Tag Archives: prose

A Cartographer, I Considered

A cartographer, I considered:

Spectacled, heavy on a rosy face, hidden among stacks, drawing inventions of maps – delineating frontier is between playful apparatchik and fields where the healthy and husky scrambled games I couldn’t be bothered to learn the constructed rules of play.

Name in regions of gravel and grass in derivations of Iowa towns and possibly Balkan enclaves. Tracing roads across trucking routes and Roman ruins built to the width of chariot wheels-cemented as standards for mine entrance bringing a horse to Shores, away from CPS relations to new lives, absent from home still never know I can-beyond memories, Serio-graphed into filtered ideals.

Yet an unsteady hand and overall disconnect, or even indifference, which led to a place to “settle”-build a house dead June from cures logs, and seasoned by time, after hewn, nailed and assembled by saw blade and heavy sludge, forge by a possible cousin could always remain a stranger.

The blade remains anonymous as an un-muttered pithy quote en route to cliché.

Neither did exploding suns, brilliant and fleeting, assembled in patterns, ~ shared by the patient and measured in Newtonian units – still could not muster a journey – hence gazed, but ignored as impractical, nigh impossible.

Translucent ayers, super-imposed and stacked, detailing azimuths, trajectories and elevations – separating fertile valleys (thought subject to floods) from talus slopes too steep but for mountain rams on the shady flank of Timpanogos.

Dotted dashed and surveyed, specific dots explained in legend denoting assigned capitals, provincial outposts and occasionally hamlets determined by polled populations, overseen with constructed superintendents, supported by varying address of retainers.

Intrigued by absence of obvious order though not my task to chart.

Instead, as per instinct, selected committed to memory, devoid of context, thin slices of knowledge swirling in a petri vacuum – accurate as such but irrelevant

So i journeyed to wonder about likely motivations which took Normans, Pharaohs and troubadours beyond the point of unknown return. Capes left in wakes with dates and hard-track to fortify a quest alleged to diagram flora. Among them, I reference guide notes from decades past – a vague as possible to acquire allowing white-space and risk. Packed in burlap next to a survivor’s stove and pouch of seeds and spices and an important black pencil. Only planned to go one way, impartial to return rather to chronicle the unfamiliar.

The familiar left far behind as physics might allow – exchanged possible comfort in normalcy for uncertainty contentment in ambiguity. Meandering concentric routes, devoid of patterns or ready purpose.

Answers are easier in cliché, ergo:

“I’ll know when i get there” –
Town to creek to roadside conundrum – I swirled each in mouth , pretending my palette featured a vocabulary to explain to unseeing why I hadn’t settled for seemingly ideal locales, situations and specific circumstance to flourish.

Eventually, after farm toil, beach frolic, rough nights in dangerous morass, leaping turrets of ruins and painful heaving, missed junctions and forgotten aims, at a campfire in a lake-forest with a khaki-scout familiarity, I stumbled through an unfavorable gale, onto the intended coast

I mocked myself for mis-named non-discoveries, i assumed as fragrant promised lands of plenty allowed to the intrepid erstwhile accidental navigators.

Teased over misread hieroglyphics and misappropriated meaning to stone wheels quarried a far, hauled by double-hulled craft powered by taro and current and fickle breeze.

I could no longer mock with unearned disdain, the vaunted and faulted explorers, stolen secrets leading to some anomaly errantly pro-claimed as new or proper or divine.

Earnestly deterred, i occurred to was to map a universe of flesh and thought. Breath and sounds assembled into meaning.

The crease on cheek, the measure of brow, the angle of toes, magnitude of halo surrounding chameleon eyes and the mysterious enthusiasm of all which exists between.

Thwarted, not ny scenery but by shaking confessions, fumbled after a stealth crossing at an indifferent frontier town. I’d escaped to my holy land I presumed for an instant before minor catastrophe.

Stalled at an unwelcoming inn where i laid myself bruised and bare to a lover temporarily transformed to a stranger after i let the truth languish, vanquished by the uncertainty of resolved and fear or wounding the occasionally innocent.

She walked out vested, blithely, pithy saying “I know” unwittingly perhaps offering just enough loft to push a tattered sail across a colour-coded sea mis-named as somewhere calm.

