Sunday, April 23, 2006

1. Mickey's overcoat...

"The world is round
And so l'll go around
You must risk something that matters
My hands are strong
I'll take any man here
If it's worth the going
It's worth the ride."
-tom waits (a little rain)

another old old story, another old old friend...Mickey McGrath. Mickey was my second lesson. Here is a portion of a story l wrote then;

"I've been stood up, l had a date and she stands me up ...bitchwoman!" These are the thoughts rolling through my head as l wander aimlessly down 4th street. My vengeance is distracted as l notice a litle old man shuffling down the street towards me.
 "Hi, how's it going?" l ask. "Could you help me to the chink store?" "My eyesight...gone bad." I proceeded to escort Michael McGrath, his fragile arm linked in mine, to the corner store and back. This was my first of many encounters with Mickey.
 Mickey resided in the Colonel Belcher Veteran's Hospital, floor 3x. He invited me up to his room. There were four beds in the room, with each bed seperated by a wall of fabric. Mickey had, he explained, the choice area, in the corner with window light and only a short walk to the bathroom. We smoked, we talked and l took photographs.

 He's always in his pajama's now, hair never combed and the calendar, always needs to be changed. Maybe he expects it now. I remember my first encounter with Mickey. I changed his calendar then. A calendar, on a wall at the post of his bed. A wall filled with papers, pictures, cards and calendars, all out dated and aged like that in a laundromat. Pictures of the pope, pictures of jesus, catholic paraphernalia. You wouldn't think Mickey a religious man but it's been in his life, like an overcoat. The army, beer, whores, yappy mothers in law, and religion are the materials of Mickey's overcoat.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

the hood, his girl and clayton's dead gifts...

...I'll get a dollar from my mamas purse
And buy that skull and crossbones ring
And you can wear it around your neck
On an old piece of string
...I'll take a rusty nail
And scratch your initials on my arm
And l'll show you how to sneak up
On the roof of the drugstore.
-tomwaits (kentucky ave)

...the hood and his girl

The hood and his girl came by one night last week, trying to tell me about james being in jail now and that is why my roof tiles were stolen.
...then again last night, this time just the girl. "have you seen ronnie?" "Do you have a hotplate or something to cook on." she asked. All of our conversations end with something about sparing some money.

... you know when l came home from downsouth this week there was another dead lawnmower in my yard, lined up next to the other one that appeared the week before. Clayton is like my cat (cause she used to bring me dead things all the time as well).
Clayton finds them in back alleys, and he finds other things as well from the sally ann and other thrift store depots. I guess l've already said that l like clayton, the hood and his girl are okay, l mean they are in this little world of "dog chasing tail" so l feel for them.

How could clayton come from prince albert, sk all the way to port alberni, bc. Well he met a girl online, yessir he used the prince albert library internet and met a girl. Her name is tiffany and he came here to port alberni, moved in with her, they had a baby together, now they don't live together and clayton finds dead things.
tiffany and baby
...and this is max, who knew clayton

I remember seeing max around town (prince albert) long before he came into the shelter - all bundled up in black, even dark black shades and behind the dark black shades, a dark black eye. He finally came in, said he was in town for his dad's funeral. Stayed with us for a few months. Was quiet at first but settled in pretty good, a tough guy, in and out of prison he bragged about his fights, his girls. Came into the shelter one night at 2am drunk but l let him in thinking he'd go to bed quiet like. But he was in a fightin mood, yelling, cursing ..."l hate all you white people." Well funny thing was l didn't throw him out - played cards with him instead. He finally left the shelter, then a few months later we got word that they had found max alongside a river in BC., dead.
this is adolf. He use to come into the shelter every couple of months for a one night stay. He use to always laugh whenever he saw me smoking my pipe.
"Old man swearing at the sidewalk
I'm overcome
Seems that we'd both forgotten
forgotten to go home."
-johnny cash

Sunday, April 16, 2006

a long long time ago...

Down by the Riverside motel, it's 10 below and falling
by a 99 cent store she closed her eyes and started swaying
but it's so hard to dance that way when it's cold and there's no music
well your old hometown is so far away but, inside your head there's a record
that's playing, a song called

