long ride home

I have a good friend named Earl I feel I owe a little performance or something to for keeping me company and speaking in images so eloquently. This is really a rough performance, he deserves better. Tune by Patty Griffin, performance by Redneckarts.

Drawing of earl from a photo series by  Zoe Gemelli


creative communities


photo of Rock by Warren Ahmed Vivian

I don’t think other artists think as cynically I do in such matters, but I’m a person who believes the dairy queen and macdonald’s and ruby’s roadhouse and the decorations in the yard are as much culture as is the a.g.o, which means that culture was here before the first local native aboriginal fashioned a drum in say the late seventies or the first peasant skirt made its way north of apsley. I left the meeting CREATIVE COMMUNITIES Cultural Planning in North Hastings / OCTOBER 8th, 7pm ~ Village Playhouse other night wondering rather what that meeting was all about really though… what was specifically being offered to “cultural workers” (and in my book we are all cultural workers etc.), other than google mapping and advertising for galleries, and vague offers of wine and cheese grants to venues, and the cultivation of spin-off benefits for local businesses from the efforts of a few generally low pay creative types. I gathered that perhaps after years of marginalization here for their efforts, now artists are seen as a resource to be exploited gratefully by the same types who have deplored original architecture, pillaged resources, ineptly courted industry, uglified my town and now wish to vivify it on a model repeated in so many little villages it is said one can see the condo porch gingerbread, prettied up peasant food of other lands and vaguely irish historical barnyard pageantry from outer space. I felt rather insulted by their assumption that I am to be grateful for their interest now and their hopeful assumption that I am stupid enough to trust in their powers to manage “self consciously artistic culture” let alone a normal cross walk or a swimmable riverfront.
And between you and me my gut reaction is to retort a genial fuck you to the man with the slide presentation and to the lady who seemed to think that culture was a matter of tidying up car hulls (which I rather like to paint) in yards in coe hill and that lifestyle or taste did not precede her committee’s inspiration to brisker housekeeping, and I grew eager to withdraw further into my own studio, lock the doors, and ship paintings and writing elsewhere, so as to remain anonymous here with studio closed to prying eyes and decorating tip hunters on autumn colour studio tours.

I stood on the front stoop of the old courthouse, now the theater district, listening to a gentleman explaining earnestly to another listener that Bancroft was the most talented town in Ontario in perpetuity, by decree of tvo, as if it was no matter who lived here, talented, ham-fisted hack or no, and I walked off into Kafka’s night telling myself perhaps I am too old to be lured by the bandwagon, let alone to endure the leap onto it or the bumpy ride. Perhaps best to have nothing further to do with broader cultural matters.

The Terrible Sea


Painting becomes repugnant sometimes so I pull back guiltily, socialize, take to the roads. I seek out those I love, I look about, play guitar like a ne’r do well. I clean up the hard drives, ditch redundant files. There’s a cafe I like in a little city down the highway. There I can catch up on all the stories, see in the flesh the faces I’ve tracked a long time only on Facebook. The cafe has history, character, over the past twenty years I’ve been a little part of the ebb and flow there.

I live in my hometown and in the last years it has given itself over to box stores, chain stores, restaurants you can find anywhere and it has spread itself over its own outskirts so that massive parking lots can be accommodated on cheap pastureland outside the old town. You can’t walk anywhere. In off seasons the merchandising counselors  in the auto supply store have to go out and shift their cars around so people driving by on the highway think the place is busy. Really. In summer, family units crawl all over the place, tugging on one another’s arms and poking at bargain goods, cottage necessities.  They mill around at little concerts and amusements in the newly contrived park, entertainments carefully bland so as to offend no one, but not amusing anyone very much either.You can say you’ve been there, that you’ve done things on your holiday, that it wasn’t so bad.  Top forty hits from the last forty years play in all the shops reassuringly. Tis the good life.

