Monday, July 4, 2016

Oh, Yes. I do.

I want to live in a world
where little things
are noticed
small victories celebrated
like what we enjoyed for supper
because I dared make something new

Where we sit on the deck
watch the clouds change
ever so slowly
jets on approach from a different trajectory
quiet sunsets

And we guess which bird
is making that call
and we don't debate
whether that's a purple
or house finch
at the feeder

I want to live in a world where
we retire graceful and grateful
to push-mower and hammock
mustang restoration and
room redecorating
as the young stressed thin
take our place at the job

Where there's always a stage
another act another song
belly laughs and road trips
Where we do things alone
because we can't miss
each other if we're never apart

Where you wink at me
in a crowd or from the 'cycle
reach for my hand
in church or over coffee
after chocolate or wine
where you hand me
a cuppa tea at day's end

I want to live in a world
with quiet sunsets
bluegrass and bonfires
your jigsaw puzzle, my poetry
lullabies and prayers
at home in your arms

Thursday, March 10, 2016

And A Little Child Will Lead Them

I see her in a plain red dress
not quite like little orphan Annie
because her hair is straight brown
but she takes the man’s hand

who seems to be her dad
sitting at a round table in a brown suit
from Father Knows Best
but the feeling is like home

He’s reading the newspaper
like they do in the fifties
but as soon as she grabs hold
he turns, stands and follows

where she wants him to come see
and I think that’s how it goes
when I wanna show God something
and he ooohs and ahhhs

over the tiny flower I found
or pets that puppy next door 
or we laugh together
while he fixes whatever’s

broken just like that 
he comes when I reach
or sometimes when I don’t
and I remember I’m not an orphan

Photo credit: #91173348, Standard License

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Lie of Despair

Everyone will be better off

No, no we won’t.

look for unwritten notes
answer endless questions
stare at the empty pillow, vacant office
watch the dog mope room to room
clutch each other and scream

do paperwork in an endless wormhole
stand silent in a broken circle
make reservations for us minus one
meet with moneychangers
turn tables upside down
sort pictures collections trophies mementos
whose only meaning is you

receive flowers meals charity pity reasons
dear god the reasons
rage because there is no reason
accept nothing assume nothing
watch shadows fall on a cloudless day
across the eyes of your son
go deaf from the echo of your absence

You assume too much
to think you matter so little

Photo credit: #23343800, standard license

Friday, October 2, 2015

Marketing Yourself

As welcome as the telemarketer’s call
as fun as a slap in the face
more eagerly anticipated than
a door-to-door peddler
is your offer when I didn’t ask

My mirror isn’t broken
and while this may come as a shock
I don’t secretly want to be like you
or make you more like me

I’m happy with who I am
and accept who you are

Perhaps it’s time
to love yourself enough
to give up the need
to make me over
into another version
of you

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Monday Morning

for my new friend, Renee, a flitter of fun and friendship

Sink into the empty loveseat
witness finches
flit fly flutter
bounce over the bannister
change direction
like hummingbirds
free as a ...

free as themselves
hang upside down
to eat captive suet
through the feeder cage
lest the magpie
in his tux and tails

take it all away
before chasing that squirrel
he'll never catch - the one who
runs circles around him
leaps branch to branch
in the spruce

chickadee, sparrow and finch
fly free, fed and happy
in their brown suits
spotted breast
or striped waistcoat
blushing head
or masked eyes

They don't stay long enough
for me to catch their names
or their eye
but they thank me
sing me
with their song

Photo credit: #34283549, Standard License

Dodge and Drive

Yesterday behind the wheel:

I watch a man carry
the whole world in his hands
downtown on the street corner
dressed in business attire
he looks quite capable
of handling it but - not to worry -
it is just an inflatable globe.

