August 3

(found this in my rant archives... made me laugh out loud)

August 03-05

I was told I was the best in the world, I was told I would go far, but look at me now, sitting and clacking upon the plastic and far from love, liberty, ecstasy and goodness. Stuck here in the smelting iron core, breathing char and fumes and burned by every kind of cinder. I was once the great prodigy of the West, a darling child of sunshine and a conveyor of delights. Then I was struck by black lightning; my whimsy wilted and my spark went cold. No company can I keep, for I weep at inopportune moments and frighten the children. I have tried to keep a garden, I have learned a bit of the kitchen; I have become expert upon the loom. But I have no lady to welcome me home in the evening; I have no more inner twirl. There are certain fibres that are stunted, and certain frying pans that no longer sizzle. My utensils are reduced to a few dull spoons. I am spent of ideas and I want to break some skulls. Can you lend me a sturdy sledgehammer? I will pick up my landlady and swing her by the feet against the wall.

Do you need help crafting a riddle? I can supply you with a chuckle or two, but it will be empty of mirth and full of gall only. I have a bit of acid in my tongue, and a chip or two upon the shoulder. I could rent a smile for a day or so but I’m sure it would run away screaming. I wish I had a mail-order bride. Can you lend me some tasteful pornography? I am blacklisted from church and none of the artists will return my one-line text messages: "feeling bleak, love me now" "make puns not war" and "has anyone seen my uncle’s pet badger – run over by a knife-sharpening van?"

My pencils are made of pins and needles, my pens are full of mucus. I have a little bit of toejam stuck between my teeth- that’s how often I get my foot stuck in my mouth. I had a rift with my local baker and since then he made a voodoo doll with my face on it. My baker is Haitian and now I hate all goddamned Haitian bakers; their floury visages are deceptive as their hearts are full of lye.

My sister called me “cabbage face” on several occasions this month; I have no idea what it means. I have a cabbage stench, this is true, because my shower hasn't worked for a month. I would dunk myself in a lake but my town is landlocked and not free. How appropriate.

My grammar homework is particularly difficult today; I am still a student and have not graduated though my lengthy academic sojourn has reached Guinnessean proportions. I need staples for my stapler; my pencil sharpener is overflowing with mouldy shavings and the carcasses of potato bugs. I could vacuum them I suppose but I don’t believe in electricity. As in, I don’t trust the science. Whatever happened to kerosene? Good things never go out of style. Electronica, Schmelectronica. My only friend in this world is a ham sandwich and I ate him a half-hour ago. Not many people are about to shit their friends out their asses before evening. I give me one hour till my next bowel movement. Then my friend will join all the others down at the filtration plant. Life is a grand and glorious circle, sure, but some times you just end up shit down the pipes.

I was happier, oh, about 5 years ago, but that was before the dotcom bubble. Not that I invest, but I thought with there being no 'bubble' at the time, there would also be no 'Bubo'. I make a lot of decisions based on pun potential, see, and I feared greatly the 'dotcom Bubo,' because I greatly fear death by internet-borne medieval plague. I am afraid of germs so I wipe my hands diligently after every encounter with a stranger, sometimes on the stranger’s own forehead. I have not been slapped yet this week but then again I haven’t been out, as I’ve been writing. There are so many germs on this keyboard; all you people who don’t sterilize your mouse, you really make me puke.

I like to write sometimes, just like other people sometimes like to have enema bags shoved up their brownhole. I also like spelling. But really I prefer hang-gliding, at least from what I can tell from the happy hang-gliders on tv. I have never glided myself, because as I said my town has no elevations or bodies of water. Sometimes I wish I lived in a global village. My cousin Edgar, he would be the village idiot. He at least has more problems than I do, and I take great comfort in that.

