Other Writing

Adventures with Ludwig Van
3rd Place for Non-Fiction, The Writers' Collective/Winnipeg Free Press Fiction Contest 2012
The Winnipeg Free Press, 2012

for Calum

they straggle out of their black-houses
silently greeting the peaty air
as they untether their hopeful boats
leading them like dogs to the end of the grizzled pier

the sleep-fuddled sea rolls over and grumbles
into the thickened waist of morning
and the blue-breasted hills
breathe in the slanting sighs of heathered moors

hand-hewn oars slice through buttery water
drawing and quartering the awakening sea
with its insatiable craving for the rarefied taste
of smoked and salty Lewis men

with a careless wave and shrug of swollen shoulders
winter's teasing tongue of storm lashes out
licking heaving decks
flicking crumbs of frozen fishermen into the greedy bay

wind-whipped dogs limp home and nudge the lamenting shore
with torn sails between their legs
without their singing masters and silver creels
they bring no solace to the widowed croft

note:  Black-houses were traditional thatched huts on the Isle of Lewis. Fires were built in the centre of the living area and there was no chimney. The smoke escaped through the roof, blackening the interior of the dwelling.

1st Place for Poetry, The Writers' Collective/Winnipeg Free Press Poetry Contest, 2011
The Stanza Poetry Map of Scotland (poem no. 112: Port Voller), 2014


another summer's scorching dog day afternoon
i'm watching the dogs of war and hounds of hell
in their bloody dog-fights
chase the tail of some flea-ridden mongrel country
until it dies a dog's death and buries its own bones
thrown to the dogs
going to the dogs
with not a dog's chance of ever being lucky

another hot dog or corn dog dog-cheap
i'm living in the doghouse
and it's a dog's life being hounded for love and money
but if you love me you'll love my 35 dogs
sled and search and rescue dogs
seeing eye and watchdogs
sniffer dogs and bird dogs
prairie dogs too

another winter's blinding sundogs
i'm barking mad in my houndstooth hat
black dog dogging every thought
firedogs ready for the bite of another three-dog-night
i'm dog-tired but now i've stepped in it
and i'm left holding the doggy bag
while i let sleeping dogs lie

another hangdog dogsbody with dog breath
i'm reading dog-eared pages
eating a dog's breakfast and drinking hair of the dog that bit
you can't teach an old dog new tricks
and so yet again i'm drooling as i stagger up the doglegged staircase
to put on the dog and dog collar
whining and yapping dogmatic dogma
hush puppy

another spring and it's raining cats and dogs
dog violets and dog roses blooming
dogfish biting
i'm a sea dog and a salty dog
my dogs ache as i stand and watch the dog-star shine
and i know that this dog has had her day
i'm sicker than a dog and the time has come to roll over and play dead
doggone it anyway

3rd Place for Poetry, Contemporary Verse 2 Thirty-fifth Anniversary Contest, 2011
CV2, Volume 34, Issue 2, Fall/Autumn 2011


the faded pink sweater still hangs
by the unravelled threads
of her life
from the broken hook
of my heart

edges worn thin and frayed
warp and weft remember
the shape of her body
but never
the scent of her skin

buttonless now
seams gaping as wide as grief
i fold into her
fingering the torn pocket for shreds of comfort
from the last crumpled tissue

3rd Place for Poetry, The Writers' Collective/Winnipeg Free Press Poetry Contest, 2010
The Winnipeg Free Press, 2010


the harvest beneath and between our lives
is always sacred

we fall
then rise up

the seed, the sprout and stalk
the swath, the stook and staff

the bowl is full
though chipped and crazed with age

still and ever
we are

kneading soft flesh
punching down sorrow
sprinkling salts of the earth
resting in a warm place
doubling joy

we fall
then rise up

Honourable Mention for Poetry, The Writers' Collective/Winnipeg Free Press Poetry Contest, 2009
The Collective Consciousness, 2010

the listening room

my heart flutters
trapped against my hand
as I turn the corner
I am listening for the rasp of breath
listening to the silence
that shrouds her room

her bed is made
(her bed is made and she must lie in it)
but not today
today she sits serene
blue eyes blue
as her blue gown

what does she see
with her mind's blue eye
a small and secret smile
brushes her lips like a wing

for a moment
she is all there is
all that she has been
and all that she might ever be
in another time
in another place

2nd Place for Poetry, The Writers' Collective/Winnipeg Free Press Poetry Contest, 2000
The Collective Consciousness, 2000

the twelfth floor


she lives in a room
her home
a cell
on the twelfth floor

she stands at the window
the setting sun's red eye

(and the curb for a familiar face)

she is bathed in red
her curtains
the colour of anger
and her glowing cigarette

she takes the family photographs
off the wall
and hides their faces
deep inside a drawer

(the next time we visit we find ourselves missing)

when we comment
she says
just paring down
less to dust

Honourable Mention for Poetry, Canadian Authors' Association, Manitoba Branch, 1999
Pentimes, 2000

Drive By

Idlers and sidlers loiter behind the neighbourhood bar.
Trash tumbleweeds skitter down the lurking alley.

Plastic bags shroud the staggering fence.
Old news roots around in the gritty gutters.

Glinting shards of thirsty glass stab the oil-kissed pavement.
Ominous shadows proposition pale circles of light.
Graffiti gargoyles scream silent profanities,
but not as loudly as the savage with brutal boots

stomping a writhing head into bloods's dark pool—
dealing death on the hostile street.

Distant sirens keening.
We drive by.



They leapt
into the choking void
to flee the voracious fires.

(the terror of charred teeth and innocent ash)

They flew
on unfledged wings
into a dusty blue embrace.

(singed hair and flailing limbs plummeting)

They died
with bleeding stems
at our helplessly horrified feet.

(broken blossoms staining the longest day in September)


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