The explorer hides. Alone, entirely lost and surrendered to fates incomprehensible to the battered. Uncontrollable b y the hostage. Yet clinging to an adrenaline determination to manufacture strength to another foray.

Monk-like, minus faith, discipline, dogma or skill at ringing bells, relying on rice gruel and fragrant hope, the cartographer gathered charcoal, fired for unsteady hands, and a redrew boundaries to conceive an entirely new Pangea with concessions to speculate, plunder and chart assigned exclusively to only two.

Change the World with Walking Sticks

Of course i wanna change the world, not just ‘my’ world but ‘the’ world. Not force *anyone* to do *anything* but maybe somehow effectuate positive change on a global scale. Not by guns, torture, fascism or force but by walking sticks, paintbrushes, backpacks. Not 2 cars in every driveway but 2 warm lovers in every bed. Model behaviour of what i want to be and see in the surroundings lands.

All naïveté aside… While i do long for squadrons of mercenaries clad in corduroy-patchwork pants armed, with Thoreau and flowers – sleeping bags & kind words, i do realize, “Oh shit! Sounds like M0rm0n missionaries with different books.”  

If i miss you though, do not take any reason for concern from my thoughts. You are scintillating and mighty and I do not question *anything* that you do – i express my sentiments to quell your fears of loneliness and/or longing and confusion during your search for well… what you seek: love, beauty, nobility and thrill.

Selling Arbitrary Citizenships

Selling citizenship to a country which isn’t recognized by leaks or unions, intern thrust into existence, scant generations hence.

Your initiation packets include:

* A passport acknowledged only by arbitrary at holes and oil derricks an occasional metaphysical rounds with names borrowed from Dead Sea Scrolls

* Postage stamps bearing fetching motifs in three colour plates

* A seal, stamp-able with ink and spring or possibly emboss-able

* Currency printed on vellum with dew-colored coastlines which might exist, if randomness permits

Govern yourself accordingly.

Still Life of Motion: Haibun in Grey

Room close dark
dark, listening
white noise and windchimes

From my perch, survey the still life before me – a didgeridoo leaning against a worm wood bookcase, 4 thick shelves made from free form curly maple looking like slabs of bacon, books stacked horizontally for easy reading of titles on spines; Ulysses, Siddhartha, Tolstoy, Salinger, Dr. Seuss, a stack about Everest, old Edmund Hillary grinning under shaggy beard and leather edged goggles. BhagavadGita, with dead, bald smiling, reincarnated onto the dust leaf resting, leaning next to Don Quixote, heavy in four volumes with hand-cut pages, raised ink, tissue protects the engravings. A collection (complete) of TinTin the intrepid reporter (Belgian I think), his dog Snowy and ornery ole Cap’n Haddock. More adventure than John McPhee, him traipsing from Alaska to Bangladesh – lonely freighter pulling out of dark harbors, a thousand iron feet long tended by six – maybe eight scattered souls. A Russian Matryoshka doll endless stream of smaller beings, a lighter from Belikin – the state brewery of Belize, a metal Sierra Club cup, engraved with highest peak in Nevada and a date so long ago that I look at a photo to remember me, head in clouds, wearing a sweater I forgot I ever wore. Picture is snowy, the tin cup stained with heat, left holding coins from here and there, a yo-yo, and buttons fallen off of trousers.

Room collecting stories
To tell you
Some other time

St. Jacob’s Soup in Saskatoon: Haibun in Grey

Clear drops
on muddled windows muddled thoughts

Saskatoon, snow drifts over wheat fields, kids skating in toques, playing shiny hockey until mom calls them to eat St. Jacob’s soup and thick heels of sourdough bread. “I got this yeast starter when your pa and I married,” she says to no child in particular.

Driving home, the road straight in snow chasm, walls pushed high by plows. Wipers scrapping, Am radio crackles minor league hockey scores, exclaiming local boys traveling by bus all night to play in Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Fort St. William, John, Albert or James, Moosejaw, 100 Mile House or Moncton, New Brunswick for the Memorial Cup. Acclaimed for dedication, perseverance, valor; intangibles – heart, character – playing in rinks named for politicians, soldiers and towns.

