Thursday, April 28, 2011


A light brushes my cheek
and I cannot look,
a warning came too late for the
thousands melting in the streets
Every day the same chill,
the same terror erupting in the hearts
that will not give in

We all saw the bloodied face
of a young girl who believed
in the morning
Now the world rains ashes,
crimson tears that have seen
too much in one day, a lifetime

Every cause runs back to the sea,
and every hour peels back
the layers of our greatest fear,
unconscious men with guns

Go down to the waters edge
and sit awhile, let the sand
sift through your fingers
And when you turn at last
to something new in the distance,
let it be the sun

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Counting Cars

He has been unmoving all morning,
every morning there on the bench
on the sidewalk that looks
out over the street,
cars and trucks going by,
a highway that goes through town

And he sits and never looks up
as I pass him, his eyes hidden
under the brim of his cap,
an old man who wears a cardigan
in all weathers, a shriveled mouth partly open
like stalled speech

But this time I ask him how he is,
such listless stares might be a sign
of some unwellness for I have seen
the old ones, how they shut down,
nothing to do but fill in the days
waiting for the end

It is soon, I am sure,
as he is stooped
and flecked with the spots of his age
and I wonder if that is all there is to life,
languishing like that makes me sad

Yes, I have pity for the way his life
has turned out,
he says that he counted
a thousand cars yesterday,
a great feat it sounds like,
but a trivial thing really,
eyeing the stream of tourists and locals
from the shadows

But he goes on and tells me
that his name is Mack and he takes
great joy in coming down
to that bench every morning

Then I understand what he said,
what he did not say
and it makes me feel like a fool
for my assumptions

I know nothing for the thousand cars
are the cars that were his,
cars of friends
and cars that he coveted,
cars with his memories inside,
first dates, that first time,
running across the border
for beer on Sundays,
a thousand cars that he passed
on the many roads of his life
and the lives that brushed by him,
nearly killed him,
killed a friend, a brother,
a thousand cars
that are long gone, vanished,
left to his memory traces

He is more than old skin
he is a visionary, a seer, he knows
the purpose of his life,
knows where it leads,
what is essential, what love truly means

A thousand cars and a thousand ways
to meet grace
in presence and stillness
and in the faces looking back

Friday, April 22, 2011

Looking for Home

I have been searching for my home,
like Homer vying the unfamiliar waters
until shouts of landfall spill from parched lips,
ready to celebrate my victory

As if there is only patience to overcome,
a certain mitigation to wanting
and never thinking to look at the ground
beneath my feet

You will say as the mystics so mindfully announce,
to be wherever you are,
fully present and alert,
there the pilgrim will find his home

Sadly this does not work for me,
the longing lingers like a burning thing,
scalds my sensibilities over and over
until sorrow is my home

I have arrived human and driven,
to be something I am not,
and to be where I do not want to be,
until the world lays me down at last

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reflections of Fools

A cafe window
and a face turns
to the streets of enterprise

There beyond the smeared glass
rain drips over the sheltered places,
a seamless grey world

that haunts ambition,
the muted toll of tomorrow
that never comes

Still there
is a quiet contentment
in the faces of coffee-shop thinkers

Mindful sorting out
gives birth to intention
A pause in industry

is the mortar of creativity,
a place to brood over fools
and workplace woes,

sanctuary to the somber days
A gift of solitude and hot steam
where the soul is restored

in the depths of passion
and the day yearns for itself
through the crying panes

Monday, April 18, 2011

Losing a Brother

I saw you today,
stove-warm eyes looking away
and the articulation of nose
and jaw and shadow,
that quality of familarity
like a signature rising
from your dead sleep

I saw you today
sitting alone by the window
gently blowing the scalding slick
from your coffee, there in the
charitable beams of the sun
listening to the soft talk of strangers
surrounding you like gauze

I saw you today
turning to love that person next to you
then gloom swiftly quilting your face,
a newspaper stained with your tears
from a world gone mad,
a world that spoke to you
some language of sorrow's end

I saw you today
sliding your fingers down
the granite stone inscribed with your name,
there on my knees, shivering with your breath
like whispers upon my neck,
on that bench above the river
entrusted to magpies and sighing firs

I saw you today
in the ten thousand things
that you touched without me

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Balsam Root

Sunflowers smiling in the hills,
they could no longer
hold in their yellow grins

All dry and sage in the valley
where the vineyards
haven't run them out

I will go see them when the snakes rest
among the olive leaves,
the wooly arrowheads

One day in the not too distant future
someone sipping a fine merlot
might remember a wilderness

Friday, April 15, 2011


A daughter joins her mother
at a table beside me
All smiles as if it has been some time
I notice how she touches her,
a hand on her back
sliding down the curved years
Over the wounds of sacrifice,
those places never to be revealed
Secreted to old memories
like the smell of cherished things
I imagine she keeps in a cedar chest
like a phantom limb

