iliou

Viewit Pity Party

Where are you supposed to go when nobody wants you?

When no homeless shelter will take you.

When your parents can’t trust you.

When your children are afraid of you.

The line is long.

And thousands are younger than you,

Who, legally, the government care about.

You do their hair in the shelter. Delouse them.

They’re the reason you can’t stay past Friday.

What is your mother supposed to do?

You call her all hours, in all states, begging, demanding to come home.

There’s nothing left of her. You took her good years.

What is your father supposed to do?

He is old now. He is so, so old and you’ve missed out.

What is your daughter supposed to do?

The one who thought life was not worth living with you around.

Your voice and smell and laugh is traumatic.

Do I scroll ads for you, searching for someone naïve enough

To take you without references, pay stubs, with a record.

Do I pull one over on a granny for you,

A nice, deaf, old lady with a basement apartment,

And walls begging to be turned ‘to Swiss cheese.

I go through the ads and see ‘no smoking’ ‘no drinking’  Ha!

‘references’ ‘first and last’ ‘employment letter’ ‘quiet’ ‘professional’

And I see all the rugs I could sweep you under being pulled out of reach,

And I wonder, what am I to do with you?

For a while we hung out like we hadn’t broken up. We still had sex – we just weren’t supposed to say I love you. I used to say it anyway, and you would say I know, and then ask me not to say it. It added an exciting barrier to our chemistry. We took turns hopping over it – meeting at your house as friends and then waiting until we couldn’t for another moment. One night was a rough time for both of us. I stayed downtown in a library all night, on the phone with you until 4 or 5 am. This is so hard, you said. I know. This is so hard, I said. Should we get back together, you asked.

On my birthday, you took me out for sushi and drove me home. We shared red bean jelly for dessert, via you cutting it into perfect triangles. You pulled into my driveway and shut off the car and we sat quietly. I asked for a kiss and you couldn’t give it. You and her had gotten serious. I think I smiled. I think I congratulated you.

I put all your stuffed animals in a bag tonight. I hope you’re great. I hope your parents are great. I’m pretty proud of you. I put our flag from Medieval Times into a bag tonight. I walked over to my closet and nudged close the drawer with your letters. I hope your parents don’t regret being so kind to me. I hope you don’t regret me. The rose you took from your mother’s bouquet is still on my book shelf. I would crumble it to dust if I tried to put it into a bag tonight. I threw out our six-year-old bottle of dancing waters body wash. I still have your clothes – I’m too cheap not to wear them, but maybe I’ll be able to put them in a bag some night soon. I hope you still have our binder full of pictures and scans and notes to each other, but I hope it’s in a bag somewhere, waiting for our edges to soften even more before you ever open it.

I was teaching onomatopoeia to a kid the other night, and I said ‘snap, crackle, pop’ and your voice finished it with goes the heretics. Tastes like bacon, what say you brethren?’ and my mind swirled into grade 12 history class, and lego and our video and your grandparents house where we filmed that Martin Luther project, back when everything was budding. And the kid answered with, ‘buzz, fizz, etc.’ and I said, ‘yeah, let’s go onto.. let’s see.. allegory. Could you define that for me?’ and it’s not just you, I fall into the soup all the time.

 

GAP

You can only get so close to someone else,

Before you can’t get any closer; there’s a little gap.

And you strain into it and it hurts and you reach and it hurts.

It hurts to care so damn much to always be straining and

Every feeling you’ve ever felt can’t make an inch of bridge.

It takes time, money, or a miracle and

The only thing you have left is to push away the someone else,

Hard enough that you yourself can hope to stumble back,

To a place (which doesn’t exist anymore) where you felt a little less for them.

To a time when you weren’t so damn needy.

It doesn’t work though. In fact, what the fuck!

The only green grass in the universe is just beyond that gap,

What were you thinking? That is water over there, and your life is a fucking desert.

