Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hedley Cemetery

All seems forgotten down
the weedy rows of sunken graves
and tilted tombstones,
lichen creeping up the old granite
like age spots and decay and stillnes
but hallmarks of dereliction,
not a rake or tender care
in a 100 years

But there is a quiet beauty
in indifference after all,
a distilled neglect of crusty perches,
temples for the meadowlarks
fluting their warbled hymns
for my grandfather
resting there since 1940

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wild Horses

They seem wild to me,
wary as deer, ribbed and shaggy
bunches working the gullies and sidehills
All shapes and coats, squat ones
thick and able, and the summer sleek
cut from some western herd long ago,
their roving eyes alert for mares
and upstart stallions

I see them far across the ranges,
blotches of horses on hills,
hard on snakes in the spring
but no match for the cougar
that took an old-timer down
last winter - the snow was trampled
well and blood pooled darkly
where he died to feed a mountain king

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Conscious Life

The yellow moon rises,
one eye shut like the wolf
watching me through a screen of willow,
unflinching, unwavering,
wondering about my honesty
And all night long
it passes over my bed,
scrutinizes my dreams
and in the new day
I am cleansed to begin again,
released from the watcher
and glad to see a robin in a wood
But between the branches,
against the blue purity
there it is, the pale witness
like a scrape of chalk in the sky
What demands he places on me,
this hound of decency and truth
He will not relent, this I know
until I am dead or willing to listen
to the ancient mantras
that swim in his liquid gaze
He torments my inequities,
sizzles me like a good winter fire,
peels away the amicable skin
that I show to the world
He has jaws that drip
for the fat of my shortcomings
But I will appease him - one day
I will welcome him to my table
and partake in a little dessert
when I lay down with him
to sleep in the eternal thicket

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life on a Pond

I saw her come to the water's edge
and slip away, down where
the backswimmers scull

until she rose once again
and there a ripple and her
upturned nose and flagging tail

side to side and the slick
of her fine shape well suited
for rushes and tule,

flaunting it all for such tributes
until the wet slide of her mahogany back
when I asked about muskrat love

Sunday, May 15, 2011


see them against the blue sky,
how they appear, sudden
and full of an unspeakable glory

they hold up a world now,
their quiet beauty and sudden death,
like the lovely sons and daughters

falling like petals, pink clouds
gathering on the lawns
nothing lasts with such intensity

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


a path moves
like a contradiction

my feet forget
that it is up to them,

one step at a time,
the mantra of presence

there is nothing
the mind can predict

though it will try
to bend around the

corner to outrun uncertainty
so where there is walking

let your hand find me,
slow me down so I can see

the sun bleed full in the tulips
stop often and let

the world race by
see how the shadow

withholds the light
and the light beholds no shadow

all textures
in your searching fingers

that speaks
a language of patience

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Who Killed Terry Jones?

I awoke to him, that boy forty years gone,
saw him standing slackly with his thin arms
and slow-eyed gloom
A haunting there to serve some karmic justice

What does he want, that boy we all knew?

Feeble-boned and layered with threadbare charity
A mouth breather disposed to snot-slickened cuffs
and the palsied whisper of his rueful tongue
Unwitting to life that snatched his blithesome days
and delivered to him a world of snapping dogs
fanged for ridicule and the soft pink flesh of his neck

That boy whose brother fought us on the schoolground,
bled for him to arrest his dying slowly
But impotent hero before the teachers
who leaned toward him with such enmity,
dreadful witches casting derisive fingers at his lassitude
Terence! they spurned as rank piss pooled below him
and there he sat until the school bell sounded at three
and the last children gone, rose stiffly and cried

What does he want, that boy we ruined?

He came to me, moved me to look at old team pictures,
black and white, where I held up the silver bowl
Triumphant among my mates
And there he stood, Terry Jones, beside me in every pose
as if he already knew that I would tell the world
how the good boys placed their fingers on the trigger
and squeezed a little more each day
Killed him and thought how sad his death

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

every day incomprehension
in the faces of the dead

terror seeps into willing hearts,
there is danger of petrification

we could break at any moment,
fall to our knees, broken identities

will someone gather
the shattered bits of us?

it is just too hard, wars and
calamities, the kids at school

don't bother, we have no future,
put me in the trash

but there is always someone
willing to put us back

you know her, the one who smiles
and tells us that it's going to be alright

how did she learn this resiliency
when she still suffers alone?

we wonder if we will
have that strength, the might of her soul

 a mother's words come to us like blessings
down there on the floor

she'll tell you that she's been there too
and no one to lift her

Saturday, May 7, 2011

No Time

days slide, come and go
but never arriving at the one
I want, so silly this game
I play, a little drummer boy
trying to stop the clock
by beating the world with
past and future,
dizzying methodology
to arrive at something
that you cannot reach

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Mother's Song

I can still see the sage hills
and I know it pleases her

I have her eyes, you know
and what she lost,

a pain under the ribs
that doubles you over

She sings in the early morning
and I like her disguise,

with the jaunty sparrows
that captured her flight

And I have all this, everyday
and she does it for me

and of course, my brother and sister,
she is there now lifting our father

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Okanagan Falls

A town slept and I climbed
a rover's trail, ladder steep
through the creeping down
of golden grass

Shale slipping under foot
and a quail alarmed
and flighty
on a grease-bush stick

Cactus blooms shriveled
crepe-paper thin,
my fingers tracing
the parched folds of summer's fire

A rock face, ore-stained,
an enduring likeness
of primal spirit,
the vigilant one

There I sat and watched the birth
of days like a monument
of flesh and bone
needing nothing but to breathe