Rizzuto's Lullaby

From here you can see
the arteries of light.

A thick, hoary—and almost
ominous—blanket of clouds descends
to smother Montreal.

A city dirty with techno-
coloured October leaves
gasping for chlorophyll.

A ville sullied by language.
A big smoke where mobsters still
meet silver screen-calibre endings.

The heavy greyness singing
the murmuring town to sleep,
putting out fires,
calming Rizzuto,
unplugging police.

From here you can see
the arteries of light.

Pockets of people
that huddle together,
while hating one and other
for keeping the heart-
ache at bay.

Or rather for reminding them that
heartache is stitched into us;
a seam we constantly
pull; a thread
that no one dares.


I want to be a body without organs.
Made of birch bark that you can peel
and peel and peel with no core.
A church with no pulpit, no pews, no people.
A matryoshka doll that disappoints children,
With no nesting other-selves to discover.
A once fleshy flower pressed
in a never-used dictionary, now paper thin,
and hiding between hardly uttered words.

The Goldfish

A mass of hair and limbs buries her face
into a magnolia flower; three days ago
this tree was nothing but bones and desire.

A child pushes into a cupped hand.
A hand grasping towards the sky,
hungry for air and sun and warmth.

It is April and still snowing.
The forsythia, in a shock of yellow,
has come to Toronto’s defense,
attempting to drive back winter.

Mary Pickford (of 211 University Avenue),
a mass of hair and limbs, is desperate:
It is April and still snowing.

In a pet store, a goldfish’s glint
pulls at her eye, pulls at her hand–
pulls her towards its gilt, crescent body.

She is running down Bloor Street,
She is running with a dancing fish,
cupped between her hands;
she is running.

She slows in tandem with the fish,
Its fervent dancing has tapered to a hiccup.
Mary Pickford drops its limp and brilliant body,
a street car passes, a fish lies still and golden.

Mary shoves her nose towards stigma,
anther and odour. Seeking solace in a tree,
heavy with fleshy petals.


Insect wing lips and cracked heels, and
The desire to press my body against
Another, to drain its warmth, so that I can
Continue dredge dredge dredging.
I have swallowed many secrets.
As many as could fit in my gullet.
I am distended with secrets, un-
Digestible details that cling to my ribs.

Those remaining have been swaddled.
I will carry them away from this busy
Busy city, where the snow can never rest.
I will carry my smothered secrets towards

Silence: under bridges, between allies, through
the decaying industry of Southern Ontario, and
through forgotten reserves that are forgetting
their tongues, forgetting their secrets—
It’s time it’s time it’s time:
It must be winter.

And the Maker-Modler Sleeps

The maker-modeler formed them from corn, but
Not us. The sun danced around the world a-
Hundred-hundred times before we were cast—cast
Both too early and yet too late—we were
Born of run-off, excess, and atrophy.
We were built by the same men who dissected
The sun. And we worshipped their magic with
The very same fervor of the corn-people
Who presented still murmuring hearts to
Chichen Itza.
There are no roosters here. No roosters to
Encourage the still steadfast sun. Still, he
Climbs over the lip of the colourless horizon,
gathering quick breaths over the yawning river—
He Climbs.
The money makers and movers mourn in
Black, despite the fact that: still, the sun climbs.
It is well known that roosters are maudlin
Creatures—gossiping to pass time. The men who hide
Their eyes and feign virginity have stripped
The sun. They have stripped the sun of his gold.
They have taken his lore, they have taken
Its voice.
The roosters have told us many secrets,
They have told us many myths, but they have
Not told us about the corn. Next to Chichen Itza
Men were buried with corn to sustain them;
They have grown roots while we waste in wait for
The boat-man.


Stretched thin like gum, you can see their
organs, complete with diagrams:
there’s the pancreas, and the gallbladder,
and the shy, impotent appendix.

Mothers will take these organs when
cumbersome, and lay them out in
the sun to dry. Sometimes feral
cats snatch intestines.

