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

Archive for the month “May, 2018”



Dierdre sat in the narrow yard of the semi in her highly

flammable acetate bathrobe  Chainsmoking   It was 7:30 a.m.

At about noon her father arrived  +ushered her in   She was

40    Months prior  Diego had left her for her best friend  there

most nights  drinking wine  with her forked tongue darting out



A few months later Pacey moved in   Beetred all year ’round   A

private eye  with a red light on the roof of his car   Her father  a

Bell Canada lifer offered to get her a job   Our lights would flicker

when Pacey came   Later she went back to work at the neighbourhood

restaurant   It’s all I know   And with blank Bell Canada eyes  she

drank wine  +chainsmoked for another decade



*Diego’s sister continued to visit from Italy  +her 10 yr old son could

often be heard  well into his teens  calling to her from the yard:  ma

maaaaaaaaaa  ma maaaaaaa    Every once in a while   apropos of

nothing  either my 2nd husband  or I  will take up that plaintive call


While in my mind’s eye I see another husband  circa 1979  calling:

Ommmelettttte   Ommmmelettttte  in a faux Brooklyn accent  this the

name of the neighbour’s dog  who on a hot summer’s night went missing



Summer  2018   .. Ode to the sounds of Summer




To all of the bad listeners who think they’ve figured

out the game of life    Who no doubt ascribe to the

wisdom jackhammered into King St. at Brant: Rain is

nature’s drum solo   (cost to city $36,000 roughly)


You can all take your pensions  +your grey haired wives

Your superfoods  +your MTV  (wasn’t life so much better

in the early days of MTV?)   We’d sit indoors  even in Boca

Raton  and watch our stars careen around in pointy white

boots  No phoney Beatlemania for Joe Jackson   I recently

bought these boots at auction  they smell musty  like stale

British sex


You can take your pat answers  +your cliches: if not now when?

followyourfuckingbliss  et. al.   +face the fact that your soul  she’s

gone AWOL  just like everyone elses by 57   The last man standing

will be bullet ridden with suffering  NOT young at heart   Dick  Dignity

in hand     (no wankers allowed in heaven)  




Even if you had an imagination, would you ever imagine this

miraculous world the Toaists call The Ten Thousand Things?

And if the darkness just got darker? And then you were dead?

What would you care? How would you even know the difference?

(Denis Johnson  Jesus’ Son  1992   RIP May 24, 2017  67  liver cancer)





Summer 2018    Live damn it !   George Costanza

AAC in her Joe Jacksons




In 1965 up north on Purdon Drive an angel approached

my mother + I    White pillowcase for a dress  Red hair  +

flaming lip   Mother asleep on the couch  after Passover

dinner for 12   This ain’t no old man Elijah   Terror filling

heart  +creeping into little girl psyche


Up to that point apparitions had been:  flying hogs  +fathers

with straight+narrow jobs   My own  a trainer of racehorses

who engaged in pilgrimages to the tracks of North America:

Fort Erie  Montreal  New Orleans  Kentucky    Boy  would he

have dug this angel !


Our home  more carnival  than Cleaver   Thankfully   Because

the trouble with normal is it always gets worse   (grrrroan)

It’s also boring    Carny life was ever intense   Hence  this

vixen on the balcony  from which a lousy squirrel would jump

to his death: Dad where’s the squirrel?   At the Riverdale Zoo



As it turns out  our vixenangel  couldn’t save us from what

was coming   But then you don’t believe in saviours  do you?

Comethefuckon!  No  our vixenangel was full of pity for this

little human family  going through our tribulations  from the

cradle to the grave


But  in-between the good byes  +hospital stays  the 67 plus

stitches from stem to stern  the sky would open periodically

And shine a light so bright  we glowed with mercy   Rebuilt  +

Rose   Again  +again    Even refusing the ladder proffered for

escape       (SUCKERS!!)


Much foolhardy propping each other up   Slaves to love +honour

And this precise future sewn into threadbare couches   Always there

Waiting   Until white leather made an appearance in our prosperous

living room   Made us believe we’d been given a reprieve  The way

certain long coveted riches do    Until they don’t    Because if you

believe in reprieves + saviours  I have a piece of land in Florida ..



My father is a cross between Captain Ahab + Willy Loman.

Family family family , Newark Newark Newark, Jew Jew Jew ..

(Philip Roth  RIP  1933 – May 22, 2018)




Summer 2018   ..for Philip Roth +  Lee Atkins: Ahab+Willie Loman.. of my dreams



Huge star hangs in sky  like the last anchor

What happens when you lose your last anchor?

