Saturday, February 26, 2011

Toast and Jam

The aspen by the lake
filters the morning sun
gold upon his lovely cheeks

His coffee cup trembles
as he sips and tells me the same old stories
for the first time

I nod and bear
the significance like a custodian sworn
and consider the meaning of my own pallid life

What does it mean
to leap from a bridge
shamed and impoverished as the land lay wasting

And tormented for quilted coats
and shoes wrapped with desperation
and binder twine

Or light a cigarette
for a friend torn and bleeding at your feet,
a farm boy who would die a man?

He argues with my mother
over toast and saskatoon berry jam
about things that do not matter

Yet their banter is a comfort
that I have known all my life,
back and forth like woodsmen sawing

They have lost everything
except themselves and a tender love
born from the grace of elders

I listen to him in the evening
and watch my mother
serve up a second piece of pie

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Walking With Water

A boy walking with water
and the day opens its white eye
to a cracked and ruined earth

All is used and dust
and he walks on stones
to sup the old ones
breathing still

Born there when leaves
moved one breezy spring
and nothing now but voices
of children laughing
before their brief lives

A boy walking with water
under the killing sun

Posts aslant in the hard clay
and the dying left to rest
in the thin shade
that moves without them

A boy walking with water
to drizzle a measure to wooden tongues

A boy walking with water
until the night sounds
takes them home

A boy walking with water

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Salish Sea

I could sit all day
on the beached bones of this exiled tree
drinking bits of shattered sun
caught in the chop of the bay,
there where the red knots huddle
in their plump grey suits stitching the new mud

Such peace in the inaccessible waters,
a tonic for the fever of rancor and ruin
Breezes sighing in the grasses
then softly in my ear, the language of mystics
And herons cloistered like monks
over the brackish pools musing the virtue of voles
A sundry of beating hearts and rustling blades

All is well in my world
where the only voices are my own,
extolling what my eyes conceive
I try not to judge the starlings exploding
from the blackberries,
on queue, I think, keen to swoop
down and roust the flighty knots
to dump their purple shit

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ladner Harbour

They gather slouched as herons by the big seine drum to recount a salty death. A brother in plaid and 80's hair slipped into the black abyss. They remember the whites of his eyes looking up as he tore at his oilskins that sank him quick.

Someone says the cold killed him before his breath gave out. Others wonder if they will fish again.

An old man they all know trudges down among the boats to greet their sadness with the lore of durable men who knew their place in the world, men ordained to live by river and sea.

He says, to fully live, boys, is to know that birth is a covenant between God and our souls. We do not know the terms of the agreement, but what we do know, is that from that day on our flesh and bones are going home. Silver fish run free and crimson to their deaths.

A spare smile and he turns away as he remembers that same talk from the old-timers when a March gale snatched his father from his life. Just a boy who stood in awe of the beauty in his lilt and swagger. His mother wailed and ripples danced in the harbour and gulls cried hurry, hurry.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

There is a Boat

There is a boat
that rests at the bottom of a pond

Someone gave up on it, did not tend
to the leaks, thought it
unworthy of resurrection

So it laboured to stay afloat
and soon was overcome with
its failings, limitations

Now it sits in repose as tadpoles
bump along the silted seats
and dragonflies consider such mysteries

What a fine shape it has,
dead in the water waiting for me
to take up the oars and head for home

There is a boat
that rests at the bottom of a pond

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The hedgerows fall like weeds
to a constant eye,
pulling the unwanted to
make room for a vision
that will kill us all,

there where the grasses
hold the secrets of the world,
old bones and the ripening of life
flogged for no other reason than we can,

and the children know this somehow,
put away the blades and your dominion
and go to the edge of the fields
and plant your heart in the green light

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Just a Gull

I've seen this one thing that children do
At the verge of a school ground
where a road curves and buses sway

I've seen this one thing that children do

Tossing crusts of bread to gulls
Tossing crusts of bread onto the road
where buses sway

I've seen this and did nothing
Passing by like a coward before such
children who made a game of life and death

I've seen this and did nothing

Walking by with my head down
Walking by with a prayer for children
who have made a game of life and death

And then the pop of a game fulfilled
A death to answer unwitting ends
The children crouched in mute surprise
to stroke the breast and bloodied beak

One girl cried and a little boy gawped
Another shrugged and said, just a gull

And I did nothing and crossed
the road where buses sway

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Silent Coming of Beauty

Desolation, emptiness
and the soft lull of the world
falling like snow

A moment later the drift of hope
finds me along that old track
where a fox squatted
unknown, unseen

And now I know
who was watching me
because we are never

Just the other day
my mother dropped in,
a flash of light in my peripheral eye
telling me that my footsteps
will fall where they should

and every word will catch
a breeze and move on to
the new mouths waiting to drink
the perfect notes

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The River

The river is calm today
like a grey skin of ice,
slickened to catch the fallen sky
and as still as a serpentine lake
A lull, a holding breath,
life to tugs and gulls and watchers
from every River Road

Yet, yesterday it writhed
and churned to milk,
smashed against all that touched
the fitul water's pulse,
heaved and roared
and hungry for the sea
The same waters gathering
a thousand streams forever,
all moods and seasons

But below its smirk and guile
the enduring drift rests
in unfathomable stillness,
like the space between thoughts
of the beginner's mind
where rivers and souls do meet

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Let Us All Wear Tartan

I long for a new world,
the end of shredded bodies
and mothers collapsed and weeping
in rubbled streets

There where ancient soil blackens
with new blood and men under
the influence of fear waste brothers
for reasons unknown to me

And I despair for the moribund child
too weak to brush the flies from his eyes,
the child already dead
as I watch from my couch

The excessive patterns of nightly news
tell me something is wrong,
brutality across the oceans,
across town and in our homes

Fox-jawed tufts of five day beard
and I am madly spiraling toward
the corruption of smoking guns,
the fulfillment of myopic devotees

Let us all wear tartan
and sling the scraps of cloth
across our backs, vie for the paling horizon
where lavender returns from the darkening

Toss the old order like stones
and hold aloft the torch of mystery
Illumine the cavern of snarling faces,
take their hands and never look back

Trust in something you cannot see,
there where the infants rest
Forgive everyone and begin again,
throw away everything you've ever learned

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dreams of a Boy

The dry hills
stick in your throat
and the grass beats rhythms
of snakes at your feet

Always there is the eye
that wanders beyond
the pine ridges that hem you in,
that stole your heart as a boy

Romantic construction
builds rainbows and visions,
lays waste what your heart
was telling you all along

Find your place in the world,
stay a while and drink
from the many streams

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Pool

What is moving, the breeze
or the briny waters?

Ripples of mercury run herring-bone
to the sea, wavelets on the move
like cliff-bound lemmings
fated to die, pools abandoned
by the tide and left behind crabs
Sole the size of your thumb
dash from wading children
who peer delighted and ankle-safe
holding their bright red pails
The drone of planes seem lazy,
the cry of gulls a comfort,
the smell of salt nostalgic

Wistful mothers watch
from blankets and wonder
if it was ever fun for them