A small black coffee

How is light possible
for me, present on your shoulder,
the far flung fields of your eyes,
and in
a small black coffee?
Skein of light,
strange candle,
waterpainting of a soul,
is all
I must do
is drink?

– pH 22/4/17


19 an hour + 5 days on your feet
feeds the mortgage and
the 55 children you work for.
In your sleep, I listen as you
(…in French, then German)
defend your Masters thesis
in Fragrance Chemistry,
you were awarded 10 yrs past
while learning English
with your daughter who
(while you researched)
figure skated three nights weekly
and inherited your beautiful nose
for top notes and spirals.
Saturday, at 2:10 am, you wake,
cant sleep, so cook,
while a YouTube chef
simmers in the background.
For breakfast, you serve
butternut squash soup.
I’m thinking about leaving,
so you can sleep in,
afford to be corny,
sweet, and dreamy.
Your soup’s too good
for me.

School us

The boy learned more about the world from
his vinyl seat beside the sliding window
clapping about railroad crossings,
and potholes that Spring laid down
and once driving over a German Shepherd,
drinking from one — each time,
the window kept itself together,
brightly rattling on its yellow whistle song.


The trees of books,
like old, rheumatoid oaks,
the enumerated creeks of books
feeding down to them,
the crabs of books
on the floor coagulating
into tectonic plates of books.
And on the window ledge
mismatched flowerpots of books teetering
between these uninhabitable paradises,
and outside the window, the
world of children,
nearly fallen
out of bright yellow buses, their
backpacks bloated with books
under first,
then second drafts
of rain.

Ending Up

This evening I fell asleep
by the window. And woke,
unsure where I was, and for this reason,
afraid. I didn’t recognize
the red couch by the wall,
in the reflection. Or, the shadow
of the unused chair pushed
under the table. Two years ago,
I left. I took the things filling
this empty room.
I said to her today, I wanted
to go home, bury everything,
then wake into another life.
I told her she never loved me.
But I know she sees through that,
a man writing behind the glass, masking
his failure to go back in, and love.

Leaping Faith

The only thing that never came into being
was coincidence, you said. Significance
is in the arc of things. My blue sweater,
for instance, you saw on a discount rack in a dream
before you met me. Or,
the empty bridge on the Nith River,
which, by the way,
the deer I saw pulling itself up onto the bank
where I realized I had fallen
in love with you, it never
meant anything.

One in the Morning

I read one poet, then think of another,
And then from her, another.
You say you dislike poems
about poetry. I do, as well, but tell me,
how many poems about poetry
can you show me are about poetry?
Think about every author of the Old Testament,
stone mazes of words, their numinous millennias,
yet forbidden to annunciate or to spell out,
for the faithless eyes,
the full name of their beloved.
Now, think about the plague of crickets
outside the window, and I, turning from
the moth-glow of the computer on the table,
enter the unlit yard to listen as they
line up their utterances on the strands of reeds,
fanned out along the creases of the river,
so that I may hear your name mentioned
by darkness.

– 18/5/17 Ancaster, ON, Canada


And I see the river through the window,
as if the window were the river.
“Your metaphor,” you remark, “confuses me.”
It does not confuse you.
You know, inside the window,
instinct stirs, reeling, changing
course, pulling back itself.
Engulfing it, you
confuse the river.

The Loneliness of Water

It lives in its head.
Naked mind that thinks in driftwood,
dreams fish inside its skull of sand.
It cannot make up its mind,
dissolving, dissolved, dissolves,
floating, sinking,
engulfing, revealing,
returning, departing.
It needs all the time in the world,
it says, to make up its mind.
Birds look down,
but keep their distance.
Reflections of you and me
skip across its tongue’s
rolling Rs, calling out to us again,
once more its pebbly lips
mistaking us for rain,
and by the time
it catches up,
our feet are fossils
strewn in the sand.


of course,
there is love,
that great big
out of the blue
the all
of me
for you.
that’s next,
the two
in the night,
the all
for nothing.
So, then,
there’s this nothing
that you have to love
because you know
nothing lasts
and after that, naturally,

– ph 16/5/17