Friday, April 29, 2005

A man receives two bouquets at the Atlantic Book Awards

This award, he said, is being moved up
because of a slight ailment to my leg.
Then a man with a corsage receives a bouquet.
Because he remarks on the corsage
and the bouquet, he is given a second
The harbour is a bright dark blue and
wavy but we do not take the ferry.
I'm down to Keith's Light.
Do you know champagne? he says.
Me: No.
Then I know what to get you.
This, from a bet that if either
of us wins, the other gets
a good bottle of champagne.
In a way, I'm glad I lost, as
I would have gotten him a bad bottle
of champagne. And I dont want to
be winced at.
The pizzas arrive and there is much
prying for the bacon and pineapple.
There are a few writers here on
xanax. Others have to dowse cigarettes
before slipping into the backseats
of cars. I'm wearing the red shirt
I got on Spring Garden Road. I now
know my sleeve length. Thirty-six.
But it's all too much. So if youre
wondering why I'm home early, it's
to find a bath and read the latest
issue of Cabinet.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

all the gas lamps at the trillium

She wore a red leather coat and wanted
to know about his sore eye. He gave me
his cell phone number for later but I
could not go. All the lamps at the
trillium awards were lit, and they looked
like they were lit with gas. The
minister stood on a case at the podium
It was a case sound equipment gear gets
stored in. I couldnt phone him on his
cell because I had to read at a pub
on the Danforth. There was a line-up.
Hundreds. We pushed through, but they
were waiting next door, for The Arcade
Fire. I'd tried to buy a pair of jeans
for this weekend. I have one pair of cool
jeans. And I've worn them out. The couch
tore a hole in the knee. And I thought,
I'll go back to the same store and get
the exact same jeans. You know how hard
that is for me to do. To enter a mall.
But I did. And found the jeans. And
bought them. But they werent the jeans,
she said. They look boxy on you, square.
You look dorky. She was right, I put them up
against the worn out ones and they are
different. So I'm not wearing the jeans.
I'm in Halifax now. Where it's windy and
my hat blew off. I forgot my toothbrush
bag, so purchased nine small bottles
of things in a drug store. I bought the
ones I thought she might like.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sitting for a Painting & the Man in the Canteloupe Suit

The bus drove to Kitchener and I read
fifty pages of Padgett Powell's "A Woman
Named Drown". No one seemed to care
I was carrying a rifle. I've been reading short novels
by writers who are remaindered, or out of print.
What does that tell me. Bodes well.
She picked me up in a car that made me say,
Nice car.
Yes my husband bought it because of his phone.
And she told me about Bluetooth,
how there's a button on the steering wheel
to operate it.
She took three hundred digital photos of me
with my rifle. I tried to look like a rogue.
Her white cat slept in the open rifle case.
We listened to music she and her husband
had listened to on their way to Nova Scotia.
There was a sugar maple in the skylight.
She was on her way to Vegas to join her
husband, so we ate everything in the fridge.
On the way back to Toronto, on the Greyhound,
a man did business on his cell. He was wearing
a suit the colour of canteloupe skin, and
his shoes were like two smoked kippers.
He was obnoxious, we were all sitting in
his private moving office, but then I saw
the buddhist threads on his wrist. He had

