Beware the Drumpercrock


Apologies to Lewis Carroll     

’Twas votecrack, and the Cheese’d of Skin

Did Grump and Twitter in the night:

All Klimsy’d were his alt-right views,

And Nasty Women gave him fright.


“Beware the Drumpercrock, my girl!

The clod that bite, the maw that’s jabber!

Beware the Orangefaced Turd, and shun

The furious Pussygrabb’r!”


Took Vorpal pen in Tiny hand;

Ponscumm’d Bad Hombres that he sought—

So dozed he with Deplorebull’d fools

And drooled he there in Fuddled Thought.


And, as in pompous glare he stood,

The Drumpercrock, with Eyes of Bulge,

Came whiffling through the Golfcan Yuge,

Miss-spelling as it Grease-ly stomped!


One, two! three! six! Want cheeseburger! he whimpered Zwill,

His Vorpal cellphone insecure!

His SackPence blumph, intellect nil!

He jowls galumphing, “Crooked Hill!”


“And hast thou tamed the Drumpercrock?

Let’s build that wall, my Bigly boy!

O frabjous pee! CovfeeFeeFee!”

He Bannon’ed in his Frittled Sploy.


’Twas horr’bl, and the Cheese’d of Skin

His Putin o’er the grumbll sailed:

Flimsie’d t’were the old white men — SAD! —

And pink pussy tuques prevailed.

— macfayden nov. 9 2017


Post-script: This open-mic poetry event was a blast. Thanks to the Almanac for the always-groovy space, and to MC extraordinaire Michael Gravel and the Raving Poets Band for bringing the magic. Meanwhile, the Old Trout Puppet Workshop is back in town with its own peculiar version of Jabberwocky at the Roxy, 8529 Gateway Blvd, through Nov. 26. Liz Nicholls sets it up over at her 12th Night blog.


Walking Through Turquoise available now


Walking Through Turquoise, Laurie MacFayden’s third book of poetry, continues to explore the secrets and flirtations mined in her previous titles, White Shirt and Kissing Keeps Us Afloat. The sweet, clumsy intricacies of relationships; things you want to shout from rooftops but can’t; that tickle in your gut the first time she calls you honeyMacFayden ponders a one-way trip to Mars, the turmoil of clouds, the majesty of moonstone. ‘How can desire survive the tragedy of human aging?’ she asks, never losing sight of the joyous, wet, throbbing hallelujah. Walking Through Turquoise is a celebration of the glorious, swirling twine that binds us to things of this earth and beyond.


can you be buried in a canoe?
can you paddle on through
and come out the other side?
if the dog jumps out will the vessel tip?
at the bottom of the lake
will your toes find mud or bone?
between the shore and the floating dock,
whose sad, lonely cry swims you home?
— excerpt, red canoe


Published by Frontenac House, Walking Through Turquoise is part of Quartet 2017 which also features A Tincture of Sunlight, Vivian Hansen; The Riparian, Lisa Pasold; and This Wound is a World, Billy-Ray Belcourt.

Calgary launch: Tuesday, Sept. 19, Wordfest space, Memorial Park Library, 7-9 p.m. Author readings and refreshments.
Edmonton launch: Wednesday, Sept. 20, The Almanac, 10351 82 (Whyte) Ave., 7-9 p.m. Author readings and refreshments.

the map of our world has no beginning or end
our cartography tells us not where we’ve been
or where we need to go, merely:
where we are joined is at the chest,
the welcoming corner bone of hip,
the intersection of dusk and constellation
joined by alchemy, spirits of the woods,
by hobo roads and caution stones
— excerpt, world map

Dear Younger Me: Relax, you’ll turn out OK


What would you say to your younger self?

Dear Younger Me … A letter to myself
Sunday, Nov. 6, 2-3:30 p.m.
Latitude 53, 10242 106 St, Edmonton

Six area writers have been invited to pen letters to their younger selves, whether as children or as young adults, and share these aloud with the audience, followed by a Q & A session. The event includes a silent auction, cash bar, and desserts from Cafe Reinette donated by The Writers’ Union of Canada. Proceeds go to our kids camps and sponsoring youth in financial need from Edmonton and rural Alberta to attend.

Marilyn Dumont, Minister Faust, Mieko Ouchi, Thomas Trofimuk, Thomas Wharton and Laurie MacFayden are the featured literati letter writers and presenters. They’ll have copies of their books available for purchase.

Tickets are available at the door for $25.

cat’s diary

Humans are a foreign species.
A distinctly separate,
fascinating breed.
They do things so differently.
It’s my job to help my human
get more in touch
with her inner animal —
but she is reluctant to learn
the ways of the wild.

