Thursday, May 22, 2014

When Hell Freezes over - a hike with Ralph

We took Ralph the Menace on a 9 km hike around Frame Lake which was as much an exercise in patience as it was in physical health. Ralph, who is technically still a puppy, was very curious about everything and everyone we encountered, and this curiosity, I’m sorry to say, had a weird kind of incendiary ripple effect on the mother/daughter dynamic.

The trouble began before the hike even started, when we first got into Guinevere’s truck, a thing with peculiar problems of its own. When Guinevere first suggested a hike around Frame Lake, I did not realize we would have to drive there in order to do it. 

It is a peculiar paradox to me that a person would drive a distance with the sole intent of walking. It seems to defeat the purpose.

But that is neither here nor there.

As far as getting into a truck with Ralph so that we can walk him, I looked at Guinevere doubtfully. This was unwelcome news to me. I asked, “Have you ever even driven with Ralph? How do we know that he won’t go wild in the cab of the truck and cause us to get into an accident?”

Guinevere gave me her signature condescending look, as if my question was completely preposterous and Ralph was the best behaved canine on the planet (even though we know from personal experience this is patently not true).

She then reassured me that she had driven with Ralph before and she was QUITE sure he would be fine. According to her, I just had to hold onto his leash as he obediently (and I would say "magically") sat at my feet, since Guinevere would be the one driving.

This whole scenario was RIPE with potential for controversy, but that was only acknowledged in hindsight. In the moment, and during the extensive discussion phase of our plan, we were too wrapped up in combat to give much thought to consequences. Besides, we secretly enjoy our mutual pugnacity – love might be the emotion that keeps us close, but friction is the mechanism that keeps our mother/daughter relationship interesting.

So with our plan set, we put Ralph on his last leash, the only one left that he hadn’t chewed in half, and tried to get him in the truck. 

He would not cooperate. 

I got up in the seat and tried to gently pull Ralph in after me, but he stubbornly refused to budge. Guinevere just sat there in the driver’s seat urging ME to “hurry up”.

With sweat beginning to form on my brow, I angrily snapped my head in her direction and demanded some help because Ralph, COULDN’T SHE SEE, was NOT getting in the truck despite my urging. Finally, Guinevere reluctantly got out of the driver’s side and came around to help. It took both of us in the end to hoist him into the truck.

“Unbelievable,” I muttered, “if this is any indication of the next few hours I think we are in for some troubled times ahead!”

Already Ralph was trying to get up on the seat in between eating an empty Tim Horton’s coffee cup that had fallen on the floor. When he was done with the cup, he moved onto a container of antibacterial wipes before turning his attention to my shoe laces.

By the time we reached our destination he was actively biting me, breaking skin on my hand at one point, while simultaneously biting his leash with me yelling at Guinevere that we were about to lose the last leash! 

She, as was fast becoming her habit, blamed me for Ralph's disobedient behavior, saying I was letting him chew the leash on purpose, to which I screamed, “I’m sitting right here beside you and you can SEE the hell I’m being put through and STILL you blame me?! There’s no controlling him!”

All she did was snicker as she told me not to yell, which was infuriating because as soon as it’s her having to deal with her nightmare dog, SHE’S the one yelling. Then with Guinevere thinking it’s hilarious, and me about to have a heart attack trying to get Ralph under control, he managed to gnaw his way clean through the leash. 

I informed  Guinevere, in a barely controlled tone, of this unfortunate turn of events while screaming at Ralph to stop biting me. “Guinevere! I’m going to need a rabies shot now because of your psycho dog!”

Guinevere had no concern for my injuries and instead got mad at ME for Ralph ruining yet another leash. It wasn’t so funny now that she had to buy a new leash in a place, the Northwest Territories, where the price of everything is tripled.

“You act as if I could have stopped him! There’s NO stopping him, Guinevere! He does whatever he wants!”

“That’s because you let him,” Guinevere said through gritted teeth.

Suppressing my, what I could feel would turn into full-blown rage if I wasn't careful, I ignored the utter fallacy of what she was accusing me of and instead said, “Well, we have to get another leash now if we’re still going on this stupid hike”.

So we did, bickering the entire time, much to Guinevere’s embarrassment, as there were other shoppers in the pet store who could obviously hear our irritation with each other. 

