Songs of an anxious mind

No doubt about it, I’m having trouble doing my work. Trouble getting things done. Trouble sleeping. Trouble waking. How my eyes ache. And my joints. My heart feels funny. It is as if neither my eyes nor my brain can focus–as if the frame glitches and slips just a little, the visible world doubling at the edges. Continue reading Songs of an anxious mind

Bodies in Pain–on hurting and being hurt

Like so many since the Nova Scotia massacre in mid April, I have been having nightmares, and am often awake during the night. This terrible event has awakened all the old traumas…When I do finally sleep, waking each morning is like crashing into a low wall. I am editing a poem I had begun to draft before the massacre called Elimination Round about big game hunting in Mexico and its relationships to tourism and other forms of collecting, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of missing and murdered in Mexico these last few years, and I can hardly face it. The spent metal casings of .223 rounds are a debris field scattered behind and before us, the horror of so many lives lost and hearts broken a scorching flare turning the hours to ash. Continue reading Bodies in Pain–on hurting and being hurt

When flight is impossible

Flight is impossible, love, so fight it must be; every night I wrestle with the angel of god and my hips, struck, ache. When I wake my hands are curled into fists; it grows ever harder to unclench them. And who remembers to breathe anymore? The tight band that constricts our chests feels like a heart attack. I am exhausted but I find it hard to sleep deeply. When I finally drift off there are always strange dreams: in them, the bodies pile up. Continue reading When flight is impossible

Night falls hard

I, like so many, dread this wave of death hurtling towards us; every time I hear the news out of the US my chest and throat constrict, as if I can’t breathe. No wonder the night falls so hard. We draw the curtains and listen to the wind but we can’t shut it out. There is no moon.

Strange, how every utterance, no matter how factual, becomes a metaphor. Continue reading Night falls hard

On feelings of profound loss

I often feel these days as if I am losing my mind. It has something to do with the gravity of the news. And a sense of physical exhaustion so profound that one afternoon, while out for a walk, I stop, curl into a ball in a warm spot on a neighbour’s porch and sleep in the sun for half an hour. Continue reading On feelings of profound loss

plants inside

Not sailing to Byzantium: on poetry in a time of crisis

No one sleeps the night through anymore. The wings of endings beat near our faces, drop bones into our dreams….But let us understand that we too will die, each of us; and that in our time of living it matters to reach out and to speak up against the increasing number of state gestures that threaten to become excessive force, surveillance and foreclosures of civil liberties. It matters to ask questions, and to try to conduct serious civil debate about the best routes to sound judgment and care. It matters to take time to listen to what the non-human parts of the planet are saying, as dolphins roll through Venice, and the air clears over Delhi and other industrial centres. It matters to reimagine our entitlements and travel plans, our airplanes and global expansions. What does a sustainable economy look like? Whom should it serve? What would it take to build it, and to engage both human and non-human actors? Why shouldn’t artists and poets study such things? Continue reading Not sailing to Byzantium: on poetry in a time of crisis

A valediction forbidding mourning (a more or less true history of the present)

Over the course of the last week everything has changed radically. In the northern hemisphere winter has officially become spring. We’ve shifted from an eerie quiet, as if collectively in Canada we were kneeling, our ears pressed to the tracks of time listening for the train of the future to come barrelling upon us, to something still more unearthly. Early closures, slow stunned walks in the sun and recommendations about how we ought to behave have become, over the course of several days, a state of emergency and civilian lockdown. Continue reading A valediction forbidding mourning (a more or less true history of the present)

On the Evolution of My Condition

There is the winter night when, while asleep, I sweat so much the sheets are drenched, as if they have been left out in the rain…Another night after dinner I doze off, the dog asleep on my feet….Most startling of all, today I discovered a new warning on a medication that I have been taking daily for years. Tiny print on a yellow sticker affixed to the prescription label warns Call your doctor immediately if you have mental mood changes like confusion, new/worsening feelings of sadness/fear, thoughts of suicide, or unusual behaviour. What has changed? Why has no one ever mentioned these side effects before? Or have I just failed to see them? Continue reading On the Evolution of My Condition