Jackalope

I became a rabbit:
soft and limber for the arrows—
a leaping, bending prey. My black pearl
eyes blind to my own blood

My breath matched the rhythm:
Nock. Release. Nock. Release.
pacing my heart
to your needs— it was easy.

But the trail of felled victims
tugged at me before sleep:
Here my buried voice, there my buried will.
I was complicit, complacent, completely
certain I could be palatable

No more. I’ve exhumed
and stitched back those shaken parts—
Antler, claw, tongue, and scale.
My will a jagged tusk, my voice a howl

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Being Alone

Where is your loneliness?

Not in the the perilous drama of a shipwreck—
drifting beyond deserted shores
Not in the cautious intent of space travel—
forever orbiting towards a sunrise

It’s in the cheap insulation of apartment walls,
the neighbours whose names you don’t know,
the checkmark in ✓Seen 11:45 pm, the sheepish
trips to the liquor store, the diplomatic voice
of a clerk asking for the money you owe

It’s in the stillness of highways before dawn,
the silence at the end of a book, the burst of wind
from slamming doors, and the knowing, that after everything
they’re gone.
It’s in your chest cavity, aching and ashamed

Feel that hot electric pang and build
that pain a cradle—give it a name
nurse it from fledgling flame to full-blown fire
let it radiate
Sooner or later, it will fade

Then the glow of coals will warm you
until you can reach out again: call a friend, get coffee,
paint, tell a joke, smile at strangers

We’re at our happiest when we risk another burn

Anna

*This poem first appeared in the 2013 edition of the literary magazine, Portal.

 
You seek the company of
flora over fauna.
You flourish while being
rooted through earth and blood
back to
China.

You curate a grove
of potted plants–
hyacinth and mint,
and compost ruby skins
of dried pomegranate peels.

You were shucked
as a child.
Being maimed so young
left you raw,
but you were ripe enough
to nurture a camera,
bright enough to understand
techniques and keep your composure,
but the exposure of your wounds
made you wilt, and withdraw.

The illness slid out–
a serpent that took
hold of your mouth
with its jaw.
And you spoke of angels,
childhood friends,
patterns and fractals,
lines on a leaf.

You spoke of waking
up on the ground,
pounding your heels,
pleading to be
reclaimed.

Dining with Bigotry

Do you dread family dinners?
Does it make your jaw
clench, when someone passes potatoes
mid-bigoted-sentence?

What’s there to do when a relative spews
a gravyboat worth of hate
against certain immigrants?

Is it worth the dry turkey
to sit there ashamed, while your great aunt
blabbers on about homosexual campaigns?

Sure, you can offer your well-researched facts.
You might even do so with saint-like
tact. But if all else fails, feel free to leave:
Critical thought will provide more peace
of mind than would grudgingly passing the peas.

 

Rejection

The following is a found poem. It uses only words received in various rejection letters. 

We thank you for your interest.
We appreciate it.
And we know it sucks. (another rejection.)
unfortunately, unfortunately, unfortunately,
We’re going to have to pass.
You aren’t quite right.
You don’t meet our needs.
You aren’t really the right

fit.

But good luck in the future. And thanks.

A Villanelle for Creativity Rituals

Go percolate a fresh pot
And prepare yourself to think
This is yours: decide the plot

Inhale the swirling steam, hot
The cups and spoons clink
Go percolate a fresh pot

Are your pencils ready to jot?
And your pens full of ink?
This is yours: you decide the plot

Pour the sugar — a little, a lot
Until it’s sweet enough to drink
Go percolate a fresh pot

What’s scribbled? What have you got?
Are you finished? On the brink?
This is yours: you decide the plot

Now start over on the spot
Toss the old coffee in the sink
Go percolate a fresh pot
This is yours: you decide the plot

Resilience

I want to be your skin, repair
and renew your wounds, turn
cuts and sores from scab to shining
scar. I will soften the aurora
borealis blue starbursts
of bruises. Plot white lightning
stripes as you stretch. Move
from bubbling blister to callus.
I will freckle in the sunlight
and ignite pink blush
under the gaze of strangers
My tacit intent is to protect,
for you I am elastic

Making Tea

The lavender and lemon balm leaves
were grown from seed—little specks
rooted under sun, cloud,
fog, and morning steam
They fed bees with black and gold rings
and bugs with backs like shining glass

Dry them next to hibiscus petals like ruby glass
and fragrant spindly green raspberry leaves
tied with twine, spun around them like rings
Brush away their collected dust specks
Keep them away from steam—
those tendrils of errant indoor cloud

A muggy thought akin to cloud
deserves no fragile crystal glass
but a sturdy cup made for steam,
adorned with painted leaves
and dotted with gold specks
the colour of treasured rings

Let the kettle kiss the burner rings
the cast iron sighing out a cloud
and sputtering little water specks
fog creeping up window glass
hiding roads and trees and leaves
until solitary with whistle and steam

blow swirls of breath against the steam
make ripples in the mug, creating rings
Pull out the mound of swollen leaves,
a heavy dripping rain cloud,
leaving ochre tea like tinted glass
with a few swirling specks

The future is set in green specks
and visible through steam
no need for balls of glass,
no mirrors, no mood rings
Part the smoke and the cloud
with the patterns of the leaves

You see the specks, will you read the leaves?
You breathe the steam, will you gather the clouds?
Will you shatter the glass, will you toss the rings?