August at a carnival.

heat so thick coats my lungs. show the world those pearly whites.

tent and sign sings tune for let

while tune tells of life-lines creased, craving consolation when
deportation eliminates association

but condemnation forgets

“You will find many weddings but never be the bride, you will hold
many children but they’ll never be yours,” this woman’s tune tells
my woman for two silver coins as fingers stray, slipping obol from
my eye-lips.

April on the isle.

Sand sisters walk along the strip. Sun so soft heats hapa skin on
winding roads and mountains. We climb tram-tracks, searching for
a North Shore shutter. And the tide, she pulls us in. My root-feet
sinking. Do you hear our plate-lunch belly full? Listen.

Years and years from now I will feel the flutter kick of little feet,
hungry. I will rest my hand on his swell, ease the weight off my
heels. Then I will read to him because poetry needs to be heard.
Or will I sing to him of the night-ocean? Of the white breaking on
paper-sand, smooth.

Think of the moment when eye-lips open slow, his little lungs
taking little breaths. I will show the world my pearly whites even as
I wonder, will he love me?

Appeared in the Hart House Review 2014

Feel the music course through your veins, pulsating as the rain
rushes in. A river rising. You’re wading waist deep in mud and
cracked styrofoam cups. Buoys rocking in the torrent as gulls
smother forgotten places. Watch them grasp cardboard nests that
sag in the damp under eyes wet like oil, shivering. Your hands.
Are they swollen? Under pale emergency lights, looking as if they
belong to a sculptor with clay carrying heat in shattered lamp posts,

The air is full of spices.

Taste the iron film on the chopping block with delicate wrists. Enjoy
how the wood feels, silken smooth, skimming across porcelain
dappled with fine hair. Catch the hint of red. There is passion in that
blood, those long locks are embers glistening in this downpour.

Now that mouth.

It twists open under the rain, not to speak, not to shout, not to clasp
a word to the beating breast. But to drink. To drink endlessly, to
drink desperately until the dirge is stifled, swallowed in this baptismal
pool of the lake under the sky.

Imagine the world, lush, sprouting once this tempest passes.
Dredges left to sift in storm drains.

We must begin again to remain.

Appeared in Hart House Review 2014

The world is watching


Writing prompt image provided by the good people at Happy Square Studio

The world is watching. We stand on an outcrop of rocks at the edge of a wood with red lanterns woven through the branches. The world is waiting and they cannot look away. They will watch me disappear, my back melting into the wall of trees. I pause, straining to catch movement in the space between the trunks. I don’t know if I can do this. I hear Miles exhale, his breath mingles with the murmur of the party behind us.

He reads the list in his hand saying, “There’s nothing here about how long this is supposed to take.”

“Roger is going to time us while we’re searching. He said the game doesn’t end until we find all the items on that list.”

“Always the despot.”

“We can just grab a few and call it a night,” I say and he looks at me. His smile is crooked and the wind ruffles his dark hair.

“Let’s just see how this turns out,” he says.

I don’t need to glance over my shoulder to see his brother shift his feet in impatience. Miles takes my hand. “Ignore them,” he says. “Keep your lantern up. We’ll be in and out in no time.” We start walking and it’s abundantly clear that we are not light of foot. Twigs and dry leaves snap in our wake, and my heart strains to keep pace with our steps. Steady now. Always steady.  It’s nearly time for the sky to blush with the first touch of morning. I look up, hoping to glimpse a familiar cluster of stars, but can’t see anything through the red.

“Tell me again why we didn’t stay home tonight?” I say.

“We are wild and social creatures, Olivia. Plus we were hungry.”

“Traipsing around in the woods past midnight in exchange for free food? I don’t know who wins in this situation.”

“You weren’t complaining during cake.”

“Roger knows my many weaknesses,” I say.

“Not as well as I do,” says Miles.

I turn to him, crumpling my mouth in mock despair. His eyes soften and I feel his thumb tracing my fingers.

“Want me to carry the lamp?” he says.

“I’m no damsel in distress.”

“Not even if your arm starts cramping up?”

“Then I may or may not concede.”

