Sunday, August 08, 2021

Hickory McCracken Chronicles:

 Round III:

Tomorrow could be the day. Ole’ Pops knew. Book that flight and head back to a place where he had felt more alive than in any boxing ring. Re-introduce himself, to the family, to the feelings, to the creaking pines, to the burning orange sunset glow of a past that just wouldn’t let go.

But, like his reflexes, he was too slow…his past had already arrived in Brooklyn.

“I heard you got concussion issues…heard your mind is as beat up as your rusty old Chevy. Is that what it feels like to be absent for thirty four years?”

“Hickory?,” his voice cracking and fading like a rusty whisper..
Tears started to well up in his eyes as the realization became more visceral, more complete.

Hickory stood there in the dusty shadows, quiet and placid, waiting for this moment, his eyes burning with a vulnerable rage….

“Well you gonna get that Scotch or we gonna stand here like a couple’a sixth avenue bums?”

Ole’ Pops stood there in the tension. Like two fighters staring each other down while the ring announcer barks out the statistics of each to a restless, waiting crowd. Only this was a new fight, one that was beyond the stick-and-move purview Pops had spent his post-career time teaching in the old Carney Boxing Club.

“I’ve..I’ve been off the sauce for a couple years now so I got nothing in the pantry but ginger ale and cranberry juice…but ah, (swallowing hard)…but…maybe we could go to the One Lucky and I’ll ah, I’ll buy us a round or two,” he said shakily.

The One Lucky was one of those places lodged in the heart of Brooklyn like a salty chunk of Mortadella clogging up an artery amongst the twisted greasy streets of a place that lives in both real history and cinematic fiction.

“I just came from there…it’s the only place around here that knows how to make a proper meat ball sandwich,” Hickory replied.

“Well we can go anywhere..I mean..It’s good to see you…maybe we could just go somewhere and talk for a bit. Y’know… I’m not the man I used to be…I…well let’s go and knock a few back.”

“You…ok with that?” Pops asked.

“You have some explaining to do,” Hickory replied, “alot of it…and I hope you don’t think a few watery draughts are gonna put it all to bed.”

Pops looked down at the floor in a hazy confusion, sadness and frustration. There’s no reason Hickory needed to come back. Pops knew. He had learned how to fight on his own, in a Montreal gym, with Pops’ genes born into his mind, hands and reflexes. He knew of him. He recognized his lover in his son’s eyes. He felt the room shifting and spinning and his heart beating hard, the ringing in his ears got real loud and Pops’ balance started to go. He reached for a chair but it fell and he hit the floor like a ton of lead. There was the music again…the music she used to play…loud now in his mind…like a dream.

Hickory had reached to catch him but was too slow.

“Fuck! You dumb shit Dad…Dad!?” Hickory was as worried as he was angry. He reached for his phone and called an ambulance.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Hickory McCracken Chronicles: Chapter 1: "Bring it all back to me"

Old Dog Shipman, Manny Weinberg, yah, now these were names old’ Hickory McCracken knew and knew well. I’ve written about him before, McCracken was a brawler, a bruiser, a bouncer and last I had heard he was working as a debt collector in Montreal somewhere. This was back in the late 80s, early 90s when I was coming into the prime of my teen years and McCracken was probably about early 20s. He has making money hand over fist, quite literally, in bare knuckled boxing competitions that were popping up “underground” in old Montreal and Toronto. He was a knock out master.  They say he had only trained with a boxing club for a couple years when he was a kid and never did much actual sparring. He preferred to “get paid if he was gonna get hit.”  Old Hick’ fell off the grid soon after the mid 90s and I hadn’t put money on one of his fights since I was a young man. That’s why it’s kind of strange that one night, down at the One Lucky tavern; I had a most unusual altercation. 

The One Lucky, immortalized in the stories by The Square Corner, had been my haunt for a few years now. I had been on the wagon for about 6 years, but since my wife Benita had divorced me, took my daughter Milly, and returned to Columbia a couple years ago, I started drinking and drinking hard. Who am I you ask? I’m just a writer. An ethnographer by trade I guess, getting paid to observe the human condition, but for a short while, I covered the local boxing scene for a small sports paper, of which paid me absolute shit, but it kept me out of bars and groceries in the cupboard. Anyway, Hickory McCracken was a major headline for me. Nobody threw the haymakers with more intensity and precision than this guy - no one that I knew of in my short stint as a boxing writer. I’d spent countless hazy evenings down at the One Lucky ripping fight tales and pulling taps with the likes of Terry Cooper, Basil Fontaine and hell, even Bert Sugar used to belly up to the bar some evenings. The One Lucky was a dive, but a colourful one. It probably had the most character out of all the bars in one city. One strange night, I was sitting on my usual stool but the place was practically empty, save for “Beer Mugs” Moran toweling off high ball glasses and an old Asian guy that basically slept through the day in his booth at the back side of the tavern. I was shit faced. I do remember however, going back and forth with Moran about a) when the actual opening hours were for the bar and b) UFOs. Since I had more time on my hands these days, divorced and laid off from my paper job, I’d become a bit of a tin foil hat conspiracy connoisseur.  I remember shouting something about an FBI “alien” experiment near Roswell, New Mexico and Mugs laughing at me calling me “one of those people” which seemed to really eat away at me.

