Tag Archives: Poetry

The Billboard Angel

Is there a difference between the dirt-smudged smile
pasted to a seven-foot face on a billboard
and a Netflix scientist riffing on the stardust
that lives and moves and shapes our being?
The teeth survive the body; our dentists have seen
to that. But they’re no match for the stars which wheel
through our dreams even as they snuff us out.
Heed the billboard angel versed in her native
hymnody. Hear her praise to gods no more dead
than those our ancestors flung to the stars.
Logistics unseats reason as reason undid faith.
And catacombs once filled with saintly skulls
now store merchandise waiting on pent demand,
order-picked by priestly bots at our command.

Cracked Face Advertisement

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Poem: Extroverted Summer Days

We’re smitten
by extroverted summer days,
effusive skies,
sunlight chattering through leaves.
Soon it’s time
for the weather to turn,
a seat alone,
rain clattering against the pane.

Man walking in sunlight and casting long shadow

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Ode To Spot

In the 6th season of Star Trek TNG there is an episode called “Schisms” in which Data delivers a poetry reading. While he recites an ode to his cat, Spot, listeners squirm in their seats.* Data has enough insight to recognize that his poetry makes people feel awkward, but not enough insight to understand why. After the poetry reading is over, Data coaxes Geordi La Forge to explain things to him. Data understands all the formal properties of a poem—metre, rhyme, stanzas, specific formats like sonnets and odes—but he hasn’t the slightest idea what a poem is for or what effect it’s supposed have on a listener. His intelligence is like the intelligence of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome—formal intelligence without emotional grounding.

Cat & Owner

I think a lot of photography (including a lot of my own) is the sort of photography Data might make if he ever decided to wander through the Enterprise with a Nikon D810 or a Canon 5DS slung around his neck. He would have a grasp of all the formal properties that contribute to a good photograph. He’d know all the “rules” about focus, depth of field, white balance, saturation and composition. And he’d have instant access to all the great photos shot by masters of the discipline. All of the hardware, rules, and historical knowledge would allow him to make technically correct images. But so what? Without more, those images would be the visual equivalent of his Ode To Spot.

In an age when it’s increasingly easy to make technically “perfect” images, it’s correspondingly easy to be complacent about whether or not those images do what images are supposed to do. Do our images merely allay anxieties around formal requirements? Or do they satisfy deeper needs? While the two are not mutually exclusive, there are many photographs that move us deeply even though they are deeply “flawed”. I think it would be an accomplishment to make even one such photograph.

A flawed photo.

A flawed photo.


*Felis Cattus, is your taxonomic nomenclature,
an endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature?
Your visual, olfactory and auditory senses
contribute to your hunting skills, and natural defenses.

I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
a singular development of cat communications
that obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
for a rhythmic stroking of your fur, to demonstrate affection.

A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
you would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aide in locomotion,
it often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.

O Spot, the complex levels of behaviour you display
connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.

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Poem: 10 Billion

I’m depressed. Today, as I waited
for the elevator, a scream,
my neighbour: Oh God! Oh God!
Harder! Yes! More! Oh God!
Into the car and the door closed
on the fading cries above. Smiled
at my dog, spayed years ago,
prancing, impatient to pee.

Scientists just announced it:
10 billion Earth-like planets
in our galaxy alone and
10 billion galaxies, maybe more.
I could fuck and fuck and fuck
a river of cum until I die
and still not pump out enough
for a solitary spermatozoon
on each of the habitable worlds
that glides the star-pocked black.

If an alien dropped by for a beer,
how would I explain myself?
Especially my lack of utility,
my list of daily habits, a thousand
bullet points long, that guides me
to no particular end? Would the beast
understand my elevator trips, my
devotion to a barely sentient thing,
the way I trail it with a plastic bag,
my habits (which verge on obsessions),
my hobbies (which I pass off as passions),
my ruminations, scattered thoughts,
preference for the colour orange?

Would it get my need for clothes
of this design, not that, my tendency
to laugh when what I mean to do is weep,
my faith in your indifference, the way
I start from sleep to memories
of dreams of things that never happened,
places I’ve never been, faces never seen?

Does it hear a nattering voice,
as I do, reminding me of what
I ought when even can is beyond me?
Proper shoes. A hat in the cold.
Money saved for a rainy day (as if
bad weather is the worst calamity).
Ten billion ten billions
and you tell me to be reasonable?
How can I be reasonable when
the only safeguard against my absolute
diminishment is the blessing
of unreason? Go away. I’m depressed.


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Poem: (M)ass Media Culture(?)

My cultural moment came and went.
Now the useless pendant chafes my neck,
brings to mind remaindered analytic books
whose theses chased the waddling ass
that lapped me on the straight-away.
I let it pass and listened to their twaddle.
The blubbering cheeks squidge on. Their route?
I couldn’t say. There was an instant,
back in the day, when I felt more a fan
in the mosh pit, drenched in foam spit spray,
than this living-room-Netflix-watching
after-the-fact yellow-crusted eye.
Whatever it was, it’s come and gone
while my remote-clicking finger twitches on.

Bremner Boulevard Toronto

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