Identity

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

Identity

I was one of the first from my village

to come to the big city

I was unprepared for my reception here

people would gawk at me on the streets

stare at me on the subway

as if I were some sort of freak

at my cubical in the office

people would walk by and observe

as I went about my ordinary duties

they gave each other small sly nods

as if they saw something me in me

that assured them I was as human as they were

 

strangers approached me on the street

and ask if my shit stank

if I were here to promote some art film

my classes at the Grand Academy

fell silent when I shared my writing

as I told them stories of my village

and of the routine of our lives

shock dismay or disbelief would play

across their faces

even the teacher would turn away 

face red 

as he tried not to laugh at me

 

all of which made me depressed unsure

perhaps coming here was wrong

the only solace I found 

was in undressing men

one skill I had 

that others held in some respect

 

I also found some gratification in latte

after a day of being hounded 

by small gangs of children

my fingers numb 

from working at my keyboard 

either at the office or doing assignments 

for my creative writing seminars

it was such a blessed relief to sit in a 

coffee shop and sip on an extra large latte

I could feel my troubles just rush away

 

gradually my presence became unnoticed

I discovered ways of fitting in to metropolitan life

I no longer greeted strangers 

with a smile and a hello

I no longer tapped hymns 

on my keyboard at the office

I took down the few reminders of home

that I had put up in my cubical

gone where the crystal moose 

and the miniature sacred stripper pole

I adopted the city ways of talking and slouching

of smiling with indifference

of turning aside when someone offered 

more than I wanted at that moment

it was a relief to slip into the formless stream

my mind was free to roam 

to dream of things beyond village life

a place that became abstract illusive

I was no longer the man from away

I was free of identity

Before I moved to Toronto my mother warned me not to wander around, staring up at the tall buildings with my mouth open awe. She felt it would tip people off that I was new in town & someone would rob me, or something. I was never sure what that something meant. About the only ‘you’re from away’ I got was because of my accent.

My hero experiences many of things that immigrants often experience: such as co-workers checking to make sure you are competent. I had been cat-called, or rather queer-slurred by passers-by & from cars – my first year or so here then is topped noticing it if it did continue. These were adults doing this – not a far cry from small children dogging your heels.

My writing workshop experience hasn’t been as harsh as my hero’s. Though I have made people shoot coffee out of their noses with some of my work – I took that as a good thing? I did get that silence response a few times though when no one knew what to say – usually because the piece was perfect 🙂 

 

Fitting in was an issue though – to do that without losing a sense of self was the real challenge. I did have, still do, a few relics of my Cape Breton past. The piece is a bit of a list poem of things I’ve seen, heard or experienced myself as I adjusted to Toronto. ‘Smiling with indifference’ is skill worth developing.

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Childhood’s Swirl


For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

Childhood’s Swirl 

my childhood was such a swirl 

of legends superstitions and secrets

I was never sure what was real

and what was allegory

like sifting through the red bible

to find out if there was a truth 

or merely a moral

 

the village thrived on these stories

on things that would shift from fact to fancy

as if that sift was to teach 

us children something valuable

mostly it taught us fear and anxiety

 

the leaping men of the Whistling Woods

the hiding places of the traitor robins

how the moose came from the moon

all these things would haunt us as children

then amuse us as adults

 

even what we experienced

would be called in to doubt so quickly

we couldn’t trust our senses

the Bishop would try to teach us

what he was taught

when he could remember it

the choir would sing without knowing the notes

 

it did teach me

that with the grace of the moose

one could experience doubt and survive

one could sing without knowing the notes

and become a multimillionaire pop star

just because some talk show host

saw your video on line

and thought your hair looked terrific

When you realized Santa Claus wasn’t real did you think: I’m growing up – or: what else have my parents been lying to me about? This the sort of swirl my hero is reflecting on as he reflects on his village past. The secret of Santa was that this legend oils the wheels of commerce. One of those secrets that some people never realize. It was also a way of manipulating children with guilt.

Fairy tales that were to entertain us as children were ways of teaching us that all old women were witches and not to trusted. That gallant men would always save us if, in the case of girls, they were pretty enough. Those tales showed boys that only through over coming the giant could we be victorious. Winning was proof of masculinity, being rescued was proof of being femininity.

“even what we experienced/would be called in to doubt.”  I can’t imagine the uncertainty children grow up in today when a politician can blithely deny saying something that he said in an interview. People with ‘truth’ are accused of being unfair for insisting on that truth. Making someone accountable  for their actions turns them into victims. To correct someone’s spelling is now elitist.

 

It ends with our hero being more than a little bitter about the nature of fame and how to acquire it. In a world were working hard is supposed to be the road to success it often is merely the road to working hard. In reality there are no multimillionaire pop star who can’t sing, who rely on their great hair to as the ladder to success. A sly nod to yet another myth – Rapunzel. 

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The Great Fire

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

The Great Fire

we were awakened

but the resonant howl

of the harbour foghorn

deep endless 

blasts so rapid they overlapped 

 

away to the window I flew like a flash

the black of night was blacker

than the print in the red bible

no stars or moon to be seen

then

at the edge of my vision

I saw the flames

scatter sparks like leaves

into the sky

‘fire fire’

someone below was shouting

‘the great cathedral is aflame’

 

my father dashed out of house  

men from other houses followed suit

‘fire fire

we must save the relics’

I had this terrifying image

of the Moose at the foot of the cross

melting into a golden puddle

at the feet of the blessed one

everyone in our village

gathered to watch and pray

as the firemen did their job

the choir spontaneously burst into song

singing ‘The Moose and The Saviour’ 

 

the hoses were attached to the hydrants

only a trickle of water appeared

this was also the hour

the fission plant

was flushing out the their flow valves

when contacted

they refused to stop

because if the flow valves

were not flushed 

there would be hell to pay

 

we stood and watched

as our beloved

centuries old cathedral 

paid the price of prosperity

while the acolytes 

darted in and out of the flames

rescuing all they could

up and down the 10001 steps

like an army of ants

 

then from out of the smoke

the men from the Whistling Wood appeared

they danced around the fire

chanting

arms linked

the flames flickering & illuminating

their private parts

as a group they coiled up the steps

stopped

faced the flames

holding their flame framed privates 

began to piss on the fire

 

the stench of their burning urine

made many vomit

the naked men

began to pelt the fire

with moose dung

the stench of the burning shit

made many vomit

the flames began to die down 

in the steaming smother

of piss and moose shit

that oozed down the 10001 steps

 

the fire stopped

the naked men 

vanished into the mist

 

the next day

when the water pressure returned

the fire department

hosed down the ashes 

to wash it clean of the shit and piss

to reveal

no scorch marks

only glistening golden surfaces 

 

the cathedral

was whole again 

In Sydney we lived one street away from a fire station. We were occasionally awakened by sirens. There were a few big fires but none that we ever saw, unlike my hero. The worse, which happened after I left, was when Moxham Castle burned down – actually it was gutted by flame & then the brick shell collapsed. My experience of fires comes from movies. 

This entry in the Village Stories pulls on many threads of the mythology: the choir, the moose, the 10001 steps. I recently saw a documentary on the Windsor Castle fire in which people were rushing in & out of galleries saving the art. They weren’t regarded as reckless but as heroes. Oh no not the Faberge egg collection! 

I also had to take another poke at the fission plant and water. I have read of cases where, in some cities, the water pressure was so low thanks to ‘industry,’ fires couldn’t be put out – hence the invention flame suppressant foam. Yes I know fire engine pumpers supply the pressure but if there’s not enough water they are useless.

The praying & singing villagers make me think of those politicians who sent their thoughts & prayers at a time of crisis but that’s it until they tell people to be strong: i.e. don’t moan & bitch about your losses because we’ve done all we can by praying for you. Cheer up because your unhappy faces won’t make things better, neither will we.

I was happy to see a reappearance by the naked men of the Whistling Wood. They present a facet of male magic that isn’t destructive while at the same time isn’t pleasant. Often the things that rescue us have a cost one doesn’t expect. Like the dentist’s freezing – slurring & drooling for an hour is a cost. I also couldn’t resist that image of male private parts illuminated by the fire.

I love the way this ends with a miracle. The Villagers prayers were answered by the outcasts of the Whistling Wood. These men pissing on the cathedral have magically restored it. 

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The Violet Moon


For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton.

