Friday, October 16, 2009

Earth Trembles

I am Earth.
And Traveler,
I can feel you in the twilight

I can feel your steps coming to me
treading to the sound of my heart pounding
crossing mountains

I feel your hands
dark fingers exploring milky crevices
your open palms pressing on the cool and moist

soft face against face
climbing higher
your body strong against me
crossing mountains

I feel your thirsty mouth
drinking from me
and I give more to quench you

I feel your breath
hot, moving swiftly over restless seas
touching me like moonlight on waves
your breath
hungry and humming
heavy and hushed
stirring dust in hot deserts

fields sway like music when you exhale
trees bend low at your impatience
waters swell

the moon moves the tides in my hips
you open your arms and the sun rises in them

ebony shroud blankets white flesh
frost melts away from me
sweet dew, slippery lips on lips

Earth trembles
mountains crumble beneath your gaze
beneath your fingertips

Seas rush in to me
and leave in the sweet rhythm of our selves
your breath, still music,
heavy in the air

Gaia quakes
exposing secret places
dangerous and beautiful

Traveler, I still feel you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Dreamed a Shore

I dreamed a shore
where the waves did not go out
the waves did not come in

crests frozen white
sand beneath captured in chaos
not asking to be swept up
not asking to be brought home
or brought anywhere

eternal and hidden
not having known the difference between the surface and the deep
the surface and the darkness
now dancing in the infinite tide that has ceased

pressed upon by the sheer will of the Moon
released now, in a havoc not understood

and the waves return to where they were first conceived
when I believed
that the tide would rock me gently
and keep the promise of that first rythym

Coming to me
Leaving from me
Coming to me

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Arms Open Wide

Heart and arms open wide
Leaping from that mountainside
We landed, wild, in waters calm
And though it hurt, there was a balm.
For in this pool, so strange and new,
You had me and I had you.
I had the moon, you had the sun
One dream ending, one begun
For treading where the water’s deep
The love goes with us when we sleep.
And though swept up in currents strong
We were not alone – but not for long.

For rapids lead to oceans wide
And each of us can feel the tide
That pulls us to a distant shore
Far apart, we swim no more.
Back up the stream-there is no way
And so begins a sadder day.
No climbing up that mountainside
Where once we leapt, arms open wide.

Your absence shall not break my heart
For it was broken from the start
And like a breath, I took you in
Knowing I’d breathe out again.
Best to rest here on the beach
And watch beginnings – out of reach
The endings are so swift, and yet
The start is harder to forget.
For tomorrow can not take away
The feeling we had yesterday.
And now for us I’m hoping for
The courage to still leap once more

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Ocean is Too Big

I see your head above the surface
in the sun’s frenzied rain
that dances on the sea

Moving toward me?

And beyond, a sailboat –like a ghost
Forever sailing
Longing for a shore. Like us.

The Ocean is too big
But still I feel you

The Ocean is too big
And yet I dare to cross each night
Hopeful and exhausted
Drenched in longing
Strengthened and Weakened all at once

I will paint this.

Drip my brush in mercury
Dip my brush in mist
Some marmalade

Some rays of night and sun and summer rain

Dip my brush in all the words that are yet formed

Dip my brush in longing
Then dip again.

Toaster Troubles and ADD

I ran out of matches this morning and I haven’t been able to uncover the secret hiding spot for my lighter—or anything else for that matter – being the perfect poster child for adults who Twitter with ADD. My list of lost items is expanding and now includes my purse, car keys, three shoes, clean clothes, my favorite coat, certain sections of my floor, and on a regular basis – my bed. But back to the matches.

I had none. But I had a toaster. As I leaned my face dangerously close to the pink-hot elements to light my cigarette, I began to ponder this appliance – REALLY ponder-- asking myself just how I felt about it. (This has become a recent and bizarre habit of mine – examining objects to see if I have an opinion about them that can be expressed in 140 characters or less. And one way or another, I usually do.)

But, I digress. Back to the toaster. As I peered down into the slightly-scorching slot, I recalled that the sales clerk offered me an extended warranty on this little sucker. Should I have bought an extended warranty?

The toaster is called a “Perfect Toast Moulinex” -- not a bad name in the world of small appliances, even if it is a little heavy-handed with the promises. “Guru of toasters! Toaster Wizard! Expert at Toasting! Toasting Media Sensation!” You’ve seen it all before. This “perfect-toast” four-slicer is wide and white – which not only makes for a nice alliteration but describes me quite nicely, as well. Into these spacious slots one can fit shamelessly thick bagels and homemade slices of bread. It also saves energy by turning off the elements you are not using. Imagine! Why, that one environmentally friendly feature alone could probably save you enough energy to leave the water on while brushing your teeth – once.

