"It's about words, and words are all I have…"



She said: I wish they could give you a needle to wake you up

I don’t think they have one   I know  She’s 93   Sounded like

one of those dreams where you keep trying to awaken  but

cannot    Once in a while you do  but then fall back into the



Waking up in the same body  same psyche   same identity   age

family  city  house  bed    Even if you vigorously protest   The you

inside of you  the Self  + it’s casing   does not budge    The Gnostics

believed that we spend this life awakening to a Self put to sleep at birth

The Sufis did too


Self-remembering is big with Sufis   So too is watching a flower move

toward the sun   Many at 93 are looking to go to sleep   But not she

Her life force is of the roaring 20’s   Born in 24   Part child   part nymph

part Queen   Maybe wake up as Nefertiti  mixing of Semites + Egyptians

not uncommon


The ancient Egyptians said: Follow your heart as long as you shall live

At death it is weighed against a feather  to determine a blameless life  There

is no concept of head/heart conflict  as we in the West torment ourselves

with   Living by the heart is like living by the sword   Much blood +ruin  It is

decidedly not for the faint


I imagine she will wake up  as an Egyptian Queen any day now  +live by the

heart in her palace on the Nile  Near where Miriam placed the infant Moses

And she too  like his people  will be free   This place she has been  is no place

for an innocent   No place for a child-woman    No place for a Queen




Fall 2017



*(Charles Manson on the fate of Sharon Tate + her dead baby)


Mould on sandwiches at school   Urine scented sweats  reek of feces

too   A small ball of bowel debris rolls out of pant leg onto floor  Therapist

scoops it up  says no more   Later as boy examines pregnant Barbie  leaves bite

marks on removable belly   Baby stomped flat   How to explain this to the

state  who pays green eyed boy’s keep   Is he a sadist now  at 8?    What will

he be by 13?


Let us look at Charlie   Born: No Name Maddox  1934    Died yesterday:

Charlie Miles Manson  82    At 13 he held a razor to a boy’s throat  raped him

His mother a 16 yr. old prostitute  Kathleen Maddox  Heavy drinker  Lived on

the margins  Never knew his father   Spent most of his life in prison  Car thief

Pimp   Serial killer   Mesmerizing brown eyes  +cheshire smile  lit up the unholy



Mother of boy with green eyes  lived with a man  now in prison for his de-

humanization   She promised an X-box  promised+promised   What troubles

him most Therapist?    This   +the locked bedroom door:  I couldn’t get to the

bathroom so I used the floor  Is that bad?   Barbie’s legs now akimbo  about to

give birth to the rough beast on slow thighs  slouching toward Los Angeles   1969





FALL 2017





Joan Didion  modern day femme Montaigne   Gorgeous  +insolent

Willowy  infused with cigarette smoke+dyed in the wool chic   Bought

Susan Kasabian her embroidered dress for the trial of the century  Up close

+ personal with Charlie Manson   Jim Morrison   Warren Beatty apparently

ga ga


See Joan standing in front of phalliccorvette   Stiff suffragettist daughter  At 82

veins gnarly +purple   Garish  misshapen  tendrils   Arms more like the legs of a

Blue Heron  than a woman’s   Not majestic anymore  But not to be confused with

diapered moustachioed crones I’ve known


Joan is whippetquick   Brainteaser of the cocky breezy octogenarian school   Such

women are few   Many compatriots sit  hands unbusy   waiting   My own plan is to

drop down on all 4’s  +scurry into a brambled ditch one day   Let’s say  at 76  when

it will be time to walk into the wilderness   As Neolithic crones did  their bones  +

totems all over Old Europe


My ossuary will contain: 1 hot pink skull by Betsy Johnson  degenerated discs C4

through 6    Arthritic knee debris  +a well made brainstem   used to unlock the

mysteries of Jung  + Jim Morrison   Bad boys in shallow graves  up the road



We are imperfect mortal beings. Aware of that mortality. So wired, that when we

mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were.

