Category Archives: Photography

Doldrums

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Early Sunday morning, Slim and I head down to “The Post-Coital Beetle” to watch Manchester United play Spurs; early because of the 8 hour time difference and because neither of us subscribe to the sports channel showing the game so we can’t PVR it, plus The Beetle is open and we get to watch the game and shout abuse and/or encouragement at the screen in the company of like-minded people. We both order the all day breakfast; it’s called that because it’s available all day, not because it takes all day to eat it. I ask for the eggs over easy, Slim, in an outbreak of irony, orders sunny side up.

It’s nearing the end of the season and the United manager, Jose Mourinho, the surly one, is showing signs of cracking. In a game during the week, he tried to hold onto a one goal lead by switching a to 4 defensive central midfielders and nearly lost the game to a very average Spanish team. Today, he starts with 3 central defenders, and 2 full backs;  one of the central defenders is playing in the full back position and one of the full backs is playing in midfield. Ten minutes in and United’s French striker, Anthony Martial, is sulking around in a state of Gallic pique, because there’s no one to pass the fucking ball to him, which is what I shout at the screen:

“There’s no one to pass the fucking ball to him!”

Plus, there’s something seriously wrong with Wayne Rooney’s hair, he seems to be going bald again, despite his much publicised hair implants.

Predictably, United lose. I turn to Slim for a comment, my nose streaming and my eyes watering because I put too much hot sauce on the hash browns, and he goes all tri-syllabic on me. “Doldrums”, he intones:

Doldrums

end of the

season and

United

look like a

 

team about

to put on

a fucking

garage sale.

And he’s not finished, “I have a bone to pick with you”, he growls. He is wearing a white T shirt stretched over the helmet of his pot belly. The T shirt says: “The end is nigh, and not a moment too soon”. Apparently he’s pissed off because I removed one of his poems from this blog. The poem was called “Moab- an Obituary” and it was his response to the dropping  of very large bomb (The Mother Of All Bombs) on Syria by the US.

MOAB – An Obituary

A sad day,

the Mother

Of All Bombs

is gone, she

 

is sorely

missed by the

bombs she has

left behind.

I explained to him that I had seen Hasan Minhaj on The Daily Show doing  a piece on how serious journalists like Jake Tapper of CNN had started making snarky comments about Donald Trump. His point was that this is a bad thing because we need serious journalists to be serious and snark undermines that seriousness. I thought the last verse of the poem was too snarky.

“Well’, Slim says, “here’s some snark for you, go fuck yourself!”

I point out that this is technically not snark, but he has already stormed out of the pub, leaving behind a sausage which I finish. High point of the morning, really.

 

Arrhythmia

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Arrhythmia

out here where real estate agents

explore the frontiers of sleaze

I default to fish tacos, pale ale, unease

 

and the air is stained with memory

and the air is strained with memory

 

out here where real estate agents

explore the frontiers of sleaze

 

and I can’t be adrift

because that would suggest

that I’m floating

it doesn’t rhyme every time

 

out here where real estate agents

explore the frontiers of sleaze.

 

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Eroica

 

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Our resident poet, Slim Volume, and I sit down once a week for a classical music appreciation session. As our guide, we are using a book called “The Vintage Guide to Classical Music”, by Jan Swafford. This is an excellent reference book. It contains explanations of various musical terms, essays on the significant classical composers and a “best of” list for each composer. This led me to what Jan Swafford describes as possibly the greatest of the nine Beethoven symphonies, Symphony No.3 .

The symphony was originally dedicated to Napolean Bonaparte but Beethoven changed the name to “Sinfonia Eroica” or “Heroic Symphony” when he became disillusioned with his hero.

The first movement clocks in at seventeen minutes and is described by Swafford as an “indefatigable outpouring of dramatic intensity”. At the end of the movement, I paused the recording. Slim was staring straight ahead in what appeared to be a catatonic state.

“So, Slim”, I said, “what did you think of the first movement?”

He blinked once like a dishevelled owl and replied: “It sounds to me like there’s this man wearing big boots and he’s stamping around a large dimly lit house. In the house are rooms where violinists and flautists are playing. The man with the big boots occasionally opens the door to one of these rooms, but quickly gets bored listening to the violinists and flautists. He signals this by slamming the door repeatedly.”

We obviously have some distance to travel.

 

Down and Out in Idabel (re-mix)

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This is another re-post, not a lot of time to write currently.  The poem originally appeared in issue 38 of The SHOp poetry magazine which was a fine magazine, unfortunately they closed up shop 2 years ago. I have made some minor changes here. I later used the dog and the armadillo in a song lyric.

