Archive for October, 2012

So, in a shameless effort to pre-market my upcoming book of poems, The Narcoleptic Madonna, here is another piece from the collection.  🙂  My intent is that, if you enjoy these poems, you’ll want to purchase a copy of the book when we launch it here in Sudbury and across the North!

This is a poem about lost love(s)….and how you embody them for years and years afterwards.  Sometimes, over a solitary mug of Earl Grey, or a glass of crisp white wine, they trundle past me in my mind’s eye.  I wish them all well (not that there were that many to begin with!) and wonder what lives they’ve built.  One man is now in finance in Toronto, one is in Sydney, Australia, and one is a vegan in San Francisco.  All three are married now with kids….and all three make appearances in both my second book of poetry, braille on water, and in this upcoming collection.  The last one, well, he stole my heart….sigh.  (I’m sure he will love to read poems about himself…always good for the male ego.)

All of this leads me to consider how it is that male poets can woo women with their poetry, but women poets aren’t as lucky using their poems to woo men.  Sigh.  It all seems so unfair….

So, for my three loves of yesteryear, a poem….a reflection….a backwards glance in a car rearview mirror.  And then moving forward!




Blowing Paper Kisses


The older you get,

the more you wish

you could forget;

lost loves parade

past half-closed eyes

(squeeze lids tight

and maybe the faces will

whitewash themselves away…)


But even sun shines

through skin, so

morning wakes you,

refuses to let you

close doors of memory—

puts a doorjamb there

to stop you forgetting.


So sometimes I blow

paper kisses and imaginary love

to wherever you are now—

and your names weld together as one,

imprint upon heart’s flesh

like a memory pushed rudely

from the past.


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So….rather than just post newer pieces of poetry on here, which you’ve been kind enough to read, I thought I’d share one of the pieces that will be published in The Narcoleptic Madonna.  The contract is signed, the declaration of citizenship is signed, the book has an ISBN….and now I wait to hear about where the printer is at.  Discussions about whether or not there will be a colour frontispiece haunt me as the cover art is a beautiful piece by Trish Stenabaugh, a dear friend, fellow teacher and artist.  There are also discussions about whether or not paper invitations would be a good idea….well, for people who aren’t on Facebook, I think a paper, mailed out invitation is key to marketing a new book.  (In my experience, I like to keep bookmarks or invitations or postcards from book launches, as they become markers of nostalgia, friendship, and creativity.)  In my mind, an early December launch would be ideal, prior to Christmas frenzies….but January may serve well.  I’d rather something be done well, properly, than in a shoddy way.  (So I’m trying to learn to be patient….to sit with patience is a lesson I’m still striving to learn.  Prayer helps!)

I was thinking today, at work, while I was sitting next to a pregnant friend at lunch, that my book is something like a child to me.  It’s had a gestational period, inside my heart and head, with my publisher while he pondered whether or not it was “good enough” to publish, and now with the printer who (I’m sure) is a busy person.  It’s been much longer than nine months, though….so while I haven’t gained water weight or felt the book kicking in anything but a metaphorical manner, it sits with me as a child would its mother before its birthing.  Probably the closest I’ll get to sensing birth, through creativity, so I savour it.  (You can’t be turning 42 in a month and think you’ll sprout your own child when you’re single, smart and poetically eccentric.  I’m not delusional…. 🙂

And so….to tempt you into potentially accepting a future invitation to my book’s launch, a poem from The Narcoleptic Madonna.   It’s a lost love poem, typical to my life….but I love the way it’s all metaphorical and full of rich imagery….(another one bites the dust!)

Thanks for reading, friends….





He spoke to me organically,

whispering of anemones

and offering the sharp ambiguity

of jaundiced lilies

made faint in foreign heat.


He offered me kisses,

newly sprung from the damp

of this April’s dank earth,

but retreated backwards

into the Ides of March

before much could be made of

lips meeting and marking new ground.


This ground lies fallow now.

I compost meaning in my spare time,

mix metaphors and build poetic parallels,

make that earthen row there into

the wrinkled brow of a puzzled field.

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My mind is aflutter these days.  I redefine myself on a daily basis, sometimes so much that I cannot recognize myself as I once was….it’s a shifting of skin, a shimmering of soul, a time of new beginnings from old.  No one said it would be easy, though, and that’s the thing I struggle with…in heart and mind.

We’ve just past Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  It’s perfect timing.  The trees have turned gold and red, so that maples are on fire with fall.  The Canada geese make themselves known long before you see them in the sky.  They honk and fly low over the house now that it’s time to get ready to leave for the south.  I marvel at how they almost thoughtlessly line up in arrow formation, a wonder of Nature.  They amaze me every year at this time, and the poems I write in fall and spring, when those lovely geese leave and return, are populated with the sounds of wings beating and air whooshing.  (I’m sure it’s overdone….a pattern I need to break in seasonal poetic stylings.)

This one weekend seems to split the far end of summer’s warmth and heralds the onset of chillier winds and brisk skies filled with stars.  What it does this year, though, is pain me.  For so many around me, colleagues and students alike, Thanksgiving symbolizes family and love.  For me, it now seems empty and lost.  After my father died in late December of 2011, I remember someone asking me, rather stupidly, “How does it feel to be an adult orphan?” Needless to say, I was lost for words.  I think, if I remember clearly, I stumbled and mumbled like a moron.  “Oh, I don’t think that way….”  Fast forward to this past weekend when I did, probably for the first time since Dad died, feel orphaned and abandoned.  No fault of his.  Just a fault of time’s passage and Nature.

