Thursday, December 18, 2008

a christmas story...

Memory open; memory close;
memory taught me to be a man.
It remembers everything.
It helps the little birds to sing.
It finds the honey for the bee.
It opens and closes,
opens and closes.

-harold monro

Lyle and l go way back, back to the beatles, back to styx and queen, back to
nazereth. We met on pym street, guess we were 15 or 16. The first thing he showed
me were the row of green mail boxes at the end of the street. We practiced picking
locks with bobby pins but no need to worry, we weren't really any good at it.
Cars were important, we bombed around in the bush. I had a 56 ford, my brother
had a 54 dodge and Lyle, well Lyle just navigated. But later,
Lyle got a 64 dodge polara, primer gray with bits of real red. He rebuilt the engine
but could never get it going after that. We even tried towing it down the bypass.
Tied to my mustang with a thick rope Lyle told me l needed to get up to 70 or 80 mph
because the polara was an automatic.

We had a race once - Vancouver to Princeton. Me in my fiat (cereal box) and
Lyle in his chrysler (tank). Ya okay Lyle technically won, but it was so close.
It felt like the "Cannonball Run" and l really wanted to be like Dean Martin.
We both lived in Princeton that summer. I worked in the mill and Lyle wanted
to work in the mill, he just ended up getting kicked out of Princeton by the RCMP.
We both talked of joining the army that summer, even filled out the papers.
Lyle moved to Edmonton, "lots of work out there", he said, "come on".
So l loaded the camero and moved to Edmonton, it was winter.

We lived outside of Edmonton, stayed with his Argentina friend Rod.
Rod was kindof funny. Lyle told me that he could only make out if he was drunk,
real drunk. Years later Rod disappeared, they found his wallet and truck in the
bush, searched for months but never did find him.
Lyle moved back to the island after a couple of months and l stayed.
I moved into a little basement suite downtown Edmonton and got a job with
a security company. I had to wear a uniform, it was pale and worn
like they had found it in someone's attic. and it came with this stupid hat
that felt like you were wearing a table on your head. I drove around at night,
the deep dear night, with a mopey german shepherd and the only good memory l have
is the memory of listening to Bruce Springsteen on the radio.
...singing "santa claus is coming to town".

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Come with me
together, we can take the long way home


I'll explain next week...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

my friend...

Caress the Sleep of Mortals

Bound to the Mast of Longing

Friend, tie me to the ship's mast
To ride to the rim of life.
Wounded at the ear's edge
Branded in burnt blood.

Friend, do not let me leap
From love's fierce sensual fire.
On dark horses of rising tide.
Brave breakers in beauty's risks.

Friend, if I am empty, embered.
Fill me with your wild cleansing.
Let your siren song of exile
Heal these stripes of wounded will.

-ron atkinson

Friday, October 03, 2008

a smoldering fire...

There are really three gifts, simultaneous in their effect:
blind hope, fire, and craft (techne').They open up wonders-
and terrors-to human creatures, the wonders and terrors
of being fully cognizant and sensitive creatures of earth.

-eileen gregory (summoning the familiar)

I like the idea of knights, of cowboys, l like stories from
the great depression, l like the history of the gold rush.

Rob has lived in the gully on and off since he was seven, he use to run away
from home and hide there, sleeping under the tree branches.
He knows how to keep dry...

They change their camp every now and then, sometimes because of the city,
sometimes because of the cops, sometimes for a change of scenery.
Rob, Cindy, and Bobby, this was the core - everynow and then
someone else joins, another body curled up on the ground, the
disheveled head of hair sticking out like a scarecrow.

Rob's a good person, like's my dog, tells me stories that l haven't heard before.

I am welcomed when l visit their camp. On cold mornings and when there is
a smoldering fire we huddle around it, feels like a Louis L'Amour novel.
A sense of belonging, a sense of longing.
We need communities based on this...

and the road was like a ribbon and the moon was like a bone
he didn't seem to be like any guy she'd ever known

Saturday, August 23, 2008

sugar and snails...

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails,
And puppy dog tails,
That's what little boys are made of.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

rat of a dog...

