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from At Andy's (New Star Books, 2000)

                                                                                                    for George Bowering

Hard to tell. There were lots of golden lights, like golden marbles, on a glass tray -- but rising & falling -- though some of that apparent motion was due to the bus, & the rising & falling of the land over which it was approaching -- & then the subject was in among the golden lights & saw they were -- street lights (aw, you guessed!) --

& amid all the golden lights, Woody's RV World -- that was a coincidence, S. reports, since he was thinking, what might count as 'world' for an AI system, when that flashed by, & then later, Ristorante Ristorante. Took him back to his youth, when even the best Italian restaurant was called a restaurant, & that took him back to all his talks with Stan, their never-ending conversation, about how things had changed since their youth -- one youth?

A consciousness -- something -- stretched out between the past (seen as a kind of paradisal, happy-go-lucky place -- a real place, where you could eat spaghetti (& not linguini) -- & not, somehow, just be the focal point of a sketch -- a schematic -- of the act of eating spaghetti -- focal point -- the fork, the mouth, the throat -- while level on level, at the same time, other voices (other persons?) from this time & that, mumbled, muttered, half-started phrases, the beginning of arguments you had to pay attention to, & at the same time try not to pay attention to, try to be real again --

this is what S. argued with Stan about, whether plain, uncomplicated reality was disappearing or were they just getting older -- but why should getting older have that effect?

& it happening inside the head --

A man on a bus sees a sign from the window, Woody's RV World, & can't understand it, because he's passing by it --


& then on Stephen Avenue, dressed for late winter, & this is suddenly full spring -- 5 p.m. -- warm, with a light wind, but the Calgarians have made this mistake too, dressed in topcoats, anorak jackets (?) -- it's 15º out, & you push open the thick glass door of the Bankers Hall & are met with a puff of hot air -- it's 20º inside, the heat is on in all the buildings --

so, of course, in 10 minutes (& why are there periods of time?), at the bar, peering out of this flesh --

at 2 brokers (not lawyers, they seem too self-satisfied -- maybe auditors -- bankers more likely) who are each other --

(right now there's some kind of a terrier -- one of those square-jawed fuzzy brown dogs -- taking a shit behind a bush in the central play area of the Econo Court -- I like that name, Econo Court) --

2 heads bald on top, expensive haircuts, one with a well-trimmed beard (the only difference), suits, ties, cuffs, pints of Smithwick's (this is an Irish pub, the James Joyce -- how wonderful to be someone else, to be the person you are drinking with -- & not a turmoil of voices, fear, memories, arguments, in the dark of this head -- trying to be one person -- to be real, i.e., not a person -- if this is what it is to be a person, I can't imagine the other people -- the bartenders in their black vests & Kelly green bow ties, the brokers -- think, no, are , like this -- lack of sympathy, I guess.

I'd like to drink pint after pint, each accompanied by a shooter of Jameson, & then for this reality to segue, imperceptibly, into some other -- why, into the past, of course -- the thoughts becoming more intermittent -- but the scene getting sharper & brighter & clearer though the characters , I guess, moving more slowly -- until finally, no movement, no thought, just a bright image --

(of justice , he thinks, oddly)

rather than having to finish my drink (S. finishes his pint, pays up --

(now a St. Bernard romping, followed by a woman in blue slacks & what I guess is an anorak jacket -- I'm not really sure -- (but what I meant to report when I noted the other dog, the boxy-faced terrier -- is that it's good to be here (that's a riff for Ryan), in Calgary. I have Mr. Coffee & it's only 8:l5 a.m. & I have my whole life ahead of me) --

pays up, as I was saying, & goes back out onto Stephen Avenue, it's 5 to 7, still warm, light wind -- & as he left the bar, no, just at the moment when he downed the last of the pint, placed the 25 bucks on the bill & the bartender smiled & said 'Have a nice evening,' just then he kind of shrugged all this off, all this interior stuff, & became, briefly, the person he is, as he does, intermittently, as he passed through the door, as he does, passing


ristorante (This one is Gaston's Ristorante.)


