Poetry

Crazy Harry

I never knew you
but heard your story
on road trips
into the interior

During an RCMP raid
you were pulled kicking
from the cellar of your home
and taken to New Denver
to learn assimilation
to be “Canadianized”*

After
you became
what they made you

At seventeen
on the way home from the drive-in
with a pack of dynamite on your lap
your struggle ended

They say the pieces
were scattered across the road
between Nelson and Trail
just another crazy Doukhobor
who never learned to say

thank you

* “Canadianized” is taken from government correspondence January, 1955, concerning the Sons of Freedom children at the New Denver Residential School (Righting the Wrong: the confinement of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobor children, Ombudsman of British Columbia, 1999).

 

Sushi

All the colours of a chef’s palette
drift through the floating world
of a sushi bar

crimson,
ivory,
orange,
and beige

The smooth flesh
of each raw mineral
flows through your lips
like a cool deception

maguro,
bintaro,
unagi,
hamatchi

They begin to melt
watery and marbled
until a bright dot of wasabi
suddenly sabotages
your freshly painted palate
in a riot of white fire

 

Zen Lessons

I arrived at Ryutakuji
the Dragon Temple
in the Spring rain

In wet jeans
my first sitting went well
but my head turned soft
like an old melon

By the third day
I was changing my posture
every two minutes
until a young monk
yelled at me
to be still

“Fuck off”
I replied
in sterling English

Later that morning
I packed my bags
and limped to the office
to pay my dues
to the little fuck
who called my bluff

 

Hockey Night in Canada

Every Saturday night
into our living room
tumbled the toothless and hydra-headed
rattling the silverware
and overturning the potted plants

The young Achilles from Flin Flon, Bobby Clarke
and the Forum’s wise keeper, Ken Dryden
moved with a fatalistic grace
between the couch and TV

We traced the oracular arc
of their movements
into the deep end
of Centennial Park
to a tennis court
glazed with a flood of rough ice

Over the slush
we tried for the same
mighty articulations
twisting thighs and shovelling pucks
into the grey mouth
of a Pacific afternoon

But this Saturday night
our inheritance
blunt as an elbow
resonates in our language and gait
as we recline in easy chairs
shoot the breeze
and fight for the remote control

 

Mud Pies

Miss Young never mentioned the mud pies
but she watched us at work
bobbing below the ground
amphibious in a ditch
at the edge of our playground

Within the freedoms of recess and lunch
we practiced our lessons in the earth
far away from textbooks
and other prescriptions

After the bell we would show up
late for row-call
porous and slippery
with our creations dripping in the cloakroom

But Miss Young never mentioned the mud pies
or gave a lesson outside near the earth
Instead she stuffed us
with the text-gristled curriculum
while everyday outside
the ditch crawled closer and closer