A teen with a whole world
full of death wishes in his backpack
darts across six lanes of traffic
too busy, important or foolish
to walk the fifty metres
to the intersection
for safe passage

And another rolls across
through the intersection crosswalk
against the light on a longboard
rebels against
traffic control devices
that dare to say stop. Powerless
in face of immortal youth

This morning from the chaise:

Magpie, squirrel, finch and blackbird
flit, flight and fight around their feeder
like a flock of teen boys whose
whole world disappears
when food is involved
the daring and death defying

deeds of the day gone to seed

Photo credit: #32420353, Standard License

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cut Flower

The roses are
holding their breath
Trembling petals brush
the velvet cheek
Blushing pride
shock and wonder

I am wanted
like a favorite shirt
comforting book
glistening cold drink

I relax into him
like a cosy chair
at the cabin
warm in front of the rusty
smell of cedar on the fire

and the rose exhales
opens its arms

Photo credit: Joyce Rempel

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Winter Widow

While it is true
I have a new life
and new love
that I am happy, content and fulfilled

I am also still a widow
draped by all that has come before
I process this mantle every single day
like remembering to pick up my winter

coat from the dry cleaners
and put it on when I walk past the place
where we had dinner that last week
and spilled wine on the hem

I pull the fur
lined hood over my head
as his favorite song rumbles
through the playlist

It snags the elbow when I bump
into his former employee at the game
and she adds the scarf of her arm
around my neck, chatters on

about how excited he would be
that we are in the cup run,
how he regretted not opting
for playoff tickets in '04.

I take the coat in again
ask if they can remove the stain
repair the snag, box it up
like the wedding dress in '81

I use the coat less now
it's getting tattered
no longer a go-to choice
and while it was

very helpful for three winters
I will never get rid of it
but the weight is more than I need
for this spring

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bully Bag-o-Bones

You stood at the head of the beach
counting down from 10
to get us to come.

Dad was busy
so you got the job
keeping us in line

His confidant, best friend,
you did as he bid
honoured, served


Always the faithful son.
The first brother.
The responsible one.

Mature. Leader.

You stood at the back of the pack,
hum the right pitch
to start us singing
picked the right hymn
to keep us singing
knew the right words
to keep the program flowing
researched the right roads
to keep us driving
contacted the churches
that kept us traveling

Put off your life
to corral ours, support Dad’s

and there you are still:
pastor of his church.
praying for his people.

Your Father’s son.

My hero.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Surrender to Love

In the weeks following the traumatic event that left me a widow in December of 2012, I picked up a book, recommended several years earlier by a trusted friend: "Surrender to Love" by Dr. David Benner. It grounded me during the initial maelstrom of grief and prepared my heart and mind for venturing into a new life, knowing this unshakeable truth: I am carried by a God whose essence is unconditional Love and there is no fear in this Love.

Earlier in 2015, I was asked to write a poem on the same theme for the Good Friday service at my church. The video which follows is the end result. I am deeply grateful to have been a part of this, and my admiration and thanks go to the creative staff and volunteers at First Alliance Church who produced such a powerful video.

May you find this Love.

Good Friday at FAC - Surrendered to Love - #FACdefiningmoments
Posted by First Alliance Church Calgary on Friday, 3 April 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Comparison is the Eighth Deadly Sin

I used to be friends with a dental hygienist
who judged people by their teeth
and so my mind begins to wonder
about the condition of my bicuspids and molars
so much that we eventually drift apart.

If this is true for teeth, says Perfectionist,
then surely other experts cultivate
similar measures for acceptance?
And so, the professions of various acquaintances
begin a long march across the field of comparison.

The merchandising manager at the dress shop
had to know about my threadbare closet
(how the floral blouse always shows up on Wednesdays)
and thus my limited wardrobe would invariably
have to circumvent that friendship

A psychologist raises my lingering suspicion
that he has X-ray vision into my psyche;
the nurse knows instinctively about that small goiter
the fireman discerns the smoke detector battery must be dead
and a pastor knows the hidden depths of my soul

Expert knowledge becomes a smile killer,
beauty competition, mental or physical health exam
home safety evaluation and a spiritual assessment
if everyone can see me the way I see myself
All those not-so-hidden little faults on parade

And it crushes me then that my life as a poet
could possibly discourage others as they read my words
quash so many, if they think I look at their writing
with some measure of carefully crafted eloquence
and find them wanting.

