Thursday, June 6, 2013

The photo shoot

I was on assignment to photograph George Bowering's friend poet, "Dom" DeLuise (circa 1980). I was given a heads up that he may be delicate in mood since he'd just lost his wife of many years the night before.

The back of the room was a large cartoony brightly colored mural. I realized it was a reassembled train car but on going inside it seemed to be cut lengthwise to be narrower. There was an expanded metal staircase inside like fire escape on its wall. I was looking at the zigzag of stairs to no where when Dom pushed himself into the space and began chatting at me casually and gesturing just as wide despite skinning his knuckles on the wall as he did, seeming oblivious to my being pinned. I squeezed out past him and looked at the room.  The apartment was an open concept flat, about 20 stories up, upper stories of office towers were the view. It was smoggy. It was a double story penthouse I expect since there was only one room and no panel I could see that could hide a murphy bed. No living room.

It was probably a 1500 square foot room, all pale possibly bleached maple wood flooring and white walls, with 2 sides of the room being banks of windows. There was bar seating all along the one facing the entry along the long side of the room. Dave was seated there with a few empty martini glasses.

There was a cafe table on the far side of the room and beige area rug. 1/3 of the way into the room was a probably 16 foot kitchen island where DeLuise was cooking, and stripping as he did so, flinging coat and shirt as he sauteed and made flames leap up from his flambe something. I was perplexed of whether I should photograph this bit or this was the part I was here to film. I heard a snort of laugh and Dave was watching the scene then in humming amusement pretended he saw nothing while continuing to watch in the reflection in the glass. DeLuise was in his boxers when I woke sputtering something to no one in particular.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

the party

I sent out the invites without a plan and waited. all afternoon, just me and nervousnes and a lot of chairs sitting in the sunshine.

some former students came. there was a pleasant burble of conversations. people took chairs and put them in rows and waited. one grey streaked hair woman in a sari wrote in a rainbow irridescent marker as she sang the urdu. a small circle listened as another group sat apart and waited for someone they recognized to start the main event in the community centre. her voice raised and fel and swayed. she sang a changing incantation.

i realized i provided no food but there was a 50s diner across the parking lot. a lady in a confidential tone heard my thought and read my gaze and looked at me and from face to face and said, what percentage of the room is below the poverty line? 40% 70%

i got out flour and started gathering ingredients to make a huge pizza and set the dough to rise.

someone was missing. i said i'd give her a ride. i went to the parking lot. besides the open air lot was a metal building with orange garage doors. a man in a spiffy business suit with a military gait left it. a passerby said to another with a chin jut nod, that land was appropriated by embassy row. the diplomats get the parking for free. they already have all those homes and get more for free.

in a moment i was returning along the late afternoon highway with M. and as we approached the community centre the hillside was covered as well as he open parking lot in a mass of people. the movie had arrived. i had acquired a fragment of an 80s star trek movie that was filmed in Ottawa. the scene on screen was exttras walking into a conveniencestore with the camera in the shelf focused on the kitchissipi beer. there was a xdingle of the bells of the door on the screen. i went in and looked at my pizza dough. i'll need a loaves and fishes miracle i thought.

but no, i thought, they all can take care of themselves. they aren't all here for me but for the opportunity of the movie. it's grown past me and past my responsibility to feed them all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Heritage Day Events

In a staging area where the corridor widened there was a performance called poetry that had the spirit of Kozachok except people leapt several heights in the air and landed in a cross legged position. K & B were at the front doing it. Along the corridor were registration tables and food tables. I was looking at those and a crowd gathered. W was backing up towards me until he was between hover and lean. I could feel his heat and he hummed a tune and I echoed the song back then he leaned out and merged with the crowd. I picked up what I thought was a can of sardines and went down the hall towards where the wall on the left wasn't matched by the atrium on the right. There's was a man-made stream/pond. I looked at the artfully placed fallen logs, ferns, lily pads and saw a leopard fog. I opened my tin and saw I picked up a can of snakes by accident. On the top were two green snake heads, eyes still bright yellow. I picked then off and flicked them towards the pond. One was eaten in a gulp by a frog that leapt for it. The other hit a rock and sank out of sight. I woke examining my can of green snake lengths in brine wondering if I wanted the rest.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Inside the Forest

I can see what brain did there. Scavenging and mashing up elements to combine to what it needs.

It took the cherry-picker a few streets over cutting down a tree a few days ago. The 81st birthday of Shatner calling up Star Trek. My cousin saying the ground had no frost and his tractor sinking and needing to be towed out. In Val-de-Monts the ministry cutting down a 300 eyar old tree while protesters weren't around. A friend talking about the hour of his birth, my inner reflections on how my dad nearly wiped out driving too fast in the freezing rain, nearly died on the way to the hospital to hold me for the first time. He nearly went into the pond, car and all again. He almost died there once after he ricocheted off the side of a freight train. He eventually died of congestive lung.

