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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Great evening at The Cat Sass Coffeehouse

Thanks Ursula, Casey & Caz -  for a great evening  :  )

Reading at Cat Sass last nite was one of the most enjoyable gigs I've done in over 3 decades on the CanLit scene (including many of the gigs which I've organized!). The venue is great (I keep having flashbacks of the head shop in Coconut Grove, Florida, circa 1968!) and the audience is very responsive, friendly, interactive & attentive. I was pleasantly surprised at the large audience for a rural area - my estimate is 35 - 45. And it was a lot more fun than some of the stuffier & self-conscious literary events in 'the big city'.   

It was enjoyable listening to & meeting with fellow readers Jennifer & Bruce. We all exchanged books, & I'm sure the various connections we made last nite will continue.

Thanks again for getting me back on the CC list - now I'm starting to daydream of finally making it to the left coast on a government sponsored flight  :  )

peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase  Wrffffffffffffffffffff!

p.s. my buddy Morley enjoyed reading in the open set, & he received some nice feedback on his 'drone poem'
p.p.s. Tai, I sold, traded or comped all 8 or 9 books I took last nite - down to final 3 - so will order more when I return from TO in early March
(Casey bought 3 to sell at Cat Sass - in keeping with the atmosphere!)

Cat Sass

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Muzzling of Canadian Scientists (poem): Katherine L. Gordon

The New Heretics

In the myth of golden past
a cloaked church protected us
from learning that the earth
was really round, and took
her daily course around the sun.
They had to burn a few disputers
or a whole order would collapse:
god, church, king then nobles,
the rest of us compliantly flat.
We learned in tortuous ways
that we were all equal and vulnerable
in the round sway of a savage universe.
Now a new Harper plucks the old chords,
proscribes anathema to all our scientists,
pronounces stern sentence
on all our brave researchers,
exiled to arctic silence.
We must not see the melting glaciers
flood, drought or super-storm.
Oil must be touted as saviour,
jobs and wealth for a barren land,
corporations cannot see an end to profit
or the joy of jobs that find a way
to a greener healthier land.
We are all heretics or eco-terrorists
if we tell the truth in Harperland.

Katherine L. Gordon
February muzzling of Canadian scientists.


Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "Muzzling of Canadian Scientists (poem): Katherine ...":

As the recent price increase at the pumps to $1.30 has shown, increased oil (tarsands or shale or natural gas)production will give producers more incentive to raise prices. Though aggregate demand remains constant prices continue to spike. We're being gouged unmercifully. Katherine is right: it's the ruse of the aristocracies and religious despots of old in a contemporary guise, with the king still holding court and dictating self-serving, self-aggrandizing gov't policy.

The difference between Syrian-type dictatorship and parliamentary democracy in its present form is only one of degree.

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 21 February 2013 11:08


Conrad DiDiodato has left a new comment on your post "Muzzling of Canadian Scientists (poem): Katherine ...":

See the David Suzuki Foundation campaign to write Obama in order to urge him to nix the Keystone pipeline project.

Posted by Conrad DiDiodato to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 21 February 2013 16:45


Thank you for reminding the U.S. government that Canadians support strong
action on climate change and a clean energy future.

The more letters sent, the stronger our message will be. Please share this
with your friends and colleagues.


The false gods that are Alberta’s oilsands: Walkom

A new study uses an old theory to show that Alberta’s iconic oilsands have clay feet.
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An oilsands facility is seen from a helicopter near Fort McMurray, Alta., on July 10, 2012. Albertans, writes Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom, are discovering, the iconic oilsands "staple" has feet of clay. Even a brief hiccup in the oilsands boom has sent Alberta's finances into a downward spiral.
An oilsands facility is seen from a helicopter near Fort McMurray, Alta., on July 10, 2012. Albertans, writes Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom, are discovering, the iconic oilsands "staple" has feet of clay. Even a brief hiccup in the oilsands boom has sent Alberta's finances into a downward spiral.
Alberta’s oilsands have iconic status in Canada. They are magnets for foreign capital and sources of great wealth.
They are credited with keeping this country’s economy alive in the midst of a global slump.
Politically, they symbolize the new Canada — one governed by a prime minister determined to encourage resource extraction at the expense of virtually everything else.

But as Albertans are discovering, the icon has feet of clay. Even a brief hiccup in the oilsands boom has sent the province’s finances into a downward spiral.
And the future remains uncertain. Suddenly, the politics of climate change have made Alberta’s carbon-emitting bitumen less welcome in the United States.

More to the point, technological changes that favour the production of cheaper shale oil and gas, are transforming the U.S. from an energy pauper into one of the world’s big petroleum players.
To put it another way, Canada’s biggest export market no longer needs the tarsands quite as much as it did.