She owns a copy
of Women Who Run
With the Wolves
but she’s not fooling me.
It’s not really wildness she seeks,
but rather a safe, baby step just slightly off the beaten path.

Each morning is the same. She shuffles out of that room,
the one in which I am not allowed at night
(which is, by the way, the best part of the day)
and grabs a long rubbery plaything
but instead of surrendering to the Zen moment
and batting it around aimlessly,
she sticks the end of it into a hole in the wall.

Nothing good ever seems to come out of this hole,
no mice or grubs or spiders to stare at
and occasionally paw with feigned indifference.

But this hole possesses some sort of magical energy,
turning a vessel of cold water into a curious hot brown substance
which steams very nicely. This never fails to attract my attention
— curiosity is one of my fatal flaws, after all — but it smells absolutely putrid
and I fall for it every time: take a big, slow sniff … gag and sneeze.
Then she wastes a big splash of cream, glorious cream,
on this stinky brown muck
when she could be lapping that nectar of the gods
straight from her dish.
Life Lesson No. 1, silly human:
Always pour the cream directly into the cat’s bowl.

Later, when the time seems ideal for stretching, napping, licking, licking
and more napping, she darts around the house, picking up lifeless objects,
putting them down in other places
with no apparent rhyme or reason to her roaming,
frequently lunging at a plastic device that emits a vulgar ringing noise —
evidently some kind of signal for humanspeak
which causes her to purr on command.

(We cats, unlike dogs — which are all, in a word, stupid —
refuse to do anything on command, even if it’s something
we really want to do, lest we give the impression
we are out to please anyone but ourselves.)

It saddens me that my human seems so … directionless.
Always in a hurry and getting nowhere.
Never allowing herself to slow down
and smell her neighbour’s butt.

“Put that down and come sit here by me,” my eyes implore.
“Stretch out on the couch, here by the window.”
I try to direct her to kitty’s best friend, the sunbeam,
but she’s not getting it. “Come, lie here with me.
We can lick each other’s ears.”

“Kitteeewannaagooutsiiiiiide?” she gushes,
heading — I can’t believe this — for the door.
Oh, the humiliation. What is wrong with her?
It’s time to lie down and lick our paws, lick our soft downy chests,
wash our sweet furry faces by licking our paws and rubbing them
on our sweet furry cheeks … but she is not comprehending this.

“Don’wannagooutsiiiide? How ’bout your squeaky mouse? Izzzzzat what you want?”

Please. Do not speak to me like I am a kitten.
I am trying to impart the wisdom of the ages,
show my human the meaning of life: eat, sleep, stretch, lick,
eat, stretch, find a warm lap, lick, lick, lick,
allow yourself to be petted, lick, lick, lick,
sleep, watch out for large dogs, fast cars
and rocking chairs.

And still she insists on talking down to me.
Doesn’t she see that I was put here to improve her life?
That my purpose here is to guide her to that place of least resistance:
total acceptance; self-love; self-licking.

I will not give up. She can be saved. Tomorrow I will engage her
in the ball-of-yarn game. Perhaps we will meditate together.
I will show her how to pick a spot halfway up the wall
and stare at it — just stare — as if we are watching a dancing spirit
that no one else can see.

I will teach her how to see it.

the joy of not working

i’m quickly coming up on the one-year anniversary of quitting my job in order to write and paint full-time.
as expected, the bank account is not being fed nearly as frequently, but the soul is thriving.

crow and skya few years ago, inspired
by ernie zelinski, the edmonton-based
author of the joy of not working, i composed a list of things i wanted to do — some realistic, some pure whimsy — if and when i had, er, made the time. here are some of the things from that list:

learn the banjo
write letters to the editor
read books / poems / magazines
listen to alternative / public radio
listen to my own music

go to the movies
wander whyte avenue

dance / alone or take lessons
redecorate the house (streamline / simplify)
cull wardrobe
organize photo albums / negatives
write a song

have a garage sale
sing / alone or with others
star gaze / stare at the moon
study zen buddhism
start a writing group
throw a theme dinner party
ride the LRT from end to end
fight pollution
climb a tree
swing on a swing
keep a dream journal
try a new restaurant
recreate a favourite restaurant meal at home

attend live theatre / concerts
go on a retreat (writing / nature / spa)
enter writing contests
send out writing to publishing houses
write a book

make lists (!):

