A conversation between strangers

I began paying attention on February 21st

5 text messages

3 early on the 23rd, then later in the day:

“Tell me the truth, do you like me or not?”


I had gotten messages from the number before and was sure it was a misdial or scam so deleted them as they came in. I made the mistake of answering my cellphone once for a scam. They hung up the moment I picked up and then called twice a day, every day for months. Maybe a year.


“Tell me the truth, do you like me or not?”


It had been an exhausting and miserable day. Fasting except for liquids, citrus flavoured chemicals, potent laxatives and strawberry Jello. Purging for a CT Scan. Caught somewhere between life as normal and nowhere near. 10 at night my phone made the odd ring clunk that indicates a text message. I put down Zadie Smith’s, “The Autograph Man”.


“Text me. like i really need to talk to yew.”


There was one person it could be, and if so, he might be in trouble. Or just really need a response. This had crossed my mind before but I didn’t think it was him because of the spelling and structure. His would be much rougher. It was a leap, but I began to type.


“If I knew who was sending the text I would answer. But i think you have the wrong number… Only reason I’m responding is in case you are E”

“its Julie.”

“Julie you have the wrong number. That’s why your texts aren’t being returned”

“Oh, who is this?”

“Nope sorry. Someone you don’t know I’m sure. good luck finding your friend.”





Artist’s Statement

I’m creating artifacts. Things to leave behind. Writing. Drawings. Carvings. Some exposed roots. Father. Grandfather. He made those things. He was an artist. Part of our story. I am casting a line into the future. Maybe it’s vanity, but I don’t think so. These things are an offering, a gift to the unborn from an ancestor. That’s what I’m doing early in the morning in the studio. At night in the little room at the back of the garage. Marking the cave walls.

No he didn’t make his living as an artist, but it ran deep in him. He could have. I can. I can feel it, the child says leaning over her page and beginning to draw.

Poems of Idleness

I would like to write poems of idleness, like Po Chü-i. But who would read them?

You. A visitor curious, accidental. In a rush?


Po all white hair, ancient with his wine, lamplight, bamboo and pine trees:

writing on hut walls. Sweeping an empty courtyard. Travelling mountain roads.


I walk Mira along the Trans Canada Trail, sun low, evergreens laden with snow.

In the evening, sitting with a glass of beer, the urge to achieve at rest.


For a moment.


Carrying an armload of firewood up from the basement. At fifty-four

I’ve discovered Bob Dylan. In another room he’s singing Simple Twist of Fate.

Walking into Snow

Low flying bald eagle, close

and almost taken for granted

causes me to pause and take notice.


Down the bank a concrete box culvert

resolute under the snow packed road.

On its face 1949 carved in stone.


Once grand, now ramshackle wooden house

giant butterflies nailed to the wall.

Hand-painted plywood sign nailed to a tree,

“Dogs okay. Beware of wife”.

School bus in the driveway.

Snow covered Chevy Tracker with no side window

polyethylene, duct tape and wire repaired.


Pick up a piece of broken branch and toss it for the dog.


The warm smell of cows but no ordinary cows.

A small herd of yaks,

long haired and long horned crowding an icy trough.


Low flying bald eagle, close

and almost taken for granted

causes me to pause and take notice.