Into this mix comes a new study that tries to make sense of the oilsands phenomenon.
Actually, The Bitumen Cliff is an oldish new study in that it uses the classic work of political economist Harold Innis, one of the first to undertake a systematic analysis of what makes the Canadian economy tick.

To Innis, Canada’s history was dominated by natural resource exports, which he called staples. That Canada has exported raw materials is hardly novel. What Innis grasped, however, was that these staple exports created a pattern of development, both political and economic, that over time was hard to escape.

To use the language of one of his students, the Canada that Innis described kept enmeshing itself in a “staple trap.”
Vast quantities of money would be spent (usually by government) on infrastructure needed to extract whatever resource was in demand. And then, suddenly, things would change.
Maybe the commodity would fall out of fashion — as did felt hats made from Canadian beaver pelts. Or maybe technology would make the staple irrelevant, as the steamship did to masts made from Canadian white pine.

In all instances, Canadians would be left paying the costs.

The Bitumen Cliff applies this analysis to the tarsands. Again, vast quantities of money are required, not just to extract the heavy oil but to transport it by rail, pipeline or ship.
Again, other economic activities are given short shrift. In this case, the high dollar created by Canada’s soaring oil exports has eaten into the ability of manufacturers to compete abroad.

And again, the political system wraps itself around the staple, with Ottawa’s Conservative government gutting environmental laws for fear that they might interfere with pipelines and resource extraction.

Can this last? Unless tarsands oil is a very unusual staple it cannot. Prices rise; prices fall. Tastes change; things happen. We are beginning to see some of that now.

The authors suggest that what they call the carbon trap will be the contradiction that finally sinks the tarsands — that the world will turn away from forms of energy that emit high levels of greenhouse gases.

When this does happen, they say, we will once again be left holding the bag — dependent on natural resources that are no longer in demand — having failed again to develop the kind of integrated and balanced economy that can keep this country on an even keel.

The Bitumen Cliff, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, is written by Canadian Autoworkers economist Jim Stanford, Polaris Institute director Tony Clarke, consultant Diana Gibson and — the Innisian in the crowd — Carleton graduate student Brendan Haley.

Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Chris' ass at Cat Sass reading this Saturday

Book launch gala at Cat Sass

Posted Feb 14, 2013 By Bill Freeman

Click to Enlarge
 Kingston poet, writer and editor Bruce Kauffman will be part of a three-author book launch at the Cat Sass Coffeehouse in Norwood on
February 23. Photo: Bill Freeman
Kingston poet, writer and editor Bruce Kauffman will be part of a three-author book launch at the Cat Sass Coffeehouse in Norwood on
EMC News -Norwood - There will be more literary fun at the Cat Sass Coffeehouse in Norwood February 23 (5 to 7 p.m.) as three notable authors from Marmora, Warkworth and Kingston share the evening in celebrating the launch of their most recent books.

Marmora's Chris Faiers' Eel Pie Island Dharma, Jennifer Gibson's Compass and Kingston writer Bruce Kauffman's The Texture of Days, in Ash and Leaf, will be in the limelight during a casually bookish night at the newly redesigned Cat Sass that is part of the Canada Council's book reading series.

The eclectic coffee house, gift shop and music emporium has become a popular regional venue for readings and open microphone jams and next week's marks the beginning of their 2013 program.

Faiers is known for his lyrical and poetical poetry. In 1987 he was the first recipient of the Milton Acorn People's Poet Medal. His work has appeared in over 100 national and international anthologies and other publications.

He has co-ordinated the annual Purdy Country Literary festivals in Marmora at his ZenRiver Gardens retreat since 2007.

Gibson's Compass is the sequel to the young adult novel Sway in which the character Jessie's "life begins to change its course sending her toward a new reality.

"When her world is ripped apart by an angry rival, the one person she trusted to stand by her side walks away. With her composure shattered, Jessie questions everything she believed about herself and as her life takes her on a new path it becomes a perilous journey full of surprising twists and turns."

Gibson is an award-winning photographer, freelance illustrator, graphic designer and creative writer. She was selected as one of 12 winners of the 2010 Oticon Focus on People Award and was nominated as an outstanding individual with a hearing loss and for her portrayal of the young hearing impaired teen in Sway.

Kauffman, a poet, writer and editor, is familiar to regular visitors to Cat Sass literary evenings as the editor of the well-received anthology That Not Forgotten which was showcased last year. His work has been published in a number of periodicals and anthologies and has appeared in two plays.

Kauffman currently hosts a monthly open reading series and weekly spoken word radio show on CFRC 101.9 FM. The Texture of Days, in Ash and Leaf is his first collection of poetry.

