Wednesday, March 15, 2006

today is my 36th birthday

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 This one is part of a manuscript (unpublished), ruins (a book of absenses, third in the "paper hotel" trilogy.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
are changed.

as of today, i have been
thirty-one years
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,

lucky. unchanged,
& all that. a reverie,
of what things really are.

march 15.01
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
of sixty-two

terrifies the blood, &

pretending nothing
of the past, goes
back again

& every year

beyond imagining,

pushing me
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

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