Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Lana and Hong

Lana and Hong are from mainland china and inseparable in the dish room. They were both raised in an old world. Lana is older than Hong and tells her what to do. Hong doesn't like it but she is younger and must listen.

They have perfected the art of smuggling food destined for the garbage out of the Shaw. I would watch them work and soon they were hiding food for me.

When they heard Mona and I were living together they held a wedding ceremony clinking their glasses and making much noise..the sous chef was doing paper work and told us all to be quiet.

I laughed and kissed Mona anyways.

The next day they gave us a king sized comforter and a red envelope with a $100. The comforter we still have but the money i spent on beer.

Monday, 30 July 2007

just the facts

Mona was a twenty five year old Cree, with grade nine education, on her won since 14, still legally married and a tendency to binge on cocaine. She has a beautiful laugh and a soft solid body that offers consolation in ways my mind cannot fathom. At times she acts like a teenager, lying about her age, where's she been or what she's doing. She has spent a lot of time on the street and has developed a 1980's home girl attitude(what's up?-the reverse handshake-yo sister etc.).

I love her, she says she loves me. We live together and both work at the Shaw. One morning I say I'm going to form a union at the conference center." She rolls her eyes and looks at me like the idiot I am. I am bewildered and mumble, "Well I've got to do something this winter."

The Life

I spend eleven hours
cleaning the kitchen
that's preparing 3800

the work is constant
but not hard

I get home at 4am
watch the sports
(the Knicks are down two
Colorado just tied it up)

go to bed
and finger
Mona from
then make
love silently

set the alarm
for 11am
watch the sun
and begin
to write...

Sunday, 29 July 2007

At some Point i met Mona at the shaw. Since our relationship was critical to my existence during the unionization process i've decided to share these poems of an addict addicted to an addict, which i find beautiful and poignant. Let's call them love work poems.

Dwiddle Dee Dumb

she said look and turned to twiddle the neck of a turkey
the touching was sexual, playful and he grinned
he took a step back and watched this cream colored child laugh
surrounded by 1000 peoples leftovers, smelly garbage cans
and noticed the joy that radiated from her gleaming eye

As theysay; it's a long way to kansas
but at least now he had reason to make it
through the day and maybe through the night

he brushed the leftover potatoes into a grey can
stacked the plates, dumped the utensils into a blue tray
and made way for the next hundred plates

trapped behind steel girders, dressed in white
brown shoes ruined by dank water...it was good to feel



The stars hang
in all the right places
as i think of a beautiful
young cree who has
shared my bed
two of the last three

and we lay
on a bare mattress
radiator hissing
fireplace black

and she drank me
as horns blasted skull
and rocks thrown

ripped chest

i shuddered
she smiled
and pulled me to
her embrace

i blushed and out my horns away.

Saturday, 28 July 2007


it is mundane
and monotonous
yet i thrive
in the peacefulness
of repetition

when I'm done
a machine sparkles
the floor is clean

and the Shaw
the annual
report says
loses money


i get free food
$465 bi monthly
a uniform
and if I put
my mind
to it:


Friday, 27 July 2007

The prime minister and I

Security was extra tight that night, the PM of C was coming for dinner. So when I entered the Shaw a guard asked for ID, I gave them a pay stub and they called downstairs before letting me in. I put on a white uniform and new for me black belt. I walked into the kitchen half stoned and joked with Lupe i had dressed up for the occasion and pointed to my black belt. Since nothing is funny there, this was and she laughed

I wiped the stainless steel counters around the sink and filled my bucket. The evening was spent cleaning pots, floors, tables and emptying garbage cans. At some point the Pm came through but we didn't talk.

The shift ended and I found myself in possession of two cases of wine the PM and his guests had not drunk. They had been left by the garbage cans. I hid the white and grabbed the red, left through the back door, walked down by the river and dropped the wine at home. Went back for the white was stopped by security, explained that i had forgotten my bag and they let me in...I took the white.

