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

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

Standard
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

Standard
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

View all my reviews

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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