Gift Exchange

Gift Exchange

I like the gift with no giver

the left behind book on the subway

the twenty dollar bill in a parking lot puddle

a gift with no sense of obligation

not even a sense of 

should I find out who lost this

who are you going ask

when there’s no one around to ask 


a gift that doesn’t demand response

for a return

where you have to match the value

where there isn’t a hidden agenda

where gratitude is in accepting and using

not in words and forced forgiveness

This is not part of the 227 Rules For Monks. It comes from my archive of rough draft dating, in this case, back to December 2008. If I never write another poem again I have a backlog of rough drafts to keep me busy for years to come.

This is the season of gifts – many given out of a sense of obligation to one’s building super etc. We bribe them for another year of considerate treatment – rarely do we gifts for no reason. At one time, at this time of year I do leave things on the subway, if I do use it – things like a toque or gloves – in hopes that someone might find them useful. Then a friend of mine, who works for the TTC, told me that those things usual went the lost & found or clearers took them home. So much for random altruism 🙂

Over the years I’ve become easy around gifts – giving & accepting. I’m as happy receiving home made cookies as I am with a paypal donation. ( also hav become a good regifter as well. I have enough socks & often gifted socks go to someone else, or donated to a clothing box. I no longer give gifts out of a sense of obligation.

Forgiveness has become more a mode of victimizing victims than something emotionally freeing. There is this subtext these days that if you don’t forgive someone who had harmed you you are being unreasonable & are as bad as the the person who harmed you. It’s as if not letting someone who has apologized, face the consequences of their action now makes the victim a victimizer. We may be God’s children but only one was chosen. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy more Christmas kitch– sweet,eh?


For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page for links previous pieces in this series.


to this day

I cannot hear the name Santa

without shuddering

the first few times it gets uttered are the worse

a tremble comes from my toes

my teeth chatter

I squeeze my arms tight to my body

to contain myself

it’s as if I’m going to fly to pieces


though I get used to hearing his name

I always dread the start of the festive season

and go out of my way to avoid

any reference or images of his likeness

I don’t know when this started

honestly, I had a fairly normal childhood

Christmas was nothing special in our house

I was never dropped off Santa’s knee

when taken to see him at the strip joint

I never woke to find

his white bearded visage

kissing my Mom or Dad

I once did get to undress

one of the elves


I was always satisfied with what gifts I got

I was an easy to please child

this Santa-shudder didn’t start

till I moved here to the big city

in our village

there were few likenesses of him

the usual ones of him harnessing a moose

or sneaking a beer out of the fridge

so how it came to be

that the very mention of his name

would cause this reaction in me is puzzling

it led my coworkers to think

I was some sort of xmas hater

when the opposite is the truth


I decorated my cubical with a little tree

some garlands

but would resist any likeness of him

it wasn’t if he was the centre of the celebration

but they would take great delight

in putting crystal Santas on my desk

once replacing my mouse with a Santa head

my shrieks were mocked for weeks after that

ho ho ho scream

my demands to be transferred to another section

were greeted with  ho ho ho no no no

those fuck heads

how could I do my job with such disrespect

luckily this only happens once a year


next year I won’t be here to put up with it

I’ve already made reservations

to spend that time of  year at a xmas free resort

where one can just float in the sun

drink tall cool drinks by the pool side

be undressed by cabana men

and then return to the escapist reality

that I was escaping from

This is one of the few pieces written in which my narrator has left the Village but is still enmeshed in mythology – in this case the festive myth of Santa. Personally I have no issues with Christmas or Santa or the Elves. As in many of these pieces the allegory is of those things in the world that go from annoying us to blocking our happiness.

Santa has become more a symbol of Christmas than the Jesus. Though both symbols have been commercialized to the point where they are meaningless beyond their commercial potential. So in some ways my hero is reacting to this reduction of a symbol to a logo for consumption as opposed to a symbol of generosity & fellowship.

My hero is like many who have left a small town for the freedom of the big city only to be trapped in a cubical. The childhood bullying has been replaced by the office mocking of his Santaphobia – by people who apparently don’t even question their own belief systems. The fact he doesn’t toe that line is enough for them to single him out. There is also a sense that some myths are considered superior to others.

I knew a guy who hated Christmas to the extent that he would fly to Australia on 23rd or the 24th & thanks to date line & time change arrived there & would skip Christmas Day. He flew back on New Year’s & got two New Year’s eves as a result. But like my narrator he had to return to a cultural reality he might avoid but could never escape.


