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2011-12-07T22:31:00-05:00December 7th, 2011|Musings on life|

I am not old

I am not old, she said
I am rare

I am the standing ovation
at the end of the play

I am the retrospective
of my life
as art

I am the hours
connected like dots
into good sense

I am the fullness
of existing

you think I am waiting to die
but I am waiting to be found

I am a treasure
I am a map
these wrinkles are imprints
of my journey

ask me
anything.

2020-07-06T13:22:23-04:00July 5th, 2020|Nature|

Nameless

I enter the ocean the same way I always do
with legs that wobble a bit on the rocks
in that human way legs do

and then as I lean forward
the massive robe of cold water
wrapping around me

I am suddenly no longer human
in that way where everything else
is categorized except us.

I am nameless under here
just another shape,

partly terrified
by the anonymity
of the sea

partly exhilarated
by being stripped clean
of words.

2020-06-22T14:49:49-04:00June 12th, 2020|Parenthood|

Mama, can I swear?

You are so mad
you are puffy
like a swollen bag of emotion
like a hot balloon of skin
about to pop.

You are not moving
but I can almost hear
your blood gushing
faster than normal

your heart
punching
your neck.

You slowly ask me,
mama, can I swear?

I nod solemnly
and we walk into the garage
where you take a deep breath

and then you throw
the forbidden sounds
loud into the air
gnashing the dangerous words
with your tongue and teeth

until finally your face
is a normal colour again
and your hands are loose.

We lock the garage
behind us
holding hands,
both of us trying not to smile
and we don’t look back
even once.

2020-04-07T00:22:18-04:00March 24th, 2020|Musings on life|

What seventy-eight years old looks like

She taught me creative writing
but what I learned had nothing to do with words

she taught me what seventy-eight years old looks like
which is that the body
still has the same amount of shine

it just stores it all in the eyes

she taught me that when you slow down
you are not the river anymore
you are the riverbank
which is just as beautiful

she taught me that wrinkles
are the stretch marks
of a full life

she taught me that I could only see her by listening
so when I miss her now
I open the window
and listen to the birds

she used to say if I was patient
I might hear the oldest ones
laughing.

2015-01-02T15:59:08-05:00January 2nd, 2015|Parenthood|

How I know I am an optimist

I know I am an optimist
because I am always pleased
when the house is tidy
surveying it
like the conqueror
of somebody else’s land

and I believe it will stay that way
that I am not Sisyphus
that the boulder
will not fall again

and when your dad sings from downstairs

there’s somethin’ dead or dyin’
in our fridge

in his best Neil Young voice
I know that I will simply hunt down the soft lump
throw it away
and we will never waste food again

and when your sister
takes all the clothes off the hangers
while I am folding laundry
and you yell

it’s a emergency

because you meant to print
one copy of the Snow White picture
but for some reason it printed 60 copies
and we can’t get it to stop

I just lay down on the floor
and let the rhythm of the printer
soothe me
like a heartbeat

I know
it will be different
tomorrow.

2020-03-31T01:30:15-04:00September 25th, 2014|Creativity|

My four-year-old poetry teacher

My brain is jammed
with the noise of errands
and the poem knows it

half-done
hiding away
in the quiet
of my ribcage
waiting
for a way
back in

which is how I came to see
how the noticing
pours out of you
blunt and new

like the colour of the girl’s hair
in your drawing
that is neither brown nor blonde
and you tell me
it is like a paper bag
which of course it is

and how you describe
grandpa’s face
as mushy
and that a frog
would feel like a bird
if you held it tight
in your hand

and how nuns
look like Red Riding Hood
in black and white
and how library books
smell like closets

so I kept asking
and the answers dropped out of you
obvious as stones
each one a lesson
in what it takes
to be a poet.

2013-12-10T16:31:19-05:00December 10th, 2013|Parenthood|

The art of feeding a three-year-old

I knew I’d have to feed you
but I didn’t know
I’d have to audition for the part

I draw attention in crowds
the way I pretend I am your pit crew
and the ravioli is fuel
that I stuff in your mouth
and yell go go go
each time you pass me

or the way I hand you cashews
as I drive
asking if you remember
how to look like a walrus

cut up apples are two-way radios
porridge is a spy mission for raisins
and the broccoli miss each other
when one is having a party in your belly
and the others are not

but my most dramatic deceit
is when I look as scared as you
and whisper that Annapurna
goddess of food
is rumbling like thunder
when you won’t eat

I remember reading
that she’s actually a really nice goddess
who is concerned with starving people
not picky ones
so I always feel guilty
making her out to be so fierce
not for tricking you
but for casting someone
who didn’t try out
for this play.

2013-04-09T20:33:49-04:00April 9th, 2013|Parenthood|

The injustice of not being allowed on the roof

Today you welded your being
into a molten rod of anguish
unable to accept
you were not allowed
to follow your dad
up the ladder to the roof

which quickly extended
to your refusal to accept anything
such as water
or that your Auntie Charley’s name
begins with “c”

but like any storm
the clouds move on
and your mood is just a story
you tell me on our way
to feed the ducks

you tell the part about the boots
the mud and the carpet
and you ask me to tell the part
about how I wiped your nose
on your shirt and told you
the neighbour’s cat
was on your side

then when we’re all out of bread
and the ducks have flown
to the other side of the lake
I suggest we go to Bandida’s for a bite

you ask me
where is Bandida’s, mama

I tell you it’s on Commercial Drive
and you look up at me
like a benevolent old monk
who has never raised his voice
and you say

Commercial Drive
that sounds nice.

2013-04-06T16:50:50-04:00April 6th, 2013|Musings on life|

Nine days old

I hold my friend’s new baby
who sleeps right through
freeze-dancing and piñatas
at his sister’s birthday party

all the five-year-olds
run around like race cars
they do not look twice
at this wisp of a boy

his skin is like an eyelid
I can see everything moving
underneath the gauziness of him

his heart bounces
his veins shuffle blood
back and forth

he smiles in his sleep
his wrinkled fist
punches absent-mindedly
at the sky

the kids stampede past us again
on their way upstairs
for the Easter Egg hunt

I cover his little ears
but he hasn’t paid attention
to any of it

I realize that nothing can compare
to what he has just come through
all the milk and the air
and the bright thrust of life

perhaps we too
would let the elephants
run past us
if God herself
had just walked in
and answered it all.

2013-02-17T20:45:17-05:00February 17th, 2013|Parenthood|

Unexpected moment of kinship with the spring-loaded hamster in the playground

Your smile says it all
the chipped grit
of trying your darndest
to be as happy
as you were painted to look
while kids shove each other
off you for one more turn
riding you
like you are some bronco
not a furry rodent
for god’s sake
and all this rain
don’t they know
hamsters are from the desert
one bath can kill you
anyways
we’re clearly both cold
and stoically hoping
the sun will hurry down
so we can get some rest
before sliding inside
our smiles again
tomorrow.

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