Sunday, November 30, 2014

the egg flung must catch the flour

the storm throws the weather against the trees
because the trees have asked for it,
the artist the paint against the canvas
because the stretched canvas has always meant,
come, step forward, and confer,
the poet the word against the page
because words coalescing in the throat like phlegm,
let's say aubade or saudade,
are made of ephemeral garbs 
which want to shape-shift, grow legs,
go out and move toward home.
my son throws his imagination 
and unnamed sadness against a screen,
my daughter her anger and sadness against me,
i my mind's light, wonder and sadness, 
against my husband's body
which houses his mind and spirit, awful and sad,
and he casts his mind's light out,
tracing along my clavicle to crest of ilium,
which gallops the arch of our every conversation 
and then explodes further outward into thundering light,
because humans are born only ever half-formed
and must be reassured,
despite this halfness, that they are here,
that they'll gather the rest of their dust-skirts
(whether or not they'll ever finish -
fruition occurring beyond intention),
before they'll lay it all down
without care or one trembling tear, 
to dust again. (see, for example, 
the Kalachakra mandala.)

so this formidable love i feel for the earth, 
for the splendorous happenstance of being, 
where does it want to go? - toward what? - 
for certainly it leaves me and goes out seeking. 
forgive me for using so dull a word as god
(it could as easily be named prime target 
or sum zero) but in one of those rarefied moments 
of standing or walking or even just being, 
one of those elevated moments of keenly perceiving 
but not knowing what it is i'm perceiving keenly, 
this love bursts out from me
and hurtles toward the many good things
seeking the destination it was born to find. 
i don't care what it is called or what it looks like. 
i can't be made a fool by argument of its existence,
the egg flung must catch the flour,
and so i know that it exists - in everything -
that it cries out from the in-here 
to participate intimately with the what's-out-there.
god is but a word, 
a linguistic excuse to describe this love 
which adamantly demands its destination, 
which must, like any act, strive to accomplish itself.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


the silt collects 
like along the ridges of the gladiola
or along the bulging blue band of Orion's belt
instruction: be good, be here, be
until, like the setting sun, you're swallowed by the line

Friday, November 28, 2014


coming at language as we do from the outside in, like how a farmer climbs a ladder to repair the shingles on his barn, renders us simple and too close, like two dumb hands with a hammer and a scattering of nails - so what? how to repair the roof when the wind comes from where and how, and never ceases? how to hold the roof on, and to what? the whole structure is trembling, your ladder a part of the structure too. so are you.

and so if we fall and cry out, god, save me! how might we ever guess the nature of god, or even what the nature of being saved is?

Thursday, November 27, 2014


the first print,
a wolf print
and i love it 
like a father.
and then a deer, 
perhaps doe,
and i love it 
like a mother.
and then 
the tiny paw print
two sizes my thumb, 
plus claws
and i want to 
pick it up and kiss it 
like a jelly bean
or like a child 
might kiss a jelly bean
just before he eats it.

and then as i stand
in a wide open space
loving this world 
so hard
my guts ache
a chickadee plucks itself
from the rushes
and rushes my face,
his wings sounding like 
the power of a bear
rushing me, only quickened 
and made smaller.
can one say one loves a chickadee 
and precisely
as one loves god?
i try to withstand 
his advancing power 
but can not.
i flinch,
close my eyes
and flinch again,
even like that.

god stalks
like someone's an animal,
like someone's hunted.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

burn, tiny machines

sometimes when i lean back
arching my back,
it's not love i'm thinking of,
but the ice fishermen,
decisive black dots 
on the broad white expanse.
they lower gossamer lines
begging smaller toothed creatures 
to hook.
we're always hungry for 
the articulated meal
to be caught,

fire isn't always red.
sometimes it's a 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

miner's lamp

never has it been clearer than in the corporeal aftershocks of love, that we are not these bodies! but rather that we wear these bodies like miner's lighted hats; the hats far from inanimate, but animal crowns corsetted to, no - festooned upon the mind! feathers and fur glued to the rare calcium crucible, while we crawl on our bellies (contracted desire) clawing through this mire in search of the missing pieces, whale bone, oil, skin of the beloved.

