[from] Excerpts from The Real World


24/4/85

You live an unsigned life. Like the ashtray I bought in Edinburgh
(the castle, the castle), you remind me of where I once was.
Kitschy-kitschy-coo, love. And I don’t even smoke. Do I?

25/4/85

Hammer Happy, the King of Babylon, sells used cars on the Pem-
bina strip, right there in Winnipeg. Even here, now, today, this
afternoon in the Yorkshire Dales, I locate my pain in the descend-
ing lines of a prairie coulee. Your heart breaks me.

26/4/85

Everything recurs (more or less). Consider, for instance, spring. Or
transmission problems.

28/4/85

And so she tracked you down. You, the Shyster King of Babble On,
she, with her friend Pontiac, the old chief disguised as a red coupe
with mags on the rear and a four-barreled carburetor. The three
of you making it, together. Kinky.

З0/4/85

“Stay gentle passenger & reade A sentence sent thee from ye dead.”
This I found on a church wall, in York. It was composed in 1611,
anticipating, apparently, the invention of the horseless carriage. It
was signed only by the year of its composition.

2/5/85

I go through the secondhand bookstores of Amsterdam, looking for
a single remaining copy of my first book, the book I never wrote. It
was a study of the silence of cucumbers.

З/5/85

Trying to prove that Western Canada is inscribed in Hammer
Happy’s six-month warranty, I watch for magpies (dancing) in the
tulip fields. I try to snare gophers with a fishing line, here, below
sea level.

5/5/85

Rijksmuseum. “Wild man on a unicorn with a bird. Engraving, c.
1450. From the large deck of playing cards.” Self portrait with still
life. Consider, for instance, the stealth of the cucumber.

6/5/85

I want to explain why I mailed you that team of horses for your
birthday. I know you have nowhere to keep them. Except in your
mother’s garage.

8/6/85

There, outside the restaurant, near the tram stop, chalked on a
small blackboard: TOMAATEN EN KOMKOMMER. Every clue is, surely,
a clue. Broodje, I tell myself, clutching at straws, must be sandwich.
Bread, as a root word, bulbously.

9/5/85

Desire, like a prairie duck, its tail feathers in the air, feeds below
the surface. As Hammer Happy would have it: poet, consider shock
absorbers. They are not ashamed to repeat themselves. Relax, and
you’ll kitsch yourself laughing.

4/5/85

And yet I felt a certain twinge of disappointment when we were
told the plane was about to crash. I had intended to invest in
RRSPS.

14/5/85

STASIS. Bus stop. The Greeks have a knack for starring. The un-
signed hole in the universe. Not to mention the street vendors, their
carts, at this time of year, heaped with strawberries. Passengers.

25/5/85

Here on Koukounaries Beach, Skiathos, I undress. The wind makes
of each of your nipples a cork, of my mouth a bottle that begs a
signature.

27/5/85

Tsougria (Thistle) Island is presently (since The War, I’m told)
uninhabited. I squat naked beside the stone slabs of the abandoned
olive-crushing floor. I grunt and then sigh. Ah, life, I think, watch-
ing the butterflies and the lizards. I tear in half the kleenex snitched
from your beach bag. These are the economies of islands.

30/5/85

Slices of fresh cucumber, with just a drop of vinegar, a drab of salt.
Pass me that ashtray. Let place do the signing for us. Close the
door and let me in.



This poem “[from] Excerpts from The Real World” originally appeared in Popular Culture. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 108 (Spring 1986): 36-36.

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