Small Goodbyes

Friday night.
Familiar rhythm.
Familial rhythm.
Or what passes
as known for
rhythm anymore, or
heard rhythm;
broken rhythm in an
old rhythm.
Pretend to look at
the television, but
And they want to let them all in.”
“[Something fucking tasteless] about The Village bathroom
and Canadiens hats
Reactionary, derogatory,
mild misogyny,
epithet/etcetera/afraid of change/unfamiliar etc. .
corner of a mouth that
can never help but tip sideways in a
smirk/grimace/bemused way:
a different fight/a different day.
Brother does the same thing.
It’s all ice cubes and water
by the end of it,
ambiguous by design;
the end perhaps early;
always early compared to the ones
drawn out and bled.
Silent rhythm,
steady hand, divest,
nothing asked, nothing
needed, nothing
Nothing is okay.
No, as in, nothing is just fine.
Couple, alongside,
stools wedged,
celebrate and he
grabs her by the cheeks in
buzz-on excitement:
7s, two hundred bucks, finally,
palpable outright-if-momentary joy,
but they might love each other.
Those same country songs
that always come on the jukebox,
played by the same guy
at the same time
like a theme song.
Hecklers halfway up the north row,
but fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke,
or whatever:analogy, no wasting worry,
twenty bucks to a hundred to zero
to forty down, fuck it, whatever,
the din and the exaggerated cries and his and the cigarette
butts on the sidewalk
and the game’s on and the ice is melted
and maybe, no, yeah
home before midnight.
Walk is just far enough, not too far,
want chips.
Not enough time in the day or days
in the week or weeks in the month or–
merely saying quiet goodbyes
else they wouldn’t be quiet and
the girl said “I feel like I need a change but
I don’t know what it is.”
Probably shrugged,
noticed by either side or not,
not have much to offer
leaping on faith
and somedays, some days,
but now is now
and then was then
and then is now.

And it’s always now
until it’s over
but it’s not over.
Some things are over.
It ain’t over
’til it’s over.

Might not be in the old Hilltop again,
(how is it so…grey, in there?)
Tomorrow, what, a stupid-large shopping cart at Costco?
One of the cats worries about the future.
NTV comes in better in that corner of the room.
Holy Frig, Waiting for Fidel is on,

Joey and Geoff as the Odd Couple, NFB Guy as Straight Man
Joe rattles on about crime and alcoholism and prostitution, dope and poverty and slums;
(Yes, we’ll blow up their social structures, that’s what we’ll do)
does a soft sell on child labour;
(Those children, not those children)
the usual;
Geoff bronzes and remains fiercely intelligent,
belligerent, resplendent.
(“I didn’t bring a suit.”)
They owed each other.
An awkward situation where they
sit on the beach shirtless
and Joe looks like he wants his shirt back
and Geoff bronzes and does fucking headstands.
Various prophesies.
Remember that time those kids into the dope and the alcoholism gave him a Nazi salute?

The parking lot at that particular Tim’s is a fucking disaster.
Remember how it used to say “DESTROY POWER NOT PEOPLE” in McMurdo’s Lane?
“This world would be a good place for a terrorist” below Kimberly Row?
Fuck y’know, I barely do either, to be honest.

And the headlights don’t come on automatically like the ones I’m used to,
street signs clarify and announce themselves as I pass under them rather than wash over in blur,
across Major’s Path, the airplanes sometimes look like they might land on the road by my mother’s house,
some goodbyes I didn’t know until long after I’d said them,
and the world becomes huge when you measure the small.
Small hellos.


Five One Two Zero Sixteen



“For now he knew
what Shalimar knew:
If you surrendered to the air,
you could ride it.”

–Toni Morrison, The Song of Solomon

you can go through the motions,
you can be feeling half of nowhere.
you can sit still, listening, watching, learning,
you can see–or not–
a way from here to there.

you can put your sore back into it (or don’t),
you can fade into a shell, undone,
you can reckon with yourself, in silence,
you can work to earn back grace and tone;
space and home; place and known.

you can still wish to add to the world,
you can still sit home designing happy returns,
you can regret and redeem; plus from a negative verb,
you can research, sink in, live
what you’ve learned from what you’ve learned.

And then you smash your motherfucking silences.
And then you take on the things you’ve done.
And then you stand, finally, speak for something and someone(s).
And then you pay up in full every due you owe.
And then you’ve offered heart and mind at the same time,
and then you trust the things you know.
And then it’s
Go Now.”
Then it’s finally.
[broken rhyme]
Then it’s
Monday. Go.

The twenty years had been to him as one night.”

–Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle.

My Stolen Melodies

He came to me and he put his head down.
He said “I have been through every yard around,
and there is something about the smell,
the window tower and the floor,
that brought me here, up to the door,
through your window, all across your floor.”