Comparison kills.
On the other hand, connection grows
if we set aside the rulers
human measures of success
better-than, less-than subjectivity

then, we are grateful to learn from friends 
the life-giving principles of collaboration,
share knowledge like a library loans books
our own personal Wikipedia
downloaded from one to another

Expertise to build a life:
that caring for teeth improves overall health
certain clothing can minimize body flaws
that no, it’s not just me
who feels inadequate at times

If we only compare notes about life. love. longing.
put down one-upmanship, then
home can be safe, goiters can be treated
and redemption is possible, 
even for a judgmental hygienist
or a renegade poet.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Rempel Psalm

For my husband, Henry, a man after God's own heart

The Lord is your foreman, you don't lack anything.

He orders you to take a load off in lush green meadows, he gives you the best camping spot beside the clean watering holes, he restores your soul like a classic Mustang, he leads you in right-living paths because your life reflects well on his name and reputation.

Even though that path goes straight through dangerous, shadowy Death Valley, you don't fear the black hats because He is riding shotgun. His Winchester and lasso comfort you.

He prepares a campfire feast for you in the face of your enemies, he massages your body/mind/spirit with healing oil, your wine casks of blessing are always full and you pour it out freely to others.

Goodness and Mercy are your personal, lifelong friends and sidekicks. Your final bunk is in the Lord's ranch house - you'll hang up your spurs and roam his territory forever. It's a done deal.


Photo credit: 1397515, Standard License

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Please Color Outside the Lines

I observe the show
swiss precision
every actor hits their mark
no line dropped
the tailored words fit well
songs in tune on tempo

but the one beside me yawns
the show is vanilla
without depression or passion
good costumes, yes,
but empty eyes

Please tell me a story
with dirt under its fingernails
sweaty socks kicking the dog
bread crumbs swept under the mat
wine stain across the pocket

show me
something worthy
of trinity split
blood spilt

Monday, May 19, 2014

A New Day

Squeeze your eyes tight against the crack of light around the window blind and it becomes a cross under your closed lid.

Breathe deep. Stretch.

Pain murmurs down your right side from temple to tail, a remnant from the miracle rescue by guardian angels when, in your dark rush yestermorn, you pitched headlong down four steps into the unforgiving grey concrete garage floor.

Lay there shaking, spill thanks like a broken rosary, tears bead and scatter, gather you up angel wings and set you whole in front of the congregation.


Declare truth about chains broken and hips unbroken and falls healed and love restored after pitching headlong over twelve steps in your own dark night. The twisting pain from temple to tail as you break out of denial, shed the security blanket of blame and wear forgiveness like a crown.

And the angels marvel.


Squint tight at the light around the crack in your blindness and see it becomes a cross where love pours out.

This is where the healing begins.
The light meets the dark.
Dance on the ashes of your life.
Your life is a temple.
Go tell your tale.
It's a new day.

Friday, May 2, 2014

New Journey

strip away the accessories of life
dog. gone.
sports car. sold.
safety net. released.
drama. dismissed.

stand, naked and alone
breathe deep
choose with care
what to take forward
into an unknown future

this is who you are

courage, come with me.
we shall pipe and drum
chains are loosed by our laughter
prisoners fly free in our arms

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Report on Conditions in Latest Search

I search down empty country roads, around city street corners in the dark, street lights a flat white mockery: "Who ya lookin for?" I look through page after blank page of internet lore, lies and appearances, late night LED screen, URLs that show me everything and tell me nothing. I search the eyes of children who grieve through laughter and liquor, stumble blurry eyed through books required, unable to absorb. I lean into laundry, check pockets, shake out wrinkles, dry tears that never come. I read the children's book and velveteen rabbit tells me you're only real when someone loves you. I watch birthday and Christmas come and go like a freight train at the controlled crossing, arms down, wheels clucking, red light flashing left and right, "He left, that's right, get back on track, Jack."

I sign up for the right to mingle amongst mug shots, thousands of marital rejects gathered and groping in misnamed dating sites that are more e-discord than harmony, looking for someone with tender eyes and strong shoulders. And I, the Jack of all trades and master of none, add to my shelf the latest trophy: Champion Lover of the Not Real.

I read my journals, wander through memory. I find you finally. There. Right there. In black and white. Imprinted on every page of every book. The subject of every poem written by every poet. Standing on every street corner waiting for the light to turn green to cross over to my street. Embroidered on the clean white bed sheets drying out in the Alberta wind, engraved on the leather-gripped steering wheel of the German sports car, emblazoned on the label of every wine bottle, basting on every rack of juicy ribs. Filling up my mind, firing every synapse, invading every procrastinated decision. Tattooed in the deepening lines on my face. Touching my hair. Expanding to fill my body, my days until there is room for nothing else.

