SEE ALL TAGS & MOODS
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
Acres of white cloth streamered his followers, who
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,
it is friday. we have come
to the paying of the bills.
all week you have stood in my dreams
like a ghost, asking for more time
but today is payday, payday old man;
my mother’s hand opens in her early grave
some towers are made of cladding
some made of ivory
some burn in the night
some built by slaves
wind rushes through coarse hair
body aches between vertebrae
Do you believe in the ghosts of aunties and uncles that drive old sin-
gle-bench pickup trucks spotted with bullet-hole rust, sweetgrass and
Do you speak your language?
I stare — I just said: how are you?
I thought English was my language
apparently it isn’t
I thought Halkomelem was gibberish
the devil’s language
that’s what the nuns said
on the day the chief of kâ-awâsis announces they have confirmed 751
bodies in unmarked graves outside the residential “school” in their
community, i google things like:
when will the sun run out of fuel?
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
For thirty-one years, my mother tried not to miss her. Every week,
a little water or the trickle of a few ice cubes
in black earth. Years back, in the muck of Toronto, April,
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
can go to Bible study every Sunday
and swear she’s still not convinced,
but she likes to be around people who are.
We have the same conversation
every few years — I’ll ask her if she stops
That night, I opened your wardrobe and found
a trophy of vultures, their necks pierced
by hanger hooks. I saw at once
that you hunted everything I loved —
a girl between two dialects
still a screen and still a searching, learns
the season of breakup
another word for spring
can come before or after
depending on where you grew up
online, back and forth
it was very sad the day we heard that dad would die but it was
also fun because all my friends came over and we went driving
in the blue Toyota that kelly’s sister terry drove
and i was the center of attention
Dreaming of one day being as fearless as a mango.
As friendly as a tomato. Merciless to chin & shirtfront.
Realizing I hate the word “sip.”
But that’s all I do.
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,
“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”
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
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
we are asking you to trust your hands. put them on your heart. trust
your heart. hear what we are saying. trust what you hear. we are
asking you to build a circle. always a circle. not almost a circle. face
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’re driving and the radio says mass marine extinctions within a
generation. No silence, no sirens — an unflustered inflection, then
stock markets, cryptic as Latin mass. I force myself: the interval
Now, we take the moon
into the middle of our brains
so we look like roadside stray cats
with bright flashlight-white eyes
in our faces, but no real ideas
of when or where to run.
We were a conflagration asking
to be incarnated into the world.
Mother, superstitious, kept us
apart, two stones of the same
Everyone saucered tears
i once shoved my foot through glass
getting to know my own anger
its patches of stupid
stress is just a socially acceptable
word for fear
Two dicks, sitting in
my daughter’s inbox,
like men without hats,
waiting for any door
Sighting a stranger’s penis
used to be rare. Remember raincoats?
Tonight, a strand of my great-grandmother’s hair
sashes an amber beer bottle discarded by a tourist.
A white thread of my grandmother’s baptismal robe
is a bangle on a wrist of kelp
Our mother gave us a sack of weed killer
the size of a toddler, and told us
to spread it on the front lawn.
My sister and I lugged it there.
A light cloud of white powder
drifted up to our nostrils
When my mother died,
one of her honey cakes remained in the freezer.
I couldn’t bear to see it vanish,
so it waited, pardoned,
in its ice cave behind the metal trays
for two more years.
In some, the luggage lies open
like a mouth mid-sentence.
In others, closed zippers grimace:
What would you have brought?
Slippers, a stuffed platypus, a gold watch
My grandmother puts her feet in the sink
of the bathroom at Sears
to wash them in the ritual washing for prayer,
because she has to pray in the store or miss
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 try to talk to my mom about what it was like
to grow up surrounded by yt people in the prairies
in the 80s though it seemed like the 50s
she tells me in a so-there tone
i thought it was ok - i could understand the reasons
they said there might be young children or a nervous man seeing
this small piece of flesh that they weren’t quite expecting
The other people quit their stone fields to come here.
They slip in from nights that even the snow abandons.
They leave ashes in their glasses
and stains on the table.
Price depends on how the cheongsam
was made, the fabric used.
Gasp. Lift breasts with one hand.
Stuff your body inside.
If you wear this print of peonies
diaspora babies, we
are born of pregnant pauses/spilled
from unwanted wombs/squalling invisible-ink poems/written in the margins
of a map of a place
called No Homeland
What do they think about you,
the people who pass you on the street?
What would you like them to see?
They see the druggie, the whore, the junkie.
I remember my birth
like it was tomorrow, the unholy sensation
There, the bolting black kale,
taller than it has any right to be
and not the twitter troll who asked
if you were on your period.
In the corner, a pile of dead
zucchini leaves, spotted with rot
they say we are a family that is good at death / i make a decision to hold
a seminar on how to live / i schedule this party for my uncles on the first
day of spring / my dead uncles play hooky with the afterlife
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
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