Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Drives Me Crazy

Posted: June 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

It has been a while since I made a poetry post… how about now?

May, 2014

I was given a poetry prompt by someone who I won’t call out here. The prompt was to write about ‘what drives you crazy’.
I am not cool with the use of language. I have certainly used those words in that way, and still do sometimes when I slip (hence the not calling out other people about it), but I am trying to be better.
The wording bothered me so I wrote a poem.

This is a found poem, with the main text coming from a medical site talking about contributing fact for mental illness. I made certain substitutions for every mention of mental illness.


What Can Drive You Crazy

Possible Contributing Biological Factors

CRAZY sometimes run in families, suggesting that people who have a family member with CRAZY may be somewhat more likely to develop one themselves.

Certain infections have been linked to brain damage and the development of CRAZY or the worsening of its symptoms.

Defects in or injury to certain areas of the brain have also been linked to some CRAZY

Some evidence suggests that a disruption of early fetal brain development or trauma that occurs at the time of birth

Long-term substance abuse, in particular, has been linked to anxiety, depression, and paranoia. 

Poor nutrition and exposure to toxins, such as lead, may play a role in the development of CRAZY.

Possible Contributing Psychological Factors

Severe psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse

An important early loss, such as the loss of a parent


Poor ability to relate to others

Possible Contributing Environmental Stressors

Death or divorce

A dysfunctional family life

Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, or loneliness

Changing jobs or schools

Social or cultural expectations

Substance abuse by the person or the person’s parents

Judging Problems During Bouts

Posted: January 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

Hi folks!

At the festival this year I promised I would open up  discussion about a very ‘non-clear-cut’ topic – what to do about judging problems DURING a bout.

The specific question is, what if a judge acts in a way that goes against the standards of slam… what can you do about it?

Not asking them to judge again is obvious, but what about DURING the bout?

If we change a judge mid-bout, the poets are not facing the same set of judges as others in the competition, which could be the deciding factor in who gets a higher score.

YES there are things more important than scores, but it is my job to try and maintain the integrity of the competition, in whatever way that entails…. so, what do you do?

Let’s go for a couple of extreme examples:

A judge openly proclaims a bias towards or against a poet that has not yet performed.

A judge acts in an openly racist / sexist / homophobic / transphobic manner.

What would you do?

Before this year’s festival I was asked if I had ever run the numbers to work out how big an advantage or disadvantage a team had based on their bout draw.

I had run numbers for individual slams to try and quantify score creep – a study that led to discontinuing the process of reading scores from low to high, which while not eliminating score creep, greatly reduced its effect.

I am looking at the numbers only from this year’s festival, which is not nearly enough to make any significant assumptions. I will save these results and next year add further data points to see if any conclusions can be born out.

The problem with so few samples (14 bouts), is that there are too many other variables that can skew the results. For example, what if the best teams going into the festival all happened to draw the A/D spots? They would make it seem that this was the best draw to get because those team did better.

Which is exactly what the numbers appear to show. Contrary to what many would suspect, the best spot to draw according to this year’s data is Team A, who go first and last in the bout.
We combine a draw of A with a draw of D to ‘balance’ the bout draw, but this year D was the 2nd best spot. In fact, if the data stays consistent across multiple years, we should switch the ‘balanced’ draw so that a team that draws A also gets a C spot, as that appears to be the worst position.

Average finish based on Bout Draw this year:

A – 2.214
B – 2.643
C – 2.714
D – 2.429

As said, this is not enough data to draw strong conclusions, but I will continue to watch the results.


I also ran the individual numbers across all spots in each bout to see if there is a strict advantage based on the bout rotation.

The only clear advantage that can be found in that is appears that there is an advantage to be in the D slot in the first rotation. That matches what we already know about score creep. There does not appear to be a strong correlation between results and position in any other individual spot in any of the four rotation spots.

Interestingly, based on these 14 bouts, the team that goes last in the last rotation (Team A) seems to be at a disadvantage in that rotation, which goes against general theories about score creep.

My speculation based on the various numbers in the study is that there IS an advantage to drawing the D spot, but there is no strong difference between A, B, or C. I will continue to track the numbers to find out.



The Deep

Posted: December 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

This is a poetry post over three years in the making.

Seriously though, I wrote this in May, 2016. I may have read it once. I like the sentiment but that is about it.

