REMEMBERING ARTIE by Ken Norris
Back in 1978, 79, 80, Artie was my hero and my best friend. I lived on Aylmer and he lived on Lorne Crescent, and we were at each other's houses every day.
We saw each other through rough romantic times, and we watched a lot of one-star movies together. Our favourite was Phantom of the Paradise--we must have watched that one together at least twenty times, sitting in his living room, eating popcorn, surrounded by rather well-fed cats.
To me, Artie's poetry was a revelation. It told me that I really had to forget about Yeats and Eliot and get hip in a hurry. His work offered a way of being contemporary that really appealed to me:
I am a surfer at 12 o'clock high
keeping to the crests of life
the good times will never pass me by
for I also have a large net I cast
out over the calendar
and it nets me some fine days
I dance free of the fates
like in a western where the cowboy
dodges every bullet
as approaching the prime target
or the gold mine
with bandits all around it
and suddenly one day I'll reach in
grab that bag of loot
and ride off on my horse
Then there was Artie's poem "Alison," which speaks so wonderfully of love and worldly existence.
I am alerting you to the fact that the clouds above your house are doing a dance THIS MINUTE
and if I wait, well..
but I have already waited, a human faculty, thinking
what if the clouds by the time you have woken have flown, disarranged themselves, gone to Europe
I juggled this thought unconscious of the lapse of time while the clouds stayed and stayed. now the clouds can't say
c'mon Artie, wake her up, we are here only briefly
or Artie the day is glorious, take your time, ponder
this human condition you talk of. we are here at your beck. we are like the photo of a beautiful day
drawn from the textbook of surrealism, surrealism, the everyday that never happens. and the clouds are gone.
a personal experience. which for you, never was.
so I leave a note on your doorstep; alison, wake up-- the clouds can be beautiful!
It's an obvious thing to say, but without Artie there would have been no Vehicule Poets.
Because what the six other Vehicule Poets most had in common was that we admired Artie. And loved him. And will go on loving him forever. Real love has no half-life.