Editing (A Rant in 70 Words)

Fuck editing.

If there is any part of the writing process that I absolutely detest, it is editing. If the act of writing is like driving a Porsche down a beachside highway on a perfect summer day, then editing is like changing out the brake lights.

Sure, if you don’t do it, you’ll wrap yourself around a tree in the middle of the night, but is it really any fun?

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Staring Contest

I’ve been having
a staring contest
with an empty pack
of Pall Mall Reds
for months now.

It’s been bounced around
in the wind
from the gutter
to the grass.

It greets me
in the morning
and I say good evening to it
at night.

Since we’re now
such close friends
I don’t have the heart
to pick it up
and throw it out.

Apparently
it’s a very personable
pack of cigarettes
as it seems
nobody else has had the heart
to do it
either.

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Dancing Ghosts

A border town jazz band
playing old favourites
for lovers dancing
with the ghosts
of their dead spouses.

A slow lament
for slow moving feet
and outside someone tosses
a ripped up photograph
into the dirt
because he caught
his ghost
dancing with another.

Heartache still hurts
50 years after the last
heartbeat.

Someone asks,
“How come we never danced
when we were alive?”

and a reply:
“because now we have all the time
in the world
to learn the steps.”

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Airports/Notebook/Montage

The Student Light in a Car is the Low Gas Light.

A whole day in a seat.
Without a cigarette.
Sober/a warm bar downtown and me outside in the rain/so alone/feeling nothing except the rain/aftermath of sleep/concrete digging into the weak spots of my neck/ sleeping off too much.
Ferry ride/a Beautiful November day/lots of thoughts/lots of things on my mind/ aimless and apathetic sometimes/just plain tired of others/but it was good to see friends/stayed sober too/Hey! Let’s travel/only 13 hours to go/looking gaunt/feeling trashed.
How to go broke: Drink foreign and domestic.
Later:
Thank god someone wanted to go for a cup of coffee, because there’s been no human interaction for a while. As always, I have been very inside my own thoughts. Old thoughts though? Or new?
I’ll have to ask my coffee date.

Meditations

10,000 years from now, will our tweets be seen in the same light as meditations? As goals to strive for? Strange that he speaks of man being ash, and nothing standing the test of time, when I read his book in 2016, and he wrote it in 180 BC.
There is a severe lack of knowing the day/ I’m lost in time/lost in thought/lost in the days/lost in the lists/lost in the waiting/lost at night/lost.
Radio connection:
Listening to Elvis at 2 am. The sound cuts out. I tune into a radio station in Reykjavik. Elvis. Worlds away and yet still right here.
The Buddha of dissonance waiting at the door/cold in Victoria/razors for guts/eind bites lips like a wronged lover’s last kiss/lip chap/scarf/extra gloves/feeling comes back to the fingers/a meet and greet of worries: forgotten names, forgotten moves.
1 cigarette/ 2 cigarettes
Social anxiety front lines/a worry of fucking everything up/dust off those customer service skills.

A God Kneels For Once.

All of the beeps in this store sound like the heart rate monitor of a coma patient.
Nicotine head rush.
Bus ride/all full/ No lights/More leg room than on flights/transit.
Limping home/fresh slate/new goals/and my tail between my legs for Christmas Eve. A house as childproof as Dachau.
Burning servers of personal information/list of executions/a detailed list.
If the state is collapsing, then it wouldn’t be the state police doing it/military police/ ration cards/political lingo/a breeze/forceful/envelopes your body like a hug from a wolverine/pain/cold bites with jaws forged by Mother Nature’s viciousness/Mother Nature bites me/hard/cold and ethereal/her jaws of ice/her teeth javelins of hard packed snow.
Piano key notes on the high end.
An artist’s gathering discussing the new regime.
A cocktail party, people with fancy titles and degrees and trades that they don’t build factories for.
Marble steps warmed in the sun.
Search.
Scour.
Scouring.
Allow me to sleep/a great day/barbershop eyes/floor sex diversions/a target of 20 poems/ historic week/a circle jerk with too many hands.
It seems everywhere I go these days, Desire by Dylan follows me around. One of those records that really chews its way into your timeline.
At a philosophers café in hell, those around the table laugh and laugh/the two black straws of a double gin cocktail/looking like barrels of a shotgun you stuff in your own mouth/the unfurling of banners upon the buildings of the old state/a list of the dead/a fresh group of corpses/creepy and weird, like brother and sister engagement photos.

Overheard: The soft-core algorithm.