Monday, November 24, 2014

the sound of coral

just home from work, into the noise of the house
which asks of me dinners and orderliness
and the children who ask of me my many 
fingered attentions, through that crackle and the haze,
my husband looks at me as though i were holy, 
as though he sees in the flesh along my shoulder
near my neck where my sweater has loosened
a message, like a whale surfacing
water, pushing through, breaching
the whole wide turbulent ocean, 
pushing his expanse of peaceful black back 
through viscous to sure sight, a metered cipher,
and while i can see him seeing in me
i can not access what he is accessing for i am lost 
to that other world and am drowning in the chaos of being,
but he is slow as i flash between pots and stove top
and i shout to the one to take her feet down from the table
and to the other to take some ibuprofen for a swollen head
and as the answering machine records (how?) a voice
of a stranger trying to broach the bridge with strange language,
i can see his slowness stowing away the holy light,
which miraculously was the paper our wedding vows 
were written on, words between humans, chosen for this other.
later, we will lower our bodies together
and let the waters close overhead, while our ears
fill with the sounds of coral, holy light in another form.


Sunday, November 23, 2014


it's a heavy, love layered, shackled burden. and we move like this, one foot thrust forward, center hardening, exchange, and then thrust the other. and what are we moving toward? as heavy as train cars, our chests, mothers, but we feign lightness. iron, the future's gates. walking the train yard in winter together, the tracks vibrating with what's possible. what's possible? anything. stomach birds don't know whether to smile or frown. birds don't really do either. there are just wings, wings and more wings, feathers ominously loosened. we hold hands as the trains advance, not knowing if in fact it's trains coming, if they'll pass, or if they'll rip us from our anxious perches. we hold hands. snow rushes up and fills the lights. there's noise.


it was some years ago my daughter was yet young enough to accompany me to the train yard. i had no idea then that that time would be iconic, iconic as in: happened, important, now over. once we climbed the cars in a winter storm and hung from them. another time we broke from our patio door in darkness and stood beside the train holding hands as the train rushed by us. how small we were standing then in the severe dry grasses. how close to the train! did we scream? we were at least screaming inside. excitement. fear. and willing both.


my son and i sit on the couch with one strand of coloured christmas lights strung over a cabinet. it has snowed many feet already this year. (don't dare tell me there's not something up with climate.) we listen to louis armstrong sing joyfully all those years ago, his heavy voice moving a more formidable cargo than silver bells. we're holding hands. we're no farther away from the danger that is living. my chest is no less heavy while sitting in this glow, loving him, happy.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

stocking the garner

you want to understand this life? you want to ride her like a horse, her mane staunched in your fist, forcing her to shit rubies? you want to understand in order to milk her? you want to lower your bounty bag and cast your throat back like sails and laugh like clouds that carry thunder? who made you, man, the muscle? every asshole has an unanointed sphincter. you didn't make yourself. either god or nature made you. time certainly knit your spores and sores. you want to understand this life - know this - downhill is master and everything is traveling invariably faster. the shit you try to collect is cannonading straight down in through your greedy gluten doors. you try to hold it and the whole structure is going to blow!

Friday, November 21, 2014


jack gilbert was right
breasts are the holy grail
only - it's not breasts that are
but the soft protrusion
concave to: convex
swale to: desire's upward quest
the fire that burns 
just over the mountains

burgers and fries and jocelynn and me

we're perusing the value menu, my kids and i, when i hear a voice from more than twenty years ago. jocelynn? i look up. we worked together at the corner store back when smoking was, not vogue but natural, back when cars looked like cars, almost back to when telephones were dialed. she looks the same. i can't imagine she'll know me but she does. erin? she says it, light on the question. she says my name, but its her voice. and with this she comes barreling through history, full and precise. she says my name and yet she owns it. whatever that means. i don't know much about jocelynn. i can hardly remember. only her daughters, grown even then. and that she's a little simple. not unintelligent, but easy with the world, like how cattails blow. i can't imagine what goes on behind those eyes but there they are, the same ones, with that same glint they had decades ago, actively burning. she has been carrying around that fire that is jocelynn. i'm staggered. we ask the perfunctory questions. i touch her arm. we are as easy with each other as though it is a friday night and we are renting movies out to young couples and i am 18 and she's forty-some, something that i could not then imagine. we catch up quickly. what is there to say? and off she goes, now 65 or so, asking people, are you done with that? and gathering trays. i ache for joceylnn. how far has she traveled to stay exactly joceylnn in this small town? and me?

