Stranger: Hello ☺
Stranger: 29. Female. West End
You: No way!
You: I’m James. 28. Male. Commercial @ Broadway
Stranger: Interesting ☺. My name is Sam. I’ve gotta go to work but text me @ 604- 295-7222. Pin: 5xt67v
You: I most definitely will.
“James would you come downstairs and set the table for dinner,” my mother, Jill, yells from the bottom of the stairs.
“Yeah, just give me a minute, I’ve got to do something.”
As I am walking down the stairs I decide to BBM Sam. It seems less invasive then a text message and more opportunity for conversation.
“Put your phone away and lay out the place mats,” my mother commands.
She doesn’t like the fact that I’m always contactable and my friends can talk to me at any hour.
“As a man of your day said, the times they are a changing,” I reply.
“Not hungry?” My mother asks as I twirl my spaghetti aimlessly.
“It’s strange that you spend so much time talking on that phone and computer of yours but when it comes to the one time of the day when I see you, you have nothing to talk about.”
I leave the table without asking to be excused; I don’t need my mother to control who or how much I talk to people. These forms of communication were invented right? And therefore should be used.
“Give me your phone, until your finished studying for your math test,” my mother demands.
She believes that because she can’t multi task, it’s impossible for me to do so. “Too simulated,” she calls it. The only disadvantage to technology is it eats up time and before you know it, I’m saying goodnight to my friends on BBM and Facebook., finally letting my mind wander into a dream.
I wake up to the vibration of a new message from Sam saying, “Morning stud.” It’s comments like that, that make a Monday morning enjoyable. I wait until I get to school to text her back, the cool thing to do. With a blackberry at hand, it doesn’t matter where I am, I never feel restricted. My mom says the restrictions lie in personal interactions skills and how all my friends are merely virtual. She doesn’t understand that electronic conversations are just highlights of good conversation. There’s never an awkward pause or disgusted facial expressions, everything flows smoothly. With that in mind, I ask Sam what she’s doing this afternoon.
The recess bell rings and I’m the first one to leave the classroom. I catch a glance of Jason closing his locker. I pick up the pace.
“Jason, wait,” I yell from the other end of the hall.
He hears me and slowly leans back on his locker. Cool.
“You going to Kyle’s to play counterstrike this afternoon?” Jason asks.
“No. I’ve got better things to do.”
“I’ve got a date Jason, with a twenty eight year old“.
“Bull shit you do, what’s her name.”
A rush of confidence runs through my spine, like Heroine, without the STI’s.
Sam sends me a message asking for my last name. Is this a good idea? Could she find out my identity? I go onto to my Facebook Page.
Networks: Main High school ‘11
Shit. I scroll through my friends. High school students. Double shit. I can’t tell her my last name, she’ll look up my profile and realize I’m a fraud. The anxiety starts to kick in so I raise my hand and ask to go the washroom. As soon as I leave the room I start to run. I vigorously swing the washroom door open to get a glimpse of my face in the mirror. Too young. I look around the room. Every 28 year old has five o’clock shadow. But maybe she’ll enjoy the smooth peach fuzz. Plain white t-shirt and blue denim. Respectable. But I need something more. A leather jacket? Too cliché. I hear a vibration and see a new message from Sam asking if we’re still grabbing coffee. Yeah for sure, I reply. I start to feel sick.
“Stomach problems?” my teacher asks as I walk into the classroom. The room fills with laughter and I realize that I was in the washroom for thirty odd minutes. Red face. How embarrassing. “I was talking to a 28 year old girl!” I reassure them. The laughter grows and even the teacher buries her face in her book. Red face. After a few minutes the lunch bell rang and everyone runs wild into the halls.
“How did you meet this girl anyway?” Jason asked.
“I told you, Omegle…tell me you know what omegle.com is… the chat room that links you up with a complete stranger.”
“That’s pretty weird dude. Sounds like some, Pedophile shit,” Jason responds. “Whatever man, while your having a stupid video game cock-fest, I’m going to be getting my mack on.”
It was 3:52. Sam said she would meet me at Starbucks at 4:00. Enough time to wait outside 7 eleven to give money to someone for a pack of smokes.
“Cheapest kind you can get,” I ask him. I get the pack “Canadian Classics.”
Is that really what my lungs are going to look like? Just put it in your mouth and light, I tell myself. I get a text from Sam asking where I am. Walking towards Starbucks, wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt, cigarette in mouth, I respond. Deepen your voice I remind myself as I approach a girl that’s closer to my mom’s age then mine. But as I get closer I realize she looks young for her age. Phew!
“James, I know” she interrupts.
