30/30 2017

It’s Poetry Month.

Last year, I did my first 30/30, posting a poem a day on prairiepomes.

This year, I’m doing it with pals from the Stroll of Poets, thanks to the organizing talents of Trudy Greinhauer. My own will also be posted, like last year, right here, this time on its very own page. I’ll post the latest here at the top, so they descend anti-chronologically. Please read and enjoy!

April 30: Taxday Homestretch

there it is, the line

and we are not the smug ones

smirking today over brunch

no, for us, the race is on

cross-country, in the rough

hacking with pens like machetes

through this bristling, sucking

undergrowth of paperwork

that bays around us.

how does it come to this?

every year, astonished that

left alone for the merest moment

(or unadmitted month or two or more)

these receipts and forms and memos

tangle into snarls resistant

to all known spread sheets.

the sun is out, a winged thing

taunts there, against the window

even the insects are stretching their limbs

in spring’s long awaited glow

but here, we have miles to go

before we reach

that blessed exhalation.

we toil on, darkly swearing

that next year, we shall be the ones

we gnash at now, smirking over brunches

speaking of impending refunds

all that pirate gold.

but enough. it is there, the line

mocking my poetry for what it is

procrastination, my underbelly

time to suck it up and file.

it is there, the line. i must get across.


April 29: Sidewalk Astronomy

we set out to see the stars

my friend and i suddenly

the old gals, our kids

so nearly grown, all of us

so full of desire to see

the astronomers, white haired

at first didn’t know what to say, but

we loved the moon they showed, and so

they urged us to hope the sky

would clear as twilight deepened

so jupiter could appear, southeast

out over the high level bridge

to while away sunset we walked

along the promenade, all the way

to the museum grounds – the old

museum, now; groat road bridge

replaced by broad commodious span

analog for our spreadout hips

mothers’ wisdom, indulgent hope

that these young ones might see

days as fine as we did then

jupiter is waiting, proud with moons

arrayed above the river, night king

aglow in our distant praise, and then

they turn back the scope again:

it’s morning on the moon, says

our host, a shy boy’s smile

in leather of his face, renewed

by sharing his connection to love

of first light on celestial mountains

we leave full of starlight.

April 28: cat tail

little cat

stretches flat

bargains made

prices paid

trust relayed

she rests for now

at peace somehow

with surgery

for injury

she lets me know

she’s let it go

she understands

mine was the hand

i hadn’t planned

to have to serve

pain, to preserve

the rest of her

the best of her

suggests a purr

begins to stir

believe in cure

my friend and i

went out to buy

needed supply

of healing stuff

this friend is tough

she’s seen enough

of blood and guts

offers no buts

won’t go nuts

has no disgust

will just adjust

do what we must

to heal this cat

that is that

this is the deal

it’s old and real


means co-obligation


small operation

tail amputation


friendship and patience

all my relations.

April 27: in 3

take one: text

she suddenly sends

a text message

her daughter will be ten

family and family-like friends

are invited to celebrate

we have not spoken as friends

since my own daughter’s ninth

so, is this love or hate?

i do not miss her, judgmental

and loud, but her daughter

is a blood relative, and besides

has been a tiny bird with mine

she sends no address, despite

knowing i’ve never seen

her new house, she ignored

my messages of congratulations

when i heard she’d found a home

is this friendship, or bullshit?

Day 27, take 2: Love or Hate

she holds a grudge, why

did my metis friend ask her

if her kid was aboriginal?

she cannot see that, to me

that question is not an insult

and hers, very much so.

Day 27, take 3: peavey mart

the cat runs in bleeding

her tail, tip torn open

we do not have eight


and fifty dollars

for surgery

i call my sister, who sends me

to the peavey mart, for

thirty bucks worth of tools

bandaging, medicines

i call a sister-friend, who drives me

out to the peavey mart, back

to our shared rural roots

on the highway, we trade news

and talk about tubs full of fish

laughing, because academia

cannot fathom a bear’s head

in the bathtub, our world so gross

she holds the cat, i band the cat

swab, wrap, and concede

that the plastic head collar is necessary


how often she must have

questioned her convictions

gone to the crochet needles

to the garden, to the cards:

play the hand dealt, don’t cry

laugh in the teeth of defeat

count yourself lucky to win

how often, making

something out of nothing much

old jeans into a sleeping bag

large enough for her ginap husband

hardpan clay into a winter’s food:

parlay life’s awful offers

into bargains, treasures, strength

that what is may be accepted

how often might she have wished

for peace? and now, cocooned

in quiet, she lies making her peace

with life, with god, with her beloveds

i want to run to her crying

mama mama mama

mama wait, let me sing to you

what i learned from you

the least, the low, the ugly can be

transformed into a kind of plenty

legacy from necessity.

