June 27, 2011

How I Joined the Seal Herd Too

                                                I learned
to let my body give                  it was not I
who controlled the rocks
                                                  Robert Kroetsch (1927-2011)

for an instant                        I thought
of the difference between        air and
without thinking             her flipper
buoyed me                         out of
gender and the institution        was
what                         I forgot

ankle turned       into the fin
I always wanted    to know
something other         than air
float      belly-centered in love

and it was not difficult         this
landlessness                        at the pivot
of our dance                        what matters
what touches      in what language

when the others join                         too
the curbs and spiral stairways
will all dissolve into       swirls
of joy and         breaches

and when I spun          surprised
in the blue-grey     to look
surprised            at her eyes               she
even more   surprised  was
there too       really          really           

the waters were       words mostly
verbs of being       ecstatic     and            
I did not miss                        my groin
at all               sleek we swam         away

iceflows and schools of             ideas
art and movement       through liquid
ease she teases and          swims better
than I ever                        dreamed

another state of         being
intimate with        oneself            water
a wet embrace of care                        full
of promise         loveswirl

and swerve      you            sped
ahead and             I                learning
floundered after       eyes
finding new    colours the shape
of your longing           receding

a moment of doubt         would
you leave        adrift      I wonder
how would I find land again     but
by body knows now      it will not
turn back      arched   
dives                           deeper

where currents meet         and fishes
are rich            we reached       fins skyward
stretching the surface of the
possible           beach pebbles against
skin a sound of                  release

the a waffling wake of        
past lives            land-bound slow
walkers and linear      thinking
maybe you and I        maybe

water riffled around         our discourse
of love bubbling with the             future
my sore ears disappeared      overused
to the inane blathering of news

your paper fell apart        paint ran
books disintegrated into soggy messes of intention
clothes dissolved into            sensation
our house became the many
horizons        became a progress toward

May 28, 2011

on nervousness 2

whining at the door of
ridiculous requests

hoping that the rash
is not related

stuttering on an explanation
with no question

blabbering on about
herbs and balloons

the century that can
shatter the human myth

the man leaned out the driver
window with his bad teeth

all the reasons are piled
against the wall of the artery i keep forgetting the name of but it is an important one and in real life not at all the neat shape you see on hallmark cards and if i gush will i come clean will the toxins spill out into the river and kill fish eggs aorta it’s the aorta i am thinking of and it constricts when i say i love you but is it the climate my aging cells or true

writing and deleting the same
message 44 times

writing a message and sending
it but before you where were ready

chest pains are a sign hung
on the door saying ‘i am still here’

May 11, 2011

The Acoustic North

The word “scenic” stuck in the back of your throat
as you trample the mycelium. The word “wilderness”
as the multiple slime moulds cleanse the spill. The
word “refuge” as the word “recreation” is nailed up
beside the highway. The word “cut” as TFL tenures
cease. The word “resource” as the job ad for customer
relations is posted. The word “plastic” blasts through
exterior of everything. The word “tree” caught in traffic
at Robson and Granville. The word “contour” as a
measure of where you are standing, askance, watching
the subtle movements of a place, its inhabitants, the
busy living that is not you and catching the wave. The
words “joint review panel” sets the stage and lighting and
charges admission at the door and chats over drinks at the
hotel bar, tips big.  The word “compassion” sidles up the
scree slope hoping to the catch the human world by surprise.
The word “road” stretches you from the word “here” to the
word “if” and in between the gravel base rolled tight under
asphalt is a desert. The word “Ahbau” from China—a lake,
a street—and the movement between.  The word that drifts
downstream in the spring, charging the vegetable matter and
spurring the heat coming from the south face of a civilization.
The word “progress” squats at the side of the road too lost to
hitch, too broke to imagine, too tired to wish anyone ill. The
word tugs at the sleeve of the uninitiated, saunters into the
reading like an outsider, dumps her packsack in the corner,
turns to you, asks a question about water. The word 

“bedsprings” dumped in the creekbed and taking on moss. 
Whatever stands in place of something else, a metaphor for 
actual contact, laid overtop or sketched in chalk on the 
sidewalk. The word “echo” choosing to return angles 
etched from machines, windfall, lecterns, and corporate 
manifesto. The word “north” carries you back to camp, 
puts an herbal balm on the wound, tries to explain where 
you went wrong.

April 11, 2011

What the Men Said

divisions take on the character of said
conflict, sliding into the role as if
to say, ‘here I am
apart’ or something larger

the grandfather would say it
in silence and a swift
whack of power comes
with no context

the men stood around
bereft and swinging for
the fences—fame I suppose,
some sort of immortality

caught up in the sting of
knowing the pain could be lost could
be healed                under

here the men said the getting
was good and everything was
freedom which means pain
inflicted quietly, in domesticated ways

means seven of the eight readers
were men and the one woman was
coined in brass and strung out

here the men are libertine, which means
ancient and schooled in the ways of
creeping posts and grooming the style,
the candor of oppression

here the men said nothing has happened
and will never

ungulate blood

the map was inconclusive and where
we were was a matter of
conversation, gesture, weather

the mother was looking not
for us but for shelter from
our knowing

the books were still

the dull red spots in the snow
are not a cipher but the first
thing that a new world would know 

January 16, 2011

Poem Changes Her State

the gist of the line or a palette
filled with culture, plastic and
the casual violence of progress

and she teases out of the everyday
daylight sparkles of irony or
a watery chop of sarcasm washing

all those states of being entangled with
patriarchy, its formulated use
of her, her skills, hands across

her mouth, hardly making a
mark, but a thieving all
the things she’d wishes into being

hers, art, justice, the wild
grins of kids by the cleaned-up
pond, standing tall, unprecedented

contact across the impossible
would mean a new paradigm for
touch, lightlight, there and safe