Canadian nuances

Canadian nuances: Part 8 – I choose concrete

“Dress dry, there’s a storm coming tomorrow.”

The next day I arrive at work. My muscles complain like misplaced teenagers. I cradle a gas station coffee. With every sip the bulb behind my eyes flickers. The short answer is a smattering of subcontracted crews are building a multi-million dollar hotel. The long answer comes to me like as sobering slap. In the wrong hands…this could be chaos.

Pillars of cement stand out of the ground. Hedges of rebar hug the wall and they remind me of angry spears.This is no LEGO set. Only a hammer will fit in your hand or maybe a drill of some kind. Most material be it concrete, steel beams, scaffolding even the garbage can needs a few men (or sometimes a crane).

It all started with a hole in the ground. (Let me try that one again with dimensions…) It all started with diggers and giant trucks haulin’ ass to get the sand outta the way. This isn’t grandma digging a hole for her little seedlings. These are men strapped in high visibility clothing yelling at each other in the hopes the message is heard above the shriek of a circular saw. This is a two story underground parking hole.

 

I’ll rewind to the beginning…

I arrive on site and watch men work below me. I stare up. A white fog blocks the view of the mountains. I’m told that is a snow storm barreling towards up (around 12pm). My brother comes back, puts away his phone and asks me, “do you want to bash out concrete or patch up some holes?” I choose concrete. (Later I find out this is the tougher job.)

I walk to the far end of the site. There are no flat surfaces to stand on. You know those metal rods you see in cement? Well, these parallel rods (or rebar) are all I have. My boots clunk over tons of them. I get on my knees and start bashing at shards of concrete. It’s Friday…the end of a long week of roofing, lifting, swearing and trying to absorb as much detail as one can.

The bottomline is I worked through the snow and got the job done after an 11 hour day. At 6:35pm I go to a local bar and order a shot of jager plus a pint. I down the shot which lights up the old kindling in my eyes. I tip the bartender with a toonie that giggles when I put it down.

C’est la vie.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

thought closet

fix your thought closet
some hangers i will not reveal

yesterday i lent you a green one
its shoulders bent on the ends
plastic ones bother me, the
curled head juts out, with
the eyes of a mother.
she looks for laundry.

i look for a jacket to hide
my feelings. neither of us win.

the cupboard will outlive us.
heavy sweaters
pressed t-shirts
and a lego man
are all shards of stories.

the closet remembers, and
creaks when it closes.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

A stranger’s bed

for Sarah

We lay in a stranger’s bed.
Just the two of us, an old
painting hung behind our heads
and listened to the stories, my
awkward hands, limp on the mattress.

I watched the freckles dance on
your face when you laughed. Before bed we
both removed our glasses.

Between sentences we studied the other,
our naked faces learning a new
language. All over again.

On the second night, I was worn
down by work. Your voice trickled
in excitement, turning each page of intimacy.

I tried to stay awake and listen to
your stories. My eyelids rocked open and
shut like an old boat.
I did not make it to the end.

I asked you in the morning about
it. You said I slurred a sentence like
a sailor, and then nothing.

You turned in the current of duvet, and
waited for waves of sleep.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

Mantra

Dream and laugh like a river.

Sing around the throat
of a fire.
Shout at the moon, because
she is your sentinel.

When you cry the river will
carry your tears away,
from the current of memory.

In anger I hurl my fists and
fury at the mountain.

He watches me through the
history of my words,

and accepts the challenge.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

The Dinosaur

for my mother

I coloured in a dinosaur, at
the age of ten.

I selected five careful pencils and
put them all in a row.
Sharpened. The heads of fences.

I gave him silver claws, and a
dark green body. The colour oozed
into the page.

After an hour I had carved him
into a story, into my mind.

The teacher wafts around the
room, stacking reptiles into
an old palm.

A few days later the news broke.
I won the competition. My mother
chortled her praise, while she cooked
with a bent back.

I dreamed of art lessons
I won. Excited and curious. (I think
it was the silver claws that did it.)

I never collected my prize. I still
blame my mother. Only now I see
her lack of hands with two boys
bubbling in the house.

I wonder what she did to breath
back then. I think it was the piano.

I rocked in my dreams.
My mother stroked the keys, because
it cooled her head down.

It was her language.

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

Sheffield

 – for my father –

I remember the
medicine bottle.
A spiral grows from the
plastic cap, like DNA.

You used them for
hooks, sinkers and
swivels.

I dug through your red
bag of tackle, rolled
like a scroll.

Velcro cracks as
I peel it. Grains of
beach sand dance on
the plastic skin.

My fingers skip like an
excited jeweller. I hold
a grey weight in my hand.

I looks like a battered pyramid,
scars and scrapes
drawn into geography.

Under the butt there is a
metal loop to tie your line.

“This weight is for the sea.”
My father’s voice turns the
tide of my thoughts.

He tells me the pointed end
digs into the sand.
It holds the bait
that flies a bloody flag.

I finger 2 long
lead weights. dead weight.

Ten years on I can still
feel those dense shapes
in the oyster of my palm.

I can feel the smile spill
through the shrub of your beard.
I can smell the scent of a wooden path.

Brown arms become bronze,
Sea and sweat stick to our stories.
Have I become a fisherman?

Well, almost.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

between the two of us

you are like the wind on a
mountain, your voice is supple.
it weaves through my old furniture
in the house.

my heavy pauses frustrate you.
when I plod from point-to-point
you are already riding rapids
in the rain.

I don’t think it will work out
between the two of us. I sit on
my sofa like a comfortable crab
your hands dance towards the
ceiling, parting curtains
hanging paintings

your fingers stroke the pulse of
sunlight, and my
eyes are buried in a book.

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard