Saturday, April 30, 2011


a dozen boys on bikes

caress baseball cap brims --

lucky rabbit-foot hopes under grey-bellied clouds

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


the ground's reluctant grind

an earth's tectonic sneeze

this midnight shift

Sunday, April 24, 2011


an April wind sneaks

in between mismatched buttons --

black chest hair, defenseless

Saturday, April 23, 2011


If Jennifer Lopez let loose a fart of epic proportions just as she was getting ready to rip into another exhausted contestant on AMERICAN IDOL, what would be the repercussions? Let’s assume that they have somebody, on post, in the control room, hovered over the control panel, ready to push that red button down the instant somebody accidentally, or intentionally, utters a profanity. Wouldn’t the same principle apply to an excess release of gas from one of their million dollar celebrities? Think about it. The next day, wouldn’t all the headlines remark upon the fact that Ms.Lopez farted, live, on national television. What the article wouldn’t say is that everybody reading that article, writer included, farts, what, twenty, thirty times a day? But nobody talks about it. Not truly. When we were kids, certainly, when such bodily emissions carried a certain weight, implied a kind of half-skewed pride, we’d joke about such stuff all of the time. And we continue to do it, in certain company. Not in public. Yet I have no doubt that such an occurrence – said incident being The World’s Most Famous Latina, Lopez, letting it rip, long and wet and loud, amplified by the microphone, further amplified by the newfangled stereo systems that people install in their homes so that they can hear whiz-bang-golly-gee sounds far removed from that of a singing star’s flatulence – would titillate the gossip pages for a good four, five days. It’s not often that the real stuff of ourselves is displayed to the world

I once stood not four feet from Jennifer Lopez, years ago, during the Toronto Film Festival, when she exited the Four Seasons Hotel and signed autographs in front of her patiently waiting limousine, and somebody offered her flowers, and she thanked them in what seemed like a sincere voice, and I remember thinking that I had never seen a more beautiful person in my entire life, a flawless beauty, a kind of take-your-breath-away beauty, which is cliché, I know, but beauty is cliché, and your breath kind of did disappear for a moment or two, and it was a kind of elemental, picture-that-comes-with-the-picture-frame-beauty far more beautiful than that which she had so far projected across any kind of silver screen, but at that moment she might very well have been holding within her a fart of David-Lean-epic proportions, and if I had known that, then, would it have made a difference to my judgement of her exterior illumination? If President Obama, or, god forbid, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were to burp or fart in the presence of the Queen, at a reception for the upcoming nuptials of the young prince, let us say, only days after Ms.Lopez committed the same heinous act on an American variety show, would the press wonder just what the hell the world was coming to? This is what I’m asking.

But we withhold stuff every day. That’s all we do. Keep stuff in. Have you ever talked to anybody recently about all the times that you flick snot out of your nose? We don’t even have a dignified word for that gunk – ‘snot’, ‘boogers’. Seriously. At least the Japanese have the good sense to call it ‘nose water’. How can we talk, with dignity, about something that has no proper certification? Or that feeling you get when you sense that the person in front of you couldn’t care less about what you’re saying, that they’re merely biding time, killing time, disentangling time, waiting for you to finish so that they can go back to thinking about what contorted images they will masturbate to later that night.

Or perhaps I’m being too judgemental. They might, in fact, be bored by what you’re saying because they were recently diagnosed with the ‘big c’, which is now an HBO series starring Laura Linney, which is just what I want, a ‘dramedy’ about how living with cancer is full of giggles and ‘life-lessons-learned-the-hard-way’, all very funny, all very earnest, undoubtedly worthy of multiple Emmy nominations, all designed to enable viewers to subscribe to HBO and thus keep the financial situation of its executives in a relatively stable state of being. They, too, have noses to pick, and one needs well-manicured nails to unearth some of those nuggets. Of course, there are undoubtedly hundreds of other people who would work on a show such as that, and, statistics would say, a fair number of them must have people with cancer in their lives. The grips, the caterers, those kinds of folks. Some of them probably think the show is exploitative, no matter how well it’s done, or precisely because of how well it’s done. Others might think it gives them exactly what they need. A few more might be so tired of dealing with disease that they couldn’t care less. (Shouldn’t we say “I couldn’t care MORE?” Wouldn’t that actually be more snidely dismissive?) Regardless of their genuine interest in a show that provides them with a paycheck on a bi-weekly basis, they still have to spend the bulk of their day keeping ‘their thoughts to themselves’, withholding farts, stifling burps, not letting anyone know that a subtle feeling of disappointment has been fluttering within them since around the age of sixteen. Maybe eighteen, depending.

I’m not saying that Ms.Lopez is the kind of person who would actually fart on TV. Don’t misunderstand me. She is a professional. She was a ‘maid in manhattan’, not in real life, not as far as I know, although she may very well have been, at one point in time, but she starred in a movie bearing that title, and anyone who could summon the stamina to work on a script of that calibre must have intestinal fortitude of the fifth degree. She wouldn’t allow inside gases to exit outside of herself, not while ascertaining the extent to which covers of Rod Stewart tunes from the 1970s constitute an original voice for this new millennium.

