Winter and the Common Cold

Certain things almost demand one another—
you can find them on their own
doing their tiny solo thing,
but you know they would rather be together:
eggs and bacon, death and taxes, baseball and summer,
anything and gin — but not to be out done,
one other pair must bear consideration—
I give you: Winter and the Common Cold.
It’s accepted, it’s expected, you’d think
we’d be disappointed with one and not
the other. Society might fray for want
of the universal wintry social emollient
provided by the common cold— it’s easier
to share than sex and it gives you more chances
for love, sympathy and conversation. The cures,
nostrums, effects, blow by blow accounts
of the national battle—the woe of sinuses
stuffed solid as a Gaspé snow bank,
the hot cold rushes dizzier than Niagara,
the barren strep throat of the Arctic plains—
from the first sorrowful exploratory sniffles
to the final victorious hack of vindictive expectoration
what neighbourly quality does the Common Cold not
possess? (Except, as remarked before, sex.)
How could we survive Winter without it?
It makes our national character, you can talk
all you like about tenacity, endurance,
pioneering spirit, but I’m talking
about the Common Cold and Winter.


Isolation Frigidaire

come in anyone
I am alone in my white cocoon
someone tell me it is a cave
open the door or turn me around


the infinite

recedes, combines unto itself,
it is better to see it up close;
to perceive it from afar is to
be seized with wonder
and fear that will chill
you to the bone


Winter Sun

colour of porphyry, South Sea coral,
seeps onto the horizon—dawn arrives
palest of children, gold poppet
with a hint of mortality about her

noon, the stare of sun matches
the coldest cop, the hardest beggar,
their contest danced between ragged
pedestrian breath snatched away

by sheets of unwritten white, whisked
up to the hammer blow of world
emptying at the top; winter sun shines
on a not so objective observer

we strive to roll the ball a little faster
as if our thoughts could move the sun
we seek to replace sere yellow with iridescent
fish finning summer school of memory

dusk proves there are no unnatural
colours as heaven indulges in an orgy
of neon pastels, and the sun pauses
to determine what is to come

we grasp a new thought found in vapour,
swirled by honing edge of winter, we see
light of memory is a seed of promise
winter sun dreams on — a not so distant star


The binding of boots

The binding of boots,
is matched by mufflings
of thick cloth, scarves, gloves
to meet slush caked to concrete—
Winter is the day
you discover a new song
that promises so much.

A change of climate.
A change of heart.
No hesitation.
No compromise.

Winter cuts away years
and makes a new day.
The palimpsest challenges
the ever-changing record
of personal evidence writ,
then destroyed, but now
melted resolve is fast frozen.
We walk upon empty promises,
unafraid to promise again,
to dream, desperate to be free,
despite that which binds us.


Train of Snow (a lesson)

It is early Spring in Toronto
and the smell of melting earth
is electric and alive.

City pulses quick
anticipating refoliation
I drive like a maniac
in a white rusted company car

knight charger in pursuit of the
twenty four hour day and the dangers
of falling asleep drunk with whimsy
within the pregnant park, mad dream

to drift beneath the soil, world
of shadow, or wherever winter goes
in the summer — and suddenly

there on the rail siding, sliding
beside me—One More Cruel Joke—
rusted brown CP, CN flatbeds and
rockers—the spine of the country

all conflict, broken promises and compromise
there they are—filled with snow
layers and layers like loaves
fresh from the oven, lessons in history

geography, politics and a crystalline
Mesopotamic moment—cars and cars
and cars filled with snow— we’re bound
to be defeated— they’re shipping snow South!

The bastards! They hate Toronto so much
they’ll bury us in snow the moment we think
we got out—I know these cars spent the night
in Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie or Temagami

makes no difference to me.

Now I know it can’t be defeated
brought down, bought or sold,
won’t lie down, go away, never admit
its teeth are less sharp
though we battle in Pago Pago
or Waikiki Bay.

I roll on my back like a husky
attacked by its teammates,
too weak to fight back,
too weak to surrender,
bare my throat to you
Storm, Wind of Ice, Frozen
Lethal Water who ignores me.
I bless thee Father Winter
for these Thy lessons.