Thursday, April 30, 2009

Log of things I've lost

Blond hair I had as a child
Over a hundred eggs, potential halves of babies
My virginity

Childhood stole my infantile ability
to breathe and swallow at the same time.
Adolescence, the dexterity of mind
required to play make-believe with dolls
and not feel false or embarrassed.
Adulthood, the unmatched freedom and presence
of lazily wandering crowded downtown streets
with nowhere to be on workday afternoons.
Also the temporal claustrophobia that came
at the thought of full-time work.

IQ points due to stagnancy, alcohol
Disney princess illusions about grownup love
The belief that my father knows everything

My twenties ripped a hole
in the lining of my self-esteem
but my loved ones keep picking up
the pieces as they fall out,
polishing them, lining them
up on my windowsill
like flowers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April green grass

Why did we choose
the rainiest city
the rainiest month
to fall in love?

I’ve narrated our first days together
so many times, all I remember now
are the words of the story
and the grass.

Green was born of the grass in Dublin.
My heart recalls, you were never a stranger.

The clothes #2

My clothes are all allies now.
They want to form a union
to fight static cling, lobby against
cat fur and cheap wire hangers.

They’ve resorted to blackmail.
My cardigan smells faintly of dog
but I can’t take it off because
my thin white shirt only veils
my turquoise bra,
sheer curtains
on a sunny day.

I've mended this tight black skirt twice
and instead of thanks I get
threatening hisses when I bend.

My defeat will come at the hands of
Marvin the Martian underwear.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Joseph the Greek vampire
smiles at the sound of sirens,
pulls a thick black business card
from his long black coat.

He is a sociable vampire,
though he sleeps
through office hours.
Teeth bared,
he asks how I am
tells me about his weekend
gives me half of his
gourmet chocolate bar.
Vampires always know
how to win over women.

I don’t fret about my neck;
my blood is soda pop kitsch
and Joseph has a taste
for the finer things.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine flu is affecting my life

I’ve contracted the mindborne strain
that enters through the dream.

On city streets dark with rainless storming
a woman runs, stumbles, forces herself up again,
staggers forward with drunken determination.
The hands are chasing her. They are huge
white electric ghosts floating at the end
of arms that trail off into mist,
kites on an endless strings.
They are built of infected bodies.
They will collect the woman
and add her to their mass
if she is not fast enough.

I spend the night in a hotel room
with two 1920s prostitutes.
One has an infected abusive boyfriend
who keeps banging on our door.

I bar the entrance with furniture
and hold my breath.

Admiring other women and wondering

Could I ever be a redhead?
Get noticed first, have leering strangers
inquire about my pubic hair, give up
wearing pink. Natural redheads can be pretty
if you like freckles and earth tones.

Could I ever wear high heels?
Without tripping, without ruining
my arches, without fear? Strappy, sexy
shoes that plump the calf. Would I look
like a supermodel or a giraffe?

Could I ever get a Brazilian wax?
That would certainly solve the redhead dilemma,
but then would I wake, cold, from dreams of
surgery and feel five years old? Less sexy
when you put it that way.

Could I ever have D cups?
Turn tube tops to tightrope walks. Pull off
layers until I am the centre of attention
and even the women stare. Make lifejackets

Could I ever pierce my ears again?
No, I would miss the tiny scar
on each earlobe that reminds me
some things are just decoration,
not rites of womanhood.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wild and unfocused

In the past twenty-four hours
I have made elaborate plans to
            write a book
            create my own stationary
            photograph Toronto twelve stories up
            concoct an intricate mystery game
            throw a secret dinner party
            design my own stamp
            freelance for a popular website
            produce my own cartoon series
            learn to read tarot cards.

All I have actually done
is write this poem.
This is not uncommon.

Creative energy is just as wild and unfocused
as any other form of energy. No matter
how I try to needle head it through
the cracks in my resolve
forty to forty-five percent
always turns to heat
lost through my head.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Black stained thumb
engraved with mountain ridges
ancient as a mother tongue,
its imprint on a mini Post-it, grainy
like an ultrasound baby photo.

We keep trying to capture
the intangible, the fathomless, but
the music of the universe always
comes out vague as TV static.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth day

I’m trying to write a book
and it’s not going well; I no longer feel
any connection to my main character
whose awareness of environmental issues
makes her a raving madman in polite, illusioned company,
much like I was two years ago.

