Thursday, August 27, 2015


One lonely dog bays,
and somewhere out there
another silently commiserates.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

worse things

You step off the plane into the sweltering Arabian heat, your fingers already loosening your tie, a bead of sweat already trickling down your spine.  You can feel the heat from the sizzling airport apron through the soles of your Balenciagas, and already you're wondering why you agreed to this trip.  "It'll be good for our profile," they told you.  "We need this right now," they said.  "Public opinion is low."

But you're not sure how much you care anymore.

With each step, striding toward your waiting car, your Clubmasters slide a little further down the slick bridge of your nose.  Even though the effort is futile, every ten feet or so, you reach up and adjust them with a middle finger – and the choice of this finger is no accident.  No.  Nothing you do is without purpose.

The sleek black form of the Bentley Flying Spur is still perched one hundred feet distant when the driver exits the vehicle and circles the car to wait by the rear door.  You wish you were closer to tell the poor sonofabitch to stay in the comfort of the air-conditioned car.  You wish you were closer to wave off these formalities with a casual air. You wish you were closer to tell him that you can open your own goddamned door.  But you're not, so you don't, and you wouldn't anyway, because you understand this is just how things work.

Your back is soaked in sweat, and though you're only fifty feet from the car, you shrug out of your black blazer in an effort to cool down.  You pull your tie completely out of your collar.  Your phone told you it would be 120 degrees here today, but your brain wasn't even able to compute such hell.  And now that you're in it, it still seems unreal.  Your shirt sticks to you, and sweat streams down the crack of your ass.  It takes a Herculean effort, but you put a little more jump in your step, jacket and tie dangling from your hands.

You're a dozen feet from the car when the driver pops open the rear door revealing an interior of black leather and chrome.  A figure lounges on the far side, hands busy with a bottle and glass.  Ice cubes clink.  You hear the dull drone of the Bentley's AC, and your ears catch the welcome pouring of liquid.  Gin, you guess.  The man who readies your favourite drink is not a stranger.  This much you know.  You share an opaque chunk of the past that would be better for each to never surface again.

But to share a a drink in an air-conditioned oasis while you drive through hell, well, there are worse things, you suppose.

Friday, August 7, 2015

smoke and mirrors

It's the wrong time of year
to be thinking about politics.
There's never a good time
to be thinking about that.

You've been told

to think about trees instead,
and how they stretch up,
yawning like trees.
And how that’s like rhyming love

with love

you have to be careful.
Be sure you share taste in film
and other interests
or it cannot last.

you know

a park bench is the poor man's box seat,
offering the very best view
of the show;
a show in which one cannot see

one is acting

like it's the wrong time of year
to be wearing that shirt,
to be watching that show.
It’s the wrong time of year

to be reading that

it's the wrong time of year
to be thinking about politics-
that's just smoke and mirrors.

Friday, July 31, 2015


The cool chill of a wet pint of ale in your hand.  The first acrid taste wetting your lips.  Tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide rise to the surface of the beer and pop, releasing a fine spray of mist against the tip of your nose.  These are the things you relish.  This is now.  You squint across the pub through the smudged windows into the afternoon sunlight.  Relief.  It’s a relief to have something, anything, to do besides make eye contact with her.

Your sight drifts languidly past the packed patio, past the bustling sidewalk, past the gridlocked street, over top the countless roofs of houses and apartments buildings, to an indeterminate spot in the scattered clouds beyond.  How long has it been?  Eight years.  Nine.  You don’t know.  You don’t keep track of such things.

Time is a paradox-
Constructed, constrictive,
an imaginary prison.

Her chair legs roughly scrape across the scarred floorboards.  A subtle signal to you that she’s over this awkward silence, a subtle signal you answer with your own – a forced clearing of your throat.  You take another sip of ale, smiling into the mouth of your pint, and turn to meet her eyes.

She returns the smile, warm, genuine.

You sigh and return the pint glass gently to the table.

“How long has it been, you think?” she asks.

“Eight years, at least,” you say, squirming in your chair. 

“It’s been ten.”

“Well, I’ll be damned.”

You pull out your phone to check the time, a habit, and you’re suddenly aware of the date, the year: 2015.  It hits you in the gut like a punch from a heavyweight champion.  Anxiety rises.

“You look good,” she assures you.  “You don’t seem to age.”  She laughs then, that laugh she’s always had.  It’s easy.  Disarming.