By the time we reached the start of the trail, I was covered head to toe in dog hair (an experience I truly believe is one of the most uncomfortable of life's various mild yet aggravating unpleasantries). The dog hair was also causing me to sneeze. Guinevere thought this was hilarious and exploded in laughter at my misery - that is, until I pointed out the water bottle she was about to take a drink from was also covered in dog hair.

The commotion she caused dancing around, sputtering dog hair out of her mouth was perfect revenge and it was my turn to laugh. We were not happy with one another AT ALL at this juncture and the hike hadn’t even started yet.

Then we were off, but first I made sure she understood there was NO WAY I was EVER holding Ralph's leash if he was attached to it. She would have to do ALL the dog walking herself. I was merely there for emotional support.

“Emotional support! I’m more likely to get emotional support from a random duck paddling around on the lake than I am from you!”

“So rude. I’m your mother and will give you all the support you could possibly need”. Then we both laughed. So ridiculous.

As the hike went on with the normal bickering one might expect, we also began to notice that although Ralph continued to pull on the leash and on at least two occasions managed to break free from Guinevere’s “tight” grip and charge at a couple people walking past us along the trail, he was actually, for the most part ,very friendly to passerbys including other dogs.

Unbelievably, we did have fun in between our minor arguments, even with my litany of complaints and Guinevere's sometimes trivial (at least from a mother's point of view) preoccupations. She, for example, obsessed, practically the entire time, over how her newly purchased and pricey runners were getting dirty as we hiked. I was incredulous. She did know where we were going when she put her runners on!

Along the trail there were of course points of interest with informative plaques providing context. The environment was beautiful, but what surprised me and gave me pause was a piece of written wisdom in the midst of all that wilderness. The synchronicity, or what Carl Jung also referred to as a "meaningful coincidence", of "happening" upon the following lines exactly as we were in the process of "taming" the unruliness of Ralph's innate tendency to rebel, was not lost on me:  

"The rock of the Canadian Shield contributes a wild and desolate quality to the land; the boreal forest attempts to tame it".

By the time we finally emerged from the trail and were on our way home, our mood was much improved. And it was with this improved mood that we were approached by a gaggle of 4-year-olds outside Guinevere’s apartment. They were smitten with Ralph and to our surprise and delight Ralph, rather than jump up or nip at one of the children, reciprocated their fondness by licking them, wagging his tail and sitting still so they could pet him.

The swarm of children that gathered around Guinevere and Ralph were so taken with the entire situation that even as Guinevere bid them farewell they refused to let the moment pass and followed her. 

She looked like the Pied Piper, but instead of luring rodents with a tune, she attracted the favor of these adorable children with the lure of Ralph.

At the end of what should have taken under 2 hours but took more like 6, we had a new-found likeness for Ralph. When we got home he was docile and sweet. 

It was a feel good moment.

But moments pass as life marches on and this was no different. 

The very next morning, with my guard down after the feel-good times of the day before, and my maternal feelings towards Ralph still flowing, things unfortunately returned to "normal" as I let Ralph out of his pen. The first thing he did was make a mad dash for the kitchen, jump up on the kitchen counter and knock a pot of coffee on the floor. The loud bang brought Guinevere running, all blurry eyed from sleep. "Mom! What the?!"

And the fight was back on.

Girl is gYrating signage - streeting up the WaLk (Inspired by e e Cummings)

streeting up the walk
(book bag, legs bare, flip-flops)
testosterone hates reality talk

girl exposed, ponytail, (or exposed girl)
sees the swishing sound (erect)
hears it in their eyes
strip joint
yes surprise
Gyrating signage, bosom profile
(swinging in the wind)

tongue slithering (paunch & crack)
disrobe your text and calm on in

trinket for your fleshy thoughts?



In my home the walls are made of air,
And the floors tiled with hallucination.
We walk around pretending they're there;
It requires delusion and dedication.

In my home when there's a knock on the door,
We hide behind curtains of illusion.
We're not here and don't want your rapport;
It causes disbelief and confusion.

They know they can see us quite openly,
But our feigned oblivion gives birth to doubt.
And the conflict between what they're told and what they see,
Is hard to accept or figure out.

