Sunday, November 30, 2008

Limbo

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Farewell, little life lights


I’m in the pit
And the hollow, miserable creatures below
Tear at my heels with clawed fingers
Drag me downward
They want to eat me
Suck the hope and self-worth off my bones
Til I am hollow too.

The angels try to help me
With strength and kind words
But their bodies are beaten and broken
From fighting the longer fight
They are growing hollow now
And yearn to be whole
They blow me bloody kisses
And spread their wings to fly away
Someplace calm and quiet.

I try to be happy for them
To understand
But they will take their light when they go
And the darkness of this place
Will swallow me up
And I am afraid.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Punching bag


The tears catch up to me in the car
Forcefully, finally
After two weeks of chasing

My hate and fear pour out
Big toxic puddle
And Andrew stirs in insight and understanding
When I drink it back up, it’s not so bitter
He says, They’re just miserable old women
Living miserable lives
And I am young and loved and hopeful

It’s hard to be human and good
To speak with love when spitefully bitten
Take a punch from someone who needs to throw one
See the good in people when they hide it away

But I am learning, slowly.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blueberry daydream


Cartons of blueberries, two for a dollar
At the Chinatown fruit market
Where the air is hot, even in November
Stinking with fish and old fruit
And the pigeons hop about the sidewalk out front
Scavengers, waiting for the kill.

A grey old spark of a man
Wrinkled and wintered
Rests his cane against the potato sacks
And crouches by the blueberry cartons
He’s there when I get in the checkout line
And there when I leave
Examining each carton meticulously
Squinting through thick bifocals.

I like to imagine him shuffling home
To his little grey house
He takes out his plump, sweet blueberries
The best fruit a dollar can buy
Washes them tenderly in the sink
He’ll eat them at his kitchen table
From a white porcelain bowl
Close his eyes
Pop them in his mouth one at a time
Hold them, ‘til his tongue turns blue
A delicacy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rubber ducky, you're the one


You and I were best friends
Back when life was simple and safe
When straight As and a close circle of friends
Were meaning, self-esteem
And boys were silly, maddening puzzles.

Sixteen years old
Five-dollar costume jewellery
You’d try on my shortest skirts
And we’d go to all the senior’s parties
Get drunk off attention and Smirnoff Ice.

Somewhere along the way
Reality and responsibility
Pulled down our smiles and hemlines
And now here we stand, disillusioned
Me, restless among my shrunken dreams
And you, struggling under the weight of yours.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Zombies

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Appologies for the inconvenience.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pearl Street


The snow was wet and disappointing
Thin on the pavement like old man’s hair
And the sewers steamed

I walked dark, icy streets
Steps slow and steadfast
Streetlights like yellow cat eyes
And ragged bundle-beds of the homeless
Men were smoking cigarettes out back doors
Faces shiny with sweat and kitchen grease
Carrying their troubles in little bags under their eyes

Shaking my head
I blinked away visions
Shop carts and peasant people
Bells tolling on foggy bridges
Strained spies’ ears

Too little focus
Too much Charles Dickens.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Manifesto


Her bedroom is an art show
Haphazard magazine collage
Thick black marker on the wall, quotes and drawings
Photo-clad window ledge
Paintings and posters
Silk screens and stickers
Souvenirs of subway rides, first dates, conversations
Gifts from the roadside
Her floor, a minefield of trinkets and earring backs
You pay admission with the heels of your feet

Everything she owns becomes her manifesto
Even her skin, scarred and pierced
Hair dyed
Face painted
It’s all her canvas
An ever-changing masterpiece

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ghost town


November is a ghost town
Dead trees, silence
Except the faint crackle of brittle leaves against the ground
Scratching, scrambling of squirrels on tree bark
Haunting moan of the wind.

In the evening
Twisting, reaching tree limb fingers
Silhouetted against a hazy moon
All it takes is faint footsteps behind
Dark crevices in hedges
To spook you into a run
Panting, fog-breathed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another lesson

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Appologies for the inconvenience.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Up north


Quarter past midnight
Johnny sings loudly
Changes the words of popular songs
To something involving poo or boners
Grabs a handful of Mary's long brown hair
And bends her over
Thrusts against her ass
She snorts with laughter.

Three a.m.
Power out, pajama-clad
Bare feet resting on beer bottle-smothered coffee table
Alexis lights a joint from one of the candles
Old not-so-scary stories
Fresh urban legends
Six run out to light fireworks in the snow
And two watch from the window
Enjoying the last minutes of music
Before the laptop battery dies.

Snow falls all night long
And the cottage grows cold
We ward it off:
Knit slippers and ugly grey sweater
Laughter and beer-buzz
Two to a bed is always warmer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Overcast and Dreamy

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Appologies for the inconvenience.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday

This poem has been taken down for submission to a publication. Appologies for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

510 King


This poem is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming issue of The Antigonish Review.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chicken scratch


Mona draws a squiggle
Three loops
and says, "That's how you do his signature."
I try, and somehow it looks forced, false
Childish
Like my own, ugly signature
that I can never do right, either
when under pressure.

