Telling It Like It Is (some nights)



Shrink sock on my stump
glasses on the night table
gauntlets on my wrists and forearms
mouth open meds riding
the water slide of my throat
mouth-guard so I don’t grind all night.

Richard Hines Photo

There I said said, a diaper around my bottom
like the cartoon of a New Year’s baby (just kidding)
my body a perfect vertical lie on the horizontal
line, music quiet and classical
temperature just past the click
parking lot lights on the ceiling
filtered by my apartment’s vertical blinds.

There is no you just me taking up
as much space as I can muster
your used to be pillow carries
your scent in the memory foam
while the clock counts down
the minutes needed to pass
over time before I can die.

written June 2020 revised Jan.5 2021

ROUTINES by Tom Wayman


ROUTINES by Tom Wayman, read by Victor Enns, with permission




By Tom Wayman, with permission
read by Victor Enns

Tom Wayman

Photo Credit: Jeremy Addington
 Canadian Poetry Online


Body & Soul


I’m listening to Chris Potter’s version of “Body & Soul,” first given life on October 11th 1939, by Coleman Hawkins whose improvised solo comprised most of the 3:00 minute take, soon to be a hit. That’s right! The first jazz hit, still released on a 78rpm disk. Unheard of!

Two music books arrived yesterday including the fully transcribed Hawkins take, one with a history and then transcription of many of the “Body & Soul” solos since, including Potter’s at the last. Potter also wrote the introduction noting how important Hawkins’s solo was to  open things up to be-bop, and how it is still considered a standard measure of excellence
 all tenor sax players, worth their salt, must achieve.

I’m obsessing but that’s ok, as this is research for my Listen,Here collection in the works.
I’ve been thinking about how it might “fit” and then I realized the manuscript could be sequenced like many a Conservatory piano book, say like the one I had for three years until I passed the Grade six piano exam; a commitment I made to my parents so I could start playing trumpet. Thanks to some tutoring by Verna Wiebe (nee Heinrichs), a Klassen cousin, I squeeked by on my third try, including the theory test; the ear training test was a trial for all of us. I should have understood this did not bode well for a future jazz musician.

I’m thinking “Studies” for now, and these poems would be about some specific moments, techniques in music of the 20th century like dissonance, new intervals, delayed resolution, and syncopation for starters. I will find a “Body & Soul” link to add to my story.

New Year’s Eve 2020


“Wait Now” written and read by Victor Enns New Years Eve 2020



Published today in Jerry Jazz Musician (Online, Portland Oregon)  in response to a quick call for a piece of music and some words about how it helped get us through 2020.

A new poem by Victor Enns

Time does not care whether it’s Covid-19
Or covert militias that kill, funerals
Now just a memory, hoping to see
Your grandmother through the glass
Before she breathes her last. Families
Are repulsed by the line-up of refrigerator
Trucks for racking the dead, the living left
With no place to take their viral remains
The cemeteries full to bursting,
Not deep enough to take all this mortality
And no hell hot enough for the unmasked
Needing beds to die in all the same.
Health care workers pay no mind
Whether you walk on the sunny or the dark
Side of the street with the shady National police
In rental vans for the still breathing
As if it was possible to take away reality
Captured on every phone rolling digital
Video, death Is no secret. We can see it all in slo-mo
All those guns, all those aerosols, all those bodies.

At home I do not pray, I live in another country
Afraid of all the violence; there is too much death
So close to where I live. I shelter in my apartment listen
Here to  jazz hymns, like Haden, like Peterson,
here Webb’s arrangement takes pain,
washing it in the water,  brings solace
To the river, the one we all will cross.

TOO MUCH DEATH a new poem by Victor Enns, read here by Victor Enns. I get comfortable half way through. Lots to learn lots to fix, but here it is for today. My poem for 2020.  So this is Take one.


My song for 2020 is “Washed by the Water” by Peter Gabriel, played by the Jodi Proznik Quartet.  The hymn-like arrangement by Tilden Webb is a tribute to Oscar Peterson and will soothe your soul. The track can be found on Foundations featuring Jodi Proznick on bass, Tilden Webb on piano, Jesse Cahill on drums and Steve Kaldestad on tenor saxophone.  

