lost 36 so peng peng, lamb

lost 36  so peng peng, lamb

cloned with roundworm fat gene. the mining of asteroids in as little as two years, asteroids our next place to live. it is never the opposite way round as the system tends to lock and jam. an average human sees a million; some with four cones, might see more. peng peng’s, and i’ve said this before: the thing about life is one day you’ll be dead. it is never the opposite way round as the system tends to lock and jam, utterly unremarkable in every way, a stationary mic. as soon as a wild thing is listed, seems it starts to disappear. when all the animals and birds are listed, well, in a shoe factory all stories need to look like something, have their own tongues, peng. the click and fricative gone after moving through a dipthong. a worm wheel, yes. if i’d agreed with you, would we both be wrong/ glands of intense physiological activity a drain on energy.

Next excerpt from lost past (working title)

Gwen was a slim lanky girl, outgoing, who had easily found friends in the neighbourhood where her school was. A couple of them, Dorothy and Gladys lived close to the school. They’d come to the farm a few times and Gwen seemed happier. Eleven years old already, and a beauty.

The farm has to go, Phillip said. I’ve had an offer. The buyer wants to tear the house down and put in a set of houses. There’s not much left anyway, and you are tired Florence. I can’t manage the stairs much longer…

The bracing Canadian climate hadn’t been a magical cure. The tumour kept growing. Phillip was philosophical about it. He worried about her, about the children. The only thing he was able to do lately was turn to Florence at night.

Strange he said to her, how I can still be loving to you but not do much else.

That’s because your real brain is lower down, Phillip Frankland, and the tumour is only affecting what’s inside your great hulking skull.

Now she was pregnant. She hadn’t told Phillip yet, certainly hadn’t said anything to Frank or Gwen. It was time to go to the city, move close to downtown so Frank would be able to get a job in a few years. Nothing out here for Frank. Maybe he’d be more enthusiastic about school if he didn’t have to go so far to get to one, suggested Phillip the optimist.

I’ll join the Navy Father. Don’t need high school for that!

All Gwen could think about was being closer to downtown, to excitement, to movies! Can I buy a lipstick mum? A flapper dress?

It was just a little house on Albert street. Perfect, easy for her to get to doctors, the hospital eventually. That’s the way you did it in Canada, her friend Mrs. Haazen said. She’d met Mary Haazen years before at a church social; Phillip said she was one of his best customers and she always had water for his horse and tea for him and Frank. She was older than Florence, but the easiest person in the world to get along with. She and her husband lived in a teeny tiny house that Gwen loved. It’s like a witch’s house mum, a good witch’s house.

Now they’d have to take streetcars to get to see each other, and that made a good day out. It was the first time Florence had ever looked at the city really. She’d been into it now and then but now she could take note of the parks, the churches, the old buildings and the new ones.  Downtown was growing by the minute..


Their house was down by the old docks, near Griffintown. It was an interesting place to live because there were still a lot of Irish families there, and the griefs from the old world didn’t seem to exist here, not among the women anyway. She found new friends. She was happy really, except that Phillip was going downhill very fast. He was thin and grey, nervous, and slept a lot now. Their father might not be around when the twins were born.

He knew now, of course, pretended to be as excited as if these babies were his first, ignoring what was happening in his head. It made Gwen a bit jealous, until Florence talked to her. Don’t be jealous Gwen. Spend time with him, make him laugh. You know he won’t be here much longer. To her credit, Gwen rallied. Her father liked to hear her read anything, even from one of her, what he called soppy, movie magazines. There were days when his own enjoyment in her, and his pretense of excitement about the new babies, was all that seemed to keep him going.

It won’t help, Florence, to moan and groan. I hope I get to hold the wee babies, but if not, that’s the way it is. So try not to fret. You’ve got some money in the bank, and you’re a pretty woman, Flo. You’ll be the one marrying the rich widower. They’ll be flockin’ to your door.

He went with her to buy a crib and all the things needed for two babies, and all was right with his world according to him, until the pain was so bad, the painkillers not working and he willed himself to die. She knew this. He’d told her about it, about hypnotizing himself to die quickly. And it seemed that way. In six weeks he was gone, dressed in his new suit, small in his brown casket.

