this is not a temporary error

Vancouver poet Zaccheus Jackson’s death by train in Toronto ‘an absolute tragedy’
36-year-old Alberta native is remembered as a passionate educator who was “just fully coming into his power” as a spoken-word poet of Blackfoot descent.

Zaccheus was a good person as well as a good poet. He was a bright light, easy to recognize even at a distance, and he shone constantly and tirelessly and true. Even though I met him years ago, he was one of the only people who could still coax me to come out to a poetry slam.

I am sorry I didn’t get to know him better. I am grateful for how much I did.

Always remember to tell people when you love them. Nothing is permanent. There is no such thing as the future. There is now and then there is maybe, possibly, only potentially a later version of now. Tell people you appreciate them, that they move you, that you respect them, that their taste in clothes is nice, that the way they move is graceful, that you like how they place their hands on the wheel of the car as they drive, that you adore when they sing along to the radio, that their stutter is appealing, that their guitar face is ravishing, that your admiration for their way with words is endless and honest, that you are attracted to them, that you are in awe of how silly they can be, that you think it’s great that thing they did one time, you remember, with the fork and their niece, that thing, you still think about them, you think about them and you smile, that you think about them and cry, that you think about them, that you miss them, that you sympathize, that you admire and recognize their efforts, that you grasp what they are trying to say, that you regard their puns as a necessary evil, that you commend their sensitivity, that you respond to their touch, that you feel the world is better with them in it, that you worship their cooking, that you long for more time with them, that you idolize the same values, that you are fascinated by the same things, that you hold them dear, that you have had your mind changed by their point of view, that you dig their taste in music, that you value their opinion, that you applaud their parenting, that you esteem their criticism, that you enjoy the way they make you laugh, that you luxuriate in their attention, that you treasure their affection, that their approval makes you happy, that you want to make them proud, that they inspire pride, that you care for them, that they satisfy your curiosity, that they are sweet, that they are treasured, that that shirt matches their eyes, that you’re glad to have met them, that it’s no problem to help out, that you are glad to be of service, that you accept their charity, that they are cherished, that they are anything and everything, that we, each one of us, is the world. Remember and tell them and love and love and love.

“The fastest we live is still the slowest we die.” – Zaccheus

Tell them, your friends, your loved ones, but the acquaintances, too. Tell everyone. Fight against the inevitable coming of night.


She’s Still Dying On Facebook

“On March 2, more than four years ago now, Lea died of substance-abuse-related liver failure. June 10 would have been her 27th birthday. This time of year is when she’s always most on my mind, and I’m sure that some Facebook technician who keeps track of what we all do on the site would report that my visits to Lea’s profile increase exponentially as the weather gets warmer. I don’t know how, exactly, I managed to open up my old messages with Lea. I want to say that Facebook put the messages there—that I didn’t click the button, that they just appeared, Lea’s face popping up because she had something to say, she wanted to chat. But I must have clicked. Maybe by accident. Still, I can’t ignore the pull of my bookworm’s interpretation, arguing that technology is the closest human beings come to magic. I know nothing about the way the Internet works. I still half-believe the Internet is simply air. So why isn’t it plausible that Lea’s messages appeared in response to how much I miss her, to my own guilt about her death.


Lea died the first time soon after she joined Facebook, when I witnessed her transformation into someone she would have mocked and pitied. She died again, a smaller death, a year or so before her real-world one, when she basically stopped posting altogether. On March 2, she died publicly, her wall turning into the memorial it is now. To me, she’s died again and again since then. The posts remembering her are fewer and fewer, months apart sometimes. When I rediscovered our messages, she died again—in a different way, because I’d come face to face with how I failed her. Facebook has made her death a sort of high-concept horror movie. How many more times will I grieve her? How many more details from my past, from Lea’s past, are buried online, waiting for me to uncover them?”

knit the community

Vancouver poet RC Weslowski is putting a call out to “all my peeps in the UK”:

He’s going to be in the UK May 31st-June 15th performing some spoken word and comedy gigs. He’ll be in London June 12th – 14th, performing at the Pear Shaped Comedy on the 13th and at the Shortfuse reading series on the 14th.

What he’s curious about is possibly having a place to crash, (couch, cot, etc), for a couple of days, 12-14th.

He says he knows it’s a long shot as you more than likely don’t know him, as this is my journal, but he thought he’d give it a go. Personally, I’d say if you’ve got space, you should do it. Always welcome at my house and a treat to hang out with, he’s clever, fun, entirely personable, and wouldn’t even think to dream of stealing the silverware. I think I can even fairly safely guarantee that he won’t seduce your sons or daughters either, unless you really insist.

If you are curious and have questions please email him in the next day or two at

found out I’m two degrees from the guy who made this lovely bit of Canadiana

“The future is bleak, scientists said.” Scientists to offer an “explosion of new data” on Global Warming.

Shane stayed over last week, a day or so after his show. We watched Pan’s Labyrinth and stayed up all night showing each other treasures we’d found on-line. It was a treat, it’s been years since we’ve managed to steal so much time together. There’s always meetings and day-jobs and a hundred other things that require priority. (I hooked him up with Uminthecoil Andrew for his next album cover. I want it to work out.)

