Sea Change


4.20 Sea Change

Every Sunday there is a man screaming at the sea.
At dawn, I hear him yelling,
Voice straining violently
As the low tide waves do nothing
To drown him out and let me sleep.
I want to warn him that this weekly ritual is probably bad
For those fragile little threads in his throat.
I can hear them break over the surf,
Especially when he reaches the top of his register.
It sounds like losing one’s balance.
At first I thought he was drunk.
After the third time I thought it was rage,
Then grief after the fourth,
And then back to alcohol-induced.
I went to yell to the man,
But saw he had headphones in and could not hear me.
“Madam, il le fait pour chanter mieux,”
The guard says at my shoulder.
He grabs his throat in his fingertips
And makes a gesture that suggests strengthening.
I nod as though I understand this logic.
“C’est le sel – c’est bon pour la voix.”
Ah yes.
If I wanted to sound like beef jerky
I too would scream at the ocean.
The salt would cure my throat so that it never got tired.
In front of us, just out of earshot
The man keeps sing-screaming to the endless ocean
Off-rhythm and Off-key
Hoping to have a voice as tough as the surf.

Three minutes, forty-six seconds


“Would you like to go out tonight? Said Tristan to Isolde…”
I am sitting in a corner, writing
Looking at an old cranberry couch with two brightly striped pillows
Fiesta-ware fabric resting after the festivities
A dining table covered in bottles
“God I love you, but you trouble me…”
Two dingy socked feet, sticking out from under a cream-colored blanket
A beautiful, untouchable arm grazing the floor
And a poor girl, unable to do more than gaze and write
“It’s ok I guess, but that story’s pretty old…”
Sitting wistful in a sunny patch of a small room
Afraid of time
The perfect length of a self-preserving memory
A curio-cabinet feature in the making
To be dusted off for future cherishing
This memory should not last longer than a song
“Said Tristan to Isolde…”




The day when door handles have malice
Is the day to stay very still.
Be mindful of stacks, for they will fall off even the most stable of surfaces.
You will find you are out of everything you need in the moment.
A day when Headphones fritz and bluetooth fails.
When you walk to buy groceries, walk back for forgotten bread,
And walk back again for the forgotten umbrella
(The umbrella thanks you by folding repeatedly in the wind)
The day when the noise is too loud, the sky too grey
Is the day to sit in one place.
Wet spaces are treacherous.
Voices are grating.
Doublespeak and double meaning are doubly amplified
In ears that are incapable of hearing melodies.
The day when the oranges belie their color,
The day when shoes untie themselves ad nauseam,
These are the days of sprites and revenge,
Days to avoid scales, avoid lovers, avoid pens,
And huddle quietly for tomorrow.

The Union Station Courtyard


A man strums a ukelele.
It’s a soft and sturdy tune.
His white service dog works hard at not being distracted by the wild sparrows fighting over discarded pastry.
To his own music, a boy runs under the jacaranda trees.
He’s been told to catch one on his head.
Something about Canadian mythology.
Purple blooms fall sporadic and soft,
like the strains of music
casually edging the corners of the courtyard,
mixing with the single spout fountain
underscoring the reprimands of hungry birds.
Away, inside, commuters pace, buy, sleep.
Out here the contented vagabonds waiting
For the next train to arrive.
The boy leaps high, his nose touching a falling flower.
Calling this triumph, he sits beside me
And asks if I was watching.



Riffing: Airport: Astaire’s Fascinating Rhythm Part I

(A stream of consciousness poem)

I’m sitting but not still

I’m drumming digits quick and repetitious until

You walk through my peripheral vision

A vision of potential, of a shared beat

Will you remain my refrain?

Will you create heat?

My thumb ceases making up tempos,

And in rapid succession fall

Index, middle, ring, pinkie

all come to rest upon the armrest

of my uncomfortable chair

and I am, finally,



You reach my other peripheral

And keep on walking down the terminal

Because you were but a syncopation

And not my crescendo

Not my coda

You create staccato

I am not one to

Get up and move, dance, emulate movies

Or create unnecessary heartache,

Rather let my fingers go back to drumming

Except now I’m humming

A merry tune of nothing

Since a syncopating rhythm

Was Astaire’s way of saying

Breaking a beat

Can be sweet.

Don’t you think?

Boredom can lead to wonderful exercises in creativity. Boredom allows for the most intricate daydreams.

But boredom can be boring, so better to do something.

Like write.




I saw a double bass and thought of you.

When you dyed your hair blue

The principal told you it wasn’t allowed

So you dyed it back

And it turned green out of spite.

I remember when you took my book away,

Sat on my lap and asked me to touch your tattoo.

(The first time I’d touched anyone’s back)

I traced Sanskrit on your skin and you moaned aloud

I blushed so hard

I wanted to disappear into one of the tuba lockers.

…I’m braver now with men’s backs…

I remember how you ran the basses,

The happiest of string sections.

How you teased me

For memorizing Rondo Alla Turca

I played it from memory when I forgot my sheet music

Incredulous big violins in the back

Strumming away.

You asked me to teach you violin once

For your band – your bland garage band.

I did, partly for the money,

Partly to correct your shoulders.

Nothing came of it.

It was nice to watch you play.

You were voted best dancer of your class.

You graduated and left the band room quiet.

We turned somber and kept standard time.

I went across the ocean.

I grew up and outward.

But when I see the cross-country runners,

Or an oddity in the rows of suits,

Or when I see a double bass,

I get a fleeting smell of resin in my nose

And a passing, pleasant memory of you.

Omnipresent Inseam


Omnipresent Inseam


You hear the music in your soul

And just like that away you go

A favorite beat, a lyric sweet

Motivation for your feet.

You’re by yourself so no one sees

How much you creak when you bend your knees

Through jumps, leaps, stomps, reaches, twirls

First you spin and then you whirl.

Just remember that as you dance

There is one thing which sees all…

Your pants.


And pants, they never cease to judge

They sense each millimeter of pudge

Your omnipresent inseam knows

Just how far your dance can go

And you push it just one bit

It will summon all your dignity…

And split!