distance is not physical.

where is there to go?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

in caul

there's a blue band surrounding the horizon. time beats like the blue band through the clock. when children are born lanugo coats their skulls, their slippery little pelts, and blueness spills forth from vaginas, overburdening the bowl. women's bodies, drawn by blue coal, are luminous mountains and valleys where crows fly. just off from the blue shore husbands fish in the moonlight on blue waters. there they fight and submit to and fight to submission blue bodies to feed to likewise blue bodies lost in tumult. almost locked, red flashes from the back of throats like volcanic fires where bats hang. inverted, words are born there. they peel themselves like small bells flying free from their steeples. they crone forth from the red pits into the vast blue light, lashing red pips toward the truth, but the truth is blue and vaster, and washes over sound, washing it silent.

the blue band snaps at the periphery of everything and sounds like the ocean snapping back to shore.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

when sentiment is covered in a blanket of snow or bound by the bow of the dark ring

snow falls today
a gentle snow

utter annihilation is not so far away on days like this

there is something about buoyancy:
the the human self stubbornly above the spirit
the "I" sprung like a kind of walnut knuckle on the walnut tree

what we have wrought we have already wrought
the action set in motion continues on in motion

there will be no room for mankind in the future
snow fills every gap

and yet i feel forever darkness is not so all alone
even as a quark i'll be held lovingly

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

while ordinary things

sitting through the temperature change, 0 C to plus 1,
snow blasts and clings to saplings,
while rain pelts and slakes the windshield.

a quarter turn and anything can be undone.

done, undone,
the same mechanism, foreswing, backswing.

what came first, winter or spring?
when does the year begin, a year?
life, a life?

black rivulets on the windshield marble the perfect white plain.

Monday, November 17, 2014

what's good for you

it's true, i admit, i don't like man.
i mean, i love him because i have to,
kind of like how i know i need to eat my vegetables,
and when i do it's something in my body
that loves them for me.
it's true, in order to stay sane
i go away from man 
and what man has created,
as in: the architecture of nights and days.
i don't mean art, i mean commerce, 
and sometimes art as commerce.
i mean, i need the trees and the rocks and 
the terrible torment of the rugged world
to scourge me of my dirty human foibles.
it's true, we fuck up too often.
and it's true, we bend our grace into staffs and snakes.
i mean, i've come across snakes in the wilderness
and i've loved them, real snakes that is,
but when i have i've stepped over them
with fear, with reverence;
one never knows for sure what nature will do
for survival; that quick strike of warning.
how unlike the snakes of mankind,
venomous, self aware and cruel, 
imagination fork tongued for power.

but the other night as i was leaving the grocery store,
and my children were lazily joking in the car,
and we were going to go to mcdonald's, 
it was twilight.
a father and his child, 
a boy or a girl, i couldn't tell,
were walking in the snow from canadian tire
and as they walked,
smeared shadows, 
they were talking.
the little one was saying something i couldn't quite make out
and the father was playing along, cajoling.
oh, ya, me too, said the father, 
i feel the same.
not quite hearing all their words 
i got the sense it was something fantastical
and the child was trying to outdo the father 
in swelling clouds of imagination,
something about the milky way, the universe!
and being god...
but again the father accepted, provoked,
ya, ya, me too.
and they walked toward the grocery store
and they were small against the night that was coming fast
and the smile i wore was a shield against the pain i felt
for i nearly wept aloud for the sudden rush of love i had for them.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


world, how you mashed my face in excess,
milk of blossoms and bosoms,
sputtering drunken and dazed;
how you scented me and whored me
with your garish perfume of plenty.

i was soused, overfed, unthinking, blinking.
i was reckless, wandering, flushed sodden from home.

i cry spent in your merciful naked arms,
you, who now ease me, erase me, let me down 
from your stone columns, you who allow 
the significant negation so that i might perceive 
the pauper crow's wingbeats as he staggers through air,
flapping swathes of black cloth for buoyancy.