And in my home we're a figment of imagination,
But if we confessed our lies and denial,
We'd reveal the extent of our fabrication,
And the cold truth we'd have to reconcile.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Well-trodden Path to Nowhere

There's a well trodden path to nowhere,
Traversed every day by those just like you.
And no matter the heartaches they share there,
It's something they'll continue to do.

You won't notice the veterans as you walk by,
With their souls amputated and scarred.
There's no hope for them, as they're waiting to die,
But for you, your future has not yet been marred .

They'll warn you in vain of the futility ahead,
But your deaf and foolish ego will not hear,
With ears muffled by fairytales you've read,
And still too naive to be critical or have fear.

The fear will come later on down the road though;
This can be promised as sure as the night will fall,
When the experienced have given up what they know;
And the ignorant will forget they were ever told at all.

The Hell Around Here

Around here we don't speak of his groping hand,
We don't see with our seeing eyes.
Around here nobody takes a stand,
And everyone wears a godly disguise.

Around here our cries of pain are laughter,
And his pleasurable games we abhor.
Around here the springs creak right after,
He gets up and stalks out the bedroom door.

Around here geniuses are blind fools
And legs that are not crippled do not walk.
Around here we follow uncertain rules,
And our moving mouths will not talk.

Yes, there's a lot of confusion,
In the hell around here.
We need a saviour's intrusion,
To relieve our shame,
And avenge our fear.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

No Match for Proselytizing Boys

There are two young Mormon males who loiter on corners and wander the downtown streets approaching strangers in the hope of spreading the word and securing their own place in the Celestial Kingdom. They are well-groomed, handsome, clean-cut, polite, sharp, seemingly rational (I mean beyond their convictions), confident and religion-assured.

They are also a fucking nuisance.

I, however, am no match for them.

When I realize they are heading straight for me, in a panic I start fumbling with my keys trying to get in the car and make a quick getaway.

But alas it is not to be. I’m too imperfectly klutzy and they are programmed machines who come at me with a strong and steady stride. Again, I’m no match.

“Do you have a moment, ma’am,” they ask in unison with sure, friendly smiles, as if we all don’t know what’s about to go down here – that they’re religious fanatics and I’m a heathen destined for their version of hell.

“No, I’m sorry,” I stammer like the frightened animal I am, “I’m actually running late, so…”.

Undeterred, they interrupt to let me know that’s no problem and firmly place a Mormon “business” card into the palm of my hand. They say it’s fine, they don’t need to take up my time. I can learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (or LDS) in the comfort of my own home by checking out the website printed on the card – an item that has now been forced into my possession, thereby immediately becoming yet another chore with which Lala must contend. See? A nuisance.

My vehicle has become a veritable storehouse of religious paraphernalia that nobody frigg’in wants – well, except for the indoctrinated drones who burden me with it in the first place.

I nevertheless thank the indoctrinated drones – actually thank them – and promise I’ll check out the site. Then in my haste to get away, I practically kill myself jumping into my vehicle like a traumatized rabbit that’s been unexpectedly let go by a wolf, not because the wolf suddenly sees the light and rejects carnivorism on the spot, but because such a sly creature understands holding off on immediate gratification is likely to yield larger gains in the future.

They – the wolves, I mean the Mormon boys – say, “You’re welcome,” as if they have just selflessly extended me a charitable kindness to their detriment and my benefit. They then skip off into the setting sun, careful not to touch hands as that might be misconstrued as sinful behavior since they aren’t married to each other and they’re both…well…boys.

Boy-on-boy love, incidentally, is a no-no in the world of Mormon Wonderland, with its magic underwear, planet Kolob, golden plates and prophet, Joseph Smith, a purported conman, to name but a few of the religion’s more bizarre and laughable beliefs.

And while anti-gay sentiment might not be a bizarre belief in the religious world per se, in my understanding of the cosmos it is a bigoted viewpoint and one the Mormon faith, like many other faiths, teaches. In this case, although the LDS Church does concede being gay may be inherent and consequently not a conscious choice, it nonetheless prohibits acting upon homosexual urges and thoughts because, as with any adulterous temptation outside of heterosexual marriage, this would be a violation of “the law of chastity”.