A hand, five fingers loving
the hump growing
between her thin shoulders
Hard bone through colourful print
Her hand never leaves
A healing hand, a tender hand,
the touch of a daughter
that mothers long for,
the reconciliation of generations

I cannot look away
for I am part of this,
weeping inside for such moments
that could heal the world,
deliver the observer to timelessness,
the rapture of the innocent
cradled in the space of reverence

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Apples in Bloom

an apt word
for the pubescent
folds of white-velvet
cupping the stamens
and anthers pollen dusted
and erect
for the earnest bees

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I shot a hummingbird
from the tip of a douglas fir,
felled by a pellet as it lit
jeweled and flighty
upon a verdant bud

I watched it tumble
branch to branch,
lifeless to the bracken thicket

But I could not find it,
merely stunned perhaps
and recovered to freely drill
the magenta paper-blooms
on salmonberry canes

And summer blazed and waned
and I returned to that tree,
to the mystery of bones revealed
in the matted grass,
a tapered beak curved and black

I held it weightless in my hand
and whispered for forgiveness,
a boy searching
for the limp warm feel of death
and the tack of blood on fingertips

Monday, April 11, 2011

Out of Sight

some things elude us,
who has slipped through
a rent in the world's skin
and found another to outmatch
our old vision?

unseen light pulses to a rhythm
unknown to us,
but you can believe it
if you wish, it is all there
in your dreams

sometimes I glimpse them
dancing from the corner of my eye,
a jaunty meter of colour
and perfection, other realms
standing next to me

lips quivering and mercurial,
a voice of recognition to anyone
that chances to capture them passing by,
angels and dead brothers singing,
cheering us on

Friday, April 8, 2011


the rain slashes like misery
and the woods shivering and fetal
with winter long dead in the old leaves

the birth of green light
will save the sunless wounded,
bring them to their knees

when you rise above
the dank and rot, there with your
trinity of blooms spinning in liquid eyes

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Growing Brains to Save the Planet

     Slow down, yeah you, looking down into your hand, your device. You are like me inside, afraid to stop and discover that you cannot handle the world. Let your foot off the pedal and coast for a while. We used to do this as kids. My Golden Hawk CCM 3 speed. Wow! No one said learn ten thousand things before you lose your front teeth. Today we cram things into our brains. I wonder if there has been an increase in hat sizes, you know, the way hormones in chicken grow giant kids these days. Do you worry that you might miss something?
     To be outdated is the worst, you say, out of touch, uniformed, not in the loop, left out, alone without a phone, no one wanting me, admiring me, calling me, including me. All these things are who I am. They inform and shape my identity, the me, my face, my image. My followers love me, I think. Superficial, well that could be an issue. But what's your point? How many friends do you have?
     How long can you keep it up? Where is it all going? My God, my mom used to say be home by dinner. That sounds like neglect now. But hey, we all need friends, friends that are real, that are warm, that support us. And I will admit, there are times when I feel left out. But, I'm not quite sure what I'm being left out of.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Wasted Life

the hours fall like ashes
from your kindness
as I kiss the hurt
the world has given you

all the time you loved me
there was no other
but the silence killing
me out along the bay

the sea remembered me
when I stood upon
the shore wondering
about the depths of it

so many times my footprints
were filled by another tide
rising to erase my passing
as if I never lived at all

there is not a time for you
and there is no time for me,
there is only this and the drift
of clouds that pleases you

you know I am not a man
that comes easily
to whispers when shouting
is all I can hear

but I am willing to silence
the untold stories
that I hold so dear,
strip them down

to what they are,
yesterday's dreams
like unpicked fruit

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Avatar Grove

we name them to suit the sense
that we have of ourselves,
the grand theme of using things up

ours to consume
ours to do as we wish

such power for the thinker,
but the old trees - that douglas fir
on the west coast rising 300 feet
and a 1000 years old, not a whimper
about its lofty height

just a presence that will make you weep
when you stand before it, waves
of uncontrollable joy and wonder
as if you have discovered truth

it seems so clear,
how the Universe picked you,
that moment

some years ago, perhaps when Champlain
wandered about old Quebec City,
the tree felt an alien wind shifting
about its limbs, a chill creeping up its
massive trunk that comes when
the world finds you out

to kill the ancient ones, is to kill the part
of ourselves that wants to learn
why they stood so long,
what they know
and what they have seen

David Suzuki taught us this,
that our children, and on and on,
need to know that they still rise
like worlds from the
moss and ferns

Friday, April 1, 2011


how long have you been standing there
with your rough legs thrust down into the earth?

did you notice how we run around you,
the collective chasing of someone elses dream?

maddening really, the way we don't even notice you
as if you are the background of our lives
that never changes

so why is it that we see you for the first time
when you are gone?

is it a fault to want the picture
that lives in the glossy pages of our projections?

all that sky now is without a breath,
and the life in your limbs is nowhere
to be found

and the old ones that stood a thousand years
did nothing but fall at our feet

do we ask too much?