Monday, April 30, 2007

Freedom Song

if I walk into this place with a can of pop
open it/infringe upon your need to profit
yet stay sober enough not to kill you son
when I drive home after my evening of fun
would you object

I see you nod your head not

then why do you put up this hue and cry
when I ask to bring in alcohol-free beer or wine
because I like the taste of fermented things
yet can’t drink alcohol

profit/profit/profit rules no matter what the human is
and you’ll tell the alcoholic he has to drink
even though the LCBO doesn’t regulate this beverage
to which you object/except that it’s not money
in your pocket/you the responsible citizen supporting
all the responsible things

side bar:

This poem found its genesis in a meal out last night in Leamington, Ontario. We phoned ahead to see if there was a non-alcoholic beer available for one of our number, who is on medication which precludes alcohol. Yet, she does like the taste of a fermented (albeit without alcoholic content) drink. We were told one was available, but on arrival, we were informed that the beverage was not then in stock. We asked if we could bring in our own non-alcoholic beverage and the answer was, no. There was a period of consideration and that was changed to, yes.

Now, the pertinent question becomes, why should anyone be put into that position to begin with and why are liquor laws being applied to non-alcoholic beverages? This is the same issue as that same person bringing a non-alcoholic wine to my daughter’s wedding. She was ultimately charged a corkage fee, which in Ontario is applied to those who bring their own alcoholized wine to a licensed establishment. There seems to be an arbitrary interpretation of the laws in these cases.

One might ask, what the difference is between someone with a medical disability and someone with a medical prerequisite. Probably none, beyond profit. Ontario has a long way to grow in its efforts to grow up.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Point Pelee

the most southern point in Canada expands
and contracts/depends on how storms
rising from America affect it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Winery

weary with wineries in Essex County
we enter another and I imagine their prices
as a reflection of the sprawling edifice

(stone faces ravaging Erie
inland is a barn-board mask)

the co-owner greets us at the tasting bar
apologizes and tells us she’s a cancer survivor
still scaling the wall to elusive health
then leaves to attend to her side-effected eyes

we sample wine/we sample wine
and I drift away to a table filled with unframed prints
sort through them the way I once sorted through
45's/LP’s and books in that used book store downtown
on King in Waterloo

the co-owner returns and regales the bar-bound group
with another story of a dream somewhere
in metamorphosis for years before becoming this butterfly winery
we today have stumbled upon

the price tags on the prints inform me that this sale is for the charity
of Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto which helped her so much

I look at our group approaching retirement and try to imagine
how many dreams we all yet cling to/those dreams tucked away
in the corners of our time/those dreams stalled in metamorphosis

dreams sometimes flow
as slow as frozen breaking waves

just as the beach I walked with you
those twenty years ago is now gone
to be rediscovered twenty miles west
by other young lovers conspiring
to control time

Friday, April 27, 2007

For John Gorka
in concert

in the laughter/tears
that truth again/conundrum curtain rising
to reveal a stage flying to the moon Alice/to the moon

(black into body bags and laughter/gentle war from radio free America)

for a moment the crusading children believed(and metamorphosis
created Picasso sociology)ski jump down a tie/the rubber mallet
applied/layers upon layers of innocent dreams

and we didn’t move/not one inch/dreamers forever sold

the price of a soul on ebay is very slight/much less than that charged
for a tank/an accountant/Marilyn Monroe’s hair
twisted into forget-me-knots/lyrics from the politics of control

Thursday, April 26, 2007

There is no truth in love
just morning dishes with their scraps of chicken cordon-bleu.

There is no truth in love
just flowers delivered through security
a thousand expressions of shortened life expectancy.

There is no truth in love
just walks in the rain with the dog
while the temperature drops at home.

There is no truth in love
something Michelangelo knew when he looked at David
ready to battle Goliath with a slingshot and a short-changed shoulder blade.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The World Ends

so many billions affected
sculpting that final sunset

we argue again

the stress of falling apart
separates us into two parts

divide mass

we’ve divided the world
by two and debate

who is the sun and who
is the forever grateful satellite

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

There is this Political to the Photo

I took/the shadows and slow dance
with the invisible (kids/two cans between
a fishing line of string)

the way the ocean is meaningless
when a shore isn’t present even though
we always sense the heartbeat
with every breath

the shadows of our absence before and after
this unshaven man pulling a food cart disappears
down Guelph Street (I on the way to work/he
walking) where the food bank spills
out of a ten times abandoned garage

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sylvester’s Tombstone
on treeless slope overhanging celluloid fields and the beast’s eyes

that canary was the predator
sly avian in clothes mimicking
western civilization’s social
fashion cherished and realized

I was abandoned to hunger
after the sanity
of my species
and falter at realization

Sunday, April 22, 2007

For More Than Forty Years

Drowned by music/a lyric of line thrown to the man
reaching for the reef/rhythm in each heartbeat
idling on King Street/sun stretching across the kitchen
as a feline form/supine verbs scratching at
each attacking memory/you emaciated and walking
to a point which will exist/and we all saying/saying
the situation which exists is/memory, memory, memory
and I print the past/we can view it in amber
for a while/although footsteps on a beach with waves
playing the drums as so transient/a man stepping
off a slow night freight train/staring around before
embarking again/sunlight on a forgotten pen.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Modern Poetry

Is modern angst. The small things floating in your eyes. Ghosts of your position in the word broth. How you’ve tweaked reality to suit yourself.

