Tuesday, June 29, 2010

G20, Toronto

  • Saturday

    There is a black bruise
    on the sweet fruit of protest,
    and the city chokes on its bitterness.
    Storefronts are smashed and cop cars burn
    -- not universal symbols, but words
    that mean different things
    in different languages.

    The medium swallows the message.

  • Sunday

    Beating their batons, the police
    chase protestors through flower beds
    in Queen’s Park, where politicians make
    laws that are first broken, then spoken.
    One hundred citizens charged like beasts,
    so seven hundred will sleep in cages.

    Civil rights are more fragile than people.

  • Monday

    Police still walk in crowds along Queen Street
    where smashed windows have been covered up
    with wooden boards like political excuses.
    When I pass them on my way to lunch,
    my mouth can’t decide which way to turn
    (a smile feels like a permission slip,
    a frown a kick to the groin)
    so I just look away.

    A broken window is easier to fix than a promise.

Photo by Commodore Gandalf Cunningham

        (At the risk of starting up another G20 debate in another comment section) What are your thoughts on the interaction between police and protestors throughout the G20 summit and aftermath?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Toronto, days before the G20 Summit

Police clump on the streets like a flighty flock of birds,
numerous and easily startled by gusts of wind
and forgotten briefcases on subway platforms.

Trains wait at their stations like planes on a runway
while the passengers spill out into the streets
to snap up cabs like falling coins.

Office buildings tremor in fear – of what? We speculate:
Car bombs? God’s wrath? Bad economic policies?
Or just awe as the living earth turns in its sleep?

The next morning, only zealous protesters and Bay Street types
walk the streets. Unlikely pairs, they ride in subway cars
like the ribs of a picked-clean roast.

For the non-Canadians: Bay Street is Canada's Wall Street.

Sorry for the lack of posting; this has been a crazy week, with or without the G20.

This poem was written in response to Monday's prompt on Big Tent Poetry.

Photo by Tomasz Bugajski, taken from BlogTO

        What are your thoughts on the G20 Summit? If you live/work in Toronto, how has the Summit affected you so far?

Friday, June 18, 2010


My sight grows near
in its idleness, looking at the same
common objects, familiar faces
but no longer seeing them.
This wallpaper -- a dull and muted coating
on the inside of an office's yawning mouth.
There are no glasses that can show it to me
fresh and promising, as when its creator coaxed it
into existence with a curling finger.

Some days I squint at cement,
shaggy front lawns, strain and see
that every blade of grass has washed its face,
put on strands of diamonds, crowns of rubies
to attend some fancy lawn brunch.
They tremble like lips, glittering stars in a silent sky
beside the grey yard where the buses
cough black complaints into the air.

Photo by Taro Taylor

        Can you think of something generally thought to be common or plain (ie. steam from a cup of tea, rain on a window, the sound of crickets) that you find beautiful or interesting?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gold digger

Ardent pursuer,
you flattered and wooed
so I opened my heart,
though my pulse was subdued.
I sowed seeds of passion
and waited to reap:
My eyes were closed,
but I was not asleep.

At first I believed
all your beautiful lies
-- then you gazed deeper
into my purse than my eyes.
I’m slow on the surface
but quick in the deep:
My eyes were closed,
but I was not asleep.

You make it your business
to court and betray,
so I’ll see that you get
the appropriate pay.
I too can play wolf
dressed up like a sheep:
My eyes are closed,
but I am not asleep.

In Aesop's fable, the wolf was hanged

        Do you consider yourself a good judge of character? Why or why not?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Parody of "The Life I Lead"

I feel the pride and drive of endeavor,
like a contestant competing to proceed,
when I kick off my business heels to clean and cook meals.
How active is the life I lead!

Two nights a week, I care for my parents.
The other three, I spend with my kids.
With fees and bills I must attend, I work weekends.
How busy is the life I lead!

No time to be Canadian in twenty-ten.
My home office replaced my reading room and den.
I’m a skilled multitasker! I’m driven! I’m fit!
My social life: my interests, culture, friends
do get left a bit behind
I must admit.

When jobs and chores and family are tended,
I’ll share a moment with the man I’ve wed
and then I’ll fall into my bed and sleep like the dead.
How crazy is the life I lead!

