Summer Blackout

typed on Royal typewriter – around 1977

Blackout 77


the fear

aware of the light

shapes the unseen


the fear

is being awakened

at the wrong trembling moment

to your own pulse


I gave in today

without a fight 

without a second thought

gave in to nothing

being nothing

doing nothing

going nowhere


I gave up

my dreams & hopes

plans of a great future

that’ll never come true

all that’s left for me

is to relax into resignation

without bitterness

to keep on giving in

without a struggle


the plan now

is to sleep in

on all fours

to a snug shadow

of calm reserve

a smug disinterest 

about the things

I once had to become


I’m getting old 

the feel of fall

is colder in my bones

every year

I find it easier to drink

to forget old unfinished fears

than to make new motions

toward an altered shape


I find it easier

every time I empty another bottle

the next seems more welcome

not a proffered hope

but fleeting buffer

to remorse for old hurts



is a futile gesture

it is an admission 

to pretentions

I once had a vision 

a true sense of a special offering

a vision that proved to be

insecure self-indulgence 

a vision

that kept me so in awe

I could never confront

even my basic mortality 


no one is fooled but me

there is no dream revelation

just the dream

just the dream

to black out the image

of the self-pitying 



unfulfilled visionary 

with no shape

no broken heart

just his fear


the fear

last feeling of fall

has no vision


the unseen

is the futility of resignation

the inability to admit

that even as these words are

I intend to deny their meaning


this is not defeat

I have nothing to lose

this is not resignation

I have nothing to concede


the dream

will never change

that it may never come true

is the heart of the plan


the fear

pulse of the plan

has no end


Blackout 77

The title pretty much tells the reader what this piece is about – drinking, though it doesn’t get to the first sip right away. The first section is the opening of the bottle not of whiskey, but of the fear the propels the opening of the bottle in the first place. It also presents the idea of pulse as a protagonist.

At the time I didn’t connect my sense of resignation with alcohol. I didn’t realize it was a depressant – I saw it as a creative stimulant, as my escape from fears – particularly the fear of sexuality – getting drunk & acting out with other drunk men happened more than once. Opening a bottle with them was unzipping the pants. 

There’s also some wordplay – ‘sleep in on all fours’ sleep instead of creep – ‘giving in without a struggle.’ This repurposing of cliches is a way to let readers be comfortable with seems familiar while letting them see it in a different way at the same time. 

I wrote some of this while drunk in fact. Parts were in notebooks, some typed & the pieces assembled back in 1977. Some images were in the ‘original’ scribble – ‘sleep in on all fours, the feel of fall is colder in my bones’ – the sense of resignation, which I now see as melodrama, as opposed to real emotion, was more self-indulgence that anything else. Sections were made by sober reflections on what I had written. 

The last verse was handwritten several times as I tried, at the time, to make my drunken handwriting legible. Looking back I think ‘the fear’ was not only of coming out but of the ‘sense of a special offering’ & how it would be fulfilled. Sadly I discarded all those original scribbles way back in 1977.  

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Welcome To The F Files



Working through the  227 Rules For Monks.

Who knew the simple life could be so complex.


I didn’t feel anything

was it supposed to hurt 

I thought this is how

it’s supposed to feel

not that I enjoyed the feeling

it wasn’t pain

it wasn’t pleasure 


this is how I felt it always would be

that everyone lived in fear


this was the fear

that I was supposed to hide

or be hidden from

after enough time

I became unaware 


I learned to live with it

didn’t conceive of being without it


it was like growing up

in a dark room

not knowing there was light

then one day

a window opens

to reveal the layers of dust


I’ve been cloaked in

choked in


one fear replaces another

how much light can I shed

& still be safe

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 Ashby Days 1

I don’t recall the actual move from Cottage Road to our house on Royal Avenue. Maybe I was away at summer camp (that’s a whole blog post in itself). My Dad was tired of renting & was ready to build a family. The neighbourhood was working class Catholic. St Teresa’s Church down the street from us plus a Convent. My new school was Ashby School that went from kindergarten to grade VII.

Much large than Colby. I cannot remember a name of a single teacher though. We did have ‘visiting’ teachers who went from school to school teaching things like music, French, even mathematics. I missed my Cottage Road friends though & would visit them frequently. I did gradually make some nearby buddies.

Ashby School was a short walk from our house. Shorter if one cut through a field & a laneway. We would go through people’s yards often even though we were warned often not to trespass. There were older guys at this school so there was spot where they hung out to smoke. Some girls had reputations for putting out. My first ‘sex’ ed happened in the school yard here. 

Also some of my initial boy-to-boy contact happened about this time too. Very innocent looking, touching. One boy bragged about getting pubic hair & showed us. As a blond, what body hair I had was invisible, so I had nothing to show. I hadn’t hit my puberty growth spurt yet either & I remained under 5’5 until I left high-school.

I was always hounded by teachers & my parents for being lazy & not living up to my potential. I was an indifferent student getting average grades. Recess is a blur of tag, bullies & learning to swear. The school yard had a fair hill along Howie St so there was sledding in the winter.

One of my formative lessons in ‘talent’ was learned here. There was an annual city wide art contest that we were all encouraged to enter. There would be a ‘gallery’ in the school & the more realistic the picture were the better they were placed in the show. I was a colour & shape kid so always ended up being on the last row.

Lost in The Forest

I dig in my back yard

not a farmer tilling soil

to replenish the food supply

nor a picky gardener

putting the exact right plant

into the perfect alkaline soil 

for maximum growth


I dig

and shove in whatever 

selective only as to color

I know a bit about shade plants

but sometimes even then

I don’t care

let the plant do what it can

I’ve given it a spot 

keep weeds at bay for a few weeks


I dig deep enough

never deeper than needed


I come across 

sometimes bits of shale

rocks sand

once pieces of blue willow china


I dig 

I plant

I water but count on the sky father 

to provide rain

for his plant children

I dig 

I plant

I enjoy washing earth off my hands

cleaning my finger nails

I feel connected


I even feel connected 

through the concrete asphalt

on the 20th floor 

in the parking garage

it doesn’t matter

the force of this earth

reaches to me

I feel safe surrounded 

in touch


when I am in any forest

I feel alien 

unwelcome hunted haunted

wandering wondering 

where can I dig here

what can I plant

every Tuesday 2019

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton

August 8: Highland Arts Theatre: 

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Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors


Stratford Festival – The Crucible


The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

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