I love the drive up Perth County Road
to Wellesley with the snow not quite covering
the shaven waves of soybean crops,
and every so often a Mennonite farmer,
like a black speck on a camera lens
waves at a horse he’s calling, as I pass.
A philosopher said our choices are who we are,
but all I gather is that there is night,
there is morning and then there is night.
I’m not quite old, but it’s harder to see the light,
once you’ve seen it. I can only guess now that
choosing involves trying to forget what your
body recalls, along the way; we are constant
traitors. So, maybe it’s a good thing that all I do
this morning is describe the world around me,
like a child’s first day in front of the shiny
letters of an alphabet that some season will replace
the trillion phrases of his own inborn tongue.
Here, though, as I drive further, asphalt gives
into gravel, then over little bridges meant
for buggies into towns that tried humbly
to exist. There’s no truth in them. They don’t lie.
They carry on, playfully vanishing
back into a lived innocence, which I guess
is how winter is supposed to make you feel.
The sameness of snow, it appears, makes
itself a landscape offering no choice, just
an unheard calling. I’m glad it’s winter now.
I suppose it makes sense. The fences are broken
with ice, and glued with it. There is light
falling from the sky, and a horse has wandered
into the road. A man is passing from fifty years ago,
a blur white as snow.

– ph 6/12/16 (Wellesley & Perth Counties, ON, Canada)

Words about Rivers

I write about rivers again,
As if they were about love.
The raft, for instance, I saw,
Glued-together by summer of
Tamarack reflections.
Winter is here
To suffocate,
Smoothly disfigure into
A perfect smooth bruise.
So, love buries loss,
Before it creates it.
Every word is a second language.
Rivers are clear
About this: they are ghosts.
They leave, they come,
They are never here.
Only bodies swim.
Only a body holds a promised land.
Only bodies drown.

The Sky, Dull as Asphalt

Wildflowers are weeds
& dead poets

beside the road,

two ways, flashing,
splitting ways in half

& timekeeper ticking
a thin, plastic heartbeat.


He would like to turn
before the turn; for the road

again; in the distance

it holds up
treeline spine

of sky and field
& shows how pages

press a dead flower
of a man.


He writes, third person.
Will someone decide?

Words, tiny, mean bones,

Only a body contains
a promised land.


Today the breeze
is fresh truth.

Every field makes its path.
Every path is not a path.

The dead blooms strangle,
contentedly; to be killed

just enough
to bring back to life

the scent
in the colour

& slant of ache.

– ph 30/11/16 – Hamilton

Driving Out

You stand over there.
This is the way you speak, across
a river, or from the window
of a passing car, or behind a door
in a room with boxes
spilling the guts
of another move. So, when you speak,
each voice from these places, together,
come to me, and share things they know,
but mostly things that
could not stay true.
I think it’s this way because
you always said you liked the way birds
will sometimes
land in a tree together,
or all at once
burst away.
Was this how I was meant
to understand you
through the untrackable passage
of reaching,
because only reaching comprehends touch
before it lands?
If so, I understand, or I did that night
I followed you, driving out
to the country
where the snow, for hours,
lay untouched,
except for the tire tracks,
behind me,
heading back.

– ph, Hamilton, ON 29/11/16

Fog After Snowfall

In this world,
the snow falls
in your hair.
How to explain
strands of light,
a body holy as mist.
It dissolves in my hand,
and hovers.
It blackens the road.
In it, you weep; a lost world
quietly vanishes
as it appears.

Creeks are the unsteady footprints of rain, thoughts
wandering into rivers, and these,
these are long throats, choked and epileptic.
And, at last, lakes, what they see is up there, like the dead,
forever living in the past.

In a Field

A field grows mountains.
A field carries distance on its back.
In daylight, a creek will tend one, or two,
or sometimes three.
At night, a field is a cellar flooding with the universe.
A field is a landing place
for dark seeds, or stars, filling up
with what is no longer there.
A field loves the rain.

Autumn Road


Fog in a farmer’s field


The Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W. B. Yeats

Photography & A Sense of Place


“You can find good composition in any shit-shop tourist calendar. Want my opinion? I think photography is a much arty’er art than most people believe. It’s logical to think that if you got an eye for composition, plus a few technical skills, you can learn at any photography class. One pretty place should photograph as well as any other, especially if you’re just into landscapes. Just make sure you’ve got the right filter, then point and shoot. Only, it’s not like that. Place matters in photography, just like it does in painting or writing stories or poetry. I don’t know why it does … actually, I do… because an artist puts his soul into the things he creates. For some people, ones with a vagabond spirit, I imagine, the soul is portable.”
—Stephen King from his short story, ‘N’.