SEE ALL TAGS & MOODS
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
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
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.
I was a kid other kids’
parents gossiped about.
They told their children
what I was: too negative.
I get it. Fair to fear
contagion of bad attitudes,
You used to be so
and now you’re all
like, you’ve transformed
I don’t know how to describe
you don’t like canasta anymore
you text IN ALL CAPS
My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
When the doctor suggested surgery
and a brace for all my youngest years,
my parents scrambled to take me
to massage therapy, deep tissue work,
osteopathy, and soon my crooked spine
When the horse picked Mama up by the hair
that time, was she scared?
There is a photograph of her with this horse
in the brown family album. She stands
beside him, thin in the chilly wind
my mother found herself one late summer
afternoon lying in grass under the wild
yellow plum tree jewelled with sunlight
she was forgotten there in spring picking
rhubarb for pie & the children home from
You wouldn’t fit in your coffin
but to me it was no surprise.
All your life you had never fit in
anywhere; you saw no reason to
begin fitting in now.
When I was little I remember
Was so imaginary he ceased to exist
he wasn’t sleeping in a treehouse or stalking the woods
in fatigues cheeks smeared green with camouflage grease
You are light
when the sun is punched out
and darkness reigns.
You are the antidote
to what came before:
black blood, black heart,
hands tied, kneeling before
a ditch of human bones.
My niece calls me from my brother-in-law’s phone
While I’m getting ready to wash dishes. I pick up.
She says she needs to talk to her grandfather.
I tell her that her grandfather just went to sleep,
There is no land of perfect, child.
There is no sea of ease.
There is no candy apple trail.
There’s broccoli and peas.
There is no suit of armour, child.
There’s arrows and there’s pain.
On moonlight night
when moon is bright
with his throw-back head
and his open legs
up at the moon
The little girl is innocent
they’ve put henna on her hands
they’ve plaited her hair beautifully
they’ve put kohl round her eyes
they’ve dyed her eyebrows
We were a conflagration asking
to be incarnated into the world.
Mother, superstitious, kept us
apart, two stones of the same
Everyone saucered tears
The hallway is an empty
riverbed, smooth and barren.
At three o’clock classroom
doors open like dams.
Gullies of teens stream
out, to become one
flowing body. A torrent
My father threw his language overboard,
a bag of kittens, waterlogged mewling:
small hard bodies.
My mother hung on to hers —
Wove the words like lace, an open web
When I was five I was put on a bus
and sent to Catholic school
not unlike my mother who was five
when she was put on a train
and sent to residential school,
both feeling that gut feeling
Do you remember, Nancy,
when we sat in the Creole restaurant
and glanced up at the television to see students running
with their hands in the air and photographs
of two young men?
Weeds are flattened beneath last year’s tire tracks
others lay burden by the winter’s heavy snow.
The crocuses labor through this thick blanket.
I am sun drained from the bleakness
Only the thickness of log
and triple-paned glass
between my children and
the open maw
of a bear.
I slip warm chocolate chip
cookies from the pan
to the cooling rack -
Each day, I am apprenticed to the boy
I want to be.
He rifles the ball
and I catch it
or I fumble.
His red head ducks and weaves,
You gasp, awakened by
a bucket of cold water.
A gauzy autumn morning. A drained sunrise.
You shiver, strain to see the house
parent’s fingers whipping & flicking in
My father liked them separate, one there,
one here (allá y aquí), as if aware
that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart
(el corazón) and lock the alien part
we learned to stand on one leg
clasping bundles of hope between our teeth
not because we wanted
to resemble flocks of black flamingos
My dad taught me to never give out my real name, age,
address, or photos. This seemed obvious to me. My fake
birthday entry was always my crush's birthday plus a
Dem did sey she pregnance
Cum a sea full a mi
Weighing har down eena har shoe dem
Dresses, coco, mangoes an baggy an arl
Dem did sey de ship nearly sink
Mi mumma nebah sleep a wink
it's okay if you only learned about your culture from Google
it's okay if you only read your language at the public library
Your wedding day was a hurricane; your bride in red was like a kiss on
on the dry prairie dirt. You actually never told me the story of how it went.
The wedding, I mean. In fact, you never told me about how you chose
Bismillah is my first memory.
I became a bird in the Qur’an
at hardly eight years old.
I opened the dark green cover
and revealed the slippery
Place a foot upon a pedal,
Put your pedal-pushers on;
To the pedal pin a paddle,
Paddle-pedal push upon.
Place the paddle-pedal-cycle
On a puddle in the park;
my mother occupies the passenger seat. my brother and i
stick in the back.
the radio babbles and sings between us. she is estranged, returning
My father's speech was slurred most of my childhood — but it's a rite
of passage for many Maritime Canadians
'cause I heard from a friend of a friend that linguists say our accent
the other gold.
Now that's the stuff,
shredded or melted
My poem without me in it—would it be like
my room when I had returned to it
after my mother was done with me.
Under my bed, only the outer
space balls, of dust, only
my mother used to make little rice balls
for me. she steamed and clattered about the
cramped mustard kitchen, filling a pot with
water, swelling and salting and songing
A view from two sides of Polaris, it is said:
the living awaits destined relatives to retort.
These people go around waking the sleeping ones
Slim, slight. Sinew and bird bones.
Cords of her hands like spruce roots.
Came from Ship Cove to Crow Gulch
with little more than the child inside her,
landed in a small shack flanked by
After learning “me” and “I”
but well before my father learns
a restraining order's
between him and our home,
we share some good times.
Remember the back of his bicycle.
somewhere a little girl is reading aloud
in the middle of a dirt road. she smiles
at the sound of her own voice escaping
the spine of a book. she feeds on her hunger
Ocean, don’t be afraid.
The end of the road is so far ahead
it is already behind us.
Don’t worry. Your father is only your father
until one of you forgets. Like how the spine
I was nine and I stood at the top of the street for no reason except to make the descent of the gentle incline toward my house where I lived with everyone and everything in the world, my sisters and my cousins were with me, we had our bookbags…
A black and white picture
The sun is shining through a window behind you
Your hair black short Your small brown hands folded neatly on a tiny wooden desk
bear with me it wasn’t long ago I was brainless
lazily pulling fireflies into my teeth chewing them
into pure light so much of me then was nothing
i ask mama
about residential school
she says no
i ask her again
the third time
i stop listen
to her silence
ask about her diabetes
for M. Maylor
Dear Anne Carson:
My friend read me the poem where your mom
said that the dead walk backwards.
You thought this myth arose from poor translation.