Thursday, December 31, 2009

Defensive Wounds

Some days, I’m uncertain.
Oh, not of whether the sun will rise,
or the moon find a convenient cave
in the hind-quarters of
another blistered sunset —
no, not that, but rather if
my pants are on, my tie
set vertical and my words
understood. Words are,
after all, the only window between,
the only communication
my bottle body — floating
a southern sea,
asking to be saved — can find.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Games For a Tuesday Conversation

In a sentence,

wrapped shawl-like around our actions,
we’ve divided this bit of Tuesday

into segments of time,
constructing life,

a paragraph mimed in fast motion.

This Lego truth owes its existence

to the same architect who wrote
the song you love,

that vase of winter flowers,
a crinkled photograph

in a wallet without money.

Between the eye and the word,

asphalt is a snake,
and our cognitive center

plays bumper-truth,
always trying

for the highest score.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Two Nodes on Lines Which Will Not Meet

insertions/coat draped leisurely across
the arm of a minute/texture
to sun stroking sere leaves
clicking steel-mesh fence/and
word ocean/word soup/word
soul/word spin and weave
and dance and song/word waves
broken on twined fingers/twisted
stories/broken backs/spines
twisted on the point of ecstasy

when our dog ran down the street
and you pursued through back yards
and front flower beds yelling his name
with a siren cadence as though it was
again World War Two and the dumb bombs
were on their way to kill people too smart
to be the victims of anyone’s destiny
but their own I remembered a line
from that book you’ve been reading
the one you keep trying to read
portions of to me as if you’re again teaching
and I’m a first grader as comfortable with
mathematics as I would be climbing
on your knee/you know the part
about what love costs even if
it’s given away for free
and I recognized the dance
for what it is/two swans in sunlight
who are really motes on an atom
playing tag where the real intent
in not to meet but rather to dream

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


entry allowed, denied, debated, defined

and partitions, isolations, closures,

representative catalogues

(we can compact them with rules

without variance) and road maps

to compliment the Grand Personal Self

but the artery carrying emotions

remains an uncharted veldt

where shadow creatures

fall from the perihelion of love

the world gravitates

in this direction -- towards dusk,

towards alone, towards

the twinkling point of black

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Notes on a Possible Poem

The truths of any one nation are

the lies of another, yet
we continue to seek
truths in the same way sand
hounds ocean, clouds disintegrate
out of storms, cards are placed
on a table greasy with
a thousand meals
and as many parables about
children, hangnails, that dark
thread which chases us
from sunburst to sunburst moment --
a halo vibrating to
the rhythm of a timepiece
we will some day abandon,
along with all the answers
we were unable to believe.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

MFA Candidate

sweep sere articles blowing
down sentence streets

bag experience and recycle
in alleys and cafe’s

become a colony of sentences
on eroding isthmus

extemporise the vanity of white
cuddling phallic black print

memorize the addresses
of experience and denial

the wind in time will blow
everything into a confusion

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In the Hatchway of Probable Impossibilities

Time stops / BEgins stitched and RAGged
wobbly-HIStoried / DAYs weaned from
EXpecation /a bullet / a bomb / a ROAD
a ship and ocean / WHEN ocean still was
separation / Respite / and road was DEStination.

I mumble AUTumn flowers / the DESicration

Between coffee and a half-CENtury of desperaTION.

Can you NOT ImaGINE that your ISOlation was
as much an ABANdonment of me as it was
you / young GIRl / losing the world / Mountains
and SKY / not consoled / argumentative
in the broken TIME machine.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

After the War

the bleeding never stops –
slow leak soaks through generations

one shot and death, change
creeping from the shadows of possibly

metamorphosis is a terrible gamble,
more often failure than wild success

she wasn’t there – on the corner
where buses exhale harsh air
and concrete waves break against steel
under an apostrophe of time –

but you were, print dress,
fresh smile, a jazz of motion

it’s still enough

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Random Sunday Evening Thoughts

Freedom is not control,
but rather not needing it.

I am free
in September rain,

in how it slides
down asleep grass.

Asphalt is an expression
without speed limits,

without shoulders and fences
where the horizon falls.