The Violet Moon

see how the full moon 

is wrapped by red cloud

in our village 

we call that the Violet Moon

this the one night

when the one beast

which the Denizen fears

walks the earth

a shape shifter

that usually lives as human

as you or I

humans who forget 

what rests coiled inside

till the violet moon appears

to nudge a latent beast to wakefulness

none who have this curse

can resist its call

can remember what has happened

those who have met the beast

have been struck dumb

speechless with fear

 

I mean the weremoose

don’t laugh

because your derision is the one thing

that can invite it to occupy your body

you will awake

feeling cold breath shivering

your feet   your hands

toes will start to point

fingers will become stiff

your bones will crack

your neck will thicken

you will scream as your hips rent apart

backbone snapped reshaped

each moment of the change

is an agony

any who hear will fear

your family will hide

but you will hunt them down

 

there is no escape the weremoose

you can recognize one

if you have time

because the antlers seem slightly askew

like the roof of a house not quite right

or the colour of the fur

that never stays the same brown

when you try to focus on it

a mist of violet hue

flows behind it

scarring any tree that it caresses

the cloven hooves

can crush skulls

the jagged teeth

can rip a throat in one bite

the same teeth

can crack a man’s ribs

to pull out your heart

and eat it

while the last of your blood

spurts through your veins

you are alive

long enough to see your own blood 

oozing from the satisfied maw

of the weremoose

This is a ‘new’ village piece thatI  wrote specifically for Camp Pinebow. It harkens back to Moose-mare https://wp.me/p1RtxU-1Vv as I extend moose myth into a darker territory – this one even more cinematic. Moose-mare echoed Jacob wrestling the with angel – here we get sense that perhaps many men of the village have a beast within them that is affected by the moon – which is were according village legends the moose came from.

The piece clearly uses werewolf legend as well. One is powerless to stop the transformation or even it initiate it. I also call on that horror trope that disbelief invariably turns the scoffer into the next victim. I enjoy the description of the change. I was probably thinking of Seth Green as Oz on Buffy during his werewolf changes – though he looked like & moved more like an orangutang with a wolf’s head than a wolf.

 

I dwell on how the weremoose kills because this was originally meant as a scary campfire story. Those stories call for a certain amount of visceral gore to make them effective. Do moose have cloven hooves? I’m not sure but we do know who the Cloven One is, right 🙂

Some of details are invented – the acidic mist that scars tree bark is my own addition to the cannon. Violet comes up a few times as the host of the show where I first performed this was Lizzie Violet – it never hurts to pay tribute to your host in a way that isn’t too overt. Violet is also a nice change for the colourless mists that appear in horror most of time. They are either murky blacks or, for some reason, lime green.

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Giddy Up Redux

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton. The first of these appeared in my Camp Pinebow series, which is an extension of the Village Stories set in a summer camp. This was rewritten somewhat to fit into Camp Pinebow – for a previous version & discussion see https://wordpress.com/post/topoet.ca/3230 

Giddy Up

a mainland business consortium

wanted our village 

to invest in a moose riding academy

where young ladies of a certain pedigree

would learn to ride to the hounds on moose

 

these men had elaborate blue prints

detailed architectural models

all they needed were investors

it would take a lot of our money

to make money

so we wouldn’t be so dependent 

on the fission plant or the strip bars

to put food on the table

when the villagers were reluctant 

to part with their hard-earned cash

these men became derisive 

of our close-minded 

small-town mentality

of our inability to see this great opportunity

we offered to invest if they could

show us how to ride a moose

 

my Dad 

took them to the moose breeding ground

we followed to witness this spectacle

much to everyone’s surprise 

these city men were able 

to get a saddle on a smaller one

when one of them climbed on it 

the moose wouldn’t move

it barely looked up at him 

as the man dug his heels into its sides

saying “giddy up – get a move on”

the moose’s dung-caked tail 

swatted the back of the man’s head

 

when Brandi Toffee

their buxom spokesmodel

arrived to sit on the saddled moose

it went berserk

sexually aroused by the female legs

clamped to its back

the sight of the moose’s erection

caused the city men to fall into a swoon

which gave us no end of mirth

the spokesmodel lost her hair extensions

as they got snagged on maple branches 

while she fled though the woods

the aroused moose bellowed pitifully 

when it trapped her in her SUV

when we went to the SUV 

to rescue Brandi

she was gone

 

the doors were ripped off 

crumpled like paper cups

the windshield covered with marks

small dainty hoof marks

hundreds of them

round hollow

Brandi Toffee was never seen

again

 

the moose riding academy never opened

and we villagers kept 

our hard-earned money

 

One of my Facebook feeds is news from Cape Breton & often the ‘news’ is of yet another small business opening there to boost the economy. Now with the legalization of marijuana there is a flood of hemp-centric businesses looking tax breaks to settle on the Island. The moose riding academy may sound far fetch but there have been equally as absurd proposals.

