Category Archives: writing

When They Said Kill Your Darlings…

When they said

kill your darlings

they didn’t explain

how they would only ask about the rabbits

 

so I said

ok, maybe

we can just stay here

for a while

 

so I stretched

& scratched my head

& bled

& waited

 

waited until they said

“look what you made us do

we sat just around

all afternoon”

 

didn’t understand

what else they were supposed to do

couldn’t soak in

those few moments

 

before I’m through

& through

& through

& the rabbits burrow away for the winter

Advertisements

Autumnal Equinox (Freewriting S.A.D)

Although I have a hard time identifying with any belief system, one’s actions can sometimes categorize one’s self into certain identities. With that said, I guess I’m fairly pagan–as wonderfully nebulous as that is.

I celebrate the solstices and equinoxes. They designate important time periods in my part of the world, and are particularly important as mile posts for the waxing & waning of the unfortunate side effect of northern latitudes: seasonal affective disorder.

That’s not a blanket side effect for everyone on the forehead of the planet. But it sure fucks with me. After floundering for too many years, I have found that observing the points where the sunlight increases or decreases is one small way to acknowledge the cycle.

That way, no surprises. The merry-go-round is there for all to see.

Unfortunately, I was born with a ticket and can’t get off. The freewriting piece below is awkward & unsettling & dizzying, kind of like a merry-go-round. It’s an older piece, but from the same period to come, between the fall equinox and the winter solstice. I don’t think it offers much hope, which is why I felt the need for this preamble.

 

~~~

—And can’t you go for a week without? Look at what you’re doing to yourself—

<<Doing? That’s exactly it, hun. I’m doing>>

—You’re doing nothing—

<<You’re doing nothing>>

—That’s exactly it, hun. I’m doing—

<<What are we doing here?>>

—We’re here again. You ever wonder if it has anything to do with a gain?—

<<It sounds more like a loss. To be anywhere again is only retracing your steps>>

—Unless you took a new way. What are we doing here again?—

<<I wish I knew. You’re no help>>

—No help is right. Look at what we’re doing to ourselves—

<<This is confusing>>

—That’s right. I’m doing—

<<You’re doing it again. We’re here>>

—And can’t you go a week without reminding me? Listen to yourself—

<<I feel it all over again. We’re here again>>

—God fuck it. Krishna suck it. Devil may share. Damn us all to earth for a thousand lifetimes—