Each writer will have bo
oks available for sale and autographs.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

LAST DRONE ATTACK: Morley Ellis (3 'poems with a bullet')



Locked behind a wall of computers at Central Command
Hidden behind concrete walled bunkers
You bravely fly your drone attacks on terrorists
Run! Run! Count the dead of your victory!
Wait! Wait! These are not the bodies of the enemy ...
but of human shields
Some Jews, some Christians living in other countries
... but we had Intelligence on our side ...
But a soldier can look his opponent in the eye
before he pulls the trigger
But a drone needs no soul.
A drone HAS no soul.  

Morley Ellis
Feb. 19, 2013


A firewall so thick
it can only be overcome by a concussion event -
was your pain so deep
you blocked it away forever?
Never to resurface
was this God's gift to you
to protect you from the past
of profit extermination?
A country not worth fighting for
Who is to judge that?
No! Too hot a topic
to actually charge and convict
anyone of a crime
or find anyone accountable
The Justice League says just an enquiry, please.
But we are the good old boys club
We only convict the poor
Never one of our own
Strong minds prevail
Lincoln did not run from the assassin's bullet
a soldier must know his cause is just.

Morley Ellis
Feb. 19, 2013


No scores here are settled
Just tally sheets accumulated
No healing accomplished
just photos of the wounds
Insincere apologies given
make the innocent pay for our mistakes
All the good jobs have been taken
now walk away with your head up
and try to pretend that all is fair
What goes on in ivory towers?
Stay away from the 49th floor ...
can the curious walk in undetected?
Push a button and step out
on the 27th floor!
If you pay you'll see the view
from the CN Tower
yet restricted are most other views
Each like a warped pyramid
rising high above the ground
each with a pharaoh in a hidden burial chamber
I've walked ten blocks now
even the trees wear a frown
as if they know this is not harmony
Yet the songbirds dance on branches where they can
Food grows in garbage cans
I heard a bum say
If you don't belong here
stay away ...

Morley Ellis
Feb. 18, 2013

                               ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Morley Ellis has shone a light into the dark recesses of political evil.
We can channel this exposed horror into a communion of action: we see it, name it,
and banish it.  We need more of this eye of truth so that together we can make a difference.
Knowing is only half-way there,  our wave of informed reaction will change the event horizon.
There is a surge of longing in the world,  time to shred that face of evil and make us whole again,
see hope and promise when the people of peace and love rule with us.
Thanks Morley, grateful for your courageous and impactful words.

Katherine L. Gordon.

                               ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ 

from an email:
Dear Chris:  Morley's poetry is just great.  I'm organizing a poetry event on July 1 at McCrae House in Guelph.  If there is an open mic component (which I hope), I hope Morley will come and share.  I know it's a long way but I'll keep you posted.

                                ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~
from an email:
Hey Morley - Great stuff! Keep on writing! Hey Chris - Are you coming to Toronto any time soon. Please let me know. Thanks, Kent

                               ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Friday, 15 February 2013

ABOLI$H! Canuck porkbarrel $enate: for $HAME!!!!

Survey says: We don’t need (or want) a Senate

Canadians, fed up with Senate shenanigans, want changes to the unelected house.

Text + RESET -

Gord Woodward, February 13, 2013 3:00:22 PM

When it comes to Canada’s Senate, a brand new poll shows that about a third of us want to see the thing abolished, another third want it reformed, and the remaining third of us want pollsters who call us at home at dinnertime to be keel-hauled.

Keep in mind that these findings came before we learned of the sexual assault charge against senator Patrick Brazeau, and his subsequent exile; that is, if you can call being paid your $132,300 salary while being told to stay away from the office “exile;” (somewhere, Napoleon’s ghost weeps).

The results were greeted by concerned senators with a stiff resolve, in the form of an extended middle finger. (Taxpayers can expect a $65 bill for the manicure.)
This shameless bunch cares not a whit what we think. They realize we pose little threat to them, what with their “jobs” for a lifetime, accompanied by outrageous pensions that ensure their rip-off of the Canadian taxpayer does not end when their sinecure does.

They can’t even be trusted to police themselves. Look at their handling of the investigation into three senators – Brazeau, Ontario’s Mac Harb, and Mike Duffy, who calls Prince Edward Island home, which apparently is news to every single other person living there — for possible abuse of their living expense allowances.

Showing how seriously they take this matter, the senators have called on one of their committees to actually interview the three! And they wrote a letter to them too.
Whew! Hard decisions like that sure justify the big bucks we pay senators. But they don’t explain why they don’t feel any obligation to actually show up for work regularly. Brazeau had the worst attendance record of any of this sorry lot last year, missing about a quarter of the sittings. And he won’t even go into the record books as the worst truant.

That “ honour” goes to Liberal Andrew Thompson, who resigned in 1998 after it was revealed he had attended about five per cent of sittings over more than a decade. While pocketing full paycheques, and with the full knowledge of his colleagues. There may not be honour among thieves, but apparently there is loyalty.

