Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Cover photo
        Johnny was sitting in the corner hiding his face
in the paper. Someone upstairs sounded as if
he were beating a dead horse with  a baseball bat.
My girl had taken off down the block with
eleven Chinese guys.
         The situation was getting seriously out of hand,
and I could see very few alternatives for the evening.
It was time to tackle the assignment I had been
meaning to cover for months. The theme? Well,
what is it like to be a bender drinker. I wondered.
I intended to find out. What drove so many
seemingly normal people to such horrific extremes?
         I saw it as a Jekyll and Hyde story – the
bender drinker… sober all day long, then smashed
to the gills at night – sometimes many nights. The
story of the lost weekend  sometimes became the
lost week, the lost month, etc. “How did I get here?”
I remember asking myself upon awakening
by surprise in Porto Rico.
        (It’s rather like the foot-fetishist if you 
really think about it. He never knows when
the compulsion will overtake him and he’ll
be diving under some table after someone’s high-heel
shoe.) So it is with the bender drinker.
He just never knows when it’s going to start
to bend.
         Those few I could catch to interview
answered my question of, “Why” with: “I just
needed a drink, that’s all.” 

          But I was not to be put off with such
a simplistic answer. There has to be a deeper
reason. And I was going to find out what drove
these poor depraved souls. Was it a fear of
sobriety?  A fear of society?  A fear of the wife?
The boss?
          I ask Johnny. He says, “First,
I need a drink.” I buy him one. He drinks it.
He looks better. I begin to understand.
“Another one?” I ask.  “Why not?” he replies.
Down it goes. He looks better still. 
        “You want one?” he asks.
“Sure,” I reply. I have an in depth
study to do. I quaff a beer. The pool table
looks better to me. So does Bertha. We
buy a jug of Northern draft, poor fools
that we are. He, a bender drinker, and 
I, a simple reporter. And Bertha, a
waitress, and my girl gone. 

        And so the Odyssey began.
We left the roof bar at the Moose
then hit Cecil’s, We sampled the draft
there, then a crowd of us hit the
dance floor at the Zoo next door. Then
we drifted out down along Mainstreet
and I remember staring at the asphalt
outside Taste of the World. I stared for
a long time at the tarmac. Then we
hit the Fraser Tavern, but it was getting
late: it was 3:00 P.M.
        We stepped out into the bright
sunlight. I blinked twice, like a camel.
It was summer. The sun was hot on my face.
So we did the only logical thing: we took
some cold sparkling rose (pronounced rose-eh)
down to the shore of Lake Nipissing and lit a
fire in the sand. And watched the sun
go down.
        “John, do you do this a lot?” I ask him.
        “Only when I have to,” he replied
        “How often is that?” I asked.
         “Every day,” he replied.
          “But are you happy?” I ask him.
          “Naturally,” he said, “Look at
that sun.”
           The sun indeed was magnificent.
Doesn’t the name, ‘Nipissing’ mean shining
waters or something? Isn’t it a most
unique lake, with its magnetic, rolling clouds,
like an inland sea? Are not the two lakes
the greatest asset of our precious little city?
Now that the front door of our town opens
to a large expanse of parkland on Lake
Nipissing, are we not ensuring the
financial longevity of our city?
        The roving reporter is not being
political here. He is just merely
stating the obvious.
         A favourite expression of an old
teacher of mine was, 

        “Nobody sees the obvious.”

         You can drink four bottles of
rose in front of Lake Nipissing
and the whole process is
rather like a sulphur bath
for your health.
          Hell, I took one look at
Johnny and he didn’t look a day
over forty, and he’s only thirty-
five. If he liked in the Big Smoke,
he would have been thirty-five
going on sixty.
          My assignment was to write
a story on bender drinking. I even
went on a bender, but I end up
writing about a health spa!  Oh well,
you can never predict what may
come up.
          By the way, Johnny is alive
and well and living in a box car.
And I’m on my way to  buy
a bottle and go catch the sunset.


Sunday, March 16, 2014



                                            Poster at Hotel Isabella, early days

                 Way back when, in the distance, through
the mists of time,  we were all playing
various clubs in Toronto. Handsome Ned wasn’t really rolling yet, but he’d come to all the John Rock  shows at the
Black Bull, Queen Street West.  
         John Rock and the Angels, the band was called.
 We also played at the Queen Mother Cafe, and The Cameron House.
           I used to sleep at the Spadina Hotel, where I’d meet
a girlfriend from out of town. I remember writing the song, “Johnny Please Hold Me,” there.
         We used   to go and play the piano
at a small club on the second floor, before
the club even opened… There’s something romantic
about playing the piano after closing time in
an empty club. 
         They called the place, “The Cabana
Room”, when the club got rolling and became
        I  remember playing at Grossman’s a number of
times and of course there were a lot of
good jams there, also.And we played the El Mocambo Downstairs, then The El Mocambo, Upstairs, Albert’s Hall, 
and the Hotel Isabella. Danny Marks played the Isabella quite a lot back then, also…
          Downchild Blues Band used to play upstairs at the
same time John Rock and the Angels was playing downstairs…
         The Hock and I, we’d pour down five or six
shots together whenever we happened to arrive
 at the same time, by chance… we’d get
a bit snapped in that little bar
on the Hotel Isabella Main Floor.
He’d go back upstairs and I’d slip back downstairs
for the next set.
            Drummer, Ben Cleveland
joined John Rock in those days. He was living upstairs
at the Izzie  with his lady, singer Leanne Hayes.
              Ah, good times were had by all!
              And a lot of good music was played!

              I’m forgetting a whole lot of people
 and so many more  bands… But this is my first crack 
at an article about those days.
              Maybe Ben Cleveland will help remind me.
I think he has some posters from those days…
       For a while there we seemed to play the Black
Bull every week and Handsome Ned was there 
for every show. He got to be pals with Michael Hazael (John Rock piano player). He knew MIchael better than he
knew me. He was quiet in those days but his company
was always welcome…
           We were all performers and part of the same
unspoken club. And it felt good sitting there between
sets and before and after the shows, good company,
good people – a feeling of belonging. It’s what it’s all
           We sat at the big table
off to the left side in the front, as you walked 
in the front door  off Queen…there we’d be. About eight of
            Gordie was our drummer back then. And that 
man did great work with the cymbals, a very sensitive drummer…and a good heart. Those were the days
 before  he inherited $60,000 and bought a whole 
lot of drugs and died ( not suicide – just excess, I believe).
             LSD is a safe drug and won’t kill you. You can’t
get physically addicted. But if you buy $60,000.00
worth of acid, chances are something’s got to give.
            We were all guilty of excess back then, 
but we didn’t feel guilty…Come to think of it, 
I don’t feel guilty now either.
            The way I look at it – if you have a horrible
hangover, there’s no point in feeling bad about
drinking – the hangover is punishment enough! No
point in judging yourself and feeling guilty
as well. One punishment is enough.
            I suppose the way the Puritan Ethic works,
we expect some kind of punishment after
having a really good time.
             Punishment is forgiveness.

