Saturday, November 30, 2013


Nola and I are walking to school, and I’m trying to get her to read the words spelled out on the license plates of the cars parked along the way.
     Understand, most of the plates here in Toronto begin with an A or a B and are prone to a strange insufficiency of vowels; and so, although there aren’t likely many words to be found, the perfect parent is forever alert to a Learning Opportunity.
     “A–Y–R–E,” asks Nola. “What’s that?”
     “It’s what you put in your TYRES!”
     . . .
     I swear, I’m wasting my best material on a six-year-old.

Believe it or not, you can read more stories about license plates here and here. I picked the photos for this story from the extensive collection of Jerry Wood.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Illuminating Power of Football

We played two-hand touch on the street. Someone on defence counted Mississippis while the quarterback narrated his own exploits for imaginary viewers at home. We were always the Roughriders, the quarterback was always Ron Lancaster. “Lancaster, dropping back to pass... Here comes the rush! Lancaster scrambles, rolls out, here’s the throw... Complete! What a catch! George Reed at the curb, caught immediately and smacked into a Buick – but he’s okay, folks, he’s getting up! It’s just a bruise!” The receiver was always George Reed, who was black, and no one in Saskatchewan was black, but he was one of us.

Image:   CFL

The Slow Storm

“Slowflakes,” said Jakie, soft but clear, pointing out the window from his high chair. His mother smiled, but he was right. Slow flurried overnight and all next morning. The news came on late and said the roads were full of slow, cars trickling along at four miles an hour. Schools were closed because children would never reach them on time. Instead, Jakie’s sisters built a slowman in the front yard, pondering each handful, tenderly gnawing clumps of slow off their mittens. Their mother asked them why the slowman had no eyes. “They’re shut cuz he’s sleepy,” they said, and yawned.

Image: SireneTzukiDark.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

To the People: Another Apology

I apologize for finding his apologies tedious, disingenuous, and meaningless.
I apologize for his lies, excuses and false denials.
I apologize for his do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do “leadership”.
I apologize for his claim he had nothing more to hide.
I apologize for his hypocrisy.
I apologize for him clinging to office like a limpet mine.
I apologize for thinking he’s only sorry he got caught.
I apologize for all these apologies, but as the man himself has said, “the past is the past and we must move forward... I know I have let you down and I can’t do anything else but apologize.

Image:  CBC

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Failed Photograph of the Night Sky

It began at 3 a.m. as another failed experiment. She wrote her shopping list on the back in hard lead pencil, sighed, and shoved it into the pocket of her tweed skirt. That day, she handled more invoices for the Milliken account, stubbed her toe on the filing cabinet, and – it must be confessed – nodded off into an inchoate dream, in which tidy rows of figures became gentle, supple shadows. That evening, when she took out the list, she saw a few lines had appeared on it from nowhere, suggestive of a figure. Over the years, she watched her emerge.
Image: Edgar Degas, Danseuse ajustant sa bretelle.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

but can you touch

                                                      a praying mantis?
       can you smell rain or snakes or cancer?
       can you see russia from alaska?
       could you hear music as it’s playing on the moon?
       could you see mars last night or tuesday
            or taste spinach in a smoothie?
       should you feel guilty killing zombies?
       would you feel
                                       getting shot
                                                                in the head?
       oh: you. should you now be inclined to censure,
       you who touch your chest on bench press,
       you who hear from your ex-boyfriend everyday
                                      (that’s a lot)
       i suggest that you drink heavily
       i suggest that you tread lightly
       i suggest you let a praying mantis pray.

Image: Mantis.

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