By sleep I was in a forest. A lumbering scene. Near a swamp. A lot of strangers milled around in their work. A piece of caterpillar yellow machinery slipped a greasy bank. It made a tremendous sound. Some went to investigate, some didn't. Someone noticed a coat down there, called out that there's a man stuck in the gear down there. People tried to yank the machine back from the muck. Someone dove in try to get him out. Someone sidled up to me with a quiet word that it looked bad and the man was my father. I looked down. I could see him in the water. They brought him up finally but he'd been down too long. I looked at his face, waxy and calm, tried pressing water from his lungs. I tried to force water from his chest. Someone quiet walked over to the foreman near my side and asked if they should call 911. I thought, that occurs now? No one has before now? He walked over to the concession where there was a phone. 'There's nothing you could do.' the foreman said to me, quietly. Dad's eyes flickered open but he looked angry at not being left alone. Did I imagine they even opened. I kept pressed rhythms to his chest. 'There's nothing anyone could have done' the foreman said.

I woke with a kind of peace of benediction. My self is trying to forgive me.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The trip

The brown shag carpet in the path from door past the two double beds was worn thinner straight to the bathroom as if the car to toilet trip was more common than anything.

It was the kind of dingy room decorated last in the late 50s, early 60s with updates including screwing the lamp and phone to the courtesy writing desk, which had no pens that wrote and no stationary left.

My unconscious dragged that motel room from the shores of Georgian Bay to the mid-west U.S.

We three were in a room, with a fourth present by phone. K was sprawled on the bed with the cell phone to his ear but her voice was still spilling out, the pitch and intonations, even if not the words but his chuckles gave some tone and content away.

T was seated on the other bed, the furthest corner, wetting the end of a pen with chew marks as he composed and wrote. He periodically inspected the ceiling with a squint. It was quiet. The room was surprisingly soundproof. Even the traffic hum was smaller.

I noticed dust filtering down. Is there a window in here? I followed the beam and saw a small clerestory that I hadn't noticed coming in. Odd, for the type of ranch-style drive in place.

There was a burst of motion like a chicken flurrying away from a fox as K headed for a quick shower. A psssshhh of shower starting.

Time lapsed and there was a tremendous thud. T and I exchanged winced looks. We listened. T gave an expansive shrug and hunched to turn back over his pad of paper.

- But he might be hurt. You should check, I said.
- I'm not going in there, T said. He's all naked.
- But he might be hurt, I repeated
- He's a big boy. He can look after himself, T said

I listened. He scribbled the way people who aren't really writing anything scribble words at a page.

- It doesn't matter. It's medical, I said and headed to the door.

Looking in K was lying, still stunned, towel around his waist.
-Y'ok? I asked.

He scrambled up with some wince, and said yep. He faced me. I eyed the low rail of the shower stall. Was that blood? I moved towards him and he went to the left keeping his back away from me. In the fogged mirror I saw a red patch on his back. I narrowed my eyes.
-I'm fine, he repeated in a go away tone.
I tried to turn him but he resisted. I tried to look around him and he backed closer to the wall. I back up and opened the door a crack. Fog started to come off the mirror.
- I'm fine, he repeated, in a more shrugging tone and he stepped towards me. I saw lines of blood running down his back. I left the room without a word and came back in with a roll of saran wrap that I started wrapping around him and his protests.

I pulled him out of the bathroom on the lead of the saran wrap and presented him to T. T didn't look up. I cleared my throat and turned K. The blood was making a large blood blister collecting on his back. T gasped and with an ohmygawd, leapt up and out the door, slammed back in and grabbed car keys and left.

Dream lapse. T returns with a huge pharmacy bag and starts pulling out cotton balls and gauze and tape and bandaids. He seems unsure of what now. He opens a box of bandaids and starts applying cartoon sea turtle bandaids in cross patterns all over the saran wrap.

-What's in your other hand?, K asked
Self-consciously T pulls from behind his back what looks like a long-nozzled oil can made of glass and marked vodka.
- Is that for you or me? K asked
T looks unsure, extends his arm in the manner of people who know they should give but don't want to give this, then, stops the hesitation and with a sure thrust hands it to K. Still the little shy hesitation, something about the confusion of it, and the sudden generosity is so childlike and charming that I laugh and wake up even as K's hand reaches for the bottle.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Sweep

I stood at the edge of a swamp in North Carolina. I knew I had to get to what was waiting on the other side. I scratched my head and I hesitated, considering going around.

I kneeled by the muck and considered what leeches and other things might be swimming there, might wrap themselves around my ankles in the wet. I might be able to wade but there might be spots that would mire me or be too deep. The humidity made my limbs feel heavy. The amount I'd used them already felt like a dizzy spiral around each bone.

