Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Lonely Man

When we walked out, that windy summer night,
Passing right by the raving lunatic
Who has his post downtown and, well or sick,
Declaims, defames, raging against the light
(Or maybe it's the darkness), we took fright,
As we had done before. You clutched your stick,
I held my breath. His accent was too thick,
Our sensitivities perhaps too bright.

The questions I was asking just got switched:
What sort of person is a lonely man
Who reads the classics, when he ought to scan
The ocean into which his wife was pitched?
What good is culture? Are our lives enriched?
We know that pigs speak Latin, when they can.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I never asked for your identity,
Since I was thinking at the time about
How much you looked like some queer British tout,
Dispensing racing odds for a small fee,
While you thought similar thoughts about me.
You might have noticed I've grown grey and stout,
Though not quite where we'll be expecting gout,
And nothing, nowhere, any time, is free.

Together, we were travelling alone,
Untethered to each other, or a star,
No goals, an empty peanut butter jar
Our only souvenir. That set the tone
For those adventures. Now we're both all grown,
So I still really don't know who you are.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Your Faith

Explain your faith to me, and I will smile.
Divulge your secrets, and expect the worst:
He who was last shall probably be first,
Or something stupid like that. It's on file,
So you could look it up. You will revile
My way of thinking, with an ill-rehearsed
Recital of the plagues with which you've cursed
My life (and those I love), without much style.

Did you expect me to collapse in fear
When I was threatened with that baseless stew
Of purgatories and all that to-do
About the prophets and the Lord's sure ear?
About your faith only one thing is clear:
Your faith is bottomless, and empty, too.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Encephalitis is a cruel disease,
But your head has become exceeding small.
You have so little mental wherewithal
That I believe your mind, as small as fleas,
Has fizzled down to nothing. Bees, peas, lees,
All must exceed the size of what you call
Your brain. Inflamed? No, we think, not at all;
A cramp, perhaps. A plug, a jerk, a freeze.

Brain jerk? There seems to be no proper name
Describing what you have: is it a jerk
That best describes you? Maybe. That might work,
Although some feel, in spite of no deep flame,
You might not simply be a dolt, your fame
Deriving from how much your soul can shirk.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I ate the mussels that were in the fridge,
Watched thirteen TV shows in half an hour,
Chose seven dirty copper pots to scour
And wrote an essay about Vimy Ridge,
I vexed an albatross, unsexed a midge,
Discovered four new uses for white flour,
Offered the neighbour a fresh whisky sour,
And beautifully rebuilt the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now I expostulate in sonnet form,
Explaining how I did it. You believe
I have exaggerated, that my sleeve
Shows old tomato stains, so a great storm
Of protest rises, though the night is warm –
One more example of what I achieve.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

All Over Me

Involving everything from death to jokes,
From happy maunderings, too wet to parse,
To metal elements, from force to farce,
The whole thing must be an enormous hoax.
The strangers whom we have to learn to coax
To help us, or to kick us in the arse,
Are getting numerous who once were sparse,
As many as an endless wheel's slim spokes.

The goddam bastards are all over me!
They're cool, they're golden, and their dogs have flopped
All over me, just lying where they dropped,
And yes, I hate them, and their progeny,
And all their clever rules. No. I don't see.
I started as a dreamer, but have stopped.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Banking Poem

I love this banking on the internet,
So fast and simple for the simple tasks:
One makes demands, then waits, and smiles, and basks
In glory shared, as bright as any yet.
Complexity begone! I was all set
To move some money, which is all one asks
Of banking. Some men do it wearing masks,
But I was once convinced they were all wet.

I tried the internet, the telephone,
I even thought I'd try the local branch,
But they merely abused me, made me blanch,
Told me I was ridiculous, a drone
Who shouldn't be allowed a sharpened stone.
There's blood still flowing here that I can't stanch.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Stolen Moments (a true story)

The government here in Ontario
Has wasted several minutes of my time
By sending me a notice – not in rhyme –
That said I ought to rouse myself and go
Wait in a line-up to be served. Not so:
After a wait much like a mountain-climb,
A woman told me it would be a crime
To serve me, as the notice explained. No!

The notice says to come and stand and wait
And pay some money to the Ministry,
In words completely crystal clear to me,
And words are what I know. Prevaricate,
Pretend words have no meaning, calmly state
A falsehood, but don't think that I'll agree.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Old and Mildly Ill

I missed the bus this morning. It was cold,
And windy. Somehow, I was underdressed,
So, shivering, disgruntled, and hard-pressed,
I reached the office late, where I was told
Today would leave me feeling sick and old.
I'm feeling old now, as you might have guessed,
Though only mildly ill. It's not a test —
Alarms are normal here: loud, frequent, bold.

Now, as I'm leaving, as the afternoon
Winds down, and as the sun begins to set,
I feel the fell of dark. It is no boon:
The world is too much with us, late and soon,
Getting and spending. I scan the dim moon,
As close to giving up as I can get.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Don't aggravate me any more than this,
Or else I may be forced to liquidate
And give my money to the poor. I hate
Giving my money to the poor. I miss
My money when it's gone. I'm like the Swiss:
We don't think overmuch of silverplate,
Or worry that the size of our estate
Won't comfort, when you mourn and reminisce.

Wealth is a headache, but it's not as bad
As poverty, is it? Before you make
An error you'll regret, please, let us take
One moment to regain the calm we had.
Keep poking me until I'm good and mad,
And you'll find out how much you had at stake.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Fourteen Lines

The ineffectiveness of poetry
Is legend. I write sonnets nonetheless,
And you, in reading them, might fail to guess
How every fourteen-line discovery
Reveals a home truth, even if you see
The truth. Its very ineffectiveness
Is why you're reading, thinking I express
Only what fourteen lines reveal to me.

The whole world opens up, wild and unplanned,
Like flowers stretching up towards the sun.
I don't care much for images. This one,
However, may help you to understand
The way it feels when, with my modest hand,
I light upon the right word, then I'm done.