a response to The Sad Phoenician by Robert Kroetsch, Completed Field Notes, the University of Alberta Press, 2000.

italicized phrases are taken directly from the long poem above, which I loved and the rest is written in the spirit of the poem in the voice of a woman who developed a thing for adverbs.

originally published as a chapbook by above/ground press in 2008
now with the addition of the missing h poem in 2020

Editor’s Note: Attempts have been made to respect the original formatting of Earl’s poem but readers should consult the chapbook to see the correct layout.



and      even if it’s true that I left all my lovers behind then cry, go ahead

but       don’t expect me to cry

and      let me tell you about Brian, a latter day Adonis, who stopped traffic,
his sleeveless arms covered in demons

but       I met him at the Royal Oak on Wellington Street

and      it’s true i’ve always been attracted to men with curly blond
hair and blue eyes like Jimmy Taylor who carried me onto the
tenth grade band bus leaving for Tabb, Virginia

but       Brian was a long way from high school even though we did a
punk rock version of Both Sides Now together

and      he was almost famous for his Hendrix style licks

but       he scared the men and charmed the girls who worked
at the LCBO near his house on Parkdale Avenue

and      he bought Grants Whisky from them regularly

but       mornings he drank the dregs out of Molson X bottles
wedged between his ashtray and pack of Dumauriers

and      his cigarette butts overflowed so that ash mingled with beer
scum to form a slippery surface beside the mattress on the floor

but       once he let his cat out she gave birth to many kittens

and      it wasn’t until he was evicted that I stopped answering his calls

but       he told me all of his belongings were stolen

and      he managed to rescue the spiral bound copy of the poems
and songs I’d given him

but       lost Charles Bukowski’s Ham on Rye



and      frankly, and I don’t think a little frankness would kill any of us, I’m only human

but       a single woman in her mid 30s has more than her fair share of offers from men with actual jobs, cars or guitars they don’t pawn daily for whiskey

and      Paul was a secret

but       his hair wasn’t really that blond

and      his eyes were seriously blue

but       I had no clue when we met at the Second Cup on Somerset Street
that we would end up knowing each other for seven years and counting

and      our time as lovers would be limited to every Wednesday between ten
and two

but       that he would arrange a threesome with his friend Ray who was going out
with a well known writer who was actually a dominatrix

and      if you’ve seen the spikes on her high heels you already know this

but       Paul took some fine photos of me in a black silk teddy, the theme of black
lingerie recurring throughout this poem

and      he insisted we go to the swingers’ club on Kirkwood Avenue, you know the one, it used to be in a warehouse but moved west to the burbs and has since been shut down due to zoning infractions

but       it was Halloween and I danced with a guy in a nun’s habit and all the other men in the room, this was when I used to dance

and      Paul and I got drunk with the Quebeckers

but       left without hooking up with any of them

and      Paul stayed over until five am

but       I’m all right, don’t feel you should worry, the responsibility is mine, I can take care of myself



and      it shouldn’t surprise you that there were many men named Paul

but       Paul 2 liked to buy me lingerie, preferring black as most men do
even though I look best in red

and      it is not true that black is the absence of deceit

but       do not beg, I told him

and      it only took about three months for me to tire of the strap on
and being always on top and to be honest, I can’t remember
much about Paul 3 except that we argued all the time

but       he had a sexy French accent that sounded sexier in English than in French

and      Paul 4 took me to the Delta Hotel for tapas then kissed me in front of the Juliana
Apartments where Richard, another ex lover, used to live

but       more about him later



and      virtue will out, I have my integrity, I know my own worth

but       I do enjoy tall men so when I met Mike at the OC Transpo
ticket sales office at the Rideau Centre I was quite smitten

and      even though he was only 21 when I was 36, he knew more about
what to do with his hands than any man I’ve ever had since, with the exception,
of course, of my husband

but       you’ve heard me speak of that already

and      there were other Mikes also

but       never the elusive Mike with the changeable eyes and the tousled black hair
whose melancholy and moodiness reminded me of Byron or Heathcliff

and      I hope you understand I don’t mean the cat but the character from Wuthering Heights

but       I do have feelings even if I am no Phoenician, not trading in language as well as I should, would dearly love to meet a glassblower, a dyer of red, although at times I also am all at sea

and      I’m not a swimmer nor am I particularly fond of flying, meaning that
I prefer the bed or perhaps even the floor, a good cup of coffee and
conversation that doesn’t lead anywhere except to more conversation



but       I’m not forgetting about Richard who lived at the Juliana Apartments
if that’s what you’re thinking

and      that dinner date in Little Italy where he knew the names of all the staff,
including the chef, who made me that delectable sole

but       I’m not that knowledgeable about cars, so that even a vintage boxy
looking Jaguar fails to impress me

and      I prefer long walks or a ride on the O-train, which wasn’t invented yet

but       Richard loaned me his Ovation guitar not the one he used to play
back up for Lynne Miles on her CD Chalk This One Up to the Moon

and      even though his name isn’t listed on the credits, it was a fine method
to persuade me into bed, not that I needed persuading

but       because I lived so close on Slater Street, I preferred to return by foot
at two am rather than to stay over

and      wear the grey robe that belonged to one of his numerous ex wives

but       I did drink Glenfiddich with him because he had small bottles stashed away
on the windowsills and ledges throughout his spacious apartment on the eleventh floor

and      when I saw him a year or so later in the Canadian Tire on Kent Street that doesn’t exist, I mean the store, not Kent Street, I did arrange to return the guitar, which wasn’t actually as good as my acoustic or my fake Stratocaster, being an amalgam between the two with a decent pick up



but       this idea of pick ups brings to mind Avi who met me in Chapters on Rideau Street right near the front entrance, which was convenient because he had planned to take me to the Gazebo behind the Supreme Court

and      in bed he was much more flexible than I could possibly be

but       his boasting forced me to send him an e-mail after only one encounter suggesting he find a lover who excelled at yoga

and      we vaguely recognized each other some time later at an Indian restaurant on Dalhousie Street, the fancy one that was more like Indian fusion

but       he served pakoras to my husband and me

and      we didn’t stay to drink the masala cha instead grabbing a handful of fennel seeds
coated in pink that could easily be mistaken for pot pourri



but       perhaps this isn’t the time to mention Brennan and our rather fitting first meeting at the Black Bear on Albert at Bay

and      I should have already known about his interest in bears because of the silver polar bear hanging from a chain around his neck

but       when I asked him about it he said it was personal

and      because he lived in Blackburn Hamlet and his retired mother was away, he took me to her apartment near Elgin Street which was filled with stuffed bears

but       when he undressed, he was covered in tattoos, not of demons but of all kinds of bears



and      this is the missing section from the original publication

but       I didn’t leave it out on purpose, only noticing after it was published even though the cover features the Phoenician letter for ‘he’ and ‘unknown’

and      now I am a feminist, which would have been news to the Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman when she wrote this poem in 2008

but       a lover, an older gent, a writer with a reputation for kink and candour once argued with me over whether I was a feminist

and      he said that in the sixties men had a guidebook called “How to Fuck a Feminist”

but       perhaps I was looking at the fire, not at the light

and      since I wrote this poem Robert Kroetsch has punned his way to Heaven, unlike Kierkegaard

but       I met him once when he came to Ottawa for a post-modernist symposium

and      I was shy and kept the Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman in a ziplock bag

but       she kept bugging me until I gave him a copy of the little yellow chapbook

and      he e-mailed me later from distant Winnipeg

but       he wrote me that my poems were bursting with energy

and      that Ottawa is a scene!

but       I was told that some anonymous poet had said the chapbook would ruin my poetry career

and      this made me laugh so hard I wanted to write more of the same

but       I still use many adverbs to express my unrequited longing for the Sad Phoenician of Love



and      there’s no satisfying men who usually work hard at seduction until successful when they forget your telephone number or ask you to marry them

but       this is an opportune moment to mention Peter who I met at Minto Place at Cultures, which has been replaced by a chain cafe populated by civil servants looking for plain and plentiful food at all hours of the day

and      even though it was 4pm the restaurant was still crowded

but       Peter and I were the only ones in the room

and      it was lucky or perhaps by design that I lived so close to the cafe that we were within walking distance

but       only two flights up so that we could take the stairs in a hurry to my apartment where he carried me into the bedroom

and      apologized for the small tattoo on his inner thigh which was a symbol for happiness or the sun or perhaps both

but       it was Valentine’s Day and he had to buy flowers for his wife before the florists closed

and      even though he called me several times afterward, I never saw him again

but       he worked for a tobacco company which made him unpopular with his fellow executive MBA students

and      I assume he left town because I am honest and I know how to spin a good yarn



but       Pat, who I prefer to think of as Patrick Blue, because his eyes were full of ocean

and      he was a failed biologist from British Columbia, studying to be a Computer Engineer at the University of Ottawa

but       I can’t remember where we met, oh yes it was at the Sri Lankan restaurant on Somerset Street, which is still there but now offers buffets, causing less of a conundrum for those of us who don’t know much about Sri Lankan cuisine or wish to be bullied into accepting a giant side dish of roast chicken from the waiter who knows better

and      Patrick spent the night in the queen-sized bed I bought at Rooms, which no longer exists, I mean Rooms and not the bed, which has since been retired to my husband’s photography studio

but       in the morning we went to Eggspectations on Bank Street, where you can still find a number of old buildings, including the Duke of Somerset, a part of which fell down just this past summer and caused the City to close the street for months

and      this is a restaurant my husband and I frequent every Saturday before going to Mags and Fags on Elgin Street where you can read many delightful literary magazines and then walk away with a free newspaper

but       let’s pretend that only men suffer

and      that brings to mind Blaine and Shane, the premature ejaculators

but       don’t think this was a simultaneous experience

and      if memory serves Blaine was first, a strapping young farm boy from Cornwall with red cheeks, who talked his way straight into my bed

but       Shane was also a three am impulse, seducing me as only a law student could

and      he also plowed snow, implying that he’d plowed the very snow that piled up in the parking lot overlooking my bedroom window

but       I can’t say I recognized him or that his plowing skills were adequate

and      due to his likely legal position, I should probably choose my words very carefully



but       i’ll tell you something, i’ll let you in on a secret

and      it involves how I managed to obtain my Slater Street apartment

but       I was still married at the time so I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t mention
my assignation with Michael on Nanny Goat Hill

and      the fact that he worked at Coast Guard, which was very nearby, so he thought
my living near his place of work would be handy for noontime quickies

but       when I left to meet Malcolm in Victoria, I didn’t let Michael use my apartment for his noontime quickies with other women

and      I left it vacant except for the cordless red phone, a vase of withering pink roses and my very uncomfortable futon because Rooms had still not delivered my queen-sized bed

but       I was quite attracted to the superintendent in my building who I serenaded on my guitar when he arrived to change a light bulb in my bedroom



and      while we’re on the subject of my journey out of town, I should elaborate

but       this is where the story gets a little sad, just for romantic tension

and      you should know that you can call 911 for someone in distress in any Canadian city

but       Malcolm wasn’t attempting suicide this time according to the RCMP even though his incredible weight loss did not change his dissatisfaction with his personality or lead to a reconciliation with the love of his life

and      I knew only some of this when I took the plane to Vancouver, the ferry to Victoria, the bus to the bus station where I met an emaciated man who took me to his home in Esquimault

but       he spent most of his time chatting on line to his ex in Toronto who told him she had ovarian cancer

and      when we dined at the Elephant and Castle, he ate only two tiny spring rolls

but       we drank a lot of beer

and      he told me stories of his life as a baker before he lost all of that weight, how it made him happy to kneed the dough, to take the first bite of warm bread in his mouth

but       while I was away, Pierre Trudeau died

and      I saw a photograph in the newspaper of the long cortege

but       this made me miss my home back east

and      I know it’s unpopular to like Ontario, particularly Ottawa

but       I love this city even though I didn’t grow up here

and      I never refer to the downtown area as Centretown or the Market as Lowertown because it sounds like something out of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

but       while my legs are very nice, they are not the legs of Tina Turner

and      Victoria is lovely in September, especially the ferry from which you can see little yellow flowers, I believe are known as gorse and also if you are lucky, little foxes

but       I don’t complain about turbulence when I fly alone because there is no one to hear



and      even if it’s true that all my men have new lovers, I’m always happy
to serve as a path to reconciliation of a man with his ex when she sees
me on his arm

but       don’t imagine that this is a rare occurrence
by way of example, I offer you Craig, the roofer from Jackson’s Point
who enjoyed his holiday in Ottawa

and      pointed out to me all the interesting roofs in our town, which I refuse to refer to as Bytown, even though that is what it used to be called

but       Craig slept all night for the first time in years, I have that effect on men

and      exhausted me with his stamina in ways that only someone as strong and hardy as a roofer could manage

but       when he met me one weekend near my sister’s place in Cabbagetown, which is in Toronto, even though it uses the word town, like all the places in Ottawa and I wonder why they don’t say Scarborotown or DonMillstown

and      unlike the other men who drove past us on the corner of Jarvis and Gerrard, he didn’t assume we were prostitutes

but       took me to his falling down cabin in Jackson’s Point where I wrote sonnets, kept the homefires burning and played my guitar while he was somewhere above, shingling

and      at night we spiked our Tim Horton’s coffee with whisky then Craig drove me out to the stars, I, the Sad Phoenician of Love’s Other Woman, surveying the stars, which are not that visible from downtown Ottawa, even
from my current residence on the 19th floor, although the moon regularly wakes my husband and me up with its interrogatory blank yellow stare

but       when he wanted me to meet his eleven-year-old daughter and stay for Christmas, I had to leave, so I took the Go Bus back to Toronto

and      left my guitar at his place because I hate schlepping stuff, especially on buses

but       he never sent it back

and      I wonder if he used it to warm his cabin when the wood ran out



but       I see I’ve failed to mention Stephen from Montreal

and      his is one of my juiciest tales

but       I’ve already written a story about him

and      I’m hoping it will be published in an anthology on fellatio so I don’t want to spoil it by giving you explicit details now

but       I will say that it’s his fault Guy, the sports photographer, also from Montreal, wouldn’t speak to me at Mexicali Rosa’s at Dow’s Lake where I drank too many margaritas so that we all ended up at the Hotel Roxborough on Laurier Street, which is now a swank boutique accommodation  called the Hotel Indigo that I’ve never visited

and      I left because I was drunk and tired and didn’t want to spend the evening with Stephen

but       Danny from Toronto, who was staying at the Talisman Inn on Carling Avenue, which is now a Travelodge, not Carling, but the Inn, kept visiting some woman’s room supposedly for drinks

and      I walked home, even though it was very cold

but       February in Ottawa is usually cold, except during Winterlude when they want lots of tourists to skate on the Rideau Canal, which is longer than the Winnipeg River Trail despite what Winnipeggers will tell you, and eat Beavertails, which are fried pastries found in other places with other names like fried cow pies

and      Danny woke me up when he buzzed to be let in

but       we fumbled around for a bit on the futon, which I’d moved to the living room, since my queen-sized bed finally arrived from Rooms

and      we went out to an all-night schawarma place on Bank Street

but       I drank milk and vomited so I suggested to Danny that he take a cab back to the Talisman

and      I returned to my queen-sized bed from Rooms, dreaming of miniaturized skaters gliding over the green ice of my margarita and hoping for another opportunity with Guy, the sports photographer, which did not happen, sorry to spoil the story for you



but       give a girl a chance, would you
when every man brags about his cunnilingus abilities

and      is looking for a secret love nest
is it so hard to believe that I succumbed to the talents
of an erotica writer who seduced me with agile language

but       he had a mysterious past, an American who survived the
Vietnam War, a little guy, a tunneler

and      I should have made that connection and realized that 5’10 was just chat height embellishment

but       didn’t until he showed up at the Ottawa Train Station, which is in the East End instead of being downtown as it used to be when Buster Keaton was in that silent movie where he rode a CN rail maintenance vehicle past the Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill

and      when the escalator carried him, and by him I mean the erotica writer not Buster Keaton, up to the station, he didn’t get any taller once he stepped off

but       I let him take me to the Westin Hotel on Colonel By Drive

and      I wrote a poem about the experience that was published in the Lust supplement of Quills Poetry Magazine

but       I would prefer you didn’t look



and      Keith was British, mourning the death of his father

but       it seemed fitting to have tea and scones at the Sconewitch on Albert Street, which used to be a fancy restaurant named Anthony’s that I never went to

and      when I was sick he brought me back a collection of poetry which features writers such as Simon Armitage and John Ashbery, one poem in particular called The Painter, which I recall liking so much that it made me terribly fond of Keith who even though he was consumed with grief, took the time when he was in England to stop by a London bookstore, perhaps on the famous Charing Cross Road, to buy this book for me

but       like so many men he is often busy with his career as a medical recruiter or something like that, I can never quite remember

and      he still contacts me from time to time, remembering with fondness my exceptional gift for fellatio



but       Michael, and this is a different Michael, not the Coast Guard Michael who worked near my Slater Street apartment, also met me at Eggspectations

and      he spoke very loudly

but       still we walked to the Astrolabe in the exceptional June heat

and      he told me about his work as a psychologist, his recent separation and his brother, who was a minister for a religion I had never heard of

but       I found Michael’s attempts to rescue me endearing when I choked on a fish bone at Lapointes in the Byward Market over lunch, albeit rather intimate for a first encounter, especially when he entered the bathroom stall, explaining that you don’t leave a choking person alone for fear they might die

and      I enjoyed the lilies at first but after a while I wanted an apartment free of their cloying, clinging smell because I couldn’t help but remember that lilies are used for funerals



but       I won’t dwell on funerals, nor should you
instead I’ll give you an interlude involving a man who cured my sore bone-fish throat with honey

and      grew wintergreen as I mentioned in a poem that has never been published in Gatineau, I mean that is where he lived, the poem has not been published anywhere, where he installed solar panels but his marriage was unhappy, expecting like so many men in unhappy marriages that I would also be unhappy

but       all I have is happiness and love to share

and      he enjoyed the way I caressed his shoulder length brown hair, our conversations about wolves and Arthurian legend, my silly romantic comparisons of him to Lancelot

but       then he was gone, I was no long suffering Guinevere



and      this is not unusual if you consider Wayne, who lived in Sydenham with his dogs, far from the city, a man whose stillness I appreciated at first

but       we talked for hours about his travels, he was a young genius who finished school early, went to Russia, like me he enjoyed a good meal

and      when he met me at Hot Peppers on Somerset Street, which has fabulous chicken satay, on a grey day in November, the restaurant was closed, so we ended up at MeKong whose food is not as good as it used to be when it had  the cracked vinyl red chairs and the visible fuse box

but       he told me the adornments on my scarf were East Indian thug bells

and      in bed no conversation was necessary except the conversation of our bodies

but       I still don’t know if he got home safely



and      why is this pain so beautiful, the sky so deep, the man in the moon

but       these are lovers I still contemplate like D., let’s call him D., who exists only in summer

and      our night together at the Days Inn on Rideau Street near the Bytowne Theatre, which used to be called the Towne, when it was located in New Edinburgh on Beechwood Avenue, which is now a Mountain Equipment Co-Op Store where you can buy expensive items to protect you from the outdoors

but       I knew from the moment I saw him at the Carleton Tavern on Armstrong Street near the Parkdale Market, I would never be able to resist those honey golden eyes

and      we talked about poetry and our lives as if no one else existed

but       hide what must be hidden



and      I’ve just crumpled up the last page because some memories are too fresh

but       I wrote a story about D. that only he has seen

and      N., also of the crumpled up page, will someday show up in a poem or a story, he’s here now, a tall shadow

but       how can I forget to tell you about the Josephs, the first a case of mistaken identity at Maxwell’s on Elgin Street

and      the man went along with me anyway; I’m sure he would have taken me home

but       the real Joseph showed up instead, a very convincing salesman who talked me into his SUV and then back to his executive town home off Blair Road near the Canadian Security Intelligence Service which seems like an oxymoron to me, to watch some movie on his big screen tv, I think it was something with Winona Ryder about a mental hospital, his house full of expensive items, but feeling so empty

and      my footsteps echoed as I walked out the door



but       right now I’m chatting with Gord, a lover many years ago who became a good friend

and      his wife thinks high heeled shoes mean a woman is a prostitute; she also believes masturbation is evil

but       Gord cannot talk to her about sex without making her angry and upset

and      so he occasionally meets women in hotels in Montreal because he works for a large and failing high technology company

but       once they lay him off he will receive a fairly good settlement

and      he enjoys golf and hot weather in America where he will probably move when he retires

but       we still sometimes flirt and indulge in sexual innuendo



and      about a year ago, Art, the high school math and science teacher from Kanata, fell asleep on top of me right after sex

but       he was very thin, wearing long johns even in July; have you noticed how thin people are always cold

and      he told me stories about the hybrid roses he grew in his garden

but       perhaps it occurs to you that I’m drawn to outdoorsy type men and in that case I have to contradict you because there are many urban men I also enjoy

and      this makes me think of Chris, who wouldn’t kiss me but took only a short time to have sex with me

but       when I saw him the next day on the bus, I greeted him loudly as ten-minute-guy

and      this ended up in my novel, 365 Days To Celebrate A Birthday about a woman who falls asleep during her 35th birthday party and misses an orgy

but       I kept seeing Chris on the bus for about a week because even though he told me he worked downtown for the federal government it became clear that he actually worked at Corel

and      I’m assuming he must have been laid off because eventually he stopped riding my bus

but       Carling Avenue adventures are not as rare as you might think, including one with another man named Dan or did he prefer to be called Daniel

and      first at Chu Shing on Somerset Street, we ate dim sum together and sparred because I do so enjoy arguing with men

but       afterward we rode the elevator alone with me on my knees

and      he enjoyed it so much we ended up at my office on Carling Avenue that Sunday afternoon

but       once we left the bathroom, he made the mistake of closing the office door

and      we were locked out so that I had to call an employee to come

but       Daniel left in his pretty red sports car

and      I was relieved because he drove it very fast



but       of course there are men who I’ve never been with and hungered for

and      why the gentlemen haven’t guessed my longing, that buffaloes me, such as Dan, yes another one, who has chatted with me now for at least two years, studies history and political science at the University of Ottawa, works at a morgue and plays hockey

but       we have amazing debates about the existence of god

and      he introduces me to heavy metal bands, complimenting me on my beauty

but       he has said that he is intimidated by the fact that I have had so many lovers

and      he worries he won’t be good enough, which is of course nonsense

but       there are other men who I leave alone even though I am attracted to them

and      I am always curious about how a man is in bed, about his body and what kind of conversations we would have after, during

but       I find my mind wandering to a young graduate student  with whom I spend the occasional minute on line, playing Scrabble, another addiction of mine

and      once I saw him at Bridgehead and we spent a few minutes talking; I gave him a copy of my chapbook Eleanor, which apparently he liked

but       there’s also the writer in Kingston, unfortunately monogamous

and      even though I am mesmerized by those brown almost black flashing eyes and his low voice, his dark wavy hair and the incredibly masculine yet sensuous and romantic novels he writes, I merely indulge my interest through the reading of his books

