July 31, 2012
Too many young men. In the world. Without a job or a girl or a future. These are very dangerous times.
Young Men Alone
Hanging out. Strip malls. Leaning against the window. Like a tattoo. Of the record shop. Laughing at the losers. Shopping. Chewing gum. What’s up tonight.
All we wanted to do was. Run. Run. Run. Run.
Watching Mary Beth. Red hair on fire. Sashayin’ by. A frozen cunt. Wouldn’t look our way. Couldn’t she see we were the chosen. Ones. The lords. Of our lungs.
All we wanted to do was. Run. Run. Run. Run.
Someone showed a magazine. Soldiers for hire in the Congo. Sandra and her cousin from Halifax. Smile our way. Ain’t worth the gold. That drips from our cocks. Someone tells a joke. No one laughs.
All we wanted to do was. Run. Run. Run. Run.
Evening getting weary. Frank rides up with his bitch. A Harley. Bud tells a story. Frank shakes his head. You think that’s fast. Bud flashes a knife. No one knows why. Better put that away. Before someone gets hurt. That someone being you.
All we wanted to do was. Run. Run. Run. Run.
July 30, 2012
A long time ago: They were all stoned. I had just arrived. They were gabbing amongst each other. I said, “Watch this!” They all turned to me. I looked down at my arm. A blood vein burst and blood spit out onto my arm. As you can imagine there was quite a fracas after than. We used to call it a freak out. Girls started crying. Some left. The guys sat with their mouths open. There was fear in their eyes. One of my friends started laughing uncontrollably. I did not say another word. Just stood up and walked out.
Was I actually able to make my vein burst. I don’t think so. Never have since. Never did before.
People most likely to believe in and experience mind over matter and precognition are pattern spotters. (Psychology Today, Matthew Hutson, August, 2012.)
When you’re high you become adroitly tuned into patterns. You see them everywhere. On LSD you can fall into the patterns. A friend of mine used to watch television on acid. Not programming. He watched interference. Swore he could see things. Madness can do the same thing. Paranoia of course. Obsessions are all about pattern recognition. During the War in Vietnam friends on the left saw conspiracies everywhere. Now the right has its turn with runaway paranoia.
I cannot bend spoons. With my mind. Some rich people can. With their mouths.
July 29, 2012
An artist friend of mine, Ed Kuris, sees things. Feathers. Coincidences. He hears things. Words on the radio. That he has just typed on the page. Artists see patterns.
Pattern finding is so central to survival and success that we see patterns everywhere, even in random data – a phenomenon called apophenia. (Matthew Hudson, Psychology Today, August 2012)
I too see things. Which is necessary to make collages. To write poetry. But my pattern detection is limited to my work. I can turn it on and off. Most of the time. Ed cannot. For him it is like an avalanche of information descends upon and his brain must make some sense of it.
I have a very strong skeptical trait. I don’t believe things almost as a reflex. I distrust everything, even my own thoughts, my own ideas.
Both Ed and I are paranoid. He is paranoid about the unknown. I’m afraid of the known.
He sees the universe filled with meaning. I see it empty.
July 28, 2012
I wrote a book called Jack. Which is about life on a fictional planet. But the planet is inside your head. Which is a galaxy far far far away.
There is a voice in my head. That internal conversation that all of us have. Except on Jack, that voice comes from a real person. Or at least one that looks you in the eye. In my time on Jack that voice comes from a cop. A private cop. A Sam Spade. And he wants some straight talk. And I try to lay it on the table. As clearly as I can. But its never clear enough. Sam says I’m holding something back. He can tell by the way my eyes flirt around. Won’t lock glances with him. And I tell him when I lock glances I end up falling in love. Sam laughs at me and calls me some kind of fruit cake. And I would like to lay it all out there on the table. But once you see it. Once you see the truth. There’s always something extra you have to add.
Have a read. It will help your aunt in that special way.