If I was a puppy dog in the early dawn
I'd make it to your house and sleep on your lawn
but I ain'ty no puppydog, you know my name
And the wind blows fortune, the wind blows pain

l found the perfect mummified rat...dried skin, full skeleton, even had it's tail.
It is really the tail that is the rat's downfall, otherwise we'd be petting them.
Well Cedar ate him, l had washed the rat and left it out in the sun to dry.
Reminds me of the time l found the perfect bat skeleton, l buried it in
a secret place, so secret l didn't even know where...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

gully gang...

Running through the graveyard
we laughed my friends and I
we swore we'd be together
until the day we died
until the day we died

...rob cindy bobby, more later...

Thursday, June 26, 2008


The stars are close and dear and l have joined
the brotherhood of the worlds.
And everythings holy -everything, even me.

-john steinbeck (grapes of wrath)

Huey died two weeks ago...
I've written about huey before - here...
My friend mike was at huey's bedside when he died,
he listened to him breath and not breath
he saw his breaths grow short and disappear,
he saw his pulse slow and stop.
Mike was there when he died
and he gave huey love to take with him.
There is beauty in this...

In uncertainty l am certain that underneath their topmost layers
of fraility men want to be good and want to be loved.
Indeed most of their vices are attempted short cuts to love,
When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents
and influence and genuis, if he dies unloved his life
must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror.
It seems to me that if you or l must choose between two courses
of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try to
live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.

-john steinbeck (east of eden)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I travel your length, like a river,
I travel your body, like a forest,
like a mountain path that ends at a cliff
I travel along the edge of your thoughts,
and my shadow falls from your white forehead,
my shadow shatters, and I gather the pieces
and go with no body, groping my way
-octavio paz

Sunday, May 11, 2008

a little light...

  The spiritual body exists wherever passion is dreamed of

  as an ideal instead of being feared like a malignant fever;

  wherever its fatal character is welcomed, invoked or

  imagined as a magnificent and desirable disaster instead

  of simply a disaster. It lives in the lives of people who

  think that love is their fate...that it is stronger and more

  real than happiness, society, or morality.

  -denis de rougemont

and lay down here beside me
let me hold you in the dirt
and you'll tremble as the flames
tear the throat out of the night



I bought a cell phone a while back, came with a cheap built in camera
...not even 1 mp, 0.02 l think, but it's fast and dirty...l like it.

a hundred or so years ago when l studied photography (ACA)
we had to buy a 4x5 format camera. A big box with an expensive lens.
I liked that camera too... l would take it downtown calgary on sunday
mornings, set it up and when someone passed by l would ask if l
could take their picture.

...then a few years out of college l started using a 2 and a quarter format,
a mamiya c330. That was a beautiful camera, a workhorse, big bulky but it
felt like you meant it.

After the large format cameras l realized what l needed. Low light
situations, non intimidating and quiet cameras.

I only needed one lens, but it had to be fast, f1.4. Sometimes a rangefinder,

and always canon. Kinda like ford and chev. I was influenced by what
my daddy drove.
I have trouble with digital but l had to make the effort.
A few months ago l bought a 12mp canon g9. A nice little
camera maybe a little light - l've been tempted to glue a piece of
wood on it for the weight. I understand the appeal of digital,
theres a freedom, "care but don't care"

You can snap a hundred images, without thinking and
sometimes that is good.
but...there's a craft to film. The feel of it, the feel and excitement
of pulling a wet print out of the tray.
I don't know...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

art in bloom...

One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters
the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life,
and dedicate ourselves to that.
- Joseph Campbell next painting.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

rites of sanctuary...

All suddenly the wind comes soft,
And Spring is here again;
And the hawthorn quickens with buds of green
And my heart with buds of pain.

My heart all Winter lay so numb,
The earth so dead and frore,
That I never thought the Spring would come,
Or my heart wake any more.

But Winter’s broken and earth has woken
And the small birds cry again.
And the hawthorn hedge puts forth its buds,
And my heart puts forth its pain.