Well, we taxpayers owe none of our loyalty to this halfway house of political whoring (maybe that’s why it’s called the Red Chamber, in honour of the brothels whose colour scheme it borrowed).

The Senate just has to go. It serves no useful purpose (unless studying economic and political developments in the Republic of Turkey counts). It is an affront to democracy, granting unelected patronage appointees power over our elected Parliament.
And it is an unjustifiable expense. We don’t need two houses full of politicians. Just ask ordinary Americans how well they are being served by the governmental gridlock down there between their House and Senate (and at least they elected all of their officials, even the dead ones.)

We really didn’t need a survey to tell us that Canadians deem the Senate well past its Best Before date. What we do need now is a poll in the House of Commons – more formally known as a vote – to get rid of this travesty once and for all.

Above: Senator Patrick Brazeau accepts the Bad Sport Award at the National Press Gallery Dinner Saturday in Gatineau, Quebec, Saturday November 3, 2012. Image credit: THE CANADIAN 

PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Thank you for voting!


Thursday, 14 February 2013

JACKIE and JACK: Jim Christy play opens in Toronto

The Theatre Lab and Back Burner Productions are proud to 

present our upcoming collaborative production Jackie and Jack
premiering at Unit 102
Studio Theatre, Friday February 22, 2013.

Written by the legendary Canadian polymath Jim Christy,
 Jackie and Jack is a ‘What If’ play that follows the meeting
of two of North Americas’ most tragic figures. Jack Kerouac
and Jackie Kennedy. The play is an examination of an
encounter the two may have had on a beach in Hyanis,

Northport - 1959, at a period of time when both of their lives
are changing irrevocably.

Originally presented in workshop for the public in the spring
of 2011 by director Guy Doucette (The Nightwood, Little War)
of Back Burner Productions the play is returning to the stage
with the collaboration of producer Michael Orlando
(Theatre Lab, Collective Studio). Also returning to the stage
to reprise her role as Jackie Kennedy, is actor Roselie Williamson
(Into, Canadian Stage) and Katrina Carey as ‘Little Eddie’
(Little War, Back Burner Productions). New
to the production is actor Jack Clift (Two Gentlemen of Verona,

Rose Theatre) taking on the role of the King of the Beats,
Jack Kerouac.

Jackie and Jack  
Toronto: Back Burner Productions presents the world
premiere of “Jackie and Jack” February 22-March 2

Stage Door News
02/02/13 9:18 PMStage Door News
Page 2 of 2
Written by Jim Christy directed by Guy Doucette
featuring Roselie Williamson | Jack Clift | Katrina Carey produced by Michael
February 22nd to March 2nd
Unit 102 Theatre | 376 Dufferin Street (just south of Queen St. W)
February 22nd | 8pm
February 23rd | 8pm
February 24th | 2pm PWYC & 8pm February 26th | 8pm
February 27th | 8pm
February 28th | 8pm
March 1st | 8pm
March 2nd | 8pm
Tickets: $15 advance (through T.O.tix) | $20 at-the-door | Sunday Matinee
Tickets can be purchased in advance (either in person or online) through T.O.tix
or at the venue, 30mins prior to show-time. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Interview with Chris Faiers by Patrick Connors on newz4u

Eel Pie Island Dharma

Chris Faiers’ Ode to Youth Number 7 on Amazon
Patrick Connors – Toronto:  Chris Faiers was born on Hamilton Mountain in 1948.  His family emigrated to the southern U.S. when he was six. Although a Canadian citizen, he was eligible to be drafted for the Vietnam War as a resident alien. Chris became an anti-war activist in Miami, Florida, attending demonstrations, organizing a campus group and publishing an underground newsletter.  He left the U.S. forever in June 1969.
Chris lived for two years in the largest commune in the United Kingdom, the derelict Eel Pie Island Hotel in Twickenham.  Eel Pie Island Dharma tells the story of his explorations

and adventures in the late ’60s and early ’70s.
“Basho, a wandering Japanese poet who lived in the late 1600s, created the haibun form”, Faiers said.  “He refined an ancient Japanese tradition of short nature poems into the haiku, which in Japanese are written with a 5-7-5 syllable structure. Over recent decades English language haiku poets – “haijin” – have shortened this form, as the way of counting syllables is much different in the English language.

“Late in life Basho began a series of Zen-inspired pilgrimages. He wrote travel journals about these journeys, interspersing narrative prose with his insightful and meditation-informed haiku. This unique combination of poetic prose and haiku became haibun.

“So, Eel Pie Island Dharma is of literary and historical significance for a number of reasons. It is among the first published English language haibun. It has also become a historical document of the late 1960s, and previous editions of it have been quoted and referenced in a number of prestigious books.

“I have to thank Richard ‘Tai’ Grove, publisher of Hidden Brook Press, for believing in this book and producing it!”