As we are no longer. As we will one day not be  at all.   Joan Didion  2005 




FALL 2017



Sfumato me  (+while you’re at it unfuckthisworld)   On 2nd thought perhaps I

best not be sfumato-ed   With too soft edges  you will no longer be able to count

on me  to bring you the unabridged dirt  as I endeavour to morph into Joan Didion

Of whom it is said: stunning candour  piercing details  electric honesty  I cannot

imagine dying without reading The Year Of Magical Thinking  (New York Times) 


In this book Joan writes about losing her husband of 40+ yrs  +her 20 something

daughter within 9 mths   Abruptly  Unexpectedly   She is likely still in shock well

into her 80’s    Joan admonishes us not to speak of: recovery  but instead to dwell on

magical  occurrences within the the first year  after  


Today I will walk you through the first 6 months  after  losing a father   Some of you

may want to hit  unfollow   NOW


early mornings  coming to consciousness  +within seconds of gluey eyes opening 

remembering  he is dead  all over again  +reliving in those seconds the long scar from

ankle to breastbone  from breastbone to ankle  his courage  the rocky balboa of the

quadruple bypass  his breathlessness for years before   the fucking doctor saying: you

could live 10 years more!   he was 63 +still unsqualid   i’ll take it he cried


He died in 5  +there was little quality   Doctor forgot to mention  blunt force brain

trauma  from heart/lung machine  during 13 hour surgery


Then one day at the 4 month mark  I saw him in his wheelchair at the Landsdowne

subway stop   Dishevelled  with sores  but smiling  Had I been braver +not bolted  we

might have gone for coffee  and those early morning awakenings might have ceased

gluey eyes open  grey light  walls of books  hulking boyfriend   in comes the reaper +

his people  and it starts all over again


Good news though!   28 yrs. later  awakenings are fairly regular   Hulking husband

looms   walls lined with books   Now edges sfumato-ed with scar tissue  + 60 yrs. of

ego-deaths   But there in the corner of mind’s eye  I play a game with said Reaper:

Come on  present him again  In any form  Anywhere  Anytime   You wily bastard

Today will be the day I set him free   Rocky Balboa of my dreams



You will stay on, restive, serene   The soul is captive  treated humanely 

kept in suspension  unable to advance much farther than your look   longing

to be free    (John Ashbery  1975   Pulitzer Prize for Poetry)





*(Some who have suffered a loss report actual sightings, what Freud described as:

clinging to the object through the medium of hallucinatory wishful psychosis.)



FALL  2017



*(Edward Albee)

And I said to my friend Gregory: Who among us doesn’t

have a bleeding goat in his living room?  He looked at me

quizzically   We’d just seen Edward Albee: The Goat Or 

Who Is Sylvia?   Then waxing poetic about Las Vegas  +

yesterday’s church shooting in Texas  27 dead from 17 mths

to 82    He ran for the loo   But who is not familiar with this

blood-dimmed tide?


I wasn’t being hypothetical   the original meaning of  tragedy

is  goat-song   The play is about all the desires we cannot control

or even admit we have   The dad  Martin  falls in full blown love

with a goat  after 20 yrs. of marriage   He comes to know  Sylvia  in

the biblical sense  by the fence  at a farm where she lives  nearby


And with Clytemnestra’s cry  the scorned wife disembowels little

Sylvia  +brings her home  for dinner?  A twisted tale of bestiality  +

ritual sacrifice  Now let us look at matricide  Orestes slays his mother

Clytemnestra  +the furies torment him for eternity     Unsuffer me

YES (!) hypothetically  there is a bloodied goat on my coffee table   It

resembles my mother


Both Electra  + Oedipal urges are normal aspects of human development

As long as one does not act upon them   Ditto the murder instinct for adultery

Last night  Ms. Raquel Duffy  acted on our behalf   She played the wife  Stevie

in all of her liberal democratic civility   Smashing a vase or 3   throwing books

to the floor   Later making a beeline for the door   + going Greek


Stevie  using the families cerated honey-cake knife  slit the little she goat’s throat

Then dragged her husband’s lover home  dripping goatblood all over beige shag rugs

Now tell me  which scorned woman out there will have Ms. Duffy act on her behalf

tonight?     The line forms here




Fall  2017   (Salvation operates in the abyss.  Adelia Prado  1988) 





Sunlight so pristine  turning tops of trees into burnished

gold in late autumn breeze   Leaves scattered on shitty

sidewalks  (guess you thought poet going soft-filter  maudlin

well guess again)  Come back long suffering reader  Dive into

this bardo  where words slice you open  +words glue you back

together  Where hope is a relative term   And no  I did not buy

the mug that said: Fuck Death!   ($15  @ Red Pegasus)


So many distractions for the living:  sugar  sex  methamphetamine

tequila  For those of you over that bad trip  back in 76  when you guzzled

the cheapstuff  +in an agaved frenzy  slept with 10 engineers consensually

3 of them women   2 satyrs    +5 run of the mill guys:

can I see you again?  No

can I get yer number?  No

can I stay over?  No

can I get a reach-around?  No

can I get a raincheck?  Sure


But I digress   George Saunders  Lincoln in The Bardo  writes of the dead

with such uncanny knowing  he must be  or is soon to be   He tells of near

ghosts waiting by their sick-boxes   Apparently there is a period  or bardo-

state  when one might return home  Willie Lincoln 10yrs. old waits for his

father  who comes nightly (historically true)  +lifts the boy out of his box!