Miles stops for a beat, pointing at a blue ribbon fluttering feebly around a branch. Roger has no imagination. We contemplate who gets to climb and who stays on solid ground.

“There could be bears,” Miles teases, putting me at ease.

I toss my head back, laughing, and climb the tree. Bark flakes under my hands and I think of being swallowed by the earth and rising, taller, with time winding around my limbs. When I’m back, standing beside Miles, I hand him our first prize. He ties it around my wrist. The lamplight pools at our feet, causing our shadows to twine through the grass and fallen leaves, until we cannot tell where we end and a tree begins.

three days to disembark

There were moments when she wanted to question who she was and who she had become. There were days when stretching her arms in a sun-salutation felt like release from the overwhelming pressures of the week. Then again she didn’t really have much to be stressed about. There were things in her life that changed drastically over the days and months that passed. Then there were things that felt as if they were always there and probably would always be a part of her. People come and go, experiences change as the seasons do. Everything was a transition from one plane to the next, and yet there was this nagging sense of longing to become part of something bigger. There were things in her life that she longed to do and places she wanted discover. So she couldn’t furrow her brow at people’s thoughts while her own words were left to sift in a trough.
“Tell me where this is going.”

Isn’t she on the road to self-discovery? Her glasses sit uncomfortably on the bridge of her nose. They are an extension of her sight, but sometimes she prefers the solitude of her room where her nose can be free of the weight. Tell me where you will be and where you are going. You had a moment of hope when his words appeared on your screen. You thought, How nice. How lovely. How wild how free. The practice today focused more on vinyasa. I wanted to take a breath and stay in downward dog for a while so I could feel it in my arms a little. There were positions that went over my head, but I appreciated the strength of the voice and the arms, the gentle way the hands guided my back deeply into the stretch. I wonder if I trembled to the core with nervousness.
“If you’re shaking then it’s working.”

Sometimes it’s good to just sit back and lean against something strong and stable. There is the alliteration waiting to be touched. Hasn’t it been such a long time since you have done this? Get the feel of the keys again. It’s much like music. But my back longs to have that languid stretch. It’s not so much that the beauty is missing. It’s more in the know-how.

“I want to know what’s going on with that poor girl.” You used to send pages that were unfinished. Why don’t you try sending them again? There are the question marks. There are those guiding hands that slide along the length of your back, how gently they encourage the alignment of stars. Your eyes watch the space between your thighs. And you exhale. Listen to your breath. Feel it course through the spaces between your spine. You don’t shiver because here the walls are solid and nothing threatens to tear through. The man is all gums and he smiles and nods you ahead of the line. Surprise lights the eyes, a shifting blue to green. It’s something that reminds you of the ocean. Do you miss the salt in the air or the salt on the skin? Think of a mountain who tastes the heart stone of the sea. One track has Vera Myles on the white cliffs of Dover, while the other leaves Buddy Guy wondering where the blues have gone. They know that landscapes change and buildings can collapse under the bone blind shrug of the sky. So here is the beginning of everything.


Turn your head and rest your chin on your shoulder. Feel the wind toss your hair about. Tie it back. Shut your eyes and there is the sun just grazing the spot where your neck meets your collar bone. Clavicles. Take off your sunglasses. All the world is green and drifting. A plane goes by. Wonder where it is heading. Wonder who it is carrying. Don’t think of tray tables and dawn slowly tracing the cabin walls, the sleeping people. Their faces slack with dreaming. Think of soft cushions and stiff legs, stale air etched with expectation. That musty smell of plastic. Please remain seated when the seat-belt sign is on. Coffee? Tea? Water? Look ahead at the domed rooftops the same colour as the leaves. See the flagpole at half mast? Someone is praying for Paris. A blue fence lines the path where the earth was torn up by metal jaws. They are making way for the future. Marble and stone. Windows black and opaque reflecting the murky sky with ripples of movement. Your feet ache. Slip a foot out of a shoe and wiggle your toes. Someone needs a pedicure. Think of rubbing alcohol, sharp and heavy. Cleaning fluids and the sound of a dozen baths running. People speaking thickly through their masks, mumbling articles of the day. How was your weekend? We went to the cottage. How are your children? My daughter graduated and is looking for a job. Do you like this colour? Better stick with feisty Friday. What colour is feisty Friday?

