Friday, January 31, 2014

though the buds drop before blooming

though the route be mysterious
though the rewards are interior
and hidden
though you are afraid 

of what you will discover
though the language itself
is full of thorns
though the buds drop before blooming

though the end result
is infertile productions
it may be that the work itself
is the reason for doing the poems

that when you think
in the tedious language
that when you tear out 
of these adhesions of daily existence 

you might learn something fresh
that will awake your soul
then this knowledge is sufficient
to keep you working

perhaps poetry is the catalyst
to make the metabolic reactions proceed
so that you have some show of force
perhaps all you have is exhaustion

of what was before
in the conversion you are made over
and perhaps this forward reaction
is sufficient to ensure persistence

for poetry is no gentle art

play the instrument
as well as you can
and do not squirm
when you fail

this is all you can do
it is practice
and hard work
done daily that takes you there

I suppose the door is always open
but we simply fail to be certain
we might attempt    as if we believed
but indeed we do not trust sufficiently

at the door of poetry
I am waiting  to enter into the simplest
language    that has cut away from the body
to show internal organs

in every way
poetry is anatomy lessons
for the uninitiated    I cut down to the bone
and hope for discovery of the most intimate sort

when I am done for the day
I put the bloodied instruments away
and tell myself   I have failed enough
for today   tomorrow is yet another attempt

and I do what I can to make myself
relentless     for poetry is no gentle art
it is  is not meant for the fainthearted
but requires a will that is powerful

you must get up
out of the pit of dissected parts
and take up the scalpel   to cut into flesh
and enter the soul   you must trust

that each day's blotched surgery
will lead to yet another advance
on the path to nowhere
where we discover what is holy 

there is a guest unaccounted for

it is no use expecting
liver and onions
on the plate

the menu isn't given to you
and you may get chicken
or fish

there are interruptions
and the server forgets
your order

difficulties arise
with the cook
there is a guest unaccounted for

life is very much like
a restaurant
of unfinished poems 

the difficulty of the line

the difficulty of the line
is that it won't tell you when
it wants to stop
it's talk

it will simply ramble on and on
as if it were an old man
reliving his past
that limber thing

when you tire of the same
story    you stop the mouth
and another old man
begins to talk

you wish they would all
speak clearly
the voices they use
mumble and they stall

as if they were not sure
how to say their truth
often one of them fails
to tell you the entire line

you have to improvise
put a few odd notions down
but the falsity jars
you end the poem then

look out at the night

when you are tired
of writing
the words are floppy in your hands
like dead children

it is best to still
and leave the heaped rows
the sullen stories
and the empty notes

look out at the night
how it has failed
to make a single
coherent sentence

out of the wordy stars
how the moon has made
a bright blot in the middle
of the dark page

there are many ways to make

there are many ways to make
and only you can decide
if you would
furnish a room
or enter into the divine
and only one thing separates
the good life 
from the hard past
and that might be your will

what would you do in this time?
should you robe yourself in the crocus leaves?
or should you cast the net for the flying birds?
who will tell you if the whir of the locusts
will be your lot in life    or whether you
will trap the scatter of the pebbling waxwings
as they fall on the ash tree reds?
will you decide on life
or will you choose death?

only one line makes the decision for you
only one matter is significant
will you stay true to who you are?
or will you turn yourself
inside out     to make the pillow feathers
fly in the winds? 
what others do 
is their decision   but you must
find  out   what turns the key in your locked head

here is an experiment
in your soul   and you are to throw yourself
into the work  if you decide that this has failed
then think hard and begin again the great work
of making a life that is practical
but still stuns with its great converse
you might say   that others decide for you
or you flip the coin of luck and hard work
to make your own stories    in the war that is continual

"Written on the Body" by Jeanette Winterson

The plot is not important. Or so I tell myself. The gift of a happy ending won't entice me to the end. There are many boring parts in the book with the love making clotting the language. I don't want to dwell in these parts. I feel uncomfortable.  It's not the matter of the love itself, but the nakedness.  Who would not be slightly off balance in a book where feelings are raw nerves that are being shocked? I could say that parts of the book bored me, that some of it dragged, that there were characters that I did not know but in the end the language itself saved me from stopping.
I read Jeanette Winterson for the bits of language that primrose through the banal and clots. The truth of our lives revealed to us without any sort of prenuptial agreement.

Page 15-16

  See? Even here in this private place my syntax has fallen prey to the deceit.  It was not I who did those things; cut the knot, jemmied the lock, made off with the goods not mine to take. The door was open. True, she didn't exactly open it herself. Her butler opened it for her.  His name was Boredom. She said, 'Boredom, fetch me a plaything.' He said, 'Very good ma'am,' and putting on his white gloves so that the fingerprints would not show he tapped at my heart and I thought he said his name was Love.

 from "Written on the Body" by Jeanette Winterson

And isn't this the delusion of all of us?
We sit in the tedium of our lives and the toy of love is given to us randomly.
We play with it until it breaks and we ask for another plaything.
Much better to get over such rotten practice in real life where we are apt to become wounded mortally -- and instead safely, read about these facts in turbulent stories like this.

Our society preaches the odd idea of endless playthings and never about the solid feel of a book in your hands.

I have sat like a cat on a cushion and watched out of the window at the toys smashed and the children left behind to mope. It may be that I am practical. There is no use for delivering bad news to the family.  It is more interesting to scrutinize an endless parade of characters and determine what they are --as if you were a physician providing a diagnosis--which of these ones will live and which will die? Is this cruel? To decide the next part of time?

But writers do this all the time. They take up with the characters in their stories and make them out of who they have loved -they are treacherous and yet we forgive them these infidelities in trust because we want to know what sits in others and in ourselves.

Of course I do not find out much because I am dull as a beach ball that has lost its air. I am floppy but still there were sections in the book that I admired.
It may be better on a second read.
Or it may not be.
I don't know.
I did read it --only skipping parts here and there where I was not sure if I was simply tired of flesh on flesh or prudish.  Who knows why I read this book for language rather than the encounters?

In any case, intimate language is her spear and I read her for this.

It is a book on love or the successions of love in a forest that ultimately has only two trees standing; and her love is  a wild aspen shaking deliciously in the spined fir fortress everywhere else. Why else do we love who we love? We want the entrance to the undefended heart don't we?