I was a dunce once in my fargone youth, but really most of the time I could sizzle with the best and coerce all typology of grins; I was beaming with competence, promise and poise. I was like the poster child for bullishness; I had a half-dozen tricks up my sleeve and I never wanted to call the barker. 'Call the barker' is a slang for ‘pack it in, real slow and spicylike’ ie Cajun-style. I used to invent sayings on the spot, and try to justify them with a smokescreen of rationale and logic, but I’m through with logic just like I’m done with electricity. I got sick of the system, and sure it’s cliché but I know what side of the trough my bread is buttered on, and a monkey who can type at a typewriter knows that a dog will have its day; I guess it takes one to know one but my patience at least is a virtue.


Statue of a homeless man

they wanted to erect it
in front of city hall
it seemed appropriate
but the council was embarrassed
at the stir it would cause;
they tried putting it in queen's park
right outside the legislature
but it was not a provincial matter
and besides, said the mpps, it's too political

they tried outside a church
- they wanted it inside a church -
finally they plonked it on the corner
six feet of bronze and pigeon shit
and no one kept it clean
and no one watered the roses

he wasn't a great man
or a rich man
even a brave man

so why do we cast him in bronze
what did he ever do?

but everyone who saw it
knew that it sure belonged
and was right
and was clever and brilliant and ironic

occasionally a young child
approached and read the inscription
'dedicated to the less fortunate'
and the next moment he was
spitting on a hobo
'how appropriate, how appropriate'



There are hammers in the air
and scales at the fair
dunkin donuts everywhere so
let’s jump down the hole

Fashion is a crime
lemon twists align
mimicry sublime
where statues taste like pomegranates

Pulpify your face
smack it with a mace
don’t untie the lace
because the oysters go ‘pip pip pip’

Yellow as the snow, simmers
colons take a blow
pass a cup o jo
Hemingway was a barnswallow.

Drag walnuts abroad in a paper bag
lengthen your tart-skirts for an episode of ‘Maude’
drain widget barrels; replace with sod
I can vouchsafe these timbits for eternity

Convents in Uruguay will be cleansed, and
grandfather clocks can make amends
a bridge of molten brass suspends
the cloudstuff over the peninsula

Midgets will tickle thickly
unless batty bricks suspect trickery
and then there is no piggishness
that ever goes unpunished

So waft your crackles with black impugn
untether the maypoles o'er the dune
and curse at a moon with your heart on a spoon or
drink a pitcher of sulphuric acid.


aTypical Night on College St

(a story about Toronto, ethnic diversity, and misanthropic annoyance)

I walked into the pizza parlour and there was a game of Twister in full swing. Ha they should call it Swinger I was thinking, but I kept it to myself: Nobody appreciated wordplay here. I could be nonchalant if I had to, so I did a 'swing' over to the counter and asked for a slice of cheese pesto basil hold the cheese. Luckily there was a pie coming fresh from the oven, so my timing was impeccable. I sat at a stool and read the downtown hipster rags, stealthily eyeing the pseudo-pornographic ads in the back and wondered what it would be like to run a brothel.

I sat for hours and organized my bills, made appointments and inserted them into my agenda, you know, regular pizza-parlour stuff. The Twister match would get loud and occasionally violent; a small Asian girl took a lead pipe and shattered the kneecap of a more elderly participant. That’s College Street for you. I sighed and lighted a cigar. Most diverse city in the world.

The police came, handed me a $500 fine for smoking in a restaurant. My ‘But there’s smoke coming from the pizza oven, so what about that?’ defence got me nowhere; I was out on the street a half-grand poorer but a lot more knowledgeable about how to cripple someone during a Twister match.

The night sky was alive with fireflies and lots of bats. Like most people I was afraid of the flying mice, but someone said they were a good source of protein, and even if you didn’t walk around with your mouth open hoping to catch a free meal, they kept the insects to a minimum. But they didn't eat the fireflies, I thought; something about sonar-based creatures and glowing-ass-based creatures respecting each other’s turf. I wondered if bats, if they could read, would like to read McLuhan, and I figured hell the bats have a better chance of understanding that shit than I do. Then I realized I left my water bottle inside the pizza parlour, but fuck it I was on my bike and headed for the Mod.