I heard a wet schoschoscho coming from behind me. My back tightened. Inside my head I heard an invitation. I looked back and there was a dark slug about 4 feet long and at least a foot and half around. It again invited me to climb on and it'll take me across. Something about the voice assured. I intuitively trusted it. I got on its back and it loped across the pond scum as though it were a mixture of horse and hydrofoil.

Time passed and the world faded back into bright. I was again at the shoreline but with memory of months of daily times together. I found that as its thoughts went telepathically to me, so I could return the ideas. I learned it, who I had no referent name, was not one of its kind. It was stranded from space and one of a dispersed collective. It could shapeshift. One of the more common forms was like a sowbug on earth, about that size, except more elongated and iridescent. I took that as a matter of course as it has no qualms with my bipedal form.

I looked at the sun dapple, how leaves seemed silver from sun. I was anticipating what we'd talk about today. Soon I could feel the approach. As we travelled and I could feel the rippling muscles beneath me unsteady. The energy had sputters in it. As we passed under the canopy through narrow and wide spots of wet forest, I learned grave news today.

Its kind were discovered by wrong individuals of my kind. There was to be a rally to consider options of exodus. Without a second thought I said I'd go.

It was early pre-dawn and the chosen spot was low rolling hills. I had just visited a contact on the other side of the border in West Virginia. She was the human spouse. At the old age home she sat bedside. The human was missing. She looked anxiously. One of the creatures could hold human form for short bursts but to the level of detail that would satisfy a doctor's tests was exhausting. The creature was on break. It wasn't a sustainable pace. She opened the side table to show all the flowers nad chocolates human friends had brought that outpaced what she could consume. Her husband would eat them but the creature couldn't. Her real husband was with the creatures in a treatment center. This would be hard to explain to human doctors. It would be hard to get him sent home to rest when the creature's test results didn't mimic physiology properly. It was all very awkward.

I related this story to my friend who would pass the situation into the collective.

I brought with me human individuals who I trusted to have the compassion as first thought, giving them only a sketch of the safety issue at stake. Across the distances I could sense the directions of approaches of creatures.

Sympathetic humans were coming as well. I could see their shapes appear but we couldn't talk to one another in the same way at the same distance. There was a sombre atmosphere. There had been such gatherings before but not within my lifetime and I was told they were more festive. This was a pooling of what we knew.

There were humans who had decided the creatures were a threat or a soulless curiosity to study. It was hard to say which was worse. They had learned they could see the creatures and had become afraid. They learned that when in symbiont form with a human, for example a rapid course of diabetes was certain and the human lifespan shortened. This information ripples thru the group. And protests, It was a kind of holiness, a kind of soul marriage and a richer life before the loss of partner. And the creatures could treat with medicine if they knew this case erupted.

More stories came back. Some humans had found a spectrum of light that would make the creatures visible to the humans who couldn't see them. I jarred, not having realized that not every human could see them. Another intelligence passed through that there was a net, a loop of citizen army who were broadcasting this light to try to collect up the creatures for examination. Examination from one species to another was rarely good.

One creature passed around mentally the diagram that the citizen army were using. There were ripples of chuckles from all direction as if an earthquake riffled. When it came to me I saw the disproportional centipede with ominous front eyes and the color patterns all imaginative but wrong. It was like a child's caricature. At least having wrong information was in our favour.

How widespread was the search for them? We had holes in our information. Some suggestions said it was a national net and we could escape to Canada, or at least to the relative security of French Canada. Some of the humans had contacts that would enable some to slip through the border there without questions.

There was the matter of travel-form. Would they risk travelling naturally or hold the exhausting human form and have the time delay of faked paperwork. How fast did we have to move? How fast could we move without causing ourselves to be detected? Did we have enough transport? Would it be safer for more people to become symbionts to travel across country? It was a permanent decision, not to be taken lightly or rushed into, except if the sweep came in, inside another was the safest, most invisible place to be. There were a lot of logistics to work out.

We decided that the most secure plan is multiple plans, each according to conscience, knowing what the others are doing. As for me and my friend we would try to slip over the border into the northern wilds of Quebec. As symbionts or a pair? We would let the decision lie between us with the coffee cup between our seat. We'd come to a decision by Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Friday, June 3, 2011

with sputtering reboots

In half-sleep I raised my head, feeling with a startle that I was alone and looked over and relaxed. Mr. T was still on the other pillow, his gold chains hanging over the side of his neck. Later in the night I woke again, to a sound. Looked over, Mr. T was still there snoring peacefully. I relaxed "back" to sleep. Dawn light and I heard a noise I rolled over, alone in bed. Where could he be? My mind "placed" where I was, where he was. Mr. T was up making coffee at the coffee maker and I drowsed "back" to sleep. On waking, for sure, pretty sure, this time, like Mary marvelling at the things said.