Everything in the town is geared to extracting money from the summer hordes and everyone visiting looks a little weary, badgered, suspicious. There really isn’t a place to sit at a table and linger watching and there’s  no one to watch with anything but evolutionary disdain. You watch people walk around pretending the financial crisis, the war, whatever, hasn’t effected them personally. They try to live up to the brochures. I confess I like the bald headed utilitarianism of the place, the bear faced scorn for anything not deemed as family viewing. The jingoism amuses. I live an an old neighborhood connected to no main highway and much as it ever was, not even a corner store alight at night. Unrejuvenated. I’m not crazy about being there, but it is safely familiar. I tread the paths of my childhood, skirt the thorny rosebush as ever to reach my door. I can’t complain. I paint there.

I have a couple of close friends with whom I plan a complicated but cheap tropic retreat. Gauguin on a shoestring. Outa here, piss off, g’bye. Shove it all sideways. Heard myself saying the other night and stepping out the door “I’d rather die in Jamaican Ghetto hard and fast under a machete blade than rot bickering with CBC radio or agreeing about the issue of the human right to be peanut free in school.”

I have a friend I sleep beside sometimes in the country.  I feel a kiss on my shoulder in sleep now and then. Both of us so open and so guarded. Furtive and blatant. Restless and blessed. Balanced I guess. How you distance yourself before you part and how you get the bends moving from your world to that touch. I have small areas of kind abandonment. There’s a man tends bar in second life some nights I’d like to rest my head on his knees sometime if real time allowed. Things you won’t find on your global positioning device, won’t find in an advertising tableau.

If you keep your ear to the ground and mind your p’s and q’s, you can find people. You have to be nice to everyone. You have to support the troops, as the banners proclaim, and understand you’re not supporting them by suggesting they were sent into war by misbegotten morons, that they’re just being used. Not that. You listen to a lot of stuff people just pick up on the radio, reiterated blather, they’re eager to fit in. Hardly ever do you hear anything fresh or new. It’s either top forty or government funded. Chat shows to the right and left of the political scale so everybody knows what attitude to strike at lunch in the game of balancing opinions that passes for dialogue.

Summer. The green eruption of it from the ice. I had a dream last night I went down in a well and up some stairs, back in time as I did so, climbed up into the original canopy forest up home.  It’s pretty lush here in suburbia though, the Shirley poppies bolt upright. Feels like Louisiana on the tree-lined backstreets, a little rain, every day. Smell of crack whiffing out of a black window downtown the other night, smell of lamb out of the next. Monitor lights. Christmas lights. I walked till dawn, down through the industrial section… a few plastic lawn chairs wonkily arranged in an out door smoking alley for workers, brick walls. Just a few people working the night shift, hardly worth lighting the place, felt like. Good studio place for a disillusioned German artist with a glue gun to hole up and work out the angst of a generation. Right now the architecture’s still devoted to juice drink packets. What makes more sense? You tell me baby.

Photo 228

6 Responses to “The Terrible Sea”

  1. Such eloquently stated and well-articulated cynicism, it’s hard to fault your logic but impossible to cheer the determination of so much seeming pessimism. When you speak of entering the well, is it like tumbling down the rabbit-hole, or stepping through the looking-glass – or, is it more like delving into one of Escher’s insanely wrought pieces, those that explore his own mind with details unparalleled by any lessor mortals daring. All these thoughts and more flit through my mind upon reading your latest treatise and I find myself tiring easily and wanting to crawl into the nearest hole, pull my life in after, give up straddling the abyss – at least for a time – and settle for that for now. Or not.S.E.Ingraham said this on July 30, 2009 at 11:00 pmReply (edit)
    • funny thing is I’m happy as a clam these days, sharon- on a pie chart, this block would be a sixth part… but a part of the round. There’s always been that part though, muttering away, and I take notes when I like the weight and conviction, motivation, tone, of the muttering. Jigsaw pieces is what the notes most resemble, and I piece them together over time. Mostly in the morning…six o one now. Or very late at night. Its alone stuff…”I know these battles… deep in the dark when the spooks of memory rattle” a song goes sort of.Long time ago I wrote a poem about a midway that turned during revision into a novel I hope to work on again this next fall, and the voice that writes this stuff here also writes that narrative, and the painting illustrates that narrative. That’s about as close as I get to defining or explaining what I do ‘artistically’ , explain to myself, let alone to you, and I only do so because you understand such things. Thank you for that too.We do a bit of dancing and wilding, running the dirt roads up here, my friends and I, and the character who writes this stuff here likes that kind of thing… he does the dancing so he isn’t without joy. We have excellent djs. I’m too old for this kind of thing but I have a few years left of it if I keep working out… theres that kind of running rampant and indulgent wild because it is good, and life is short ahead and totally worth the pleasures if you just have the nerve to meet the obligation to enjoy it. Grief running under it all. Twist of sharp hope in the chest for a younger lover’s life after I’ll be gone. I’m totally lucky.

