16 – Tear






























This poem is part of an ongoing dialog with identity and self-knowing. I’ve been buying a lot of new Canadian poetry at independent book fairs and am struck by its precision. A descriptive poetry, emotional but not instructive the way I find a lot of modern poetry can be. The poetry I like the best says “here we are, you and I, and this is what that’s like for me.” And the “you and I” can be anyone: you and everyone, you and no one, you and the world, you and yourself.

You maybe don’t have to love yourself. You can maybe just be satisfied with yourself and that will be enough for now. You don’t have to love toast but you might happily eat it every day. The heart is a muscle and all muscles need training. Even when the heart is metaphor for the locus of all your emotions, it must still be trained. If you want to move mountains, you start with one stone.

It is possible to exercise love for all creation by annihilating the self, but the empty vessel is itself a conceit, an opportunity only afforded in a society of abundance. If we are all Buddhists, who fills our begging bowls? Most of us must wade through the muck of our attachments–to spouses, children, parents, life–but to do this well requires an open, active heart. Brave-heartedness, the will to show love despite the countless reasons not to, will be key to our survival in the coming decades. Shallow, angry thinking cannot save us from our selves. We need more and stronger love.

We need more tears.

The Keeper

swearing cheapens everything

it fucking does

I went away to practice my elocution

why do you have to sexualize everything

you’re the one who insisted on the mountains

the snow like cream

the foothills dank with fir

sappy air that ignites when you snap your fingers

such danger

much fear

I went to practice elocution

the shape of words and

the morals

to every fairytale

eat the apple: sleep a thousand years unchanged

then fuck a prince

“so what’s the catch?”


Have I written any poems this year?  I keep posting old poems to Insta because I’m lazy and I need content. I don’t write poetry with any diligence. Only when the words need to be poems and not my standard prose. 

But I went to an indie book fair yesterday.  Everyone in my town is a poet or knows a poet.  Pretty, pretty books everywhere. This is what I bought:

A photo of two books laying on a desk.  The book on the left is “Poetry is Queer” by the author Kirby. It has a light purple cover with a picture of a surreal phallic shape outlined by white buttons and filled in with googly eyes. This shape is passing through a circle of white buttons.  The book on the right is “Dream Rooms” by River Halen.  The cover is mainly black with bold white text and a colourful photo of hundreds of pieces of discarded chewing gum.  Both books are very, very queer.

A brief reply

what if

the fact that

we make all meaning

wasn’t so frightening

what if

all that happened to you

simply happened

not by some secret choice

not by your soul’s decree to test you with this struggle

not by some greater need for you to know this pain

but just by chance

by the unequal equilibrium of time

and your passage through it

pain is not a prize

neither is its end

what if

we learned to love

the fact that

there is


to love


I rarely explain my poetry.  If the meaning isn’t embedded in the words and cadence then I’ve written it wrong.

In this case I wish it known, as I am attempting to offer a counter narrative to the idea that suffering is both virtuous and necessary.  Trauma isn’t really a gift.  It isn’t a magical “teaching.”  It’s one’s recovery from a painful or stressful experience that is the teaching.  Trauma is the damage that occurs when we have no teacher.

Suffering in itself is not particularly noble. Maybe you need to believe it is, as part of your journey to overcoming your trauma, but it was not and is not necessary for you to experience pain in order for you to be a whole person.  The nobility of suffering is a lie of power, to make the oppressed love their oppression.

You do not need to burn in order to rise.

You didn’t deserve to be hurt.

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

Why write?

Because it seems impossible not to

Because at least i will remember what i had to say

Because i am so very afraid of someone reading what i have written

Because the world has enough “unsuccessful” artists wallowing in insecurity, waiting endlessly for unobtainable perfection before they “enter the world.”  You are already in the world.  You have always been in the world.  There is nothing but the world.  Be in it.

Because we have so much awfulness to get through

Because silence is deadly

Because more is not worse

Because math

Because it’s not impossible that I might actually be nearly as clever, almost as acute and expressive, as I expect a good writer to be

Because there’s only one way to find out


The Truth About Clouds

there’s no such thing as clouds she said

I asked her to explain

she said

the clouds are just a metaphor

if you touch them

they aren’t there

dissolved by our attention

like particles avoiding a dark plate

suspended in ten thousand tons of water

depending on which technician lifts the lid

huge somethings made of nothing

the weight of mountains

mist fading from your grasp

before you even close your hand

a metaphor, she said

for water’s longing for the sea



in the time of writing poems

the words said no

they said

you have not earned us

you have not bled us from your fingertips

until your heart is a wrung-out rag

you have not wept

no stone has lodged itself in your intestines

cold lurking with the promise of pain

we owe you nothing

said the words

not knowing how they implicate themselves

liars every one

for here is the poem

that they


to write

(April 2022)

“Excuse me, Ma’am…”

Except there’s a world of people trying really hard to not get called ma’am.  Not merely gender scoundrels but unmarried women who will never be a ma’am and are perfectly happy about it. Miss doesn’t sit much better at any age. Sir is a proper title and hence shouldn’t apply to 99.9% of the living.

What are we going to do about it?  What can we use for a gender-neutral but wholly respectful title to address people whose names we can’t possibly know?

What, for example, does a fast-food employee say to get the attention of a customer who is “probably a woman” but is dressed in a tailored three piece suit and spats?  Or the person in line behind them in a body-con dress and extensions, looking fully fleek but they missed that one corner of their lip while shaving?  Both of them forgot their french fries, and the employee can’t leave the counter.  How do they get these customers’ attention?  Shout “excuse me, Ma’am,” and hope to fuck both people turn around?  

We need a word.  Because it doesn’t matter “what” I am, if our sole interaction is that you’re selling me a lunch.

Or maybe we don’t need a new word.  Maybe we can use words we already have.  “Excuse me, in the red jacket?  You forgot your fries.”

Memories of a gallery

Making meaning. Can that be a calling?



fingers blindly falling

vomiting poetry

verse coming out of my ears

words from my hands

words made of fears

that nothing ever will ever be


we know it’s tough

we know


and to the left

of the main figure

the artist has hidden a self-portrait

reflected upside down in the bowl of that one spoon

laid beside the sugar

painted so well you expect to see yourself


[Working through some personal goals in a journal, I wrote the first four lines unconsciously. Once I noticed, the rest became inevitable.]


a fluffy Pomeranian dog in glasses and a sweater works hard at his computer like a good doggo!!

the algorithm told me to post poems on a Thursday

the algorithm thinks that poems rhyme

the algorithm doesn’t think

it’s only code

two digits

what happens if I don’t fi


ripe apples hanging heavy on the branch, other fruit lay spoiled on the grass

and it was shoving me onwards

blindly I went

with my head covered

signs lined the road

the look of the letters

like bullet holes in tin

the untended fields are green

bees swarm the fallen fruit

drunk on rot

liquid vines of snakes curve along the hedgerows

this is not the tale I meant to tell

I cannot tell it otherwise

this is how they all begin

with the road and the fields

with rot and green

with drunken honey