Monday, January 30, 2006

Last dregs of New York

Just a bicycle tire locked to a pole,
the rusted chain, no rim. New phone books
are out. The strong legs of Citigroup
Building, aluminum square legs. At Times
Square a silver box -- a US Armed Forces
recruitment station. A guard at ease,
blue cargo pants. Little side windows in
the corrugated metal, like a country
mailbox. A flotilla of yellow cabs
pouring up out of East 79th Street.
Heading east. The bumber guard, a plastic
panel between driver and back seat.
I happen onto the Explorers Club, where
Bob Bartlett met Robert Peary ninety
years ago. Tusks by the fireplace.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

New York aftermath

I'm in the reading room at the New
York Public Library. I walked between
the lions and the lions are white.
The oak tables are about eighteen feet
long. Brass circles for electric outlets.
On inner floor, flatscreen monitors
with CATNYP as the screensaver. Most people
here are reading or writing with pens, about
a seventh have laptops. Each seat is numbered,
I'm at 657, and all the numbers are odd at
this table and run clockwise. I've turned
all the open encyclopedias to the page with
the word Newfoundland. There's an exhibit
of illuminated manuscripts downstairs, the
first open book has a map of the world,
a portuguese map from 1552. And the words,
Terra D Baccalao.
I meet my publisher. She gives me directions to
the office. She says we're at Broadway and Fifth
Avenue, a little sidestreet that joins them.
I'm writing this down and then she says, We're
in the Flatiron Building. Okay, I said. I know
where youre to. So I'm in the Flatiron Building,
and the windows at the peak are covered in
clear plastic and the ceilings are dropped. You
can protect the outside of a building, but not
the inside.
I read with Joel Hynes. Is it strange to see Joel
in New York? I'm in the bookstore with the owner
and then hear, Hey. It's Joel, finishing a smoke.
He offers one and I have one with him. He looks
good, that beleaguered cool thing he has going on.
And we read and Joel is very good and professional
and the expatriot Newfoundlanders take
care of us, and our publishers take care of
the bill. Thank you publishers, thank you.
It's late in the morning when I say goodbye
to Joel, and the garbage trucks
hurl down 5th Avenue. A man drops off the back of
the truck and whips out the white bag of garbage
sponsored by the Doe Fund. And runs across a
crosswalk and jumps back aboard the rear lip
of the truck. The garbage bin is empty. I guess
someone else puts in a new bin liner later in
the morning.
The silver tower on the Empire State Building is
like a picture tube in a TV, or the filament in a
lightbulb. The lightbulb broken off. Some silver
in the Chrysler Building too. Like the silver on
the cathedral spires in Ottawa, the one in Lower
In Madison Square, park staff clean up sidewalks,
green coats with a white maple leaf on the back.
One is wearing homemade cardboard shoes over
his personal shoes.
And then I'm home in my bed and there's tennis
from Melbourne while I brush my teeth.

Monday, January 23, 2006

my New York reading, beforemath

I'm reading in New York Tuesday night, with
Mr Joel Hynes, at the McNally Robinson bookstore
in Soho. Probably the reason my publisher
has set up this blog is so I'll mention things
like this. So I'm giving you twenty-six hours
notice. Any suggestions about what Joel
and I should do after we've read?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

the Bloor line

At Victoria Park a man in a grey
winter coat is ascending the
subway escalator. He has a
grocery bag full of gasoline at his
face. At Matt Cohen Square an elderly
Chinese couple feed a dog that is
dressed in baby's clothes, the dog
is sitting in a pram. Youre not
going to say anything else, are you.
A young guy sits with a
man in his fifties who is carrying
a thermos of alcohol. He nudges
him. Youre going to shut up, arent
you, or you get off at the next
stop. The young man resumes his
old seat. There's an Asian woman
in her fifties between them. It's
rush hour, crammed full. Then the
guy must say something because the
youngster is on him. He's smaller
than the man but he lifts him by
the neck and hauls him out the
opening subway doors and launches
him at the floor. The man's legs are
still in the subway train. There's a
moment when he's like a patient on
a table. But he suddenly sobers up,
pulls in his knees and swivels
on his back and stands, laughing as
the doors close and the train accelerates.
The young man is shaken, embarrassed,
he whips through the pages of a magazine.
He looks like he works with paper in a
warehouse. A minute goes by, then the
Asian woman leans over and says something
and she is saying thank you.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hello tree

I visited a tree I hadnt seen in a year.
Same tree.
Same snow in its limbs.
This was near Flesherton.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Year's Eve in Grand Bend

We drove to Lake Huron and stood on the
ice. There was sand mixed with the ice.
A woman said to her daughter, Skate
out further I dont want you skating on
the sand. We played darts at Finnegans,
in Grand Bend. We'd asked people, what's
to do in Grand Bend at New Years. But
they were all heading to Sarnia and
London. You had to play darts with a drink
in hand, house rule. If you ask someone
how old they are, that's flirting. If
you tug on a man's coat lapels, that's
also a good sign. But midnight was spent
on the ice with an Ipod and shooters
and very small champagne glasses.
We walked further out towards the
rim of water. We followed a string of
shadow made by the flagpole and the
porchlight. Until our lead man, a man
wearing Italian shoes and no socks,
broke through rotten ice. He fell two
feet, jammed in the ice up to his thighs.
He looked at his waist and then pulled
himself out and turned around, drink in
hand. We all turned back to the
cottage. We followed him. It was a bit
like a christening, a welcoming into the
world of the new year.