I can't tell you more than this. Go read the book for the language or the encounters or both.  I will have to read it again to make myself sure of its poetry.

Page 155-156
  'You'll get over it.....'It's the cliches that cause the trouble.  To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever. You don't get over it because 'it' is the person you loved.  The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it?  The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death.  This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?

from "Written on the Body" by Jeanette Winterson


She really understands.
You've been tromped and trashed.
There will be other people you will love.
But the hole where that lost person is won't close.
There is no seal.
You leak.

Only those we love are given our proofs in our bodies. Written on the body are the occlusions of contact.

Page 89
    Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights; the accumulations of a lifetime gather there. In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like braille. I like to keep my body rolled up away from prying eyes. Never unfold too much, tell the whole story.

from "Written on the Body" by Jeanette Winterson

That's the way of caution and defense is always better than rupture isn't it?
Written on our bodies, on our faces especially is the entire geometry of our experiences; how we were broken into like houses left for the invaders who came or who were let in by us. We were fooled and we perished. Then the informed consent, the deliberate lie to let in the invader. We fool ourselves continually until we decide to stop and wrap up the paper of our body so that the story is off limit. When does this happen? Soon after childhood I would imagine. We are all manuscripts put away on shelves high above everyone else, unavailable for translation except to the privileged few. Ghostly traces of what we are shape out of our faces, on our sagging bodies and in our words but it's rare to get the entire meal deal.  Unless of course we are out of our heads. As we often are in love.

The entire book is about the disease of love; the many permutations of its cancer. How are we to keep ourselves in the sensation; the very next day you fall out of love and into another trance. It is wearisome and troubling. It asks what we do when we love. How do we erect charms against new love? And how boredom makes us infidelity a matter of normal function --in our heads if not in our bodies' acts. The sheer kaleidoscope of the stories of love in this book, got me to a dizzy place. I was at the precipice about to throw myself off it. Even she tells us marriage can't keep us safe. Nothing can. What then are we about?

I'd say we are about as mad a species as any that ever existed.
It is troubling that we trowel our wet bodies in this sort of theory.
Love would be more interesting if we could put it into a science project and determine factors to keep us immune from its predatory aspects.
Would it not be interesting to consider love as a sort of Ebola virus? Something we need to protect ourselves from?  And do research on to ensure we keep ourselves alive?

Or should we just limit the section that is most pure and offer it like water to the one we most adore?

Page 129


R.S. Thomas

Some ask the world 
    and are diminished
in the receiving
    of it. You gave me
only this small pool
   that the more I drink
from, the more overflows
    me with sourceless light.

from {RISKING EVERYTHING}  110 Poems of Love and Revelation, edited by Roger Housden, 
Sometimes you only need one pool.
All other oceans can be for dipping your feet in.
But the one pool can give you the water to quench your endless thirst.

sending off the parents

After depositing my parents with the folks at Air Canada at the Edmonton International Airport I got home to a silent house. It felt eerie. Usually when my parents are around the phone is always ringing as they are incapable of doing anything without letting me know about it. I can't say that it isn't a relief to have some telephone free time.
Hopefully they make it on the right plane in Calgary and do arrive in Heathrow airport and not somewhere else. My aunt in England will take over their care for a few days and as she is a retired physician I assume she will know what to do about my mum's fractured back. Or rather sacrum.
There is a worry that mum will fall again as she has no muscle tone but I must not get ahead of the story before it happens.
I am getting used to disasters.
There may be only disasters.

In the end, you have to do what you can.
When you can't do anything, it is best to not whine about it but write.
Poetry is what poets do with the disasters.
In the end a rich life can develop out of the compost heap of broken lives.
In the end, you can still be happy.

When they vegetate in England and in Bangladesh my parents will do what they do which is meet with ten thousand friends and family.
It doesn't sound like the sort of vacation I would like.
Certainly there is always drama of some sort in Bangladesh.
Maybe they will come back intact.

You never know.
Disasters may stop for a while.

Sending off the parents to their holidays is a good thing but still has some worry in it.
Tomorrow I go check on my handicapped sister who has more filial feelings than I do and misses them.

"IS MY SOUL ASLEEP?" by Antonio Machado

You must ask yourself this question every day and remain fixated in the belief that your soul is lively. For if you begin the long slide to apathy that is everywhere like a dust cover on the people, if you shrug at the horrors and keep your eyes to the ground when confronted with the lies, if you pretend you cannot do anything because you are powerless--if most of all---you do not speak out against the Synergy stories we are given every day--then you are no better than the corpse in motion.

There are sorrows. And there is the lively wind simpering at the fir tree. There is a dull ache in the chest but the Third Eye latches onto the milky breast of the marsh and sucks on the gold of the cattails. There are horrors but the bones are lovely in the mass graves where the children still say their stories to you. And so do not sit in the quiet room and pretend the world does not need your efforts. Begin each day with the soul and say its blue.

Page 30

Antonio Machado

   Is my soul asleep?
Have those beehives that work
in the night stopped?  And the water-
wheel of thought, is it
going around now, cups
empty, carrying only shadows?

  No, my soul is not asleep.
It is awake, wide awake.
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,
its eyes wide open
far-off things, and listens
at the shores of the great silence.

Translated by Robert Bly in {RISKING EVERYTHING}  110 Poems of Love and Revelation, 

say No more! No more! No more!------------“The bottom line is I commit to the release of information,” Manmeet Bhullar said on the final day of a two-day discussion on the topic.----------When asked why it took so long to realize the rules needed to be changed, Redford declined to answer, but reiterated her faith in Bhullar.------------------

cry real tears
and not the crocodile ones
that are meant to fool us

begin the work
that has been given to you
by the people of Alberta

do not sway and duck
as Mr. Dave Hancock did
when he refused the challenge

and begged to be let out of court
instead of the lies
go down to bedrock

and meet with Velvet Martin
as you said you hoped to do
but somehow never met with her

we do not believe
in meetings that never happen
instead of telling us the story we have heard

for forty years and more
begin again with a clean sheet of paper
and write a new world into existence

work with the mothers
like Velvet Martin
and speak the truth

we are tired of hearing
how hard everyone has worked
when 745 children are dead

who is responsible for these deaths?
I would say that we are all part of this problem
and we are all to come together to work for them

we are failures in our democracy
and we have proof of this matter
in the 745 children who are dead in Alberta

and so
stop the Synergy spin in Human Services
and meet with Velvet Martin

ask her what went wrong
in the case study in horror
that afflicted her daughter

and when you have heard the lines
that made me cry    when you see
the broken bones   then come to the people of Alberta

and speak as I do
to all of you
say   No more! No more! No more!

for this is the only story 
we will believe in now 
Mr. Bhullar

January 29, 2014 3:42 pm

Changes coming to what can be reported about deaths of Alberta kids in care

EDMONTON – Alberta’s human services minister said Wednesday there will be changes to open up public reporting of deaths of children in government care.
“The bottom line is I commit to the release of information,” Manmeet Bhullar said on the final day of a two-day discussion on the topic.
“I’m just asking the experts, ‘How do we protect others in the system while we do it?’
“There are some pieces (of the existing legislation) that my gut says just don’t make sense.”

Bhullar and Premier Alison Redford sat in on the discussion with experts and policy-makers about how to change provincial laws to reveal more information about children who die in government care.
The talk was sparked by a Postmedia newspaper series late last year that revealed the province has used its privacy laws to avoid revealing the deaths of 89 children in care since 1999.
The laws currently prevent anyone — even the parents of a dead child — from speaking publicly about what happened.
Critics say those laws can be abused to cover up government neglect or negligence.
Bhullar recently revealed that there were hundreds more deaths of children who were not in direct care, but had been at one time, or who were in indirect care, or who had injuries under investigation.
With those figures added in, the total number of deaths since 1999 stands at 741 out of 275,000 children.
When asked why those numbers were not released previously, Redford said her government had to operate under existing privacy rules.
“From our perspective … they were not appropriate rules, so the question today is: ‘What should the rules be?’ And we’re going to make sure that we get there, that we implement those rules and that we can continue to improve the system,” she said.
When asked why it took so long to realize the rules needed to be changed, Redford declined to answer, but reiterated her faith in Bhullar.
The discussion Wednesday focused on the privacy rules and the impact on families.
There was agreement that public disclosure is critical to fixing the system, but there was also concern that potential exploitative reporting could harm those it seeks to help.
One panellist, a young woman named Samantha, recounted her experiences with social workers who threatened to take her infant daughter away because she could not get the child to feed properly on formula.
Samantha said she tried soy milk and an expensive hypo-allergenic formula with little success.
“I was doing the best I could … (but) I was told if I couldn’t fix it that she would be removed from my care,” said Samantha, who asked her last name not be published.
“My question (to social workers) was: ‘What can you do better than me? If you remove her from my care, she’s going to miss me. She’s going to become upset. Is she really going to become healthier?’”
Samantha said her daughter started to thrive and wasn’t taken away, but the woman speculated about what would have happened if her girl had been placed in foster care and died.
“If I was silenced, I would not know what to do with myself,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s fair, just or right. And I also don’t think that anybody else has the right to decide whether or not my story is shared, or her story is shared.”

Why did it take so long for the rules of the game of politics to change in Alberta?

It is as Jessica Ernst has pointed out to us.
There are secrets.
There are lies.
And there is of course intimidation and the loss of employment that happens.
If you don't believe me just go ask some of the doctors who did not get the doctor intimidation inquiry that would have proved these matters (we never get public inquiries that prove the failures and anti-democratic acts of the Tories).

In the end, it is all about data.
I ask for data all the time because I understand that I cannot understand an issue without information. When information is segregated from citizens, when we are given partial information, when information is selected to reflect one worldview, these are anti-democratic acts that must not be tolerated by citizens.
In Alberta we have had a single political party control the agenda of information restriction and spin. We understand now as the opposition parties have for a long time that the failure to give citizens information has ensured that we got a false view of the job performance of the Tories. What we thought of them was based on erroneous data and now we are asking for data to develop new conceptions of their performance.
But of course, these folks are still in power.
At every level of government data is hard to obtain and is only given to the auditors.
But the auditors cannot investigate every problematic area of deception and so we are weakened as citizens in a functional democracy by the data restrictions, which in the case of the foster children deaths were even more archaic than in other areas because the Tories used the excuses of privacy legislation to cover up for their failures as managers.
We hire these ordinary citizens off the street to do the job of managing public assets, institutions and assisting our most vulnerable citizens. In Alberta the Progressive Conservative Party has failed in this work and instead have ensured that the public interest be vanished. The land, air and water is at the mercy of the AER which is paid for by the CAPP parties that prop up the Tories at every level. Corruption is the name of the game. And information control ensures that we do not see the corrupt political games.

We are dismayed at what we are finding out.
It is a requirement of government to give us the data we pay for.
If they don't do this job, we are to understand that the cover up continues, that nothing has changed in Alberta, that we are to be the victims instead of the participants in democratic processes that have been subverted by private interests. We are to understand that data control has been the way the Tories have stayed in power and give us illusions instead of reality.

will it be you?

and who will say his name
in a field of the grasses?
who will follow him up a mountainside
to where the wind peels the fir trees off
the side of rock?  who will show us the dreams
we dream?  who will preach of good and bad?

will it be you?
will you leave your house of power
and live among us?  will you show us
the delusions of what can never be?
will you point out the dark clouds?
will you speak truth to us or continue the lies?

in each of us
the fence is present
between good and bad
which side of the fence will you plant yourself?
and how will you live your life when you travel?
will you understand that none of us are perfect?

will you bulletproof your house
so that the guns firing outside your door
do not impact your bottom line? will you rush outside
and do the work of carnage?  or will you stop in the chaos
and order your armies?  what is your work in the hard times
that will come upon us?   

"MILKWEED" by James Wright

Of course it is tempting to be pretentious and think that the words are to be used to make an ornate set of dinner plates and serve sumptuous meals but I think words are to cut through the garbage and simply show the other world.
In this poem by James Wright the other world is brought in like a small breeze on a warm summer evening, in a brief introduction that makes it seem as if the other world does indeed exist.
I think it exists.
Around me there are pools where the dead children are swimming and then laughing in play. They are no longer afraid and hungry. They ship themselves out or are taken to where they are loved as they never were in life or perhaps were but could not survive us.  The really strong and hard ones among us endure while the butterfly children vanish to form these ghosts.

In this poem, I imagine that James Wright's other world is filled with their gossamer flitting.