Mormonism furthermore spreads the misinformation that homosexuality can potentially be “cured” through prayer, self-mastery and other pious measures, failing which gay people must remain celibate. This by the way is a tweak in doctrine, as before 2007 when the LDS Church “clarified” its stance through a published interview with two of its prominent elders, homosexuality was seen as a disgusting “heinous” sin that had nothing to do with genetic or biological determinism.

Same-sex orientation was pure evil before, but now it’s what? An unfortunate birth defect God uses to test faith and encourage spiritual growth through adversity in a paternal act of divine love? Absurd.

Of course this leaves one to ponder, if a religion can revise its teachings in a sorry attempt to appease evolving cultural norms, does this not automatically indicate an ERROR in dogma and therefore bring the ENTIRE faith into question or at the very least its varied interpretations?

You can’t have it both ways – you can’t say your particular religion is the infallible word of God, while simultaneously correcting this infallibility or disregarding the more unpalatable and barbaric tenets of a faith and its scriptures.

Ambiguity, error, and not to mention terror, imply a human hand, not an omnipotent one. It appears humankind continues, as from ancient times, in its ignorance and confusion to protect darkness within a cloak of fake divinity. And if you don't have an eye for it (i.e. darkness disguised as light) appearances can be extremely deceiving because Evil is a master of disguise, found in the most unlikely of places.

But all omnipotence, evil and discernment aside, when I am finally safe in my vehicle, in resignation I throw the Mormon card in with the Watchtower pamphlets and service programs from a myriad of denominations in addition to other religious propaganda I’ve been begrudgingly accumulating. What am I supposed to do with it all? Read it? I've done that and I don`t agree with their interpretations, nor do I want to emotionally invest in their fictions.

In any event, I don’t know if these proselytizing tactics work on other seekers and free-thinkers, but as far as the various principalities and powers vying for Lala’s soul, it does nothing but instill the desire to reject ALL OF THEM.

Therefore, as a preventative measure to confuse future attacks and thus protect me from the cunning ways of faulty religion and a conditioned mind, I am considering wearing a Flying Spaghetti Monster pendant around my neck, or pasting a bumper sticker to my car that reads:



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Starving for Attention (Poem)

An empty child sits on a promising box,
With rotten teeth he eats and talks,
He gnaws on a bruised, shrivelled apple core -
Bits fly from his mouth and land on the floor.

His voice startles the silence of the room;
Fridge hums to life from within its Freon tomb,
Faucet drips and pings against the metal sink,
Overhead florescent lights stutter and blink.

Clock chimes in with its reliable tick tock, tick tock,
House key hopelessly dangles from the front lock.
The child asks Teddy, "What'd you do today?"
But Teddy is falling apart and has nothing to say.

Mother will come home when she can,
Dad might call if he gets a long distance plan.
But for now a stranger has come through the door,
Willing to give the attention this child is starving for.

Free Will

In the dark crevices of the unknown,
I'm wild and free in places not shown.
It's where I am whatever I want to be 
Sovereign in my cerebral anarchy.

Possibility allows flight without a care,
As I quantum leap through charged air,
Travelling synapse, space and time 
Just a psychic free-wheeling enzyme.

I freefall from the ridges whenever I please,
And float along valleys with epiphanic ease.
Creativity rushes between the creases,
Where the flow of ideas never ceases.

Unencumbered by social propriety,
I can say anything in my inner society.
It is a place that no one else will find,
I'm wild and free inside my own mind.

This Damn Tree

I look outside my window,
And see an old growth evergreen,
It blocks the landscape
And alters the scene.
I know behind it the Pacific
Presents a mesmerizing sight,
But unless I develop x-ray vision,
I won't see it, try as I might.

I'd like to cut the tree down,
So I can appraise from behind my glass perch,
And with telescopic lens scan the horizon,
In an opportunistic search.
I would take extraordinary pictures
Of the scenic ocean view,
And sell them at an inflated rate
To a privileged few.

But this massive piece of gnarly bark
Stares defiantly in my face,
A natural obstacle that devalues the worth
Of my fancy stucco place.

Alas, I'm sure others would agree –
I'd be able to enjoy the beauty of nature,
If it wasn't for this damn tree.