She [Content removed; respect and empathy]:
she had, but chose… to [re-turn] back to me
the dancing life across the lawn,
the music loud on the drive home,
the smile to burn the deepest, darkest
depths of all the seas.
The smile from time to time
that we all need.

(And I can’t say that I blame her or believe.)

So I sat on a rock out by the ocean,
I tried my hand at despair and devotion,
I said some things I didn’t mean, I said some
more that turned me green, never
realized I must work twice as hard.
Realized I too went through the yards.
Realized I had to keep my guard.
Realized I had become too hard.

If I had a penny for everyone I’d touched
I wouldn’t count , but check
for shine, discolour, rust,
I cannot count up to the sky, I
cannot furnish all the reasons why,
but I can understand, learning
how to trust.
And I can understand the reasons that I must.

So maybe, some night, someone
sings to me,
and maybe I grow tired or I grow free,
and maybe I can prove I’ve gone alone
and paid my dues,
or maybe I am left to carry on,
for a day when everyone will not be gone.
And maybe I don’t ever have a home,
or I will have one to myself all alone,
but I know now when to show and
to be gone,
and I will always, always have a song.

For now, I will sit here, and I will work.
For now, I will remember what I took,
because what’s been given to me,
will wake me up, will make me free,
and I will turn around the cycle
that could be:
I will make something out of what’s been made of me.

So maybe in a dance or in a song,
so maybe in a here or in a gone
so maybe in a dream, in a nightmare,
a scream, maybe in a soft hum we all carry on,
long after all the echoes fade on,
we will say what’s on our minds,
we will rebuild, we will revise,
we will regrow the wondering eyes
of a child,
we will live the things that take time
from our minds,
we will look across a table
and catch eyes,
we will choose to see so we can
not be blind.


Gotta get this rattle out of my lungs
gotta get this shit off my hands
gotta get the goddamn car fixed again
gotta get down to business
gotta get moving
gotta get ready for winter
’cause winter’s ready for me
gotta get warmer
gotta get colder

gotta give, gotta give back
gotta go backwards, hit the turn, go forward
gotta go, gotta go, gotta go
gotta grab blindly, gotta go forth,
gotta give, gotta give back.

gotta rest
gotta eat, gotta sleep, gotta pay bills,
gotta be
gotta be? Gotta be.

Gotta answer
gotta answer the bell
gotta be a number
gotta be ready when yours is called
gotta gamble
gotta go for it
gotta gotta go for it
gotta, for it.

Gotta rest.
Want to rest.
Gotta get,
gotta go.

On “Odes to Cod”

Lately I am mostly  content to slave away at other life-trials and completely neglect this blog (see test pattern, below) while I go at whatever it is I go at with other things and eventually return with a bunch of wordy thisses and thats.

Today I read something particularly egregious about my home province and I really felt the need to comment lampoon a particularly bad travel article concerning Newfoundl[and Labrador]. So I’ll do that here, because I fucking can.

While under normal circumstances I’d advise against reading this steaming pile of shit compliments of at all, it’s somewhat necessary in order for the following to make sense. So if you’re from here, read it critically, please, if you may, (Or post it on Facebook without reading it because you’re a “Proud Newfie”, I don’t give a fuck.) and if you’re not just fucking ignore it altogether. After you read it once.

Canada high: Newfoundland may be remote but its beauty is boundless (and there is even a shoe hospital where you can turn in your brogues after a night’s jiving)

Wow, that title. That says too much, already. Let’s dive in, shall we?

“Life in Newfoundland is one big ode to cod”

Jumping Jesus, not this fucking shit again.

“We acclimatise in Newfoundland’s capital–the port town of St. John’s [It’s a city, for the geographically precise], whose rows of houses are painted bright colours so that a fisherman could spot his own home as he wandered back drunk in the fog.”

So, okay, we’ve got (multiple) stereotypes as well as straight-up factual inaccuracy. We’re off to a good start! The whole “brightly coloured rowhouse” motif that Tourism NL, artists, and mail- and garbage-box painters have milked the fuck out of over these last decades really only started in the 70s, due in large part to the good work of the people at the Newfoundland Historic Trust. It’s a great story if you like drunk fishermen but it’s fucking bullshit. They were pretty much all brown, the houses. So we must have had a hell of a lot of confused drunk fishermen.  Hey b’y!

“Over breakfast the next morning, the waitress catches us watching a small fishing trawler bouncing it’s way out of the bay. [We’re supposedly still in St. John’s here; no bay. “The bay?” I dunno.  I’m also just gonna let that comma stay back there, even though it doesn’t belong. I didn’t write or {shittily} edit it]

‘My husband, his father brother father, his cousin and a close friend are that boat’, she says as she deposits [?] our eggs.”

Is this for fucking real? There is no way. If this is true, and there’s a waitress somewhere in town who watches everyone she knows go out in a boat from one of the restaurants that looks over the harbour every morning, I need to meet this person. For now I will assume they somehow broke the space-time continuum and had breakfast in 1907. What’s a “brother father brother”? Only in Newfoundland.

” We sit swaddled against the chill, numb fingers clutching roast beef sarnies and jam jars of fresh lemonade…”

The fuck is a sarnie?

“… who recounts one Christmas when the seas froze over and a polar bear strolled into town.

She was so busy baking partridgeberry muffins, she didn’t notice it walk past her window.”

Women in Newfoundland, amiright? No? Good. Seriously, though, “So busy baking patridgeberry muffins”? Ten bucks she was on the can. Or down at the Club playing the waps.

“The local beer is Iceberg Beer.”

This is news to me, and I have drank a veritable goddamn fucking waterfall of local beer.

“…the Artisan Inn [Trinity] whose Dutch owner, Tineke Gow, came, saw, fell in love, and is gradually buying up a clapboard empire.”

Clapboard empire? I don’t–oh, maybe I get it–nope, no I don’t. So she’s a businessperson? What is it with you British and Empire anyway?

“Newfoundland feels lost in time; nostalgia hangs in the air, and there’s no sign of the efficiency and technology which flood our own lives (I haven’t seen an iPad all week).”




[Earnest-Voiced Voiceover: “Imagine a place frozen in time, where the sky is so huge that everyone knows everyone and buttery nostalgia hangs thickly in the air, ready for this morning’s fresh partridgeberry muffins…”  *Throws TV out window* *Denounces Newfoundlander status*][Seriously though, partridgeberries are deadly.]

“But it’s the open-armed, ‘everybody knows everybody’ mentality which sucks me in.”

Remove the words “me” and “in” from the end of that sentence, and remember the fact that we’re well-used to smiling for  and feeding myth to annoying fucking tourists and you’re getting closer.

‘The sea is a peacemaker,’ as Captain Dave says. ‘If you get into trouble out there, somebody’s gotta save you.’ 

Yeah, like the UK. Er, Canada. Never mind. Our captains go by the first names though! We don’t have last names here!

*Goes back to writing Odes to Cod*

One Year Gone

I guess I was probably in my late teens and it was around the time I had begun drinking coffee; she always had tea after supper and she’d always ask anyone and everyone else if they’d have one even if she knew damn well she was having tea alone. “Tea, Michael?”, she’d ask, and I’d scrunch up my face like seventeen-year-old idiots do NowayGrammaIdon’t drinkTEA!?! and that would be it but if Uncle Ed was in town or Aunt Min was there then there’d be someone to have tea with and otherwise she’d drink it herself and that would be best kind.

It turned out I started to like tea somewhere along the way, it was in my midtwenties somewhere though I don’t quite remember exactly when though I don’t quite remember a fucking lot of my midtwenties so who knows? (I’d also been scared off tea by a poor schizophrenic man who used to come to the coffee shop I worked at to get out of the house and he’d always have tea and that was his order, the only word he said: “Tea.” People who worked there called him Crazy Tea Man and sometimes he would talk to himself in the reflective mirror in the smoking section and weird people out; actually he weirded a lot of people out, but he was ill and he was just trying to escape his walls and his mind for a bit, with varying degrees of success. He eventually got kicked out of the building permanently for fears for others safety after a particular incident and his parents whom he lived with actually met with building staff about it and maybe he was a threat and maybe [and this is what I think, but also what I always think] people are just afraid of things they don’t understand but it is what it is, or it was what it was. I haven’t seen him around in a while. I know his name, and that he was a hell of a ballplayer once upon a time.)

I started to like tea so then one day i was having dinner with grandma and after it was over she asked me if I wanted tea and I said yes and she was goddamn delighted and we had tea and most of the time after that I’d have tea and she loved it. She just liked to have tea with somebody. She always had tea with my grandfather. She missed him. He’d been gone a long, long time. I liked having tea with my grandmother. Plus, my mom doesn’t like tea. My grandmother liked having tea with me.

My grandmother’s been gone a year today. I had tea by myself after supper and thought about her. I feel guilty that she never really got to see me amount to much. That she didn’t get to see me walk across the stage, that I’ve done unforgivable things that she had to live with, that my best years, now (hopefully) ahead of me, have to be lived without her. Today I drove out to their grave, the one she finally met him at twenty-four and a half years later, and straightened the plastic flowers I brought last winter and brought some freshly cut ones, from her old garden and from mine.

Then I leaned against the headstone and bawled my eyes out for a while. Then I leaned against it some more and looked at the sky and the sun came out.

The grandson will make his way out, too.

Return love when it’s given to you.