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

Archive for the month “September, 2017”



Hef died yesterday  at 91   When the late Barbra Frum somewhat

prissily remonstrated: what you’re really selling is a high class

dirty book  Hugh threw back his head  +laughed    We have the

most cutting edge writers  philosophers  artists  he said   Sartre!

Nabokov!  Vonnegut!


But when you’re 7 or 8  it’s the Vargas Girl cartoon  +all of the large

breasted  honey haired Goddesses  who beckon   A warm lap  read you

a story  Maybe marry your father or brother should they divorce   Some

of their nipples were the size of saucers   They’d lie back and enjoy it   +

look into your girl child eyes   They promised you a certain kind of power

Especially the centrefold    Your first GIANTESS


So why do the feminists hate him?  Susan Brownmiller suggested he wear

bunny ears + a tail   In the end he bought the plot next to where Marilyn is

buried   His first Playboy cover bunny   It all seemed so innocent   The thrill

of finding that hidden bunny on each month’s cover!  Those were simpler times

+Marilyn had yet to suicide


She who had numberless uterine surgeries for constant pain   +miscarriages   An

orphan girl  numbing herself with countless barbiturates   A mad mother  + sexual

abuse in childhood too   There she was on the cover  Playboy Goddess  Cartoon

voice   Soul eviscerated pursuing fame  +the ultimate safe daddy-haven


It was Hugh after all  who sold us  a back-lit-lay-on-this-magic-carpet  kind of dream

Of soft thighs  +pneumatic breasts   And despite my years of higher education  I just

couldn’t hate him   I’d still longed to be one of the giant woman-babies  lying back  +

smiling  well into perpetuity





Fall  2017   RIP Hugh Hefner  1926-2017



A man approaches me naked  to the waist   I do not

want to make his acquaintance  Another steamy day

in the Great White North  I blame this on the death of

Willie  The Wiarton groundhog who has seen his last shadow


My own shadow  though analyzed by one of the preeminent

Jungians of the late 20th century  remains in a state of gnarly

carnality   Often rude  filling my closets with numberless shoes

+ghosts pressing me for truths  Especially the ones I refuse to admit


Denial  my opiate of choice   The truth is not all it is cracked up to be

It has been known to cause ruptures   Arterial melodramas    Atonal

fibrillations   Rather be a mellow obfuscater  as my mirror cons me

O You are fair!  A real contendah!  A poetry giantess!


Back away from me slowly   Even my own mother has been known to say:

Your poems are spicy  full of swearing  I hope no one I know reads them

*Well so do I     It’s not the swearing per se   A well placed fuck can give a seismic

shock to the psychic Richter


And for an old crone  verging on witch   Altar stuffed with talismans  + one

small statue of Elvis   My Personal Dionysus  The words fill crevices otherwise

populated by tumbleweed  +creosote  Detritus of 6 decades   But getting oh so

close to being slipped the answer upon God’s tongue



*(definitely don’t show any of your friends this one!)




Fall Equinox  2017



Her face was leathery+lined+dignified   She’d always

seemed ancient to me   Though my first memories from

about 3  place her squarely at my age now   Ancient?  Me?

Maybe    Leathery skin   Degenerated knee  +discs

Grey creeping in


Memory seeping a yellowy liquid  when worked too hard

Shards of glory days penetrate the purple haze   But wait!

They may be  NOW   in this intermezzo   this purgatorio

Before something wicked this way comes   Ungentle +crouched

in cells


Fanny once said to me: Why are you embarrassed?  Some people

live above stores   We’d been talking about my father’s rusted out car

Tiny + black    Crowded in the back   With: sweating  bleating  brothers

I hid   Especially from nouveau riche kids   The boy with an Elvis ducktail


Well if everyone lived above stores  I wouldn’t be embarrassed   But

they don’t   So I am   In her mind’s eye  an open palm slap  to my

morphing face   Soon to have her cheekbones   My father Lee  said she’d

never touched him as a child    Stoic woman  missed her mother   who

died at thirty three   Sent her to the Mayo Clinic but couldn’t save her

Ovarian treachery

__ when people suffer just so much they get mean and ugly

and something dies in them..  

(The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter  Carson Mcullers  23)



Fall 2017




My first real job circa 1979   Probation+Parole  Regent Park

21 yrs. old   Befriended Premier Of Ontario’s daughter Nancy

Said she’d never met a Jew before me   I thought this novel   My

father was incensed: What kind of racist bullshit is this?


