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



1,035  stand in line   U of T astronomers with beady

eyes  caution us: DO NOT look into the sights of 

the sun  These glasses bestow immortality  but only

for those who know the difference between  the waste

+ the organic  bins  


On a loud speaker a professor blares: You bastards killed

the Boreal forests  + now you love the universe?  Eclipse 

glasses are x-ray vision  for those born between 1941+1957

Solar eclipse porn   From the sublime  to fried Mars bars  + a

muscled young man wearing pink Jockeys who begs to give me

a sports massage  ( I was born within the cut off dates)


I walk among the sweating soulless at the CNE   Many wear the

eclipse glasses  but do not look at the sun  Many more are bleating

+ eating huge quantities of cheese curds + gravy  I watch the celestial

wonder  +know that the next time it occurs  I will be out of here  which

makes me want to throw caution to the wind


I enter the food court +find a vat of gravy with a pump handle  I slather

it on  Dogs follow me along the path of totality   We are here for what

amounts to a few hours  a day at most  I am reluctant to let the eclipse go

The first among a list of lasts  But the gravy smells so good  +there will be

puddings +tequila  when I get home


We feel around making sense of the terrain, our own new limbs,

Bumping up against a herd of bodies  until one becomes home.

(Tracy K. Smith  Life On Mars  Pulitzer Prize)


End of Summer 2017  ..hit the road jack..










Like a paradise. Kinda’ place sorta’ kills ya’ inside.

Warm yellow lights. Mexican tile all around. Copper

pots hangin’ over stove. Ya’ know like they got in the 

magazines. Blonde people movin’ in and outa’ the 

rooms, talkin’ to each other.  Kinda’ place you wish you

sorta’ grew up in, ya’ know.  (Sam Shepard  True West)


orange cylindrical lights  with holes carved out   wallpaper

mostly turquoise   parents champagne taste went to waste in

dog days  but by mid-70’s corduroy sectional +lambskin throw

(from Sheila’s in Yorkville)  an elaborate phone  gold+enamel

leather horsey accessories   +horse-head bookends to a life of

racehorse notoriety


these streets filled with doctors +lawyers +nouvea riche shysters

wouldn’t trade it for friend’s father’s jaguar  she through a windsheild

on her boston campus  at 23  father flew her to best plastic surgeon

tiny abrasions around nose+mouth  as we sat in Paris cafe  she Sorbonne

rich girl purgatory


my father certain she is lesbian +after me   maybe    at 10 i stood outside

her ballet classes  face pressed against glass  ate their rich people’s candy

+ the whitest pistachio nuts known to mankind   in Paris she told me her

mother thought her ugly  hated herself passionately   with a passion i

reserved for the lavish dolls dotting her bedroom  from parent’s exotic



one night i crawled through their milkbox +hid behind the couch  i missed

my gorgeous parents  my ratty brothers  +my dog   missed my bed with a

hole in it  chewed by poodle named dilly    my father: that’s one stupid bitch

not a word he used unless describing female canines


i still miss them  + know it was  the kinda’ place you wish you sorta’ grew 

up in    from the vantage point of the shredder of mid-life   when the pretty

blonde people   +the rich neighbours pale in comparison to the raw+authentic

humanity  the fervent love+ the hardening of arteries   the cancer too


for it is not true  that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear   we spun

gold out of yarn   especially on sunday+monday    ed sullivan  + howard cosell

the demi gods  in the back split house  of the setting sun



2 weeks left of Summer  2017




When I said the word death  the young psychiatric resident

looked afraid  Then she looked away  +said: it’s really hot in

here isn’t it?  Already contemplating  Stygian gondoliers  Her

fear melted into  the field   It was a windowless room  Her pallor

that of a tomb dweller    I pressed her further


Don’t people in their 90’s feel close to death  in the biblical sense?