Maybe later. Maybe another day. Maybe something different.

Stretch. Feel yourself grow taller. Those tiny birds always fly in threes. What are they, sparrows? Finches? They have feathers the colour of mud flecked with beaten egg whites. Soft peaks. A man walks by. Look up at him. Look away. He pauses to turn and says, A nice place to hide out, isn’t it? You say yes. You say nothing. He walks on and your hand fumbles for your phone at the sound of it. Curl over the spine of your notebook. Thunder in the distance or it can be a truck. The two are not one and the same. Fifteen marks five months since your last episode. A lightning storm cracking limbs and shuddering breath. No one could touch you until it was over. Lids heavy. Eyes shut. Your whole body was liquid but you swear you heard bones shattering. Shoulders thought they could meld with the sun. Swift. Sudden. St Vitus’ dance they called it. Now look at the sky. Count three starts. At 11:11 you must make a wish. A woman once said to heal well, but you think you already have. The grass is yellow with thirst and somewhere someone thinking of you. Smile at the thought and wonder.

Rain is coming, I can smell it.

the watchful

Farmer Oak awakens at the touch of dawn. The window is boarded up.
Light seeps through the cracks and he pulls the blanket over his eyes
while the cat curls into his shoulder.

There is a cup of water on the nightstand and a lamp with a bulb at half-life.
His stomach speaks.
Nearly breakfast.
Heavy footsteps walk out of the room next to his and pause at his door.
Says Tom.
Says Oak.

Tom turns on the radio. Music sinks into the walls.
The cat turns over, mumbling something in her sleep.

Farmer Oak cranes his neck to look at her,
then pulls the blanket over her chin.
He shifts his weight. The bed creaks.
Her dark hair tickles his nose and he brushes it aside, gently.
She turns to him, still sleeping.
Her face, calm.
He is watchful.



written for Memory

venus de milo

Sleep escapes me
A step beneath me
No arms to guide me
Muscle and bone

Come and find me
Those hands inside me
This sheet around me
Street lights and stone




an attempt at rhyme for: Street


Begin with Atlas.
The world nestled across his shoulders
The weight is a kiss
Something heady,
soft and full of life.

Now passing cars stencil shadows across the wall,
follow their movement.
Evening casts a sheen
across the kitchen table.

see it?

silver and blue and perfect?

Diane thinks:
Why must the world be a burden on Atlas’ shoulders?
What if he carries it freely?

Picture the earth is a book full of stories
he holds in his arms,
where one face rests in the crook of her shoulder
fitting perfectly,
smooth skin
dampened hair
in divine exhaustion.

End with Diane,
listening to breath.



“You’re so strong,” Virginia says. “I can’t imagine having to put up with that. Having to see him everyday. Listening to him speak to Claire. They way they sound together, as if none of those months mattered.”
Charlotte drinks her tea carefully. She tilts her head to the right, looks at the table and forces a dim smile because it’s what her body does naturally.
“It’s not easy,” says Charlotte. “But the truth is I need the money.”
She thinks of Claire’s giggles and Max’s voice softening past the cubicle.
Virginia squeezes her friend’s hand sympathetically and Charlotte gently pulls away. She doesn’t want pity. She only wants to be honest.
A sunbeam slips through the clouds and past the window. Charlotte tries to hold it, turning her hand over on the table. The light hatches warmth on her palm and rests there.

the first

The first thing he sees is the back of her head.
She wants to go to him. She wants to say so many things,
but she doesn’t know where to begin.
When she steps into the room, he pulls off his headphones
and stretches out his arms.
She notes the breadth of him.

People forget about the window. They move in and out. They carry themselves across the hall with heavy footsteps. They open the fridge. They close it.
They wash their hands. They fill their cups with water. They drink, deeply.
They say, “Good morning” and “Have a good night.” Everything must be good. People forget about the window and blinds. They forget how flowers wilt
without the sun.
“It’s so sad,” she says. “They’re dying.”
“Why?” He asks, though he already knows the answer.
They work in a place without any sunlight.
They smile as she says this.
They don’t know why.
They can’t help it.
They forget.