And you’re back at that gap in a heartbeat.

And you can’t get any closer,

And you’re straining,

Wondering how anything gets done,

If you and other people aren’t so different after all.

Interspecial

 

I lay on the fur-covered carpet, the rabbit nestled,

His sleek body cupped under my palm, and wrist,

And arm. I am alert, aloft, aware of my weight and his,

His trust, and my potential to crush him,

The chronic breathing burden, artificially selected to be

Dependent. Like a garden, needing tending.

No hawks or weeds here on my foyer floor – Just I, the alpha kai omega

Flushed with my own compassion, benevolence, and satisfaction

At my domination of this tiny proletariat. Dim rabbit wife. Dear Pet.

I speak in case there’s a knowing soul somewhere,

Behind the constant cataract of the pupilless.

My whispers are exhales as I tell him I love him,

Which means I’ll always try to remember to feed him.

He shudders with my words and inflates

Into the space between him and myself.

My heart fills its empty spaces too.

I am swept into the synergy and we breathe together.

I breathe in too deeply and his fur floats

Into my throat, and I shake while no-t c-oughing vio-len-tly.

While I breathe a little less and watch his nose twitch,

Say something, I say,  Give me a sign. But he doesn’t and

His pupilless eyes begin to freak me out and

I raise my arm from him, as from the sleeping stomach of a lover,

And rattle the treat bag.

He leaps from full-flat position and growls,

Scratching the shit out of my hand,

Racing off with a piece of papaya.

Piece of shit.

 

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Memoro ergo Sum

Every day I rise a little more uncollected and confused,
Few trains within my brain remain safe for me to use,
My first few thoughts on waking are calendrically displaced,
I’ve spent so much time forgetting; there are months that I’ve erased.

The bad in me, annually, becomes third person analogy,
The good in me, gradually, becomes well-trained apathy.

The unintended consequence of this training of my mind –
The good things which I allow to stay,
Seem like yesterday in time.

I thought that this was normal, please tell me if I’m wrong.
It’s hard to know just who I am, with gaps this wide and long.

I dream that if I went away, I’d have the time to think,
Remember where I got each scar, and month by month I’d link,
All these thoughts together, the ones which come at night,
And taunt me with younger faces, long since lost to sight.

I don’t recall my childhood, except in intermittent bursts,
I don’t recall my teenage years, though some scars point back to hurts.
I don’t recall my undergrad, except moments I’ve cartouched,
Those kodak fucking moments,
Like bats at night, obtuse.

I don’t recall my mother, except the feeling in my ear,
Of hot wet breath and the smell of meth and the nausea of fear.
I don’t recall the grandmother, whom I used to love,
I don’t recall my brother, when we were growing up.

I don’t recall my girlfriend, or how it used to be,
Four long years erased by three of saying no to memories.

I don’t recall, I don’t recall,
What kind of self I am.
Whether I was strong then weak,
Or strong and weak,
Or just weak.
I remember,
Therefore I am.

One of Those

At least she isn’t one of those city-women.
The kind in salt-stained blue jeans.
Summers, camped at cross-streets,
Winters, damp on exhaust grates.

Unseen, suburban alcoholics, stay that way.
Wander nights, off display.

At least she isn’t one of those,
The ones who ride the TTC to catch Zs,
Matted hair, bags everywhere.
Rocking and muttering profanity.

Unseen, suburban alcoholics,
You have it so good. Keep to your clinics.
Keep to your basement apartments.

I saw one of those clay-complexioned women today,
The kind who smell of yesterday, wear taut pants,
Mens coats. Her face was puckered with cuts.
Horror is a vacant sign in eyes you’ve seen bright and steady.
I watched her ride up an escalator in slow motion.
If I hadn’t said hello, she would have walk right past.
But I did, and  her voice croaked my name as she hugged me.
I felt every bone in her tired, broken body.
She complained about a man and this and that and  though it was 11am,
She was still sloshed or already sloshed,
And I told her I was going now.
Bye, Ash she said. Bye, Mom.
And as she disappeared without looking back,
I realized she’d been here all along.

