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March 7th - 13th, 2005
March 11th, 2005

Marvin is getting belligerent in his old age. Talked with him last night, and apparently, he's still upset about the time I made fun of his favourite dead poets' sexual identity. And ekphrasis.

" that you've never read anything besides the Grecian Urn. So bugger off."

"Bugger being the operative word?"

"Really, I thought you'd be more appreciative of Yeats. He was a contemporary of your good friend, Aleister Crowley."

"I don't care for his work much either," I said. "Crowley was a hell of a character, though. Anyone who can get kicked out of Italy by Mussolini for debauchery cuts it just fine with me."

"And how is the writing going?" he said. "It's been at least three weeks. Where's the next installment of Chrome Rigby?"

"It's... in progress," I said.

"You haven't written a thing, have you?"

"I've written some...this takes time, you know. It's a fucking novel."

"Pretty fancy, that. What have you written, then?"

"Background. Characters. Plot steps. That sort of thing. I can't just charge in blindly with this one. You know that. Even with Divinity, there was a plan."

"The plan was The Divine Comedy by Mr. Alighieri. This is a little different."

"Which is why I'm sketching the blueprint first."

"Sounds like you're making this up. You can't escape my fine eye for bullshit, you know.""

"Or your GOD-LIKE SCIENCE BRAIN?" I said, pausing. "You like that? It's the best oxymoron I've come up with in the past year."

"You're avoiding the point. Give me exactly one good detail on each of those things, and I'll believe you've actually been writing. Go on, name at least one decent character in the novel. Who's the main antagonist?"

"Well, I think the main antagonist is society..."

"Don't get esoteric on me, you little bleeder. Give me a bloody name. And an occupation. And the importance of that character within the novel."

I blinked. Marvin was always very good at forcing the point, at cutting through the bullshit. It made him a rock-solid story editor, and an excellent reporter. Of course, I take a lot of pride in my bullshit.

"There are three separate antagonists, and maybe a fourth, if you include his wife, Virginia (nee) Washington."

"And who are they?"

"Well, if you must know. Let's see.... there is Terrence Chitin, who essentially runs the Vice-President's office. He's one of the main contacts that Chrome has while he's working on THE BIG REBRAND, if you remember that. He recognizes what Chrome is doing, and sets out to stop it."


"There's the female head of a high-end rival branding firm, Winterbottom."

"And what's her name?"

"Ms. Winterbottom."


"Seriously. It plays into the idea that the best brand is a person's surname. Like Ford. And I don't identify her by her first name because she doesn't let anyone call her by her first name. See? They have a real love-hate relationship. And they fuck a lot."

"Interesting touch. And the third?"

"Well, there are a lot of people who hate Chrome; television execs, movie execs, VPs, Senators - lots of folks. I'm even trying to work in a hippo conservationist, but I don't know if he'll make the cut..."

"You're stalling. Who's the third?"

"Well, there's the FCC head, and the Project for a New American Century people, and a televangelist, and a dealer or two, and a few high end call girls, and a pimp named Duke Warback who has one eye and is a stand-in for the mythical Cyclops..."


"...but of course, the most important antagonist in the book is the one you already know. And that is our mighty PROtagonist: Chrome Rigby."

And he knew that wasn't bullshit. At least that small part, because in both of our minds, there's no better anti-hero than the hero. Because that's the way it goes, mostly, in the real world. Nobody fucks up a man's life better than he does himself. Case. In. Point.

March 10th, 2005
Lowborn Photos

old woman
hanging clothes in the window
instead of curtains

a European widower
who lives alone
beside the parkade
in his basement – two empty rooms

in the back yard
a big German fighting dog
and a weeping willow with no leaves

up amongst the family photos
and other relics of the dead
a small broken television

the flags at half mast

the wrinkled Metis with no beard
fingers the dusty afghan
thrown over his shopping cart

knows there’s no reasoning
with the police this week

the bus stop teems
with opium monkeys

says the white Russian, long displaced

at least with Koba
everyone worked

pedalling his ten speed
past the sign that says
apartment for rent
one suite

as it always does

two geranium pots
hanging from his handlebars
in plastic bags

moving so slowly

he is afraid of the parked car
in the alley
it has the headlights on
and men talk inside
but never drive anywhere

stalling in front of the all-night diner
with her one patron and his newspaper
the retired cook
sleeping up above with the grandchildren

half-awakening to the rattling of a drain pipe
from the wind
keeping the cyclist in place

March 9th, 2005
Finally, My Life Is Complete

As Umfundisi lay there, wanting, the moon passed over his head many times. It was thin, it was fat, and it was thin again.

He dreamed of her body, shining wetly in the reflection of the Nile. She stood in the reeds, looking up the river. Her face was serene and perfect.

There was the child, of course, bathing nearby. But he was not afraid of another's child. He had seen it earlier, riding gently on her mother's back, tended carefully.

He knew her beauty from afar, the curve of small, round ears, the muscular limbs, and the playful mid-afternoon yawn. His manhood tightened as he considered the touch of her flesh.

He considered how it would be if she turned towards him, and saw him, crouched at the water's edge. How she would make her way to him, and it would seem slowed-down, as though time was dripping. And she would open her mouth, as he tried to stand, but could not, frozen in place. Waiting for her touch.


