Thursday, April 30, 2009


after losing her childhood
in Slovakia, would it ever end

she imagined it would,
though she imagined life
in a number of ways

she applied those ways
to Ontario

on the banks of the Grand River
her Nazis cavorted

and when she died
I imagined her walking

down the aisles of Food Basics,
looking for foods she enjoyed

when she was a child in Slovakia
It’s difficult to meet you
in this coffee shop, because
at ten to nine tonight,
on the news between the news,
either you or I will be
dead, body found half in
the Grand River, just where
it intersects the Speed.

Can you consider how
your parents will react,
or mine as well, as they see
your or me splashed across
the vision of our city?

We’re agrarian and Mennonite
and slow progress through
the testicles of higher education.
On King Street, the construction
never ends; an answer is never
found for the malaise of
creeping urban sprawl.

We’re old school and old ways,
going to market every Saturday,
buying sausages and cheese.
And Sunday is family day,
the time to unwind while
winding up into tight bands.

It’s impossible to meet you
in this coffee shop on Monday
morning, when we go our own
ways, when we ignore
the potential of future.

What perseveres is the need for coffee,
the need to extend
our commonalities beyond this
moment, this event,
when we are gathered, not to
honour, but to be alive and live.

Forever beyond the moment.
April 30th, 2009

Now it’s almost May.
The sun sheds warmth
as well as light
and the back yard has been
returned by whatever snow
or winter god held it
hostage for five months.
The grackles have finished
nesting and falling down
the chimney, to be liberated,
as though I’m fishing – hook
and release. And perhaps I am
casting a line and hook
into the returning warm days –
into late evenings, into the eye
of growth and regeneration –
a flat denial that I’m
getting older, slowing down,
anticipating the day when
the world dances by
my chair at a window.

(This is the last day of April and the end of poetry month for this year. I've enjoyed trying to write a poem of some sort every day of this month. A certain level of enthusiasm for writing has returned and I hope to write more consistently and with a greater care for the craft, during the rest of the year.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Words denote events
(or memory) and light is free
to fall from the sun,
glance against window panes,
lovers lounging in café’s
where the Niagara River begins.
Where Niagara falls,
light drools rainbows
which work the American side
without a green card.

I cherish words; play with them
long after their last echoes
have died in alleys;
long after they’ve set sail
on rail lines, in Pullman coaches,
straddled Indian motorcycles,
driven past deserted
drive-in theatres.

I cherish time
and fashion it into
lace necklaces, short stories,
madrigals of conversations,
two drinks by water, a walk
through arboreal forest,
life behind the lens,
sunrise for the mind.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mermaids in Rain

April unwinds the usual way –
rain today and yesterday’s highs
low, although there is no snow

sitting on the horizon with mermaids,
who comb their hair into clouds,
brush out time fleas – and time does.

I think of flotsam on a beach,
building headlands from the breath
of waves, the reach wind enjoys

down ocean spines – I think of
events, the scree from our tumbling
lives – and during the quiet conversations

mermaids have with wind, I think
imagination holds a greater grip on
us than duty and desire – a greater

need than the ticking time-bomb
which rends the space between
the peace of a solitary tree beside

the ocean and bank accounts,
a house, three children, two pets,
a sport car and Chablis.

Monday, April 27, 2009


The conversations are now always variations
on a consistent theme.

You remind me that I was born
in Europe; that you grew up
in Slovakia, near the Danube;
that you enjoyed dancing and village parties,
that before the Germans invaded,
the Jewish shops were all closed on Saturdays
and on Sundays, open through their back doors.

You are still there, though when
the Russian armies liberated through conquest,
the world changed forever,
then forever again when
we arrived in Halifax and boarded
the train, which we travelled on
through night and birch forests until
we disembarked in Kitchener.

You are bitter about your unhappiness
with having had to come to Canada,
with the prejudice against European
refugees so soon after so many didn’t return
and you are bitter that I don’t share your feelings.

