August 31, 2012
I watched the Republican Convention for a moment. A young Republican was speaking. He was elegant, smart, funny and gracious. I turned off the TV. What I liked about the young man was that he was not trying to demonize President Obama. I realized that the Republicans could very well win the Presidency. Americans want results. They have had some. But too many have not had their lives return to that state of normalcy that they were promised. All of this is a delusion. A delusion that all great powers/countries live in. If you lived in Belgium and had three wars in a hundred years run soldiers, tanks, armies through your land since Napoleon, you have a different perspective. You would know that no people are guaranteed anything. Life is cruel. You survive and prosper by trusting each other, as a family, a neighbourhood, a town, a country, a world. Them against us will get you swinging from the local oak trees.
August 30, 2012
Jimmy chuckled as he recalled some event from his past. That was another thing about Jimmy. He was real good at paving over disagreements. “My dear mother was the wheel on my early jobs. What a great old gal. She taught me everything I know about my line of work. It was like college. Bank robbing is a trade, lad. It takes planning, timing, and a sound judgment of character. Mom and dad used to rob banks clear across Saskatchewan. They were the Bonnie and Clyde of their generation. For ten years they rolled over those dirt roads from town to town. Made a small fortune. Lived a humble life. Put their money in stocks. Mom only made one mistake in her life.”
(An excerpt from my new book SNOW. Free to download and read. For now.)
August 28, 2012
They came at me one evening. First week of college. With scissors. To cut my hair. Surrounded, I warned them. I won’t stop shaking my head. And when this is over I’ll have all of you charged with assault. They retreated. They were my roommates on the floor of my residence.
A month later some drunken engineers came to our residence. With scissors. To cut my hair. The fellows on my floor came out of their rooms and stood between me and the drunken engineers. The fellows who a week earlier had threatened me were now my guardians. I had become a human being to them.
There were Mitt Romney’s at our school. Privileged. Arrogant. And angry. When Romney reflects on the incident of the hair cutting, he does not have any empathy for the victim. It is more like ‘boys will be boys’.
It was a long time ago. Has he changed? Who knows?
August 26, 2012
The Baltimore Catechism. These are found poems. I remember writing a lot of them. I published a number of them. And then they disappeared. When I started writing more prose. And doing more visual work. Some of them are affected a great deal by my interest in philosophy and anthropology. Others were affected by drugs and general debauchery. You can download the book, The Baltimore Catechism at feedbooks. The original Baltimore Catechism was a textbook for Catholic ideology. It was a question and answer book and my father made me memorize every answer, word for word. I think the first question is ‘Who made you?’.
I was born
in an orphanage.
it was most embarrassing for my parents.
I pop’d up all naked and rouge.
“His heads too big!”
Daddy sat there and booed.
August 25, 2012
Neil Armstrong was as mysterious as the moon. One of the most famous people of the 20th century and I don’t think I ever saw him interviewed. In our age of celebrity he remained mostly a name in a headline. I won’t lionize him. Seems to me he didn’t want it.
Neil Armstrong Dead at 82
Bogart was dieing of cancer. Sinatra was fucking Bacall. Ferlinghetti had run off. With Barry Goldwater’s daughter. My head is spinning. With acid. With the idea that we were swinging around in space. I was laughing and begging. Daddy. Don’t let me go. Neil Armstrong dead at 82.
Eisenhower was on the 5th hole. Told Nixon he would not be the next President. Every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed. Nixon laughed. And said to his President. I think you’d make an excellent mother.
My head sticking out. From a pup tent. The moon. Looked so clean. Like someone had scoured it with an SOS pad. And all those Apollo missions. To remind us all of the mess they’d left. There was a man on the moon. But that wasn’t a smile on his face.
I’m the man. At the bottom of the well. The moon is at the top. In my dreams I climb up the walls of the sky. And fall. Answers are questions. What he discovered when he stepped into the dust. Life is the rule. Neil Armstrong dead at 82.
