urban constellations

one star, three late night
windows of high-rise insomniacs
called Babe Ruth. Seen from the hill
behind the baseball field off Edinburgh Road.

urban orange glow of light pollution
spilling, perma-sunset backdrop of
gentrification, humming along the
black horizon where it is never dark

farm nights so dark you lost
your own body melting
into the room, ill-defined
edges. i am everything i perceive.
catalog the materials of our sky
and name them. flaming space junk ejected
into the void, transformers blown blue eerie, loud
cities on the horizon replace

dark swamp nights my mother whispers
’cassiopeia,’ and teaches me the stars while
the crickets sing something melancholy
to carry with me.

after the city storm and chaos candles
lighting dim chambers, stacked
i draw andromeda in the sky
and orion is tattooed on your wrist.

Starkey Hill

I raced the rising
star and world to Starkey Hill this morning
to catch the changing of the guard

when all creatures, dark and sly
residents of foreign hours give
way to lighter things of wing and song

woodpeckers adjourn with hardwood gavels
and all return to tree and earth
dens and caverns leaving

just us darkest things behind.

Bee witch

when I am an old woman

I will live in a brave little

house by the river and

let the yard go to sumac and

wild daisies.

speak, drowsy bees in

my garden of all you have seen

Beyond the River where my legs

cannot take me, old and painful.


A trio of drab birds follows a white pigeon

saint , martyr, pretty thing

pigeon celebrity by genetic accident.

What is the difference between a white pigeon and a dove? Biblical

appearances aside.


on the road has nothing on us

i think, ascending

into perilous air, summer

family sleeping through


and waking to the dawn in a new province.

nobody says a word when they see mountains

for the first time

(there can only be one first time)

i am awfully sorry

i've forgotten how to be

in a place without needing to leave.

i have an appointment to leave another

destination very soon.


Tiger lilies
roam the recessed dooryard
of the church
cigarette driftwood
littering sandy fronts
of urban jungles occupied
by feral children who
can not speak our language.


Will we be the old and invisible living

in a young neighborhood?

Or will we move to where even the air feels stodgy?

Will we all agree silently

that the first grey hair signals

our exodus, the rasta painter on the skateboard

will open an RRSP and we

will dream of this house that smelled like our youth.

Baptinista (1)

No glass rain will mark the hour of our passing

unknowable cartography of shores changed by rising


all the whales have beached themselves in protest.

Our children play with small plastic versions of orcas and dinosaurs.

mother what killed the dinosaurs?

An asteroid, my child, the earth turned hotter

than the sun and within

three hours they were gone.

mother what killed all the creatures in the sea?

O, we did, my child.

We did. We choked

the oceans and robbed and mined

and killed and slaughtered and left behind

a trail of picture book

animals. You will dream at night

of being on a boat- in the bright

smug of day a fluke punctures

the surface, a primordial

creature breaches and falls back into the sea.

Lick the salt tears from your lip, child- that is what the ocean

tastes of.

thank you for teaching me how to eat oysters

here- you have to stroke it
rub your finger across the briny
surface and throw your head back to
catch your prize, quench your thirst

i am a small town
girl on ossington gaining
new appetites

i taste oysters on my chin when Madeleine
comes. we spend our
afternoons at the ocean.

Sundays in Toronto

We sought the beating heart of the primal city prying

behind doors, nondescript on Bathurst Street

down Beaches alleyways and unassuming

Danforth patios velvet

places blurry and indistinct

that presented cardstock menus

that read like poetry thoughtfully

and sparsely populated by words we did not know

but came to love, learning a new language and rolling

around their taste in our mouths

fine wine sippers of words.


It is spring-
effervescent willow buds dream
greenly half imagined and the sudden
chaos of birds singing
in the morning only confirms
what I have already seen in the faces
of winter-wearied people who now smile
when they pass.

they smile with the brilliance of the sun
and I wait for the crocuses
and the skunks who rummage
drowsily in the alleys.