For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page for links previous pieces in this series.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

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

#Santa Daddy

Santa Daddy

get thee in front of me Santa

keep your hands were I can see them

I know all about that list

naughty or nice

I’m not one of those boys

whose nice can be gotten for toys


that better not be a fat suit

‘cause I’m tend to be a chubby chaser

who gets hard for a real gut

but no matter how big the bag

there better be more happening than that

if you hope to roast

your chestnuts on my fire


so get thee in front of me Santa

don’t bother sneaking around

if you want my milk and cookies

keep those damn reindeer quiet

your profile said discreet encounter

honey, those sleigh bells aren’t discreet

when you said you were into uniforms

this isn’t quite what I had envisioned

you have to offer more than those boots

of shiny black Spanish leather


so I guess

you want to get down to business

no chit chat

how you doing

just want to drop your load

get out of here

not that I’m surprised

you have a full to do list

but if you think you can go that quickly

it isn’t going to happen

I want more than an XXXbox

those elves you brought

aren’t going to make up for that

no I don’t want do some Coke with you

is that how to keep flying all night

I should have guessed


so get thee in front of me Santa

unless you long to kiss

my Christmas ass Kris

and say thank you sir

before you head back up that chimney

blueshoe the blue sandal

Another seasonal favourite that is great fun to perform. Not high-energy but lots of smiles & laughs scattered through it. It started with that opening line – a Biblical misquote – I think the original was get thee behind me Satan. I’ve seen that Santa/Satan linguistic game pulled by fundamentalists to debunk the season so using it in a fun way was appropriate.

Then I throw around sexually loaded intimations, references to Coming To Town – while resisting using ‘coming’ – too obvious, right. Imagine me showing restraint!

table phyfe?

Next a nod the bear community – there are some guys who’ll only do you if you over a certain weight – also a reference to the number of department store Santa’s who wear fat suits, fake beards.

‘Profile’ shifts the tone to the world of online dating where often one doesn’t see the ‘real’ person until the f2f meeting. To read someone likes animals than visiting to find they have six cats can be a bit alarming. The same with terms like ‘uniforms’ – Santa’s uniform is far from discreet . It’s always fun to work in a reference to a totally random Bob Dylan song ‘boots of Spanish leather.’

whitescarf scarf tree

I get to more of that double-entendre ‘drop your load’ playing on the myth of Santa, a reference to the fact that the Santa we picture today was created as a Coke-a-Cola ad. Ending with sonic word play that’s also a very sly nod to Back Door Santa.


January 3 – attending – HOT DAMN! It’s a Queer Slam featuring Johnny Trinh

Hot Damn

January 18 – hosting – Out of the Fire – a fundraiser for Kyle Andrews



xmas book give-away

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Windigo Fire

Reading Windigo Fire by M. H. Callway is like running from an out of control forest fire while being shot at from an overhead plane. You want to stop the action to take a breather, or at least go the the washroom, but you can’t. Is that an overstatement? It isn’t when you realize that this is exactly what happens to one of the main characters in this fast-pace, heart-racing novel.

wmoon by the light of the Windego Moon

While the dodging of bullets is going on, the other main character – a young girl, is fleeing the clutches of a Santa clad drug-lord who wants her to accidentally fall off a cliff before she exposes his plans. No safe place she finds stays safe for long.

trench we’ll bury the body here

Windigo Fire took me to a northern Ontario I didn’t know existed, perhaps, in fact, it doesn’t, but the writing makes the surreal setting so real as to seem almost a documentary. Vivid, complex, characters that one never really likes but who draw out sympathy any way. Every victory leads disaster till the climax were plot threads are tied tight around the guilty.

tree is it safe in the trees

Violent without being gory, with characters who pay the price of their actions. Men and women get punched, stabbed, shot and feel the pain, it doesn’t mysterious vanish in the next chapter. At one point, one of our principles thinks “An hour whipped by in five minutes.” That is very true of this book as well. A great read and highly recommended. Available at either or &




we were laser Indians

who swam under the bridge

a lost tribe of space rangers

who had to start a fire with stick

children of another time

who fought to feel at home

in this time and place


we found safe places

but they didn’t stay that way

what we found

always brought us back

to the confusion of being

the witch-wound moon-brats

we tried to escape from being

we were TV chefs

stuck on radio shows


there wasn’t a we

it was just one

one child – male

and sometimes even that was a pretence

gender slipped away

as easy as the stars from the sky

as quick as the morning dew

left the garden of grey newspapers

in an empty lot


I pretend to be we

we play the reflection with no mirror

the title fight with no sport

the first cigarette with no one to rebel against

the peek around corners

to make sure there

is no one to make this I a we


I was told

no one wants to play with you

this I who didn’t give a shit

we didn’t care

we were a voiceless choir

singing to the happy congregation

we were tired of the we

we never found the I enough

the we enough

the pretence was never enough

to keep out some pair of eyes

to ask questions

what the fuck are you playing at

   get the hell home kid

   grow up won’t you

   no wonder the other kids won’t hang out with you

   just look at you stop being such a cry baby

after a while we didn’t hear

the voices were sound

from a distant fog

we’d say

thank you

   fuck you too asshole

   why not take a picture

and scamper to find another spot

to set up the empty box moon landing

the box an image on the wall

the wall too high to climb

the wall to the stars

we didn’t care



had our laser

light sabre wielding robot

to take care of we


moose blue windigo moose


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