 

The piece also reinforces the presence & power of the moose. There are some in Cape Breton, there are more deer than moose to be found but the moose is a much more ‘amusing’ creature that deserves to be mythologized beyond that painting of the Queen riding a moose. She’s side-saddle, of course.

 

Most of this is fabricated, though I recall one time when a car plant (that eventually folded) had some starlet brought in for the opening ceremony. I don’t think they had celebrities for the closing. But they didn’t slink away in the night the way a few of these enterprises did. I recall one that built a new building, hired staff, then never opened. The pockets just weren’t deep enough.

In Pinebow this is one of the campfire stories. To fit it in I added a few scary details that are classic horror movie cliches. I enjoy the way it takes the moose mythos into darker dimension. 

 

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Suicide 2

The past month I’ve heard of the suicides of various people I almost know – friend of a friend; brother of a friend; a man who had come in & out of recovery. Each hearing involved being asked about the why – talking about the despair & sense of guilt felt by them. There is no easy answer to such questions. Why is like a finger print – everyone is different.

When I was active with ACT I attended a couple of intense workshops on suicide prevention – I’ve even called Health Services when a friend of mine ranted about killing himself then abruptly hung up – he lived to make the same threats another day.

When I realized & accepted that I can’t give anyone the will to live I felt less responsible when faced with such threats. I’m just a guy, not a trained professional & if I have to become a trained mental-health professional to maintain a relationship then that relationship isn’t for me. I have compassion, empathy but can’t say why I chose to live in such a way as to keep someone else alive. I’m not God (if one believes in God that is) – I’m not a force of nature just a guy witnesses, sometimes, the pain in other people’s lives.

I’ve shared with these friends that this is tough stuff because it is tough stuff – not that its tough because they or we are emotionally weak, spiritual shallow or lack the intelligence to feel otherwise. Sometimes we can rescue one another, sometimes we can’t. But we do survive together no matter how alienated we feel. Survival is good.

Giddy Up http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Q6

a mainland business consortium

wanted our village

to invest in a moose riding academy

where young ladies of a certain pedigree

would learn to ride the hounds on moose

these men had elaborate blue prints

detailed architectural models

all they needed were investors

it would take a lot of our money

to make money

so we wouldn’t be so dependent

on the fission plant or the strip bars

to put food on the table

when the villagers were reluctant

to part with their hard-earned cash

these men became derisive

of our close-minded small-town mentality

of our inability to see this great opportunity

the mayor offered to invest if they could

show us how to ride a moose

my Dad

took them to the moose breeding ground

we followed to witness this spectacle

much to everyone’s surprise these city men

were able to get a saddle on a smaller one

when one of them climbed on it

the moose wouldn’t move

it barely looked up at him

as the man dug his heels into its sides

saying “giddy up – get a move on”

the moose’s dung-slick tail

smacked the back of the man’s head

when Brandi Toffee

their buxom spokesmodel

arrived to sit on the one saddled moose

it went berserk

sexually aroused by the female legs

clamped to its back

the sight of the moose’s erection

caused the city men to fall into a swoon

which gave us no end of mirth

the spokesmodel lost her hair extensions

as they got snagged on maple branches

while she fled though the Whistling Woods

the aroused moose bellowed pitifully

when it trapped her in her SUV

the moose riding academy never opened

and we villagers kept

our hard-earned money for another day

 

chapbooks for sale http://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

kiss3

Thursday – September 7 at 7:30 PM – 11 PM – HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

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Tuesday – September 19 – feature – Art Bar Poetry series – 8 p.m., Free Times Cafe, #20 College At., Toronto – $5.00http://It’s No Accident

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Waiting for the Boats

Waiting for the Boats

most of the village had gathered

at the dock to await

the return of the fishing boats

wild storms the past two days

worry has made the nights even darker

the usual distractions

offered brief respite from our concerns

none could take the choir seriously

no one wanted to listen

to the moose bone prognosticator

even his words of good cheer

felt flat and hopeless

the village elders could read the clouds

with greater accuracy

than any of the soothsayers

reading those tumbling moose bones

 

we had being on the dock since early morning

since before the dawn of time it seemed

anxiety rippled through the crowd

as each cloud became clearer with the rising sun

‘that one looks like a grand piano’

which meant to some a grand catastrophe

and to others a rhapsody of a catch

by noon there wasn’t a cloud in the sky

and there was no sign of the fleet

some of the older boys had been sent as scouts

to the hill that overlooked the far side of the inlet

to see if they could see anything

their tiny ant arms signalled

that nothing was seen

this was not a good thing

no one was willing to leave the dock

 

