palo verde



cat canyon
jojoba ramada

riparian corridor
back swimmers

water strider
fishing spider

parrot feather
paper wasp


columnar cacti
crucifixion cacti

whirligig beetle
sonoran lyre snake

rat kangaroo

screech owl
white-tailed deer

bats bees moths

& one hundred thousand
for a rattler bite

i reach down into the briny pool of stingrays
chocolate, ivory, beige
& as if from nowhere
three or four of them
brush their angel soft noses & wings
against the backs of my hands

& the otter whips
round & round
behind the glass
returns always to meet
my dog gala’s eyes

& the puma
wild eyes of ice blue
whirls through his ochre cliffs
wide-mouthed yowls at gaia

the prairie dog who catches sight of her emits a fear cry
his mates rush into their earthen holes

& my totem, the Mexican wolf
seems the saddest
of all

wanders in circles,
returns always to the same spot
unaffected by the four-legged outside his pen

jill and i are lost
circle tucson
the violet sun flaming
seek the Oro Valley
to the north

she gets points for driving calmly
and i, likewise, for navigating from the suicide seat

a trip will never necessarily go as planned
it’ll go better

joan didion
the center can not hold

the world as she understood it no longer existed

writing felt like an irrelevant act

john wayne said “he would build her a house
at the bend in the river
where the cottonwoods grow
deep in that part of my heart
where the artificial rain forever falls
that was the line joan was always waiting to hear

falling in love was not a part of her world
end of story end of time

”it is easier to see the beginning of things
harder to see the ends”

&, possible to stay too long at the fair”

in the jingle-jangle morning
joan came down silent in sunglasses
had a cold coke & lived hard, by the sea
& was formed by the landscape she lived in
but the centre wasn’t holding
jim morrison was singing “noone gets out alive”

she watched a five year old kid on the carpet on acid

the sixties ended in ’69 when sharon tate-polanski
& four people were murdered by charles manson

she remembers the horror of disorder with a clarity
that makes the nerves in her neck constrict
& she could not lay her finger upon the moment it ended
the weirdness of america in her bones
came out on the other side of the computer

in this light, all narrative sentimental
in this light, all connections equally meaningful
equally senseless

joan put her manuscript into the freezer
stripped the story of its rhetoric

the US were supporting a very, very brutal government in el salvador

new york was being raped by its underclass repeating their victimization
the powerless ruined
raped by the powerful

joan’s beloved husband john dies

“grief turns out to be a place that none of us knows until we reach it”
we know someone close to us could die but not
the obliterative dislocation of body and mind
we expect the person to return
confront meaninglessness

“keep a snake in your eyeline so it doesn’t bite you
it’s like confronting pain”

weeks later her daughter quintana dies
she was adopted. the guilt of “i didn’t take care of her
now i can’t reach her”

“there is no day in her life in which i do not see her”

“she will fade as the blue lights fade”

“i remember what it is to be me
that is always the point”

(much of this is paraphrased from the film )

monet at the vancouver art gallery

play with me now as
i vanish into VAG, avoid
the vertiginous bustle of vancouver
monet, le soleil, couchant

his silhouettes bathe in light
& air, dejeuner sans l’herbes
stay with me now, every hour
their appearance alters

landscape becomes silver stars
surface swirls from the Savoy Hotel window
clouds wrestle gesture to wisteria
mauve to whites

hang on the trellis
tendrils of the giardini
afloat on the thames
at the bathing resort with renoir

choppy river water &
zoom bloom luminous
gloom fixed on flickering faster
steam & grief smoke of war

weeping monet’s son
in verdun six hundred thousand dead
month long falling curtain of leaves
shells, dark agitated willows

acid yellow skies
subservience to illusion
the only heroic thing
is the sky

i tie my dog gaia to a concrete bench. she howls
i put her on the balcony facing the lake. she howls

uniformed by-law enforcement officers in black & shades,
walkie-talkies, fine the owners of howlin’ dogs at Cultas Lake
this ain’t my house. i don’t want trouble

i put gaia inside, it’s forty degrees celcius. the moon is the sun
as fires blaze across BC. i close the sliding door
exit the kitchen, take three steps &


gaia flies through the glass door
families sit in front of the cabin
stare up at my balcony, jaws dangle

i tear into the house. a star-shaped hole
in the door, shards of glass & blood every where

i call gaia. she jumps through the star-shaped hole
bloody-headed, blood pours out of her mouth
part of her muzzle dangles

we are on beach where people i do not know surround me.
i hold her, trembling. a man tells his wife “go get gauze.” an eternity. four men on knees surround me. one woman stands eight feet away. a hundred people gawk

a man with liquor on his breath is telling me what to do. & i recognize craig philbrook, a boy i kissed in the woods fifty years ago. am i that old?

