Sunday, November 18, 2018


Yesterday afternoon I walked to VGH to visit Amarjot, who had emergency surgery last week. As much as I wanted to bring his and Althea's dog Maybe with me (she is staying with me until Am is released), hospital rules are strict about animals at bedsides. Instead, I brought with me a coat covered in Maybe's hair and the picture above, which I took on Friday.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Hey, Whoopie Cat!"

A lesser known mondegreen from Side Two of Led Zeppelin IV. This was the side that provided Mike Carroll, Roger Nay, David Holmes and I our soundtrack during a fateful 1978 trip to Gabriola -- an island from which we were subsequently banned.

Friday, November 16, 2018

All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward

Great to hear Tanya Talaga on the road with the 2018 CBC Massey Lectures.

Last night's "All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward (I Breathe for Them)" broadcast came from Tanya's stop in Saskatoon, Treaty 6 Territory, home of former Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas (1904-1986), the "father of universal medical care in Canada," she told us. The "father."

As much as I appreciate Tommy Douglas's push for universal healthcare in Canada, am I wrong to bristle at this personification -- as the father of Canadian healthcare? Is there not a non-patriarchal, less singular way of acknowledging his role? I am asking.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


We Can Have Both, But Not All
for Ashok Mathur

more? let’s begin with what we have

we have each other

say it

each other

no, all of it

            we have each other

we have each other

all together now

            all together now we have each other

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Talonbooks Fall Poetry Launch

Talonbooks tends to launch its Fall (or Spring) titles all at once. Last night's Fall Poetry Launch featured five books and six authors, with Jónína Kirton hosting.

Pictured up top is Tiziana La Melia, author of The Eyelash and the Monochrome. Below is Treaty 6 Deixis by Christine Stewart:

Christine''s book, like Fred Wah's contribution to his and Rita Wong's beholden: a poem as long as the river, was written beside a river (the Columbia River for Fred; the kisiskâciwani-sîpiy or the North Saskatchewan for Christine). I have just started Christine's book and have not yet settled on who she means by "they".

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A small room behind a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

The shoes come off outside the door and are left on a mat to the right of it. Inside the door are a pair of felt slippers, always warm because beside them is the heating vent.

On the inside of the door is a hook with a red mac on it. When I return, I remove my coat and replace it with the mac.

Sunday, November 11, 2018


A watercolour by Ian Wallace entitled Poppies from a Field Near Pervillac, France, Summer (1997) currently on display at Fault Line Projects, Ganges, Salt Spring Island, B.C.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Remembrance Day Poem

The Known Soldier
for Dana Claxton

I know her. I don’t know her
well, but we were friendly once 
until she said she had to go away
and that was it, when I saw her next
she wasn’t, not mean but indifferent
or preoccupied. I didn’t press
I just looked away, as she did with me
and this went on for some time
until one day we were approaching
each other and as we were passing
she reached out and touched me
touched my shoulder and I stopped
watched her hand slide away
but by then she was gone, crossing
at the light at the end of the block

Friday, November 9, 2018

Fu(rni)ture Shock

Whenever I think the world can't get any worse, and me with it, I look at Ettore Sottsass's Casablanca Sideboard (1981) and I think, Yes, things can get worse: I could visit my mother on Sunday and find Casablanca Sideboard jumping for joy in her dining room.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Colour Rotation (1964)

Consignor Canadian Fine Art's Live Fall Auction of Important Canadian Art is less than two weeks away. Among the highlights is a 1964 Kenneth Lochead painting consigned from the collection of the TransCanada PipeLines Limited of Calgary, Alberta. Yes, this Hard-edge panting looks "like" its title (Colour Rotation), but it could also pass for a buckled (pipe-) line.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


"Only those safe from fascism and its practices are likely to think that there might be a benefit in exchanging ideas with fascists."
--Aleksandar Hemon 

after Aleksandar Hemon

are likely to think that there might be
pulled from its quotation, entered 
into Google’s engine, exciting
(but not matching) a BBC

Learning English course 
so it disappears to be mine
and I am free to present it without 

quotation marks, a staircase stanza 
climbed from right to left, walked across
then jumped from -- without anything
to catch us

who among us are likely to think that
there might be a point in lifting something
from something published and dropping from it
this length of poem?

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Two Books in a Thrift Store: Letters on a Flat White Field

A couple months ago I found these two books at the East 12th Avenue Salvation Army Store, at opposite ends of the shelf. Neither bookends nor binaries, they are nonetheless attempts at raising questions of decreasing relevance. Does that make them unimportant? No -- they are of their time.

For those interested in those times, these books will be around as long as publishers keep them in print, retailers keep them on shelves and libraries continue to lend them. What determines their availability is another question. Whether that question is based on the market or a public depends on your disposition.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Walking Back on Kingsway

Yesterday's walk suddenly turned into a Skytrain trip from Broadway-Commercial to Metrotown, where I purchased a couple pairs of pants. I thought I might catch a matinee after, eat a bag of popcorn, but the films didn't interest me. Plus it was too warm and sunny to spend the afternoon indoors -- so I walked back from the 4500 block of Kingsway to the 1200 block, where I live.

In the shadow of the Burnaby Skytrain track, between Jersey and Smith Streets, is Minoas Taverna (above), an ongoing work of restaurant architecture that I hope to dine at one day. Below, a thoughtfully cultivated garden (topiary!) by the owners of the Quán Chay Pháp Uyen Veggie Deli (at McKinnon St):

Near Khan's ladder (Gladstone St.), an upholsterer:

The former Rona store between Dumfries and Perry Streets at the 1400 block (below). Last week saw the last of the rebar bundles removed and the safety fence opened. This morning Lowe's, who purchased a number of Rona stores a couple years ago, announced it would be closing many more stores, even though they said they would integrate these stores if and when the day came.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Care, Protection

Door stops can be springs made of coiled metal wire. They are intended to be flexible. Rubber is flexible, too, and sometimes spring door stops have rubber tips.

Sometimes our stops are too flexible, and are not stoppers at all but slowers, delaying what they are designed to protect. Sometimes adjectives are nouns and appear as such with red squiggly lines under them.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

A Warm and Sunny Autumn Friday

Yesterday's oddly balmy morning...

At 11am I began my ten-block walk southeast on Kingsway to see Khan Lee's 126-foot tall 108 Steps (2018). On my way back I stopped at a second-hand store and picked up two CDs (Sonic Youth's Goo, 1990, and Beck's Mellow Gold, 1994) for $1.50 each; an IKEA stool for $5; and my biggest score, an Expo '86 umbrella ($2!), whose logo was like a swastika for many of us in the mid-1980s.

At 3pm, a Collective Acts "symposium" at UBC featuring presentations (poems, tales, stories, speculations) by Marilyn Dumont and Candice Hopkins, followed by a Q&A led by moderator Tarah Hogue.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Golden Bird of Kanjataimu (2018)

An ink drawing from Geoffrey Farmer's exhibition Mudpuddlers, Corn Borers, Polymorphic Platyforms at Casey Kaplan (November 1 - December 22).

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Season of Migration to the North (1967)

Page 50 from Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North (1967):

I heard Mansour say to Richard, "You transmitted to us the disease of your capitalist economy. What did you give us except for a handful of capitalist companies that drew off our blood -- and still do?" Richard said to him, "All this shows that you cannot manage to live without us. You used to complain about colonialism and when we left you created the legend of neo-colonialism. It seems that our presence, in an open or undercover form, is as indispensable to you as air or water." They were not angry: they said such things to each other as they laughed, a stone's throw from the Equator, with a bottomless historical chasm separating the two of them.