some of the women started weeping

till they were told to get back to the washing

with that the crowd began to disperse

aimlessly we went back our normal routine

which for us children was

skulking and malingering

thinking of ways to get out growing up

and having to face the fishless future

we knew the fleet would never come back

that our way of life was now ended

all the prophecies were coming true

life was pointless struggle only made painful by hope

 

there were two suicides before night fall

the spirit had left our village so quickly

the leaves on the maple trees

in Whistling Woods shuddered

with no breeze

 

as the sun dipped beneath the horizon

a wisp of smoke scuttled across the sun

the first of the boats was returning

I wrote the Village Stories many years ago & although they are familiar for many of them I have no recollection of actually writing them. These versions have been checked for typos once or twice but were then left to simmer. Some where performed, collected into a sequence & some, like this one, were kept but ignored. I’m looking at them with fresh eyes.

I am working with some standard East Coast tropes in this one – the waiting for the boats to come in is real enough – though I never did it. Storms could wipe out a fleet overnight. I knew of men & women who would look at the sky & predict what the weather would be like the next day & sometimes they were right.

‘that one looks like a grand piano’ comes from Chekov’s The Seagull – seagulls the sea side cliche – so it was fitting to use it here in an attempt to show off my deep literary roots without distracting from the scene 🙂 Of course no Village Story is compete without a mention of the moose.

The sense of waiting also reflects families waiting after a coal mine accident – the deep concern for whose husband was not coming back to the surface. The fishing & mining families lived with this fear constantly. A sudden rough sea could swallow fishermen on event the calmest days. It couldn’t be predicted. There’s also sense of the loss of the fishing industry on the east coast – lobster is still harvested but the industry was destroyed by corporate greed & then the fishermen were blamed.

It’s also a lateralization of the cliche ‘waiting for one’s ship to come in’ – the kids questioning the value of the cargo of the future, the women getting on with routine rather that waiting, people unable to enjoy what they have because of their anticipation of the ship, giving up before it arrives. So, for me, the piece succeeds on several levels as all good mythology does.

Hello sailor.

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Afforestation

sampvilFor the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1fT for links previous pieces in this series posted in July/August 2014, July/August 2015

Afforestation

the  Bureau of Game and Fisheries

began a movement to replant the maples

around our village

‘The March of Afforestation’

was what they called it

to launch the March

they held a parade

down the main street to city hall

for some reason

they forgot to let us know

when the parade was going to happen

so the five of them marched alone

behind a the village band

alarming and annoying the merchants

who usually loved a good parade

there were no floats no clowns

just the brass band brassing away

with the officers

of the  Bureau of Game and Fisheries

walking behind holding up placards

that announced

‘The March of Afforestation’

the piles of flyers

all on recycled paper

they had brought to hand out

went unhanded out

the mayor was out for the day

the bishop waved

but wouldn’t allow the cathedral

to be drawn into the politics of ecology

one of the Game and Fisheries officials

sat on the curb and began to cry

he felt no one cared that the earth was dying

and no one gave a shit

he told his fellow officers to fuck off and die

and went back to his trailer

to watch TV for the rest of the day

the village band played

another couple of numbers

that echoed hollowly over the village square

the women coming to the well

were indifferent to the occasion

we children were at school

heard the distant echo of the brass band

while the teacher went over the day’s lessons

the echo of the distant music

made us sleepier than usual

I don’t recall what were were learning that day

after school we found

the streets littered with those flyers

that the Game and Fisheries officers

had left behind

the wind had caught them

and blown them around the streets

they were clinging to tree trunks car windows

like paper bugs

recycled paper bugs that is

I gathered nearly 200 to take home

to use the backs as paper

to write my essay

How The Moose Came From The Moon  http://wp.me/p1RtxU-P5

03blue01This piece is a variation on the Moose Riding Academy http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Q6. It reflects something that happened, happens, all too frequently – outsiders make decisions to better the lives of people without bothering to talk to those people to find out what they might need or want. When they do take these people into the dialogue it’s often to teach them what is best not explore what might best. The ‘best’ they teach comes from education that works on ideals & not practicalities.03blue02I recall one of the industries that was started in Cape Breton relied on export transportation that wasn’t available & so after struggling a few years the costs made it impractical to continue. The locals were blamed for this, not the people who thought they were doing us such a great favour while getting great tax incentives that made them $ & leaving the locals to deal with toxic waste.