Page 22

James Wright

While I stood here, in the open, lost in myself,
I must have looked a long time
Down the corn rows, beyond grass,
The small house,
White walls, animals lumbering toward the barn,
I look down now. It has all changed.
Whatever it was I lost, whatever I wept for
Was a wild, gentle thing, the small dark eyes
Loving me in secret.
It is here. At a touch of my hand,
The air fills with delicate creatures
From the other world.

from "{RISKING EVERYTHING}  110 Poems of Love and Revelation" edited by Roger Housden

make a way / of small stones

here is the stone
that I hold in my hand
that I throw
to end
the grip of the past

I say to myself
this is just a stone
and yet it sufficient
to make change happen
because I trust

yes I trust
that ordinary men and women
are capable
that we can change ourselves
for the work that is ours

the work that each of us do
is minor
and will not add up to 
more than a handful
of rocks   in the timeline of history of mankind

but nevertheless
if I did not do this work
and if you did not do your work
which is the work of all of us
there would be  no change

we would all wither away
 because we failed
to harness ourselves
and move ourselves to the future
that belongs to our children

and so do not despair
do the work
which is minor and essential
make a way 
of small stones

so that the path is clear
for our children
so that they might know
the way out of the pit of our society
so that they may labor as well for victory

so that they might see
with the Third Eye
so that they might feel
the tragedy of those with nothing
so that they may activate themselves     for the work of love

lay all your visions down / before the king

lay all your visions down
before the king
and say their hauntings to him

what you seek
is within you

outside they preach
of success
and the metallic glow of profits

they speak of what will never impress
instead of these empty promises
turn to the soul within yourself 

and grow 
in the circumference
(this is the way of least trespass

upon the environment
and upon others)  take your heart
and put it to work       to do the work of all of us 

prick the thumbs
and wake yourself
so that you might become brave

do the work 
of all of us
they are waiting for our commitment

lay all your visions down
before the king
and say their hauntings to him

what you seek
is within you

you must make believe

all the day has been heaved out of the body
and night comes with a boast of more losses

I have spent the entire day evicting my parents to England

the story is that they escape while I retain responsibility for my handicapped sister

who is surly to be left behind
and I can't say I blame her   it is darn cold outside 

and winter curds line the roadway with their solid forces
I wish to escape myself to some darker dream than this

I wish to make a story where I am not the boring heiress
of these untidy ends of family life     I wish I was brave so that I could run away

instead I fake it    I pretend that I am courageous
I find that if I pretend sometimes it happens

that a brave act 
escapes from  the coward

pretending is the way I live the story
of delusions and poverty

in other words
when you are not brilliant

you must make believe
and sometimes the genes will spark a fire

that devours
the dream

if I concentrate hard
I can believe that the story is of a woman

who has full control of her history
and that I can make the broken parties around me heal

I can do anything
with the words that prod me

to make it all true
that Cinders will turn into a princess one day

(if she wears the right piece of footwear
and escapes from the sisters who are harmless)

this is to say
I am trapped in the scripts that I obey

but then
what would I do in Bermuda

soaking up the sun
on a beach with another fool who thinks he is everything?

the day is ripe already
I have taken my parents to the airport

and left them to their journey
while I go on the trips in words

I am sure one day there will be similar sorts
of holidays for myself

I will make poems for now
to take me far away

and pretend
that I am brave and capable

when instead
I am afraid

these sorts of troubles will end one day
and I will be on that beach while the sea of language

purls and knits my garment
of singing    one day I will be travelling far away

At the root of all this crime is “alcohol, alcohol, alcohol,” says Chief Supt. Steve McVarnock, head of the Nunavut RCMP. “When alcohol comes into the communities the majority of them will experience a spike in police-related activity.” Even places that have decided by plebiscite to prohibit alcohol are often sabotaged by bootleggers. Pangnirtung and Arviat are both “dry,” but they experienced an increase in crime in 2009 compared to one year earlier, says McVarnock. In March, he adds, officers arrested two individuals in Iqaluit who had ordered 2,800 60-ounce bottles of vodka, which sell for up to $500 each in smaller communities.------------------Professor Clark applauds the individuals who are running the justice system for their dedication and hard work, especially given their limited resources. But he says that improving the crime rates in the North doesn’t just fall to them. “The justice system is really the end of the line. It’s all this other stuff: education, health, housing, that has to be improved. With that improved over the long term we might see real change and there might be less crime. But it’s going to take a long time and a lot of work.”------------

pay for your troubles
and don't ask for them to go away

look out on the landscape
of frost and snow

and remind yourself
that the garden has its bones revealed

forgive yourself
for the departures and the losses

we are made for such
temporary passages

the door of winter remains open
and the waxwings float on their buttons

of ash tree berries
the berries themselves bloat with blood

the circulation of their cells
is paramount

the lined forehead of the sky
is painted with cloudy lanes

where the race cars
of the crows travel

searching for what they can
never find (or at least this is how it seems to me)

when the moon limps into view
the stars crack the empty bowl of night

and the holes fill with milky light
the storms that come will merely

lay down the tapestry of the year
the ragged trees post their notes

of ice as do the houses
that are stabbed with icicles

in each home a family waits for rescue
from the robbers at the door of winter's creation

all the travelers at the airport
carry their belongings as they head

for warmer countries
the children shriek in their piles

as they are dragged out of Edmonton
to live elsewhere for a while

then the highway fills with the arrivals
from other parts of Canada

where the refugees believe
there is prosperity to be had here

that the past is a stone
that they have thrown away

from their shoe
of time

but what then is the present?
only the stone that reappears in the shoe

to tell us
we must face the past

in order
to renew

a camouflage of feelings rises up
like seagulls to cry out about the horrors

we have endured
the landfill echoes with their doubts

the rubbish fills the head
where the bobcats work to cover the evidence

a grassy slope appears
over the station

trains move in and out
and the cemetery that was

vanishes in the boom times
that are coming (or so they tell us)

and yet
the stores close and the workers

lose their jobs
to go on unemployment

the politicians keep the faith
with advertisements

they boost of growth
and balanced budgets

while in the homes
the families wait for better times in Alberta

where they will pay
off the debts that grow with each mistake

in the politicians
who work for the 1% and not for the people

meanwhile in the halls of power
they beg the USA for the pipeline

that will end their troubles
they travel on the public dime

to spread the bitumen truth
with the AER at home to act to provide

the domestic troops
in environment    who will

regulate the Wiebo Ludwig mummies
with fake consultation so that big oil

can continue to do what the industry wants
we are to understand we are the people of big oil 

