Works in Progress – Updated Dec 23, 2009
You Shall Have No Other, poetry. Click here for excerpt.
Elegies, poetry. Click here for excerpt.
Fishing Vancouver Island, 2008, Amato Publications, saltwater and freshwater.
Execution Rock; novel, west coast historical. Click here for excerpt.
Bamfield; novel, west coast historical saga. Click here for excerpt.
The Invisible Career, stories. Click here for excerpt.
Fishing for Dreams, 2006. Click here for excerpt.
A Man And His River. Click here for excerpt.
The Almost Inexhaustible Autobiography of Me.
My first memory is not real. It is not real in many different ways and for many different reasons. But let me tell you what it is: I am leaning against an unpainted fence with nails that drip like old blood. I am not thinking that then, but I am now, for I would not be able at the time – though I remember it well – to think the drips looked like blood. That would come later, when I became literate. Nor would I have thought the wood was warm, though it was, from the sun, the low western sun setting over the parkland. Alberta stretched out yellow beyond the fence. I know this, even though I am not looking at it. I know for I am three and believe that when you turn your back that what you have looked at remains the same.
The rolling hills and their yellow retreat from the prairie to the blue edge mountains. I am looking away from them. Across the oil stained concrete, with its brush marks like horse tails stand two canisters with pumps. I sit in my coveralls against the fence with a critical expression on my bland free-skin face, though I do not think of it as that now, but only now, more than a half century later. I am watching the bowl of fluid on the top of the column. I remember the gasoline as pinky blue, though gasoline today, is colourless, except for that that is sold to farmers or to fishermen. But I remember the pink, the bubbles that rose that the hand pump pushed the gasoline up to the tank and down its outsides ran a series of lines and amounts in black lines so that if you wanted a gallon of gas, the handle was opened and the purply gas ran down and the bubbles came up.
The gasoline station with its sign on a pole and a white rose as its symbol is a few blocks from where I live on 19th St, and 14th Avenue, which at this time is a few small houses on a gravel road and then prairie between us and the centre of town. The prairie is succumbing to the prints of tractors even then. I knew it then that my whole life would be about freedom. And it has always been so after my first memory, an instinct that would mark my days and years. I had earlier that day walked away from my home, hands in pockets, eyes on the ground. I am told I was scowling. Perhaps I was.
When they, the people who do such things, take a blade to prairie wool and the buffalo wallows beneath, say that their erasure is progress. But that is getting ahead of things… The men clear the stuntedness of tree and plant some grass. With whirligig watering spigots on long black hoses make for the silent breaking open of seed and then the struggle for the one open green hand to press up and reveal a single blade of grass. And after many years of the small feet of children much older than I, wear printless trails across the stubby grass. The grass is green in spring time only, and then is yellow like the prairie west of Calgary where the rest of my young years will be spent.
From time to time, a bone man, I think they were called, then, when we put up with many things that have come over the years to be gone. A man with his bent shoulders on a cart of white and meat, that smell of death that followed him in his darkness up the street with his horses eyes down and his own eyes down from a past that stretched behind me into a future that never came back. Much like myself, on my head down, way at three, hands in my pockets, squinting to the White Rose station, with its big white flower, that later became a big yellow shell of Shell. But at this time, as I sat against the fence with the rotting grape, lettuce smell of rabbits kept for the poking of their flesh to be taken in and eaten – a rabbit when the rest of us ate beef. But I did not know the difference between the Chinese people who ran the little corner store that was not at the corner, but had a dirt backside full of ruts and full of the skin of ice in winter when the water froze and then the water below sank into the ground. But the smell of rabbits is the smell of my youth, there where everything that did not sell in the store was given to the rabbits and I would crouch there knowing they would yell at me if they found me on my knees searching in the darkness of the cage for their rabbit