The nearby dead are filled with shock  +envy so deep they begin to gather

+self-flagellate in wormy shame  For not one has been touched after that day

(Oh they’d touch you alright.  They’d wrangle you into your sick-box. Dress

you how they wanted you. Stitch and paint you as necessary. But never touch

you again.   Lincoln in The Bardo  George Saunders)


Why is this so rare an act?  Biological imperative?  Bacteria?  Disease?  Or some

other reason  In Judaism they want you in the land of the living  prohibited to

even visit the new grave for 30 days  By then you’re back at the mill  But certainly

if death by quadruple by-pass  no germs remain?  Heartworms?  Angina droplets

inhaled?   Root word of Angina is: RAGE   Yes  RAGE  at the separation


Why not ignore the exhortation?  Return that night +lift your father out   Talk +

laugh until early birds catch the fucking worms   RETURN!  RETURN!    Re-write

the arcane rituals  +the concept of eternity will be ripped open by bored hellhounds

And you +your dearly departed  will alchemically worm your way back into each

other’s psyches     Only Believe



Uneraseable  because already erased

Everything finally of course is metaphysical

Frank Bidart  Metaphysical Dog Poems 2013




Fall 2017





When Outlandos D’Amour came out  I was 21   Thought myself an outlaw

of love (!)   Didn’t so much have a mean streak  just a penchant for MAC:

sadistic vixen lipstick  + stilettos   Young  +untested by grief   The kind when

your feet are cut off   like Willie’s were in  The Heart is A Lonely Hunter:  I got 

this terrible misery down in my toes   


But I have seen the future + it is a flaccid beast    Not slouching toward anywhere

to be born   Now I know: that when you cut a child away from his family  +like a skin

graft  try to grow him onto another  the psyche rejects this    Said child throbs  with

loss of limb   Go explain this to agents of the state: Why does he keep crying at night

with phantom pain  Ms.Therapist?      He misses his parents  


Blank stares   You’re just a high priced baby-sitter  (save me from angry dads who

require a swift paradigm shift)   I just wish I knew where my f-f-feets are   That the 

main thing that worries me    Outlandos D’Amour at 21?   More tough girl poseur

But not anymore   In a state of pre-grief  especially when eyes spring open at 3 a.m.


Did you know that your heart is roughly the size of your fist?  My fists have not grown

since about the age of 5 or 6    So I am looking for ventricles people   Check my add

on eBay  or at #poetwithsmallishheartseeksroomforfuturegrief   + a tablet or 2 of

nitro    The last loss  of a bulldog named Poydras  left me unable to visit certain street

corners  +my local park for 2 yrs


It was there that he had shlumped along   drawing ankle blood as the need arose

A wild and slobbering rube   It was a different love  not like anything she had ever

felt before  (Mick Kelly  age 14  on loving the town mute  in Heart is A Lonely Hunter)    

Yes I want nitroglycerin  for when the BIG ONE comes    Until then  hope will be

rationed  +love will be a rabid dog from hell     Let him in!    Let him in!





FALL  2017



I sat with a man yesterday who knows the difference between

the sound of wind in Aspens  +wind in Pines   Spent his youth at

Lakehead U  Forestry   Then a beeline for Jung  via Zarathustra

(I married him after his Gregory Bateson period  when he was want

to make circles with his hands  Not unlike Rainman)


Our dear friend from back then  now a Cantor  said 2 words: transitional

relationship  that was in 1988   I ask you: what is not transitory?  We 3

more recently  saw her husband buried on a sunny hillside   Now we want

for her  a lush baker  or opera singer    #voluptuouscantorbride    This life is

beautiful  +cruel


But back to yesterday: edge of Lake Ontario  giant rocks jut out   I sit with said

husband   Numero 3   Started marrying early  at a ripe 19   Through the sun-dapple

+duck-squawk  legs splayed  red frizz flung far+wide  spray of waves tickling hammer

toes   I thought I heard husband say  in low anthem baritone: If you keep throwing

rocks you’ll hurt the ducks   Do you really want that?


Always Socrates  drives one to distraction   My methodology: direct+Sartre  Hell is

other people   Touch the ducks + I kick your sadistic butts to Rochester   Kids were

6+10   They scuttered away like young vermin   Snapshot of a new generation?

Raised in the wake of Littleton’s  + Las Vegas  +that Batman movie turned terrorist

in Colorado   They snarled at us  pointy teeth glinting  in October sun


We had transitioned from  fall romp at lakeside  to: Why have we wasted our lives

saving the depraved conscious apes  from themselves?   Who  by these early years of

the 21st century  have made it their life’s work  to be  happy!  *(the happiest people

in the world spend 5 to 6 hrs. a day socializing.. Globe+Mail pg. L7 today)   Perhaps

this is why their kids are running wild  trying to kill mallards at Ontario Place


For Chrissakes  if the goal is to be happy  how will they know withering from

blossoming?  Fuckery from meaning?  Zimmerman sang of the  idiot wind   + it’s

blowing through our modern era  making thugs into Presidents   So  rise up  happy

sheep  Smell the smell of reality  of the vicissitudes preparing you to confront what

it means to live until 102   Because those of you who are happiest get 8 more years to

contemplate death!  *(Globe+Mail: the happiest people add 8 yrs to life expectancy)






Fall  2017    for Rachel Tyler Atkins  




Yesterday a picture  sent from a pre-menstrual niece:

It’s a godless world   said she  And I don’t know why

I can’t stop weeping   Post menses  she is sweet +upbeat

Can even recite  The Epic of Gilgamesh  at will   Did her

dissertation on it


The picture: from the land of innocence  40 yrs. since family

sliced+diced   Faces un-scarred  Bodies un-scalpeled   Dew

on the grass  (Yes! they even had dew in the 70’s..)    Alas

youngest child in the picture dead   Too many night sea

journeys   Other 2  now mothers of 4 children   Oldest woman

also dead   Lungs infected by filthy pigeon  Jackson Square

New Orleans


Niece wondered if we will meet again   Plaintive howl  via e-mail

Can there be a better place old frizzled auntie?  Not only is there

a better place  but  what we once have been   we shall be again

When skin+bones are highly theoretical  +we swim with the fishes

(not a mobster reference)


I answered: Love is immortality   Sounding like a cross between Jesus

and CSNY   No such positivity had left these lips since 1976   when I

had no knowledge of death   It too was theoretical   Just kiss a rock-like

brow in your parent’s condominium  +that horse has left the barn   But

I will leave you hopeful  as too many of you grow sickly  + are a strange

shade of yellow  from following this blog too closely


Little Tameeka came for therapy   Kidnapped in Africa by her father

Fierce little warrior girl   Escaped genital mutilation too   Dogs at Pearson

International sniffed her   Separated form her father +sent to fostercare

At first she suckled therapist’s knuckles   Then gradually developed a smile

too big for her tiny face  +a laugh that echoed through the ethers  to the

room of her mother in Ethiopia




Fall  2017








All the young hipsters so beautiful and free?  Buying

their coffee at Balzacs  All duded up  Stylized snapshot

of urbanity  Bye Bye Gord Downie  probably not their

poet anyway    Don’t tell me what Atticus is doing


This morning on the phone a friend I’ve known  forever

said: My funeral guy.. I actually have a funeral guy!  3

members of her family have died  since last July   Father

Husband   Brother   We talked long +loose about ashes +

survivor’s guilt


She is the last woman standing   Estranged from her junkie

brother  whose ashes will remain with  funeral guy   On the

shelf where he keeps: un-claimed sisters  dogs  +infant skulls

Ready to transmute into the next: Bowie  Downie   +The Artist

Formerly Known as Prince


So  if your ashes remain un-claimed  have you really lived?  Or

is your death rattle: an unheard cry for meaning?   No bereft

shining granddaughter to visit your town in Romania  Trying to

come to grips with the madness of ovens   It is a bit like the tree

falling in the forest question


If one is pushed  bullet riddled  into an unmarked grave of 100,000

strong at Babi Yar  does it make a sound?  While we don’t recommend

you go around believing in: Never Again  We do recommend  that to

one child at a time  you recount the history of  gassed +un-gassed family

Especially of those un-claimed


The ashes on  funeral guy’s  shelf  mixing with dust +mouse  belong to

a human being   He who had such promise at birth  that upon his death

the angels lined up to rent clouds of glory  +howl Kaddish at any Gods

within a 5 mile radius


Strange to think of you,  gone..

While I walk the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village..

And I’ve been up all night reading the Kaddish aloud..

Dreaming back thru life,  your time and mine  accelerating 

toward Apocalypse..  (Allen Ginsberg  Kaddish  1959)


Fall  2017   RIP   Gord Downie


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