July 27, 2012
I know that this probably has no significance to anyone. Besides my spelling getting worse. But I’ve noticed in an almost Seinfeld glimpse that there are a lot of sounds in this world. And some of them speaks to us. Like air-conditioners. I was in a grocery store many years ago. I haven’t had to go back since. And I heard a new Bob Dylan song. I love Bob Dylan. So I stopped with my three grocery carts and listened. It was an air conditioner.
Yesterday I heard a low moan in my basement. I thought it might be a small animal in the house. Which had been hurt. Or someone singing “Georgia”. It turned out to be clothes hanging on a wooden pole. Moving with the breeze from an open window.
And then there are creaky gates, squeaky floor boards, springy beds. They are all mimicking us. Like parrots.
If man was eradicated from this planet I am confident that aliens landing would hear us. Listen. We’re everywhere.
July 26, 2012
There is a long tradition of religious poetry. I like to think that many of the pieces I have written recently are in that mode. Of course they are angry. Anger because my spiritual pursuit has not brought me peace or resolution. I think that all religious poetry starts with honesty. You cannot write it to make yourself or others feel better. If God wanted us to feel better he wouldn’t have placed us in this life. There is something else.
The Final Judgement
There was a cliff. Outside my window. The horizon looked like your face. I wanted to fly. There. Wasn’t any good reason.
John Donne wrote some lines about you. Said you were a credit. To your kind. He was a liar. I think we both know. What are the ties that bind.
Worship. Adore. Blind. Myself in love. But there’s something you can’t dismiss. These were your rules. That you wrote. In our DNA. Don’t poison me with your kiss.
Alone in a room. With my failing eyes. And a table and chair. A blank sheet of paper. I know what you want. Me to sign. Is this your gift in the end. Despair.
July 25, 2012
There are always children in drug stores. Being left alone. Its the make-up. Perfume. All those other essentials to life in the suburbs. And children are left alone. That’s what this story is about. It is one of many. Interrelated stories. Like a novel without a spine. The book is called Day Shift. Lovely book. Really. Straight out of the horse’s mouth.
The Widow Murphy leaned over the stroller and smiled. She liked taking care of Alvin while his mother was absent. Alvin’s mother was testing perfume. The Widow smiled again. Like a pitcher throwing a change-up after his fastball. There was a certain kindness in the widow’s smile. Maybe it was the dentures. Produced by an old man from Port Elgin. Near the ball park. The Widow’s long black skirt was waving like curtains. Opening night at the Apollo. James Brown and his band of Renown. The floors of the pharmacy were sticky. And the air was blue. Posters hung from the ceiling. Like long lost friends. Gone bad. And the laughter was infectious. Like a yawn in a subway. The air rushed down the long tunnel. Threatening to sweep you under the wheels. And no one could stay out of the way of that beat. And the Widow had been there. Shaking her hair that twisted above her head like a briar. She smiled at all those good times. The honeymoon by the lake. And the full butter moon. The larks that cried out like stray dogs. Chasing sedans down the street. And Alvin was included. What a beautiful child. She suspected. What else could he have been? Came into the world laughing. Like someone had told him a joke at the last minute. Just before his arrival. Maybe it was something about rose petals. Or the smell of urethane. Life was good for little Alvin. That day. Or so he thought. But not this day. Alvin McGuire did not smile back. At the widow. He remembered opening night. How could he forget it? The Widow was always reminding him about it. Every time she stopped his mother so she could sink her face into Alvin’s personal pool. She reminded Alvin. How his head had been so big at his birth that Mrs. McGuire almost died. Mrs. McGuire smiled at these stories. She loved being the star of anyone’s story. The widow continued. Stirring Alvin’s memories. Remember, she always said. How they had to take a saw to your dear mother. Bones. Not some ordinary saw. A chain saw. There were pools of blood on the floor. And splatter marks on the wall. Like the Simpson trial. And screams that would have sent a shiv up your spine. How when