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!



The Winnipeg Free Press and the New York Times have initiated major overhauls of their obituary pages, featuring someone less known form their archives in the case of the NYT, and a feature of someone from Manitoba that has died recently, but deserves to be recognized more thoroughly in the Free Press on the cover of their Passages section.  I think both publications are onto something and this move may keep readers, while adding to the historical record.

My mother’s Sunday mornings

Today’s passage is a poem by Emily Dickinson “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church – (236)” from Poetry Foundation website. Dickinson’s view would line-up just about perfectly with my mother’s predilection not to go to church on Sundays when my Dad was off preaching in southwest Manitoba. She would stay in bed and read and write letters. Her natural church was Buffalo Creek to which she returned all her life.


Libby’s Crunchola


I reposted the Pound summary because I was checking on Libby’s Crunchola recipe. They were posted on the same day.
This is my last bulk cooking assignment to prepare for my recovery at home.  Lynn and me enjoyed this granola on one of our Toronto sleepovers visiting friends Ian and Iarra in their Runcesvaille home. Ian got this recipe from Libby. I eat a lot of porridge most mornings and this is a lovely change still using a lot of oats and even more good stuff. Works wonders with yogurt. I’ve also discovered Spoon Size Shredded Wheat and Bran has more fibre than bran flakes and no sugar and salt.
The original recipe:
1/2 cup oil with a little milk
1/2 cup honey (and/or maple syrup in my version)
6 cups oats (3 quick, 3 regular)
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup wheat bran
Raisins, sunflower seeds, dried apricots (my favourite), dried apples or other fruit.
We also added walnut pieces and dried cranberries.

Mix the dry ingredients, except the seeds and fruit, in a big roasting pan. Boil the liquid ingredients.

Mix the hot liquids into the dry ingredients making sure each bit becomes a little wet.
Toast at 325 for about an hour, stirring thoroughly each 20 minutes.
Add in nuts and dried fruit. A total of 1-1/2 or 2 cups should do.


Ezra Pound’s summary of the new poetics 1913


“In the spring or early summer of 1912, ‘H.D’, Richard Aldington, and myself decided we were agreed upon the three principles following:

Ezra Pound 1939 Wyndham Lewis 1882-1957 Purchased 1939

Ezra Pound 1939 Wyndham Lewis 1882-1957 Purchased 1939, Tate Gallery, London

(1) Direct treatment of the ‘thing’ whether subjective or objective.
(2) To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
(3) As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of a metronome.”

These, and many other lessons on poetics, were taught by Ted (WorDoctor) Dyck, in the mid eighties. In addition to myself the workshop participants where Mick Burrs, Anne Campbell, Gerald Hill, Elizabeth Phillips, Bruce Rice, Susan Rodning, Jerry Rush, Brenda Riches, Susan Andrews and Paul Wilson.




Good news and bad news. My blood pressure is a low 110 over 70, not unusual in our family, my father and brother the exceptions. It seems I arrived at my GP’s with barely a pulse. The doc checked the pulse in my feet, including the one that will be sacrificed next Thursday, for the greater good of the rest of my body and my brain. All in order, if sluggish. “Haven’t had my afternoon coffee I says.”

Then he says, come up and I rolled my wheelchair next to his white office chair, to look at the blood test results on the computer. I still  haven’t found my hearing aids. Way to many red highlights. My cholesterol has finally reached unacceptable levels (first time,  for everything) triglycerides also high, but at least this time I know it’s not my beverages. Sugar and uric acid good. The final blow was the pronouncement that my blood protein levels like albumin were too high. So much for cooking roasts I thought. Checking the Mayo Clinic site though I’ve learned
I’ve  just now checked the Mayo Clinic site too find some relief in

“A high-protein diet doesn’t cause high blood protein. High blood protein is not a specific disease or condition in itself. It’s usually a laboratory finding uncovered during the evaluation of a particular condition or symptom. For instance, although high blood protein is found in people who are dehydrated, the real problem is that the blood plasma is actually more concentrated.” So just another thing to watch and test. He prescribed a statin for my high cholesterol, taking my medication number into double digits.

Finally though, the concern remains with my irregular and incompetent heart, so more  ECG with echo (?) and more tests. I can’t imagine why it’s been left to the last weeks, and only with my prodding. So much for my bitch ‘n moan. Time to make my place habitable for granddaughters!



Glenlea Mennonite Church Sunday morning, once upon a time.   