She began to sweat  +rhyme off the benefits of mindfulness meditation

as though it were a goddamn panacea  Personally I doubt highly  that a

93 yr. old would feel more alive by sucking a raisin for 35 minutes


Isn’t the idea  in late life  to become more comfortable with being less

alive?  To find a cozy niche in the bardo?  But she is too young +talcumed

to succumb to  projective identification  with her patients    Too much +

one flirts with psychosis   Just the right amount +you walk a mile in the

shoes of the man from Galilee


Perhaps it’s just an ego death after all!  Crucifixion a metaphor  for nothing

left to lose   And perhaps as you near that bend  the jettisoning of everything

begins  Of every signpost  Of everyone you have ever known  Of your bearings

( I don’t feel like I live here anymore  I feel like a live in some shitty hotel  my

old mother said)


The way station of your own personal crossing   Maybe it is just smoke +mirrors

+ there is no way to bring cheer ( i.e., mindfulness is awesome! Let me grab you a 

raisin)   Maybe fear is an awakening  +maybe you must be terrified to be turned

upside down  wet+bloody   Be slapped  +put on a cold scale  then measured for

yet another suit


Remember that nirvana is reached when you are finally free of the wheel   And

maybe mindfulness  in the final yards  forces you back into the tunnel   I know

another woman  98   Her family let’s her sleep  +stay in her pyjamas all day  Her

wit is wry   +she has stopped trying to escape   It is the young psychiatrist in the

airless room who is in need of grace  And decidedly not  98 yr. old  Lillian May


I hate being myself in my life which isn’t a movie and never will be.  

I hate having to eat. Having to go to the bathroom. Having to live in this body..

(Sam Shepard  Angel City)



Summer 2017









All roads leading in+out of me are oblique   Not that I was

ever a lover of linear  Life a circuitous route to: #fillintheblank 

If a map had been handed out I would have squandered it

Now on secondment to the Purgatorio  with flaming red hair

Looking more like Woody daily  (No not Woodpecker…pecker)


Yesterday a young nephew reported:  A friend said  that he saw

my uncle walking with a flame haired call girl!    Said brother

blushed purple   His call girl decidedly blonde right now   Old

poet remonstrated (a la Jimmy Durante: That’s no banana  that’s

my nose)   That was no call girl  boy    That was me


It has always been my bane  (or boon?)  to look escort-ish    Once

in a therapy session with a cheating Polish boyfriend  the therapist

said: You dress kind of tarty  I took it as a compliment  +slashed his

tires    That was 32 years ago


I wore:

A $500 black patent leather pencil skirt    

A $750 clingy red merino sweater  

And $1,750  black Chanel heels with giant roses

Boyfriend was a Polish dybbuk prince   No shit


Today I sit (in paisley +denim+suede cowgirl heels)  Tarty

Reading Sam Shepard’s Seven Plays  Post-it notes prominently

displayed around his chiselled face  They say: write about lazy

man’s synchronicity i.e., algorithms  fake news  fake Gods  Russian

orphan girl dancing with wild abandon


Sam is still glaring at me   Bedroom eyes  Untergahucked eigen

(yiddish for dark circles)  Slash of mouth  wants a redheaded

call girl  bad   Instead Jessica Lange showed up +tortured him for

30 yrs.  Likely PTSD after manhandling  by Kong


I’m sure that Sam would have been no problem for me   Though I

may have given him a run for his money   Hear my last analyst  +current

husband’s lament: Why do you have to be such a tiger?   Implosions on

the horizon  ( POW!  BAM!  SPLAT! )


Final digression  I take you back to the young Russian orphan  dancing

with wild abandon  at a wedding in St. Catherines   A godforsaken place

Timmy’s full of those who couldn’t find a Starbucks  gnashing    While

Natasha-esque teen is dancing   Adopted at 3 months  now 18    Mother

dead last week    Fell from horse  +not found for days


Girl in black lace  Long+lean  Black eyes +hair   Deadness to spare   But on

the dance floor  she morphed  into Elvis+Mick+Aphrodite androgyny   There

she danced her grief  +danced our longing to be free  Mostly of the need to get

back on the 406  +return to homes we never should have bought in the first place



You hunt for a way of being with everyone. A way of finding how to behave.

You find what’s expected of you. You act yourself out.  (Sam Shepard  Action  1974) 


RIP Sam Shepard  Nov 5, 1943 – July 27, 2017



Summer 2017   Ode to the memory of discovering BIG SUR  1987












Yesterday  I stomped a WASP (no  not my husband)

To death   Then in a mid-life crisis rage  (3/4 life crisis?)

