The monks say we’re merely thoughts,

highs and lows only passing clouds,

do not cling to either. But this morning,

winter was nearly spring, and I saw

what looked like clouds of ice evaporating

to make a breathing space for sun.

The Story

It’s the same one over and over.

I learned to speak like you
as long as I wouldn’t understand —

Untranslatable as music
so that when you spoke,
the silent rooms of trees
would hear you.

The same way they say a lake
is a song about a breeze.

Beautiful Cellar

  • for Thomas Merton

Write in the cellar.
Pens, frozen pipes
and roots,
to be something 
a hand-full, like 
the weight of
that falled-apart Finch 
you picked-up, late summer,
so surprised, 
a delicate word
so airy in your hand
that one would write
all night to fall to
be grasped again
by flight.  

Northwest Passage

Stepping into a room
And seeing its light
I remember the window.
Placed, set, squared.
And on walls and floor
Phosphorescences of
What could be, shards
Of water jars, sea phrases.
I breathe,
Not exactly what belongs
But what is there. 
Not belief, not knowledge.
An opening.

Ghazal #2

With them, I break my animal trail,
Canoe scrapes treelight for creeks.

Words dam rivers,  
Comets rise to feed.

I breathe like them,
Airholes stars have pricked.

Having passed under it all,
A world’s run over with me, 

Migrant island boats steeped with spruce,
My boots choke on the taste of clay.

Blazes are the eyes of steppingstones.
I see perfectly when they come to me.


Here the wind is a country.
Rain flags hills.

Trees refugee
the borders of their creeks.

The wind’s air
the body doesn’t breathe,

The body that’s not the body,
the you that cannot be

Just a window, more or less a door
a storm left opened

As if you were never here,
returning to the you who left

Her umbrella here,
the favourite one I can’t find.


A drive to another city.
Getting lost in a forest.
Your stillness
in the grass.
Birds again.  
in your

A River Passing

This is the way
you must look to birds,
nothing but a breeze.

Which rounds the hand,
loosens fingers’ memory,
how in your hair they digress.

To the other life
behind the trees,
overhead, a river passing.


On this hill that sails tamarack woods,
my shoulders are a clove-hitch ache.

Thirst overflows our calves,
we portage the camel bone it’s made
that slowly says, along the way, this
is a rough bowl
hand-sewn by hands
that still would like
to drink.  

Like everything at 53, even the thirst
is heavier, the creek in the palm
of the valley,
as I climb,
overflowing with leaves of air,  
a little stonier, the darkness of it
shouldering creases of light.