Category Archives: Poetry

Maps of the Stars

I’m always a little sad

That I can never see the stars at night

There’s always cloud cover and street lights

And even on the clearest nights

The sky never seems to have those bright lights

I keep maps of the stars in my pocket

I hold them up to try and see what I’m missing

Find the planets and the constellations

The satellites constantly circling

Match the names to the ones I hear

From people with telescopes and star atlases

Cutting through the cloud cover

And disregarding the street lights

Pinpointing the source of those bright lights

Those lights that take years to reach our eyes

Questioning whether what we can see

Is actually still in the night sky

Or just an image from thousands and millions of years before

Of something that isn’t there anymore

I want to see these things

See them with my naked eye

Before we ever know

If the lights in our sky

Are actually still illuminating the night

Or if it’s just a trick of the light

Fooling us into thinking

That our night skies

Aren’t actually completely empty

And we’re all that’s left

Circling alone in the darkness

Circled by satellites

Staring into a sky that’s empty

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Nothing Turns out Like it Does on TV

I kind of always pictured myself being a teacher when I grew up

But I think it’s one of those jobs that look a lot better on TV

I thought I could be that teacher who really reaches his students

I think everyone else who ever watched teen dramas had the same thought

I never gave a lot more thought as to what I would do once I became an adult

I thought about comic stores and record shops but never a career path

I’ve yet to stay at a job any longer than about a year

I guess I’m still lost to the idea of any sort of career prospects

So instead of teaching I go Universities late at night

Scribbling words in a notebook while I get eaten by mosquitoes

I never got to go to a school that had a campus

My college was in the middle of a downtown development

Wondering what I missed out on not having the TV college experience

Almost turning thirty and I’m having a bout of nostalgia

For a time in my life that didn’t actually happen how I wanted it

Now I’m almost thirty with barely any real career prospects

Still being eaten by mosquitoes like they follow me wherever I go

I’m going off the trails and walking through the grass

I’m wandering off and going to find the quad

And with my fucking luck I’m going to wind up lost

I know if I keep heading north I’m going to find my car

I’m going off the grass and walking down the road

Burning in my Throat

It’s like it’s constantly raining

And I’m constantly leaving my coat in the car

I know you’re sitting in the cafe

Swirling the foam in your cappuccino

Tapping your fingers on the table

And staring at the entrance

I’m stuck at a red light

And the wind’s blowing against me

And the drunks falling out of the bars

Are blowing smoke, trailing to my face

The water trickles cold along the tip of my nose

While you sit comfortably, keeping warm

Trickling along, through my shirt and down my neck

Into my eyes, stinging and leaving me blind

There’s a fire still tickling my throat

The feeling of porcelain against my hand

I try to stop and catch my breath

Choking as it all starts coming up again

The light finally turns green and I try to move forward

But my own feet are forgetting how to walk

Grab the sides with my arms and keep pushing forward

Slipping on wet ground and losing my balance

I’m hoping you’re still waiting at the cafe

Sitting with your legs crossed, twirling your hair

You’ll be the glimmer of hope that keeps me going

I’ll be the drowned rat disguised and looking for change

But though the door I see that you’re gone

My last chance walked out on two legs

Her heels clicking probably echoed through the room

Letting everyone know the drowned rat is doomed

I try to take comfort with the burning in my throat

The only warm comfort that I know

My Lingering Breath

I’ve stopped my march through the snow

My feet are freezing

And I can’t feel my legs

It feels like I’ve been marching for hours

My shoes barely grip

They slip on the sidewalk

I’m following street names and counting avenues

Guessing which way north is

Assuming I’m aimed in the right direction

But as my face goes numb

And my breath freezes to my beard

The sun starts setting in the distance

I should have arrived by this time

Kind of like how it should be warmer by now

Kind of like how the breath hanging in front of my face

Should have dissolved and floated off

Instead it lingers in front of my face

Like a thick fog blocking my view

I’m cold and I’m lost

My teeth are chattering

And my knees are shaking

I was told this is the right way to go

And I followed all the signs

And still I’m standing nowhere

Freezing cold, foggy eyed

With no idea where I went wrong

And I can’t figure out if I’m on the right track

Or if I should turn back

Dying of Old Age

I’ve got this thing for dying of old age

It must seem like a crazy liberal ideal

Or some sort of privilege reserved for the rich

But I’m not sure if I’ll be allowed to in my country