“I am proud of bringing Chris’s book into print”, Grove said.  “It is worthy of being found in collections and on library shelves.”  When I asked him about Faiers’ success, having been ranked as high as seventh on Amazon for poetry at times, Grove said, “We just keep plugging the book – word of mouth.”

“Being ranked #7 feels great, and gives some validation to what I am doing,” Faiers said.  “We live in a capitalist society, and poetry is not really about making money, but is more of a spiritual calling.”

Here is the link to where you can purchase it on Amazon.

“It is also being sold online by alibris and SmithBooks.”

Chris Faiers then

The book is a very easy read, and contains colourful memories of Faiers’ formative years.  I asked him which experiences from this era affected him the most.  “First of all, definitely my initial visit to a Buddhist monastery.”  This certainly feels like a turning point in the book, as well as for Faiers, but an earlier experience affected him profoundly, and directly led to his Buddhist practice.

“The other one was meeting George Harrison.  Initially, I didn’t get the Beatles.  But then they opened up what it means to be an artist, Eastern mysticism, really the whole world to me.  

George was just a guy, not a ten-feet tall demigod with rainbows shooting out his fingers.  He was a short guy, wearing blue jeans, sort of “of us”.  My friend Canadian Peter gave him a tape of his music, hoping to be recorded by Apple Records.  I was so shy, but I managed to give him Cricket Formations, which was a collection of my early haiku.  The next week, California John and Canadian Peter went to find the results of their efforts.  Harrison told him he didn’t really care for the tape, but that he liked my poetry.  I always appreciated that he took the time to read my book.”

Eventually, Faiers did have to tune back in, and got a job as a grave-digger.  “I almost starved to death when my parents stopped sending me small monthly cheques. I had understood the cheques were a legacy from my grandmother, but anyway ‘for my own good’ I didn’t receive any money for several months over the winter and spring of 1970. There weren’t many potential jobs for a long haired, bearded young foreign hippie, and working in a graveyard was one of the few places someone like me could get hired.  It was also a peaceful job, and I believe legendary blues guitarist Peter Green went to work in a London graveyard to escape the groupies and fame. Of course I quickly adopted the usual jokes about it being ‘a dead end job’ and ‘people just dying to get in here’.”

Faiers attended some of the music festivals which marked the times.  “I attended two Isle of Wight Festivals. The first one was in the summer of 1969, in August, the same month as Woodstock.

“I also attended the first Glastonbury Music Festival. It was really a sort of tribal gathering for hippies from all over the UK, Europe and even North America. It’s a great irony that this once most counter-cultural of events has survived for decades and become the largest music festival in the English speaking world!”

Chris and Chase now

I asked him if he still longs for his freewheeling, free-loving, freak flag flying hippie days.  “There’s not really much of a dosser (English slang for someone who sleeps outdoors) in me anymore.  I own a small bungalow, have a hot shower every morning, take my dog Chase for a walk.

“However, Bohemia and artistic expression thrive on the opposite end from capitalism.  I encourage the get-off-the-grid lifestyle.  People who can’t afford a traditional vacation should go camping.”

To that end, Faiers is the main force behind Purdyfest, which is held in Marmora every August long weekend.  Dorothy Livesay is the focus behind this year’s festival, which features free camping and activities at ZenRiver Gardens.  For more information, please visit their website.

“When I come into the city to visit people, they consider me to be a poor poet.  By my standards, I am successful!”

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

the dharma path, bohemia, and Brit art schools

following is my response to an email interview:

Hi Sandra,
I'm pleased my answers will be of help for your feature article  :  )

Now I'll do my best to answer your questions about cities losing their 'creative pockets' through gentrification. As I believe I already said, it was ever thus, all over the planet. Creative pockets of artists, bohemians - the current trendy word may be 'outliers' - gather together through a combination of necessity & mutual interests. Think Paris and Hemingway, Eliot, Joyce et al. Think Bloomsbury in London, or Greenwich Village in New York. My personal examples are Coconut Grove in Miami and Yorkville in Toronto.

I discussed this phenomenon with several friends after writing my initial responses. Sometimes I call this 'gathering' of like-minded spirits the dharma path - perhaps not the dharma path of traditional Buddhism, but more the Westernized dharma path of Jack Kerouac and his Dharma Bums. Those on this path of seeking through experience and artistic expression will always find each other & group together. Sometimes this will be in a specific locale, such as Eel Pie Island or the above mentioned literary enclaves. Sometimes the dharma path is more convoluted & winding, & the path becomes literally a path  :  )

I believe the establishing of dozens of arts colleges in the UK post WW2 was an interesting & incredibly unorthodox experiment in helping young people express their creativity. The Beatles, Clapton - a whole generation of British musicians - came out of this art school experience. And then they came to play to each other at venues like the Eel Pie Island Ballroom. I often wish the powers-that-be, the establishment, would have more wisdom in funding ventures like this. The arts are the most important facet of every culture, and even the most hardcore capitalists have come to realize this - in their pocketbooks, if not their hearts!

