Real straight talk about souls

It was all completely serious, all completely hallucinated, all

‘It was all completely serious, all completely hallucinated, all completely happy’

Beginning July 9, a collection of my paintings, Real Straight Talk About Souls, will be on display at the Woodcroft branch of Edmonton Public Library.
The exhibit is part of a larger, ongoing body of work in which the titles of the paintings are borrowed from beat poet Jack Kerouac’s writings — mostly from Dharma Bums and On The Road.

The exhibition’s title is from On The Road:

“Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk — real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.” – Jack Kerouac

The show will be on display through October 2017. Woodcroft library is located just north of Westmount Shopping Centre at 13420 114 Ave.

The Ma-Wink fallopian virgin warm stars reflecting on the outer

‘Ma-Wink fallopian virgin warm stars reflecting on the outer channel fluid belly waters’

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hallelujah moments

1. the first time i rode a two-wheeler, dad’s steadying hand at the ready but not necessary. hallelujah!

2. the time mom suggested i use a bigger bat because i was older now, and i resisted, but she insisted, so to please her i tried joey’s louisville slugger and swung hard and i hit a home run. hallelujah! my mom is smart, and i am a champion.

3. that time a boy in a wheelchair told me i have a nice aura.

4. motherless at 27; feeling mostly lost, cold, broken and fat. the sculptor next door tells me he used to watch me sunbathing on the roof when i still lived at home. hallelujah! i had a teenage body somebody thought was worth leering at. wait – hallelujah! – you’re a creep. no wonder your wife left you. do all art teachers sleep with their students?

5. i have always always always lived alone. orphaned at three, disconnected forever. there is a manhattan cafe that feels more like family. the chelsea hotel read my book! hallelujah!

6. racing off the end of the dock. no sharks. no rocks. the water is freezing, but i am not going under. i will survive. hallelujah!

7. if you tell enough lies you can get out of synchronized swimming AND piano recitals. hallelujah!

8. recipe for light getting in (come back to this).

9. hallelujah! your life is not wasted just because you are not a world-famous filmmaker. there is joy in quiet mornings and long prairie skies.

10. that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. she left; i didn’t die. another she left, and i did cry, but … hallelujah! i found swing, bourbon and boogie streets without them. hallelujah! thanks for the memories. didja get my postcards?

11. barefoot crooners with white linen suits and banjos. hallelujah!

12. The company of writerly women. hallelujah!

13. hey, that’s no way to say goodbye during sunday dinner and oh brother you were such a bastard. thank g-d you found your hallelujah.

14. the moment the titanium meets the canary and the cobalt and the perfect sky comes out the end of my eternally grateful brush. hallelujah!

15. the blessed communion of asparagus, lemon, garlic.

16. the realization you are holy within and fuck the without.

17. hallelujah! the trees.

18. hallelujah! the river.

19. hallelujah! the wild blue, yonder. the adult moment when you realize ‘yonder’ is a direction, not a coloured noun.

20. flannel plaid and plaid flannel. sensible shoe hallelujah.

21. corduroy bellbottoms.

22. fried cheese and lager. hallelujah!

23. anonymous valentines. someone out there loves me! hallelujah!

24. stones, roses, ribbons, glass hearts. the lovelies rowing across my living room pond on a snowy sabbath. hallelujah!

25. blessings are plentiful when you remember where to look. sometimes you need a flashlight. sometimes you just glide.

26. constellations and ducks, omelettes and libraries, bridges and broken angels. hallelujah times a million for all of these things.

27. there is a place on the bliss trail called hallelujah point. i buried my old scared self there.

28. the big aha: that hallelujah moments are not so much giant koans as tiny flickers in the mitochondria.

29. is a prime number on which to end. hallelujah!

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!

Top 30 things I love about Edmonton

See, here’s the thing. I do not like winter. It does not agree with me. It depresses me, it makes me cold and cranky and ornery and sad.
So why do I reside in a city that is occupied by winter for a minimum of five months each year? And not just mild winter; HARSH winter. The kind of winter that renders sidewalks so icy they are hip-fracturingly treacherous; the kind of winter where the daily temperature forecast comes with an automatic ‘feels like’ number called Wind Chill that has made me weep on occasion. The kind of winter that means seven hours of daylight per day – on a good day – between now and next March. The kind of winter that means parkas, toques, mitts, scarves, fleece vests and lined, industrial-strength boots. Where fashion accessories include snow shovels, snow blowers, ice scrapers, hand warmers, flannel sheets and crampons.
Why do I live here? Yup. That’s a damn good question.
But I’ve lived here for 27 years. So there must be something keeping me here. It’s just that, when my relatives from Down East ask (as they inevitably do after having visited me during late November 2007 when the temperature didn’t rise above minus 23 – feels like minus 33! – for the entire duration of their stay) Why do you stay there? I have trouble articulating an answer.

