Bufonite

Sweet are the uses of adversity; Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head. William Shakespeare – “As You Like It” Toads have made their mark on culture by nestling in a curious space between medicine and magic. In the middle-ages the toad was thought to be as common a witches’ familiar as the cat. The French lawyer and demonologist Jean Bodin noted in his 1580 work De la démonomanie des sorciers (Of the Demon-mania of the Sorcerers) that while certainly incriminating, the presence of toads should not, in itself, be sufficient evidence …

Post truths

The pets that were lost have either been found or mourned by now; the bake-sales and yard-sales have cashed up long ago; the evening classes and gigs have faded into the night leaving minds and ears abuzz. The flyers are gone but the staples remain, punctuating the telephone poles like empty quote marks – jumbles of silenced declarations, each a little monument to something wanted or something offered. The poles in this Montreal neighbourhood have been armoured by years of wanting and offering. The newer ones glint like chain-mail, the ancient ones are stained with rust and tar, they reward …

Four haiku at the end of winter

Why don’t I switch off The television set and Go outside and breathe     Red dressmakers pins Hold hawthorn branches in place ‘Til spring stitches leaves     Shroud and bramble thorns Fight to be free from each other Edged on by cold winds     Some old winter storm Has cleft a trunk like kindling Bright streak of ash-blonde

water – memory – home

This work was originally published on Grasscut Music’s blog.   In the closing moments of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film ’Solaris’ we discover that the film’s protagonist, Kris, has decided not to return to earth from his mission to a distant space-station. He instead descends to the titular planet, where an ocean of consciousness has created an island from his memories. This island is a simulacrum of the place we meet Kris at the beginning of the film: a dacha beside a lake, where all is familiar and peaceful. But Solaris’ recreation is imperfect and incomplete. It’s raining inside the house, …

Leaving home

The line was offered like a revelation, a promise of salvation and an absolution: “We’re not meant to save the world. We’re meant to leave it.” Intoned by Michael Caine’s character 20 minutes into the space epic Interstellar, I found it more unnerving than any of the plot-twists or time paradoxes to come.  Our destiny, it suggests, is not on this ball of dirt, it’s up there in the heavens. Earth is a cocoon from which humanity might emerge, winged by rocket boosters, to soar amongst the stars in our true celestial form. And what of the husk left behind? Who …