And nothing it is. You are everywhere and nowhere all at once. Your silence is my solitary confinement. Who are you? Where are you?

The weather reports the highway is bare and dry. All roads leading home are wide open. The want ads report single white female, 50-something, with aging dog, seeks long lost friend for daily communion. Telus, Bell and Rogers report all cellular towers working with no static. The Bible reports that faith, hope and love still hang out together, but love. Ah, love. Contrary to what you might think. It's Real.

It shows up in the strangest places. When the last jigsaw piece is placed. The last line of the play is spoken. Where women cry and men clear their throats, shift from one foot to the other. Where searchers gather, torch lights raised. Where eyes lock so briefly for so long and the SOS is transmitted.

My religion reports that what I really seek is not you but God. But even God admits it's not good to be alone.

Friday, March 28, 2014


I rarely used to wonder
where you are
what you're doing

The thought follows now
like a faithful dog
quiet, steady, hungry
curls up with me at night
only to wake me at 3 a.m.
scratching at the door
wanting to run amok.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

He Gives

He gives
not contentment
but presence
nothing to consume
pursue or attain
all to receive and embrace
He gives only (!) himself
holds who I am
who I am not
the whole and the hole
within the I Am
enveloped in Love

Virtual Reality

I wake slow and easy on a Saturday. Love on the dog, choose bits and bytes before brekkie, dig through the web to surf, sit around the net warming my open hands to stories, to life.

Stand beside my niece on her first trip to the ocean. Drink satisfaction in the recording studio with my son. Witness jellyfish and whales with Dale. Sing "In the Jungle" with Billy and Jimmy. Mock Alberta Spring with Marcia. Weep with two widows, dancing together on our ashes.

David shows why otherness is worth the hazard and John reminds me there's no transformation without brokenness. Serena shares a cup of grace, that faith isn't about perfecting a behavioral combination - it's about trust. Period.

And I pray gratitude for

  • an office in a spacious place
  • enlarged borders
  • forgiveness found and forwarded

This isn't social networking
This is the net working like a Body
All parts a part
A living breathing
Virtual. Virtuous. Vibrant. Reality
of love, loss, beauty and truth

Good morning friends.
God's got this -
holding us all in wide open
grace-scarred hands
and we get to be here
holding each other
and this dear reality.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Identity Tree

Identity Tree

Deep bitter roots
anchor a furrowed trunk knotted
gnarled and split from growing round
old rusty lies and barbed words

entwined below and above
dying bloodlines slowly pulse, choke
from grafted resentment
anger and exposed wounds

but Hope breathes life
shines light into hidden spaces
where Faith gets on its knees
to reclaim this territory, inch by broken inch

Truth digs deep through hard-packed soil
trampled under years of neglect
makes a channel for Love to soak
loosen resentment's tight grasp

Prayer waters the earth with tears
whispers in petition, thy kingdom come
weeps release, thy will be done
and finally Forgiveness breaks free

The trees of the field clap their hands
in every rising branch, buds burst into blossom
begin to thrum the Tree's true name -

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Truth in Strange Places

I find truth in the strangest places.

The back of the newspaper buried in an obit. In middle of a medieval movie cloaked in the king's last ditch pre-battle speech. From late night Facebook posts by renegades and rebels with long hair and deep roots. From celebrities getting awards for depicting horrible things. And in the stark, screaming silence of an unanswered email.

And though more rare, I still hear truth in tradition: sung from the choir, whispered in flickering voice by candlelight contemplatives. When long-haired music rises like a wave on the North Shore, dashes against the volcanic rock of my soul, formed when the world was born. I see truth in the sweat of horses over fresh plowed earth. And I stand mouth agape, split open at the selfless setting sun, the clouds all gathered round in glowing admiration.

You leak truth out your pores, give it graciously in thumbs ups and likes, in coffee dates and broken bread, the way you bring the shards of your heart in your unwrapped shoebox and we put that let-go puzzle together again, sometimes with the help of the King's horses and men.

