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

Archive for the month “July, 2017”



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



I saw a woman in her 90’s fall  more slide really  off of her chair

She looked like an overgrown child  or my Chatty Cathy Doll

Skirt hiked up   Ankle socks on splayed legs       She was left where

she lay  for 30+ minutes   People scurried around her  as the

elderly pointed to their fallen comrade


When she was hauled up by 5 nurses  one wearing a t-shirt that

read: WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS   festivities resumed  She

was unscathed    I wanted to bolt  but the clicking + swelling in my

left knee  kept me leadenly affixed to my chair   There fanning my

old mother  who was shouting:  It’s a hundred and ten degrees!  

Give us some fucking water!



Chatty Cathy Doll   Circa 1965



Summer 2017





There were things he could only say to a horse  in silence

He was oveja negra  through and through   What jewish

girl from the burbs has a father who is a real cowboy?  I do



Took me to my first rodeo  where the love of my 5 yr. old life

Mark from  The Rifleman  rode giant dung smeared bulls   Dad

why are the bulls covered in ..   He later bought me a ring with

my name inscribed   Still fits smallest digit


The carnival atmosphere of this life has not diminished one bit

Today a roofer named Rob  large+bitter  tried to lure me onto

the toppermost roof of the leaking stucco townhouse I co-own

I’m afraid of heights   Rob just glared


I don’t think I will give him the $17,500 he demanded  Rob said:

It’s not a question anymore of repair  It’s about REPLACE   How

about restore Rob?  Restore the discs in my neck  Restore the glory

days when parents aced mental status tests  If a snake is 6 ft. from

head to tail  how long is it from tail to head?   Fuck you!  father screamed


Replace: the painted carnival whores  the smarmy psychiatrists   One who

did push ups in her front hall  +over billed OHIP before they were allowed

to   He was likely 1/2 in love with her   Replace: the scaffolding   The edifice

is creaky  +we’re spending the treasure to restore a version of the story that

never existed to begin with


The one where the nuclear family survives!  So what was it that killed the nuclear

family in the first place?  The industrial revolution?  Television?  The Pill?  Does it

matter?  For when one is the last woman standing  after the numberless deaths of

her kin  it is beyond hard to get the hang of it  (Psychiatrists with notepads  Take note)



But a dog who’s been beaten

is slow to go back to happy barking 

– and that’s an animal, not a person.


(Adelia Prado   Divine Wrath  1987

Lifetime Achievement Award  

Griffin Poetry Prize  2014)


Summer 2017





There is a giant   Yellow t-shirted +rotund  on the

fire escape across the way   Every day  he gazes over

the parapet into the abyss   Long  hard  +deep   I see him

in the mornings when I have only just arisen from REM



He is the spitting image of the man in my dreams who

recurrently bellows: SECOND HALF OF LIFE!   Welcoming

me to my very own Divina Comédia   And reminding me of the

boy I therapied for 5 yrs.   Every single session began with lights

out   He would then shout: WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE!


Bedlam +debauchery would ensue   He +his bro had been sexually

abused by step-dad  + bro had began to molest him   They were 5+7

Several years later someone from stage left screamed: Which abyss can

you possibly be gazing into  Mrs. Therapist?


One where the future grows more uncertain everyday   Until there will not

be one  (You can take your 2nd half of life  and..)  At the same time  your religion

has become:  your family   beauty   not a little rock+roll   +boat loads of Don Julio

Yet it is also true that you remain certain of the fact:  that those are not clouds

They’re stairs









Summer 2017



This is quite possibly the most spectacular day of our brief Canadian

Spring   perhaps of our lives   Syria promises a chemical attack tomorrow

I promise ice+biting winds in 180 or so days   I suggest you squander the

Summer  It will be unbearably humid+mosquito ridden   And in close quarters

with the miserable TO herd  you will sweat profusely  +pray for a witness


2 robin redbreasts are pecking at each other’s eyes on the emerald grass of a

gorgeous enclosure  bequeathed by an oil baron  U of T   Now inching ever closer

to me  as I try not to kick at them with cloven Fluevog shod hooves   Though they

sorely deserve it    At present as well  I have 2 women in their 90’s in my life   93+98

to be precise   Both love an afternoon cocktail   One will drink the cheap stuff    The

other is Courvoisier VSOP all the way

($90/750 ml)


One is a prairie farm woman  Built the railroads fer chrissakes   The other an urban

beauty  whose brisket won a national award back in 62   A few years after she hung

up her model’s gowns (+hats+gloves)  All in my closet now  which btw has a pail in

its midst to catch the Spring rain   Everything is broken!  Or is it Robert Zimmerman?

I for one am still not giving up on finding the  Absolute    Some of you who believe

these poems to be creatures unto death  will find yourselves stunned!


I am in fact among the most hopeful on the planet   Despite a lack of  daffodils+

sunshine in my archive   To you I say: Stick it in a very dark place  For I am beyond

blown away  by the Geworfenheit   *(see Heidegger/thrownness)  of finding myself

cast as daughter  + daughter by proxy  to the heroines of our story  Yet now we head

back into darker territory   Not surprised are you?


How dare the Gods give me  this  body  + toss me here not as animal  but as lowly:

Bi-ped   Woman   Jew    Who?    Too bad that the mother’s  put one foot in front of

the other+keep on walking  wizendom  does not cut it with me   Searching for the

Absolute  makes a girl hungry   Perpetually    Now into our enclosure comes a man

dressed entirely in black  carrying a giant camera   Whereupon he begins to film my

denouement  +catches me kicking the robin





He was obsessed with the arbitrariness 

of having to have a body   No use for him

to tell himself he shouldn’t feel this  because

he felt this  (Frank Bidart  Metaphysical Dog Poems)    

Lifetime Achievement Award  Griffin Poetry Prize 2017



Summer 2017   Canada Day Eh?

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