I cannot sit with her tonight

so i offer these words, testimony:

she has made her soul’s measure

by hand, and could you see her

you would regard a holy queen.

April 26: Hope

the sky is falling. the sky is

always falling, just like that

country song about ‘it’s

five o’clock somewhere’ but

with apocalypses. the end

always nigh.

consider the travelers

on an april road, high

in snowstorm mountains

their future in the back seats

asleep at five a.m.

the five that is not happy hour, but

made of and for vigilance

the sky was falling

and hadn’t far to go, and still

hasty, arrogant vehicles hurtled

past them into whiteout

while they softly moved, telling

stories you tell at that hour

don’t dwell too long

on the wrecks by the roadside

they passed these by, speaking

limbic language of conviction

that this road would carry them

through the high danger

to hope, the green unfurling

of the lower mainland’s promise

that sky has since fallen, leaving

only memory: in hope

she closed her eyes at last, and

he reached over, cupped her hand

she turned her palm upward

the world held, and the world goes on

all the little endings, continuo

April 25: Blue Seed Pattern, 1987

for Trish Sewell and MM

What if we stayed up all night?

This was long years before Seoul

Tokyo, beloved Kyoto

singing Daijobu! with the genki boys

down on Kawaramachi-dori

down by the hot coffee machines.


What if we walked the city?

This, after years walking

the long browed hills of the north

only the starfields above us

far away, like the spangled rest of the world.


What if we followed the night? so we stepped out

scuffed down April-grey sidewalks

creatures of northern spring, our thrift

store trench coats, Army and Navy sneakers

hands in pockets like New Romantics

but we were cold, not cool.


In Little Italy, we dared Tra Amici

hunting gelato, authentic flavour

felt the true, deep, smoky closure

around each table, these men

who owned this hour in this place.


In time, we wended back to the Bay

Station, empty now with the last train sleeping

don’t sleep in the subway, darlin’ we sang

hooting ironically, admiring the shine

of tiles in orange, grey, hard blue, too quiet.


What if we go home for tea? so we did.

Back to his place, my sister and i, like

Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy perhaps

we each held something tight from that night

something we each let go, this place

not wide awake, not a world city, just a dusty

prairie gathering of souls, those awake

contemplating the far off spangle of other worlds.


Here, it was enough to drink jasmine tea

not like any other song or story, just three friends

each cupping a warm round

serving to connect us to every conspirator ever,

and to none. We were just kids, hungry for life,

satisfied with green and flowering water

and the cheap light through blue and white

crockery, none the less mysterious for its low price.


See, he said, you can see light

through the pattern; it’s meant to mimic grains of rice.

We owl-nodded, mesmerised

and comforted by patterns

in pale blue, like every night before or since.


April 24: Anne of Abegweit

On twitter i read that

Lucy Maud Montgomery was

  • did i know? –

a Canlit fan. In addition to Anne

she championed

emerging voices.

How bout that? the red headed

orphan created to stand as metaphor

for new, young, bold…

I wonder what she’d make of us

the current state of Canlit fuss

over gatekeeping, erasure, sexual

assault and the old boys club

which, to be fair, lets women in.

I’d like to think LMM

would write an Anne

today, who’d stand

arms akimbo, in front of them

cry Shame! to those who’d

still, still silence those of us

who are other than #Canlit

but then again

resonant orphan, made

to stand for terra nullius

no known ancestry

everything invention

Anne never knew

she lived in Abegweit.

how bout that?

April 23: Elevensie


fiercely brown

take the stage

stand for us, deliver



frustrating labourious

bloom here now

young voices, breathing fire


This is for the indigenous poets, nigh on 20 of them, who graced the stage at Studio 96 tongiht. I remember 1991, four of us, Marilyn Dumont, Peter Cole, Molly Chisaakay and I, like some kind of novelty.

April 22: Georgic for Tea


that teabag of a word

so often squeezed now yields

dull, flavourless dishwater

Truth is a bushier thing

labrador tea persistent, or

wild mint, creeping along

under the lawn, always mindful

pungent, healing, harsh, unruly

asking nothing of you but

space to grow, and show

however unmeasurable

the longer root’s deep flavour.

