Out from the shower

 

 

Downstairs, to my son, my partner sings

This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody),

halting where the instruments will fill

finding the words in her hand.

I put on a pair of clean white briefs

three o’clock on my mind.

 

Last night I bowled alone.

Going home, spoke to the driver

about moving around Ottawa

again and again and again

and again and again. He has a child

and a child and a child and a child.

 

Today, someone’s going to say

the drivers deserve poverty.

 

Yesterday the bachelor

went too long for my tolerance.

The gun games, the liquor tasting,

the big steak I forked for myself.

Ready for the brewery tour

the one guy without a desk job

clapped his hands & said,

“Let’s go see people work.”

 

Looking presentable, I left the Best Western

struggling to close my wallet, the neon sign

reminding, “If you’re here, you’re home.”

Civilization: Single Player Setup

 

I’ve been trying to up my people’s happiness.

The central tenet of our faith: water is good.

Ottawa is hash-tagged with rivers and canals;

today, we should be ecstatic to be alive.

 

One suicidal friend fled west, says

he is shamed by dignitaries. The downtown

BIA shuts down a t-shirt giveaway;

you must ask for the right to be generous.

 

Another suicidal friend ripens in subsidy.

She repays charity with other charity,

literally. She dreams of renewal;

to be made useful in the arrow of ex-pats

 

teaching English in the East. A third friend,

also suicidal, once East, appears automated.

From above he appears to be in perpetuity

finishing a painting, thick with better edits.

 

More friends, maybe also suicidal, pen odes

to their prescriptions, fatten with baggage.

I feel each draws on my productivity, heathers

my vision of a hundred percent self.

 

These are not my stories to tell but I am in them.

The rural legislator describes the defense

he pit against his arsonist son-in-law. His daughter

condemns what Hansard cannot deny;

 

it was not his story to tell. My friends

once saw themselves in my words for myself,

my baggy self-portrait. I am sorry

for saying nothing so long, and now so much.

 

My advisor has no answers. She assigns icons.

When I will not share she presents me a red shield.

To my common cloth she has affixed a purple medal.

But I do not know if the gold diamond or blue vial is better.

 

I have never been assigned a plain, smiling face.

The eye is winked or the tongue is stuck. Maybe

the Pac-Man’s cheek is blushed, but it is never

a plain, smiling face. I am sick with nuance.

 

This is my story but I am not in it.

This baggy caricature slips off my motion.

In three-hundred words, a stranger insists

Robin Williams did not die from suicide;

 

he died from depression. No one dies

from suicide, the stranger insists. This

they insist is requisite to development,

to people who live so long they stack.

 

I’ve been trying to up my people’s happiness

posturing as a provider of day-dates and texts.

My advisor has no answers. She identifies

my greatest share of costs is personnel.

 

I close my window, lift my red shield.

The sky is off-white with water, rain today

or snow tomorrow—either way the city wet.

I ask someone to chill, but fuck if they forget.

 

Only one in 10 eligible fathers was claiming parental leave benefits through Employment Insurance

 

The man and woman next to me are done picking at their fries.

The woman has an exposed knee and the man has long hair

(like me).

 

I order a burger and fries, excited by this rare chance to dine alone.

The sexy couple get up in their coats and go psst, psst, psst.

A weed breeze is let in.

 

I am entitled to all the ginger ale I want so long as I never leave

for any reason other than to smoke. All I have to do is ask for more.

The waiter has a cord.

 

My burger and fries come and both are good. A friend out west

texts to say I would be proud of him because he is pushing buttons

at the federal NDP convention in Edmonton.

 

As a white, Jewish, able-bodied, cis-gendered, middle-class man,

I often feel like the character bit by a zombie screaming

SHOOT ME.

 

I am picking at my fries, but my waiter will not ask, “Are you done,

or are you still picking?” I will have put everything on my plate

in a way I read you should.

NEW

You are entering the frottage of every promise
we’ve made another, and you, you, you—
there used to be just you, but now
you too.

~

Excerpt from a new work I’ll be debuting tomorrow night at the Sawdust Reading Series. I’ll be reading alongside the incomprable David O’Meara, and Kiera Sandrock, a new voice I’m excited to hear/meet.

Event details: Wednesday May 20, 7pm at the Pour Boy, 495 Somerset St W, Ottawa. Event is upstairs. Open mike before us name-in-lights types, bar & dinner service throughout. Facebook event.

~

My blue metaphor. My pink metaphor. My blue
and pink metaphor. My lingo. My perfect small talk.
My squirm of news.

‘SPLAININ HIMSELF TO HIMSELF

jeff and justin

For the fourth Ottawa Zine Off, my good friend (and great poet) Justin Million & I released a short set of poems called “Leg Brain.” You can download it via the link below.

LEG BRAIN is the product of two periods in our lives, last spring when we got back together after a couple years living in different provinces and were going through, like, stuff, and then this winter, when Justin decided he’d be leaving Ottawa soon and we were going through, like, different stuff. Ultimately it’s all about desire & longing, and held up by the (mutual?) belief the brain’s as much a muscle as the heart’s a home to the soul. We both really want to be happy, and these days are both pretty damned happy.

It just sucks Justin’s no longer just two blocks and a curt text message away.

leg brain DIGITAL COPY 20140218