      about the well-dream… I don’t often remember sleep’s dreams any more but I lucid dream sometimes before sleep… I have a sort of counntryside I roam in, familiar, places to go, people to see. This dream was odd because it took place in an “actual” place, near here, on a farm where I used to play with other wilders, long time ago. I knew the well because we used to perch around it… it was in a granite grotto of sorts… but now it was empty and I just climbed quickly down a ladder into it, easily, and back up some stairs I found, cut in the rock, and back in time to what preceded lumbering. Very matter of fact. I met someone there, things happened, some of it confounding, but I have a sort of dream interpreter, Tommy the punk drummer, and he clarified the thing with a snap of his fingers next time I got into the city.

      its silly stuff all this, come the revolution I’ll be the first to be shot, and it looks pretty dumb on a grant proposal, but nevertheless that’s how it goes. Send me some poetry or links to it please. Bill got good word on all his tests today so things will be better there. Caro and the kids go camping sometime in August. Will you be passing through this summer? Nights are lovely on old hunter street in the summer. Be nice to hang around. later. rock.

      redneckarts said this on August 6, 2009 at 10:41 amReply (edit)

  2. Thursday August 6.2009In my inbox a link to Rock’s Terrible Sea continuation – I go there and am swept up in a fantasy of youth and wilding, lovers and punk drummers named Tommy who are also snap dream-interpreters. Irrationally, I wish for my own well to fall down. Dancing and wilding reminds me a little of the Psych ward but in a good way…At first wilding hits me like a punch in the gut – took me back to Central Park’s wilding when it was a term coined for those punks that swarmed that woman; used, abused and left her for dead. Sho’ nuff like the blacks, Rock reclaims the word and it has its pure meaning back, at least for me, and my blood runs all crazed and I remember, at heart, I have always been a wilder too.

    So hey, Rock – that’s the abstract of it – this is the reality.

    I am trying to distract myself as I contemplate becoming a grandmother later today. There is a surrealism to this event beyond my ken, as I am known for saying, too often. How can it be possible that I not only know the date and hour when Jack will put in his appearance but have seen his videos while he cavorts in utero? Involuntarily have fallen in love with this being not yet born – you gotta love a kid that opens his eyes and tries to focus through the amniotic sac – and, stays perfectly still when his Dad puts on schlock (read any music his mother and I aren’t fond of) but gets down, as soon as she puts her ear-buds on her abdomen and lets fly with James Brown, Ben Folds or Imogene Heap, say…ahahaha.

    I appreciate your attempts to explain your artistic self and especially your happiness quotient vis-a-vis the pie chart analogy, although, I must confess, the happy as a clam reference has always puzzled me, most clams I’ve met seem inordinately down
    in the mouth…
    I am thrilled to realize I misinterpreted your pessimism tho’ that was, as the young say, my bad.

    As for explaining artistry, there is no explaining it, I don’t believe.

