The Discipline of Dying Ghosts (2019)


poetry recitation with music – April 2019

1. “We need to invoke discipline. Bring back corporal punishment. Sometimes a child needs a smack in the butt to learn.”

Discipline of Dying Ghosts - Drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

1.

ghosts stir,
a child recoils,
memories embedded
within
howl with fear

emotions misaligned
feelings repressed,
the fear of
being wrong

…again

2.

triggered

where
r
the
heroes?

overcome

3.

desperate politics,
violent reactions
preach:
“enforce discipline”
sick souls
yearn…

dream
for something
…something…
…that never was

4.

fear

the teacher
smacks
students
left…right
up…down

chalk whipped
narrowly
missing eyeballs,
bully rulers slammed
into
unsuspecting backs

“why did you hit me?”
“to keep you in line, laddie!”

I was…in line

retreat within
…retreat

5.

knowledge

is the most
dangerous

weapon


2. “When they took the Lord’s Prayer out of schools, that’s when everything fell apart.”

1.

Confession - Drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

confessional
secrets
whispered by
“our father”
who art
lurking
behind
the magic
curtain

listen, shhh, listen

it’s in this book
…here,
the bible…
“our” book
the correct book

the book
that proves:
“we are the
chosen ones”

2.

white collar
authority
salesman$ spiel
insidious charisma
penetrating
the innocent
acceptance
of virgin minds

I listen
I listen

truth
is
invisible

3.

Vibrant Vestment - drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

vibrant vestments,
transcendent
stained glass light,
bells chime
people rise as one,
throats cleared,
the pipe organ
calls us to service

“Be a New Man,
A new day’s on its way,
Be a New Man,
Your life begins today!”

the child inside
yearned
for the security
of that authority

Faith Escaped - drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

struggling,
faith escaped,
exploring
searching
seeking,
I found…nothing

struggling,
I retreated
into the
loneliness
…within

4.

Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, in 1883: “When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages; he is surrounded by savages. Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence.”

nuns surround
the young
“Indian” child

terrified screams,
vibrating rosaries,
soiled crosses,
jesus
penetration

Nightmares - drawing by Harvey Dog

nightmares
return
again, and
again, and
again…

our father?

where
the fuck
art thou!?

5.

silence

a leaf,
fallen


3. “The Sikhs and their….their costumes. Pffft.

Hate - Drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

1.

grade 9
(white male)
whispers
darts of hate
to the student
in front
(black male)

(louder than an
e x p l o s i o n )

“nigger, nigger,
hey nigger”

shoulders sag,
the heart
stabbed,
defeated,
hurt, sad
…angry,
…alone…

life becomes
harder,
hateful,
he’s my…friend?

grade 9
(white male)
stops the racist
whispers

he sees
the sagging
shoulders
he feels
the hurt
(does he? / can he?)

this is wrong,
what am I doing
to my…friend?

*this is not me*
this is not
who I want to be
*this is not me*

2.

awareness of
differences

shading of
hatred
behind every
uncomfortable
thought,
every lingering
stare

family history
remains,
grandfather’s
minstrel show

no longer exists

Knowledge - drawing by Harvey Dog

knowledge
humanity
empathy

love

generation by
generation

feed the dream
let it breathe
…make it better…

generation by
generation

3.

a clockwork
(darkness)

racist words
enrage,
remember
the past,
vomit
the words,
expel
the hatred…

expunge, expunge

the seed of hatred
…must die


4. “We need to return to a Christian Society. That’s what this country was founded on.”

Knights - drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

1.

a child stares at the hundreds of Knights of Columbus lining the entrance to the Cathedral for his Grandfather’s funeral…red & black regalia dance in the wind…eggshell white gloves grip golden-handled swords shining in the morning sun…every step precise, controlled…no improvisation in death, rigidity…tears roll down, hands awkwardly look for something to do…the words of the priest: half-comforting, half-warning…an orchestrated surreal nightmare…no comfort no comfort…inevitability as tragedy.

so this is death.
so this is death.

2.

Cover-Up - drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

the cover-up

“everything’s great!”
beaming smiles
radiate contentment
satisfaction

look how happy
I am!
I’m not a
…failure

I’m happy

the cover-up
stoic pride
is strength,
keep the
tears inside

don’t
rock
the
fucking
boat!

3.

Fun - Drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

alcohol flows
into gaping
mouths,
desperate to
find this elusive
“happiness”

one more drink

then…
I’ll be happy
I’ll be…
someone else

alcohol flows
into gaping
mouths,
desperate,
desperate to
forget…

4.

images
fly past
glazed eyes,
neon lights
alert the
audience:

The Show Has Begun! - drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

“The Show Has Begun!”

wings of
distraction
magnetize
eyes to
their reality,
eyes to
their fantasy

you want more?
you need more!
more, and
more, and
more…

the new gods
suckle
the golden calf
oblivious to the
despair
ready to explode,
ready to
dismantle the
status quo

*

Desert Sun - Drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

desperates
wander
the desert,
throats parched,
shade extinct,
sand waves
reflect
harsh heat
into peeling
burning skin

desperates
look for
a sign,
or,
at least…

a sip of water?

5.

future? hope?

the audience
sits
…waiting

echoing
silence

the stage
empty


Epilogue

The Show Is Ready To Begin - Drawing by Harvey Dog 2019

the seed of a
new dream
emerges

now

/ waiting is not
…”forever” /


Video


Notes

  • I wrote this purely as a poem. When it was complete, I thought it would be cool to record a reading of it for the Writings website. Hey, I thought – why not add background music? Better yet – do a video for it with new drawings! 9 minutes and 8 seconds!
  • The quotes at the beginning of each section are from a patron to me while I was working. Her speaking these words to me resulted in this poem. Thank you!
  • The poem cycles through corporal punishment, loss of faith Catholic-style, abuse, racism, death, alcohol, distractions, a dystopian future, and…hope?

Written: April 2019


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