little Alvin came into this world one of the doctors thought that it might have been the birth of a new universe. Like Mrs. McGuire’s uterus was a wormhole. And who the hell knew what might fly through it’s gates. The Big Bang. The nurses had laughed. That’s what the nursing staff called Alvin’s conception. The Big Bang. Dr. Sullivan had cracked that one. He was so funny. The nurses declared Especially for a urologist. Just happened to be in the parking lot that morning. When Dr. Williams complained about his golf game. You go to the driving range, Dr. Sullivan suggested. I’ll take care of your schedule this morning. And little Alvin was on that schedule. Like soup on a menu. The Widow reminded little Alvin about that day. Burnt it into his memory. Not because she disliked children. The widow held onto the peculiar philosophy that one could only become successful in life if one survived a major scar during one’s youth. If one was traumatized. Look at Napoleon, she insisted on pointing out. But no one was sure why. Besides being short and prematurely balding, what horrible event in his childhood had little Napoleon to overcome. Still the Widow held onto those three little words. You are different. And the Widow wanted little Alvin McGuire to be successful in life. Normalcy bred only Swiss Guards and accountants. In the Widow’s eyes, Alvin must be remembered. Alvin did not agree. Not that he had a particularly good argument to offer in response to the Widow’s notion. He was too inexperienced for that. The Widow scared him. And that seemed to offer a cautionary note to his response to the old woman. That and the hanging flesh that swayed under her chin. It sent a chill up Alvin’s spine. The old woman was turning into a lizard. Too long in the sun. Too many days on the planet. If I ever get to look that old, shoot me! he might have thought. When the old woman had pushed her attentions on the young child, Alvin was watching a commercial on the television monitor. Behind Mrs. Murphy. Who was looking at various vitamin pills. Mrs. McGuire was always attempting to find ways to extend conscious life. Her conscious life. And she’d heard about the power of vitamins. If only there weren’t so many of them. The commercial Alvin was watching was about taxes. And how people should hire lawyers to protect them against the government. That’s what smart people did. The government was the enemy. Especially the school board. And trigonometry. Had anyone found any use for it? Alvin didn’t know much about trigonometry. Except co-sines of which he had digested a few. His mother often accused him of shitting out tangents. But about smart people. They enjoyed lawyer-client confidentiality. Alvin liked the sound of that. But he didn’t like the idea that he needed a lawyer to protect him. Especially since he hadn’t sent in his income tax form. Since he hadn’t filled out a form. Since he had no income. That wouldn’t have mattered to the government. That’s what folks said. The government seemed determined to squeeze every last nickel out of everyone. And the Widow’s smile? Those weren’t her real teeth. How about her eyes? Were they cameras? Was she secretly an agent for the government? Was this their new tactic? Employ kindly old ladies to harass kids in strollers. And when the old woman reached down with her withered lips to take her accustomed kiss from the small child, Alvin did the only thing he could think of in the circumstances. He spit.
July 24, 2012
- The God of Six Points, to be brief, is the story of God. One particular god. Perhaps this is sacrilege to some. But I have met him. He still hangs around the Six Points area. I first met him when my son was 6 years old. He looked to be about 80. My son is now thirty. I saw the god last week. He still looks to be about 80. In the novel the god is concerned/upset because he has killed one of his subject. In a fit of rage. The story is also about a man who has dementia. Who thinks he is a god. It is not clear which story is reality.
WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS HANGING AROUND HERE?
Joan Green, the vice-principal of Our Lady of Peace School looked over her glasses, two television sets poised like a teeter-totter on her nose, at me.
“Oh, Joan!” I smiled with my patented reassuring charm.
Joan, self-assured and confident in both voice and posture with strength of purpose only a teacher of many years could possess, was not impressed.
“Parents are complaining,” she said.
