My Right Foot


For one brief moment I thought my uric acid levels had regained acceptable levels, so stopped taking my Allpurinol medication. A week or so later this is what my remaining foot looked like.

My uric acid levels were at acceptable levels because of my medication not because of eating more carefully and not drinking. Once again the diabetes alarm bell was rung, but no my sugars are fine, it’s my uric acid levels. Hell even my triglycerides are fine. High uric acid levels create the symptoms of gout, which I thought was related to arthritis and the pain meds and NSAIDS would also help.

Nope. It’s different. I have started taking  Allopurinol again,  doing its job, easing pain a little, but mostly allowing me to keep my foot on the floor when I’m working. My toes look funny because I had a procedure to straighten my hammertoes. I’ll spare you the photos of my kebabed toes. Bonus in this one in losing the nail on my little toe by jamming it into a sproinging, but not sproingy enough door-stopper. So, Polysporin to the rescue. Infections are never good, especially in the foot you have left.

Sadly, this foot, or more precisely my ankle will be reviewed by my excellent foot surgeon next Wednesday at HSC. A new custom-made brace will be prescribed, but I’m also asking about it’s likely future. The ankle is going the way of the left one, that is collapsing, or at best the bones are going through an unplanned reorganization. I can manage this pain because of pain meds for my back, but it’s not sustainable and I expect more surgery. I am more attached to my right foot (no adaptions needed for driving at the moment) but am an unlikely candidate for an ankle replacement and my last ankle fusion didn’t take, so I may loose this one too. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m leaving my body to science one limb at a time.


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Notes Re writing today


Have been able to write and work on my website for second or third day in a row. I have to be somewhat cautious, as usually there is a crash that follows, but always, well what if there isn’t?

Many influences today, contributing to my writing which includes correspondence with my siblings and friends. Hoping more website Patreon subscriptions will come when it’s clear they will receive new work most every day. Scheduling works, and now Patreon works, and now pasta is cooked. Just wait a minute.

That was good. So was the sunset. More Beethoven. Ludwig will feature in one of the pain room imaginings. Composing some sonatas, like my sister would play, and then mining his anger at his disability in the Grosse Fugue..including dialogue with his unhappy publisher. He is one of my intended Group of Seven or Magnificent Seven which includes Augustine (with Euripides), whose story is already begun, Menno Simons, Catherine the Great, Richard the Third, Beethoven, Queen Victoria and Sigmund Freud (with German poet Richard Dehmel). Each will be imagined by Corporal Ivy from the pain room. The first part of his story was added to the pain room Patreon supported blog. Murray Toews has been providing the visual images of each of the characters.

Today’s issue of the New Yorker includes an essay by James Wood, on the Norwegian author Dag Solstad, with more translations in English becoming available, with his comment “taking away someone else’s life lie also means you are taking away their happiness.”  My sister is sending me Helen Humphrey’s new book, Machine Without Horses: A Novel, just out in this September. I have been thinking the work I’m doing will have links of one sort of another, no matter how different the streams are. This goes directly to the Solstad comment; my connections of interest investigate how we make ourselves different and manage identity shifts and revise our story to function as best we can. Corporal Ivy imagines many lives and moments that side-step his pain bedridden-self. Susann with 2 nns started revising herself in grade school, and on her death bed said “I’ve had a good life,” not easy to tell from her own stories, or my experience or those of my siblings. I can hardly wait until I get there…that is the Boundary Creek story-telling, not my death bed!

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MT 4. Leaving the River


Dragon Dogs

Packed and upon us
they thinned our ranks.
We flailed about with dead limbs
dry sticks. We threw stones
dung and clods of dust
dried with blood of our children.
Their stink
all that was
left the sun
couldn’t burn away.



Leaving the river

Food from unfamiliar

Accident, the lack
of many skills

A subtle shift
in time

Left us

near a garden




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My Cod Piece from the Waterfront


So does the fisher look Icelandic? How about the cod?


I stop at the meat and fish counter, seeing Icelandic Cod for sale. I  wonder what makes this cod Icelandic? Maybe somebody behind the counter can tell me what makes this Cod Icelandic. Now this is a large chain grocery store it’s true, but it’s in Gimli, once known as New Iceland….Partly I wanted to know how fresh the fresh cod really were…did Icelanders catch them near Iceland?  Where they caught in international waters, taken back to Iceland then flown directly to Gimli? …Maybe only the company that sold them was Icelandic, or maybe the fish or the hooks were designed in Iceland but really came from China?

