Canadian nuances

Canadian nuances – Part 7: The grizzly arrival

I remember tossing and turning the night before I left Vancouver. The morning I left was a mixture of brew great coffee/pound down some Ritalin/panic slightly/jump on the bag until the zip merges.

Bad weather circles these big changes. Much like the ripple a fish makes. Will your reward be a fierce archetypal mammoth that exhausts you…or will it be an overgrown fleaΒ  – an inflated ending – that brews inside the heart of moody clouds? I digress…

I left in the rain. I paid a cab, and slowly inched towards the yellow submarine. Coffee thundered in my chest, bees and butterflies bounced inside my head like giddy popcorn struggling to get comfortable. I remember driving down Main street. It was 5:30am. The sun was asleep along with the sensible. I watched the rain give the street an unconscious hue.

This was a street I wouldn’t see for a long time. I worked on this street. I cried in the rain. Found friends. Caught snatches of banter. Felt the golden face of the old clock watch over me…an invisible parent on a drunken night. Now I couldn’t mourn for this street or myself. It seemed very far away behind the taxi window, stained with rain.

I arrived at the bus station. I stood in line. I glanced nervously at strangers hoping their story mattered as much as my own. I was leaving home after a frantic week of planning, rhythmic drinking and watered down goodbyes. The anxiety made me drunk. I wasn’t falling over…just everything was in a haze at the station. Conversations flickered past without a glance.

I weighed my bags, paid the extra cash, dragged the dead weight to bus 19. Cabins of steel lined up, perhaps they were saluting me? I think I saw at least two throw a palm over their face muttering “didn’t someone tell this dude to pack less?”

On the bus I watched a movie on my laptop, read a chapter from my book, stared at the mountains and stowed vodka into my flask to oil the joints. It’s nothing to really write home about. The chaos happened, naturally, when I was one hour away from Banff. The moment I felt chuffed about the first 13 hours, collided with a jarring thump under my seat. A passenger in front of me jumped up a minute later and scuttled towards the driver like a frightened cockroach.

We stopped. There were mutters from passengers about us hitting a deer. Planting a murky syllogism in a leader’s head only leads to more marbles dancing across the floor. The driver pulled the bus over, checked the side of the bus and didn’t see any visible signs of trauma.

He tossed a coin inside his head, and continued. Burnt mechanical popcorn crawled through 52 nostrils. Shards of worry and an warning beep drummed faster than the fear in our hearts. We pull to the side of the road for the second time. The young driver stands up to talk to us.

A sense of shame clouds him. He forgets to use the bus intercom and starts muttering something to us. I’m two thirds from the back, I can only assume the first 6 people understand him. Myself and two other passengers raise our voices and ask him to use the magical microphone. We get told there’s a problem with the brake line. We now have a 3 hour wait. A shorter version would be something like this…

The bus dies. Bad news. 3 hour wait. The air conditioner died an hour before the loud thud.Β  Driver gives up and turns off the engine. Silence. The Wi-Fi dies along with the electrical outlets and we can no longer charge our phones. Now the cry of the 15 month old baby punctuates the situation. Many get up to smoke. We open the emergency windows for air. I walk outside and share my mickey of vodka (neat) with a gaggle of smokers. I tell them it’s neat. No one complains. We stare at the throbbing sunlight on the mountains, the beauty seems so far away now. The vodka paints a smile on me and I hand out a couple of my granola bars like Oprah trying to disrupt that sombre stares. I fall asleep.

I get shaken. I am barely awake. The driver is busy saying too many words that I can’t process. Others ask more questions my consciousness stirs. My QuΓ©bΓ©cois sidekick tells me something like “we’re getting on the rescue bus. grab your shit.” I give a slight cheer, and redemption pulls me into the new bus. Clean, leather scented, warm…all the signs of salvation. I juggle a few things and pound my bag into the overhead slot. Two elastic bars fuck with me. Drum roll please…

A new driver emerges. He’s older, something inside me relaxes. His hair looks like a burnt cigarette. We’re on our way soon. Great. The old bus has an “airlock system” and our baggage is trapped. I’m told we have to wait a few hours for it. One driver says my luggage is headed to Calgary and I must go there and get it. The rescue bus driver tells me it should arrive in Banff (my destination) a day later.

17 hours later I get off the bus. I say goodbye to strangers, and walk into darkness. I have a laptop, coffee grinder, French press (coffee plunger), no coffee beans, a heavy laptop, the clothes I’m wearing and a lonely bag of trail mix. I sit at the bus stop to wait from my brother. My knees applaud the brisk wind. I’m wearing shorts, of course. I feel incredibly sober again.

I spot a bobbing flash-light. I’m not sure if it’s a security guard, or a tourist riding a drunken bicycle. A beaming face emerges. The beady eyes of a brother, an old friend, a bouncy critter with a deeper heart. We fling our arms around each other after four years. We laugh. We separate. Seconds stagnate and we stare. We soak up the soul that lingers behind the eyes.

We embrace again. Holding, smelling, feeling, being.

Prose, Uncategorized

A message from my sister…

(NOTE: The following story was told by my half sister, I’ve simply interpreted what she said – via my step mother – the scribe.)

*The Crystal of Love*

By Trinity Ballam-Smith

Chapter 1

One day there was a jungle girl named Ellie. She lived in an island named Hawaii. She was sooo happy there. One day (while trying to find some grapes) she spotted an elephant. She didn’t know that she could speak to animals. But when the elephan tried talking to her…Ellie listened.

They were very confused because they didn’t know they were sisters. They went to the elephant Cloud Princess and she said,

“Do you know that you two are actually sisters?” and she was amazed that the elephant princess had old her story.