Now

I think of you in words instead of images.

June Annual Resin Panel

 


Successfully burnt off a sizable swathe of hair making this. Any suggestions for layout or colours?

545 Carlton

On the 11th floor of a red brick building in Old York, Toronto -whatever they call it these days- is a cramped, forgotten room. From street level, if one cares to look, all that can be seen of its within is guarded by the shutters of an odd little window breaking the symmetry of otherwise humdrum architectry. The window is lower than its row by a full foot, kerned wider than its rowmates by an uncomfortable expanse, and has a rather pinched look. It’s a window which one would hop up to peek into if none were looking.  You could guess, of course, from without, what within might hold. You could Google it. The building was a factory, wasn’t it? Metals? Upholstery? Something like that. You might also notice as you pass by this building a thousand times a year, to and from whatever it is you do, that this peculiar mole of a window, hovering so between blight and beauty, is invariably ajar.

We are quite forgivably fallible in our guesswork. On the other hand, were you a bird, passing this window to and fro wherever it is you go, you might perch on the sill, crinkle your nape and cock a dilating eye into the interior. You would see, in fact, the room which holds a small iron bed which holds a small single mattress which holds a small, sleeping girl. You may have language for these objects, we must never assume..oh, as a bird of course. Connotations, denotives…metaphoric thought, why think we ourselves the only ones, and who knows, mayb-

Right. Anyhow. The girl is fair and thin and slumberous. Tucked ‘neath a cherry chin and between her legs is a long, ratty pillow. Across her shoulders drapes a pink crocheted shawl. Were you human once more, you might notice the myriad colours of the clothing piling her with foppish distaste. Were you human, you might soften at the sight of her large, lidded eyes, long lashes and pink, childish lips. Were you human, and not a bird, you might decide this young girl’s lifestyle choices were to be your business. Quite.

Dancing in the air above the bed is a long piece of twine attached to a bare bulb mechanism which, if pulled, lights the filament often. The wall adjacent to the bed boasts floor to ceiling cupboards. Were you a carpenter or  undertaker, you might notice the wood is cherry. The hinges brass. The knobs, of which there are no less than forty,  capped with mother-of-pearl. Inside the many doors and cubbyholes are pebbles, playing cards, empty jam jars. Buttons, wires and pliers. Scarves and yarn and magazines. Porcelain cups and sugarloaf and Yorkshire Tea.

Aside from this wall, and the wyndy, copper pipes which pass everywhere through wooden navels, there is only the curious window left. Come away, then. The frame is musty cedar and the corner joins are yawning, revealing tired nails. Red brick dust lies in the hollows around the wood, where the foam insulation has long been eaten. (By mice, not the girl) Far below, you might see people on foot and pedal scurrying from here to there.

Were you someone who needn’t rush off, reminded of some pressing engagement, you might also stay to notice the young girl stirring.

Brochures

Wish you were rested enough to enjoy yourself.
Wish you were dead, wish you hadn’t come here,
Wish you were alone. Wish he was with you.
Wish you could run pale through the beach crowds,
Into night’s velvet, wetting your thighs on dewy grasses,
Running to the clan or people you know you must belong to.
There must be someone, anyone who would share your silence,
Be your echo, your shadow, the effortless part of you that is missing,
Courtesy of the streetlights, audial static of the big city.
There has to be someone who still lays naked in the sun.

A flight or three later, having run in the civilized way,
You are standing in the picture,
In the moment which has gotten you through hard nights of wondering what work is for.
On surf and sand, and? well?
A myopic hangs over you,
Bubble boy. Bubble girl.

You thought you could be you, here.
On this beach, this mountain, this forest, ruin, river, ocean, jungle, desert.
The hope was so much better.