Tonight, sitting with a cup of Earl Grey and some oranges (which always makes me think of Leonard Cohen!), I wonder what’s going on.  Others have lost parents before me, and still somehow survived.  For my father, his going was a blessing.  He was a quadriplegic for the last two and a half years of his life, after a fall on a fishing trip in Northern Ontario.  Shifting from independent father figure to an uncertain and failing man facing his mortality, he still fought ferociously against death.  When it came, it shocked me.  I wasn’t there with him, and that will haunt me forever.  Ten months later, we come to Thanksgiving.  My family is almost non-existent now.

My father was the only child of a German father and an Irish/English/Scottish mother.  My mother was the daughter of two Irish Catholics, and she was one of five beloved children.  Her mother was one of ten.  Of everyone of that generation who is left, I have one great-aunt, named Clare after the county in Ireland.  she is the only one of ten left alive now….and nearly ninety.  My father’s parents were harsh, and we’ll leave it at that.  Best not to speak ill of the dead, especially if they’re relatives.  (They showed my father very little love, and he often said that my mother ‘saved him’ by marrying him.)  I have a few remaining aunts and one uncle, but even most of them have lost a spouse, so their immediate families are smaller too.

I was, mostly, brought up in the loving arms of my mother’s Irish Catholic family, which probably explains my love of lore, music, poetry and legend.  I hardly ever went into my great-aunts’ house at 160 Kingsmount without my great-aunt Maureen smiling, hugging me, and then saying “Ah, sure, it’s herself!”  My great-aunt, Norah, was the one who told me the story of one of our ancestors, a maid at Bunratty Castle, outside Limerick, who eloped with a gardener.  Seriously?!  You couldn’t write or make up this stuff….so it had to be true.  🙂

In any case, my family, which was once a boisterous Irish Catholic clan that absorbed my dad into its fabric as if he were a lost son, is nearly extinct.  Spending the weekend on my own, thinking backwards to earlier dinners and celebrations, I got weepy.  I miss them all, but mostly I miss my maternal grandmother, Alice Ennis, and my parents, Glenn and Sheila Mary.  Following closely on that trinity, I miss my uncles, Peter Ennis, Terry Ennis & Jeno Tihanyi.  Beyond that, my Irish great-aunts and uncles watch over me from somewhere not too far off….but too far off for my liking.  With my book coming out this fall/early winter, I find it all the more painful.  One of my dad’s last regrets, he told me the week before he died, was that he wouldn’t be at my book launch.  For the last twenty years, until his fall, he came to every one of my poetry readings….an INCO guy who once carried one of those metal lunchboxes in the 1970s,  and by the end of his life knew about Yeats, Heaney, Kavanagh, and a whole bunch of artists and Irish musicians.  (Mum and Dad loved to hear me sing Irish songs….and I often did in my 20s at Irish ceilis and at my poetry readings….so I’ll definitely sing something Irish at my book launch, if I can get through it without weeping.)

I keep reading my friend Susan Rich’s poem about her father’s death and those words ring true.  She writes, in “Muted Gold,” (from The Cartographer’s Tongue):  “He taught me journeys don’t happen in straight lines.”  Later in the poem, she writes of how he would say “What good will it do to dwell?” Finally, in her last stanza, she captures an emotion that speaks to me, as another daughter who has lost her father.  “He much preferred to glide along life’s surface./I love him now with images, with words,/and tell a story by moonlight, to try and keep him with me.”  It’s like that, I think, when I read Susan’s beautiful poem of tribute to her dad.  How do we keep them with us?  Already, I cannot remember my mother’s voice, although her mannerisms and smile remain in my memory.  It’s only been four years.  How can I have forgotten something as simple as her voice??  It makes me feel that I’m lacking as a daughter….as a human.

So, here I sit, drinking Earl Grey, listening to Clannad, on a blustery Northern Ontario night, trying to avoid marking one last essay test for my Grade 12 English class, and pondering what’s going on inside my head/heart.  I know this:  I dread holidays now….which makes me sad in and of itself.  People say “ah, change your traditions…” and “do something different this year,” as if that will make it all better.  But this isn’t a scraped knee on the pavement when you’ve fallen off your bike.  This is about loss of a more permanent nature….something that can’t be fixed or mended….but I know some day in the future, maybe two or three or four years from now, I’ll have forgotten my dad’s voice, too…..as I already have forgotten my mother’s….and that will make me even more upset with myself.  It’s also about recognizing your own mortality, your solitary nature, especially when you’re single.  (Don’t worry; this won’t turn into a ‘woe is me, I’m single’ rant….it’s just a factual statement.)  If your parents have both gone on to the next world, it makes sense that you feel mortality pressing down on you like gravity.

So, for now….I will pickle myself in nostalgia this week….I will remember my lost ones….and be thankful for the time God gave me with them, but I shall also be a bit sad….not depressed, but sad.  How else should it/I be?



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