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Couch

We were sitting on the sofa bed
at the big Goodwill.
It's good isnt it.
Yes it's good.
I like the hump in the back.
It has swoop.
It's Simmons and when we pull out
the bed it's clean, the date is 1982. The
buttons in the blue mattress are pearly.
Everything is half price. They are
closing down the Adelaide Goodwill.
Can we get it delivered.
There are cards by the phone for
I talk to Frank. Frank will meet me
at seven.
So we go home. And I start to worry about
the size of it.
I dont know if it will fit down the hall.
Or up the stairs. Or in the doorway.
I meet Frank. And watch the man with a
hydraulic forklift carry two couches
to Frank's big truck. A man with one
arm is with Frank.
I'm Frank's navigator, he says.
The truck is big enough to hold two couches.
The two of them, sitting back there.
And we drive to Roncesvalles via Gardiner.
Is the Skydome now called the Rogers Centre?
The footings for nine new condos.
Frank does a U-turn to our door.
And then we lift the couch up.
It's a heavy couch with the pull-out
bed. It must be four hundred pounds.
It's almost seven feet long. And the
arms are boxy. I feel like I'm seeing
it for the first time.
It's a good couch, the man with one
arm says. He looks like he wants
to sit on it.
We get almost all of it through the
door and up four steps.
But then Frank can't get the last leg in.
The man with one arm says, Try up. Okay
down. Now twist a little. I
realize the man with one arm is the
navigator for things like this.
Youre going to have to saw it off, I say.
And I get Frank a saw.
Oh man, he says.
But begins sawing the foot off.
A woman walks by: I hope youre
bringing that out, she says, and
not in.
Frank: She's laughing at me, man.
She thinks I'm a destroyer.
He saws the leg off and hands it
to me and we get it moving. Up two flights of
stairs to the apartment, where I've
taken the door off its hinges. We
lift it vertical and then drop it down
into the hallway. Where it seizes up.
It fills the hall to the kitchen.
Where does it go, Frank says.
We have to turn it around and go down
towards the living room, I say.
Oh man.
But youve done enough, I say.
How much do I owe you.
You pay me what you want, Frank says.
I pay him and Frank and the man
with one arm shake my hand. They are
both unhappy with the sawed leg.
I'll spare you the rest, just it took
four hours to get that couch down the hall
and into the living room. I bet it's the
largest thing this room has ever had
sitting in it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Trillium Trumps Winterset

I'll have a Long Island, he said.
Me: What's that.
It's a mix, he said. Tequila, rum,
gin, vodka. Splash of coke. If you
dont have much money, order a Long Island.
Can I have a sip.
(I sip.)
It's good.
It's supposed to be just two shots of
alcohol, but find me the bartender who
can limit it to that, what with all that
goes into it.
He was wearing sunglasses and he took
a second pair out of his jacket.
Will you wear these for me? I've got
a fat eye and I dont want anyone looking
at it.
I don the sunglasses.
They suit you. So we're nominated for a Trillium. You
like that?
It's good. Especially after the Winterset.
The what?
A Newfoundland prize. I wasnt eligible.
I wasnt born in Newfoundland.
Sure you were.
I was three when we moved there.
And I only spent a hundred and nine days
there last year.
And 34 years out of the past 40.
I see.
And wrote a book that was all about Nfld.
Youre not about to get all bitter on me.
Well it's generous of Ontario. dont you think, to
consider me an Ontario writer?
Youre not bitter.
I feel all warm and cosy and loved.
My god youre a hard case.
And it's twenty thousand.
If you win, which youre not.
No I guess Alice Munro will win.
Or Jane Jacobs, who can resist
Jane Jacobs?
True there's Jane Jacobs I'd forgotten
about Jane Jacobs.
But we'll go for the drinks.
We'll order Long Islands all night long.
Let's order Long Islands for Alice
Munro and Jane Jacobs.
It'll be worth it for that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Shopping Confidently in the Women's Section of H&M

She was young and wearing a pale blue
skull cap with white piping. She
was carrying a coffee coloured
dress in her arm.
Excuse me, I said. Can I ask you why you like that?
(I sounded like my mother.)
I'm going to Italy this summer, she said, and
I thought it would be cool and breezy.
Where did you find it.
It's over there by that mannequin.
The mannequin was wearing one. With a
turqoise tank top.
Would you wear it with that tank top?
I'd probably just wear it with a cardigan.
I noticed, as she turned, that the
skull cap had two holes in the top
and out was thrusting two bunches of
blonde hair. The holes too had white
piping and I realized she was wearing
children's underwear on her head.
I thought about asking her where she
got those too, as my niece wants to
keep up with toronto styles, but I couldnt
get over how to ask her about children's
underwear, and if in fact they were
underwear, or a brand that mimicked
underwear. I dont want my niece to
think something awful about her uncle.
I found the cardigans and there was
a pale blue one the colour of the
underwear cap. In the line-up the woman
wearing underwear on her head asked
me, Where did you find that cardigan?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Lie in the tinfoil