Must be tough, sitting there though. Her mind must wander. She must have to shift cheeks every now and then. A sight such as that must worry the guy in the booth. The one with the red button. He’s probably thinking mostly of swear words, of people muttering ‘motherfucker’ under their breath, but occasionally, I’m sure, flatulence and its (potentially) unwelcome, rank wave must wander through his bored mind. He has his own issues, but he doesn’t talk about them. And he trusts her, Ms.Lopez. He can recognize that she’s the real deal. A woman who keeps herself to herself. She knows that bodily functions have no place in prime time.

Friday, April 22, 2011


echoes of black dress shoes

rushing over grey pavement

lends slanted rain a granite edge

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


an old man's grunts

lumber yanked from a faded green truck

white cherry blossoms, lazily downward drifting

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Morning crows squawk

as my pen hovers

a haiku dictionary's plastic gloss

Friday, April 15, 2011


The other day on the bus to Kikuna I saw a girl mouth along to a voice that was fake. A recorded message, feminine and polite, always lets you know to a tee what next stop lies ahead. You can remember its tone and its words after a few round-trip rides. The girl's friend was sitting beside me. Standing, rocking slightly from side to side in that nonchalant way that young people do simply because they are young, this girl matched her lips' motion to each word that she heard. It wasn't exactly unconscious, this action, because she started to smile just a bit as she performed her small act. She and her friend then started to talk all about what all teenage girls talk about. I'm not exactly sure what those topics might be even back home, in Canada, let alone here, in Yokohama. Yet I might have a clue. So I tell myself.

When I was their age, I took the bus just like them. The Niagara Street bus. I caught another bus first, at the Geneva Street stop, and then I transferred again at a point I forget. Or did I? Did I take just the one? Forgetting my hometown's bus schedule does feel just a bit like betrayal. ("I'm sorry, St.Catharines! You still own most of my heart! But the bus lines do blur after sixteen long years away!") The important memories do tint, though the details might fade.

One morning my friend and I sat on the bus as it did its stop-and-start shuffle. We looked across the aisle at an old man who had seen better days. One assumes. He did not look like he was seeing many good days just now. My buddy looked at me and said: "That'll be me and you some day, Scott." (Or did I say it to him?) We both laughed. I even remember the point on our route where this conversation took place. Just past the mall down the street from our school 'Laura Secord'. We both laughed. Knowing it was true, that we, too, would one day be that old. Knowing, as well, that that day would not come for a good many years. Still. It was nervous laughter. Sometimes at fourteen you can surprise even yourself with a hint of a truth that you secretly suspect most adults might already know.

I think about that offhand, off-the-cuff comment two, three times a year. As I age. I thought it about the other day, three thousand and more miles away from those streets that did give me my start. Watching a Japanese girl talking to her friend on a bus as they came home from school. She wore a dark blue jacket and skirt. A brown bag with a musical note stiched right into its corner sat there at her feet like a dumb patient pet. She listened to an adult's voice on a speaker, and mockingly mouthed what it said. Then she returned to her conversation, to her adolescent concerns, in a language that bops to its own special beat. I couldn't understand everything she said. Perhaps she muttered to her friend about the old foreign man that sat right there before her. Just another day on the bus. I wondered if she and her pal might for some reason remember that ride, twenty long years from now. As they age.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


What’s unsettling about the earth shifting and shaking, bopping and quaking beneath the bed that upholds the awkward arch of your back and your head's constant swivel is not at all what you think might finally just make you break down. I've learned, over time, the most terrifying truth of life, or at least my life: You can get used to anything. Even the ground, groaning. Even yourself, bored by the monotonous length of this more than minor upheaval. No, what worries me most is a certain form of cohesion. The world can contain and uplift so much pure contradiction.

A few days ago, a quake while I slept. It lasted, lingered. I awoke, wondering if I should step right outside and watch the building sway in its bend. Instead, I lay on my back; closed my eyes somewhat tight; tried not to count in my head the long length of each shift. Soon it was done, and I could sleep a bit more. Way up in the north I’m sure a score of people did shudder. Survivors. Me, I didn’t survive anything. I almost welcomed my dreams. They would probably be but benign. I felt guilty for going right back to sleep while all those poor folks in Sendai I'm sure stayed up with their fears. But I slept. You can get used to anything.

Something else: Today, on the street, coming towards me, a young woman in black, strolling, striding, smiling. Just like that. A hell of a grin. She was in a world of her own. As we all are, but when somebody smiles just like that, I wonder in what special realm do they wander. Perhaps she was thinking of whom she might meet in a moment for hot tea and a scone. Or last night’s lover’s soft touch, a small playful taunt at her tit. Or a comedian’s punchline, its sharp wit still a pinch. She seemed to be in cahoots with life.

That earthquake’s steady rumble, and that pretty stranger’s sweet smile, somehow co-exist in this life, and that separate union confounds me. One should not share space with the other. Or do they only appear in the first place as a form of crude balance? Can we even casually grin with small joy to begin with if life holds no peril?

Perhaps she, too, was awoken, like me, by that tectonic grim burp. I doubt she was smiling then. Her thoughts, a rising wave of dread. Yet a few days in the future, a kind of happiness. Persistent, even brave. So tenacious that even I, a stranger, felt the force of its joy straight across the length of the sidewalk, a kind of life all its own, fluid and real, as tactile and invasive as the boldest of tremors.