Florence was exhausted and wondered if she was strong enough for the birth. Just in case, she spent time straightening out Phillip’s papers, making her own will, arranging for care for Gwen. They’d started to call her Winnie at her own instigation, but choosing a new name was a bit different from being grown up enough to take care of herself. Florence knew that if Mary Haazen took her in, and Mary had already agreed to that, Winnie’d get an education. And she’d be loved; Mary had always wished she’d had a daughter as well as a son. Mary said she’d take the twins too, though Florence thought that would be too much. Her cousin Gert, Uncle Leonard’s daughter, would happily take them if necessary. Gert and Bill didn’t have kids of their own after years of trying. All seemed set. She even cleaned every cupboard, folded all the clothing neatly in drawers. Washed and waxed every floor. No one would say she’d been a slovenly housekeeper, remember her that way. Such grim thoughts. Florence was one to be prepared though, and if all went well, she would be coming home to a neat house.

You’d better take me in she told Frank a few weeks later.

He knew what to do, where to take his mother. He got a taxi, stayed with her at the University Lying-In Hospital on St. Urbain Street. He was as frazzled as a new father, almost old enough to be one he figured. In any case, he was very much the man now, man of the family, the man who had to take care of these two new baby brothers. He couldn’t keep away from the viewing window, marveling at the ways of the world and of women. At fifteen, it was a lot to think about. Gwen, Winnie, he reminded himself, would help, but she was only twelve and missing her father badly. He couldn’t be her father, didn’t know how to respond to his sister’s bouts of crying.

So Florence had survived, and now three months later, the little house was noisy with babies crying. She was worn out, and on top of everything, Winnie was getting fractious. No sooner had she moved to this new house and made new friends, than all her time was taken up with crying babies and their stink.

Florence felt for her, and let her go. Frank thought about work now, because that’s what a man did. He went to work. Part-time to start, until something came up. He didn’t go to school much, but Florence kept registering him, hoping that maybe he’d get a good teacher, or get interested in something, anything that would get him to graduation. Mrs. Haazen was a big help. Her own son Charlie was out driving a taxi now, and the little house didn’t need much cleaning these days.

It doesn’t matter Mary said to Florence. If I clean my house, it just gets dirty again all by itself. I’ll wait til it’s really filthy and do it up then. Makes sense, right? And she’d come and wash Florence’s floors, help feed the twins, babysit for an afternoon so Florence could have an afternoon sleep. Florence would have collapsed without her, emotionally as well as physically.

She needed time to grieve and didn’t have it. When the twins were old enough to sit up, she’d put them in the stroller Phillip had bought for them, one with a wide seat, and room for the two babies. If they fell asleep, she’d sit down wherever she was, sometimes on a storefront steps or in a park or on the steps of a house for rent. Wonder why she couldn’t cry. Until eventually she did, and it came in torrents. She got thinner than ever, not minding much what she looked like.

Winnie’s bursting out this morning hadn’t helped. I hate the twins! I hate them, and I hate hanging diapers on the line, I hate washing bottles with a bottle brush. I hate scalding them.

What could Florence say then. It was her fault after all. She should have turned Phillip away, but how could she have. How could she not comfort him, let him do the one thing he was able to do. How could she not let him be a man as long as possible. Well that was her thinking at the time, her decision, and now here were the results. Two of them, each with a powerful set of lungs. Squallers both, as if they were in a competition. She was so tired. She decided to name them Leonard and Albert after her own twin brothers. She hadn’t the energy to think of anything else. Leonard Frankland and Albert Phillip. That took care of the name problem nicely. Mary Haazen and her husband stood for them at the christening, through which they howled the whole time. The minister could hardly be heard.

Look for the next section in the next ynklings…

paper bird wisp whisper

lost 29: paper bird wisp whisper

mourning of/why. black, eyed peas. remember what i teach re re-formation of a grammatic nonsense a forklift garbling of speech and syntax, either omission or confusion; you occasionally observe people-watched particles (sky the seamless gray is their) inability the to/from inflection of the retail she/tail, paper burr paper bird wisp whisper waver of she-oak, dithery particularities a spelling like has = ha’s her obstinate use of the words ba-silicate and ruttish – so that ended well! problem preferences with uneven ‘all’ bar ‘omnes’, your common-puncture fairytale mobster. wing hum, sintext omission of or confusion with style, a shakespeare quills lackluster fashionable, his short sweet flash trash collaborative, jessica, wings outstetched. prefix-conjunct, monte pseudo, vulture: the polished tomb, emanuela, her favoured fungus pestalotiopsis microspora. one, and a fling of dunlins chirm of finches the downy-coated dinosaur unearthed in china and 245 million tons of plastic per year, parcel of hogs mess of iguanas – be will sweat lonely they. yon exultation of larks, mine.