The hospitals aren’t sterile any-
more. The surgeons no longer suture. The
herbs are impotent— they are without their magic.

And now, when laid out in the sun, they
do not dry, but rot. Modern mothers
plant their petunias in neat rows,
they cover rather than covet the earth.

Augury in Toronto

It isn’t apple season. These apples
were reared by Pinochet. Carefully
cultivated in Chile’s furrowed brow.
It isn’t apple season—it’s time for
the rutabaga and radish to revel.

The snow presses down against the city
(the snow that loved the city before
R.C. Harris built an altar to worship
water). It has loved Toronto before
indiginous tongues forgot consonant
clusters. Before the snow loved the big smoke,
and before Tkaronto was suffocated,
the snow lusted after the lake.

These apples: cultivated in Chile’s
furrowed brow. It isn’t apple season:
the snow presses down, loving the place where
trees stand in the water. Today I watched
a man. I doubt anyone could match his
perfect pitch (even before the place where
trees stand in the water became Toronto).
No amount of rehearsing could rival
that languid launch. Today I studied—

A man abused by the seasons:
Winter had pulled at his eyes.
Spring had pinched at his cheeks.
Summer had prodded at his brow.
And autumn had beat at his heart.

The seasons had left him, the same way the
snow will leave Toronto for her other
lovers. The seasons had left him wrinkled
and gleeful— his accessory flesh fading.
These apples cultivated in Chile’s
furrowed brow had been exiled by the
supermarket junta to the half-rotten
dollar bin to be picked over by those
forgotten by seasons. It isn’t apple season.

These apples, reared by Pinochet, were culled
in Chile. I appraised the manner in
which he threw Eve’s temptation between
streetcar tracks. I assessed the way his knuckles
clenched with anticipation. Waiting.
Waiting for that big red brute to come and
splinter that apple across King street and
reveal the secrets.

Secrets that would come as the snow left.
The secrets lusted after by the snow.
The secrets suckling at the bottom of
lake Ontario. Secrets known to
the carp, but not the snow.

Sowing Pangaea

It started with our boats. They carried thread
Across the breach. They carried thread
While their crews and captains wasted and weathered.
They carried thread to darn Pangaea whole again.

Earth worms, fat and succulent, gathered for a baptism
Performed by a father on his son, helped reinforce the stitches.
These night crawlers are reprobates. Secret soil defilers,
They planted our needles deep in the earth.

They planted the needles between roots and rocks.
They refused to let the earth lie fallow,
And so they furrowed ditches for loosestrife
plucked from Ophelia’s water grave.

They pushed purple loosestrife into foreign soil hoping that
When the New World birthed her own Ophelia she would have
A proper burial. When the New World birthed Ophelia she was wiser:
Rather than picking poppies she plucked worms, fat and succulent.

Rather than purloining poppies Ophelia attempted to rip
The seams we had sewn between this world and the old.
This time her body would lay eternal and whole
As bodies did before the ships carried thread.

North of a Great Lake

The sky is very ominous
And the corn fields are whispering
(secrets of epic proportions).

The scarecrow sings:
Making toast by the fireside,
Nurse fell in the grate and died.
What makes the matter ten times worse,
The toast was burnt along with the nurse.
The crows scoff, the crows cough.
The susurrus of corn swallows the scarecrow.

The sky grew suspicious.
Then the sky grew jealous.
The ravens refused to share their secrets,
and so the once ominous sky began to rain.

And it rained, and rained
Till all the foreboding gathered.
It gathered between birch roots.
It gathered in ditches.
It gathered in furrows.

And it rained, and
The corn drank deeply.

The corn whispers.
The seagulls laugh and bathe.
The crows cough and count.
And the sky is light,
And the scarecrow: silent.

In Early August the Wells Went Dry

These lines were etched into the walls of the House of Poppaeus Sabinus.
These words were cosseted by Vesuvian ash while the city of Pompeii slept.

Do you listen? Can you hear their breaths:
Awkward, staggered breaths?  
Almost a language—Non-words uttered by
those who ignored their own deaths.