Keep the conversation steady.
“Sorry, I just got off work a couple minutes ago.” She stares at the cigarettes. “Working at the office is so stressful, so gotta resort to these.”
“Fair enough”, she responds. “Want to go inside?”
“Can I get-“
I browse the coffees, what the hell is a macchiato, sounds mature.
“A macchiato and-“
“I can pay for myself thanks,” Sam interrupts, again.
After she pays she starts to look at the side of my head.
“Do I have something on my face,” I ask while rubbing my face.
“No, you just have young bone structure”.
My palms begin to sweat.
“My mother drank during her pregnancy,” I lie. Phew!
Right as I grab my macchiato I hear someone call my name from behind. “James, what are you doing here? Who’s this girl your with? And why do you smell like cigarettes?”
Not cool. It is my mother and her boyfriend. My gut drops like a paratrooper jumping from a plane. My mouth becomes dry. Fight or flight. I don’t wait for an awkward silence before I am half way down the block, running home, to Facebook message Jason.
you speak anonymously, as though i wasn’t here
i want to say
you are the ones not here
but there were four
thumb to wedding finger
i once did adore
they didn’t give me the time line of their next adventure
after the credits roll
maybe a blooper
or false information...something....right?
the crickets have began to chirp
for some strange reason, the darkness didn’t bring sleep
and sleep didn’t bring dreams
the only image was white
What did they see?
was it blurry and boozy
was it cloudy cloudy cloudy
was it Disney all cuddly and everything's cool?
the prescription is a doctor's scrawl
making it difficult for me to read let alone comprehend
the end...their ends.
Ray Charles was black blind and could sing
Sally Jane tried to beat the bastard Death
she never realized children with no father are often stronger
Young David was old
never had time to elude
the hospital coffee
and Rachel, yes Rachel
incapable of finding her
way from the pain
left us all hanging
don't whisper to me…shout
that’s four in one year
hip-hip-hooray a cheer
boo- hoo a tear
Jenny: Mother. 37. Stay at home mom.
Rob: Father. 46. Stock broker.
Lisa: Daughter. 16. Grounded.
Michael: Lisa’s Boyfriend. 24
Very clean Kitchen. Bottle of wine and candle on Kitchen Island.
(Rob walks in on his Blackberry, Jenny is lighting candles in Kitchen)
Jenny: You’re home. Didn’t you get off work two hours ago.
Rob: Give me a second (typing on blackberry)
Jenny: (smiles) I’ve made you’re favorite-
Rob: Where’s Lisa?
Jenny: (pause and approach husband) I thought it would be nice if we got some alone time.
Rob: Cut the bull shit Jenny Elisabeth , where’s my daughter?
Jenny: (Blushes. Quietly says) I let her go to Michael’s house.
Rob: Michael. She’s ground-
Jenny: ed. I know. But-
Jenny: Well, she said she would clean up her act.
Jenny: Yes, and I decided to look in her room to see if that was that case.
Jenny: I didn’t find any open booze or condom rappers, so i thought-
Rob: Thought? You don’t think. That’s my job. I make the money because I can process thought.
Rob: Don’t “Rob” me.
Jenny: (Jenny pleads while Rob rolls his eyes) I cleaned the house all day, made your-
Rob: Favorite dinner and yadda-
Jenny: If you’d let me finish.
Rob: (pause) Well, what are you waiting for.
Jenny: You’ve been busy with work-
Rob: Making money.
Jenny: Yes, making money. But after work you go have a beer with the other guys-
Rob: Are you grounding me now, letting our daughter out and giving me a curfew?
Jenny: I’m just saying-
Rob: You’re always saying things. Saying this and saying that. Just Say it! (pause) Listen, I’m home on weekends and nights.
Rob: Always with the buts.
(Jenny starts to walk out, Rob grabs her by the arm)
Jenny: (glares at Rob) This started as a discussion about me letting Lisa out, and look what you’ve turned it into (point at rob).
Rob: What I’ve turned it into? You let her go to Michaels house.
Jenny: What’s wrong with Michael?
Rob: Nothing at all. I’m happy to see my 16 year old daughter spend time with her boyfriend who is only thirteen year younger then YOU, Jenny. When she’s grounded.
Jenny: You think I don’t care about the well being of OUR daughter?
Rob: I’m hungry.
Jenny: (glares) Fix it yourself-
Rob: I spend all day at the office and I ask a simple request for some food from my wife that has been doing shit all at home all day and she won’t agree.
Jenny: I wish, I could record our conversation and-
Rob: And, what? Send it into child service. You’re a fucking adult Jenny, start acting like one.
