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.”




Several noteworthy deaths last week, including my cousin, two celebrity suicides, and two Manitobans who made a difference. Roland Penner, whose father was a communist and elected Winnipeg Alderman was originally from Gretna, Manitoba. His father and brother left the Communist party when they learned about Stalin’s atrocities.

Roland Penner was an elected member of the New Democratic Party from 1981 to 1988, serving as Speaker of the House, Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Attorney General, and Minister of Education during those years. He was also head of Legal Aid,  and is known for his support of LGBT issues and taught Law at the University of Manitoba.

The second is  William John Rhoda who died at the age of 97 June 4th. Born in South Africa, he went to South Africa’s only University for black people, and worked in the resistance to end apartheid, with participation in the student walkouts just one of his commitments. The government of the day made him a target for their Special Branch. He was able to get an exit (really exile) visa for himself and his family, settling in Winnipeg teaching at Andrew Mynarski School. When he returned to South Africa after the dismantling of apartheid, for the first time thirty years later, his former students and colleagues met him at the airport to express their thanks. My parents and siblings were teachers, one of my sons now as well.
I know how much it means to a teacher to be thanked by a student (long) after graduation.

My cousin    Abe Neufeld bought his first computer when he turned ninety. He like my father, sometimes he asked “Why am I here.” For all the black clad existentialists mulling this over before they turn 26, imagine raising the same questions 70 years later. My Dad died when he was 91, his sister and Abe when they were 94. A history of long livers not really a plus when you wake to pain everyday, and know you will never have a pain-free day ever again                                                     

I’ve had visitors in the last couple of weeks, and we all wondered whether it is possible to find “a reason to live and not to die, you are a lucky (hu)man,” (Alan Price) every day? A couple of times a week? I was the only person under seventy. It’s when I have such a hard day’s night, and even more on waking, that I wonder why I keep pressing. Currently I’m messing around with the idea that desire is what keeps me writing. Maybe that’s what Sisyphus is rolling up the hill. I’m at my limit for tonight so I won’t add any text about the suicides last week.








Bourdain and Spade decided, or so we hope, that seven decades, of even five decades were enough.



I have more new ideas from the Idea Factory. One is several pots or “stations” of stanzas, usually separated by a poem it could be, which is the artistic control left to the writer. The player would choose, and the game would be to put it together in a particular order or not, could set it up like a one-armed bandit…  Ghazals might be challenging. Villanelles also….and done something with it.

Another, more aggressive idea, and best if just one-click. Expletive generator app for whenever a pop-up, game, test, commercial offers or ad gets in your way of enjoying the Internet. First it removes ad, blocks others from same source, and sends a big Fuck Off! or whatever generated expletive back to the source…far enough back to find a human or Mark Zuckerberg if it all possible. How many days do you think it would last?

for pain room, 1 2 10


“Pain is always new to the sufferer, but loses its originality for those around him.”[1]


[1] Alphonse Daudet, La doulou: (la douleur), 1887-1895 (Paris: Librairie de France, 1930) p. 16; Julian Barnes (ed. and trans.) In the Land of Pain (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002) p. 19.



Passages: Three Dead Men In A Drunken Boat


Robert Lowell and Hank William dance with Field Commander Cohen

A bad black and white movie, this dying
in the back bench seat
of a yellow New York taxi cab.
Robert Trail Spence Lowell

without the heart for the trip
home, tips his head on his hoary chest,
frees his depressed nuerons to collide
with those of Hank Williams

going the same way, to a gig,
and mournfully scribbling
on the back of a tobacco pack.

Hank offers the dancing bear
a swig of whiskey. Bob still swings
but with only lithium
to set the rhythm of his operatic
rant, he declines and declines.

The Zen simplicity and clarity
of a Hank Williams lyric, his only remaining desire,
proclaims Field Commander Cohen, unashamed,
is to write the same.

The cab and driver stall beside the dark river, unused
to Zen cowboys waltzing in famous
blue raincoats, who have come
so far, and have come for nothing at all.




Passages; Lowell on Sunday and Roethke


Waking Early Sunday Morning  by Robert Lowell






For Theodore Roethke by Robert Lowell



                     –  Theodore Roethke

I stumble into the pool, my fall
checked by the cleanest water
until I put my head down my feet up.

Enveloped by a field of light striking water,
my heart firmly clenches, closes like a rose
turns away from the setting sun.

Swallowing hard, become heavier than air.
Sink out of sight undone, my tongue
turns to stone.

-Victor Enns, written in the 1990s I think.

Funny, not nearly as good as I remember. But dig the stamp!


International Jazz Day – Bemsha Swing !


“Charlie Haden was the bass player with the Ornette Coleman quartet.  I saw them live in Vancouver  at The Cellar (the original Cellar) in the early 60’s.  Don Cherry was the trumpeter, but I cannot remember the drummer’s name.  Don Cherry actually subbed for me on a New Year’s gig.  He’d stuck around after one of the Coleman trips to Vancouver, and was working in Harlem Nocturne, a club on East Hastings Street.  The owner was Ernie King and he wasn’t paying the band anything extra for New Year’s Eve and Don was annoyed. Don’s comment about it to me was ‘that (expletive deleted) Ernie King is only paying scale.’  And the reason I couldn’t do the New Years job with the band I put together was I had the flu. I had a lot of money in that job and was able to pay Cherry handsomely.  It gave him enough money to leave town.  In early January  he took the train back home to L.A, but not before he phoned and thanked me.” 

