Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Symphony in A Flat Tire: The Poem

A silence before the dawn
Opens with a red horn
Rising silver sounds
Fall with the tools
In the work shed
The artist walks through sequins
Down and emerald hill
To climb a podium of metal crane
To survey rows of rusted sculpture

Birds sing in chorus
Brass horns fade up the hill

Some one drives and engine down
In unruffled crescendo
Crashing into a sculpture
Whistling fades up a hill

© 1969 Stefan des Lauriers

My first colossal literary mistake was to think I was a poet. The second was to go around barinf my soul.

Signed up to perform at the Mirror Tree. Alcatrash arrived after me and was put on first. Alcatrash was primarily a street musician and rock and roll guitarist in Sam's band and rarely played at folk and poet venues. As usual he wore a red "guilty" t-shirt. I told Bud Rose that it wasn't fair to let Alcatrash on first, and he said that he was the MC and could do anything he liked.

So when it came my turn I read my Symphony in A Flat Tire (the Epic Poem) to spite him. We were only allowed ten minutes for our set, and I knew my epic poem would go on for eleven. At nine minutes, Bud was pointing to his wristwatch. At ten minutes I stopped in mid sentence. The audience yelled "Let him finish," and Bud gave the nod to proceed, but only after Paul Nash yielded some of his time.

Symphony in A Flat Tire was written as a Grade eleven geography project. The characters; Gary, Holly and Voggan went to High School with me, the others were about five years older. Most of the action takes place at the Mill Pond in Acorn Ontario, which is a two minute walk from the real estate office run by Gary, Mickey and Brian's parents. The other character is Paul Foster, who was the inspiration for the origin of Symphony in A Flat Tire. Some of the short poems included here were featured in the lining of my Poetry Coat.


Paul's back from Mexico Mickey;
I saw him the other night with Voggen Toboggan.
We had chocolate cookies and coffee and
Listened to Bob Dylan on the radio.
So Paul got out his dulcimer
That no one could play
And some lyrics to Bo Jangles
Some hippie girls he stayed with
In Texas gave him.

Voggan Toboggan read about the trip
In the Canadian Champion
Which I don't read.

Paul told us about the people
that got hacked up by a machete fight;
Running around half nude
Whipping down their pants
And sh***ing in the streets,
And the legend of the surviving American.

Voggan and I went down the path by the Mill Pond.
We stopped at the green bridge
And talked about his pimples.

Voggan Toboggan,
My best friend/enemy
And freed speak first met in the pool hall
Then went to the Mill Pond read poetry.

He struck a pose
Leaning over the horse trough fountain
In front of the town hall
With his long hair reflected
In the sea weedy water.

We planed to stock the fountain
With frogs and fishes and turtles
Because it is so slimy looking.
I filled my mouth with water
And stood like a statue
Squirting water through my teeth.

Holly ran up as I was leaving
So we went to the library to listen
To the 1812 Festival Overture
By Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky.

On the way from the library
I saw Mickey's brothers,
Brian and Gary waiting for the walk sign.
"Would you like to go to the Library
And read a poem that a monk wrote
About killing a bat.
It's called We Killed a Bat in the Monastery."
"We're going to the Centennial Park."

I told them about found poetry
And the poem I am currently writing.
Brian talked about becoming a hermit
And a brother who wrote
Real good religious poetry.
He was planning to paraphrase
A prayer for peace poem.

The mythological aspects of religion
Appealed to us:

A Ridiculous Poem Regarding Religion
And Automobiles

Driving through deep mud puddles
The rooster wake splashes
Are like the Red Sea
When Moses parted them In the movie
The Ten Commandments

Driving along encased in packing snow
We stopped and open the window
To see if the way is clear
But there remains a layer of snow
That caves in as we vainly try to hit it out

Now if we had honked the horn
While that happened
It would have been just like
The walls of Jerico falling

I saw Holly on the way to see Mickey
Saturday at the stoplight.
I told her I broke even at the track
"I didn't bet."

Mickey couldn't finish her pineapple yogurt
So she gave it to me and
Holly who spoon fed me.

