For now

The shelter newsletter’s poetry corner contains poems no reputable journal will publish. I read poems for a reputable journal and regularly reinforce this, rejecting honest and unoriginal suffering as uninteresting. What’s less inspired than tomorrow’s promise? What could be more cliché than deciding to listen? Who concludes a lyric, “I love you,” and expects an honorarium?


This winter fire struck the Cornerstone Shelter in Ottawa. If you can afford it, please give a little. They maintain four residences in the city, providing support for more than 400 women every year.

Blame a hack, 2014

for Brendon

Honor is obviously easiest choice.
Why don’t you put a u in there
insists some schnook,
ah yes—a jibe there.

Build up allegiances. Trade’s important
but what I’ve learned is nice guys go mad
wrestling with why am I so nice all the time?
Experimenting follows.

Now you the substance have trickled off screen;
lolled. Never a good sign. Never,
literally, in ink. What’s become of your passive tone?
Why are you crying?

I’m sorry we were so close. I’m sorry I
I functioned so bravely now more than never.


(A Canadian Poem)

Mr. Davis taught American History Through Film;
an eleventh grade elective. Towards years’ end he screened
Roger & Me, gonzo-documentarian Michael Moore’s love-song
for his hometown of Flint, Michigan, victim of the nineteen-eighties.
After Apocalypse Now, I was ready to hate Americans some more.

There is an out-of-place, third act scene
where Moore meets a woman who stuck with Flint
and took to raising rabbits to survive. Matter-of-factly
she flips the skin off one while explaining the new regulations
for rabbit-keeping the state has introduced. Mr. Davis hit pause.

“Look at this,” in his baritone. “Watch this.” He rewound too far
and we had to re-watch some other scene first, and while I’m waiting
I’m thinking, why the fuck is he making us watch this again?
What the fuck’s his problem? I can’t un-see this shit.

Whales in Popular Culture Part 2: Prove me wrong

It seems each week a whale film’s to be released 
a cetacean serendipitously beaches.

Take for instance 1986′s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
 when that November a teenage Sperm
 surfaced upon a sandbar off the coast of Bonavista, and croaked grosser than the Klingon
 who brought a chuHwl’ to the bat’leth match. Was it telepathic Spock who whisked her from the waves?

Or consider ’93, the summer Free Willy filled seats and a team of Belugas rode in the Bay of Fundy for bust 
like some clan of Kamikaze bikers into rivals’ territory. Was there among us, the countless nine-year olds 
belting out Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There” a siren?

If not for this poem it would not be remembered 2012 saw forty Pilots beach along New Zealand and the very same weekend some Drew Barrymore flick tank. Would I have wrote the poem if not for Big Miracle?

Is this a trap I’ve set for you? I’m sure there’s nothing you can do. As 2013’s Black Fish doused the Sea World dream with cold water another damn Pilot somehow croaked of thirst in the Everglades.


An earlier version of this poem appeared at Poetry and the News.