Saturday, April 07, 2007

The exit light just inches from your nose

First the wonderful poem by Janet Harvey that has helped me to produce the chord below it.

The exit just inches from her nose

She’s dancing now;
Having been to hell and back.
Lashes singed from sweltering journey.
She’s travelled the darkest tunnels-
Had been embedded in forbidden furnaces carted over treacherous hills,
Beyond purple dawns of overdose.
Megadoses of chemo- tangle that whole eternity,
that same painful path her father had travelled to the promise land
when it was time to say, no more;
no more poking, or burning my internal demons.
Let go, I am tired
of that same tunnel her brother visualized, could almost taste.
And so it looms:
The family fear.
So many dried roses hanging bat-like in the basement,

So the cards and gift baskets
seem to unfold.
Uttering now the words
As if a stream

Climbing a tower, to be as strong as ocean
Wings lame yet she flies.
Higher than ever ;
What frigid winter lay dormant
in the stream of words
They all ask same question.
Who can fix all those
broken dolls facing upward.
on abandoned fields everywhere.
Why can't scientist save the world-
From boiling rain, and poison beams
--Just band-aids to halt it .
When the exit light is red and cannot hide
It is just inches from your nose.


The exit light, red, and just inches from our nose.

How many times have we been there, this sudden intimation of death, but you too young to notice.

I am in Corpus Christi, Texas. With me is a gorgeous woman, not my wife. The movie we are seeing is the worst remake of King Kong ever; you can see the zippers on the suit, the paper mache towers, the Stearman pursuit planes, the peppering machine guns. All is phoney. You are phoney. The ape is phoney. He is not holding Fay Wray up there high on his tower. He is holding some starlet.
He crumples a Stearman.

There is this exreme fidgetiness . You can't watch the movie any more. The woman senses your restlessness, but she is trying to calm down too. After all, it is you who is constantly trying to get at a telephone--then her restraining hand. You can not phone your wife. Not here. Not in this situation. Not while she can listen. But you should not be in this situation.

There is the red EXIT sign, actually three of them. Which one will lead out, which one will lead to a blank wall, and which one will lead to a cell or pit.
You don't really know what the EXIT signs mean.. You are, after all, only 38, old to some, but actually very young.
You do not yet know the mysteries of relationship, one of these mysteries being EXIT, death itself as a kind of doppelganger. It is Easter.

Fast-forward into time:

You are on a subway. You have your mistress and children with you, the kids have been picked up. Your mistress wants to go shopping. You are totally drained of energy after the confrontation at the house. Damn near killed the live-in. And how pathetic was that, with your mistress waiting in the car.

The innocent children are happy to be with you. They like the mistress. She is beautiful.
She maps out the things we will all do together. "You should marry her, Daddy."
But there is a sudden immobilization. Only staring at the red EXIT sign seems to keep you breathing, which is really all you have to do. "We are at the Yorkdale stop. Let's go shopping!"
Shopping? Here am I, split into a thousand pieces, like Rumpelstiltskin, an Israeli at a pizza parlor, and she wants to go shopping.

Death seems to be in HIDE mode at the next stop. Dundas and Ossington, where suddenly there are fleecy clouds, and some kind of affirmation.
You are a skeet shooter. There will indeed be EXIT, but you're coming in like a Typhoon pilot,
you have to concentrate your fire and wait.


Donnetta Lee said...

Ivan: We get ourselves into these rooms with the suffocating walls thinking we want to be there. Then, all too soon, we seek the exit plan that we never thought out, never planned, never created in the first place--should have. Then, like rats in a cage, start darting frantically--looking for the exit--in desperation.

Really enjoyed the lady's poem. Makes me think of a piece I am working on--just a little post about another friend of mine. I'll finish it in time.

Hope all is well with you tonight!


islandgrovepress said...

Thank you, Donnetta.

I was certainly a pleasure to have handled Janet Harvey's poem. It was a kind of a gift at the right time, helping me to sort out some kinks.
We have so many first-class poets wasting away in the slush piles while they struggle at jobs in old folks' homes by night and hospitals by day.
I was to glad to publish some earlier works of Janet Harvey.
...Brain dead editors cant tell dialect from high-flown English usage...Some can,like Fiddlehead Magazine, out of New Brunswick, but intelligence in Canadian publishing seems hard to find at times. The system seems to work from the top down. Business achievment first and the literature later.

