colpejar als pobres

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page here for previous pieces in this series posted in July/August 2014


one of the great feast days in our village

was Founders Day

when we would be forced to recite

the saga of Mikke Nordstrom

the first human to set foot on this land


from where he had come remains unknown

all we have is the birch bark

on which he wrote in moose blood

‘I Mikke Nordstrom do hereby establish

a village on this spot’

he built the first trading post strip joint

from that quickly sprouted

what we know as our village today


to celebrate there would be reenactments

of his writing the proclamation

every one of the villagers

had to write it out a hundred times

then bring it to the bishop for certification

we couldn’t start the celebration

till this had been done


after that

would be the cleansing of the pudding

followed by the washing

of the 10,001 steps of the cathedral

this washing had to be done in silence

the only sound was the brush of moose hide

as the steps were polished by the village virgins


once they reached the top

the combined choir would sing

‘our moose in thee we are strong’

‘smelts be praise to God’

my mother always cried at this point

as she stood up to survey the streets

filled with proud citizens

after the silence was broken by our jubilant songs

there would be green apple pies to be eaten

cats to be annoyed


boys would be sent to the Whistling Woods

to lead the lost men

back to the village square

to be washed and have their wounds tended

sometimes these reclaimed men

would return to their families

some would slink back to the Woods

preferring the cold shelter of moose bones

to being a part of society


in the evening the fathers would gather

to tell us of the great wars

of how our village

had helped change the course of reality

when night was fully upon us

we would fumble through the dark streets

to the strip joints to relax

as the women danced on the unlit stage


in the morning there would be gifts

tokens of our village’s proud heritage

usually small aluminum amulets

with the face of Mikke Nordstrom

embossed on one side

and the village motto

colpejar als pobres ‘beat up the poor’

inscribed on the other


the greening of the sidewalk

I can’t begin to tell you how much the absurdity of some these pieces delights me. I picked this one in particular for Canada Day when there are many odd localized traditions being celebrated, perhaps nothing signed in blood except for the blood of the fallen.

My village is a sweet mix of religions: some sort of orthodox & some from a childlike importation of native beliefs. If you remember from last year’s pieces, the moose plays a big part in this imaginary world. I think the moose deserves a bigger role in Canada’s mythology, so I’m giving it a place of honour here.


no escape

Holidays are also time we we try to put aside rancour with our fellows, so the ‘the lost men’ are given a chance to be found. I can’t recall were the inspiration came from as these separate images darted to the page – word association for some & the need to create this wonky through lines of images & motifs for others.


they’ll nibble your bum

Somewhere I still have the free medallion some newspaper distributed for the marriage of Charles & Diana, so the village amulets are keeping in with a fine tradition of disposable collectables. The inscription comes from Charles Baudelaire – me showing off the depth of cynical education:-) while nodding to the fact that we don’t shoot the poor the way they do in USA, we have social constraints to beat them to keep them in their place (out of sight.)



November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


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