I turned my eyes from Joan to the school. Our Lady of Peace was a two-floor yellow brick building, designed by a tired and frugal imagination. The Separate School System had been designed to reassure a Catholic minority in the province of Ontario that the faith of their children would not be undermined by the Protestant establishment. It made no such promises about the imagination. O.L.P. was one of the first separate schools built in the western suburbs of Toronto after World War Two.
“What an ugly building,” I said.
“What?” Joan asked.
I pointed at the school.
“Looks like a damn warehouse. And the color of the brick! Cat piss when the females are in heat.”
I could hear Joan sigh behind me. I turned around
Joan looked at me with that school marm charm and spoke.
“They get nervous when they see an old man in baggy pants hanging around the schoolyard.”
“Ah!” I chuckled. “They’re upset with my wardrobe. Clowns have baggy pants.”
Joan was not smiling. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her upper lip. Several long hairs were curling up towards her nostrils. God, they’re going to invade, I thought to myself. I wondered if she were aware of the growth. Terrible thing when the sexes start imitating each other. Women start growing moustaches; men start growing breasts.
July 23, 2012
Divorce and Kitty Litter is the first novel in a four part series called Fred and Me. Fred being my cat. Who talks. At the time I wrote this I was heavily influenced by Central and South American writing. I like the idea that almost anything was possible in the novel. Too many of the novels I read (American and Canadian) seemed to have been written so that they could be studied. The South Americans wrote to be read.
Excerpt from Divorce and Kitty Litter
I hate public displays of intelligence. Most people do, which explains the low ratings for CBC programming. New ideas are dangerous, not because the masses rally around them, but because they anger the beast. The masses do not want things to change. They do not want the status quo challenged, mainly because change usually comes in the form of war, depressions, plagues, famine. And I was nervous because I was afraid, afraid of failure or more precisely of making a fool of myself. I recalled the nightmarish experience of defending my master’s thesis. Dr. Deck, my thesis counselor, had promised me that it would be a small polite affair, lasting only ten or fifteen minutes. It was to be held in the faculty lounge. When I showed up, the place was packed. Everyone in the department, staff as well as graduate students and some maintenance people had decided to attend. Dr. Deck had assured me that there would only be two or three people in the committee that questioned my work. There were a half dozen. I looked around. My skin was turning clammy, my clothes beginning to shrink. There was a coffee machine in the corner of the room, a drop of coffee hanging precariously from the spout. It wouldn’t drop.
After I read a short synopsis of my work, questions were tendered. I was able to field the first two questions quite easily. Then Dr. Pinto, a short rotund professor known throughout the university for his acid wit, rose. He turned and made a short speech to the gathered throng who after he had finished, laughed and gave him a round of applause. I hadn’t understood a word he had said. I folded my hands together as if to pray. Jabbing his fingers into his vest pockets and raising himself upon his tiptoes, Dr. Pinto addressed me. His question was in three parts. By the time he reached the third part of his question, I couldn’t remember the first. I looked around the room. My tongue, which is quite long, fled like a frightened puppy into my throat. A black hole suddenly appeared in my brain, sucking in all forms of consciousness. My eyes rolled up into my head. I passed out. That was my last day as a student at the University of Windsor. Later that summer Dr. Deck died of a heart attack trying to teach his teenage sons how to slam dunk a basketball. Dr. Pinto later married, producing a number of offspring, one of whom became an infamous serial killer in British Columbia.
July 23, 2012
Bullies is an excerpt from a book of short stories. What is it called? Bicycle Thieves. Its a free download and a bargain at twice the price. The stories take place in the 1950s and 1960s. My youth. They are based on real persons. Some of these characters are no longer with us.
A role of paper tumbled along the asphalt toward the school fence and stopped. Greg Tower turned and spat at the paper, then thinking it was money picked it up and unrolled it.
“Nothing,” he said, wiping his fingers on his jeans.
Greg was a small boy for fifteen, but had taken up smoking and a swagger and a duckbill haircut.
