Star Spangled Boner

Image result for Canadian Barbie

A lot of people ask me the difference between Canadians and Americans. Well, first the facts: our country’s larger, our population’s smaller, Canadian men liked wearing clogs in the ’70s and we’ve never considered testing the viscosity of spray cheese in space a worthwhile scientific endeavour.

I noticed while working abroad that colleagues soon began substituting American with North American in conversation. Such gestures are certainly appreciated but only serve to remind Canadians that while Americans have fifty states, we have only one: self-consciousness. Every Canadian feels guilty knowing their new co-workers are constantly bricking it lest they should inadvertently refer to us as American, a situation which can only ever lead to our greatest export: the apology. We’re famous for apologizing – we even apologize for it. I recognize that, even close up, we look and sound like our U.S. counterparts to most people. The differences are subtle, even to us sometimes. It is, however, my belief that the best way to differentiate between our two cultures is to study America’s greatest cultural icon: Barbie.

America has Malibu Barbie who likes strolling along the beach with the ocean breeze in her hair… Canada has Seal Hunt Barbie who is a crack shot.

Malibu Barbie drives a Dream Camper Van with built-in kitchen and fold-out tent… Ice Road Trucker Barbie cooks roadkill under the hood and homeschools three kids in her sleeper cab.

Prom Queen Barbie comes with her very own makeup and accessories table… Lumberjack Barbie’s sporting a Leafs toque in her wedding photos.

American Barbie hails from Wisconsin, studied in New York and now lives with her parents and younger sisters in California… Canadian Barbie was taken into care after her parents became addicted to online bingo and were caught trying to sell their own kidneys on ebay.

American Barbie dates long-term boyfriend, Ken… Canadian Barbie’s best friend is an orphaned bear cub whose mother was shot dead by two tourists up from Oregon for the weekend.

American Barbie is cosmopolitan and culturally sensitive… Yukon Barbie saw her first Sikh last week and asked him for three wishes.

American Barbie is a role model for her millions of followers on the internet… Canadian Barbie is completely unaware that a video of her bathing in what she thought was a secluded watering hole has placed her in Pornhub’s Top Ten.

Vegetarian Barbie only buys food from locally sourced producers… Marijuana Farm Barbie patrols the perimeter of her property in a JLTV.

American Barbie spent a fun-filled New Year’s Eve with Ken in Times Square… Canadian Barbie pointed out Ursa Major in the night sky to her orphaned bear cub – and apologized.

(re-posted to commemorate American Independence Day)

Tudor Suitor

Royal Cradle | Photo

Old King Henry had six wives
Whose days were full of dread
For most of them led tragic lives
Then often wound up dead.
Catherine of Aragon
To whom he first proposed
Could not produce a princely son
So he said Adios!
Then Anne Boleyn, closer to home
Demanded that they wed
So Henry cut off ties with Rome
And then cut off her head.
Poor Jane Seymour was the one
Who finally played her part
When she, at last, produced a son
But died, which broke his heart.
Anne of Cleves, the next one booked
Was regal, young and wealthy
The problem was she didn’t look
Quite like her royal selfie.
Catherine Howard, it was said
No man had ever dated
But rumours spread after they’d wed
So was decapitated.
Catherine Parr, a lively sort
Who wielded her own power
Helped organise his kids and court
Once she’d escaped The Tower.

All Henry wanted was a son
A prince whom he could teach
To rule his people when he’d gone
But this was out of reach.
The irony which overwhelms
This patriarchal scene?
He gave to England and its realms
Perhaps their greatest queen
Because Young Bess, put to the test
Excelled in her employ
And showed the world it takes a girl
To do it like a boy.

Hue and Cry

On the news they warn: the city’s now a combat zone

Turned off the TV and went outside to be alone

Some I know are marching, mostly peaceful, others not

Strangers now are asking me if I’m a patriot

Sitting in my garden, how I love the peace and quiet

I’ll fight for a cause but I’m not brave enough to riot

Everyone has history, the grievance lists are long

Who gets to decide whose version’s right and whose is wrong?

Our multi-coloured tapestry is starting to unweave

Can we not live together? Were we just being naive?

I come into my garden for the colours and the light

A joy I’d miss if flowers only came in black and white.

Secret Santa

The Office': Revisiting season 2's ill-fated Secret Santa | EW.com

The day before The Night Before
The office turned into a store
With gifts galore from Santa’s stock
At lunchtime, right on one o’clock

A furtive glance across the room
As someone tried to wrap perfume
A figure hunched behind a fern
(the new girl had a lot to learn)

A friend will cough to help a mate
Disguise the sound of Sellotape

Shirley’s eyes revealed a glint
Each time she dropped another hint
In knowing just what not to tell
She kept the weak under her spell

And Andy, bless him, the poor dear
Just hoped he’d get it right this year
For Sue, who longed for something French
He’d bought a Jean-Paul Gautier wrench

Old Davey Wilcox saved a packet
He thought the whole idea a racket
His gifts were met with trepidation
Bought at his local petrol station

All dreams of wintry escapades
Were dashed by half-price wiper blades

Still, pity those who drew Pru’s name
The dowager who ran the game
And claimed the true meaning had gone
Then priced her gift on Amazon

Big Tony came to stuff his face
So ate at an alarming pace
Before they wrapped it up for Luke
Whose wife was just as bad a cook

Stollen, edam, Toblerone
Belgian nougat in a cone
Baby Jesus, Heaven sent
Now came via the continent

I’ve seen several scars happen
Over a slice of marzipan

Paper plates now put aside
Each festive tummy satisfied
Fiona stood to give a toast
But belched up Captain Morgan’s ghost