[The Jodi Proznick Quartet released their debut CD “Foundations” on Cellar Live on 2006 to critical acclaim. It was nominated for a Juno award and was awarded both Album and Acoustic Group of the Year at the National Jazz Awards in 2007. The repertoire is a mix of original compositions as well as arrangements of songs by Duke Ellington, Oscar Pettiford, Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel.]



God writing the Bible
As told to Nebbish the first Phoenician

God was sure he had a book in him. He wanted advice, in moments of self doubt he felt like an imposter, and needed reassurance and some help with his selling um spelling  and grammar.  They were very new.

God:                    Hey Nebbish, come sit down awhile.

Nebbish:          Why call me nebbish, you hardly know me. I’ve disappointed you?

God:   Nah no idea even, where the name came from, to me you look like a nebbish, so I call you nebbish. I am the name caller and the decider. You worry too much.

Nebbish sighs, sits on a rock next to God.

God:          That’s it, take the weight of those those….feet, the feet.
Have you heard the one about when the feet smell and the nose runs you’ve got a problem?

God : (Jumps up and does the kids song about karma knees and Toews.)

Nebbish says, “Geez, you’ve got a name for everything. ”

God: Yeah,  I’m sure enough names for a book.
Nebbish: A list of names?
God: Well a list of begats you know like Nabokov.
Nebbish: Might be logical but boring, I would think. Nobody ever read Ada.
God: Oh there is another name. Ada and Eva. The First mothers! But really there have not been THAT many begats yet! And the names they could come with characters, to develop. And of course we’ll need some conflict a narrative arc a climax, a resolution, but not too much closure…always leave it open for a sequel!

God : So Nebbish you’ve been around a glyph or two. Can you take dictation? and l I may need  some help with the details.  I’m not much of a detail person, Ideas, big picture thinking more my thing.
Nebbish: Oh, so now you want illustrations too?
God ( who looks like everybody and is a shape-shifter, all races, all genders, all a\sexual orientation fluidities).) Not right away, but maybe when we could add a bit of colour in another millennium or two. Turns yellow, readjusts his invisibility cloak, brilliant flashes of lightning) ...
Nebbish: (Sheilding hizs eyes) Geez I wish you’d stop doing that.
(retrieves a chunk of tablet and a chisel. Or a scroll and a quill)

Nebbish: Ok, God shoot.
God: ….Once upon a time…
Nebbish: Godda ring to it, but what is time?
God: not sure, but I’m sure it ‘s slipping away as we sit around jawing…
Nebbish: so start againish:

God: Ok. ok. hm…. getting nothing here, I thought inspiration just came into your brain and then you wrote words down.
Nebbish: That’s what you asked me to do.
God: Right so what have we got so far?
Nebbish, Nothing, a void…..
God: so once upon a time is out? What  other way could I start.
Nebbish: ok … how about “”In the beginning?”
God: Sounds good, short and snappy, laughs …

God: I can just imagine the scholars trying to figure that out!
Three words in and we got a puzzle without an answer.
Nebbish: how’s that?
God: Well what came before the beginning?
Nebbish: It’s turtles all the way down.
God: what’s that?
Nebbish: I heard it at a pow wow last weekend. Explanation good as any, we could use a little diversity.
God: We’re what, Three words in, and there’s no diversity! (Turns a shade of brown or black) How about this? (Genitalia changes under invisibility cloak change, thunder) There, now  what we got.Nebbish: So nix on the turtles.
God:  later ……later….not ready to name creatures yet anyway.
So…In the beginning….in the beginning…there was me! How about that?
Nebbish: Sounds a little narcissistic….how about….hm…pauses then
“In the beginning was the word, and the word was God!”
God: Triumphantly. Yeah yeah,  I like it. Glad I thought of that. You getting that down!
Nebbish begins to chisel on the tablet….
God: Does a little skip, steps on his robe, wobbles. Steadies himself, looking around to see if Nebbish or anyone has seen. sotta voice: Gotta be careful, too many of those and I’ll be in a PCH before moonrise. Nobody knows how old I am. Happy enough for senior discounts but the end game is not so pleasant.
Nebbish: What? You’re mumbling. Are you not using your hearing aids?
God: Sighs. What I was saying, what YOU didn’t hear was : Well that’s a full days work.
hmmm yeah 11 words. Let’s say when I’m interviewed.

