The Gulf of Mexico

Ten miles off shore it’s legal to gamble,
And to marry. Ten miles away,
You’re laying in the sand, allowing
Yourself to be forgotten.
That way you won’t remember
Who you were, dark sky
murmuring with the waves,
Taking endless bets
With the constellation of
The Queen of Diamonds
Flipped upside down,
It kisses your forehead
Until using up your last guess,
You become a dark room
That saw the light.

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.

ph –



The canoe I put in your garage
hung above the car. You said, “put it there.”
Not long after you said it used up
too much room in that empty space.
Alright, I said, but when you looked up
I imagined me in it, and at my back a high wind,
and you, underwater, further away
than you appeared.

– ph

One degree…

july 7

One degree at sunrise.

In the mailbox this morning
there’s a lick of sunrise
with an accent of lipstick red
on the silence you sent.

May I…

May I, compose like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleagured by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

— W.H Auden

The Waters

Up in Parry Sound today, my father
had a heart attack — and it might have occurred
just when a woman remarked that as a girl
the beach here on Lake Erie panned out
nearly for miles, unlike these narrow days.
Everyday, it’s rained, mining out the red
and black stripes of iron on the shoreline,
and if there was any faith in sand,
we’d hope it would be a strength
to hold us here. As for myself, I want
to have another beer, to make sure
nothing else happens,
but even this ribboned vein of bookmark,
tailed to my notebook, has no place
that it can save, frenzied in the wind
and distracted by the pulse
of the sun-drenched surf.

ph, 3/7/17 Longpoint, Lake Erie, Canada

Your Key

I’ve set it on the table
For you
On the side where you will sit
When you arrive.
When you come you will place it
Carefully in a small pocket
In your purse
As if you are hiding a piece
Of evidence
And smile
Or you will poke it aside,
Like worthless currency
From another country
And once again,
You will smile.
I know you this much.
More, too.
You study it
And see that it is attached to a ring
So you insist you can wear it
As a broach,
Or a medal
Until you see that
Holding if flat,
It is an arrowhead from the Neolithic period
Then turning it straight up,
a fossilized tooth
Of an Australopithecus.
This is because
It is to difficult for you
To see
Our history,
That the lock trusted this key
And the key trusted the lock
And that they turned
Now you turn
It over in your fingers
Like a silver-tipped bullet
From the Civil War,
Squinting, a self-inflicted wound
You’ve just dug out
From your eye.

Canada Day

I am driving north on Highway 6
in the starless dark. And I see
you no longer let me
hold your hand,
which forms a knuckle of stone
as you dig your way
into sleep.
To the east, far into the east, are fireworks.
I watch their colours rise,
open and close,
fall back into the other side
of the world that lives in the forest.
Like a bloom climbing
out of the mossy darkness,
vanishing as it turns back
into itself.