All the facts, statistics,
important names and dates,
educational analogies -- they’re all still here
inside me, but the whole thing’s been dissected.
Rewired. Disconnected from the emotional brain
like drifting continents. There is no urgency, no passion,
only hard, rational concern. Someone says tipping point
and I’m just numb, tangled up
in cold curtains that veil
my terror.

The psychological immune system
hard at work, I can now state my belief
that the way we live is completely unnatural
and that humankind will soon be extinct
with a calm smile.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eighth year anniversary

1. Things that have changed

You have glasses, chest hair, a full-time job.

We both dress better. We’re not Christians.

I don’t play many videogames,
and when I do it’s you who beats the frightening
end-of-world bosses for me, not Sam.

2. Starting out

I fell in love with you
when you were a seventeen-year-old kid
with a Vulcan haircut and tapered pants, working
part-time at Shoppers Drug Mart.
On a high school band trip
we both missed the bus
back to the hotel and decided to
get lunch instead.

My childhood friend
Sam, queen of the gamer girls,
had been preparing me for this moment
since the second grade. She taught me
love for pixels, roll jump, codes for ninety-nine lives,
how to move tiny worlds with my thumbs.
Really, I used to know these things.
I felt the shift, I had your heart
at Star Trek and Nobuo Uematsu.

We were in Dublin, fearless
in the face of a Mad Cow scare,
eating fast food burgers, or me eating
and watching you ramble on
about videogames in one long breath
like you didn’t need air anymore,
your meal untouched
like you didn’t need food anymore.

3. Things that have stayed the same

You trap me in open spaces, talking
endlessly about new Rock Band DLC.
I’m the author of a book
that hasn’t been written.

You’re still nerdy.
I’m still odd.
We’re still happy.

Monday, April 20, 2009


What if there’s actually no such thing as talent
and those of us who are supposed to be talented
are just the one proverbial monkey, among
infinite other monkeys, who has something
clever come out when he mashes
the typewriter keys?

Talent is irrelevant; we are defined
by our actions. When we cease to act
we get all fuzzy and require
squinting to be seen.

I have to keep writing or the magic will wear off
and I’ll turn back into soot.

Sunday morning

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

Friday, April 17, 2009

An offering to Hestia

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

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And here's one for the record books

Poetry is about trying to express the intangible stuff

but sometimes the only word that fits is



Pop quiz at the breakfast table

Your marriage sucks because:
       a) you married the wrong person.
       b) he’s never going to change.
       c) either way, you’re going to end up alone.
       d) All of the above.

That bridesmaid dress:
       a) has nipples sewn into it.
       b) looks like thrown-up tequila sunrise.
       c) is it made of pleather?
       d) is just plain awful, no matter what my mother says.

The secret to a successful marriage is:
       a) finding someone who'll take you as you are.
       b) good communication.
       c) good sex.
       d) sleeping pills.

My marriage will be different because:
       a) it’s true wuv.
       b) I’m not marrying my father.
       c) it just has to be.
       d) All of the above.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One year later: missing journalism

What’s the word for that invincible, terrified feeling
you get from carrying around a typed list
of intimate questions to ask a perfect stranger?

the starter pistol shot of adrenaline that ignites
one vertebrae at a time in half a millisecond, like
an action-movie elevator shaft explosion?

the tripling of your heartbeat, neurons swarming
bees in those ten seconds before you turn on the
smile hello and exist in the single, present moment?

Oh, right. Alive.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two little girls

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

Monday, April 13, 2009

REM cycle

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

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Killing time - Orillia, ON

The thought of making pleasant conversation with
my future in-laws at Easter dinner in two hours
is a headache floating outside my skull. I watch it
through two Tylenols like single-pane glass.

Pull up a humanesque smile for the teenage gingerboy
who takes my order, but my voice reveals
me as sleep-deprived and antisocial. He hands me
my peppermint tea and I sit
shivering and watery-eyed
like an ugly small dog, sniffing
up steam and finding it both refreshing
and nauseating.

If I ever finish this tea, I plan
to put aside my usual paranoia about hearing
loss and buy a pair of dollar store ear buds so my watch
can finally turn back into an iPod. I plan
to trod across my high-frequency range like
heavy black boots over virgin meadow grass.

I plan to spoil myself like a kid
at Grandma's house, give in to each desire
as it surfaces to try to make the day
soft and edible for a sore stomach.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Grade 9 boyfriend

I have trouble relating to single girls
      (though I live to
      nibble vicariously
      on their spicy stories)
having not been on a first date
since Grade 9. I find myself wondering
how much dating has changed
since I was fifteen.