Because, frankly, it’s hell for half the year. And if the other half is, as a former colleague used to say on an annoyingly regular basis, six months of potholes and bad skiing (not to mention the mosquito factor), why do I stay?

The prime reason is, of course, friends. I have an amazing assortment of super amazing friends here, so whenever I start to believe that it might be pleasant (and possibly even artistically more lucrative) to move somewhere with a better climate (literally, politically, culturally – pick any that apply) I am reminded that if I were to leave this place, I would be leaving behind a wonderful tribe of people whom I love and by whom i am loved. That is no small thing.

Not my idea of a good time.

But there must be other factors that make the place bearable, yes? Absolutely. Because I don’t ski, and nor do I skate; and while I am in fact very much a “sweater person,” I do not enjoy having to wear wool and turtlenecks every day from mid-October to the end of April (and sometimes through the May long weekend).

So for the past several months I’ve been making a list of the things that I like, in fact (dare I say?) LOVE about Edmonton. And I decided to launch this list here in this blog on the day the first snowfall announced the arrival of Winter 2011. Which is today. Sadly. (Although, not so sadly, it could have arrived on a day in mid-October. Or even earlier. So, thank goddess for small mercies.)

Throughout the next few weeks I will list one thing a day that I love about Etown. As you may have surmised, there is nothing winter-related on this list. OK, maybe one thing – but you will have to wait for another day to find out what that is. (Hint – it’s got nothing to do with the Oilers.)

This list is in no particular order, by the way. And a lot of it is going to be about food. Which is my prerogative because I like food … and food is a great thing to share with friends … and it’s MY LIST.

So here goes: kicking things off is (drumroll, please) …

1. The Sugarbowl Cafe.

Located in the Garneau neighbourhood (10922 88 Ave.) next to Red Bike and a stone’s throw from the High Level Diner, the Sugarbowl is historic and cozy and has a great patio. It has an extensive beer list. It offers smoked paprika popcorn + lime (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – and then you will be forever hooked, like me).
It is famous for its cinnamon buns (get there first thing or you’ll be disappointed) and it has lovely warm, dark wood and local art on the walls.
It’s comfortable in the most literal sense of the word.
And though it’s only a few blocks from campus, you don’t have to be a U of A student to hang out there. Lots of writers, in fact, hang out and write there.

I have sipped many a kriek (Belgian cherry beer) on the Sugarbowl patio. I have gotten sunburned on the Sugarbowl patio. I have plotted world travels (and my world takeover) over lattes on the Sugarbowl patio.
And once I found a $20 bill on the Sugarbowl patio.

Did I mention the patio?

Pomme frites, hummus & pita, yam fries, cheese plate … the eclectic menu (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner) has enough options to satisfy carnivores and vegetarians alike. Plus, the proprietors get their eggs and meats from local farms. Other bonuses: sometimes there are beer tastings; live music has been known to break out.

And while parking in that area can be a challenge, the Sugarbowl is easily accessible via public transit: the number 9 bus stops less than half a block away on 109 Street.

One down, 29 to go.

torontosaurus wrecks

News item, February 2011:
Toronto the Good ditches longtime nicknames T.O., T.Dot and Hogtown; dubs itself ‘El Toro.’
Dear Toronto,
Please refer to Seinfeld episode #175: You cannot give yourself a nickname. It must be bestowed upon you by others. As George Costanza discovered, when you try to get people to call you ‘T-Bone’ you end up being called ‘Koko.’

Ironically (or was it a cry-for-attention cheeky collective nod to Seinfeld?), ‘T-Bone’ was runner-up in the Eye Weekly contest that unleashed ‘El Toro.’
Whatever. Nine months have passed since CBC television host Evan Solomon, one of the celebrity judges, proclaimed the winning moniker has ‘a delightfully multicultural tinge.’ Right. So … Is anyone actually referring to Toronto
as El Toro?

