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.”

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.


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!

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.


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.

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

SNOW JOKE – My creative Patreon Pages launch!


I’ve finally closed the window of my writing studio as the snow begins to fall. I’ve opened the window to my creative world, launching seven (7!) new pages of refreshed and original material. My Blog and the About pages continue to be available free to anyone, but I’m hoping to concentrate on my writing using Patreon subscriptions to pay bills, first for my content and illustrations (often by Murray Toews, seen below) my telecommunications bill, subscriptions (including to the Winnipeg Free Press) and then another revenue stream to support Gimli grocers and  local businesses. I’ve given up booze and cigarettes because I like to cook and eat well, even cut flowers and good music are more important.

by Murray Toews

Questions to build character

Composition note:

It’s been years, since I lived in Winnipeg, that I took an advanced workshop class with Marina Endicott, with character building as a focus. These are questions I remember and others I’ve added.

Who are you?

  • What are you?

    boy hesslerah_008

    2012 boy cover image by Alan Hessler

  • Where are you?
  • What do you do?
  • What are you like?
  • What do other people think you’re like?
  • What do you smell like?
  • Who are your friends?
  • Who are your enemies?
  • Why are you here?
  • How did you get here?
  • What do you want?
  • When were you happiest?
  •  When were you the most sad?
  • What makes you unhappy?
  •  What makes you angry?
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • Which living person do you most admire? Why?
  • What is the trait you most despise in others?
  • What was your most embarrassing moment?
  • What’s your biggest secret?
  • What is your most treasured possession?
  • Where would you like to live?
  • What article of clothing do you most cherish?
  • What do you like least about your appearance?
  • What do you like best about your appearance?
  • What do you read?
  • What do you listen to?
  • What’s in your medicine cabinet?
  • What’s in your pantry?
  • What is your guiltiest pleasure?
  • What is your most unappealing habit?
  • What past accomplishment makes you the most proud?
  • What action in your past has made you the most ashamed?
  • What is your most cherished fantasy?
  • Who do you love?
  • What do you think is more important, love or desire? Can you tell the difference?
  •  What turns you on sexually?
  • When  last did you have sex?
  • Do you have children?
  • What is t he most important lesson life has taught you?
  • How do you expect to die?

Making it up as I go along


I’ve just finished my work on the Patreon site to enable a launch on October 1st! Relish people good people helped get me organized and online with Patreon. October 1st is Monday. Until then I will be loading content, and you’ll get a full pitch to join me on a new adventure for a small monthly subscription fee. The best deal will be seven dollars ($7.00) a month for the full kit and caboodle. Seven different narratives focusing my creative energy (yeah there were more) in making it up as I go along. Writing will be made on the fly and provide a lot of room for my imagination, and your investigation, with narrative shrapnel eating into the pain room (most likely). You’ll also have continuing access to my blog, journal entries, and personal musings as auto-fiction, random extracts from letters sent and unsent, maybe even some jokes from a routine I call I am not you. These posts will get shorter, but there will be new creative content on my site most days. Wait for Monday, watch me make it up, from my perch inside the Waterfront Centre in Gimli where I mete out my hours to imagine and write. See you Monday!

Victor Enns

Duke of Delusion
Emperor of Empty Spaces


I Dreamed I Met Justin Trudeau


Last night I dreamed I met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an almost empty Winnipeg Hudson’s Bay building. I explained a problem about needing new shoes for my feet, one real, one fake. I wanted real shoes, perhaps not as fancy as his, but leather white-collar shoes, black, brown, no matter. Not sandals, not sneakers, not running shoes, not Blundstones, not hiking boots, please.  Loafers or oxfords didn’t matter so much as the fit and the price. Justin wanted to help, so first we had to find the right floor, which wasn’t hard because we were on it, but couldn’t find a clerk or any shoes that might be suitable along side the dimly lit aisles.  He said “I don’t carry cash, so I can’t give you the money to try somewhere else. Sorry.” He walked away with his security detail catching up, walking down the stairs to the Mezzanine, where I lost sight of them.



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