Mah & Her Misfits

She embraces and understands the riff raff, the misfits, the undesirable and disreputable.

Whether she’s worked as a teacher, a social worker, or the church secretary, she has always had the ability to get on their level.  In fact I think she prefers it there.  You might say, she is riff raff, a misfit, an undesirable and disreputable; at least at heart! 

She can convince someone looped out on drugs to go home, even offering them a ride.

She can understand the plight of the suicidal; talking them out of it and encouraging them to deal with the root of the problem.

And she’s always had a special place in her heart, for the violent and angry whom she feels just needed a break and never got it. 

She can convince a raging sobbing drunk to go to bed, and a rebellious teenager skipping school, to try and give school another shot; a bigger effort.

She tries to understand them.  She listens to them.  She feels for them.  She’ll probably pray for them.

It used to scare me.

When she’d pick up a sad and scruffy hitch-hiker, stinking of last nights booze.

When she pulled in to an abandoned warehouse in down town Boston with over 20 homeless men staring at us.  As they puffed their cigarettes and joints and what have you, she asked them for directions.

When an old friend of hers was running from the police and came to our door and slept on our couch.

And when another old hippy friend came by wanting to party like the old days.

It turned out that…

The hitch hiker had been rolled at a party and his heart was breaking from the termination of a long relationship.

Her cousin was one of those within the abandoned warehouse in Boston whom soon after moved home and straightened his life out.

Her friend on the couch, she fed and warmed him up by the stove, then talked to him all hours of the night, until he decided the following morning to fess up to his crime and he and Mah called the police together.

And her old hippy friend, his wife had cancer, and he wanted to relive the old times; forget his current problems.

As the years have gone by, throughout all of these situations and events, I have gotten to know the riff raff, the misfits, the undesirables and disreputable, and having done so I’ve come to find that, riff raff and misfit, undesirable and disreputable, are not fair characterizations.  

Instead they are often seeking an understanding soul, a compassionate word, and an ounce of hope.  A non-judgemental gesture that isn’t riddled with self-righteousness.

She gives that to them; her fellow misfits.



Without a Microphone

The Celt is packed with Dublin locals and a few tourists who’ve heard of the place or have stumbled in to find a drink.

“You just never know who’s gonna play here!” a Scottish man bellows to his friends who are crammed at the entrance.  “You might even see the friggen’ Edge.”

Gradually the patrons maneuver through the room to their destination: the curved bar in the back.  The pub is small but warm and welcoming, in part because a crowd has managed to squeeze their way inside this Sunday night.

The long wood benches pushed up against the walls are filled with flushed, smiling faces, and the few barstools available have been given to women in heels.

The cobblestone floors flood with feet from all over the world.

The Rattlin’ Rogues perform covers and a few original tunes in the middle of the room, perched on split logs.  They take a break when a local opera singer, Anthony Kearns, drops in unannounced.

He has a beer and mingles with the Rogues and some of the more familiar faces.  Then he begins to sing without a sound check, without a microphone, without warning.

The crowd hushes each other, and with the door to the bar open wide, the tenor’s voice booms out on to Talbot Street.

The din quiets.  Some cry silently, moved either by his voice or by an excess of Guinness, but probably a combination of the two.

This opera singer, seated on a log in the tiniest pub, has silenced the most drunken crowd as if he were on a grand stage in front of thousands of paying customers.

This is the The Celt, where musicians drop in unannounced seven nights a week.


The biggest confirmation I ever received to continue writing creative nonfiction was when this short piece “Without a Microphone” was selected by the National Geographic Traveler for their “Travel Talk” section in the March 2010 issue.  The piece will also be included in an anthology coming out at the end of 2014 called “Dawnland Voices.”

This piece was written after I’d backpacked through Europe and wound up at The Celt one dreary October evening.  It had been one of the most inviting and exciting experiences I’d had in Ireland, and I wrote about it as part of an assignment for a creative writing class I was taking.



Circa 1996

The first time I’d ever witnessed a Fools Day prank, was when I was about eight years old.  My uncle came to the house looking morose.  He grabbed a dishcloth and held it over his mouth; grinning behind it.

He came to tell us that a family member had landed in the hospital – a serious injury. He couldn’t maintain the prank for long. He’d probably felt guilt from the momentary hysterics he’d created.

It was no surprise then that at fourteen-years-old my thought process went straight to something dark and horrific to have some Fools Day “fun.”

I went in to the cold room in our basement and dug around.

The axe looked like a great place to start.

Continue reading “Circa 1996”

In Quest of Road Kill

In Quest of Road Kill

A creative nonfiction piece I wrote in J-School on the Mi’kmaq artform; porcupine quill work.  In the beginnings of learning this craft, I needed to acquire the coveted quills.  Where better to acquire than the side of the road.

This piece will also be included in the Mi’kmaq section of an Anthology dedicated to Aboriginals sharing borders, called “Dawnland Voices” which will be hitting shelves at the end of 2014.

Hope you enjoy.

Please click the above link to take you to the NB Beacon website that has hosted my story.