I am heartened by how well you received the message out of both Janet's poetry and my little addend to it.
I'm looking foward to seeing what you will be producing.


Josie said...

My goodness you guys are all such good writers. I was there with you in that theatre. In fact, I have been there and I could feel the restlessness. Amazing.


islandgrovepress said...

Thanks, Josie,

Brings to mind a line out of Richie Sambora-Bon Jovi,

We all know the place
where the faces are so cold.


Josie said...

Someone once said the loneliest place in the world is setting next to someone who doesn't love you.

I'm off for the weekend. Still having trouble loading that program. argghh. Getting help Tuesday night.


islandgrovepress said...

It has just turned Easter, and have a happy one, Josie.


Donnetta Lee said...

Just turned Easter here,too. Happy Easter.

ilandgrovepress said...

Rollin' the rock back here.
Having a drink at the hermitage.

Happy Easter, Donnetta.


JR's Thumbprints said...

I loved the poem. I could visualize it as a spoken word performance. As for you ... if only you'd seen an Ed Wood movie then maybe you would've stood a chance of returning to your safe past.

I know it's late, but I plan on getting up early tomorrow to formally accept my Big Foot Award.

islandgrovepress said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I almost spilled my drink.

Josie has been twisting my arm really hard to give you the Big Foot Award.
I just cottoned onto the fact that the Lab Retriever is the most popular dog in all of America.

Yeah, yeah. But can he write?



Danny Tagalog said...

Enjoyed it too:) Happy Easter Ivan!

Donsie said...

Hi Ivan,

I think everybody get something else when reading a masterpiece like this. One thing I can tell you, I will not put myself in a situation like that, my tummy not strong enough to handle the stress.. but if someone can handle it and enjoy it at the same time - what a bargain.

Thanks for your visit and as we say in South Afica in Afrikaans (combination of Dutch and Flemesh) Geseende Paasfees :-)

eamonroe said...

Happy Day After Easter, Ivan. I was just over at Bernita's and I noticed that she has received "The Thinking" award!! And she's passed it on to others.

What the heck is going on with the "Spreading the Spyware" virus that has Josie all in a feud?!

I thought it interesting to see how far around The Thinker has spread!

You better get your Big Foot Award out there to stop it out!

Eamonroe said...

PS --I mean't stomp it out. ;-)

islandgrovpress said...

Thank you for your greeting and appreciation.

Appreciate your "Gesende Paasfees"
and wish you a belated Happy Easter.

Baie Donkie

Ivan (Jan?)

islandgrovepress said...


I think Josie has already given this Ilkis lady a piece of her mind on her blog. JR has also warned that the Thinking Award may be mere spyware.
Our "Big Foot" award may be whimisical, but it comes from a real publishing company.
We are slowed down in production of the actual prize avatar, but that's largely because of my newness to computers--I am an old hot-lead man.
My intention at Island Grove Press would not be to blast "The Thinker"
award out of the water, even if it is high-level spam.
My intention is to highlight quality writers and bloggers.

Once were done with the logos, I am really tempted to give you the Writing Lab award. It will feature a real Newfoundland Lab.
This award no dog.
The Lab Retriever is the most popular dog in all Canada and America.
JR got the other "animal wward" the Big Foot award and it's inscription, "We don't think you're so abominable." Heh.

islandgrovepress said...

Thanks, Danny Tagalog.

My blogging addiction has caused me to neglect parts of my family, which are spread all over vast Ontario.
I'll have to start visiting all, and may be absent from this blog for the afternoon. Better a belated Easter for them too, rather than be placed on their bad books.


Josie said...

Hey, Ivan, are you back from visiting? Did you have a good Easter? I did. I had a great time with my family and the Munchkins. The Easter bunny even paid me a visit :-)


islandgrovepress said...

Hi Josie,

I just got in.

Lord how cocooned we get with our little computers--and almost forget there's world and family out there. Just came back from Hamilton by way of Toronto.