Prospect Ave

Saint George slays the dragon down the street
from where I sit astride the broadbacked beast
who sleeps with one eye open and surveys
all that lies beneath.

Holding private court I watch one hundred
thousand peasants live in lines of light between
the river and the sky called royal
ruled by whom they do not know for I

am Queen

only of rooftop expanses
blank and serene that only I can see
from a hill I thought I dreamed and walked until
it manifested

where the noise recedes to just the quiet hum of electric sleep
the city lies beneath.

An Old Woman Smiles at You in the Street

Perhaps an old woman with pink

hair smiled at you today

in the street

which was covered so deeply in snow

and unending winter that you could have used

skis or snowshoes or some other apparatus

of travel.

The day is so vivid-

I know the way the light hit

her milk translucent teeth and

turned them blue and feral in her mouth

when she threw back her head to laugh.

things to do for free when you are poor


we can not afford the movies.

cockatoos are learning to talk
confined and ignorant and mildly vicious
“do not put fingers in cage”
do they dream of rainforests
or just industrial ontario stripmalls.

“hello, hello,” mom and i return for years
“hello, hello,” they eventually


i took it for granted that every journey
begins with a prayer
we are not religious.
sometimes we sit on the shoulder of the highway
with the hood thrown up and white smoke

3. we  have a new car and the pet store
has gone out of business.
where are those cockatoos, now?
and what things do they speak of?
we are watching a movie
and thinking of birds in the concrete
jungle who can

Howard Johnson

here is when I knew it would all end up fine-

Three people are in this bed and

three more across the room all in the blue

light wash of late night infomercials.

A lottery ticket is stuck, alternately

to the bicep of my companion

or to my breast, sharp with promise.

And in the earliness, room still asleep

I tuck it under the bedside lamp and leave,


jimmy jazz

this used to be the patio of a bar.

too young, i drank whiskey shots, warm beer.

it smelled like summer in the city, so garbage in the alley, inexplicably, pancakes, cigarette smoke.

ivy ate up the wall and it was close to claustrophobic crowded so

your sweaty skin would stick to your neighbors like a leather couch in the summer.

the reverberating three chord punk felt like the next mornings hangover.

here or there

As soon as I am here or there
I’d like to be gone again,
the warm blanket corner of my couch, with the good view
or the cafe down the road or the orchard.

None are immune
until only the place and time inbetween is desirable.

Four thousand kilometers from one place called home
I drive for four days straight to get there
wanting salt shaker clatter and turkey steam, red paper napkins
and the sugar bush shining in her fall red and orange
but a thousand kilometers out I weep in exhaustion
on the side of the road, the lead heaviness of my eyelids

My passive copilot, the carsick hound
attends to his own problems and is indifferent.

Falling to my knees after crossing the swing bridge boundary line
I could lie on the ground, press my forehead against it
or my lips, feel its power
coming up through my feet and infiltrating my being
and already, I’m ready to turn and drive
back, the road an invitation
to a party I’d be hard pressed to miss.

A Common Motif

Every greeting must eventually
end in a farewell- this is the nature
of these things.

You rushed in like a train full
of passengers vivid with their memories
scrambling to disembark the noise
of you was terrifically quiet
the silent resounding of twenty four years
that echoed and jockeyed for sense.

Trains- once, half asleep, I recall
racing my blue cruiser as fast as
my hot and aching legs would pedal, gasping
at the fall air while a locomotive
raced parallel to me through the sleeping
streets of the ward.

At the river the train trestle goes on where
the road peters out, their convergence
having run its course and bleating a farewell
the train carries on, inexorably forward
while I lie, panting in the gravel
trying to recover my breath.

Coffee money

'sorry' my stupid mouth

blurts its not even

my voice its arrogant and

scared and the coins in my pocket

jingle, warm & merry there

in my denial.

Cry for the dogs left out

on the coldest nights

and walk by even as I say

“sorry, sorry”

I hate this city



Some people may never know

what we have taken for granted;

The chill tightness of a tart grape that


as we close our eyes against

its flavor.