10 Years of End Times

HH-World Trade Center

And we’re still here, though it is time to kiss summer goodbye, slowly, for it lingers. Perhaps we are being granted the sunshine we were deprived of in July.

Last Thursday I featured with Al Mader at the Twisted Poets Literary Salon at the Prophouse Cafe in  Vancouver, a lively Pandora’s Collective series hosted by Bonnie Nish and Warren Dean Fulton, proprietor Ross Judge a most congenial host. I felt right at home amongst a museum-like collection of artifacts, lighting, posters, memorabilia and knick-knacks, hence the name. I thought it brave to open a café across the street from the long-established Uprising Bakery on Venables, but nonplussed Ross is successfully cultivating his own clientele. I wasn’t surprised to see people come in to chat, eat, drink and hang out. So though I had time to kill, it flew by in such good company. Ross is a hockey mad historian and very knowledgeable about the history of the Vancouver as well.

Witty, kooky Al Mader took requests and played his driftwood saxophone though I think his vocal impression sounds more like a clarinet. Catherine Owen debuted her fabulous Hot Sonnet calendar featuring photographs by Patrik Jandak, poems by Fred Wah, Kate Braid, Miranda Pearson, C.R. Avery, George Bowering, Maxine Gadd and eight others. I was told my performance was stellar and new friend Wanda Kehewin gave me one of the loveliest compliments I’ve ever received. She said I delivered every word as if it were precious. Of course, every word is precious. To me. To us. Then later over a late supper, my friend Rhonda said nearly the same thing. Perhaps I am finally hitting my mark.

So back to the grind which includes Visible Verse Festival programming, homeschooling and teaching Junior to drive. I indulged myself with a lot of movies this summer so back to my reading list as well.

Good night Irene! Let’s hope hurricane season is over along with the end of end times?  We always have hope. Of course the 10th anniversary of 9/11 looms on the horizon. I suppose it’s appropriate to remember where I was that fateful day, perhaps even de rigueur? I was on the street when a passerby asked,  did you hear? The Pentagon was bombed! Frantic and with a deep sense of foreboding, I was soon frustrated in my attempts to find out what was happening; we had no cable, or AM radio, CBC playing greatest classical hits as usual. CBC News kicked in at last and we heard about jetliners crashing into the World Trade Center. We must have gone to a friend or relative’s place to watch the news coverage but I’ll never forget my shock at seeing the towers come down. Brutal. It hadn’t occurred to me they could topple.  New York was a very different place in the 80s when I resided there but I have fond memories and love to visit. As we were listening to the radio, the announcer said, “Many Canadians live and work in New York City,” and then I heard my best friend Cathy’s boyfriend Dave Gregg’s voice as he was interviewed in the back of a cab going up 5th Avenue, which made the day all the more surreal. My son was only 7 at the time, too tender to assimilate any of it so we shielded him. Ten years later, it’s a familiar topic of discussion along with many other disturbing issues. He is very well informed and suffers no dearth of opinions.

Also de rigueur? My 9/11 poem, written in 2002, from “Three Blocks West of Wonderland.”


Before you-know-what, you-know-when,
I flew in an airplane. I won’t say what.
Or when. People are sick from it.
NASDAQ crashed. Family plan with it.

I remained on the upswing. Going somewhere.
Chicago specifically, e-poets’ geo-conference.
I am digerati. A doyenne of new media culture.
Still, airport security confiscates my apple.

My orange. Half my dinner. They take nothing
from the hinky, hacky-sacking Travis Bickle
doppelgänger who must pose more of a threat,
though that’s like comparing potheads to divas.

Pick up my e-ticket. Wait with the other sulky,
wannabe passengers, SeaTac muggy as a laundromat,
air fouled with KFC. Machines vend to the grounded.
Concrete pillars tremble in the wake of each landing.

Since this is before you-know-what, I don’t assume
a 747 will take out the Space Needle or land
right through us. I don’t equate jet with bomb.
I need only worry about the quake. The Big One

Vancouver and Seattle—sitting queenly
upon the Juan de Fuca fault line—are overdue for.
I am anticipating flight, savouring my thrills,
bumpy joyrides, like motherhood.

Junior calls. Yes dear, Mommy will be home soon.
Before the split, his father cautioned us:
Mercury in our mouths. Vaccines.
Population control. Microwaves.
A conspiracy of urologists.
Fluoride. Fallout. Wheat.

He has found a healer. Can he be cured?
We all know I’m doomed to be infected.
I’m the one who will eat tainted salmon
at the barbeque, the one with stretch marks

and eyes closed in the photographs. The one
who defected, the one who didn’t want
what he wanted, sixteen hours on a film set,
baby languishing with a sitter.

He gets on the phone. Another forecast.
I dreamed you died in a plane crash. I saw you
flailing about in the ocean with your books.
Oh stop polluting my trip with your Eeyore pooh.

I am part of a feminist plot against fathers,
and it was a controlled explosion
set off by the U.S. government.
Suddenly he is solvent, taking me to court,
re-staking his claim to our precious cargo,
crusading to save his son from the new world order.

I board. Window seat. Always, despite dire warnings.
Junior likes to compare the people to ants.
Houses are Lego, mountains, papier mâché.
We land. Kurt appears in the flesh, our virtual rapport
downloaded to O’Hara minus the time-outs and errors.

I feel at home in Chicago, loose in its Loop, towers,
Art Institute. Go to live in Chagall’s epic blue
glass dream for a day, emerge bestowed with wings,
like all his lovers and madonnas.

I have not flown since you-know-what,
you-know-when. We are saddled with dread
after witnessing steel crumple like tin.
It is safe to grieve. Cockpits secured.
Air marshals on board. We will fly again,
prepared to take down any motherfucker
who thinks he’s going to hijack anyone.

We will soar, for we are armed,
knowing where the lies land us.

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