Snow on the Palms

I thought I had left this all behind me provinces ago/that bite on my cheeks/that scalding on my fingers/my frail ankles/those of an octogenarian forced to lindy hop/ every cigarette an endurance test/every trip to the grocery store a miserable forced march.
Yet among the problems and the miseries there is a joy returned that I thought I packed up along with my prairie memories: that of snowflakes in my hair.
A cup of tea by the window/as I watch snow fall on palm trees and blanket downtown/a visual out of a 50’s movie where lovers cling tight while waiting for the bus.

Eating Light Bulbs For The Illumination

Interesting conversations with a French Canadian cab driver:
Algeria
Public Radio
The Nostalgia of Quebec City
I’m trying to write positive poems. But something about air travel really fucks all that up.

Bought a fresh start for $7.09/ if only it was always that easy or that cheap to wipe the slate clean and get going all over again/an airport smoothie renewal/the kind that does nothing for your soul/nothing for the inner being/just fattens you up and gives you claims to a healthy minded falsehood/I should have stuck with a burger/full blown fatigue/cycling thoughts:
Up late. Too late. Panic and anger for breakfast. No way out discovered.

Duality

Journeys upriver/new directions/new values/yet, too much cold, dead, new wave music on the radio/Love vigilantes and Zen lunatics crowding the streets/banners of the new faith/the day after the revolution/words like a pilgrimage/travel/exploration/a decadent indulgence of the soul and the self.
The death inside flickers and glows again/like coming out of post-break-up misery/like seeing the end of your 20’s/putting the book on the shelf/and then making a cup of coffee and waiting for the sun to come up.
Victorious.
Please wait behind the blue line.
Observations of escape/follow the seasons/inhale/exhale/rebirth/life/rebirth/slow down/repeat/spring/summer/fall/winter/flip the record to Side 2/it is here that the difference emerges/different grooves/different songs/same format/same subjects/ within the same realm.
Yet different.

Left to Mentally Rot Among the Hissing of Espresso Machines

YYC.
The baggage carousel/listening to New Order/perfect music for finally being off anti-depressants/cold and clean/sub-levels of emotion restored/yet, isolation is still present/isolated in the sound/within the headphones a drum machine for a heartbeat/ feelings muted and electronic/not lifeless though/as if everything has been turned back on and rebooted/a fresh slate to things/the murk and the fog pushed aside/drowning sound and a haze of noise replaced by a cold clear beat.
Finding exiles.
Among Anarchists
Soldiers
Changing of the Guards
Poetry
Savage Detectives
Conflict Zones
Rock N’ Roll
Love Vigilantes and a Guest
A Journey Upriver
A poem on antiquated love
Strike your name from lips that no longer speak couplets or sonnets.
Lost.
Reading helps/touching pages/letting the music someone else chooses soothe me/for I can’t seem to choose the music myself/cloudy days/cloudy thoughts/grey/deadened/ with a slight chill/Where is spring? Where is spring? Where is warmth? Bloom?

Dedication

To cigarettes
To nobody
To dead poets
To misery
To my 3 AM existential crisis.
People. Look, people/try not to freak out, or rage out/or whatever it is you do when there’s people around/you’re already teetering/all it took was one racist cab driver who after 30 years of driving had no fucking ability to talk to passengers.
Fucking hell.
Easy.
Breathe.
Empire Burlesque/troops in an overrun sector/pissed off that they were stuck in a sector with such a shit record/in combat.

I’m not able to write here/staring down a host of blank word documents like I’m in a Mexican standoff/but I’ve spent all my bullets in gunfights back in Victoria/hands hovering over the keys/but dipped in stone/the piano player trying to hammer out a sonata with broken fingers/for my safety I go outside and close my eyes and listen to the birds and the cars and all the other things that are just sound and image and not material/I’m not sure yet if I like this/If this is safety or stagnation/if I’m out of the woods or lost within them and sitting on a comfortable patch of grass/I like the sound of the birds though.
Contrasts:
Happiness/Depression
Life/Death
Sunshine/Rain
Ocean/Dried up Sewage run-off ditch.

Being a Writer is Like Being Punched in the Cock By God:
Painfully Enlightening.

Phantom limb/airport longue/whole body and soul rumpled and in need of a good ironing/feeling my phone twitch/a text from you/someone reaching out to this drowning man who flails in a sea of boarding announcements and baggage checks/but the phone screen is blank/a phantom text/a felt sensation from something removed.
Help.
I put my head in my hands/ Stevie Nicks comes around like she always does/all howling scarves and robes and puts her hands on my shoulder and says what she always says: “Did she makes you cry? Make you break down? Shatter your illusions of love?”
And I have to answer in the affirmative/as I toss out the waters of my heart like someone emptying out those black plastic flowerpots at the drug store.
She listens.
Sparrows drink from a water bowl for dogs/at the airport arrivals exterior smoke pit/ making of the best of being in the wrong place/I know how they feel/but I cannot fly without going back through security.
Landing in this hangnail of a province/one I keep picking at/causing pink blood to dot my cuticles/like hangnails, I can’t seem to ignore this province/like hangnails, it seems like a necessary evil/part of being human/part of the condition/part of the scheme/I haven’t found a way to band aid them, or it, or this yet.