~~~

<<And you would still just come back here>>

—Probably. I can’t go a week without—

<<What does it taste like?>>

—It tastes like we’re here again. I feel it in every nerve—

<<Must be close>>

—Must be doing nothing—

<<Unless you took a new way>>

—Naw, fuck it. You know it. There is no other way—

<<Did you just feel that?>>

—I think that’s the point—

<<No, it wasn’t sharp. It was full-bodied>>

—Why don’t we forget about it all and get a bottle of Malbec? —

<<Why don’t we just enjoy the tilt of the earth for once?>>

—You know there is no other way—

<<There must be another way around it>>

—Oh sure, we can circle it all day, but we’re just going to up here—

<<Here? Again?>>

—You’re doing it again—

<<That’s exactly it, hun. I’m doing>>

~~~

Giving It My Best Shot

The approach of the autumnal equinox seems to usher a familiar feeling. I haven’t totally figured myself out yet, but fall always has some power over me. For one thing, my childhood ensconced September as “back-to-school”. That’s one thing I thought I had moved away from…but this year, I have summoned it back.

Of course, on a subtler note, the earth is tilting. The daylight swings wildly enough where I live that the difference between June’s all-night glow and December’s darkness is noticeable. Already, the days are shorter. The fifty-foot balsam poplar in my neighbourhood that serves as my seasonal barometer showed its first yellowing leaves over a week ago.

There is no burst of colours in the trees. The electric yellow canola fields trail off into a pale green before it’s piled into swaths which accentuate the topography. The other crops turn brown before they disappear. Trees denude back to twisted branches and twigs, their silhouettes etched like lightning against the sky.

2017-09 Brown Prairie

I can’t explain why the leading lines make my eyes shiver, or why the smoothed contours soothe me—but there is a certain space I can enter when that certain blend of summer and winter meet on an archetypal autumn day—and even when I’m outside for the briefest moment, there’s a quietness that follows the thought that I lose as it’s whisked away by the nippy breeze.

The geese are in the air, they know what that breeze brings. Soon flocks of hundreds of birds fly overhead, charting a magnetic path they can see with eyes evolved for the task.

Waterfowl move methodically and rhythmically, setting up shop when necessary or where food is available. Warblers are more blindly determined—they only pass through for days, as opposed to the weeks that it takes ducks and geese. Warblers cause tumults in the middle of the night, quite literally warbling like a comet made up of a hundreds-strong (yet short-breathed) church choir.

But I don’t hunt warblers. At least not with anything besides a pair of binoculars. The geese and ducks are not so lucky. Wild waterfowl makes for a delightful meal, which is a foreign concept for someone who was raised in a metropolis (like myself) and saw geese and ducks as companions to pigeons and seagulls (i.e. garbage birds). I had heard of homeless people in Toronto eating goose, and it sounded no different than someone eating a subway rat.

Now that I live in the fly-path between the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico, I think I can appreciate geese and ducks as something more. These birds certainly reside in cities at some point on their journey, but they benefit from a lot more free range than their eastern (or city-bound) counterparts.

(Some of that, I realize, is an idealization; and I am okay with that dissonance because so far, all the meat I have tasted has been delectable, and if it had any garbage-infused flavours they paired perfectly with the heartiness of goose).

2017-09 Goose Supper

Hunting can be a polarizing activity. It’s a complicated issue, and cannot be painted with the broad brush it so often is. It’s not a familial or cultural tradition for me. I have no compulsion or obligation to hunt. However, it seems disingenuous to me to eat and enjoy meat, but refuse to be part of the process.

I say, if you eat apples, go pick apples.

In a similar vein, I enjoy being entertained—therefore, I entertain. I don’t think that’s a comprehensive reason why I write, but it certainly feeds into my overall creative ethos.

Hunting and writing have some parallels for me—they’re done alone; can be fruitless no matter how much time and effort is spent; and, can be done without any instruction.

But the latter is only true if the outcome doesn’t affect your lifestyle. If I dick around in the field for three days and come back without so much as a feather, it’s all good. We go to the grocery store and buy whatever we need.

2017-09 Horseradish

So far, writing has been similar. If it fails (as it so often does), it doesn’t really matter. I have a job that pays the bills. No one will starve or suffer because my story sucked.

North Korea might force our hand to need to know more about sourcing our food. In the case of creativity, I am being my own North Korea, forcing myself out onto the proverbial gangplank, where I either succeed as a writer or I flounder as a provider for my family.

Just like the apprentice hunter of yesteryear would seek a master to teach the skills needed to excel, I am also seeking out masters to help me excel as a writer. I am super-psyched to have been accepted into Stanford’s Online Writing Course for Novel Writing. It’s a huge opportunity…so huge, it feels too good to be true, like I’ll finally be outed as the impostor I have always been.

Until that happens, I have to trust it’s just a syndrome. An impostor can’t really try. And I am trying. Even if no one knows it—and of course, it’s this chink that my inner critic can still hang out and harangue me.

Because identity is everything—encapsulated in that millennial idiom I’m tired of hearing & writing: “If it can’t be shared, it didn’t happen.”

My family doesn’t value creativity, I have no friends to call up about life events, and the place I live & work isn’t a particularly cultured/artsy place. Social media is supposed to be the panacea for my kind of situation, but I can’t help but see it for what it is (a placebo, and not a very good one).

