1997:Invisible Wind

this poem does not include

the beauty.

in 1997, on the spring equinox

i turn east for the land of big skies.

enough. there is no softness here for me.

i want to sing. i want to laugh.

here, it is all bent ceremony

an invisible wind

always against my shoulder.


blowing, whirling,  the day

janie came walking with chuck.


anne and i had answered her call

chuck was holding her and her babies hostage

please, help, he’d gone out.

we drove over, packed them up

cleaned the place and left.

i reached into her kitchen sink

pulled the plug to drain the dirty water

look at her despair, not even able

to finish this job. but in the bottom

the ebbing water revealed

used needles among the forks and spoons.

anne made the call, jane testified.

chuck got thirty days.


yes, said my teacher, they’re

together again. he is her pusher.


i push back, walk up and get in her face

don’t ever call on me again.


this bone-stupid woman

drug-addled and wilfully

raising them in squalor and fear

gets children, though they are clearly

born victims, their brains wired wrong.

where are my children? not here.


i need to sing. i need to laugh.

but who is bone-stupid if i say

because of the work, i will stay

long seasons more, pushing against

the invisible? one night, i will realise

i cannot change this, and so

collect my ceremonial bowl

burn the last of the sage

with that valley over my shoulder now

never to forget. never to return.

it will take years to untangle

coloured threads of love and song

worth carrying, but for now at last,

tie this off, burn the ends.


and i sing, all the way home

through blue-iced mountains

shrouded in mist, i sing

at canmore, a blast of cold

mountain air slams my car in benediction

good wind, wind at my back.


i never belonged there. and that wind

stripped of poetry, is an illegal

drug trade that will claim many lives yet.


this poem does not include the beauty

what did i learn?

that, apart from this poem

i will dwell on the beauty

even in this poem, under the wind.





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