The Marriage of Ida Braun

8 09 2010

When I was working on this piece I thought of the movie, The Marriage of Maria Braun by Rainer Fassbinder. The movie left me feeling somewhat ill. There seemed something heartless and cruel in the film. And so when I started to do this piece I thought of the central figure as being made out of stone.

The Dancing Bladder / The Brown Martyr

6 09 2010

The Dancing Bladder/ The Brown Martyr

Paul rushed into the washroom. A dancing bladder. And in his haste to get to a urinal almost tripped over it. He looked down at the turd resting in the middle of the floor. For a moment he just stared. His eyes dilated. His mouth hanging. Open. And then his bladder began to dance. Her rushed into a stall and took his piss. A sigh. And then the memory. He looked out of the stall. It was still there. On the floor. There were vapours rising from the pile. And a quality about it that was disturbing. Paul reached into his pocket and took out his cell phone.

A phone rang on the other end of his call.




Paul: “I’m sorry to call you up at work.”

John: “I’m not at work. Yet.”

Paul: “Well…”

John: “I’m on the subway. Slept in again. I hate daylight savings time. Throws me off every year. Ferguson is going to be so pissed. God, I’m going to catch shit. Why are you …”

Paul: “Just a minute.”

Paul flushed the toilet and tucked himself in. Carefully, with one eye on the turd, he slipped out of the stall and slid over to the washbasin. He washed and dried his hands.

Paul: “Sorry about that.”

John: “Are you in the washroom?”

Paul: “Ya.”

John: “I could have done without listening to you and your toilet. Are your pants…”

Paul: “It’s an emergency.”

John: “An emergency?”

Paul: “Just a minute. I’m going to send you a pic.”

John: “I don’t think…”

Paul pointed his phone at the turd. A moment later.

John: “What the hell is that?”

Paul: “Exactly what it looks like.”

John: “Do I need to see this?”

Paul: “It’s not mine. That’s the point. I came into the washroom and I found it here. At work. On the floor. In the middle of the washroom.”

John: “Shit! It’s huge. Who’s the proud father?”

Paul: “I have no idea.”

John: “Who would do something like this? It’s sick.”

Paul: “Now, you understand.”

John: “I gotta tell you, man. It does look like your handy work.”

Paul: “Who are you talking to?”

John: “I showed it to the guy sitting next to me. He couldn’t figure out what it was. At first.”

Paul: “Could we keep this between the two of us?”

John: “Don’t worry. The guy moved to another seat.”

Paul: “Maybe it’s my fault. Karma.”

John: “Karma?”

Paul: “You know my boss. I told you about him. Big prick. I feel like bashing his head in. If I ever meet him in a bar, that’s what I’m going to do. Treats me like I’m some kind of lackey. Always giving me orders.”

John: “He’s the boss. That’s what bosses do.”

Paul: “I got rights too!”

John: “I see that those anger management classes have finally set in.”

Paul: “It could be karma. All that animosity. Maybe this is the universe getting back at me.”

John: “I don’t think the universe lays big brown ones on bathroom floors. What are you going to do now?”

Paul: “Do?”

John: “If anyone sees you leaving the washroom, you’ll be pegged as the most likely candidate for giving birth to…”

Paul: “Jesus! You’re right. What am I going to do?”

John: “Besides cleaning it up…”

Paul: “That is not going to happen.”

John: “Just a minute…”

Paul: “Why do these things have to happen…”

John: “The woman beside me says that you should clean it up. Why should some minimum wage cleaning lady have to deal with it? She is very convincing.”

Paul: “It’s not mine! I ain’t cleaning up what ain’t mine. God, it stinks something…”

John: “Are there any other exits? From the washroom?”

Paul: “There’s a window. But its too small. With my luck I’d get stuck in it.”

John: “Consensus here is that you should run out of the bathroom and scream ‘I didn’t do it’.

Paul: “Consensus?”

John: “I took a vote. There’s quite a crowd gathered around. Maybe we could put it on the net. You’re sitting on a gold mine, buddy. You might end up on Letterman.”

Paul: “Oh my God!”

John: “What now?”

Paul: “Its… moving.”

Zorba the Greek

4 09 2010

When I was young, me and some friends went to see the movie, Zorba the Greek. From that moment on all of us wanted to be like Zorba. To enjoy life. With the emphasis on joy. But it is not so easy to have such a robust hungry view. Health and circumstance have such a great affect. And then there is social convention which does not allow one to step out of line and draw attention to oneself. And the very exuberance of life, food and wine and sexual appetite can dilute one’s enthusiasm. The fat are not hungry. The drunk do not dance so well. And endulging in sexual pursuits can hurt one’s spouse, one’s children, one’s family and friends. One is branded as a rake, or a slut. None of this occurs or matters to Zorba who lives in the moment. But there is more than the moment. And he who pursues a life of hedonism seldom challenges life in other fields. The poet likes to believe that he is the ‘drunk in the midnight choir’ but he knows better. He is the man on the edge of the moon.

