montparnasse

la gare

seen better in black and white
seen best through a brasserie glass
how can i tell you: it felt like home
from the first inhalation

down on the other corner is the cemetery
where simone du beauvoir and jean-paul sartre, seeking eternal rest,
are pestered daily by well-meaning fans leaving stones, coins, metro tickets
still, it beats lying next to jim morrison over in pere lachaise
that one’s like a bloody airport, crowds of people pushing and weeping
looking to pocket fragments of the famous: chopin dust, piaf crumbs
smearing the pink tomb of oscar wilde with lipstick kisses

edgar quinet is the metro stop
ringed by art stores, pharmacie, cafe la liberte, news stand.
there is creperie row, and opposite is rue de la gaite
you can pick up asian takeaway and X-rated video on your way to la gare.
down that spoke is the cyber cube where you can rent an english keyboard
and on rue delambre there’s a laundry next to cath & dave’s hotel.
there are loads more art stores; you said you like to paint?
and café dietetique, where the food is not salted
but it makes you feel lucky.

wednesday means street market, where the most brazen of eggplants
and strawberries compete for your love with cheeses and other-wordly olives
and fresh cut flowers and paisley ties and pickpockets.
there are tablecloths and genuine french berets
and leathers and imported scarves
there are small dogs attached to large owners, and satchels,
and not as many people smoke anymore.

on sundays the mussels and vegetables are replaced by etchings and small sculptures.
art invades this street. the vendors will ship it to your house
on the other side of the world.

sometimes there’s a flea market with bird cages and old dolls
no photos please, monsieur, you must stop your camera merci beaucoup

we can sit now in cafe odessa, the most darling of all my french mistresses.
she reeks of tobacco and beer and her music is a tired loop of hits
from the american ’80s.
her upholstery is worn, and in some places torn
but we don’t care. we tell ourselves it’s charming,
in the same way the waiters pretend to find our canadian accents charming.
we know they’re making fun of us
and we don’t care.
we order beer named after french gnomes, even though you wanted a coffee.
beer is cheaper, madame; you might as well get that.

this neighbourhood is even better at night. all the outside chairs are taken;
people talk and eat and glasses tinkle
and motorbikes zoom past and drunks amble by
muttering obscenities (which always sound fiercer en francais)
and shaking their fists at le ciel

and this is where picasso and hemingway liked to party
wait, you mean you didn’t know that?

at another cafe a cat sits on the tables,
a case of black-cat ass right on your linen napkin.
i took a picture of it through the window one time
kitty bum snuggled right next to the cutlery
i do not recommend dining there

on another corner, buses. the ugly black tower.
a department store that sells the finest cheap lemon vervaine soap
and those striped shirts that make me wish i was a russian sailor
cinema, patisserie, pain au chocolat, tarte au citron
sweetest of all is that screeching metal-burnt sugar smell of the paris underground
how can i tell you it has held my heart
for a thousand years?

 


‘thank you, this is the worst thing i’ve read’

Spam, wonderful spam!

I just got a lovely gift from someone named “buymicrosoftoffice2011” who clearly made a big booboo (or not) and instead of launching one random option from the Worldwide Fake Comment Generator in Spatherdab’s direction, unleashed ALL of the fake comments from Yoda’s House of Interweb Praise and Pain. I’m particularly fond of “you’re a big lad,” “the article simply disgusting” and “You are the worst writer.”

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when the shackles come off

my therapist says it’s all about sex
i say no: what about god, and honeybees,
and sentences complex?

my therapist says which parent made you sad
i say no: this is not about mom or dad
it’s about hummingbirds and tap lessons
and being pushed off the dock
and that time i stole nickels from oh my god it IS
all about m
y parents

my therapist says you need to lighten up
i say light ain’t the problem; i’m running out
of guff about my happy childhood

my therapist says why do you
think you’re so cynical
i say cynical, schminical;
my father cheated my mother drank
my brother pimped my sister shrank
i’m the most well-adjusted leaf on the family tree
and i’m the one in therapy!
because i can’t go out at night
because i can’t put up a fight
i never pretended to be sweetness and light
but what a crock, this womonly plight

my therapist says let’s explore what you mean
i say this distressed couch could use a steam-clean; how many heads
have you shrunk here before me?
were they better at disclosure and paying your fee?
did they do their home selfwork re bad touch and strangers
were they unhinged, but sane now?
free from emotional pain now?

my therapist says that’s our time for today. next week
could we start sooner? you’re regressing
i say next week could we start with pills and rum? you’re depressing

my therapist says perhaps you should find
another couch; you’re growing more hostile
i say screw the couch let’s jump straight to the bed
it’s like you & sigmund have already said:
everything always comes back to sex
and don’t think i haven’t noticed the way you look at me

my therapist says you’re projecting
i say i’m really just self-protecting
my sanity, my tiny place in this world
it’s hard, you know, when you throw like a girl

my therapist says that is your time, now goodbye
i say thank you for nothing
now watch this loon fly

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BELOW THE LINE: i just found this on my computer in a bucket marked ‘drafts.’ apparently i created the file
back in november, but i have ABSOLUTELY NO RECOLLECTION of writing it, or what the initial prompt/context was, or which dog-eared notebook it was birthed into. does this mean the inevitable spiral into madness has begun?
or was the writing preceded by three very large glasses of cab sav? oy!

E-Town Top 30, #7: Firepit Parties

Inexplicably drawn to the flame

To drive the cold winter away, I’ve been compiling a list of my favourite things about living in Edmonton. You know, good, warm, tasty things that help take the sting out of a six-month chill. Today’s offering is that time-honoured Canadian tradition, the backyard firepit party.

I’m pretty certain Edmontonians didn’t invent the firepit, but we sure know how to get the most out of one. And why not? What’s not to like about sitting around a fire – in summer and yes, even in winter – with friends, sipping a few cold (or hot) ones and solving the problems of the world (or the slumping hockey/baseball/curling team).

The great thing about the backyard firepit concept is … well, okay it’s two things:
1) the backyard and 2) the fire.

The backyard means you don’t have to find a campsite or other suitable venue; you just have to make sure you are friends with the sorts of good, like-minded people who have a similar penchant for sitting in a circle around an outdoor fire, mesmerized by the flame and getting high from the scent of burned marshmallows and singed rubber (from putting your sneakers a little too close to the life of the party). And the fire? It is what it is.

S'mores: get out the insulin

Food is an integral component of the firepit party, of course. All of the standard summer backyard/patio/barbecue/camping snacks are encouraged, but the ones that make the most sense are things you can toast/roast on the flames or coals, like wieners, marshmallows and s’mores.

Last September we introduced s’mores — so named because you always want some more! — to a visitor from New Zealand. The list of ingredients (marshmallows, chocolate to melt, graham crackers, etc) clearly left her cold, so we cooked up a few for her to sample. She tried to look happy about that but was still obviously unimpressed. Horrified, possibly. Questioning our sanity, definitely. But she pretended to like it.

She returned to Auckland not quite sure what possesses Canadians to huddle around fires in their neighbours’ backyards, sometimes in weather so cold parkas are required, munching on cookies and corn chips, swilling Sleeman’s and frozen margaritas in plastic martini glasses. It’s one of those things about the Canadian mystique that you have to just accept and not overthink — like three-down football. Five-pin bowling. Street hockey. Block heaters. Beavers. Politeness. And poutine.

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a little pick-me-up from the spam filter (found poetry)

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