Janice has to stay late

I could tell at ‘hello’ that the day was not going well. 

My groceries barreled towards me.

The green, red, and blue crates bounced drunkenly as she approached.  

She let go of the handle and the cart continued to roll and barely winced when the rusted corner smashed into her calf. 

Without pause she launched. 

‘Day was average until 30 minutes ago. Then it went to shit.’

I grimaced then sympathized. 

‘It got hot out. Must make it tougher to hustle in and out of the store. Ya know, with the temperature change.’

I was struggling. 

She knew it. 

This moment has played out before. 

I check in, I get engaged, I get chatty then realize I do not have enough story to navigate the waters. 

It’s not that I misread the moment, more like a stumble. 

The jolt of being brought directly into the center of the story at light speed was jarring and raw, without recovery time.

‘The kid that is suppose to come on at 4:00 called in, he’s not coming into work.’

I want to commiserate. That happened to me countless times when I was running restaurants. 

There’s no chance to respond. 

‘My manager will expect me to stay longer… without asking specifically. He can’t actually make me stay though.’ 

She stared at me, dead-eyed, nodding, willing me to take a side.

I remembered that moment too. 

My boss would avoid a direct question.  

He would say things like, ‘We gotta all pull together.’

And that he would, ‘Remember our commitment.’

‘I won’t stay this time.’ She promises over her shoulder. 

I want to believe her. 


I stayed every time. 

And each time I swallowed a bait-less hook without hesitation.

happy for what’s new here

the hand rail’s loose
but it’s never made my grip slip

and the window lets in light and 
i can read despite that small chip. 

there’s a next door nosey neighbour
who always gets under my skin-

so a fresh year, 
what’s the big deal, 
i don’t really get it. 

and what feels new right now
is that this is how it’s always been. 

thinking that tomorrow, with
a year change might bring me 
to a new scene. 

but if i’m being very honest 
i gotta choose a life 
that likely won’t choose me. 

and on top of that the wind pushes 
on my weak side no matter how i lean. 

so hoping to be saved by someone else 
likely won’t change me. 

and what feels new right now 
is that this is how it’s always been. 

with lots of hopeful small talk
about people needing big change. 

but skipping steps in the process 
makes for bigger falls in a losing game. 

what i’ve learned is that 
this thinking always leads me 
back to someone else’s shame. 

walking talking with myself 
on this same path not 
knowing who to blame. 

and what feels new right now 
is that this is how it’s always been. 

looking backwards while running forwards 
makes my ghosts grin. 

so planning without acting 
is a loop that i can’t get in. 

and complaining that things are shit
when it’s all my pile 
gives me no exception. 

it means that if i am working on it,
i’m winning even though 
i may be suffering. 

and what feels new right now 
is that this is how it’s always been.


stats are 


make attacks
our gaps.

we travel
we trip

over rolls
and flats

to max


forward movement
forgetting that
our fears


the past.

esteem is
made trash.

seems rash.

heart can
so broke
no cast

can bring
it back

to life.

same oath
same path

same toasts
same ghosts

same boast-

those that



those that won’t



and the garbage collector was listening to a Neil deGrasse Tyson podcast

at first I thought
my neighbours
down the street
were saying their 
morning goodbyes. 

strange to hear
voices echoing
at 6:30 AM. 

'I remember distinctly there was some instructors 
who just had such a facility with words …'

not so strange
I thought, 
that I was
raking leaves
at sunrise. 

grey morning,
rain was 
yard work
had to be

'…and sentences and humor and tenor, where I said to myself ⁠— 
I knew I was interested in the universe from age nine…'

on the block 
I could hear
the groan 
and grind
of the 
garbage truck. 

the frequent 
speed up
and slowdown squeal
meant that my pick
up would be
but not too. 

'...so I’m already there. All right?'

at the bend 
I can see 
the fluorescent front
of a big truck, 
internal speakers
defy dawn.

in the low 
light I can see
someone dashing
from driver's side
to curb and back.

'So this is not a matter of, “They got me interested.”  '

the person slows
as they board
the truck.

the dash lights
reveal a thoughtful
pause and a nod
and a gauzy 
out the windshield.

'No, I’m already there.'

Excerpts from The Tim Ferriss Show and 
'Words' from Neil deGrasse Tyson

re: re

[for Dixie]

i am
skeptical of
words that start
with ‘re’.
they stand
there all
full of
all suggestions
that the mark
was missed a
first time
or that
there is a
place to go
back to
or that I
could have
but what of
the effort
taken to get
I just
won’t accept
any words
that suggest
a life can
only be lived


the interviewer reads a quote to the poet.
the poet asks, -its stunning. who wrote that?
the interview chuckles and says -you did. they are your words.
the poet, surprised, says, -did i? when?
the interviewer tells them the publication date.
the poet nods, -well that is a long time ago then. 
the interviewer follows up, -how do you not remember those words? your words.
the poet, smiling, -i assure you, they were never my words.
the interviewer wonders, -but you wrote them?
the poet, -i found them. at the tip of my pen. we had one page of time together, then parted ways.
the interviewer stumbles, -what does that mean?
the poet, -when i found them they refused to be seen. they were proud, raw, feral. they bit back and tried to claw their way off the page.
the interviewer, wryly, -sounds like you tried to tame them.
the poet clarifies, -no. fed them, yes. sheltered, likely. protected and made them safer, definitely.
the interviewer, vexed, -and now?
the poet, -well we had agreed to never meet again. so i am not sure what happens next.

~for Mary Oliver