and future cancer villages
are our fate

but that's all good
because for now the 1% make money

on our labor and our political mistakes
we trusted and because of this we are the lambs

of the wolves in power
and yet they keep promising us

that the care will return to the system
especially in the foster care system  and in 

our broken communities
while all the time  the taxes on alcohol and gambling reap windfalls for government

who prune taxes so that
all of us are complicit in the Tory victories

of so called balanced budgets
we are taking from the poor to make ourselves

Canada's shame

Maclean’s third annual crime surveys shows an epidemic of violence in the North. Forget Arctic sovereignty. This is the problem that needs attention.
by Cathy Gulli with Patricia Treble on Thursday, October 14, 2010 3:30pm - 14 Comments
Canada's shame
Chris Windeyer/Nunatsiaq News
Talk to people living in the North about why the violent crime rate is so high compared to the rest of Canada and you’ll hear about the “complex” or “unique” problems “up here.” But it’s not until you listen to Peter J. Harte, a lawyer in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, tell the unimaginable story of a young woman he knows that you can begin to understand what that means.
At 13, the girl was sexually abused by her brother. This only came to the attention of police when they questioned her about why she was trying to put her little sister into hiding. Her brother wound up in jail, and the teen was placed with a foster family in another community.
Almost immediately, the foster father began sexually abusing her, too—which police learned about this time when they encountered the girl running down the street naked. The man was convicted, but just before sentencing he hung himself. With no place else to go, the girl returned to her home community, where her brother, now free, nearly beat her to death.
“That,” says Harte, “is the first five years of her teenage life. Now she’s got a four-page criminal record, which is mind-boggling for a woman.” Maybe not surprisingly, adds Harte, who is the senior criminal counsel for the Nunavut legal services board, “it includes convictions for hooking to get drugs or alcohol to dull the pain.”
This young woman’s heart-wrenching situation speaks to some of the factors that experts say have caused the epidemic of violent crime in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon: the trauma of sexual and physical abuse, the frequency of suicide, the pervasiveness of addiction, the geographic isolation, the lack of social services. The desperation or rage that drives people to do things they might never otherwise consider.
Taken together, these issues help explain why in 2009 the North had the nation’s highest—that is, the worst—score on Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index (CSI). In this, our third annual “Most Dangerous Cities” report, Maclean’s is using the CSI for the first time as the basis for our reporting. It’s a number developed by Statistics Canada using police reports to determine the seriousness of crime in a given area, and it allots more weight to the worst offences such as homicide or sexual assault. As in past years,Maclean’s also tracked trends by commissioning from StatsCan a run of six indicator crime statistics—homicide, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery, breaking and entering and auto theft.
Almost invariably, the North turned up as the most dangerous part of the country. Nunavut, the N.W.T. and the Yukon took the top three spots respectively in the CSI ranking of Canadian territories and provinces. They also had the highest rates of sexual and aggravated assault.
Nunavut and the Yukon had the first- and second-highest homicide rate, followed by the N.W.T. in fourth. And Nunavut and the N.W.T. also had the first- and second- highest rates of breaking and entering, and auto theft in the country—with the Yukon still above the national rate. Admittedly, the national CSI score has dropped 22 per cent since 1999. But in Nunavut, the N.W.T. (and Newfoundland to a far lesser degree), crime scores have risen in that time.
Although the North has been a political magnet of late—with much attention paid to Canada’s claim to sovereignty, to resource development and fears of Russian planes flying overhead—the reality of rampant crime has often been overlooked. For the people who live in the three territories, though, it may be the most pressing issue they face—one that will have an indelible impact on their very future.
The crime problem is only made more troubling by the fact that it’s occurring in a country like Canada, says Scott Clark, a professor at Ryerson University’s department of criminology in Toronto. Having worked for more than 30 years in the North as a consultant and in government, including in Nunavut’s Department of Justice as assistant deputy minister, Clark doesn’t mince words: “We really should be ashamed,” he says. “We pride ourselves as Canadians on having a good country and a fair country, and we prize equality and helping our neighbours, but when you see what’s happening it just makes you want to hang your head.”
It’s worth noting, of course, that the small population of the North—109,275 people across all three territories—magnifies its crime, as the mayors of Yellowknife and Whitehorse point out.
They and experts emphasize that not everyone in the three territories has been directly affected by violent crime, and the devastation it creates. It is still the minority of individuals who cause the majority of problems. For example, while Nunavut’s homicide rate is 931 per cent higher than the national average, that translates into six murders last year in a territory with 32,183 residents. That may not sound so bad until you compare it with a more populous place such as St. John’s, which is almost six times larger but had zero murders. Similarly, there were 211 sexual assaults in Nunavut versus 165 in Windsor, Ont., which has seven times as many inhabitants. And there were 28 aggravated assaults in Nunavut compared to 20 in Richmond, B.C., population 191,376. Meanwhile in the N.W.T., where 43,439 people live, there were 717 break and enters, versus 711 in Red Deer, Alta., which is more than double the size.
At the root of all this crime is “alcohol, alcohol, alcohol,” says Chief Supt. Steve McVarnock, head of the Nunavut RCMP. “When alcohol comes into the communities the majority of them will experience a spike in police-related activity.” Even places that have decided by plebiscite to prohibit alcohol are often sabotaged by bootleggers. Pangnirtung and Arviat are both “dry,” but they experienced an increase in crime in 2009 compared to one year earlier, says McVarnock. In March, he adds, officers arrested two individuals in Iqaluit who had ordered 2,800 60-ounce bottles of vodka, which sell for up to $500 each in smaller communities.
What’s driving people to drink is a toxic mix of historical suffering and modern-day insufficiencies. The legacy of residential schools continues to haunt those individuals who endured the physical, psychological and sexual abuse first-hand. In many cases that trauma has been passed on to their children, who didn’t receive the necessary emotional and practical support. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder plagues many young people, and can cause behavioural problems. As traditional ways of life such as hunting, fishing and carving have faded, a sense of what Harte calls “cultural dislocation” has beset many in the North. With so few employment opportunities—in Nunavut there are only five communities where getting a job is a viable option, says McVarnock—youth have an easy excuse for dropping out of high school; and they do, at a rate of 75 per cent, notes Clark. Add to this limited recreational activities and you get many idle hands—and a recipe for trouble.
For those individuals who seek help, human rights advocate Lois Moorcroft bemoans a lack of resources—too few crisis centres and second-stage housing for women and families trying to get their feet under them after fleeing domestic abuse. With “very few residences, often women have no other option than to go back to the houses where the men are violating them,” says Moorcroft, who serves on the advisory committee for the review of the Yukon’s police force, and was previously appointed to the territory’s human rights commission.
That most communities have limited roads or are fly-in only can literally trap individuals in a bad situation, adds Barb McInerney, executive director of Kaushee’s Place, a women’s shelter in Whitehorse. Plus, a lack of affordable housing means that “if women have to give a sexual favour to get somewhere warm, or to have a couch to sleep on, then they manage how they have to.” The shortage also has led many to live in cramped, substandard housing—which can cause the type of irritation that may escalate to violence. Or it may stymie the efforts of individuals trying to get clean, adds Harte, or a good night’s sleep so they can get to work or school the next day.
All these factors are only compounded by inadequate numbers of police, probation officers, lawyers and judges, all of whom need to be well-versed in the aforementioned issues to be most effective. In July, Senior Judge Robert Kilpatrick of the Nunavut Court of Justice submitted a report to the federal minister of justice warning of an impending crisis, and calling for additional appointments. So far none have been made, although more deputy judges have been added.
In the meantime, there are small signs of hope: in April, a new mental health unit was announced in Nunavut, staffed with two suicide prevention specialists. Youth are rallying in anti-violence marches. Several reviews are under way, including one of Nunavut’s Liquor Act.
Efforts toward more “therapeutic justice” and sentencing circles are spreading. The Canadian High Arctic Research Station will ideally pump money and jobs into the North, and there is a growing number of southern RCMP officers who are signing up to serve in Nunavut. In fact, in May, McVarnock moved his officers into a new building in Iqaluit that is as much a morale boost as it is a practical necessity.
Professor Clark applauds the individuals who are running the justice system for their dedication and hard work, especially given their limited resources. But he says that improving the crime rates in the North doesn’t just fall to them. “The justice system is really the end of the line. It’s all this other stuff: education, health, housing, that has to be improved. With that improved over the long term we might see real change and there might be less crime. But it’s going to take a long time and a lot of work.”