“Yes, Mr Gzsowki , 12 words a day without fail That’s what I did but only with help of Nebbish my scribe.
Gzowski: It’s a big book, must of taken a while.
God:Yeah first I had to create light. Then the alphabet. And the book, well we had to make it all up it all from nothing.
Gzowski : So it’s fiction?
God: Well I’d call it audience fiction. They live a good story!

…Nebbish (finishes could be a scroll) Well you will need to sell it,
God: The book?
Nebbish:Yeah, that too. But I see a placard waving…no…, sorry wrong millennium… you need, no to soon for billboards and banner ads….
Startled with a thought. Word of mouth!  How about  that, eh? In the beginning was the word! and we sell it by word of mouth!
God: Charlton Heston maybe? Spokesperson.
Nebbish: Maybe in the beginning,” …falls over laughing
in the beginning, get it! No. Not Heston he has a messianic complex and a fetish for guns..
Nebbish: How about disciples? You know you get 12 people, and  they get 12 people more.
God: No guns?
Nebbish: No guns. How about fishers…they could be fishers of men…
God: All right whatever. I’m all wrung out (sounds of rain)_
God is getting tired of this and gets up to leave.,
God: Well, I’m bagged. Same time tomorrow?

Nebbish. Ok. How long do you think this will take?
God:  Who knows? God knows! (laughing)Forever and ever, dancing away.
Nebbish: Yells….Watch out! You Have to be careful!
God: I know how it ends, I’ve seen the movie.
Nebbish, God you’re annoying when you’re manic! I’m meant careful, be careful!  you were about to dance off the turtle’s back!…………

  I wrote this last night, as a note so I wouldn’t forget the bit. This is still very drafty, off the top of my head, without checking my Concordance Bible for my references. There needs to be more character development, and getting the shape shifting more into the foreground. More jokes, always more jokes! I’ve put in another two hours and that’s all I got.



by Murray Toews

Thanks to donors I’ve been able to contract Murray Toews as Art Director for video casts D, E, F, (for episodes 4, 5 and 6 if you prefer counting) by the Mad Phoenician, namely, me. A single  letter from my Abject Alphabet launches  up to seven different elements, running 10-11 minutes an episode  in total.

Viewers can find episode A,(Beat the Clock) B (Some Assembly Required) and C, (pain room) on this site under the tab  MLIP or My Life in Pieces.

Last Night I Dreamed I Was Two-Faced


Last night I dreamed I was a reluctant lieutenant  in the Russian Army in Moscow in WW2. I was a two sided personality, a toady that always seemed to comply with every order to give me latitude to steal the art works that were being “saved” from cities under siege. Nobody really knew what I was doing there, me either, but said ”building supplies,” as I bustled about.

I never left the large crumbling Soviet building mixed with the Tower of Babble, that I had been looking at before bed. The one on the dusk jacket of the A.S. Byatt novel I like. Also was listening to Prokofiev’s Violin Sonata at bed time, and now Prokofiev: Lieutenant Kije Suite, Symphony No. 5.

Always the distant thud of shelling, but rarely anything reached us. I had word if I could get to the Volga, without getting killed, a boat would take a few passengers if properly compensated. The war ended during my journey to Italy.

I was sad to give up the Kadinsky that I had purloined from his mother, but happy to be in another crumbling building though in Italy, likely the one in the book I’m reading that I can’t remember. 




Published in Transition 2009

like a wet dahlia in the rain
like the trace of a purple felt marker
like hammers hitting the strings of a badly tuned piano
like the echo of boots stomping downstairs
as if it mattered

like a no account derelict with an open hand
like the scent of a rotted tuber
like a bed unchanged
like a faulty clause in a long sentence
as if it mattered

like a cat vomiting its breakfast
like a dog licking it up
like a bird on the ground
as if it mattered

like a misanthrope at a party
like an arrest gone bad
like an accident that didn’t wait to happen
as if it mattered

like the taste of thick milk
like the back of a leaving lover
as if it mattered

like the roughness of braided rope
like the reek of dead chickens in the hen house
as if it mattered

like heavily callused feet
like having nowhere to go
as if it mattered

like the book with just one line
as if it mattered
as if

it mattered



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