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tilt-a-whirl owie


Protecting my soul, I close my eyes in the face of new pain centers,
strip naked, press my back into the bed of nails wincing never mind,
just know this, every-time I get up, God pulls another Jenga block, head nuns study me wobbling. My feet cobbled with more nails
than Jesus’s on the cross. It’s true you hate to watch, cross the street
rather than be seen walking with this cripple. Honesty is important
you said, but you lied anyway, I imagine, to save my feelings. In my feet honestly dearie, I have none. But thanks for the gelato.

I close my eyes protecting my soul, keep my blinds drawn to black,
nothing there either, static, flashes of neuropathic pain they warn you about
if you have amputation. I have the pain already, maybe the surgeon
could make it disappear like my left foot, all I want is a prosthetic.
“I can walk!” I want to shout, now that would be a game for a healer’s visit
to the city, throwing away my crutch. But for now, the circus, the freak-show
+ the strongman slamming the sledgehammer on the lever of the high-striker
the steel puck rippling up every vertebrae before ringing the bell in my brain.

“Life is a carnival
believe it or not
life is a carnival;
two bits a shot.”
– Robbie Robertson



[1] A red herring this, it refers as much to Bahktin’s theory of the Carnivelesque, which refers back to Dionysius, and a lot of stuff  I can’t remember. 


THE DAY I TAUGHT STARLINGS SOME MOVES TO MURMUR I HAD BEEN TAKING WHITE FLAPPING SHEETS DOWN FROM THE LINE AND I RACED IN THE UNFENCED MEADOW ALFALFA JUST STARTED TO HEAD OUT IF THAT’S WHAT IT IS WHEN IT SMELLS UNEARTHLY LIKE SOME FEET ABOVE THE STARLINGS TURN ON THE WING NOW THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF BOTH SWIRLING ABOVE THE ALFALFA GRASS I SHOWED THEM SOME MOVES WITH MY BRILLIANT FLAPPING SHEETS GRASPED SO TIGHTLY IN EACH FIST I COULD PULL THE SHEET                                              I HAD PUT THE REPEATING RIFLE BUT FUCK THE DRAMATISTSTHAT SAY IF YOU INTRODUCE A GUN IT MUST DO SOMETHIHNG LIKE SHOOT BEFORE THE PLAY IS FINISHED THE RIFLE STAYS STILL LEANED AGAINST THE INSIDE OF A BARN LIKE A SORE TOOTH THAT DOESN’T GET PULLED BEFORE MORE MURMURMURMURMURMURMUR MURMURMURMURMURmurmurmurmurmur MURMURMURMURMUR4MMUR MURMUR now let’s play theBaezBaptism record hushmurmurhushmurmurhushmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurI’ve taught starlings sitting in an open patio of the hospital safer no shoes but my feet aren’t feet without my legs and shoes to move the rest of me in any direction you can think of listening that’s what I am writing about without I mads I ams I Iams or Iambs but the starlings how came they over a field with trees behind them now I remember now I remember their rhythm fast under their wings what was brushing over their feathers murmurmurmurrumourmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmumrmurmermurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurthecatcurlsupmurmurmurmurmurmummurmurmurmurmurmuremurmurmurmutrmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmumurmurmrumur shshshshshsh shshshshshshshshshshshshshshmurmurmurmurmurmuremurmurmurmutrmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurthecatcurlsupmurmurmurmurmurmurmmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmuremurmurmurmutrmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmumurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmutmumutmutmutmutmutmutmurmnobody asked for the t to come as quick quite quiet tumour brain your brain my brain whatever the tumour slips in transfer charges our future I am in recovery like you might see in a movie but not real life let me say I am folding linen sheets for therapy as I learn some words back again a rum tum tum or murmurmurmurmurmurm ur more double or nothingsh shsh shshshshshshshshshshshshshmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmurmutmutmurnoisescaresmestillshsshshshshshsh




Note: This is my mother. The last line made me think the photo suitable. I am recovering from a difficult cold subdued by a bottle of Benylin, but it ain’t over yet  baby blue.  I came to understand that my mother’s second “n” on Susann was conjured in the 60s, though a Susan with one n she could live with. Honestly,  I suspect she saw the aesthetic balance of Susann with Enns, and another grip on her own self. I’ll put her naming story up on Mother’s Day.


a song for spring somewhere warm

So we’ll wait for the next day. for tomorrow let’s pretend

all will be better when my hands do not bleed, a bit of cheek

caught when my hands are flapping and I can’t keep control

of my own blood tied up in twine. I want to be naked

but my skin is itchy, and my urine, does it still drip

watch my watchfors snags trolling the deeps, meta

fucking fours my cat has my skin in its claws nothin

fancy about that, hey! I take it away as a take a way

who grooms you baby not right now maybe soon

Chrissie Hynde reaches to pat my cat I substitute my hat

you can touch my hat, but you can’t touch my cat.

There be some pushing and shoving, we’re all good with that.

The camera captures our immediate image no-time flat.

Double nns keep moving, bread, blankets, picnic baskets



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I listen to music, read, write poetry and prose, and make videocasts, usually in collaboration with visual and media artist Murray Toews. I am a writer with disabilities, or a disabled writer, or a neurodivergent crip writer. You choose the point of entry for your reading;  there are no border guards.  The welcome mat is out. Stomp your feet and leave your shoes on. 

Love & Surgery (Radiant 2019) is my most recent collection of words about love and loss, including my below-the-left- knee amputation, my most visible disability. "Lousy cartilage genetics,"  the surgeon's note. Lucky for me no phantom leg pain. Disappearing cartilage makes for severe osteoarthritis. Real pain is now an everyday companion, but usually held back enough with meds and meditation, to allow for making poems, stories, jokes, aphorisms all true enough, remembering narrators are unreliable and writers make shit up. 

Afghanistan Confessions, poems in the voice of Canadian soldiers, was published in 2014, boy in 2012. Lucky Man (2005) was nominated for the McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year award.