No trumpets

Sleeping under stars


Approach awareness of God

cautiously. Like waking in a dream.


There are no trumpets. The light is vague.


Ignore the weight of your wings

as you climb the stairs, wade to the window.


Gargoyle crouch on the stone-damp ledge


between landscapes. Listen; spider

dangling-drop-spins into an empty nest.




Sister Katrina

Sister Katrina was a new age nun in the spirit of Vatican II. My grade seven and eight teacher and first spiritual guide and inspiration. On weekends we would sit on the altar steps at Avila Centre and discuss who Jesus really was. And God.

On a field trip in Ottawa a taxi driver asked her on a date. She laughed and set him straight. We were on our way to see the movie Little Big Man starring Dustin Hoffman. Sleeping on the floor of a church basement and travelling by train.

Jesus Christ Superstar was new, revolutionary and highly controversial among Catholics. Jesus so human. Judas so something else. And Mary Magdalen? We listened to it every day.

A group of us were asked to prepare an audio-visual production for the Good Friday mass at one of the city’s biggest churches. A great honour, but did they have any idea who they were asking to do this? Sister Katrina taught us how to make slides by cutting pictures out of magazines and sandwiching them in plastic 35 mm slide cases. Voila.

We cut out tiny square images of every atrocity and disaster we could find and slipped them into a slide tray along with images of Jesus and stained glass. In the centre aisle of Corpus Christi Church, in front of the alter we placed a projector screen. The church had a good speaker system. I stood in the pulpit and said a few words. Someone turned on the music. Someone else turned on the projector.

Jesus Christ Superstar’s “39 lashes” boomed in the church as our slides assaulted the screen. It was 1971. Folk music during a Saturday night mass was one thing. This quite another. I believe “disgusting” was my grandfather’s word.

Years later I heard that Sister Katrina left the church and got married. I still know every word to Jesus Christ Superstar.




He was walking slow. Sun beaten by another dog day on the highway. A scorcher. Torn and scattered clouds offering little shade comfort. I saw him from a distance as he sat down on the guardrail. Looking worn out. Scant possessions in a knotted garbage bag between his legs. Head down. Blue, long-sleeved shirt and dark pants. Black hair, slick and glistening. Dyed. I’ve seen the years carved into his tanned face. Small bright eyes staring straight ahead as he tells his story. Seen the hand with one crushed, one missing finger that he hides in a pocket.

He disappears come fall. Sits in a room somewhere in New Brunswick or Cape Breton waiting out the winter. Every year since we met, I watch for him. Hoping. Not quite sure what I’m hoping for.


The following events were observed by a rather handsome raven with a blunt chipped exceptionally powerful beak. He was sitting on the branch of a jackpine overlooking Bartholomew Creek when a conversation caught his attention. He recounted the tale to his favourite Miss, who purred and rubbed her head under his chin admiring what a fine storyteller he was.
Release me. Come on. Release me. I’m drying out in here. I’m gonna die. You tricked me. That shiny golden spoon with the sharp nasty little hooks all wrapped in feathers was underhanded and unkind.
The fisherman stepped carefully across to the other side of the brook. Slipping on the smooth mossy stones rod and arm sweeping out for balance. He sat down on a grassy bank flipped open the tackle box his father gave him years ago and considered his assortment of lures.
Salvador, the twelve inch speckle trout flapped his tail once twice groaning in the shadows of the wicker creel. Release me!
Simon opened the lid and looked at the fish. That would be ridiculous. I’ve waited months for trout season. You’re a beauty and in a few hours you’ll be sizzling in a frying pan with garlic butter and lemon. Releasing you is out of the question.
Specklatawny won’t be happy.
Patron Saint of speckle trout. Spiritual protector.
Oh. Right.
Remember when they found all those trout fishermen washed up on the shore of the Saint Mary’s River?
Well, it could have happened. I’m a magic fish. Listen Buddy, I really am dying here. You don’t have to do this.
Think about it. Neither one of us is saying a word yet we’re having this conversation. Either I’m magic or you’re losing it. This is a crossroads. A branch in the river. A moment.
Salvador was silent. There was nothing left to say. His spots were fading and his eyes were getting milky.
Simon took him out, and with a firm grip swooshed him around in the running water until some spark returned. Then he placed him back onto the mossy bed of the creel.
What the hell was that?
You taunting me back to life then tossing me back in here. What the hell was that?
Simon closed the lid and carried on up the river. Casting under logs and overhangs into shadows and nooks. Balancing on beaver dams his spoons sailing over the surface landing one after another exactly on target. He fished for hours without catching anything else. Something troubled him. He loved fishing. The solitude. Running water still and hidden pools. The distinct character of each river and stream. The rush of having something with weight snatch the lure yank the end of his line put up a good fight.
The raven followed him all day. Now from the grey arm of an ancient cedar he watched the man throw his gear into the truck box and climb into the cab.  A cool faint breeze rippled Bartholomew gently bending grass and turning leaves as it came up off the brook. Simon turned the key in the ignition shifted into reverse and never saw her coming. Specklatawny. At the end of his line.