Rolling east
O’er muddled roads
Crunching towards remembrance

Feverish Dreams in Tea Steam: Haibun in Grey

Delicious dreams
I mumble in my sleep
no memory

Fever – coming on stronger now. Gaining now for three days, delirious fits and sleepless tossing, frantic at random hours. Mind you, body never shivers, mind flashes burning pictures of moments. Some I remember might be called a dream but for the anguish. Too real for a nightmare, the pain, the fever, the malaise gains vigor with each grating snapshot. The unfamiliar seeps with fear, I don’t know how it will end. Each episode so far ends with me waking called waking only in that my eyes crack enough to register light or dark.

I twist, fall back into the soaked feather bed drifting, one moment racing a wooden car down bumpy hill, children holler in cub scout knickers, proud with badges, another moment running hard, leaping onto pillars fleeing a unknown enemy or maybe moving towards one, leaping higher columns tumble into oblivion, my feet slip, slide falling, falling next floating in a long abandoned warlord’s damp stronghold dungeon, somewhere atop Teutonic hill slope, the moon shows the shackles through window slits.

Warm and next a campfire warming feet and drinking from a flask as I mumble fading eyes see nothing but white robes walking by from time to time.

Memories sequestered
Releasing now
As tea steam

Humble Boys Club

Years ago, the Humble Boys Club was a stalwart on this lost coast, now just the foundation remains.

NOTE: Hear Humble Boys Club as a spoken song

Humble Boys Club

Tucked in a south Westmoreland
Parish corner
a coastline bay
left to sequels of buccaneers
and earth core miners

The hard men & the Maroons
sequestered in the mountains
look long back behind, below
to forgotten sugar cane and ash

Rivers run past the opening
to the very middle of the soul
the water springs to pull you deeper
into the limestone and the very molten core

We are only Humble Boys
No poncies in our club
Overproof rum, bunks and porridge
at the end of the log flume runs

They left the coral
jagged rock to the hard men
and his schemes
the wise ones went foreign
made money and split

While the rest cemented in
tied a cabin to the very firma
which tears your feet and soul

Re-barred lashings to anchor
from impending storms
Buaxite, guano, timber cane.
And Human power.

You are a just a humble boy
toiled the sound, club burns down
Broken rubble is not your pillow
and the dust never blows away

We are just humble boys
toil the sandiness, bunkered
down huddled in, porridge with the other men
They’ll disappear into the green
disappear from everything
but remnants of life.

Simon, Stolen, Shame

Simon was all of us #Surrey

“Simon” he exclaimed
in the Mac’s Convenience Store
I stopped after paper route
to buy a 7-up.
No i said.

He meant the stolen boy
from Senator Reid
The posters were unneeded
We all knew the fear.

Blonde mop, skinny boy
rosy freckled cheeks
They’ve gone away
Faded, scarred to haunt us.

He shared my family name
and was charming to most all involved
It’s not my shame, but the scars are
i walked the same road yet it wasn’t me.

Negotiating, capitalizing, scheming
Selling secrets, wrench the wound
the discovery reveals more pain
Until sometime a page 3 day this year.

He left. Cancer like my Dad i think.
72 as well, i think. I didn’t read close.
I didn’t need the fear again
he brought to 92nd and Scott.

Cedar Hills, Whalley Exchange,
Guildford Mews and King George Boulevard
These were ours, closest to a neighbourhood
Now faded into condo shopping schemes
Only we notice the changes
since we were all 12 years old.

The paper told us he was dead
the neighbours never knew
His wife flabbergasted
And i never cried so hard
as i did for Simon in 82.

Inlets, Southbound

Hazy morning bound for familiar (once) inlets — Eld, Steamboat, Budd — passing tangled roads & eroded forests towards the smallest town I know to vanish for a spell.

“Do nothing Dave” — I’m not adept at this ‘nothing’ — my life is (I thought) defined by creating & giving.

Generativity is the word I was told by the lady who advised me to float until the current of the story can carry me along once more.

I’ll sew notebooks and walk the old tracks seeking to clear the fog which captured me — for a spell.

I am stronger if I can learn to stop trying so hard. My meditations are full of places I yearn to go by steamship, unforgotten pals due a visit, stories to actually type or say aloud. Projects & projections. This isn’t peace but this monk ain’t going to heaven — or Tibet for that matter.

This painting is: Gravelly Beach, Madrona circa 2005 9″x11″ oil paint and dirt on unstretched (cheap) canvas — feels like re-emerging somehow.