Nancy  on her 1st visit to a Jew’s home  regaled me with stories

of:  sailing regattas  her boyfriend Potter +his buds hanging at the

Granite Club  where Jews were banned   I wasn’t invited to the

wedding she’d called  a merger    Yet I still thought Nancy swell

+pretended not to focus on her moustache


Our boss Mary Gunn  a 70 something Scottish matron  commented

frequently on my suntanned legs  ( I belonged to a golf+tennis club

for Jews)  My father  intuitively with a growl: She’s a lesbian Aprill!

When Mary asked me to take her to Eaton’s for bras  +slid her hand

along said suntanned leg   I marvelled at my father’s facility for laying bare

one’s secret proclivities


He would have made a most excellent spy  +infact through tips from

turncoat brother/weasels  found me at 14  in an opium den  Bestfriend

Joni’s father  a one handed butcher  in constant phantom pain  fell victim

to the poppy  She quit school in grade 10  +married the trumpet player from

Lighthouse  My father banned her from our house  While older brother said

she stank  but followed her movements closely


The only other woman in the house was my gorgeous mother  who at 93 continues

to wax enigmatic: There is nothing like the excitement of dating mobsters!   My father

had married a moll +hid her away in a dull suburban backwater   It did not matter

Her best friend:  a Chanel wearing  tangerine Cutless driving  race track lady    She

had a gravely laugh  +lit her cigarette like a trucker    I tell you   those 2 dames

they walked  on water



I am growing old.

A bird cries in bare elder trees.

Whatever it was I lost, whatever I wept for

It is here.

(James Wright  Pulitzer Prize  1972)





Fall 2017




Today someone sent 6 pizzas to my house at 4pm via Uber Eats

I was not home   When I asked the driver to call me  he texted:

I am deaf sorry  not calling   It is also New Year’s eve   5,778  at

the stroke of midnight    Mercury must be in retrograde?    So

many crazed happenings   World spinning off of axis for a change


Yesterday waylaid on traffic circle  driving it for 20+yrs.   Still circling

when pizza call came   2 quakes in Mexico    Yesterday’s on the anniversary

of the last 8.1   One brother hunkered down there in tequila territory  Jalisco

Quake by-passed brother  +thousands of agave plants saved   (woo hoo!)


3rd hurricane shredding Caribbean islands   Fake news shows us the eye of

hurricane God nightly  from special hurricane planes   Visited all of the islands

when young  +beyond the grasp of by-pass horrors  that would visit father  2 yrs.

hence   Stout boy with bad hair  a.k.a. Rocketman  launches nuclear missiles over

heavily populated areas of Japan   Yellow haired vulgarian threatens to decimate

heavily populated areas of Korea


I contemplate the complex million fold division of cells   The centre will not hold

Late summer envelops city  31 degrees  40 with humidity   The judges of this year’s

arts council grants think themselves too good for these generalizations  +are

unmoved   As my self esteem plummets  I continue to collapse  +re-form


My hope chip irrevocably altered by the near losses of 5777  (a.k.a. 2017)  +the fact

that 6 rotting pizzas await my homecoming    A cool breeze wafts  + the reflecting

pool at the Thompson Hotel reflects: a wizened face +electric red frizz   1st fall

leaves  floating on surface   Ice man cometh   As I make furious plans for escape

I hear the sound of God laughing



Man makes plans.  God laughs.

(Maternal Grandmother  Sarah Marlieb)



A veil of haze protects this

Long-ago afternoon forgotten by everybody

In this photograph, most of them now 

Sucked screaming through old age and death

(John Ashbery  Pulitzer Prize  1975)



Fall 2017   Ere of 5778



In his face there came to be a brooding peace that is seen

most often in the faces of the very sorrowful or the very wise.

(Carson McCullers  23   The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter)


Or both    I have seen this expression  though one may think that

brooding  +peace are opposites   For some peace is not possible  +

brooding a constant   Quietly suffering unfulfilled juxtapositions

Dreams embalmed


My father’s face when listening to music   Lost in bop   honk of Jaquet

or screech of Grappelli’s strings   I have this kind of face too   The kind that

brings complete strangers close  suggesting:  smiles  +other inanities:  You have

the face of a writer!  You are a dead ringer for Greta Scattchi!   which mostly

leads to blithering


One day at the A.G.O. not long ago  I took in a photo exhibit   Jews dying of hunger

on the streets   Dead bodies rigoured in wheelbarrows   Perhaps then  brooding

comes naturally to Jews   I’m sure  you’ve heard of Jewish angst   A version of the

blues   So my father’s brooding was perhaps one half diaspora guilt?    Not likely


Though he would have made an excellent Mossad agent:  handsome  wily  +fearless

Especially when called kike  backstreets London Ontario   More likely  a brooding man

in suburbia    Wife + 4 kids   Almost jumping on Tex   his horse  (yes  he had a horse)

and running for the hills     Some people are just not made for their times


There were no rodeos in the ghetto   Jazzcats a rarity too   Brooding man facing west

Setting sun in living room leaves him in a white undershirt  in the dark  quite frequently

Plunging Ace  lost in football reverie   Sorrowful    But wise on the ascendency



He had a special feeling for sick people and cripples. Listen, he said. The trouble with

you is that you don’t have any real kindness. Not but one woman I’ve ever known had

this real kindness I’m talking about.