what can one say? running yesterday through the falling snow.

silence exists so that the word might be spoken,

or, everything exists so that everything might exist.

throughout the forest stretched the white field. the world reduced, but not diminished. small animal tracks crossed the path here and there.

i ran and acutely felt the words, i love you, i love you.  who was i speaking to? what was the nature of that love? (was it different than how i love my children, my lover?)

across the path. the snow dug through into the earth. rich black sill thrown up in the smallest location. and then the tracks off under the trees again.

what did the creature try to find? was it food?

surely it was food in one way or another.

what are we looking for?

the fresh black stain of earth upon the snow looked like a universe. and perhaps was.

at one point i saw an insect, perhaps an ant or an ant's cousin, inconceivably on the vast snowy horizon. of course i left him. was he lost? or through each limb of his capable body did he exult this one day?

i ran. i moved my legs. and i ran.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

- (interlude)


walk on through the limitless and dark immutable night soundless no echo where edges turn up and fade from darkness through grey to light and the horizon spreads outward like a vast sea of sand spilling outward outward then dark then new light formless dimming to dim to light to dim again grown night walk on through this and time without borders through illimitable inhospitable nothing walk on somnambulist immune to pain to joy to being walk on simply enduring simply walking on the line turned in on and of itself no end spiral inward outward summoning walk on

but when you hear one voice rise when it cries out to you one small mound of muscle in the expanse of silence there there you hear it but can hardly identify small mound immeasurable size against the vast horizon but yet there a drop of blood upon the lips a breast outcropping mind cry cry out for you to know the momentary convergence the heap of pitiful earthbound treasure dot upon the plain mouth monosyllabic utterance please hear me here now stop a moment in this walking drop a bucket through the black well and fish up one mouthful of starlight

before the enigmatic journey again walk on picking up the edge scattering again into nothing walk on perhaps now but for the solitary moment less thirsty before time dissolves again and the eyes obliterate into starlight and beyond like particles of unrecognizable everything and the hand that knew itself from the sea and the desert becomes again itself the desert and the sea

Friday, November 14, 2014

the woman considers

at no point perfection;
only oscillation:
unsatisfactory satisfactory
disappointment disappointed
joy ecstasy
peace of the forgotten self

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

the unanticipated moment

i try to find my own words for what happened (and it's difficult as i currently read jaccottet and his words, his soft voice, stay inside me). i try to slice the infinitesimal cushion between the mundane, the expected, the ordinary, and that which blazes so purely the only response can be awe. (why is it that awe inspires the dumbstruck look? because we lack the mature capability of annunciation? because we're only ever befuddled children at the lap of - ?)

on the northwest side of the road early morning after an ice storm, trees in all of their ordinary splendor, trunk, limb, bark, tree. brown. green. leaves shed, or needles hanging on. tree. that's all. tree. and mighty and good. but tree.

but on the southeast, as the sunlight tilts through them, strokes them, denotes them, elevates them in a kind of ecstasy, tracing out each intimate hollow and sacred contour, shining out in a kind of head back, throat exposed, supplication - tree! holy tree! each tree ringed in what can be described without excess, as exultation!

one can not detect it in the northwest. it can't be seen hiding in amongst the ordinary at all. but in the southeast every setting is alive with the passing light! the ice illuminating! illuminated!

no matter all the significance of all the growing of all the trees in the northwest. in order to observe the fervor one must wait and live and grow. and forget. and then in surprise, experience the unanticipated moment, ice ringed trees illuminated by the most fugacious light.

one must wait. and live. and grow. and forget.

one can't help but to be humbled to receive such soulful beneficence when unasked for.

but if i began today with jaccottet's voice in my ear speaking over my own, i find myself at the end of this one particular road with another voice speaking out on this moment and owning it through annunciation. the first two lines have always rung out for me as though spoken from the pulpit, words which might bind humility and height. i hear them first, i think, in my stomach, and next, through my blood.

Rise by james owens

It comes unsought -- only unsought.

It comes uninvited -- only uninvited --
and by preference at the core of sorrow,
when sorrow without relief

slumps into the mind like thick,
obvious mud: the sick child,
the fallen marriage, the failing

god who hides the fragments of his face
in debris, weeks when you learn
sorrow is the only possibility.