I was born in Germany, but I grew up
in Canada and I was educated here as well
and in experience, we are worlds apart.

Sometimes I think of our conversations
as those between two species; those who
ride the waves and those who crawled
onto the beach.

Neither is better, but there is no understanding in differences.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


the world is over as it begins
(a process of waves and vector to)

the world is transformer and time
in increments of chairs on patios,
in churches, beside busy roads,
stacked in barns, on the fourth deck
of a cruise ship – the world is
there for the audience –

and we all watch and try to unravel the plot

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wine Tour

We are near the terminus of Lake Ontario,
I’ve just stepped out of the shower.
This is a day of touring.

(though what we didn’t know was that)

In Wellington, having finished lunch,
I step out of the restaurant, watch an
EMS fire truck race Main Street,
followed by two pickup trucks.
Volunteer fire department, I think.

We try to leave town, a meat
processing plant is burning down
and our way is detoured. We
stop for a moment, I take pictures
and we find our way
to the next winery.

Returning to where we’re staying,
I mention the fire to someone
serving wine. “Good God”,
she says, “That plant faces the
street where I live.”

Friday, April 24, 2009


Friday morning,
packing camera gear
and laptop,
preparing for another
weekend away

from / to / walking a mental cusp of almost learning

April warmer than
the snowstorm two weekends
ago, lilacs almost awake,
luggage nervous,
almost in

the back of the car / highway / music / Toronto congestion

I realize there is
a peace that comes
with being a monarch;
the world comes to
you, you don’t have to
chase the world.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I start the treadmill, business station on
the small tv, listen to interviews about
what will be – we might just as well consult
a crystal ball, tarot cards, or a Ouija board.

Perhaps one Saturday morning, with April
warming on our fingertips, we could leave
the constant rearrangement of garage world,
stand in the middle of the back yard,

toss prescient straws onto the grass, where
they can be read, like slightly askew pie
charts. We could make vast profits, or, in
the evening, with tea or wine, I could write

a word on the laptop screen – just one word –
and predict the success of the budding poem.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Man’s Love Song – Midnight

Promising rain, a raspy-tongued
August breeze, swirling city scents,
disturbs the shingles
covering my townhouse flat,
maroons a sliver-sharp scream there
from ocean night below.

I lean across the window sill,
unable to sleep in this heat
and shiver. There’s nothing
to see, the scream’s origin
lives beyond the parking lot lights.

A primal memory uncoils with
the new, yet familiar and I can’t
control the shiver, imagine
a place of twisted ruins
five paces past this night,
where souls keep residence,
where god with work-raw
fingers struggles to reshape,
create and abide.

There, dry bones are rubbed
into dust and stars are given
birth, screaming at the rapacious
lust of the creator – solitary
god – hungry and alone.

I shiver again – is it rape or birth,
this agonized cry washed up
on the dark shore of my earth.

(a very old poem, found in musty files and edited)
Not Captured By My Camera

– yesterday morning
returning upstairs after
time on the treadmill

familiar scratching
in the wood burning
stove pipe leading
to the chimney.

I rushed out
and removed
the cleaning cover.

A grackle stepped out.
There must be

an easier way to
experience resurrection.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

God Was Insulted

when you told me there is only one
and one way to look at Him –

never at Wal-Mart, though frequently
spotted purchasing a new shirt and jeans

at Goddessa, ‘for the truly blessed’
in matters of fashion, ethics

or buying arms from America for rebels
who dream of genocide in Africa

He suggested to me, in a lengthy dream,
that he understood the pirates of Somalia

I can’t credit him with any statements,
he has never integrated himself

into the infrastructure of a community

Monday, April 20, 2009

Evening Passes
(a shadeling for Aisha)

The day-long rain abates and the backyard grass
appears much greener. I imagine the lawnmower
in its place in the garage mutter to itself – a sub voce
hope that the deeper green doesn’t mean greater length.