The Deep
Nobody ever asks me where I’m from.
There is no assumption of ‘other’
When my skin, accent and bearing
Fit the official standard
Where multi-cultural still has
A base to which others
Are compared.
My census says Canadian
Because my lineage claims no
Sovereignty over me.

Priske is German but its trappings
Have long vanished into our
Pseudo Western European melting pot.
There was no O’ Tannenbaum
When we could be decking the halls.
When the Berlin Wall came down
There was no emotional pride
Other than in the human race.

My mother’s family was English
But the Banner line sure looks
Scottish or even Norse
As Eric the Red would seem
A better phenotype match
Than Elizabeth II

I feel no kinship with
Far off lands that have
Shaped my cultural identity.

So what of my more recent
Family tree?
My Grand-dad Priske was in the Navy.
He sawed at his own history
As the world went to war
With Germany.
He was a lifer, making ships
His career-
Call him Chief Stoker
Before retirement took him
From his ocean and his
Solace came from the
Rushing tide whenever
He would tip one back.

My grand-dad Banner served
But wartime ended and
Parting was more sweet than sorrow.
Air force but found himself
On the waterfront-
Working the docks
As ship after whip brought in
Their exotic bounty-
Which became less exotic
Year after year as the
World shrank and shrank.

So maybe I am not the offspring
Of Germany and England
Or a Viking invasion.
I am the son of a son of a Navy man
And the son of a daughter of a
I am the great grandson of the Sea-
Generations removed but
It is still in me.

So what am I?

I am the great forests of B.C.
Forget Treebeard, I call them all Doug
When they talk to me.
But once where they were thick
Like the air on a temperate
Rainforest kind of day,
All moss and green and
Rivendellian close,
They are cut clear to the earth
As someone forgot
Who was here first.

I am the Mountains, Rocky and
Coastal. The jagged peaks that
Remind us that the world
Was not made for us.
They refuse to be easy,
Tearing the sky and
Giving us the rain
As the sea gives to
The mountains which
Gives us the forest
Which gives to the sea.

But mostly, I am the Ocean.
The blood of Poseidon runs
Through me
Looking not to master it
But to learn to be free.
We are over 70% water
And the other 30 in me
Is brine and seaweed
Because when you look
At the ocean,
What do you see?
Day after day
And nothing has changed,
An expanse of water as
Stable as the mountains
before they crumble
To the sea-
But beneath?
The ocean is never the same,
Constantly changing,
Always moving
As the mysteries of the sea
Are yours to discover today
As they are rewritten tomorrow
And this is a perfect
Analogy for me
Descended from the ocean,
Descending past its waves,
A surface of calm
But still waters run deep
And I am searching,
Ever searching,
For the bottom.


Posted: November 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

Here is a video of my 2015 feature at the Tree Reading Series.

Lean On Me

Posted: September 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

Hey, poetry on my poetry blog!


Context: March, 2013


I used to sing. I actually used to do musical theatre with the PACE program. I was never a lead-type (not even close), but I was one of Joseph’s (he of the many-coloured coat) brothers, a townie in Anne’s (she of the green gables) PEI, an the Kansas farmer version of the Scarecrow (he of the Trump-like brain).

I was once asked to sing for a ‘better’ part (Gilbert Blythe) only to discover that my upper range was not all that ‘upper’.

Am I claiming to be a good singer? Not in the least. I wasn’t that good then (I was adequate to the task), and my talents have only diminished.

But I LIKE to sing.

I wrote this poem to tell a story… a series of stories, really… with a sung chorus.

I slammed it on CapSlam Finals in 2013. I think I have only performed once since then (at a fundraiser for DMP’s play).

I get the impression that this is a poem that I like more than anyone else does. 🙂


Lean On Me

He tapped his fingers
On his desk,
Nervous energy flowing through him,
Vibrating up his legs
Like he was tap dancing
Past an earthquake.
The girl in the next row
Looked over, and he stopped,
Completely afraid of drawing
Attention to himself.
None of them knew him.
A hurricane trapped in a
Teenaged body, shaking as if
He was ready to explode
At any moment –
And he was.
The pills he had siphoned off
From his mother’s supply
Were his safety valve –
Counting them out, over an dover
Because if he didn’t have enough
He would keep living,
Trapped in a shell that was
Trapped in this world that was
Trapped in this life.
He looked at the girl in the next row.
She smiled.
Maybe those pills could wait
Another day.

That young girl said,
Lean on me
When you’re not strong
Because everyone
Needs someone to lean on.