  • the soundtrack of my life
  • songs i want played at my funeral
  • the successes in my life

go birdwatching / hiking
take pictures / make photo cards

swim / cycle
do nothing
have fun

i’m surprised that travel wasn’t on that list, because it’s one of my favourite things. and i’ve definitely done a lot of that since hanging up the cleats. but this particular list was created in 2003. fast-forward five years and … despite having much more time on my paint-spattered hands, many of the things on that quirky wish list remain undone.

i haven’t taken up the banjo — yet — but i have arranged to learn bass guitar from a former beatnik who happens to be the illegitimate son of monk montgomery’s barber.

i’ve written a few letters to the editor, but none of them has appeared in print.
(too scathing? too left wing? too cryptic? can’t handle the truth? cowards!)
i’ve meditated — but not more than twice. which hasn’t gotten me very far.
i’ve been to the movies and wandered whyte avenue.
those ones are easy.
culling the wardrobe, on the other hand, is a constant challenge — even though i can now stay in my pyjamas all day if i choose. three decades’ worth of photo albums & negs are still in disarray. i haven’t exactly written a song, but i wrote one in a dream, does that count? (sadly, all that i can remember is the title … all the more reason to start keeping a dream journal.)

i did have a garage sale … and would prefer to never have one again. they’re bad for the soul. and the feet. and i rode the LRT to both ends of the line one day … man, is e-town’s north-east end spectacularly brutal in its sprawling ugliness.

i’ve tried several new restaurants, and did manage to create a pretty good version of matahari’s mee goreng in my own kitchen. my improv veggie version just keeps getting better, actually, whereas matahari took theirs off the menu. um, maybe they heard how good mine is and surrendered?

achilles tendon problems have prevented me from playing any tennis in the past two years. but the feet are healing, slowly, slowly. (and who knew so much depends on the glorious & notoriously unsung big toe?)
i’ve retreated to the banff centre three times in the past four years, and visited a vancouver spa for massage and a tiny bit of pampering.
haven’t written a book — well, i guess i actually have, the manuscript just hasn’t been published yet. it’s sitting in a tight sweater somewhere on the corner of jasper and 105th, waiting to be discovered.

nola\'s famous muffelata sandwich, veggie versioni’ve watched lots of birds — particularly love to gawk at west-coast eagles and the herons that nest on the fringes of stanley park. i have wandered the beaches near tofino. i sipped the local cider near erdeven on the north-east coast of france, and roamed the gower in south wales. i washed down a veggie muffelata with an abita beer on a humid sunday in new orleans, after being wowed by the tragically hip
at the house of blues the night before.

in the past year of working without a net I’ve sold a few more paintings, and will have two pieces on display in visual arts alberta’s annual diversity exhibit in conjunction with the works art & design festival. (june 19 through july 19, 2008, site # 21, harcourt house, 3rd floor, 10215 – 112 street, edmonton; opening reception thursday, june 19,
6 to 10 p.m.)

i also took a sculpture workshop. i made it to the regional finals of the annual cbc poetry faceoff competition. i helped some very good friends celebrate milestone birthdays and they helped me with one of my own. i kicked up my heels at a wedding or two, and actually saw mingus tourette do the bird dance. (having posted that, i may now have to enter a witness protection program.) in the last few months i’ve thought a lot about mortality as i watched two friends bury their mothers, and witnessed another friend’s amazing journey back — literally — from the brink of death.

i’ve accommodated several sets of house guests, ranging in age from 16 to 70.
i read: novels, poetry, some non-fiction. and i discovered there actually is a book called “the complete idiot’s guide to nascar.” (insert your own redundancy joke here.)

i slept. in fact, i have gained a whole new appreciation for sleep. when i was five i hated having to sleep. it’s taken me decades to realize that sleep is quite a lovely thing, especially if you can master the art of doing it well, and for seven or more hours at a time. (such restorative power. such bliss.)

bonus round:
on sunday night, i got goosebumps hearing k.d. lang sing hallelujah live at the jubilee auditorium.
on monday night, i was privileged to hear gloria sawai read one of her wonderful short stories to an intimate gathering at the faculty club.

life is good. i’m having fun.


hell, yeah.