But there is a problem with this little baby. It toasts so very slowly that I find I am transported back in time trying to recall a science project I did so I can hook the thing up to a couple of potatoes and really see some action. Unless I have something important to do -- like edit a four page essay down to a 140 character tweet-- I wouldn't even think about popping in a doughy treat like an English muffin, which must be cooked to a golden brown before that little starchy carbohydrate can be soaked in butter. And talk about lighting cigarettes! Well that simple event can take all day. Never mind the occasional cigar.

Yes, I admit I smoke. It’s a horrible habit and one which I plan to give up as soon as I have the desire to gain 15 more pounds, which will also deter me from devouring those thick-sliced doughy things smothered in fat. But back to the toaster.

I had owned this toaster for three years before I discovered you could remove the crumb tray. Let me describe:

There are two little slots at the bottom of the toaster which I thought were for carrying the thing around, if one was so inclined. But lo and behold, I recently discover while taking the toaster for a brief stroll around my kitchen, that it is NOT in fact equipped with handles but rather with crumb-tray removers! (This experiment in toaster-toting, by the way, left me pondering how I felt about my broom – but that for another day.)

Well, you can imagine how heaping with sludge this crumb tray was. And not just filled with crumbs! I found a cigarette in there too! I was so excited, I searched the inner workings of other appliances for my lighter, car keys, and purse, my smallest child — but to no avail.

The whole point is that modern toasters are not like the ones I remember from my youth. Back in the day, you could roll up some newspaper, stick it in and watch it catch fire when you ran out of matches. All in all, it’s a disappointing owner-appliance relationship.

Would I recommend buying an extended warranty for the Perfect Toast Toaster? No. You would never want the recalcitrant thing to last a day beyond what is absolutely essential. I am heading this very moment to dumpster-dive for a really efficient cigarette-lighting toaster. Now, if I could just find my car.

Monday, September 14, 2009

This, That and Another Thing

Zig and Zag were such a drag;
She would sing & he would nag.
And no matter what Zig did,
Zag would always flip his lid.
And no matter where Zag went
Zig showed up so she could vent.

They trudged through life, through highs and lows;
Zig and Zag – strange bed-fellows.
Stranger, still, you must agree
Was when Boredom joined them, ménage-a-three!
Zig would dance upon a grave!
Zag would never be so brave.
Zig danced upon a table top!
Zag begged and prayed that she would stop.

Yes Zig and Zag were quite the drag;
She loved to speed but he would lag.
So Zig and Zag just led their life-
He going left, her faking right.
Never was there worse a match
Than Mr. This and Mrs. That.

This and That could not agree;
She’d order wine- he’d bring her tea.
And This, so dull, could take no more
Of That entering through the exit door.
And taking off the mattress tag!!
Life on the edge was not his bag.

Zag digged This and that was that.
Poor Zig was stunned but there she sat,
‘Til she was face to face with That
Thinking “This” was tit for tat!
Zag fell for This and made his pledge.
Zig and That live on the edge.
That loved Zig so gave a ring ….
But then, walked in Another Thing!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Borderless & Boundless: Hatred and Compassion

Originally written September 19, 2001

Can our children be soldiers of peace?

We reach for new words; we have beheld and endured an unprecedented level of horror, and the old words are inadequate to honour our sorrow and sense of unspeakable loss and fear. We have been compelled to acknowledge, not only the tangibility of evil, but its capability and unmerciful force. That members of our own human family could feel and act upon such immeasurable hatred is incomprehensible and unbearably heartbreaking.

It is unbearable to contemplate the agony and deaths, the terror felt so keenly; it is unbearable to ponder the desolation of orphans and widows and widowers...friends and lovers lost. The regrets, the guilt, the hardships. Yes, even from such a distance from which I sit, it is unbearable.

On September 11th, my small town in North Eastern Canada lay as still as a country night as people sat stunned in homes and business, witnessing second-hand the terror in the United States. I broke down upon reflecting on the massive consequence of the losses and suffering. But I felt embarrassed by my though I had no right to mourn so deeply for losses that are not my own. How can I feel so much, so intensely? I didn't understand, and hid my tears from others. How could I help my children understand?

