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.
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.
Food is love.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.”
I suspect that’s DF’s problem.
I dared to eschew
“…the golden circle of his regard.”
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
Some rock stars are.
Some rock stars never get old.
Others never die.
Photography came to canonize,
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.
of song and snowberry clearwings.
of the lyric.
unearthing a distinct call,
a new primitive narrative,
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,
the series of lavish homes
and incessant swooning.
Phenoms must find the North Star
in spite of all the din.
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.
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.
uncertainty in overdrive,
the opacity of a long summer
of corrosive smoke
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,
of demons and undead.
on an expired civilization,
beyond sea walls,
carbon footprints and taxes.
We keep the status quo
against the altar of industry.
Got to sing! And play music last night with dear collaborator Keir Nicholl for the first time in about nine months. Reunion! We had slowly and painstakingly been putting together a set of tunes when bam, this damn global pandemic hit. I feel bad for my professional musician friends; it was hard enough to make a living before Covid.
We worked to resurrect his evocative urban ballad, The Girl, The City and The Last Ping, adapted from my poem below. We love folk music and pulled out our version of Down in the Willow Garden/Rose Connolly. Rusty but happy! Perhaps we’ll be able to record and perform in the fall. It will be interesting to see the impact all this isolation has on venues and audiences.
THE LAST PING
After the girl is gone,
long gone, out of character,
statistical, presumed dead,
the Verifying Department
hops to, sniffs out
the revelers, especially
the life of the party,
his liquid engine of beer.
Anyone with information,
to confirm names and addresses,
They watch your gestures.
Read your face.
Last seen wearing a blue ski jacket,
white blouse, black jeans.
Phoenix tatto ascending
from the right hip.
Bright, unintentional dropout,
Boyfriend person of interest
according to the RCMP.
Always. Constable passes the flyer.
Her cell phone may be dead,
last ping traced—pinpointed in fact—
to here. Right here. Last known location.
Right where we’re standing.
This town. Your pretty little town.
Check your property,
your shallow ditches.
So petite, she takes up little space
in the psyche,
turkey vultures lead us
not to her
body but a deer carcass.
to repair the squabbles. Home.
Local kids clam up,
weighting the secret with smoke.
A teenaged girl can forget
the fenced-in yards of childhood
to this vast plain
where condoms provide safety,
townies find transcendence in fury,
one vaguely recalling
a catfight in the backyard.
She looked kinda posh,
fawning, pushing. Over. Under.
Dancing. Sending her sailing.
Cathy and I met when we were fifteen and sixteen years old. We clicked immediately and have been tight ever since. She is fierce, intelligent and a savvy businesswoman, always supportive of me, my penchant for poetry and various endeavours, including my son, her godson. She is precious to me and during this arduous Covid time we’re reminded never to take anyone for granted.
MORE KIN THAN KIN
I often wonder about her,
my soul sister,
often on the other side of the world,
her roiling mind, her great girlish heart.
My sister in wildness,
hoots and laughter here in my ear
no matter how far she may roam.
Her mirth, her spirit, boost.
She’s ascended through more clouds
than most mortals and certain avians,
roamed continents, I vicariously thrilled
or at times boarding the flights together.
We are content in each other’s company,
witness to each other’s parade of lovers,
cavalcade of wrath and sorrow.
She is with me
after school, raiding the refrigerator,
fighting my little sisters
or her big brother for the stereo or TV.
No matter how far she may roam
she is with me,
careening down misty country roads
at two in the morning,
dodging skunks and lost heifers.
She is with me drinking tequila
when no one else did,
because no one else did.
She is with me
at every wretched event
that paltry town hosted.
She is with me
dropping acid in Hope, gathering shrooms,
slimy goop by the time we arrive at the bar.
She is with me,
sneaking into the house past curfew,
bribing the cocker spaniel with cocktail wieners.
She is with me,
riding endless summer BC highways.
She is with me. I won’t let her go.
More kin than kin
we feed off each other,
each return to each other a return home.