(Carson McCullers  The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter  1940)





Jewish New Year  2017    a.k.a. 5778




I worked with 2 elective mutes  Both likely in their 30’s

by now  Both chose speechlessness for reasons unimaginable

Though if you bring your fine minds to the task  certain details

may emerge   Certain excruciations


They were both docile by the time I met them  though the boy

had used super-human strength to throw several grown men off

of him  I was told NEVER to touch him   I watched his beard fill in

+sideburns develop  There was another therapist who led him around

as though blind   His hand atop hers   She was a dead ringer for a Goddess

+he  her son lover


With me  he was often aroused  +emitted sonorous growls    In sessions

he drew snakes coming out of his oral cavity  +broken bulldozer parts were

laid in the sandtray   Impotent to uncover his wounds   Therapist impotent too

But he was eager + growling   And maybe one day he’d growl a word   a sentence


I don’t want to play with fucking toys   lady    

I’m 15     I want to date  +masturbate  in peace


The other  elective mute  was a young girl   She also had a submerged growl  more

grunt really   She belonged to my weekly therapy group   She being the only mute

One day as we worked on giant self-portraits  on white mural paper  she began to

furiously colour herself   brown    And yes   she was brown


In the end she ran away +hid in a garbage bin   Therapist impotent once again   If

only I had found a piece of brown mural paper  + handed it to her    Like I saw her

And didn’t need to be shown that she wasn’t white    Nor was she mute    Anymore



The psychotherapist learns little or nothing from his successes. But failures are

priceless experiences. They open the way to a better truth.  No longer is he the

superior wise man, judge, and counsellor; he is a fellow participant who finds

himself involved just as deeply as the so-called patient.

(C.G. Jung   The Practice Of Psychotherapy  1954)


FALL  2017





You’re probably covered with a tarpaulin now

Laying in state in the back of a flatbed truck

On your way to Rochester   You lived with your

physicist grandfather there   I quoted you in my

1st Collection  In the poem: Deny Deny Deny  on

page 75


I tried each thing  only some were immortal and free


I didn’t really understand your poetry at first

John Ashbery   But then it dawned on me  that if

I stopped trying to read for meaning  I would glean

your code    The human mind craves knowing


Knowing if there is a jaguar in the bushes  restless for

my sprackled skin + plump calves  (no they are not)

I will make a boney breakfast  +he will have to eat my

shrunken brother too


You died yesterday at 90  so now your poetry about the:

experience of the experience  has died too   They say there

are zillions of pretenders to your throne   But I footnoted

you   And though I may steal from Shakespeare outright

Never you   (except for today’s title which I bastardized)


My own self portrait is in the midst of a make-over John

Soul about to do back flips after scunnered by so much grief

New face almost unrecognizable   Especially when in the throes

of denial re: a recurring dream  of some 50+ years    One is

tempted not to go there   but much more tempted to


My husband has developed a fondness for our nanny    In the

emptiness of late afternoon   And has left me   She is now having

their 3rd baby   And when I awake +tell him this  there is an interest

He says: After I read your poems I am always a bit puzzled


Later when I drive by the café where he was to have been   I think of

John Ashbery  scrunched into the interstices between heaven+earth

His dark trousers + silver hair  full of dirt   And of how we will all have

to get along without each other now



Easing the thing

Into spurts of activity

Before the emptiness of late afternoon

Is a kind of will power

Blaring back its received vision

From a thousand tenement windows

Just before night

Its signal fading


No one has the last laugh.


(RIP  John Ashbery   Self Portait In A Convex Mirror  1975)

(PulitzerPrize   National Book Award   National Book Critics Award

Griffin Poetry Prize)



Fall  2017









The 1 mg Lorazepam  (aka: a Larry)  didn’t work

as well  as the one last Thursday  which brought on

euphoria  tinged with hunger   A good thing  with the

recent loss of pounds   This summer’s stress chamber

flattening curves  left +right


Ate everything in sight  last week   Boxes of ice creams

artisanal sausage galore   even poured tequila on the Key

Lime Pie  +used a straw   Just juicy enough for the giant

Venus Fly in Trinity Bellwoods Park  to mistake me for a

pink Nadege macaroon      CHOMP     CHOMP





END  Summer  2017


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