Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Sweater

Once there was a world in which 
there was only one cashmere sweater.

Oh, you remember it.
There was a street

and on that street, amidst the other buildings,
the one store with its one shop window

and in that window, upon the dummy,
the one cashmere sweater.

You were imagining it even then,
dashing across the street from Bathhurst to Bloor.

There were puddles.
It was the month before it grew so cold

the puddles would freeze over
and everyone would have to be more careful.

The sweater is still there, although the streets have been rerouted
and the building is gone.

There are countless so-called 
cashmere sweaters now available for purchase on-line

but the one, it can never be handled.

Monday, November 28, 2016

How Do You Eat Your Christmas Cookie?

Does the salt make you sad?
Does the sugar make you dizzy?
Do you sweat?
Do your cojones become agitated?
Do you engage in the quandary of Proustian time?
Do you lament your glands, your hands, your grandmother?
Does some ancient fragment of mind visualize anew the startling reviews 
of (Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1) Whistler's Mother?
Do childhood rain forests fall?
Do all foxes, pell-mell, scatter?
Do you open your maw and thereby close your eyes?

Or do you eat?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Snow Leopard

                                                   "Have you seen the snow leopard?
                                                    No! Isn't that wonderful?"
                                                                                        Peter Matthiesson

It was during the years of those puce faced politicians 
pitching their forked tongues and stalking us in our dreams
conflating Plato's Cave with Dante's Inferno,
the time between Leonard Cohen's death and David Suzuki's,
the interim when I yet felt sexy about porcupines 
and no less so for the shining pink metallic lure of Christmas tinsel,
when the cities were blaring from their electrical cords 
and Basho's frog was pulling himself succinctly into the muck
when I heard the cock of dawn cry once for more, not fruition,
that I realized - where the snow leopard isn't 
is the place of some serious happening.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Want and Consequences While Preparing the Turkey

Does the maple tree want to make good on autumn,
want to litter the world in its particular way
with its piercing reds, burnt siennas,
crisp yellows and even craven golds?

Standing at the island,
tearing strips of stale bread
and scattering them further
into bite sized pieces,
the onion, celery and butter
softening into sage behind me,
I place this poor excuse for a poem
into your gracious hands
with the smallest dash of hope.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

wealth, notes

i am running through the woods in november. days after the first snowfall. it is cold. it leans against me. hardens things. freezes. my hands. my face. my muscles. the cord from my mp3 player (which my daughter hounds me for using, it's so old school, one earbud out for hearing, one earbud in). and so i lean a little harder into the cold. and we move together like directional arrows arching around one another. some spherical and rolling yin yang ball. warming as we move.

i run astonished. my mind instantly washed clean of the detritus of the preceding seasons. i'm running inside the forest's state of purity. my body is. with calm mind i move through the eye of the needle.

the path is broken only by the uneven scatter and under-padding of frozen brown leaves. the snow not yet thick enough for strict continuity.

but at every fallen tree i encounter there are these long serious dashes of white perfection across the trail.

and across every fallen tree. only a little interruption. of immaculate footprints. (this. i beg to witness. only a little interruption.)

i reason as i run - there could not possibly be a computer program sophisticated enough to express the exquisite randomness. suddenness. and fullness of nature. at every turn i am shocked.

ice rushes itself up a bank of a suggestion of trees at the foot of the rapids. into a new body.

ice forms. is forming. as i pass it. further up. along the edges of the static field of river. just before it's pulled down the chutes.

chickadees hurl themselves at me as i exclaim. giving them seed. it is almost winter. in their eyes i am blessedly no longer an intruder.

a crow flaps over me soundlessly but for his long wing beats in a blue suede tuxedo. i croon to him appreciatively, nicely done!

there are wolf tracks in and out of town.

a woodpecker navigates through the winterlock. sounding like a deer's crush.

everything is magnified with significance.

the swamp's surfaces are airtight. i scuttle pebbles off their black shine. this seems impossible. but happens.

then i discover the tree that the kingfishers use in the summertime to launch their pursuits from. it's been chewed half through by beavers. half through! i never even considered this a possibility! i can't keep up with might happen.

a black squirrel darts through a tree. then stops. almost big enough to be a porcupine. its tail refined and decorous. a lady's sable scarf. or her fine intellectual talk late in the intimate glow of brandy.

for all man's faults this exists. this. exists.

we must remember. to get out of our own way. and each other's. so that we might encounter it.

three words i feel as i'm running. three words brimming. purity. wonder. love.

we're going to die, the deer carcass reminds us
we're going to die, from the mad rush of beavers and birds
we're going to die, ya

an ecologist was weeping on the news the other day

gone are the easy times (when were those, exactly?)