             A year or two later Ned started playing 
the Cameron House regularly, on the weekend nights and Saturday afternoons. 
             I missed some of those shows.
I was in jail at the time and that tends to put a crimp
in the fun.
         I remember singing, “Big Boss Man” in the basement
of the Mimico Jail – good echo down there and lots of
applause, though the guards were getting a tad
edgy. .
                  One guy would poke his head up from behind a hedge,
or another guy from around some corner. The shout was
always: “How you doing, bluesman?”  I was touched.
                   The Canadian spirit is always grand
wherever you find it – in jail or at some hockey game!
There’s nothing better than walking with a crowd of hosers,
wherever you’re going, whatever the enterprise you’re in.

                   We  (John Rock) started hosting the Jam at the Upper
Lip, back on Yonge Street… Paul James, as a solo act,
opened for us in those days. And he was getting pretty
damn good developing his solo act.
          He recorded a song a year or two after that
and I remember thinking it was one of the best versions
of that song I’d ever heard. I’ve forgotten the song’s name 
but I’ll adjust this article soon as the tune comes back to me.
          The Upper Lip was a madhouse  back then
and we had a ball. It was a sweet stage and we could get
loud as hell and no one complained. Canadian Author David Gilmour and his pal John Allen and Anne Mackenzie, and about twelve other people would sit at one table and shout out requests. They knew the songs the band played
as well as I did.

          Kevin Cook  played Chapman Stick for us
many times and a bassman whose name also will
return to me very soon.
           I still have tapes of some of the comments
in those days – some hilarious stuff. A real mob
of many of the well known people in the town of Toronto,
and many many totally unknown folks who were just
as important, and just as loud.
          I remember a verse from a popular song of ours
back then, 
                 “Who dy’a Think You are”
                  To look at me that way?
                   Did you take that golden car
                    To that golden place?”
                   Mike Hazael and I would sing that one together –
even did some harmonies… And those days were golden,
though you never seem to know it at the time,
when you’re having the best days of your life.

(( Postscript:
Also,  “My Baby Makes Lemonade” ( a calypso ditty), and “Shame Time Baby” (basic
lowdown blues)
           Some hard rock  (“Break Free”)   
                   rock-reggae (“Child Behind a Fencepost/ No                                        It  Just Can’t Be”)
                     ballads      (“When I saw You”)
                       etc etc and blues, blues, blues
                        (“No Explanation!”)
            Some of these tunes still have not been recorded
properly…. and none have been posted.
              I’ll fix this, I do believe… and soon as I can.
If I’m going to write about playing music, well,
I oughtta  post the music.

             Two Lebanese brothers owned the place back then. One brother was called Mike ( or “Mr Blitz” when he joined us on the drums).

           B.B. Gabor and I used to talk a lot and shoot the shit and go to each other’s shows. I remember when he was recording his album. He used to play Grossman’s on Spadina,
also was it (?) Hotel California on Jarvis Street south
of Gerrard…

          (I started, believe it or not, playing folk clubs.
I was a folk singer when I was 16… two years later
I was playing the Zanzibar, joining Bobby Dean on
stage… it was there I learned to play the blues
and a little jazz. Jazz players from all across
Canada would join Bobby and me on the stage
in the the afternoons… I actually lived above
the strip club for over a year. It’s called, 
“On the job training!”)

                 I remember talking to B.B. Gabor
while he was recording his album… He
had most of his best songs on it… but not “Sweet,
Sweet Pain.”   I asked him why not
 He said the record company didn’t want it 
on that album.

        Well, I told him I thought “Sweet, Sweet Pain”
was his best song… He didn’t disagree.
I confessed I’d taped a copy of the tune
during one of his shows. I told him not to worry,
I’d never record it or touch it without his
        He wasn’t very happy with me.
         He died a year later… and I’ve never
recorded that song… I never got his permission
and I kept my promise.
          I guess I’d have to deal with his estate now.
But I’m not sure I still have the tape. Anyway,
B.B. deserved a lot more recognition than he got.
Maybe some day later, may I will or someone else
will record his extra special song.
          Maybe someone already has… I hope so.
Is the song recorded? Likely so… I’ll check and
get back to you. 

           This is just an initial sketch. We’ll fill out
the details. I will with the help of other friends –
those of us who still have memories.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014






        jOSIE KELLY dropped in with a Cessna 180 seaplane.
You should have seen Hank run! Soon as he heard the
engine, he peeled out of here… leaving everything
except a notebook, a red shirt and his pants. 

(He’d had some of those fearsome winter psychological diseases. Certainly: The Autumn Sorrow and Cabin Fever, at least those two.
      So the winter was a bit of a trail for Hank in that
he wasn’t used to twenty hours of silence with heavy
winds and blowing snow, snowdrifts that move
up and down the Main Lane, over rooftops
and  into drifts 12 feet high elsewhere  
just like the sands of the  Sahara are said to do.
             Hell, the river hasn’t even frozen over,
 and he’s jumping ship, running for the hills…!
Ha! Ha!  Good luck with that! It’s not that
easy to get out of here. To make your escape most
people have to scheme and plot for years,
rather like planning for a jailbreak.  Nothing easy
about it…
               For that matter it’s like breaking into the
music business. You’d best plot and scheme,
and plan years ahead.
               I didn’t do this (well, maybe a little) But
I thought it was a big party and it was my job
to cheer people at night. You play the Blues to 
make yourself feel better. (You don’t play the
blues because it’s sad music. It’s not sad
music… It’s bloody well, “Let’s have a drink
and talk a bit and forget about the horror of
our personal lives… Slowly, very slowly
as the whiskey and amphetamines  ( or whatever)
sink into your psyche, your heart and brain…
          After a while you feel like whooping it
up, singing along, and shouting comments to
the band…
          Some places start throwing beer-bottles
at you – when they like you! 
            There’s some tough bars, really tough
bars… bars where you lose everything.
You have to play in those bars to really get
the facts of life.  Some people will rob you blind right
after cheering for your songs… Most people won’t.
Most people are better and kinder than I ever knew.
            It cheered me up when I finally
figured this out.

        It costs five grand to just to fly down to Edmonton.
And Edmonton ain’t exactly in a warm climate.

          You can’t trust the landscape up
here for a sense of direction, because each day
hills and valleys change completely. 
         After a heavy snowstorm, if you can
look outside, you wouldn’t see any sign
of WAIT-A-BIT!    This town of burrows, foxholes,
and Matilda’s trailer all covered over.
        The drifts blow over everything… and
silence fills the air. It looks like a million years BC
if you manage to get a glimpse outside

         The Autumn Terror didn’t really hit Hank that bad. 
He didn’t get a full dose of the mad panic 
that winter was coming.
       Why? Because Hank had no idea 
what the winters are like up here in the NWT,
and he had absolutely no clue how long they
       That first month of howling winds and deep
blowing snows really put the boots to Hank’s psyche.
        He hadn’t as yet learned any tricks
to pass the time. Me, I count the number of threads
in my Harris Tweed jacket, if I have to…
          And I hum tunes to myself. I’m told It’s 
quite irritating.