Toronto: What have they done to my beautiful city? Hong Kong-style towers sprung up all along the lake, and you can't see the water.
All this talk about harborfront renovation and all we get is condos and office building right on the water, while poor, alienated citizens can't see the lake at all for the highrises and terraced parking ramps.

A friend of mine from Vancouver used to rail, some thirty year ago about Vancouver's "needle fantasy", but this is just plain untammelled skyscraper madness here in Toronto.
Those gorgeous art deco buildings, many of them razed. Only the Royal York has any splendor this gothic-modern depression-era masterpiece--The Royal York and Union Station.

At least we still have Rosedale and Forest Hill, where the money used to be. The buildings are grand.
Thank god people are still holding on to their beautiful treed streets, often backing up into wooded ravines...Somethig to be said for old money: It's eco-friendly.

Yes, I did have a very good Easter, thanks, Josie. Peter Rabbit did indeed come and he wasn't just handing out eggs: my sisters' guilt-edged giving...But it was Easter and I really enjoyed the basket...Visited my nearly 100- -year-old Mom, still sharp as a tack and feisty.

The girls in Toronto are gorgeous.
Toothsome--too bad I haven't got too many of my own left...but I was tempted to take a bite on pain of loosing a couple of implants.

All the loser guys with chains hanging off their ghetto pants were trying to pick up 24-year-old sophisticated girls of independent means, and failing terribly.
Standard pick up line now in Toronto: "Hey, you look friendly."
Standard rejection: "You know there aren't a lot of people who act the way you do." Heh.

I tried a new approach: Let them come to me. I sat in this pose for about two hours. Hm. I think I was turning into a skeleton. Nothin' happenin'.
And then a second woman was given the "Hi, you look friendly" line, ran to get away and took me with her. She was married, and I guess she wanted to be seen with her "father". Heh.

Had a pee at Union Station, some flighty chap looked over from his stall, and said, "Cute."

Well, you can't say I wasn't entirely not hit upon. LOL.

As you can see, my Easter was baroque--and so was I "baroque" till my sisters handed me the Easter basket.

Hay, I have cachet now that thorougbred has been named after me. My sisters were impressed. Really. And so were all my friends in the media.
My god, I'll be fighting off the paparazzi tomorrow, and I'm probably right. This is big news for Newmarket.

Omigod. What time is it getting to be.
Good to hear you had a great Easter with your family, Josie, especially the Munchkins.
Donsie taught my how to say Happy Easter in Afrikaans, but I have forgotten.
Great Easter, as I'm sure it was for all.


Josie said...

Ivan, how on earth can you make a weekend outing sound like a lovely short story. What an amazing writer you are, even on your blog posts.


Islandgrovepress said...

Why thank you Josie,

I was just thinking to myself this morning, "Josie's got the snap!"

I think it was Sienna (Pam) who first wondered here why you weren't in media.


Anonymous said...

The naming of the race horse and the lady's interest in" Light Over Newmarket", your novel.

Congratulations I only have a street in Newmarket named after me. How about the Hat People I liked that much better... said...


I know you are a media figure.

The Hat People?

I thought it was my weakest novel, though my old prof, Eric Wright, author of "The Night the Gods Smiled", a detective novel--did say some pretty flattering things about my use of realism and all.

Unfortunately, I have no copies of THE HAT PEOPLE to send around. Sold out the entire print run of 100. Heh.
I know your wife liked Light Over Newmarket, and for some reason I find a woman a better critic of a novel than most men.(She hated THE FIRE IN BRADFORD, but I think you liked it--and thee you go).
I would dearly have loved to send Pam in Australia a copy of THE HAT PEOPLE, but all I have left is what is online on my site up top right.
Curiously, the proprietor of the Uxbridge Public Library here, one Steve Pearson, snatched two copies of THE HAT PEOPLE just as they came off the production line, got his library to pay for the books and voila, I was instantly published. Not always do novelists get short shrift in Canada...There are angels.
HAT PEOPLE huh? Maybe I can find some old printing plates and reissue.
I've got it righ here online though, and maybe Pam can take a look.
But I don't like changing horses in midstream, though. Heh.