    As I grow steadily older, I realize that what pleases me artistically is very personal and that’s going to have to be okay. If it happens that it sells or is posted somewhere and ends up being appreciated by others, then my art or whatever has connected with others and that’s rewarding, there’s no getting away from it. I guess for most artists, or many of them (us) – being able to express some facet of the human condition or connect in some way, is one of the reasons we do what we do. It takes some of us – me for sure – a long time to realize that it can’t be the only, and certainly not, the main, reason for doing it. There is no denying, however, the real satisfaction that comes from writing something that you learn has moved someone to tears or laughter…so there you go.

    There is little chance I will get back east this summer which grieves me. A tiny chance if we go back to sell my father-in-law’s house (he’s living with one of my husband’s sisters now and the house is just sitting empty in Toronto…) – but the love of my life may go on his own.

    Our daughter is having our grandson by caesarean section so will need a lot of help with Jack (he already weighs well over 9 pounds and she’s not at term!)so even if Terry goes back east, I may be grand- mothering here – I’m not complaining, just wishing I could clone myself sometimes.

    You mentioned something about Bill and tests? Has there been anything to worry about or is this just routine? Or am I putting you on the spot? I haven’t talked to Caro for some time and should really get on the blower. It’s funny how seldom we are in touch and yet I feel like she is one of my dearest friends.

    As are you sweet man – and in many ways I hardly know you…

    FYI – two of my more sentimental poems are archived on poetsagainstwar.ca If I remember, I’ll try to send you something a little meatier when I think of it.

    Take good care. Wild on.


    S.E.Ingraham said this on August 6, 2009 at 5:18 pmReply (edit)

  3. This is for Sharon and Rock both
    The tests were my 4 1/2 years cancer free as well as a stress test as a follow up to angioplasty surgery in early June from a couple of mild heart attacks,just to get you up to speed, Sharon.
    As for the back and forth above, it’s good to see this exchange between the two of you as it’s familiar from my own conversations with Rocky and from those who’ve overheard some of the chats we’ve had and also taken the observations we discuss as pessimism.
    I think we, as a society, have been conditioned to think that anything that isn’t instantly recognisable as “positive”/life enhancing to be pessimistic, with the negative conotations the term implies. What’s been forgotten is the quality of skepticism, which is the questioning of everything in life as opposed to the blind acceptance of what any/everybody offers as opinion or fact either privately or publicly, and it is, to me, precisely this quality that is necessary to even attempt to make sense of the condition known as life let alone art. The lack of will to challenge orthodoxy is what leads to developments such as the box stores that have invaded Rock’s hometown (and yours and mine) because people have become passive observers of their fate in life rather than active participants. The act of sheer will required for avoiding the entrapment of conformity becomes too onerous for most folks, understandably, but for the artist it is necessary to stand apart from the confines of accepted wisdom without straying so far as to be unintelligle to any but oneself. Because as Sharon said, part of the reason we make art is as a form of communication with others. It’s not the only reason, to be sure, but it’s one of ‘em.
    I think that’s also why we tend to like the wilding — taps us into a more unmediated state of being, reminds us that we’re still animals even though we pretend to be always civilised, gives us a connection with the rawness of life in physically and psychologically undiluted form. And what is art about if not taking the raw materials of our surroundings and giving them significant form ?

    Bill Batten said this on August 7, 2009 at 2:13 pmReply (edit)

  4. Thanks for this. Love you both.redneckarts said this on August 8, 2009 at 1:06 amReply (edit)
  5. And months later I am back here re-reading this and thinking what an insightful reply this was Bill, wondering how you’re doing; have been thinking about all of you lately. Caro and the girls sent the baby some very cool things…guess that got me thinking about the whole Eastern contingent…S.E.Ingraham said this on December 6, 2009 at 5:48 amReply (edit)

Cowboy Songs

rodeo in town

silver buckles
and a turquoise sky
and a smoky pickup
waiting in line
and the ring would be dusty-
ah but they’d be hosing her down…
too hot too see you
and the rodeo’s in town.

Well the buffalo roam these plains
in back of burger vans
and dream catchers glitter
under market brands
so I bought myself a coke
and it was sweaty in my hands
and they were playing desperado
as I climbed into the stands.