If you felt the fires of love, mule driver.

Listen to the etched words. Press yourself into walls.
Christen them with your ears, your eyes, your pulse.
Here division between man and stone eroded under 
aa and ahs as ash smothered the village.

Mule driver, if you felt the fires of love,
would you make more haste to see Venus?

Ash plastered her mouth, pent her voice,
but time has not smothered her love.
Composed some distance from her destination
She pressed her eager urges into the doorway:

I love a charming boy, I ask you
Goad the mules, lets go.

Take me to Pompeii—

Transposed never to decompose,

where love is sweet.

Thanks to that smoke pine tree
Recalled by young Pliny.

Feed the Dead

The year you died your peach tree bore
more fruit than it could hold. The year
you became intimate with the earth, your tree
knelt in near piety from the burden.

The knell called down from the top of the hill.
In the church’s lap children continue
to swing up, up, and back again as
the bell tolled, tolled, and told.

As peaches swell your tree grows buckle-kneed.
Soon those left to tend to trees’
buckling knees will remove the coverings
from mirrors and break bread with you.

The year you died your peach tree bore
more fruit than it could hold.
The year you died the knell told your secrets
easing the burden as you were once again
held by your mother.


We cauterized the image of Nero
fiddling as Rome burned into ourselves.
Once the stench of burning scattered we
embroidered it into our imaginations,
but then forgot about Caligula’s
cacoethes for nectarines.

What a shame—
there was left of orange thread, too.

Caligula indulged in nectarines.
He despised the way his tongue felt
pressed against peach pelt. When fondling breasts
and choosing fruit he would leave
sticky thumbprints. Sticky bruises. Sticky kisses.
Caligula suckled on nectarines—corpulent
and firm—big as the sun setting over Gubbio
when August bleeds into September.

And there was orange thread.
And there is orange thread.


Every word whispered is plucked from the speech stream.
The vowels are weighed and clamped:
their density established. Consonants are laid-out neatly
in rows: their limbs plucked off with rapture.

The shifts of your irises left, left, left
makes me chew my words, my cud, my words.
These syllables sit like stones in my larynx.
When they finally manage to emerge they are muffled
and muddled and I long to inhale them back in once again
and push push push them down.
Down past my insomniac heart—
past my volatile liver,
down to the bottom of my gullet.
Soon my heart will join those half-masticated morphemes.

It’s those left, left, right shifting eyes that have
yanked too hard on the tether that holds
my heart in place. The rope has become worn.
The weight of that anchor pulls and pulls and pulls.
And as you pluck and prod words,
I plot to steal this heart—
this insolent stubborn sleepless valve— and then eat it.
Let me stop chewing words.
Let me reach down into my larynx and past my
dormant syrinx and pick that still beating heart.
I’ll eat that heart—left ventricle then right.

Then tomorrow when your eyes look left, left,
right again there will be nothing to swing
like a pendulum in my chest– tolling;
there will be no more tolling, no more telling.
I’ve stolen that heart and eaten it with relish.
I will steal the pears from your mother’s pear tree
in broad day light. Just to taste them. Then, and
only then, my words will be light again.

Then, only then, your left-left-right eyes will
no longer be master of the knell. And
think of what I can plant there with all that
new space. Maybe gladiolas—or a
perennial—something sturdy like a hosta.
Broad and silent and sleepy.

Judges 16

Scissors camouflaged into the back of a drawer
are sprung by still clumsy fingers. Under the dull yellow light
Delilah Harris cuts her fringe behind a closed door.
Scissors camouflaged into the back of a drawer
Snip until there isn’t a fringe anymore
Sally then giggles with guilt & delight.
Scissors camouflaged into the back of a drawer
are sprung by still clumsy fingers under the dull yellow light.