Bohemia - the dharma path - whatever we wish to name it - always needs to move on, and perhaps this moving about, this nervous energy & restlessness, is a key part of the creative process itself!

Chris Faiers

                                          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Piccadilly circus
Cupid's fountain spraying

Bay wind blowing
Coconut Grove sailboats
tinkling rigging

Sunday, 10 February 2013

When alcohol ...

When alcohol  (for Milt & Al)


When alcohol rewires the brain
jumbles all ramshackle the way
windstorms pile gray pick-up sticks
together on a snowy beaver swamp

Is this just cheap Zen?
or pickled knowledge
of hotwired truth
all mystics perceive

When anger rewires the brain
thinking of Milt, now, not you Big Al
is this Stalingrad barrage
the same truth? or something
more ... or lesser

when alcohol rewires the brains
of two best friends
in a deserted A-frame
on a lonely lake
years later we all benefit

Standing with my small dog
admiring pick-up sticks piles
brain fueled by alcohol -
one lone beer -
I think of you both
as synapses barrage fire
and I stumble into the swamp's cold creek ...

Chris Faiers ... and Chase Wrfffffffffffffffffffffffff!

email from Katherine L. Gordon
Feb. 11/13

You have caught that grey clutch of deadwood,  the swamp we struggle in.
We suspect that beyond the debris of this plane there are rainbows. Just a glimpse can light
the soul.   Long ago the wine of Bacchus blew the brain into other dimensions,   old cultures
found the plants that changed vision.  It is not satisfying to see only this dull sphere that muffles
all the senses.   Zen is a magical tool when we learn to use it, but many a great poet
has found some way to deaden the pain and futility that often chains our spirit on this dimension.
You have written this in true People’s Poet style,  brought us close to the anguished moments of these great men.
Their poetry is a sacred wine that feeds our hope, gives us flashes of the many dimensions around us,
even an access to them.     No wonder they live always with us.    Your empathy speaks to the union
of all longing humanity.    

Katherine L. Gordon

Thanks for the kind words, Katherine  :  )
I felt very close to Milt & Al yesterday when their vision & these words came to me.
Chris ... and Chase Wrfffffffffffffff!


Hi Peter,
Thanks! Great write-up on the A-frame. I visited there with TO poets Kent Bowman & Mick Burrs last Saturday afternoon, Jan. 26th. We wandered around the A-frame grounds,
& Chase (my shih-tzu-on-steroids) & I relieved our chilled kidneys in the brush. Kent & Mick took loads of photos, some with the frozen surface of Roblin Lake for a background.
Chase risked the ice (after all, he has 4-wheel drive!), while we humans watched, leaning against a huge old 'totem' hardwood. One hut of brave ice-fishers was silhouetted against the cold sky. 

The teensy A-burg library was open for once (it was Sat.), & we got to admire the display case with Big Al's Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, & some other honours & memorabilia. Kent & I donated books to their meagre (non-existent) poetry section.

Then we drove the block to the entrance to the small conservation area where Al is buried in the pioneer cemetery. I poured half a beer over the grave, & we each took an
honourary  swig to toast Al. I clicked my dragon tsing-shas together 3 times for a goofy invocation, & lit a stick of incense propped on top of Al's bookish grave. We took turns reading Al's poetry, & while Mick read a flock of tiny birds (nuthatches?) flipped branch to bare branch in the bushes by the millpond. They disappeared as Mick finished his poem - he didn't believe me when I told him about his feathered & appreciative but fickle audience  :  )

three freezing poets
read Big Al's poems
to fickle feathered ones

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Ed Baker on Naropa University 'honouring' John Cage


here is what Naropa University is "doing" re: John Cage …

JEESH !   I got as far as  "in that crowded & turbulent room, never made my way
up to the front to say hello"

do ALL universities reduce things to a marketable BLATHER  and same-said "stuff"
over and over and over again ..

and the obligatory "I knew [ John Cage, and Merce and Raushenberg   and John ate "mushroom
sautéed on the side"  ….

too much research and archived "stuff" for me….

damn … there she goes again  "when I graduated Holyoke I knew John  [ he] was "esoteric and
beyond me and autographed my book… it was dharma'   or some such she said

THIS IS NOT what John Cage was about … the is what has been left of his results….

these folks just mimicking and  imitating …

I met John in 1970
or 1971 first at
his music publisher's
the next day
at his house on Bank Street

the last thing that he said to me
(after grazing through my ms:
Points / Counterpoints)  was

"you're very busy. Want to stay for lunch?"

He was cutting up some vegetables  / green
& yellow peppers and a pile of some ugly
mushrooms near them  maybe there was also
onions  & there was brown rice cooking

I said :  "Pauline is waiting for me at the Ear Inn."