This poem was written in response to an article in the Toronto Star called Canadians, particularly women, caught in time crunch, and is a parody of the song The Life I Lead from Mary Poppins.

        My life is not nearly as hectic as this right now, but there have been times when it was and there may be times when it is again. What has been the busiest period of your life? How busy was it?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Old love

His bones were crumbling columns of sand
that blew apart when she breathed, and scattered
grains across the canyon like memories.

Once, while he was sleeping, she sewed shut
the tiny tear on his temple where the nightmares broke in
with a single strand of her tawny hair.

Once, while she was sleeping, he planted seeds
in the corner of her eyes, so her sorrows
would always bring her flowers.

Photo by Dave Kellam

        This poem was partially inspired by today's Think About It Mondays post on ThoseGirlsAreWild.com. So, to continue that discussion: what part, if any, do you think logic plays in love?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Squinting through a kaleidoscope

We all long to be known, especially by ourselves,
so we send out sound waves from our mouths
and measure the intervals of their echoes
off the ears of our friends; we call in
loved ones like criminals for questioning
and jot notes in our diaries, hoping
they will sketch a portrait.

What we end up with is a Picasso painting,
a subject depicted from all angles and contexts.
What we end up with is a murky black, the colour of
too many shades of paint mixed together.

Photo by H. Pellikka

        I've always been fascinated by how I act the same when I'm with different groups of friends, and yet my "role" changes within the context of each group. Depending on who I'm with, I'm smart or dull, outgoing or quiet, ambitious or lazy -- without ever acting any differently than I normally act. To what degree to you find your are perceived differently within different groups (including family)?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The weight

To-do lists are piling up, weighing down.
Strange, how paper so light
in strips and scraps can join hands
like a chanting crowd made of solitary voices,
how altogether it has weight.

The forth little piggy built his house of paper:
bills, receipts, UPS slips, doctors’ referrals, grocery lists.
The weight of it kept the big bad wolf out
but it crushed the pig too.

Illustration by L. Leslie Brooke

        What's on your to-do list right now?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Deepwater Horizon

We stab the ocean and it bleeds oil.
Pelicans lick poison from their wings
along the shore, where dolphins wash up
slick and black as million dollar lies.

Pelicans lick poison from their wings
with their eyes clouded and hungry.
Slick and black as million dollar lies,
they watch, waiting to be washed clean.

With their eyes clouded and hungry
the black suits shrug their shoulders.
They watch, waiting to be washed clean.
A freckle on the ocean’s face, they say.

The black suits shrug their shoulders
as the black blood pours in barrels.
A freckle on the ocean’s face, they say,
smiling with a row of drills for teeth.

The black blood pours in barrels,
stealing sunlight from the seafloor.
Smiling with a row of drills for teeth,
we stab the ocean and it bleeds oil.

This pantoun (never written one of these before) was written in response to the weekly prompt on Big Tent Poetry

Photo from the International Bird Rescue Research Center

        What current event(s) are you actively following or concerned about lately?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spring cleaning

        Full lyrics to several Spice Girls' songs
        Box of old knock-knock jokes
        Encyclopedia of Stephen King plots (good condition)
        Call and response format for Catholic mass
        Recording of Gone with the Wind
        Beatles trivial pursuit (give back to Andrew?)

        Education in Journalism (gently used)
        Education in Political Science (still in package)
        Education in Web Design (incomplete)

        Paranoia of food poisoning after eating fish
        Grudges against people who were mean to me 10+ years ago

        Finger memory for various piano songs
        Ability to list all countries
        Basic math skills

        Compiled family history and stories
        Images and recordings of deceased loved ones
        Lyrics to various Raffi songs (save for children)
        Names of husband's extended family (store with travel bags)
        Memory log of big mistakes (label well)

        Memory log of happy moments (reframe, hang in foyer)
        Pocket reference of friends' life-happenings
        Sense of humour (buy travel-sized tube for purse)
        Self-confidence pills (take only one per day)
        Prank opportunity radar

Photo by Natasha C. Dunn

        If you were "spring cleaning" your mind or life, what would you throw out? What would you keep?

Serenade in an empty house

I either need a stage in my closet
or an arena of waving shirtsleeves,
silent and humanoid.

