She’s not there

July 16, 2013

She's Not There

Diana Ross

June 22, 2013

The Fabulous Diana RossI loved the Supremes. And Diana Ross in particular. Her voice seemed weak, wispy, very fragile. And their songs were always about heart break. They were always dressed like a Vegas nightclub act. I didn’t like that much. Still there was that voice.

My first love

June 12, 2013

Marianne's Oldest Daughter Marianne's Youngest DaughterMarianne was my first love. We separated and lost touch. I imagined this girl as her oldest daughter. The guy in front is an art critic.

Screamin Jay Hawkins

March 30, 2013

I was introduced to this guy by a college friend, John Madigan. Screamin’ Jay is one of those wonders of the planet. There is no one quite like him. I don’t know how you sit down and write a song like this.


96 Tears

March 29, 2013

One of the worst songs in the 70s. But it is catchy. Especially with pizza.

March 28, 1979 the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history occurred. A cooling system malfunction at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania had the potential to kill thousands or perhaps millions of people in northern Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and southern Ontario.

People were in a panic. In an act of courage, President Carter with his wife arrived on sight to assure people that a solution would be found and to calm nerves. The place could have blown at any minute.

The problem. There were 2 solutions offered.

One solution was suggested by the President’s advisors in Washington. The second solution was suggested by those on sight. The President had to make a choice. If he chose wrong America would have had a Chernobyl on its hands. By good fortune, Mr. Carter was a former captain of a nuclear submarine. He knew something about nuclear energy. He chose the advise from the people on sight. Disaster was averted.

In this election we have the Republican party slagging Mr. Carter. He deserves more respect.


A Mitt On Your Scissors

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?

He watched interference

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.


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.

Bower laughed.

“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.

David nodded.

“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.

Michael nodded.

“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.”

bp Nichol

June 15, 2012

Poetry is the most accessible of the arts. If you’re literate. Painting and music go directly to the senses. To fully appreciate them we sometimes have to investigate the culture they came from. But poetry is a code, like all written material, even cooking instructions. Sometimes we get caught up in the nuances of the code. We call it English 305.

Concrete poetry or shape poetry is poetry in which the typographical arrangement of words is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as meaning of words, rhythm, rhyme and so on.

It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry, a term that has evolved to have distinct meaning of its own, but which shares the distinction of being poetry in which the visual elements are as important as the text.

I got caught up in a visual sense of poetry myself never realizing that I was part of a poetry movement. (1960s in Toronto) I never considered what I did concrete poetry. bp Nichol along with Rafael Barreto-Rivera, Paul Dutton, and Steve McCaffery, formed The Four Horsemen. They were out there. On the edge.

I never liked their work. God, I tried. But I found it humorless even though the 4 poets were not. It was pretentious as is a lot of poetry from young poets. And worse, boring.

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