Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Romeo Oscar NOVEMBER

I learned the NATO alphabet at fifteen, and it’s come in darn handy since. Airlines use it, military types, logisticians. It saves a lot of time. But apparently, it’s not used in call centers. 
     “Can you spell that?”
     “Arr. Oh. En. Ron. RON.” 
     “No. Ron. Ronald.”
     “Mister Rommel?”
     “Not M as in Mike. N as in November.”
     There is confusion on the line. 
     “I will spell it phonetically. Romeo. Oscar. N as in November. Alpha. Lima. Delta.”
     “Romeo Oscar?”
     “Romeo. Middle name Oscar, last name November?”
     “No. First name Ron. Romeo, Oscar, then N as in . . .”

Image by Wavebreak Media. Inspired by November 2020 Remembered and a series of recent lengthy exchanges with call center operators.

Friday, November 25, 2022

November 2020 Remembered

On this dark pandemic morning,
I vacillate on the edge of a dream —
unwilling to move forward, unable to rest within
I unwrap in increments.

I vacillate on the edge of a dream
of you and me cradled in a warm ocean.
I unwrap in increments —
unravel; dissolve; disappear. I feel

you and me cradled in a warm ocean,
but we had to cancel, like so many of our plans —
left behind to unravel, dissolve, disappear. I feel
the cold slap as my feet hit the floorboards

And so I remain unwilling to move forward,
but unable to stand still.

Inspired by dull November mornings. Photo by Nancy.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Back on Buses

I hadn’t ridden the streetcar for a few months, but just enough time for them to install a camera near the driver and two by the rear doors  . . . which wouldn’t have struck me as particularly significant had I not just listened to a documentary on our uncritical acceptance of the Surveillance Society, and were I not eavesdropping myself on two streetcar drivers slagging the new guy—“you know, the one who came up from buses.”
     “He’s been there for something like twenty years, but he’s stupid and he’s arrogant and, you’ll see, he’ll be back on buses in a month.”
Inspired by English Channel no. 5. Photo by Paul Borkwood, CBC news.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

English Channel no. 5

What with the storm outside and its contents of soggy-mac’d Septuagenarians, our tour bus windows steamed up like a hammam. Once inside, the vehicle held a particular scent: A bridge-mix of waxed coats, Cadburys, peppermint chewing gum and warm genealogists’ heads. A singular perfume called Leger Tour or simply Remembrance. Did it intensify with collective tension as we three relatively youthful Canadians alighted to visit the German graves at Langemark? We were the only ones to do so. Was it the pelting rain, the exhaustion of touring dozens of battlefields and cemeteries? Or something else? I can still smell it. 

Image from the Nova Scotia Archives. Inspired by Remembrance.

Friday, November 11, 2022


Dad talked little about the war, though the bits of shrapnel that erupted periodically from his arm spoke volumes. He told me two sanitized close call stories. Once, riding messages back from the OP, a German sniper targeted him. Dad slew his Norton into a ditch and scrambled for cover. Soon the infantry came up, he recovered his motorbike, and carried on, lah-di-dah. Later, his CP took a direct hit. Dad crawled out, saw his pal pinned under a massive rafter, and lifted it off. His lieutenant stared open-jawed at his strongman feat. It was adrenaline, Dad confided to me.

Inspired by Veterans and this Remembrance Day. The image is of my father as a young gunner, 15th Field Regiment, RCA.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

I am so tired of politics

It was close to eleven, when he came into the room. I had gone to bed early, trying to avoid the repetitive media coverage, the on-air pundits yammering away. I roused when he turned on his bedside light.
     “Did he win?” I murmured.
     “Yeah, it wasn’t even close.” He began undressing.
     “Ugh.” I pulled the covers over my face, pondering the news coverage and social media trolling that would come. “Wake me up in four years.”
     “I just don’t understand how stupid people can be—” He began to rant. I grabbed a pillow and hit him over the head.

Inspired by Nick’s Son? Photo by Roy Schulze.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Nick’s son?

To get some idea of how much a seven-year-old cares about politics, I think back to 1968 when I—having recently moved to the States—confidently told one of my new friends that Canada’s Prime Minister had the very same name as his President. John-son and Pear-son, after all, were close enough to make no difference, and—although still in the thrall of expo67—I’d clearly missed the whole Trudeamania thing.
     Then, as if to make things worse, I voted for Nixon in our pretend class election . . . though not nearly as worse as the one kid who voted for Wallace.
Inspired by Vote for Peanut. Images from Getty by way of New York magazine.

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