It comes like this. One evening
you trudge along, broken,
a street chosen because choice

doesn’t matter, watching your numb
shoes, and for no reason at all
the late-spring light lifts itself

up from the late-spring lawns,
and the two sullen teens,
glaring as you pass, shyly

take each others’ hands,
and the fading sun
has just enough day left

to burn the stained glass
of a stone church
free of its gray blur,

so that gold and blue flash
and yearn, and the sky above
trembles now, ready -- ready

to fly open at just the right whisper.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

fugue state

dear magnificent girl-like creatures 
high in your saddles, 
galloping through the park,
may i learn a little something from you from this position, 
low, trundling through your horse shit,
stumbling upon the tracks you throw.

Monday, November 10, 2014

walking through snow and wind toward the oncoming season, bells in the distance

it's a november morning, one of the first cold days of winter, but i laugh at myself, for the day (whatever that is) is only practicing at being winter, a black puddle with a sharp delicate ridge of ice growing itself from the pavement, or from the hard packed gravel, toward the expanse of the nothing which is inside it; this is how the day practices. it doesn't yet know the fullness of cold which will be realized, but it's reaching toward the vague horizon of its empty center. and yet, even with such a forebodingness present, the cold periphery stringent, the white crusting of the ice engaged in reaching speaks to me of Christmas. all around me at the farthest reaches of my horizon, physical, and that which comprises the edge of my mind, the freezing coming forth toward me is rife with bounty. every last thing will be pilfered from the landscape except bare limbs, perhaps thorned ivy leaves or stubborn red berries, perhaps a track from some night creature that has ventured forth at unseen and unmapped hours. if there were abundance how might i see any one thing? but with the starkness of winter, the cold, the inhospitable nothingness flagging my footprints, even the idea of one warm piece of shortbread is treasure, one slice of clementine bounty, one song the hymn of (if only temporary) sustenance. the malls have not killed it yet. the church made of stone, lit by austerity, offers more; the forest a banquet hall for the raven's guttural surrender and rise; it survives in me! a gaunt but hungry animal, loping lonely, sinewed and muscled, alive, toward the coming cold.

an unfinished sexy poem (please update as your boops dictate)

shoulders are sexy.
>> is sexy.
... and ... are sexy.
... is sexy too.
thinking so hard through the body
the mind is shut off is sexy.
sports cars are sexy.
thumbing the self is sexy.
the high arc of red blood,
passion, lust, holy destruction
from the neck's stump is sexy,
or must be
for we allow it,
even propagate it
from our eunuch sized repulsion,
right here.

small is not sexy.
silence is not sexy.
god is not sexy.
not even a well thought out argument of why there is no god - perhaps this most of all - is unsexy.

but i, i am sexy.

(note: >>  and ... need be read as "boop")

Sunday, November 9, 2014


a frail woman in a grey toque and with a walker came into the store and asked where the bathroom was. i explained to her it was around from the jewelery and then down the hall.  not wanting to be misdirected and waste any of her dwindling energy she asked me to be more specific. i came out from behind the counter and told her i would lead the way, pushing aside boxes and a giant sized stuffed moose to make sure she had wide enough berth to make a safe trip. her hands were large on her walker but her wrists were withered to the bone skinny, her body wavering beneath the thin sheath of polyester. her steps were slow and careful behind me.

i opened the door to the women's bathroom and turned on the light for her. she caught up with me at the door and with the door cracked open for her to enter, despite any of my sentimentalizing, she paused and said, well, jesus christ! the last time i was in here the lady at the front told me the bathroom was down the hall but i went into the men's without knowing. while i was in there a man knocked on the door, jesus christ! well! imagine! while she spoke i noticed how gaunt her face was. i imagined i could break her jaw with my hands, no problem.

not long after this i put a man through the front cash. he was buying two huge piles of junk food, treats like fudge, jelly beans, caramel popcorn, salt water taffy and peanut brittle. each order came to over $50.00. while i rang up his purchases separately he rattled on endearingly, honey, ya. got you your fudge, speaking, i thought, over his shoulder. ya, your jelly beans too.

