Category Archives: poems-Ottawa

Anarchy

Living in a world of contradiction

Not wanting to go around with a Humanist

— smile, saying:

God may be dead, but man will live on

(Being a good egg to begin with).

Not wanting to become a socialist, or a fascist

— or a capitalist, or an obstructionist

I leave the impotent to reconcile their emotionality

— with their rationality

I leave to the meek their convenience and their payments

 I leave to the escapists their books in babbling brooks

For little do I see in nature that is mine, is a possessive thought.

Freedom is anarchy and anarchy is freedom.

 Anarchy is emotional, intellectual, material insecurity

Anarchy is emotional, intellectual, material freedom.

 We have marched to the funeral march of humanity, we have mumbled

— the funeral dirge so often that now it sounds reassuring

We have longed to look tragic, now looking tragic too long

— we look comic.

Anarchy is not a nihilist paradise

Anarchy is diametrically opposite to nothing

Anarchy is everything

— sex and booze and books and work.

It means you don’t have to buy a poppie on Remembrance Day

It means you  can laugh at priest in their skirts

— or executives with their hats and their jobs.

Ottawa, Ont. — April, 1962

On Grosse Ille

You know, writing everyday
sort of drains one of things to say
but I must write every night
so I can sleep alright
and get up in the morning next day
and have breakfast and get on the way
— to the lab
— to stab
an animal or two

And work
— like a jerk
and I suppose it’s true
that this is the reason
why man was created
to work in his season
and then be cremated,
to bust his arse
and live out this farce
Of life
— and love
While the heavens above
are filled with absurd birds
that neither work nor worry.

Ottawa, Ont — October, 1961

(Grosse Ille is the site of an Experimental Field Station situated on an island in the middle of the St Lawrence River, once used as a quarantine station for immigrants coming into Canada.)

America I am dying

America I am dying.
I have committed the original sin —
I have seen life and now
I must pay for the disobedience
To the all-knowing, the all-seeing God-Society.
I have picked the apple of pleasure
And now I am expelled from
The Garden of Innocence.
I seek Thanotos, the death wish
And a desire to return to the inorganic elements
Of which I am made.
I try to hide my sin under
The Cloak of conformity but my soul
Keeps peeping out exposed by the winds
Of Strife that blow around me.
I beg forgiveness from
The God-Society but it refuses
Casting me out to the suffering of the world.
I am bound to the rock of mortality
And each day the Bird of Censure
Eats out my heart.
I am dying and can not break
The chains of Knowledge which cut
My flesh.
Eros comes to balm my sorrows
But I am bound and dying.
I cry out in my pain to the cruel God-Society
And look upon men as brethren in my plight
But who can not help me.
America, I am dying!

Ottawa, Ont. — 1961

The Beginning of the End of Things

And there will be a gnashing of teeth among
Academics
And the sewers will vomit out Capitalism
And there will be sexuality among nuns
And there will be panic in banks
As money turns to paper
And thirty million war victims will come
To life
Because Rousseau had ope’d his filthy mouth
And lied: “Man is pure” …. and the lie was believed.
Man is a dirty lonely defecating beast
And no amount of Puritan scrubbing
Will wash it away.
He has a naked soul
That cries out for knowledge
Experience, beauty.

And all the outraged citizens
Will gather together and urinate
On the grave of the Unknown Soldier.

Ottawa, Ont. — 1961

Morning

Open newspapers spread on the rug
Plates with bones
Beer bottles casting shadows
Some half empty
Coloured cushions
Chess pieces scattered
Books, some opened
Coconut ash-trays, brown
Empty cigarette boxes
Music played on an FM radio
Morning — thoughts of talk
People, souls that now and then
Touch and are gone.

Ottawa, Ont.– 1961

PLACES

1. GILMOUR

Two pink fans that don’t turn
A painted ship sailing on a painted sea
Yellow table tops with brown chairs
An empty hat-tree
A fat old woman with a flowered shawl
Drinking a fat bottle of beer
Pondering with her fat nose into
An empty future.

2. RITZ

Low red ceiling with star-burst fixtures
Lights
Reaching with their pointed bulbs into space
A fireplace of grey-painted stone
Imitation wood for a fire that never burns.
A woman procuring for herself
Sitting in a corner near the entrance
A faded pink sweater with buttons down the front
Fat and sloppy, soft and sensuous
Cross-legged talking to the bartenders
As they pass carrying stalks of beer to patient people.
‘Hot Sandwiches in 3 minutes
Smoked meat, Grilled cheese, Oven
Baked ham’

Red table tops, brown chairs
A noise of people like a river
Babbling over rapids ever constant
Never the same.
Two TV sets talk to themselves
Across the room
A man in a white shirt and a red bow-tie
Stops and stares at the fluorescent eye
Then walks on.

‘New Prices
Quarts 50c
Pints 28c’

Smoke drifts lazily to the ceiling
People muse from their beer to the
TV then back to their companions
Around the red tops with their forest of bottles.
On the wall the clock silently moves
Proclaiming the passage of time.

