Monthly Archives: February 2013

Tricky

I pulled into the driveway

Turned off the ignition

Went to get groceries out of the back of the car

A noise startled me

Could the car still be running, I thought

What’s broken now

Reflected in the rear window was the source of my dismay

Low flying raven beating its wings a few feet above my head

I looked up and watched as it settled into a tree across the street

To croak its urgent message

Which went over my head

 

 

David Trudel    © 2013

 

 

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Echoes

I hunt echoes and intimations in this namesake place

Of maybes and might have beens

In bricked and mortared past

In the curiosities of the consigned

Remnants of revenants reverberate

In my imagined mystery I bend rules

Explorers plant no flags of conquest

Mapmakers erase artificial borders

Ditching nation state madness for universal rights for all

I hunt echoes and intimations of alternate realities

Where wonders are invented daily

By wild eyed inventors who live in towers

I look for a world where art is valued more than commerce

Where assimilation is a word not found in any dictionary

Where style and grace matter more than brute strength

And in this quest I briefly hear

The last fading notes of a steam whistle pulling away

 

 

David Trudel    © 2013

 

 

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Calm

Calm bliss fills my mind

Peaceful tranquility reigns

Until boredom wakes

 

 

David Trudel   ©  2013

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Steamfinder

Backlit by gaslight she vanishes

Around the corner into the fog

I calibrate gears and dials on my forearm finder

Adjust the setting to mysterious and flip the brass toggle

I’m rewarded with whirs and clicks

Clockwork hands spin wildly

Much like my heart did a few moments earlier

When she came into the bistro, looked briefly around

And then left, abruptly, without a sound

Now the finder points the way

Into crooked alleys and unmarked lanes

Where I see no winsome beauty in high buttoned boots

But I smell a faint trace of her scent in the damp air

I hasten forward

As I turn a corner I see her

Ascending a rope ladder into an airship

A hand reaches out and pulls her in

The ship shudders, swivels and moves ahead

Picking up steam

So I flip the switch and walk away

Beguiled

 

 

David Trudel  © 2013

 

 

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Big Bang

We used to have it so together

We were so attracted to each other

We lived, dreamed and co-existed so deliciously close

There was no separation between us

Your moments were my moments

Not that we counted because it wasn’t necessary

You were me and I was you

Until the moment that changed it all

Our timeless love collapsed

There was a new impulse to drive us forward

Repulsion

We flew apart

Getting out of each other’s way at lightspeed

Moving mountains momentously

It was all so strange

Not to be one with you anymore

Familiar stasis replaced with exploration of new dimensions

Still, we flew farther and farther apart

Getting loose

And travelling to the ends of the universe

Travelling to the end of time

Letting you carry your own baggage

Wherever you might be

Because I repulse you

You repulse me

Enough to create a myriad of new worlds

To escape each other in

And our only together is a telescope view

Of that moment

When it blew up

For good

 

 

David Trudel  ©  2013

 

 

 

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Stormwalking

I will go stormwalking

Let myself be battered by wind and rain

Dodge wet branches torn loose and slapped to the trail

I will go stormwalking

To feel the power of the elements

Remembering who is in charge

Not some politician wielding a poison pen

But our capacious foster mother

Who is not afraid to rinse mouths

Or apply some discipline

I will go stormwalking

To feel her gentle slap of remonstration

To hear her out

In her own words

 

 

David Trudel  ©  2013

 

 

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Cafe

It was his fingernails that caught her attention

Most men have terrible nails

Chewed, nibbled and torn

Stained and dirty

His nails, on a so very other hand,

Were almost perfect as he tapped his iPhone

Although, she thought, not manicured

She noticed that he didn’t wear a ring

Unbidden, a thought entered her mind

His fingers stroking her nipples to attention

Stop it, she ordered herself

With practiced determination and the indifferent ease of an ice queen

She pulled out her own phone and checked her mail

When she looked up she saw that he was looking at her

Or at least at her hands

So she tapped her fingers on the table top and smiled

He held her gaze

Brought his hands together, clasped

Rested his chin on them and smiled back

 

 

David Trudel   © 2013

 

 

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Math

As far as elementary school arithmetic went, I was pretty good.  It was all pretty straightforward and uncomplicated. Once I got to high school things changed, quickly and for the worse. Arithmetic morphed into mathematics and it was as if I was mathlexic or otherwise impaired.  Teacher after teacher tried to instill quadratic equations and arcane formulas into me, and I’d plead with them to tell me what the point was.  What’s the meaning of these clusters of numbers and greek letters and squiggles I’d ask and they’d cuff me on the head and hiss at me to just memorize the equations.  For me, I just didn’t get it.  I couldn’t make any sense of what they were going on about.