i’m shouting. “can you get a glassman over here!” my body breathing me. holding the trembling

a man wraps gauze around her mouth. we head to the car. she breaks the gauze. gasps for breath. he rewraps, around her neck, and mouth.

i am alone. i want someone to come with me. a boy googles the directions. boys to the rescue when it comes to trauma.

i am driving to the Sardis Vet’s. i wish there were ambulances for animals. traffic is at a stand still.

at the Vedder Bridge. construction. i drive up the wrong
side of the road. someone calls me a fuckin’ bitch. i’m untouchable

“my dog is dying” i shout.

i’m as gaia’d as jannie is lulu’d.

at the vets, a first nations girl with emerald eyes has marvelous jewelry that she found at the ‘Nu-to-Yu’. i tell her she’d be great on tv.

they operate. i hear them sedate her, blood-curdling, like my first cat sedated by the needle that the vet smashed into her back while i was holding her

back at the lake, the glass men are there, sizing, measuring. they have cleaned the living room & balcony. i get down on my knees & pray.

no. i vacuum the glass they missed, for a half hour. “look” says one glass man. “i can lay down in it & nothing happens.” wee shards in my knees.

the blood comes out of the hardwood with water. out of the balcony with Fantastic. out of the towels with cold water.

as i have been writing this, a dog has been barking two houses away.

ps lulu, jannie’s sister, died last month on her and her twin luke’s birthday, which was mine, my twin’s, and our sister’s

st. columba
A- G
st columba has praying sites
for voyages ’t come n’ go
he kneels in silence
reflecting on the ocean
its corners beyond vision
struggle for sky
A- G
lines he must not cross

and stars that have no light
chorus: small people welcome st. columba
who turns their lives into a cross
hills exultation, “christ is my druid,
turn your eye to this new god”

until a clump of rocks
could give him rest
the ocean would recede
to heather ‘neath his head
night lost her moon
he slept until morn
the islands floated near
the coracle shone

chorus: small people welcome st. columba
who turn their lives into a cross
hills exultation, “christ is my druid”
turn your eye to this new god

he sang in thanksgiving
these his first notes
the herring in a dance
around the old fishboat
he’s bathing in the salt
swaddled by ocean
repeats an ancient prayer
A- D
the melancholy unspoken

i am setting my Aunt Flo’s book ‘The Barra Poems’ to music for the Princeton Traditional Music Festival in Princeton next month. i play this on my Great Uncle John’s button accordion.

cat mac’s outstanding!
out standing where?
out standing on the corner of main and hastings

still looking for, as Jamie puts it, bill’s ‘ecstatic yunyun’
like when she saw Al Stewart playing Year of the Cat in a little club on Granville,
later Al ate cold Campbell’ s soup out of the can with a spoon

Germany’s thirty percent wind & solar
Denmark’s one hundred percent wind
Sweden will soon be fossil free

to not break the sky
protect the rain forest
stop Kinder Morgan, Site C Dam
& the TransMountain Pipeline,

our last best hope of earth
The Green Party & NDP replace Christy Clark
(some think it’s up to the Queen now)

less summers ahead of me now than behind
an Air BNB from Zurich sleeps in my living room, on her whirlwind whistle-stop bike tour Vancouver to Whistler, Banff to Port Hardy & all around Vancouver Island

a bad idea, i never slept & the herpes i just
got for the first time last week, came back
how does one get herpes? the doc says it’s everywhere
think i caught in St. Paul’s Hospital last week

a wee woman houses a wee dog in her wee purse on the beach at English Bay
“no dogs on the beach” says the cop on the Clydesdale
who takes a dump larger than the dog itself, trots off

i watch the dog watch the sea
go home, watch the cat watch tv
nibble kibble

Joy Kogawa waits on the corner of Davie &Jervis
a Douglas Fir falls beside the highrise next door
under the supermoon under stars understand

through maples and moonlight without my glasses, i see snowflakes
and delicious looking leaves

in Granview Park, i’ve the grand view of cops chasing a man
at gunpoint. outside Brittania Secondary the gunshot
the sound i see

& my buddy John injected a boy dying of fentanyl
sitting on the toilet
in his shelter with narcon. the boy snapped back

a dog ate pizza full of sewing needles in Strathcona Park
the man beside me in Shoppers asks for viagra
some yahoo kicks the bejesus out of someone
oh, this road map of my face

i press back my cuticles with my thumbnail
spit pink nail polish out of my mouth
tylenol gives me my day back

i try to make myself unremarkable
unruffle my mind
the rumblings of my heart

come morning light
love is like a little bird upon the sea
no great beast slouches

says love

the tool i write on
is the tool i play on
so i can not write
instead, i peek at the book of faces