Yet.

Sonic Youth Washing machine/red carpet rain outside/a pack of crushed Lucky Strikes/courage to brave the outside/“He’s so vintage!” says someone at a Noodle Bar downtown/and I have no idea what that means.
Fuck this/I want something better/a hotel room with the girl three rows back and better destinations than the asshole of the world/there’s that word.

Want.

I seem to exclude me from any kind of action/exonerations from progress/never working on things until it’s too fucking late and you’re locked onto a path that you didn’t want.
To reiterate: fuck this.
Get me gone/get me off of this treadmill.
There I go: excusing myself from action all over again.
“Get me!”
He calls out his demands/even though he could reach/there’s a Dylan lyric about that.
This is me/extend your fucking grip/reach out/grab something for yourself/stop wanting/Stop hollering, “Get me!”
And start fucking getting.

“You Just Sit Around and Ask for Ashtrays, Why Can’t You Reach?”

To write a symphony on an airsickness bag.
This romance was doomed from the start/the crows circled before the carcass even hit the desert floor/I am in the ashes in the garden you keep on your balcony/snarling/my teeth gnash/both speakers blown/letters to still write/but no words/stalled on the mental turnpike with horns honking from behind/so I gnash my teeth to stubs/because my fingers won’t move/as my words die off in a traffic jam.
One.
By.
One.
How? How do you write letters to someone you don’t know how to explain something to? Tough thoughts/all so very self serving/all admitting to faults that have a direct effect on their life/coming through like a tornado/wrecking things/and now I’m trying to write a check to pay for the damages/easier to write these thoughts to myself than to write that particular dispatch.
Ordering pizza again.
Again.
I have lost control again/lost/very lost/well, not really, but it feels that way/and if it feels that way, then it is that way.

Surviving Halifax/When Jesus Comes Back He Saves Everybody But You/
A Statement in Blood

The whole city twitching/like an overheated dog in the sun/panting oil slicks/drooling radiator steam/I’ve turned away from the typewriter/too concrete in its vision/too final for this discarded series of thoughts/soggy and discarded/like a cigarette butt in the urinal/the fire knocked out/the use over, and dropped into the wrong place no less/ Sunday/the streets rolled up early/everything and everyone taking the night off and leaving the roadways as deserted as my mind/sure, I am writing this, but it’s like trying to get a full glass of water out of a leaky faucet with a broken tap.
One
thought
at
a
time.

Foreplay With a Blank Ream of Paper

Once more/back at it/back to it/into the fray/plunging back into the darkness/a new voice/yes, that should be easy/weaponized middle class/weaponized thought/thinking/ a weaponized utterance/intent to destroy/a preferred target locked in/watching a 1- 0 baseball game for nine hours/checking supplies/seeking ways forward/again/this personal best hitting another roadblock/another setback/that I try desperately to meld into victory/victory/a poisonous word dangled in front of me/a poison/a prison of the unfinished/the path not taken/the path of the chosen covered in thorns that claw and bite/lost in this wilderness/familiar, yes, but still lost/like a back alley/an offset avenue filled with prowling junkies and dead ends/doors boarded up and stores tossed open/a vacancy of thought/this empty lot of feeling with the exit not obvious.
So I wander/I wonder/reflect/feel the walls and stand on the tops of the overflowing dumpster looking for cell service.
Somebody score a goddamn run.
Anything.

Absolute Bottom and Despair in the Boarding Area of Flight 213

Ativan.
Ativan 1.
Ativan 2.
Ativan 3.
Nobody here is fuckable/but the coffee isn’t bad dad jokes overhead in euro accents and nasal spray clouds dusting the sitting area/white pants/everyone in fucking white/this goddamn city/this goddamn existence/this fucking red-light parade of misery/
Stop. Start. Stop. Start.
I am clenched with a rage. A location based rage.
Trapped in.
Bored in.
Fucked.
Fucked among the un-fuckable/but, “try to relax” or some such bullshit/I am trying to not end it all/and right now that’s a full time fucking job/Fuck, it’s hot/Fuck, it’s a loser prospect being here/Like a cell dead zone of a town.
Christ I want a cigarette.
Oh look/a proximity sexist, on top of everything/I now want to put this pen through my fucking eye/then bleed out all over him/while calmly explaining the negative connotations of his position.
Wrap your head around this.
I want to wrap my head around nothing.
Proxy:
Love by proxy
Sex by proxy
Food by proxy
Music by proxy
Sensation by proxy
What’s the point in living for yourself?