I am free in sight
along the strong lines

of an idea opening petals,
thought sustaining imagination.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


after conversations concerning,
as hands cradle coffee cups --

in the crevices between
voices a physical presence

dripped from the cores of stories
which seldom evolve beyond --

in the years history accompanied
us through, as though a camera,

We, historical librarians cataloged
and the waves we witnessed

caressing and careening
the Tobermory coasts between

harbors became metaphor
for change freed from entropy

and our loves were chipped smooth
by wind, by waves, until they became ice

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

point between parent and child
is lava crumble,
wind across memory loss
I am maple tree
bent into July’s demise,
dense rain, disturbed wind

Construct of the wordless poem –
emotion and sound – accordion
quietly played after midnight
in cool, humid basement,
concrete walls still leeching odours –
1959 Ontario summer

everything different –
not today when my bladder
wakes me and it’s almost three.

There are no thoughts
of death, though death
often watches me sleep,
then wanders away,
dances through street lights,
gives the finger to the moon,
deconstructs my memories,
which have exceeded
their best before dates.

But this is poem,
unsubstantiated by fact,
deconstructed by time,
left wandering by deserted harbor,
waif of the greater saga,
orphan to the beginning,
though middle and end
continue the debate
over ownership in the court
of where to belong.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Birth Marks

What do I owe the past.
I barely remember landfall in Halifax,
train ride through Quebec cedars,
arrival in Kitchener.

Family was a hint of somewhere else,
three slabs of history on a plate of Slovakia,
the Ukraine and Germany. The sun
glances off stories of when and where.

This week at work, I watched a woman
walk past the security hut, tattoo bright
on her left shoulder blade. It was
a blue butterfly, entangled in flowers.

I imagined her making a statement,
how she was unique – to the point where,
were she found dead in a Toronto
alley, her identity would be sealed

by that blue tattoo. My father once
attended an engagement party for
a very good friend of mine, my mother
away, visiting European relatives

and he told everyone who asked,
that the tattoo on his left hand,
the hand that stretched out naturally
in greeting, that the tattoo was

his mother’s name. He smiled as
everyone looked and passed comments
about the depths of his love for his
mother, the East Worker who, having

abandoned his home in the arms of the invaders,
never returned, though my mother says
he cried for a very long time when he
received the letter about my grandfather’s death.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Saying Things

The voice reading poetry,
as though pouring
a cup of tea at three
on a Jamaican afternoon,
will never describe death

completely – departure by
and arrival to – as though
tombs are worm holes
and a calm subway voice
during rush hour Friday

is more truthful than
grave-side hysteria.

The voice dying poetry
in a sinkhole in
Afghanistan, one step
away from an IED, one
thought from love

in a Winnipeg condo –
when the sun waltzes with
the million perceptions
of a world held in the shell
of a black walnut –

that world fades as well
as the setting maple tree sun.
Perception And Boulders

In seven years, they say,
every cell in your body
will have been replaced.

You’ll be the new man,
a fresh body with which
to tackle another sunrise.

I wonder, then where
memories are stored –
down what wormhole
they hide, ferment and
conspire – to bound out

at the most inopportune
times, like demented ghosts,
because after sixty years,
I am a child again
in the iris of my mother’s

fading comprehension and sight.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Timely Thoughts

Time is linear, time bends.
Time curls around itself
and like comfort food,
time is the embers you watch
at eleven o’clock
on a Friday night, wine glass
empty – as empty as –
well, your life just then,
a sticky note left
on a gravestone where you
buried the last one hundred dreams
when time experienced
a performance malfunction.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Accordion Bridge

I take the accordion out of
its case at midnight.
This is the basement
with cool August humidity.
Exams are in front of me,
open books a surround.

The first notes are from
Germany, the next from a
brothel in Spain. A riff from
a night club in
London follows, then ten
pages from a novel about rain.

I play six songs I remember,
as though they’re fairy tales
heard when I was five –
sitting with my mother
in the living-room,
listening to the radio.

I’m alive, I mumble to concrete,
I’m learning about
Hamlet and the spell
he was under when he killed
his uncle – to the rhythm
of gypsies around fires from hell..

Acid rock on the accordion
begets a thirst for beer,
for dances under starlight,
for dances to the dying muse
of polkas, weddings in white
and children from desire.

I play music at one
in the morning when
the street cleaner comes
roaring down the asphalt
like an alien invader,
or the sound of rockets

and guns at Dunkirk
in the early evening
when the sky bleeds
and bodies congregate
before liberation, before
western migration into hell.