Jenny: (starts to cry)
Rob: OH (pause). I’m sorry.(tries to give her a hug)
Jenny: Get off me! (push Rob)
Rob: You haven’t seen me all day and you won’t even give me a hug? I’m going to the bar. (Rob leaves)
Jenny: (grabs telephone, crying) Lisa. It’s mom (pause.) Can you come home?(pause.) No you’re not in trouble (pause. ) Don’t worry, he just left. (pause.) Yes Michael can come over. (pause.) See you soon.
This book was written to pay respect to Isaac Elias Jonathon Penn, who passed away on December 21. As Isaacs father, I felt it was necessary to convey Isaacs relationship with each family member by means of pen and paper. The rightful representation for Isaac’s love for documentation. Listening to Joanna Newsom on his deathbed, reading Lolita, Isaac lay peacefully. “Dreaming seamless dreams of lead”- Joanna Newsom.
Sandy Penn screams. She wails. She tosses and turns. A hysterical woman granting existence to an anxious child. Pop!
On his third birthday my child receives a birthday card from his brother. Isaac snatches it and reads, without being literate “I am so happy that it is your birthday Isaac, I promise I will be nice to you today. Love Asher. Thanks Asher”. They hug and Asher hands his brother a mix tape trying to formulate some sort of speech before Isaac interrupts. “ I know Asher, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Wu Tang Clan, trust me I know”. Isaac knows.
His tricycle. His one toy and only prized possession at age four. Elisa, his sister asked politely to borrow it for an act in Cirkids. Isaac relentlessly gave in. Anxiously waiting at home, to see that beautiful blue bike. She broke the tricycle. Being unable to share his emotions with even people as close as his family, Isaac said nothing.
School in Australia. Scotts College was his home for one short month. Isaac, coming from a diverse family background, was surprised that everyone there was Christian and white. Of course, there were exceptions. A Christian aboriginal. And the triangle of Jews; Isaac, Daniel, and the assistant head boy. The Dirty Jew. “Get the Jew with the ball”, they’d shout. And rocks, oh rocks. While Isaac suffered, Daniel prospered on the soccer field. For Isaac wasn’t.
I stand there at the top of the course with my ID badge “Dr. Ian Penn, Tellembugrum Australia”. I was ski patrol doctor, waiting for an injury. It was Isaac’s international Super G race and it was one of the first events that I had seen. He skied for himself, not for us. I watched him majestically carve. Boom! He fell. And rose to his feet, skis parallel to finish what he had started. Couldn’t help but feel proud, as I watch my son preserver. Perseverance that will never leave us.
a sharp wind on my face
a scent of cold fury
taste my dry chapped lips
listen to the thud of my skis falling into fluffy powder
see all elements of life
senses aware of their surrounding
encompass our small pack
not a spare breath to speak
leaving an interesting path with handrails on the side
more so divots, created out of arm technology
and trudging feet that clunk the powder to a hard packed level
clunk. clunk. clunk
my thighs burn
"how much longer till I can ski the fucking thing?"
keep going young soul
i think of the pioneers such as dawson in 1885
with no knowledge of such landscapes
no feel of the snow.
crystals covering his skis with ever step
the sun, shining so brightly on the high peaks
my mind moves through historical references and triggers my eyes to see
dead and alive
but still here
not harmed by pollution. not destroyed for kindling
just there as a gesture
nature over powers
i take a sip from my camel back
mountains- the whole rockies in front of my eyes
adore the scenery
anxious to get a reward for my doings
no better then my body feeling weightless
diving into every turn
reminiscing the agony. the hardships overcome
for true happiness
Aphrodite finds him. Leads him to Elysian dreams. But she’s that cold wind that promises relief on a hot summer’s day, and leaves instead a cut on the top of his mouth.
She turns his thoughts, suicidal, into immoral laughs. With derision, she mocks his protestations with a seductive sneer, “Come on, you’re the one being emotional, that’s not the quality of a true man”.
Bored by her nonsense she searches for bigger prey. The man had no knowledge of her hunt and was not expecting to cross her path.
He sees her. With Hera her mother. Both sitting on swings.
He takes a double look.
Their eyes lock. One whole year had transpired. The thought of a conversation seems illicit.
She leaves her swing. Tears stained, she approaches. “I’m sorry for everything” she beckons. Again. Again. Again.
And he feel the repetition. He’s hear this all before. His vision starts to dim.