I’ve wasted so much precious time
processing losses
the little things somebody said…
counting crosses-
so why wouldn’t you find me
just another clown
providing a distraction
while the rodeo’s in town?

Do you think of me sometimes
when you tie back your hair
and you feel the crowd waiting
but there’s nobody there
and the west isn’t real
its just family fun
and broncos are sweltering
in the blistering sun?

I recall your kerchief,
how it felt upon my face-
like the lilacs in springtime
on the old home place
and how we found a river
while they tore it all down
and I think about you in my room
when the rodeo’s in town.


more to come

Morphine and Roses (old poems newly posted with a nod to bert)


I wrote the following thing while walking around a university hospital and staying in various nightly rooms, each kind and thoughtful. Wouldn’t call it poetry but it stuck with me while I sorted things through. A little dark, but let’s give it the light of day.

(in two voices)

A beauty whose address has been lost.
God a petty thief.
Again I have moved a first few familiar objects into unfamiliar rooms, but not in expectation of so much happiness as in other times. Again I consider walls that need paint, I wearily eye disfigured rooms, cheap, ill-considered renovation, unfortunate, lazy, unskilled modernization. I note familiar and unfamiliar potential, comfort myself. I try to figure out where things will go. There’s no telling. What to say? Other moves … crisis. past victory… I think about these and tidy the room to paint.
The new landlord and lady have something of Bergman’s blondes in their jocularity. The people across the hall are political Indians, bribed with trinkets. The people upstairs are mysteries strange beyond belief, like out of Carson McCullers with body piercing, bribed with drugs. I am too chipper altogether and like my mother, rearrange furniture in a crisis., offer useless advice to myself and afterward sometimes feel foolish.

Bert gave me a pair of jeans he’d grown too small to wear. Often he tells the story of our tall and wide friend Barbara, how when she knew she was going to the hospital to die, she handed them new to him and said “Make sure you grab these, they’re really warm, and there’s another pair there in the bag, not ever opened.” He was telling a friend this story as he gave me the jeans, handed them to me, and his voice caught.


and he is ever hopeful, hopeful to the point of beating dead horses and hope is something you’ll miss when it is gone.

Skip the el Greco crucifix in the museum near the hospital. I’m not praying this time. I’m more acceptant now than I was last visit to this caring hell. I just want a quiet place and smoke, but those places are all but illegal now. No doubt a good thing. No doubt. I’m not the one suffering now, again. He has always been written into that most serious of roles while iI faced a future, a breathing possibility. It is bleak, and I haven’t quite the hope or disbelief, this second illness.
I get what sweetness I can from these last days. He, naturally curious, charms nurses. If I leave him an hour and walk while he undergoes some procedure, if I walk miles, he’s gone farther than I know when I return. He ages by the minute. I age by the mile. We go the same place. We go apart.

With morphine you still hurt but you don’t care. Roses work the same way, discovered, delivered, grown, but stolen, those are the sweetest, stolen for someone.


How do we do this
say goodbye?
how can-there be no more
you and I?

timing is everything
you always say
It’s all wrong this time
this can’t happen today

I practiced a couple days
living without you.
I did the kind of things
I used to do,

and everything that charmed me
or made me blue
was something I would never get
to talk about with you

people go through this every day.
They don’t even have pills
they don’t have any prospects
and they get buried in the bills

I talked to jesus about it
like I talk to you when you’re away
I talked as if
he’d come back some day

I asked how do i do this
make this pay
I said deliver me from evil.
safe from these cafes…

I went into this bar
I was supposed to love
And I left in a hurry
And I dropped a glove

And as I fumbled for possession
In the booth where I’d been sitting
A woman behind me laughed and said
“You’re gonna lose everything”.

Love is just a brief respite.
It’ll all pass away;
a respite from oblivion
It only flowers for a day.

my faith’s no bigger than a mustard seed
and I love the flesh….
and it seems immodest to believe
our love outlasts our breaths

So how do we do this
say goodbye?
How can there be no more
you and I?

