Tuesday, September 25, 2018


A couple months ago I noticed a new cat in the neighbourhood. A short time later, that it didn't have a home.

How do we notice that -- that a cat doesn't have a home? But we do -- we do notice. But how?

A black-and-white cat whose markings provide such pleasant distortions to its cat shape. An abstracted cat -- with legs.

A couple times I spotted the cat in the yard. But as soon as it saw me, it ran away. Then yesterday, while getting my bicycle from the garage, I noticed it curled up under the nandina. I crouched down to say hello, and in not flinching it said hello back.

I would like to be friends with this cat, and I told it so. "I would like us to be friends," I said, loud enough that my neighbour looked up from her weeding.

Monday, September 24, 2018


Craig phoned yesterday morning to say that “Tiger is leading after three rounds and has only lost a tournament once in fifty-two times after doing so. So come over. He’s teeing off in an hour.” Click.

I watched a lot of Sunday golf as kid, usually after kicking around the school grounds with classmates Roger Nay and Ben Gerwing. I would go to Roger’s house and sit with him and his folks in high-backed rockers while Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Gary Player took turns winning.

The greens in those early days of colour TV. That, and the blonde heads of Nicklaus and Johnny Miller floating over them. Also the slowness. The voices of the commentators, but especially the tee shots, how they hung in the air forever.

What I noticed this time were the out-of-bounds shots. How gallery members, as they are known, race towards an out-of-bounds ball and stand within inches of it. Course officials enter the crowd and ask everyone to step away. Those closest move back an inch at a time, careful to maintain a front-row view.

The golfer arrives scratching his head, circling the ball, crouching down to look at it one way, then another. This is the closest the spectator gets to watching a player in play -- more often than not when that player is in peril.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Collective Acts

The picture above is a photographic mural on display at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. The work, entitled Muckamuck Strike Then and Now (2018), is both a document of the job action taken by workers at Davie Street's Muckamuck restaurant (1978-1983) and a montage that has more recent artist-activists inserted within it. The author of the work is Dana Claxton, in collaboration with Sean Griffin, who I believe took the original photo.

For further reading on the Muckamuck labour dispute, click here for Janet Mary Nicol's "Unions Aren't Native': the Muckamuck Restaurant Labour Dispute, Vancouver, B.C. (1978-1983)." For further reading on Muckamuck owner and Ace Gallery founder Doug Christmas, click here, and here for coverage of artist Andy Warhol's 1976 visit to Vancouver for the opening of his show at Christmas's gallery.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


I remember our Literature 12 teacher Mr. Jim Satterthwaite screaming at us over our misuse of the semi-colon. "Don't even go near it!" he said (screamed). "Not until you understand it -- what it is, what it does, and why, when you don't use it properly, it makes you look pretentious!" Then he picked up a copy of Strunk and White' s The Elements of Style (1959) and read to us what it was that we weren't doing.

Of Strunk's rules of usage, the one that impressed me most was his suggestion that for shorter (independent) clauses we forgo the semi-colon for the comma. I still hold to this. So imagine how I felt a few years ago when TL;DR entered the lexicon.

Too long; didn't read is immune to Strunk's suggestion, leading me to think that people like this barbed thing, this "tick on a dog's belly" as Donald Barthelme once described it. So rather than argue over it, I suggest a variant on TL;DR: NLE;HTRT:

Not long enough; had to read twice.

But even here Strunk would suggest a comma, no?

Mr. Satterthwaite? Are you still out there?

Friday, September 21, 2018

There's No Accounting For Misleading Names

I know it is someone's name, and they are proud of it, but mis- is a prefix with connotations, and to trust your taxes with a company that might mis-file them, well, the Misfeldts are proud for a reason.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Yesterday Was a Travel Day

Yesterday was a travel day that had me up at 5am to catch a 7:45am flight to Kelowna to speak with Matt Rader's CRWR 381 poetry class at 12:30pm and to read at Milkcrate Records with dia kabunda the following day, before returning to Vancouver tomorrow.

I was assigned a window seat for the fight, which I didn't contest because it was a clear day and I like to sight-see.

The image above is a landscape with two clusters of tall buildings -- Metrotown to the left and the junction of Willingdon and the Lougheed Highway to the right. Between the two, a little closer to us, is Deer Lake Park. What I thought was fire smoke was probably fog.

Lots of new buildings on the UBCO campus since the last time I walked it. The greenhouse below is new:

These signs seem old though:

Ah, the perils of a research university.

FINA Gallery has an exhibition up of FCCS faculty and staff. Below is a suite of pieces by Eric the Red descendent Shauna Oddleifson:

Matt has eleven in his class. Most shared their work, all pitched in on the discussion. One of them, Dawn Petrin, is partial to that most miniature form of poetry known as the haiku, which she used to construct her ten stanza poem "about" what is now referred to as the "fire season" (formerly summer).

Here is the poem's fourth stanza:

We watched from afar
fancy house -- pool and all.
This place burned before.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


A couple weeks ago the Globe ran a "First Person" piece entitled "Why everyone should write their own obituary" by Penny Lipsett. After reading the piece I thought of artist Ken Lum's recent obituary paintings, but also Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology (1915), and then a social media declaration heralding a new book of poems by Tess Liem called Obits. (2018).

For fun, I began my auto-obituary, but without the usual places, dates and times, and in the third-person, no less. This is how far I got:

On everyone's payroll, yet devoted to a life of poverty -- if he was not invented he would have to have been born. And he was, years ago -- long enough to have learned how to even think such a thing, grow into his subjection. As he once said. As he once wrote. As he carried on, carried, a carrier who cared.