Truth makes its own path. Walks hand in hand with wisdom. It's spoken by old bald men and tall blonde women, bounces happy in a child's eyes and pulses in the laments of colleagues new and old. The next generations, from a troubadour father, pen it in videos, stage and song. It cheers in the come-from-behind win and weeps healing in crushing defeat.

Let the one who has ears to hear, listen. And never, ever, be afraid to let us see you sweat. You are tilling the earth in truth and we will feast together on the harvest.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Think on These Things

Think on These Things

Only a mother knows what it is like to wait for her child's return.

Relief that first day you walk home from school alone kicking that pebble ahead of you.

Little did you know that she was on her knees half the day praying your heart would not be crushed

And it wasn't, not really, until that day in junior high, and you rush past her without a word, slam the door of your room. But her voice pries open the door and her arms around you accidentally bump the Niagara faucet of tears, her pulse a Richter scale of shattering sobs erupting from a ruptured friendship.

You start leaving in stages, stay away longer each time. Pack less. You touch home base, eat quickly, gather treasures and go learn from other mothers and fathers and brothers in arms. And a mother knows this is why she raised you, praised you, prays for you, stays for you. Waits for you in empty rooms once filled with your light.

She loves life too and lives it well. But it's never so full as when you fill her sight, walk by her side, share with her your other loves. She waits for this.

A mother loves you first and longest.
Perhaps history and kindness will show if she has loved you well.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Be Still

Be Still

In the crush of all that is internet
The noise of all that is media
Relentless pursuit of better faster stronger prettier

I stand in awe
of quiet simple gifts:
The sigh of my aging dog
Comfort of a handmade quilt
Soft snow on pine bough and eyelash
Voice of my Beloved calling
Come away and rest for a while
You are my joy

And I am carried.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Heirloom Courage

She leans against the black granite counter
over white cupboards garbed in black sweats
under white t-shirt, head still covered from running
in face-slicing cold that frostbites fingertips

A twin to the girl with a pearl earring
she waits with sunset on her face for quinoa in the cooker
pours out her soul, a milk white strand of pearls
scattering across the hardwood

I recover the pearls, store them safe
in my heart shaped listening room
receive with awe the gift offered
try not to be swine

Thursday, January 16, 2014



He draws back the curtain
across a wakening sky
Earth curves the arch of her back
stretches arms of light
to take up the baton of morning
conducts the deliquescence of night
from indigo to amaranth bloom
while I absorb in awe and silence
embraced by a higher love

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

No Gift at All

Curse the plaintive cry
a lava dome rising 
from the bottom of my selfish crater:

"After all I've done for you…"

Unleash steam vents of guilt 
a chimaera draped around 
the slumped shoulders of obligation

Sacrifice with expectations
is a twisted tire iron 
a crowbar forged to pry
compliance from the hands of free will

A gift with strings is no gift at all

We drag down sacrifice to the dust
make it sad 
weary and despicable

It is not 
"giving up things"
but the opposite

I give with joy
my very best
to the one I love

A spectacular eruption
of unfettered worship

(with thanks to Oswald Chambers)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Surfer King

Surfer King

Sunlight hits peanut butter skin
over muscle mountains
running north south, shoulder to glute
a valley between cradles the spine
which holds this surfer
centered and whole

He stands on old lava, board in hand
times his heartbeat to the incoming wave
As foam licks his feet, he leapfrogs forward
board like a shield
lands first on the water
becomes his ship

Arms are paddles up and over
through the surge, foam, the wicked
rocks submerged under harder current
He pushes out and on, joins the loose
line of laid back loungers
tag team of water walkers

hair or not, male and female created
different but equal on aquamarine bed
He points board nose back to shore
matches paddle speed to incoming wave
springs up to slice the belly of the rising water
until it folds him over and under

spits him out to go again

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Way to Work

Five magpies
hold a board meeting
black and white rules
bosses all

Black and blue bins
full of themselves
refuse and reuse
march two by two
to the curb

Can you smell the peach
compote in the pink morning
or is it over-ripe apples
as they lose their grip and fall?