Hold on, hold on
you really got to hold on
Take my hand, l'm standing right here
and just hold on.
-tom waits first trip across canada, many years ago.
...he's an interesting looking man, probably not much over 45. He wears well worn brown cords, 70's style, flared at the bottom. A very used looking shirt, that once was white, with stylized western designs on it. Over this he sports a vest, the kind your dad use to wear while working on the weekends.
I'm trying to think of a way of introducing myself. Approaching the bench, l knelt down at the end. Now being within a foot of his face l notice more detail. Well weathered and tanned like that of a man of the sea, his face. His open mouth revealed broken, blackened teeth. His left eye askew, probably as a result of a barroom brawl. His hair looked like it had been cut by hedge cutters, perhaps a self-helped job to rid himself of lice. A man walking on the edge...
"Smoke?" I said, pushing my pack up towards him. Smiling, "Thanks," he said, as he lit both of our smokes. Once again my seductive ploy had met with success. We remain quiet, he and l silently watching the city rush by. The silence is finally broken. "Nice day hey." Jesus, if this had been my first date l would have blown it. "Ya," he says, looking up and confirming my statement. He smiles again, acknowledging my presence. With such a beautiful sincere smile he resembles that of a naive young boy. Cigarettes and names were exchanged and he began to tell me stories of the trains. "I use to ride the rails." Riding the rails took Bill many directions as well as providing him with a multitude of jobs. Construction, work on the BC highways, and trapping with his uncle were among the handful. His uncle had helped him out of many tough spots, providing occasional work.
Giving him several smokes, Bill placed them in a baggy containing a few dozen cigarette butts. Bill picks butts off the street and he rolls them. "But l watch who throws them away so l won't catch any mouth diseases." Thinking on that, l wonder what Bill would do with the excess time if he didn't worry about where his next smoke was coming from.
With all types of traffic crossing back and forth, we concentrated on the females, with Bill commenting, "Lots of pretty girls go by here." I agreed. "Lots of ugly ones too, but the ugly ones have nicer personalitites." We share laughter of Bill's profound comments.
Again smokes and lights were exchanged and this time Bill offers me his dirty white lighter, to keep. "Thanks Bill."
The conversation returned again to his past work, his plumbing jobs, his handling of dynamite in Winnipeg. "Lots of work in Winnipeg, I can go back there you know."As well, Bill tells me of the plentiful supply of work in BC. "I'm going back there next month," he says, "Lots of work." I have a train to catch and as l leave l tell him, "Go to BC. Bill." He nods and smiles. A half hour later while waiting in the boarding line l spot Bill in the lobby. He has his little baggy out and is picking butts from the ashtray. I hope he goes to BC. I hope he goes trapping with his uncle.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


"Sun come up it was blue and gold
Sun come up it was blue and gold
Sun come up it was blue and gold
ever since l put your picture
in a frame"
-tom waits

"Ne Me Quitte Pas" -2006

So take in your hands the face of a flower.
Take in your hands the curve of a cup.
Hold in your hands the face of your love.
Hold what you may not hold for long."

- these words from my dear friend Ron Atkinson (his book "To Hold Awhile")

...piss and vinegar

"How many years ago

Were you and l unlettered lads

Mad as the mist and snow."

This is my brother Darryl on a bus in Calgary. He was young, brave, tough and stupid. He is still tough and brave but in a contained way. Many years ago when l lived in calgary l had him come live with me. He was just getting out of a program for young, brave, tough and stupid kids. Well one night he had a party, l was tolerant and when they all left at one or two am l noticed one of them taking a bottle of my finest wine. Actually it was only some cheap redwine but it bothered me so l approached him and asked for it back. His friend a mountain of a man pushed me and said "fight him". Well l had a choice fight the mountain or fight the winethief. I fought the winethief but goddamn he was like a badly run yoyou kept getting back up, over and over. Finally everyone tired and went home but l never did get my cheap redwine back.

I love my brother Darryl.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

like a spy...

"Let that be the poetry we search for: worn with the hand's obligations,
as by acids, steeped in sweat and in smoke, smelling of lilies and urine,
spattered diversely by the trades that we live by,
inside the law or beyond it."
-pablo neruda

"...score me some paper" from the young hood who banged on my door late the other night and then again this morning at six am. He had a box and opened it slowly and with excitement, new runners and for a little money they could be mine.
Clayton showed up later... clayton has travelled the same road as me, from PA to PA (prince albert to port alberni). I like clayton, he is quiet and unassuming. He dropped hints about needing a place to stay, and l almost told him to camp in my backyard, but ...he was a bit ugly last year so...not yet. (april 1,2006)

"...Charlie l'm pregnant, living on 9th street, above a dirty bookstore,
stop taking dope, quit drinking whiskey"

...there's a coolness in the air now - l like it. I was reminded yesterday about a booklet l wrote in as a kid - little secret codes, like a spy.
"I gave roy bird my shoes" says Jackson who came into the shelter one day looking for a pair of shoes. Wayne is in jail again-maybe for murder. Mark is back in the shelter and john and lloyd.
-from journal sept.2003, prince albert, sk.

Paulo from cuba in prince albert