I play the accordion – notes
footsteps in
New York, Toronto,
London, Paris
and Berlin – and hope
everywhere the sound lives.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Taxable Free

The art of creating
nothing is free –
holes in iambs,
moles on lithographs,
a tendency to use
concrete and asphalt
when mapping the soul.

And in academic rooms, argument –
as thought that will describe purgatory and heaven.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Folding Laundry

on the bike expressway slices wind
and clouds three cities away genuflect –

you fold my laundry, contemplate
ironing work shirts, exploring pant creases,
pushing socks into drawer moraines –

trucks drag commerce around the Maypole
of profit as though ribbons and dance
will progress one minute into the next –

there is a religion in folded shirts
a salvation in going to work
after a hearty and healthy breakfast –

when the rain (which has revved dark clouds
all morning) falls the streets become
an obstacle course of occasional pools –

when hell is loosened on asphalt and concrete
the Eden of fresh folded laundry sustains us all

Sunday, July 19, 2009

East European Immigrants Outside Tim Hortons, Sunday Morning

each hole in the universe is plugged
with the language of fuck
and I wonder – where are your women –
how are your dishes sorted
in apartment kitchens – spoons arranged
in the graveyard order of burning memories
and why does the sun set so differently
on grass in Canada

though this is morning
and coffee brews inside between
cigarette chains and scandalous conversations
about the recession,
the entropy of unemployment,
Dubcek, Milosevic,
the water fountains in Sarajevo –

King Street closed to create
a new roadscape, a new place
to cruise, so that the distance between
Yugoslavia and Kitchener
can be measured in empty coffee cups,
as addictive as unrealized dreams

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Arrival in the Emptiness

you in Afghanistan who remember
only war – you on a dirt road
slicing your life in half – you leaning
against a full train, picture captured
by a photographer from Finland –

don’t think yourself unique, or jewel
in amber, wind-song in downtown
eaves, the last inhalation of dust
before rainfall on rusted rails –
midnight whistle of departure
from port – don’t think yourself
arrival on the plane of yesterday –

the wind which whipped waves
against the breast of Europe,
the wind which unsettled each
carefully constructed agreement –
that wind now is a sullen traveler
on Asian dirt roads, the Indian cone,
Africa waiting for the circle
to be closed – that wind swirls dust
as though trying to recreate

and in recreation, Afghanistan remains,
constant, steps from one IED
to the next – a discussion in old age
homes, where the waltz at meals
is regression to when – time
was delivered in body bags –
one stillborn future after the next

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Creating Enemies by Killing Civilians

Again. It doesn’t end.

The country is a comforter,
each stitch responsible for the whole.

The knife severs threads, pieces of the picture
hang like unwatered flowers in July.

That’s the confusion. The greatest fear
and not the greatest hope.

Every road is another colour of blood.
Every house the shell of a dream.

Saviours incite death. In the name of.

In time, no names are remembered.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If the Sun Sets, Then Why Don’t Clouds

Think of this as a child’s
innocent question, when
they’re not thinking of God,
or reproduction, or imagining
an image which drops
out of three o’clock
in the morning dreams,
lies on the bedspread for a moment,
then scuttles onto the floor,
where under-the-bed
monsters spy an easy snack.

It might be a chink
in the armour of a decision
made over cocktails Friday evening,
or Saturday morning evaluation
of thick steaks assembly-line perfect,
under glass, at market,
or the rationale for ignoring
the contents of a mountainous
Saturday afternoon to-do jar.

Perhaps it’s the punch line in
a casual conversation
at the near corner, where
the corner people always argue

(airing life from Adirondack chairs
positioned just inside their two-car
garage, beers at the ready),

for the amusement of walking
dog owners, two dogs pulling
the real world in different
directions, dog barking
as twisted as cohabitating leashes.

More likely, it’s the answer
to a crossword question
Sunday morning, when the paper
arrives, as heavy as
an intercontinental missile –
the kind we were warned about,
were instructed to go
down to the basement before
their arrival, find an exterior wall,
put our heads between upraised knees,
pray perhaps, but more likely
just wait for chance to hit or miss,
for life to keep shining,
or to suddenly set
under a nuclear cloud.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Light years from where I was,
it’s time to go home.

(Not curl into a ball, evaporate
and fall, rain against windows
with an alien view.)

And time to admit that roads are often
blind turns into heavy traffic.

The grid can swallow us, spit us out
sand on sidewalk where industrious ants
have constructed their anti-views.