         At first Hank was digging his tunnel,
like an insane man who’s spent too much time out on the heath digging for moles and roots… and eating them
without even wiping his mouth.
         Occasionally Hank would have a
screaming fit and try to run out
the large porthole we have for a door. 
For over an hour he’d be howling and screaming and 
then pound his head against the mud wall 
of industrial fill and waste we
dragged up the hill soon after the bombs hit 
the town…

         ((( Powder, rocks and pebbles
that’s all that was left of the town.
         The blast was so hot I guess it incinerated
the brick at temperatures hotter than you would
find in a kiln…. The biggest rock I found
was about the size of a softball.
         The cement, also, was like large beach 
sand. Out of this and the many twisted rods of loose
re-bar, we made our foxhole,
 our burrow.
        The funny thing about the whole
situation. The fly boy didn’t even hit
Artie.  Artie was at my uncle’s funeral, the Judge
Henry Wilcox, that  prick! Died running off naked
into endless miles of muskeg.
        Most of the town was at Henry’s
funeral that day, so the casualties were light
from the bomb blast. 
         But the attack out of no where, out of
the sky, with no warning, well, it made a lot
of people very nervous.  Next day
the  migration began…
 most of the other residents left  the town 
the very next day.
           Only 16 of us remained in these
wild lands overlooking the river. We all
dug fast together, fearing another weasel
           That night we all slept in the
same foxhole…And those of us
who were left – we weren’t necessarily
the best and the brightest.
           I still remember the conversation
we all had that night. We were in shock
and so you don’t expect intelligent conversation
but the mad and stupid things that were
said… reminded me of a song Irwin used
to sing:

           “Dickity die, 
                Dickity doe.
                  Fell in love with a crazy arsehole!” )       

        The pilot who had dropped Hank off
promised he’d be back in 90 days, at the most!
          Not true. 
         Hank lived in hope all through those 
long ninety days. I saw his eyes get crazier and wilder
as each day passed, he’d make a mark
in the mud wall.
             There’s a big difference between 90
days and 390 days.
            The winter here is about 9 or 10 months
long. And the dark is all-consuming. Not
a place for a crazy person.  
             And Hank hasn’t been
quite right ever since the ninety days passed  
slowly by…  and  no aeroplane came calling.

          He asked me what he should do. He was
getting a nervous tic on the left side of his lips…
and when he was upset his right eyebrow would take
to leaping around like a Mexican jumping bean.
          It was comical, I can tell you. Occasionally
I’d have to turn around and give out a few snorts
of laughter, pretending not to laugh… Then I’d turn back around and look at Hank’s crazy face… 
         I couldn’t look too
closely at him. I’d have to pretend a crow
or a tree had caught my interest. Like I hadn’t seen
the same crow and tree before… every day for the past five
            If I looked at his mouth twitching and
his jumping eyebrow, I’d have to fall to
the earth on my hands and knees and howl.

IiiiI mean I felt sorry fro the man…but…
           Maybe in time I’ll learn Hank’s
high-pitched laugh – the one that makes him
sound like a hyena receiving a sudden
enema. ( Clapped like thunder from behind ,
something cold running down the back of his legs…))
            Luckily, Matilda used to
ask us into her trailer… if she saw us strolling 
up the Main Lane towards a gazillion miles of 
muskeg, looking east. There’s no way out that way, 
that’s for sure!
          Unless you see your true love waiting for you
naked, standing between the pines with the
snow just about up to her ass…
            Best we don’t talk about that phase
of madness that hits you all of a sudden, up
here in the land of the midnight sun. And the
land of unending abysmal darkness… 
          When you start running off between
the trees… towards you first true love
whom you haven’t seen in twenty-five years…
         All of a sudden she’s waiting for you
 naked… at 30 degrees below zero…Farenheit.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Way out here beyond  the beyond,
in this place they call ‘the barrens’
your true love is standing naked in the freezing
wind… If you had ttime to think, you wouldn’t
take off your clothese and run to meet her.

         bUT if you’re taken by The Delight,
you don’t have time to think. You see
a joyful end to all your problems!
Finally a solution that will last forever.
          Too bad it isn’t real.

           But the Delight is a solution forever,
that’s true. It’s the final solution.

No one really wants to talk about
“The Delight” up here We’re all afraid
of it.
            Before you make up your mind 
that you know what’s real and what’s not real…
 spend three months in the silence  here,
  …     I guarantee that you will discover wonders
you never imagined  possible…. 

         So much so,  who knows? You might start to be convinced about the presence of the Trickster.
           After a few really horrible things
happen to you after midnight – things that are
too strange to be co-incidental.. and after you
hear the God laughing through the howling
of the wolves…well, I’d say you might
change your mind about a few things
that you thought were self evident before.
          Once Josey Kelly’s plane landed… Right
away Hank was sprinting away down towards the river.
He called back over his shoulder: “It’s been good knowing you!”          
          “See you around the block sometime!”He disappeared
leaping down the hill towards the wharf and the plane.

           But Josey isn’t taking any passengers.
I can tell right away. Usually we take a day and drink
a few bottles of whiskey, and tell stories, laugh a bit,
shout a bit… and when we’re truly loaded. We have
target practice.
             Once again he’s on the run.  He rips a
bottle of rye out of the bag and tosses the bag to me
with  three  more bottles in it.
               We sit down, and have a smoke.
Then  he heads back down the Lane.
             He tosses me a  small pack sack when
he’s leaving and asks me to hide. There’s a hole
he’s dug under a flat rock about a year ago.
               I put the small pack in the hole
and shovel some sand and grass over
it… I pack down the earth with my
             I’m sitting in an armchair
outside the burrow and I have a good slug
of CC Canadian Rye Whiskey – about
a quarter of the  26er with one swallow.
Just for taste.
              It burns going down but nothing
like the moonshine – the moonshine,
you have to take steps before you swallow that.
Best to coat your throat and stomach somehow,

              Joesy’s a very persuasive fellow.
He’s  physically strong, with a winning smile,

          He just managed to persuade his way
out of the district  jail. I’m told it was
with the help of one of the guards.
       Matilda heard it on the radio. He carved 
a block of soap into a very realistic gun shape, then
put boot polish all over it…. Then he bluffed his way
out of the maximum security lock-up.
            I won’t tell you what
jail it was – I have enough people pissed off
at me already.
           I haven’t asked Josey yet about the plane.          
And     I won’t ask him… Maybe a friend lent it to him.
Right, sure pal, sure. Ho! Ho!

            One thing I knew. I knew that Hank wasn’t
going to get a seaplane ride out of WAIT-A-BIT! That
day. When Josie’s running from the law he doesn’t
want any company! He goes far and
fast, until no one can find him. He doesn’t want any 
            (I knew I’d be seeing Hank  very soon again, despite
his delighted farewell.)

       No plane’s landed here in Wait-A-Bit! For
over five months. 
        I guess something happened to thr
pilot who dropped off Hank…

         Maybe he got bored or divorced. Or in
a mad manic moment he bought a sailboat…
         Or he turned to crack and now is totally
irresponsible – living in the “Country of the Now”
But gone, gone, gone.