Green blades gather on golf links
freeze at the frosty command
of the cold killer
yellow bellied leaves tremble
fall faint to the ground

I walk with a long shadow
urge October to throw coal on the sun
wait for winter's white wonder
dream of a Christmas beach

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wild, Wild, Wind

Wild wind
swaggers into town
drunk on mountain air
rattles windows and bangs shutters
Gallops down streets and back lanes
looking for another drink of summer
lassos leaves and deck chairs
drags them in a whirling dervish
throws pine cone bullets at their feet
commanding "Dance! Dance!"
strips the branches of gold
robs autumn and my sleep
leaves town with a stolen herd of hopes and provisions
uttering threats that his cold heartless cousin Snow
will soon be by to bury us.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

not a preacher

I come from a long line of preachers, I used to say
kinda wanna be one, I used to wish
but when I think of preachers I used to know,
I recall the ones who've fallen

up front on a pedestal, in front of God and everybody
the higher you go, the farther to fall
the harder to keep your balance
I better keep my feet on the ground

whisper truth and love right there
across the table to where you sit, stir
that cup of coffee with laugh-lightener, tear-sweetener
(gimme a double-double of that brew)

lips busy on the sip, my ears hear you
my heart captures your drift
knits our conversation into a net
ready for the catch of the day

so if I lose my balance
your words hold me
and if you lose yours
we both fall with grace

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Night Light

Just after the sun conquers the eastern horizon,
before the mountains win in the west,
the magic hour casts its lumens
like the pink dress or golden hair of a young girl

I am five, stare with child-wonder,
pivot from east to west, sparking bright
light mirrored in my face from infinite prairie
to snowcapped peaks

There is no darkness
no measurable blackness
only, with time, comes the absence of light
to my sight, to my heart

Yet the Light is always shining
it is my perspective that changes
hold that child-wonder in the night
the morning is a breath away

Saturday, May 25, 2013


when I smooth back my wet hair
how I look like my brothers, the shape
of rising cheeks and hooded eyes
salt-and-pepper roots older than time
Mom’s Jantz curl frizzing at the temples
a right-side cowlick over the high
forehead she always tried to cover
using a lock coloured with Loving Care
horizontal lines map tired paths
beneath my chin and toothy smile
vertical lines between my brows
plow deeper furrows as I lean
into the vanity mirror searching
for something far deeper
than the size of my pores

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Take These Broken Wings

In the safe comfort of a cosy place, I wake almost content.
The new friend who snores gently in the other bed is good company.
She is laid back, undemanding and in tune with the spirit.

The poet in me wants to move to Rosebud.
To write art, capture touch, love unwounded
but I am not yet ready to know myself that well.

For today, wings still bandaged
I return to the city
until I am called out of hiding.

Friday, May 10, 2013

On Malcolm Guite's Singing Bowl

(Read/listen to Singing Bowl first)

I begin the song exactly where I am
and read it first, the black print on white field
while the space behind my eyes fills with volcanic pressure
erupts into my frontal lobe and tears run terrified
away from the bomb blast of epiphany

I let him read it then to me, his clipped British accent
oddly smoothing the standing hair
on the back of my tense neck, crowned with pain
from years of trying to keep a cap on what he says
was both about how to pray and how to fulfil my vocation as a poet

Guttural groan escapes my lips like a long shackled muse
finally seeing the light of day, unsure whether to laugh
moan or write and know, somehow, all three are worship
Today I have chosen to take the road less travelled
as the Singing Bowl unlocks the gate.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Poem Before Morning

Wake sweltering at 3:33 
drink a glass of cold water
to purify my body of the wine
I had last night 
listen to a soft voiced man read 
his poetry for a university crowd 
and find it ordering my life
explaining God and my affairs
close my eyes
as he shares a poem about 
talking his wife to sleep
and I am introduced 
to satisfying intimacy of a mind 
mapping a path I knew was there
but could never find
the clock reads 4:44
God is a god of order
all is right in my world
and I dare to drift into daydreams
dive from this obligatory shore
into the solitary sea of purpose
the rest of my days
becoming poetry
to make sense of a senseless life
make life of a senseless death 
explore an unknown language:
how to talk my love 
into satisfying sleep

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cultural Art Show

I wander about the hall, the sale
mercifully small with just five Takumi
Any more would be less I realize
this morning after remembrance