 

Down and Out in Idabel

How Myron found himself in the parking lot

of the Holiday Inn in Idabel, Oklahoma

looking out at the road

on a Saturday morning in April

– after a breakfast of brittle bacon,

sausages slick with grease,

dry fluorescent scrambled eggs –

is not important.

The road pauses,

a skittish dog roams;

Myron’s eyes are drawn to a dead armadillo

upside down on the hard shoulder,

empty beer can in its claws –

Old Milwaukee. Prehistoric drunk. Someone’s joke.

A pick up truck passes

a pick up truck passes

a pick up truck passes

over the fence a cow chews grass

and makes a meal of it.

Dogwoods bloom.

The cow moos like a reluctant foghorn.

Myron’s mood turns;

he thinks about the cow,

Manifest Destiny,

the plight of the bison

our lust for red meat

while greenhouse gas

shimmies upwards

ice caps melt

glaciers retreat;

and looking down

the road to Shreveport

buoyed by the prospect

of seeing Idabel

in his rear-view mirror

he quietly resolves

to recover what he was

before sadness lodged

like a wet sack

in the back

of his head.

 

 

 

Umbrage in Umbria (Remix)

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Umbrage in Umbria

In which Diane Lane

plays an American woman

recovering from the pain

of a recent divorce.

Sandra Oh will feature

As her quirky  sidekick,

Tonto to Diane’s Lone Ranger.

Smoldering local love interest –

Xavier Bardem or Antonio Banderas –

they’re not Italian

but if you want “smoldering”

you’ve got to call in the Spanish.

We’ll need a Brit,

Maggie Smith, perhaps,

as a sage but ageing dowager.

Max Von Sydow is still alive

(I’ve just googled him)

he could be the priest

but that might be too much Swedish gloom

we need wry and twinkling.

Morgan Freeman, I’m thinking

an explanation will be needed

as to how he got there.

Richard Gere will appear

near the end,

as the ex-husband

rich and massively contrite

now that his bimbo has fled –

the philandering bastard.

And as for the umbrage

taken by whom

because of what

you’ll just have to wait for the movie.

April foregoes Cruelty for a Day/ The Lad Poetry Project Revival Part 1

 

The Lad Poetry Project Revival Part 1

The April meeting of the Poets’ Circle was a dry affair in more ways than one. The Serious Poet, at the invitation of The Accomplished Poet, read his 40 verse poem about the Canadian Constitution and afterwards spoke for an hour about the making of the poem and his creative process. The Serious Poet wore, as always, a Mountain Equipment Co-Op black fleece vest, a pale blue button down shirt, a pair of Khaki pants with more pockets than any normal human being could use, and a pair of Merrill hiking shoes. His creative process?  He apparently decided at the outset on a six line verse with an ABABCC rhyming scheme and added the restriction that he would only use rhymes that had never been used before in an English language poem; a daunting task, as you can imagine. However, being a professor of literature at a local university, he had his resources and with the help of a few grants, he had a group of his students devise a computer program that would check all his rhymes for originality. This involved compiling a data bank of all the rhymes in English Literature, a process that took ten years and an ever changing band of students. In the end meaning and clarity had to take a back seat and the resulting poem turned out to be a real head scratcher, a masterpiece of obfuscation delivered in a dry monotone. To make matters worse, there was no alcohol at the event; April, the cruellest month, being a dry month for some of the poets in the circle who try to prove once a year that they are not cravenly dependent on alcohol for enjoyment and invariably prove the opposite.

Slim and I got out of there as fast as we could and headed for The Post-Coital Beetle…..to be continued.

Cherry Blossoms Bloom (3 haiku)

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Cherry Blossoms Bloom

I

cherry blossoms bloom

well-dressed ladies from Beijing

pose with hand on hip

II

cherry blossoms bloom

the air is sticky with greed

houses, for sale, sold.

III

cherry blossoms bloom

the wrecking ball’s lazy swing

petals, debris, spring.

These 3 poems appeared separately in Spring of last year, I thought they worth assembling together. They are probably the only poems ever written about cherry blossoms and the Vancouver Real Estate Market.

A Surfeit of Slim (“Bob Dylan’s Worst Line Ever” and “The Most Over-Rated Album of All Time” together for the first time).

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Last week there was a Simon Pegg retrospective at our local cinema and Slim invited me back to his one bedroom apartment after we watched an early showing of “Shawn of the Dead”. Slim had prepared dinner and by that I mean he had peeled back the tin foil edge of a take-out carton of butter chicken, removed the cardboard lid, and handed me a plastic fork and a can of Old Style lager. He then lapsed into one of his silences.

I found myself noticing the beads of condensation on the clear plastic lid of the steamed rice container. The rice was long past fluffy. The evening stretched before me like a Sunday in Ottawa. My only recourse was to ask Slim an irritating question.