The young woman on the streetcar
is wearing lace slippers.
She is holding a pink cellphone
and her hair is dyed in that manner
where they lay folds of hair in tinfoil
and paint it.
We pass a pink storefront, bright blues
and pinks.
That's nice, she says.
I dont like it.
There are nice things in there.
There's no shadow.
We are on our way to Sweaty Betty's
to give a man who is turning 29
a hug and a card.
A man says, about poetry, Here's
me feeling something while I'm
thinking something.
Is that what it's all about?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The difference between tomatoes and sausage

Birds are building nests in the housing
of streetlamps. The bronze pope is in
fact standing. I had thought he was sitting
between the narrow field-goal posts on
Roncesvalles. Did anyone notice the
marvellous dovetail joints on his coffin.
Plain, yes, but not simple. The wood
looked like spruce. The cross on the lid
looked like a trademark emblem. TM. The sun
forced Village Meat Product and Deli
to haul shut their blinds and move
some of their meat. I guess no one
wants a sausage lying in the sun.
Though I often put a basket of
tomatoes in the sun. There you go,
there's the difference right there
between tomatoes and sausage.

H with a leather coat over his arm

Oh I didnt know you knew poets.
I know Kevin.
So you read poetry.
I dont read poetry I know Kevin.
There is a light in the window
of Supermarket and I keep mistaking
it for a camera from the book
channel. I'm on Augusta, having
hunkered through the
barren western town of Kensington
Market. Someone has bought me a
drink. I see it there hanging off
the end of my hand. Theyre
using blue ticket stubs for drinks,
so tip well.
I was reading an anthology of poetry.
Oh yeah.
It's the one with, it has a red cover.
There's a yellow square on the cover. I
think it's called Poems for Strange Times.
I dont know it.
A poet comes over, and I describe the
cover of the book.
The one with a drawing by Kafka, he says.
That's the one.
Emergency Kit, he says.
Do you like it.
It's a good book.
You dont like it.
I said it's good.
But it's not wonderful. You wouldnt
kill for it.
He guzzles his beer. He has been
drinking for three days now.
I taste someone's green beans. Spicy
and firm. I'm using green chopsticks.
I have permission.
Where were you.
You mean, I'm late.
I'm being very polite.
I was watching a man use a ukulele,
I say.
There is much talk, too much talk,
about revisions.
And then what.
Then I walked through Kensington
market and it looked like Dodge City.
Deep down the throat of the bar
is a blind man from Uganda playing the
thumb piano. I remember him from
a red barn months ago. I wonder if
there is a society for thumb piano
that rejects amplification.
I see H and he is carrying a leather
coat over his arm. He is like a butler.
I decide to lace into him, to get
that coat off his arm. It takes me
nine minutes of lacing, but he puts it down.
These are the small victories, friends.
Do you think tonight is going to be a long
Oh yeah, the poet says. The one who knew
it was Kafka. He says it with some
resignation, as if the fact of hauling
oneself home in the dawn is beyong free
choice. And perhaps it is, when youre
visiting. Someone tells me Australia
will require a minimum of six pints a
night from me. I am going to Australia.
That thought takes me out of the bar
without saying goodbye, which is the
height of cowardice. Sometimes when
youre older youre allowed a measure
of cowardice.