Impossible is Nothing?

Impossible is nothing
When in hallucination you dwell.
Where the sky is purple polka dots
And angels live in hell.

Eagles can talk and human beings
Flap their arms to fly.
No mystery of how we came to be
And no reason to ask why.

Where no one dies
And there's no suffering to lament.
No need for gods or rituals
With which sinners must repent.

Impossible is something though
When in reality you reside.
And maybe as with many things
Impossibility is better accepted than denied.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Vegetarian who ate Organic Chicken

Sunflower was a vegetarian who ate organic chicken. She did not see any problem with this obvious contradiction, but her roommate, Jennifer, did: “But Sue, you can’t call yourself a vegetarian if you eat meat!”

Sunflower ignored Jennifer and continued slicing into a thigh.

“Oh, right,” Jennifer rolled her eyes when she realized her mistake, “Sunflower?”

Susan (or Sue) had changed her name to Sunflower in recent years and Jennifer was not yet accustomed to the change. Jennifer had known Susan, Sue or Sunflower – whatever the hell she wanted to be called – since childhood, so it was no wonder Jennifer was having a difficult time keeping the new name straight.

What made the situation more unpleasant than necessary, as far as Jennifer was concerned, was that Sunflower refused to answer to the name Susan and could be straight out hostile about it, which was particularly unsettling for people she hadn’t seen in a while and didn’t even know she had changed her name.

However, now that Jennifer had addressed Sunflower in the correct manner, the older woman immediately came to life and cheerfully exclaimed, “Jen! I didn’t see you come in. Did you say something?”

But before Jennifer could repeat her initial question, the cheerfulness drained from Sunflower’s voice and she snapped, “It’s organic!” as if the word “organic” granted meat a pardon from not being a vegetable.

“And another thing! I don’t want YOU or any of your friends touching my organic chicken! If you touch any of my stuff I’ll call the police!”

Sunflower was quickly beginning to wilt under the strain of all that chicken. So she lit one of her organic cigarettes and with as much dramatic flare as she could muster stormed out of the kitchen, bumping into Judith along the way. “Judith!" she screamed, "you’re always in the way!!”

Judith was an antique armoire Sunflower had found at a flea market.

Sunflower named all her material possessions. Every person and object in the universe was on its own spiritual path to enlightenment, she claimed, and deserved a name that captured its true essence. But, as is the case with many people, Sunflower did not heed her own idealogical rhetoric and no more resembled a sunny flower than she did a vegetarian or a non-smoker.  Jennifer decided it was probably best to keep her distance from this deranged woman she no longer knew with her alarming beliefs and misuse of the word "organic".

Nevertheless, it is difficult to keep ones distance when living in the same place, and as the days and weeks passed, Jennifer’s resentment grew each time she opened the fridge and saw the partially-eaten organic chicken, eyed Sunflower’s unwashed dishes sitting by the sink, or smelled the stench of organic cigarette butts left smoldering in ashtrays all over the house. Then there was the problem of Judith’s accumulating dust, which only added more fury to Jennifer’s intensifying rage.

By the 4-week mark, Jennifer could stand it no longer. In a cleaning frenzy, she attacked the kitchen with a duster, Pine-Sol and dish soap. She threw the rotting chicken carcass and its container into a trash bag, noting that it wasn’t even organic. It was an ordinary rotisserie bird bought on sale at the independent supermarket.

Sunflower was furious when she later discovered what Jennifer had done and promptly called 911.

“I need to report a crime!” she shrilled into the phone, but stopped mid-sentence when she noticed Judith standing there, gleaming and dust-free.

Hyperventilating, still with the phone to her ear, she yelled at Jennifer in disbelief, ”What did you DO TO JUDITH?? ASSAULTED her?! How DARE you!!!”

The police arrived shortly thereafter. They had received a call about an altercation involving a chicken, a sunflower, two victimized women named Judith and Jennifer, and one maniac named Susan.

In the confusion that ensued, Sunflower, whose name as it turned out had not been legally changed, was taken away in handcuffs for assaulting both Judith and Jennifer over a housecleaning disagreement. Sunflower was not taken to prison, mind you – she was taken to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation.

