Thursday, June 28, 2007


Daddy said
Son you have to make your own dog
if you have none

and I said
I have a fire hydrant
so I can just imagine

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

from the psalter of extra tongues

my son left the hose on last night

snails moved along the sidewalk
not knowing the pool was filled with water

not knowing the water-filled pool
not knowing that water had filled the pool

my son left the hose on all night
glass moved through the snake like jewels

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lonely Tylenol

I hadn't seen this before: this is Weird Al Yankovic's parody of Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, the lyrics done entirely in palindromes. A brilliantly realized constraint-based parody, sung perfectly. The original is here.

On the subject of parody, I came across two parodies I did of the 'Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?" joke, of which there are many on the net. See here. Mine are "after" bpNichol and bill bissett. (The line indents are messed up a bit, I haven't figured out how to do that in html yet.


a road
a rod
a walk along

a long feather
an eather/or
an other or
eye turns to i
I – I
from one I

to the other I


'to get to the author side'
the chicken sighed

the sweet c
luck and b
awk of b

* * *

u look across th rode
the rode looks across u
o let us get to th other side
th other side
th other side
th other side
th other side
th other side
th other side
th other side
th other side
th other side
no scars on th chickn
on th rode

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I’m standing in an elevator with
a suitcase
that has no clasps or handle

It’s a metaphor!

I’m happy!

Image from Arte Libre

Friday, June 15, 2007

This isn't my femur

I like those moments when you're rummaging around and discover something that you've entirely forgotten: a book, a photo, a shirt, some text, a grandmother. I've just had one of those moments and discovered this poem, which -- I think -- I must have written. I found it in an email to myself. I must have written it at work and then sent it home. I quite like it, actually. One thing that is interesting is that, since I don't remember writing it, I don't have the usual "pride" or "ego" associated with it. It's just a text that happens (by default) to have my name on it as the author. I'm some kind of archaeologist. This isn't 'my' femur. I found it in a rock that I was dusting.

Northrop Frye wearing a banana and a loincloth

poked out of the bathtub and said

‘Metaphors are like you know

the banana peels of simile

waiting on the sideroad of sense for

Oh just any human being to walk along and take

the tarmac express to a crown

bump-bestowed and encircled by

excited little stars

which whiz as Plato whizzes

not one thing or another

& thumbing their bright grammar

at the squirt-flower of gravity and us’

* * *

I don't remember if I've mentioned this here about our school "house" system. Instead of Hufflepuff and Gryffindor, we have 4 girls' houses and four boys' houses. They are linked as brother and sister houses. I am in Maple house. Some years ago, in an attempt to create a house cheer, the other house masters and I were brainstorming. Maple? What rhymes with maple? V.S. Naipaul?

We (I? I don't remember) came up with this cheer:

Maple! Maple!
It almost rhymes with table.
Booyeah! (hand with closed fist, arm pulling down like sounding a truck horn.)
Arrrrgh! (biceps flex, hands at waist in front)

The boys in our house enthusiastically shout this out at the end of every house meeting and before house sports events.

It's quite wonderful, this surreal cheer being integrated into sports events, the irony flickering on and off as we use it to get pumped up and forgot how ridiculous it is, since it works.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

We are falling for our mothers?

Still trying to decode the bizarre mess of symbolism/metaphors in this video.

Earth mother/giantess/woman as mother/sex object/Oedipus/milk/orgasm/babies/man as baby/return to the womb/baby bottle/penis???????

I'd better call the emergency Freud Interpretation Squad right now.


the soul is a bird

deep fried in a bucket

family size

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Box of Severed Lines

I had a few lines on the end of a poem that I was considering

O jagged maggot children!
I have rescheduled
My confrontation with ecstasy

but Richard Huttel thought it'd be better without them. The poem isn't working yet, but I think Richard is right, though I do like those lines. Someone in a writing class in high school (I can't remember who) said that you should always ditch your favourite lines because you're likely hanging on to them, coddling them like spoiled children. He said he had a shoebox filled with favourite lines that he'd excised. Perhaps I could sell them on eBay.

The Opposable Thumbs Clarinet Orchestra of Greater Knuckle Drag:

I asked my students to write a short piece about what they had learned about their instruments. One student wrote to a character in a science fiction novel that he liked. He said, "If you have opposable thumbs, you'd like the clarinet." Pretty cool from an 11 year old.


My family and I are going on a trip to England, Ireland, and Paris. I was looking over the "Favorite Driving Trips in Ireland" and was astounded how powerfully I responded to those landscapes. I grew up outside Belfast in Northern Ireland and came here when I was nine or ten. I've been back a couple of times. My family isn't Irish --my parents moved from South Africa so that my dad could go to school. This was the early sixties. My mom trained as a computer programmer. My grandparents were Lithuanian and Ukrainian Jews who moved to South Africa. So I don't have some ancestral relationship with Ireland. It is the landscape of my childhood. The shape of my nostalgia. The place where my imagination first was formed and continued to form when I thought back to where I'd come from. I learned to play Irish tunes on tin whistle and flute when I was 13. I really liked them, and they seemed to connect with memory, landscape, and nature. But they also had something to do with wanting to have a culture. I thought that we're all supposed to have a specific and simple culture that we're heir to. I didn't know that it was more complex than that.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Not Checkers the Clown.

My daughter (aged 9) just asked me:

If you could pick one person, who would you choose to never have been born?

Not Zeppo Marx

Not Vivaldi

Not Herman Melville

Not my Dad

Not David W. McFadden

Not Helen of Troy

Not my Grade 9 math teacher

Not Henry the Hamster who climbed the blue stairs when I was 8

Not John Coltrane

Not Karl or Groucho Marx

Not my mother or the mother of Anton Webern

Not my wife, children, cousins

Not Charles Manson and Jim Jones

Not Paul Bernardo

Not George W. Bush

Not Nadine Gordimer or Cyndi Lauper

Not Brian Marks, my childhood friend

Not Nelson Mandela and Maurice Rocket Richard

Not Stalin, Richard Strauss, Barbara Guest, or Conrad Black

Not Bobby Fisher

Not David the Grade 10 student who noticed that the risers my choir were standing on were about to fall

Not Hildegaard von Bingen or Lindsay Lohan

Not Bach

Not Gould

Not the stylist at First Choice Haircutters

Not Genghis Khan

Not Checkers the Clown

* * *

Who would you pick?