She pushed her hands
Deeper in her pockets.
It was sold outside and
She had no gloves – just a
Heavy coat that once was as white
As the snow around her.
As the snow that used to
Make her eyes sparkle
As it fell outside her
Bedroom window.
Now it stings like the spot on
Her arm where he pushed his
It stung like the rumble
Of an empty stomach
That remembered her last meal
That came from
What we leave behind
And the one she did’ teat
Because the cost was too high.
She looked up at the poster
On the bus shelter wall
The cried Kid’s Help Phone.
She didn’t trust the word help
After every offer
Came attached to think strings.
She rejected offers of aid
Saying, “I already have enough.”
But there was a phone up the block
And it couldn’t hurt to call.

The voice on the phone said
Lean on me
When you’re not strong
Because everyone
Needs someone to lean on.

Each call hurt her a little more.
There was so much pain
And she sat as receptacle –
A misery sponge to soak it in
To ease another’s burden.
It was important work
And she knew she helped –
But not enough and not
Everyone. The weight pulled
Her down until all she
Could see in the world was dark.
She sat in her therapist’s
Waiting room until her name was called,
Grateful that the lister also
Had someone to talk to.

The therapist said,
Lean on me
When you’re not strong
Because everyone
Needs someone to lean on.

We are not islands –
Scattered across the sea –
Forced to bear the assault of
The environment with no support.
We are people surrounded by
Brothers an sisters who
Sometimes slip and fall,
But the greatest thing of all
Is the helping hand.
Never be afraid to ask for help
And never be afraid to give it.
The world seems heavy
But every load is lighter
When shared –
Even if in front of a
Crowd & microphone.
So ask if there is anything
You can do for each other
And say,
Lean on me
When you’re not strong
Because everyone
Needs someone to lean on.


How Did I Get Here?

Posted: July 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

Another ‘new’ poem.

(Not at all new, but ‘unreleased’.)


CONTEXT: February, 2013

I have a couple on the topic of fate, or divergent timelines, or whatever. This one has some inspiration from Komi Olaf, a former teammate of mine back when he went by Poetic Speed.

I considered this for the post-season that year, but I didn’t choose it and it stayed unperformed.


How Did I Get Here?

Three steps away from an
Emotional breakdown
And nothing to stop
My sideways momentum
With The Replacements
Playing ‘Unsatisfied’
Directly into my brain.
If I don’t believe in destiny
Why do these Temple of Doom
Mining cars wrap around me
As I hunker down in the bottom
Afraid I am going off the rails?
They say every journey
Starts with a single step
But each step starts a
New journey of
Arbitrary end points
As the road crumbles to dust
Behind you.
The road is only a road
Once you are on it.
And with the one behind
Fallen to ruin, one question
Spins into view
Like slot machine tumblers
Hiding cherries like you are
Fructose intolerant.
How did I get here?
What series of choices
Kicked over the domino pattern,
Scattering them, like a bull
In a china shop,
No matter how much care
Was taken to set them up.
I would like to see a
Giant tree diagram
Plotting out every decision made,
And every decision unmade
(And not making a decision
Is making a decision)
To find which path
Through leads to the optimal
Where do I end up the Poet Laureate,
Hall of Fame second baseman
Or the next Stephen Harper
(By position, not attitude),
But maybe this is the price you pay.
A crossroads bargain
To jump past the fray,
Trading soul for gold,
But doesn’t everything cost?
If I had the karmic roadmap
Where I could nudge that
Rolling car, right or left
To reach my desired endpoint,
Would I do so?
How far back do I go?
If a butterfly homicide
Can cause a hurricane
Can ever the perfect end
Counter the slipping means?
The times haven’t all been unkind
And as the turn of the century
Doesn’t mean what it once did
So can every change
Multiply to a consequential effect.
Does that peaceful line
Mean I never met
The peace in my heart?
And would taking those
Mean I never put a pen to
You can not pull one o the
Threads of fate in isolation
As every strand tied to
every other.
So if I am unsatisfied
With finding myself
Tapping keys and pushing papers
Surrounded all day by
People who define themselves
By a government classification number,
I need to listen to Komi Olaf
Who reminds me that
I am not a financial officer
For the federal government.
I am nto a business process modeller
Or a business analyst.
I am a fucking artist
And I give more with that
No matter what pays the bills.

So how did I get here?
Creativity, hard work and a
Willingness to share of myself,
And I wouldn’t trade that
For anything.