That's right bitches, I got my motherfucking hippo book. Everything else is now irrelevant, including poetry. What are words in the face of insurmoutable killing power? Get ready for hippo haiku, hippo free verse, hippo based Chrome Rigby stories, and educational summaries on such exciting topics as:

•The Origins of Hippos
•The Social Life of Hippos
•Reproduction in Hippos
•Diet and Feeding Habits of Hippos
•The Ecology of Hippos
•Diseases, Parasites, and Commensals of Hippos
•Hippos and Man

If you are intelligent, you will immediately order this important book.

And remember this ancient Nubian proverb:

Nothing beats the mighty kiboko* in solo combat, especially not the rhino. If you think otherwise, you are foolish and not long for this earth.

* Kiboko is the Swahili word for Hippo.

March 8th, 2005
ReLit Long List

The ReLit Awards ('Ideas, Not Money') were founded in 2000 as an alternative to the big money prizes. The awards are open to books published by independent Canadian literary publishers. Winners receive a specially designed ring by a famous Newfoundland goldsmith. Shortlists are announced in May, and the winners are trumpeted at bonfire beach parties in Newfoundland and British
Columbia in late June.

ReLit is short for Regarding Literature, Reinventing Literature, Relighting Literature... which sounds like my sort of deal. The award has become rather prestigious in its short run. The 2005 Long List was announced in late February, but my publisher only found out about it on the weekend. Apparently, he doesn't have the staff to cover the award circuit at this point. Fifty-one books of poetry made it on the long list, which seems like a lot, but he has it on good authority that there were over 700 poetry submissions.

Fortunately for him, nunt made the cut.

Needless to say, he was pretty fucking excited. The list is filled with Governor General award winners, poet laureates, and other well established names who will inevitably kick the fuck out of some unknown shithead from the west. I mean, we're realistic about our chances for making the short list - I can't see anyone bumping Toronto's poet laureate to include us, but we always hope. And that moment that he phoned up, frantic with excitement, was electrifying for both of us. And to see the book's name sandwiched between well-known books released by long-established presses was a rush for a pair of first-timers. And because, in most normal situations, if there were fifty-one spots, we'd be number fifty-two on the list. But not this time.

Small victories.

For more info on the award, check out the long list at the Quill & Quire, or the sparse ReLit Awards site. Dig it. The revolution inches forward.

March 7th, 2005
Announcing: Single Onion # 35 -
Mingus Tourette, Mike Gravel and the Cowtown Spectacular

In regards to the forthcoming revolution:

Zygote Publishing is pleased to announce the first-ever appearance of Mingus Tourette in Calgary, immediately before Christians celebrate the death of Jesus.

On March 24th, at 8 pm, Mingus Tourette with be performing at the much-lauded Single Onion Poetry Society with fellow Write the Nation comrade Mike Gravel and Calgarian Jocelyn Grosse. The event will take place at Stanton Studios, music will be provided by the inimitable David Martin, and transportation will be provided by the Pink Ambulance. All fans of literature and poetry are urged to line up early for what is expected to be a sell-out evening.

Indeed, anticipation for this event has risen to a fever pitch in the southern city. Due to scheduling conflicts, Calgary was the one major city west of Montreal where the Tour was unable to stop and read. Local poetry lovers and dog sled enthusiasts mounted a campaign targeting religious groups and radio stations, but were unsuccessful.

"As much as we wanted them," said local poet, Jeremy Gerren,"we just couldn't make it work. They popped in for a few short interviews, but that was it. My wife was inconsolable for weeks. She really wanted to see the ambulance. And meet Mr. Gravel. It was a big disappointment."

The last time Gravel and Tourette hit the road together, they slept in the back of an ambulance somewhere between Saskatoon and Regina. Upon awakening in the middle of a frost-covered farmer's field, the pair escaped a vicious sodomite only because of Mr. Tourette's illegal fire-arms. Lusty Calgarians are hoping to cash in on some of the excitement.

"This time, it's personal," said Tourette. "Calgary has never been particularly kind to Northern poets - the police hate us, the local biker groups have us marked for death, and, of course, the cattlemen and oilmen's associations have tried to burn our ambulance to a husk on more than one occasion. But we're not going to let that stop us. The people want poetry, they want revisionist base poetics, they want the New Prairie Beat, they want drunken lunatics, and the end of all that is well and good in verse, and that's what they're going to get. In spades."

Rumours abound that the tour's rough treatment in Cowtown is due to Tourette's desultory comments about the Red Mile during the Calgary Flames' Stanley Cup run. Whispers of possible retaliatory violence persist among members of the Librarian's Guild.

"I watched him read the review in the Herald," said local LGA president, Mary Shultzer. "His eyes went cold. It was quite frightening. I heard, later on, that he burned a copy of it near Lloydminister, but I think that was just for show. When he read it, initially, his face was like ice, like some sort of massive carnivore you would see on National Geographic, right before that last spine-crushing blow. Quite terrifying, really."

In addition, much has been made of the fact that Tourette does not memorize his poems, and unrepentantly uses the words, "fuck", "cunt" and "obsidian wall". How this will play in front of a crowd full of southern lawmen, cattlemen and oilmen is undetermined, but local organizers are taking no chances.

"We've got reinforced barricades, Rottweilers, and spray cannons mounted near the metal detectors." said BF representative, Doctor Law. "Members of Montreal's Rock Machine biker group have been chartered in to provide crowd control. The local clergy has been warned that any signage will be taken as an act of war, and will be met with possible firebombings. We're not here to engage in politics, we're here to enjoy some poetry. And when Mr. Tourette says that we don't do bodycounts, he means it."

Drinks will be available at a nominal surcharge. Women below the age of twenty-one are advised not to wear panties.

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