as the end draws near my face still glows in moonlight 

wearing three layers of sweaters i light the fire
outside the winter storm blows; inside, this small meal 
inside again, another meal, of the heart, largest

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Penetrating the Canvas

It is morning and perhaps I want to snap the newspaper.
Or it's afternoon and I initiate my incisors
to break through the coverlet of the crisp red apple.
In the evening after dinner 
I swipe the agglutinating gravy 
off the round white plate briskly 
with desire and soapy water.
At the precipice of sleep 
I recall the three day-old snowfall 
locked over and around the barn's perimeter.
Quietly I call to the horse we named Disaster 
to stomp willfully toward me 
through the invisiblehood of midnight
over the vast puncturing of snow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It Happened a Long Time Ago and Keeps Happening

It's happening 
right now
and I'm looking at it
but I'm startled 
that each day
it could be told 
in infinite ways.


For instance, my mother,
at her kitchen table, 
is wringing her hands. 
The air between us
is gentle. I know her.
And because of my life
I know where she has been.
She addresses the loss.
The cornice of her face
hits the table 
alongside the apple pie. 
She keeps talking. 
I'm very slowly
nodding, yesss.


Or, my mother is excited
by a thin strand of lights 
she's strung up 
over her kitchen sink.
It's off. She turns it on.
See? She asks hopefully. 
I've learned to lie gently
over the years. Oh, I respond, 
it's lovely.

But just how many lights
might it take to illuminate
this house as brightly 
as she feels she needs to?

A house is made from time.


Even the plastic flowers
on his grave

Monday, November 21, 2016

it's too beautiful to not report and so i report this to myself, babies, notes

my daughter was to have a screaming child from school. a simulation. but our house is so small. it most definitely would have taught us something.

so instead, in our world of simulations, she was offered a simulation of the simulation. an egg.

quite lazily she has been carrying her egg around in a thermos. refusing to read it books. refusing to do anything with it that might be deemed (by her) as foolish. (she broke it even before the project officially started.)

but late last night! haha! a dream. a nightmare!

she has a real life job at my workplace. she is an ice-cream scooper. and so last night while sleeping she dreamed she had to carry an ice-cream bucket around everywhere she went. a real life weighted responsibility that would surely perish. if she found her arms empty she was haunted by it. it followed her through the sky. it was alive! and whenever their vision met, it would thrust itself at her and dive at her earthbound. there was no escaping!

never once were you only in me
when your body moved beneath my skin like tree limbs
you were already your own forest

never again will my body end
at my fingertips—
your fingers reaching for the rattle

the void at the tips of my own toes is one thing
the void at the tips of my children's toes—
eviscerating infinity!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

on how time becomes a diamond, notes

in my past i have had huge chucks of time unappropriated to anything or anyone else. and yet i felt as though i were drowning in ether. stars weighted my heals. and i gagged on the vacuousness of saturn's rings.

and lately, these last few months, the cavalcade of everything has pressed upon me like tomes to leaves in a book — but when one moment clears, it shines purely.

a night out on the town
in the dollar store with my beloved and kids
i get fool's gold giddy

bins of christmas tinsel
lasso old dreams
i touch sacred cellophane

the highway is black
the hard rain an obsidian gloss
a fox rises like an ember on the shoulder

with only one minute to midnight
there's yet enough time left
to love everything

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Shine On the Road's Blacktop When it Rains

It's 2016. South, Trump's just been elected.
Here, thank god, after Harper (no angel) 
a fairly new liberal government.
Everywhere, hotter than average temperatures.
It's early evening but black as night, November.
My teenaged daughter and I are on the couch
watching, together, Nina Simone
deliver her 1976 performance, I Wish I Knew
How it Feels to be Free. A mastercraft, 
how she mocks the historical white audience 
tinkling you-fool lightly 
all over the classics echoed through the piano, 
plucking the irony back
and then wringing its neck 
in her evening gown, 
her black forehead glistening,
after all, a girl is gonna goddamned eat, 
even the bird, 
even the sacred one she finally sets to flying. 

No parent can say and have heard anything.
Ms. Simone's evening gown is shining.
No parent can explain just where we've been.
Watch her body, I want to say. See how she
thrashes in pure measure and wry splendor.
When she moves, even a little, 
she is moving against something.

But it's me she's watching out of the corner of her eye.
Me. And I cry against the wings. I cry with longing
and with shame.

*Nina Simone singing I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free.