April 21: Accidentals

is there a statute of limitations?

past when it is just noise in the attic

your words

the edifice of friendship untended

loses its hold

shingles blow away, in creeps the sky

something like a song sighs outward

those riddles i did not press you for

your words

roman ruins, serpent mounds

cities underwater, path from heart to heart

perhaps some archeology can

uncover and classify

faultlines, roads, accidentals

April 20: Lift

i was tired, in the 90s

when a professor who

had a job in mind for me

brought me first to the symphony

since we are both Polish

we are both Polish, but

he spoke easily of family outings

to concert halls of his youth

we sang in the farm kitchen

i sang to gentle cows

then the lights went down

the song sprang up, and with it

my heart. oh, the blaze

and around me, blase or blue

sophisticates side-eyed or forebore

to notice

i could not laugh out loud, nor tell

my date how i’d diagnosed

symphony face

and seemed, sadly, immune

or incapable of such sangfroid

such internality of attention

such stillness, i could not

each cymbal crash shattered me

the strings pulled my own heart

i was knocked giddy by the sound

knocked back

to late 80s cruising, in the four door buick

with my little sis and our roommate

Haydn blaring, laughing at our own

nerdly braggadoccio

we lit ourselves on the music’s flame

it hasn’t changed. i haven’t mastered

internality, stillness, i cannot mute

this thundering idiot drum.

April 19: Creation

they say, star woman fell

down here because

she was curious

they say, the star sisters

still watch us

they say, when star woman fell

it was a humble one

who gave all he had to reach

enough earth for her landing

they say, the humble ones

still watch us

they say, the turtle carries

on her shell the sacred

geometries, the formula

for moon and time

they say, this is still

turtle island

they say, if you listen

the song goes on, with space

and time for your voice

sing, they say.

April 18: Ert

my sister was intense

people who knew her

don’t know how to talk to me

when it gets lonely, them assuming

i’m okay, when they’ve seen

she wasn’t, after all, i fall back

on ert.

things that matter are small

the jewels of our times

were wild laughter

you only get

if you’ve been in the trenches

whatever the war; the particular

action. we all know this beast

that has been rolling us

down for generations, but each

of us, of course, also has

the only things

only those who were there



ridiculous glory

of language reduced

by logic, pushed up against the wall

if this, then that.

so, ert.

this is the love we carry

how we move on.

This poem used the prompt in our 30/30 group, to employ a neologism (made up word). The one below also responds to the prompt of creating a nocturne.

April 17: Nocturne: Tiny Now

She is tiny now, my mother

and jokes in the morning, when

her teeth aren’t in, how she whistles

like a little bird. And i want to reach

back to the nights when

she brought the piglets in

laid them in the woodstove oven

so tiny, but she believed in them

and in that warm cradle, the spark

of life rekindled in them. How

do i cradle her? now

she is so tiny, softly

drawing nearer to

the Western Door.

This poem won’t do it.

This poem is for me

a piglet grown, with

my astonished snout

of discovery, how the power

that built a world for me still

reveals itself, blue

slight, soft, tiny.

April 16: Turtle Island Easter Prayer

O Lord, renew me

this body, this heart, this

mind this soul

O you Good Spirits

you Saints who intercede

budge aside, if you don’t mind

just enough to let me speak

to Manitowak i do not know

whose names and specialities

were not passed down

Holy Mother, some of your children

are standing in the way, be kind

and thank them for the good they do

then bid them take a seat

so Manitowak i did not meet

may step lightly forward lightly

shine and tell me, shall we

forgive each other? You, for stepping

back when these pushier gods

came caterwauling

me, for not knowing Your names

that i might intercede on your behalf

co-creation being the law, and show

that you are as loved and wanted

as needed as ever.

Are we children? Are we squabbling

over toys? Or clamouring for our

Mother’s love? Great Mother say

you love us all; Heavenly Father

that is the word, by which, if you

only say it, i am healed.

i stand at a crossroads, and Yous

and i know, this is ever so

today, let me choose a good road.

Let me walk in the shine of all

Your loves, reconciled. Down here

i have work to do.

April 15: Path

the Triple Goddess reveals

Her path, maid to mother

to crone, again to maid, and on

the spiral, fractal motion

turn the egg in your hand, draw

the line from one thing to another

you find you have to pause

reverse direction, reflect

like a trip to the fridge,

fridge to stove, stove to table

table to fridge, each

movement complete, can

imply the next, turn

and turn again, wholy holy.

Kyrie Eleison: Good Friday, Anno Domini 2017

Kyrie Eleison

there are too many of them, Lord

created out of slipshod schools

and cruel indifferences

Christe Eleison

they are too hungry, Lord

who has washed their feet?

or held them when they cried

and told them, you are not alone?

Kyrie Eleison

They are too formed of evil things and lies

their heart is so beyond my reach

as they burn the innocent, damn the lot

Good Friday

has never acceded to consumerism

you cannot sell this kind of sacrifice

Mother of God

why is it women and children first?

who cannot run away, who would be fools

enough to cradle the generals, crying

my son, my son, you too are my son

All My Relations

All My Relations

All My Relations


Kyrie Great Mother 

Love Come Love Come Love Come.