-rupert brooke (spring sorrow)

I walk the gully again. The winter months showed signs of settlers.
A camp by the river, ashes of a long night's fire and the start of a stone wall.
A plastic water pistol to ward off predators, in the dark we all look
menacing. There was a grocery cart as well, filled with cardboard boxes.
On the side written in black felt pen, "pictures from living room"

I've seen him in the early dawn, a huddled shape under a sleeping bag,
like a corpse waiting for an identity. When l go in the afternoon, he is gone,
sometimes his sleeping bag is stashed in the bushes along with empty bottles
of mouthwash. He has made a nest now, out of dried bramble, it looks comforting,
and warm and like it would be okay to go back there at night.

"For each person lives in layers of memory and desire
finding an outer form for an inner world space.
Querencia: the unique personality of our very own place.
Querencia: small subtle ways to make ourselves at home.
Querencia: the right of sanctuary to be one's self in.
Each must create by humble pride our den, nest, haven.
Rites of sanctuary find us freedom to be who we are.

...those words were written by my friend ron atkinson.
Ron is a brilliant and beautiful man.
...he knows love.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

three black suits...

The ribbon round your neck
against your skin that's pale as bone
It is my favorite thing you've worn
The band is playing our song
And we won't go home, 'til morn

I've done four covers for the marc atkinson trio. The first one l did l made three little tin men
with instruments, they had moveable arms, legs and penis's. Penis's so big you could teach
time with them. The second cover l did is this one above, floor tile mosaic, it is my favorite
and this time l was discreet with the clock pieces. I also did a cover for marc's other band
the bills

l did this one while travelling in calgary, l carried around a little black suitcase
filled with bits of fabric, needles and lots of thread and if l had worn a overcoat
l would have looked very suspicious.

Life is whittled
Life's a riddle
Man's a fiddle that life plays on

Marc is good to me, he lets me do whatever l want.
On this fourth trio cover (which l've just finished) l decided on dolls.
So l carved six little hands, and three little heads and gillian gravenor made
three little bodies with three black suits. And cam purdon made a beautiful
little macaferri guitar. Now l'm not a carver but carving those hands
and heads was such a lovely thing breathing skin.
This image above is one of the first l shot and it looks like a scene out
of a john wayne movie...

...and this is it, the marc atkinson trio, their fourth cd, it will be out soon, a few weeks l imagine.
Marc is a such a wonderful man, he just kindof glows...

Sunday, January 27, 2008


I am family...

Then what to do to find the room where you are?
Deep cave of obsidian glowing with red, with green,
with black light,
high room in the lost tower where you sit spinning.

crack in the floor where the gold ring
waits to be found

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

...another smoke

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
e e cummings

...fresh snow in the gully, the smooth running water, a new year is arriving.

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?
- George Eliot

"...l just want to see my two daughters." - Spike christmas eve

For some reason l am reminded of spike every now and then. It was many years ago that l
knew him, visited him and his dog butch, a big raggy german shepherd that stood by his side,
waiting for crumbs, waiting for stroking hands, waiting just for him. I would visit
spike and butch every couple of weeks while cycling around downtown,
and would bring smokes and once l brought some meager snack for butch.
I was over there one christmas eve, sharing my smokes, petting butch, shared
in spike's bottle of bad wine,a big generic green gallon bottle . At some point
spike said he was hungry so l volunteered to make him something to eat..
I remember not finding much in his cupboards - just like a fairly tale
there were crumbs with the inside of his fridge being a pale yellow
ketchup stained empty wasteland. All l remember finding was a cabbage
and decided that this would be find, l could boil it and spike wouldn't go hungry.
Well the inside of the cabbage was crawling with little white worms, so that kindof put a
damper on spike's appetitie and we just had another smoke instead. I listened to spike talk of
the neighbor, a young girl with child. He told me that she had been out of diapers, out of food,
out of money, so he gave her the few bucks that he had. He was so proud, so happy with his
gesture, it made me happy, made me feel glad to be there, to be with spike and butch,
to share in something so simple.

now when the streets get hungry, baby
you can almost hear them growl
someone's setting a place for you
when the dogs begin to howl