“not too fast honey,
i’m in the suicide seat”
“i know, i know, i know”

past the town of Chlorine
starved for green
& the Pacific Northwest

past the town of Mercury
& Portland on the 205
your tax dollars at work
inter stating, just saying
Jesus is in Salem

“slow down honey”
i am, i am
behind the semi crawl
‘mcneilus’ on fender skirts
my people, pirates

spray me with travel anxiety
for pets

you take a swig of coffee
yak in Yakima. Yakima “relax”
sing the green fields of Calapooiea

bovine salt & pepper the hills
if we could stop eating beef
requires fifty times the land chicken uses

& my heart grows old
time is brutal
glenda’s bumpin’ her gums back home
eating raw chicken out of the freezer
any old rubbish honest to god

her father made her weigh herself every day
his bloodtough roughhouse roots
perverted the men
moldered his family

just yesterday i wondered where shauna was
today i see her on the front of robert pickton’s book
in the book of faces

in Frosh Week at UBC, chants are racist
misogynist this weltschmerz shsh
i am trying to write a happy song
but moths burst from my ears

amble in to the Apple Inn
whatever you like,
come in, come in
said the apple to the girl

*natalie wee
Room / VOL.
39.4 P. 62

femmes for femmes made history last night in The Cultch.

the coven of witches cast their spell, leaving us with tear-streaked faces and bursting hearts, that feeling of connection that great art inspires.

the amazing jillian christmas thanked the Tseil Watuth, XmMuthkwium & Skxumish Nations for our being guests on their land.

amber dawn take us back to the catholic church of your childhood where you knelt near the stained glass and the sun poured pink light on your hands, on the tour bus with sex workers. our hearts beat as one while you read your delicious moment of love-making in the sorority house. you cast out fear. “this is my body, this is my body.”

leah lakshmi piepzna-samarashinha, burn down the house with your badass tales of loving women and your crip body as it is. sing us another love song about a disabled queer asian woman sex worker blessing your long journey of improbable survival. we love you even when you don’t have your lipstick on.

kai cheng thom, muss up your hair, toss it over your shoulders, tell us again how beautiful you and how much you love us “31. you are loved 32. you are loved 33. you are loved. girl boy you are femme femme fabulous singing glory to us sisters, you pour lavender oil over our bodies

kama la mackerel tell us again about the house your father built, how they signed the mortgage papers for the first time in your family history, and your father, with his raw hands, added rooms till you got your own and gardens, how you feel his love in his silence, his love for twenty years in this house called home. tell us again when i told my mother i was trans, she was soft, warm, and she said there have always been man-woman, woman-man.

we felt this place called homeland last night. thank you, genies. thank you for your arsenal, Pulp.


good-bye to open sky, cactus in my eye
waves of sage, joshua trees & yucca
streets lined with days-eyes, sunflower-yellow

we are cover girls (not that kind) holy
roller tumble past Hoover Dam
sing spring in. conglomerates. no stops required for
right turns. lanes shift. safety first. do not pass. reduce

speed. past the MGM Grand. signs “trust me you can sing” alcohol.
a margarita equals a fruit a day. beef, booze and brothels.
prison areas. hitchhiking forbidden.

colors daydream, push through cherry-blossom cloud
sink in pink. last night i could not turn myself off. desire pummelled
out of my body. my brain is not up to it. knees to knees. bum to tum. breathe
into backs. loose & relax.

‘words are blows’ mz. queyras writes.
we are afraid to press the tv button on
road-weary. a semi rev’s. butts in. gasp.
steel myself. pahrump. rv’s bruise the horizon.
under the sky, monochrome / aluminum

in Over Creek
everyone should have their lights on.
i am uncomfortable with slow drivers.
i am a boiling pot. cringe. smash n’ pass
i don’t like cars that drive too close to us

i feel we will be sucked in under them
& when you open your legs, sunglasses.
we play tug-a-war, are women-at-war with a shrunken mattress cover
& the two hundred american we have lost
in the Tonapah Station

something’s afoot. reset the odometer & the sir-charge on gas
a truck on the highway. we stop for directions. yikes. he’s peeing. wait.
too late. his j. cash shirt. a handy diversion. cat-flirts
i am in addis ababa as we fire past the Top Gun Drag Strip

where we forget to look out the window
& feed our inner bear at the Black Bear Diner. ketchup time
take our eyes outside
my slim jim & jerky dangle from my pocket
dog licks her cud, sucks ‘em back
that bad news bear