Poems in print


An evening walk on unfamiliar ground—
the surprise of a gravel path, the riddle
of a blank wall that we follow to its answer
along a line of elms, rounding a corner into sun.
Here at a high wire fence the world
drops away before us. Concrete rumbles
beneath our shoes. Humped metallic roofs
of subway trains, done with rush hour
on the Bloor-Danforth line, slide out
from under us, navigate switches
and branching tracks in Greenwood Yard.
The far end’s a forever away. Broad-backed cars
loom large beneath us and recede, shrink
to shining toys, to silver pins, then molecules
flowing vein to vein toward farthest capillaries.
With hands clutching chain-links, we don’t find much
to say, only those rounded syllables
that always announce the new.
Not just our son, enchanted
by all things on rails, but we
stand awed by all this magnitude
and muchness, lustre of steel linked
and stretched to the vanishing point,
the infinitude of a line.

Published in Prairie Fire vol. 36 no.1 . (Spring 2015)


It was right there

I didn’t want to interrupt, so I didn’t mention
the red pickup driving by on the grass
carrying an old upright piano. You were talking
about your work, the things you had to finish
by tomorrow for sure. Or the children came home,
or went out, and it was where are you going, do you have bus fare.
The truck passed in front of our house, left to right.
You were on the phone, that was it. On the phone
with your dad. You talked a long time.
You had your back to the window. Or, no,
you and I were talking about the children.
I’ve been trying lately to concentrate better,
not get distracted by every little thing, and then
along comes a piano in a red pickup
and what am I supposed to do?
Things like this happen all the time:
before I can say look up in the tree
no that tree look straight above us I think
that’s a pileated woodpecker 
it’s gone.
That’s just life, I guess. Still,
I wish I’d told you about the truck.

Published in The Dalhousie Review, Autumn 2013

Hague Ferry

The ferry’s a hidden thing, only half believed in
until the road dives into the sudden valley.
Density of dogwood and chokecherry
to right and left, and a warning: Test Brakes.
We’ve left the upper world, gone down
to where the sky has borders.

A sheet-metal raft, four cars square.
An engine to propel, cable to guide
below the ceiling of canola fields.
The ferryman’s silent, hardly seen:
the gesture of a single chain,
a signal to bring us on.

From Crossings, © 2012.


Above all we wanted names,
knowing there was so much more
beyond igneous and sedimentary.
We collected names for stones
and stones without names:
Muscovite, garnet, biotite.
Round, jagged, split.
More, again? said our mother.
Don’t you have enough?
But we had names to match with rocks
and rocks with names. We had
boxes to fill.

We slipped on snowmelt, buised
but confident: these rocks were ours.
Great humps of granite, bones of the earth,
warm in afternoon sun. Patched with moss,
paint-splashes of lichen,
cut with straight lines where glaciers
scored them with small stones.

We used words like billion and eon
as if we understood them, with no fear
of the abyss opening underneath.
Scrambling over the thin crust of years,
feeling them solid as the great rocks
under our feet, broad spine of the world.

Published in The New Quarterly number 122