He called Monday at midnight to remind me why I miss him. He told me that he’s put my portrait up in his Grandmother’s house. I hope she likes it.

Speaking of poets, apparently a poet did a successful background check on Kyle by knowing someone that knew me, so now he has a dessert date on Thursday. I’m not sure how that works, but the general gist I got from it was that being my friend is now a litmus test of poet date-ability. A wee bit ludicrous, but not an opinion I’m in any hurry to get rid of. It’s too classic. He accuses me of placing him within two degrees of everyone interesting in Vancouver.

Breathing Earth: a real-time simulation displaying the carbon dioxide emission levels of every country in the world, as well as their birth and death rates.

Country Mouse: Rent during reading break is a bottle of Caramel Baileys as Victoria is the closest city with any left in stock.

locking my dreams

Shane Koyczan is my missed arrival. When his curtain called, I was not there. When my opportunity knocked, he was not home. He’s taking a lock of my wool hair on stage with him when he opens for the Violent Femmes at Massey Hall next week.

Laughing on stage, you’re berating me, “Why won’t you be in love with me? You owe me a toast.” Descriptions licking like letters in envelopes closed. Anger measured in minutes and hours and always sweetly winning first prize up on the stage. Darling Sara and I’m always so damned proud. Write, hand, write and I ran after you and held you as your cried. Victories as complex as the sun on your thankful face.

I’m making him a charactor in my entry in the upcoming Sinister Bedfellows Anthology:

I’m in the wrong place, but he’s not. A frieze of clouds over the city, orange light reflecting off wet pavement. This is Vancouver. A pane of glass grubby with too many small town fingers. When dawn comes, the light changes, everything goes gray. I remember his voice breaking in the exact shade of the sky when he told me he’d miss me, like the air he inhaled was an echo.

Hold me, I thought, hold me and protect me with your gift with words. Lift me up to where you are, so that I may look down at my hands too and watch them create lightning and thunder.

Hand in hand, I walked with him into a reflection of all our memories. This was where he touched my cheek, this is where I kissed his roommate and wished it was him. Weird baggage. Every strand of wet grass brushing our ankles is another wish, another significant glance across the cafe at me from him. Wrinkled experiences, creased and nicotine-stained from being kept folded in our pockets, folded and unfolded, pressed flat against tables to be examined like treasured maps to an alchemical marriage. Every six months, on average, he told me he loved me. Every six months for six years.

When he said he was leaving, deliberately slowly, I said I was too. In the shape of my mouth were different chances fluttering away, deconstructed. Our synchronizations were an ode to the opposite of a moth to flame, our lives never available at the same time. The king and queen of ill-timing, he said, frustrated, crowned in fluent poetry. Grieving August versus tomorrow until a hip-hop September. He was touring, I was moving away. Ahead of us was time, new and unused, that we could no longer afford to buy. There would be no following me home across an entire ocean. Dog-paddling would have been the death of him and his arms too thin to fly. Without sufficient concentration, he would have just crashed into an airplane anyway, to show how much he believed in the indestructibility of love, decorating the thin air with orange flames and pieces of melting vinyl seating. He was that kind of guy.

We met long ago, when I still grinding the last edges off being a teenager. There was a show in a shabby semi-legal basement venue on Commercial Drive called The Cavern. I never figured out how I was hired. Our audience sitting in creaky dented fold-out chairs, dark enamel flaking off more every evening, he was part of the wildly rhyming entertainment, waving his hands around, telling it like it was and comparing life to bumper-stickers. I was tech, manipulating video feedback to create psychedelic paranoid explosions of light. However unlikely, something blindly meshed. We enjoyed the summertime flavour in the alley outside the amateurishly black painted plywood door while he smoked and made fun of the dripping red letters that stood in for a sign. The other performers, I still know them sometimes, but never as well. Names fading. Las Vegas pompadours hard like black-jack and legendary Quebecois hockey stories I couldn’t relate to. Girls with guitars singing the same shrinking angel song over and over on little open mike stages.

There was a date once, if you squint. We sat on a playground across from a group of elderly Italian men playing bocci on a long narrow court covered with fine gravel and ate gelato from clear fluorescent cups with luminescent plastic spoons as equally neon bright as the cups, as science-fiction improbable as tampering with the rate of enzyme mediated chemical reactions. Just an afternoon.

Now the only time I see him is in expensive looking interviews on television, cunningly mixed with fluid clips of his glowing performances. They’re so relentlessly polished. I attempt not to examine my reactions too closely. His shirts remain button-ups, but now they’re made of thick coloured Egyptian linen and the buttons are interestingly crafted in the shape of Japanese chrysanthemums instead of round discs of cheap milky plastic. I can see where they’ve tweaked his round face in an attempt to make him look conventionally handsome. I’m not sure if it’s worked. Even pixilated, he looks like a lost tourist. I can still see the blossoming moon through his shotgun glare. It was never a question of trust. We were mythology, as brass bound by story as we were to our relationships.

I watch him, sometimes, when I can, when I remember. I finger the earring I accidentally pulled from his head once, silver like his new buttons, and try not to listen for my missing description.