“You think that was money, eh?” Bower laughed. Bower a large boy of sixteen was Greg’s buddy. On a dare, Bower had burned his initials into his arm with a magnifying glass. When asked if it hurt, Bower would reply, Well, it used to.
Greg took a cigarette out from behind his ear and cupping the match, light up his cigarette.
Between the two boys, Danny Cameron, stood nervously moving from foot to foot. Greg blew smoke into Danny’s face.
“I told you I don’t have any money,” Danny said. Danny’s lower lip began to flutter.
“That’s what all the kids say,” Bower said looking at Greg. “Funny, ain’t it?”
“Ah, we ain’t looking for money,” Greg responded putting his arm around Danny’s shoulder.
Danny smiled nervously. The blood began to drain from his face.
“We have this club,” Greg said. “Very prestigious club.”
Bower laughed. Greg smiled.
“Presstish,” Bower repeated.
“Prestigious,” Greg repeated with a scowl. Then he turned back to Danny.
“You want to join our club, don’t you?” Greg asked. “Why wouldn’t you, eh?”
Danny shrugged his shoulders.
“Of course he does,” Bower added putting his hand on Danny’s shoulder as if he was guiding him through a difficult decision in the young boy’s life. “It’s a great club. We got a special handshake and a motto. What’s our motto, Greg?”
“What’s yours is mine!” Greg replied.
“Ya, that’s it.” Bower shook with laughter then began to cough. “I need a smoke.”
“You got a cigarette for my buddy?” Greg asked Danny.
Danny shook his head.
“I don’t smoke,” he said.
Greg turned to Bower.
“He doesn’t smoke,” Greg said.
“That’s too bad,” Bower said with a sneer. “Cause I really need a smoke.”
“My parents won’t let me smoke.” Danny grinned sheepishly.
“Well,” Greg responded, “that’s one of the advantages of our club. You can smoke all you want.”
“I’d have to ask my dad if I could join,” Danny said.
Bower and Greg both laughed.
Into the far end of the schoolyard, David rode his bicycle. He stopped, noticing Bower and Greg. These were two boys he had been warned about by his friends. Now in high school, they returned to the grounds of Our Lady of Peace to re-establish their reign of terror amongst the younger boys. David wondered why they had decided to pick on Danny. Maybe Danny was just in the wrong place at the wrong time or maybe he hadn’t heard about Greg and Bower.
Bower had a grip on Danny’s jacket and each time Danny made a move to leave, Bower threw him back into the fence. Greg laughed and slapped Danny across the face.
“You don’t get it, do you?” Greg laughed, waving his hands in the air. “In order to join our club there’s a small initiation fee. And you’ve got to join. See, if you join, we’ll protect you.”
“That’s right,” Bower said. “A kid like you must have a lot of enemies.”
“I better go,” Danny said and moved to leave.
Greg grabbed Danny and shoved him. Danny took a swipe at Greg. Bower grabbed Danny and bashed him on the side of the head. Danny cried out, falling to his knees. Bower grabbed the small boy and lifted him up.
“That ain’t no way to behave, Chief.”
Greg spit into Danny’s hair and rubbed it in, his cigarette bobbing up and down in his laughter.
“Come on, Chief,” Bower laughed. “It prevents baldness.”
Across the street from the school, David spotted Mr. Moore mowing his lawn. Didn’t Mr. Moore notice what was going on? Why didn’t he try and stop them? Just then David noticed Greg’s attention turning toward him.
“Who’s that kid over there, watching us?” Greg asked.
“Where?” Bower turned.
Greg pointed across the schoolyard at David.
At that moment, Danny made his escape. Bower tried to grab him again but it was too late. In a few brief strides, Danny was out of the schoolyard running home.
“Shit!” Greg cried, kicking the fence in anger. “What did you let him go for?”
“I thought you had him,” Bower said in his defense then turned and waved at David.