Sunday, March 9, 2014



Sunday, March 9, 2014


                         Hank finds a small book with Chinese
designs on the outside. It’s a diary. It has a little
lock on it…   it’s a pink colour. The kind of 
l;ittle diary book school girls use, when they are
keeping a diary.
              Then at the end of the school night,
they turn the key in the little lock to lock the
pages shut, the lock that keeps her secrets
from mommy and daddy and both her nasty
              Hank turns the key in the lock. He
sniffs the pages. They’re a little bit
perfumed, just as a schoolgirl would like.
Hank turns to the first page and starts
to read accounts of his former life…


             I had a big fight at work. Then I quit.
I might have to travel up to Wait-A-Bit and take that
job. At least I’ll have some peace and quiet.
            It has to be a quiet little newspaper: 

             “THE RAVEN SCREED!”

            What kind of a name is that? Sounds odd,
worse than odd, it sounds weird. But how weird
can it get in the heart of the country?
            Ah, peace! That’s what I need. Put my
feet up and watch the river flow. A little
bucolic beauty, quiet and peace. Peace and
quiet. Might go out at lunch time and
pick some wildflowers… Maybe even
take up photography… get a second floor
window with a view.
           Sit in a cafe after work. Maybe fall in
love with the waitress. I mean, how bad can it


        Hank snorts when he reads this. 

        Frank hears him from across the bunker.

         “Is he laughing?” Franks wonders, “What 
at?” Frank thinks to himself. He hasn’t been
laughing much lately. In fact, Hank has been
on the verge of dementia the whole last two weeks…

        Frank watches Hank: “He’s not laughing,he’s crying!”

             “What are you laughing at?” Frank calls
across the room. Hank’s bed is now ten
feet down the tunnel he’s been furiously digging
on and off for at least a month now.

           “Oh, nothing. Just a journal I was keeping
in the city…”

             Frank is quiet. He knows he’ll get
to see the “Journal” sooner or later. He’s
happy to WAIT-A-BIT! Har! Har!
             A storm’s been blowing the better
part of five days now.The snow’s four feet
high over their porthole… half a foot
of ice on top of that.
             “He’ll tell me all he knows in five
more days.” Then Frank laughs, thinking about
Uncle Henry – the hanging judge – Wilcox. He
had some dandy expressions!
              For example: “A man can say all he
knows in ten minutes. If he talks any longer,
he’s exaggerating!’
              And this: 


              The look of glee he used to have on his
face as he said this! Henry had to laugh. “I never 
thought I’d miss that son-of-a-bitch!”
               “I don’t really miss much about him…
the thing I miss is his laugh!” Frank thinks and
stares at the rods of rebar showing through the mud

               Hank looks up watches Frank. Frank
is staring at the wall… reminiscing.
               “He looks like a camel when he does
that!” Hank thinks but says nothing, “A camel
gazing off into the distance across the desert

             DIARY (continued)
             “I’ll sit on the porch, smoke a pipe
and watch the sunset. I’ll hear the sound of silence…
Silence is golden.
              “Sit out there as the sky slowly darkens,
and the majesty of the stars come out to play…
I’ll relax and breath the sweet air. Maybe have a sip
of sweet water… and listen to the call of the loon…”
               Hank is starting to panic. “Saying,’
Things can’t get worse than this!’ this is a 
very unlucky thing to say. I did’t really
mean it. Oh God! I take it back… That’s
not what I meant. I meant something else…
I just couldn’t express myself
                Hank has learned a thing or
two about the Trickster God from his
native neighbours.
                 At Artie’s bar, sitting together,
they tell stories of what the Trickster
has done… Horrible stories about house burnings,
cars sinking in the muskeg… a serious man,
a Prebeterian (sp) who burns his ass on the fire.
             The men are laughing when they
tell Trickster stories. They’re laughing, but not
that hard. There’s clearly a respect, even
a fear of the Trickster God.
             At first he thought the Trickster stories
were silly.  “There is no God!” he laughed,
“There’s no such thing as the Trickster!
Everybody knows this! Where’d you guys
get your education?”
             That remark did not go over well.
Hank was sober enough to see this. The
native men smiled along with him, but their
eyes had grown hard.
               A lot of these guys had been taken
away from their families when they were children,
taken away to Regional Schools. They were
taught their whole way of life was wrong
and evil. And  a lot of these men had been interfered
with sexually… by priests who should have been
looking in the mirror when they spoke about
        . No the ‘where’d you get your education?’
remark had not gone over well. But that wasn’t
the real problem – it wasn’t the reason everybody
had left within ten minutes of Hank’s
        The men had left because only a fool
makes fun of the Trickster God. And only
an idiot would drink with such a man.

         Hank noticed that for the next couple
of months, these men kept their distance.

          Frank heard the story afterwards.
And he understood completely what the problem
was. After all, he was the mayor of the town.
Everybody talked to him.
          Frank didn’t tell Hank had bad his
faux pas was. He’d explain it to him later,
          “Hank has enough problems already.”
Frank thought.
        Frank had seen it all before – various tourists
going through descending moments of horror
and terror. Already he sometimes heard Hank 
whimpering at night. 
         Hank was having difficulty accepting
the reality of his situation. As the John Rock
song, “In this Hotel”goes:

                  And there were no buses here
                   And the train had slipped a gear
                    And the highway is not near!

           No, Hank was already having the night terrors.
Frank could already hear Hank weeping and whining
and praying in a whisper late at night. He didn’t
need to hear anything more about the Trickster
God just now… …
           And he didn’t even know about the weasels yet!


(C)2014 by W.G.Milne
     Re: this story, not the
      Blogger format.




Sunday, January 12, 2014



         I got the Fear today.  Most of the time I don’t
know it, but I got it with both barrels today. And
it was a very unpleasant feeling.
       Hunter Thompson wrote about the fear. No, Hunter
Thompson S. Thompson wrote about The Fear.
        The Fear = normal terror +  blanket
paranoia + no blood sugar +  psychosis + toxicity.
 This, of course, includes toxic-psychosis
which Frank is fast becoming an expert in. Madness
resulting from being stoned out of your tree.
       Frank has learned lots about the subject,
primarily from experience with the insanity
of his neighbours, Frank tells himself.
Many of Frank’s neighbours would say that
the situation is reversed: that they’ve learned
a lot about toxic-psychosis because of visits
from Frank.
         Santa, the  ex-jailbird and 
criminal attorney, he’s even written a book on the subject – about surviving all manner of weirdness including, toxic-psychosis…he now lives just 100 yards up the Main Lane from Frank and Hank’s bunker. He arrived by dogsled team in the middle of last week in the middle of a blizzard.
        In the weirdness of some evil drug grasping your brain in its talons…all of a sudden you are in the
grip of THE FEAR.
        Gentle self-talk is useless, and logic has no effect!
on the brain.
         Couple this with a healthy dose of cabin fever…
and you’ll know intellectual solutions are useless.
It’s time to get right down to the ground of your being,
sit on the earth itself. Sit with your spine
straight and watch the river of your own being
slowly clean itself… and while you’re at it,
you might as well start loading your rifle.
Dangers lurk in unseen places. And no place
is more dangerous than the human brain,
when it’s on TILT!
           If you’ve been through at least one
episode of primordial weirdness; if you’ve
survived your own special blend of toxic-
           For example, if the turkey you’re
cooking sits up in the pan… turns that little
light on in the oven… and starts peering at
you through that clear window in the oven
door – you know you’re getting toxic-psychosis.
          And then you go back to reading your
book and you hear a whispering. And you look
up and now the turkey’s standing in the window
and gives you the finger, then you know you’re
gettin’ it…And then when you hear the turkey say:
“I WEEL KIEELL YOU!” And he’s beckoning for
you to come over across the room, to come
closer….no, closer than that!
         You know you’ve got the TOX-PSYCH and
you’d better see an expert to get the cure!

