Article Category Archives: Poetry

The Oriole

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Beyond lit panes, a flimsy fragile feathered thing
wavers on the highest bough, her scant weight teetering

above a paisley floor stippled with shadow and trembling
light. The bird trills as though her heart will fly

through gilded ribs of a gold chest, shatter
like a wave on a stony shore: wide open.

In here, the news stories flip by, tired cards thumbed
on an old Rolodex file. So quick, so awful I can hardly bear

view or listen. Now I’m watching the grizzled
trees in northern BC, scarecrow effigies ignited. Flames

scissor and smoke cuts a warning cloud in the tarnished
muslin sky. I imagine the elk frantic, the rabbits frenzied

and turn it off before the next reel can take hold. Through
the open window the ethereal lilting chords pour hymn

notes, rising to dusk’s flannel rafters. Don’t ask me why
I picture the listing Titanic: the brave orchestra playing, focused

and dogged. I see icy water breaching the deck, black
all-seeing portholes sobbing into a frozen sea. I watch it curling

back in a raging wave swollen with the last lost melodies. All that
remains is the waiting, the burst of flotsam on a distant dissolving shore.

Photograph by Sara Harley showing a building submerged in water and one bird flying overhead.

Rising by Sara Harley

All the Words for Blue and At the Tree Zoo

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All the Words for Blue

                                                                   One astronaut returned
the moon   and   the unknown                                        wanting
      one small safe place in space
         Earth        perfect                                       oceans
                   for human living

Earth will survive, the astronauts say. 
                                                                   to tell us
It’s us. We are
flimsy, fragile, perhaps too soon
                           gone                                   every word
                       from this                                 for
                    our only home.
                                                             all  the    words   for   blue.
Textile art by Rachel Ryan showing trees surrounded by blue.

Morning Moon by Rachel Ryan (fabric collage)

At the Tree Zoo, Mesachie Lake, British Columbia

Big numbers                spray painted             eye level blue
                       across their horned bark
tall trees

I lean
all my weight        slight        close to earth

a vast living wall          long drips fall slow
                              in      my mouth        open      raised

green cloud of needle and branch

Grow feathers        spread wings           be eagle
             see mountains        snow in high reaches
                      these giant firs        numbered
                                   tree zoo 

It is late, I am tired, the motel bed will do. Under car wheels,
the road whines slick, nearly frozen. The radio, CBC.
“Can you use different words?” asks the host. Snow slides in clots
down the windshield, car fan on defrost set high, wiper blades
can’t do enough. 

The guest is a lawyer,  a woman,  Indigenous
                  even-voiced, firm, implacable         

in my ears, in the storm, she repeats

Apocalypse           Water              Hypoxia               Trees.

Leatherback Endangered

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Leatherback                                                                                       Endangered

Crack up and out, shake
fragments of egg off the face.
use the largest shells as backbone,
as home. creep across dank, damp sands
to undulating ebb of rip current and flow along
swift Atlantic gulf stream. reptile devouring sea
urchins and jellyfish, swim expertly, gain strength.
witness an unquenchable ocean swallowing endless
blood-orange days. after lost years at sea, answer
compulsion to procreate. propel swiftly, migrate
to natal shores. emerge a neophyte, scraping
flippers across sand. excavate holes. lay
mounds billiard-sized eggs, precious
hatchlings, a banquet of beginnings
or predator’s feast. assemble
survivors, rinse off death
splatter and repeat.

black market
collector of eggs
for aphrodisiac or
poached for musky
aftertaste. fisheries by-
catch, tangled in gear
and ropes. captured
by floating debris.
eat plastic bags.
lose habitat.

Painting by Su Rogers showing many fish, two cows, a bee and the ocean.

we have bitten the lips of the divine by Su Rogers

Polar Bear in the Grocery Store

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One night, at the height of winter,
a polar bear swam the widening ocean that
drowned her mother. She paddled, heavy with
grief and her wet white coat.
Overhead, the snowless sky was dark
and the air was hot.

When she found land,
she was still without bearings,
carrying hunger inside her
like an empty vessel. The ground
stretched south before her,
an alien green expanse.
Bugs buzzed and tugged at her skin
as she walked past the strewn flesh of
silver foxes, the scattered carcasses of
caribou, and the bedraggled nameless bones.

She arrived, at last, at the nest of scavengers and
hung in the shadows, watching two-legged animals
guarding a stolen hoard. They stared, and they ate,
and made pitiless noise.
The bear lurked by the building
where they kept their food, the place where
light became heat and wood was the only
memory of trees. She waited for them to sleep.

In darkness, she broke in,
and crept through aisles seeking answers.
It took her only minutes
to cross to the far side of the store,
where she found the missing fish
and all of the ice.

Artwork by Jane Whitten. "Pack Ice" shows plastic blister packs crocheted together with fishing line

Pack Ice by Jane Whitten. Crocheted fishing line and blister packs.

Theories of Nature

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Let me tell you this bright and
twisting thing. The natural world dictates

letters for its secretary
to transcribe, just as the squirrel

with the white ears takes pains to
pivot on its upstage leg, and a robin

turns sideways to imitate Alfred
Hitchcock in a cameo: I Confess.

Auteur theory is for the birds and as
curved and worn as driftwood.

Transcendence is as big as life and
twice as unnatural, if you’ll pardon

my saying, my gelid eye.
Backlash your I before you eyelash

your back. Once more with feeling:
your transcendence is none of my

beeswax. Uncertainty’s a gateway
drug; soon you’re mainlining

anodyne. If you doubt realness, try this.
Shimmy up a tree. Now fall out.

Concrete is the great leveller;
there’s no placebo like it. Tell me

what you ate for breakfast because eggs
are the central metaphors I can’t make

work, though I’ll concede
with the best birdwatchers

that boredom is the most
important meal of the day.

Painting by Ann-Marie Brown showing a tree partially submerged in water.

Arbutus Reaching by Ann-Marie Brown