I’ll keep bumping into you
in some unfamiliar place
and every time I drop my glove
I’ll see your face…



everyone is so kind
the rooms are nice and clean
I walk the halls all night
passing like a dream,

nobody pries
if they wonder why I’m here
or if I slip into my room
to shed a private little tear

and if there’s any rhyme or reason
it isn’t one the Lord discloses
in a roomful of morphine
and roses.

Its funny the folks who call
aren’t the ones I thought might do
and the ones I don’t hear from
they’d call but they’re afraid to.

they’ve got too much on their plates-
there’s some bone of contention
or they just can’t stand not being
the center of attention

And some seem to expect me to feel
worse than I do
Oh but they’ve never been
loved by you

I find I think more tenderly
of those who’ve gone before
and I imagine things they’d think about
when I’d stand helpless by the-door

And if there’s any rhyme or reason
it isn’t one the Lord discloses
in a room full of morphine and roses

I’ve no complaints
a little guilt
a little fear,
!a few regrets
I miss my things,
the life we built
when you’re not here,
my cigarettes.

I wish I’d something more to leave you
than what memory collects
but It’s nice to know you’re in in this
for more than the money or the sex.

I know you’d feel better
– you’d never feel blue
if only you could see yourself
the way i see you

At night I watch lives flick on and off i
n the high rise adjacent.
I get a sense of some connectedness –
but a sense of my displacement

Sometimes I get a little drifty
It seems easy to let go
like I’ll catch myself
conducting the radio.

My hands felt light
like the gentle swirling snowfall
in the gathering darkness
in the streetlights below us all

and if I feel a little panicky
if the pain imposes
they’re really very good about
increasing the doses

in this room full of morphine and roses.


dying of consumption, of starvation you get a new perspective and the living are boring,full of expedience you don’t want to know.

the dogs and cats…pay off my debts…

The room with two beds, a place to contemplate loss and gain, to weigh chances, make and give up plans. There’s a port for the machines you’ve found yourself bound to. You can get in touch with any one in the wired world. I dealt with a few things that seemed absurd to me but critical to someone else. I’ve learned to raise my voice, just a notch, with anyone who resents simplification; as if some tool, some control has been removed, they fall to a brief and resentful silence and release me from the line.
There was one message for me, commiserative, supposing a kind of bitter misery I don’t feel, a humor I can’t share, a comedic sense of victimization useful during cocktail hour, but tedious and rote, inappropriate now, flippant and short on shading.
This friend supposes our motives and feelings are similar. Long ago I realized she was baffled and insulted when my analysis of circumstances did not match her own, She would feel alone, abandoned. She would doubt my love. And I found this irritating, and I found it tedious and insulting having to explain, and not so very important to me to do so.

I resorted long ago to letting her describe ruefully the all important details of her victimization or her being complimented or flattered by all in her orbit. Then I would mirror and affirm. I was dishonest for simplicity, yes, but confess too I doubted my friend was sober and bright enough to comprehend my own story. It would be requested but interrupted anyway, true or false.
Her unhappy christmas was not my central concern. I thought ‘She doesn’t need me -she can turn on some flattering public radio’. You can stroke yourself to sleep with pornography approved by the chain. Things supposedly generally craved.

Breakfast is Included, a continental buffet somewhere downstairs. I avoid it, picturing smoke-free glut, overly lighted, picturing businessmen pretending to be businessmen, families pretending to be families, as pictured, as approximated in the brochure. I found a deli down the street and established a booth with a high wall and a short muscular waiter with a big high ass as my own. He sometimes looks back at me over his shoulder, neither welcoming or resent full. He goes unhurried and without apparent resentment from his station to his tables. All through this Christmas season I’ve observed him over my cups and smokes. He’s no raving beauty – you can tell what he looks like when he gets up to take a leak in the night – he has a few piercings but he is not overly decorated and he is exercised without vanity, perhaps even from work . You could reach for him and whisper something dirty. I think I could do so. Not yet. Not for awhile. You’d understand the longing for a simple embrace. But later, not yet,

Dec 11, eleven o’clock

live without the gravity our of love

always the small constellation of thought to which the attention returns…”without you”.

bag of apples.

always going “up home”.


i glimpsed my father’s nakedness
in the mirror of some Hotel Dieu
sour before my shower and after,
stinking pretty, like gram used to say
to tease me
before I took my guns to town.
where the boys went.