With modern tv, we can watch five thousand channels of modern interest. Scan across the intents of countless minority groups. Consume each footstep placed on an over-indulgent history.

There has been a collapse of the position we gave to truth. Truth has become too occasional; as though truth is nothing more than a comment, a gesture, a conceit.

A take, a take. Let’s redo it, construct it differently to express what we want. Let it all fall apart into the broth of words we exude. Armour. Mantle. Sword.

When I asked you about it, you said that it didn’t matter. I called in the bulldozers, the cranes, the structural managers, the dictionary and the thesaurus.

You countered that you loved me. Then you built a weather system which deconstructed everything we ever shared.

You had a word for every drop in temperature; every deviation from forty years of Mr. & Mrs. Norm.

Eleven The Hard Way

Years ago, Earth turned away
from the doorway. Brushed snow
from her shoulders and walked down
cracked sidewalk. Streetlights illuminated
her progress. A waxing moon
snagged the Etruscan tower. No money
was lost. Earth brushed snow
from her shoulder. It fell everywhere.

We walk to upper Ball's Falls. Spring
has arrived. Green leaks from
brown cover. The only sound is moving
water. I see the moss-covered
rocks. And imagine Ms Earth walking
away from the last altercation.
In the news, we are strobe lights--

pieces of flesh caught
in time, fermenting into action/inaction--
rolling for time and a glimpse
of what is really what.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Dear C,

don’t feel guilty. No one ever did.
In the cradle of the sun setting
to rise, no one ever felt. Guilty
is a word affixed to verdicts after
a trial. By fire, we sat and pondered
each action we ever took into
the event horizon of a fabricated
history. So don’t. Feel guilty.

Each word we ever heard is a particle
in a glacier. We’re as frozen as
that slow movement of the past
until it melts. There is a crashing
and an epiphany. We are the cradle
of change. And we cradle each word
which is a step on a horizon
that never existed. At least for
a thousand generations of words.

So don’t. Feel guilty.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Beeps surprise the office air.
You lose your train of thought
to the alarm screen.

Doors are forced in Halifax and Edmonton;
Canada is insecure.

There is this movement from one event
to the next: five thousand people
and as many occurrences.

All of this is documented, forming
an incomprehensible parade
looking for the perfect profit song.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Common Word

I forfeited you to the common.
Just a word lacking conviction.
A broach pinned to a lapel
as a strange societal predilection.

And the world became dark.

That’s when the search began
for something so common missing.
But I’d forgotten your name
and misplaced your need.

There are songs to your fingers wrapped
in the fabric of quiet moments in café’s
and there are poems to your strength
during the most confrontational times.

Today I can hold flowers and watch
the colour of spring as though captured
in amber–the heat of summer pyroclastic–
the empty dress of autumn swirling

in a wind which has taken too much.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Event Horizon for News

the quiet is the after
it lingers and never leaves

though time rains over the scene
washes all evidence away

echoes in the eaves
careens through the is

and settles dove landing
on the asphalt of has to be
The Soul of Coffee

Thursday morning, Boetger knew astrophysics.
He shot stars from his Timcup and pontificated.

Loudly, loudly, loudly.

The lord of Waterloo knew the woman who died
and the faux-husband who cried as he purchased
chicken and Bavarian sausage at Saturday market.

The duke of King Street is the street person who
sleeps in the ATM booth in Frederick Street Plaza
and picks used cigarettes out of Queen Street rain.

There’s a half-hour each weekend morning,
when words run like wine into the glasses
of the Tim Horton’s crowd on their plastic chairs.

We all click our minds three times, mutter, ‘There’s
no place like fantasy’. Then the political murders begin.

Loudly, loudly, loudly.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What Beauty Exists

that breaks the bonds between
a cup of coffee in the morning
and a reason to write.

Tv’s tuned to American Idol.
You’re told to be one of a kind,
yet slammed for trying.

I wonder where the ships moor
before accepting passengers
for Byzantium. For Wroxeter.

Who watches for the tide
to turn; that moment when
time flows out to the new?

Do gunshots announce it–
hopscotch death racing
main street? Juiced car.

The edge, the edge, always
the edge. Just before
the mortality count.

