Thursday, January 25, 2007

Crossing the Assiniboine

I walked down Osborne to the riverbank,
Watched over by a tall Louis Riel,
Who winked up at the Golden Boy, who fell
(Exciting, but I'm not sure whom to thank).
I launched a sailboat, gently, but it sank.
Riel was laughing at me, I could tell,
So I hit Broadway, where they know me well,
And taxis stood and waited, rank on rank.

I travelled north, and ate my evening meal
In Garden City, where the air was cool.
Where were the old spots? When I was at school
We hung out on the corners. Was that real?
I don't remember what I ought to feel.
There must be ways to manage this, some rule.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

While You Dozed

I visited the Underworld today
While you were sleeping off those extra shots.
I think it is the loveliest of spots,
With kitchen privileges. For my stay,
While I laid sandwiches out on a tray
They turned the heat up — just under the pots —
And pasta salad, of which there was lots,
Was served — spicy, warm, cold, every which way.

But even though the windows remain closed,
My fingers hurt, and show traces of jam
And peanut butter, I don't give a damn.
I listened to some music while you dozed,
And Hell is not as hot as you supposed.
I'm not as desperate as you think I am.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Eating the Moon

The evidence is in: I killed the moon
And ate the last unpasteurized green cheese
It's made of. Evidently, the dark breeze
That issued loudly made the people swoon,
Complaining that they didn't like the tune
Or how I played it. I attempt to please,
But sometimes I can't beat those prophesies
Of flying porkers, or of snow in June.

So what is it you're doing to explain
To all these weeping children, how it goes
When someone stumbles, and steps on your toes
Without intending to inflict that pain,
Like me, here? I admit it, once again:
I ate the moon, moments before it rose.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Last Sober Man Here Tonight

Sit down, shut up, and break your own left leg
While I explain why you're a piece of crap
Built out of rotten cabbages and sap
That leaked from dying maple trees. Don't beg.
You used to be the king of Winnipeg,
But now, in exile, your fat lips just flap
About the rabid chipmunk in your lap
That's smiling at you. Don't spit in that keg.

The boys are drinking heavily tonight,
Down at the lake beyond the stinking wood.
They think your attitude is pretty good,
But none of them is really all that bright.
There isn't any time to put things right,
And nobody I know believes you should.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cape, Costume, Mask

No, I'm not managing, and, since you ask,
I don't think there's a future in these rooms.
I tried with alcohol, I tried with brooms,
But I found there was nothing in the flask
That worked, and sweeping up was just a task,
Not a vocation. "Meet me at the tombs,"
I told my mother. "Double up the looms,
Make me a cape, a costume, and a mask."

I never promised you that I would try,
Not even for a month, much less a week.
My life is over now, the world is bleak,
And things change. I can't really tell you why.
It wasn't time for anyone to die.
It isn't time for anyone to speak.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


You take your chances that the sun will rise,
Expect that your fiancé bought the ring
And meant it when he sighed, "You're everything
I dreamed of." When he looks into your eyes
You see the future: no tears, no surprise,
No dismal ending. Love, where is thy sting?
You're sure the summer follows every spring,
And never hear the bluebirds singing lies.

Perhaps I am less sanguine, more alert
To endless, wicked possibilities,
More jaded, thinking bluebirds in the trees
Don't sing for me. Perhaps I have been hurt
Too often. This time, I could sweep the dirt
Under the carpet. No, my heart won't freeze.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Episode with Larks

The evening started slowly: Mom and I
Took up a friendly game of klabberjass,
And then the poodle bit me on the ass —
No reason. Well, that mutt thinks she can fly,
So lately reason has been pretty shy
In our house, but I guess I'll let that pass.
We called the vet; his place is a morass
Of overstressed pets. We must have been high.

In these four days, since then, the world has changed:
We used to take her walking in the park,
But now, fearing the cold eye of the lark,
The poodle, once just angry, now deranged,
Bit Uncle Franklin; we are now estranged,
And we no longer play cards after dark.

Friday, January 05, 2007


The weather changes, and the days grow short,
We shiver in our courses, tending fires,
And some of us are even switching tires.
According to the latest sad report,
Just outside town Jack Frost is holding court
With snowflake princesses, all of them liars:
The Summer wheezed and died, now Fall expires
With sighs so immature they make us snort.

When Winter really comes, we'll start to sneeze
As if we've taken in a bag of snuff,
Or allergies are kicking up. We're tough,
But we remember Summer's poor, frail wheeze,
And Fall whipped through here, just a one-month tease.
The days are short now. Nights aren't long enough.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Once More

I recommit myself to peace once more,
Remembering the battles that we fought,
The mortal arguments that came to nought,
Those times one of us cursed, stormed out the door,
To stumble home at last, repentant, sore,
And filled with doubt and longing, dearly bought.
You felt exactly as I did, I thought,
When I was stranded on a foreign shore.

But I was never much for soldiering,
Like Aristotle (may his kind increase);
My job was not to seek the Golden Fleece,
But to tell golden stories, and to sing,
Collecting bottlecaps and bits of string.
Once more, I recommit myself to peace.