The Mod Club is a box-like centre of testosterone and hair gel that smells like the worst mixture of colognes you could ever conjure on a Saturday night—but I guess some people must like it or why would they be there. I don’t enjoy dancing, but I do like checking out strangers on the sidewalks. The way folks act on sidewalks tells a lot how they act in other situations, like on patios, or in restroom lineups, and hey maybe that’s about it. So perhaps it's not a very useful activity, but since I was on worker’s compensation I had plenty of time to explore every frivolous mental cul-de-sac that beckoned my free spirit.

There on the walk was Tina Schultz, extraordinarily tall with a limp, a teamster from Brampton with massive frizz hair and a slender ivory cane. She was a bit of a ringleader, had an entourage of about a dozen, a zoo really, including a barking macaque and a pygmy elephant fresh out of the Isle of Dr Moreau. 'Schultzie' is what her cronies called her; she was sassing up to this twenty-something Portughino who, for his part, was showing off for his Mustang buddies. "Half the people in this city don’t even speak English," I said to myself aloud, and thank god nobody understood me; and then I thought, I wish farting was like a language because if I went to someplace where they only fart in Swahili and I decided to fart in English then nobody could tell I had farted. But it was just another flatulence fantasy.

Standing beside Schultzie was Gouda McPherson, a pig of a woman absolutely stenching of cheese and onions. Gouda was a Scottish-Greek from the outer Hebrides who sold deep fried Mars bars out of a truck to stupid tourists at Queen and Bay. She had the evening off from the truck tonight, so I guess it was her cousin Bela minding the chocolate and handing out heart attacks like so many direct marketing flyers. Gouda was determined to get some action tonight, she said, even if it meant getting liquored to the tits and swooping across the dance floor on a chandelier. Men can’t resist angels flying down from heaven she crowed, and she made a halo motion around her head. I thought that if the Church of Scotland and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch ever got together they’d either excommunicate Gouda or announce proscription ie ‘kill her on sight’ and I’d be all over that like a bounty hounter on a stooge.

Behind McPherson were the Benson triplets, three College mollies straight out of a Ricky Martin video: tight abs and even tighter wallets. Cheapskates beyond belief, but everybody’s got some tragic flaw. The Bensons—Jessa, Tessa, and Odessa—would do well in a trashy Harlequin romance and hell I'd have given my small intestine to be their flowing-locked Fabio. Low IQ, sure, but they had abs you could bounce a coin off or start a fire with, and that fire’s nothing compared to the fire I got down below but then again these girls were only 17 and I don’t wanna get hauled off to 51 Division. They were so cheap, and who wants to pay for these girlies' slushy-and-gins? Not me, I got so disillusioned with the low-budget trio I nearly tipped the bouncer off about their fake IDs.

I knew a couple other people in the lineup and I said hi as I was waiting for Troy and Loni. T & L were my friends from high school who had suggested we gang up at the Mod. Anyway my sidewalk hellos were smooth like unsalted melted butter: there was Liuna Giulioni, an acquaintance from my volunteering days selling bingo cards to hopeless seniors at Delta Bingo; also Greg-Theodore Jones-McCutchen, part-time tennis pro at the lakeside Boulevard Club who I often spat at as I rode by, because I mistook him for the Ocean. Beside Jones-McCutchen was a large wolf-gorilla of a man, Cronkite Glumph, a half-Alsatian, half-collie of an ape with massive teeth and a leather horse-collar round his neck. He was drunk on zinfandel and singing showtunes. Gay as a fruitbat, I thought, although I felt a desire for fruity pomegranates myself. I missed those exotic Mediterranean treats: at College and Dovercourt it was mango mango mango with the occasional banana and I was too lazy to walk down to the Metro at Crawford so I was stuck with myself complaining and waiting for my ticket to the Big Show to arrive.

