Thursday, December 6, 2012
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
He hadn’t showered since he was nineteen
He couldn’t get into any hotel
Downside of love is the upside of hate
He wouldn’t settle for any old fate
So he’d sleep in his car at the side of the road
And wait for his chance
She was a drag
she’d nag and she’d rag
She was the type who would hide the price tag
She didn’t like things when they went too well
Setting’s the same as a bad T.V. show
a beginning a middle the end comes too slow
she’d go back to her room and examine the gloom
And wait for her chance
I played it cool
more or less like a fool
My best opportunities
passed like a stool
I couldn’t keep things from going to hell
People still hang
inside the museums
But it doesn’t matter if you don’t
Go see them
Because there’s pictures aplenty
if life’s not enough
To take your last chance
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Tommyʼs pen had retraced the lines of the heart on the top of his wooden
desk so many times that the ball point was at least a sixteenth of an inch below sea
level. The original un-abused surface being the sea. The heart contained his intials
alone. He had no love to give. How to love in a world so boring. His brain was in that
line. His whole existence, by times, dwelled on that graffitied birch slab. Noises went on
around him but he didnʼt hear them. If his eyes shifted a little, an accident he tried to
avoid, they would settle on red and grey speckled linoleum, burnished with the traffic of
size five sock feet shuffling and sliding upon that pattern challenged surface. A huge
chessboard. SUCH a boring game. His older brothers played it. When they werenʼt
beating him up. Or fighting with his parents and playing horrible loud music. A song
came into his head. “So happy togeetheaah, how is the weeatheaah?” Music used to be
so much better when he was young. Ah those golden days of driving in his fathers
station wagon, the radio playing civilized songs, his mother humming along as they
skirted brand spanking new suburbs on the endlessly flat expanses outside Etobicoke.
Before the MOVE. Before the destruction of his LIFE.
The pen could build to a smooth and silky slide in the heartlines if he was careful
making the corners. The corners had started quite sharp, at the bottom and in the dent.
But he had carefully, over time with great patience, smoothed those corners so that he
could maintain speed as the pen tip rounded the horn. Sometimes he had to use a
pencil, when the “entity” took his pen on accusations of defacement. The pencil had a
completely different response in the track. It widened the groove and sped along like a
rider in one of those crazy lying down toboggans heʼd seen in the olympics. And it made
a lovely shiny surface, but it also made black lead dust which got on his fingers which
got him in trouble when he got home at lunch time. How long til lunch? He ever so
slowly, with greatest trepidation and the practiced skill of a warrior, raised his eyes,
being ever so careful not to let his gaze fall on anything between sea level and sky. He
knew what horrors he would encounter should his eyes dally. Pictures drawn by the
others. Oh, what fallow plots of artistic failure the others created. The drabness, the
failure of crayons on lined paper. The reliance on parent prescribed reality. The ocean
that lay near had made the others brains soggy. The only way for his eyes to get where
they were going without encountering the assaults that lay in wait for them was to latch
onto a mortar line between the painted bricks and follow it, never veering. Over five
bricks, up two over three the other way, up six, over five again and then STOP! A picture
rail, and lime green faded paint. Above, a long line of letters, in cursive, capitals and
common. They had to be jumped. He closed his eyes, held his breath and moved his
eyeballs. Opening his lids ever so slowly, focus gained on a round face. He could see
heʼd made it. Where were the hands? he opened a little more. The red arm raced
around, the black hands...OH MY GOD! Ten oʼclock! His eyes fell, taking in letters
drawings, chalkboard and people. They landed on the desk top with a thud. They lay
there, wounded. Noises made their way to his ears. He felt the cool of the slab on his
cheek. The noise became clearer. Uh oh.
“Mr Moore, are you with us? Or have you been sleeping?"
He raised his head. All eyes were upon him. Titters and whispers. The entity was
standing a mere three desks away. Her dress was a crazy chartreuse green, heavily
woven, like a dimpled carpet. Her shoes were pointy pumps and the hair could be seen
beneath her stalkings. He felt like retching. He heard the terrible music of the Planet
Vulcan as he looked upon her.