He smiled and ask if he cld hold on to the ms for awhile and "pass it around"

so I did.

" you echoed the breath of dharma across my heart" THE GIRL IN THE FILM
just said … then (the expected "silence" transitioning into the audience's applause…

so? what's my point ?

I don't know

even any one of my
is it s


center of the universe

cheers, Ed


about 27 mins in

the guy playing the black piano who is playing the boac-
piano's white and black keys
is pretty good … kind of (what has become) the (for want of a more
better description)
                                       Abstract Expressionistic Painting where
the music is what of the paint trickles down ?


Hey Ed,
I gave up after listening to the worst ever telling of the 2 monks and the woman by the stream  :  )
Chris/cricket & Chase Wrffffffffffffffffff! (didn't listen to any of it!)


Ed Baker has left a new comment on your post "Ed Baker on Naropa University 'honouring' John Cag...":

I let it run it course as
I was working on on my latest book:


I think that I sent you an early pdf version... It sure has changed since then ! So, stick what I sent to you in a clavichord and hits some random sour note and sit down with a cute girl and try to figure out where the Sound went..

as for the Cagian Presentation ? you mean that you didn't get to the last piece? The cute girl in a long-black chemise
fucking the sod ?

Cage made a Big Business out of repeating over-and-over and over again same stories, lectures, presentations... going commercial ,as far as I am concerned, cheapened the great points that he made. now ? It s all become just another fucking condom-wearing product to sell...

Cage: Suzuki / mushrooms
silence / mushrooms
I met / mushrooms
zen / mushrooms
merce / mushrooms
Black Mountain / mushrooms ceteras

Posted by Ed Baker to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 7 February 2013 07:57


link to Ed's site (may not be live - you may have to key it in) - read the whole story, see the movie!

I put up a link to the post so that (also) the "public" can see it.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

owl shaman-witch/barrel-rolling blue herons/Manitou - Buddhism

On 2013-01-30, at 6:48 PM, marvin orbach wrote:

Hi Chris,
  Thanks so much for your new haiku.  It is a jewel.  A thing of
beauty.   A joy forever.
  Have you thought about writing a major, new haibun describing your
experiences while hiking in the forest?   Have you ever had the good
luck of meeting Manitou?  Our forests are full of spirits.
  Peace & poetry power.

Hi Marvin,
My friend Sylvia & I had a good chuckle when I told her you had opened the door by asking about my spiritual & metaphysical blatherings  :  )
I can't say I've had the experience of meeting Manitou, but I haven't met Jesus either  :  )  One day I may attempt to describe to you my personal
spiritual cosmogony - it's very simple to me & yet can sound very complicated (garbled!) when I try to explain it.

Well, here goes ... got some spare time tonite so might as well start     ...   :  )

The most accurate overview is that I'm some sort of Buddhist. At a very young age, around 19 (circa 1966-67), I bought a pb on yoga & learned the asanas & some breathing practices. I could sit in a full lotus for several hours at a time, I was semi-veg, & very 'pure' in spirit while opposing the VN War. Yes, a drug of some sort was involved, but I had a very strong & completely unexpected enlightenment* in this period, which has given me strength ever since & supplied the basis for much of my poetry & my life.

I've discussed Buddhism with a FN person at the Petroglyphs Park, & he also recognized the parallels between FN beliefs & practices & traditional 'Tibetan' Buddhism. So when I had my 'enlightenment' experience, it could also be said that I experienced (encountered) Manitou.

I have also had some very powerful & unbelievable encounters with lesser spirits & energies we would classify as FN. About a decade ago I had several ongoing
encounters with an owl shaman, who was living with/as a huge owl. One afternoon the owl swooped over my car on a remote back road, and led me for about a mile. That nite I decided to visit the owl in a mild state of meditation & sedation on tylenol 3s for kidney stones. I did a 'mind cast' into the owl, & was instantly rebuffed by an ancient FN
shaman (witch) who lived in the owl .

The old shaman/witch was VERY pissed off at my intrusion, & assumed that I had come to fight for possession of his owl. I backed off immediately, assuring him I was a silly white man who had blundered into his being. After some time he accepted this, & the 3 of us took a wild nite flight over some of my favourite remote countryside.

Later the owl shaman visited me in my dreams, & we fought for possession of this human body - far better to eat cooked food & live in a warm house than to eat mice & worms & live in cold trees! I believe I won this battle, but sometimes when I look in the mirror, another pair of eyes looks out & shares an ancient consciousness.