Here I have taken it to the extreme. An initiative that relied on no communication at all – the fact that the afforestation was happening wasn’t revealed to where it was happening. Printed materials scattered unproductively, brass without heart – noise that produces nothing. But clearly the people who thought this up got paid, as did the printers. I also love the paradox, or is irony, of flyers about afforestation being printed on recycled paper – news about replacing trees on paper made from trees that might never be replaced.

blue04

There is also a slight ripple of real memory as when I lived on east coast I often recycled paper – my dad’s company had forms printed on one side, blank of the other that became useless after a certain date; the same with Famous Players were I worked – so I would use those blank sides for rough drafts, even letter writing. I tossed the last of the Famous when I moved to TO.blue03Some things never change regardless of geography – here in Toronto the TTC set out to renovate, repair some subway stations without bothering to consult the people who lived there. One family was told they had to move out of their home of the last 30 years to make way for an expansion that was news even to their city councillor. Such is life.soon

cover170x170-1on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Deliciously iTunes

September 1-4: attending FanExpo 2016 (I’ve already registered)

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November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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6DC0301

June 2-4: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 –

newcap

https://capfireslam.org

check out these poets from Capturing Fire 2015: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx5KD1eDccdjdTdQ28kZRNg

money

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‘By the Moose of Moses’

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1fT here for previous pieces in this series posted in July/August 2014

By the Moose of Moses

‘by the enflamed dick of the moose of Moses’

my Dad was shouting

we knew he was really really angry

the more words he used

when he stared to swear

the angrier he was

none of wanted to know why he was angry

 

my mother would bundle the clothes

and head down to the river

my sisters would go to their rooms

to start preparing for their shifts at the strip bars

my brothers

if they were around

would be suddenly very very busy

with the gutting of moose

helping one another bloody their hair

 

I was often the only one left

for him to vent his wrath upon

that wrath was always words

never directed at me

but someone had to bare witness to his anger

or it got worse and worse

till one of the neighbours would come over

eyes darting around fearfully

to see what the commotion was

 

‘by the scraped udders of mother moose’

my Dad kicked at the bench in his workshop

I peeped around the corner

‘come in here now you little smelt fornicator’

‘yes Dad.’

I would inch into the room

‘have you been in here?’

‘no Dad’

 

I hunched my shoulders to hide my guilt

because I had been there

enjoying the play of sunlight on his tools

that hung in neat rows on the wall

or playing with boys

in the bone dust on the floor

 

‘why’

‘just take a look around’

 

I couldn’t see anything amiss

the skidoo he was rebuilding stood

where it had for years

except on the two days

when it was working properly

the outboard motor he had salvaged swung overhead

 

‘i … i don’t see anything’

‘then open your eyes boy’

 

night had fallen

it was now so dark

I could barely make out his eyes

‘when I find out who did

this there’ll be hell to pay’

he struck match

in that brief flare of light I was aghast

he had dared to break the prohibition

even a glimpse of light

after nightfall was punishable

I knew whatever this was it was serious

 

‘you sure you weren’t in here’

‘no Dad. i swear it wasn’t me’

taking my first step

to becoming

a guilt ridden adult

robo01

red robot

This is the first time I’ve looked at many of these pieces in several years. The start of this reminds me of Nuncle John (http://wp.me/p1RtxU-Qe ) with its rich, nearly ridiculous swearing. It quickly references my fascinating with Moose as animals of reverence. It also adds layers to the odd tribal mythology of the village – smearing moose blood, washing clothes by the stream, strip clubs.

robo02

cute robot

It also plays on the reality of Dad rage & how different members of the family would respond to it, leaving the least able to defend themselves to face it.  That rage is always harder to cope with when one has been guilty of something. ‘How I Learned to Play With Boys’ http://wp.me/p1RtxU-O2 is relative here as this is why my hero had some guilt about being in the workshop.

robo03

well hung robot

His levels of guilt are many – being where he shouldn’t be, lying, flaunting cultural taboos by playing with boys. I love the image of the match lighting the Dad’s face for a moment. Sort of that moment of clarity one wants to step back from but not knowing where to step to except into guilt. The first lie to protect one’s own secrets.

 

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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http://nanowrimo.org/

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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silver

thanks

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 http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1fT here for previous pieces in this series posted in July/August 2014

Nordstrom

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

green01

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.

green02

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.

green03

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.)

soon

 

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo

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http://nanowrimo.org/

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

green