This time, 5 years ago.

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I was walking alone along a path on the waterfront of Catania. I stopped at the kiosks and sifted through rows of fresh fruit and pails of snails for escargot until I was distracted by a lone man on a bench by the sea. I wandered over to him with a forgotten peach in the palm of my hand, drawn by the way he looked sketching the scenic panorama before him.

I sat next to him and watched him execute perfect strokes of lead across the page, envious of the way he could perfectly transcribe what he saw. We performed the traveller’s handshake of telling each other who we were and where we were from, and he showed me his book of sketches. Some of the drawings I recognized from the sights that lay before me but deeper into the book was a visual guide to his home in England. I gazed at expertly composed pages of streams and cottages and felt truly transported to the countryside.

He asked me what Canada was like and I, lacking his artistic skills, instead described the way that pine trees look dusted with snow, and the mountains that cradle crystal lakes between them. I detailed how my city looks split down the middle with a twisting river and deep valleys of green juxtaposed against the cold concrete of the city sky line.

He closed his eyes and said, “Ah yes, I can see it.”

There were two things that I realized in that moment:

The first being how well you can truly appreciate the beauty of home when you are miles and miles away from it. The seemingly mundane things that you would not notice in the day-to-day become features you feel compelled to describe perfectly to do the scene justice to a stranger.

The second was that everyone creates in different ways and being jealous of another’s ability to construct reality is like (as a dear friend would say) counting others’ blessings when you should be counting your own.

BB

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Walking With Giants

Sometimes on nights when it seems
like the rain will never end
I listen to Tom Waits and Elliott Smith
and read verses of Percy Bysshe Shelley
thinking about how they have already
said it all, better than I ever could.

BB

Bloodletting

The pen in my hand becomes
an extension of my arm
and the blood my heart pumps
travels through my fingertips
to be filtered through my pen
and deposited as black ink
across an otherwise blank page.
Writing becomes dialysis;
cleaning my soul from impurities
from the thoughts that corrode
their way through my arteries and veins.
Every finished work cauterizes
my wounds just long enough
for another to open up.

BB

Nicotine and Ink

nicotene
I was standing outside the bar
with a cigarette between my lips
and I asked him for a light.

When he slipped a pen between my fingers
I told him that was not
the kind of Bic I was looking for.

He said maybe I should find a more creative
way of destroying myself
so I took his advice

and started writing instead.

BB