Mary Harman, Soupe du Jour
Mary Harman. Soupe du jour. 2015. 16x16 inches. Acrylic on linen/wood panel.

It could well be that Irish Harpy and her retinue (hubbie and fils) are eminently sensible people, and have little truck with public intellectuals. It could be, but it is not a given. They are likely to have truck with Dr Phil, and failing him, to go about mouthing lines of Basil Bunting when in the mall. Brag, sweet tenor bull. Cheeky of them, I know. Morning. Nikas. And Alexandra the waitress butters toast. The situation of Greece with respect to the European Union troubles her mind, crowding out, thereby, such thoughts as her favourite TV shows might generate. TV shows are a conversational lifeline between her and the regulars. Even so, life is good more or less, however much in Greece things are dicey. Back in the 80s, Vancouver, and I used to say that the more progressive types in the area had a penchant for underestimating their political adversaries and outright enemies, the phenomenon that was to be Preston Manning a case in point. Perhaps life was too good in Lotus Land. Subsequently I could have cared less for politics until the Clinton impeachment trials fired up, and not because I had any regard for Willie—I had none, but because I had a feeling that that bit of political theatre was crossing some line from which there would be no going back; and there was no going back, as it turned out; and then—the Bush years and so forth and so on. As it is with a Chinese box, one nightmare contains another—Last night I went to bewail the collapse of the imagination and the liberal spirit in a bar with Miss Gill and McGravitas, but the latter entity was on one of his anxiety-fuelled verbal jags. That is to say, he applied all the conversational leverage that there was to apply whilst Miss Gill ‘bended’ in the wind, so to speak, and asked the pertinent questions and poured gas on the fire. I thought I was in a scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I tried to follow along, but there was always some debacle in a corner of my brain obtruding on the moment like a piece of bone breaking through the flesh. Syria, for instance. “What a boring man you’ve become,” I said to myself, in light of my mental state; and though I can chat it up with the best of them, I simply could not induce my tongue to do its business.  Fiddler’s Green, and the students were all shoulder to shoulder babbling and enthusing. Les Canadiens started out well, but were soon enough getting thrashed on the various screens that were windows into the soul—The other day a friend of mine, and as if I had never been to one, described for me a poetry reading he once attended, the reader a figurehead for the avant-garde set. My friend spoke of how the man began to utter the word milk, and utter and utter and utter it, the entire utterance taking up all of five minutes, whereupon a woman seated behind my friend remarked: “Ah, milk. Good word.” At which point my friend had a time of it trying to suppress his giggles and quash his internal cries of horror. It is not that one man’s pleasure is another’s poison, but that one man’s new dawn is often enough another fella’s slippery slope to hell. Alexandra the waitress does have the bearing of a priestess-oracle, just that, with the aid of beauty products, she would really like to stay forever young, and Apollo can go and interpret himself. I cannot say as I blame her. No, not at all. In addition, for this post, there does not seem to be any offering from signor Leopardi. Apologies all around. But something in the atmosphere has been disrupting the signals—

Contributor Norm Sibum writes the column Ephemeris. He has been writing and publishing poetry for over thirty years. Born in Oberammergau in 1947, he grew up in Germany, Alaska, Utah, and Washington before moving to Vancouver in 1968. He has published several volumes of poetry in Canada and England. A Canadian citizen, Sibum currently lives and works in Montreal, Quebec.