Baptinista (1)

No glass rain will mark the hour of our passing

unknowable cartography of shores changed by rising

oceans-

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.

Spring

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

1.


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
return.


2.

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
                                                                                       Billowing.


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
speak.

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,

renewed.

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
unrepentant.

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

sometimes

Grape

Some people may never know

what we have taken for granted;

The chill tightness of a tart grape that


bursts


as we close our eyes against


its flavor.


Gentrification

I've come looking for the living

in blank streets, casualties

to glass and metal and rigid corners,

holding, tight, cottages and hearths

with imperfect shutters and paint peeled doors.

Measure my steps where

my key no longer fits-

already, my passage is being erased

and where once only I looked

now there are many, though

quite blind.

Monday

Stay in the same place for long enough

and you will come to know the comings & goings of the people;

who purchases a coffee where

the night shift waitress with her shoes slung in a plastic bag

the preferred & established route of the neighborhood cat who

has taken note,

too, of your Monday meanderings

in this old & Italian part of town.

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.