“It’s his fault!” he declared.
The two teenagers began to walk toward David.
“Come here, kid!” Greg cried out.
David turned his bike around and rode off.
It was a warm Friday. David and Michael, David’s young cousin, crossed the hydro field toward the Ashborne Fish’n’Chips to buy dinner for the family. Three boys, Greg Tower, Bower, and Psycho Bob, blocked their way. David took Michael’s hand and tried to walk around them.
“Whose the girlfriend?” Bower asked.
“I ain’t a girl,” Michael replied.
Greg and Psycho Bob laughed.
Bower bent over to speak to Michael.
“That ain’t very friendly, kid,” he said.
Michael moved closer to David, his six year-old frame trembling.
“He’s my cousin,” David responded, squeezing Michael’s hand.
“I think she’s your girlfriend,” Psycho Bob laughed. David had been warned about Psycho Bob. He’d been expelled from Our Lady of Peace for bringing a knife to school. Psycho Bob liked weapons.
“Ain’t that against the law?” Bower asked.
“Two boys!” Psycho Bob added.
“It’s against all that I stand for,” Greg howled in mocking indignation.
“His girl friend is kind of cute,” Psycho Bob said and reached out to touch Michael who shrank behind David.
“Bob likes little girls,” Bower said.
“He ain’t a girl,” David responded.
“He ain’t!” Greg said. “Well, if he’s a boy he must have a weenie.”
“That’s right,” Bower added.
“Show us his weenie,” Bob said.
The three boys laughed.
David did not respond.
Greg looked at David and then pointed to the hydro field.
“This is our field,” he said. “I admit it ain’t much of a field, but it is ours. And you are trespassing.”
David turned with Michael in hand and tried to retreat. Bower stopped his exit.
“You’ve got to pay a toll to cross our field,” Greg said.
“I ain’t paying no toll,” David said turning back to Greg. David tried to push past Greg. As he did, Bower came up behind David and kicked him in the back of the leg. David turned around, grabbing his leg in pain. As he did, Greg jumped on his shoulders, howling like a cowboy riding a bronco. David spun around trying to throw Greg off his back when Psycho Bob hit him lower in the legs. David turned raging with frustration. The three boys formed a circle around him. Every time he attempted to respond to one of the boy’s assaults, he was attached from the rear. Spinning around David fell to the ground. The three boys started to kick him. David curled in a ball to protect his face and balls. The three boys laughed as they continued to pummel him. Behind them Michael stood, his mouth open, trying to scream, but all that came out was a low whistle. Mr. Shanahan who was walking his dogs yelled from across the field.
The three boys looked up.
“Ah shit!” Psycho Bob. “It’s old man Shanahan.”
“Just when we were having a little fun,” Bower added.
“You owe us,” Greg cried pointing to David as the three boys turned and ran.
David lay on the ground, sobbing. Michael walked over and put his hand on his shoulder.
“Did they kill you?” he asked.
David stood up and wiped the tears from his eyes. By now Mr. Shanahan had reached them.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“Those little thugs,” Mr. Shanahan said. “Do you know them?”
David shook his head. Mr. Shanahan’s dog began to lick Michael’s hand. Michael pulled away.
“Don’t worry, son, he won’t bite,” Mr. Shanahan said.
When Mr. Shanahan moved off with his dog, David took Michael’s hand and they walked quickly through the field toward the fish and chip store.
“You going to tell uncle Gerry?” Michael asked.
David looked at Michael and shook his head. David couldn’t tell his parents. His father would be disappointed that he didn’t fight back. And his mother wouldn’t let him out of the house for days.
“And don’t you say anything,” David instructed Michael.
“You going to get your gang and beat them up later?” Michael asked.
David shook his head.
The two boys remained silent. On the way back with their fish and chips, they took the longer route around the hydro field.
Michael looked up at David.
“If it was me,” Michael said, “I’d get a gun and kill those mother fuckers.”