but       there are many men whose names begin with R and I wonder if they are edible in months without an R in them

and      one is a professor who likes the same poetry as me and could teach me, perhaps we could exchange areas of expertise



but       by this time you must be wondering where Charles is in all this

and      I’ll tell you a bit of our story, which I’ve saved for just this moment

but       seven years is a long time to summarize in two stanzas so instead I will give you a very brief overview

and      it might surprise you to learn that we met in front of the Dancing Mermaid where we had dinner and I had no idea his eyes would be so blue as he held my hand and hasn’t let go for all this time

but       our wedding on Vancouver Island took place on a beach at Maple Bay

and      even though we were warned to make alternate arrangements because rain is common in September on the Island, we didn’t get wet nor would we have cared if we did

but       later after we rode in the back seat of a Daimler limousine along the Malahat Highway back to Vancouver, we drank champagne in our bed and breakfast at English Bay

and      this was before the big storm knocked down all the old trees in Stanley Park, reminiscent of the Ice Storm here about ten years ago that people still talk about  today, saying such things as I was in Mexico when it hit, or the power was out for eleven days in Montreal

but       Ottawa is our home, even though we had a lot of fun in BC

and      we occasionally have taken trips to Boston by plane before we banned the United States of America, Toronto, Montreal by train because neither of us drives, preferring the train and our long walks through the forest behind Charles’ office at Edinburgh Place

but       we confuse many people because even though we are married we still have love to give others

and      apparently when you are married you are supposed to love only one person

but       both of us find that idea implausible because we know that people do love others in all kinds of ways

and      one thing that we will always be able to say is that we never shied away from the possibilities of love

but       sometimes our hearts have been broken, although not by each other

and      we have learned that honesty is the key to a good relationship

but       now I’m starting to sound like a self help guru, which is not the case



and      instead I will tell you about the time that Charles took me by the river, where the War Museum now stands

but       perhaps you would rather hear about his clever manipulation of a vibrator in the World Exchange theatre, which is now the Empire 7

and      Ottawa’s various private outdoor settings, such as the terraces of the National Arts Centre on Elgin and Slater Streets

but       a man once told me that the Lieutenants Pump on Elgin Street has a private bathroom

and      he thought it would be fun if I met him at the Pump for a drink and then indulged him in this private bathroom

but       I wasn’t interested so I had to turn down his kind invitation to suck him off in the bathroom

and      one man said to me on line, “I know I can please you, but first do you swallow”

but       my only answer was to ask him if that line ever worked

and      he admitted that it was the first time he ever used it; I recommended he not try it again

but       I could also mention the time Charles and I drank a lot of sangria at Mexicali Rosa’s at Dow’s Lake, even though Pancho Villa is really Charles’ favourite Mexican restaurant because of the mole sauce used in the Chicken Enchiladas, which is not too sweet and not too spicy

and      how we ended up in a hotel in Montreal, having to buy underwear

but       it was a warm day so we spent much of our time in the Botanical Gardens, which is one of my favourite places in Montreal

and      Montreal is a very romantic city, I should tell you and can recommend a few hotels and restaurants that are perfect for lovers

but       once we brought Charles’ lover there and that was also very nice, except hotel rooms are set up for two rather than three people, never enough towels even for two

and      I won’t give you a list of Charles’ lovers because that is his story

but       we both have learned a lot about each other

and      our hearts seem to grow bigger with each new relationship

but       a woman in her mid 40s has her fair share of offers

and      I can love, even the rocket ship, even the man in the moon, the swaggering day, the landscaper weeding the fertile land

but       I am a lover of men in all their splendid variety, could spend hours caressing their bodies, debating their renegade ideas over a pitcher of beer at Irene’s on Bank Street where the patrons scratch their lust for one another into the pine table tops

and      I also enjoy a momentary encounter, a sidelong leer from a fellow sexual adventurer or love anarchist

but       I’ve learned that I can’t own these minutes

just as I can’t own you or the colour red or this incessant five month winter storm