I Didn’t Answer When You Called

I didn’t answer when you called

I thought about not calling back

But I did

Major emergency

Your first two words

Major emergency

EMS come and gone

Police awaiting coroner

Coming from an out-of-town job

They cover a surprisingly large area

Said the bureaucrat

Whose boss later said

How saddened they all were

Because although

We’ve all seen death before


They felt

They felt this

They felt this p…

They felt this project

Was extra special

Person, I said

I think you meant to say person

February Reviews

Discussed in this post: 14 Books (Phenomenology of Perception; Ethical Loneliness; How Europe Underdeveloped Africa; Canada in Africa; Tomorrow’s Battlefield; Lamarck’s Revenge; The Wild Places; Noopiming; Laurus; EEG; Fatelessness; Wicked Enchantment; Postcolonial Love Poems; and Ban En Banlieu); 4 Movies (The Wolf House; Hagasuzza; The Handmaiden; and Cargo 200); and 3 Documentaries (Welcome to Chechnya; Cheer; and The Painter and the Thief).

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I have spent seven years

Trying to memorize the contours of your body

Your textures, shapes, and spaces

With my lips and fingers

And the palms of my hand

But no matter how hard I try

I cannot hold you

Cannot kiss you

Cannot recreate you

When you are not here


I have spent seven years

Trying to memorize the sound of your voice

The pitch, and timbre, and intonation

Seven years spent

With the smell of your hair

And the space at the back of your neck

Seven years

Trying to memorize

The way you look when you are astride me

And the taste of your sweat

Seven years

To recall the way you fit within my arms

When I first get home

And the burst of your laughter when you are delighted

And I am ridiculous

But when you are gone

You’re gone

And I cannot bring you back

Not one part of you


My darling

I am impossible

Without you

The Colonizer’s Dream

In my dream the social services

Are kicking out all the Indigenous people

And calling them too aggressive

Because their anger reveals

That they have not yet been fully colonized

It’s an unconscionable sin

To refuse to open your heart

To Whiteness and conquest and pipelines and Jesus

All wrapped up like a charitable gift


I get ready for work and reflect that

It’s such a fine line

Between killing the Indian in the child

And just straight-up killing the Indian

And Canadians have never much cared

To firmly distinguish between the two

As long as one or the other occurred

(although, to be fair, Liberals incline towards the former and Conservatives incline towards the latter and moderate centrists look for ways to do both)


During a meeting at my work

My boss lectures the community residents

About things she doesn’t understand

“Fuck you, White lady,” an Indigenous man says on behalf of them all

A few days later she tells me

That maybe he doesn’t understand community living

Maybe he’s got to go


I work hard to make things right

I work hard to prevent further harm

I work hard to pick up the pieces

But it’s hard because my hands

Are covered in blood

Untitled Poem

A part of me seduced by the siren’s call of self-destruction—

Who has not marveled

At the spectacle of a house ablaze

Casting ash and light into the night

Flooding the street with melted snow

A crystal palace of ice

Catching the first light of the dawn

So much tragedy and gratitude and beauty

So let me be


Tell me, sibling, friend, companion

What brings you relief

And if you have had to seek it

Like an impoverished fool assigned an impossible quest

By a king who was tricked into promising you half his kingdom

Wherein failure

Means that you die


I have never believed less in divine intervention

And I have never concluded so strongly

That only god can save us now

Onward to our doom

Whose only glory will be

The relief that is experienced

By the dead who leave no witnesses to mourn them

Or recall them

Or disturb them



January Reviews

Discussed in this post: 8 books (Process and Reality, The Assassination of Lumumba, Anarcho-Blackness, Mutual Aid, We Will Not Cancel Us, For Joshua, Waterlog, and Permafrost), 1 film (Gwen), and 4 documentaries (Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, Killer Inside, Class Action Park, and You Cannot Kill David Arquette).

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Books of 2020: Year in Review

Okay, this year I read 140 books. Sadly, I was unable to maintain my monthly reviews (2020 got a bit busier than expected) but I hope to return to doing those in 2021. I’m not going to write a review of every book in this post but will, instead, highlight my most and least favourite books in each category as well as my overall favourites this year.