Having played Simon Stimson in our high school production of Our Town, it seemed fitting to become the choir director of the Glenlea Mennonite Church, pictured here. While this white clapboard structure wasn’t that different from most prairie churches, I always appreciated the windows you could look through, and as the sages say, they were the cracks the light shone through. It was smaller I think than the church that Margaret Laurence might have attended in Neepawa. The Margaret Laurence House was host to a fundraising tea and public readings by Manitoba writers just a week ago.

The audio below is posted in three parts, the first being “Jimmy Bang Goes to Church,” from my Jimmy Bang Poems published in 1979 by Turnstone Press. The second is from The Diviners by Margaret Laurence, and the last from my Afghanistan Confessions, published by Hagios in 2014.

from Jimmy Bang Poems, Turnstone Pres, 1979 page 27, read by Victor Enns

from The Diviners, pages 108 – 110, Bantam Books 1975 edition, read by Victor Enns

There is a connectionn here, that goes past prairie churches. My mother liked to read, so did my father but they read differently. My mother liked to be in the know and enjoyed teaching for the contact it gave her with young people, students. She also enjoyed the salary and independence.  She read the 1975 Bantam edition of The Diviners, paperback after I did in 1976 I think. She asked me for a book to read, and whether there was another Laurence, the one that was causing all the fuss.

The controversy about Laurence’s novels often centred on this particular book. Through a chain of unfortunate circumstances, my dad insisted on driving me to Mary Scorer’s on Osborne so I could get a copy of my Jimmy Bang Poems which starts “They fucked….” I found my chapbook on the rack and went to the cashier to pay and rushed past my Dad who had followed his natural instincts and opened the book to the first page. I didn’t turn to look. I found ways to entertain myself in the Village and downtown,  getting home well after dark and Dad had gone to bed. My mother was waiting-up in the kitchen and on this occasion at least, brokered a peace. “You know Dad’s reading isn’t up to date. I know writers use those words now, I’ve read The Diviners. I like Margaret Laurence’s books. It was never spoken of again in the house

Margaret Laurence House,
Neepawa, Manitoba

from Afghanistan Confessions, Hagios 2014, pages 8 and 32 read by Victor Enns.





From the heyday of the sixties, actually the early seventies in Winnipeg, there’s an oft repeated story. A philosophy exam had only one question. “Why?” Everybody got to work, except for one student who made sure his name was on the exam paper properly and wrote “Why Not?” The prof awarded him an A. Another student, instead of writing a paper, jumped in front of a prof’s car. Screeching to a stop the startled prof just nudged the student.  This experience the student submitted as his essay on existentialism. His prof awarded him a B.

I’m having a below the left knee amputation on April 5th as the best choice for me to be in the world. Poor cartilage genetics run in the family, all three of us sibs with some form of disc degenerative disease and arthritic joints. In my foot this led to loss of all soft tissue that might hold my ankle together, or up. Ankle fusion was tried, but the experiment failed; one of three out of three hundred by my foot surgeon. It’s too late now for an ankle replacement, a a long shot now, with substantial implications for recovery time and the chance that amputation would then be necessary if the results were the same as the failed ankle fusion. 

The loss of my left foot will provide a potential pain reduction, and a better quality of life by being able to walk. This All Terrain Knee Walker will keep me moving!

I spend most of my time in a wheelchair. I’m grateful to the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities, for providing one for me. The SMD don’t carry Knee-Walkers, and the smaller ones can be dangerous. I know, I have used one before, check my background photo on my Facebook Page. So that’s why I’ve opted to open a GoFundMe page. There may actually be a fund-raising event, but I’m still looking for a venue, and time is running out. I won’t be able to use the knee-walker  immediately, and will practice once I have my prosthesis. For now I figure my best chances to do stan-up-poetry and sit-down comedy are before my amputation.




February 4, 2017

My left foot offends me I say cut it off, I’ll take my chances with my remains
propped up by phantoms, prescriptions and prosthesis, I will never be any more lame.
Give me a bounce like Tigger, a dance like Calvin’s, and a song like bp nichol, just leave
me one leg to stand on, and  fire in my brain to keep moving, I’ll let you know
when my ashes need hauling.






Jim Harrison (December 11, 1937 – March 26, 2016)I was introduced to the poetry of Jim Harrison in the 1980s, likely by Ted Dyck who also introduced me to the poetry of Ed Dorn.  Here’s one of Harrison’s early poems in 1961. “Kinship.”




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