The wine was made in the Okanogan and Mona would tell people if it was good enough for the Prime Minister it's good enough for Gareth.

I hid one bottle down by the river with instructions on how to make a bomb and other things..when I came back after the winter the bottle had burst and the instructions were still in the bag...

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Chef Boy

Is a delightful man who has a childlike contempt for cooking. Like everyone else employed by the Shaw he is on the city payroll. Rumour has it he makes $120 grand a year. He gives the impression he's French but he's not. He was also the captain of the Canadian Culinary Team.

When the Chef invited one of the apprentice cooks to a competition in Europe he was naturally excited. The apprentice was six foot four and the chef called him Shorty. So Shorty got to go to Europe and some one paid, probably not the Chef.

Yes the Chef was well paid, didn't work many five day weeks and travelled for free...

on a personal note I cleaned the pots and had ample opportunity to sample his sauces...and oh yea...i cleaned his office and once a $14000 visa bill fell out which was itemized....

i wonder who paid...

Chef Boy Simon

Counting Cookies

I'd walk past the cooler where they kept the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and start counting. 1,2,3,...10 and no one came by. So I kept going to the busing station where i grabbed a sink wheels which was full of soup bowls. On mt way to the kitchen as i passed the cooler I started counting again and again no one came by. I dumped the sink and headed back to the busing station where i got a queen Mary full of glasses. Again as i passed the cooler i started counting and no one came by. The next time:

1...the door was open
2...i was through
3...at the cookie box
4...the lid was off
5...a cookie was in my mouth
6...a cookie was in my shirt pocket
7...the lid was back on
8...I was at the door
9...through the door
10...feeling a cookie in my mouth

and sneaking glances at the cookie in my pocket...it tasted good...

Lupe and Brad

Lupe the cook said she had a present for me and brought some dirty pots.
I told her to keep her present. She said I was stupid.
I said you've been here a lot longer than me

Lupe didn't like that and offered
a 240 pounder, Brad, a 26er of JD
to beat me up

I didn't know if she was serious
I didn't know if Brad like JD

so i pretended not to hear
and spent the evening with
a bottle
in case he attacked.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Not In Praise of Co-Workers

One night Mona and I were at a Blues Bar on Whyte Avenue; it was my birthday or Monas'...and we were experiencing a rare night out, sitting at the back of the bar and drinking heavy. A cute girl in her late teens, early twenties, sat at a table next to us with a group of people who appeared to be students.

She had long sandy blond hair, big pale eyes, flawless skin and a pert full mouth. Her cloths were casual and expensive. Her movements were graceful and unrushed. There was no indication of pain or hardship. She was a beautiful unfucked flower. I recognized her from the conference center she worked in banquets.

When Mona was up she looked in my direction. I said "Hi" and she quickly turned. I was saddened and disappointed. We both worked at the Shaw and had shared the same food, served the same customers, came through the same doors and received our pay cheques for the city.

I regained my composure and assumed she didn't recognize me, as I wasn't wearing my white uniform. I caught her attention with a quick wave and like a kid eager to impress proclaimed, "I also work at the Shaw." She stared blankly. I blurted, "I'm a dishwasher."

Recognition flashed across her face, (perhaps now we could talk), she looked impressed, her eyes lit up, she licked her lips, color shot through her cheeks she smiled shyly....

"Oh your one of those people who walks around with shit...all over you."

Referring to the leftovers that were invariably spilled as we raced to make room for the banquet staff to put down their trays. I said nothing and she continued smiling, then looked away...that was it.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

in praise of coworkers

we are the rats
of the conference

we know the tunnels
we know the back doors
we know the sunny spots

when and where
to smoke

we know how to hide
we know how to steal

no one really likes us

a few old ladies
from the country
a retard and
a cripple

who know
what it's like.

An unintentional community

we encourage

side by side

in a hot humid
racist enviroment

repetitive dehumanization

they are my family.

