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Sample poems


My first real kiss tasted of burnt chinook
and cherrywood. I won it in a smokehouse
on the banks of the Fraser River, cica 1975.
When I stepped out of that narrow darkness,
the scent of summer's spent desire on my skin,
October threw my shadow farther than I'd ever
thrown a stone; I could not see the far bank
of my own body, I could not hear my senses
splash on the other side. Along the fence,
the tall corn whispered secrets, and a cat's
eyes swallowed a robin whose heart thrummed
thunder from a distant rooftop. Was another
shadow running an arm to soreness in the grass?
I did not look. My eyes had dropped like stones
into the river, and the current pulled them deep.
Soemwhere up the valley, wind flayed the flesh
of salmon hung in the rocks, dried it to ribbons
pink enough for a schoolgirl's hair. Tongues
would tease it for flavour in another season,
and go silent in the tasting. But that day,
the clouds poured east in a rich smoke, faster
and faster, hunger of the earth for heaven,
hunger of the air for blood, hunger of the blood
for burning. Now, I stay my arm to listen.
These words step out of a high dark,
and there's fury in their swimming.

Steelhead, Spawning

What we dreamed of when young, but never found
comes in with the tide tonight. What we loved,
but lacked the will to pursue, moves swiftly
in the mouth. Beautiful ghost, blushing
in the gills, the saltmarsh sighs to see
your rare body beacon the night. What have
we done to yesterday? The river flexes its
last wild muscle, strong and sure. Casts
its bright hook in our sleep, and pulls.
While we rise to the unbreathable element
of loss again.