This is a matter of how we
live in the void and try
to fill it with pieces of what we are.

And protect that, no matter what.
I’m kept on earth by gravity.
Down is the direction.
Simple road map and simple signs.

Answers swell up like artesian wells.
Down is the direction.
That’s where warmth greets long winter.

And I’m home, I’m home forever.
Down is the direction.
Solidly anchored, unable to set sail.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

R Squared

It’s difficult to sing never having
heard a song. So it was the baby
steps of harmony that became words.
Words slipped into phrase and phrases
married to become sentences. A history
was book and books were peopled
with generations of words; the DNA
of telling time.

There were nationalities of mystery;
principalities populated by horses,
dogs and athletes. Each plot was a ticket
for a slow freight train trolling midnight
and moon. In the end, I joined the gypsies;
learned their language; how to dance
and how to hold language like a flame
forever burning, never frozen.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Greater Love

a greater honesty
a greater civility
as though time passes at varying temperatures

as though there are seasons (the season of
responsibility/the season of war/the season
of clouds scrubbing away blue/the season
of never ending snow)

and we are captive in time’s seasons
detritus/the flash point when the phoenix realizes

and stones roll/rock across history in small scenes
from the corner café

Observation–Spring, Back Yard

hare stares to the court
dove staggers under the hedge

the squirrel is missing–that rodent who watches our windows
and reverses the animal kingdom's order

Friday, April 13, 2007

dear m,

last night imagined you
naked clothed in bed (had music for the scene)

and we/and we/were we/that intersection
between March robin and September frost


the lies I followed/music that led nowhere
in the alleys of rooms/open/closed doors


your voice creating positions on a chess board
like twenty-four to the twenty-forth power


crumbles the way it does on water
because nothing at that time is political

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Linguistics From the Line Steward


A repeatable wonder should
prosper produced in Mexico
with materials from Malaysia.

–that exotic touch, like miracles on the assembly line–

We could use it as an attachment
for our eyes, so we shine back
at the camera with gold, not red-rotted desire.

–eyes jaded by watching the wind blow detritus down Queen Street–

We could create a reseller’s marketplace
on the internet; a place to
trouble-shoot and praise.

We could attach values to the unvalued
and license vendors from sea
to profit-driven sea in small mall kiosks.

–purchased with vouchers and twenty percent discounts off arbitrary
monetary place-holders–


Poems crawl from the shadows
when I stand under streetlights. Imagination creates
mythologies; populates the unpopulated worlds
I see in doorways and blind alleys. I’m
in metamorphosis, looking for definition.
Each reality is a brush stroke against
the canvas of time; ethereal wonder.


Material desire is a defense
against the failure to find the creatures
within; stencils on glass for Christmas
and Easter; ghosts attached to maple trees
in October; the flag flown on mast day.

We write the manual for the importance of life
and the importance of death. In this world,
there is a clash of novels. The poet
stands aside and cooks the ten thousand
meals to be consumed before.
Caution: Watch Your Step

Water is a liquid, it may spill
onto your dry lands; that distance
between reality and the flood.

Streets may vanish in the folds
of your dogma. You may
experience moments of angst.

Forget everything and step
forward. The future exists
where you didn’t search.

Life is risk. Life is chance.
Throw the dice and watch
the result on the evening news.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

To you in the Storm

It was two weeks ago I took
my camera to Victoria Park.
Canada Geese and ducks
owned the lake,
crowded the shore. Crocuses were
blue promise under
the old island trees.

I have a picture
of a hawk on a limb.
By the pavilion. Remember,
where the playground spills
towards the wading pool
and I took photos of you.
It was summer then, wasn’t it?

I tracked the storm on the weather channel. Everything rushed up
from the US middle. Hot moist Mississippi air kicked Arctic butt.
This is now mid-April and there seems no end to global warming.

The news from Afghanistan
continues to be horrible.
Six more body bags will soon
return to Canada. We were promised
glory and the genesis of
a new world. I have seen
these storms too many times before.

We get into our car
in the morning. The sky
is blue. By noon, clouds patrol
the horizon and the wind howls.
Snow walks through afternoon,
smothers us in a heavy
white blanket by dinner time.

My mother continues to do well, although time drags her down
and back. She talks about Slovakia and the world which no longer
exists. Time is a white page and she’s forgotten how to write on it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Foreign Tongue

In a street car (careening bumper-car
down Bloor), I reconstruct Eliot’s lines.
September rains on chalk drawings,
October frost epistle to Canadian ears.

A maple sugar bush is ferreted from
London pubs. The hush of newspapers
over dinner becomes a horse and buggy
on a mud-slapped Mennonite road.

Acadian music saws northern lumber.
A steel rail runs from Nova Scotia
to British Colombia. Were Eliot to read
this language, he would hear a stranger.

