over. All of a sudden. I felt like a trap door had been opened beneath my feet. That I was Wiley Coyote in a Road Runner cartoon. Months later she called me. She had to see me. We met. She’d had an abortion. She thought I should know. She and her husband had reconciled and a baby was out of the question. There had been a debate. Her husband said that I should know. I looked at her for a long time not knowing what to say. I felt so… irresponsible.

She said that we looked like an Oriole cookie. Me so white. Her so black. July laughed easily. And talked about anything. Without a censor. The first thing that came into her head, came out of her mouth. She told me how she liked it when her boyfriends got into fights. When she could hear their fists smacking into someone’s ribs. And the grunts. And cries. It turned her on. Especially when it was over her. And she’d see the expression on my face. (I couldn’t hide my repugnance.) And laugh. (July laughed about everything.) She liked the way I reacted, that I didn’t give into everything she said. Because she was beautiful. And she was beautiful. Long black wavy hair. Dark almost purple coloured skin. (I had never touched such soft skin.) She never used makeup. Never used creams. Never exercised. Her figure was eye catching. Some afternoons she would stop by my place and we  would have tea on the front steps and watch the traffic of people moving by. And she would talk. About everything. (No one expressed more opinions about life but held fewer to her bosom.) She had been a registered nurse in Buffalo. But turned to prostitution because the money was better. She moved to Toronto so that her mother wouldn’t find out what she had done with her life. (She sent money back to her every month.) July got tired of caring for people (especially old people). She said that old bodies made her feel sick. Something about the smell. One day she asked me to be her boyfriend. Which meant pimp. I almost choked on my tea. That made her laugh. And then she disappeared. I hoped she moved back to Buffalo. With her mom. But I doubt it.

Amorous suicide – June

March 19, 2010

June was the first girl I loved. We met at university. Because of our appearance people nicknamed us Sonny and Cher, although there was no resemblance. June was a blond and I was a red head. I had never been so happy in my life. I still remember our first kiss. And the smell of her hair. And the feel of her small breast in my hand.  And then I lied to her. And that’s how it began to  unravel. I wrote her during the summer that I had a relationship with another girl. (There was no other girl.) I think that I was scared.  June had started to look at wedding rings. And houses. And I thought that I couldn’t get married without ever tasting the fruit from other trees. (What a brutal metaphor but young men think like that.) She later married an old boyfriend. Someone she’d been friends with before we met.  And I rode off into the future. Wondering why I had committed amorous suicide. Looking back, I smile and shake my head. At that foolish young man with the denim jeans. And the cowboy heart.

No one there – May

March 17, 2010

I don’t know what to make of any of it. I listen to poets prattle on about existence. Like prisoners in an elevator. Killing time until someone rescues them. I read prophets predicting what will come. When what will come is obvious to all of us. I think about the moments of youth when I thought there was something called truth. And I’m not too sure I wasn’t just lonely. And then there was Mary Clare. A poet in a younger Toronto. She used to look at me sometimes as if she knew me. And Mary Clare had a reputation of sleeping with men who were emotionally vacuous. But she was beautiful. Naked. It was as if when she was laying in bed wrapped in those cold crisp sheets she was transformed. But later. When talking over a cup of coffee. It was like there was no one there.

This is a story that runs backwards. Claudette would later marry a really nice fellow and have 2 beautiful children. The last time I met her I think she had forgotten completely that we had once been lovers. When we started dating the university psychiatrist who she met each week had me checked out. He did not want her hurt again.  She had been on a date with a guy. We’ll call him Joe.  They’d both gotten drunk. On the way back to residence Joe persuaded her to take a detour into a park. They started to make-out. He had his hand between her legs when she asked him to stop. Joe didn’t. She asked him to stop again. Joe slapped her and told her to shut up. She told me later that she would have cried for help but she didn’t think anyone would hear her. And she was frightened. Frightened at what Joe might do. She tried to forget. About a week later she phoned from the residence to order a pizza from the local pizzeria. When the delivery guy arrived at the residence she was called down to pick up her pizza. When she arrived in the lobby to pick up her pizza, the delivery guy dropped the pizza on the floor and cried out. Claudette looked down. Blood was dripping from the wrists she had slashed only minutes before.

