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Friday, 31 July 2020

fan letters today

Decades ago I realized I'd never earn a living as a Canadian poet. The greatest satisfaction I can receive for being a Canuckian poet is when my work touches someone's life or soul. This morning I received two unexpected such emails. The first is regarding a copy of ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun which I loaned to a new neighbour. The second emails are from the nephew of the two "bushrats" who befriended me when I moved to the eastern Kawartha Lakes area over 31 years ago. 

Bill and his wife came over this morning - gave them tour and he had really good ideas. Thank you for the contact!
And i want to buy the second book from you to savour. Only read summer section because i wanted to stay in sync with season. 3 lines, one haiku, in there stuck in my head.
Advertised yard sale but may have to postpone as storms are predicted for Sunday but i wont cancel yet... its only Thursday!

                                                                       ~    ~    ~

Hello Chris, my name is Patrick Hill. I am a nephew of Joe and Bob Hill, I loved the poem you wrote and have shared it with the rest of our family. I was hoping that you had some more stories and or experiences you could share on these two? By the way, the medals were Joe's, he served in the merchant marine Lol. I have a family Facebook page filled with over 500 newspaper articles on the Hill family and their run ins with the law. Their mother was sent to jail for 3 months and she had to take her 4 month old baby with her, moonshine was her offence.

hope this reaches the right person
Patrick Hill

                                                                     .    .    .

Thank you so much for responding. I can hardly wait to see what comes to mind after the beers. Family lore has it that Joe was involved in the 1961 bank robbery, but the info is scarce. I have read the book, and seen the play at our local outdoor theater, 4th line theater.

I was having a visit with two of my cousins and they told me that Joe was involved with a bank robbery in Norwood, but never got caught.
This family has a long history of breaking the law and family feuds, we lost a great uncle in 1905 to a drive by shooting (horse and buggy). Lots of info on assaults, pig stealing, cattle stealing, cattle poisoning, arson, moonshining, murder, attempted murder, etc. 

I would love to share the info with any historian, it is all public information, you just have to know where to find it. Lol.
Cheers and I look forward to our next chat.
You must have also known Hindu (Yeomans) that lived by the bridge at deer river.

Patrick Hill

here's their poem:

a bushrat's intimations of mortality at Callaghan's Rapids

in memory of Joe and Bob Hill

guy at the liquor store
old dude like me
12 pack on the conveyor belt
asks if the snow on my empties
is from ice fishing on Crowe Lake

'nope, just snow drifted into my porch
haven't been on the ice drinking beer
hoping for a pickerel bite in decades'

'Say, you must know some friends of mine?'
I answer with the Hill brothers,
Joe & Bob
old bushrat brothers who taught me
to fish & hunt when I moved here
quarter century ago
both been dead for a decade or more

'Don't know them,' he replied
what about Fred Smith?
yeah, he was a neighbour for a while
beautiful wife
'yeah, she left him for down south'

I say, 'I'd rather have liquor than a wife!'
half joking - maybe not
yeah, Joe & Bob Hill
they had a bunch of other brothers
but it was those two bushrats
who showed this big city kid
the ropes of rural life

Cordova outlaws - yeah
some tall true tales from those two
fought like all brothers
told some nasty stories on each other
maybe true
medals from World War Two
but which one!
or both

hydro crewmen
dynamite, booze
cooking in camps
on the hydro line cuts
which civilized this area
if Al Purdy had held a steady job
he'd a been one of them

Bob & Joe
tried to teach me to fish pickerel
Scott's Dam - bottle of rye
in my back pocket
sipped it to impress them
& dull the black fly bites

flies leave me alone now
they don't like bushrat blood
anyway - 
but flies sure loved my
virgin rye-laced freshness

after the LCBO drop-off
Chase & I wander Callahan's Rapids
the haunted trail - den-laced cedars
tracks everywhere - underground creeks
as well - careful every step
Chase & I take or we could be stranded
broken legs

and I think back on Bob & Joe Hill
can't remember if I promised not to write about them
crazy blood brothers who lived in this
halfway land of muskie rivers, creeks, swamps
Bob bragged he'd fucked on every island
in Cordova Lake
a challenge I've never followed
(well once or twice)

Bob & Joe
dead too young from alcohol
& doctors who don't respect bush people

Bob & Joe's stories reverberate:
the big bank robbery in Havelock
robbers had a boat stashed across Belmont Lake
when the dirt track ended the cops' chase lakeside
they paddled across smooth as silk
money & robbers never found -
some still looking for both

never thought before
but was it them?
my old bushrat buddies
Joe drove a new Lincoln
but his money I bet
came from his slicko gambling
slyer than the Campbellford
doctors & lawyers from campsite poker
he'd suck them in with mispronounced words
lose a few hands to the city suckers
then bang down big when the pot grew large

or ...........
all this aft's walk I thought of Bob & Joe
long, long gone to that big swamp in the sky
bushrat brothers, Bob measured his winters
by muskies lying on the snow of Blairton Bay

guess I'm the next generation now
not half as tough, but still upright
growing craggy & beer bellied
still walking the trails they showed me
the secret fishing holes
the icy islands where they lived & loved

Chris Faiers

January 20, 2014

Friday, 10 July 2020

hotter than Jamaica, blue herons, populist pandemic fools

Hi Weed,

Your beautiful 'midnight heron' birthday card arrived yesterday. I suspect it arrived long overdue, as you'd included my defunct post office box (#69), and this tends to confuse Canada Post no end  : ) All that's needed now is my street address, altho they're not even consistent with that for some people, as my friend Morley uses the same public mail boxes, and he's supposed to included "rural route #1". nonsensical!

Sometimes I forget how spoiled I am to live in such a thriving wilderness area. There are several types of local herons, the most noticeable is the blue heron. I sometimes sit on a lawn chair by the north end boat launch with one on the dog walkers, Judy, and her golden retriever, Cooper. A blue heron often flies by, and sometimes stops to fish right across the river from us among the flowering lily pads.

Recently I've spent some mornings on my friend Morley's deck, which overlooks the same stretch of The Crowe River. Again, we almost always see at least one or two  blue herons flying along the river. Magickal, and a nice distraction from this prolonged heat wave we've been enduring along with the covid-19 pandemic quarantine.

Morley took a week's hols to briefly escape his horrible auto factory job during the heatwave, and yesterday when we walked through the local park a Jamaican lady commented that our weather has become "hotter than Jamaica!"   

I hope you're surviving the pandemic OK? There are almost no cases in our greater area, a benefit perhaps of being so rural and underpopulated. The Yanks are suffering horrible casualties, as are the Brazilians. The countries with right wing populist "leaders" are experiencing the worst of the pandemic, altho hoping the various electorates see the folly of voting in such fools probably won't happen.

peace & love  :  )-