But I smile and consume the lilting breath
of each small word; happily hum at home.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Illusion of Recycled Time

I look at photos of before
and fear there will be none for after.
The creationists would know
where to find that bridge,
though I have never believed in
the relationship between these
maple trees, jumbled clouds
and a steeple rising from farm land,
all moulded by a calloused hand.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ballet For Scene

1 a living-room and wine. Nine people. Interaction.

2 the argument which flows. Outside, moon rests
on the horizon’s steeples.

3 a trajectory graph. Near misses. Hits and
the wounded dodging the past.

In a field where fires burned there are now
ashes I once imagined to be snow.
The biting cold demanded immolation.

In the voids between sixteen years
and seven thousand time begged
fulfilment. For each second spent.

There are stories of old race horses
and back-road glue factories. Why would
I imagine the glue of my experience

to be enough to hold together
all of the photos I have used of us to decorate
the hallways of my memories.

3 you live in Montreal. We talk once
every other year.

2 that moment is still a dam between
our mountains and our valleys.

1 I didn’t leave. You did. Before my truth.

Painting Over the Windows With Magic

Cloud wreck on the horizon. Rush hour
flurries. Debris scattering across
the page of Easter morning. The news
remains worrisome. This is a morning
to fling open the windows where people
and events once crowded memory’s sidewalks.

Over coffee and the Toronto Star, let’s
begin building legends. Stories that are drawn
from those spaces where windows
now crowd the landscape as though the stars
have been cut out of the firmament.

Let’s brandish stories like magicians brandish
magic tricks from empty sleeves. One moment
nothing and the next a rose. A rabbit. A dove
escaping into the amazed crowd. A memory
outliving the event.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007

Third Floor Room, St Jacob’s

The view from the window is
scrambled eggs, a squirrel playing
dead man’s leap with parking
lot cars. Down the driveway, traffic
genuflects to rush hour and
that nagging pain in the side sings
verses from the history of....

On stormy days, I’d lie on the front yard, watch the clouds come down from the north and rain on Waterloo. Summer basements smelled like caviar drawn from sump pumps, fruit cellars and long forgotten clothing and chairs. The world ended at the horizon. The world ended at the tip of my travels on the East Ward bus; my walks downtown to listen to 45's in a booth. Life is so simple when it rhymes.

A cloud grazes blue,
the trees are lighthouses
espousing life. On the tip of
my tongue rests a eulogy–

when I’m dead and gone, please....
Two Lawyers

Three pm. Cuban rum about
gone. No resolution to Conservative rule.
No words that fight
in unison with the sun creeping
the blinds into evening.
Reality reduced to cradle ethics,
that reaching for the sky
which crumbles into a ceiling
and falls forever
into the last breaths of unresolved debate.

Who will drive to the liquor store
for the next court case?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Universe Beside the Window

If I turn to you and say, the light should by now be green, you’ll tell me that I’m not a poet. You always do.

Suffering seems to be important. And this vast landscape called; a usable interpretation of reality.

We’re drowned in input to the point where we regurgitate. Layered reality drives us beyond acceptance.

Sun touches the deck. Tomorrow, they say it will snow. A robin argues with the grackles. The grass is turning back to life. Maple keys think the rake is suicide.

We’re one day from Good Friday.
Who should I forgive?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Through The Fog

How the mountains peak–
lighthouses to the sun submerged.

The ocean cries to pine
pillars grasping a breath of land.

In a cull-de-sac, we exchange the image of verbs–
seagulls moving across a vibration of waves.

Each breath evaporates like commitment and love–
footsteps across a cobbled beach.

Fingerprints are observed in invisible light.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


we walk Front Street
Toronto. April pounds the ground.
money is a curve ball tossed like
discarded Tim Horton’s cups.
bowling for Canada.
we look south where Fidel rises
from his bed to wave and
George passes soiled uniforms around
the table. Steamboat Willie
begins the parade. the Pope is
dead somewhere on the dark side
of the world.

I’m drawn back.
a reviewer of destroyed celluloid
the gaps filled with
steamboat whistle. this is patchwork.
fields of grapes in a mundane
drizzle. people toiling at holding together
a flawed dam. the valley will be
lost to sluggish fish floating past
stumps and bodies and stumps
until the valley again rises.
responds to the pounding drums.

we are on Queen’s Quay. a vendor
sells us sausages made in Portugal.
we remain Canadian and do not
become Portuguese. snow turds lie piled
against glass and brass infrastructures.
we are in the shadow of the world’s largest
sundial. the time is wrong.
if this is Sunday morning
there is a logjam of horses and
buggies at the intersection in Wallenstein.
Canada geese break the geese barrier.

time eddies. a bottle of milk
left in the milk box on a January
morning for shift workers
would freeze were it not for the heat
leaking out of the house to drum back
the ice skates cold.
like escaping children.

Slow Spring Coming