Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

pmordecai's blog

More about knowing where we’re coming from

Funny. In the last post, talking about the need to preserve our cultural creations, I said that we have to know where we’re coming from or we won’t know where we’re going. Today, by accident, I find two famous persons, one Canadian, one American, saying much the same thing, on vastly different subjects. They are Naomi Klein, journalist, author and activist, and Noam Chomsky, linguist, cognitive scientist, political activist, and author.

Sugar Belly's Bamboo Sax

We were teenagers, older teens.

On Saturday morning, we’d go down to Victoria Pier, named after the Queen whose Day we celebrate as I type, so that I just found myself ducking fireworks that seemed dangerously close to this window! The Pier and the famous Myrtle Bank Hotel were casualties of a government redevelopment initiative in the 1960s. It was at the bottom of King Street in downtown Kingston, and so right on Kingston Harbour, and there you could hear Sugar Belly (born William Walker, but known to no one by that name) playing mento music with his rhumba band.

Should Professors of Poetry at Oxford be without sin?

A friend of mine, a Jamaican man, told me many years ago that he disliked going to bars in England, where he’d been a student. Why? Because if a man put his hand up under a woman’s skirt, he was likely to find that two other hands had got there ahead of his. The level of slackness disgusted him, and he was no prude.

Against this background, I am compelled to express my great joy at finding that England is suddenly full of chaste men and women! Who knew? They must be everywhere, for they’ve turned up in the most unlikely place – a university, and no less a one than the venerable Oxon, to boot!

Glory to God!

Except of course these are the last days, and we’ve been warned. If anyone says, “See the Lord there!” or “Behold his miracles here!” we should be wary.


Many years ago I read a book called HEALING THE FAMILY TREE by a psychiatrist, Dr. Kenneth McAll. I won’t go into the theories he presents in the book (it’s still available, for anyone who’s interested) except for one, which struck me at the time, and which, given the matter of my last post, I thought I’d share.


“Man proposes, God disposes.”

The disposition in this case concerns the rear window on the driver’s side of our Civic.

We’d said goodbye to our daughter, her husband and our granddaughter five minutes before, taken off down one sixteen, turned onto route thirty-three on our way to the Mass Pike, and, in good time, Buffalo, and home.

Nothing. No smash. No crack and pop. A thud, maybe. I swivel my head round to see glass crumble in slow motion, spreading streams and rivulets, a mosaic of shine shattering. It keeps on, like a live thing dying slowly, the life running out through the gleaming cracks.

God doesn’t do stuff like that, does He?

“Honey,” I say to spouse. “We need to pull off the road.”


Yesterday’s NEW YORK TIMES carried an article in their “Dining” section about Shave Ice, which Florence Fabricant, the author, describes as “popular in Hawaii and Japan as well as other parts of Asia”. Funny. That’s exactly what we called it in Jamaica when I was a child, first that, and then later, 'sno cone.' The ‘sno’ part came about, I guess, as a result of increasingly popular and pervasive Hollywood movies in which we saw snow, and the ‘cone’ part because the shave ice vendors moved to serving it in paper cones.


I once told my next door neighbour that I was eighty-seven.

It was meant to be a joke.

“No…” said she, unbelieving. “You couldn’t be…”

“No,” said I. “I’m really not!” And we both laughed.

But there was a moment there when she wasn’t sure…

Don’t know what kind of gap that is. Maybe a “Don’t believe everything you’re told!” gap or a “You surely need new glasses, dear,” gap or perhaps, more than likely, a “Stop seeing yourself as you were fifteen years ago!” gap.

Our Town, 2009 edition

Come the good
weather folks in
this Portuguese-
Italian neighbourhood
hang their clothes
out to dry
so stirring lines
of laundry
in the breeze
are a sure sign
it’s warming up.

Come fill the cup
the poet said…

Of course,
one or two hardy
souls hang out
even in winter
on clear cold days
but by and large
loaded down wires
say spring’s
tiptoeing in,
them and lounge
chairs on patios,
towels spread
on the grass
and those
tools of the rite:
lotion, a visor or
very big hat,
and to gently
doze off with,
a paperback!


Enjoy New York, Michael Rubenfeld! It’s a city that I’ve known from my youth, and that I love mightily. And take good care of Blog, who appears to know you well and to be very supportive. How are you doing on the matter of those ciggies, by the way? It’s a nasty habit that will wreck your lungs and wreak havoc on your body. Take it from a long since reformed smoker, who still, now and then, would love nothing better than a smoke with her cup o’ coffee! I hope you do manage to see a couple of plays. In fact, I know you will. There’s nothing like a play on Broadway, off-Broadway, even very far off-Broadway…

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