She claims, “I still care. You know, I once gave a shit.”
and the sea commits to me
as i give my fond farewell
meanwhile the clicks of clocks, decipher
the apparent fighter
then i start to rain
and claim that i care
even though you are there and i'm here
by your side in the medical institute
when a cold folds into a fever
in the beginning l'hiver
besides my wish to slow down time
come down here and hold my hand
it was always "she's sick"
my arrogant foolery
until the forced reality
this is it
i am her only one
i gave her wings
but all what is left are feathers
so the story goes on
with no tale of beginnings and ends
swing wild, that axe of mine
until i realize that nothing bares soul in front
it's just like kicking a habit
and as my mind follows her
i can't help but think of the youngsters
a nine year old and two thirteen year old twins
with no mother to care or bother
go off to sleep in the sunshine
where rest can profound comfort
whie her candle burns so birght
and it will go out against her own might
our relationship devours
the mending of flowers
of cuts and bruises
but in the end the winner always loses
narcissus and echo approached the stage
a fiddle at half mass supporting their majestic curtain
and at this time of prayer, i pray down there
once again they approach their stage, fiddle hosted high
draining the light from every pore they feel among the yard
and all those brave gents, in their red stained uniforms
they approach their last days on this stage
the time to say hello is now
so please love, say goodbye
bye for the now
because hello is withering away
echoing in this silent room of controversy
and mr.echo returns the call
while narcissus prays to a tree with no leaves
waiting to be restored
because my dear son has been hurt, hasn’t he
hello pretty mask
you caught me in the early hour
the time of power is now
so where do you walk when dogs mind the side walk
or the beast within draws from your spine
do you tip toe
or crawl like a lion
dream your intentions and i’ll watch the play
my questions mean nothing
or scream your thoughts
my insecurities plug my ears
and how do you feel when i feel
do the inner churns develop as the lion crawls
the king of the jungle falls asleep
and all is calm once again
and where do you want to be, with me
on the top of a dandelion hill
you’ll push and tug till i fall
caught by our magic carpet
part two begins and you tuck me into bed
when they glisten in the youthful evening
the pretty mask
in the early hour
but who do you aspire to be, if it’s not me
the cuddly creature
that you must pet correctly
or all will become prickly
and the lion awakes
from it’s pit of despair
and he approaches, showing his sharp teeth
with the tears flowing down my cheek
he paws and plays and licks that teary cheek
and all is calm once again
so tell me why you speak with such style
if it were only true to you
upon your personal satisfaction
together from the window we spy
and i see a resemblance love, of you and her
a prickly flower
and once a mistake was made
by god, once a mistake was made
it had happened .
i never wanted to be the tragic heroine.at all.
my father and hamlet played with me.i was their toy
the weakened soul rises above the natural soil.
but him. that wretched soul.
everyone wants the dress and the stallion galloping in.
but not some fool. acting out of sheer craziness.
who pushes me deeper under the soil.to the watery mud.
and once i get there, the mud is gone.
the darkness leaves. and again i’m alone.
with eyes the willow sways.
where my mind tells me to follow, to the white light
a big swan dive. the end.
but not for the rest of the tale.
for things will get wreck less.
death will boil and brew over all of denmark
i’m leaving before things get ugly.before i get blamed.
a lady has no place in such violence.
Stop. Allow the obvious connection. It doesn’t mean to simply give in. It means that all sounds are clearly audible; but no speech is present. The control is inevitable and needs to be accomplished. But who decides such boundaries? It’s all one mans perception. Marriage. Right and wrong. Left and right. Black and white. These ideas are tattooed in our brains. No wiggle room. No room for failure. Why should ones mind be shielded from the possibilities that life entails? Experimentation. Aroused. Be something. Do something. It just so happens that there is a god and he deserves your respect. So give it to him! Give it raw and give it mean.
Subtle anger covers such an illusion
No English language can describe the tendencies of light.
Where it shines or seemingly glows.
The color of Christmas. With a dribble of snow.
I’m at the wheel.
In control. Screeeccchhhh! Boom. Bang.
The man clinged to me. Held on like a homeless man seeking some sort of charity. I looked down. His hands, veiny and tense, were clawing at my leg. I wanted to kick away but I couldn’t. His digits were aware of their surroundings and in order for me to understand his struggle I had to connect with his hook. I thought of the four jointed body part and all the marvels that came with it. A ring to represent marriage. A hand to experience touch. Fingers to grip objects. And nails to be bitten nervously. My eyes panned away from the man and I had a vision.
Paralyzed. No feeling. The image brought pins and needles and wouldn’t withdraw from my head. The thought of being able to see the wonders of the world and have no idea what they felt like was overpowering. I imagined the injury. Clinging to the rock just like the man with no fixed address. A snap and the lights went out.