We share a bottle of wine in the livingroom. You read
a book and I try to worry words into a poem. The wine
leaves me too mellow for truths and I concentrate
on the length in its Spanish finish.

I leave you reading and return to my friend laptop,
play solitaire, consider the look of various costumes
of words. I procrastinate, them make a quick decision
and begin stitching together a length of events.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

There are no words for political discourse.
Emotions rule the conversation.
And the certainties pile one upon the other,
as snowbanks do – just before the ice age.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Price of Poetry

For want of a poem,
the dishes are neglected.

For want of clean dishes,
another meal is missed.

For want of a missed meal,
hunger drives me to wine.

For want of a bottle of wine,
I scour the house for money.

For want of money,
I decide to steal goods from you.

For want of salable goods,
I steal you Royal Doultons.

For want of your Royal Doultons,
you call the local police.

The police want a collar
and I am their man.

Because they want a man to accuse,
I am sent to jail.

Because I am sent to jail,
I want a poem with which to explain.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Time is in the oven, baking –
batter of particles of small events –
so many hands on table-tops,
so many smiles quivering on interpretation,
so mixed intents and missing relevants.

Time is on the counter-top cooling,
the way the deck will as the last sun ray
erodes in the lilac bush and crickets
sound the all clear for night – all clear
for the moon to appear.

Time is being consumed with
a ravenous appetite for such delicate fare –
without napkins, without spoons, time
disappears from the plate at our feet
and we have a whispered conversation

in the vibrato tones of funeral homes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

BoatHouse, 2009/04/15

singer-songwriters, guitars,
craft beer and a seat by the stage.
There’s little money to be made
in entertaining on a Wednesday
night in Victoria Park, after
driving straight through from
Thunder Bay. This morning,
Mike tells me that he can’t get
accustomed to our deciduous
forests, as well as our lack of snow.
The new songs he sang last night
were about the north and its
history. I think he’s found his
place in the world. I hardly
remember Germany now and
the argument my mother states,
that I should take a greater
interest in my heritage seems
without merit, as I’ve grown
old in Waterloo County.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

F 2.8

A relevance of focus is achieved –
one slat of the neighbour’s long
fence, raptor’s head leering,
rose spread like bed sheets, with
a musky odour of waiting sex,
the sun secreted through morning
mist, wide eye and reflection of
the photographer. Background
details are the churned colours
of a rainbow, hardly heard voices
from the chorus, a confused
mimicry of the sharp point. And
each answer is refracted light
inversed, moving through the
experience prism – bright, directed,
but lacking understanding and depth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Small Words

In my mind, small words related
to the bits of Kleenex in my jean
pockets, or small change in the
small change pouch. Always there,
sometimes mistakenly washed,
or pulled out in restaurants –
tattered, dark lint adhered to
them. There for times of need;
Kleenex and small words, so that
when the world is once again
unalterably altered, I can stand,
staring, on the sidewalk and say, ‘oh’.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Accountant’s Complaint

I see no profit in rhyme. There is
no reason to write about a sunset
that is hours spent, or dishes
soaking to thoughts on walking a
road between love and next week’s
rent. We need a bottom line, a
way to manufacture profit, if
even just from words, that poor
man’s investment in the fable
of society. We have to leverage
words into a monetary return, not
emotions concerning spring and
concrete, nor how a door will
open and close. When we sleep
we dream, but we do not sleep
on dreams, nor on the ethereal
silk spun by poets – words constructed
like card houses – for a moment
trapped in the amber of experience.
Nor is a pleasant turn of phrase tax
deductible – no, not even as a
charitable donation to the greater
happiness of the working man
drinking beer at his neighbourhood
pub. Show me a purpose to which
I can apply a mathematical formula,
from which I can slash expenses
and create cost efficiencies –
show me the grounded logic and
balance sheet of your days
organized into the tax year.
The Tourist at Home