         Then you’ll know how Hank has to  deal with most mornings! He’s been nutty as a fruit-bat for the last
two weeks. Clocks no longer can be trusted. And the endless bush to the East is calling him again… and the caves of
the people of the Cave-Bear.
Hank writes: “This is a very unpleasant subject at the moment.
I bettor go in search of some major tranks…
or I might fall off the flat of the world…
ooooOOOoooOO! Did someone put something
ugly in my food? Some depraved hallucinogen that gives
a guy the sensation of sitting alone, hot sweaty and
naked…with the spiders coming… and More
Spiders crawling all over my naked skin….hahahahuhuh!
            More spiders crawling in my gut…. and more
scuttling up the road rut, coming, coming, coming
my way….I wonder how they’ll taste.
       And me – mortal, mortal, mortal…hee! hee!
and me cats have worms… eeeep! And I been
walkin barefoot in dah kitchun…. ooop! And I going
down like last week’s discards at the butcher’s…

 Frank thinks, “Oh, oh!”  
He doesn’t breath a sound

Hank keeps writing down his secrets :  “See? Whiff of the fear… for you, not me.
More than a whiff for me… For me a real
low blood sugar chemically induced mind-fuck…
Can’t talk yer way out of DIS one, Bruno!
        Time for dressing down – like the butcher dresses
(FRANK has snuck up behind HANK and he’s reading this
over Hank’s left shoulder. He’s very careful about
making no sudden noises. Hank might not be able
to shoot, but he’s gotten very accurate with an ice
pick… of late.  And he’s getting stronger with
 this incessant digging….)

         Oh, the North will make a man out of you…!
And if you already were a man, it’ll make you into the
beast you always subconsciously knew yourself
to be….!

         Frank crawls back across the bunker floor….
 Dark thoughts for impenetrable times… Screw it!
I’m going to light one of those horrid yellow candles.
Frank snaps a match alight.

There’s a scream from twenty feet down the tunnel!

It’s getting bad – any noise, any movement, any
surprise and he comes unhinged – a full-throated
blood curdling scream, like a woman in a swamp
creature horror movie – “Return of the Swamp Thing”…
When the woman first sees the Swamp Thing…The scream! emerging from the murk and the dark…  The scream!
Response to a horrible surprise…

“That’s what Hank sounds like when I light a match… what’s
he going to do when I shoot something?”

       Frank sits silently back down at the wide shelf which serves as his desk. He drips some wax on the wood. Sets his candle in the hot wax where it stands and burns in
the silence.

“This “dressing down like the butcher,”I don’t like that
thought,” Frank says

“I don’t like that thought, either.” Hank replies.

They’re both astounded that they’ve spoken out loud.
If they gave it any thought, they’d be more astounded
that they both are talking about EXACTLY the same thing.

  They don’t know they’re having a conversation.

Place is much more spacious now that Hank has
entered into his committed digging project…. always
EASTWARD to the east he goes… eastward ho!
eastward, YO! 
He’s cleared about twenty feet of tunnel to the east…
What wuz a cozy bunker now looks like some mad
mining project…

FRANK is thinking about some of the thing’s he’s
read off Hank’s notepad… 
“Mortal, mortal, mortal hee hee hee!
 And my cats have worms, are wormy…eep!”

“OK, that’s creepy, but it doesn’t bother me
too much,” Frank thinks, but what was that other
phrase? Oh, yeah…

That’s a phrase that’ll make you think,
Frank whispers to himself.

Friday, December 27, 2013



                          I want to apologize for my outburst
of insulting talk directed towards various people
and also the reader. I want to apologize
especially to the reader.
           By the way, I’ve found it and gotten rid of the worst
of it. But it’s frustrating. You get ride of one piece
of nastiness, and five  more paragraphs pop out. Yes,
I got rid of one ugly paragraph, only to
find five more take its place, from articles I don’t
remember writing…  Kind of like gardening triffids.
You pull out one weed, and bingo!  The ugliness
has spread!
           I must have been in a horrible pre-Christmas
funk. I don’t respond well to all the pressures of
Christmas. Why do you think I’m a hermit? I
don’t respond well to pressure from any source.
My life has been full or horrendous, diabolical
pressures: 1st from my parents who wanted me to be
a politician; 2nd from girlfiends who EXPECTED
things from me… and 3rd, from the ugly
dark tunnels I lived in with various wives!  Only
when I left each situation did I realize how
miserable I had been!
         Now I live, not pressure free, but close to it.
That’s why I have time to write, finally!

         Now briefly I live with a mess of cats. A friend
pressured me into taking the cat. Then I tried to
give the cat back – and that worked for about
a year… But, now the cat has come back to
me pregnant, and last week had seven kittens;
and they’re all living in my kitchen….
          Anyway, you don’t want to hear
about the smell and stuff like that. But
let me tell you this: if I can smell it must
be bad!
          In the past I have taken various
medications up my nose, and maybe
took a tad too much of certain medications.
The result of the whole thing is I don‘t
have much of a sense of smell…
well, you can imagine the rest.
          I’m not going to let the cat situation
develop into another form of pressure…
I’m getting pretty slick.  Pressure slips
off my back…. Ha! Ha! At least so far

          The whole thing about writing
and about life is to work things
until you get into a flow experience.
Whether it’s the flow of words, or the flow
of lovemaking, or the flow of a healthy
sport – running, cycling, and tennis –
the idea is to work it until you get into
the ZONE.
          The Zone is a flow experience,
and, as I say, this is the aim.

          Now that combination of Wray and
Nephew overproof, full strength,  white
rum from Jamaica (you can light a lantern with it!);
gout in the knee – the pain of gout in the
knee can drive you mad; and a good
solid does of  biorhythms moving into mania…
well, I had a flow experience, all right.
           The agony of gout in the knee;
the clean-headed drunkenness of the
overproof, and the high-paced
metabolism of mania. Rather than shouting
out the pain, I was writing it out into a
stream of intensity that no moral arbiter 
in the mind, and no mental editor could cope
            Looking back on it, it was an
interesting experience, but no way
do I want to go back into that
wild state of mind.
           What I will do is go over
the sixty or so pages I typed up
instead of screaming or swinging
from a chandelier…. and see how
much of it has been published…
That’s the plan.   
           And it may take some time.    
          But let me say, I don’t think anybody is stupid
to read my stuff when it is unedited. Sorry about
that.  Truth is, some of my best stuff comes out unedited.
That’s when I’d read if I wanted to learn about writing
           Frankly, it’s smart to read the unedited pages,
if you can stand the incoherence.  I was throwing pages 
out around the room – like a maniac.
You should see this place!
                    My theory is you edit nothing at first.
Then hopefully go over it, with a blue pencil, and THEN
publish it. (I know they don’t use a blue pencil
anymore.) Or at the very least -DON’T PUBLISH
maybe getting loaded and starting to
turn ugly.
           It’s taken a lot of years to learn how 
to write the way I wanted to – as I speak, myself –
and other people speak.  It’s best to learn
hanging out with hookers, drug dealers and the
strong arm boys.
           Most street corners, you’ll find them.
           The trick is to not get stabbed, robbed,
or have unprotected sex. If you’re going
to have street sex, do it in such a way
that you don’t catch anything terminal.
             I guess you could argue that death
is a flow experience, but it’s not
what we’re looking for right now.
           I want to write the way people talk – minus 
a few expletives.  Sometimes, of course,
you have to leave all the four letter swear
words in – if you’re in the middle of the action,
or writing an intense argument. In other words,
there are times when you can’t much out at
              What’s his name?-Keruoac  had a theory
that he wanted to bring it all out unedited, and it’s
claimed he more or less did. I don’t believe that.
But maybe he came close.
               Some other writers: Jean Genet came close also
in, Our Lady Of The Flowers…who else? Henry Miller, at times.
 Salinger .The guy who did, “Monkey House”, Vonnegut,  
sounds like he’s doing it, He’s not, his stuff is well crafted, but
he sounds like he’s talking straight to the reader.
                   Hemingway, great with the straight
narrative – telling what’s happening etc: not so good
with the dialogue.  But you can argue that