"This poem should be seen and not heard
Because it sounds silly and absurd:"

I wrote a poem In my mind
And kept it there
Cause it didn't rhyme
And then I thought
I might forget it
Or maybe even die
So I wrote it down
And here it is

"It's easy to stand here
And ask questions at the universe,"
Paul said, poking his head in the door.
If Paul Foster the artist impostor
Had some foster children
They would be foster foster children.

Once Paul got so involved in thinking
About a picture that he was going to draw
That he put some garbage in a rice Crispies box
Walked down town and tried to mail it.

Paul wonders if he spilled some milk
on the subway whether
He should miss his stop and clean it up
Or walk away nonchalantly.

"The answer my friend
Is not to drink milk on the subway."

"Doesn't anyone want to listen to this poem.
Here comes an important line.
Do you want to read it Mickey?"

A damn
A flood
A cross

My best poem was written in the snow
A few months ago when I was walking alone
Down by the path beside the Mill Pond.
I was thinking how Spring was coming
And wanted to be in love
But I realized it was useless
So I picked up a stick and inscribed
"Stefan loves..."
Then I turned to see no one was looking
And wrote the name inside a heart.
It's too bad it melted.

Sometimes I think the whole universe
Could sink into my mind
As easy as words fit into this verse:

Poem Written On 3 Juicy Fruit Wrappers

My red bandanna can hold a banana
When you don't wanna eat
Like a monkey on the monkey bars

My red bandanna makes
A good tablecloth when you have
To eat off a chessboard

First time I wore my red banana I asked Mickey,
"Guess what Holly gave me."
And Mickey said, "A hickey," and I went red

I went to see Paul about the poem
I was going to call
Poem on Paul's Visit to the Junkyard
Which I renamed
Symphony in A Flat Tire
because I thought it might be mistaken
For a religious poem.

Symphony in A Flat Tire

A silence before the dawn
Opens with a red horn
Rising silver sounds
Fall with the tools In the work shed

The artist walks through sequins
Down and emerald hill
And climbs a podium of metal crane
To survey rows of rusted sculpture

Birds sing in chorus
Brass horns fade up the hill
Some one drives an engine down
In unruffled crescendo
Crashing into a sculpture

Whistling fades up a hill

Holly came running from the office
Sat down beside Brian
In Centennial Park
And kissed him on the forehead.

"I was in Italy," she said,
"You didn't answer my letter."
"Yes, I remember reading something like that."

I went and lay down on my back on the grass.
"Good vibrations."
"Go call the police
There's a hippie
Freaking out in the park."

I closed my eyes
And looked at the sun
With my finger touching my eye,
"Looks like muddy water."

"It's nice the way the whole world
Can be shut out just by closing your eyes," Brian said.

"Freed speak," Gary said.

"My brother Rick is looking for me;
He wants to play tennis
But my racket is busted.

We have to pay membership this year.
They said it would be free this year.
Before we used to jump through the backyard
Rusted chicken wire fence.

They said we cut it
When in fact it busted to bare hands.

" Brian is zapped. Mickey too."
"I'm running over the bridge
To see who wants to play tennis."

"How's your poetry."
"I haven't written anything in a month.
I showed three poems to Betty
And she wouldn't read them."
"That's terrible."
I laughed when they said that.

"Can you recite the one you did at the assembly?"

At the assembly
I went on stage in front of 800 people
With a flower and a wide loud tie
To recite the poem but no one heard it
Because the microphone was off
When I finished so no one clapped
Or booed or laughed
So I dropped my flower and my face
And they all clapped.

I was imitating a poet from the TV show Laugh In.

When ambitions overflow
Beyond an angels wing
The last island of snow becomes
The butterfly of spring

Those lines were from a poem called
When Comes Spring
Featured in the Canadian Champion.
And also the poem in the snow.

"Did you see that Volkswagen go by?"
"No, I was looking at the tree for security."
"It's nice that Spring's coming."
"It's already here."
"I like when the blossoms come out around Niagara Falls."

"The best time for anything," Brian said,
"Is the time before it happens."

"I like it when the snow is half melted
And the sun shines on it."

"I feel like a philosopher sitting on a park bench.
You should get off the grass because of the fertilizer."