“Thank you,” you say. “You too.  The years have been kind.”

This is that thing humans do for each other.  They reassure one another that time has forgotten them.  They pretend they’re staying young.  They paw at the possibility of immortality – it’s right around the corner.  They hang onto youthful pursuits a touch too long.  Attempt to understand the next generation.  Fight to stay relevant.  Don’t even think about dying.

But it’s too late.  Now you are.  Thinking about dying, that is.

It’s why you don’t think about the past or the future.  Why you avoid old acquaintance.  Why you won’t watch reruns of Seinfeld.  Why you don’t look at photos.  You don’t need a reminder that you’re older, that you’re creeping closer to the end, that time will not stop.

You can feel your heart racing.  A lump growing in your throat.

You know the next question, and know you have to circumvent it: What have you been up to?  A question designed to make one take stock, to measure, to explain your yesterdays.  But you don’t do that.

“What are you thinking about today?” you ask quickly.  “Any new ideas?”

She appears caught off guard at first – a head tilt, lips slightly parted – but relaxes a moment later, sighing, lounging back in her chair.  She takes a drink.

“Actually,” she says, “it’s funny you should ask.  I've been running over this idea for a new short story since last night.”

“Pitch it to me,” you smile.

And she does, excitedly talking.  You listen intently.  She’s here.  She’s now.  She’s present.

And you soak it up, heart rate returning to normal, relaxing.  Time stretches, pulled taut by her words, strung between them like taffy.  This is how you’ll beat it, this cursed short life.  This is how you’ll beat time.  This is your cheat, your loophole, your workaround.  You stick in the present.  No reminiscing. No planning.  No past.  No future.  Only now.

You take a gulp of ale, and feel the cool chill of the wet glass in your hand.  The slowly warming liquid wetting your lips.  The scent of hops in your nostrils.  These are the things you relish.  This is now.  

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Nearly motionless,
this languid summer-
I find myself not breathing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


There're a lot of flagpoles without flags in the neighbourhood.
A symbol of another time, I suppose.
A symbol of a simpler time,
when caring about your country was a thing.

The poles rust,
but at least we've got seven hundred channels on the television.
The flags sit folded in the bottom of cardboard boxes in attics,
in garages,
in closets,
but at least we can Instagram pictures of our suppers.

In this world of disposable everything, 
no-one knows how to properly dispose of a flag - 

so they don't.

The poles rust,
the flags sit folded in permanent storage,
but at least we can make phone calls from the produce aisle,
at the park,
in church,
to whomever.

There was a time before selfies, before twerking, 
before hashtags, before the Twittersphere,
before celebrity supercouple nicknames,
when you had to wait until you got home to make a phone call.

A time when you checked your mailbox for letters.

A time when you waited eagerly
for your favourite television programme to air.

No-one binge-watched anything.

Now, there're a lot of flagpoles without flags in the neighbourhood.
The poles rust, and the flags sit in storage,
symbols of another time,
a simpler time.

A time before hacked cellphones and leaked sexts.

A time when we looked one another in the eye
instead of staring into smartphone screens.

FaceTime was actually face time.

Flags flew then,
symbols of a simpler time.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

it's the never leaving

“To come back, that’s not really anything,” she told me.
“It’s the never leaving that’s really something.”

Shuffling my big boots through the snow,
I pulled the collar of my plaid coat up to better block the winter wind.

I squeezed her hand a little tighter.

The bulk of the guitar case strapped to her back was gathering snow.

“Why’s the snow white, do you ever wonder?” she asked.

But before I could answer, she was telling me things:
that she’s not so sure about God anymore,
that she’s a Virgo,
that her mother fled her family a long time ago.

Frozen street lights twinkled down the sidewalk,
and a pair of white jackrabbits raced zigzag down the slushy street.

I rubbed my thumb along the warm, soft skin on side of her small hand.

“Writing music is tricky business,” she told me.
“You can’t just go and research what will sell best
because there are too many variables.

“And you can’t simply ask people what they want to hear
because no-one knows what they want to hear until they hear it.”

There are certain things which don’t need to be improved upon:
bathroom tissue, nail clippers, hairbrushes.
Toiletries, mostly.

And lazy walks on a winter’s evening with a fellow musician.

I went to tell her this, but she was still talking.

About the history of treble clefs,
about crystals,
about the difference between crows and ravens.

I squeezed her hand just a little tighter,
thinking of never leaving.