“You believe in that shit?” Mugs would say before a chuckle. “I didn’t say I’m an advocate for every story out there, I’m just saying it’s possible!” I’d reply in slurred certainty with a tinge of drunken annoyance.

“I believe in them, I saw one myself,” came a booming response from a dark table far at the back by the pool tables. 

Now I’d heard that voice before, it was deep, raspy and self-assured.  A voice from my past. This was a voice that seemed to have an easy gait, for a voice, much like the saunter and slow stroll of a weathered athlete. I immediately sobered up a couple notches. I slowly looked back into the dank, smoky air of the One Lucky and saw a hulking silhouette underneath the neon Miller High Life sign. I felt my hands start to tremble a bit. My balls recede deep into my scrotum. It was the one and only. I knew. I just prayed he wouldn’t remember me or at least anything negative I had written about him years ago. Oh God, how I prayed.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

still empty

still empty
nothing gonna fill it up
stay busy 
red wine in your coffee cup
dog mom in a business suit
fuck boy ripped, rich and rude
look busy
power class and a squatter ass
why your hands shake
why you lie awake
vegan cake and an adderall
take no shit 
walking tall
you look like shit 
why you feel so small
you know what up
valium in your bath tub 
begin again 
still empty
he not gonna fill it up
still empty
she not gonna fill it up
why your body shake
why your friends so fake
credit card, magic wand
get something nice for the front lawn
soul ache from dusk till dawn
desperate prayer to the great beyond
what you hustling for already gone

Thursday, April 18, 2019


a motivational quote,
a sales funnel,
a scripted action, reaction, interaction,
a parody of “style,"
an interpretation of “fashion,”
the trend of empathy,
the trend of sympathy,
a glimpse into a simulation,
a digital "reality,"
of how it could be,
isn’t that what you want?
beards, craft beer and hipster shoes,
opinionated pukes and social media spooge, 

ultra-right pricks, ultra-left cunts,
misogynist punks, misandric thugs, 
power shifts like hands on a clock,
"honey, can you pass me the knife so I can cut off my cock?"
bored, lost, horny old fucks,
built on the arrogant platitudes of youth,
trendy tattoos and piercings,
“oh my god, I love your earrings!”
let’s settle down,
let’s cut the shit,
let’s find a “norm,"
like a long term commitment,
a tract home and a DIY divorce kit,
a community of support,
the ever growing church of alcoholic numbing,
escape those empty feelings that keep on coming,
a glimpse into a simulation,
a surrogate self,
escape those empty feelings that come haunting,
the way you could be,
isn’t that what you lay awake wanting?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

van Gogh's final shot at the big time

these dirty roads lead nowhere,
there’s really nothing out here,
save for a tear in the eye,
and a rough ride,
just dead ends and pot holes,
tired, salt-stained metal,
creaking with the weight of day,
no ultimate direction,
I take small pieces of pleasure from the platter of pain,
postponing what I know is coming,
and no it’s not "my shot,"
and no, no amount of social media can save me,
(that black hole into our collective mental illness),
the universe doesn’t care about our frustration,
or the level of consciousness on which we operate,
the false modesty,
the uncanny ability to feign humility while subtly downplaying the accomplishments of others,
or pretend tolerance while criticizing the opinions of others,
c’mon now,
are you sitting by the mailbox?
smoking your last Indigenous cigarette?
waiting for glory? 
what’s glory?
when is glory?
let’s get serious,
shut up and work,
with luck or without,
because it’s who you are,
drag your stone,
like everyone else,
some babies get hit by missile shrapnel,
bodies burned and limbs torn,
some babies die before they're born,
are you better?
life is a dirty sidewalk,
a lonely weekend,
a toothache,
a line of urinals filled with the tepid piss of a thousand drunk business men,
a disgraced politician,
an old man undressed,
Violette Morris’ last country drive,
van Gogh's bullet to the chest,
am I any better?

Sunday, September 24, 2017


take the same chords,
for your generation,
I've played them all in my time,
if you want, 
put your fingers like so,
and I'll show you how to find the tune,
maybe a little too much too soon?
a damper on your youthful hustle,
your limitless new day,
rainbow blow jobs,
dick pics, 
layered with dream pop soufflé,
it gets hard soon love,
it gets messy and noisy,
and smells like everyone who's been here before,
I recommend protecting your trusting heart,
cause no one is gonna show you how,
I have some suggestions,
but I'll mind my own old business,
plus, the waitress will take our order now.

Monday, August 28, 2017

one in the hopper

I live in a flesh house,
a mind with walls made of tissue and bone,
fuelled by electricity and blood,
I eat from mother earth,
I suckle from the teat of Gaia,
I wander the halls of infinity,
stepping gingerly across the glass floor of inconsolable despair,
I'm just a peasant,
too pedestrian for your equestrian tastes,
I love your simple epistemology,
it's really just a horny little eschatology,
it's a conversation that ends as stale as it begins,
it's ok though,
because as we age, 
we are slipping into freedom, 
which is just another word for emptiness,
and emptiness is just another word for loneliness,
and loneliness is just another word for the freedom to be,
and there's not much time for you and me,
because, you see, a lifetime is relative to eternity.