You knock on the door

You knock on the door but nobody answers. Cupping your hands around your face you peer through the side-panel of frosted glass. A kettle is whistling, a woman singing as she sets the table. This is a familiar house. You knock again. Inside, the sounds are festive. Glasses clink and a band starts up. Pressing your ear to the door, you hear the sound of your own laughter. This is the house you grew up in. You're sure of it now.

Ideas of Home



Winter has landed; my boot bucks on a stone

surrounded by snow; I swear, I murmur

Oracabessa. “The rock” is what I call home,

all islanders do, and I’m in blessed Ann Arbour,

mainland, where I found safe harbour under

green sea of trees now becalmed, frosted.

Ideas of Oracabessa propel me forward

down the straits of Packard, past the Jewel

Heart centre where a wild beat poet is ash

urned behind red doors. I stop and pay

respect due him. Then I’m urgent, in need

On My Tongue

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


two hearts: Arabic

and its English translation.


On Saturdays, I learned to repeat

passages in Arabic,


to recite the Qur’an

in its truest language—


otherwise are the locusts

really locusts?


I read and read, and yet

Bliss Point or What Can Best Be Achieved by Cheese



        the other gold.


                 Now that's the stuff,


                         shredded or melted


                                   or powdered


                                         or canned.




                                  the pinnacle of man


                    in a cheeto puff!


   Now that's the stuff


absence. displacement.

absence. displacement.

waiting. then comes rejection.

anger follows. shame makes

the beds


the shadows jostle between

the walls of the scarcely visited cities.

time nips at our heels   we are

afraid to arrive last


I love the rain when it

wraps me like a

river. grafts me to the clouds.

I share in the properties

of the sky. I grow

like a tree 

Moon of the Returning Sun

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

when the weather is good:                          they wait for those



1981 Anaktuvik Pass/Tulugaq Elijah Kakinya Inupiaq name Kainnaaq said,


I've Dreamt of You So Often

I've dreamt of you so often that you become unreal.

Is there still time to reach this living body and to kiss on its mouth the birth of

the voice so dear to me?

I've dreamt of you so often that my arms used to embracing your shadow and

only crossing on my own chest might no longer meet your body's shape.

And before the real appearance of what has haunted and ruled me for days

and years I would doubtless become a shadow.

Oh the shifts of feeling.

You can't be an NDN person in today's world

You can't be an NDN person in today's world


and write a nature poem. I swore to myself I would never write a nature

poem. Let's be clear, I hate nature — hate its guts


I say to my audience. There is something smaller I say to myself:


I don't hate nature at all. Places have thoughts — hills have backs that love

being stroked by our eyes. The river gobbles down its tract as a metaphor

but also abt its day. The bluffs purr when we put down blankets at the

Start here: