All posts by Heather Haley

THE TIME TO FLY IS NIGH

Wing

After years of pandemic isolation, my son and I are flying off  to Winnipeg in a few weeks as part of my book launch tour and to visit friends and family. It should be interesting to see what air travel has come to. I inherited a love of aviation from my step-father, a former member of the RCAF. Forthwith one of my numerous flight-themed poems.

 

 

FLYING DREAMS

Not much to do in a small town.
We’d skip school, drive to Richmond,
hang out in the airport lounge,
swig Heinekens and watch
jumbo jets land and depart,
rarely carded in those days,
no one surprised if you drank alcohol
at age fourteen. It was expected,
like shedding one’s virginity.

My mother never flew in her life,
terrified the first time I took off
in a 10-seat Otter north to Gilford Island
for a summer job of tree-planting,
hapless recruits seated on the floor,
engine cacophony so loud I nearly puked.
I would have been mortified.
Too young to be a hippie,
I lasted four days,
relieved to escape the stench
of fried tofu and patchouli.

My next flight was south,
to Los Angeles to join fellow aspiring
rock stars Randy, Brad and Karla,
share a bill with PIL
at the Olympic Auditorium,
going so resoundingly
I didn’t return for twelve years,
pummeled but resigned
to my tantalizingly close
to-the-brass ring but never-was status.

Surveying the girl
with the Please Kitty backpack,
fevered skin crazed with crimson,
I knew it was to be my last excursion
for a while, for as long as it takes
for everyone to recover
our dreams.

The Land is a Mother that Never Dies…

Photo: Jon Wrasse

 

Photo of moi in Joshua Tree National Monument many moons ago and enclosed, a work-in-progress. Needed to make a long overdue blog entry. It’s been taken over by bots and persistent spammers like Eric who know how to attract visitors.  So busy of late! But c’est la vie. It is also good and more social as we slowly emerge from two years of you-know-what. Every visit or event is a reunion! Going downtown this evening after rehearsal to see dear friend Soressa Gardener in performance at an outdoor concert at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Rock on and remain well my pretties!

 

 

 

CAMOUFLAGE

The land is a mother that never dies.
Who said that? Victor would know.
Victor’s mother videotaped her will,
farewells and tenderness immortalized.
A good son, the sort of son I would be fortunate
to conceive one day, a fine young man
who shared everything, especially his apparitions.

Blackbird red against a sky wall of dust,
paper doll shrivelling in firewater,
glass-eyed deer head in earthquake debris,
an angel face in the snow. Yours!
Gray whale shadow on the incoming tide.
Gila monsters, boulders and yucca trees.

He took me to the sleeping giant desert,
to hear with my own ears thrumming
deep within bells of pale blooms,
sprouted in the fossils of mammoths,
sloths and giant bears.
Look down. Beneath our feet. Treasure!

Look up, past your head. Condors bend boughs,
the light a diaphanous linen sheet.
Beats! From within, from without.
Bequests. People being people must conjure up gods
though red army ants conquer these hills each day.
He took me because I forgot to leave.

The city. See, it’s painless. Let’s live here,
in that cloud-cloaked cottage of stone,
kit foxes for neighbours. Look at the way she moves
through the chaparral! Loping, then bounding,
coat the colour of sand, invisible to golden eagles.
Cloak me Victor. Please. Provide camouflage.
You’re the only soul who can.

 

PRINTEMPS- a poem for the glorious season

PHOTO: Gabor Gasztonyi

And a suggestive-of-spring image by my dear friend and favourite photographer Gabor Gasztonyi.

PRINTEMPS
Yet another ode

Immortal springtime is a tease
though not hedonistic.

The pleasure spring brings
is a fluke, for spring

is a cog in the cycle,
we, mere fallout.

Let’s not speak of winter’s bluster
or those who are dead to us.

Today spring is large
and in charge of the decks,

arriving at last in a verdurous tide
to reanimate petrified desire,

to banish the soggy interminable
from this paradise of cedar

sweetened ocean side rainforest,
to spur us on to breed, breed, breed!

Gambol trails awash
with plashing streams, silver vernal pools.

To restore wanderlust.
To hear the splendid racket,

the shrill trill of red birds deep in a tangle
of cherry tree limbs & pink blossoms.

Such a showy in-your-face transition
after a long dawdle,

the most raucous season,
the glorious season.

WOMEN IN PUNK Panel @ Polygon Gallery

Photo: Bev Davies

I recently participated in a Women In Punk panel as part of Dina Goldstein’s exceptional OG Punk photo exhibit at the Polygon Gallery. In esteemed company, I was  thrilled to engage in lively discussion with Jade Blade of the Dishrags, Vanessa Richards of Bolero Lava and Sook-Yin Lee of Bob’s Your Uncle. That was then. Naturally these remarkable women have gone on to much greater heights. I’m grateful for the experience; it’s provided a ray of light during a dark time.

 

Here are the links, enjoy:

Women In Punk Panel Discussion

CBC’s Early Edition with Sook-Yin Lee and host Michael Quinn

FREEDOM’S JUST A WORD

 

FREEDOM’S JUST A WORD

Neither winter nor crumbling highways
will impede truculent truckers
transporting empty containers
fuelled by misguided millions.

American-aping,
peripheral neo-Vikings
off to conquer snowflakes,
smash Ottawa walls
beneath a shape-shifting
FREEDOM banner.

Machinery as weaponry mission.
Blind to delusion,
roadside placarded converts
eagerly buy their cheap wares.

Infodemic intrudes yet again
via global ancient news,
warring and impotent memes.
By now I have moved past fear.

I am confused though.
When did the chasm’s maw
yawn so wide it swallowed all reason?
Humanity.
Objects of hate hated in clusters,
according to seasons of scorn
or whichever clever derision
becomes most click worthy.

But first, tea.
I put on the kettle,
sock-footed and well-flannelled
crawl into bed,
grilled cheese sandwich in hand,
ooze soon meeting the comforter.
Chamomile soothes angst.
Outrage. A little.

I poke my head outside
to meet the weather,
to breathe,
night sky a device
replete with luminous constellations,
lunar phase applications
and bats free as birds.

Reading, Ruminating, Composing, Editing …

…after months of being away.

Finding much inspiration in Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel “Crossroads,” a pastor protagonist inciting me to investigate theology. I was raised in a secular household by lapsed Catholic parents but would often attend church in order to sing in the choir. I’ve realized that being well-versed in Bible verses informs my poetry.

In the voice of Marion on page 437, discussing the afterlife with Russ. “I think the only thing that matters is the state of your soul while you’re alive.” “Is that-Catholic teachings?” “Definitely not. Father Fergus and I discuss it all the time. To me, there’s nothing realer in the world than God, and Satan is no less real. Sin is real and God’s forgiveness is real. That’s the message of the Gospel. But there’s not much in the Gospel about the afterlife-John is the only one who talks about it. And doesn’t that seem strange? If the afterlife is so important? When the rich young man asks Jesus how he might have eternal life, Jesus doesn’t give him a straight answer. He seems to say that heaven is loving God and obeying the commandments, and hell is being lost in sin-forsaking God. Father Fergus says I have to believe that Jesus is talking about a literal heaven and hell, because that’s what the Church teaches. But I’ve read those verses a hundred times. The rich young man asks about eternity, and Jesus tells him to give away his money. He says what to do in the present-as if the present is where you find eternity-and I think that’s right. Eternity is a mystery to us, just like God is a mystery. It doesn’t’ mean rejoicing in heaven or burning in hell. It could be a timeless state of grace or bottomless despair. I think there’s eternity in every second we’re alive.

Buddhist, isnt’ it? “Practice the miracle of being here, one moment at a time.”-Thich Nhat Hanh. Something I’ve been pondering since his passing, how to be mindful and in the moment. I touched on it in this poem I started yesterday, thinking about how precious time-and moments-are.

IT TAKES TWO

We engage in a dance
called Together Then Apart.
Intervals between vary according
to the latest news or mutations.

With enough lovers to fill a ballroom
we’ve moved past the Tango,
past clinging, demands, urgency,
and sexual intrigue be damned.

