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.

Bragging Rights-My Son the Influencer

First blog post in a long time. I’m over the hump with my move, just need to hang pictures. I’m much happier in my new space so the stress and upheaval was worth it.  And with this post this proud mama wants to say I got to spend a pleasant evening of lively conversation with my precious October baby and his dear friend J. All those years of wading through fear and confusion, seeking and finding appropriate interventions ultimately capitalized on his strengths despite a diagnosis of autism. This is the latest video from RAYCEVICK’s highly successful YouTube channel. He’s converted his passion for gaming into an occupation. Half a million subscribers but I’m equally proud of his knowledge of culture, history and politics and relish our scintillating conversations.

IF I SHALL HAVE DESCENDANTS

 

The life force and the pandemic persist. We abide. Endure this volatile time of anti-vaxxer protests holding up hospitals and a fourth wave. I think of the future, my son, my one and only precious offspring and wonder what I’ve gotten him into. At 27 he is in no hurry to settle down and have children. Certainly I don’t blame him. I was so ambivalent about the decision that I didn’t give birth until the last possible minute. A good decision, it turns out. He will never be one of my regrets. I do suffer grandma envy though. Who knows. The future is unwritten. Apparently I must write about it. And as uncertain as it is, can only speculate.

 

IF I SHALL HAVE DESCENDANTS

Shall I presume my descendants
will not know my name?
Shall I presume
my descendants will not care?
I care about my grandmother
though I never knew her.
Do I know her mother’s name?
That could be a short bloodline.

Our descendants are busily alive,
some having served in Afghanistan
immediately after breast stroking
through university, its Olympic sized pools.

Several are currently detained in China,
suspended within an excruciating wait
for “quiet diplomacy” to kick in,
while others populate
pandemic frontlines in hot spots
India, Brazil and the U.S.

This is no time to cry.
There is no time to collapse
though we must seek stress relief
and quality sleep; eight hours
every night. Seven minimum.

We have birthed the same soldiers,
priests, evangelists, titans,
police and politicians
every other generation conceived.

Perhaps our influencers,
media personalities and content creators
can save Mother Earth.
I suppose that qualifies as hope.

Is she still referred to as Mother Earth?
That’s what this sweet old orb
is to me and my generation,
the generation young folk
are relieved to see dying off,
for they are more
than mere descendants,
they are redeemers.

I hear the birth rate is slowing
in parts of the world.
Perhaps our descendants
are our mothers.
Know best.

TWO COOKS


Food is love.

TWO COOKS

Until Dex she’d thrived on conflict,
intrepid illusions and huge whacks.
After the previous Pan Man left
and took all the best knives

she’d cut off her hair,
roamed the earth,
concealed behind a balaclava;
fly fishing in Yosemite,

paddling beneath the borealis,
climbing Transylvanian Alps
and the stairs of Dracula’s castle,
nipperkin at the ready.

Long mane slowly returned,
warming her viper heart in the process.
Finally, reclaiming relevance
and the ability to deliver hearty meals,

the rest of her returned home as well,
where she bumped into Dex
tossing a hot salad.
Beyond-measuring-Dex

pitted her olives
and scratched her back
according to their pact.
Two cooks can herd one another.

Neither can call it quits
or die in the weeds
no matter how heated
the moments or kitchens become.

With a shared fondness
for curry they taper toward
the holidays and their first Christmas,
a coastal Christmas.

PETER IS A POET

 

 

 

 

Ah, the Internet, where anyone can express an opinion however vociferously. It makes one long for the days before virtuality. Trolls. And print. I still enjoy reading books and magazines and recently learned of Renaissance poet Laura Battiferri in an excellent article by art critic Peter Schjeldahl, whom I admire greatly.

 

PETER IS A POET

“Art has many mansions,”
according to Peter Schjeldahl.
“Today the most compelling
tend to the tumbledown.”
I ponder “tumbledown”
and how it applies.
Are we to the point
where we ache for the past so badly,
we plaster on anything
vintage or gaudy?

Interrupted by a ding-
I forgot to turn off Notifications-
a comment from a supposed friend
taking umbrage with a quote I’d posted.
“In a sense we haven’t got an identity
until somebody tells our story.
The fiction makes us real.”-Robert Kroetsch.
DF: So Harry Potter is real? Lots of books
about him. How about Spiderman?
Ask a 10-year-old. Both are pretty fucking
real to that crowd.

DF: Huh?
No doubt Kroetch meant “real” figuratively.
DF employs the word, “bullshit.”
It’s vital to explain my folly, prove his point.
Troll. I don’t type “troll.”
I may curse like a laid-off oil rig worker
but refrain from further verbal engagement,
employ the Block option.
I can live without winning,
will take my triumphs elsewhere,
return to the New Yorker
and Schjeldahl’s The Medici at the Met
to marvel.

Oh, he’s a poet as well as a critic,
according to Wikipedia.
The highest form of literature.
Explains his facility with language.
I highlight resonant phrases in yellow:
“…virtuosic artifice.”
Yes, feigning demands feigning well,
going for the gusto.
“…ornamenting a milieu of preening style
and often freewheeling Eros,”
a reference to the Medici state.

Helldogs. Vulgate.
I must use those!
“…accidently burlesque ways.”
I wish to employ “burlesque” thusly
but these days most people
associate the term with strippers
instead of its true meaning, “parody.”

Misogyny.
I suspect that’s DF’s problem.
I dared to eschew
“…the golden circle of his regard.”

