High Contrast photograph of trees



Spring. Everything’s gone soft, hungry.

Olive groves drift in light that hovers,

hazy and feathered, and all that swims and creeps,

roams and flies, swells and sings

becomes a mouth.


Judas slides through hives of people,

hears their charged, clotted buzz.

Everywhere an agony of expectation,

desire to be amazed:

Did he?     Is he?


When Lazarus, dazed, lifts off

his deathbed and lists

into the wince of day, mouths gape

like beached fish.

It hasn’t sunk in yet, the freefall holy terror:

How to be born, again.

Judas takes it all in. Broods

through the restless garden,

tender as breasts before labour,

before the crowning.

Mercy, he cries, and whether it’s command

or plea doesn’t really matter now,

his tongue a knotted rope,

desperate with this need to tell,

this vocation.







1. Nostalgia


Remember Old Lang Syne,


his spastic wooden leg, his catarrh?


How we’d get him going on train whistles and mothers


after the fourth or fifth pint?


Ah, Nostalgia. Just ain’t what it used to be.



2. Grudge


Wind rehearses its rut,


grists its ledger of damage, worries


cracks,  hinges.




Unfair! Unfair! It cries


from its dry heart, starving


in its stubborn quarrel.





3. Blame


The armed game of shame,


the fling and flung of do and done,


blind man’s bluff of squat and strut.




Oh, pidgin soul in the wallow


of whodunit,





4. Feeding


I am burning the library to cook nettle soup.


I call it staying alive.  You call it feeding the wrong wolf.




Words on the verge of becoming extinct


hive my tongue: Pulchritude, Doxology.




Words that conjure pox


but mean Beauty, Praise.




5. Meanwhile, Time . . .


Vladimir Nabokov, tireless lepidopterist, wrote:


“I have dissected and drawn the genitalia of 360 specimens.”



6. Dare


Who was it who said


Happiness writes white?




Bring on the blizzards!




Harness the sled dogs!




first published on Truck poetry blog. ``Dare`` chosen for the Edmonton Transit Service`s Take the Poetry Route, 2013










startle me, naked


as a blurted secret, shocking


as seeing your aunt’s breasts, loose


as a moon-faced confession.


Just there, in the National Library foyer,


her feet framed in a lineup of photographs:


Famous Canadians, artfully arranged.




They seem shy as come-upon deer, but


mounted somehow, fixed as Victorian taxidermy.


I want to coax them out


from behind the dark frame


and say, Rita, let’s waltz away


from here, let’s waltz




away to Babylon where we’ll splash


in the river with the holy unholy ones.


And you’ll honey the melody like a run


of good luck, like you do, Rita,


like you do, and we’ll sing


Magdalena, Magdalena,


soft as willows, plump as pillows—




Howcouldya refuse me, Rita, howcouldya?



from Falling Blues












Every day now, more light tricks you


into thinking it`s tame.




The old couple walk to the river


heaving itself into spring.


High clouds shape into the ribs


of a giant ghost carcass, stripped to the bone.


Raven croaks inside his hunger.




Turn around slowly: full circle horizon.


A jellyfish moon levitates in the east.


The golden sun, drunk on its own beauty, dissolves


in a pool of flaming incandescence.


Deer stare, tense as sprinters in the far field.


The old couple walk to the river,


a path they remember from childhoo,


different rivers.




Coyotes, wailing along an exposed nerve,


drag in night like a fresh kill.


Familiar hunger, feast.




from Blood Opera: The Raven Tango Poems