Troy and Loni showed up half-past-midnight; they were liquored to the dicks and stinking of rye. Troy was a one-hooch pansy, easily drunk and short of courage otherwise, although tonight was somehow different; he was all gumption and lothario, aiming to break his streak of lonely luck and maybe bed one of the Benson triplets. Fat chance, Troy was less capable with the ladies than a one-armed cadaver in a high-tech space shuttle. And then there was Loni, barely conscious most of the time, and drooling and spitting the rest. Loni lacked basic skills; mine were mad and sterling in comparison. I swear Loni once asked a stop sign out on a date, so hammered he thought it was Kate Moss. Ok I’m exaggerating but I was clearly the most studly of my sadass trio and that meant not one of us would work up the nerve to even say hello to the Benson triplets, but who gave a rat’s padoodie because I dismissed them ages ago.

The bouncers at the Mod were all Irish, renegade Catholic monks with brown frocks, each guarding his post with a 20-lb mace. There was a tiny deacon distributing communion wafers laced with ecstasy over at the side entrance. It was the kind of thing that hurts the reputation of the Church—you know, drugging the laity and all (and probably stealing their wallets). It was half past midnight, I was reeling from Twister, stinking of pizza and just wanting the night to be over so I could get home and instant-message my online girlfriend in Israel.

I had recently learned about telephoning strangers on Skype. I met a very nice girl who was from Haifa; she a Palestinian born of a strict Muslim family and quite likely the most enchanting creature on Allah's green and spherical earth. Witty and wise even in her broken English, Aliayah conveyed loneliness and yearning that transfixed our two souls together as one. The loud and gangly timbits I hung out with in Toronto simply could not match her sweet plaintive 'otherness'. What I mean is that 'once you go Arab, everyone else is just a Scarab (beetle)' which is the stupidest proverb I’ve come up with so far. Aliayah had skyped me out of the blue one morning at 6am, told me about her rainbow-coloured birkah and the trouble she’d gotten into with the local imam for listening to Arab techno music, and it took us about 15 minutes to fall in love. A sweetheart like Aliayah doesn't skype herself out of the sky without a grand cosmic reason. She reminded me of smiles and fluffy pink cotton candy, sundresses in springtime and the warm perfumed body of the mother of us all.

Anyway Aliayah was on my mind, in my heart and even ringing in my ears—since I had gone swimming in the Lake and taken a lot of water. I didn’t have time for the mollies on College, they were all metro and retro, coiffed to the jackboots and spitting trendo-talk like a veejay on amphetamines. Even though one of them, Elsa von Slutsky, a receptionist at the Gladstone chocolate factory was always giving me the eye. My slut sonar was usually on buzz, but Elsa snuck up on me. She was all makeup and glitter, fishnet and stilettos, with a red-pink wisp of curly Q hair and cleavage that hypnotized me with sickly sweet nausea.

I stepped back when I saw her. “Are you sure that strapless dress isn’t illegal?” She cried over the music "Johnny, dollface, where’s the fire? You so hot tonight it makes me sad I don’t own you and make you my love slave!” Not that forward even for Elsa, I thought—she got around faster than Andretti on a Ferris wheel—but her advances made me queasy. I said "Elsa, you must be on fire yourself; in fact I can’t remember a time you didn’t have three firefighters on top of you." I was cranky, still groggy from the pesto and pissed off about my $500 fine.

The night was long, there was dancing—which I did not enjoy—and lots of ogling carried out by Troy and Loni. They wanted to hook up with the Benson triplets, but I dragged them away at the last minute when I whiffed an undercover vice cop picking out stooges and jotting down notes. Reading police reports online made me wise to what the fuzz were trying to pick up: seems a huge pederasty ring was about to be busted, and I wanted no association with those perverts. I grabbed my boys by the scruff and escorted us to the night-side open air. Outside, the constellations were glowing stronger than usual, as though the heavens were sending a message. “That message is,” I squawked in my worst Brooklyn accent, “never mess wit da guys at the Mod.” I was thinking of nonsense faster than a fish drinks his own piss, but hey I was missing Aliayah and just pining for my bed.

