Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stale air, stale thoughts


There’s no subtlety around here,
though much is left unsaid.
We all have mallets like the white-wigged judge
and we hammer, hammer, hammer
our point in deep,
little blows that don’t knock you down,
just bite behind your ears like blackflies,
chip off pieces so tiny
you don’t notice
at first.

The fax machine beats us all
to the punch. Hot off the presses!
Stacks of transmission reports reading
Failure, Failure, Failure.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Identifying strangers


I’m sure I must be iconic,
known to the patrons
of Kennedy Station as
the tall girl with
the big skirts
who takes the stairs
two at a time,
just like how I was
the tall girl with
the short kilt
in high school.

I’m always mildly embarrassed
when friends remember
knowing me by another name,
but when I think of the names
we had for other strangers
                                  Unibrow
                                  Bottle blonde
                                  Big Ugly

I’m only grateful for my height.

Friday, March 27, 2009

On the base of my computer monitor


Two hearts cut from pink cardboard yogurt packaging with the heart-punch Mona bought for a homemade Valentine's Day project.

A straightened paper clip I use for cleaning out dust caught in the cracks of my keyboard. It doesn't work very well.

New Years Eve confetti, found in the corner of an envelope that was mailed to us containing nothing else but a cheque.

A small stack of business cards with our company card on top because I consistantly doubt my ability to remember our postal code.

My collection of un-postmarked stamps clipped from the daily mail to be reused.

A leaf plucked from an unidentified ivy plant in the stairwell of a nearby building. I thought it would wither and brown, but it's still green after two weeks. I'm beginning to suspect it may be fake.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Coxwell Station

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life skills

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday morning


2 a.m.

    Some idiot’s car alarm
    has gone off right in front of my house
    two times in five minutes.
    Fate’s evil scheme is foiled:
    I was already up.

    My stomach makes a noise like a milkshake
    being poured down the kitchen sink
    and I can’t tell if it’s food poisoning
    or hypochondria.
    Catalogue everything I’ve eaten in 24 hours.
    Lie on my stomach
    practicing what I’ll say to my boss
    in the morning, when I call in sick.

    Can’t breathe, panic, sit up,
    realize I’m smothering myself
    with the pillow.
    Then I know it’s hypochondria,
    the paranoid part of me
    only close friends get to see.
            Mary telling me over and over
            the magic mushrooms I ate
            are not going to kill me.
            Final goodbye to Andrew
            from the bathroom floor.

    The car alarm goes off again.
    I generally prefer to take my
    four hour naps
    back to back.

9 a.m.

    At work, of course.
    My brain has drown in it’s own cerebral fluid.

    That pot of coffee actually looks good today
    but I’m picky about my recreational drugs.
    Caffeine doesn’t get me high,
    just makes me nervous.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The clothes


Mysterious machine message
on my office phone this morning.
Digitalized female voice says:
      You are worth more than me.
      You are a pound of flesh.
      No one gives a fuck about this dress that I am.

Oh God, the clothes
have found my work number again.
It’s my summer dress feeling neglected.
It’s my wedding dress
      telling me to lay off the chocolate
            ‘cause I’m splitting her seams.
It’s the old dress I gave to the Salvation Army
      calling me up with a well-rehearsed rant
            looking for closure like an ex-lover.
I call them back but their number’s always busy.

They called from a 905 number.
All my dresses have moved out to Markham
where the street signs are calligraphy
and the girls can wear dresses all year long
because you can’t walk anywhere anyway.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wait, why are we turning south?

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

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Singing sushi chef

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wedding band


In a fidget of boredom
I made myself a wedding band
out of a silver candy wrapper.
It only fits on my pinkie.

It looks like the same band I had
when at six years old
I put on my best dress
and married my old dog, Blue.
Dad had to perform the ceremony twice
because I forgot to brush my teeth
the first time.

The marriage was a success:
I loved him ‘til death did us part.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Undercover #1


Mom says, “Always look and act
like a high-maintenance bitch
when you go to a hair salon.
You’ll get better service.”
I fumble with eyeliner
on the shaky subway train,
make sure my nails are clean and long.