Abolishing something like long-gun registry

I just don’t see the need for semi-automatic assault rifles

While police only carry pistols and we farm all of our animals

And why this is a controversial discussion

You’re afraid of fighting big government

While you keep funding all of these big businesses

Who buy politicians like they’re trading stock options

You might think I’m crazy for not wanting to die

In some flashy blaze of glory like a tragic hero on TV

I think I’d rather read a book in my bed

Close my eyes and fall to sleep in the peace and quiet

Because there are no good guys

And there are no bad guys

There’s just a lot of confused people

Who’ve been given all of this freedom

But we don’t bother to educate them

And explain to them what this freedom means

I wish people would give money to schools

Like they give money to weapons manufacturing

I wish parliament listened to educators

The same way they listened to millionaires

I wish people would stop shooting

Before they looked at where they’re aiming

I wish I could die of old age

But I’m almost certain some neighbourhood watch security

Will follow me while I’m walking on my own block

Say I’m a threat because I’m tall and have tattoos

Assholes like my always get away with it

Or some other oversimplified ignorant ridiculous bullshit

Any reason to stand his ground and shoot

Living out his old west cowboy fantasy

Shooting the bad guy in a blaze of glory

And be deemed the big hero

He and his big shiny fucking gun

Maybe I’m just an idealistic Canadian

Who’d rather not see his country turn this way

And who doesn’t understand what’s so fucking great

About being able to kill anything

Or why anyone would want to listen to Ted Nugent spout on about

Shooting into underprivileged neighbourhoods from a helicopter

He talks so tough and he loves his guns

Don’t forget he dodged the draft

Along with Mohammed Ali

And Arlo Gutherie

And William Gibson

And Jimi Hendrix

And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

And Stephen King

And Bruce Springsteen

And don’t get me started on Bill O’Reily

And Dick Cheney

And Karl Rove

And Donald Trump

And OJ Simpson

And Newt Gingrich

And Al Gore

I guess that they all wanted to die of old age too

I’m not trying to oversimplify a bigger issue

I just don’t worry about big government knocking at my door

Because if it got to the point

Where this was something to be worried about

I’d rather not worry that the government at my door

Was paid for

By Halliburton

Streetlights and Mocking Birds

The streetlights are looming over top of me

Looking down and wondering what I’m doing

It’s four in the morning

I work in a few hours

And I have 45 minutes left in this drive

The streets of St. Albert are less than kind to me

The tree-lined roads through Sir Winston Churchill Road

Take me past 184 Street

And down 137 Avenue

And I drive through Edmonton’s North Side looking for the Yellowhead Freeway

The rain’s trickling along my windshield

And my wipers only leave streaks of water across

While I stare out with swollen red eyes

Trying to tell myself it’s only allergies

The wind’s picking up and wailing against my car

The glare of the road is burning my eyes

I need to keep them open though

I have a long drive ahead

And there’s nowhere to stop and sleep

The streetlights flicker with questions

And taunt me that I put some faith into

Another person when I’ve been

Burnt so many times before

And I turn hard to avoid a cat

There’s been enough blood on this car

And I don’t think I have enough room for

Another life cut-off too short

My trunk’s already full

I can feel it wearing on my shocks

The bumps feel harder and I hear you roll

And sliding against the cover of my spare tire

I find the Yellowhead and the Freeway is clear

Aside from a few overnight semis wailing their horns as they drive by

I’ve never seen this road this empty

The rain’s hitting harder

And the globs of water blur my vision

While a headlight burns out

While I try to shift lanes

I barely spot my exit across 82 Street

And clip a bird flying across the freeway

I wonder if the rain blocked his vision

Or if he had lost a headlight

And your voice carries from the trunk

Asking the same questions as the streetlights

The words flow through in unison

Like you were all given a script

You sing a chorus of confusion

Telling me you deserve something better

Than a few garbage bags

And a late night drive across the city

I try to ignore your song

Like noises of garbage in my trunk

But you only kept singing louder

Demanding an explanation

That I just simply don’t have

I don’t think you deserve anything better

Because I expect the same for myself

In the end we all wind up in garbage bags in the trunk of someone’s car

If we aren’t clipped while trying to fly across the freeway

You just wound up in my trunk

I make it down the 98 Avenue hill

And up to the James MacDonald Bridge

As the summer sun peaks out of the clouds

And the morning dew from the North Saskatchewan River

Carries up and makes me think of Spring

And the freshness of a secluded cabin

And you still ask me incessantly

Why did I bring you to the river?