Within hours of the tragedy, Canadians across the country sought for ways to help, inquiring about blood contributions to the Red Cross and relief-fund donations. Many folks went to airports to be with the thousands of passengers who were diverted there; we offered solace and company, food, blankets and whatever comfort that could be shared. A group of musicians gave an impromptu concert to passengers, singing songs to lift spirits or help tears flow --mostly to share in the best way they knew. Businesses and individuals have made monetary donations. Vigils held; Prayers spoken; Silence observed. American flags fly half-mast alongside our Canadian flag. And many cry.

The counter-action to the depravity and inhumanity has been human compassion and strength it its full might. Just as joy and sorrow are twins, so, too, it seems are tragedy and triumph. Who cannot be moved by, and proud of, the large and small acts of courage, bravery, leadership, kindness and caring that highlight the aftermath of this abomination? Just as the dead are countless, so, too, are the heroes.

But one distressing result has been the increase in racially motivated assaults on individuals across Canada and the United States. Aside from speaking of the attackers’ moral bankruptcy, these crimes also speak of the attackers ignorance and their willingness to be puppets to the hate-mongers who would see their destruction. If we allow terrorists to turn us against one another, against peaceful members of our North American "melting pot", who, in the end should we fear more? We mustn't assist the evil that yearns to see us butchered!

But how do we combat an enemy that is more an idea than a party? More deaths are to follow as we practice "an eye for an eye" and soon the whole world will be blind with hatred. We are at a crossroads in our human history, and all paths seem washed in blood! Surely this cannot be the outcome. We are living in a new world, seeking sense and new words...and we cannot go back in time no matter how much we yearn for lost loved ones, security and innocence. But surely more blood cannot be the outcome!

I will soon bring a new baby into our world, and my fresh understanding of the globe made me panicked ! How could I bring another innocent into this insanity? . But now I welcome the opportunity to add one more citizen who will be part of a generation who will seek peace and sense in the shadow of this madness that stretches across the planet.

No--I should not be uncomfortable with my tears. Tragedy has no borders; borders cannot not arrest the sweep of sadness. Our compassion is not only rightful but essential to the other war which must be fought: a war against hatred itself. Globally we are moved and we share the loss. Our interpretation of the world may never heal -- but we are bound to one another even more strongly today. We are bound in defiance to the murderous assault on the human spirit.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Whistles trickling
Can that be so?

Trickling Hopscotch
Stubbing Noises
Tripping Pavement
Squeals a-flutter

Tossing Rythymns
Bloody Promise
Small Stone Treasure
Doorstep Dreaming

Ancient Voices
Escaping Barefoot
Spinning Monstors
Long Grass Kissing

Riding Hilltops
Apples Smoking
Waking Freckles
Sun Consuming

Swinging Clutches
Pocket Secrets
Bullrush Sceptor
Shadows Laughing

Whistles Trickling
Trickling Hopscotch
Hopscotch Dreaming
Can that be so?

The Next Word

Waiting for the next word

Clandestine or sweet

Plain and lovely

Brave, bold nonsense.

Love in a lantern?

Water is my favorite

Sweetly sweeping
clearly cleansing
too wild too deep

The darling of all metaphors.

Rocks, too.
Ancient and ever
Thoughts too heavy
and dreams that skip
and end up on dresser bureaus.

and compass

Waiting, still.

The Whole of It

Have you see the wind teasing leaves on the pavement?

Frenzied tackling.

Right there. That's life.
The whole of it.

The color of fire.

Then dried and fallen...

Swept up nuisance
Taken by surprise
all stirred
fighting lightly

Beauty and waste
Time and forgotten

Overpowered whirlwind of decay


Right there.
The whole of it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Zen and the Art of List Making

