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



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





On the roof across the way a pigeon is dying   If he

does so quickly   he will avoid the swoop of the peregrine

White + sprackled  he once threatened to carry me away

As I sat splayed in the hot tub  feet from him  +tried not to

breathe  Talons curled twice around the branch that will not break


He was approximately 2.5 ft. long    I’d seen him swoosh +grab a

giant raven  quite close to where Mr. Pigeon lay dying   In Faulkner’s

As I Lay Dying   Addie lay dying  beside a window where her son worked

an adze  sculpting her coffin   Her husband  a Southern loser  married a

farm woman  minutes after Addie’s cancer-fetid body  washed away in the

great Mississippi


I promise not to write about ice+biting winds until November 29th

Instead I will share pithy-isms of  Torontonians  I meet along the way   to

my salvation   Today  a young man sales clerk asked me if I’d seen the most

recent Game of Thrones episode   Remarking  that the curve of my lip  +red

frizz  reminded him of the witch  which many before him have quipped   Also

Glinda from Oz


I don’t watch it

Why not?

My husband didn’t take to it

But it’s the only show where men can watch

dragons copulate with naked women

He’s not into that

Lose him!


On the drive home I fantasized about dragons copulating with naked women

+ knew that my husband and I would finally have to go into therapy   Or it might

just be cheaper  to buy another tv




Summer 2017






Some go to their neighbour  seeking themselves

Others to lose themselves   paraphrasing Nietzsche


muggy  first autumn leaf  on dying maple tree  outside

yellow stucco townhouse   how is gord downie?  our nation

turns  it’s lonely eyes to you   usually come upon the  final

leaf  brisk november day   then it’s gone  small tree freezes

under canopy of 14 stars   soon


stars! there are no stars anymore!  old mother spits  where

did you see them?  where?   clear city nights  september to march

pleiades blinks  overhead   are you going to spend your time

pretending you are not dead?   a voice in a dream said   40 winks

mid-poem  i think    epiphanic drool  a dead giveaway


i have never sought to find myself in society  nor lose myself there

Nietzscheans cannot slot me   the truly godless gaze slack jawed at the

ones who say:  man makes plans  god laughs   laugh back  long+hearty   

god’s wrath is just another name for anxiety  frozen millennials


unplug   tune in   look up   way up   those aren’t stars

they’re  flashlights





End Summer  2017





So said Jean Paul Sartre   What could he possibly mean?

That freedom is contingent upon one’s  degree of imprisonment?

That every small act  even the most minute  was an act of

defiance in face of the boot?  Or the waiting train for the long

ride to Polish towns with death camp names?


Yet freedom as a condition is not native to human existence

As Beckett mentioned  We are born astride a grave  But even

if one may  compartmentalize  deny  +anesthetize   it is also true

that you + I are dropped into a story written by who?  One which

unfolds with seeming choices at every step   except   for the beginning

+the end


Nailing one to a family  to a place +time  + to a demise  One which is

exactly the same in physiological specifics for every single one of us

Organic matter  to decay  to pushing up daisies  Organic fodder for yet

another storyteller  Sartre was likely pulling our existential chains   For

isn’t all of human existence contingent?


Upon where you show up   +through whose chute   Whether your storyteller

is benevolent  or brute?   And just about everyone is a storyteller these days!

Taking a shot at demi-god-ery  at immortality   So why not run with the middle

part of your story?  Head for Mexico!   Escape your family   They probably won’t

notice anyway


Shoot yourself if you must  +watch your storyteller turn to dust  He never expected

you to take the reigns   Mostly  scrape the surface  for it is in the underbelly where

you can hide for years  quietly pretending to be passive + unfree    I tell you now:

there is a saddled horse at stage left  waiting   +a wild eyed creature  crouching in

the grass  loving you  secretly


It was just a dream. You dreamt him. 

You can make him do whatever you like.

Where was he before I dreamt him?

You tell me.

Then I woke.  From his dream or yours?  

There is only one dream to wake from.

(Cormac McCarthy  Cities of The Plain  1998)





End of Summer  2017    ..good riddance





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






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