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Thanks Tom

When I left high school, I had no idea what I was doing. Most don’t, but I was truly lost. To top it all off, I started my post-high school life by moving with my parents to a city 1000 km away from where I grew up. No friends, no job, nothing going on, and my whole life in front of me. Yet instead of looking at that as some kind of positive, I instead felt stared down by it, and I was doing nothing but blinking and shuddering in front of its gaze.

I missed my friends, and I missed my old life, because I couldn’t think of a way to start a new one; probably because I was 18, and late blooming to the extreme.

At some point in the early stages of this time period, I bought a 2 CD collection of hits by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers titled Through the Years. This group of 34 songs, most of which I had never heard before, was a true watershed moment. This was before I had even begun to think about being a writer, but what these songs did was tap into the emotions that I would later use to write anything at all: hope, love, rebellion, pain, alienation, wanderlust, knowledge that even the losers get lucky sometimes, and a deep appreciation of Stevie Nicks.

From the slow burn of Breakdown, to the angst of I Need to Know, to the late career stuff off Full Moon Fever, these were great songs, and I listened to both disks endlessly. I would listen to certain songs over and over again, in the way that only young people can, where it feels like what you’re listening to is teaching you something, and you want to know what it is so bad that you study every tiny sound and echo on every song that lights up your head.

Within a few months, I managed to somehow cobble together a frail plan to move out of my parent’s place and back to where we had moved all that way from. I would be arriving in the dead of an Alberta winter, and things were going to be far from easy. I was going to be out on my own for the first time in my life, and I think Tom Petty had something to do with the push to do it. Of course, he can’t be blamed for it not working out later on when I had to limp back to the parental fold. Regardless, in that time alone I put rubber to the road on a life of my own, with first loves of my own, with everything up to me, and the whole world balking a little in our ongoing staring contest.

All while Tom Petty played on in my headphones.

Of course, as life moves on, your tastes move on too, and you forget those formative bands a little bit. Today, with the terrible news about Tom’s health, the radio station here in town played nothing but his music for hours, and it was while listening to all of these old songs and sounds, that the old feelings came back: memories of youth starting to turn into something else.

The verdict isn’t in yet, and Tom Petty is still on this mortal coil for now, but the situation looks as dire as can be. However, in as clichéd of phrasing as I can muster, I can truly say that Tom Petty isn’t going anywhere, because he’s left enough behind to live forever.

Thanks Tom, I needed the push.

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Nothing for the Page

I have nothing for this page tonight
I have nothing to give
and nothing to say.

Nothing decent anyway.

I wrote letters today
just to put words on the page
but I wrote them with a perfunctory sense of duty
like I was punching a clock
like IU was working a shift
and now I have nothing for the page
tonight.

I would say that I’m blocked
but that insinuates something being held back
and this isn’t that
this is barren lands
this is a desert
a literary salt flat
that stretches for miles.

I am standing in the middle
I look north
I look south
I look east and west
for something I could swear was
right in my hands
just seconds ago.

But it’s gone
and I won’t find it tonight.

So I bite my fingernails
and write this explanation
in the way of an excuse
and wait for something to appear
on the horizon of these literary salt falls
and hope that when it shows
that it’s not a mirage.

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Feed

You’re never too old to rescue an animal in need

At a dog café

Dockside at the lake
wet paw-prints
footprints looking like dance steps

The golden rule made into advertisement

A slow moving turtle on a log

A lake in Ontario at daybreak
with the fog rolling in

A Def Leppard baseball cap in low lighting

Suggestions for you

Three figures melting into swathes of colours
faces twisted
cherubs shooting needles
through the mess of movement
A coffee cup

Motivational slogans

Fireworks and firecrackers

Tin foil

Reykjavik from above
green trees
neighbourhoods around the church

The US Open through a NY Times lens

movie spoof posters

Record label takeover information
noise rock
“face-melting music makers”

Clash of the Titans

Steinbeck and Capa behind the wall
and into the Eastern Bloc
to report on the real issues

Vulture awareness day
blood covered beaks
reptilian eyes peering out of a scaled face
Nat Geo: 212,990 likes

Strangers become family

Meeting men who claim to be
the messiah returned
Photographed
and published
in Brasilia, Brazil

Polar bears and their reflection

1947
Stalin’s Soviet Union

Colourful fish removing dead skin from a manta ray
a helping hand
on a slow swimming canvas

Way of Greif/
Sorrow/
Suffering/
or simply: Painful Way

Body wash

Sugarcane fields
Nicaragua
25 years on
Kidney disease

A blank canvas
chipped sides
dried paint bunched up around the shape
of the old frame
and a question of, “what next?”

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