Ephemeris by Norm Sibum

We exchange pleasantries in Greek, Alexandra the waitress and I. Morning. Nikas. She, of course, is doing the heavy lifting, being a Greek speaker, my contribution a singularity of sorts, something on the order of yeahsou, the only word I know in the demotic to mangle. Still, she is touched by my feckless attempt at bonhomie, cheeks blushing with some emotion or other. It is a bit of a sea change from our usual soundless war of attrition in respect to the effing decibels of the radio. Yesterday on St Denis in a poutine place just up from Sherbrooke hard by the little park, as I awaited my lesson with Guitar Teach, I permitted myself to indulge a little. Which is to say I let myself consider how the poems I write might be viewed politically as opposed to aesthetically; and well, wouldn’t you know it: as I regarded the young darlings of all the genders going by the window, each caught up in their hopes and expectations as is only natural, it was not so much that I, in my person, represented the non grata side of persona; it was not so much the times they are a-changin’;  it was more like there is only so much room available on any given street for hopes and expectations and, and - so then: Sweet Irrelevance. To the tune of Bach’s Komm Süsser Tod, no doubt. The leaves were falling. The autumnal thing. Enough said. Perhaps my mood of late is the consequence of me having at Broch’s The Death of Virgil. The invalided poet, as he is hauled around on a litter through the alleyways of Brindisi enroute to the imperial palace, is shot full of his own sense of failure; he cannot help but notice that his ‘fame’, or that he is one of Caesar’s pets, really does not amount to much in the lives of the slaves charged with attending him for the nonce. The other night I watched a flick featuring the young Al Pacino and the young Gene Hackman. Back when they were good and not full of themselves. The flick is called Scarecrow, an honest little bit of film-making, and as I watched I thought I could easily enough slip it into the roiling prose of the bravura entrée of Broch’s novel. It would be a natural fit, the movie’s bar scenes - those sorrowful drunks, those  salt of the earth true blues but the street plebs of the book. There is that embittered lush of serious cleavage busting the chops of Hackman - for what? for being such a know-it-all-smart-aleck-who-will-always-have-it-all-his-way? For merely being male? There is Virgil drenched with spittle as women curse him in his litter as it passes beneath their windows: why here’s a ponce for the ages, eh, duckie? Even so, I think something has changed in the last ten years or so and those bar scenes the flick depicts no longer exist as such; that is to say, the true blues are true blues of a different, a nastier and a so much more sanctimonious sort. Guitar Teach did not seem to mind the fact of me foundering in Capricho Arabe on my own and ahead of his intended schedule for me, the musical notation with which I was having to deal at the mercy of my pathetic powers of analysis. He even helped me split the difference between a little matter of glissando as opposed to full-bore slide—There have been literary episodes – in Ottawa, and in Burritoville, which it is a tiny kingdom in downtown Montreal; which may or may not have its own constitution or Articles of Confederation of sorts. Afterwards, Grumpy’s, a kind of Barbary Coast. A Newfie wag in literary cloth nonetheless reacquainted all us serious literary types with mirth and levity and general silliness, as he was in possession of the magic whisky bottle of fairy tale—There are any number of persons now dancing on the grave of the Romney presidential campaign, and I would join in on the hilarity, just that I am sufficiently paranoid: I still cannot believe all those other people with all their massive piles of money are just piling it on for nothing, wasting it on a complete airhead. But the oracular flowerbox at Nikas continues silent, and besides, what with the falling leaves, their season is turning, the blooms about used up.