I navigate the narrow channel of buyers 
anchor on Bill Toyota's water colours
Acrylics line the wall behind
folded fabric geisha, kanji on parchment 

practical rice bowls, whimsical fused glass, 
jewelry, fired clay fish, glazed eyes
Each piece signed with artist's seal
excess stock spilling off collapsible tables

like words from the sculptor's mouth
too long alone in the studio 
to realize flooding those who migrate past
makes choice impossible 

So I leave with my only trophy 
a small blue green watercolour
where pastel and shadow merge 
humpback breeching east coast waters

I breech the cool outdoors 
into late afternoon shadow
with the best from my friend's father
to honour them both

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hidden in the Darkness

I rage against your wisdom
pound my fists upon your door
run as far from you as Hades,
drop weeping on death's floor

You chase me like a lover
down the beach of my despair
waiting patiently in shadows
while I scream that you're not here

I berate you for my anguish
cry and rage against your will
but the arms I always wanted
I have found around me still

You hold me in my wildness
and you rock me in the storm
give me in your kindness
Pain that unlocks wisdom's store

This mystery that traps me
in the tentacles of time
breathes out your ageless whisper,
"I am yours and you are mine"

I finally rest in secret
in the shadow of your wing
lay my head upon your heartbeat
and my heart is loosed to sing

Friday, January 14, 2011



The dotted lines rise skyward, spaced evenly
like kindergarteners on a knotted rope
taking a field trip to a southern zoo
but instead of singing a tune
we hear the occasional cry
It’s my turn to lead
wings sweep away
with mechanical whirr
no teacher in sight

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Morning Coffee

Low light on frigid peaks near and far.
Snow highlights unmoving heads of spruce
solid frozen mid November’s premature death.
Last gasp of the river escapes in a ghostly
blanket under shortened sun.
I shiver inside, robed and slippered
grasp the cup
drink your words

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ode of Halley’s Mother

Some hold their children like trophies
Look at what I’ve done
I’ve won the prize
Isn’t it perfect? Aren’t I good?

And theirs sit on the shelf
in the corner, gather dust
lifeless, boring prettiness
until boxed up and carried away

I watch you like a comet
rage across the sky
fly in the face of reason
flee all that burns of me

You play in black holes
and return unscathed
In your path is passion
laughter, drive

My setting sun glows
you rise to music
dash about time
shield your eyes to my light

In need of nothing
you feed on your own fire
forge personal trophies
spill sparks of your day to me

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rule of Thirds

Early morning rises smoky
pink on gray granite
then fades to spotless blue over
brown and yellow shreds of late autumn

I focus my time lapse stare
on bare ranges, every peak
an undressed mannequin
waiting winter’s white dress

A honking flock sweeps past
the lone foreground spruce
in slow motion cinematic triumph
eludes capture

Monday, October 4, 2010

Coffee Rations

He looks me in the eye,
expresses gentle thanks
accepts the gift card I say
in the name of Jesus
pressing his arm so he knows
Touch and Who answered
the prayer from those blue 
eyes set on a leathery field
framed with scrub brush

The flag of his face follows
me to the car, drapes itself
over the passenger seat
and my mind
wanders along streets of militant
people who drove
his retreat to that
corner on this day
in the shy way
rain does not wish to fall 
on the just 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Campus

I say the long goodbye; leave you to your freshman start.
I feel six years old, clutch my brown paper bag of penny candy
want to cry over more inside than the melting chocolate
(they say bittersweet is the healthiest kind)
Is that what’s smeared on my face? It tastes wet and salty.
As our wheels crunch over pungent autumn,
the growing distance between us fills with falling leaves
until I cannot see you for the blur and flutter
of my eyes.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Perhaps "Why?" isn't the question

For all the ways you are weakened
For all the days you are sore
For all the things you’ve been seeking
The Lord has given you more.

For all the nights you are broken
For all the times you feel lost
For all the words left unspoken
God paved the path to the cross.

