The Wrong Side of the Storm

We are scattered by storms, and we are gathered by storms. Our storms may be physical or political, economic or spiritual. Sometimes, we are battered by a nasty confluence of all four. Whatever their nature, storms force us to move.

And Hurricane Sandy certainly moved us.

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A.M. Wanderlust



James woke up in our bed this morning, and he refused to get out of it.

So I take his older brother, Henry, to the kitchen, where I drizzle some honey on his cereal. The sky is dark and the coffee takes too long. After packing his snack for kindergarten, I guide him through the rest of his morning routine.

With so much patience.

He wants to know if his teeth are clean. Can he wear a different shirt? Did I remember to send money for the Halloween Dance? He wants to wear a different pair of shoes.

“Daddy, it's just that I wore these shoes yesterday. And the day before that.”

We're all dying from the monotony, it seems.

And then I wonder how James is coping with his morning. I open the door. The room's dark. I can't see him, but I hear a voice.

“Daddy?” he calls. “I hear an airplane.”

His voice is soft like pyjamas. He's lying on his back, but his imagination has already crossed a few continents. Quite possibly, he's already had his breakfast with Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker.

“Yes,” I tell him, “I hear the plane, too.”

I take a seat beside him. And as we listen to this moving hum, I kind of remember how a little imagination before breakfast makes for a nicer way to travel.


Eyes to See


Recently, I decided to drive through Winnipeg's North End. I wanted to see for myself the part of the city that everyone tells me to avoid.

I saw heartache, felt it as a woman leaned against the dirty brick of an old hotel in a known prostitution district, where rooms are rented by the hour. Another woman with orange-red hair walked in front of my car. Her eyes gambolled beneath a glaze of overstimulation. She barely made it across the street. Old men with long, frizzy beards stood on the sidewalks, their net worth bundled up in shopping carts.

No one wants to see this desperation.

So we chase after the larger city, a Winnipeg lined with beauty. Continue reading

Diner Poem: ‘Tonight’s Special’

coffee and cigarettes

Tonight’s Special

Angel wears a poodle skirt, a wide
felt swing of powder blue with
an unforgotten cloud. Her dark eyes
tempt and sizzle, like greasy hamburgers,
while she bends from her hips
on red baskets and rubbery
pickles to work their charm.
She buries her dreams in apron
pockets, rips out
carbon copies until she surrenders
to his Philly Steak arms. He hangs
them, for her, over a hot grill
     every night
all night long, he cranks out long
strands of spiral fries and delivers
his prowess on a stainless steel
counter. She runs for refills and
the Dixie Cups take her
back to “The Chapel”
for the third time
until she hums her way
out, at closing time, away from the long-
handled mop, The Grateful
Dead, and the greasy tear
down her cheek.


We crave salvation, don’t we? That need often burns in us as we go through the motions at our jobs. We cry out for a deeper poetry at work.

Last week, author and editor Maureen Doallas (Writing Without Paper) issued a challenge. She was prompted by the The Poetry Foundation’s blog, which featured Food & Wine’s recent interview with filmmaker, director and artist David Lynch.

Lynch, it turns out, loves diners.

“A poet could write volumes about diners, because they’re so beautiful. They’re brightly lit, with chrome and booths and Naugahyde and great waitresses. Now, it might not be so great in the health department, but I think diner food is really worth experiencing periodically.”

So Maureen fired up the grill and invited the peeps at Tweetspeak Poetry (including Lyla Lindquist, Seth Haines, Glynn Young and myself) to throw out some diner poems.

Feel free to stop by and have a look. Maybe leave a diner poem of your own?

Once We Give Them Feet


I’m folding up chairs because that’s what you do after eating lunch at church.

Or at least until you run into Harry.

Harry stops my work. He tells me that he and his wife, Margaret, have been praying for our family. They’ve heard something of the story surrounding our move to Winnipeg, but now Harry, 82, has some stories he wants to share with me. And he’s a much better storyteller.

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