So basically, none of this is happening. My inner critic has a field day with that shit.

Not everyone seems to have the same hang-ups about pride. Anton Chekhov wrote a short story about a man who borrows a medal for a dinner party, only to find out someone is there who knows he didn’t earn that medal—only to later find out both of them are frauds trying to impress the host. Usually we never have that final reveal. Instead, we really buy into our borrowed medal and convince ourselves the illusion is real.

2017-09 Upside Down Prairie

All I can do is give it my best shot, I’ve convinced myself. Until I shoot my eye out or carpel tunnel limits my ability to type, I only have my best shot. (After that, I have pain medication).

As September rolls on, I am re-acquainting myself with that “back-to-school” mentality. I am looking for my fingerless gloves and cleaning my shotgun. I keep one eye on the skies and the other on my prize. And then I put my sunglasses on, because no one can know.

When It’s Better to Laugh it Off

Around this time last year, I was still reeling from a major incident at work. A diluted blend of crude oil had hit the river, and I was part of the scramble to keep it from making too much of a mess.

Of course, it did make a whole lot of mess.

And it’s still going on. A whole new generation of fish have come to spawn in that river, fish who would never know that there was a time when burrowing into this or that sand bar could cause them to become slimed by residual crude oil.

I have had the (mis?)fortune to attend many spill response events. A driver falls asleep at the wheel after too many hours on the road, and your entire weekend is fucked because there are 30,000 L of goopy oil flooding a farmer’s field.

At the very least, sometimes, there is pizza.

But there is rarely a chance that things go smoothly, or efficiently, or effectively. Politicians represent a populace that want corporations to pay for their liability, but that same populace is financially sustained on the notion that corporations must maximize profits and dolla-dolla-bill-y’all or else perish. So oil spill responses, for all their hoopla & huge (insurance-covered) spends, are somewhat of a performance, an exercise in optics and reputational management instead of addressing the real problem.

When the fox is asked to look after the hens, I suppose you  can’t blame the fox when you’re left with an empty coop.

Anyway, I wrote about pizza & oil spills for Defenestration, which I promise isn’t as dire as I am above. You can check out right now!

This Emergency Spill Response Will Officially Kick-Off After Domino’s Orders Those 746 Party Pizzas

DEFENESTRATION MAGAZINE

The End of the Era of Blakean Patience

Just for the flair of it

we abandon the fairest before they plummet—

 

Before the end is done

it’s better to look like the clever one who seen it come—

 

Showered in shards of glass kicked up from your sandbox,

Running from the rain with hot slag in our socks—

 

Soon unblocked, like hips opening up in a squat—

Soon unlocked, like a juiced kumquat—

 

For now, stuck in your garden variety pot,

an heirloom fruit of the tomb fettered in thought knots—

 

A feral hairless ape who has finally heard enough,

who resides in the time to buy lace only to tear it up—

 

It’s the end of an era

and any end summons terror—

 

But there’s a secret sharer between the burning sensations

intercepting fate’s fishnets while we stroke our impatience—

Uh Yeah, Me Neither… (A Poem)

Do you take

all your poems

out ‘round back?

Fantasize

about them

during teleconferences?

Sketch them

from memory by candlelight

when the wind sounds

like orgasmic gasps?

Does your blood

burst in your genitals

when you feel

the line break?

Do you try

to conjure their smell

and end up hyperventilating?

Tell me, do you ask

all your poems

to stay for breakfast?

In an Age of Ice, An Auger is a God

Just trying to break the ice.

That’s the problem with taking too much time, whether it’s away or closer or wherever else we go when we are not present.

I’ve been away. Need to get back into it. But the blank page is a haunted house–the blinking word processor’s line is a reminder that bringing form into formlessness isn’t that hard…it’s only tricky if you want something more than a line.

The line never says enough. That’s where we pick up from.

And that’s where I need to pick up from. That last line, so long ago.

Don’t get me wrong. Been writing as much as ever. Just much more focused, less distracted by this social posturing.

But here I am. Getting back into it all–for posterity, for popularity, for the possibilities we are promised by extroverted polemics.

As simple as taking a solid stem auger to lake ice. Hold steady and let the drill’s teeth do the work.

At least until I break the ice.

img_1055

Archaeological Preamble (Found Poem)

Environment has always

provided the parameters

within which human cultures may develop

by providing both

opportunities and limitations.

 

As a result, elements

of the regional environment

are important considerations

in the understanding of cultural development,

as they influenced

not only the types of activities

that could be conducted,

but the ways in which

they could be

accomplished.

 

In the archaeological record,

this pattern is observed

in the type and location of

archaeological sites

found in

specific environments.

 

Locally, archaeological sites

are found associated with a specific set

of landforms—

valley edges, knolls,

rivers, lakes and

sloughs—

which would direct travel,

bias routes of communication

and enhance or restrict

resource procurement

and occupation.

 

Due to this close relationship of

human settlement and

the environment,

a brief overview

of the regional and local

environments

is presented…

How to Write a Poetry Chapbook

How to write

a poetry

chapbook:

 

Fill

seven notebooks

with longhand poems

for eleven years

 

Tear out

your best

heart-pounding words

 

Lay them

on the floor

 

Let them

tell you

a pathetic story

 

Then

collate

accordingly

in proper

manuscript format

the way William Shunn likes it

 

Douse

in

diesel

 

Strike

match

 

Ignite

 

Dance

a pagan jig

 

Repeat