So Lenny then began to lift
And sift until he found his gift
50 ml of CK One
Would do quite nicely for his son

Aww, it’s lovely… that’s so sweet
As girls are wont to coo and tweet
With every present they unwrap
And gaze upon whilst in their lap

Which makes guys pause and think a bit:
This Santa thing’s made me a hit
That perfume seemed to animate her
I’ll say ‘hi’ at the laminator

So Merry Christmas one and all
Be pleased you got a gift at all
Enjoy that glass of Triple Sec
In your new purple turtle neck

Arch Nemesis

What Is the “Ides” of March? | Britannica

Beware the Ides! foretells the fall
Of he who rose to conquer Gaul
And lands still further from his home
This warrior, this son of Rome.
On his return to claim his right
A haruspex with second sight
Met Caesar by the Senate arch
To warn him of the Ides of March.
They’d killed an ox and found no spleen
An omen that could only mean
The Consul should fear for his life
As did, Calpurnia, his wife.
But Caesar didn’t fear the gods
For he had overcome the odds
To overshadow mortal men
And take his seat in Rome again.
So came the day, but nothing passed
Until the Senators amassed
Fulfilling what was prophesied
Thus, on the fifteenth, Caesar died.
Of every haruspex, it’s said
They earn their living from the dead
And though they claim the role of seer
It’s often what we overhear

Soviet Reunion

I’ve not written for some time but I’m now posting again.

The thing is, I have friends in Ukraine whom I’ve known for a great many years. I visit them once, sometimes twice, annually so it’s been tough watching recent events in the news. I travelled there in October when the signs of war were increasingly ominous and I’ve not stopped worrying about them since.

I’m a teacher and during the recent Easter break I journeyed to Ukraine to see these same friends. This time, however, the trip wasn’t so straightforward as it required flying into a neighbouring country, taking trains, boarding buses then crossing the border on foot.

I didn’t go there as a mercenary. My sole mission was to deliver medicines and other necessities whilst checking on the wellbeing of my friends. Given the circumstances, most are holding up quite well but I’m sure there’s loads they’re not telling me.

That’s because they don’t want me to worry.

Can you imagine that?

After an unforgettable week followed by some tearful goodbyes, I made my way back across the border and flew home.

Back to teaching.

Back to writing.

Back to normal.

Lucky me.

Peace Nicked

“Have you been following events in The Ukraine?”

“John, we no longer call it that.”

“No longer call what what?”

“We no longer call it The Ukraine.”

“What are you talking about?”

“We just say Ukraine now; they’ve dropped the The,” Laverne gave me the lowdown.

“Who did?”

“The Ukrainians.”

“Don’t you mean Ukrainians?”

“That’s what I said.”

“No, you said The Ukrainians.”

“Oh, for God’s sake…”

“Why is it I’m only hearing about this now?”

“Try spending less time on TikTok.”

“I enjoy watching eco-tourists run for their lives.”

“Fair enough,” Laverne shrugged.

“So, when did they ditch the The?”

“I believe it was around the same time Kentucky Fried Chicken rebranded as KFC.”

“Do you think their KFCs serve Chicken Kiev?”

“We don’t say that either.”

“What? Chicken?”

“No, Kiev.”

“You’re kidding.”

“We now pronounce it Kyiv, like Steve.”

“Who the hell cares how he says it?”

“Who?”

“Steve Downey.”

“Please tell me you didn’t just say that.”

“And how would the Downeys know Ukrainian anyway? They’re a bunch of redheads.”  

“Sweetie, I want you to stop talking,” Laverne took my hand. “This is all the result of transliteration.”

“I thought their flag was pink, blue and white.”

“In the past we had a habit of anglicising names which proved tricky to pronounce and no one really questioned it. Now there’s a bit of a reset happening, that’s all.”

“My stress levels go through the roof every time I have to say anemone.”

“When did you last need to say anemone?”

“Two and a half hours ago.”

“I’m talking about foreign names.”

“Brunhilde.”

“Place names.”

“Melbourne.”

“More foreign than that.”

“Machu Picchu.”

“It’s Bombay becoming Mumbai and Calcutta becoming Kolkata, that sort of thing,” Laverne clarified.

“We weren’t that far off on those two,” I felt I ought to give credit where credit was due.

“My issue isn’t with the consonants so much, as the bloody diphthongs.”

“Your Vietnamese neighbours? What have they done now?”

“Stop it,” Laverne giggled. “Hey, did you know that Kanye’s changed his name as well? Apparently he now goes by Ye. My son told me.”

Ye?”

“Yup.”

“Maybe it’s short for Yeuch.”

“Or Yikes.”

“I still fail to see the significance.”

“Well, according to Ye himself, ye is the most common word in The Bible.”

“Blessed be the fruit.”

“Oh, there’s more… Ye then enlightened us further by explaining that ye can sometimes mean thee.”

“Which Ukrainians have dropped like a hot potato,” I reminded my friend.

“They dropped a The, not a thee.”

“Be that as it may, I think Ye will find that the most common word in The Bible is, in fact, the.”

“So we’ve circled back on ourselves,” Laverne groaned. “How do we bring this to an end?

“Here’s a crazy idea: add a The.”

The End

No Fly Zone

Where do storks nest during a war
As spires tumble and towns are no more?
What will deer eat when tanks advance
Over sweet meadows of young, tender plants?
What drives a cub out of the den
Crying alone for its mother again?
Gone is the gold
Dark is the dawn
Ghostly and cold
Best to fly on