Time to admit a chair, sunset, the perspective
through maples defines enough

and spectacular vistas into the self
are unnecessary, unwanted and impossible.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Leaving Photos in Obscure Places

A world evolves between
two anchored rocks on sand beach.

(Construct and the (de)construct)

Waves bless permanence in this impermanence,
this seasonal menu from one restaurant.

I think of strobe lights, sectionalized events,
that guess bridging leaps the ocean advances,

or our affairs, between five-thirty and nine
on a summer morning, when the sun staggers

through atmosphere (dull invader) and leaves
a jagged rip, bleeds words which deny

the vanishing footsteps of our progress.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ghosts And You

Words are condensation on the window
between the maple and my chair -

breakfast dishes form a road from the table
to the sink, moraines on the counter top.

I miss the walks we took for cigarettes,
to the corner store, for fries from the drive-in -

I miss the baby steps and the way September
shed heat, worms in rain, stories with coffee.

I regret first snowfall, leaves clicking polka
in the hedge, the way dreams migrated

south and never returned. I rue twenty thousand
rhymes grown in wine petri dishes,

knocked senseless until they became poems,
anecdotes, lies, the sounds of an accordion

played long past midnight - in immigrant time,
for breakfast, in the milk of gunshots,

dressed in the flesh of uniforms, reciting
the differences between, with falling bomb sentences.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Now abrades against then.
Sunlight tags clouds, ants on sidewalks,
grass in waves to foundations.

In the sky, fighters flying by
and I run, refugee in a safe country.

My mother remembers skin torn
from bodies, sprayed across her arm,
stranger in another gutter.

You wonder at my moodiness,
it’s hard to explain.

I’m an immigrant in a land
that denies my experiences.
And I’m left to choose.

Is there a right choice, or are all
choices nothing more than denial.

Blood flows differently on different streets.
The Right Side of History:
For Neda Soltan

Evolution is a dividing point.
As is where spilled blood pools.
The right side of rivers receive
sunlight, the left a footnote.

When nothing happens in isolation
and the whole world knows,
death is meaningless
only when night prematurely dawns.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Visit

I don’t know
where I live, how
will I get home?

Will you take me,
do you know?

How’s Bill, is he
doing well? He’s dead?
When did he die?

My knee hurts,
I hurt it when I fell,
walking across
a curb, there was
ice. I’m worried.

I don’t know where
I live, do you
know? I worked
in Toronto for years.

Did I have children?
How old are they?
They’re too young,
I have to
take care of them,
I worry.

I worry about everything.
Will you take me
home? I’ve forgotten
where I live. Do you
know my children?

I hurt my knee,
I’m worried, I
don’t know. Where I live.

Was I married?
John died, but
I couldn’t go
to the funeral.
I don’t know where.

Do I live
in a nice place?
Will you take me
home? I don’t know
where. I don’t.

Time eats everything.
Do you know where
I live? Will you
take me home?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

June and the Sun Sets

Remember what the sun is,
this elongated June evening –
cracked pomegranate, inflamed
silicon, spilled vin de pays,

the predictable result of an often observed event, whose variables can be defined by the components of their composition.

(Composed of atmosphere, transient evaporation/evapotranspiration having reached dew point, refraction through distance and unpredictable emotion.)

Remember aggregates are
a stepping-stone in construction,
the way the pieces do not
predict the whole –

concrete foundations which resist the fetch of events washing against them, wool spun into a thread, frayed ruins which continue to endure into...

but this is another avoidance.
Together, we’ve watched
the sun set – thirty-nine years.
It’s never danced the way we do.
Songs Street Lights Hum

hung above the intersection (Stanley & Yonge), rocking
in June wind (red too long for traffic entering north stage south)

a strip mall on one corner, service station on the other,
advanced green from the burbs to Tim Horton’s

a large sign announces another condo construction,
swimming pool, sauna, games room and security

I think in simple cords, like C, though minor in their strike,
a trill, then full notes changing with tractor-trailer gears

and everyone is shunted through, as though this is
a railway clearing yard – shared concept with fast cars

C will eventually break down and fall into A,
seek a sullen tone, a migrating murder in the sky.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Our Open Wound

is a slow freight train travelling through
the cold air of somewhere.

Word crossings flash red in small towns
with names like, Last Friday, The Unmown Lawn,
Vacation Before New Camera.

Dilapidated warehouses welcome cracked asphalt,
daisies marching to the door behind which are stored
arguments from 1999, love once under moon.