The first person I encountered behind the fish display, was a youngster just starting out …That is another thing I grant small towns, it seems you can still start working after high school or college without work being hamburger flipping…though there is always now the chance to become a sandwich artist…but they seem always to have a “help wanted” sign in the window.Many young people leave, but I am not surprised about how many people say “I have lived here all my life.'”

I wouldn’t send them a happiness survey but they make their way without measuring out their lives according to international cosmopolitan standards, and seem the better for it. I’ll come back to this if I remember. So I asked the young man lurking behind the fish if he knew what made these cod fillets Icelandic. He didn’t know. I mostly forgave him but perplexed him further by asking him to re-wrap a fine but small and inexpensive pork roast as I hold to the notion butcher paper is better for freezing red meat…There was no lamb. …

Today I went back to ask the butcher… the older regular butcher, and I stress butcher, if he knew what made the cod Icelandic…I have been eating this cod as often as once a week. …I feel slightly traitorous because the grocery’s pickerel is caught in Lake Winnipeg and processed in Manitoba…I’ll rant about the dismal first year of privatization of the commercial fishery another time…but pickerel usually more expensive than the cod…If the butcher could tell me that Icelandic cod was Icelandic enough not to worry about feeling bad for not eating pickerel in Gimli…after all…I like to do my part for the local economy…

…No he said. Could you look into it for me? I asked, finding it hard to believe there’s no-one in-the chain store’s meat section, did I mention staffed by butchers, who know their fish. Maybe someone starting out could become a fishmonger…mongering as their goal and life’s work… who knew fish… I suspect if the butcher was Icelandic he would know, but maybe all this heritage stuff is just for the tourists, the seasonal as opposed to seasoned, many with Brennevin’s …(now that’s the real Icelandic stuff) …schnapps, harder to get even than the number 1 whiskey, Northern Harvest Crown Royal brewed here often stinking to high heaven, which would be fine but then the distillate is sent to away to be educated into bottles before we get a chance to see it often wearing its fancy robes…

Truth be known I’ve given up drinking, except for water (even if we know what fish do in it) with my cod of increasingly suspect origins…lots of green beans…I have developed a taste for them, especially with fish, even if I know not its provenance. Now there’s a $25 word for you! …One most of us have learned from the Antiques Road Show.

I did ask around town about the cod and why it was cheaper than pickerel. Well you don’t buy pickerel from the grocery store, you buy direct from the fishers! …Ok another local fact I need to learn and follow up. The only Gimli Fish outlet I’ve seen is in Winnipeg. Think a little harder man…ok Smith’s on Highway Nine…and I think I’ve seen another sign, and they do sell them frozen at Kris’s Fish n Chips. Thing is I’m getting really comfortable here in Waterfront Centre, on the fifth floor, the tallest building in town. Delivery is easy.

I ran into Pascoe at the foot of the elevator, he was waiting for a ride, sitting in his wheelchair looking sharp in a crisp Ralph Lauren shirt. I envy his head of hair. I told him I had asked about the cod at my book club but no-one really had an answer. He suggested some local retailers found that the tag “Icelandic” on products increased sales, especially to tourists in the summer…that was what I was thinking, I said.

…But I talked to my sister yesterday living on the Sunshine Coast, about where she had gone for her birthday dinner… she said to a really nice new swish restaurant in Sechelt. Oh, what did you order? Well I was tempted by the “Icelandic Cod” that led the entrees at the top of the menu, but that seemed like a long way for a piece of fish especially when we can eat as much local seafood as we like. I had lamb since we don’t eat it much at home… Not spectacular. But the sides were nicely presented and the dessert was good.

So Wray, what I did finally is what I imagined the butchers would do; I looked it up on the Internet…

I entered “Icelandic Cod” in the search engine. I found some relatively good news and learned something. The store here sells fresh cod fillets usually wild hook and line caught in the “deep, cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean” surrounding Iceland. Iceland also markets to America’s East Coast and is served at most Cape Cod restaurants. Wray was trying to get a word on edh

I just kept on going as I do…What’s more there were three unheralded Cod wars between Iceland and Britain in the 70s. Britain conceded the 200-mile protected by Icelandic gunboats in 1976. The latter day Vikings didn’t fire a shot, but did cut some British fisher nets, which couldn’t be retrieved, a significant financial loss because of the lost fish, and the expense of replacing the nets, and turned back…I could have told you that, said Wray, but interesting about it being sold as far away as the West Coast and at Cape Cod for heaven’s sake! …Oh, here’s my ride, he said wheeling away. And mine I said as the elevator opened and I walked in. Walking is a good thing. More about that another time.

