Canadian Poetry


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.

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.


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.

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 trees have succumbed to
spring’s firm grip,
allowing lacy flowers
to decorate their awkward branches.
And a humming bird prods
willing apple blossoms
searching for the remaining sweet sips,
which have been forgotten
by the droves of bees.

What if I were to call
these frail flowers masculine?
Would this change the meaning and
make this image deeper,
more sexually charged?
Would supple petals become stiff,
and the hummingbird wince
when forced to swallow sour nectar?

Flowers are merely sex organs;
the sky splits open and
they crumble.


The vinyl hasn’t changed,

it’s still uncomfortable, sticky,
and has the lingering odour of people
(I will never know).

The motion— jerky— erratic.

The frosted windows— still fogging from human
heat, though the temptation to curl my hand
up, press it against the cool condensation,
then peel my warm fist— carefully— away, and
tickle fingertips across the cool surface
drawing awkward toes,
no longer tempts me.

There is no longer a need, nor is there space,
for imprints of premature feet.


They’re almost here;
you can feel the tension.
It’s been mounting since the first day
that mound of snow in my back yard
began to melt: a mound so monstrous
that it needed to lean against the length
of my house’s brick belly
to heave up its great weight.

That was five weeks ago.

It’s not so much that I want the leaves
to come back(though it would be nice)—
it’s simply that the trees are tired of being naked
and you can tell.