Eventually I scraped through with the minimum requirements to graduate from high school and quickly confirmed my suspicions that one could get along just fine in the real world without ever coming into contact with mathematics.  Arithmetic came in handy, but nothing fancy seemed to be needed.

Some years went by and I found myself at university nearing completion of an undergraduate degree.  There were some bothersome mandatory courses I needed, a science that turned out to be a really fun apocalyptic vision of disaster with lots of movies but I struggled to find something in the Mathematics Department.  Eventually I lucked into the perfect course, the History of Mathematics.  We didn’t have to do any math at all it turned out, we just learned the answers to all those questions I had been asking back in high school, like what the heck is a quadratic equation good for and who invented anyway?  It was really a great course and I have always since thought there should be a high school version.

I have never felt any inclination to do anything at all mathematically but at least now I understand its usefulness, if not for me directly than certainly indirectly all over the place.  Wherever something has been engineered, someone or other was puzzling out all sorts of weird computations during its development. The late Lister Sinclair hosted several radio shows on the CBC Radio one of which was Ideas.  It wasn’t uncommon for him to explore arcane mathematical theories with the leading academics of the day and I enjoyed picking up esoteric mathematical trivia.

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2012/06/08/play/

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Journey – A Triptych


1.   
North

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Traumatized and demoralized

I fled into the north

Heading to Dawson City to visit Tony’s sister

We had a few hundred dollars and a bag of weed

Journeying in my orange VW Thing

As we drove further north

The car became a curiosity, a rare thing indeed

Pulling conversations from the taciturn

As we watched gasoline prices exceed our imaginations

 

One night, while there still was night

On the Stewart Cassiar highway

We came around a bend and were stopped by a wall of gravel

That seemed impossibly high and wide

So we began to prepare for a long wait

Got out the Stoned Wheat Thins

Some cheese and a summer sausage

Figuring it was time for sustenance

When the wall was Moses’d

It parted

Bright lights shone cosmically

 

A D12 dozer was our rod and our staff

Parting the chaos of gravel mounds

With the smooth dexterity of a pastry chef

We followed

Looking more than a little ridiculous to grimy goliaths

Who you just knew only drove trucks

American ones

And probably didn’t eat Stoned anything

 

We were ejected into the blackness of beyond

Heading straight up the map

Through mountains of gravel

Northward we travelled in unhindered light

To a log cabin on the banks of the Klondike

The driveway was twenty miles long

Shared with wolverines and moose

And if it took time to get there

It was a place to feel at home

Secure in the knowledge that door to door salesmen

Would never bother to knock

 

We walked the wooden sidewalks of Dawson City

Avoiding the tourist trappings of Diamond Tooth Gerties

We drank sudsy drafts at backstreet bars

With wild eyed seekers

Big city retreaters

One day we impossibly piled a dozen new friends into the car

Drove to the Midnight Dome

Where we shared the last few joints and a pint of rye

Surveying the small outpost in relentless wild

Sensing possibilities beyond the horizon

 

So we made some possibles happen

Drove the Dempster to Eagle Pass

Where a full moon rose over our rough campsite

Then made way for the northern lights

Dancing starbright with the grace of a Bolshoi ballerina

We whistled them closer until we were covered in magic

Looking out across the arctic circle to the top of the world

 

We danced across the tundra

Past the dwindling line of pecker poles

Hopping from hippy head to hippy head

Forded icy rivers that ran with the speed of the chased

Rubbed shoulders with grizzlies and the grizzled

Whose independence was declared through the intensity of the gaze

 

As the summer wore on forest fires raged

Until the plumes crept over the next ridge

And choppers buzzed our lonely cabin

So we walked a few hundred yards up the twenty-mile driveway

Discovered a command centre

Staging ground for firefighters who could always use help

So we signed up and up we went

Commuting to the smoke where we strapped piss pumps to our backs

Grabbed shovels and watched as timbers candled

Hoping for the wind to shift in time for lunch

Since we had never eaten as well as in that rough camp

Or gotten quite so dirty

Blacker than a Welsh coalminer

Soot that found its way through clothes to every inch of untanned skin

To be scrubbed the next week at the metered shower in town

Since the woodstove and hauled Klondike water only barely sluiced

The top layer leaving us a dismal gray

But we made a few bucks and beat the fire back

Flew like warriors in Bell Rangered wonder

Over undulating mysteries

To see the sea of trees saved for another season

 

A season we wouldn’t experience

But left to the iconoclasts and the lonely

Those who could drift no further

Yet could wield an axe and feed a stove

So when the leaves turned and frost arrived

We turned tail and went south

But a piece of my soul remains buried in the Klondike

Part of the motherlode of the riches of my life

 

