At 8:15am this morning, I turned thirty-six years old, for whatever else that means (and just what was I on about last year?). Do you remember that birthday song from Weird Al (his first single)? And I share a birthday, apparently, with Judd Hirsch (b. 1935) + Fabio (b. 1961), David Cronenberg (b. 1943) + dead president Andrew Jackson (b. 1767). Today I take my ex-wife and lovely daughter for dinner; Kate and I usually wander to the farm for the March break, but she's taking a filmmaking workshop all this week at IFCO (I haven't told her yet that I was in one of their first short films, when she was still in diapers). My party is this Saturday at the Carleton Tavern, if you're around (or, even if you’re not). Presence, not presents, required.
Here's a poem I wrote a few years ago at the (long gone) art gallery Gamma Ray on Somerset Street West, as I was sitting my second annual art exhibit there. I think I was hung over (probably). Every year for years, I've been writing a poem on/about my birthday (how utterly selfish, you say; it reads like yr obsessed…). This one is part of a manuscript (unpublished), ruins (a book of absenses, third in the "paper hotel" trilogy.
poem for a like occasion
(after a line by Robert Creeley
today, i have three
business cards in my wallet
belonging to dead people. the phone numbers
as of today, i have been
on this fraction of poor earth, mere miles away
from where i was born.
would that i, for a like occasion,
not make an issue of it, as issues
are made, & made,
nonetheless. there are usually clouds.
or, there are often. i wake up old,
& even older, unaware. bones
& organs ache, & every door,
unlocked. would that i be so,
would that i be so,
& all that. a reverie,
of what things really are.
gamma ray, ottawa
Another (written roughly during the same season) appears in my Broken Jaw Press collection this fall, aubade:
ides of march
what the hell, & half
terrifies the blood, &
of the past, goes
& every year
into the arms of
Does anyone else remember the Julius Caesar sketch from the old Wayne & Shuster? A classic.
Here is this year's version, something I've been tinkering with for almost a week.
thirty-six (birthday letters)
the dirt road is a muscle; chicken force-fed
inside the flower, impermeable & we make, waves
even black dogs age; hair thickens gray around the mouth
I am bored by bad behavior; would rather
further, or reduce
I am halfway still to where I will end
dirt road a mandible, ends begins eventual
joe frazier, who knocked mohammad ali down
as a gray dog older, numeric hairs whiten
do you remember rock & roll ratio
my daughter says maybe you should take the hint
I am the sky waiting to fall now in the spring beware the ides
what else my mother taught me; father, through example
silence, & a deeper; black dog in the fore
this is a lesson in history, personified
in an email, elmslie writes shine on, you crazy diamond
stainless, a theft; my heart a maze built out of composure
& such grief
steel will; too late in the game for melodrama
readers everywhere should be reading
old enough now
the whole point of this disjuncture; in this there can be
no straighter lines