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

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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

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

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poetry

My first time

My father taught me to write
in books
Ones full of words, throbbing with ideas

One day I picked up a book
of his, it smelled like a good memory
I opened to a random chapter
my eyes saw a square bracket
herding a phrase together

I went to ask my father
about the marks he had made.
– Once you wade into a river,
you must remember where
you cast your line.

I ran those words over in my head.
Like an old coin you weave
through your fingers, the
rhythm of the unconscious.

I was reluctant to carve up
this soul I spent money on.

My first attempt was in pencil.
A book of poetry I left at
a girlfriend’s house.

I went back to the store to buy
my own copy. It still looked the
same as the last one, unwanted
memories crawling out of its spine.

I wrote in the book
like a draft of my own.
My pencil skated through pages,
my head engorged in the words.
I couldn’t wipe off the excitement.

Months later, I told my father about
this book I had devoured.
He picked it up, pencil marks
leaping at him like headlines.

– Someone has studied this.
He said.
– Oh, that was me.
I muttered.
– That’s interesting.

A smile rippled through him.
For a second I could see
pride splash in his eyes,
a curious carp coming to the surface.

 

PhilosopherPoet

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Reviews

The PowerBook – Jeanette Winterson (review)

The PowerbookThe Powerbook by Jeanette Winterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A modern day collage of memories, love, philosophy, history and the grit that lies underneath all of us.

That’s my attempt to sum up the novel in a single sentence. What’s it about? Well, the chapters are laid out with headings you will see on a Apple computer (e.g, SEARCH, NEW DOCUMENT, EMPTY TRASH). Even the title is “The PowerBook”, which has the same layout as a MacBook does (i.e. an Apple Mac laptop for the layman). The story line flickers between an entity online called Ali (or Alix) who writes stories for other people for a living, and a love triangle in Paris. A guy who falls in love with two different women on separate occasions.

I read this in spurts over 3 days. Most of the chapters are around 3-5 pages. If you’re prepared for a postmodern story line that hops back and forth leaving some questions unanswered, this may be for you. Perhaps I was too caught up in the swirling metaphors and visceral imagery which, in turn, propelled me to keep reading.

The PowerBook may not answer all your questions on love, and the inner cogs of lovers. However, it’s a beautiful and moving read. I reckon you should give it a go.

If you’re in-love with someone else while you’re reading it…even better!

 

PhilosopherPoet

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Standard
poetry

there is a story [untitled]

there is a story behind the
shape of your skin
the husk of your smile
guitar contours lace
the rhythm of your stare

“there’s a circle, that
can’t be broken…”
cowboys
commas
curses – stir through the
smoke of your cigarette

denim and man
forged into veins of your beard

a tin can
rattles in a song you
sang above the poised audience
begging for air

 

 

Original draft

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

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poetry, Prose, Reviews

fences

Inspired by the 2016 film Fences (click here)
*                                  *                                  *

 

spin the ball with me…hold that leather skull in your hand it’s just baseball

it could be rocket science ingredients leaping from tube to tube with the fear of fire and the desire to turn into something cold and remembered

in baseball folks are running from plate to plate sometimes you miss the ball like it’s a force you can’t see…an idea you can’t free…a divorce in your head maybe

an old man is out building a fence…he buys sturdy wood…he wears a smile and a stare that crawls into your bones

he churns up the naked loam with an old spade…his hands cling to the wooden neck the same way a jaded man fondles a bottle of something strong enough to wash emotions away

“one day I’ll finish this damn thing” he tells himself…earth, sweat and spray rinse dense memories he cannot leave behind unless he presses his lips to the gentle kiss of a gin bottle

old, polished, strong to the taste just like a boy he remembers and the man he forgets

 

 

PhilosopherPoet

Standard
poetry

the lady on the bus

fragile and foetal
death picks up the chaos
she cannot collect

her eyes hide
in the slow smoke

her hair lies between
rules and regret

a brown umbrella
decorates her day

a white hat
holds the echoes
in her speech

her son died today
in dank ditches
where spoons suffocate

eyes like a soldier
a voice so tender
it narrates the
fingers of smoke

 

PhilosopherPoet

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Canadian nuances, Rantings

Canadian nuances – Part 7: That African Twitch

It’s cold. (Well, only 5°C but you forget…I’m a wuss with warm tropical blood.)

My backpack is crammed with groceries. It has the weight of a dying child. Each hand holds two more shopping bags. It’s around 10pm. I’m tired and starved. All I want to do is get home and throw food at my face until a gravy coloured smile emerges.

I’m walking up Yukon street and my steam-engine breath is pumping ahead of me. My eyes catch those of a girl walking towards me. She looks young. A brief guess puts her as an older teenager or in her earlier 20s.
She sees me and a train of words comes rushing out of her mouth.

“Hey, can I ask you a favour?”
“Wh-”

“Do you have a phone on you?”
I freeze for a second. My hands loosely hold the two shopping bags ready to release them. My eyes scan the road behind her. No one there. My brain blurts to the saner part… Are there two guys in the bushes behind me?

I still feel skeptical of parting with my phone on command. I ask her why. Another torrent of words hurtles towards me. She was trying to find her friend’s place blah blah blah. She was from North Vancouver, she felt lost. At this point my Canadian brain says… This chick’s too stressed out to create moving bushes.

I ask her the address. She tells me. I know it. I point to the street behind me that I had just crossed. This doesn’t seem to be enough to quell her bubbling questions. I shrug and pull out my phone. I open up Google Maps and punch in the address she gave me.
“Oh wow, you’re actually looking it up. I’m so sorry to do this to you…”

“Nah, shit happens,” I reply. The red balloon thingy mushrooms on the screen and I see where she was meant to go. Turns out she was only 250m or so away.
“Oh my gosh, thank you so much. I feel like such an idiot.”

A gloved hand flies up to cover her mouth. An embarrassed laugh trickles out into the night air. Within seconds she scampers away again.

I bend down, and pick up my shopping bags again. I chuckle to myself. Those goddam bushes.

 

PhilosopherPoet

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