So, let’s start with the best of the best. My favourite reading of 2020 is not a single book but the works of a single author: Robert MacFarlane. I read three of his books this year—The Old Ways, Landmarks, and Underland—and each one was remarkable and filled me with a sense of beauty, wonder, longing, sorrow, acceptance, and comfort. They are difficult books to describe. Are they travelogues? Memoir? Nature writing? Contemplative meditations? Literature? Yes, they are all of those things in different ways and all at once. At one point in Underland, when visiting cracks in the earth and pits in the Dinaric Alps—a breath-taking place, but also a place used by the Nazis to engage in mass executions of civilians during the Second World War—MacFarlane asks, “What is the relationship of beauty and devastation in a landscape such as this?” It is a question that he is constantly circling around in all of his work and, for those of us living through the sixth mass extinction of life on earth, it is a question that we must all confront as we seek to live our very brief lives responsibly, thoughtfully, and, yes, even joyfully.

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My Daughter Who Delights to Play in the Company of Others

My daughter
Delights to play in the company of others
And she will love you
If you play with her
—–Last night we had a dance-a-thon
—–I nearly died and she nearly died
—–And then we drew pictures
—–Of pumpkins and haunted houses
—–And monsters
—–Who aren’t really all that scary

And my daughter
Was playing with her friend
(She is always delighted to play with her friends)
This boy who is always outside
—–Seeking food and seeking companions
—–But who is also kind and sweet and
—–Who reminds me of a puppy neglected at home
—–Always but always so eager
—–To love and be loved
—–By someone

It was with this friend
My daughter was playing with
My daughter
Who delights to play in the company of others
My daughter
Who will love you if you play with her
But her friend went inside
And his older brother came outside

Sixteen years old
(My daughter is nine)
And he said to her
My daughter who delights in the company of others
—–I really want to see a vagina.
—–Have you seen your brother’s penis?
——Do you play with his balls?
—–What about other boys?
—–Do you look at their penises and play with their balls?
—–And (several times over again)
—–I really want to see a vagina.
—–And then
—–Show me your vagina.
———-(My daughter shook her head no)
—–Come behind this car with me.
———-(My daughter said no)
—–I’m playing with my balls!
—–(Or maybe he said: Come play with my balls!)
———-While standing behind a car in a parking lot
—————A few metres from our home

And my daughter
My nine-year-old daughter
Scootered home
Still saying no
—–Although, later that evening, she told me that what she was actually saying in her head was
—–No, you bastard!
—–No, you bastard!
—–No, you bastard!

Tasting Notes

Black poets
Especially young Black American men who are poets
Sure do mention the ways in which American cops
Murder Black American people
Especially young Black American men
A whole lot more than other poets do
Like middle-aged White men
Talking about reconnecting with nature
And profiting from the spirituality of the same Indigenous peoples
Whose lands they stole and made into National Parks
Or the lot for their forever home
On Whidbey Island
Which also provides the base for the navy’s tactical electronic attack squads
Flying the EA-18G Growler
Or popular young White women poets
Talking about how the princess doesn’t need no prince
In order to slay the dragon
By which they usually mean some White dude
Who feels entitled to their bodies and everything else
And not the Black man
Trying to watch birds in Central Park
Because they’ve been slaying men like him for generations
And slayings that are so taken-for-granted
Don’t merit mentioning
In their poetry
Or at least this is what I thought to myself
When I thought about the next poem
I wanted to write
And what it was going to be about
I’m thinking maybe something about
The challenges of home ownership
Getting Registered Retirement Savings Plans started early
Or what to look out for in middle management
Maybe something about what kind of wine to buy for others
When you’re climbing the ladder
I almost always suggest a Bordeaux

Untitled Poem

Do you remember when Pip met Estella in the long-cooled ashes of Miss Havisham’s estate, darling?
Do you remember the feeling of possessing great expectations?
We were all ablaze,
All a blaze,
Like the wedding dress on the bride of the groom who never came.
But we were young, darling,
We burned without feeling the flames.

Pale fire.
We were writers in exile,
Chasing butterflies,
A long, long time ago.

What could Pip say to Estella, darling? What could Estella say to Pip?
I was cruelly hurt, as were you.
As were you.
And I hurt you, too.
I hurt you, too.
And we now live in the long-cooled ashes of the selves we never had the opportunity to be.

Dolores, Dolores!
We walked the sorrowful way,
We died in childbirth.
And the rest is footnotes and stardust
Gone tender with madness,
A long, long time ago.

Now silent but for the buzzing of insects,
The chatter of songbirds,
And the wind that flows invisibly
Through spaces we once filled.

There are convicts in the marshes, darling,
Leave them be!
Leave them be.