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Some of the pleasures of reading Jeanette Winterson is seeing heterosexual love blown up and reconfigured. It is secretly satisfying to hear my own feelings on marriage confirmed in some of her lines or to read her feelings on all the various scenarios that happen when you fall in love.
In the book "Written on the Body" I have already been made to laugh.
The truth is relationship is  an odd business; and marriage hard to keep up like a mortgage on a house or institution that hangs around forever and then the day it is paid off, you have a feeling of anti-climax--as if all this work --but for what?

When you get married you think you have solved the hardest problem of your life which is what to do with yourself as a single person. In reality being a single person continues on throughout your life and marriage feels as if two single people are trying to decide how to be with each other for the rest of your life.

When you get to be old, it is rather comfortable to be with the same single person; at night when your feet are cold it is a good thing to have a warm body to defrost your frozen limbs on especially if your spouse is like a hot water bottle all the time.

In the end most of this business of love as Jeanette Winterson has already pointed out is a script that is present in many variations and the trick of the business of marriage is to keep the script odd in some parts so that you are interested.

In many sections of the script it is automatic, as if the words you have to use are given like marriage vows but really why not muddle things up so that you keep the story line fun or at least not deadly dull?

If you get tired of marriage, there is always a good book and most divorces happen because women choose other men who are also bad choices rather than a book.

If you are like me, the book is the best route.

In the end all of us are very similar in that we follow scripts, we get into trouble, we hope for love and we conquer our base longings because if you don't there are hardships for innocent folks. Down deep where we are hidden, there is a pit of serpents and we wish we were dastardly and selfish but in the end the spur against the flanks is enough to keep us good.

Jeanette Winterson's frank discourse is what gets me out of my dull patches. Here and there the work of love is full of holes and you go to a book to realize that this sort of worn fabric of relationship is common and you simply take up the needle and thread and darn the thing back to a wearable garment.

Scripts are useful but also tedious. There are many people who can't seem to improvise and keep to the same scripts and this is why I do not like to meet people and listen to their scripts. It is bad enough that I have my own foolish scripts rather than thinking up imaginative follies but to have to listen to the sorry scripts of other people in groups --that's real punishment. Politicians have the hardest time of all because they follow scripts set by their own heads and their advisers -- and then they have to follow the party script as well as the constituent scripts. It makes for a very script heavy life I would imagine and how they make love to their spouses is beyond me--maybe they follow a script for this work as well?

In the first part of the book, there is a small section where  a script is given and it is then blasted apart by a script breaker.

What is a script breaker? I suppose someone you love who is herself or his own self and can't fake their own heads to follow the pattern set in our society.

This is why I read Jeanette Winterson. She can recognize these scripts and talk interestingly about them and make us laugh at ourselves without feeling ashamed that we are so boring in our patterns.

Page 13

   We had rented this room, your idea, to try to be together for more than dinner or a night or a cup of tea behind the library.  You were still married and although I don't have many scruples I've learned to have some about that blessed state. I used to think of marriage as a plate-glass window just begging for a brick.  The self-exhibition, the self-satisfaction, smarminess, rightness, tight-arsedness. The way married couples go out in fours like a pantomime horse, the men walking together at the front, the women trailing a little way behind. The men fetching the gin and tonics from the bar while the women take their handbags to the toilet. It doesn't have to be like that but mostly it is. I've been through a lot of marriages. Not down the aisle but always up the stairs. I began to realise I was hearing the same story every time.  It went like this.

from "Written on the Body" by Jeanette Winterson

And indeed, it does begin to sound tedious like this when you go to the small coffee houses with other women and they talk about their lively marriages, their homes and their children. You wonder in your own  head if there is anyone with a story line that doesn't fit the ruler of our society? You wonder if you are born as a witch and everyone else is good. The stories of work and holidays; the children all doing good at school while your own family is like a sponge leaking water. It begins to feel as if you are an oddity family; that the time you spend in your room collecting words might be a jarring note in the conversation. You listen most of the time. Finally you stop going out on these social gatherings; you begin to feel that the world outside your door is one single line of the same poetry and you want to make another line that is different.

