Purple Toothed Grin

Month: November, 2014

The Kitchen

The smell of steak clings to everything we own,
our whole existence seasoned like a cast iron skillet
too heavy to hang on the wall
and the fan above the stove (apparently just for show)
hangs in its place
filling the room with the empty buzz of
unenthusiastic theatre-goers.

There are romantic dinners for two
while the baby is asleep in her room:
steak seared at high temperatures,
the bottom half of yesterday’s bottle of red,
looking at each other through the
nebulous kitchen air,
knowing the sex is going to taste like
steak and potatoes and
making a mental note to save room.

But that is not every day
though the greasy film lets us relive it,
scratch-and-sniffing the furniture when
solitude makes us lonely
(but that is not every day).

Other days we slowly decorate the walls
using nails that were already there,
the previous tenants the unknowing
curators of our lives.

When we do decide to drill in,
we poke holes first and google after
discovering the ideal height for
any hanging artwork is 57 inches
to the centre of the piece

(a good rule of thumb
we are bound to forget)

so we use the claws to extract the nails
and start again,
little pinholes shining light on our carelessness
(in this studio, the back of the hammer gets
just as much air time as the front)

still we find ourselves with
pictures without frames,
frames without pictures,

walls too big for fragments of our lives
stay colourless, featureless,
owning us as we sit down to eat,
looming over as we walk down the halls;
somehow, we cannot master them.

Of course, there are the
twenty thousand pictures
of the little one (not yet a year old)
but we have to be choosy
lest we wipe ourselves out of
the narrative altogether.

At least, when our photos are again packed away in boxes
and some reluctant relative sifts through them,
they will catch a whiff of a home-cooked meal

and remember us better as
two senses are better than one.

Meanwhile our mummified remains,
protected by that waxy film of a lifetime of meals enjoyed,
will outlast you all.

If stories have morals,
if we must find meaning in art,
then in this you may read:
steak is good for the heart.

Just words

My cellphone’s dead; the power cord
hangs listlessly at home as though

my wall has simply grown a tail
but really isn’t very happy about it at all.

My home phone exists only on the monthly bill
purchased in tandem with the internet like

siblings at an orphanage you just
can’t bring yourself to separate

and though I never even plugged it in
and am nowhere near my home

I find myself–in this moment,
on this corner–yearning for a

coil that wraps around my body:
an approximation of human contact,

an embrace that grows
the more I pace.


This time,
when I read it,
her photo
is not a photo of her at all
but Schiele’s
Seated Woman With Bent Knee
hidden between the pages of
his father’s book.

Just as he
looks to his dahlias
for the comfort
familiarity brings,
I read it
again and again,

perennially amazed
as it opens up
before me:

the same pages
on display,
a different bloom
each time.

The Canadian Collective Consciousness/Conscience

We pull the wool over our eyes
feigning a chill (the wind does bite
at exposed skin in little nips
but we are used to it).

Truthfully, we want the world
to frame us in the doorways of igloos,
petting our pet moose, engulfed in parkas
and wearing big, dumb grins;

we delight in the misconception,
bundle ourselves up in it
ignoring how it scratches at
our sensitive pelts.

We tell ourselves this violence is just
detritus blown upward by southerly winds
and smugly hide behind our Maple Leaf
not realizing that the tree is bare.

It is cold up here.
And we pull the wool over our eyes
as the truth takes a great bite
out of our underexposed souls.


He turned her down
like an old radio

and her voice fell
between stations,

into those murky waters
where you say yes or walk

the plank. It hung there,
static in the thick air,

clinging to the windows,
buzzing in her ears.