“So, Slim”, I said, “who do you think is the better poet, Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen?”

Slim’s  face wrinkled in disgust. “Bob Dylan’s not a poet”, he snapped,“ he’s a poetic songwriter”.

“And Leonard Cohen is…..?”

“Leonard Cohen is a poet who writes songs”.

“Ok then, what’s your favorite Bob Dylan line, verse, whatever”

“I can only think of the bad ones”

“So what’s the worst Bob Dylan line ever?”

Slim blinked once like he was accessing a folder in his brain with an internal mouse.

“John Wesley Harding, ‘As I walked out One Morning’, third verse:

‘Depart from me this moment

I told her with my voice’.

It’s like saying ‘there’s going to be a jailbreak somewhere in this town”

“But that’s “Thin Lizzy”.

Slim looked like he had taken a sip of battery acid.

“My point is they are expressing the obvious just for the sake of a rhyme. It’s obvious that the jailbreak will be at the f….ing jail and how else will he tell her except with his voice, they’re in a field, for f… sake!”

“Oh”, I said, reaching for a poppadum.

After Slim’s brief outburst, he lapsed into silence again and did his impression of a lizard sitting on a rock. The not unpleasant smell from the Indian take-out mercifully masked the usual faint odour of sour sweat emanating from Slim’s bedroom. His bedroom door was closed, a yellow light leaked through the gap between bottom of the door and the threadbare carpet. The room  pulsed  in a vaguely sinister way.

I began to panic; he could pull out his blueprints of the Star Ship Enterprise at any minute. I was about to ask him why so much depends on a red wheelbarrow, but thought better of it. I reached for my phone.

“Slim”, I said, “I was looking at Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 albums of all time, the other day, do you want to see it?”

“Not really”, he replied.

“Ok”, I tried, “what do you think is the most over-rated album of all time?”

“All right”, he sighed, ”show me the top 10 albums.”

I passed him my phone and he studied the list for a few minutes, then pounced.

“Number 7, ‘Exile on Main Street’, by the Stones”

“Really, why?”

“Because, it’s awful. It’s recycled 12 bar, refried boogie, Jagger sounds like a cat being neutered. It’s not even the seventh best Stones’ album. Creedence and The Band did this kind of thing a few years before and a lot better. This is the sound of the Stones throwing in their creative hand and saying, ‘enough, we’re tired’. It’s the artistic equivalent of taking a package holiday to Majorca. Look, it’s listed higher than ‘The White Album’ and ‘Kinda Blue’. Absolute bollocks!”

“Kind of…”

“What?”

“It’s ‘Kind of Blue’ not ‘Kinda Blue’

Slim looked at me like he was wondering why he bothered to speak to the rest of the human race at all.

“Well”, I said,”why do you think Rolling Stone rates it so high?”

“Because, it’s a Keef album and, to rock critics, Keef embodies the rock and roll spirit, the dead romantic hero, except he’s not dead. He’s the guy who would never have hung out with them at school. Plus, there’s this legend of the Stones hunkered down in a house in France recording the album, escaping from the tax man where in fact, Mick, Charlie and Bill never stayed at the house probably because they didn’t want to be around Keef’s junkie friends. Anyway, Mick didn’t think much of the album at all”.

“Really?”

“Look it up”.

So I did.

This is Mick Jagger talking about ‘Exile’ in “According to The Rolling Stones” (Chronicle Books, San Francisco):

Exile on Main Street is not one of my favourite albums”.

“…when I listen to Exile it has some of the worst mixes I’ve ever heard. I’d love to remix the record, not just because of the vocals, but because generally I think it sounds lousy. At the time Jimmy Miller was not functioning properly. I had to finish the whole record myself, because otherwise there were just these drunks and junkies.”

Exile is really a mixture of bits and pieces left over from the previous album recorded at Olympic Studios…..These were mixed up with a few slightly more grungy things done in the South of France. It’s seen as one album all recorded there and it really wasn’t.”

“So there’s a good four songs off it, but when you play the other nineteen, you can’t, or they don’t work, or nobody likes them, and you think, ’Ok, we’ll play another one instead’. We have rehearsed a lot of the tunes off Exile, but there’s not much that’s playable.”

 

Photo of detail of a Botero painting in Museo de Botero, Bogota, Colombia

Agent Orange has a Dark Moment

 

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Agent Orange has a Dark Moment

Do you know who I miss? Jeb Bush. I miss Jeb Bush. He was my first. When I hit him with that low energy jibe and he fell apart and all the Bush family could not put Humpty together again, I knew I was on to something. Then Little Marco and Lyin’ Ted, I miss them too. But most of all, I miss Hillary, Crooked Hillary. Man, she was tough, had me on the ropes. It took Comey and Vlad, that pointy headed villain, to get me back on my feet. I was nearly out for the count, which might not have been a bad thing. Who needs this shit! I should give Vlad a call, I’m a bit worried -there’s no such thing as a free hack.