She replied, “”Did you know, a long time ago King Rothbart turned me into an elephant because he was so angry. I didn’t let Rothbart go, so he strangled me and he took all my powers away. I only have one power left, and Rothbart doesn’t like me any more. he put me into a dungeon, but luckily I broke through.”

She paused momentarily, and continued.

“Rothbart takes all my powers away, and doesn’t gove me anything. So I moved into the Cloud Kingdom, and I needed to live all by my own.But luckily I had some animals to speak to me.”

Rothbart came every single day to check on the Cloud Princess, but eventually she fought back to get more powers. The world changed and all the trees were dark around her…and there was no pollution in the air. the Cloud Princess and stopped all the pollution.

Ellie (the Cloud Princess) said, “Bye-bye” to the Cloud Elephant, and ran off to find the Crystal of Love. She told them about a wand, and a ring of love, lying in the dark depths of despair. To find the Crystal of Love, Kindness, and Helpfulness you must go there.

“Remember,” she said.

“The Crystal of Love, is the more important than all the kindness in the world!”

Reviews, Thoughts

Use what is yours, just because you can

This seems to be the general rule of post-modernism. Race and the gender have fallen away and they no longer determine what job we should have, what music we should listen, or how our beliefs should be structured. Nowadays its a blend of what ever you want. Although it also goes beyond this superficial conclusion.

We are living in a world of multiple realities. Events are happening everywhere all at once, and now we’re finally part of it.Β Β This quick ranting brings me to the topic of an authors whose fast becoming one of my favourites…Don Delilo.


He’s a post-modernist and a highly skilled writer. Currently I’m reading Underworld, which is a modern critique on American culture and the Cold War. It’s a book I (among many others) recommend. At times its a bit of a headache, simply because the prose is so incredible on every page.



Chapter 17 (S.S.B.)

(For those who aren’t sure what S.S.B. is click on the Category Cloud – on the right hand side of the main window.)

Gregory was a very peculiar person, even by his own standards. He didn’t watch the football his friends did; he didn’t smoke the fags, or even drink the same beer. He had a habit of being different, and this seemed to excite him. He enjoyed being different. It was something he was good at. Insults and comments on his eccentricities only seemed to dampen everyone else’s mood.

Mr. Tweedle was perhaps a little too different from the rest of the crowd, and he would occasionally feel a few pangs of loneliness late at night when he lay in bed watching the fan. Although the flip side of some uncomfortable feelings was indeed some equally eccentric friends he could really count on. Peter was one of these people.

Peter worked in a video store about two blocks away. It was a small business venture that he’d begun as a teenager, and didn’t feel the need to stop. It was a corner shop with everything in it. Peter was a video junkie. He enjoyed films and fiction so much that he’d convinced the Manager to keep all the VHS tapes. He reckoned that a classic was worth looking at, even if you couldn’t use it.

Peter enjoyed the old films. They were a bench mark for the modern-day mish mash of computer generated people and special effects. He could list off actors, and his favorite lines. If you took out a video and had made a bad choice, he’d tell you why and sell off something lurking in the Bargain Bin. There was only one problem with Peter at the dirty video shop, around the block. He was Obsessive Compulsive.

Now that Gregory thought about it, this was most probably why the store was dusty and unkempt. He enjoyed him though, in small doses. If ever he drove past the store in the evening, Peter would still be there counting the films, and straightening the signs. He almost felt sorry for the guy. Some things just weren’t worth explaining to some.


poetry, Prose

Between the leaves

For Melissa

If I were a gardener, then I tend my roses. They look after me each morning. I come down from my house to be in their company. I sit on my stoel there, a brown broken soul, and smell the earth. There’s no reluctance to do anything, nor obligation goading me in me greenhouse. I sit by the flowers and watch them. I lift a handful of earth, and smell the intricacies. I listen to the beetles, and the burble of the birds. It is five o’clock in the morning, and I sit in the half-light. The dusty power of a birth comes dripping around me like a doppelganger.

I am alive. I’m by my flowers, watching them grow. Sure the roses have their thorns, and my vegetables grow under the ground, and sunflowers turn their backs on me. It doesn’t bother me; even the grass I grow doesn’t feel green. They say that good work takes tending.

Thank you for your company. When I see you, my bones uncurl their coil. My foibles spill out of my mouth and awkward gestures. I’m thankful for the earthy company, and unsung songs that lay in the traces our voices. Your smile means that the moments are mellow, and that I speak to a person. It’s not a flower that grows in my greenhouse or a vegetable asleep in its bed.

Its person who comes up behind me, tickles my ear with a whisper, and slips a smooth arm around me.



Almost a Goth

For Kyleigh

Come carve a tattoo in my back, she said. I looked at her through care cropped eyes and heads fucked full of dreaming. It only took a prick until she came at me and slowly seared the skin of my nails. Well, you see more to the point, that’s what I expected her to do…, at the time. I wanted to feel her snap and crawl out of a carnal flame, let out a snarl and plough my bones. She didn’t though, just looked and watched while she daintily flick fingered her cigarette, and puff-paused between breaths.

She smiled…clasped in a skull of a shirt, laced skin shoulders and Fuck Fear shoes. I liked it. Out of this metal chasm she crawled with her clothes arranged in creative shards. I watched her slow shrinking cigarette and galvanized eyes. She gave me a smile and breathed out a prayer. She said it was more like encouragement. It was the medication you see, she seemed to flee from facts and nestle in men. She’d rub their hands and grow their eyes into the ground.

Thanks, she said. Picking up a beer, she nibbled a bit and forgot to growl. I don’t know what it was that made her. Some soft stream of Mother Nature flowed through her bones. If you were to look, it flickered from time to time, poured out the children, and circled the self.

She played no game, not even self-conscious stutters. She was an element and a statue alive in savage stone. I watched her breath and the chest crescendo.

I gave her a whisper and slept in the creases.