Monday, March 9, 2009

Lip Synch Dysphoria

Monday, March 9, 2009


By Philip Cairns

Copyright 2009 by Philip Cairns

The last time I did acid,

I had the overwhelming desire to cut off my hands.

In the twisted logic of my skewered mind,

I figured, since they were the most valuable part of my anatomy,

Being an artist,

Then, therefore, I must hack them off.

“Yes” means “no” and “no” means “yes”.

Being alone, I could only have cut off one hand

Since I don’t own a chain saw.

You’d be seeing me, right now, with a gory stump,

Long since healed, on the end of one arm.

I’d have to keep that mutilated thing in my pocket at auditions

Or I’d never get hired, again.

Don’t know which hand it would have been.

I’m ambidextrous but I favour my right hand in most things.

If I’d hacked off that one,

It would’ve taken me a while to come up to speed with the left.

I have a little voice, inside me, that protects me under such circumstances.

“Don’t do it. Relax. You’re high on acid. You’ll regret it in the morning.”

“But my hands are so important. I really should cut them off. It makes perfect sense.”

“You’ll bitterly regret it. Big time. Believe me.”

When I came down, I decided never again to take LSD.

After all, next time, I might not be so lucky.

My inner parent might not win the battle.

That was my 6th trip.

The first time was in the 70s.

That evening, my friend told me he had dropped it, too,

But I think he was lying.

I was crazy about Bob but the feeling wasn’t mutual.

The two of us, and a plus-size female friend,

Went to see the Kubrick film, “2001: A Space Odyssey”

At a midnight showing at the Roxy.

What a perfect trip!! What a blast!!

The third time I dropped acid,

I was staying at a friend’s cottage on the French River.

Walking out onto the deck, in the glorious summer sunshine,

A hornet’s nest, lodged under the strips of wood,

Was accidentally disturbed and they went nuts,

But neither of us was stung.

I did some painting and talked a mile a minute with my hostess,

Smoking endless cigarettes.

I found a bug outside.

Its face looked so human to me.

I held it in my hand and felt that we were communicating on some strange level.

It looked like a tiny, little baby.

Late that afternoon, there was a knock at the door.

An older, balding man stood there with a message for me from my hostess’s mother,

Back in Scarborough.

He’d taken a boat from the marina in order to deliver it.

A major theatre, back in Toronto, wanted me for a part in a play with Len Cariou,

The Broadway star.

That’s what it said.

The director wanted to see me, the very next day.

We raced back to Toronto in her car, on very little sleep,

Weaving in and out of traffic,

With just enough time for me to shower and change

At my parent’s place in the Burbs.

Then Carol Anne drove me downtown to the theatre.

I walked in, portfolio in hand, with grand expectations and racing heart.

The bitchy, impatient Artistic Director snapped at me,

“We don’t want to see that.”

(He gestured at the portfolio of pictures from plays I had been in.)

“We just want to look at you and hear your voice.”

I read for him but was not cast.

It was just another audition.

I didn’t tell him what I’d gone through in order to get there on time.

My vacation was shot.

On the final LSD trip, the 6th one, I also painted.

It was a wild, psychedelic acrylic abstract,

With eyes and eyelashes peering out from the frantic colours.

Lots of deep pinks and reds and pale blue and startling yellow.

A stranger phoned and said I sounded sleepy.

He seemed pissed off.

I had answered his personal ad in the paper.

“I’m painting a picture,” I said but he didn’t get it.

The Asian man never called back, as he said he would.

The 5th time was totally unexpected.

An upstairs neighbour appeared at my door, late one night.

He reached in my front door, thrusting a beer in my face.

“I heard you moving about,” he said.

He wanted me to drop acid with him but I had to rehearse in the morning,

So I begged off.

The shaggy-haired blond kept plying me with beer.

He handed me a purple tab of acid and I said I would take it later.

I dropped it on the floor and Dave said, “It’s dirty. Better put it in your mouth, ”

Which I foolishly did.

After partying all night with this scuzzy guy,

I phoned the director the next morning.

He had long hair and seemed pretty cool so I figured it would be okay to be honest.

“I can’t come to rehearsal. I dropped acid last night. I haven’t had any sleep.”

Darshan started freaking out.

“Oh, no. Oh, no. Do you still want to do the play?”

“Of course. I just need some sleep.”

“I’ll call you,” he said but I never heard from him, again.

That was okay. The gig was a freebee in a speakeasy

And I didn’t really want to do it.

I heard through the grapevine that the production never happened.

Sometimes it’s best to tell a little white lie.

Colours look so vivid.

You think you’ve found all the deep, profound answers to the great mysteries of life.

Your sense of perspective is all topsy-turvy.

It’s like looking through the wrong end of a telescope.

Acid is so unpredictable.

Be careful.

Don’t do it by yourself, as I once did.

I was looking for truths.

Trying to find cosmic answers.

Wanted to know what all the media screaming was about.

Pink turns into swirling neon lime green.

Reality becomes a kaleidoscope.

You crave sex but it can be hard to function properly.

I somehow miss those wild, crazy times.

Life had infinite possibilities.

Now, it seems to be lots of cul de sacs, dead ends,

And doors slammed in my face.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Circus in Thomson Park

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


By Philip Cairns

Copyright 2009 by Philip Cairns

Marching and skipping across the top of the hill,
I could see the colourful parade come closer.
Vividly coloured Mardi Gras-like costumes,
Huge papier mache heads with enormous eyes.
Women dressed like gypsy fortune tellers
And brawny young men looking like Harlequin.
The sound of brass instruments
And the thump-thump of big, round drums.

Standing with my four siblings,
Amongst the canvas tents in a clearing in the suburban park,
I watched the procession as it drew nearer.
Smiling faces in a rag-tag band.
Electric blue, startling red, lush green grass and the deep brown earth.
The bubbling sound of the nearby creek.
The notes of the piccolo slipped out in a merry way,
Along with the bump-bump-bump of the heavy bass drum.

I remember the youthful face of the fortune teller,
Inside the hot, burning tarpaulin,
And the silly lies she told about my future.
The auburn haired young woman couldn’t have been more than seventeen.

Then, into the tent to see the Freaks of Nature.
The African Sausage Man with no arms or legs,
Lying on a wooden table, wrapped all in woollen clothing,
Rolling and lighting a cigarette using only his mouth and tongue.

A Pinhead in a dirty, sleeveless housedress,
Was sitting on the stage weeping and exchanging bitter words
With a short, mean, hideous man standing in the front row.
He was insulting and making fun of the pathetic, ugly woman.
(From this great distance in time,
I see her as being rather beautiful, in a Picasso sort of way.)
I was only eleven, but, even so,
I was appalled and disappointed by this so-called Freak Show.

Outside, again, there were stiltwalkers and jugglers
Roaming the grounds of the little ersatz circus.
There was cotton candy to consume,
Taffy apples to gobble
And sweet orange pop to slurp.

I walked home with an uneasy sensation in the pit of my stomach.
The Pinhead woman seemed so vulnerable and morbidly unhappy.
40 years down the road,
I remember the sight of her so clearly,
Sobbing on that makeshift stage in the intense August heat.
I went inside expecting to be frightened and excited
But came away feeling low and gypped.

The circus came to town.
Childhood dreams fell away,
Like the melting skin of a burn victim.
Phony adolescent psychics and depressed freaks
On a sweltering summer day in Scarborough.
A rerun from the past.