To a train conductor outside Medicine Hat at four in the morning

Startled from your solitude you wave,

reflexive-

your great iron machine cries out a foriegn breath

carried since Halifax and the prairie grass

sways and dreams of being an ocean

in the moment of your passing.

More people, I am sure, have walked on the moon

have plumbed the depths of the sea and known shipwrecks ,

earth receding either way

than have known this peculiar vastness.

Deer interlope in town, browsing

medians and gas station boulevards

insouciantly

where still, there are no people,

just us hurtling into a punched purple sky and waving

now to coyotes pouncing in mice

amongst wheat stalks and swans

who beat their wings and sing

such an alien song.

Emery Road

Today, I drove down Emery Roaf

just for the hell of it.

I had nowhere to be

and the lake was

perfectly blue.

After Rainfall (2)

I live where two rivers converge

where the city radiates outward

in hinky zig-zag streets &

abrupt

Escher staircases &

church bells who toll the hour

a few minutes early.

All rain returns to the rivers

rushing turgid and noisy through storm drains

homecoming as sure as the geese

used to migrate south for the winter.

They have known the river water

as clouds in the sky, bursting

returned with it to the Eramosa.

They have struck dischordant wings, wintry thunder and I wonder

when they ceased flying south.

Walks after rainfall

Where the sidewalk deadended under

cedar boughs, stooped in surprise

rain weary & heavy with it

I baptized you.

It was spur of the moment.

I was surprised, too,

at the cascade when I shook

the needles sunk low enough to grab.

Trees

i’m still struggling with this one. it’s a wip courtesy of mary oliver and her love of nature and her dedication to living a life that inspired poetry.

I am not here for altruism
I am here for money which I toil
through brackish swamp and alder
thicket for in dime
sized increments.

But this land is in me like a sickness
and every seven feet I wish a seedling
luck as I kick it into the ground
and wonder.

Eighty years for you to grow
here in the land that the hard faced activists
who march waving their banners in concrete streets
tell us is dead and barren.

Eight years. Maybe-
hopefully
humanity will have blown itself up and my rows of trees
will grow old and their progeny
will take back the earth and heal the scar
where I work.

Not for altruism, but
this land is in me like a sickness
and I hope.

One Hundred Thousand Seconds

Well they demanded one hundred thousand dollars from you although
you’d put in a hundred million seconds to satisfy demands
outside of yourself.
Let’s leave! Anywhere might be ours,
and the man who wasn’t a poet drew maps of the places he loved
while how wrote verse and his toes dangled over the suede
barstools, perfectly serviceable beneath our feet.
We drew escape plans that went unremembered in sobriety
while alone, we both though about leaving
and chose to stay until it was
intolerable.

Wild strawberry

I could almost have dreamt the berries so brief
is the bloom although they burst forth prolifically.

What I remember is the waiting
incongruous vines on the ground almost weedlike in dusty ditches
the smell of strawberries coming from apparently nowhere
wafted up from underfoot.

Good intentions fill my basket
the berries bypassing it again and again
right into my mouth.

Truck stops

Our Francophone waitress refills

our mugs with oilslick coffee

rainbow diaphanous like the diesel

fuel on asphalt outside beneath the

eighteen wheelers, idling.

You're not old till you're dead,

she says, sliding the debit machine

across Formica.

 

 

 

 

 

Peter

He was a peddler of wonder who gave me kites in summer

concertos and composers and the errant paddling of our

canoe bringing us to a bay where we draw up pike

and have earnest conversations about God.

In lamp light, mellow, we assemble

mystery jigsaw puzzles and he confides he has cut down

his sugar intake to one spoon.

They didn't sat how big a spoon;

He winks through bifocals and coats his wheaties

with a soup spoon of brown sugar.

The Mantra

God, for one minute-

I recieve my communion on my waiting tongue, seeking

perforated sheets like a communion wafer-

God for one minute

relieve me of this burden of desire.

Lusting for a more immersive life.