Delilah’s mum, Hazel Harris, had eaten her old name
and so bought a new name and forgot the old.
Mrs. Harris’ parties often received the highest acclaim—
Delilah’s mum, Hazel Harris, had eaten her old name,
And took up entertaining guests by feeding them Christ’s flesh without shame.
Her guests would drink Christ’s flesh in glasses rimmed with gold.
Delilah’s mum, Hazel Harris, had eaten her old name
and so bought a new name and forgot the old.

While downstairs they laughed, ate Christ’s flesh, and drank his blood,
Upstairs, under dull yellow light, Delilah hacked at hay coloured hair.
With guilt gnawing on her shadow and tears welling she sobbed a prayer
While downstairs they laughed, ate Christ’s flesh, and drank his blood.
She prayed that her mother would still call her ‘ little flower bud’.
O, but what would Mrs. Harris declare when she set eyes on the affair?
While downstairs they laughed, ate Christ’s flesh, and drank his blood,
Upstairs, under dull yellow light, Delilah hacked at hay coloured hair.

Stop eating Christ’s flesh. It’s high in carbohydrates.


The clock was of Teutonic origins.
I am adamant about this fact despite
the lack of empirical evidence.
Based on specious reasoning I have concluded:
that clock cannot be the product of native hands.

The pedantic hands that built you were not,
and could not, be the same hands that cut off
eel’s heads. Night after night after night
after night I am kept from dreams of
Governor Ferguson. Steeped in heat

I was finally granted admission;
the bureaucracy of sleep is a
mysterious force. Ferguson leaned over to
me while we ate stale Oreos & drank
dog rose tea & in something between
a whisper & mastication told me that:
If English was
good enough for both
Texas and Jesus Christ
It was good enough for me.

German hands push, pinch, prod, squeeze, tweet, and twinge.
The Governor is falling down the stairs.
The Governor is falling down the stairs.
The Germans pushed him and claimed that: he was
a casualty of unknotting the messy expanse of night.

Making Apples

The Tsoyaha are the children of the son.

Last night I dreamt. Philomela—
I dreamt of you last night
Philomela—we were in South Central
Oklahoma. Listening to Euchee elders
squabble over what Maggie’d actually do
if she won this week’s jackpot.
Philomela—do you remember;
do you remember the way the cauterizing
sun fell over half-urban sprawl and
how Magda, restrained by heat, could barely
twitch her limbs to discourage fat flies—
her eyes following swallows weaving
in and out, out and in of electric lace?
This is where you lean to me.
This is where you press your lips to my lips.
This is where you breathe words into me.
This is where you force words into me.
“The wire web
holds the sky
in place.”

Magdalene was her Christian name.
It was her second choice. She preferred
Irit. The nun in charge of names
insisted that ‘Irit’ was not the name of
Lot’s wife. The bible never named Lot’s wife.
But, if the girl insisted on this moment
of Genesis she could have ‘Salt’ as her
Christian name. The girl breathed a Euchee cuss.
The naming nun answered with a smile, pushed a needle
through her tongue and gifted her the name:


This is where you leave me,
holding a half woven dream.
This is where your tongue becomes
Magdalene’s tongue, scarred
and thick in my mouth.

His Own Vine and Tree or Fig Flower

The glory of God: not found in the sky;
Nor in the portrait of naive Hydra,
bathing in the pitch sea next to that sly
Crater crow. No, God dwells in the umbra
Of grandeur— fresh figs cut open reveal
Flesh, skin and broken seed rings.

No, God’s smaller yet, lodging in plump peel:
A pupil-sized wasp that has lost her wings
Forcing through the fig’s mouth, pollinating;
Blind and limbless the dance begins anew.
Flesh deep fig flowers and larvae are growing,
With greed-bead-eyes that crow begins to coo.
Despite all this splendour, Adam and Eve sew’d
fig leaves together and made coverings.


A bloated hand follows hosiery to a crease
which joins two lean legs. Muscles clench in
response, synapses echo, her head tilts —a smile—
the bottom lip tied back.

“My friend and I had a joke.”

She had quit before we met. The first time
we finished she told me breathily ‘I wish I
still smoked, fuck;’ and I kissed her and we laughed,
we held each other naked and laughing.

