Tuesday, April 30, 2019

the end

the end always catches me by surprise

i thought i had one more day

we always think we have one more day

perhaps living as if we had one more day

is the problem 

                        “one more day”?


i’ve been told the end is supposed to be full of joy—

too often the end is marked with pain

i take no pleasure in the ending of any thing:

stories; songs. love; hope. the flight of birds

the flowering of flowers, the cycle of seasons


i declare to you: the only good ending is a kiss.

the beginning of a promise: a shared breath

a way to intimate: our unfinishedness is a a gift.

Monday, April 29, 2019


here are my arms

                             my mouth open

full of words

                     full of air

my mouth open

                          with silence

like a wound

                     my mouth open

my empty hands

                            here are my arms

Sunday, April 28, 2019


we hadn’t see any wildlife
along the highway the entire
time we were on holidays.
halfway home, it was still
all trees, pines and firs,
fireweed covered foothills,
fog enshrouded mountains
and cascading waterfalls—
beautiful, yes, but not
what we had hoped for.
we decided we’d ask God
to make it happen, and why not?
not long after we saw
a bear trudging along tall grasses,
a moose standing calmly on the shoulder,
a bald eagle circling over a small lake,
mountain sheep traversing
a sheer cliff face, one slipping
and recovering juvenile
causing us to catch our breath.
we all felt such joy and wonder
at those moments, nature
presented to us in bite-sized chunks
of glory, an answer to prayer
and the gift of coming home.
even without pictures,
that shared experience still
reminds us that seeing
something together
makes every journey full.

Saturday, April 27, 2019


in the middle of the conversation
there was a gap in the middle
of the meal there was a gap
in the middle of the day
there was a gap in the middle
of our lovemaking there was a gap
in the middle of the book
there was a gap in the middle
of the poem there was a gap
in the middle of the family
there was a gap in the middle
of the night there is a gap
in the middle of my memories
there is a gap in the middle
of the only story i know there is a gap
in the middle of my desire
there is a gap that i want to fill

Friday, April 26, 2019


today we spoke of tradition;
how it is both the river
and the river’s shore,
how we hold it in our hands
like water, but we hold it.

we all start from somewhere:
an action that finds its home in our body,
heart folding around that action
through the discipline of repetition,
desired or not desired,
as we labour with hands or knees
courting the divine,
or some approximation of it
that allows us some certainty,
convinced we are not entirely wrong.

we launch ourselves into the argument
of first and last things;
how language shapes our journey,
the edges of every thing we know
and how we can know each piece
as if existence is a puzzle
we can solve now and forever,
but not our own hearts.
we deceive ourselves.

we look for a place to anchor,
end up a stone’s throw
from where we started:
still unsatisfied.

Thursday, April 25, 2019


i did not mean to seduce her
with words. they were never spoken.
just on the page, each serif
a hook in the eye.

when i did speak, words
billowed out like clouds,
flowed over my lips
like smoke from a fog machine,
each phrase carefully posed
for maximum theatrical effect.

those words were a stain
on your skin, your body
a parchment on which i wrote
songs in your favourite key,
over and over and over,
fading like an echo or with wear.

now there is only the memory
of words, poorly captured.
they escaped the net
like butterflies, or fish
that swallow the bait
then spew it from their mouth.

now those words are ghosts,
ripples on the surface.
the wind carries them away.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


this is a wall.
make a choice.

this is a window.
make a choice.

this is a door.
make a choice.

this is a roof.
make a choice.

this is a room.
make a choice.

this is a bed.
make a choice.

this is the morning.
make a choice.

this is the night.
make a choice.

this is a heart.
make a choice.

when was the last time
you touched the sky?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

no small thing

this one small thing
that bears such weight
whispers in my ear
without ceasing

i hold this secret
beneath my tongue
afraid to speak
its truth a knife

i place each word
with great care
precious and sharpened edges
set in rows like teeth

not every smile is
a smile, a warm embrace
a thin comfort
while laying in wait

i can count the moments
as blessings; they hold me
against the sorrow—
i wonder what they’re worth?