Of course I've had many encounters with nature at ZenRiver, esp. when sitting on the deck of the shaman shack before - during - and after meditation sessions. A few times friends have been fortunate to be sitting with me, & we have witnessed 'wild' things performing incredible stunts & activities. A pair of blue herons flew low over us one aft, then did a barrel roll loop-de-loop over the river! I've seen huge ancient turtles mating in a wild roll into the millpond depths, locked eyes with a huge & gorgeous roaming timber wolf, countless exchanges with deer, befriended a small mother mink who lives across the river from the shaman shack, etc. etc. .

Lesser spirits have accidentally been photographed wandering around ZenRiver ... the list of experiences many would classify as paranormal or shamanic is quite endless & frequent.

peace & poetry power!
Chris/cricket & Chase ... wrfffffffffffffffff! (both tired after a long hike on the trails this chilly day)

*planned to go into some detail on 'enlightenment', but too tired

following are some haiku published in SIMPLY HAIKU, including the only haiku I've published so far about the scary visit with owl shaman

p.s. after scanning these older haiku, I remembered that my friend Morley & I saw a cougar (black panther) while we were building the shaman shack - many totems!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Simply Haiku: An E-Journal of Haiku and Related Forms
| Contents | Archives | About Simply Haiku | Submissions |

Chris Faiers
Old hotrodder
racing with the harvest moon
. . . in the rearview
owl swoops and dips
soars and shares
flashing white night visit
from a rusted wheel well . . .
shaman neighbour
visits wildcats
night wolf hunt - - - which are extinct
distant flames,
northern lights!

Chris (Christopher) Faiers was born on Hamilton Mountain, Ontario, Canada in June 1948. He began publishing haiku in 1968 under the guidance of Haiku Magazine’s Eric Amann. He had an enlightenment at age 20. Cricket was his childhood nickname and is his haijin name.
At 21 he left the US, where he grew up, in opposition to the Vietnam War. For 3 years he lived in the UK. Eel Pie Dharma: a memoir/haibun is online at His 1969 chapbook Cricket Formations is also online there.
Chris has walked many thousands of miles, night and day, often in moving meditation or shamanistic awareness, on the remote trails where he lives in rural Ontario. He works as a librarian/CEO. He hopes this is his last incarnation on Earth for a long while, although it probably isn’t : )

Chris writes: I don’t have a digital camera or even a recent pic. I’d prefer a stylized pic or photo of a cricket to accompany my poems - I trust your artistic judgment to select a good cricket : ).
Editor's Note: The Chinese cricket glyph, pictured right, is Simply Haiku's choice, as requested, to represent Chris. It comes from inscriptions found on tortoise shells in archaeological sites in China. We aren't sure whether this image actually looks like Chris, but we hope that it satisfies him. The glyph was taken from the Chinese Cricket Culture website. We think that the glyph carver might have been pleased at the thought of having his artwork honored several millennia after his thousand mile walk ended.

Copyright 2003/2004 Simply Haiku


On Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 1:32 PM, Chris Faiers <> wrote:
Hi Marvin,
About two weeks ago Chase and I hiked the Sorrow Falls trail. We stopped on
the first narrow bridge, the one where I carved my shaman sign into the
top railing the winter I was fired by the library board witch hunt six years
ago. Although many of the traumas of my former work life have dissolved over
time, they have been
replaced by the day-to-day petty concerns all humans share. I scraped snow
off the railing to enjoy my carving, and then put my face into the sun's
strength. Almost immediately the minor cares of the day dissolved, my inner
voices ceased, and suddenly I could hear the river overwhelming my

facing the sun
thoughts fade ...
river's voice rumbles

note: this is the third draft of the haiku - often a haiku presents itself
to me in perfect form, but other times I have to revise from several to many
times to capture the essence of the
peace & poetry power!
Chris/cricket ... and Chase (who of course shared the hike & many biscuits)


Email from Katherine Gordon:

Thanks for forwarding this Chris.
According to modern physics you and I might glimpse other dimensions.
This valley is filled with FN residue of spirit dynamism.  Once a summer camp for Neutral Indians.
I am attuned to them and feel their approval as we try not to intrude on the natural space and mystery here.
You are strong enough to absorb the shaman/owl encounters and benefit from them.  These experiences are
so richly rewarding,  make any life tribulations vanish.   Almost a spirit walk in this life,  keeps one connected,
as close to the truth of our connectedness to the biosphere as a soul can gain.

Much appreciation and understanding from Katherine.


Email from Marvin Orbach:

Hi Chris,
    Many thanks for the  fascinating description of your spiritual
side.  It seems to me that you are a unique figure in the Canadian
literary landscape. Strangely,  we must thank the Viet Nam War for
sending you back to Canada.
    In the heading of your e-mail, there is mentioned "archive
lists".  However   in the body of the missive, there is nothing about
the lists. Did they finally arrive safely?
    I continue to be amazed by your forest haiku.  They are a major
contribution to Canadian literature.
    Peace & poetry power.
P.S.   Regards (woooofff) to Chase, your loyal canine companion.