beheaded the poor bastard   OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

said  The Red Poet Queen


Today Mr. Wasp is GONE!   Every single shred  even his

yellow-blonde head   Now I sit on my rooftop tower  where

a large man with  BEER  splashed across his tee  stalks me

(see Insta pics +poem “SING” – July 28 +29th)  As I ponder

the likelihood of wasp hive-mates returning in the night to

gather up his carcass


So will my tribe reclaim me?  Every brittle bone  +beauty mark

Every scar  visible+invisible  Superficial+mortal woundings have

left a map of deep crevices filled with $90 skin creams +chicken

schmaltz   Will we collect the bones of mother+brother alike?  As

we did with Lee’s?  You won’t find a scrap of him  nor the mattress

he died upon in our final condominium


Our mother hasn’t slept a wink on the replacement  Even traded it for

a used one   An octogenarian Princess+The Pea  (this mattress is killing

me!.. a 5 year refrain..)  Yet it would seem to me that the dust of my father

after his gathering up+burying over on Bathurst St.  has travelled due west

To Woodbine  where it reconfigures into a horseman’s ghost  in front of the

Trifecta booth every day at 3


Brother’s in arms

Here’s to the gathering


Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future

that year by year  recedes before us. It eluded us then, but

that’s no matter –  tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out

our arms farther … And one fine morning –    So we beat on,

boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

(The Great Gatsby   F. Scott Fitzgerald   1925)





Summer 2017








Am I watching him?  Or is he watching me?  I feel his

eyes every morning from my Juliet balcony   No doubt

he has seen much of my body   Today he is in pastels

This rotund man   My fire escape nemesis   Doppelgänger

of the man in my dreamscape at 36  who bellowed:




In Judaism  36 is double chai    Chai is life    This 2nd half

of life is  tricky   thorny    A crucifixion    Jesus was crucified

at 33  just before he entered the threshold   No knee replacements

Viagra  or anti- d’s    Here on this side  there is a certain amount of

rage involved


Rage   and redemption through suffering  the fire +brimstone years

of becoming your wizened Self    As your ghost’s ghost watches from

the shadows  and knows that:  We were together here once   Before the

letting go of hands   the dropping off one at a time   the losses without



Even the losses of earlier selves   Hopeful  lubricated selves  with plump

lips +pliable arteries   Yesterday  a depressed brother (more depressed than

me) told us he’d heard why it is  that time feels like it’s sped up   exponentially

It’s because when you’re young there are always new things to savour  New

experiences   New people   The first first    Now it’s all the same


As we sat there in a yearning silence   our mother  93  nodded knowingly:  It’s

an assembly line of bad food +psychiatric social workers who humour you

with bagels from your home town   And by the way  can you get me tickets to

a baseball game?   Her 19 year old self  in a white fox collar  scented with Emeraude

A sporty suit +gloves   pulled up a chair   Right there  as we ate mediocre panino

on the bread of our affliction




*Emeraude was launched in 1921. The nose behind this fragrance is Francois Coty. Top notes are orange, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose and brazilian rosewood; base notes are amber, sandalwood, patchouli, opoponax, benzoin and vanilla.



Summer 2017  for Frances  Lechaim!




He is straight out of Kerouac  or Bukowski

this salesman of doors  Or even Donald Trump’s

White House   He is slick  in an: I’ve been to prison

kind of way   He is likeable  almost awesome   Silver

hair slicked back  Black co-ordinates  Rockport   Socks

a tartan check


Burly around the edges  Teeth glint in the sun   He says:

Ya we’ll take all the crap away!   Will you Donnie?  Will

your doors keep me locked in for the rest of my days?  Or

keep the knavish seekers of my fetid soul at bay?


And what about  the crap  you intend to take away?  Bring

petrie dishes for tissue samples  +a box measuring  5 foot 3

Recently lost an inch to crooked knee   Or  perhaps I will not

replace my rotting doors!   Blasphemy to Donnie


I have more important things to spend $4,261.45 (+HST) on

Venice awaits  A gondolier named Enzo comes with the Palazzo

He looks pretty slick too  +knows his way around canals   There is

also the one way fare to Mars to consider


I have applied for passage to the Mars space station   +they will

only take 10 seniors  so that children born in the first 10 years will

know what it looks like   to be crone   to be coot


In the brave new world there will be no word for aging  +wisdom will

become an oxymoron   In the brave new world  love will be a polysyllabic

word   #whatweusedtofeelwhenwewereintimatewiththereaper




You die. You’re born again  and all

Will be repeated as before:

The cold ripple of a canal.

Night. Street. Lamp. Drugstore.