The bridge is empty but in a few hours

It will be lined with cars sifting through rush hour traffic

I still don’t have an answer for you

I can’t explain any of this to you

All I know is I have three dripping garbage bags

That need to go into the river before the early risers start driving by

Even if I had an answer

It would make no difference

You’re still cold an dripping from some garbage bags

And you won’t be swimming out of this river

There’s no point in explaining anything

It won’t change a goddamn thing

And as you splash into the water

The streetlights shut off and stop talking

And I watch you flow down the current

As I spot two mocking birds on a highway sign

And they laugh at me

As if I’m standing on the bridge naked

Two mocking birds on a highway sign

Are laughing at me at four in the morning

Paul Kane Park: Because it’s Finally Summer

The fountains are still empty in Paul Kane Park

Kids take advantage of the smooth concrete

With skateboards and scooters while the grown-ups

Lie on the grass like they’re beachside in Florida

My office window overlooks Paul Kane Park

While I watch the trees finally bloom

Only days away from June

Edmonton’s downtown dwellers ditch work

To get outside and catch a whiff of those first budding leaves

The scent’s sweet smell is like a sugary summer treat

The workers will leave work well before five

And fill the bars’ patios drinking and talking and laughing

They wear sunglasses and undo the top buttons of their shirts

Sip on light beers and cocktails between bursts of blustering laughter

Like a celebration of another year of survival

Celebrating the blooming trees and the sun

Celebrating bright daylight well past nine o’clock

Celebrating summer like we’ve never experienced warm weather before

I walk down to Paul Kane Park

And find a bench overlooking the empty fountain

Where sidewalk chalk outlines pictures of suns and stars

And downtown dwellers lie in the sun and drink cheap beer

The windows to the walk-up apartments

Are open and I watch the blinds swing in the light breeze

A cool breeze that tickles the hair along my bare arms

And the leaves on the trees swing like the curtains in the windows

The streets are empty around Paul Kane Park

The cars stay parked, all the people decided they rather walk

With headphones in their ears

And sunglasses covering their eyes

All smiling and saying hello as they walk by

With a look on their face that says “We made it through again”

Sharing the celebration of summer

Like it’s the first summer they ever experienced

And the last summer there will ever be

And they don’t know when the sun will recede

And the leaves will start to fall again

And daylight ends when the sun sets at three

So they celebrate now

Like tomorrow there will be no sun

Or warm weather or patios

Or sweet smells from blooming trees

Like tomorrow, there will be no summer

27: How the Fuck did I get here?

How the fuck am I almost 27?

My body’s screaming like I’m almost 40

But my brain wants to run like I’m 17

I’m sitting in a bar at one in the afternoon

Because I’ll be napping by three

If I want to stay up past eleven

I got to more weddings than parties

And everyone asks me when I’m getting hitched

As if it’s something I have planned out on a to-do list

I think I missed the part when someone explained

When what is supposed to happen when as an adult

In what most people call a normal life

As if anything I’ve ever done is normal

I guess I did everything ass-backwards

But I can say with confidence I don’t hold a single regret

It’s just a little awkward when people stare at me

With their heads tilted to the side

Wondering what’s wrong with me and

What the fuck am I doing

Especially because I still don’t quite know

This strange assumption that everyone has it all together

I doubt there isn’t a single person who

Doesn’t go home to stare into the mirror

And wonder what the fuck they are doing

My license says I’m almost 27

But I never felt any older than 19

How the fuck do I have a degree?

How the fuck did I get a regular day job?

That doesn’t require me to stock dusty shelves

Or ask if you want fries with that?

When the fuck did I become an adult?

Why does it feel like if I had a kid

I would be on the next season of Trashy Teen Parents on TLC?

And why does it make me sick to my stomach to think

That I’m not getting any younger

And people expect me to get married

Buy a house and have some kids

When all I want to do is run and scream and play

I might be almost 27

According to these standards

I’ll never grow up

Praying for Atomic Explosions

I can’t stand the silence

I find it deafening

Like road blocks in front of me

Stopping me abruptly in my tracks

No longer feeling what’s in my chest

Like everything’s stopped beating

And everything’s stopped moving

Without ever finding any rest

Feeling like I’m praying for the worst

Hoping for atomic bombs to drop

Just to pique my interest

And break the walls of silence

I used to pray for rest

Always trying to control chaos

Making sense of the energy surrounding me

Wanting to hold it in my hands

But now it’s in my grasp

Nothing will break that clasp

Except for maybe an atomic explosion

But the energy has slowed

It’s much easier to catch

I don’t think I want

To rest so quietly anymore

Because I can look out my window

And see atomic explosions

All across the horizon

Wondering who the bombs are landing on

Anticipating where they’ll land next

Hoping and looking to the sky

The next bomb will drop on me

I know I couldn’t survive

Seeing someone else

In an atomic explosion

And I know I can’t stand

Another minute of the silence

I’m rested enough

I’m standing in a field

Waiting for another atomic bomb to drop

Looking to the sky for broken silence

Praying the next bomb drops on me

Small Victories: Smaller Poetry

Holding onto small victories

And counting how many I have

Along my fingers on a single hand

Displayed on my wall

I’ll dust the frames

And polish the glass

See myself reflected back

I wonder why I’m settling

For these few small victories

Is this what I worked for

To be able to say

I could have sold out worse

Just to get through the day

Is it worth slowing down

Will I be bragging for years

My few small victories

Seem even smaller

Reflected back at me