Sign in Eau Claire Market:

               MORE EXCITING

               SHOPS UPSTAIRS


Why should a sign:

               Own a New


               From $37,550

remind me that I'm going to die?

What is this 'reminding'?


Why Not Italian Too! Ristorante

'Blondes on Bikes' boys waggling their hips at Burns Stadium -- & then they stop, forever, when the social takes over from the physical, age 12. A non-sexual longing, for an age of bikes & baseball.

                                   Longing for the boys? no, sorry, boys for boys & baseball for the old -- boys banging the corrugated steel fence at the top of the grandstand -- when the scoreboard says 'Make Some Noise' -- it makes a helluva racket. Cannons have a chance -- fight back from being behind 9-1 in the 5th to lead 15-14 going into the 9th but then Las Vegas scores 6 runs in the top of the 9th --

                                   all this time a big bank of cloud coming slowly out of the west as the evening darkens -- the lights on -- the lights on also for some reason over McMahon Stadium across the way, though there's no game going on there --

Consciousness is an illusion, a dear friend of Stan's & mine, Jim Herndon, dead now these -- what is it, 10 years? -- said Lévi-Strauss said -- & that he agreed with him --

but Stephen Leacock replied (well, replied in my mind, writing): 'The illusion is the real reality.'

                                                                                                         The boys -- & girls -- waggling their hips -- dancing to the R & B -- led by the Cannons' mascot -- red Sesame Street type creature -- & why do all mascots have wide hips? (you know what you can do with your counterexamples) --

                                                & remembering 4 years ago in Syracuse, boys dancing to 'YMCA', making the letters with their arms over their heads --

but they won't play 'YMCA' in Calgary -- which is what Stan & I were arguing about -- are we genetically 'homosexual' or do boys just stop waggling their hips when they discover life is no longer joyous -- age 12.

At age 12 I found out I was a 'homosexual' & stopped waggling my hips.


How was life? The illusion. 12 to 64.

S. tries to get behind his thoughts -- his 'thoughts' I should say -- not sure that's what to call such powerful fragments -- 'strings' of words flash across his cortex, I guess -- or up & down -- of 'words' -- I won't try to give examples -- his private lexicon -- the crumbs he's taken home from all his parties, hoping at first no one noticed --

Illusion, you call it? -- illusion stuck here -- would like to be elsewhere, but the thoughts --

Some people think what's hard to explain about consciousness is how well it works -- ha! -- tell that to the insomniac -- tell it to Blanche Dubois -- with a song caught in her head -- who's singing that song?

stuck stuck stuck stuck stuck --

a sleeping Siberian tiger -- a peregrine falcon -- giraffe trying to open the 20-ft. door with its head -- gave up -- then saw it outside with the other giraffe, so it must've -- the elephant tried to pick up nothing dragging the tip of its trunk along the spiky fence -- no pain sensors? or just dulled, by repetition?

'There is no first person in literature,' Wilde told Gide. There is too much of a first person -- & yet I know, just beyond this (blank) of words is a country without reflection -- a river (like the Bow) that flows from the past to the present & makes them one -- one place -- the second martini has that effect too -- S. snaps back into the landscape -- ristorante-scape -- & the landscape knows its being -- the less he knows the more it is aware --

The woman in black -- first unsure if it was a woman -- black hair, black jacket, black slacks -- head in her hands, moaned, said something like, 'It's something else,' & then slid off her seat to the floor of the C-Train & lay at my feet, face down, moaning -- & the 4 teenagers laughed & made a joke about heroin & then one of them went to the safety phone & pushed the red button & the green light came on & the teenager said, 'There's a woman lying on the floor of the train looks like she's OD'd or something,' & two other people came & knelt down by her & said, 'Are you all right?' & 'She's all right, she's breathing,' & Blanche Dubois watched them take care of her

& the sleeping Siberian tiger