Saturday, 21 July 2007


sorting at the back
of the industrial dishwasher
with the boss
a special needs worker
and his counsellor

i dump hot water
on the boss twice
the second time
I'm obvious

he screams and
throws a metal
pie holder at my head

I block it
with a grey
bus pan

so he slaps me

"now we're even."

I laugh and agree

the special needs guy stares
and his counsellor looks away.


The white dinner plates were placed in a hot room the night before a major function.

That evening on a signal from the boss, I would grab yellow rags, walk rapidly to the hot room, and pull a rack of five hundred plates, stacked in twenties, hundred per shelf out of the hot room and head back to the kitchen.

The wheels didn't always turn so well on those racks.

They pretended there was a big rush for the plates but there wasn't so i used this excuse to go really fast down the long hall and scare the banquet staff. I never hit anyone.

The reason I mention this is the hot room was like a dry sauna.

Friday, 20 July 2007

$6.25 an hour

The dishwasher was twenty feet long and new cost a quarter million dollars. One person would stand at the front of the machine loading dirty dishes and two would stand at the back unloading and sorting. (the work was hot, wet, and repetitive.)

Two Chinese ladies Lana and Hong ran the room during quiet times and for large functions a number of misfits were called in. I was one of the misfits and after a few months i would walk around like the boss telling people what to do and providing assistance.

The shift ran from four til half midnight. The food was prepared over a number of days and on the day of the meal the dishwashers would stand at an assembly line placing carrots, potatoes, chicken or whatever the masses were eating onto plates. At the end of the line one of us would put a steel covers over the cooked meal; stack them five high and place them into warming ovens called shams.

We would then set up portable busing stations where the banquet staff would dump their trays full of dirty dishes. We would wipe the leftovers into grey garbage cans, rack the glasses, stack the plates and dump the cutlery. (the pace was frantic and the task unappreciated)

After clearing the tables the banquet staff would eat as we transported the dishes back to the dish room. Then we were allowed to eat. The chicken a fan favourite was rubbery after five hours in a warming oven but hungry we were.

After our meal the smokers would go to the loading dock where we would tease the second in charge and at the end of lunch he would cajole us back to work. Being coordinated and of good endurance, I stood at the front of the machine methodically pushing plates, pots, soup bowls, you name it, through the machine.

At midnight we would shut down the machines, drain and spray them, clean the floors and a few minutes before close I'd throw a jean jacket over my white uniform and walk the 12 blocks down 97th street, home.

canada eh?

"i'm on a beer tour"
i tell the cop

He looks at
holey clothes
beard and wild hair

"'You're what?"

"I'm on a beer tour."

"Well what are you doing here?"

I'm not sure if he means
the alley or Edmonton

"Do you have ID?"

"No i went to the store
for cigarettes. I live
over there"

to a brick building

"some one pulled a gun
and the description fits you."


"Do you mind if I search you?"


He pats me down
pauses at my cigarettes

"Those also kill
you know."

I smile.

He finds nothing
and lets me go.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The Beginning

After an extended period of much noise and excitement i departed Vancouver and headed out on the Extra Old Stock Tour. Basically i was going to travel across Canada and stop in the cities listed on my favourite beer and do something easy and become a writer.

so after an uneventful ride I arrived in Edmonton with three hundred dollars, two bags of cloths, a few books and an old computer. I found lodging at the downtown Y in a shared room. My roommates were a conman who was just out of jail and the other was a schizo. The conman worked at bank fraud and the schizo spent time washing dishes at the Edmonton conference center.

By day three the conman owed my thirty dollars and the schizo agreed to help me find employment. That afternoon the schizo and I left the Y and walked through grassy Churchill Square, into a playhouse, down escalators, long halls finally arriving in the back corner of some strange hole where a dishwasher is roaring.

An old man with little hair and glasses is stacking small plates onto a plastic rolling rack. The schizo greets him civilly and the old man starts yelling, "I don't know. I don't know." The schizo says something else and the old man says, "OK get him a uniform." and passes over some keys.

