Sunday, April 29, 2007

Other Clutter

Jenny Sampirisi has this great online publication/blog called Other Clutter filled with interesting visual work and some texts.

She emailed me a couple of days ago inviting me to contribute and mentioning a couple places where we'd met over the last couple of weeks. Thing was, I was never at the events she mentioned! Honest, officer. I have a airtight alibi. I was never there. I was in Kamloops in my derek beaulieu costume translating the work of rob maclennan into semaphore.

I wonder who it was she had met? And who are all those Gary Barwin imitators who are currently circulating around Toronto (Stuart Ross, I told you having Gary Clements as a doppleganger was enough!)? In any case, I look forward to meeting her -- and remembering it!

The above image is one of my contributions to Other Clutter. The source photographic image--and knowing this is not related at all to the success or failure of the piece--is a photograph of my grandmother and her brother and sister, and, I think, their nurse. It would have been taken in the Ukraine about 1910. My grandmother is the one on the left.

I remember helping my grandmother -- she was quite old and arthritic -- to move from the couch to the dinner table. The process took about 5 minutes. In that time, she explained to me when she stopped believing in God. As a young girl of about 16, she witnessed Stalinist executions at the end of the field near where she lived. She saw bodies piled on carts being pulled past her home. Then we sat down and had dinner.

Monday, April 23, 2007


in memoriam

bones across the room
limbs slopping mugs of fracture
my tongue a red carpet and everywhere

I must remember the story
the one where I’m not in it
but instead riding my bike
where it is blue and not semi-automatic

but any moment could fracture
become vast and borderless with
the red shift of possibility receding
becoming this

a thousand eyes impaled in windows
the silver flash of human toasters burning
the fist of a door


Saturday, April 21, 2007


map of the constellations with birds instead of stars
with toasters, discount shoes, deckchairs instead
with letters
severed limbs
broken jaws
dates in history
blades of grass
the cuticles of celebrities categorized by brightness and red shift
my little howling dog
muzzled and in a choke chain
trying to get home
but i've locked the door

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I gather my children and my grandchildren to my bedside as if around a fire for singsongs.

I take off my belt and whip Johnny the smallest one for I was never a kind man.


Monday, April 16, 2007



a coffee cup

where my heart should be

a giraffe coughing all over the Internet

I stand in the shower

like this poem

there is no good ending

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bowlhead Boy and the Pot Sticks Stomp

My Grade 5 students recently completed a unit based on Stomp. There is something marvelous about how they are and are not aware of how they appear on stage. They know how it feels to be on stage, they know how to adopt a persona, but they haven't yet got a sense of how they appear to others.

Of course, every now and then I become aware of how I might appear to my kids or my students. Usually a chilling feeling. At the same time, I get the reverse sense: I remember how my parents were when I was a kid and have a sense of how they might have felt from inside their "Dadness" or "Maternity." As a child, I, of course, had no clue that there was even an issue of outside/inside.

We often live so totally inside our lives, inside our sense of our lived experience, our subjectivity, that it is hard to see ourselves from the outside.

My student, pictured above, has a very droll sense of how he appears to others. Even more than the student who taped cutlery to his flip flops and danced his Stomp rhythms while grinding a metal spoon against a cheese grater tied to his chest.


My wife recently had a client who was robbing a convenience store. He charged in, armed with a knife. He ordered the clerk to get out and wait outside for him. The clerk was able to call the police on his cell phone from outside the store. When the police arrived the would-be robber was eating a submarine. How do we appear from the outside the convenience store of our own selves?


Johannes Brahms, in a letter to Clara Schumann about Bach's Chaconne (from the Partita #2 for solo violin): "On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind."


I'm much taller outside this blog.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


A long hall bounded by teeth.

“I…” begins Marta the cleaning lady, leaning on her mop.

* * *

VALLEY FARM TRAILS, Dundas, Ontario.

Sunday, April 01, 2007