Just this morning, it seemed like a good time to write. The sun hadn’t yet blazed its trail through the clouds. The familiar sounds of a new day were mysteriously mute – except for the cheerful babble of coffee perking. (I had never before noticed how merry and wholesome is that sound ). Soon the refrigerator joined the chorus, humming and vibrating, declaring a rare moment of dominance in a world so often occupied with clamor. And words -- wonderful, melodious words -- streamed easily and pleasingly through my mind. But they had no reservoir in which to settle and sadly, with all the futility of one trying to grasp running water, I was left dry. The sun at once announced itself in my room, placing gray shadows on my chilly walls. The neighbors arose. I turned on my computer.
That computer. I surrender once again to its whirlwind mediocrity, a frantic monument to my impotence, a cacophonic testimony to my ineffectiveness.
I once felt alive with activity and performance, believing my success had to do with lists which I kept on my fridge. Lists that ordered me around. I was obedient to their blunt and brief commands and begrudgingly or happily, the jobs were done, leaving me feeling light on my feet – the same feeling I get standing at the foot of the ocean.
But now I feel weak. Heavy.
Why does my art escape me? I make lists everyday, lists of things to do, ideas, projects, insights and images. Lists of ways to better myself and my life. Lists that lead down the pathway to perfection. And each one is written with more resolve than the last (as if a thick, black marker could ensure more success than a spineless number 10 pencil). Yet still, some small but mighty part of me has been holding back, telling myself to be wary of effort, convincing me to feed my diminishing discipline and at all costs, do not clutter an empty page with new words. Turn on the computer.
Perhaps, instead of finding more to add to my lists, I should find ones to scratch off. Simple? Yes. But unless someone is accustomed to turning things over for a fresh look, even the most simple of ideas won’t come.
I used to think like that. I turned everything upside down and shook the nonsense out of it. There’s nothing terrible clever about that, but it is a most helpful habit, one which I seemed to have fallen out. But, today I will make a new list. A very short list:
At one time, my lists were bridges between my thought and my action. Then, they became a means by which I could avoid action and pay more heed to dissatisfaction instead. Each item I added to the list was like a boulder I could not lift. They no longer contained goals, but shortcomings. They were no longer instructions, but accusations. In my effort to become better, to become myself, I had beaten myself down. I would be wise, now, to clear the ground of those heavy stones so something fresh can surface.
Many of us suffer from the strange self-imposed affliction of trying to become what we already are. We re-discover small fragments of ourselves that have been sleepy since childhood –and we’d like to awaken them. We sense an urge, a view, an image that we have been dismissing or concealing. We hide our writings, our paintings, our voices. We hide out art – then ultimately, ourselves. And why?
We forget that we live only at this moment, our time has been allotted, and our art is the most we have to offer. We cannot bottle moments nor damn up time, for it is a fierce rapid; we do well to tread through it fearlessly.
I suspect that if we really grasped that notion – really understood the finite nature of our existence, we would fear nothing! We would not know hesitation. We would dive headlong into the fall. And sorrow would be a stranger, for sorrow is surely caused by the desire to possess the moment, hold it safe in our hands, and our ultimate inability to do so. Just like those words I tried to grasp this morning that gushed away like running water, trickling madly over the heavy stones that are my self-doubts.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Oh! How small
These Words that I pen
Will be to me soon
Will seem to me when
There's no Shadow on Moon
And Genius slips in.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Have a Place

I have a place
With dark secret pathways
hours pass by
For my own amusement
hollow back-stairways
Uninviting and weaving
With hardly a light
To throw shadows in corners
and stepways on steroids
Beneath my feet heaving
Threatening to speak of my comings and going.

I have a place
With wild secret nonsense
Where I speak in rhyme
And fumble my letters
And whisper and writhe and foretell of one coming
With hooves and umbrellas
And sex in a bottle
Incantations and whistles
My fingertips drumming.

I have a place
With dread secret passages
I'll juggle your dreams
If you dare to listen
To my travels and playtime
My wailing and rapping
My haunting and laughter
Mad mourningful singing
I creep along
Never boring of darkness
And conjure up company
For no special reason.

Monday, August 24, 2009

On the Death of their Six Year Old

They left their baby in the winter frost.
They will walk into his room tonight
Look at his bed, empty.
His small pillow.
Baseball blankets.
And they will




Tumble blind into each other’s arms
In unthinkable, unspeakable, furious emptiness.

The furious emptiness
The furious defeat
The furious love that is sent out like rockets and land nowhere
Furious silence that implodes with the hungry noise of sorrow
Furious freezing of the heart.

It makes one weak and helpless to even think of them
To think the unthinkable
you must lay prone at the bottom of their hearts
and witness those hearts shatter and fall in flames down upon you,
Grotesque and dangerous
Volcanoes, out of control

Furious and full
Furious and empty
Furious with gentle love.
Grotesque and dangerous in each others arms.

They left their baby in the winter’s frost.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not Silence

You will think I have no strength left
Barely breathing ~
Eyes clouded with the dust
kicked up from years lived.

I may want darkness, but not silence.

As I drift toward the River ~
The greedy boatman picking bones from rotting teeth ~
Waiting with grim impatience for my patronage ~
I shall fire up my will –
fan that pyre with the heat of my recent youth.
I will curse and ask for one last drink.

Let’s wrestle in the sounds and smells of my life gone by.

Not in silence.

Bring me music ~ haunting, shocking, pointless, poignant …
I think I shall like to drift away to something raucous and complex.