The next morning I picked up my messages: there was one from Elsa. Seems I had forgotten the keys to my bike lock down her cleavage and she wanted to know when I could come by and get them. She would be likely be showering, but "what a nice surprise it would be" if I popped in on her. I called back and left a message that I was out of the country and I hoped she'd enjoy my fifteen-speed forever. I resolved to walk down to the Urbane Cyclist to look for a new bicycle. The things you do just to avoid Elsa von Slutsky.

It was a smoky kind of morning, made me pine for a cigar, but I had a few things to tick off my checklist.
Number 1: find a bookie.

A bookie, yes. I was hoping to win at horses, I knew my ship was coming in on a fancy mudder called Eileen. I was a gamer, I was bold, but I was also short of cash and so my grand scheme was on hold. I wondered, how often did Elsa get short of cash and sell her body to unscrupulous layabouts? I would have to sell my own blood or maybe loan a kidney if it came down to it, because Eileen this horse of mine was a pass to Sweetride-land. I was sick of the College St. convenience stores and kinkos and hoboes, the wasted men and sullen stares of emasculated overcompensating Gino youth looking forward to a lifetime of beer and football, all punctuated by 3am fisticuffs and vomit down an alleyway. My horse’s name was Eileen and they said she could run on water. Unfortunately the race was on a dirt track, but still if she could elicit that kind of hyperbole she showed promise. I realize in my later years that nobody likes a literalist.

I walked out on the street and I realized I forgot my mobile at home. I looked around for a phone booth and a phone book. I turned onto College and Elsa von Slutsky stood before me like a vibrating cow of Hades, full of snort and effusiveness, quick to heat up and slow to mellow kinda like a spicy chai milkshake that nobody ordered but you drink it anyway—it leaves you bloated and way past due for an enema. Elsa left me all groggy inside, I wanted to swat her and make her go away, but her permanence was unavoidable, and plus she had my bike keys.

“Thanks but no thanks Elsa” I said in a voice too loud to be suave, “I just purchased a new two-wheeler so keep those keys wherever you found them.” She grabbed my hand and rubbed them across her massive silicone chest. I looked at my molested fingers and wished I had a blowtorch, to burn off the forever tainted skin. I ran away down the street and she chugged after me in her high heel leather boots, still dripping firefighter grease from whatever debauched session she held in her weekend whoring parlours, and she was crying "Johnny come back! The bike keys are just an excuse! You don't understand..." but I knew her all too well.

I might have blacked out but when I got back to my room and there was a one-line chat-skype from Aliayah. “Is it warm in Toronto?” Right now, too hot. An email from 51 Division news alert service said three rookie undercover police triplets had arrested three men from Woodbridge for “attempting to solicit for a lapdance in a public place” and purchasing alcohol for minors. Ha. I connected a few dots and realized with my smoking fine I couldn’t hit the track anyway. Fuck it. To make it with Eileen the horse I would have to go back to Elsa and maybe sell my bike.

I whispered to Aliayah to forgive me when I dialled the number. I looked outside my basement window. It wasn’t smoke, it was fog. “Please don’t pick up,” I thought, but she did. I said, “Elsa, darling. I’m sorry about this morning.” She said something but I interrupted. “Listen, forget the bike. Are they hiring at the chocolate factory?”


Poem poem

(Questioning the beggar)

Curious is the loom
diving into doom
flying on a broom
the sky goes boom and
shouts its hallelujah

Bell jingles
nerves tingle and
wind whistles
thorns prick skin
as you pen your next epistle

Look for me Sunday
ask for deacon Joe
clearing a throat, jotting
sermon notes
my private public speaking

Streets wake early, late
set a date! congregate! fulminate!
sly wry grin = ‘do not wait’
I’m never drunk, so
why this blasted hangover?

