Butterflies blown off course

I compose notes
for my sister. we 
send our messages
back and forth
on bands of light, linking
them twinkling
across oceans and continents,
shining out of screens
and up little wires
into our eardrums. 

to travel
far away
is no longer a commitment
like throwing away your wallet
or eating old seafood – 
like it used to be. no courage
to be in vietnam 
or canada,
or australia
or afghanistan. 

it’s a tiny world now. barely
as long as a football field. butterflies
blow off course,
caught in the draught of a train,
and are more adventurous
than any 
of us cowards,
and especially
than those of us
who stayed behind.

The expat

back again from Paris
and what has changed in you?
I don’t know
you are interesting finally
in a way
that goes beyond
girls you’ve fucked
or books
read on corners 
in cafes
to the tune 
of cigarettes
whisping into traffic. perhaps
you have finally
learned that any city
you go to
is just a place
where people live
and work
and none of them have spirit
beyond what we bring
in expectation? 
coming upon chicken
would be fools
to expect chicken
every day.

The frustrated painter

while the sky yawns dawn over,
stretching into eveningsound,
curling itself 
yellow with purple pride
and dabbing white moonwater 
and reflected city

another good year come
ripened to rottenness,
telling one more set of children
that actually no 
they won’t be painters,
catching one more head of dandelions 
dead in the last bloom
and tripping them with frost,
telling a long and wandering joke
that it knows we’ve heard before.

water curls and rests at level
before rising like the back of a cat
and birds settle in roost 
or fly with the knowledge of winter.
a policeman knocks on the door
while we pretend we’re not at home.


the blood 
of a city
is rivers.
giving motion, 
bringing forward ideas,
and water-birds; shifting trash
and lighting off parks
like a fuse 
leading to fire.

was what was wrong
with Toronto; pressed instead
against a flat lake
to sustain itself;
a fly
clinging on shit. a grey city
grey water,
pumping grey
all over the landscape.

like trying 
to suck life
out of stones.