God for one minute

relieve me of this burden; desire

The incessant chant demanding

More;

Bigger

Louder

Faster

Let me just let it happen.

God, for just one minute

One

Let me be free.

God, whom I do not believe in;

'God' as in the cohesive gel of existance

the meaning between the lines

amorphous humor and majesty and coincidence and reason and ridiculousness

the silent knowing of the vast skies-

God relieve me of these humble utterances

My back burner mantra

God relieve me.

Early

An uninhabited hour when bakers rise

leaving their lovers in bed to start the first pots

of coffee and proof their bread

pausing for a cigarette with galaxies

of flour dusted on their aprons.

Inhabiting the strange space between when the world is on

and real and nighttime

the empty stage of dead buildings and quiet dark

hushed in anticipation and false waiting.

Shopping Carts

Shopping carts discarded on lawns

beached like turtles immobile

on their backs in the sand

delineated “bad” neighborhoods in our new city.

We were a thee shopping cart neighborhood

which improved over the years as the city sprawled.

Here was where I learned

not to walk home, alone after dark

or to cross the street if I saw a man

walking alone.

“Do you know that that's called?”

my mother asked, urgently.

“Wary.”

The word repeats itself

every time I see a shopping cart,

sinsiter in a dark alley

or a stranger in my periphery

as I walk home alone at night quickening

my steps until I am almost

Running.

Voyeur

I have driven until I could see stars,

the florid lights of insomniac apartments and neon strips receding

and slept in the backseat of my car,

remembering what is not mine to keep.

Voyeuristically explored one way streets

populated with ghosts not of my own creating

guilty as a snoop in the house of an absent owner

caught rifling through the drawers.

 

Rebellion

I have seen you imagined in your old age
having surmounted everything in between troubled youth
and trembling hands, the memories of a young man's strength.
When I meet you in these fields again, I know
we will both be young
and fierce, and wild,
having finally cast off this pall of sadness that we've needlessly carried
for so damn long.
So I taught you, with a well-aimed rocks glass
that shattered along with whatever lies
I'd told myself about happiness,
how to spit in their faces
and tell them to fuck off, even as they twisted
the knife deeper.

Happiness don't come free

Remember when you thought it was love


that would move mountains & divide seas!


& when you learned that it was sorrow working behind the tides


your heart wept a monsoon?

The ways of birds

Bird flying with twig in your beak

where are you going this December day?

Who am I to question the ways of birds?

The bird need not concern herself with me

burdened creature of the land, observing.

I understand the sky as I understand the sea

or space or forest, primeval,

a mystery.

Vancouver

Bébé took me all the way to the ocean without protest

top down unless it was raining

really downpouring like that night in Hearst we went for a walk for darts

then crawled into the backseat to sleep and

woke up stuck to the leather.

It's nightfall when we reach the seawall

yearning to witness the Pacific sprawling

off toward unknown horizons

but I can smell the sea brine and hear the tide

rising and slapping insidiously against stone.

In the predawn gloaming

a woman fishes from the seawall,

casting&reeling,

casting &reeling.

A newcomer draws up a fish, first try

she glowers and settles deep into her canvas chair

disgruntled.

A solitary seal barks amusement then swims

quickly, quickly out if the way of a cruise ship

that in the dawn of the waking city looks confusingly

as if a skyscraper has become unmoored and is drifting through the harbour.

Blood&Bones

The extent of what I own is my blood and bones

The rest is only borrowed.

I bought a fern to take her turn

in the windowsill parade

dollars spent and heaven sent

a green & quiet room.

Worship

He left God in the mountains

and learned to worship on his knees

before the bodies of women,

their hands clasped in prayer and

whispering songs of exultation.

Oh God, Jesus;

How men came to create their Gods

and demons too is evident

in the empty nights that follow

Swim

I have lived lifetimes while you slept

traversing ranges of linen mountains and valleys of faces.

The church bell chimes eleven times and you say “Swim, you know how,”

the salt is a surprise on my lips as I swim out to sea.

.