Shake me down; feel em up
wolf to pup, toad to tad
fling a coin in my
styrofoam cup
I’m worth every penny

Think big! Analyze a regicide
deconstruct a tsunami
or, pick apart a raccoon-crow roadkill and
write the most layered, thrilling sitcom pilot about nail polish remover and the canaries who wallow, swallow, lie fallow and cry golly and if that's what you really really
desire then
just don’t call me late for dinner


The lovely (blank)

Hip and little, a tawny tribble without a bib, I was friends with a squid, we swam amid liquid and froth, underwater moths seeking light underneath the frozen wastes of hoth, circumnavigating alien worlds and every time I heard her name I twirled, what squirrelishness and coquettishness, fool I was, lame, foolish games for broken hearts, tired of subduing beauty via art (to be appreciated only by impotent old aesthetic farts). She had a smile that shattered the pretense of museums; galleryisms wilted with her gaze, exhibition galas folded after one or two days; to a man she was a maze, a labyrinth for days twisting inside myself, to gather nerve, debating bluntness versus stealth, and would romance flower sooner - or, keep it waiting on the shelf? I knew her name years in advance, was given notice of her coming - but was I prepared; materializing here, out of air, could I forestall that jaw-dropped stare? No no friends, I was squashed in midair, flattened by her fair, sputtering all my rockets, left bare, no weapons, no words, bare-faced and barely speaking, butterflies floating nausea as she beamed upon my hall and graced my overgrown buffoonish ears with her spare voice and left me wishing I had gall, to reconnoitre, to take in all her figures, to figure her out, to take her hand and steal her digits, to ask her out, to actually make that call...


Memoirs of a Sand-Castle Builder

A lot of people sit and wonder at the sky, and I look at them wondering, and I think, man isn’t it wonderful that people wonder at the sky. But then a truck usually comes along and smacks us from our reverie, but hey that’s what I get living beside the hog-rendering plant.

I live by the rail tracks too; a real archetypal locale, just oozing with literary allusions and significances, like you know ‘Blood on the Tracks’ or ‘I’ve been working on the railroad’ or ‘Hell yeah, I’m having a rail good time, even for a trainsvestite’ which is actually a pun but then again art is what we make of it, kind of like brunch or yahtzee.

But enough about trainyards in west-end-midtown Toronto; more about my research into the nature of blood sugar, and sugar cane, and other types of sugar. Which where I hope to lead you, that my conclusions will be sweet like honey.

I was born on a farm in Haiti, which produced (and still does) a lot of sugar, and that product grew to be the only thing that was traded, due to IMF policies urging us to grow only cash crops for trade instead of focussing on a domestic food supply initiatives like they did in Cuba after the collapse of communism, but hey Castro wasn’t built in a day.

Besides free trade economics I was told many other lies as a child. Among the worst line fed to me was ‘never build your house on sand’. That’s about the worst possible advice you could give to future International Champion of Sand-Castle Building, which is what I became. Five years running my edifices towered over Wasaga Beach on Ontario’s Georgian Bay, and they withstood the assault of seabirds, waves and trouble-making nine-year-old Filipino boys (the sand-castle grounds were beside Camp Manila, a way-station of wealthy Catholic troublemaking children from the Philippines). Life and adolescence was full of delicious ironies. A house built on sand indeed. Clearly I was preparing myself for a lifetime of pain. And grit-stained sandals. For I was a champion of sand castles, and life for the champion entails the dedication of misery, defiant self-reliance and lone-wolfish independence that only the elite can know.

In my youth, as the luscious Caribbean air flowered me into manhood, when sun set over the skyline of Port-au-Prince, back in Haiti, I never imagined that I would end up in Toronto one day, writing my memoirs, but then life for a sugar farmer was idyllic, simple, and never extended beyond the realm of ‘what’s for dinner’, ‘who’s winning the football match?’ and ‘how do I escape this all-encompassing dread?”

Soul-smothering, mind-blackening dread was common in Haiti in those days, ie early 1993. But I was champion undiscovered, my sand castles were destined take me far, and I would soon discover what it meant to taste a North American all-beef hot dog, on a sunny Ontario beach, and be lent a tube of sunscreen to block out the sun’s harsh rays, which was entirely redundant, for years of Haitian sun had given me a hide like a rhinoceros.