My time alone runs concurrent
with the time I have left,
prizes both,
however long they may last.

I’m ready at last
to honour my body,
its ability to function,
to serve, to move.
I marvel at the ease

with which he inhabits his,
watch it long and lithe
break free of the stove
to pretend with the Pretenders,
neon fuchsia boa flowing

over sinewy chest,
pink feather clamped
between teeth ala Flamenco,
muscle-grooved arms,
a flurry of fists, raven hair,
flying solo in the moment.

HAPPY NEW YEAR ON THE TO DO LIST

Starting off 2022 with challenges, not so new challenges, challenges that resemble last year and the year before that’s challenges. We appeared be over the hump, looking forward to the holidays, seeing loved ones and celebrating together when Omicron hit.

Oh well, I must accept that life is struggle. And joy and sorrow. It still beats the alternative. Most everyone is on the verge of exhaustion but hoping to move past the uncertainty, stagnation and fear of life with Covid. My only strategy is to keep holding fast. What alternative is there? “The only way out is through.”

I’m dealing with some serious financial setbacks as well, so compiled a list of income-generating possibilities, including my Etsy store where I managed to make a little dough selling off a few rare zines. Need to figure out how to lower shipping costs, also on the list.

Somewhat fortuitously I’m participating in a panel on Women in Punk Rock hosted by the Polygon Gallery. Here’s the lowdown, perhaps you can join us on Saturday, Jan 15 at 3 pm, PST.  “Inspired by our OG Punk exhibition, please join us for a live online conversation with four remarkable women who were key figures in the Vancouver punk and indie music scene, and went on to produce other forms of music and creative endeavours. The informal discussion moderated by Sook-Yin Lee, a member of the 80s Vancouver band Bob’s Your Uncle, who is a filmmaker, musician, actor, multimedia artist, and award-winning radio and TV broadcaster She will be joined by Jade Blade, a member of The Dishrags, Vancouver’s all-female punk band of the late 1970s who now teaches art history and visual studies; Heather Haley of the all-female Zellots band fame who is a musician, novelist and poet; and Vanessa Richards, member of the 1980s all-female rock band, Bolero Lava, who works in music, film, television, and arts-based engagements.”

Conversation will take place via Zoom. Register here: https://thepolygon.ca/…/online-conversation-vancouver…

MELANCHOLY LANE…

 

 

I’m stuck! It’s a long and arduous process but I’ve been archiving my archives which include thousands of photographs and memorabilia in a vast array of formats and media. I’m nearly half-way through one box. *sigh* Oh well, the only way out is through. I’m going to sell off some rare zines and flyers. My main impetus is not burdening my son with all my crap when I go. Like a fool I thought I’d have the task completed by the end of this year. I’m no hoarder but astounded at the volume of things I’ve held onto despite many moves over the years. Oh well, I can only keep chipping away on evenings and weekends as I need to get back to writing and working. Another challenge is nostalgia, even melancholy. Excavating my past forces me to consider the choices and decisions I’ve made. This is how I wound up here. Living in Vancouver with my son, boyfriend and posse of friends nearby isn’t such a bad fate.

Took a little side trip down Memory Lane yesterday as I came across the one and only issue of “Generation” magazine, circa 1983 published by BYO, Better Youth Organization. I was a contributing editor and wrote an article about LA’s after hours club circuit. Jim Barnett reviewed a Black Flag reunion show featuring all current and past vocalists except Keith Morris who didn’t show up. “Instead, Merrill from Overkill ran onstage dressed as Keith, screaming, ‘I could have been in this band,’ until Dez hit him in the face with a pie. Ron Reyes took over next singing stirring versions of ‘No Values,’ ‘Wasted’ and several other hits from the early era.”

Ah, my misspent youth, one of the wildest, best times of my life.