(Stanley Kunitz 1985  Pulitzer Prize Poetry)


Summer  2017






I held his hand +looked at him like he couldn’t have

gone far   It was August 16, 1989 at 3:16   Elvis died

that day too  1977    This brings to mind the Great

Red Spot  one of the solar system’s perennial mysteries

It fades but never seems to go away


Technically the spot is an anti-cyclone + it was Giovanni

Cassini  who first saw it in 1665   Perhaps that’s where my

father went   Heaven seems entirely too pristine  +who would

want to be with the meek +un-debauched for eternity?  Not me


As the 28th anniversary of that day approaches  I am now 8 yrs.

younger than he  +things are beginning to break down   Today

for example  my left knee is swollen to 3x its original size  + is

making crunching sounds   No truncheon bearing mobster in sight


Perhaps I too am anti-cyclone  perpetually caught between forces

moving in opposite directions  Eros + Thanatos   Entropic daemon

possessed by an encroaching desire to go backwards  Counterclockwise

to the very day 30 yrs. ago when I stood at the door of a 727 on the tarmac

in San Francisco


Mentholated cigars in hand  ready to return to a pre-ordained box   On the

day I embarked on this vision quest some 6 mths. prior  Ella + The Count

mystically crooned April in Paris as I fled   Mother 64  Father 67  said good

bye  as  one more once  rang out    The part of the song you must wait for


It comes  almost imperceptibly  after most have given up   It comes like the

2nd coming   Like the 2nd chance  handed out to those who bear an uncanny

resemblance to my father


Strange now to think of you gone  while I walk the sunny streets of

Greenwich Village  reading the Kaddish aloud  listening to Ray Charles’

blues  shout blind on the phonograph

(Kaddish  Allen Ginsberg  1958)






Summer 2017



I coulda run a country  my bro said the other day  as I fell into self

loathing for choices made  and not made   But Stop!   Cormac McCarthy

now 82  tells us: The probability of the actual is absolute  And I have come

a tortured  + circuitous route  to agree    Wholeheartedly


Hands up if you believe in  crossroads    You know  the place where

old Robert Johnston sold his soul to the devil ( he could play guitar..)

The place where for a split second or 2  you believe that the road is yours

to choose  But find that the choice you have lassoed  has become a noose


That road is yours for the taking!   And once you do  the mirage of the crossroads

fades   Every grate  Every iron door  +every die  rolls into place   Once a thing

is set in motion  all inert desires are slaughtered   You will never find the saw your

brother placed inside the cake  The one he passed through the grate on your 60th



But for now why not celebrate the vestiges of the child  in the morphing 20

somethings all around you?   All tatted up  with more places to go than you

can shake your cane at   What do they know of the grate?  The steel door?  Vestiges

of immortality still cling   And when the last Monarch passes on it’s way to Mexico

they won’t even notice  +may swat it to death   Because today they feel groggy  from

all of the beer+groping on the couches at  The Dance Cave


While tomorrow is an endless mirage  I am  I can  I will    Yet there is a vast

difference between quitting + knowing when you’re beat   But you must be old

with grizzly-thinning skin  to have such gravitas   As well  to know that:  Some

of the most miserable people around are the ones who finally got what they

always wanted



Choice is lost in the maze of generations and each act in that maze is itself an

enslavement for it voids every alternative and binds one ever more tightly into

the constraints that make a life.


He’d have latched it but those doors only latched from without.


(Cormac McCarthy  Cities Of The Plain  1998)






Summer 2017




Some light-footed animal stands testing the open door

of your cage  Holding yourself close that you not escape?

Or cut through the net?   Things drop  clothes  shoes  bijoux

your rotting roof  onto your head  Didn’t you see this nail?

Didn’t you see this inky rot?   Bitter roofer exhales


An entire family of boat people on your Juliete balcony  How

did they arrive? There is no ladder  no stairs  Your husband sees

them +runs from the house  Heidegger tome flaps in the breeze

That night you have a bacchanalian dream  Those you know +those

you do not  line up  like costume ball refugees   Not a few madwomen

in this menagerie


There is a whore’s ghost auctioning souls   One by one those you know

are cut from the strand connecting you  like paper figures scissored by

a child   One by one they fall to the floor  When Bacchus himself breathes

new life into your father  he begins to gather you up   One child at a time

One horse  a billy goat +a rabbit   Where he’s been  sleeping dogs lie   +his

name has mysteriously been changed to:  A Man  




Summer 2017     Lee Atkins   A Man    May 21, 1921 – August 16, 1989

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