another message
a subject line

a flat assumption
that you are
owed my time

and a reminder
what’s mine is yours
but mine ain’t mine.

no matter
what i’ve said
or redefined

about changing our
for the thousandth time

you hear
your own voice only
saying ‘like this, is just fine.’

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.


We never check the weather.

A sudden shower, though inexplicable, 
was just one 
of many wonders-

like finding a dollar bill.
Or hearing a payphone ring.

No matter 
the morning chatter 
about rain coats and umbrellas,
dark clouds and thunderheads
are moot.

If anything, 
adult fascinations
are prompts
to get our
asses outside 

And even while
sunny moments shift
to syrupy downpours,
we understand
it all follows
into more 

The terra firma pheromones, 
now loosened 
and unmoored,
summon notes of sunscreen 
and popsicles and pool chlorine;

a brief reminder that 
an unending summer 
can still be interrupted. 

Rising from a million trillion 
joyous bloom’s and
puddling up 
at curbsides,

in riverbeds and fields 
wild with eye height grasses,

the message 
telling kids to keep splashing 
up and down driveways 
stained with 
late summer sunsets 
and street chalk
is clear. 

And while adults roll up 
and shelter, 
we gallop through yards and 
dart between cars. 

Fences are tightropes. 
Trees, trapezes. 
Dinner warnings; 
heralds for 

one more round!

The protest 
always begins at dusk. 

No one wears a watch. 
The neighbourhood does it for us. 

I count down, 
as the sun slips and simmers
into Lake Ontario,

One 100, two 100, 
three 100, four 100, 
five 100.

Ready or not, here I come!

Then bounce into the street 
from the green box, 

a homemade homebase, 
halo’d in street lamp glow 
just enough for safety; 

shadow wrapped enough 
to allow a quick slip into 
the darkness. 

Any minute the front stoop 
phone chain will start. 

Mike lives the farthest, 
his dad’s vocal power 
is unmatched. 
His bass line 
fills 4 square blocks easily. 
It's frightening when he uses it 
inside the house. 

Lisa’s mom will just stand on the porch 
staring out into the night. 
She won't turn on the exterior, 
the mosquitoes 
are bad at dusk. 
Lisa catches hell every time, for each bite 
her mom suffers. 

in Tony’s house 
semaphore flickers from the kitchen. 
Whatever the code, he runs home 
mid sentence 
just in time 
for all of the house lights to go off. 

My mom informs the neighbourhood,
Time to come in for a bath!

I drag my ass. 
I wander down the block. 
Just far enough 
to say I didn’t hear you. 

Just far enough 
to get a believably desperate
running start 
back up the driveway. 

Just far enough 
to still show I care. 
Just far enough 
to test if they are there.

Just far enough 
to remind myself 
that we will not 
give up summer freedom 
without a fight.


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

the impossibility of quiet

It has a texture, a dust

Like a reminder after the too loud moment

or like the space between the fall and the tears.

It has a gravity,

like the falling feeling as air escapes the room

or an ombré filled space where you once were.

It is volume,

like the empty cup you keep overfilling with chatter

and the sound as another command hits the floor.

It is fear,

like the moment after the bump in the night

or listening to you lightly breathing, but actually checking proof of life.

It is familiar,

like watching a thing long enough to behold it

or like our hands falling into a folded resting form.

It is the thing you crave, then a thing you fear.

It elevates will.

It antagonizes while you await results.

It takes a beat before expecting to be noticed.

It is the moment just before acceptance.

It is the disturbed air warning as the subway shoots past.

It is indecision between two emotions, fear and excitement, because they both feel the same in my body.

And sometimes, sometimes, it is the sleepy gaze from my cat atop the couch.

about time

A mistake 

brought me to the grocery store

at dawn's break.

Newsreels, infection rates,

ICU lineups and long waits

meant that online purchases ain't efficient anymore.

Delays were imminent.

But I hadn't noticed any of it.

My virtual cart could be picked up a week from now,

but we were out of milk somehow.

So that guy seems real upset pacing up and down

the sidewalk, shaking his head, making me anxious-

posing in front of the exit, waving his arms like hailing a cab,

and spitting mad.

Barking to no one and everyone in line,

his muttering distractions made eyes look to mine.

The guy steps in close- litigates and reiterates-

'guess 8

o'clock doesn't mean what it used to be.'

My watch showed 8:03.

And i could see

inside the store, employees stacked, cleaned, and chopped.

While outside, a small clutch of early risers wonders about when they can shop.

8:05, the door opens.

A teenage gatekeeper struggles to smile and says 'cmon in'.

As the line files through,

some offer clever counsel at the indifferent interloper who

listens patiently to

the grumbles of 'next time' and 'my time' and 'wasted time'.

Those chronic rhymes

are a clear sign

that time

really is not what it should be.

But the thing about time

is that you have to stall on a fine line

and that essence

to feel any ownership of the current tense,

means noticing that as the staff member scrolls backwards, i stroll forward fast

into my present and by then i am already in her past.