A better drawer than a printer
A better liar than a forger
I have to make my words meaningful
to make them beautiful.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Amanda Walther


As you walk away
The swimming in my head begins to clear
Please don’t think I’m cold
Just dry-mouthed
Trapped in my head
I know there were words
But all I can remember is
Blonde hair
You standing too close
Horse and unicorn.

It’s not the stage that makes me dizzy
I’ve been star-struck since the moment we met.

Fidelity, fidelity, fidelity


Casual conversation over loudspeaker heartbeat
Eye contact like boiling oil
Won’t break ‘til it scalds me
Equal parts pain and pleasure.

Short, chance meetings
Always more to say
Constant supervision
Infinite, eternal sexual tension.

Is it all in my head?
Does it matter?

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Pox on Queen West


Queen West is crowded on a Friday afternoon,
Full of blazered, briefcased businesspeople,
Black-eyeliner teenager girls
With neon asymmetrical bobs
And their tight-jeaned, bescarfed boyfriends,
Long-haired homeless men selling fifty-cent newspapers
I smile at them all as we pause together
To look at the street-side carts of tacky beaded jewellery
Or huddle together to watch Peter Riedel balance his rocks

Queen Street still holds its charms
But it’s lost some authenticity
Ever since the big fashion chains
Spread out from the Eaton’s Centre like cancer
Plaguing the small business Queen staples,
Esprit cozied up to Fashion Crimes
And Guess Jeans snuggling Steve’s Music

Will Toronto look just like any other city
By the time Victor Frazer’s bike-chain mural
Has faded off the sidewalk?

Seven and Twenty-two


I have imaginary conversations with myself at age seven
Just to make sure we’re still the same person, deep down
Hopping like a rabbit,
Stockings on her head for ears,
She says she can’t understand why I took journalism
But is happy I still write fiction
Turns her nose up at my girly ruffled skirt
But approves of my boyish haircut.

On lazy Saturday afternoons
We watch cartoons together
Eating the cold, leftover pizza
That has always been abundant in my house
I advise her on which books to read
And she chatters on about her crush on my fiancé.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Little girl magic


From the little window out the back subway train
The world faces behind us
Dusty and red
Train tracks glistening gold in the sunrise
I would have missed it, little girl
If you hadn’t turned in your seat, bright-eyed
Pressed your nose against the glass
Reminded me how to see magic in plain surroundings

With my eyes, I’ll make you this promise:
Never to give up my children habits
Of singing along with the printer
Having conversations with elevators when I’m the sole passenger
Or kissing my letters goodbye before mailing them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bitch Lessons


I don’t even dislike my quasi-boss,
But when she smiles passive aggressively,
Tells me to take out all my commas
And print the letter again,
Says, "You never put a comma before 'and,'
It's not proper,"
Something in me snaps,
Some mutant academic strain of an anger disorder,
And I fight the urge
To drown her in my cup of green tea.
I may be an idiot with the banking,
But I know punctuation.

At lunch, Mona drops her voice to a whisper,
Tells us the secrets of how she got a raise,
Got her vacation pay,
Got even,
By being a huge bitch.
I take notes in my head,
Wondering: if I was a bigger bitch,
Would I have stood up for myself?
Smiled right back at my quasi-boss,
Shoved my CP style guide at her
And said, Look it up,
Instead of sitting here stewing,
Fantasizing about her hanging off the cliffs of hell,
Of grinding a cleated heel into her knuckles,
Screaming, “My punctuation is fucking flawless, bitch!”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today I miss university


The bookkeeper calls me into her office
And I dawdle on my way,
Thinking, “Oh God,
What have I done now?”
She asks me straightforward questions
And I make a lot of thinking sounds,
Looking stupid, as usual,
Until she sucks the air in coldly through her teeth,
Realizing that I’ve somehow managed
To mess things up more than usual this week.
I apologize profusely, sincerely,
Thinking, “I’m so good
At not making the same mistake twice.
Now if I could just stop fucking up to begin with.”

I want to drag in my old university papers,
Report cards,
I.Q. tests,
Some way to prove
I’m not the idiot I keep acting like,
That it’s the job that makes me stupid,
No ways to show off in typing and banking,
Just plenty of ways to make mistakes.

Today I miss essays and exams,
Classroom discussions,
A world where even a hundred silly little errors
Couldn’t hide my intellect.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Crabs


Last night I dreamt I had crabs,
Not tiny, twitching insects
But big, bright-pink pincer crabs,
Plastic, with painted smiles
Like children’s toys.
I pulled them out of shallow holes in my upper leg
Like sand
One by one
And they crawled around the subway floor.

That’s what I get
For tossing and turning myself to sleep,
Obsessing,
Wondering if the dull pain in my left side
Is kidney stones
Or ovarian cancer
Or food poisoning.

I wake relieved
To find it’s only my usual hypochondria,
And my disturbing, obsessive mental image for the day
Has turned from illness
To smiling crabs.