We walk down a hall lined with silver machines, turn left before swinging doors, descend cement stairs, enter wall to wall glasses, past washrooms and fumbling with the key and we were in. I grabbed a white uniform, quickly changed and went back up.

I spent the evening stacking plates, sorting cutlery, racking glasses, seeing Chinese ladies, native women, feeling water on my hands and feeling sure something this big would pay and there would be no trouble. The night ended easily and I was fifty dollars richer. I went back to the Y and in the morning was evicted.

I took residence at a shelter for the homeless and phoned two old friends for money. With the proceeds i got a room on 97Th Street, with a gas fireplace, high ceilings and a bathroom down the hall.

Over the next few months I worked weekends at the Shaw and during the week as a telemarketer selling newspapers. The rent was $275, the phone $35, I got free food from the Shaw and between my two jobs I was netting close to $1200.

Plenty leftover for the essentials: beer, weed and time to write.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

shadow 123

watched a video and learned the 123 of shadow play...what i don't like or like in others is moi...simplified...and since this is shadow (repressed or disassociated parts of selves) uncovering discovering can be frightening...

To uncover the shadow write in first person about who/what is causing the emotional disturbance...good or bad...

ex) When John brags about his sexual conquests I feel angry etc.

Next dialogue in second person with the object of your discomfort.

Me: Hey John when you talk about women this way i get mad.
John: Hey I'm only having a little fun...sex is good emotional friction.
Me: Are you sure I thought sex was sacred etc.

Thirdly you become the first person of the who/what of your discomfort.

John: That guy sure gets uptight when you talk about sex. I don't mean no harm and I've never hurt any of the women I've been with. In fact I'm friends with most of them and everyone knows a good blow job is sacred etc.etc.

So one, describe in first person the situation, two discuss the situation with the person and three speak in the first person perspective of the person who is causing the emotional charge. This can be done for people, places, situations etc. anything or anybody who causes you an emotional charge...

And finally review for insights and any action you can take...ex) I am misogynist and don't have to take sex so seriously.

I believe the more detail you include the more beneficial this work will be...and I'm guessing it'll take a while as the shadow has been in the shade for quite some time

This video is from the integral life kit and is called the 123 process...check out the integral institute if your interested...

any ways on to the book: poems for the Shaw:

page two

Two quotes

cheerfully order him to be stupid
gnaw tender ears with biting truth

here we go

well look who's hit the big time...i me we written work to the world...wonder amazement...it is going on...advancement gives cheer...i'm blogging and uploading videos...how cool...forty one years old...spent twenties trying to make money .. thirties trying not to...so now fourth decade and not doing either..a new path but it's lost in the fog././.so burn ...burn burn burn ...going slow and letting the bright hot sun work...reading ken wilburs ...mind, spirit, body and shadow...so..started to excersise with intention, strenghtened spiritual practice, eating for all sentient beings and doing shadow work...a sub personality says "all absurd"... stale and dry... hedonistic pleasures are better....(make a lot of money...you'll see...become famous... you'll see)...harbour urges to be wanted and loved on a grand scale... I am immature and childish...and low on the scale of consciousness..beam me up keeny

this is a story about a labour movement i spearheaded...the title

poems for the shaw,

you see

one must look at the spiritual componenet of any struggle
titles money and possessions are poor materialistic
solutions to deeper issues

so i searched for the support souls at the shaw
those who had bled burned sweated fucked stole and got high

and there was only
glorious me

well i came,
we worked and we conquered

a thank you to Ramona,

Gabe, Dawn,
and all the others who had the courage to walk outside

to the rest

the cowards
the hypocrites
the spineless
the men without balls
the ass kissers and sluts
I wish you no hope
no forgiveness
and no luck

only an abyss
where you are alone
and dead with yourself

now all of y0u
fuck off
and go back to work
coffees over

buy the book