Friday, December 22, 2006

okay so who hasnt fallen into an incinerator

okay small things. she was lying in bed
with her earrings and lipstick on. she
left her umbrella outside on the stairs.
she said she could smell the scotch
tape at the post office. the fishmongers
on roncesvalles were not happy
with the mild weather.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

New Generation

It's terrible when a sushi restaurant
burns down -- the fish had no idea it
was coming. But now it's rebuilt. There
is a faint whiff of kipper. But it's
all new inside and I order a bento box
and drink my miso. Then I see the only
thing left from the old restaurant:
a red smudged fire alarm.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

sport and a pastime

we're playing half-court, three
to a team. our team is called
three in the key. and I wrestle
him softly to the floor. forty
minutes and I'm exhausted. do
you want to play full court
now? just to get some cardio?
I limp off and eat and enter
the bar for a drink. the oilers
are down 3 to 1. and they score.
a man with an edmonton jersey
says, drink is on me. then they
tie the game. a pitcher this time.
then another goal and in total
five unanswered goals. that's a
good word, unanswered. and I take
a small bow and the table of
strangers says I must return
for sunday's game. will I arrive in
the middle of the second period?
if you could get here a little
earlier, he says. for they are
playing in san jose.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In Banff for Game 7

Deer in the snow. Horses with
their foals behind them. At breakfast
a woman in a green ski jacket. And later
she's in the programme: cabaret sequins
and a band full of tuxedos. If you
are an artist and left a tube of toothpaste
at Community Services, I now have it.
The owner of the borrowed guitar, I thank
you. I'm listening to Keith Jarrett
at La Scala. If I stick my head around
the balcony, a ship of fog is snagged
on the top of Rundel Mountain. The
librarians prefer to work on the lower
level, not the basement.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I become the girl in the photo

Last night all of the moon came up out
of the headland and you saw the land
because of the moon. The land was almost
yellow and brown and almost too the green patches
of moss. You could almost see all of that. And
we wondered if people ever looked for
lost things with the help of the moon,
and said no we'll wait for another night
to look, a night when the moon is full.
I've spent days on a roof with a
gallon of tar and felt and tacks and
then a few days inside a house prying
off various qualities of wallboard
and peeling away seven layers of wallpaper
and then finding photos that are ninety
years old, of a girl standing by the
side of a house and suddenly I see that
it's the house I'm in -- there's a
distinct feature to the frame of the
window. And I go outside to check the
window and yes I'm right it is the
very window and then I realize I'm
standing in the same spot as the girl
in the photo. When you stand on a roof
you own the house.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Around the bay with the Delmore Brothers

A pickup passes with a young ram
in the back. I'm listening to the
Delmore Brothers. Why didnt anyone
tell me about the Delmore Brothers
before? From the 30s and 40s.
They have one song, The Frozen
Girl, that the Handsome Family
must have heard. They are not bluegrass
even though the CD cover says they
are. They yodel. They have a tenor
guitar. I heard of them because they
are mentioned in the CD liner notes
to The Louvin Brothers. Their harmonies
are breaking my heart. I have to stop
and look at the cold blue sea. The snow
in a backyard is arced like a horseshoe,
and catches in all the alders.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Half a day in St. John's

The car rental agencies close at noon
on Saturdays. On Signal Hill it's
a belting wind, freezing, a destroyer
storming into port, a white
stretch limo parks and the driver opens
the door to a turquoise bride and
her husband and the best man and his
date. Are they crazy? They stand around
determined to take pictures,
there are bare shoulders and hands
on hairdos, then they all convince
whoever it was who had the idea to
pile in again. At the newest Sobeys
in the newest part of town a young clerk has to
flatten the bar code on my blood
pudding so he can swipe it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Two lines

Woman: How are you feeling?
Man: Yes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


She bangs her tambourine like
Catherine Deneuve, though someone
says she's not wearing a bra. The
man in front of me is leaning back,
with his ear plugs in on little
wires, and I feel like I'm about
to bite the top of his balding skull.
This is atmosphere, I guess, this is
ramped up Lambchop, this is a ticket
someone's given me, and I'm at the
Phoenix when a few hours before I was
in Western Bay Newfoundland looking
at a house with no wiring or water
and thinking of buying it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Reading at Whistler

He volunteers on the slopes. He
helps the handicapped. Blind people, for
instance. He skis behind them. That's
a gondola, that's a snowboarder. Now
youre passing trees on your right.
The snow is like scar tissue and the
blind listen their way down.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Book Lovers Ball

The wind is high and the sidewalks
shine in clear ice. Nine valets wear
green balaclavas. The man who grew the
oyster beds has seven shucking knives.
It's a long walk for a martini -- probably
a good thing. Do I have a library
card? I have three. A Tiffany watch
walks around on the pink glove of a model.
The brocade tux appears to be in. We all
eat beef, even the vegetarians, and
there are skewers of pickerel and the
skewers are made from real branches.
There's a literary catwalk and a child
scans ahead as she walks with a woman
wearing seven pounds of black crepe.
Followed by a nine piece band and I keep
my eye on the sax and trumpet. When the
sax and trumpet are raised we dance.
I wear down the heels of my shoes.
To a private club, that's where the taxis
go, where half of us whine and
the other half mix pints with the
vodka, the beginning of a bad sign.
But we haul ourselves out of there
and our tuxes receive a free round at
the Inter Steer. Also pickled eggs
in Italian wine glasses. Who suggested
LPs and egg sandwiches? Who was that
who sprayed medicinal cannabis on
my gums like I'm a doped race horse?
Who knew librarians had such midnight
dealings? On some illicit website
there are photos of all this.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Curling at Leaside

I pulled on the red slider. I chose a broom.
I listened carefully to Heather. When she
crouched, I crouched. When she put the
butt end of her broom on the toe of her
shoe, so did I. When she pushed off and
slid and curled her stone into the
button, well how was it that I ended up careening
over the side of the curling rink and
jeopardizing three lanes of curlers while
recovering, in a Buster Keaton move, my
balance on the pebbled ice? Why was I the
only one of the eight of us to spend the
next day in bed reading Joseph Roth?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Toilet at Tiffany's

As some of you diehard blog readers know,
I like to visit and grade the public restrooms
of this world. I was passing Tiffany's.
So I went in. I headed for the men's watches.
A man with a handlebar moustache, he rubbed
his shirt cuffs. I'm just looking, thanks.
The price is tucked under the body of the
watch, or perhaps there is no price, just
a series of numbers indicating the provenance
of the watch. I hear an elevator. I walk
to the back of Tiffany's. Which floor sir?
I scan the list and ask for six. To the
men's lounge! And at the top of the building
is a hallway to the washrooms. One toilet
in a room on its own, and one urinal. The
fixtures are by Toto. A square sink. Regular
paper towels. The mirror is generous and
clean. B+

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.