Wednesday, November 29, 2006

When the Apples Fell

What did I look like when the apples fell?
Did I seem happy? Did I smile a lot?
Or did I look more like a burglar caught
Red-handed at the door? Or could you tell
I felt bad, or disturbed, or just unwell,
Like someone aggravated, on the spot,
Found out? Did I seem cold, harsh, tranquil, hot?
Did I appear to sniff at a bad smell?

I wanted to be clear, and what I say
About it now, the weather being fair,
With both of us here, standing on the stair,
Is not as clear as I had hoped today:
I was just hoping that I could portray
One more exact impression of despair.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

My Home and Native Land

Quebec a nation? Really now? Quebec?
A million Anglos, some Italians, Greeks,
Where no one knows until a person speaks
What ethnic background he came from: a Czech,
A circus acrobat, an auto wreck
On Main Street, offspring of two Gaspé geeks
Applying algorithms to the freaks
Who block the lanes, such a pain in the neck.

Your native sons are everywhere, like me,
And Lake Champlain's in the United States.
You can't just lock the door and bar the gates
To keep out immigrants and history.
What will your children think of when they see
James Wolfe on those commemorative plates?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

My Other Dream

I can't be sure about the altitude,
Or whether we were flying in a plane,
But in my other dream we flew again.
The angle of ascent was slightly skewed,
And there was something primitive and crude
About the flight, and maybe I'm insane,
But I saw, later, through my windowpane,
You had another flying interlude.

But when I ran into the street to see,
And called your name out, you had disappeared.
I looked around — and this was really weird,
Feeling the air swirl past me, silently —
To see you, smiling, in the maple tree
One backyard over, as my vision cleared.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I tried the effortless, dishevelled look,
Hoping it would be difficult to tell
That all it meant was: I'm not feeling well,
I'm hoping to retire, find a small nook
Where I can sit in quiet with a book
About Rossini, fame, and William Tell.
There's something nasty out there I can smell,
And I've become afraid to ask the cook.

I wasn't energized by pleasant thoughts
Or happy dreams with frogs and cockatoos
In tropical environs, or the booze
I threw back when my muscles were in knots,
But felt instead a cold wind, took some shots,
And tried that look, after a good long snooze.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Youth's Follies

I can't drink washtub bourbon any more.
I've tried, lord knows, but it just won't go down.
When I was drinking with my friends downtown
We used to stop outside the liquor store
And quaff the stuff we made ourselves (before
We had the money we have now): deep brown,
Disgusting, and familiar. You could drown
In it and disappear, far from the shore.

But I can't drink it now, unhappily.
I'm wealthy, but somehow unsatisfied
By all I can afford. If I implied
The drink is better — well, of course, I'm free
To choose my poison now, but you can see
How life grows pale, as youth's follies subside.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Testament

Is it a testament to what we said
That people now avoid us? When we claimed
Our pills were stolen, was the neighbour blamed
And later, blameless, innocent, found dead?
Or did our colleagues, filled with hope and dread,
Discovered to be plotting, unashamed,
Turn on us? We were shunned, we were defamed,
We were rebuffed, resented, mocked, misled.

Our neighbour was found dead, unpleasantly,
But being dead won't make him innocent.
Opposed to love, foe of the indigent,
He hated with implacability
The whole world. He was bored with living free:
Ready to die, without a testament.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Does anybody care that you were caught
While robbing someone's house? And do we care
That when your lover mated with a bear
Their offspring tried to eat you? Maybe not,
But other people's tears are all you've got,
Since you don't give a damn. It isn't fair?
What would be apt is the electric chair –
No, not to kill you, just to make you hot.

Nobody's sure about the way you feel;
Some of us think you really want to die,
Reflected in the way you winked your eye
At those policemen. They can't make a deal,
It's all on tape. Your self-esteem will heal.
Take care, and have another piece of pie.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Words, Underplayed

While my attention was elsewhere, you sank.
It wasn't quicksand on the jungle floor,
And not the ocean, either. Metaphor
Is king with poets, and this kind of crank
Will build on that until, to be quite frank,
The thing falls down or somehow learns to soar.
You left me, and the rain began to pour –
More's coming; you can take that to the bank.

You sank without a trace, and I was blind
To any signal that you might have made,
Since I was dreaming of a sylvan glade
And bold, delightful naiads I would find.
But all I needed – does it seem unkind? –
Is what I'm doing now: words, underplayed.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sunshine and Regret

Envelop me in sunshine and regret,
Range me alongside a great paradox,
Between a high fence and an angry ox,
To choose a pretty outfit for my pet
That she'll refuse to wear, between a set
Of twins in indistinguishable smocks,
Or pluck the winner from the ballot box
Blindfolded, in a crowd, unaided, wet.

I will remember what I don't recall,
I will run faster than you think I can,
I will proclaim the brotherhood of man
And climb a tree two hundred metres tall,
And every spring, believing that it's fall,
Let us sing songs about Afghanistan.