Here among the mortals
we had lived in darkness a long time
and we were eager for light ,
Now in the high watt bulb light of our old years
we mourn for love in
the hospitals of roses and morphine.
Humanized, dehumanized.

woman with scheduled apps
kenny in the coffee bar
grouchy lady
half blind leading the fully blind.

things we must face
we’ve glimpsed before

which street faces
hint at suffering,
hiding grief cross full of grace

dictated by stop, by go light
barely holding it all together.

we were right all along
what meant all,
what meant less than shit
and we bet all hours since
first glimpsing
the longevity of our love –
your unnecessary walking- stick
an intimation
of these final few guernies.

each of us in
that first garden.

everybody here
in this ward
groping for alarms, for relief
with its child proof lid,
imagining and remembering
days mortal or immortal days.

Only a few more days.


biohazard bandages
lovers in grief
support groups, fickle
weather, the inexorable sun,
forgetful chattel.
the unfinished, incomplete,
the obsessively ordered files
and all our address books

the best old dog
I thought I glimpsed downtown
young again with you
crossing ahead of me
and our words processed
for immortality
all our spooning and battling.

the poor provider I was,
things unseen.
affordable, unaffordable,

this comfortable Hotel Dieu,
your chances,
I loved you better and more than God.
I could touch you.
You would squeeze my hand on a cheap coverlet.

Holy Mary Mother of God

improve us now in the hour
of our greed.

each of us here,

All of us here




Failed States, captureland,
I know them. I go back and forth.

I know the constant surprise in loneliness,
I know failed states, asymmetrical conflicts,
the pattern recognition there is in the detective work
white-boarding my own deceit,
in positioning the prodigal at the scene,
and charting a parallel faithfulness also,
a good son’s, no where close,
his sweet pajamas an alibi
as I read backwards.

Enter my model, mocking my morphine chic.
Taking pictures, making pictures
I interpret him with my body and exterior lenses.
There is that primitive fear of his
the soul will be captured by the lenses,
sold, misconstrued,
worn, exploited
not a foolish fear,
though I just want to interpret
beauty with my old body.

Simple as sheep
in one should think
unbearable personal complexity,
we hover awake in captureland.
Later he adjusts his hair in moon drenched sleep.
This is the snowy hejira and these are the blankets.

I make rhymes like
“My last geisha, mon mari,
we were not a failed state
but an entrenched bureaucracy.”
You were someone else’s geisha.
I was the captive of my own vulgar patrons
and ours was intimacy between two thieves
illicit, but honest in its range.
Only the sky rhymes.
I can do nothing more than recall
the hyacinth of the Greek,
how that dentistry could light up a room.

I was always a sucker for a man with a discrete flask.
Here we have found a squat.
We vibrate with full winter moon.
We poke at our fire. In this place captured back,
for sure as sparks rise all love is captureland,
I hear wisdom gathering brush
behind me in the cold dark
outside the thaw in the fire I poke.
I banish the living who deride this night
and I summon the dead who know
it is best, this.

How grateful I am
for my companions in captureland.
In digital, or in meat time,
my life is best observed
as one in an aberrant anthropology documentary,
me clowning for them,
caught in my cartoon exaggerations,
humbled, at their tea ceremonies of surety,
of doubt against winter cedars, against our shrines,
at a common table littered with
leaf and wiring,
proper nourishment shared.

I have just now the swifting shadows
of a dozen birds as one grace note,
as emotive music diminishes
the snow and sky squeezed straight from the tubes,
clinging to their ways in captureland.
and I can still smell fire on my own lips.

I just thought I’d write you while I felt
the breath of a connection here in Captureland.