Tobermory

Water so clear you see feet.
Night so clear you see stars.
Stars are the feet of solar systems.
Night is water if the light’s sky.
It’s getting light where most people live.
Most people—it’s time to get out of bed.

I’m in bed now—what do I know of people?
Most people get what’s light and clear, like
the night sky without stars equals fear, but with
means pride (on your soles, fine speck of system!).
The stars themselves so clearly have meaning
you nearly fall off your feet in the drink.

~

My partner and I had the pleasure and privilege of escaping to Tobermory, Ontario, this summer for a couple nights alone. It’s really the most beautiful place I’ve been to in Ontario. Last night she prompted me to write about that gorgeous water that fills Georgian Bay.

Image source: Outdoor Photo Journey.

Our home got stuck in a trash collector

Pull the spare mattress from under my parents’ bed
comforter under my arm. Leave it. Retrieve
my pillows and Can you try sleeping in your bed?

Could insist I have been, dreamt I died
everyone I love died, and I saw it all
from within the devourer’s maw.

Moments to convince them. Lie down.
Say nothing. They relent but I imagine
them and the trash collector dream of clear floors.

Our home got stuck in the head of a trash collector.
Dream-possible, we are ever up the road.
We march out with stuff and in and out again.

He raps on the truck to signal it forward.
We come with hardwood. We come with gift bags.
The cab necks ahead but the trailer extends as an angler’s jaw.

We shovel up from the cellar. Neighbours sneak more.
Junk mail carriers and paperboys are routed here.
Milkmen resurrect to soak it all.

Butcher pulls up and gestures, “Hey you
—I’m a kill you when you’re here.

~

This one was the product of two possible prompts: helplessness, and the coziest memory I have. Thanks as always to my parter Kate Maxfield for making me think.

Year After Year

 

Of course you may go out but you must know

when I alone lay down our son, full of formula and promise

I instinctively envision single-parenthood while I sing him

“Wish You Were Here” for the hundredth night.

 

When I was seventeen I envisioned that anthem

sound-tracking my painless, accidental death

featuring my cuckolding crush weeping over my body,

as Pink Floyd synced the monitor, and up the camera went.

 

I am thirty-one and you are thirty-one. In the nursery,

our son maws gibberish in the dark. The female cat

who you correctly identify as my cat, whinges.

Oh wife, come home to me, and spoon my nervous hinges.

Having completed the development quiz on my first sober 4:20 in 13 years

 

Doctor I was mistaken

my son is looking for a hidden toy.

His head dug in a bin while I clear the room,

he has no interest in tumbling from the chesterfield.

 

There was no question whether he claps and though

he’s yet to stack he does (this is new!) tenderly

put things aside. Doctor,

does this matter?

 

I must end here—

he has the xylophone’s baton

and may choke and die any moment.

Civilization: Single Player Setup

 

I’ve been trying to up my people’s happiness.

The central tenet of our faith: water is good.

Ottawa is hash-tagged with rivers and canals;

today, we should be ecstatic to be alive.

 

One suicidal friend fled west, says

he is shamed by dignitaries. The downtown

BIA shuts down a t-shirt giveaway;

you must ask for the right to be generous.

 

Another suicidal friend ripens in subsidy.

She repays charity with other charity,

literally. She dreams of renewal;

to be made useful in the arrow of ex-pats

 

teaching English in the East. A third friend,

also suicidal, once East, appears automated.

From above he appears to be in perpetuity

finishing a painting, thick with better edits.

 

More friends, maybe also suicidal, pen odes

to their prescriptions, fatten with baggage.

I feel each draws on my productivity, heathers

my vision of a hundred percent self.

 

These are not my stories to tell but I am in them.

The rural legislator describes the defense

he pit against his arsonist son-in-law. His daughter

condemns what Hansard cannot deny;

 

it was not his story to tell. My friends

once saw themselves in my words for myself,

my baggy self-portrait. I am sorry

for saying nothing so long, and now so much.

 

My advisor has no answers. She assigns icons.

When I will not share she presents me a red shield.

To my common cloth she has affixed a purple medal.

But I do not know if the gold diamond or blue vial is better.

 

I have never been assigned a plain, smiling face.

The eye is winked or the tongue is stuck. Maybe

the Pac-Man’s cheek is blushed, but it is never

a plain, smiling face. I am sick with nuance.

 

This is my story but I am not in it.

This baggy caricature slips off my motion.

In three-hundred words, a stranger insists

Robin Williams did not die from suicide;

 

he died from depression. No one dies

from suicide, the stranger insists. This

they insist is requisite to development,

to people who live so long they stack.

 

I’ve been trying to up my people’s happiness

posturing as a provider of day-dates and texts.

My advisor has no answers. She identifies

my greatest share of costs is personnel.

 

I close my window, lift my red shield.

The sky is off-white with water, rain today

or snow tomorrow—either way the city wet.

I ask someone to chill, but fuck if they forget.