My thick skin was entirely physical, for underneath lurked my vulnerable memoir-writing poet’s breast; breathing at 60 beats per minute were my artistic lungs and kidneys, and also, my heart, a poetic device so delicate they would one make cinnamon-sugar candies in its likeness and mass produce it for Valentine’s Day, when lovers and delicateness were superimposed on the calendar like a brothel owner coaxing the unwitting into a dirty and sordid affair du Coeur, ie the dance of infatuation they called love.

Love was my minx and my harlot, my soul and my breath, my water and wine, and my sizzling, heart-stopping bacon at the grand breakfast of fools. Or was it champions. I was a champion fool, and I had read a lot of Vonnegut, who wrote Breakfast of Champions, but I was not nearly so cynical.

I was full of life, emitting possibilities like a 24-hour commercial-free radio broadcast. I came from Haiti to Canada on a dare: my friend Pueblo had bet I couldn’t swim to the New World. Now Pueblo is my confidante soul mate and true best friend even to this day, though he is with God. I told him ‘being Caribbean, we’re already in the new world’ but, poor Pueblo, he didn’t understand a word of English. But still he tried so hard to understand me, and my dark sand-castle ways. Often Pueblo would burst into honest tears that only the good people, salt of the earth can bring forth. I remember my grandmother Tika told me that the tears of the very poor were what made the sugar grow, and the reason that there are so many poor people is that God loves them best. And that’s not bad theologizing for a filthy Marxist I thought, and impatiently hung up my cell phone. I soon cut off all communication with grandmother, until my departure for Canada, because she was voodoo witch too, and quite dangerous. Instead I focussed all my love and affection on Pueblo, who was in fact a true archetypal manchild.

Pueblo had a leathery face, piercing black eyes and wingspan of near eight feet. He was not, in fact, a gigantic parrot, but despite his appalling lack of English he could mimic, parrot-like very well, a true champion; indeed Pueblo was to mimicry what I was to sand-castle building. That’s how good he was. I know that somewhere up there Pueblo, God rest his soul, is enjoying himself on the Wasaga Beach of Mimicry, up there in heaven.

Pueblo died on a Tuesday night. He was in attendance at the football match when the terrorists set off their bombs. I had eaten a lot of canned beans that evening, and so when I heard the low rumble followed by the gaseous explosion, I thought little of it. Then grandma came running in from the sugar cane and cried in broken Spanish-Italian “Il Football! El Pueblo – e morto!” Clearly the news was too shocking for mere French. I could eat nothing for a week, until after the funeral. Then one evening at a boathouse while the radio played a Beethovean dirge I heard one phrase ‘Canada – go to Canada’ - ringing in my ears. It was the posthumous disembodied voice of Pueblo. My best friend had loved me, it seemed even beyond the grave. I got down on my knees, fearing the wonder and might of the Maker, and so happy that finally Pueblo had learned to speak a bit of English. That night I gorged myself on tacos, thinking of Pueblo’s soft floury tortilla-like hands as I did so.

I would set sail on a pineapple barge the very next morning. Canada at last. And so what if I would lose my swimming dare to Pueblo – I was not a great swimmer, and it would be funnier that way. Yes Pueblo could take a joke, like that time I threatened to eat his sister, who was it must be admitted, quite a tasty dish, but only in the magazine centrefold kind of way. The joked hinged on an allusion to cannibalism, which is funny no matter how poor you are.

So the pineapple barge, yes, I took that, bound for Halifax by way of Miami and Norfolk. It was a 4 week journey, and the sea was bound to be rough. I took an extra lifejacket in case I accidentally forget one of them on a bench or picnic table or something. I was always prepared for disaster, which helped me out with my sand castles: with sailing as with sandcastles, complete destruction is always just one large tide swell away…

(unfinished of course)

And the rest as they say, is memory.



Parkdale in the winter

Along Queen street I sold my last pair of shoes; I gave up the shoe business and got ready for Tahiti, Miss Tahini and for trouble. I was on the bubble, loving mud, you could call it grovelling in a hovel and bothering nobody. Even today I can’t make me a saint, I still pine for a bucket of the drinking paint; I’m alcoholic with a brush, a bit of a lush, a sad victim of the tragic gush. Swat me with a firetruck, flash me a neon hockey puck, I’m tired, tattered and rather out of luck.