HOME FRONT WAR ZONE

 

More heavy rain, thinking of everyone in BC affected by flooding. I pray, in my devout atheist fashion for them. Speaking of victims, this Sharon Olds poem brings to mind my sisters and our upbringing. My take; it’s about family, the “Senior Officers,” parents. Ours should have been indicted. I suppose they were until we summoned forgiveness, though middle daughter never could, far as I can tell. The home front was a war zone and impotent rage is the worse kind for it is painfully infuriating. As children, we had no way to defend ourselves and a school picture is worth zero words.

 

INDICTMENT OF SENIOR OFFICERS

In the hallway above the pit of the stairwell
my sister and I would meet at night,
eyes and hair dark, bodies
like twins in the dark. We did not talk of
the two who had brought us there, like generals,
for their own reasons. We sat, buddies
in wartime, her living body the proof of
my living body, our backs to the vast
shell hole of the stairs, down which
we would have to go, knowing nothing
but what we had learned there,
so that now
when I think of my sister, the holes of the needles
in her hips and in the creases of her elbows,
and the marks from the latest husband’s beatings,
and the scars of the operations, I feel the
rage of a soldier standing over the body of
someone sent to the front lines
without training
or a weapon.

 

“CONSTELLATION OF DAMAGE”

Been so busy I’ve been neglecting my site/blog; find nearly a hundred spam messages upon returning. Apparently I can learn how to trim my dog’s nails, make a fortune with passive income/cryptocurrency, acquire free advertising on Google, buy a super backpack or team up with a group of highly qualified ethical hackers for a small fee of $1500. Thanks but this poet has no time for anything other than toiling away in a vacuum, struggling to be relevant. Enclosed please find a work-in-progress.

Speaking of damage, my heart goes out to fellow British Columbians devastated by recent flooding and landslides. All those towns are significant, having had the opportunity to travel most of this incredible province. And fuck you, climate change deniers.

CONSTELLATION OF DAMAGE
To be delineated at a later date

HOME
My poor little infant head
wedged between bed and dresser,
wailing unheard above the thunder
by parents beneath the clothesline.
Perpetual white bolt, mark of Thor
between my brows,
the price of fresh flannel sheets.

Routinely bashed, walloped.
Luminous prairie day,
blindly chasing a baby Lab
until slamming into a thicket
of wooden oil drum stand,
eight-year-old brains
nearly knocked clear out of my skull,
enough sense retained to instruct
the hysteric through bloody irises.
“Mom, call Jerry. Mom, call Jerry
next door. He can take me to the doctor.”

Scrub. Me. The game.
Left knee gashed while sliding
into second base,
concealed broken pop bottle
on a baseball diamond
roughly hewn from fields of grass.
No pain but I glanced down,
leg scarlet, cried realizing the terrifying injury
and snuck into the house to apply first aid.

SCHOOL
Braids yanked,
knuckles rapped via metal edged ruler.
Ambushed on the playground,
stabbed in the arm with an HB pencil,
hard head bonked with a soft ball,
pelted with rocks, conked,
welted with spiky horse chestnuts.

Near fatal car accident No 1.
Flinty rain slicked Fraser Valley road,
newly licenced boyfriend lost to the wheel,
Plymouth Duster grill colliding
with lone elm within an infinite pasture,
six bodies thrown and sundry broken bones.

YOUNG ADULT
The Slits at Temple Beautiful, San Francisco.
Eschewing a lengthy Ladies Room queue
to pee behind a bush
in the Roman Catholic church yard next door.
Poised atop a towering wrought iron fence,
certain I was quicksilver,
leapt off into into the dusk,
right knee suddenly meeting blunt concrete.
So clever. Damn thing still goes out on me.

Burgled. Pursued by armed robber.
Gang bangers.
Spurned; lovers, impotent A&R guys.
Destitute. Chased down a fluttering Lincoln
faced 5-dollar bill. Got to eat that day.
Best hot dog ever.
Six-year marriage, strung out on cocaine.
Routinely throttled, slapped.
Cracked ribs. Riots.
Escape north. Homeland.

MIDDLE AGE
Near fatal car accident No 2.
Harrowing close call,
buzzed by a spring-fevered motorcyclist.
Deeply upside down in a trench on the S-curve.
Precious son and I survived
his scratches, my separated shoulder.
To be continued, fates willing.