Blue Studebaker

February 16, 2009 at 10:36 pm (Kelowna Poems, Poems)

The Snells have scrambled over to my aunt’s yard
from across the street. We are now seven kids climbing
into the blue Studebaker, pretending we can just back it out
and drive away down Falkirk Street. We unroll the windows
and blow invisible smoke from our Popeye cigarettes into the breeze.
Someone starts shoving and we are all laughing and pushing each other
out the side doors, then slamming each door shut with a heavy bang.
New game: it’s hide and seek with no time to hide, and all the boys
are it. We chase the boys in the backyard around the snake bush
through scratchy yellow grass. Jeanelle catches Bobby and Kim says
they are boyfriend and girlfriend. Kim’s older sister, Trish, whispers
the word “necking” loudly behind a cupped hand. I see Bobby and Jeanelle
as chickens, pecking each other’s necks in the backseat of the Studebaker.
Jeanelle lets go of Bobby’s arm and runs home, and his face turns redder
than the sun. He says nothing as he stands there and stares at us. Everyone
disappears. I look down through the carport window and see Bobby lying on his bed
in the basement, poring over his set of National Geographic animal kingdom cards
in the dark. I stretch myself out on the hood of the hot blue car. I don’t know why
but in the thick dust caked on its windshield I spell


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Love/Poison in the Year 2000

August 30, 2008 at 6:11 am (Love is Crucial, Poems)

You write a list of my 23 perfections
in a little card that spells it all out:
Desire is poison

Not just poisonous
But the poison itself
Lava red, dormant only while
capped in its glass amber bottle
marked with an “x” —
harmless until you break the wax seal
and drink
It’s no different than that bottle of beer
destined to be left half empty
in the park behind my apartment
where we sit on the grass
wrap our arms around our knees
and watch Mars defy gravity
night after midsummer night 



After we give in
you write that everything
in the 20th century pales
in comparison
I think of a century of fire
that consumes the dim light
of lovers chancing survival

in a brutal era
Yes, it’s easy to see it now
the 20th century ended
and before that in 1999
before Saturn returned
before anything worth happening 
you give me a card that quotes
George Sand simply:
There is only one happiness in life,

To love and be loved
In the new year we find ourselves
Clinging desperately to our happiness
in my apartment kitchenette
where I ask 
     What if we fall in love?
bent over the sink, washing dishes,
already knowing whether or not
to swallow


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The Return

August 30, 2008 at 5:56 am (Love is Crucial, Poems)

Your return was the visitation of a lanky, unshaven phantom
ink black hair, indigo half moons transparent
beneath your eyes, still light and clear as the Pacific,
You are changed by your travels, still, familiar,
Christ-like, echoing the image of the man
in the painting at the café down the street
from this dim bar where I present myself to you,
moonlight soft, different I suppose,
though as before and always
in love recognizable
I am moved by my spirit which floats to you
filled with the same beauty that is everywhere around us
Everything around us an extension of you
the focal point, the strange attractor,
drawing all that you love into your self
to return it re-formed, refined
to smooth pale moonstones in your hands
You press your hands into mine and I know
You know me
You become the clouded mirror in the dank back room,
the swaying reflection of the Pisces moon in my glass of water,
the blue Jesus painting at the café down the street
in whose exposed, glowing heart I see myself

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Falling Out the Window

August 27, 2008 at 4:23 am (Poems, The 90s)

I can’t see the stars

It’s winter.  I wish anyway –

if I can’t have you

entirely, I want what you

will give.  I blow more smoke.

The ashes look like snow

flakes in the west coast

rain.  Your arms would feel


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The Party – March 6, 1999

August 27, 2008 at 4:19 am (Poems, The 90s)


I found one steady friend

in the wall outside and

showed him the stains

your skin left on my hands


Minutes palpitated and

I began to argue

but the smoke and liquor

choked me to the ground


I threw it all out

I threw it all out

All I could say when I found you was

I threw it all out


Someone claimed me and

jammed toast in my mouth

I asked the sink for support and

she said she’d be still


I returned to the room and collapsed

beside you – wet, pale and spent

If I stained Dan’s sheets

with my tattooed heart

he hasn’t discovered it yet

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The 90s

August 26, 2008 at 5:53 am (Poems, The 90s)

wasn’t that us in the ravine behind the school thick stumps streams skunk cabbage
damp earth, everything above us green, do you remember it was always raining,
the scent in that leafy depth always the same, dank, like caked mud on hands
and the hems of jeans

your room the blue mystery, you wrapping the coil of the phone around two fingers of your left hand, staring at the ceiling from your waterbed, your mother heard faintly through the line from your house to mine, a sea-length away, shouting at you to get off the phone, can’t you hear the storm

you’ll both be killed

me swimming alone in my aunt’s pool at night with the lights out, lightning, jagged veins on the wrists of a young summer sky, wet above, wet below, every word you’d say a penny in a small glass that girl was holding as she swam until the glass filled with copper and water

magazines beneath you, your image of me all strands of hair, seaweed, my eyes open shells, my mouth open, my shell a round open-mouthed vase in a cabinet behind glass, my soaked lotus heart unable to ask: wasn’t that you drenched through on the gulley floor

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Dreams Recalled at the Biomed Lab

August 25, 2008 at 5:15 am (I Can Make Life, Poems)

Fragment 1

I am showing you off.

I am, to my surprise, outside the old office

and have just told my former boss that

your middle name is Alexander.

I barely know you

you are so new

and hidden inside layers

and layers of white blanket.


Fragment 2

I am looking at myself

in the mirror, wearing

a black cocktail dress.

My breasts are well-concealed

behind two feather flowers that

move slowly with me, like those

on a boa. It dawns on me slowly

that my belly is huge and round.
A perfect black moon.

The more I stare, the fuller it gets.

I turn and turn and look.

I was sure before I tried on this dress

that I wasn’t pregnant.


Fragment 3


The owner of the tattoo parlour

suggests a line of black vines

across my back, entwined with thorns.

The only other detail in her design

is a tiny black dove hanging off the vine

by a small round link, like a key chain.

I’m not ready for this tattoo, I tell her.


But I’ll think about it.
Maybe I’ll come back.

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Grimms’ Omission

August 25, 2008 at 5:04 am (Love is Crucial, Poems)


No one tells you the moment you kiss

the prince there is, in fact, a 5% risk

of losing more than your self in

the tale: previously alluring

curves, long hair, curled

lashes, the whole form

can morph instantan-

eously into the

shape of an


like crea-

ture  un











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Important Details

August 25, 2008 at 4:58 am (Poems, Small Observations)

I’m oppressed by

the small details

I’ve forgotten

and am reminded of

But tonight I saw
a mother raccoon

lead her four small cubs
across Nestor Street

The simple purity of the

neighbours’ wild rose blooms

reminded me of Hanna’s face

The juniper berries were

tiny fog blue
of the earth

And the lavender

in our front yard —

disarmingly fragrant

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August 24, 2008 at 7:24 pm (I Can Make Life, Poems)

I’ve been counting days again and

have made my appointment.

Ten days from now the doctor will ask

if I’ve taken a pain killer

as he shoots dye into my uterus. 

The technician sits at her station

watching the dark blue fluid fill me up

on her monitor. The moment it is released

is an explosion of ink from a squid’s body

a cloud of indigo uncurling itself

reaching its stained fingers out to the borders

of a fetal waterworld

shaped like an upside-down pear.


     A cephalopod releases ink to obscure

     a predator’s vision in order to make its


     On this table, below this x-ray machine,

     it is used to uncover what can’t be seen.


I have to experience this violence as beautiful.

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