“Where are your books, sir?”
She held her pointer in her hand. Her weapon of choice. She was making her
way toward him. Oh, what would Maxwell Smart do? His hands reached below sea level
where his books were kept. His fingers explored the trigger of a gun. Too strong a
response. The coils of a scribbler. Might need that. Oooh. Whats that? Yuck. Did
someone pick there nose and stick it under his desk? Aaarrgh. The horror.
“Have you done your homework?”
The pointerʼs yellow plastic end was laying upon his desk top, right in the center
of the heart, lending query to the question. Emphasizing the ask.
“Uh, yeeaah...I mean yes. Itʼs here.”
Fingers probed further, scared and tremulous after the last encounter. Whatʼs this
smooth cold surface?
“Well if you did your homework, you should know the answer to the question.
What great event took place here in Halifax in December 1917, fifty four years ago
“He wonʼt know. Heʼs a Toronto boy. All he knows is how to wear fruit pants.”
“Thatʼs enough of that talk, Mr Nugent.” She had a bemused look in her eye as
she said this. She hated him for being from Ontario as much as everyone else.
Malcom Dicky, sitting behind him, a full six inches taller than any other kid in his
“You better get this, T.O. boy, or its lights out for you at recess.”
Oh yeees, it's the can of pop he took from the fridge this morning and shook up
all the way to school. He was going to make a fire in the woods on the way home and
put it in and see what happened. Now his hand was on it.
“WHAT is THAT? Mr. Moore, you are NOT to keep lunch supplies in your desk!
Dicky was leaning in close for a look as The Entity reached towards him to take it
Two Aisles away, he saw Suzy Shea, her pig tails shining in the flourescent glow.
She was smiling at him. She understood. Her love could have saved him. His lip curled ever so slightly in her direction
as his thumb tugged on the metal tab, seconds before the Entityʼs hand reached the
can. He angled his body to avoid impact. He pulled. The tab lifted. For a brief second
there was a fizz and then he saw black. Lights out fifteen minutes before recess
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Charles is sitting in a cafe window. I can see him through the reflections of clouds cast from above. He’s wearing a herring bone knit sweater over a cream colored button down shirt. He has grey flannel pants on and brown wingtip shoes. His light brown hair is long in front and short on the sides. It’s brushed over to one side in a rakish fashion. The red in his cheeks makes it look like he’s blushing but really that’s just his complexion. He’s smiling self consciously as he listens to his companion, a hand on his mug and his long legs crossed lazily. He looks both rapt and relaxed at once. Charles must be a good three inches taller than my six feet and he’s as skinny as a rake. I know this because I see him daily in the health food store where he works. He’s pretty much the friendliest person in the place, always calls me sir and has a smile. He makes me feel old. He must be no more than nineteen or twenty.
In the cafe he’s sitting across from Sebastienne, a girl he knows from school. Sebastienne is explaining something in depth to Charles, the look on her face suggests that she doesn’t believe he understands and also that she doesn’t know how to make herself understood. She has dark curly hair, a red wool coat and jeans on. She’s stunningly good looking and numerous patrons are staring at her sidelong, spilling the cream as they fix their coffee and tripping on the doormat, sodden from feet covered in brown snow. Sebastienne’s knapsack is hanging over the back of her chair, books threatening to spill out onto the wet floor. In her hands, on her lap she holds a tawny colored, nappy teddy bear. You can tell that the bear is old, an heirloom of some sort and it’s also obvious that Sebastienne always has her bear with her.