We’re there, tourists, sampling
and then we return home
with photographs and memories.
We hold intimate wine gatherings,
haul out the photo albums,
put on the CD’s purchased
in a small shop just off the large square
with church, hotel, benches and pigeons.
We discuss fondly, while driving
to work with our car-pool, of the day,
the inevitable day, when we’ll return
to sip coffee in the quaint café
by the small fountain and lascivious statue.
Then, one morning, with fresh snow deep
across the driveway, news of occurring
crashes on the freeway, we also hear
that in our five-year old memory,
a war has begun, or there was a devastating
fire, or a hurricane destroyed the church, or
an earthquake levelled the hotel
and café. We hurry to view our photos,
to listen to the melancholy music on the CD
and we damn time for not having
the patience to wait for our return.
Missing Person

history in a state of busy construction / you can see
the signs in pieces scattered with various tools / extended
throughout the town / as by the river where a fish
was caught last summer / or at the arena spinning
slowly the way sand might at the narrowest point in
an hourglass / then words pinched off / no longer a story
but rather a book hastily closed because the doorbell
rang / the pot boiled over / the dog ate the newspaper / and
all words of her history went on strike / and everyone
guessed at outcomes / and everyone had their opinion of
the final unrealized creation so rudely abandoned
and stripped of the linear order of a historical work

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Poem

Memories acquire wrinkles,
appear in front of me – a moving
waltz of images – with the will
and sense of destination
carousel horses must have
in October, heavy rain falling,
the beach deserted, trying to
make sense of, a summer fall
of children, parents, lovers
at midnight, seasons
and repeating change.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Raking the Front Yard

after early April snowfall,
temperatures rise to grackles invading
cedars and rooftops

doves were heard this morning,
the window left open a crack overnight

thatch catches north wind,
swirls to the roadway,
this disturbance of six month beige

I build piles, shovel them
into recycling bags,
note the imperfections spring exposes

along with the neighbours
we hardly saw, or when we did,
they were hidden under layers of clothes

each muscle lifting snow, or pushing
a snow-blower down the perception
of a driveway and sidewalk

so like a sculptor, faced by the mass
of unformed granite, imagines
and I, listening to your description, understand

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Walk in Victoria Park

The temperature rises, as does the desire
to get outside and walk.
Drive there first, to the point
of a beginning in Victoria Park.
Loop along the lake’s edge,
over the island, through
a meditation garden, around
the playground of released children.
Leave the park by the trail over
railway tracks and find the trail
which was once a spur line –
named, Iron Horse. Walk
to an agreed on street, turn around,
retrace an uncounted number
of steps. Follow Schneider’s Creek
back into the park, note the herd
of grocery carts trapped
in the creek. Remember yesterday,
a homeless man crossing Ottawa
Street with his world in a cart.
Realize that even the homeless
have their moving days.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The poet writes poems
as still as dishes being dried
in sunlight sneaking between
half-opened blinds.

April has stopped snowing
and groaning grass
glistens beyond the chairs
just placed on the porch.

A religion of faith
in dandelions perseveres
despite dark hands which
pluck the first wild flowers.

These are the hours when
houses explode, release
the spores of summer life
into diminishing snowbanks.

And a crow perched in wind
whistles through trees budding
before gliding into
the lives of nesting robins.
Question Haiku

If the first poem wasn’t
written, would the
second exist to be read?
Language Notes

rain falls

we note how
the language and intonation
of conversations clouds
engage in with wind and birds
progresses through drizzle,
shower and into downpour

just as the sound of your chair,
creaking in this half-deserted
café, speaks with a different
accent when you arrive
and when you leave

and that door to the street,
now closed, can be
opened with the petal syllables
of roses, or the cold thunder
tones of an April deluge

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wednesday Poem

For words, reality is not enough.
Nor is situation rationalized by clauses
ribboned and stretched like DNA strings
in a mad scientist’s lab. Between eyes
and memory, the maze stretches
our constructions, fills them with shadows
of events forever past or future, that wave
crest captured on paper, slipped into
poems and books, debated by witnesses
and the uninvolved alike – until the history
is greater than the event. And more solid.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Wheels In History Class

It was the age of imagination – half-way between
flying cars and the proper shade of shadow
(applied with dull pencils) for oversized tires
on aerodynamic arrows. It was the age of
stripped-down model T’s, a ‘54 Cadillac,
or a Woody with fuel injection and mags.
It was the age of fins of land-locked ships
that sailed a sea of Aqua-Velva signs –
buoys on the gravel shoulders of interstates.
It was the age of imagination and future.