IT ISN’T EASY BEING GOLDEN

Not me but all the phenoms I’ve known. I moved to Los Angeles in 1980 with bandmates Brad, Karla and Randy and our hopes of fame and fortune. The 45s were to open for PIL at the Olympic Auditorium. It was a big deal but we broke up mere days before the event. Like a Lost Girl I wandered, first to San Francisco then New York before returning to the City of Angels where I resided until 1992. I pulled together an exceptional group of musicians to form Heather Haley & the Zellots. Jon Wrasse on guitar, Jeff Moses on rhythm guitar, Mark Francis White on drums and a revolving door of bassists. We acquired a studio, rehearsed and played gigs and developed a strong following, nominated Best Pop Group by the LA Weekly Music Awards. It was a wild ride! Often we’d hear that an A&R guy from some major label was going to be at one of our shows and often it went nowhere. Always a huge let down and I came to realize those dudes had no power at all though they exploited the illusion.  I also realized my shot at the brass ring was diminishing as I got older. This is Hollywood after all. I slipped into a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse, unable to see my behaviour was a consequence of feelings of failure, how it provided an escape from pressure. When I went down there I had no doubt I would become a rock star. Ah, the hubris of youth.  I often joke, “I could write a book about it. Wait, I did write a book about it!” My “incendiary” novel, “The Town Slut’s Daughter” depicts the perils of the music industry from a female point of view.  Yes, I can joke about it. Human beings are resilient and c’est la vie.  I found the North Star, survived and adapted other modes of being while continuing to write about the experience in poems like this. (A rough, first draft.)

STRIDENT BIRTH RIGHT

Swoon worthy.
Some rock stars are.
Some rock stars never get old.
Others never die.

Photography came to canonize,
characterize mannerisms,
exalt sin, hips,
the vulgate that is dance.

Photographers subjectify sassy,
singers swallowing microphones,
virtuosic strummers riding bareback,
commanding drummers commanding
from their fort-kits.

Some rocks stars are regal
despite tiny stages. Taunts.
Their facility dazzles.
Essentially lost, rock stars
are trip takers.
Seekers
of song and snowberry clearwings.
Finders
of the lyric.
Diggers
unearthing a distinct call,
inimitable inflections,
a new primitive narrative,
voice,
turning the inward outward.

The hard part; keeping it,
in spite of thieves and saboteurs,
in spite of despotic CEOs,
in spite of The Road,
dry states, dead-eye
melt downs and plank walks.

Hard to hold fast in spite
of blinding lights,
deafening volume,
dizzying flights,
the series of lavish homes
and incessant swooning.
Phenoms must find the North Star
in spite of all the din.

THE DAY MY MOTHER CRIED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dammit. Writing about my mother again. That’s her-Corona- in the middle. I’ve always thought we looked entirely unalike but can see a resemblance in this photo taken back in the days of ashtrays and doilies. Our memory plays tricks but there are clues. The place is Winnipeg on the occasion of my sister Donna’s baptism. I remember these lovely Anishinabe women, wish I could recall their names. As the poem states, my gregarious mother had few friends as we never stayed in one place for more than a few years. We appear well-cared for. She loved to do our hair and dress us up. This was early in her marriage. My mother could be tender, but mostly, tough. She had to be.

 

THE FIRST TIME MY MOTHER CRIED

In front of me. That I recall. She cried
for her best hen-party gal pal Sharon.
The pair often cackled together.
Mom had few friends, we moved so often

and Sharon was instantly a sister sort.
My sweet, six year old bum
was on the middle swing
when Mom emerged from the house,

apron clad, perpetual tea towel
resting on her shoulder,
which came in handy as you will see.
Sadness brought out the nurse in her,

sadness aroused tenderness.
Memory evaluations can be dodgy,
so many lost but his one remains.
Weeping, she handed over half an apple.

I looked down.
A tear plashed onto the snowy flesh.
Mine. Mom, why are you crying?
At last, she told me.

Sharon died in a car crash.
Is there a more banal fate
than dying in a car crash?
I’ve nearly died in a car crash

on three occasions.
What kind of fool am I?
A practically-raised-in-a-car fool.
Car rides equalled happiness;

new shoes or a hike in the woods,
laughing all the way.
She dried my cheeks
with the perpetual tea towel.

Toward the end my mother cried
more than cackled
and there was never a tea towel handy.
Not so perpetual after all.

ANONYMOUS ARSONIST-“…this civilization is already dead.”

Is the world on fire or does it just seem that way? It’s on fire and fuck you climate change deniers. I’ve always been intrigued by the town of Lytton, how it’s situated at the junction of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers. I like to stop and snap a few photos of the picturesque town on my way up to the Cariboo. Always a hot spot with high temperatures, this freaky summer it’s been devastated by forest fires. Whether intentional or not, naturally humans are involved and I’m reminded of this New York Times article, Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene, by Roy Scranton. Penned nearly ten years ago, it is sadly still apropos, its sound message still ignored.

“Yet the reality of global climate change is going to keep intruding on our fantasies of perpetual growth, permanent innovation and endless energy, just as the reality of mortality shocks our casual faith in permanence.” “The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is already dead. The sooner we confront this problem, and the sooner we realize there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves, the sooner we can get down to the hard work of adapting, with mortal humility, to our new reality.”

I wrote a poem, which doesn’t change anything but I don’t know what else to do.

ANONYMOUS ARSONIST

Supercharged ambiguity,
uncertainty in overdrive,
the opacity of a long summer
of corrosive smoke

obscures identities
as we mince toward disaster,
Commerce Fair hurly burly.
Haggling, trade’s primary

exercise of the human mind
is a waste of precious time.
We are clear on the haze,
its origin, indistinct from cause.

Human error, upon human error.
We excel at doom,
fighting hordes
of demons and undead.

Effort wasted
on an expired civilization,
beyond sea walls,
green treaties,

carbon footprints and taxes.
We keep the status quo
propped up
against the altar of industry.