point. I don’t know why I brought him up.
His work is edited many times.
                   Celine, also, very much so in “A Long Day’s
Journey Into Night” , that brilliant book! He sounds like
he’s having a relaxed conversation with the
reader.  Seeming like you’re talking right to the read
and being unedited – the two things are related
but they’re different issues.
                    Both Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs
visited Celine in France in the mid 50s…
he was one  the fathers of writing
with slang and clipped street rhythms –
in order to achieve  the flow.   
                  Stephen King and Elmore Leonard
both very street-sounding dialogue, and you gotta
love them for it. Elmore Leonard’s novel-talk
makes you feel like you’re in the same
room with him, having a relaxing drink.

                Anyway,   the disgusting images
and the ugly/nasty narrative
the unnecessary rudeness
that was the flow that was natural
to the pained, ugly mood I was in…
But I should have edited it
                  Plenty of women have left me
for this very thing. I come on like a schoolboy,
then a month goes by… and I step into my
natural mania, drink some Seagram’s Rye,
and then soon afterwards, have gout in the
knee and
                 Then I tend to shout…and wave a
cane around…One time  I drove  down a
fairly busy highway – driver’s door was open
and I was swinging an axe at other cars, who
were coming too close to my knee.
  And that was just gout in the
knee … with no other added fuels!

          To be honest, if I wanted to be a writer –
I’d see if I  could get a glimpse of unedited
manuscripts at the library… when you
see a page of the first manuscripts, you’ll
see how badly even excellent writers
start out… then watch their improvement
when you see the actual book        
        I’m normal now and clearheaded, coming
out of  depression or mania can be like
coming out of a tunnel.
       But it was worth exploring – the stream
of rude nasty ugliness – it’s still a flow
          Anyway, sorry for the excessive
rudeness. I’ll read the articles over and
get rid of the worst of it. 








                    Following on from last night on the subject of


         These are people I’ve come across, either through

reading or travelling.

          Philip Kapleau, Zen Master, of the Zen Temple

in Rochester. There is no question that he has

realized (experienced satori).

            Padma Sambava – ancient

master of Tibetan Buddhism. This man/saint/god/seer,

if one fifth of what I have read about him is true,

he must be studied. He is one of those characters

who had the ability to look into past lives and future

times as well. There is a tradition that he would 

hide books the world was not ready for, so that

they would be found at such a time as when the book

would be needed and its import could be grasped.

           This is the tradition of the tulku,

in the path known as Tibetan Buddhism. The tulku

is the guy who is going to find the book hidden

by the master…the tulku might appear 200 years 

later to complete the task and retrieve the book

set aside centuries before.

            This might sound like nonsense to you,

but remember these are the Himalayas of the

human Heart-Mind-Soul we’re talking about now.

In fact, the word Upanishads means just that.


           One of the sayings from Padma Sambava’s

time that I love:  “The secret book could lie

open on the King’s Highway, and no one would read it.”


           Of course, there is Lao Tzu and his book

“The Way of Life”. This book is fluid, like water,

so it’s import is hard to grasp, but this is a must



           Other mystic minds from the Himalayas

of human vision –  Meister Eckhart and Heraclitus.


            And there was a Zen Master who taught

in Europe until his recent death. I’ll remember

his name soon.


           When you live at the peaks, you see over

birth and death, so there is a continuity to your

vision. This continuity is transcendence.


           It is said there have been many Buddhas.

And there have been many “annointed ones”

called the Christ.

           But these are not different people. Once

a human mind has passed through the Foundation

Experience called “Realization”, called “kensho”,

also called “satori”, an ego death takes place.

The eggshell ego implodes. A new identity is born.

In fact, the ego or old identity becomes  capital “i” Identity.

          If you would know the Eternal, experience

the meaning of the words “eternal life”, the

superficial identity within you must perish, and

once you enter into communion with the one

Mind, then you know that death is impossible.

           Put one way, it is only God who lives in the Eternal.

Once you have taken the necessary steps of humility and made  yourself ready for Grace, you may

 enter into holy communion with Him, then you also

live in the eternal realms – you live in that place

where eternal life dwells.

          We call this place heaven. Heaven exists on earth,also.


           To say the same thing in different terms –

saying the same thing, but putting it differently –

there is one Suchness. Once you

attain to the Mind that is the core of the suchness,

you are complete.

            Liberation is yours… but whether it is yours,

or his or hers no longer matters. You have gone

beyond possession. When you have ‘reached’,

you live in the pure land. You live in a place 

beyond grasping. 




This ‘SURVIVAL GUIDE” belongs with COMEDY section as much or more than SURVIVAL section at







      Any survival situation is interesting.  Toxic Psychosis
is definitely a survival situation. – often the danger is more
acute for other people.
      Extreme paranoia, however induced…can be a danger
to other people. If the subject feels he is under
attack, by let say six schoolteachers walking their dogs
across a public park…
      And if the subject is in the same public park, hiding in the
bushes and watching carefully at the approach of the enemy.  And the subject naturally has already gained the higher
       And if the subject is the survivor of several jail
fights and has learned the art of using anything
at hand for a weapon.
       And let`s say our hypothetical subject has
just snorted six ounces…

View original post 1,352 more words







      Any survival situation is interesting.  Toxic Psychosis
is definitely a survival situation. – often the danger is more
acute for other people.
      Extreme paranoia, however induced…can be a danger
to other people. If the subject feels he is under
attack, by let say six schoolteachers walking their dogs
across a public park…
      And if the subject is in the same public park, hiding in the
bushes and watching carefully at the approach of the enemy.  And the subject naturally has already gained the higher
       And if the subject is the survivor of several jail
fights and has learned the art of using anything
at hand for a weapon.
       And let`s say our hypothetical subject has
just snorted six ounces of Peruvian Marching Powder.
And has walked out of the family home at the start of
dinner. And he has slammed the front door
very loudly as he begins his fast search for higher
ground… And some fiend has cut the cocaine with
(Angel) DEVIL DUST – PCP….
       Now he`s carrying his shoes in his left
hand….And he`s having trouble putting these
shoes on – because every time he sits down to pull
on a shoe, he starts to levitate…
       And levitation is a problem I`d prefer
not to discuss before breakfast….
        Time for a cup of coffee. 