Reince Priebus – what kind of fucking name is that? It sounds like bad news from the doctor. “I’m sorry, Donald, you have a Reince Priebus on your rectum and it doesn’t look good”. Ha, I just made myself laugh. And Bannon, I’ve seen sofas on the side of the road in better shape than that rumpled fucker. Spice Box? Hardest job in the world – explaining the unexplainable. That Melissa Mc.Carthy  just slays me. How come all the cool people are on the other side? Who have I got? Ryan and Pence? Bland and Blander? Where did Pence come from anyway with his brush cut and his antediluvian politics? The best surgeons in the world couldn’t remove the poker from that guy’s ass. Antediluvian, you didn’t expect that did you?

Talking of cool, I should give Barack a call, ask him down to Florida for a game of golf; check his birth certificate again (Joking! How I miss those days). Man, I hate this fucking White House furniture, is it Friday yet?

Point of View/ The Arc of Agent Orange

 

The Arc of Agent Orange

          I

And so we

spin from one

spin to the

next;  things I

 

said, I did

not mean; things

I meant, I

did not say.

 

Stand by for Greatness

Stand by for Greatness

Stand by for Greatness

 

II

 

Success can

be measured,

 

The toys have

left the pram.

 

Stand by for Greatness

Stand by for Greatness

Stand by for Greatness

 

 

Colombian Palette / Hacienda Merida Re-Mix

 

Photos taken in Medellin, Cartagena, Guatape – Colombia.

Hacienda Merida

The rooster crows

before the break of dawn –

damn, preemptive cock.

He is joined

by the  gecko

behind the bed,

the village dogs,

birds,birds and more birds

and finally

Fiona the donkey

whose indignant heehaw announces

she is not ready for another day

tethered to a pole

in feckless shade.

 

 

Stilt Walker / Between (Song Without a Chorus)

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Between (Song Without a Chorus)

Between the caucus and the carcass

Between the chaos and the calm

Between the fracas and the ruckus

Between the righteous and the damned

 

Between the priest and the sermon

Between the sermon and the song

No one can determine

Why we all can’t get along.

 

Between the question and the answer

There is a lifetime of space

Between the dance and the dancer

There is beauty and there is grace.

 

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Steve Bannon’s Eyes

 

look like

portals to

 

hell.

Rust/ The Irish Dilemma/ Radiohead

Rust

 

The Irish Dilemma (a slimverse)

we can not

decide if

we are blessed

or damaged.

 

Radiohead (a triku)

The night howls, fog curls

a thin cloud bisects the moon

at the graveyards’ edge

 

an abandoned well

from the bottom of that well

Thom Yorke cries for help.

 

The dead wake slowly

grey fists punch through mounds of earth

Thom Yorke cries for help.

 

All Washed Up (Bathos, A Whiter Shade Of Pale)

All Washed Up

 

 

Bathos

the moon hung

like a searchlight

in the sky

and we hung

out on the deck.

 

A Whiter Shade of Pale

By the time ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ was recorded in 1967, Bob Dylan had already raised the bar very high in terms of what the public expected from a song lyric; song writers were now expected  to be poets. This was a heavy load to carry as few songwriters had Bob’s poetic gift; as a result, bathos was everywhere.

Bathos: “an effect of anticlimax created by an unintentional lapse in mood from the sublime to the trivial or ridiculous”.

There are, as I said, many examples from that era, but the one that always stands out in my mind is from the last four lines of the first verse of ” A Whiter Shade of Pale”:

The room was humming harder

as the ceiling flew away

when we called out for another drink

the waiter brought a tray.

I have to admit that when I first heard this song I had no idea what it was about. Why are sixteen vestal virgins leaving for the coast? What is a vestal virgin anyway? Who is the miller? I still don’t know,  but I don’t think it really matters.  It’s best  to sit back, listen to the song and let your brain feed on the images and in no time at all the room will hum harder, the ceiling will fly away, you’ll think about maybe following the vestal virgins, you’ll skip a light fandango, turn cartwheels across the floor, all the time trying to avoid that waiter and his tray.

Notes:

The recorded version of the song has only two verses, but if you google the lyrics you will find four verses. Procol Harum sometimes included the extra verses in live performances but wisely left them out of the recording; they are not very good and diminish the song’s impact.

Well those drifters days are past me now
I’ve got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out

Bob Seger, ‘Against the Wind’

“What to leave in, what to leave out” – whether you are writing a song, poem, novel, short story, if you can solve that one you might be on the way  to something good!

Check out this version by Annie Lennox