Sunday, August 31, 2008

Could we have the translation, please?

Sneaking back, like gulls and fog near sunrise, the pain polluted my dreams.

Suddenly unemployed, because I was too busy writing to go to a job interview. Well done. Only the family breadwinner, only got two youngsters depending on me as my husband struggles with crumb-contract work. Find myself back in radio, but I'm politely escorted out of there, old boss telling me in his deep voice I'm better suited to bureacracy. Heading to the long-delayed interview for the bureacracy job, I end up at a competing radio station, trying to get the GM's attention for just a moment -- except I haven't got a CV with me. And the recent double mastectomy causes trouble as I take my breast forms out and lay the wobbly things on the table for all to see. Meantime the GM reminds me so much of a departed friend that I just want to hug him, welcome him back to the land of the living, but something's wrong, gnawing-spitting-cussing wrong ... another friend wears a knife and details just how and why he's so pissed off with me, all these comments taken out of context, only the worst possible meanings understood. He's quiet, calm, cold as that Jesus knife -- can I possibly get it from him, no he can't want to use that ... recognition that part of me is glad I hurt him -- shame, shame -- and the dead friend laughs in the background, much too far down the hall now to catch ... gnaw spit cuss ... gasp and wake up ... time for a painkiller.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Faith (petty believer)

I pray: --Purify me.

Blunt pain cleaves out my back. Double over - no thought but escape. Teeth grind. Scowl petrifies.

I pray: --Heal me.

Brick? Slate. One of those crumbling rocks, ancient layers, pathetic broken edges comical 'til bloody.

I pray: --Purify me.

Pain steals my knees.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Little lights

CT scan last month – mercifully clear results. Mysteriously clear, too, as my doctor could palpate some strange little alien in my belly a few months before, but I’ll grab the mercy. I sneezed when injected for a CT scan in 2006 – radioactive contrast dye shoots into your veins, floods your body, cooks you slightly with a piss-warmth in the groin – just a sneeze.

I smile at the needle-nurse. --Now, is this the stuff that makes me warm all over and sneeze?

Timing, right? I ask this while lying on the table.

Concerned faces. Syringe suddenly held away.

We go ahead with the test, with nurse and attendants cautioning me to speak up if I feel the slightest bit strange.

These people worry too much, I figure, watching the nurse pierce my elephant –hide skin and lose the vein. Always a tedious process. Stab hard, dig, dig, pull out. Stab, dig, dig ...

Prick. Shoot. Flood. Heat. Humming wheel of lasers, instructions: --Don’t breathe. Breathe.

Nausea. Guts wants to explode out my nose. Sweat. Sneezing. Lots of sneezing.

Scan’s finished. Sit up, sneeze some more, wheeze a bit, start to explain I think I’m okay – sudden lisp. Tongue wider than it should be. Lips numb? Surely not. Got to be imagining this. Now I’ve got to hang around this little anteroom, sit right in front of a camera ... lips numb. Definitely. Tongue thick. Head foggy. See a doctor – she’s a lovely woman I went to school with. We chat, I wheeze slightly, she listens to my chest, then she goes away, says she’ll check on me shortly. Meantime I should call out or wave at the camera if anything else goes –

Shots of light. Gold and blue. About nine feet in the air. Drawing me towards them. Perhaps I should wave at the camera now, but those lights, don’t want to lose the lights ...

Whack. Sudden shove back into the hard plastic chair. Lips tingle, sensation returning. Tongue shrinks from jamming my teeth. Twenty minutes later, I’m allowed to leave, with a warning: --You shouldn’t have any more CT scans.

I see different lights when stoned on painkillers. Little flames of blue or pink, usually. No desire to follow them.

Swollen brick

That squatter of shrivelled brick -- pain infestation -- bladder squealing -- brick swells to hot acid balloon -- cold draught -- roll onto my side, try to reason with the pain: Okay, I've gotten up and pissed, I've moved around, so why don't you settle down the once? Reason with pain -- bargain with some demented card dealer, or claw the mattress with short-bitten nails. Reason. Philosophy and detachment -- reaching -- a wee bit more difficult around three in the morning. I know others suffer far worse -- seen some of it. I know this. No one's torturing me for the sake skin colour, faith or moral dementia. No one's stolen my children. Just me and this brick ... swallow the pill, keep quiet, don't wake up the family ... Brick and keyboard. Hunched, scowling, typing this -- kicking.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tar Paper Shack -- Joel Thomas Hynes

Dare ya.

Galley slave

The copy-edited manuscript for my next novel, Sky Waves, is with my publisher, getting paginated, typefaced and then spit back at me in proofs. I do not enjoy reading proofs. By the time you get the proofs, you're not supposed to make any changes, any further revisions -- just spot typos.

It's a bit like looking in the mirror after a shower -- wet hair, saggy tits, stretch marks ... I dunno, hips and waist are all right, not hopeless, tattoos interesting... yeah but that flabby belly, those beady eyes -- workaday nakedness a fleshy equivalent of my sense of exposure. Sky Waves, never really in my control to start with -- the craft, perhaps, but not the guts and scream of it -- feels like a a scabby wound. But I can't wait for you to see it.


Behind my stomach lies a shrivelled brick of pain. Sometimes my body tries to sweat the brick out. Sometimes my biliary tree tries to push it out. Sometimes, in a spasm of independence, the brick tries to slice its own way through my back. Of course then it would have to haul the rest of my guts with it. Chronic. Argues with me when I eat -- anything. Tires me out. Wakes me up. Doubles me over. Stop me in mid-sentence. Draws my face into this scowl so sour you'd think murder rotted out my mind. And makes me sweat. Until I'm waxy. Smothered. Face and forehead moist. Little rivers in the cleavage, damp bra. Not sexy. Not easy. Seeded with purpose?

Watching the Road, by Lee Stringer

New writer: Lee Stringer has just released his short-story collection Watching the Road with Killick Press. Stringer is one of those lucky guys who's from Newfoundland but gets to take that little commute to Fort McMurray. Recommend you pick this up.

Spark-gap transmission / Michelle Butler Hallett

Spark-gap transmission / Michelle Butler Hallett
in progress