Friday, November 18, 2016

This Much Is True

You are a field of tall summer grasses
with its industrious grasshopper chatter,
A dry autumn wood and its dry autumn leaves 
rattling through more dry tangle,
And even the bluest hush of the softest snowfall 
falling, at the height of winter, with fulfillment.
You are kisses along a naked back.
You are a black sea swelling.
You are a terse seed globing, coming.
Thank whatever powers there be, you are.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

bangs, notes

a small thing. my daughter has cut her bangs. and as a consequence looks like me. my parents can't help but hound her as what happens between their vision and their memories is so jarring. i thought you were her. you were her. were her... and my daughter can not help but react violently against this. i am nothing like her. nothing like her. like her...

my parents are pleased
my daughter is not
dna, indifferent, obeys

having never met
because of Death's dominion
my son sports and fusses my father's soft curl

each resemblance
to those we have (in one way or another) lost 
pricks and polishes

my daughter strides 
my ex-mother-in-law's long bones 
we don't embrace

my son alters the mirror of his blue eyes
by underscoring them
with my ex-husband's lips

when we had decided to make babies
we were rough
my nose bled, and also other parts

the things which bloomed inside me
and were shed
are still blooming inside me and shedding

constantly, between us, beloved
the space between our two worlds

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

when i hold you red bursts through my eye

something about holding one another
and all of the years of shepherding the summer born tomatoes 

and maybe the lamb finally coming together with them 
cooking lovely and steaming, slowly brewing on the stovetop

all of the blistering days before in the winters tending to the animals
and then the one windy day when they were cudgeled

something about holding one another
through all the warming of the capillerous reds rising
and all of the brutalities befalling like hunks of coal

something about the holding and the steeping
something about time

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dead Men Leave Notes

Going back through the hair of him
trying to reach the skin of him

The skin of him was a clamour of birds
which happened

The hair of him overlapped the forehead
where shifts occurred

It's the shifts 
which are essential

Death is...
Death is.

Death is, for instance, a rotten tomato
we try to (re)establish

If we can somehow grasp the dead man
then perhaps we can know the ghost in these twills

The scent of the someone 
vaguely familiar

Sunday, November 13, 2016

ownership, notes

there are so many useless things in the store which might become useful. who am i to know how anything might be purchased and remain unutilized. might become utilized?

i have been admiring two hand thrown stemless, handleless goblets. perhaps tea bowls. longing to have a need for them. finding none but my admiration. my longing for their form.

i wrap them for a man who is chatting. with one eye on him.

i don't know if they will be cherished.

in me they remain cherished.

dusting away the little circles on the shelf
the wood warms, burnishes

Thursday, November 10, 2016

red is the handle

what does heart long for
or earthly things?

perch on hill of head
peer down
see heart's hands clasped
witness heart rocking
whitening empty space   a diamond 

there at top of heart's head 
a monkey in a cage   thrashing
shrieking for glistering paint   for canvas

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

the strangeness of parenting, notes

did i once have a box of baby birds? i'm not sure any more. whenever i close my eyes they are there in the recesses of my mind about to make a small tragic sound. which means they need me. need me? yes. need me. but what do they need of me? i have no idea. but they are always there in the darkness certain of my power. desperately so. dangerously.

we like to play in my shadow
my shadow is bigger than me
i am not my shadow

it begins with pregnancy
when fruition and fullness are words that are repeated
we do not speak of void's repleteness

small stars are pulled from skin
and pressed to the cream black sky
already dead, they're more brilliant than anything

Monday, November 7, 2016

Rubin's Vase of Rotting Apples

I wonder
if there was a key
to Flaubert's drawer
of punkish apples.

I touch my own face
and realize, yes,
it looked a lot like
two candlesticks
pushed together
with an apple on top
that Flaubert 
must have referred to 
as me.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

the short corridor along highway 17, notes

wolf and fox have stalked small sweet breaths along the railroad tracks
moose have stood unwavering in leaf light 
and deer have dashed the lanes in three bounds

the real action does not follow the highway

always this place has spoken to me. caused me to tremble. yet these are not the largest mountains. nor the oldest trees. really it's only a shovelful of endurance upon which life has taken root. and yet after over a decade of driving the same short distance, i feel this morning as though i finally understand the true measure of its beauty. or perhaps in future years, at future moments, the beauty will expand and i will, each time, believe again i finally understand. (my ignorance is renewed so often and with such vigor.) the tamarack are orange and blazing. the sky has been let loose from beneath the eyelids of the muse. the evergreens are dense and wide like slightly shimmering stone puddles. frost has lassoed and strung everything up like christmas lights. the snag is deafeningly dramatic. i'm overcome. after fourteen years of the same corridor. i'm overcome. again. and again. by the impossible newness. the exquisiteness of the ordinary so acutely beautiful. so hauntingly present. and this is enough. too much. i am already crying. then an owl tops a tree to topple me from the sight of being human. an owl rotating its head as i pass by. an owl. from its life. and to its life. ensuring me of life. life! the blazing good inferno.