Judith was not available for comment.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Beyond Death - Poem

Tomorrow's procrastinations will have to wait,
Better decisions have come too late.
Gone before the priest could give last rites,
In darkness now he consorts with vagrant sprites.

Beyond death how he wishes he could go back in time,
Before the church bell rang its mournful chime.
When tears of anguish had not yet sprung –
Long ago when still hopeful and young.

In death he sees what life blinded him to –
Given another chance, he’d reincarnate with integrity and virtue.
He would love, serve, abstain, give gratitude and pray,
With faith he would walk in awe of each and every day.

But chances for redemption ended with death's last rattle,
No more will angels defend his soul in spiritual battle.
Their swords defeated by greed, hate and lust,
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

The Hoarder's Fine Mess (Poem)

Empty bottles overflow from a dented garbage can,
Dust settles undisturbed on a broken fan.
Nicotine sticks to the windows and stains the walls,
Dirty piles of laundry escape the hamper and litter the halls.

Margarine containers and old pickle jars,
Crowd in with torn dolls and battered toy cars.
Loose Queen of Hearts scatter, separated from the pack,
Along with a torn wrapper from some long forgotten snack.

Crates of unworn clothes and stacks of unread books,
Are crammed into all available crannies and nooks.
An overflowing collection of plastic shopping bags,
Compete for space with receipts and outdated tabloid rags.

Dozens of matted, stray cats meow somewhere,
A few are stuck under one of ten dryers in need of repair.
Rotten food and feces attract vermin and flies;
The stench of it induces vomit and stings the eyes.

But don’t worry - tomorrow the clutter will be put away,
Until then, though, right over here it must stay.
It’s too important to be tossed in the trash;
It has sentimental value and might be worth some cash.

Once upon a time this stuff held perceived significance,
But as it decays please explain what’s the difference?
Any importance has been lost and buried under the stress,
Of the much greater significance of this fine mess.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Inferior Apples

The best apples dangle from the top of the tree,
High up in stature, they're hidden from me.
I can't really see them but know they are there,
Sneering down while enjoying the crisp autumn air.

I stand in the tree's shadow and don't see a ladder,
But without marketable skills what does it matter?
I don't know how to climb and I'm fearful of height –
Elitist apples don’t care as they hog all the sunlight.

My only hope is that they will fall pristine in my hand,
But if I upset the tree, from the orchard I'm banned.
Picking low hanging apples is thus all I can do –
Resigned to my station, I settle for fruit of less value.

The highest apples continue to gorge on most of the bountiful sun,
Leaving nothing but slivers of dim light when they're done.
The poor masses that congregate close to the ground,
Are left stunted and bitter and subdued, I have found.

While the choicest fruit grows sweet, plump and ripe,
I labour hard to collect that of a more unsavoury type.
This goes on and on until my confidence is eroded,
My posture stooped and independent thought imploded.

Until finally the superior apples get so heavy they fall,
And the inferior ones no longer seem so inferior at all.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Scavenger Wolf (Sonnet)

These wolves aren't of Farley Mowat,
Described as magnificent and proud.
And their street-wizened eyes know it,
As they howl their hopelessness out loud.

Their lonely voice impales the moonlit night,
But their seeming power is a deceitful sound.
Their mangy truth is exposed in the daylight,
As like dirty vermin they scavenge around.

With limp paws they search garbage and debris,
Their fur is matted and their stature small.
And it seems a romantic lie wolves roam free,
When through filthy disgrace they're forced to crawl.

Such is the plight of the fallen wolf and his clan,
Oh what a tragedy for both God and man.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Idiot Poet

I stand outside the liquor store, 
A poet starved for verse.
I put my words to melody,
And sing seduction to your purse.

I wear a feather in my hair,
A smudge of dirt upon my face;
I may smell of alcohol,
But only just a trace.

Don’t waste time judging me,
I won't condemn your choice –
I merely suggest a few pennies,
And that you listen to my voice.

I apologize to the employees –
I only know four lines;
But perhaps they could provide inspiration
In the form of several wines?

But apparently they aren’t a charity,
Where repetition is free to drive them mad;
So again I apologized for my impoverished words,
But they were all I really had.

For I am the Idiot Poet;
Misunderstood and reviled,
Cast from storefronts,
And poetically exiled.