Didn’t think so.
Love,
Spatherdab

ACT I
two bruised peaches on the subway platform
samuel taylor coleridge on the TTC
two new moleskin notebooks
to match your bergundy chick-magnet blundstones
whispering around the henry moore
gourmet popcorn on the menu at starbucks
*
man on crutches to litterer: you dropped something.
litterer: thank you.
man on crutches: you dropped something.
litterer: you’re welcome.
man on crutches: so why don’t you pick it up?
litterer: fuck you.
man on crutches: aren’t you going to pick it up?
litterer: fuck you!
man on crutches: pick it up!
litterer: go fuck yourself!
*
you miss chagall at the AGO by one week
dark green centre

lochhead . riopelle . borduas
shamanic art ^^^ automatist painting ^^ ahhhhh ^
canadian landscape (NFB movie
featuring a.y. jackson, 1941
you know, the year your grandmother
killed herself)
‘can paradise ever be achieved?
A) damnshit right it can. got some of it right here ahhhh ahhhh ^^^^^ ahhhhh ^^
B) not without modern appliances
*
robert motherwell says art = an experience, not an object.
general idea says poodles = “the hairdresser’s little friend”
(which of course = code for “SO GAY!”) ^~^~^~^
*
INTERMISSION
it’s obvious you’ve been wondering:
what is it about the poet brain?
what sets those sad captains apart?
is it hope?
belief in miracles?
in true love in daffodils in forever?

you may not be ready to hear this but the truth is
when we myopic fools finish deep wrestling with a particularly obstreperous line
or recalcitrant couplet
we more frequently than we care to admit
wake up in a strange hotel room days later
lying next to stanzas smeared with blood and mascara
exclamation marks reeking the sweaty sour reek of vodka
hungover commas retching into the morning-after porcelain
(which act of punctuational thuggery
tore the bathroom door off its hinges this time?)
the fetid stench of onomatopoeia
hanging in the air
like stale pizza
*
DENOUEMENT
oh look look at the clever hipster youngster
being wicked funny on queen street
‘donation? donation?’ he giggles, waving an empty coffee cup
under the noses of saturday night flaneurs and leafs fans.
the genius is wearing a $200 gap sweater and shiny italian shoes.
begging as a lark, it’s such a joke, will anyone toss a coin
into his blatantly un-needy cup?
(true homelessness has become just so banal …)
three blocks later another sharp dresser grabs your arm and asks for change.
no but i’ll give you five bucks for that leather jacket
— what? fuck. no. seriously, lady. i need it for food. i haven’t eaten in three days.
sorry.
— PLEASE! THREE DAYS!
you start walking away so he accosts the person behind you
with even more hostility in his voice.
— for food! PLEASE!
then he leans against a brick wall and (blatantly, defiantly) lights up a joint.
someone yells:
geez, pal, if you can afford weed surely you can afford a cheeseburger


(w)rite by the river

wimmin’s words from the SAGA sessions at wynne’s
august 2006,
with gratitude

from this week i take

rivers, mountains, loaded guns, lampshades
and one dim bulb
frou-frou little foreigners and
wide-eyed jewish sisters
seeking shelter
hope and little green apples
joy harjo and joan baez
three matches
a wedding dress from a junk store
a cat named tessa
green & yellow john deeres
& the knowledge that you won’t hurt yourself
if you fall while wearing turquoise

from this week i take

jane kenyan, jane hirschfield, bell hooks
bare feet / green eyes
talcum powder cigarettes
skin / teeth / bone / eyes / skin / toes / lips / skin / hair
the crown of sagittarius
a trail of tears
madness and wholeness and
wet naps

italy / the aegean sea / connecticut
liverpool / california / carcajou
a coven of mothers
a squeak and full crunch
the scent of lemons
black cow nostrils
sweet cherries, yacht club beans
too much caffeine, not enough sleep
dreams and lies and riverdale air

from this week i take

lace and handmade buttons
unclaimed luggage
unacceptable women
sad nipples and purple bras
fringed leather belts
a portrait of a bird
the drone of unnamed bombs
glass shards
horses, i take some horses

from the words drifting out onto the veranda i take

short quick steps
happy little girls running shirtless
grandmothers, granddaughters, uncles, priests
gloria podesta. lyla doris macadam lee.
shasta avenue. lefthanded canyon. lickskillet road.
i take six elephants
and a red hat
cool wine, white, gently placed pearls
golden strands, cross-stitched

i take the dear ordinary
the memory extraordinary
and a magnificent
kissable
fish

memory bank

overdrawn

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