The cafe they’re sitting in is remarkable in it’s success. Remarkable because it is so unremarkable. It has large, lightly tinted windows encased in black anodized aluminum. They face onto a street which carries a great deal of traffic which slowly drools by. Next door is a laundromat and next to that a gas station. The cafe interior is without charm. It has cheap round tables and cheap uncomfortable chairs. The walls are unadorned but for a couple of travel bureau posters advertising Lebanon and Syria. The whole affair was thrown together in the eighties and hasn’t changed since. It’s greatest charm is it’s smell. It is odiferous of coffee. Strong coffee. In the back, the real reason for the cafe, they roast coffee beans. One merely has to enter the premises to get a caffeine fix, the scent is so strong. And so the place has developed a loyal clientele. I’ve gone in to get a coffee to go but I’ve never sat down and I’ve never understood why anyone would, unless you were a cousin of the owner. But that’s me.
“Luther, my cat, threw up all over my bath rug last night. I walked into the bathroom this morning and there was a big slimy hairball in front of the tub. I almost stepped in it. Aghh. It was so gross.”
“Do you think he’s sick, Baz? Maybe you should take him to the vet. How old is he?”
“No. He just has a bad diet. He licks himself all the time and he has such long hair...I tried feeding him hairball control food, but it made no difference. He gets sick at least, like, once a week.”
“He seems to know where not to get sick, though. Even though I’ll have like all my clothes all over the floor, after coming back from the laundry, he never pukes on them. I always think that he will but he always does it in the bathroom.”
Charles was noticing how every line she spoke sounded like a question. He was always noticing things about how people spoke. Accents, ticks, stutters.
“I think I might like to become a speech pathologist.”
“Really? And work with kids who have behavioral disorders and stuff like that. Wow. That would be so altruistic. I could never do that. My sister was dyslexic and she was such a pain. Cost my parents a mint to try and fix her. She was always yelling and breaking things. A real drama queen. And of course she was the favorite. Because she was fucked up. Squeaky wheel.”
“Well I was thinking I’d work with kids who had unusual speech impediments and, like, I don’t know, accents or something.”
They both started laughing, realizing how ridiculous Charles’ idea was.
“Oh yeah. Like a kid moves from England and your going to analyze his speech patterns and determine that, like, he come from England. I think you better stick with psych.”
“God I hate psych. Its all so boring. I wanted to learn about serial killers and stuff. I’m so sick of hearing about self-actualization. And Mr Berringer is such a creep. He’s always staring at the girls in class and asking them questions and making fun of the guys. Except for the jocks. He leaves them alone. What a creep. And that cheesy moustache he has to cover the scar on his lip. Do you think he had a cleft palate?”
“You should take an art history class. I really like it. You sit in class and and its dark and you look at pictures. It’s at Nine, so if you were out late you can just sleep through it.”
“Art. Who cares. I can’t believe they give classes in that. Lets analyze why this artist paints people with blue faces...because he’s color blind and has no talent. It’s all bullsh...”
Charles stopped talking when he noticed that Baz, who had her hand held against her temple as though leaning on it was extending a finger in and out, pointing at something, or someone, behind him. Charles turned to see Anthony standing right behind him, a wry smile on his face.
“How long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough to hear you, like, completely trash my way of life. I guess you didn’t learn anything when we were together. God, sometimes you’re so immature.”
“Oh, shut up. We were never together, Don’t flatter yourself. And I don’t think that by being in a first year art program you can call it a way of life. You’re a student.”
“Oh Charles. Like I always told you, the difference between knowing what you want and sitting around thinking about it is the thing that counts. I am what I do, Chas. I work. And you are what you do, dahling. You talk. See you two later. Love your teddy bear, Baz. I see you still haven’t washed him.”
“Yeah, whatever. Is he still standing behind me? ‘Cause I think I feel a hairball coming on.”
“No, he’s gone. Don’t you mind him, Ally. You don’t smell. You’re perfect.” Sebastienne was talking to her bear, which for the first time she had brought above her lap and now held in front of her on the table.
As I walked past the cafe and saw the bear through the window, one button eye barely hanging on to it’s woolen head, I thought how sad that bear looked. And I remembered a line from deep in the past; All is to no purpose, all the ways of men are to no purpose.