"Paul's back from Mexico."
"Did you read about his trip in the Champion." "
No the Champion is a poor paper."
"They printed your poems didn't they?"
"I know. It warrants good bathroom reading because..."
"Now Stefan, enough of your graphics."

Here is a an article about me
In the Canadian Champion and a letter that I wrote but did not send in.


A class party at Kelso Conservation Area turned into a real "cliffhanger" Saturday night when police and fire fighters had to help a young student down from a precarious perch 40 feet up a rock cliff. Steven Deslaurier, 16, of 149 Mary St. Milton clung to the rock face for about three hours before he was rescued.

Milton OPP Said the incident was not reported to them, but a patrolling constable noticed the commotion, investigated, and called out the fire department to free the youth. According to the police, the grade 10 class of Milton District High School was having a year-end party at the abandoned quarry property on the escarpment at the south end of Kelso Park, when Steven decided to try scaling a crevice in the 80 foot high rock face. He got up about halfway, panicked, and decided against climbing any higher or returning to the ground.

Milton's fire brigade was alerted and six fire fighters drove as close to the scene as they could with a pumper. Students were recruited to assist and they carried the 40-foot ladder to where Steven hung to the cliffside. Steven helped carry the ladder back to the truck.

Dear Mr. Dill,

Your article in the Canadian Champion last week in regards to the 'Cliffhanger' was not up to your usual high standards of journalism. I realize this is the first real news since the informative piece you did on the Grade 10 class measuring the Sixteen Mile Creek for a geography project. The article was in poor taste. I am referring to the misspelling of my name, and the statement that I panicked. For your information I never panicked. I was calm as a cucumber. As of now I am canceling my subscription. Yours truly, Cliffhanger PS Don't bother printing that poem I submitted last week.

I went to Mohawk Raceway
Last Friday with some guys.
A lot of miserable track bum cretins were there.
Most of us hopped the fence to save $1.50.
I walked in the Front Door and got caught sneaking in.

I was interrogated by the Ontario Provincial Police.
"What would your mother do If she knew you got caught sneaking in?"
"She wouldn't care."
"I'm gonna call your mother."
"Go ahead."
"Hello, this is the Ontario Provincial Police. Your boy got caught sneaking in."
"So what," my mother said.

He told me that if I got caught sneaking in again
I'd be arrested.
Another officer escorted me to the gate
Where I saw Betty
Walking in looking like an angel amid the truck bums.

I ran down a dirt road on my way home,
Then slowed to poetic thoughts
About the lights of Milton in the distance.

Merely a Mirage

The sand of the desert
Was a hand
That held a cup of tea
Muddy eyes saw
Two candles In a canoe
Flickering in holy water

Walking on holy water

The hands folded Like dunes to pray
The wind hymned
Devoutly all night

This is a rotten town.
Every one gets married in the Anglican
Church because it's so picturesque.

That's why my brother Rick got married there.
My sister used to say that she would get married
At the "Pieces of the Just."
Our whole society is geared to marriage.
I went to the pool hall where I saw my brother Rick.
"What did you break your racket for,
Did you bang it on the ground?"

"No, I hit the ball too hard."
"My mind can't accept that.
I came all the way from Oakville
And you busted your racket.
Christ, there are a lot of rejects in this town."

There were the usual greasers
Standing in their blue jeans and T-shirts
Eating pop sickles in front of the pool hall.

Voggan came over the other night.
We played guitar on our veranda
With my harmonica named Veronica
And the people across the street
Started singing Italian songs to drown us out.

So we went to the green bridge
Voggan found a big piece of Styrofoam
To float on the Mill Pond.
We decided to try it out on the 16 mile creek but he fell in.

Some people downstream heard his swearing
And shone a spotlight on him got on
And we both went under.

It was kinda chilly falling in the 16 Mile Creek
At midnight in early Spring
So we went to the dump to build a fire to dry our clothes.

We pulled up an old couch but didn't get completely dry.

I walked home slowly trying not to let my leg
Touch my pants
Thinking how hard it is
Having to experience so many weird things
Just to make poems out of them.

Spring 1970.

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