Writes Alone

My musings & struggles with the blank page…

Let Now Be Enough…

I think the hardest thing to write about is now, this moment I’m living in right now. To just pick up a pen or flip open the laptop and begin writing about what’s happening now. To share what is whipping through my mind right now just as it is or describing what is going on where I live at this moment or the parade of living what’s walking past me right at this moment, to write it simply and honestly as it’s unfolds before me. Why isn’t the now enough? Well the answer is pretty damn obvious, because it’s really hard to do. To make something worth reading about nothing but now, means I have to be very vulnerable and honest, because that’s what being in the moment demands. God, I don’t know where this is heading… maybe I’m writing in the now or something close to it anyway?

But what I really want to share with you is the quirky, brilliance of Joe Brainard. He is the master of writing about now and a whole host other things too. I found him because of my interest in poets from New York who were his friends and professional peers. I grabbed “The Collected Writings Of Joe Brainard” from the library just because of this and it’s been the crazy, best read of my summer. He’s a visual artist who designed book covers, painted, drew cartoons, etc… and maybe this helps make his writing so humble and simple, yet so original.

This is not fiction, it’s whatever comes into his mind now. Whatever is happening around him now. He did this manifesto to memories called “I Remember” and it’s so addictive. It’s memories he’s remembering now. As you read it, his memories. become your memories, which somehow stimulate your own memories, and it all gets mixed up together which sounds kind of confusing, but really isn’t when it’s happening, because it’s so fascinating to be reading these bite sized blurbs of things past. This is a piece you’ll want to return to again and again or at least I want to.

The rest of his writings are a pleasant jumble of diary entries, poems, musings, cartoons and other moments he’s put to rest on paper. I’ve enjoyed the whole book for the glimpses into Brainard’s life, mind, creative processes, sense of humour and how it all relates to humanity. This book is so universal and doesn’t shy away from the mundane details or the taboos of quotidian life.His book is an excellent tool for any creative soul, to help get us back into the moment and let now be enough.

God Willing

It seems to me that, Atheists are better able to find comfort in worldly things and can accept that which is before them is all there is and all they’ll ever need. I envy them this, but obviously God cannot and will not be known where there is no faith. I sometimes suspect the concept of God depends completely on us. If we are able and willing to suspend our earthly egos, then this whole mysterious realm opens up to us. To believe or not to believe in God is a very personal thing, sadly somewhere along the line it all very got political.

We’re all struggling to find our way through the confusion of details that bombard us as we serve our time on Earth. I tend to be more of the believing sort, but my faith is shaky. I think for God to have any chance at all, I can’t expect it to do my bidding and solve all the world’s problems, that’s just not how it works. I’m trying to view God as an energy who helps me cope with the harsh realities of life. I can’t and don’t expect burdens to be lifted or calamities averted, I just need this connection beyond the physical realm to help me, as I struggle through my life and if God makes this possible, then so be it. It’s been a tough day and I can see we’re all in this together no matter what we believe.

She still Shines

I still see her as she was,
her light reaching me
years later.
Far across Canada
From Ontario
To here
To now
reaches me and
she is well.
She still shines
like the first star
I see tonight,
wishing hard
with all my might,
but it already died
killing my wishes years ago.


Bling. This word wearies me. I hear it too much. It seems to be the descriptive word of choice these days and it saddens me. Why does everyone want bling? Is this what the world has come to, bling? This word manages to say it all, by saying nothing, quite an accomplishment really.

Burrard to Alberni

We’re not in control
No one is.
Day turns to night
And then
Night turns to day.
He said as he drove us
In his taxi
Up Burrard to Alberni
And turned left,
There’s no use
If things happen they happen,
He said.
I watched the meter tallying
Up our fare .
Each minute costing lives,
But I was thankful
To be there
In a mobile shrine to
Life turning to death
And then
Death turning to life,
Before my eyes.

Amazingly Chekhov

I have recently discovered the brilliance of Chekhov’s short stories and I want to recommend them to anyone struggling to create this form of fiction or just enjoys something well written. I always thought of Chekhov as a playwright and not one of my favourite ones either. I cringe at the memories of all the dark and mannered dramas that I was forced to sit through as a teen. Maybe it was just the productions I was forced to see or maybe Chekhov’s plays aren’t for me, I don’t know? But his short stories are beyond anything I have ever read, so much happens in these little vignettes. Truly they are stunning for the many swift changes the story lines can take, that are at once so surprising and completely believable. I don’t know how he does it and often they are very funny too. I can’t believe this is the same man who wrote those drab plays.

