Rebel rousing… and a new poem.

reading at mashed poetics in vancouver, photo: Jim Tucker

My trip down south to perform at the Vancouver Youth Poetry slam, Tongues of Fire at the Solstice cafe in Victoria and then at the Mashed Poetics event in Vancouver was super charged and so profoundly positive I felt the great weight of winter lift and a clarity come to me that I have not felt in a long while.

There is a lot happening in the world right now. It seems many people are angry and frustrated and just as many are confused. Though it appears that, perhaps, the great anxiety of the 90’s has also lifted somewhat, and so here we are awake and standing fairly raw and partially barren due to the anger that seems to be growing in the world. We are also powerful in this if we tune in.

I have been working hard, very hard, to stay focused and positive and imagine myself a future that looks and acts and smells like the most creative, positive glimmering gift I can possibly think of. On tour, I asked my audiences what they would do in the coming months to make themselves the hands and minds of the agents of positive transformation in these our delicious end times. I ask them, so i can find the confidence in myself to lead… even just lead my own life with grace and positivity. A good friend did say that if I was one of the last people that it would likely be me to build a new religion. And, well… I agree. It would be profoundly positive and probably look a lot like montessori… where people are granted the respect and honour they deserve to study and learn whatever it is that they love and/or are interested in as equal to anyone else’s love, interest and talent (unless that would be money… because money just won’t exist where I am going… it’ll all be hard skill trade). It will be this way because my religion will always state that energy is not created or destroyed, and therefore we are a sum of everything recycled back through everything… living or not… As for rituals, well… storytelling would be at the heart of everything, because it very well may be…I’m still working out the kinks, Including a name… ideas?

On that note, my new friend Bruce, a conductor on the Northern Via train line implored me to write a poem for his train riding friends on my way home from tour. When I finished the long poem I said “here Bruce, this is why Via won’t let me join their on-board entertainment program.” He said he thought the poem would just make people think and asked “what’s wrong with people thinking?”  Good question Bruce, ask your boss (and Stephen Harper, just because)!!! The train is ridden by many many Europeans in the summer… lo and behold, wouldn’t they love to know that some Canadians maybe agree with their current sentiments re:tar sands, environmental policy etc..

Anyway, according to friends traveling to Prince Rupert to march against Enbridge last weekend, Bruce has left my poem up on the train, and I am thankful. Here it is for all of you:

Uncontrolled Crossings


I have had four hours to write a poem.

I spent two restringing an un-tunable guitar

only to break a string in process


welcome to life


I tell my young friend Hunter

this is how it goes sometimes

it’s not about the strings

it’s about trying.

keep tossing coins

keep asking questions

practice says

that one day

you will likely catch one

of the answers

if not,


that’s life too.


Constant motion has always been

comfortable space for me

more comfortable

than sitting still

the ability to walk away from boring conversations

the privacy among strangers



ever, never possible

in small town life.


Constant motion with a window seat is even better.

Hoof tracks and marmot tracks and birds nests and changing cloud patterns

and burned northern mills and broken northern shacks

and woodsmoke and lots of places that people call

the middle of nowhere


and all the waiting and creeks, and rivers, and mountains, and lakes

so beautiful

creating even MORE possibilities for


nature poetry

and if there is anything we need in Canada right now

it is MORE nature poetry.



When I have children,

I will teach them to ride the train in the winter and ask questions.


lots of questions.



do deer fall through the ice on frozen lakes?

if so, how many?

if not, why not?


when their new young eyes witness

all our once brilliant plans for nature


clear-cuts and mining operations gone under

and some of our other great defunct resource extraction opportunities

(because they will only exist in China by then… if we continue on the track we’re on, and we might; and I continue on the timeline track I am on to have children, it’ll be that long).

I will teach them to ask

how we know when the ice is stable enough for fishing?

when do we know the ice is cracking? are we already falling in by that point?

when, is it, will it be

too late?


by then, will anyone know the answers?


dead moose on tracks

safe humans on trains


and sleeping in shoes

staring out the window at the freeze thaw, freeze thaw


in constant motion

at uncontrolled crossings

waiting for the bitumen to pass

for someone

to answer

all the questions we were never taught to ask.




2 responses to “Rebel rousing… and a new poem.”

  1. Yesterday the baby and I sat and watched through the window as 8 deer lazily crossed the frozen river that runs by our house. I asked her if she thought they would fall through. She said, “Baaa?”