Monday, April 22, 2019


it is monstrous—
the indignities we impose
upon each other.
we have so many tools
we can use to bruise
the soul; the instrument
of our destruction
is our indifference.
the headlines
tell us of bombings
and shootings
but it is the way
we ignore the pain
that marks us
beneath the skin.
there are so many ways
to use your hands;
choose wisely
which seeds you plant,
how deeply you dig,
what you cultivate.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

we wait once more

they said there would be joy
everyone is full of stories to share

there were celebrations and everyone was invited
we shared meals together

we sang all the songs that mattered
we spoke of all the promises

as if we understood them
as if they were a mystery

they said he would come back soon
we continue to watch the skies

Saturday, April 20, 2019

we wait still

they said there would be joy
everyone is sitting in silence

we have covered all the windows
someone mentions sackcloth and ashes

they talk of resurrection
wonder what it all means

afraid to believe
they hold their breath     and wait

if we wait long enough
all will be revealed

Friday, April 19, 2019

we wait

they said there would be joy
everyone at the gathering is wearing black

so we wait
we wait in silence

we turn off the lights
we listen to the pain

then we join each other
in a song     we tell the story

as if it were true
as if every tear will be wiped away

Thursday, April 18, 2019

getting older

so many broken
bones     so many
bumps and bruises
so many twists
and strains across
the body     a history
of striving     forward
motion interrupted
how far one travels
measured by intention
what one dares
each endeavour
a promise
the gift of work
the discipline
of desire     wrapping
hands around you
each tool
full of potential
each task
a seed     each
completion a gift
i keep getting
older     i still feel
young     it is both
true and not true
perception thin
like onion skin

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


there is only this weight
hollowing out my belly

there is no strength in my hands
sleep is a fugitive thing

i wake with skin vibrating
and breathing shallow

how many times will i turn
sheets wrapped around me like a shroud

the intermittent flicker of the clock
insistent and implacable

steel yourself for the day, the week
fold forward and set your feet

this is all you have left to do:
step into the light

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

simple things

simplicity is not a light thing.
it is an act of brutality.
an imposition of the will
stamped on the skin,
the bruise of humility blooming
in the muscles, the bones
bearing the weight of each decision.
it is a brave thing
to let truth smack you in the face.
do not turn away;
concern yourself with discipline,
cutting off the accumulation
of indifference and distraction,
the delicate removal of the veil,
the insertion of new lenses
with which to view the world.
you must learn to use new tools,
or the old tools in new ways,
or maybe you only need your hands,
capable of both gentleness and violence,
every small act larger than you ever imagined.

Monday, April 15, 2019


They used to call me fish.
I have no idea why.
I only know I couldn’t breathe
in my small town;
I wasn’t the only one.

It’s been 35 years since I lived there.
The only thing I really miss
is the fried chicken from Uncle Nicky’s.
I try not to indulge in nostalgia.
I have few illusions.
There was one gathering
a few years after graduation.
It was tragic.
I won’t go into details.
For some people,
high school never ends.

I’ve seen one old classmate since then,
one of my closest friends,
working on campus—
a tradesman who used to be an artist.
Perhaps he is still.

Somehow I’ve heard the occasional rumour.
I know he was married
to one of the most beautiful girls in town,
that he got divorced a few years later,
that he still skateboards.
I know who he was.
I have no idea how.

Perhaps we all stay the same
in all the important ways:
the seeds of our flowering
the wounds that once seemed so deep.
I still have no idea why they called me fish.

Sunday, April 14, 2019


sometimes what you don’t say
hangs in the air
                          like a mist
that coats everything
like dew
              like frost

i would like us to speak
more directly
not drawing large figures
that lurk in shadow

we need to discover
a new language
the old one isn’t working
we keep moving
past one another
                            like mist

Saturday, April 13, 2019


i wish to live a life of more simplicity

a life in which yes means yes and no no

though i admit to more disappointment than success

i am far too easily distracted too often

amused by activities that don’t bring joy

it’s not the same as evenings filled with reading

rubbing the stories into my skin like lotion

trying to keep everything soft inside

i find myself wake late at night

watching the light creep across the walls

the minutes slowly advancing to the morning

my hands empty with yearning