Monday, April 08, 2013

Civic Poem mp3 with soundscape by Ben Spencer

The poet, not as priest, but lover
The novelist, not as druid, but drunk

and shaking off careerist rust
but almost constantly shaking

and therefore displeased
but not completely displeasured

and, yes, health concerns
but no, not concerned

and they are tired of lessons
but the poets are pictograph sick

and how you get back from that fissure
but why you won’t come

and the fissure divides the priests from the lovers
but the druids and the drunks mix implicit

and for some reason you like it in winter
but the adverbs returning

and the full rash
but the half-life left

and the votive, the semaphore
but the shrinking ex voto

and you know where to find you
but you hate civic poems

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Down to my last 

(We're not supposed to 

Whisper the word pilling –
a piling-on of fabrications

You wear it well or
wore it

Free range derangement commences
as denizens make strange with tenses and moods

I saw an old cancerous friend and he said,
“I remember when I used to be creative.

They cut it out of me
all interstitial-like.”

The lies and years are

I will miss you when you shun me. I write these
things for nothing

You remain
the best nothing I know

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Please, Just Continue To Be Michael's Mother

I am so troubled by people saying that mental health is the REAL issue that needs to be addressed in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. People with mental health challenges have to deal with enough unwarranted stigmatization and marginalization as it is. People with Autism, Asperger's Sydrome, ADHD, chronic depression, chronic anxiety, personality disorders, and other mental health challenges are, on the whole, non-violent and law-abiding citizens. Many of the people dearest to me have mental health challenges. I have spent a great deal of time in my life getting to know people from across the Autism spectrum. They are among the kindest and gentlest I have ever known. I happen to have my own mental health challenges as well. I used to be self-injurious and I still suffer from acute depression and anxiety. It's not an easy thing for me to discuss without cracking wise (this is my defense mechanism) but I will do my best, considering the gravity of this issue.

Liza Long's now-viral blog post is being heralded as "brave" and "powerful." I believe it is neither. "Michael," Long's undiagnosed 13 year old son, is no doubt a child with behavioral challenges that need to be addressed. My heart goes out to him and to his family. And, yes, we need to do better in the United States and Canada to provide free and accessible health care for people like Michael. I have no problem with the idea that we need to talk about mental illness. We absolutely do. But let's take a close look at the language and its implications here. Long writes: "Now is the time to talk about mental illness ... That's the only way our nation can ever truly heal." Why? Why is NOW the time for a discussion about mental illness? A very dubious link is being made between Michael's rage issues in his formative years and the monstrous act that Adam Lanza committed on December 14, 2012. The manner in which Long and the media have been using terms like Autism and Asperger's prompted the Autism Research Institute to release a very carefully worded statement on the tragedy. The truth is, the great majority of people with Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, as well as those with other forms of mental health challenges are not to be feared. As Dr. Heather Stuart quite rightly points out, "mental disorders are neither necessary, nor sufficient causes of violence. The major determinants of violence continue to be socio-demographic and socio-economic factors such as being young, male, and of lower socio-economic status ... [Further], members of the public undoubtedly exaggerate both the strength of the relationship between major mental disorders and violence, as well as their own personal risk from the severely mentally ill."

It's difficult to comprehend that an argument based on facts (such as Stuart's) may go largely unnoticed and an argument based purely on feelings (such as Long's) is currently being lauded as persuasive and groundbreaking. I believe we have been taken in too easily by the myth of the "violent madman" whether it be through depictions in entertainment or by the media. In fact, Stuart's and countless other studies have concluded that those with mental health challenges are more likely to be victims of violent crimes. The last quote I will take from Stuart is an important one because it takes us back to the issue of "the REAL issue.": "Too much past research has focussed on the person with the mental illness, rather than the nature of the social interchange that led up to the violence."

What is the nature of the social interchange that led to the Newtown tragedy? Or, to put it more bluntly, what was the specific context? Here's what we know. In fact: Adam Lanza's mother was a gun enthusiast and actively participated with Adam in gun culture. She reportedly "loved" her guns and allowed her son access to them. Her guns included two traditional hunting rifles, and three guns that are basically unsuitable for hunting: two handguns and a semi-automatic rifle. These are the three killing machines that Adam Lanza took with him that morning, after killing his mother, to Sandy Hook Elementary School where he slaughtered 20 young children and 6 more adults. This twisted element of North American culture where, for some reason, people feel the need to fill their homes with killing machines commonly referred to as guns (and let's face it, guns have no other purpose) and to "love" these killing machines is the real issue here. There is no reasonably intelligent argument for the inclusion of guns in our culture. Full stop. The second amendment is outdated and needs to be repealed immediately.

I have faith that Liza Long's blog post was a genuine attempt to start a discourse on mental health. For that reason, I am thankful she wrote it. I would guess that she loves her children very much and wants what's best for them. This is why I hope she will see the problematic rhetoric in her proclamation of kinship and solidarity with Adam Lanza's mother. It is a much more powerful and brave message to say: "I will not provide my son with a similar context. I will not participate in my country's love affair with guns. I am not Adam Lanza's mother. I am Michael's mother."  

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Entirely my idea not a great one but entirely mine
There was a bicycle and an objectivist poet sort of riding it. Not
red or blue. Entirely my idea all twig and spoke and gag

I gag often these days like as if it wouldn't catch up
Never my bicycle always entirely my idea and I timeshare
the poet with a post-mountain time scholar from out east
Grey. Not silver but entirely grey

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some Book Covers I Designed

The Barista and I. Insomniac Press. Art by Maryanna Hardy.
Entry Level by Julie McIassac. Insomniac Press. Art by Ghislain Garlin.

Thumbscrews by Natalie Zina Walschots. Snare Books.
Fake Math by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Snare Books
The Olive and the Dawn by Ian Orti. Snare Books.

Asthmatica by JPF. Insomniac Press.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


All love is careless
bleating sadly into some thing or other or
mainlining its way into varicose

The millionaires of summer
swelter away in Old Montreal
delve deep into marry me’s

I’m scared all the way
down the skill hull
it’s always a point of almost-pride

No setting to this poem
but your mind’s alright
and the pediatricians are sleeping
so just skulk softly

Friday, October 26, 2012