It’s Victor Enns coming to you from the Waterfront.



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Clothes get on my nerves. My sciatic nerve particularly. My back is degenerate, like mortal and pestle grinding my cartilage to dust. The nerves make me squeal, any waistband or belt draws the pain into my groin. Be aware of the naked man, spread-eagled on 400 thread cotton sweat shop sheets, me filling the queen size with my nakedness and pain.

My left foot has been amputated. To my surprise,  a great deal of my left foot pain has been eradicated. I didn’t expect it, and most health professionals, and people with lived experienced with amputation, didn’t either. I could no longer walk on my left foot, switching it out for a prosthetic will allow me to walk again, which is the outcome we’re still waiting for as my wound heels. Stage Four Flat Foot was the name of my condition, indicating soft tissue could not support my ankle from rolling in and under itself. Aye, there’s the rub. I have “lousy cartilage genetics,” and my foot was once described as a birth defect expressing itself now.

My pain continues being original to me, as everyone’s is; and there’s plenty enough to go around my body. The last couple of days were difficult because of my increased activity.  My remaining limbs are picking up all the slack. This is most notable on my right side, which already has an artificial hip. Hopefully, I’ll be walking soon, to reduce the stress on my better foot.

Bad cartilage genetics is osteoarthritis in my back that’s disk degenerative disease and spondylolylisthesis.  Sciatica (good name for a geriatric metal band,) is what my parents’ generation called it, though in that case it is primarily one nerve, the sciatic nerve that is pinched. There are more nerves between more vertebrae and disks collapsing and pinching nerves. Spondylolylistthesis.just a little different in that the degeneration of cartilage and genetics, or trauma have cause one vertebrae to tip over forward the one beneath.
It’s also damn hard to spell.

I don’t have scoliosis, which is curvature of the spine usually moving to the right, giving rise to a hump like Richard the III my Tante Neufeld (who lived to be 94), and my sister. Then there are joints with repetitive use wear and tear, which is accelerated if you don’t have good cartilage. My sister, a former pianist and me still pounding away on this keyboard as if it was the manual typewriter I used in the sixties, have bad hand pain. My sister is ten years older, and her hand pain is worse. I’m noticing my other pain centres and new ones now the biggest one has been relieved.

Doctors know this pain is often made worse by bad weather changes, though they don’t know why. So level 8 pain on Monday and Tuesday, dark and wet, only six and declining today. I do have a fantasy of a pain free day, but it is a fantasy. Today my right side is generating most of my pain for the extra use it’s had standing in and supporting my entire weight, and that of my wheelchair when I chuck it into my van. I hold onto to the van’s grab bar with my left. So today it’s my right knee, my right hip, my right shoulder wringing pain, add the hands, especially now that I’m typing again, and the sciatica thing. Well to sum up. I hurt pretty much everywhere. Hello chronic pain.

I’m grateful for the level of pain relief provided by the amputation. But I still hurt pretty much everywhere else, and on bad days it can still get to 8. No, I’m not looking for a reason to extend my handicapped parking permit, renew my pain meds, or to keep boring people with my bitch and moan.  That’s just the way it is. Pain is an everyday part of my “new normal.”

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Welcome to my degeneration


I carry these two reports with me in case I need to persuade others, especially those in the medical profession, of my pain. Long story short, I have inherited bad cartilage genetics. These reports indicate the likelihood of disc degenerative disease, which means my discs are collapsing and pinching many nerves, including the classic sciatic nerve, which my parents called sciatica. I also have spondylitic spondylolisthesis illustrated below. I will post a variety of my ailments, but one a week is probably enough. Today it’s my back and right hip that are giving me the what-for.


Patient Report


Study Description MR C-SPINE – PROTOCOL


Name: ENNS, VICTOR IRVIN DOB: 03 Apr 1955

Gender: M

Requesting Location: Dr’s Office

Exam Date: 24 Apr 2015 MRI CERVICAL SPINE

Indication: 2-month history of pins and needles sensation going down both arms.

Technique: Sagittal T1, T2, and axial T2, 2D MEDIC

Sequences of the cervical and upper thoracic spine from C1 to T4.

Findings: No prior study is available for comparison.


There is mild loss of the normal cervical lordosis. There is mild 2-3 mm anterolisthesis of C3 on C4 and 2 mm or less retrolisthesis of C5 on C6 and C6 on C7. No significant marrow signal abnormality is seen. There is no evidence of a fracture or dislocation.

No signal abnormality is seen in the cervical and visualized upper thoracic spinal cord. There is no evidence of a Chiari malformation.