I’ve decided to treat and tantalize with part of a poem by Mark Tredinnick, the Australian poet who won the $50, 000 2012 Montreal Poetry Prize, with whom we had dinner and a chance to hear him read and talk about the flora and fauna of down under. This website has a good sampling of his poems.
From Fire Diary

thornbills, nature bipolar

Nature, he thinks, is bipolar and worsening with age. Manic,
one day, she spikes high
into the forties and runs naked, blazing with ideas, through

The foothills. Down again, the next, she looks out from under her hair
at the wreck she’s made
and cannot think where to go from here. For days she weeps.

Is it possible, he wonders, to mourn like a forest? Like a house
that’s just a tin roof now?
is how he feels in the blue-black morning, but he hasn’t

Earned his sorrow. His is only risk fatigue—the shadow side
of beauty. Fire is the madness
in us all. And with it, periodically, he torches all his dreams

Of safety and starts over. When the future comes, if ever she comes,
she’ll speak, he knows,
a new species of language, in which one word for love will be fire,

And the other will be rain, and he will sleep like silence on the black terrain between.
— Originally published in PAN: Philosophy Activism Nature

A shahai by Louise Vaillancourt. I’m republishing because I did not mention last time that Louise is artist and poet; both poem and photograph are hers.


A quote from Joseph Campbell:

‎”Writer’s block results from too much head. Cut off your head. Pegasus, poetry, was born of Medusa when her head was cut off. You have to be reckless when writing. Be as crazy as your conscience allows.”

from A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

A reprint from Slice of Life, a literary journal of flash nonfiction from Cork, Ireland, that has just published my poem to frobisher and back: the chrome set. I’m so impressed with the images that editor Sandra Jensen uses to illustrate each piece. Perfect. Thank you Sandra!



to frobisher and back: the chrome set
Claudia Coutu Radmore
after Stan Dragland

he is sorry he mentions the possibility of going to frobisher bay. she wants him to go. we need the money she says. he agrees to go to frobisher bay for eighteen months.

she spends some of the money he sends home on a plastic and chrome living room set that she orders from the eaton’s catalogue. when he comes home for a break after six months, he loathes the new furniture. he flies back to frobisher and the family is glad he’s gone. (he will have a brief affair with a nurse.)

she gets to know mr smith from next door very well. mr smith works in the refrigeration department at eaton’s.

in frobisher he feels honoured to meet a gentle but famous oblate missionary who gives him an 8 x 10 photograph of himself meeting pope john paul II.

he gives his sixteen year-old daughter’s photo to a french co-worker in frobisher who is twenty-five. that man writes a letter to her. his daughter answers it briefly for politeness sake.

he misses his daughter’s graduation from teacher’s college. he sends through a friend, an enormous frozen fish called a char. no one knows what to do with it. we do not have a freezer.

she feels lost during the day. dr. b puts her on valium.

his now-best-friend in frobisher sends the daughter a photo of himself sitting on his bed with her high school graduation photo pinned to the wall behind him. he is not attractive and the daughter does not answer the letter.

on his second trip home he invites his frobisher friend to the house. the daughter retaliates by having her boyfriend come over, sits close to him on the plastic sofa.

at the end of his eighteen month contract he asks his daughter why she did not like his frobisher friend. he is not pleased when she says she says the man gives her the creeps.
he has acquired a projector and two movies in frobisher. one is too sexy he says to show his children.

she has done her hair tonight and wears a fresh dress, and evening-in-paris cologne. from the back bedroom the daughter hears the whirr of the projector, the crackle and creak of the couch, their muffled sporadic chuckles.

she’s a bit disappointed in the movie; all it shows is a woman hitch-hiking on a country road. all she does is raise her skirt just above her knee. she thinks, my goodness, those men up north were desperate! still the movie brings back the wild whirl of early days when they went for picnics, the excitement of being deep in the cremazie woods on a blanket, alone with her catholic boy.

Note: That gentle but famous missionary was Father Pierre Henry, missionary Oblate of Mary, who lived on King Williams Island under the same conditions as the native people. The book Kabloona by Gontran de Poncins, has a section about him

Image: Light after the Fog, By Leigh-Anne Fraser

The Poetry Conversation: Comment from a poet who also grew up Catholic:
Your Catholic poem (in the last post) resonates with all that is unspoken about what we learned.
I read something recently about swimming in a sea of nuance. . . all the rules
of Catholicism are meant to serve, but they sure don’t prepare us for what
happens when we leave the books behind. . . or what we feel when we are
reading those books. Maybe that’s why your poem works so well. Leaves
wide open spaces for us to “fill in the blanks” with all of our own uncertainty.