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December 20th - 26th, 2004
December 24th, 2004
oh tannenbombs


A merry xmas to everyone. I am looking forward to some sleep, some food and some time to read. Maybe a little detox. Even if it's just for a few days.

Specifically, I am looking forward to reading as many of the books from poets and writers that I have met over the last year as I can. There are a surprising number of them - chapbooks on orange paper, oddly-shaped books of poetry and even novels from old friends that I've never had the time to read. It should be a good time -just a long bullshit session, really.

There are so many people that I wish would write books so I could listen to their voice, even when they're gone.

peace to everyone. the new year is coming. change is coming.

December 23rd, 2004
the azure desert

people coming out of surgery
are blue

my father says it is the dye
like the Tuaregs of the Sahara
who wear their long blue cloaks
trailing in the sand

he says
they call them the blue men
because with that much heat and sweat and bright bright inks
the dyes seep into the skin
and they are always blue

i say
did you know
it has been nine years since I saw the Sahara desert

I don't remember the blue cloaks
just the long brown djellabas of the berbers
and the deep black of the hashish pipes
and the smell of the woodshops
and the taste of mint tea

did you know
the same kind of mint grows in the forest here

i say it
out loud
trying to fill the white room
that we can't really fill with travel tales

I say
But I don't think the blue here is from the dye
it is the lack of oxygen
or the drugs

And I don't say
that when they have their hands folded on their chests like this
after being cut open
and they sleep

they look as though they are already lying in the waiting box

hands stiff and cold
lips sewn shut
two pennies on the eyes to pay the toll
for the trip across the waters

of course I don't say that

just look out the window at the snow and say
i remember the desert

the heat
the sand waved horizon
the bright orange of the setting sun

and other words
until my father nods

his dreams
somewhere in Africa

December 22nd, 2004

All poets are blockheads, if you think about it. It's really quite logical, if you follow Samuel Johnson's way of thinking.

The publisher and I were going through the books on the weekend, adding up gas receipts in mild shock, and it called Johnson's quote to mind:

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

After seeing the results of this year's cavalcade, and considering that most books of poetry actually lose money, it follows that poets don't write for money. Which logically makes us all blockheads. As one who often characterizes himself as the great wandering fool, this is not worrisome. Others may disagree. Others may retort:

"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except to describe them beautiful flowers and to get laid because he was a sensitive man who wrote poetry and that oughtto cover up the fact that he was a drunk and a womanizer and should probably be thrown out of the country and have his name stricken from the book of the lord."

Blockheads. What a great fucking word.

December 21st, 2004
In a Hotel near Balmoral Street in Winnipeg, Three Hours Before a Special Interest Broadcast

After Ben Mulroney threw up, I knew we were in trouble. Frankly, the lad couldn't hold his liquor at all, and I had forced him to crush the tequila worm between his teeth before sucking back another blade off the stove. Maybe it was the hashish that put him over the edge. Maybe it was the week old sushi I'd let him eat. On purpose. I was still angry about the whole Canadian Idol fiasco.

"Ben," I said. "Why the fuck don't you get into politics? You could be the Prime Minister. I mean, look at your fashion sense! You would rule the fucking hill."

He mumbled something unintelligible. I shook my head, and dialed room service. The lobster was no good in this place. Someone with a Ukranian accent answered the phone. I was horrified.

"Senor," I said. "What do you have left to drink down there? Overproof?"

"Pardon me, sir?"

"Overproof, you bastard," I said. "My name is Benjamin goddamned Mulroney and I want some high test liquor. If you don't get some up to room 1504 right fucking now, I'm going to make you people illegal!"

There was a long pause. I decided against saying the word goddamnit again, and breathed heavily into the receiver.

"There is some Barbadian rum, sir. It has the word overproof on the label."

"Good. Now throw some fresh pastries on a cart, and run it up here."

"Yes, sir."

I put the phone down. Mulroney was hunched over like an old man napping on the bench. Terrible performance, I thought. He will be mocked for the rest of his life.

"You would be elected immediately. In your dad's old riding. Think about it."

He groaned again, and spit dripped out of his mouth onto the carpet.

"Goddamnit, you are ruining a perfectly good brand with your bullshit entertainment reporting. It might get you a bit of eastern tail today, but in ten years, you're going to look like one of those leatherfaced VJs shilling video combat shortly before they lead them out to pasture. And then where will you be? You'll be Barbara Walters without the genuine charm. Or the penis. Hell, you already look like a shaved beaver. And an earnest one at that."

There was a knock on the door. It was the desk clerk. I put the chain on the door, opened it a crack, and put my hand out into the hall. A bottle was placed gently in my palm, and when I held it out again, freshly microwaved Danishes. I closed the door. Nobody had said a word.

"I have to be on air in three hours," mumbled Mulroney. He was standing, but none too steadily.

"Sit the fuck down," I said. "If I were you, I would give this one a skip. It's one thing to make an ass out of yourself commenting blandly on clothiers at a real red carpet, but these preteen bitches, tight as they are, are going to shred your sphincter. Trust me, you're no Chad Michael Murray."


"Goddamnit, Ben. I am going to give you one piece of advice before I put on that blue suit over there and walk the fuck out of here before I have to watch you make yet another tragic career blunder. Ben. Remember one thing, it is all, ALL, about the brand. And you have it, and you could be the next Canadian George W, and you got the leg up on Trudeau, who's definitely going to play it up, and you could be the next prince in waiting, IF you had any character. Think about it. Your Pa was singing Irish shanties with Ronald Reagan when the Ruskies were getting ready to nuke Washington. Cash in on that fucking legacy."

I looked into his eyes to see if he understood me, but there was nothing there. His irises were dark with hashish residue and the worm had fastened itself to his cortex, somewhere in that alcohol saturated logjam. He couldn't hear me.

I was saddened. Hero building, proper brand extension is such an unforgiving sport. He gurgled and fell over. I put on the blue suit, helped myself to one of his father's thick gold rings, rolled up the remnants of the hashish, grabbed the bottle and slipped out the door. As I did, I took one last look to make sure he wasn't choking on his vomit, and stepped into the early morning sun. It would be a long drive to Yellowknife in this condition, but I had Ben's rental and his credit card, and I wouldn't have to mind the mileage. It seemed like a good day to smoke French cigarettes.

December 20th, 2004
Merry Saint Mingus

Thanks to all the folks who took part in the one and only Nunt Christmas Hotshot Express. You're all just wonderful people. And not just because I can now afford to buy groceries.

You are fantastic 'cause you made me cookies and shared your pictures and let me hold your week-old babies and squeeze your pregnant wife's belly to remember what it felt like, and you fed your snakes while I watched in wonder and gave me tours of your houses and poured me forty year old port and gave me a cigar for the road and made me feel like Santa Claus. In a big pink sleigh.

Sometimes, there are days when I hate that book, because of what it has cost me. But sometimes, I am shockingly happy for it, because I get to meet people that I would have never met, and talk to old friends that I wouldn't talk to for quite some time about things we would never have discussed.

So thanks for inviting me in. What a great fucking day that was.

But What Happened Last Week? By God, Find Out Here!