I ask him   Are you talking nautical  psychological



All of the above


Well then you’re free!  he says


Or a bag person


He laughs   But just sort of






Summer 2018



I am a car salesman magnet   Chrysler not Mercedes

That’s just how I roll   2 fell hard in recent memory

I’m a principal   he said   to overcome his shortcomings

His blue-collar beginnings   His tacky metaphor  Baskin

+Robbins non-Beckettian brilliance   I like tasting   A little

taste of this  a little taste of that   Banal bliss?


I was unimpressed   Ditto the failed thigh grab with meaty

thumbs   As well with the odd lilt of a Macedonian dialect

though he was 32  +born in the bowels of Mimico   Olive skinned

Belushi dead ringer   Made me yearn for Gnarls  Barkley  Seriously

A solid sawed off shotgun  who’d be wicked in backless chaps



Not if you understand my family   Grew up with wolves  hardened

men’s men   Who do not shy away from debauchery   I actually stole

the backless chaps line from one bro who waxed depraved  re: Rihannon

Giddons  as we watched her cavort on stage   And I agree wholeheartedly

Though Rhiannon is almost too much woman for a man


Take my father  a local legend  who seemed to have morphed into a neon

orange bird  on our last visit to his grave   A Hooded Oriole  never ever found

this far north  calling us  as we listened to Jazz  +swatted flies   But as the bird

began to bomb dive the car  we realized it was he   Had he died after our mother

he would likely be in New Orleans  where the track always beckoned  +longlegged

bayou queens crooned his name  Leeeeeeeeeeee  Leeeeeeeeee


Later that day  after being shut out at the cemetery  we visited another local

legend  struggling with late stage disease   A wastrel like Lee  after his quadruple

by-pass surgery   He offered me an elegant hand  with a gentleness unusual to

hulking men   And in a grave voice  he spoke his love of cars   Glimmers of muscles

rippling   the Boss blaring   Teenaged girls too scared to approach the court   of

this Manor king


Moral of this story: STOP PRETENDING TO BE ASLEEP!   The wastrel days they

stalk you   Jump into your car!   Head down to Buffalo for chrissakes  Esacpe the

little bunky where you sleep   Tail between legs  licking your sores (ankle chains are

clunky)  Go On!  Escape that bunky where you fight your wife for the TV  night after

soulless night


Was I sleeping while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I

wake, or think I do, what shall I say of to-day? That with Estragon my friend, at this

place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot?…..But habit is a great deadener. At

me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, He is sleeping, he knows

nothing, let him sleep on. ( Waiting For Godot  Samuel Bekett  1954)





SPRING 2018   May 21, 1921 – August 16, 1989   RIP   LEE ATKINS



In a great Hold Steady song the name of which I

cannot remember  a girl sports a tattoo: Damn Right

I Will Rise Again  The Boss too sings of  The Rising

And then there’s Jesus   But not John Lennon  unless

he is resurrected every time you refuse to believe in

Zimmerman  or Tarot  or Jesus fer Chrissakes   But I

doubt it    John is likely in Yoko’s sock drawer


And as I look around the park where I write  the girl beside

me licks her cone hungrily   Incisors glinting   A Rising in the

offing?  Tight medium pink  ribbed sweater   Bra impossibly

pointy    Trumpets blaring


Risings   I’ve had a few  ( I’m hearing Sinatra )  They take so

much energy  +there’s self-immolation involved too   All of

which at a certain stage go the way of your velvet skin  +high

tight cheeks


Ice cream now done  our licker sidles over: I’m working   The licking

ceremony no doubt used to lure un-ressurectable poets into fuckery

Now she straddles me  ( No  not reverse cowgirl )  Leans in on lean legs

+rocks my soul in the bosom of Abraham  No!  She begins to spit up bits

of ice cream   Her eyes roll back  + I call 911    The Rising  my ass


I don’t believe in magic
I don’t believe in I-Ching
I don’t believe in Bible
I don’t believe in tarot
I don’t believe in Hitler
I don’t believe in Jesus
I don’t believe in Kennedy
I don’t believe in Buddha
I don’t believe in mantra
I don’t believe in Gita
I don’t believe in yoga
I don’t believe in kings
I don’t believe in Elvis
I don’t believe in Zimmerman
I don’t believe in Beatles
I just believe in me

(John Lennon  GOD  1970)


