Don’t tread on me! 9/11 fallout poem

Swamped. Fighting a virus. Sick of editing but if the manuscript isn’t 100% print ready, it’s pretty darn close. So, so long slogging, hello hustling. As soon as I square away a swack of domestic duties and finish screening nearly 60 videopoems for Visible Verse Festival which happens on Friday, Nov. 4 this year. Forge. That’s what I’m doing. Well, aren’t we all? Born forgers we are, regular blacksmiths.

Had an interesting exchange with a friend who was reluctant to remove a photo of moi from a Facebook album, which led to a discussion about FB photo posting etiquette. She suggested that the protocol was to tag only the pics that the subject liked. I said protocol schmotocal, friends remove pics that friends aren’t comfortable with. Common courtesy, common sense. To me. But then I’m media hack from way back and make no apologies for it. Fundamental in this age of Facebook and social media. I realize absolute control is impossible but it’s my right to have input over the end result of our collaboration (mine and a photographer’s, which I always discuss ahead of a shoot) and the distribution of said images. But that’s just me. I think the real issue is integrity. Trust. Mutual respect between artist and subject. Artists are not gods, above or beyond their subjects. But it’s a slippery slope indeed because what we do is vital and the truth must come out. I think of Lincoln Clarkes and those incendiary photos he took of drug addicted women in the downtown Eastside, and Diane Arbus, both whom I believe always asked permission. It also happens to be the way to a better photograph. I’m also suspicious of a lot of *documentary* films. We all know how easy it is to skew facts with editing, etc. Which makes me think of the Strickland character in Robert Stone’s novel, Outerbridge Reach, a true opportunist/artist, some would say sociopath. But if you pose for a photo, presumably you are taking a bit of a risk, she said. I said, I try not to presume anything. Posing does not necessarily equate with permission. License.

And here’s my other 9/11 poem. Or perhaps it’s more about the fallout.


It’s so lovely here. Burdock wafting, whooshing.
Sleek cyclist slows for no man, woman or child.
Kamikaze starlings chase off rivals reflected in glass.
Springtime. Neo-hippie chicks and plump lesbians.
Round, orange buoys in the cove. Boatload of mental
cases on an outing covert as a DARPA project.
A prattling punk rocker can’t conquer fear
but can contain it, her sunbathing Labrador
sleeping through everything. Loudspeaker honks.
“This sale is an extravaganza! Prawns. Maple syrup.
Smoked salmon. ALL on special!”
A longwinded lute maker. Old world restaurant,
pickle juice in the potato salad,
bird lover training orphaned fledglings.
Florida flight schools, Atta and eighteen others.
Big clue, red flag, CIA too bullish to see.
Why take flying lessons only to play
hooky on Descent & Landing day?

It’s lovely here. I have nothing to complain about
except, some people complain too much.
My new friend Sophie, whining
about the pub’s crappy coasters, catching a nasty cold
from a cabbie in Reno, the jerk she moved here to marry,
a lazy fisherman, busy cutting the head off her mettle.
She grows defensive as a row of swaying cypress trees
when I offer suggestions. I retire to the gazebo,
hear a train and some blues huffing across the water.
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee?

I wake to news of coffin-sized cells. Torture.
An American Extraordinary Rendition Unit
nabbing suspected terrorists for one-way flights
to top-secret sites around the globe. For questioning.
I am informed there are no railroad tracks near Sechelt.
Those rhythms must have come from machinery
at the cement quarry on the other side of the inlet.

My cranium feels like a washbowl.
Mascara brush too fat,
like trying to apply a bumblebee
to my eyelashes.
Oh, I have nothing to complain about.
It’s lovely here.

One thought on “Don’t tread on me! 9/11 fallout poem

  1. Thanks for this poem,Heather. When we eventually get together before death, let us speak of 9/11. I was here on the Coast, and went to Gilligan’s in Sechelt, eventually, to get pissed enough to survive the day. Much fallout.


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