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The Norwegians

by DAVID Ker THOMSON

“Wednesday night Riverkeeper had its big annual dinner and we were, we’re graced with President Clinton and Bobby Kennedy and Sting and Trudie Styler, all of whom are environmental activists…”  —Paul Gale, Executive Director of Riverkeeper, six days ago.

LOL: two right angles bracketing a circle, early third-millennium (C.E.) idiom for ejaculative release of air through blowhole in front of head.  Colloquial.

“This moment’s grim sufficiency” —Gary Corseri

If you are what you eat, our dog is mostly stolen cat food.  The cat’s bowl gleams with a sheen that hints at the fastidiousness of the dog in matters of the palate.  All paws point in one direction, but the dog wards off suspicion with cuteness incontestable, a spirit unimpeachable, and—her hair is in her eyes—by walking headfirst into the wall.

For our part as humans, we’re downsparkle of Fukushima these days; the micro-luster of atomic true grit quickens our fancy and sequesters in our breast milk.  We suck.

The world is over now.  Our species sucks.  There are pardons for sale near Yonge and College, I noticed yesterday.  A stench from the nearby sewer confirms the general medieval impression.  Back at the ranch a black squirrel gets through the Mexican frontera-style chicken wire of the compost heap and runs off with an unsprung rat trap into Nick’s yard, gorging herself on organic peanut butter.  I launch a ten-foot spear at a rat and miss by the two inches that are the precise lateral dimensions of my ambivalence.  My lance shatters with the force of the blow.

The rat appears farther along and looks back at me, and neither of us can remember why I’m trying to kill him.

It’s late April and snow is falling from the fresh-nuked substratosphere.  When I was a kid certain products were shipped east to the West from the Orient (after the word for figuring out where you are on a ball), from a small town on the island of Kyushu in Japan: Usa.  It was no occident that the products said, “Made in Usa.”  Now after Fukushima there’s once again a bit of the old country for everyone.  Even those business groupies, the Japanese, managed to fall asleep at the switch.  They just scribbled a note and stuck it in the window of the shop—Gone Fission—and went out for sushi.  I tip my head back and let the flakes dissolve on my tongue.  A friend in Kentucky has been sitting with her mother through nine ringwraith days of starvation and now her mother has gone on.  It’s Palm Sunday.  Jesus rides an ass, but he already knows where that’s going.  Italian men here in Little Italy put the little back in their pert skimpies and whip some Jew along College.  A portable diorama to grip the heart and stir the loins.

I meet up at Café Diplomatico with a CP sympathizer and friend who’s name and way in the world are close enough to the Italian Robin Hood, Salvatore Giuliano, that after a beer he slides me a knife and I go out and cut down one of these political signs.  No carbinieri for me, not today, not while life abounds in this mode, this variety, with this quality of more-than-half promise.  But I need a sign.  Lord, give me a sign.  The knife is dull and these political signs are built with thick cross sections meant to last a thousand landfilled years, and finally the waitress comes over to the front door with a few cutting remarks and another beer.

Little Liam the writer lurksmirks in a corner and considers the old adage about whether or not the writer’s the smartest person in the room and whether he’s got to be the most observant.  Afterwards he rides the sign on the back of my bike, and we set off for home chanting ancient runes of desire and modern doggerel of insult at the great rolling machines with their often doubled smoke pipes.  That one’s got a big one, I’ll say, and the kid’ll say (plucking an apple before its time), that’s what she said.  Fukit, we say, fuku shi said, we say, we are the orcs, the things you tried to kill, the dark half remembered, membered, re-membered.  A father and its spawn.

Scott Gardiner the rat novelist comes for dinner.  Tipsy, we go out into the dark and he shows me how to re-set the traps.  He’ll call later and ask about my Norwegians, who will turn out to be Norway Rats, rattus norvigus.  At this, people reading this article for its Scandinavian lifestyle tips will be exiting like small creatures from a sinking longboat, whipping their shiny hairless tails in agitation.

Fortunes are such that I will be tempted by this rattus manifestation into metaphor beyond my control.  “Canadian” humans strenuously engaging the three percent of the human brain that is reputed to be at the disposal of the species are about to select a new leader, I gather.  I hunter-gather.  Liam and I hunter-gather.  The old bad monster will be ousted and a fresh, good figure will be installed to orchestrate Murder, Inc.

The Green Party to Canada, read the vast square mainsails of plastic heading downwind on the neighbors’ lawns.  The Green Party to Canada, the NDP party to Canada, etc.  What a deep and terrifying shame is on these placards, to be party to such a horror.  To be caught out in the open like this as a party to Canada, the occupying power, with its massive destruction of habitat, its foreign adventures, and its economic slash-and-burn relationship to the planet.

For our part, we are party to none of it.  We have been in every crevice of here and every fissure of where-else for seven thousand years since the last glaciation, party to none.  Ours is the skulking way of war of those who have long lived and slunk in these parts, the skulking way of the fissure kings.  Our plan as riverkeepers is to destroy the metastasized, metaphorized Riverkeepers, ilk and motor, potentate and principality.  We will writhe again.  The economists call us externalities.  Perhaps we are Norwegians.

If DAVID Ker THOMSON were a Norwegian, it would explain a lot.  dave dot thomson at utoronto dot ca    The Gale quotation appears at minsec 39:30, April 16, 2011 on an otherwise not unpleasant Deepak Chopra Winfrey show.  Note the temporal stutter in the quote: “we were, we’re” and connect that with the fawning insistence that someone named Clinton is still such a thing as a “President.”

 

 

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