with every stitch of spider web in dew
the world is made and you unmade
an eye stares into an eye

shipping and receiving

yesterday while driving to work
i glanced for a second 
off the side of the highway
and noticed that a white tailed deer,
nearly analogous in colour with the brown fern,
was wading through it
as though through muddy water.

this would be vastly more important
than anything else i would encounter
over the next twenty-four hours.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

discovering what morning is

daylight is whatever daylight is

but i meet it like a balcony forming high up on an apartment building

hope grows in me like a windowbox garden, little seedlings pushing, hungry for texture

my skin longs its sentience like an x-ray of fire

my ears call volumes of song into the room as i separate the curtains

Friday, November 4, 2016

when the blackened sea sings glass and the sky answers


it's possible
the bench you are sitting on
which you must balance
to behold the water
is broken

it's possible
that the light that touches 
over and over
like a sword 
knighting the horizon
is only light
and that the air there 
is blank and cold

it's possible
that that place, that fusion 
were we to walk there 
over the water
isn't there
but further on
undesignated by real world boundaries

it's possible the eyes cast aspersion
it's possible the skin knows nothing

     it's possible the tear ducts which have unlocked
     are flimflammed by the backs of dolphins 
     which, as a single entity, are moving forward
     in a diving band of arcs, entreatingly toward you
     with diamonds tacked along each spine
     which jangle, lacking explanation, upon further progression 
     like curtains right before your eyes
     illuminating and dappling your cheekbones
     your seeing angles slit and lessened against the coming of the light
     filtering at half-mast the intensity of the merger
     it's possible this extra sight 
     is mathematically less, only half-sight
     and therefore trickery, deception, self lie

it's possible
it's possible
it's possible

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Loss - An Ode to the Terrible Takers

While dusting at the gift store a customer laments to you, "Oh, you are fighting such a losing battle."

Then the cherry tree opens up over Mount Yoshino in your mind as it does every springtime
and the sky loses dramatically to the pinkening of blossoms.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

last winter is a meaningful tension that makes me, notes

moving out through the woods. going outward. doves from a box. leaving. going. outward. onward. breath fleeing. ripped bare between bare branches. black branches harbingers of stillness. black branches a negation of winter sky. black limbs. breath shattering cold. snow swallowing every footfall. it is only when you see them that you remember. remember that you are. that you have body. it is only when you see them that the doves of your breath remember their home. coalesce backwards onto tongue into taste buds.

they are opposite you on the frozen river. on the last day of the frozen river. tensed and invisible. their minds ticking. their legs frozen mid-motion. their ears and noses the source of all thinking. they are there. fawn and majestic along the immeasurable plain of snow. and you forced so terribly instantaneously back inside your body. stuffed like a sweating scarecrow.

it is time. it is time between you. each of you measuring. measuring the distance which is not footfalls. and not seconds. your ears and eyes and noses negotiating. you all engaged in the tasting of salt. you all tasting the salt in the airwaves. you all eating from the white fire.

remembering this an hour before the ice forms again on the river. you are breathless. the doves, so far, remaining in the dovecote. shivering beneath their feathers.

Nietzsche is always asking if we're ready to die 
i'm ready to die
and so the ice continues its work of taking hold and letting go

four deer stock-still along the riverbank lacking gesture 
communicate with one another
and each. single. ancestor

when the deer and i behold the salted air together
i'm ready to die

forgetfulness is also a part of the structure 

let me progress no further onward in this journey
but circle back daily
to the single fire at the center of cold

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

mercy, notes

without saying all the particulars of the world out there we know all the particulars. the towers are falling. the children are moving from assembly lines. killing their parents. walking backwards in their brother's bloody shoes. babbling stock reports.

but at our kitchen island under a couple late night bright telescopic lights my daughter and her friends, bubbling from out of their womanly bodies like brookwork, who had temporarily stuffed themselves into the tresses of ghouls and dead miscellaneouses and bunny rabbits, are spilling and cooing over their hallowe'en pencils, starbursts and juice jammers, as though everything is exactly right in the world. as though every treasure might be slipped by a stranger into a pillow sac blooming with sugar.

the black crow 
sits on the wire
beholding the panoply


rubies, twigs and gold
skittles, pencils, goldfish
teens tipped like tea pots

the most powerful buffer
to inhumanity:
treats, gratitude, wonder

(*remarkably, the girl/women noted are sixteen and seventeen years old.)