Spring 2018



There was a birdbath in his yard   My taciturn uncle’s   It was

among the most magical totems of childhood  Ditto  my mother’s

hairbrush   200 strokes each night   Rapunzel-like hair  down to

there   Uncoiled from bun   Spun golden brown


Unlike Rapunzel  no princely suitors   No gentleman callers  climbing

Rather locked away   In a place of suburban decay:  a plaza  a school

+a pile of plump nouveau riche wives   Sans the luminous hair


At the base of the birdbath lived a toad   Tiny  +bewarted    I loved it

passionately    And did not exactly kill it   Just played with it to death

My own hands bewarted over time   These days I am not as partial to

frogs   Even my young cousin had a run in   His with an amphibian herd

On a slick rural road


There were hundreds of them  +it was pouring  +the car was thumping

Over them  +through them   Frog-matter everywhere!   Windshield + hair


Today I sit at a birdbath of sorts  secret garden U of T   Lawns emerald green

Squirrels shifty   One eyes me hungrily  as men on rooftops used to do   There

are 2 Canada geese  I feel unkindly towards them immediately    +cast unholy

aspersions with a kicking motion   The larger of the 2  squawks apocalyptically


He grabs the hem of  H+M dress  +nearly rips it off of me   With this I

become murderous  wrapping fingers around a throat  so smooth +iridescent

I am reminded of the womb    Where the sound of brushing  entered psyche

Mother-goddess metronome  lulled me into trance  so what was coming wouldn’t

hurt as much   Except it did







I once worked with a 7 yr. old girl   Her mother a deaf mute

Ran away when she was 3  +her most vivid memory  a hair

brushing ritual before bed   For 2 years much of therapy

consisted of silently brushing her hair  And keeping her from

assaulting me   She + I  counter transferentially  returning the

world’s lost mothers to daughters open arms + gnashing teeth

It would be a long long recovery



Heal the patient, heal the world   C.G. Jung


Mother’s Day 🌸   2018



When Tracey K Smith ( Pulitzer  Princeton prof.  poet )  sits down

to write  ( Vogue April 2018: husband poet literati  daughter a

deadringer for Tracey  brownstone done in heathers + blues

hues associated with heaven )  does she become distracted by

the neighbour’s yapping dogs?  Old one died covered in sores

Couldn’t jump up into SUV anymore    Carried like the Christ

up+down the stairs


I called police when barking led to meandering thoughts of murdering

husband  or her  or her demure mother   She doesn’t speak to us (!)

apparently   In tight white jeans  she glares  As every dimple calls out

for more   Or is Tracey distracted  by feeling so good  that anything is

possible?   Probably   People  +especially poets like Tracey  are

particularly dear to those of us who have only wasted a year or 2



She poured doubles like an angel, right up to the lip of a cocktail glass,

no measuring. You had to go down on them like a hummingbird over a

blossom. Birth should have felt like that.  ( ..not written by Tracey K Smith..)




Spring 2018



You will remember these days one day  when your fragrant

sister is all a fire with longing for your Arabian friend   Body

yet crumpled  Skin un-crepey (creepy..)  Mind questing to be

as smart  as you  or anyone  Doesn’t yet know she’s smart like

whip    And is not yet a mother


U 2 eating giant subs  while your lithe girlfriend dances like a

young Storm  y    You will remember these days   Right now they

escape  like tadpoles tossed down the drain  or into the can  Only

to morph into frogs+princes  when it’s too late   That’s no way to

set your tadpoles free


These days that run away like wild horses   But u 2 have no way of

knowing this   yet    Yesterday  midges were flying up my nose   +

hundreds of them swarming my own brother’s mouldering ear    I

remember a kickass girl  in cowboy boots  (Mary)  coming to pick

him up   Easy Skanking  blaring   White convertible   His cowboy boots

snakeskin  (like Keef ‘s in the Wild Horses video..)


Father  long dead  smiling a crooked smile   Dying brain cells on a

rampage  most days    Once I wrote that children are the immortals

among us   To a big brouhaha     And they still are    Needing to be told

to get out of the $15 plastic pool  when it’s lightening out    I implore u to

imprint  your sister’s smooth skin  +her rabid belief in every word you say





SPRING  2018   for Sonny+Rachel   



My young friend + I commiserated  after jerk lobster the other

night   About other jerks  one’s we had loved  and not so much

I recall the phrases: Monogamy sucks   It’s not even natural   No  

it’s all about religion  +opiating the masses   Warriors knowing

who their sons are   Israelites figured  who’s your mama?   moot

The Nazis too   If your mama  a Jew  that was the end of you


Other subjects came up too:  Entropy of lady parts  +Viagra  (even

Tiger Woods has a stash   a big one)   Wanting a 1 bedroom with Netflix

Tortured whispers of:  If I just had one week on a beach/yr.   That’s all

I’d need   To stay   One of us thought 2 weeks a better option   And it likely

would be  To then re-contort yourself into the positions of the cross u bear

To be there


Now lumpen proletariats of love  Lumped in with the rest   Whose divine spark

hot wired to the waiting cab  outside of an apartment   The one in your mind’s

eye  where the young James Taylor +his cat live   James  when he had that thin

moustache   He smiles  +crooks his finger    And mouths your husband’s name


My love is a hummingbird

Sitting that quiet moment on

the bough

As the same cat crouches

(Charles Bukowski  Love Is A Dog From Hell  1977)





Spring  2018   in full bloom  +here comes the first hurricane  severe weather watch in progress  but i digress..

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