As you know, on Wednesday, I attended a memorial celebration of the life of my husband's closest friend, film and television producer, director, screenwriter, and poet, Bill Davidson.
Actually, Marty was the M.C. I sat with about 40 of Bill's nearest and dearest, including his wife Mary, his two daughters, Wendy and Ann, and his granddaughter, Tabitha.
Tabby chose to read several of her grandfather's poems from a little collection called "A Baker's Dozen," that he sent to a very select group about eight years ago. As it happens, we were among them.
I had read Bill's "things" as he called them at that time. They were enchanting, as I recall. Then Marty took them from me for safekeeping – I tend to misplace things – and stowed them in his office. I'd forgotten them, until Tabby started her charming recitation. One in particular stood out as being perfect for you.
And as November is such a dreary month, especially for teachers overwhelmed with end-of-term marking, I thought we could all use a little chuckle from our darling friend Bill.
Last evening I called Mary, and she gave me permission to post it.
I want you to know that Bill loved reading Coming Out Crazy, so I know he wouldn't mind my sharing one of his poems with you. He was a loyal member of our community.
First, these were written on a typewriter. A manual typewriter. You can tell, which makes them even more endearing. In his covering letter, he explained that he had written his poems at his cottage on Pig island near Whitefish Falls and Manitoulin Island, southwest of Sudbury. His motivation came from an old friend, retired Rutgers University psychology professor John L. Falk.
"We had been out of touch for over fifty years. To re-introduce himself, he sent me a classy, slim volume of poetry published here in Canada by Guernica Press.
"Apparently, during all his teaching years he had been writing poetry, over three thousand poems," Bill wrote in his covering letter, titled "Explanation" ... "For Sandy and Martin."
"I thought, why not just knock off some stuff that pops into my mind, for my own pleasure (and maybe for Mary, too) to entertain myself.
"Now, I did something else to get myself kickstarted. I didn't want to poke fun of John's book, but I wanted to clearly establish my imposter credentials, my colossal conceit in pretending to write a short book of poems (things). So I claimed to have a publisher, Howler Monkey Press, and even wrote a series of reviews of my own work for the back cover."
Indeed, the return address on the manilla envelope that we received was "From the publisher's office: Howler Monkey Press, Port Hope, Ontario – no address, no phone, no email, no fax, no anything."
Imagine a big man, a commanding presence at 6-ft, 2-inches, with a broad smile and sparkly blue eyes, perched on a rock on his island, his typewriter on his lap, pounding away at his poetry. He was blissfully unwired up there.
His covering letter ended:
"I said, why not share this wacky stuff with my dear friends, Martin and Sandy, and maybe, just maybe, brighten up their day with a few twinkly chuckles. Enjoy!
"WARNING: If too painful, take this stuff with Celebrex!"
Tabitha read several of her grandfather's creations. Here's the one I think you'll appreciate most, including a few of his "advance reviews and comments"...
"A stunning disaster. A tribute to man's folly. Beats the Titantic. Sank immediately after launching." – Rear Admiral Ahab, retired skipper, Toronto Island Ferry.
"Highly recommended for infants and toddlers. From the Hickory-Dickory-dock school of poetry. Pablum for the masses." – The Brothers Grimm, professors of pornography, Humpty Dumpty Institute.
"The work of a buffoon. Forgettable, but not forgivable. His movies weren't so hot either." – Crusty McNasty, entertainment critic, The Toronto Star Weekly.
At the Annual Convention: The Return of the Fairytale Shamen.
Based on an old English folk song.
These fellows, me thinks,
are rinky dink shrinks,
Willy Winky, Tom Cobly and all.
They're here to discuss
the probing of us,
Uncle Siggy, Pope Carl and all.
They peddle their pills
to cure all our ills,
Oedipus Rex, bad sex and all.
They stir up a gumbo
of cool mumbo jumbo,
bipolar, postpartum and all.
They unscramble our brains
for capital gains,
Lamberghinis, sunny condos and all.
It's buyer beware
at this sordid affair,
turkey niblits, juicy giblets and all.
They feed on our fear
they'll be back next year,
Goldilocks, Goosey Gander and all.
* FOOTNOTE: Proud to say, the fairytale shamen, good sports all, have asked Leonard Cohen to sing this rollicking folk song, during the opening banquet at next year's convention. If we wake him up in time. I need the royalties."
By the time Mary Davidson called me last night, I had already written another post. I'll save it for next week. It won't go stale. And I hope you don't mind this little detour from my usual harder focus on mental health and wellness.
Call it a "mental health day" post. A break from the routine. A non-medicinal bromide. This has been a very difficult week for us. I'm glad that I was able to end it on a light note, and especially to be able to share with you the magic that was Bill Davidson.
Speak soon and have a lovely and restful weekend. Be well and be good to yourselves. You deserve it!