A Day In A Life

3 09 2010

In my life there has only been one song that has risen above the “pop culture” milieu into something called ART. I am not referring to a song that is well written, well performed or that I love. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of well crafted beautiful songs written for pop culture. Many of these songs have a special place in people’s lives. They are like landmarks in people’s histories.  A Day In A Life rises above its own audience. It reminds me of T.E. Eliot and in many ways is more satisfying than the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. There are two voices in the song. Lennon’s voice is the introspective somewhat depressed character who opens the song. McCartney’s voice is the song of the everyman who has hardly a care or a thought for anything but getting through the day. These are 2 halves of the same person. And the final crescendo of music reflects the conflict between the two.

Taking It In The Ear

2 09 2010

Taking It In The Ear

Mary Newton hated being bored. She sat at the bar of the Canadiana and stared into her drink. The ice cube wasn’t melting. It was bored. She looked around the bar to see if there was anyone interesting. Three men sat at one table. They were rifling food into their mouths like starving refugees. And arguing at the same time. Mary couldn’t understand their language. One time Mary had started a course in French. She thought it would be interesting. That it was her duty as a Canadian to learn the other official language. She quit after two classes. But she knew enough French to realize that these men weren’t Quebecois. She looked away. At another table two young men sat. Silently. Like catatonic patients. Watching golf on the television. Beautifully cultured and groomed grass. Growing. Mary felt like screaming. In the corner an older couple sharing a lunch, laughing, reaching out occasionally to touch each other’s hands. Love. Could anything be more boring? The bartender came up and asked if Mary wanted a refill.

“Why not?” she responded. “Hey Charlie.”

“Yes, Mary.”

“If I’m still here a couple of years from now, take a gun out and shoot me.”

The bartender nodded. Mary considered engaging in conversation with the bartender but she noticed the look in his eyes. That look of resignation. Boredom. Like a tiger in a zoo. She turned and looked out the broad front window of the restaurant onto the parking lot. Cars came in and out of the lot. Some stayed in the lots for hours.

Mary whispered into her drink. “Throw me in a wheel barrel and roll me down to the dump.”

Louie, who ran the dollar store, stepped into the bar. A small man with large dangling ears and thin brown hair slicked down and combed straight back, Louie was a man of confidence. Nothing was beyond him. Everything was possible. And his smile, which never seem to leave him, advertised his optimism. He stepped up to the bar and said something to, Charlie, the bartender. Slapped him on the shoulder. Both men laughed. Louie’s eyebrows flirted with the air as he gestured across the way to Mary whose back was turned to him and said something to Charlie. Charlie shrugged. Louie turned his good ear to Charlie and said something. Charlie was deaf in one of his ears, the result of being a roadie on too many rock’n’roll band tours. A moment later Louie was by Mary’s side. He asked if he could sit beside her.

“It’s a free country,” Mary responded, glancing at Louie out of the side of her eyes. Louie was careful to sit with his good ear toward Mary.

The bartender returned with her drink.

“Thanks, Charlie,” she said.

“Compliments of this gentleman.” The bartender gestured toward Louie and slipped away.

Mary looked at Louie and nodded. She lifted her drink and took a swallow before Louie had an opportunity to say cheers. Louie raised his glass of beer and took a swallow.

“You run the dollar store,” Mary said.

“Yes. That’s right,” Louie said as he took another sip of his beer.

“Well, isn’t that an exciting career choice.” Mary smirked.

“Ah.” Louie laughed. “It’s a living. Pays the rent. And you meet a lot of interesting people. You’d be surprised how open people are with you when they figure they’re getting a deal. Just gives them a natural high.”

“I’m sure.” Mary looked around the bar.

“What do you do for a living?” Louie asked.

Mary turned back to Louie and laughed.

“Excuse me?”

Louie repeated his question. Mary took another swallow of her drink.

“I’m furniture,” she said.

“Furniture?” Louie enquired.

“My husband is wealthy.”

“Oh,” Louie smiled uncomfortably.

Mary licked her lips. “Where do you think this is all leading?”

“Excuse me?”

“All this chatter,” Mary said. “Where do you think it’s going to get you?”

Louie shrugged innocently.

“Just talking to a beautiful woman on a lovely day,” Louie said. “Isn’t that enough?”

Mary smiled and sipped her drink.

“Shall I leave?” Louie asked.

Mary thought for a moment. “What’s your favourite pick-up line?”

Louie took another swallow of beer.

“Pick-up line?” he asked.

Mary laughed. “Come on. Tell me.”

Louie thought for a moment then smiled.

“Lovely weather we’re having recently, don’t you think?”

Mary looked at Louie and shook her hair.