“when we were out late and the birds started to sing
I would always tell her that ‘I wish I
had a gun.’ We would laugh.”

The heavy thumb presses down, just
left of the clit: it rocks back and forth,
forth and back—digging into muscle. A moan
buried under breaths shadows his self satisfied grunt.

“That one’s a chickadee—”
“You’re an ornithologist?”

She’s been a non-smoker longer than I have
been her husband. Her ash drops onto the cotton
sheets— fingers that’ve forgotten the rhythm—
the smell of ash and bleach gnaws at the silence
which I can’t help but perpetuate … at least
the cigarette is phallic.

“No, I learned about them from one of those
Protect Vermont’s Ecosystem commercials.”

A pair of smacking maws collapses on neatly
rouged lips—they respond. A stewardess refrains
from offering the occupied couple a beverage.
The lithe figure of callysto rises and drifts
down the aisle to a recently evacuated stall; trailed
by the plodding hunter, zeus.

“Is that a chickadee? The one that’s staring at me.”

An exhale of smoke joins the cacophony
of bird chatter. As each freckle of light fades
back into the pigment and grey stretches
over the horizon. Tracing the outline of her body
my eyes rest on her cigarette.

“What was it?”

callysto stands on the closed shitter
with the posture of a heavy headed peony
in midsummer—petals spread and waiting.

“Fuck if I know.”

Ash drops into a bedside glass of tepid water,
disturbing bubbles— I taste the bitter pith:
jealous of her cigarette. Her lips smacking against the filter.

“What about that one? It sounded like chimes.”

The behemoth pushes himself in;
his extraneous rolls thunder and reverberate into the door
injunction with a heavy-moist-exhale, managing
to condemn her: OCCUPIED.

“… I only remember the chickadee’s call,
because she says her name—the narcissist—over and over again.
I hardly even know what she looks like.”

I think she is either watching the plane
force its way through the clouds or
ursa major as she grows faint.

The Greenline

shirt’s riding up, again, exposing
a naked onion belly to the harshhumming
of metro lights. here i don’t have
an audience, other than the harshhummingmetrolights.
as a result i begin to lose track of my

present character choice. the lights
are still there, watching— i pull
down my incorrigible outerskin (i believe
i asked a grade school teacher what
incorrigible meant, at one time— i believe
she told me it was what little boys
are. this memory may or may not

have been part of a book or
movie). hitler liked male architecture, no
curves. after building the große halle
did he plan on levelling the alps, just to
keep things balanced? at belzec

the jews got off the train. at charlevoix
metro station people got off the train
heading east. most, probably, went home,
it nearing two am and all. at lionel-groulx
i went east when i should of gone west,
and only stopped to notice three stops
too late. now, while most people have
probably gone home, i wait for godot

to come rescue me, in train form
preferably. just outside of berlin
there is monument to the jews
who got off the train. an empty platform
and an out-of-commission stretch

of railway, with countlessly countable jewish
names engraved onto the tracks. at belzec
the jews got off the train, and were asked to tie
their shoes together (to make them easier
to find later, they were told), and throw them into
pyramid pile. later-later, naked and aware that a
nazi would soon probably be wearing her shoes,
their shoes, jewish shoes, Sarah turned to her brother

Abraham and kissed his lips: “they never fitted you
properly, anyways,” she laughed
as the line began to get shorter and
the completely tiled room closer. a metro
employee in a uniform one or two sizes too small

trespasses the fourth wall, ‘je
m’excuse cherie, mais la dernier metro a
deja passé,’ she says, smiles, and ascends
the stairs. i sigh, collect my things,
adjust my incorrigible shirt (which
is probably one or two sizes too small), shove
my feet into awkward shoes and ascend
the stairs. in the showers as the tiles began to

press in against people and gas, people climbed
over each other, attempting to escape. when
the proctors went in, later-later-later, they
no longer stood in awe of the jewish testament
to a pharaoh longpassed. “every time,” mumbled one,

two nodded as three and four began to move bodies.