Amazingly Chekhov was a practising medical doctor, who lived hard and played hard. He loved to have his house filled with friends and people he met in his journeys. He died young of tuberculosis, but still managed to live many life times inspite of his poor health. He wasn’t a tortured artist living in solitude perfecting his craft. He wrote where ever he was with whoever was there. The man is a genius and reading him is a privilege. I wish I discovered him sooner. Do yourself a favor and pick up a collection of his short stories, you’ll be glad you did.

The Divine is Alive

The old maples on my street are heroic, old men with arms out stretched to the heavens either in praise or surrender, depending on my mood. God, I love these trees, for all their stoic majesty, life giving shade, and breathtaking oxygen. When I’m in the midst of these silent giants the divine is alive. I marvel at the wrinkled, reptilian bark adorned with silvery gray lichens and Irish green moss as luxurious as the finest velvets. In the summer the dense canopy of lush green these mythic creatures possess cast shadows upon my apartment and keep life cool in the little box I call home.

The human condition is basically a nomadic one of rootless searching and seeking for a stabilizing peace. Oh, to be a tree rooted intimately in the living soil, spending your entire life in one spot, making do with whatever comes your way or doing without when it doesn’t. Every time I come or go from my building, I walk past the trees standing guard on my block and I never fail to be humbled by their graceful acceptance of their fate. A human life is short, brutal, and cruel compared to the silent dignity of a tree’s. For it is human to take and take and take, but trees live in generous harmony with all that surround them. I question the divine in humans, but in trees it is obvious. I love these urban beacons of the natural world, bravely standing their ground in the frenetic pace of the city.

I used to wonder at people fighting to save trees, but now I get it. I guess I couldn’t see the trees for the forest and that makes sense because I’ve always been more at home in the city, so of course the trees growing in the concrete jungle have become my muse.

Yellow Bananas

This morning I watched my father
limp down the street,
he’s lived on for over forty years.
His torso curving to the left,
no longer tall and strong,
And from his left hand hung green
bananas in a clear plastic bag.
He hates green bananas,
but if that’s all there is,
then that’s all there is.
My father is not the type of
man to download his
consciousness into cyberspace
for all eternity.
He never wants
what he cannot have,
not for all the yellow
bananas in the world.

The Spectacular Now

The lives of ordinary people are rarely explored in books or movies anymore and I hadn’t realized how much I was missing this, until I watched “The Spectacular Now”. We rented it from our local Redbox in the supermarket and I didn’t have high hopes for it. Not another teenage love story, I thought as I paid the machine.
I was completely caught off guard by the excellent script and the strong acting in The Spectacular Now. This is a story of the average teenage experience and it’s told well, really well, I couldn’t believe how great it was. I was drawn into their world and held there as it unfolded before me with all the agony and ecstasy that is teenage love. I was reliving my youth and my daughter who is living it right now, she really related to all that was happening.
The characters are not the usual stereotypes of teenagers, the rich kid/poor kid and the supernatural kid/mortal kid that are choking the YA movies and fiction these days. It was so startling in its simplicity and honesty about teenage relationships, drinking, sex, life after high school, etc… This is not a movie to be missed. It stars Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller and is based on the book of the same name by Timothy Tharp. It was in theatres recently but I managed to miss it, and I’m probably not the only one. Watch this movie and be blown away by the ordinary and how extraordinary it can be.

I forget…

I forget how it feels to be born
I forget what God is like

I forget the first house I lived in
I forget my parents youth

I forget learning to brush my teeth
I forget my first word

I forget when I stopped being a kid
I forget what used to be there after a new building goes up

I forget I won’t last forever
I forget I lived in a van with my parents and brother

I forget what my first dog looked like
I forget the rules

I forget how to do Ballet
I forget how to play house

I forget the tune
I forget to bring my own bags when I shop

I forget to change the clocks
I forget how many people I’ve had sex with

I forget the words to songs
I forget to turn off the lights

I forget what giving birth is like
I forget myself at times

I forget why I was angry
I forget what I had for dinner last night

I forget who I am sometimes
I forget to water the plants.


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