        Well, that`s why we call them drug fiends,
children. And they might attack out of the
bushes at any time.
        Because even if you`re only sixteen
and even if all six of you weigh less than a
thousand pounds, and even if you`re walking Labrador
Retrievers, not Dobermans. The DRUG FIEND
 walking with the king  SEES THE SCENE
 than you your school-teacher buddies do!
         The drug fiend sees danger everywhere he turns.
He is in what the doctors like to call, a “FIGHT OR FLIGHT”
          You see, you think you`re walking along in a
safe park  and it`s a balmy spring evening, and you`re 
talking to your wives, whoops! wife. And the dogs you
are walking are frolicking along looking for bushes to sniff.
           But you see, that`s not the reality at all…

           In fact, you are walking 2300 years ago…

           You don`t hear the shrieking citadel geese, because
you are not aware that you are approaching the citadel…
and the bushes your dogs are sniffing give rise
to the bushes on higher ground where the brave soul
defending the city from Etruscan Invaders… awaits.
           And he passed right through that little fight-or-flight
problem six minutes ago. This Drug Fiend is a brave soul.
            He is defending the lives of his people. And he
has been doing military exercises for decades.
             He`s been practising hurling sharp implements against a reinforced wall in his basement for six years now
taking speed all night, night after night, for years
and lifting weights after his fingers have become too blistered from whipping around all those six-pointed stars
at the human head drawn in the wall 30 feet away
from his barricade.
         He works out nightly in his Roman exercise gallery.

          Your dogs have transformed themselves into the
200 pound snarling beasts ( precursors to the brave Rottweiler breed, only larger and trained to eat what it
kills – trained to eat and kill the citizens of Rome.)
         Our brave fiend is truly lost in madness now.
But for him, remember, the situation makes sense.
It doesn`t to you, but you`re not making the rules.
You`re not the director of this very real theatre piece.
             Well, you`ll see the problem developing…

              When you see the 320 pound, extremely agile,
shoeless monster burst from the bushes you are
attacking…. when you hear him howl in a chattering
fashion teeth flashing in a snarl which may also be a laugh…
               When you see him running downhill in a leaping
motion… running past your company  to your left – down
the hill and cutting off any chance of
dignified escape…    or any escape at all.

                  Well, then it`s time, my friends, to start seeing
the situation the way he does.
                  TIME WARP does exist.
                   principle: The craziest among us, he defines the time and space.

              If you see him BOUNDING, moving the way you have never seen a human move – chances are, what you
are dealing with is an entity rather less and rather more than
             (1) bounding,  that`s a sign
             (2) when your domestic dogs have stopped barking
                  and now they`re just pissing themselves where                    they stand, that`s another sign.         

             It`s a sign to run like a motherfucker!
             Go ahead, sprint for the bushes.  Forget
about ripping the shit of your $1000 suit.  Run through
the bushes… don`t worry about what may be permanent
facial scars as the undergrowth tears at your skin. That`s
what plastic surgery is for.
            Run right through the brand new one by six pine
planking of your neighbours fence… Let the men do that for
you, ladies.Chances are they`ve got a good head start on 
you anyway…

principle: When reality strikes, forget what ought to be.
can outrun you – one good thing about animals, they
never forget how to flee…

          Ask any 20 year cop who`s worked the inner city
and the ravines… Ask him about the mysteries, the delights
and the insane dangers of fiends on PCP.
           I have heard horrible stories. Babies have been
eaten… A man crossing sixteen  lanes of the 401
with an arm in his mouth… unworried, as if he`s
going to church.  I have heard horrible stories.
        And what I have SEEN is far worse than what I have heard.

        If you`re lucky enough to SEE such a beast approaching, shoot for the centre of the chest. 
(Fuck luck! If you`re unwary, you won`t see a thing and you`ll be dead) Chances are he`ll be too fast for you to hit him in the head…
        Shoot him three or four times in the chest…. then
run like the demons of hell are nipping at your heels.
         And don`t for a minute think… just because you`ve
hit him four or five times in the chest with a 303, don`t think he`s dead.  He won`t be,
           With all that adrenalin and lead in him he can still
run faster than you can.Don`t bother checking to see
if he`s wear body arm.. MANIACS DON`T NEED VESTS!
           Throw a chair or a boulder thru somebody`s
living room window… get your crew inside and shove a couch into the ungainly opening you have made in the wall. Ha! Ha!
           THEN CALL 911.
            Forget cell phones at times like this — your fingers
will shake too much to use them…
            Shove the couch into the wall opening. Get any of the men with you who are not weeping on their knees and praying for SANTA… get them to rip legs off chairs off chairs for added impact defence.
            Remember, I AM SANTA. If you`ve been to jail
you`ve probably already met me – and you know I tell you
no lies.

            Tell the house owners of the house to “SHUT UP AND FIND A GUN.!”
            This guy`s still coming for you. Don`t ever think he`s not. He might be catching his breath.  No, scratch that – he
          Forget the weak and the slow, your friends who were walking in the park with you…
they`re dead already!

           The cops`ll get there quick.  A lot of the guys like
situations like this – and thank God for that! 
         Never criticize a certain love for violence in your constabulary. What do you expect? It`s their stock and trade.
At times such as this you`ll wish they were more violent –
at times like this you need ravening beasts

             Fuck luck! When someone`s trying to kill you,
the only response is –  TRY TO EAT HIS SKULL!

             I`ve been through a few situations like this
and I`m still alive… And this little article might just save
your life…
             There`s no time to think when the rams`horns are
blowing in the hills.



b057e-paintingswgm-stguillaumephotogrid_1403319398438_1L’ETRANGER, THE OUTSIDER – CAMUS AND VAN GOGH, THE EYE OF THE ARTIST


                     *           *                *


Some years back, I was studying “L`Etranger” by Camus,
which is: `The stranger`, “The Outsider”…

      The man standing  outside the restaurant windows in the large  city –
 Paris, Toronto, New York, London – he might be
highly intelligent, but he does not partake of the affluence
of society; he`s not included in the good times or good food; he`s not invited to  cocktail parties,couples groups in fine restaurants.  He is totally excluded for one reason most of all: 
he is an observer.
         The only consolation L`Etranger has for all this rejection and ostracizing – 
he knows that most fine artists
live lives as solitaries. Oh yes, they may be in the
midst of a family, or they may not. But one thing is sure –
they are alone. They are alone now, and they have always been alone. 
Even when they are in a bar attempting to
talk to others, or at the funeral of a loved one,
the artist might be acutely observing the scene;
but he is detached, an outsider – he is The Stranger.
           There are too many examples of this “healthy sickness” – too many examples to count: Van Gogh,
why didn`t he have sex with the prostitute? Why did he
send his ear to her? 
           Because he was too detached?   Likely so…
Detached, yes, alienated, apart from… observing…
He saw her closely; he saw her so completely
that he loved her in a way she had never been
          She may not have known this… (What do
any of us know about the people around us?) 
But she likely sensed it – she may not have sensed
his love; she might have thought it was lust… but she
certainly sensed his attention.
         He was detached. He saw her every colour, uncertainty
and frown. He probably never took her hand, or
shared a coffee with her. But he loved her in a way
that no one ever had…no one had ever seen her
so completely.

