Beauty

monday thaw

On TV it looked like a high-speed photo of a milk drop

the dying leader of the Pana Wave laboratory cult smack in the

centre.

Acres of white cloth streamered his followers, who

circled him like crown jewels.

 

More and more I'm responding to stark white on black,

letting the morning frost finish for me.

 

Calgary is fur-lined in the sun. Although the cold front

will chop us down to minus, there are hints of a melt.

Dad's three-legged shadow bends blueness

Famous

The river is famous to the fish.

 

The loud voice is famous to silence,

which knew it would inherit the earth

before anybody said so.

 

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds

watching him from the birdhouse.

 

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

 

The idea you carry close to your bosom

is famous to your bosom.

 

The boot is famous to the earth,

more famous than the dress shoe,

which is famous only to floors.

 

Alone

I never thought Michiko would come back

after she died. But if she did, I knew

it would be as a lady in a long white dress.

It is strange that she has returned

as somebody's dalmatian. I meet

the man walking her on a leash

almost every week. He says good morning

and I stoop down to calm her. He said

once that she was never like that with

other people. Sometimes she is tethered

on their lawn when I go by. If nobody

is around, I sit on the grass. When she

January 1, Dawn

After the celebrations,

people, TV channels, telephones,

the year’s recently-corrected digit

finally falls asleep.

 

Between the final night and the first dawn

a jagged piece of sky

as if viewed from the open mouth of a whale.

Inside her belly and inside the belly of time,

there’s no point worrying.

You glide gently along. She knows her course.

Inside her, you are digested slowly, painlessly. 

 

And if you’re lucky, like Jonah,

How to Triumph Like a Girl

I like the lady horses best,

how they make it all look easy,

like running 40 miles per hour

is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.

I like their lady horse swagger,

after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!

But mainly, let's be honest, I like

that they're ladies. As if this big

dangerous animal is also a part of me,

that somewhere inside the delicate

skin of my body, there pumps

an 8-pound female horse heart,

giant with power, heavy with blood.

Don't you want to believe it?

The Young Poets of Winnipeg

scurried around a classroom papered with poems.

Even the ceiling, pink and orange quilts of phrase...

they introduced one another, perched on a tiny stage

to read their work, blessed their teacher who

encouraged them to stretch, wouldn’t let their parents

attend the reading because parents might criticize,

believed in the third and fourth eyes, the eyes in

the undersides of leaves, the polar bears a thousand miles north,

and sprouts of grass under the snow. They knew their poems

Happy Birthday Moon

Dad reads aloud. I follow his finger across the page.

Sometimes his finger moves past words, tracing white space.

He makes the Moon say something new every night

to his deaf son who slurs his speech.

 

Sometimes his finger moves past words, tracing white space.

Tonight he gives the Moon my name, but I can’t say it,

his deaf son who slurs his speech.

Dad taps the page, says, try again.

 

Tonight he gives the Moon my name, but I can’t say it.

Bury Me in Arabic

“Morning of goodness to you”

— “Morning of goodnesses”

Or add flowers: “morning of roses”

Always multiply the gift—

 

“welcome” to “two welcomes”

“a hundred welcomes and kinship and ease”

Keep offering tray after tray of words

 

When someone fixes your engine

passes food, serves you in any way

say “May your hands be whole and healthy”

They echo “god keep you healthy and hale”

 

Wishing a sneezer “mercy” is a three-step dance

They reply “guidance and rightness of mind”

Unfledged

What did I know, what did I know

of love’s austere and lonely offices?

— Robert Hayden

 

 

Weekends too my father roofed poor neighborhoods,

at prices only his back could carry

 

into profit.  In the name of labor’s

virtue—or was it another bill collector’s callous

 

calling again?—my brother and I became

his two-boy cleanup crew.  During those hard,

 

gloved hours under the sun’s weight, I studied

my father, from the ground—the distance he kept

 

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