sleeping through 911

 

I remember 911, the CF-18s low
feeding like bats above my little city
& how I dreamt the pilots—
Willie Nelson on 8 track & them
smoking Camels in their cockpits
algebra tapping them on the shoulder

America
was a house of sirens when I woke, there
was a newborn rage still
green as new shoots in a John Deere field—
people, the enemy of peoples
had spit out a fresh bitter word that
had never charmed a lexicon, a word
that still echoes like falling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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psychosis

 

it occurs to me
that there’s reality in the gut of this thing
that the voices originate in the purple USB
tucked away in my drawer, the
blue one however is mute but
in it live the animal-eyed men
and I wonder what doves fly between them
when there’s a hush, a
blue full moon street—sorry
it was night behind my own eyes
when I arrived—the
coded Noir, the
fiction I write that screams
for me to stop at every period
that ends a sentence in smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It happens to boys, too

 

It’s been a hard week or two, watching media stories about women coming out with their stories of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of older, supposedly trustworthy, men. These women are heroic, but I’m a mess. Their stories have triggered horrific flashbacks. In fact I’ve stopped reading and watching the news all together, because I too am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I was raped as a boy, at age seven.

It happened in a working class neighbourhood, East Vancouver. I’m fifty-six today, so it’s easy to imagine how different things were back then. Kids roamed freely. It was understood that our adult neighbours would watch out for us, from their yards and through windows, offering their homes as refuge if a child knocked on a door seeking protection. Moms were home every day, and dads home for dinner each evening. And though my parents were awesome, they never knew. I couldn’t tell them; I didn’t know what to say.

I’d gotten stuck in a strange kind of vortex, and the point of my writing this is to point out that childhood sexual abuse happened/happens to boys, too. I don’t think anyone but the perpetrators will deny this, but for me, I hope, stating this fact will be cathartic. I even, occasionally, write fiction in which the perp gets caught. It’s something that can be helpful, since mine never was.

The man who raped me was trusted by the entire neighbourhood. I remember it was summer, and that I was lured into his home with trust, toys and comic books. The crime was violent, humiliating and painful, and if I did then what I do now to avoid remembering, I likely experienced leaving my body as a way of escape.

As another example of how different things were then, my rapist later bragged about it to my friends. I became an outcast, as a result, and have remained one, to one degree or another, ever since.

It was an experience that bored itself into every cell of my body, brain and soul. And I was rewarded with the reputation as the kid who gave it up for the fag who lives(ed) in that house on Eighth Avenue.

Today, I remain an inmate in this prison. Almost everything is a trigger, taking me back. The dissociative disorder I live with is, at times, disabling and hard for others to understand. For some, their attitude, the question they ask, is why haven’t you gotten over it? I haven’t got an answer. Psychiatrists are mutes, hostile in their passivity.

As I’ve said, I’ve been reluctant to write this little essay, because I believe that this is the moment for women to come out with their terrible stories. But watching these moments unfold in the media has caused me no end of grief and pain. As happens with so many who’ve experienced what I have, my childhood was stolen from me, and the thief got away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

the angels of Leviticus

 

it’s true they came to America
with malodorous smallpox pilgrims—
devoutly genocidal but
please don’t make that face
mine was an excellent root canal &
now we can go bowling
in the land of the righteous buttstock
fake news trailer parks &
all that’s finger lickin good, oh
& #CivilWar2017 postponed
due to obesity & diabetes
on the back lot of Liberty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rah-rah-rah Hopscotch

flash fiction—under 500 words

This is him in my neighbourhood back in 1948, pissing in the men’s room at the Chevron gas station on Broadway, then shaking off and moving to the mirror over the sink, muttering hate you on seeing his reflection, his lips out of sync with those in the glass. He combs his tangled hair with a five cent comb.

It’s a cloudy autumn day just outside of the restroom door.

There’s a tiny kind of grit on the sidewalk that wears away shoe leather.

There’s diesel exhaust in the air.

There’s an elementary school up the street where girls play hopscotch after classes.

There’s something he’s supposed to have done, and maybe he has, perhaps many times, that results in the dark moving cellar of his loneliness.

Someone’s at the door, savagely twisting the locked doorknob, but he has the key.

The girls in the playground have invented a cry that they all yell as one of them jumps from square to square toward a ring of keys—Rah-rah-rah Hopscotch!—like a kamikaze shouting on his way to glory.

He could stand at the fence and watch them all day. His Timex says quarter past two. The girls play hopscotch again shortly after three. He pulls up his fly. Now someone’s knocking hard on the door.

He believes he picked up his inclinations by chance, in a divine paper bag. Blissful inclinations, hard to resist. He needs a place to be until the three o’clock bell. Coffee’s a nickel. He finds it in his pocket. He can sit in a cafe until school’s out. Someone’s shouting through the door, louder than street traffic. Someone’s kicking it.

Rah-rah-rah Hopscotch—the little girls are ferocious in their perfect skirts and dresses. They’ve braids, and clean white socks to their ankles; their shoes shine like black brass-buckled moons. The familiar tension returns at the base of his neck. He wants to lick his lips but stops, believing it’s a giveaway to the world, a curse of a helpless animal in a forest. More banging and kicking.

He was laughed at once. The high pitched taunt of a girl he’d offered to guide home. Best intentions, he’d promised. No, she’d said standing there like a whisper. We’re not supposed to. Then she laughed, surprising herself. Child cruel as a woman. An angel needing an angel escort to paradise.

This is him laying on hands, flat on the door, then an ear, feeling the decent-fisted on the other side, feeling trapped. Blameworthy, maybe, of a clumsiness, the error of forcing a whisper and then dropping it onto a red and orange floor of leaves, leaving it there, looking up at an autumn-cast ceiling.

The hat of the first cop through the door falls off, his gun dead black. They strike again and again, fists eagerly, and he sees his blood, liquid shrapnel, spray the mirror. Rah-rah-rah Hopscotch. Just like that, he’s a bomb.