Fan the aroma of fresh baked bread and apple pies until the cinnamon and yeast , vibrant and powerful, waft throughout my dieing chamber.
Deny the stench of my decaying cells and chilling, slothful blood.

Not silence.
Laughter and children ~ squealing, teasing, crying.
Let them come with dirty faces and ill manners and
questions uncomfortable for mother’s to hear.

Not silence.
Your voice.
Loud. Audacious.

And dance if you can.

Be an accessory to my death.
Make it noisy. Bring the obscene.
And I shall do my part.


Some of my best friends are words. Serendipity is among my favorites. I enjoy the way it slides across my tongue, leaps from the roof of my mouth and bounces off my lips, its syllables so succinct, so pithy, even as one runs into another. And I like what it implies. It’s a windfall when one loves both the sound and meaning of an utterance. How challenging to love words for their sound alone! Take juxtaposition. I admire that word for its audacity. I would use it often if only it didn’t machine-gun into the air, a reign of bullets, indiscriminate assaults on ignorant ears.

Smart People Don't Get Bored

I heard a radio discussion about the high drop-out rate in high school. Some of the kids complained they were bored, and the panel chattered with great concern about these darlings who are being let down by school and society. The poor dears are unchallenged. I flashed back to a long train journey I once took with my four year old. After many hours on the train, she looked at me and said “Mommy, I’m bored”.

Smart people don’t get bored.

That's what I told her. A little heavy handed – but I believed it. This was a girl who could amuse herself for an hour with a few toothpicks. And I was determined to pass this lesson on to her because I believed it: you are responsible for engaging yourself in this wondrous world.

Fact is, unmotivated kids have come to realize that if they lack drive – are afraid to try, to engage, to succeed, or to fail – if they shun effort – they can say they are bored and parents and teachers assume they have a brilliant and unchallenged mind on their hands. They fret. What do we do to up the challenge for this sparkling soul who is being short-changed by a failing school system?

What a load of cow dung!

I’ve heard this from students and I have them figured out. There is plenty enough stimuli in this world to keep one engaged, and even more so in classrooms stocked with books, magazines, computers – with new information and projects and socialization happening at any given moment. The problem with these students is not that they are burdened with intelligence, but overflowing with attitude. The world owes them a steady flow of mindless entertainment. The world owes them a job when they show up with a festering circle of steel through their eyebrow and lip. The world owes them understanding when they commit crimes. Someone should notice their glum countenance and dirty hair and purchase their art. People should appreciate them just the way they are – regardless of the fact that they don’t participate in anything worthwhile and look down on peers who do.

Oh, it’s a shame,for sure. But these attitudes have been a long time in the making. When there was no bedtime. When there were no family meals. No family games. No family conversation. No family. And now we think they are bored for lack of challenge?

Most of these kids don’t know what challenge is. Everyone receives a trophy; everyone wins first place; there is no longer a Most Valuable Player. They are not motivated by challenge or competition for they don’t know what is! They have learned that competition isn’t about doing ones best but about be given first place with no effort. Self-esteem isn’t about earning accolades or feeling an integral part of a unit but about being dressed nice and coddled. The kids – the bored ones – are empty wells that can never be filled, sucking the world dry unappreciatively.

And teachers go home feeling drained and worried, seeking new ways to get little Miss Ho-hum engaged in the class activities that seem sufficiently engaging to everyone else. Yes—little Johnny is bored. Little Susie is unmotivated. They must be brilliant!

Because the educational system has been perplexed as to how to deal with these budding geniuses, new philosophies have emerged and taken hold. These are the “child-centered” initiatives. Educational standards have fallen far and fast, with its twisted and miserable understanding and execution of child-centered education. We need to bring back standards that acknowledge competition and rewards, not just self-regard, which is often confused with self-esteem. Which comes first -— a job well done? Or the boost in self-esteem that comes from it. These kids, who received everything except discipline, are already child-centered enough. And we see the result. We see it in test scores, in juvenile crime, in tragedies like Columbine, and the lesser tragedy of boredom.

I suffer from such ennui some days; I long to sleep just to escape. I could write, read, clean, paint, organize, research, sew, exercise, play piano, sing, walk, talk – but nothing interests me. I have those days. Perhaps smart people do get bored. But they don’t stay that way! It is not a constant state of mind. And I certainly don’t confuse it with brilliance!

My four year old, bored on a train trip, was not demonstrating her deep intellect but a desire to get up and walk around. A desire for more! More experience. Not less. Our intelligence is demonstrated in what we do – and the fact that we do it. Not by what we avoid! Now excuse me while I go find some toothpicks to play with.