Let’s called her Allison. She was a revolutionary working class poet. She always wore overhauls. She never wore makeup. Her poems were rough, aggressive, often overwritten. At readings she would often scream out her poems. She was no lilly. And we all assumed that she was lesbian. She later married and had a child. We (I was only a peripheral member of the group) were assembling poetry for an anthology. Michael was sent over to Allison’s house to pick up some poems from her. She met him at her front door dressed in a bikini. (Not many women wore bikinis or even two piece bathing suits in those days.) Allison had a very attractive figure. Michael thought that he might get lucky. (All memories of Allison’s homosexual tendency had completely disappeared from Michael’s mind when he saw that bikini.) Michael sat down at a chair by a coffee table in Allison’s living room while Allison exited to get her poems. When she returned she sat opposite Michael, put down several sheets of paper on the table. And a loaded gun. As Michael told me later, he tried to smile, to laugh it off, but he couldn’t get his mouth to work.

the redhead…. February

March 13, 2010

I can’t remember what she looked like. Her image has completely dissolved into the past. But not the strange irony of our meeting. I was hanging out in Yorkville during the early 1970s. Yorkville was a kind of Greenwich Village in Toronto. There were a lot of hippies, wannabees, and suburban longhairs. I was one of the latter. There were traffic jams every Saturday night from the people in cars who wanted to look at us. I was in a particularly depressed mood that Saturday. This pretty girl, a red head, sat down next to me and we talked. I was hoping to jump her bones so I told her that no one remembered anyone else. That we were all anonymous nobodies. (What a pick-up line.) I told her that she would forget me in a week. We went our separate ways. Several years later I was at a party in a town hundreds of miles from Toronto. Full of wine and myself. I started to put the moves on one particular young woman. She told me a story. She had just returned from Vancouver. While there she had been at a party when a young woman, a red head, had tried to pick her up. They went back to the woman’s hotel room and had sex. Afterwards the red head told her a story about a young man. A young man she had met in Yorkville years earlier. Who had told her that she would forget all about him within a week. It had been years and she hadn’t been able to get that young man out of her head. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was that young man. And now years later I can’t get that incident out of my memories.  I don’t know what it means. I don’t know if it means anything. But the story has this sense of being… odd.

I started a series of illustrations about the calendar. Not too original. But in the collages I made I tried to eliminate most of the visuals, leaving a kind of sketch of a collage without actually drawing anything myself. Later I did variations on each one and then took small sections out and isolated them into individual pieces. All of this was done with an eye on creating a slide show.

And I wanted each month to reflect some experience I had with women. Experiences before I met my wife. A friend of mine, whose name will go unmentioned though it rimes with anaconda and argyle, once told me that he really loved women. Where did that leave the rest of us? Doormen? Or life insurance agents? But I knew what he meant. If there is a God and he is meant to be loved, he would have to be (in the eyes of men) a woman.

January was created after a girl I knew in high school. Her name was Patty. (Still is I’m guessing). Our high school was all boys except for 2 young ladies who came over from the local girls’ school to take some classes with us. One girl was a lovely long haired blonde. Patty was the other girl. She had a rather sad face that seemed to light up when she saw you and smiled. And when she smiled the whole room lit up. And she talked to me. I was… conquered. But very shy. I did not ask her out . When the school year was out I asked a friend of mine if he knew where Patty lived. (The same friend that rimes with anaconda and argyle.) He gave me her address. And so all summer at least two or three times a week I walked by her house hoping she would see me and come out. (I was too shy to knock on her door. I wanted her to think that I was just in the neighbourhood.) Sometimes her neighbours would give me a suspicious look. But I didn’t care. I was there for Patty. It wasn’t until the end of the summer that I learned that the house I passed all summer wasn’t hers. She didn’t live anywhere in that neighbourhood.

Postscript: I’m still friends with the guy whose name rimes with… And Patty and I later became friends for a time at college, although never boyfriend-girlfriend. Her nephew and my son later played soccer together on the same team. Patty became one of those ‘what if…’ women in my life.

Levi van Veluw

March 7, 2010

This is the work of Levi van Veluw. Very bizarre. Make sure you watch the video.


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