I wake up with the image of a bunch of squiggly lines and realize they are all intravenous tubes. Fuck. I would rather just die in peace. Nevertheless, they fight for a life that they are completely oblivious to. I see all this movement and try to lift my arm. Nothing. How about my legs? Absolutely numb. I scream, but my emotional state remains the same.
Back to reality. I lift the drifter to the blue man collars level. “Hands are so important that we even wear gloves to cover them”, he says. I laugh. The statement seems so blatantly obvious and redundant. Nevertheless, truth. I thought of the importance and significance of ones touch. The affects that climate has on our emotional state. Reliance on such a phenomenon.
I bought the man lunch and he purchased the small talk. And then we said our farewells. I knew he would go back to pan handling and I’d return to my steady day job. Empathy. The wish for a better tomorrow. For the both of us. We are on a good path. Our hands still have feeling.
Isaac: May I take a photo of you?
Homeless Man: Well sure. What else do you want? To know my whole life story?
Isaac: Ha, well if you wouldn’t mind.
Homeless Man: I hope you have some time. At the age of three both my parents had committed suicide. I thought. No I didn’t because I had no idea what was happening. After my parents decide to call it quits, I went through all the intricacies. Who gets the money? Who was to take care of me? Who owned what? I was confused and to make matters seemingly worse everyone was asking ME questions. Yes, the three year old with a brain the size of a peanut. They didn’t take any of my emotions into consideration. It was a complete interrogation. With a dead brother in my mother’s womb, I had no one. My grandparents were dead and both my parents were single children. I was a “rare case” as the judge said.
Decisions were made and at the age of eight I was lodging in a catholic orphanage. The first day really foreshadow the rest of time at this institution.
Principal:“ Father will take you to your room and Mother Superior will be waiting there for you”
Me:“I don’t think you understand, my parents committed suicide five year ago. Unless, you have a way to bring them back.
Principal: “ Enough, Mr. Baker. Trauma, yes, but do not be cheeky.
The years to come were filled with confusion. “Why won’t god show his face? If Adam and Eve were always naked, did they have sex a lot? If god created humans shouldn’t nuns be having sex non-stop to keep gods children going? What happened if America went to war with the Vatican, would we still like the pope?” They were some of the questions that were asked at the beginning of my stay. At the age of sixteen I received the nickname Gigolo. I had no idea what this nickname was about, but my girlfriends ex had given it to me. That night I asked one of my many Fathers what a Gigolo does. With a slap, I was proud of myself. I still had no idea what it was but, it was bad and I wanted to be something naughty without trying. I ran away and decided it was my destiny to become a Gigolo.
Isaac: A gigolo, really? You had no idea what that was?
Homeless Man: Well I was only educated about religion, nothing about sex. Carrying on, the first year was easy and much the same as the orphanage but with less rules. Instead of learning religion I learned how to do a line of coc. Instead of learning math I learned how to reload a gun or break into a car. I had a parental figure, whom everyone called “ a pimp”. I didn’t like that term so I called him dad. He was protective but would let me do as I please.
For four years, I had sex. Lots of it. Nevertheless I was content and loved every minute of it. If my client laid a hand on me, dad would pull a gun on them. I was never scared but I became tired and decided I wanted to call it quits and run away, for the second time.
Isaac: This story is intriguing, what happened next?
Homeless Man: At the age of twenty-two with $200,000 and a handful of experiences in my pocket I was ready for the real world. Lonely nights in the local motel, led to thought and frustration. I thought of the one thing I was good at, sex. But also acting. All the orgasms I had and developed that were fake. I decided I wanted to be an actor.
My first agent in the “biz” as they called it, wanted to make me a porn star. I explained that I was tired of having sex and wanted to act in films. He ditched me and I was again alone in the local motel. Day in and day out I wished for a miracle.
Isaac: Did you get one?
Homeless Man: Well, one evening I was watching a film and a man knocked on my door. He came to tell me the film was too loud. I muted the Paramount feature and offered the man a brew. We talked and soon enough he asked, “What movie were you watching?” “My favorite, Dogma”, I said. The man jumped for joy and replied “ I directed that film”. One thing led to the next and I had a job with Paramount.
Paramount treated me well and I had the life of a true movie star. Until one day when all went to shits.
It was evening and I was sitting with my wife in the living room, where we both did a line. I was feeling strong and in power and understood that Spring Break was coming up for all the kiddies. I decided to invest all my money into Intrawest. All of it. The next day Intrawest went under and all my money was gone. My wife kicked me out of the house and all what she left me with was this flute that I to this day play.
Isaac: I hope you understand I’m writing all this down.
Homeless Man: Give me $10 and piss off, I’ve got music to play.