When my bones and bits of soul tell me I’m ready. One day do I wake up aware and brisk? Or does this Dave spend quiet labour editing and contextualizing previous Dave?

To survive, I adapt and surrender hard won vices & leisures.

Sorry, but I’m not sorry for all the decadence I do not share with you now. I’m not able. May we renew and replenish in the future despite I’ve always lived for each fresh dawn to create, share, love, hug, inspire. May I?

I’ll wear a hat so you’ll recognize me as I’ve shaken off erstwhile disguises.

Death, You are No Stranger

Dr Lorne Harold Olson, my Dad Dec. 1 1941- Feb 11 2014, captured with a fisheye during Festivus, a few years back.

Sometime, as a child
A great uncle, a small suit
Staring into a larger hole
Remembering the smells forever

Sometimes the adults
Something about a black-and-white film star
Or a relative from Norway,
an Auntie from Ireland

Decades wrings life from hard years
Rambling into scenarios of loss
Some who wander are lost
Or get lost, indifferent to finding
Living with absence of fear

Once the guns report
Bullets smash into metal
Skimming past your flesh
You are not in charge

Delicate as we are
Sympathies are few
One by one
They leave

Vague words confuse and deceive
Deceased, passed on, gone
Kindly refrain from mentioning
A celestial birthday

We have no knowledge
Nor choice
Speculation is exercise
For the nervous and ill-informed

Resist the temptation to grieve and bereave
To celebrate & console
Death knows only the past and the future
There is no present tense
Just pain, from time to time.

Hard enough just to eat, brief, sleep, live
They are gone
Perhaps they loved you
Perhaps you loved them
Do not wait to know
There is no answer
Only absence

What legacy do we dream?
Laborious hours of tasks for others
Spawning our own creations
Brought to life for joy and for pain

Or to be warm in the coldest winter
In a land of endless foggy summer
Where the sea reaches out beyond comprehension
and airplanes magically appear from over a dusty hill

Or you, painted jolly with tankard
Hung above the fireplace
Books that open
on a mantlepiece

Or interred in plywood and white
Or abandoned as ashes
Or fertilizing knowledge
Through scalpels and agreements

##

I hold his tiny yellow bald head
Listening to the wheezes
Stopped 3:23 AM
“You must wait one hour to declare”
I clean his chin, lay him down
and close his eyes and mouth

Life in this instant is instinct
And survival
and gently sparing others
From grief and uncertainty

The four stand in a line
On cue, rain falls
We stand til the end — holding on
and watch them shovel and sweep

Then, you might collapse,
you might imbibe, you might justify,
you might pray out
to an imaginary friend

##

One by one, They leave
I remember each
Not for nostalgia or grief
But admiration unspoken

The rough one in leather and muscle cars
and bad decisions, I eagerly complied
Tiny pills at curling rinks
Fights and VW escapes at gas stations

Shaggy haired blonde guitarist
Talked to me like I mattered
13 rosy-cheeked and eager
In green mac jacket like his

The artist, far from home
Often confused and disappeared
Often singing about lusty ladies
and mad experiments in super eight

Long haired city sailor
Young retired from coding
To activism and discretion
Dominos with friends, aneurysm, the end

Ole Gramps and his 67 countries
Nicotine turns to morphine
Me and Uncle Walt
Read him to sleep

Meanwhile in Alabama
The sudden sadness comes, followed by
Deceit, struggle, reprehensible actions
and a litany of notary stamps

Both of the hasheater’s parents
The kind one went to cancer
The blue one, the hard way
I only remember kindness of both

No stranger to hospitals
The doctors’ eyes show bewilderment — and fear
They confer, they draw, they poke
They cannot admit confusion

##

The tsunami warning rings Tuesdays at 10
Would you run? Trampled by the eager and prepared
Or stare the waves down
Twitching legs and bleeding heart

Floods and fires, cold wind and water
Prepare yourself they say with portions and schemes
Or will you choose the present
Leaving sympathies for the past and the future

Do you think you have a choice?
Are you so noble to sacrifice
Running to save the small or the old
With adrenaline and action in your arms
You cannot know
Until the moment of despair

Or will you wait and avoid?
Never consider
Then perhaps
You will be truly
Surprised.