memory bank


i cannot remember any of my mother’s native tongue
my father’s favourite tie
or my sister’s reasons for hoarding

i cannot remember what i had for breakfast
or anything you may have said
the morning after we got married

i cannot remember when i stopped playing the piano
or when i started letting myself go

i cannot remember all the lies i’ve told
or why men make war

i cannot remember what might cause women
to judge, invalidate, shun, erase, shame, oppress,
brutalize, condemn, injure or kill the spirit of
other women

i cannot remember if there’s a difference
between guilt and regret
but i can remember the words to every top 40 song
i heard on the radio
when i was thirteen

i cannot remember when i started writing
why i sent the artist away for 25 years
why helicopters scare me
but i remember peeing my pants
on the first day of kindergarten

i cannot remember the names of the apostles
where i left my sunglasses
or when to change the brita filter

i can’t remember to take my calcium supplements
to phone about the eavestroughs
to clean out the ring in the bathtub
or what i was looking for five minutes ago

sometimes it’s enough just to remember my own blessed eyes
my broken feet
and the hand that holds the pen
to remember that i am alive
to remember that i am loved
to remember to laugh

sometimes it’s enough just to remember
to breathe

crimes of fashion

According to an Associated Press story out of Baton Rouge, a bill that would have made it a crime for people to wear their pants too low in public has been rejected by a panel of the Louisiana state senate. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Derrick Shepherd, would have made it illegal to wear clothing that “intentionally exposes undergarments or … any portion of the pubic hair, cleft of the buttocks or genitals.” Shepherd figures the state should take a stand against droopy trousers, which he calls an example of widespread indecency in today’s fashion. “The shorts are getting shorter, the tops are getting smaller, the cleavage is getting larger,” says Shepherd. “When are we going to say, ‘Enough is enough’?”

Beautiful! You can’t make this stuff up.

And you can’t just let it go by. Because if you start letting people wear droopy pants in public, next thing you know they’ll want clean water and the right to vote. It’s a very saggy, er, slippery, slope.

So, with apologies to whoever wrote the Do your ears hang low? song that we all sang in camp, Spatherdab presents the Do your pants hang low? song.


Do your pants hang low
Do they drag through mud and snow
Do your boxers do the mambo
Does your johnson shout hello
It may be cool to shake your banana
But some prudes in Louisiana
Think saggy pants must go

Do your Y-fronts show
When you sit in the front row
Does the teacher get an eyeful
When you bend to touch your toe
Do your bulging tighty whities
Prompt the boss to send you home
Do your Y-fronts show

Do your briefs ride high
When your fly’s at your mid-thigh
Do they slide down off your belly
And salute your Auntie Nelly
Can you moon your next-door neighbour
With a minimum of labour
Do your briefs ride high

Is your thong on track
Does it rise up from your crack
Can you yank it up your backside
Can you train it to attack
Does it stretch up from beneath
So you can super-floss your teeth
Is your thong on track

Does your ass hang out
When you waggle it about
Do you show your underpants
When you do the latest dance
Do the chicks think you’re a hunk
When you expose your super junk
Do your pants hang low

… Saggy pants must go!

home again

what a country.

the drive from toronto to edmonton is horrible. at least that’s what i always thought, based on the first time i drove it back in march of 1980. but i was only 22 then, and … well, it turns out i didn’t know anything at that age. in fact, the drive this time around was hardly painful at all. which tells me that i was just a real impatient, self-absorbed dumbass when i was 22.

now that i am much older, i like to think i’m at least a teeny bit wiser; and i’m pretty sure that in my blind wanderings since then i have managed, in spite of myself, to become more compassionate, more kind, more aware.

which is neither here nor there, really. but one does have a lot of time to think when one is behind the steering wheel staring at tundra, pine trees and prairie skies for hours at a time.

i think i’ve got it pretty good.

go home lake, minnedosa, minnewanka, wawa, nipissing, neepawa, nipigon, short road, long road, ball park road, post office road, baptist church road …

what a country, indeed.

somehow the world

superman’s dead
and so, now, is moses
and cool hand luke
and our brokeback fantasy
along with, some might suggest,
every soothing shade of blue that ever used to exist
and somehow the world still turns

they’re building another ice rink in this frozen shinny-obsessed city
but new orleans is still under water
and well-intentioned kids are still comin’ back in bodybags
and my sister
my sister just found a stone in her left breast
and somehow the world still turns

we meditate & self-medicate
over-eat & super-annuate
we’ve lost our ability to articulate
but not our inclination to hate
yet somehow this world still turns

we forget how to play
forget we ever knew how to pray
find ourselves craving human touch
then we wonder why we drink so goddamn much
and somehow the world still turns

we start to wonder if we’re losing our minds
— or is it just our credit that’s slipping away? —
as we install plasma screens in every child’s bedroom
and cell phones for every plugged-in waking moment
of every toxic shrink-wrapped day

we ask what’s the catch?
what’s the deal?
what’s the point?

why don’t we go out dancing any more?

and yet …and yet … and yet …
the believers still find reasons to celebrate
and the romantics are still howling at the moon
and you and i
you and i are still on our feet

and the liars, they never stop pretending
and the bombs, they never stop exploding
and the poets
the poets are having trouble sleeping
and somehow
this world