In suffering there is a reason
A purpose for feeling alone
Your tears may last for a season
His arms will carry you home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Angel

I grab at air and ice, swallow water
swirling cold, numb, hopeless
sink a third time
promise God to change

I wake on shore in revival tears
safe but alone, white face, lips blue,
look for who caught me
find only crushed shells

How is it you can save my life
and disappear or was it
your third time too
No strength, too wounded

In dreams I dive under the ice,
breathe life, bring you home,
we rise, rock and dance
melt snow

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

War Hymn

In freedom’s psalm the poets weep 
for lives that did not rhyme,
stopped short in prefixated sleep
a postscript spanning time. -JH

With prayer the day is towed to light
as songbirds rest on broken staff,
trill shrilly through the foggy gloom
where mortars shriek to clear the air.
The tremor in the watchman’s rasp
advances time. The hours sweep
o’er wounded in sharp pain and flat
upon their backs with pallid face.
While in the holes the soldiers sleep,
in freedom’s psalm the poets weep. 

No faith is sung in church this day
The organ plays a silent dirge
collapsed in ruins on the stage
while tyrant’s goals go undeterred.
Discordant lines of frowning men
march by as bells refuse to chime.
Boots beat an unmelodic song,
from scores unsettled far too long.
Voices crescendo over time
and cry for lives that did not rhyme. 

It echoes where the sons of hope
in victory cross the gruesome miles,
embellishes the verdant spring;
Ears now hear staccato cries.
The prisoners in black and white
crawl sickly grey from torture’s keep,
climb slow on free will’s crippled feet,
find home in requiem of loss.
Some shattered hearts no longer beat,
stopped short in prefixated sleep.

The bold in bars with bars upon
their chest sit down to drink away
all memory of ignoble days.
While back at home, the ladies wait
with rhythmic hum of ordered lives.
The drumbeat pulse of lives entwined
casts cords across the silvered sea,
pulls those back home who were preserved
a signature of freedom’s prime,
their love a postscript spanning time. 

© Joyce Harback
November 11, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Standard Time

The dreary skies oppressive close upon horizon’s hall;
I turn within to find my joy before the curtain call.
The hearth of home is centre stage and all who gather here
can lift the drape of dark dismay and lighten every care.


I wake to find the pleasant days have fled
and autumn’s luscious colours overthrown.
I rise to see the sun has dropped his head,

the warming sun flash-frozen like a stone.
The earthbound clouds conspire to shut him out;
the lesser light will now take up his crown.

I work to loose compassion midst the doubt
where dreary rains long drowned the fledgling crop,
Impatiently, strong winds swirl roundabout;

I rest my weary head, exhausted drop
and weep for all that’s lost mid winter snow.
I still—the soul’s dark night bids me to stop—

embrace the voice of my Beloved now.
As lilies through the cold of moonlight glow,
I sleep amidst the sweetness of His flower.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Sense of Place

grass stains, bees underfoot, salt on slugs
glug sun tea, sweating by gallons
handmedown bikes, broken chains, patched tubes
scraped knees, mecurichrome medals

Sit down to roast beef falling apart,
fresh baked rolls, drizzled butter,
rich brown gravy rivers down quiet potatoes mashed and piled,
The dinner conversation is boisterous, masculine
mother bustles about serving in silence,
slaps hands which reach too often, too soon for unclaimed leftovers
brushes up crumbs the dog can’t reach
and the clammy blanket pulls down the sides of the day

dust settles on the books while children
jump and dance on sticky asphalt
eager for the whoosh of heat meeting ice,
whiff of stale freezer
as the ding dong jeep stops to exchange
my quarter for a fudgesicle

Later the washed jars we’d emptied of green beans and peaches
become glass cathedrals for faeries
we chase their lightening glow
the fire around which we jostle for place, warm our hands
on slaps of laughter

brush away ants, watch how they carry a hundred times their weight
like I do the memory of family now scattered and hands holding
the weight of a hundred other worlds,
changing for the better one crumb at a time.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Meditation 1: Consumed

The flame on the sacrifical candle
slips slowly into the middle
of the wax flower, leaving the unmelted
outer petals as a suspended splash
rising from a liquified pool.
Music streams like a tide across our ears.
We inhale exhilaration, lift our hands
to plunge into a shower of words,
scrub away ancient tearstained remnants
of last week. Languid cheeks remember
why mouth muscles stretch back
toward ears as we exhale
into sleep and the floral candle
drowns its own light.