Archive for the ‘Prose Poems’ Category

Note: If you don’t know who John Yoo is I suggest starting with his Wikipedia page. Then listen to The Torture Memos by my band, the Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra. As you ought to know, this is a piece of creative writing that in no way reflects on the life or experience of the real John Yoo. I’m sure he has absolutely no trouble looking at himself in the mirror these days.



A dialogue


I am not an evil man.
In fact I am rather a good one,
kind to animals, generous to beggars,
a good son, a timely taxpayer, a good neighbour.
I always pay more than my share of the dinner cheque,
I never leave my bins out after garbage day,
and my house is well-kept, neat, painted,
in accordance with the bylaws
of my Home Owner’s Association.
So tell me, Abyss, why I see your face
in this perfectly clean mirror
on this perfectly ordinary day. (more…)

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While I’m in Montreal singing with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra, I’ll be reposting some classic Scintillations for your amusement. Enjoy!

*Warning: Prose poem follows*

Ground state

She told me about the breakup, then left the table. I looked out the window.

A woman was getting into a minivan, a tubby woman, middle-aged, ordinary, arms full of plastic-sheathed drycleaning. Her stolid greying husband glared at her from the driver’s seat; she got in, buckled up, and they drove away. They looked grim and ordinary. I watched the taillights disappear and tried to imagine them young and brimming over with love. He brought her flowers. She sang for him. They went to the beach, for long walks in the park. Then the wedding, the beautiful shining stressful evening, when they promised to love each other forever, and danced and ate and drank and laughed, and all their families and friends laughed with them and threw joyous handfuls of rice in their hair.

And then the mortgage and the babies and the dreary everydayness of life. And then they woke up this morning and their lives were half over and they hated each other; but there was still the van to pay off, still the dry cleaning to pick up, still the same round of ordinary things to see to.

Or maybe it was never like that, I thought, as the lights faded. Maybe they were blissfully happy but had unusually severe faces. Maybe what looked to me like hatred and boredom was really just their ground state. Or maybe, to them, this was life, this was all they ever wanted, this was a dream come true.

I looked away. She was coming up the stairs, in between things, waiting for the new life she’d promised herself. I smiled and under my breath I made an everlasting vow.

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IN this episode:

– In cold blood
– Awkward love
– He sits
– Dead sea scroll.

Music: Excerpts from “Cephalopodae” by Benjamin Mueller-Heaslip, performed by the Parkdale Revolutionary Orchestra.


Not a stock nature shot

Not a stock nature shot

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Ran across a file today titled “The Migraine Muse”.  I don’t remember writing it, though it’s obvious that I did.

The Migraine Muse

Ellen bit her lip.  The pain was subsiding, and with it she felt her grasp on her story slip away – Dolly the pretty one, Marjorie the silent stern patient one, Mickey the lovable ne’er-do-well – they were drifting away into the free painless ether.  She clenched her jaws more tightly.  A little longer, just a little longer, and they’d be there…A fresh wave of pain washed over her, and her hand swept across the page in a fever of characters.  By the time it was over, the beginning was there, and it was enough.  It could wait to tomorrow.  Ellen got up, took four Advils, and went to bed.

Anyway.  Yesterday at the art gallery I had an odd but enjoyable conversation with retired teacher who couldn’t understand why I liked Strauss.  “Strauss was a great composer,” I said, “but he was such a coward.  No matter how far out he goes he always brings it home into something comprehensible.  That makes him more human somehow.”  I also had to defend Schoenberg.

OK, I don’t really have much else to say.  I’ll just put the podcast together and get on with my work.

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What you write goes out in the world.  Whether you like it or not, it travels.  Mostly not very far, but sometimes very far, very far indeed; and when it does, you no longer can stop others from reading into it what they want to see.

“No,” you can say, “no, that’s not what I meant.  That’s not what I meant at all,” but it won’t do any good.  A million scribes with a million pens will keep scratching, scratching, scratching out their monstrous perversions of your work; and those perversions will spawn their own monsters; and the cry of “No!” and the silent scratching continue round and round and round as long as human stupidity and the age of the earth conspire to keep us on this globe.

What you write goes out in the world, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

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You don’t need to impress me.
You don’t need to make me laugh.
You don’t need to be smarter than me,
You don’t need to know about nuclear physics or Schonberg.
You don’t need to be tall or be good at chess,
You don’t need to be psychic or in touch with God.
You don’t need to be anything but yourself;
You don’t need to put on a show.  You’re already my friend.

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In this episode:
“I lied about my wedding ring…”
Two-page story
Sax solo

“Egyptian Song” (Rupert Davies, arr. and performed by Benjamin Mueller-Heaslip
My dorky piano rendition of “Dream a little dream of me”


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