Deal the cards and loan me teeth from a shark; they don’t let the little kids out in the dark - there’s a race-riot in the park, ghosts and bones of the Cutty Sark. And everybody I know is drunk on fark. People at the peepholes, the papals using Paypal, and staples make things stay, pal, the brake men and broken man, token grin amid the groaning land.

You were sad, I was surly, you saw me underwater in the bucket of hog feed, waterlogged and rushing downstream; I was fire and ice, inside a moonbeam, but it was just a dream.

A telephone call sent me reeling, it busted my snout with copious bleeding, I was greedy and wanting; the bunting all along the parade, I tore it down, I wrote down three names, all angels, prayed for intercession; they called me at half past eleven. The angels swore at me and tied me up; I threatened death to them - you know, hit-and-run via pickup truck. I was swollen at the lip, a hairless pip in a greater morass of slime and guts, the mudhauling mucus van, I was from Hindustan and Pakistan; I was Proto-Indo-European Man.

I read the books they left for me, trinkets to distract, imaginary wanderings of ineffable guff, nothingness filtered for puff and fluff. I was in the Gulag of Garash, sifting through the trash, finding occasional Rembrandts I hauled out my ass; it was first-class suffering through cartoons baboons and succotash. It was the monster inside and I was chopping the mash, a dragon’s breath that charred my hash. Tigers three came from mountain-edge, fossilized creatures I found in dirt, evoking terror, images of the most extraordinary killers, mammals so overgrown, large, swift of foot and sharp of claw, and me - the humble trainer of the fuschia silk macaw. Then came the lengthy rhetorical pause.

I heard “Heaven is an orgy of slime, wiped clean by grace; we are already in heaven, just in the wrong state." And I added, so keen, "Yes yes - and heaven smells like gasoline, bubblegum and coconut cream…”

There is no one else I can count on: there's the broken face of a liar I used to be, there is the mocha man who laughs loyally with me, there are a half dozen sirens clinging on to me, there is the subtle crushing promise of destiny. Drain the barn and you are left with walls, call your enemies friends and get hypocrite applause; there's nothing I can give to the owner of this land, (he’s richer by far and established as a man). You can think about the things that twinkle in spite of the maggots eating flesh and light; the half-reasons that let you sleep at night, when waltzes are wasted on the overfed, the beds are teeming with newlyweds, threading lies, dreading addictions to a daily disguise. And the rest, as they say, is memory, poetry and calamity; there is rhetoric rhythm and the pulsating unconscious, a paradox, a pair of shoes, a pair of black men drizzling blues. I am jazz in black and white, lyrics colliding, an ocean of notions and a sea of stories, I am the high peninsula north-northwest of Tobermory. You're alone your whole life in a civilization left to librarians alphabetizing beauty and storming mundanity, but the soul still sees, sucks itself onto screen; you are mean to me, so much you mean to me, why don’t you scream 'please'? I can't contain the things in my brain, the mammoth man in the veins or the power of grace over stain. The lame will walk, stones will shout, the mountain looming becomes transparent and inside a valley is a slipstream curving at angles where water flows along the edge of the grass, ripples wetting toes and sails set serenely at sunset, half mast perfumed and safe.

A glow from the West as the sun glows plains and the gloom subsides and the devil goes down the drain. The moon is a brick of cheese that makes no sense, and the horse in the field gallops at 40 miles per hour, raising the delicious dust that smells like corn and the gritty gleam in your teeth is happiness porn.

What can be said, this, I can’t admit: I have gazed at a woman’s tits; I have the biggest lips to kiss, your hips are swift and soft, your inner knee itself is art, I would tie you to a table and hold you aloft. I make you an example, a sample treasure beyond mere pleasure, more dynamic and alive than the womb bursting forth. Something so alive at the moment of birth is more alive than anything else on earth.... How can you cut it out?

Hope is a keyboard. Hope is a harpsichord. Hope is a piano.