 

2.    Alberta

 

The first challenge was to fence a quarter section

160 acres

There was a tight budget so that meant recoiling downed wire

Of the fence we were replacing

Pulling staples and hammering flat the salvageable ones

Assessing posts for rot

Turned out that the convertible Thing was a handy platform

Sledgehammer blow by sweaty blow

For driving treasured new tamarack posts securely into the ground

Which we grew intimate with

Since our lodgings turned out to be a teepee

Nestled in the rolling flat lands of northern Alberta

We worked with the last family of a hippy commune

To keep their dream flickering

As we restored the back forty fence

Learnt the rhythms of this sullen prairie

Sacrificed a glade of trees for timbers for a barn

When you peel the bark off trees with drawknives

You can smell their death

Almost an offering in the crisp autumn light

At least we’d like to think so

Then came harvest and stuking the oats

An itinerant thresher arrived like a Rube Goldberg fancy in action

Hay wagons and itches filled dawn to dusk days

Next weekend the old Ukranian farmer from up the road

Oversaw the raising of the barn

He was barely literate

But knew what needed to be done

So did the dozens of others who we’d seen at the gas station

And the diner

Or not at all

But impossibly the walls rose

Chinked into place

And if it wasn’t quite finished by Sunday evening

It was damn near quite enough as we all said

Breaking bread on long trestle tables in the yard

A few days later the vegetarian era ended abruptly

When Ralph, gentle Ralph the pig

A Charlotte’s Web kind of pig

Radiant pig

Met his doom graphically

Tony missed out on some really great meals

So he volunteered to crank the separator during dinner

Until the memory faded

One day a strange car drove up

Full of aboriginal youth

They wanted to check out the teepee

Having never been in one before

We said sure

Brought out whatever offerings we had

Booze and tokes

Which were warmly received

Reciprocated

As we shared the fire and laughter

Drank into a gentle inebriation

We learnt swear words with great delight

When one of our new friends tried to leave

Couldn’t find the door

We laughed

Then we all went outside to piss under the bright stars

Marveling at the moment

A few weeks later I was given a length of two by four

Dropped off at an intersection at some ungodly early hour

Told pay attention, they’ll be here in an hour

Make sure you turn them that way

Use the persuader

Turned out the orange Thing

Or maybe my crazed look

Was enough to turn that herd

I didn’t need to smack some bovine upside the head

Thank Christ, as I remarked

To some farmer who passed me a flask a few minutes later

We learnt the art of waking up cold

Having to build a fire with one arm quickly thrust from down filled warmth

To last night’s drunken pile of kindling which is almost not enough

But desperation is a good teacher

Living in a teepee in northern Alberta

As fall met winter

We met our match

And the prairie winds blew

 

 

3.    McMurray

 

We knew we were in trouble

When we couldn’t even get a room at the Heartbreak Hotel

Which wasn’t on lonely street

But we felt lonely enough in the construction dusty hive

By the second day we had jobs

Laying pipe in the tarry clay

A one-armed foreman aimed a ruby-eyed laser down the run

Impressing us with advanced technology

We laboured rough and hard

Drank the nights dry at the Peter Pond hotel

Driving back to camp drunk

I gambled on which of the three bridges swirling in view

Was the real one, and won that bet

When the crew was laid off a couple of weeks later

Nobody panicked

Just got new jobs

In our case working for a masonry outfit

Building a warehouse in the cold

The site was tarp swaddled

Propane heaters roared

Inside it was shirtsleeve warm

Outside the snow came down and ground froze up

We discovered frostbite

Slopped pails of cement up and down scaffolding

Going from furnace to frozen like a menopausal matron

One day as wet snow blanketed everything

I had to hold long lengths of metal trusses for the roof

Perched on a flimsy skyhold

While welders arced the other ends into place

Electrical charges raced across and up my arms

Each jolt a nail driven deep

On weekends we’d drive back to the farm

Remembering the dream of that vestigial commune

In the cold light of a short day

Where tires freeze flat and if you can start the car

The wheels go clunk, clunk, clunk for the first mile or so

In order to start cars on an unwired farm

We learnt the art of placing coffee tins with kerosene soaked rags

Under oilpans and setting them alight

Which left time for a second cup of instant coffee

Which I’d drink while looking out the window

Hoping to not see more orange than I wanted to

As winter deepened the summery convertible became even more of a joke

I’ve known warmer refrigerators in my time

There were snowdrifts on the floor that didn’t melt

Until we hit the Coast

After high-tailing it back home for Christmas

With a few hundred bucks in our jeans

And unaudited revenues of memories made

Whose interest is still compounding

Even today

 

 

David Trudel   ©  2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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