3. THE WINDSOR HOUSE

A soft beigy-green ceiling
Blue and tan floor tiles
Brown panelling with soft lights on the walls
Hangers on the walls with people’s coats
Ancient leather upholstered chairs,
A TV in the corner, a peep-hole
Into the unreal.
People talking some soft, some loud
Old men with vests and ties and old English tweeds
Nice old stout ladies shedding their years
In bubbles of ale.
Here a dashing Romeo, there a carefree maiden
Everywhere talks and laughs
Of delicious times gone by and of times
That never were, with no distinctions made.
Pleasant bartenders serving friendly beer
The silent sign, the silent nod
And two liquid friends.
A smouldering butt in an ashtray.

4. VIENNA RESTAURANT

Elvis crooning his everlasting love
Grey foam-rubbered seats with
Grey and pink-spectacled tables
People seated in them like peas
In a pod.
A greasy grill reeking with steamed fat
And vapours of potato-chips and hamburgers,
Bitter brown coffee crouching in glass pots
Ready to bite into the unsuspecting palate.
Packages of cigarettes stacked in neat-coloured rows
In a dispenser on the wall
Red, blue, white, green and yellow
Filtered, mentholated, plain and corked
Professing that cancer is the cause of smoking.
A mechanic in oily overalls and shirt smoking
An acrid cigar cutting the hangover smell of grease
A cash register guarding the door
Menus stuck behind juke-box meters.
An emigrant cook, dark-haired, dark-skinned
With the sleeves of his white shirt rolled up
Above his elbows.
Egg Roll Served here
Drink 7-up. You like it
It likes you.
Galla’s Do-nuts
8 cents each.
An air-conditioning fan turning
Somewhere
The sizzle of grease
Deluxe Hamburgers 20c.

5. 33 BELMOUNT

Down a grey staircase into the basement
(Flick on the light as you come down.)
Low ceiling with a built-in light
Green-tiled floor, imitation brown-grained
Wood panelling on the walls.
A cardtable covered by a checkered oil cloth
Black and red fold-up chairs
A green wine bottle on the table gored
With wax from a half burnt candle.
A chessboard with chess pieces scattered
A brown ashtray with a few bent butts.
In a corner two orange crates one on top of the other
The bottom with a light blue plastic
Curtain, the top one pink trimmed with
White.
A stained hot plate with two elements
Supported on a bread board on two stands,
One elegantly brown with black wrought iron
Legs (from the living room upstairs) a red
Plastic drainboard underneath. The other
One white with dirty dishes in a basin underneath.
Art pictures with newspaper backings held on the
Walls by red thumb-tacks.
A rounded thermostat.
An enameled-white metal cupboard
With a stick-picture of a girl made from
LUCKY GREEN STAMPS on the door, a
Red and white breadbox on top.
A door into the bedroom with a brown floor
Where my love lies, sick from
A flu, unable to adjust to the climate.
And I sit in the kitchen waiting
For the day to pass, hoping that maybe
Tomorrow will bring a job.

6. THE NATIONAL GALLERY

Stainless steel and polished glass windows
Large and square
Soft indirect ceiling-fluorescent lighting
Speckled green and grey marble floors
Smooth and steel trimmed.
A counting gadget going tick-tick as you come in
Tick-tick as you go out.
A dooley bird with a large friendly metal nose
Perched on a pedestal, made from the intestines of an engine.
Men’s souls splattered on the walls
On display in a human zoo with white nylon rope guarding
The people from the paintings
With please don’t feed the pictures signs hung below.
Some look with understanding, pausing loud and long
Delicately savouring the soup of life
Other gaze with alien, hopeless eyes
A bit annoyed that they can never taste
Gazing from catalogue books to picture
From pictures to catalogue books
Moving methodically looking for the numbers.
While in the background paces a Security Police Guard
Watching the people.

7. A NEW PARTY MEETING

Three flights of stairs up to the
Top floor of an 19th century house
Two long dirty fluorescent lights overhead
Pale green walls, with a sloping pale green ceiling
Chairs in rows, some occupied with pensive faces
Listening, pondering to a speaker talking
Of social engineering.
A semi-abstract painting of hills and rivers
Hanging behind him.

8. TO IRON BIRD
(Ottawa, Sparks Street Mall)

A bird of iron stands
With iron feet on
The cold, dance-floor
Of a heartless city.
Some stare at it
With an alien gaze.
A few with intellectual curiosity
(God-forbid), dissecting instruments.
Many never see much less
Hear its round
Rhythmic song.
Strange must it seem to this
Iron Bird to be cast among
The lot of men, no, not men
But walking, sleeve-swinging
Garments that move
Twitter and fro
In this fathom-show of
Soulless forms chanting:

Here we go round the mushroom cloud
The mushroom cloud, the mushroom cloud.
Here we go round the mushroom cloud
Night and noon and morning.

Ottawa, Ont. — 1961

Thanksgiving Hymn

Thanks
For the ability in this last year
To hoard and cheat my fellows.
Thanks
For letting me keep the things
I have hoarded.
Thanks
For giving me strength
To toil at my miserable job.

For the beauty I left unappreciated
For the things I left undone
For the words I left unsaid
Mercy.

But for the things I pulled over
My neighbour
Thanks.

Ottawa, Ont. — 1961