Friday, April 08, 2005

For today I am a boy

They were putting in fresh sidewalks along College.
I had been by the night before, when to get aboard
the Friendly Thai you took a board walk over wet
soil. The impressions in cement, slash lines near
the crosswalk so the cement won't be slippery. I
found a collection of Anatole Broyard's musings
for a dollar in the dollar bin at Balfours. I
listened to Antony and the Johnsons in Soundscapes
and fell in love with a transexual. I took out
Barney's Version from the library to see how
its beginning is like The Body Artist. So far
it's excellent but not at all like DeLillo.
I visited the old address to pick up mail and
registered mail at the 7-11. Revenue Canada.
I had to sign my name to an electronic pad with
a red pen that had its top taped on. I wrote
with the top on. An invisible signature. Of
course I used my left hand. Fuck em. I ordered
a shawarma from the man next to the fish store,
the man from Turkey who I think is Kurdish.
He has one bad eye and I told him once I'd been
to Sanliurfa. I walked using the back alleys
and found seven tons of garbage parked beside
a torn up NO DUMPING sign. There was a cat
reading the sign too. We both had a laugh at
that. Also took out some Beethoven piano
concertos. I was looking for Rachmaninoff.
I am looking for music that will break your
heart. Checked my Cold Fx stock and I'm down
five cents. That's fifty dollars. Every penny
is a ten dollar bill. But Antony and the
Johnsons are informing me to be less straight.
I was in Rapp Optical and begged for help.
I have a shortlist of frames. Four. One is
Japanese, the others are French, German
and English. The german ones look like
swimming goggles. Clear plastic. The English
remind me of Michael Enright, or a Bulgarian
chessmaster. And the other two are obvious.
At one point John, the man who is saving me
from looking like my father, suggested I
take the little heart-shaped mirror outside
to check the sheen of my temples. The French
frame was too juicy and bright. The Japanese
too blue, the blue of kayaks. And so I walked
home and am in love with a transexual. I'll
be with him all weekend. He's the thing for
doing the dishes.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A safe half pint

I noticed, last night, that the Duke of
York pours a good pint and this morning
my head is solid and healthy as a
cabbage, so I recommend their hoses.
I was with a crowd that listens to
Neutral Milk Hotel and Clinic and watch
movies by David Gordon Green. That
sort of crowd. We ordered nachos
and wings and English football was
on a screen above my head, so a lot
of people looked like they were
witnessing a UFO land behind me.
I got lost in Yorkville, though I
didnt know it, and I studied the
new Rolls Royce that is selling for
$481,000, a car that could be made
out of soapstone. Then I looked at
some Italian suits. The quality of
the shop light at two in the morning.
Then I saw the poster with the five
writers on it. Then I hit Davenport
and knew I'd gone wrong. But it
was warm and I enjoyed my scarf flopping
at my throat and I walked and walked
in the delicious sadness of something
having been finished. I thought I was
walking fast, but a small woman with
ears on her pockets blew by me.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Drinking someone else's Guinness

Okay I have a tenacious question here, a
question that doggedly hangs off my left
ankle as I'm bicycling through this blog.
Here are some of the drinks I have drunk
that were not technically mine, they include
a guzzle of my brother's home brew from the
spigot of the barrel in which it was
hopping, a bottle of my father's
Labatts 50 from the lake where it was
cooling, the silk tassel gin that got
me bombed in the bunkbed and I never did
make the school dance (I woke up to
a fuzzy TV), and they are just the first
three in a long list of borrowed drinks.
However, when one is at the Gladstone,
one must think of one word: hangover.
And so, my friend, I never order pints
at the Gladstone for I am suspicious of
the hoses that ferry that beer to the
glass, I fear a build-up of bacteria
in those hoses and I keep to the bottled
beer and even if a fresh pint of Guinness
happened to bump into me on the way
to the karaoke mike, I doubt I'd sup
from it. You have to look elsewhere
for the evaporation of your brew.


My god I've just checked my own site
and seen the headshot. Someone told me
that photo makes me look like
an actor from a daytime soap opera. Please,
controller at the anansi helm, please
get rid of that headshot. Use the one
of me petting the pony in Cupids. Or
the drawing of me hooked up to Carbonear
heart machines when I was dying of gum bacteria
infecting my heart valves. I beg you,
I'm a man with a head cold.