August 24, 2012
Marian was my first girlfriend. In college. I started late. And I was pretty ugly in high school. We were crazy about each other. We got nicknamed Sonny and Cher. And then she started to look at rings. And talk about houses. I panicked. I was not going to marry my first girlfriend. I wrote her a letter telling her I had been with another girl. It was a lie. (This story goes on much longer but that’s for another day.)
This poem has all the images of romantic poet. The darkness and constant threat of violence. I still like it but I have no idea what it is about.
I listened to the screams from the stereo corpse
I listened to the dreams from another room’s wooden voice
Heard the sounds of shadows
Scratch the window glass
Heard the morning coming
From another room’s wooden laugh
So I went down to the cellar to try and escape
But there weren’t any windows there
Only a picture with a painting of a gate.
She told me of her nightmares
Through the forest of lease
She whispered a story about the trade winds
Escaping to hades
She told me of her journey
Through the jungle of freeze
Told me how she wanted to take me down
To her fortress in the ground
So I went down to the cellar to try and escape
But there weren’t any windows there
Just a vase with a painting of her face.
August 23, 2012
This is another of the poems I wrote in my twenties. I must have had a real thing for westerns. Maybe it was those Clint Eastwood films. This poem looks like it has something to do with the apocalypse. But I don’t think I was going through a religious faze at the time. Of course I was drinking a lot. And carousing. And well, there were nuns around. Who had misgivings about the habit.
four riders dressed in white
came into our town late last night.
They had all no good looks
all looked mean
they did things to the darkness
no man has ever seen.
When they left
only their huff marks could be seen in the mud
and the deputy sheriff who was buried with a slug.
Nothing more was revealed
the sheriff’s son said he heard them speak
when he was hiding inside a chest
that the next time they returned
nothing would be left.
August 22, 2012
This is one of my favourite poems that I wrote in my early 20s. There’s a certain coldness to it that is appealing. It reminds me of some of the songs of Johnny Cash, though I wouldn’t say anything he sang directly influenced it. Really, I don’t know where it came from. Its in a book of poems. I don’t know where though.
DOWN THE FOREST ROAD
down the forest road
a man in black.
a lean man with thin eyes.
his face was not a kind one.
on his left hand
was a sailor’s kiss;
his right hand leaned on a cane
silver and polished.
over to the portch
where I was resting,
how far it was ’til dusk,
then he looked
at my silver watch
to my side
by a silver chain.
he looked to the sky
and behind him,
wiped his brow
and asked me if I could please end his thirst.
so I went
into the kitchen
over to the pump
where a shotgun leaned
nestling two shells in her womb,
picked her up
and handed both to him.
August 21, 2012
This is a poem about an average guy. Lost his job maybe. Lost his house. Fighting with his kids and wife. Angry all the time.
The Ends of Nails
Days are strange. I used to think. Maybe a new president. My neighbour Jack. Storing arms. Up his ass. Makes his children free. And it feels good. To sleep.
A guy in front of my house. Staring at my front door. Supposed to be repairing the street. Has a shovel in his hand. Slashes his throat. Tapping his foot. Tapping his feet.
My doctor. Almost my best friend. Stares at my toes. They keep falling off. I try to explain. A moth flew into my mouth. I tried to cough. All that came out was negative ads.
The Black Death. Has nothing on ED. The Hundred Years War. A mere spat. Between aunts. I stood. An old man. Angry as fire. Floored. By a sucker punch.
August 20, 2012
“Between the years 1350 and 1500, a series of catastrophes struck Europe. The Black Death felled at least a fifth of the population of Europe. The Hundred Years War wreaked havoc when archers shot and cannons roared; it loosed armies of freebooters in both town and country during its interstices of peace. The Ottomans conquered Byzantium, took over the Balkans and threatened Austria and Hungary. The church splintered as first the Great Schism and then national churches tore at the loyalties of churchmen and laity alike.” (A Short History of the Middle Ages – Barbara H. Rosenwein)
Sounds like a post-apocalyptic world. Mad Max.
So how did Europe not only survive but prosper?
Confidence. Portugal and then Spain, England and France invested huge sums of money in exploration.
Invention. The printing press. A score of navigational devices.
Renaissance. People stopped being so afraid. They looked for new ideas.