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Sample poems

Self-Portrait as Ekphrastic Tension

Let’s call it what it is: desire,
or hope, or chaos. Something

sublime—a gilded frieze you touched
in Brussels, for love, in the public square;

a vase you carried on your back through
Asia because, though it cracked

along the way, you thought it was sacred.
What you should know about hope

is that it can’t be pinned down. Either
you feel it or you don’t and don’t

mistake it for desperation. The old
stone will shift because of your

fingers; sugar peas snap.
The morning light in your living

room will catch every gap
in the vase if you glue it back together.


I was looking for a way into him,
a point like a piano key that could
be struck, or played, followed through with
a finger stroke or the full force heel
of my hand and still transmit its tonal
pulse to the intended string. He found his
way into me as if there were no felt
at all covering my small, embodied
hammers. Maybe, like a harpsichord,
my strings were simply plucked, with a quill
or some incised thorn of leather. Music
was never a direct hit with him: some
days the tune could resonate for hours,
others he lay mute, naked and controlled.

Temple on the Gore Road

We don’t have words
for this kind of incongruity,

ancient beauty replicated
on Canadian soil, plunked
at the edge of the subdivision,
postcard ziggurat.

We drive south into the city
on a Thanksgiving Monday
while the cars going north
queue along the Gore Road, idling
as if caught mid-parade. We are going
the wrong way for worship—

a lineup we will never join,
not for the pantheonic rush,
not for the budget homes,
not for the wonder.

But we will stop for fresh corn at the side
of the road, for funeral processions, red lights.

We’ve chosen our temples, our gods,
and now their resplendence defies us.