A head cold and a red scarf

I've been in bed all day with a head cold.
If you were wondering. If you really were
trying to picture me. Then imagine a queen
bed and a scarf around my neck that I promise
myself not to wear while sleeping, for who
wants to strangle and be found like that,
strangled in a red scarf given to me by a
woman who I once saw order a caesar salad
at eight in the morning after watching the
sun rise over Cape Spear? I guess there are
worse ways to go. I think I got the head cold
from the visiting author as the author
was visiting from England and those trans-
atlantic flights are rife with head colds.
But I'm taking my Cold Fx and it's working
and so decide to open up my trading account
and purchase 1000 shares of C. V. Technologies,
which makes Cold Fx. What the hell,
right? I gotta spend my CBC literary
prize on something. It's ginseng.
But it's ginseng from Calgary. I am glad
that people are buying a lot of underwear,
and also publishing stories in zines about
underwiring, and also that I might be
encouraging those very underwear activities.
Perhaps our minister of finance, instead of wearing
new shoes, should be snapping on a fresh
pair of Stanfields. I forgot to mention
that, when I went to my publisher's, she
showed me on the Big Computer, how many
hits this site gets. I thank all three million
and twelve of you. Okay I'm kidding.
The bronze pope was the one on Roncesvalles
that looks like he's sitting outside
a Polish bank just checking out the traffic.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

An outing that ends with a bronze pope

She was picking up her rentacar -- who knew
so many companies dont like you driving into
the states. I made her two sandwiches and
a tub of mixed olives, I cubed up half a papaya
and squeezed a lime over it. I washed two
green apples with dish detergent. I put
all that in a sack and sat the sack beside
her luggage.
Then she left, honking and very silver.
I took the streetcar down to the publisher's
for someone wanted to interview us about
the huge posters with writers on them.
I, of course, love the posters. They are
hilarious. I have tried to adopt the
expression many times since. I regret
cutting my hair. But it will all come.
Then I buy some underwear and socks.
A blog is perhaps the place to mention
new underwear and new socks. There are
nine depressing things in a life, and
old underwear is one of them.
So there I am, happy to return to
an empty apartment, when H shows up.
With his, okay, partner. I just
deleted wife and injected partner.
They insist, yes I must, please
come with them. And so I'm drinking
champagne and meeting the visiting
author, and there's a woman in a green
shirt who I keep seeing at all these
functions and I now associate her
with the public side of books. The
champagne is almost green. It looks
like olive oil. Then the man who I like
to drink with every eight months, he
asks if I want to size up the red
seats in a bar just zigzag away. Do I?
Or will I not get home for ten days.
I must get home and try on the underwear.
I was thinking about giving the author
some underwear, but he didnt look trim.
I didnt want to embarrass anyone.
I found the beautiful streetcar and
it hauled itself west and north and
I woke to the flashbulbs of forty
people staring at the bronze pope.

Friday, April 01, 2005

the author spoke into his harmonica

It's time to leave a book launch when
they won't let you sing Lefty Frizzell
and when the author decides to stop talking,
lifts out a harmonica, and gently hums
through it at the corner table. His wife
in a red and white Finnish sleeveless
dress, the two young poets in black
numbers nimbly smoking rollies under
the rusted, police-tagged scaffolding.
Its time when you realize the washrooms
are the best rooms in the bar and youve
spent half your night in there, when
the books editor is carrying around
a board game for 4 years +, when the
ladies from the cancelled book television
show are game and ordering rounds and
are fearless in their new unemployed
auras, when the jury does not award
karoake points for Best Hat, and when
your baby has left her card behind the
bar and all the drinks somehow mysteriously
get put on her tab. Yes my friends, it
is time to go home and remember it's
recycling night and careen down the
thirty-one steps with the grey and
blue boxes and, as you strip out of
your shirt and see the yellow recycling
truck approach, realize both boxes
get tossed in together, just as you
get tossed into bed and dream a buzzling
underwater drama involving a meat hook.