“Is that it?”

Louie nodded. “Ya. That’s about it.”

“Does it work?”

“It gives me some time,” Louie responded. “To get better acquainted with the beautiful woman. To let her know that I am harmless. That I see her as lovely. Like the weather.”

“Use it on me,” Mary insisted.

“What would be the point?” Louie asked.

Mary reached out and padded Louie on the hand.

Louie smiled.

“Lovely weather we’re having recently, don’t you think?”

Mary looked at Louie and shook her hair.

“As opposed to what?”

“It could be snowing.” Louie laughed.

Mary pointed at Louie. She smiled.

“That was cute.” Then she added, “And you are cute.”

Louie nodded. “Yes I am. And thanks for noticing.”

There was a pause. Once again Mary’s thoughts wandered. She looked around the bar hoping that something interesting was taking place.

“I am so bored.” Mary sighed. “If things don’t pick up around here, I may go home and blow my brains out. Or go shopping.”

“It’s not so boring,” Louie said.

Mary reached out and grabbed Louie’s hand.

“Tell me what’s so worth while in life?”

Louie blushed. For a moment he stammered as he tried to speak.

Mary laughed. “You see, life is a drag. All you can hope for is the odd diversion.”

“There’s romance,” Louie suggested.

“Romance?” Mary took another swallow of her drink. “Starts off all fireworks and laughter. Ends up with emptiness and rough words.”

“You have been hurt by love,” Louie suggested.

Mary laughed.

“Oh, I’ve been hurt. And I’ve done my share of hurting. And now I have this lovely relationship with my husband. He pays for all my vices and all I have to do is look like expensive furniture. He sends me on holidays by myself. And I sit around pools in exotic countries soaking up the sun. Then go shopping in the evenings and buy expensive knick knacks. My husband stays home and cheats on me. Not with other women. I could compete with them. But with money.”

“That is sad,” Louie responded, his smile escaping from his mouth. “Why don’t you leave him?”

Mary turned to Louie and patted his hand. “The furniture does not walk out of the house.”

Louie shook his head.

“A beautiful woman like yourself should not be sad. It is against the laws… of nature.”

Mary laughed.

“That’s quite a line. Does it ever work?”

Louie looked at Mary and shook his head sadly.

“Not often.”

Mary slapped Louie’s hand.

“You are cute.”

“Why don’t you do something with your free time?” asked Louie. “Surely you must have interests.”

Mary shook her head.

“Nope. Any suggestions?”

“Well,” Louie thought for a moment, “they’re always looking for volunteers down at the Seniors’ home.”

Mary pointed at herself. “Me? Keep some old farts amused all day? I don’t even like to think what’s it like to get old.”

“What about kids?”

Mary shook her head. “I have one. My husband doesn’t want any more. I’ve been fixed. I think that’s the word for it.”

“No,” Louie responded, “I mean why not help kids down at the hospital.”

Mary sipped her drink and put it down.

“Maybe I didn’t make myself clear,” she said. “I don’t like kids.”

Louie took a sip of his beer and shook his head.

“Don’t give up.” Mary laughed.

Louie laughed. “Well, you’re a hard nut to crack. You have no interests. It doesn’t appear that you want to reach out to the wider community…”

“That’s good. Wider community.” Mary finished her drink.

“Another?” Louie asked.

“Why not?”

Louie waved to the bartender.

“Why haven’t you asked me about my hobbies?” she asked.

‘Okay,” Louie said. “What are your hobbies?”

“Don’t have any.” Mary giggled.

The bartender returned with her drink.

Louie shook his head.

“What are you really good at?” Louie asked.

Mary smiled and leaned over to whisper in Louie’s ear.

“Blow jobs,” she said.

Louie had a stupid smile on his face.

“You’re blushing,” Mary said. “That’s cute.”

“Perhaps you…” Louie began.

“How tall are you?” Mary asked.

“Oh… five feet five,” Louie responded.

“But you’ve got such large hands,” Mary said as she reached over and stroked Louie’s hand with her wedding finger. “And such soft skin for a man.”

“Is that a problem?” Louie asked.

Mary shook her head. She glanced around the bar to make sure that no one was watching them. When she finished her drink and climbed to her feet, she turned and whispered in Louie’s ear. His bad ear.

“When I get outside, follow me,” she said and left.

Louie smiled. Shook his head. And ordered another beer.

Pregnant Again

1 09 2010

For the last several months (who’s counting) I have been under a grey cloud. Depressed. Not clinical. But official. Combination of doctor’s appointments, philosophic bewilderment, theological disillusionment, physical decline, and the ongoing assessment of my worth. (Call that self-pity). I just want to feel that uncontrollable sense of joy again. The birth of your kids. Falling in love. Winning the lottery. Arm wrestling God. Meeting Bob Dylan in a snowstorm. Maybe I should get pregnant again.