Probably the guy who likes you doesn’t
tell all your closest friends and let you
giggle and gossip about it
for two weeks before he makes his big move.

      High school cafeteria. Lunch.
      Frizzy-haired girl sits at a table with friends.
      Freckled boy approaches and sits.
      Friends scatter, knowingly,
      and return in approximately five minutes
      with cheers of congratulations.

Probably that’s not how it’s done
anymore, but then again
how should I know?

My Grade 9 boyfriend
was a decent guy, even if
I hated him for a little while
because I skipped the reading on
how high school guys sometimes stop
calling you, and that means you’re broken

I was angry at him for
being a typical 14-year-old boy
and angrier at myself for
being a naïve 14-year-old girl.

Please forgive me
when I don’t have any advice for you,
when I don’t remember what a break-up feels like,
when I don’t know how to play the game.

I haven’t done this since high school, and
probably that’s not how it’s done anymore.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hand-me-down inventory

My mother is the high-end PR rep money can’t buy.

Three months before my closing date
she calls a press conference with
friends, family, her fitness classes,
schmoozes phone numbers from friends of friends
for complete strangers who are downsizing,
cleans out old estates,
fills up the back of her schoolbus
with headboards and dining chairs.

Now her living room is a children’s castle
of cardboard boxes labeled: 
       Crystal and wine goblets
                       Pots and pans
           Casserole dishes
               Cutlery and blender
 Teacups and coffee mugs

We sit perched on beautiful, wobbly 1930s chairs
slicing open box after box,
unwrapping and rewrapping
The Toronto Star from each item.
When we find the gold wine goblets
with strange symbols carved on them
we simultaneously burst into singing
operatic random Latin words
       (Rect-oooos! Dom-ee-noooos!)
laugh nervously and
try not to think about The Omen.

We yay and nay,
deciding fates like
beauty contest judges.

Glass rolling pin: keep
Mouse-chewed cookbooks: garbage
50th anniversary mugs: donate
Mini-muffin trays: keep

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Minus one, light flurries

In the open subway stretch
between Victoria Park and Warden
the playground is flooded and floating
with broken Antarctica ice
and the children are tobogganing
on two centimetres of snow
and dead grass.

Why can't I write another boring poem about the weather?
It's all I ever talk about anymore.

An aversion to inclement weather is
the only thing I have in common
with the elevator passengers,
bike couriers and
mail carriers,
now that we’ve cancelled cable.

Makes me grateful
for snow in April.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Adventure-life is second choice

                                               Do you ever wish
that you’d get rejected
       so you wouldn’t be afraid of failure?
that someone you love would die
       so you wouldn’t be afraid of grief?
that someone would point a gun at you
       so you wouldn’t be afraid of dying?

Adventure-life is second choice,
the only choice left when
       a) is living a long, happy life in which
           all your safest dreams come true, and
       c) is ending up alone and defeated, and
       d) is death.

I’m in danger of
having everything,
of becoming one of those
lucky, terrified people
who have everything to lose.
My life is charmed and uncomplicated.

Heredity:           smart, straight and naturally thin
Environment:  loving parents, happy childhood
Love life:            this ring is magic
                               it wards off loneliness
                               and a quarter-life crisis
Social life:          I’ll pencil you in next week
Career:                non-existent, but I can blame
                               the job market for a little while
Age:                      at twenty-three, I am priceless youth

Andrew says, “You know I don’t believe
in God or anything, but sometimes
my life
is just so lucky
you’ve gotta wonder.”

If there is a God,
I thank Him or Her for
the existential terror that gets me
out of bed in the morning.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Seeks adventure

They say that if you’re lost
you should stay in one place
so someone will find you.

It’s different with adventures.

I get a thrill from
exploring the old buildings along Spadina
on company time.
Always check for unlocked roof doors,
tear down paper signs
        Freight Elevator →
for free souvenirs,
hold my breath in the elevator
rehearsing what I’m going to say to my boss
if it stops and I’m trapped for an hour.

Accidentally lock myself
in the steep back staircase
and have to walk out
through the dark, sawdusty storage room
to the back door in the narrow alleyway
where the smoking truck drivers
grin at me.

If I disappear forever
no one will ever know what happened.
I’m actually the last person left in Toronto
who doesn’t have a cell phone.
I know the second-last guy and he got one last week.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Every dollar is a vote

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

City folk

City folk
learn to see the beauty
in ugly things
                           Art museums in alleyways
                           Jewel-tone feather pigeon's necklace

We walk proud in our tattered sneakers
through sparkling sidewalks of broken glass.