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The poet Ranier Maria Rilke had a mother who wanted a daughter. She dressed her son as a girl, had him grow his hair in long, golden curls and, when he knocked on her door she asked, “Is that my naughty Ranier or my lovely Charlotte.”

Her son replied, “It is your lovely Charlotte, Mother.”

Billy Veltzel, the man who most helped me get my feet on the ground when I arrived homeless and penniless in Toronto in the dead of winter 1965, was the child of a prostitute. At ten she put him to work her giving her johns blowjobs. One night in a park he recognized the man who had hired him from a photograph his mother kept. It was his father.

My own mother was raised Church of England. Her father was a Blacksmith. The automobile rendered that trade obsolete. To feed her family my mother’s mother cleaned other people’s houses.

My father was Irish Roman Catholic. His family was the most respected one in the small town I grew up in until I was 7, Minto, New Brunswick.

When it came time for me to go to school there was a huge fight between my mother and my father’s family about whether I would go to public school (my mother) or Catholic school (my father’s family). The shouting, which I can still here, stopped when my mother said, “Why don’t we let him decide?”

That night alone and late my mother said, “Do you want to go to public school with the good kids or to private school with the bad kids?”

When I came home the first day I found all my Catholic cousins waiting for me with sticks, stones and names I had never heard before.

Nonetheless, it was the right choice. I learned two important lessons that day that have stood me well in life.

The first was that people who are our friends one moment can turn against us the next. I have had that happen many times in my life.

The second was that a mother will destroy her child to get her will.

“They fuck you up, your mum and dad.”

Yes, they do.

My father seemed to go berserk after my birth. Years later when we were both drunk he said to me, “I have hated you since you were born for in that second I realized I had to die.”

I said to myself, “Finally something that makes sense.”

When I took my six year sister Linda to school on her first day she was in tears when I met her to walk her home. She had been taken from her grade one classroom to the principal’s office where she had been given the strap for saying hello to her.

There’s not much an eight year old boy can do at a moment like that. There is one thing he can do. That one thing is to remember.

Throughout his career Boris Karloff received tons of letters from children who identified with him as the monster in James Whale’s FRANKENSTEIN (1931).

That says a lot about many of us.

Jesse Dumanch. Who do we trust more than our mother? His mother raised him to be a prostitute. The police, powerful politicians from around the world, business people, professional clergy and many more turned their backs on him when he most needed their help.

A while back I discovered a boy whose mother had been a prostitute on a United States army base in Germany.

His story eclipses mine, Billy’s and that of Ranier Maria Rilke.

She put her boy to work pleasing police officers, politicians, business people, religious professionals…

Nicholas Cage’s first film, SONNY (2002) deals with such a mother:    . James Franco plays the young man trying to extirpate himself from the Hell his mother has consigned him to. He knows that he is living off his capital.

Most of have turned to the public agencies that say they are here to help us. When we do we learn swiftly they are not. Nor in truth can they be.

My mother went to a charity to which she had given much every time they knocked on our door. My father had been long out of work. They did their best to shame her. She endured them. She had eight of us to feed. She never gave a charity a penny after that. Nor do I.

None of us can control the winds of destiny.

There are those who say, “This storm will pass.” Yes, eventually, all storms will pass but what are they doing to help now while it rages?

For that is the test.

The thing that most who hear and/or read THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN miss is that Samaritans were viewed as anything but good, as beneath contempt, a people that the hand of God reaching into the mire could not raise to the depths of degradation.

Vaslav Nijinsky’s mother raised her son to be the plaything of Russian aristocracy.

In those days in Russia, as in Western Europe, there was a heavy sexual trade in ballet dancers. Some dancers actually accepted fees from interested ballet patrons for making introductions. In 1907 one such dancer introduced Nijinsky to the thirty-year-old Prince Pavel Lvov, a wealthy sports enthusiast, and Nijinsky entered upon what was probably his first sexual relationship, with the blessing of his mother.”

Quickly tiring of the young man Prince Lvov gave him to Serge Diaghilev as a plaything. No future there. Fuck them and dump them.

It was, however, the best thing that could have happened to Nijinsky. Diaghilev fell in love with him. Conventionally Nijinsky could not leave Russia. Diaghilev arranged a scandal that resulted in Nijinsky being kicked out of Russia,

Writes David Mamet in BAMBI VS. GODZILLA, “We must always remember that Diaghilev created THE BALLETS RUSSES because he wanted to bugger Nijinsky.”

And for those who think that wrong, without Diaghilev Nijinsky would not have become Nijinsky

Then we have Leonardo da Vinci seeing a ten year old boy Salai on the street and buying the boy from his parents. Conventionally that is horrible especially now in this moment.

Da Vinci however gave the boy a new and completely unexpected life. Not only that Leonardo left THE MONA LISA to Salai when he died. 

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

Yes, they do but don’t blame them for it.

In Place Of A Curse


John Ciardi


At the next vacancy for God, if I am elected,

I shall forgive last the delicately wounded

who, having been slugged no harder than anyone else,

never got up again, neither to fight back,

nor to finger their jaws in painful admiration.


They who are wholly broken, and they in whom

mercy is understanding, I shall embrace at once

and lead to pillows in heaven. But they who are

the meek by trade, baiting the best of their betters

with the extortions of a mock-helplessness


I shall take last to love, and never wholly.

Let them all into Heaven—I abolish Hell—

but let it be read over them as they enter:

“Beware the calculations of the meek, who gambled nothing,

gave nothing, and could never receive enough.”



Yes, beware the calculations of the meek.

They always say, “This storm will pass.”

They never say, “Come in and take shelter until this storm passes.”

Don’t get angry at them. They are to be pitied if anything.

The secret is enjoy what appears to be the storm.

And love your mum and dad.

Imagine how strong we would be inside had we grown up in a culture in which these ideas, which are a cancer on our souls, did not exist.


–Reg Hartt 2019-05–28.





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