There is mild facet joint OA at the C2-3 level. At the C3-4 level, there is a prominent left foraminal osteophyte along with facet joint OA, severe on the left side. This results in severe left-sided foraminal narrowing with presumed compression of the left C4 nerve root. There is no central canal narrowing. At the C4-5 level, there are bilateral uncovertebral osteophytes and facet joint OA resulting in moderate to severe bilateral foraminal narrowing without central canal narrowing. At the C5-6 level, there is a broad- based right paracentral and foraminal disc-osteophyte along with bilateral facet joint OA. There is moderate to severe right-sided foraminal narrowing and mild to moderate left- sided foraminal narrowing without significant central canal narrowing. At the C6-7 level, there is a broad-based central / right paracentral / right foraminal disc-osteophyte with evidence of moderate to severe right-sided foraminal narrowing, mild left-sided foraminal narrowing, and moderate central canal narrowing.


Multilevel degenerative changes in the cervical spine as described above.




Result Details

Status Finalized

Impressions Not Available


Name: ENNS, VICTOR I DOB: 03 Apr 1955 Gender: M

Exam Date: 16 Jan 2017

CLINICAL INFORMATION: Low back pain, pain radiating to right testicle, bilateral foot neuropathies, left ankle fusion. Bilateral hip arthroplasties.

CT LUMBAR SPINE UNINFUSED Comparison: CT KUB October 24, 2016. Imaging from mid L1 to the top of S2 was performed.

L1-2: Severe degenerative disc narrowing with associated vacuum phenomenon and endplate degenerative changes are noted. A shallow associated broad posterior disc osteophyte complex is noted. Mild to moderate bilateral neural foraminal narrowing is noted. The central canal is adequately maintained with no definite nerve root compression seen.

L2-3: No significant abnormality is identified.

L3-4: A shallow left foraminal/far lateral disc protrusion is noted with associated mild to moderate left neural foraminal narrowing. The central canal is maintained.

L4-5: Mild bilateral facet osteoarthritis is noted. No disc protrusion is identified. No significant central canal or neural foraminal stenosis is demonstrated.

L5-S1: 12 mm of anterolisthesis of L5 on S1 vertebral bodies is noted (borderline grade 1/grade 2), similar to previous. Bilateral LS pars defects are present. Advanced degenerative disc narrowing with vacuum effect is noted. No associated posterior disc protrusion is demonstrated. There is a moderate to severe bilateral neural foraminal narrowing, worse on the left, with potential for irritation of the exiting L5 nerve roots bilaterally. The central canal is maintained. Mild bilateral facet osteoarthritis is noted.

IMPRESSION: Degenerative changes as described above including borderline grade 1/grade 2 L.5-S1 spondylitic spondylolisthesis with significant neural foraminal narrowing and potential for irritation of the exiting L5 nerve roots bilaterally, more so on the left. Clinical correlation is needed.


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Heavy Construction



Augustine is working on a story for you!

Hello, friends, neighbors, relatives (near and distant) ..I am hard at work building up the content available on my Patreon assisted pages. There are still some glitches, so likely Tuesday now before I figure you could consider subscribing. My goal is to have 100 subscribers, before the days get longer and the nights get shorter. I will know better how you might enjoy the optimal experience of reading and/or hearing my work online next week. Stay tuned. Happy thanksgiving! Thanks to the folks at Relish, Suzanne, Lori and Katherine for their patience and their work!

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Towards Boundary Creek


RESEARCH NOTE 1. Boundary Creek

Let’s begin. Let’s begin with trains.

This beginning fell on my head before dinner, which I enjoyed.
First solid food in days, roast beef, baked potato, vegetables for show and the family vegetarian. For sharing her cheese cake and my grandson, she can be any thing she chooses.

Let’s begin with steam engine trains on the prairies, always searching for a tunnel and nerving finding out. not finding happy a any. I assume this accounts for the relative absence of trains in prairie fiction, though I have just obtained The Secret Life of Railroaders, a collection of poems by Jim McLean, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

By the time Jim got to the railroads, it was all diesel, diesel, diesel, and more diesel. Oh, you say, what about x, what about y, and z-ed.

I can’t remember any prairie novels where trains, steam trains where anything important, I didn’t read about steam trains on the prairies, because all the steam trains in the books I read ran the rails in England. Come to think about it, not many tunnels in England either, not much sex in their literature. Except in underground Victorian pornography. Wait a minute. They didn’t have tunnels, so they dug them under the city. No need for that here, not even now.