I read today that GM is contemplating
bankruptcy plans. They’ve gone from
the greatest auto manufacturer to an also-ran.
It’s strange to think that the dreamers can
have their dreams knocked-off, the way jeans
are, or designer watches. And faith.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Ranchuelo, Cuba. April 3. (CubaNet) – Yorky la Rosa,
one of the starters for the Villa Clara team
in the Cuban baseball league was dropped
by the team, presumably for political reasons,
according to a resolution handed down
March 27 in Santa Clara.

Sports writer and commentator Normando Hernández
explained over provincial radio station CMHW:
“Our ball players must be partisans of the Revolution,
and they must be unconditionally loyal to Fidel
and Raúl; otherwise Cuban fans, who are
partisans of the Revolution, don't want to see them play.”

La Rosa, a left fielder and designated hitter for
the team, is said to have wanted to remain
on the team, but was dropped on the orders of
José Luis Rabel, lieutenant colonel of the
Department of State Security in charge of sports
at the national level, presumably because
La Rosa had been making arrangements t
o visit his wife who lives in Spain.

And so it is with love...that place between
our loyalties and our desires...
when reality is twisted into knots
we can’t untangle...when mantras
masticate the minutes between
the needs we see set out in front of us...
a line of words inciting meaning.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

What is most reflected

In water, on black marble, in the way
a sculptor catches sight in stone eyes,
in columns supporting the fables
history so easily wears in year-light –
reflected fractal never vanishing,
though wind echoes hard some names –
‘Korea, Viet Nam, Normandy
and Baghdad’. There is glory
and there is death and on an early
April afternoon, when cherry blossoms
turn the streets of Washington pink,
even for this foreigner, there is a great
and certain memory that cannot
be forgotten.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

This is a mystery

though I think I’ve figured it out,
or at least the part about clouds,
because when I was young, I’d lie
on the neighbour’s uncut backyard
lawn, gaze at them whipped meringue
by polka winds and track rainstorms
take five giant steps through suburban
Waterloo, without saying, ‘May I’.

And doors – they were everywhere,
always needing to be locked, to be
checked and to be guarded against
my friends, to be the line between
a lost universe, that I was taught had
greater relevance than the parade
of events happening to me.

The confused comment about love –
well, that’s always been a component
of my daydreams, to arguments, to raging
against the machine of what it takes
to be the perfect fit for someone else’s
dreams – as though I couldn’t and still
can’t dream anything for myself.

I wrote the poem in the kitchen,
on my laptop, with a glass of wine
beside me, but what I wrote –
those words have been a swirling
parrot of events on my right shoulder
since I was eight or ten.
Border Crossings

between being
Canadian and American –
line in the sand on a windy day –
playing a game of “king of the castle” –
variations of myth-building
and dances at midnight in secure bunkers –
under the moon of laptop glow / radar
screens – streetlights signing
in the opposite corners of cognition
and bifurcating accents drafting
tail-winds of April air – divergent systems
of measurement for landmass and man-mass –
a game of doors and keys – guarded entry
and entry denied

this morning I inquired about your placement
of t-shirts / you said you’d constructed
a new terrain in closets and drawers / I explained
again the intricacies of books on book shelves / how
subject is not superceded by author / nor is my
desk a collection agency when there is doubt

at nine we went for coffee / discussed our next vacation /
even across tightly controlled borders
an amount of free trade remains desirable