over his shoulder stood, patiently, the woman with the walker. the man appeared about the same age and of the same socioeconomic background as she. she smiled at me again and stood waiting. obviously they were a couple. the two transactions later and some accidental spilling of the peanut brittle on the floor (his accident) and some punching and breaking up of the caramel popcorn in the bag (his purposeful hand-chops) he exited the store. and still the woman stood in her walker, looking a little more frail but waiting patiently nonetheless and smiling at me perhaps even a little more directly.

it took me some moments to realize the man had been speaking into a headset and had not been speaking to this woman at all, who seemed, in the end, an unclaimed stranger.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


thinking about how horrible i was a few minutes ago 
i think about how if i could just rasp my bones together...
or be one of those girls who threw up,
things would be better.

and then i remember the young man i met today
whose tongue was rotting out
and so the doctors cut out chunks of tongue, cheek,
and stuffed the holes with bunches of thigh, ass.

what so easily flew out of my mouth a few minutes ago,
bare bones won't ease a thing.
better to expel the something more vile than vomit.

eating plenty

to draw the taste 
of the garlic 
to the surface 
we score the garlic, 
scar it, 
pulverize it.

who does not want to taste their life?


perhaps the wrongest thing we do in our lives, in our hearts, in our societies, is flee from our pain. we can not afford this squandering in any measure.

policies, personal or otherwise, should not be built on comfort.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

the mother

the last bladder is emptied, 
the last gleek shot into the sink,
the last struggling out of and into,
the last - somewhat grooming,
the last sandwich flogged to its plastic compartment,
the last backpack retrieved from the floor,
the last gangly stumbling,
the last repeated good day utterance, love you, etc.,
the last kicking of the floor mat.

the mother is alone.
the house stands still for a moment
in its terrible shock of silence.
then shakes off its cold blanket.
the mother leans into herself like tilted kindling,
a neanderthal, or philosopher, returned to her cave.
she begins to make the fire.
it doesn't matter what she makes the fire with.
the mother burns.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

a rend to the barriers

imperial street
is laid to the center of town 
like sugar cubes.
all the tidy houses 
are hitched together
with toothpicks and glue.
the morning sun
drags itself across the diorama
like a match.
this only seems like your life
but a poem is coming,
an inferno.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


8:17 am 
and the sun's been cut, is angled from its rise,
projected off the black back of our neighbour's crest,
light slanting through the front window of our small, 
defunct, never quite clean wasp-like nest,
as if our walls were in fact made from pulp and spit.
i'm standing center room, disheveled,
same drab wool sweater i wear every day of winter, 
   back lit,
my son at his desk, 
too much time for a child away from play pallor,
chair squeaking.
"whoa," he says, "the light like that -
you look just like jesus christ."
"whoa," i think, divine surprise 
and metaphorical equations pulling light 
across his wan facial guise,
"and you sound just like him."
our dishrag curtains glow,
seem to open like a veil;

Sunday, November 2, 2014

it is so very difficult not being li-young lee

Saturday, November 1, 2014

somewhere in chiaroscuro

asking myself what the colour of nostalgia is,
my eager self all nerve edged leans forward
and whispers in heat, caravaggio's ambers, umbers,
chiaroscuro's savage reds, but that is only
the haughty exterior of today's self
burning outwards and hard into candlelight.
if i still that bitch and coax my other self, the reluctant pup, 
the penitent one, out from behind time's curtain,
she licks these words, the milkmaid's blue apron,
as vermeer holds the egg in her hand and breaks it
out of frame, two strokes before the custard's swelling,
showing us how our longing moves so infinitesimally forward
filling the porous body, percolated through time and light,
to meet us at the horizon near the red lung's laceration.
the woman's hands might sing us our passion moment, yes,
restrained castration by the taller head,
judith engaging and gouging history at the gorge -
   and this is louder,
but it's the doleful crooning that lasts like long light, 
the rheumy egg yolk slipping, embodied by
the common movements of dull chaffed hands,
the milkmaid's small breasts spilling forth from the pitcher. 
it sustains us, the blue light story of the body,
over the course of a lifetime. how we long
to meet it in the end, at its and our point of inception.