        Although, if you look at it from the woman`s
point of view. perhaps she would have rather had a meal and sex 
with the man instead of being observed so closely… even if he
looked at her with utter love, what good was that to her?
She might have thought…  She was busy.  She had
a child perhaps and cats to take care of.
         I`m sure she would have preferred to take the man`s
hand… but to endure his disconcerting stare?
         Who among us want to be observed so closely?
Most of us have our  guilts and paranoias…
who has the gift of repose?
          Sometimes the artist.  And sometimes not.

           Van Gogh likely would have preferred to take
her hand, also, or to pat her rump. But it was not to
be. He was too much the outsider, too much
the stranger…
        If he had been able to hold her hand, he would
not have had to send her his ear.
        Of the few women I can think of at the moment –
none of them would be more likely
to spend time with me, if I sent them
my ear.
        What do you think, my lady? If I sent you my ear,
would that patch up the differences between us?
Would that make everything all right.
         Or would I be taking another trip
up the hill into a locked unit?

          Close attention makes people uncomfortable.
They have their own lives to lead, and they do not
need some maniac perched like a jackdaw on the back
of the chair next to them… closely watching
the expressions on their face.

        But most true artists are exactly that: painters
and writers have been primarily that – observers…. 
Maniacs,madmen, excluded outlaws and pariahs
they are the watchers no groups are comfortable with…

      And so the artists are found looking in
through the glass  into the restaurant from the cold sidewalk…

Shivering in a wet raincoat with two dollars and forty cents
in your pocket… if you go to a cheap restaurant, you
can just about buy a coffee.

And when you go home, you can eat your oil paints
instead of bread.




cliff-top text:


“Drink the waters of the fountain
I have dug. and you shall be as I am.
And being what I am, I shall breathe
into you new Breath. I shall be your
Comforter; I will not leave you
comfortless. You shall know Me
through My Word, and you shall not
taste death.”

“I am always with you, nearer
than you think; and when you replace
an Eye for an eye, not in vengeance,
and not in pride, then you may see Me
as I always am, throughout unending
days and nights, I reach to you My
hand; I offer you My Sight.”

“They have killed the Son,
but here I am, the true Heir
of the Garden.”

“The Kingdom has come, but
men know it not.”

“You have asked My Father
for the Son; My Father and I are One.
On the day of harvest the…

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Once upon a time there was a train
where people could breath and eat with knives and
forks like human beings and we didn’t have the
urge to kill the fat guy on the seat next to us.
      In those days we didn’t have to behave
like farm animals being transported they
know not where, making the sort of sounds
you hear coming from a barn over-packed with 
goats, chickens and cows.. And the grunts of pigs
and the squeals when a foot or a tail was yanked
on stepped upon.
           No. Those were the days of dignified travel.
When we had room. When there was a certain grace
to the dining car.  When passengers could breathe
and have a few thoughts along the way.
          A person might even feel a frisson of
 romance when he heard the lonesome
whistle of the train he was riding on. Bashing through
the deep snows in the winter, watching the pine
forest up  close to the windows, passing by.
 The trip was fun and alive, and tourists liked
it, too.

        No longer.

        Northerners no longer can travel like
normal people. We must skulk
like addicts in small little groups
in the wee small darkest hours past midnight –
to nab a bus which is not packed with people,
a means of travel where we can breathe

A lot of northerners do a lot
of wood chopping. This makes our
shoulders larger than the shoulders
of many southerners.
        As a result you cannot place two
 northern  wood-chopping
males next to each other in two narrow
seats and expect to achieve any kind
of harmony.
         Someone measured my shoulders the
other night (a sordid story I’ll tell you
another time). I am close to three feet across
at the shoulders if I breath in, which I hope
to do when I’m travelling…And I’m not
considered a huge northerner, just a tad ungainly
in that I resemble a gorilla when
I walk.
         So you put me next to
another 240 pound beast from
the Great White North – say Swastika,
Ontario, or Iroquois Falls… well, we get to 
hate each other in thirty minutes.
There simply is not room in bus
transportation to seat two bushmen
        Luckily, people such as we are
tend to bring libation with us – and
so even though there is no room 
to sit down – there is space to lie
down in the aisle – or  you could throw open
the luggage storage shelf above
and lie down there…
        But I have found this makes
the ladies nervous – taking bets
on exactly when the behemoth will
fall and break their mothers’
corning ware all at once and             ***
once and for all.
Northern women chop wood, too.
And such ladies are quite capable
of knocking a southern liberal out,
if he falls into her lap at an
inopportune time.
      Nope. If the BUS is full
 we’re like BEES in a BOTTLE.
I’d like to know which dingbat
made the decision to remove
trains from the north: the person
who pulled a fast one and turned
northern transportation into a
cruel farce.
      The woman ahead of me
in the bus was making a bit of a
speech to her fellow travellers.
And of course I could hear it 
because I was crammed and
seated in such a way that my nose
was about six inches behind her
left ear.
       She said: “They did it to
punish the north! For not voting
 liberal lately!”
        All the people up front were
talking to her, too, and murmuring agreement.
         “Whoever did it we owe
him one. We’ll wait…!”she called out rather
 too loudly for what they call ‘polite society’… 
but that didn’t matter.
          We were no longer in polite
society. The bus was stuffed like the
Christmas turkey! I was wondering what
the scene reminded me of… and then I knew.
It reminded me of a bus in a third-world
            In Jamaica, when I was a kid, buses
used to bop along from stop to stop,
careening around blind corners with the
horns blaring. But those buses were fun,
even if you were on the verge of getting killed
every second. Because… you were allowed
to smoke and drink alcohol,  stick
your head out the window and shout to people
in the street. You were even allowed to bring
chickens or a goat on board.
         Also, it was warm, so that helped, too,
if the bus broke down… or if seven or eight of
us had to get out and push the bus the last
hundred feet up a hill. That wasn’t so bad
because of the sunny climate. 
         In Canada, of course, you’d freeze off some
body parts if you attempted this

         The woman up front was shouting 
again. It was impossible to ignore her.
          “Yes, we’re going to wait!”
The other passengers were cheering.
          I didn’t hear the whole speech
because the guy to the right of me
was breathing garlic into my nostrils.
However he passed me half a mickey of rye
and said, “Go ahead. Finish it!” And I
did… in two large gulps. So the garlic
no longer mattered to me.         

        The woman was standing now.
I couldn’t really move my head, so I 
had to look right at her ass. Her
butt was big, made her look like the ass
of  a mule in blue jeans.
           But we all have our little problems
so I’m not one to judge.

        “Oh, yes, wait we will!” She
was waving her fist in the air. We’ll
vote the bastards out! We’ll get
payback!  We’ll count the days!”

          There was more cheering,
but I didn’t listen any more.
           My mind had moved on
to other things.