April 13: Whisper

where are they now? those tales

of thieves uneasy on their hoards

thinking themselves dragon lords

but lacking inner fire

they are not Ghenghis Khan

his standard and his bow

they are not Charlemagne

nor Alexander horseback, glorious

they are not Napoleon

nor Joan of Arc

they promise no unifying light

this is not that moment

but bring out those tales now

they may be all we have

tales of tiny heroism, whisper

if you tell them, whisper

April 12: middle age

this brown guitar

pickguard discarded

trim shattered

fingerboard shaded

with fingertip habits

this is what usage writes

upon every body

and they say the wood

grows ever more resonant

songs and tones chosen

songs and tones

April 11: performance, review

we go to the theatre

i cannot stay awake

though onstage

they shout out tales of woe

decry crimes, and plead

humanity under cover

of all those invented differences

culture religion language land

my friend wonders

what do westerners make of this?

i can only tell her, i do not know

i’m a fourth world woman

and i fell asleep, no disrespect

just decades

of weary witness

and the aftermath, i cannot

take more onboard sometimes

have to little disbelief to suspend

so i hang heavy in my seat in the dark

what carried me? music

the singer in the corner

fed me beauty

stranger than the very same

beauty that carries us


April 10: News of the World

the dogs wait, apparently

dozing, but reading

the current of my mind

and ready

we walk out into the scented day

i see shades of brown, grey, water

they read, tree by tree

so much news

illegible to me

April 9: Spring Fields of Alberta

we look down on

grey dun brown tan

taupe beige


unrolling majesty

look down

April 8: uncloak

what, uncloaked

do you look like?


by the need to play nice

laying down the stated intent

of making family

what face would you wear?





April 7: Toddler TourGuide 


that kid at the front of the bus

has us all summed up

all the otherwise cynical

drawn in to

unflagging joy

through woods

up mountains

coming from thousands of miles

to uncurl in his damp chubby hand

outflung – wahoo!


April 6: Rule


“you just have to find a rule for the moon”

  1. Barrett, concerning crescent shapes in fractal tiling patterns


but that’s the thing

about the moon

she is the rule, sets the precedent

comes around, goes around

tidal, prime


terrifying, unconstrained

to be lunatic


and yet the moon’s rule

is inexorable faithful

repetition of the pattern

nothing random

absolutely disciplined


perhaps madness is

as rectified

and we simply fail

to see the pattern.

April 5: Landing 

for Catherine Sewell, who walked on at 39,

or else would have been 55 this day

would she have laughed?

i met our old colleague in Superstore

talk turned to landing kids

so as to break that trope of Indian

comes to City and skids out of control into

alcohol, crime and life as a social issue.

this woman had no idea, her mouth fell open

at the news that we grew up in the bush

outdoor toilet, wild meat, woodstove

in her view my sister was city born

a jetplane

lifting and landing, smooth, assured

you craft your life.


April 4: Air on a Backyard

it reeks a hirsute, ursine pong

this tell-tale scatter

winter’s long dark sloth

let hang the discipline

of twice daily walks

and now, the harvest

still, over my rake and bucket

memory ties me to other springs

childhood’s filthy innocence

mucking through barnyard streams

setting channels, racing

chips of wood, as invested

as any punter in our champion

cheering, jeering, singing, free
this earth’s small, pungent pleasures

April 3: Some Snow

some snow

some sun

some cloud



new bud

new shoot

elsewhere, bullets



on the boat to scorpion island

he tries to make a connection

his weather


army service, odd knuckles

the way he swung her

with her hair loosed down

the night they met

impossible as the hour’s new foal

her dance is knees and possible sliding


some snow

some sun

she will tie that hair up

in the morning

take the boat with him

to scorpion island

keep her eyes off his knuckles

not think of them, nor him, for years

not until the night she tries

to understand how

she decided

one foot skimming, mid-slide

April 2


today, woodpecker

in bright morning

employs power

pole as medium

sacred morning

sacred morning

sacred morning

song, do i serve?

soles on frozen grass

ragged breath, dogs

making mandala with

my lurching pace

even uneven frosted grass

carries the word, declaiming

sacred morning

sacred morning

sacred morning

April, Fools

we are fools for springtime

however much we try

to make out like we’re cool

with winter’s icy glares

it’s in the throat

burned open by cold fire

is not the same as

this lush thrumming

in our own bodies

as in the willows

is it time, then?

do we take up the song

and give voice

as generously as birds

sing to bring dawn

if we are here for any purpose

at all, let us sing now

lift up our hearts

and commit the ceremony

each season demands

a song for spring

a fool’s errand.

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