And so what I read here is very much how I felt and continue to feel--that I am hearing the same story every time and usually it is a story of small satisfactions, great misunderstandings, the never enough time, the multiple requirements, the inner hole, the gap in the communication, the lack of intimate connection and so why not collapse that outer world with others and instead feast on the intimate yappings of writers like Ms. Winterson?

She goes here and there like a pendulum that isn't in sympathetic motion, one time hitting the clock wall and then the glass in the front or finally whizzing out of the clock itself to be thrown far away.
I doubt I will ever be able to keep up with the thrown weight.
It is very difficult to become real and then to express that real in a book and so you understand that most of us are poor imitations of the real we could be.

It is doubtful that I am any different than the tired scripts I have heard in my neighborhood or in other places in the world. We use scripts because we don't have to think originally and it is smoother in our society to not bleed on the table as we drink coffee and pretend we are not in pieces.

But what happens when love is real and the scripts are broken? That's when it becomes interesting. The script that is broken when love happens can end in marriage which is the enduring script but I don't think we need to punish ourselves in that final script. We often don't. We simply cut ourselves free of the scar and do what we want. Or we keep in the scar and become adhesions. This is to say we atrophy and we get blockages and we aren't useful as human beings because we refuse to get out of the script --at least temporarily.

I am not sure how one manages with the long script of marriage.
It is odd to me and I am working on it every day.
I find that I am best occupied to think of it as a science project.
My husband (although he won't know it) is my test subject and the boys certainly have been my experiments.
I find that in whatever way you can you must break the sturdy scripts of relationships so that you can make new better ways to endure together.

The first flush of interest can be kept going and you have a great many ways to do this business.
Sometimes I wake up with the feeling that my test subject is an odd creature and that the scientist can't figure out the project or the results.

It may be that to think of marriage as a series of experiments of a long project that we aren't sure of will do the trick of helping scripts change and break and reform.

Scripts are interesting mechanisms of our society and only the political scripts annoy me. The others are scratchy and jar sometimes but I have --for the most part sequestered myself away from them ---they don't intrude except once in a while when I am to follow the script of the good daughter or the script of the long suffering mother--then they bug me.

Ms. Winterson is good at the business of waking up the reader--even this reader.

Page 13
    Bigger questions, questions with more than one answer, questions without an answer are harder to cope with in silence.  Once asked they do not evaporate and leave the mind to its serener musings. Once asked they gain dimension and texture, trip you on the stairs, wake you at night-time. A black hole sucks up its surroundings and even light never escapes.  Better then to ask no questions?  Better than to be a contented pig than an unhappy Socrates? Since factory farming is tougher on pigs than it is on philosophers I'll take a chance.

from "Written on the Body" by Jeanette Winterson

I'll take a chance too.

odd thoughts

It is best when you can't write a single coherent thing to write  brittle messages so that they rip apart and then when it is all fragments floating out to sea, you can strangle the next body of words and keep the murders as a mass.
I figure if your words are meant to self destruct, you can't be bothered to stop and you are to simply progress.
When words are a hash, but you want to write because they are still your friends --you are to put the music on as a help and begin.
What comes out will be diarrhea language but so what?
The words are gift enough.

When I was a child by the beach in Kuwait, I would come home from school and get on my bike and vanish like a hopping toad to the sea. And there I would collect what I could out of that landscape and put them in my room as treasures.
In the same manner, as I used to collect shells, rocks and starfish as a child--I now collect words and I don't worry that they are broken fragments or simply ugly pieces of sea life. I opt to collect and keep in the blog so that what I have learned will be there for me to learn again when times are tough and I forget my own mind.

It is the way of children to simply love and enjoy and how was I able to keep my world intact as a child was with the help of the collections I made and the time sealed in the books I read. There are many ways to live a life and we could go on about the value of real money versus the money of enjoyed experiences or of both but I haven't been a success in my career (if you can call it that) but I have done a few good things such as love my sons and husband. Possibly these works were also done badly but there you go. I am happy with these small matters.

In the words, there are infinite challenges. Most of all the mind winds down and wants to suddenly stop. I can't say that it is easy to pretend to be a writer at my age. I guess it will do for a while until the mind will refuse the hard work of hammering together meaning out of the soft flesh of my brain.

All day while I have been indentured to looking after the daily work of my family and extended family, at the back of my head has been the need to come here and put down the words as if they were jewels and shining.

Life is hard but certainly it is not as hard as it is for the poor and the hungry or the evaporated souls all over the world.

I have been fortunate in that I have loved a great many people and yet, I haven't clutched and held onto them. The fact is love is  a great glue and you must make sure to keep it in the bottle and not make yourself sticky.

It is best to love as many people as you can without holding onto them. They are like the leaves of a great love tree and have to be blown away to whatever destination is their fate.

I am sure that once you understand love, you don't need anything more than this matter.

so that I can say the poem

I   am waiting for the line
that you will bring
so that I can say the song
that is mine

I am waiting for the walls
to fall down
and the roof to be taken off
like a lid on a box

I am waiting for the words
to slip out of your mouth
and arrive on my tongue
so that I can say the poem

I am waiting for the rush
of connection    from where you are 
to where I wait
as if this were a real event

I am waiting for the real world
to vanish   and the other world to take shape
I am curdled in the lines    I untangle neurons
and slipcover the cushion with the stitched song

I am waiting for the correct configuration
to form and out of what is here
I sense the shadow become the solid
as if you were indeed present

I am waiting for the dull mind to be crushed
like grapes in the press 
so as to make the precursor to the poem
I am waiting for a song to say your name

I am waiting every day
for the words to coalesce
about the string and the grain
so crystals form and the pearl itself shape in the shell

and shape your heart

post your stories on the highway of ruins
and ask yourself who will be the one
to hold you  in the last hours?
each of us slip away

be gentle
with all you meet
and understand
we are all human

do not forget to say
the words of love
and shape your heart
for the sorrows that you have heard

each traveler you have loved
will be yours inside
and when they go
to do their work

do not cling and clutch
instead be fierce
in your independence
and trust that there will be enough love

to last
that you will not be without
that the cup that you have given out
will be filled again

in the end
the grave yawns
and accepts
while you stray

and the crush of the crowd
vanishes  as you travel
to the far country
where you will disappear

while you are here
give out what you have
as if you were generous
and forget the score  

or who wins
each of us go to the small dot
of the period at the end of the line
while we are writing let us sing a few parts

and make believe
that we are not afraid
and that doubt
does not choke us

new home building problems

 There are problems with buying a newly built home and part of the problem seems to be a failure to do the inspections in a way that builds confidence in consumers.
I'd say that the inspections that the city of Edmonton does are not only late but also superficial or how else did the inspector fail to find the loose wiring in my new home? Why did I have several outlets that did not work and now have a problem in my bedroom where the light fixture won't go on? This same bedroom had a switch that would not work.