The Russian ladies at the salon
don’t seem intimidated,
even though I tower over them
and they ask why I don’t try modeling.

Alas,
my three-dollar
Toronto Public Library bag
betrays me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Portrait of my youth


I got lost on Dupont Road
looking for the hairdresser
ten minutes before my appointment.
Lost my hand in my bag
looking for a tic tac.

Seems so familiar:
wandering foreign neighbourhoods
counting down house numbers,
mouth cluttered with singing
and dollar store mints.

Pressure


Water pressure on the top floor
has been dead since Friday.
Toilets like swamps
and sick sinks coughing and sneezing.
Marg has a red face,
jogging up and down
from the seventh floor bathroom,
making angry phone calls to the landlord.

Mona’s so busy with motions and matters
she barely has time to swallow
the bites of lunch she takes
between telephone rings.

Office juxtiposition.

Friday, March 13, 2009

No, no, listen. Don't listen to me, listen.


The universe is murmuring to me
It left a 102 Markham bus transfer
under my desk chair this morning
Everyone in my office says
it’s not theirs.

It made me wait too long for a streetcar
knowing I would get fed up and walk
It wanted me to stare, blinking
at the rift in the space-time continuum
that dropped an eighties hair metal band
in front of my building
Five guys with long, shaggy hair
leather jackets and skintight jeans
Pack of howling wolves licking their lips
jumping over hydrants and swinging off poles
Stepping out in front of cars, making them screech.

Listen carefully
You can hear the universe
as it talks in its sleep.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dark thoughts and blue sky


I stepped off the track at the wrong station today. I was distracted, thinking about what my life would be like if you died. I would waste my youth searching for you, squinting my eyes to try to make other men into your image, and when they realized what I was doing they would, of course, get angry and leave me, and you would die in my heart all over again.

But you are not dead, only out to dinner, and I will take the 102 Markham bus and walk the rest of the long way home in the sunshine.

Old ladies

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Return trip


Troy sleeps the whole ride home from Burlington
propped against my sister’s shoulders like a broom
teetering when the GO train shifts in the wind
He misses all the grey factory yard scenery
He misses Andrew’s impromptu lecture on
Trains As The Neatest Form Of Sustainable Transit

I stare out the window at the rain
Anything west of Bathurst
might as well be a separate country to me
When the robotic lady's voice announces
Next stop Exhibition Place
I feel like Toto we’re back in Kansas again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Waiting room


Waiting at the dentist's office
reminds me of piano lessons
I took as a child
with a big, red-haired lady
who made me cry when I didn't practice.

Guess that means I feel helpless.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Two steps ahead

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

Terror of the Faculty of Dentistry

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

Friday, March 6, 2009

The task expands to fit

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

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Something about that name


I immediately dislike this Mark fellow,
who tugs at the locked door
with too much force and authority,
like the government pays him for breathing
and every second of his time wasted
means the world is closer to ending
Awakens my contrary nature
Makes me walk slower,
take my sweet time.

Mark rolls his eyes
when I tell him he’ll have to wait
He says, “I hope you don’t mind if I pace.”
And pace he does,
back and forth
across the creaky wooden floor of my nerves.

Must be something about that name
I’ve never met a Mark I actually liked.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Karl Marx talks in my sleep


I understand learning to read and write
addition and subtraction
but the ABCs?
the order of letters?

Have we all been
groomed for file clerks
since kindergarten?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Battle cry


Saving up my cash
Only spent $1.57 this week
on a steaming, lidless cup of tea
that bound me to walk slowly in the cold
along the bitter wind tunnel that is Peter Street
Fostering frost in my ear canal

I was called to attention this morning
by the proclaiming song
of my mother’s red cardinal
sounding off as first trumpeter
on the frontline of the Spring
Riding over the distant hill
just as the hero turns to doubt.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Imaginary lovers

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

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The new future

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