The slow whistle from slow freight
punctuates the occlusion of night between us,
when wine and restaurants won’t heal.

I will come with roses and wait at a station
somewhere on the pyroclastic plains trains inhabit –
tremble on the fault line where so much tumbles

from boxcars, is left unclaimed – a graveyard
in which the tombstones know too much.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Imagination And The Next Moment

We communicate on the almost plain,
herds charging a vanishing point,
because prediction exists in statistics,
not rain moving in from north-west,
felling the deck umbrella, spilling
newly planted annuals into the yard.

Nor is your latest pretense predictable,
that rush into an extended rebuff,
the way reality is coerced into streams
flowing through the peneplain exchange
we walk– a landscape of touch, talk –
troubadour between villages, between life.

If you want, we can go for a walk
through leftover rainbow country,
down the trail where the heron visits,
through the trilliums in spring woods,
across the river’s edge, the gravel pit,
the sunshine ray I don’t understand.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Self Portrait

How harsh and hard my lines
intersect memory, noon sunshine,
ignore those clouds a concern
somewhere in the belly
of experience and summer,
small moments leaking heat,
dust, cracked clay, bleeding
concrete odors spiders exude
in basements, on grass green
and glue for bare feet already turning
gray as though October is
born prescient, always leaves
departing on slow freight trains.

The eyes turned south
are north of destination,
hair longer than social fashion,
mouth open on a word,
tongue turned into verbs,
fingers flexed around
a gesture slipping off
the page of present, past a belt
holding up potential, body half-turned
to poetry, wearing photography,
forever never arriving
at an imagined destination,
the way history arrives in a text –
counterpoint to another version,
another experience, another day added
to the menu, yet never in season.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Moving Pictures

The view is dark
but not without
woodwinds and expectation,

an explanation of character study,
then, when the wings
have been filled with names,

there is panorama
into micro focus,
and we are left awash, almost

drowned in the suddenness
of action,
a confusion of words –

time ticking and terminal,
then running away
in a series of scattered photos.

There isn’t a hand to hold,
not in rain or laughter,
nor is there a place to sleep,

awake, remember and recover
because light is a highway
of this and not that, the place

where I lack this movie’s answers.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

After Abstracts

Death leaves,
as well as love.
Feeling abandoned,
time follows.

In the corners
of this room,
a rustling.

I’m riding
my bicycle,
the sun,
in a tu-tu of clouds,
dances the sky

and the moon
which graces
Australia, listens,
learns lyrics
only sung by gypsies

on asphalt bending
into the momentary place
I thought.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Farewell to Abstracts

Nine this morning,
I sipped coffee
and death walked out.
No look back,
no metal and manufactured
laminates slammed
into a shivering frame.
No, death simply went
and he was gone.

At ten-twelve, love
rose from her place
at the kitchen table.
She ignored me,
the moon remained
in heaven, the air
dividing us refused
to become an ocean
and dishes in the sink
stubbornly huddled
in their grimy coats.
Love followed death
and she was also gone.

At half-past eleven,
I contemplated a lunch
of tuna and lettuce rinds,
heard the whispered pace
of time, neither rapid,
nor slow, in the upstairs
hallway, then descending.
Time ticked and clicked
as he passed my place
in the livingroom.
He briefly glanced
at the blank page
in front of me,
then he was gone.

Alone, I continued
my search for
a word – large enough
to fill an empty page
with poetry – a word
smaller than love,
death, or time, yet
more far-reaching than
the universe of I.
Mind Palpitations After Another

In the valley of city, there are asphalt trees,
direction warbles in the shrubbery of contradictory signs.

Windows are blue pools, which eddy and babble
when opened and closed with the irregularity of care.

The street vendor is a rock, his eyes quartz; radicals
on the dolomite sidewalk when a young girl skips by.

there was a murder / I could mention a name / by tomorrow it will have changed

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Philosophy of Writing

In the end, no matter
how many times
you send out words
cobbled together
in the shape of boomerangs,
none return
and you forever
mourn their absence.

This is the same
desolation you feel
when the music fades,
the drummer stands
and swaggers into the wings.

The audience exits
by the closest door,
deep in conversation
about next week
when the entertainment
will be –
and you are left to linger
in a streetlight circle.

A hesitant wind begins,
trees tango with the moon,
you hear a dog
three blocks away
and no bar is close enough.