This will do too, chords resonating in the vacuum
of my sparse living room, muddling
clumsy fingers on smudgy keys.

In the bleachers, a fluid shadow audience, flickering
in and out of fantasies like projector light
on a whitewashed drive-in screen.

Wind too strong, channeling through
my lungs, stampeding through my throat,
trampling me flat, sometimes.

When keys turn in the door like credits rolling,
the wind slows to a calm, controlled breeze
and soon stills to silence.

I totally had this written yesterday, but Blogger was doing some kind of maintenance and wouldn't let me post it. Today's poem is still coming!

Photo by Zoran Miljkovic Joe

        What do you like to do when you have the house to yourself?

Friday, June 4, 2010


  1. Jennifer Aniston

    O Jennifer, guardian of the hearts
    of those who love adulterers, hear our prayer.
    Keep watch over our boyfriends, and lead
    them not into the arms of Angelinas,
    but let them hold us faithfully in their minds
    forever and ever.


  2. Lindsay Lohan

    Our Lindsay, who art in rehab,
    hollowed be thy name.
    Because thou hath committed a multitude of sins,
    both legal and social, and because thine sins
    hath been written in the sacred US Weekly
    thou hath been raised up as the patron celebrity
    of Big Mistakes.

    Preserve us from public humiliation
    and shield us from bad judgment
    so that our private and public lives
    might forever remain separate.


  3. Kirstie Alley

    Hail Kirstie, full of face,
    Jenny Craig is with you.
    Blessed are you among dieters, and blessed
    are the pounds you shed and regain.
    O Kirsty, goddess of weight
    pray for us calorie counters now
    and at the hour of lunch.


        What role or service do you think celebrities provide within society? Do you think they are modern day "gods"?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dear skin, red and itchy

Are you playing a terrorist’s game, strapping
bombs to your back, blowing yourself away
in a cloud of smoke like a speech bubble?

Are you dragging yourself home from work, screaming
at your wife over piggy bank pennies, eyes dark-circled
and temples pounding with coworker idiocy?

Are you acting up in class, throwing tantrums
like a dirty-clothed kid with a stomach full of sugar,
taking slaps on the wrist like makeshift hugs?

Are you plagued by some inexpressible strain,
a baby lying frustrated in her crib, endlessly crying,
while her parents scramble to puzzle it out?

Photo by Sarah Klockars-Clauser

        People talk about "communicating" or "being in touch" with their bodies; how has your body been "speaking" to you lately, and what do you think it's been "saying"?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In the absence of cruelty

Between the slated wooden shutters, a bee hums.
Andrew reaches for a tattered magazine, but
instead of rolling it into a nightstick
he curves it into a shy smile.

Gently, he ushers
the bee from the window, toward the door
like guiding the proverbial old lady across the street.
It flees, panicked, from room to room,
to the comfort of familiar light through glass,
and Andrew follows it.

Eventually, they will tire: the bee
panting on the solid ground of a window sill,
and Andrew mourning in a sigh, reaching
for a shroud of paper towel.

Inspired by Stephen King's Under the Dome.

Photo by Dominic

        You don't have to answer here if you don't want to, but at least ask yourself: what's the cruelest thing you've ever done?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Woman: to Man

It must be difficult to relate to someone always swept up
in an ocean of feelings – vast and deep and fluid –
when yours tend only to rotate between happy, annoyed
and drunk (another form of happiness).

The text of Woman is crowded with schizophrenic roles:
Woman as wide-hipped mother, lulling her child to sleep.
Woman as wide-eyed child, reaching for fire.
Woman swaying like a wildflower or growling like a beast.
Woman twisting the doorknob to Sin to see if it’s locked.

These roles are makeup I put on and wash off,
dresses I purchase and outgrow;
some are heavy and some are glamorous
and some have scratchy crinoline underlays
but it’s easier to contemplate my sexuality with layers
like armor against the audience of a full-length mirror
than bent over journal pages of skin with a hand mirror.

Every word and tear and motion is a costume change
and you never know which character you’re taking to bed,
but it doesn’t matter, if you like the actress.

This is not my philosophy of female sexuality; it's just something I've been thinking about.

Painting by Till Niermann

        What "roles" do you feel you take on sometimes? This isn't necessarily a gender-related question.