I believe the electrical contractor who did the work in my house did not do a good job. Then the city of Edmonton flunked the checks on the house.
I have a property in Calgary and I have no such electrical problems with the house.
So why the problems in a new house?
Good question.
Go ask my new home builder and the city of Edmonton.

Even if the builder is only responsible for the house for one year of the warranty period, shoddy workmanship is an indictment of the builder's tradespeople and they should be called out with reference to their poor workmanship.

I called my builder and I told them the problem with the bedroom light fixture.
I was told the problem is mine.
But is it really mine?
My ancient house in Calgary that I rent out --that I bought in 1990 hasn't ever had the electrical problems of this new house that I have bought eight years ago.

So who do I call now?
Do I call the city of Edmonton about their checking of the wiring in my house?
I've already called the builder.

Why should I pay for poor work?
Why don't folks do their jobs properly?
Even when the inspectors come out they simply do a cursory check and then its done.
It's a sham.
If you buy a new house, get the house inspected before you take possession.
I did the inspection of my older home in Calgary.
I wish I had done the inspection of my new home in Edmonton.

My feeling is that the builder should get the electrical tradefolks in my house to fix the problem that they are responsible for. I'm not the one touching the light fixture. So why is it off now?

City auditor finds backlog of more than 40,000 building permit inspections

  • PHOTOS ( 1 )

Edmonton’s building permit section has a years-long inspection backlog and needs to become more efficient, according to a city auditor’s report. Developers and construction companies have complained about the costly delays they often face waiting for paperwork to be issued and someone to check out their work.

Photograph by: John Lucas , Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - A years-long backlog in Edmonton construction inspections means there’s a risk some work will never be checked, an auditor’s report says.
That’s just one of the problems with building permit and inspection services identified by city auditor David Wiun, who found the section needs to become more efficient and provide better service.
His report points out numerous areas where things could improve:
— There were 42,224 “delinquent” permits last June that still needed inspections before they could be closed, some as much as a decade old.
While that was down 30 per cent from the number outstanding in 2012, Wiun estimated clearing the backlog will take until the end of 2016.
“There is a risk that at least some inspections will never be carried out because construction is probably complete and the work is inaccessible,” he wrote.
“Fundamentally, the backlog indicates that a significant portion of work is either not being adequately inspected or not inspected at all.
— The wait for building permits is becoming longer. In 2012, 38 per cent of them weren’t issued for at least two weeks, up from 20 per cent in 2008, and slightly fewer were handed out within a day.
“Due to these timelines and delays, the industry is starting construction before receiving building permits,” Wiun wrote.
“Members of the development industry indicated that they cannot afford to wait for (the section) to approve permit applications or conduct inspections.”
— The city could have saved $1 million in 2012 by sending staff to do electrical inspections instead of the contractor hired to do the work.
Using a contractor cost $75 for each of about 30,000 inspections, compared to $41 it would have cost to use city employees.
As well, the number of inspections done by the contractor at multi-family and commercial projects could be reduced, Wiun concluded.
For example, at one row-house development the city was charged $1,575 for underground service cable inspections for all 21 units, when only four inspections at a cost of $300 were needed.
Some of the delays and inadequate supervision Wiun found were the result of being short-staffed during Edmonton’s continuing building boom.
The current planning branch, which covers the permit section, was given money in this year’s city budget for an extra 32 positions, which is expected to deal with construction growth and the inspection backlog, the report says.
Managers have accepted all eight of his recommendations, including an improved service model, creating service targets and reviewing the way electrical inspections are handled.
The report will be discussed next week by council’s audit committee.
Coun. Andrew Knack said Thursday he has heard that it takes longer to receive permits and have plans approved in Edmonton than in other centres, but he’s waiting to see data expected to be available by April.
He’d like more of the approval process put online, allowing people to track their applications and find any bottlenecks.
He also supports setting goals so customers and staff know what targets need to be met.
“Assuming (construction) is done right, approving it quicker will save on costs, which hopefully will result in a more affordable product for the consumer.”
John McNicoll, executive director of the Edmonton Construction Association, said although some of his nearly 1,200 members from the commercial construction sector want permits to be ready faster, the situation is improving.
“I would like to go on record in appreciating the city’s efforts in making us a leader in permit timing. The speed permits are put out is better than many, many cities.”
  • Just look at the garbage being built and the code violations.I am an Arch.Tech and I could point out several code violations that actually pass inspection on all new home projects that we work on.Once again this city administration is doing a very poor job.Just have a look at Europe the construction standards are 20 years ahead of Canada buildings are much better built and 50% more efficient.
  • Reply ·
    • Jack DeRoo ·  Top Commenter
    • I agree Peter - more inspections, stronger codes and a commitment to quality is needed. I've talked with more then a few engineers that wonder if the houses that are being built in the boom will even last 25 years without major structural repairs. Our building's structures should be built to last at least 100 years, with code and inspectors helping to achieve this.
    • Reply ·
    • · 6 hours ago
  • Jack DeRoo ·  Top Commenter
  • This article is not surprising in the least - my neighbour built a garage and the inspector came out, didn't speak with her and/or go in the garage and promptly failed the building, even though it met code. If that is representative of the work they are doing, it's no surprise they are backlogged.
  • Reply ·
  • Mike Olesik ·  Top Commenter · SAIT Polytechnic
  • If you think homes are bad, hi-rise condos are a night-mare. Alberta is way behind most of Canada. BC passed tough laws way back in 1999.
  • Reply ·
· 6 hours ago