Tuesday, May 9, 2017


It started innocently enough,
a white screen, a thought, leading to an image
accumulating into words
(she thought of rain clouds forming)
the syllables counted, the line skipped
rhythm added (she thought of sidewalk puddles)
and a clever rhyme about New Year’s Day
that made her smile with
hope for better tomorrows
tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
(kind of clichéd, she knew, but it didn’t matter
it felt right for the time of year), she
a junior in university
emailed what she’d typed to her list of friends,
(mostly acquaintances)
with wishes for health and happiness,
and it was read and deleted by most,
but two messages slipped through and
were forwarded to their contact list
and two more were forwarded to theirs
and this went on for weeks
the forwards multiplying virally
through blog links, Facebook sharing and Tweets
and someone posted it on YouTube
accompanied by images pilfered from the web
and a song by Taylor Swift used without permission,
and it got hits and hits galore, millions
and a hundred million and a book deal
(like Sh*t My Dad Says)
that was a New York Times Bestseller
and a film option from Hollywood
and a logo and a phrase that became a clothing line
and the President quoted it
in his re-election campaign speech
and it was translated into forty-two languages
including Swahili, Mongolian, and Ojibwa
and it got its own Wikipedia page
and school children all around the world
committed it to memory
for a while.

Friday, April 7, 2017


Because April is National Poetry Month and because coincidentally it's been raining for three straight days and the reports of flooding are flooding in...


My lover wants me to write her a poem,
a poem about rain of all things.
How foolish do you want me to look I ask,
everyone knows rain is a cliché.
I suppose you want this poem to be about
tearful rain or cleansing rain or oppressive rain.
Freedom rain, baptismal rain, or something 
more domestic, like diamonds on our kitchen screen, 
rain collected in street puddles that make us skip 
and swerve
on our way to the café, and too bad we forgot
the umbrella to share
and forgive me for wanting 
to hold you a little closer 
so you won't get wet.

What else? Flowers?
I suppose you'll want to hear about flowers in this poem,
they go so well together, rain and flowers,
a tide of red and yellow Columbine,
splash of Brown-eyed Susan,
thorny wash of Rose. No,
I won't fall for it.
As if I have nothing better to do today
than to contemplate rain, make of it 
a stream of words, a river of verse,
an ocean of meaning. Damn it,
more clichés, they dribble off the tongue drop
by drop without stop
and before you know it 
you're waist deep 
in a Hallmark trap of sentimentality,
you're swimming in it and over your head,
so you can't breathe,
and humiliated by acting the child;
rain, rain go away!

Let's just lie here quietly in bed for one morning
ignoring the rain
as my body barely inches toward yours,
it's the best I can do for now.
I won't mention the tap tap tap
on the skylight
or the dark round clouds
hovering over us like disproving faces,
and promise not to mention my failure 
to please you 
with the poem you so desire
or heaven forbid
something as original as love.  


Monday, October 17, 2016

Bury Me With My Files

Bury me with my files,
a half-empty bottle of Crown Royal
and my car keys.
Bury me with my Blackberry,
my university diploma,
and my last federal tax return.
Bury me with the TV remote control I held so close,
my guitar tuner and the novel
I was reading but could never finish.
Bury me with some cash, it meant so much.
Bury me wearing the shirt I wore too often
and refused to throw away,
and the pants you said
made me look fat.
Bury me with my glasses.
Bury me in expensive socks.
Bury me with a shovel and pail
because I didn't have a green thumb
and a hammer and some nails
because I was all thumbs.
Bury me with a Donnie Iris LP
because sometimes I had an itch that only he could scratch.
Bury me with an 8-track tape of Crime of The Century
and the Letters to the Editor I wrote
and my favourite hat that said 
"The Future Is Now".
Bury me with whatever you can unearth
from my past.
Bury me with my passwords.
Bury me with my files.
Bury me with lies.

Bob Dylan Nobel Laureate

But is it Literature? And does it matter?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


for Dimitri Nasrallah

A pigeon is dying in my backyard
Watching it is very hard
Her wings are broken, feathers torn
I've never seen one so forlorn
And in my heart the helplessness
Feels too close I must confess
I want to scream, It's undeserved
For a creature harmless and reserved
To suffer this predicament
Is unjustified I lament
If there’s a God possessing mercy
He’d relieve her of her misery
And then as if my prayer is heard
A cat arrives and devours the bird.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Leonard Cohen the Myth, The Man

Wherein I recently participated in a panel discussion on Between The Pages.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Three Day Event by Barbara Kay

Barbara Kay knows a thing or two about good writing. As one Canada’s most widely read columnists in the National Post, she’s expressed herself forcefully and cogently for years, never mincing her words, garnering the applause of readers and sometimes their ire. Anyone approaching her debut fiction may understandably ask themselves, is Kay as compelling at crafting narrative as she is at opinionating? The answer is an emphatic yes. Many of the strengths evident in her editorials also feature robustly in her fiction. A Three Day Event is, at first glance, a crime novel set at an equestrian center in rural Quebec. The reader is steeped in the high stakes (and elitist) culture and politics of equestrian recreation and sport. But it’s the manner in which Kay employs the backdrop of heightened political, linguistic, and cultural tensions that provides this novel with added dimensions. The action pivots on the murder of a widely loathed groom, a crime complicated by anti-Semitic vandalism and the bizarre mutilation of a prized stallion. The equestrian center is owned by a Jew married to a Quebecoise. It is immediately apparent that Kay is set on exploring much more than the evil deeds perpetrated by a lowly disgruntled bigot. The insular, monied world of horse sport frames an intricate tapestry of relationships weaving together hidden agendas, professional ambitions, resentments, grudges, secrets and love affairs. The protagonist is Polo Poisson, who, although born in a stereotypical Quebecois family on the wrong side of the tracks, has been intriguingly, raised by upper-crust Jews to become a champion horseman. Polo is an unprecedented ethnic creation in Canadian fiction, a melding of immigrant Jewish and pure laine Quebecois; a tortiere pie baked in a poppy seed bagel crust. It’s a wonder that Kay can pull off such a character successfully, which she does, and the story of how Polo arrived on the steps of his adopted family is as touchingly believable as it is unusual. It’s up to Polo to solve the murder, and it’s his mixed background that provides him with the intellectual and emotional tools required to tease out the convolutions of the crime. If there is a flaw to the novel it’s one of ambition. Kay’s reach sometimes exceeds her grasp and there is a lot to digest with so many characters operating at cross purposes including the equestrian center staff and members of the ownership family, a champion rider, a veterinarian, the horse owning clients, and committee members from the equestrian federation. Some characters get short shrift, like Toronto journalist Sue Parker who shows up investigating illegal practices in the international sale of sport horses. But this is ultimately Polo’s story and Kay wants us to consider the way his fractured personal history has affected his present and future. It is apparent that Polo is emblematic of our multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-faceted nation. He embodies multiple influences and loyalties that cannot easily be reconciled. In creating Polo, Kay has a point to make and she does is with nuance and grace: The key to personal reconciliation is found in family responsibility.