“I can’t remember the name of the venue of that New Year’s gig.  It was a ‘pick up band’.  Someone phoned and asked ‘can your band play for us on New Year’s Eve’.  I said, ‘sure’, and then phoned around to find who might be available.  The only guy I remember I’d booked was a piano player named Cec Ducklow.  The other two?  Who knows?  When you worked casuals in those days you never rehearsed.  We all knew the standard repertoire (about 400 tunes). We’d get on the band stand, and I’d say, ‘let’s start with ….’ and suggest a key.  That was it.”


Cecil Taylor – “Dvořák in Reverse”


Cecil Taylor died on April 5, 2018, a connection to remember as the same day as my amputation. I’ve still not finished my hard bop essay, and the connection in the late 50s would be some hard bop sessions and performances with drummer Max Roach, and Taylor’s own hard percussive style.Taylor  was regarded as one of the most startling proponents of free jazz along with Ornette Coleman (sax) Don Cherry (trumpet) and Charlie Haden (bass)Taylor’s debut album Jazz Advance in 1956 is often considered as an essential part of anty jazz “core collection” along with the more familiar Miles Davis Kind of Blue and John Coltrane‘s (here they are together on Like Someone in Love)  hard bop My Favourite Things and Love Supreme. Taylor did learn composition in college “More than any other jazz artist, Taylor was determined to combine atonal modern classical music with the playfulness and syncopation of jazz.” Marc Meyers, JazzWax, also source of the clip.

One famous debut, Jazz Advance, recorded 1956 released 1957, on iTunes, re-released by Blue Note 1991

One noteable obituary in The Atlantic magazine  “The Deceptively Accessible Music of Cecil Taylor ”


In addition some songs, not linked,  I heard I would recommend: “Excursion On a Wobbly Rail,” The Cecil Taylor Quartet Looking Ahead!  The first two songs by Cecil Taylor Quartet At Newport ’57, “Johnny Come Lately” and “Nona’s Blues,” I’m naturally drawn to blues, depression and the Jimmy Bang Blues Project and all, and hard-bop post bop, whatever, the blues are a connection from the gritty urban jazz from Chicago, Kansas City, and New York that is an essential ingredient in hard bop and the advanced jazz of Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman. “Nona’s Blues” was the song from his Newport set set that made it onto to the 50th anniversary Newport release.

One remarkable solo set; and get a load of his posture as he takes possession of all 88 keys.  Thundering bass, rhythm and timing by Monk out of Tatum…am looking for a video of a performance. 

Silent Tongues was the first album of Taylor’s I listened to, looking for something new to hear last week.

Also like JeryJazzMusician a website, from Portland Oregan which was where I started looking for information about Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman, when I left the iTunes and Youtube.  Mostly abut Jazz but also looking at what else was going on in the 20th century from which this came.

My new tag is “Victor Enns, bringing chaos to order since 1955,” which may make me more disposed to the same principles in art, music and theatre. Today is not a particularly good day for order, judged for chaos pretty fantastic! Now what the hell am I going to do about keeping my stump up? Also my back has a pretty good grip on chaos as well today. Pfft! I figure I got only one thing I got on Cecil Taylor, I’m still breathing!

Odd fact: Taylor played at the White House for President Jimmy Carter, who went directly to talk to him after the performance, which included many stellar musicians. His Atourney General had to get the names of some of his records and where Carter might have them bought.












from Plate nine

William Blake came up in a Bryan Sentes Facebook post, as good a reason as any to read passages from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Blake dines with Isiah and Ezekiel

“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds reptiles of the mind.”

Conclusion, Plates 22-24

My Left Foot


“You’re pulling my leg!”

I was heard to say in my happy state during my successful below the left knee amputation on April 5th, two days after my 63rd birthday. My 12th appearance in an operating theatre began with very good drugs, achieving a blissful state of relaxation I have yet to reach through meditation. The epidural that followed blocked all sensation from the waist down, a good thing since my left foot was getting the boot at the end of years of misery, with a below the left knee amputation.

Sawbones, I would never call my good surgeon, but a bone saw was among the contemporary tools for a successful amputation. It is too early to comment on the results, except that there is still a great deal of pain, as one would expect. The nature of the pain in my now phantom foot has come on as neuropathic pain, which I had already experienced. Limping in the family I suppose, a birth defect expressing itself now. The surgical pain from the healing wound is in the stump, for sure. But now it itches under the bandages that will be changed tomorrow.

The stay at the Health Sciences Centre was dismal and I insisted I go home less than a week after surgery. Theo and Bronwyn took me home, and Bronwyn stayed to care for me for a couple of days.

I probably could have been released to, even transported to the Johnson Memorial Hospital in Gimli, but none of my projects involves a remake of Tales from the Gimli Hospital. Even with one leg I can prepare better tasting and nutritious food than is now the norm for hospital food.

The best news is I started writing almost the minute I got home, and have three new poems now in revision in the second week after surgery. I am still trying to sort things out and decide what’s for this blog, what’s for the Look, Listen, and Writing on my website and pain room, currently being incubated under 1 2 10, and what’s headed for the Music for Men Over Fifty: Songs of Love and Surgery.

I am happy to be home, and very grateful for the fleet of family, friends, relatives, and community members making it possible!



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