I actually saw steam engines when I was eight, nine years old. Lots of sugar beets to move that year, and not enough diesel engines to draw the beets to the Roger’s Sugar Refinery in Winnipeg. I couldn’t help but see them. We lived on Miller’s Road, next to the tracks. The trains didn’t stop until we stopped living on Miller’s Road.

Let’s get back to the beginning. The beginning of steam engines. A moment came in 1763 when James Watt took the simple steam engine designs of Thomas Savery and Thomas Newcomen and introduced crankshaft that could transform power of steam into circular motion.

This begets Yeats’ eternal spiral, Elliot’s we arrive at the place we started and know it for the first time, if you don’t believe look it up, and the dates they wrote that shit, but most importantly Lowry’s assertion in the angels mind there are no trains that stop. Lowry was no angel but he visited their minds regularly, and he knew the power was not in the rails connecting the dots, but in the engine, circular motion harnessing power going around and round, Lowry wheeling off over and over.

It’s not time for Freud. We don’t begin with Freud. We’ll get there –

you figured without tunnels, we might escape Freud?
Freud, steam Engines, tunnels 1880s, Clinton’s cigar a century later, look it up.

Trains. Steam trains. Where we start, and our point of departure. Ha.

1881, February 15 – Canadian Pacific Railway Act receives the Royal Assent. A Royal Charter pursuant to the Act was granted on February 16th – this incorporated the company. The principal terms provided for the payment to the railway of a subsidy of $25,000,000 and 25,000,000 acres of land, plus the railways (Port Arthur-Selkirk-Winnipeg-Emerson and Port Moody-Savona) already contracted for by the government, upon their completion.

188l, August 26 – First train into Winnipeg over the Red River Bridge.

1882, January 1 – William Cornelius Van Horne is appointed General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Van Horne succeeded in laying 480 miles of track across the Prairies in the summer of 1882.


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The Letterwriter

Here’s a random sample from my letters. I’m contemplating a project, here online, to add to the choices for supporters of my Patreon Pages. This is an example of one of middling interest. Opinions are welcome. I think the comments section is still functional, and I’ll start keeping track of what might be there tomorrow. The section would be called The Letter-writer. If you think this is a good idea, and if leaving comments is not your style, email me at [email protected].

April 17, 2005

Victor Enns
200 Lenore Street
Winnipeg, MB R3G 2C5


Patricia Blondal* Memorial Retreat
c/o Manitoba Writers Guild
2nd floor, 100 Arthur Street
Winnipeg, MB R3B 1H3

I would love another stay at the Patricia Blondal Writer’s retreat. It has totally revitalized my writing career. I want to go back another month there this summer, preferably July.

Patricia Blondal’s small town in A candle to light the sun was called Mouse Bluffs. She didn’t fool Manitobans, and likely she didn’t give a hot damn. Mouse Bluffs had a swinging suspension bridge, just like Souris, this bridge in all likelihood.

I have been a good tenant, and would hope that the retreat views me as one of their success stories. My new collection Lucky Man debuts April 26. It was completed there last summer. The first four poems in my submission for the retreat this summer were all written just last summer and are published this spring in this new collection, which includes an acknowledgement to the Blondal retreat.

During my stay this summer I would be working on two primary and one subsidiary project. I enclose samples. The first primary project would be The Jimmy Bang Blues Project, which is a sequel to my most successful work Jimmy Bang Poems. Jimmy is reincarnated as a seriously depressed bluesman. His blues are prefaced by An Abject Dictionary. This is going to be incredibly tough territory, and not the only thing I can be working on while I’m at the retreat. I am working on a collection of middle-aged love poems, remembering a time when love poetry was the heart of the matter. This is a reprieve to darkness, as love moves toward the light. The last poem included is from a project still a long way out. It’s 1963 ** a collection of poems jamming the historical year (Pearson more than Kennedy) into a significant year in the life of an 8 year old who loses his innocence through bullying, reading and sexual assault. There is only one poem finished yet in this series.

Image by Allan Hessler, book available from Radiant Press.

I can’t be exactly sure which project will generate the most new poems, but a stay at the Patricia Blondal Memorial Writer’s retreat always generates new poems, up to 10 a week. Many are discarded, but many are deeply worthwhile and will end up as published work.

I ask for the privilege of being able to return and continue my work as a writer, in the one month a year I am able to steal from my life as an arts advocate and a father. Thanks for your consideration.


Victor Enns  

*Her novel A Candle to Light the Sun was a highlight of our reading list for David Arnason’s Canadian Literature Class.

** This was boy, (Hagios 2012) the first published of the three. The middle aged love poems will be published by Radiant Press in the fall of 2019.

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Riddle me


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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