Early April


To be young, feel the wind, the cold and the pull of the clouds on a string. I remember back to those days, only a short walk from where Cooper flew his first kite.

The bunch grass overlooking a frozen lake, the blue mountains majestic, tho we didn’t consider them, since they’d been there since we were born. Same as the lake and the train hauling coal and sulfur.

Times are different. It’s not necessary to fly a kite anymore. It’s not necessary to see it dip and learn when to run.  To pull the string and walk with the wind, watching it stagger, then when the moments right, turn into the breeze and watch it dance back into the spring sky. It was essential once. It was essential to let out all the line, risking the high winds that could send it crashing back to earth. But to master those winds was a craft indeed.

It’s not necessary anymore. There are so many more important things, I’m told. My problem is I never figured them out, nor considered them.

Cooper got it right away. The string, the wind and the sky. It’s nice being his Granddad, because I get to show him good things, while he reminds me how lucky I am.

Very fine day.

storytime again


the fires keep burning. the smoke is thick. we haven’t seen the mountains for some time. the bush is closed. today we had wind from the south and then it turned and came from the north. the smoke has cleared somewhat. it was the north wind that did it. a few rain drops as well. the first since the end of june. i felt like aiming my face directly at them.

jody had to go to the hospital this morning. chest pains. they ruled out problems with her heart. her lungs are congested with smoke. the doctor said it has been a common occurrence this season.

it’s been a summer of red suns, sun up and sun down. with the moon red all night long.

the doctor who saw jody was young. she looked tired too. i read the charts on the wall. don’t give men on viagra nitrates. don’t give cocaine users beta blockers.

jody is better now, after a mask of ventolin. she has asthma and now must take her inhaler every four hours. she is back to working too hard. drying tomatoes, worrying, trying to get it all done. if only i could instil some of my laziness in her.

hospitals are awful places. impersonal. they have to be. that’s how they save us.

the bush is closed. the trees and creeks cut off. the backroads barricaded. where am i supposed to go? what am i to do with this lump of anger?

tomorrow is a young teachers funeral. i am going to try and go. cancer took her. she was nice to me when i was mostly invisible sweeping floors and emptying garbage. she kept small magnetic words on the blackboard. i’d arrange them into poems and jokes. the kids would always add to them. i’d add more the next day. those words and what they said always made me smile.

she smiled too, laughing as well, talking gardening or stars or whatever she was teaching.

the last time we saw each other we hugged and talked about the school yard.

jody looked beautiful putting on her gown. her breasts and bare back without conscience. my eyes still stuck even now after all. she turned and asked me to tie her up. i tied the blue ribbons in a bow, while her chest laboured.

it is days like this when smoke looks like a snowstorm. when the sky is low. when i can’t figure if it’s hot or cold. when the best is to hunker down and wait it out. maybe pour a drink. splash the whiskey with scant rain.

instead i can’t keep still. there is a snake crawling towards me. the sun is coming through the bullet holes and it doesn’t look promising.

keep calm the voice says. but anger’s never failed me.

Steel Bridge


It was about this time of year I’d start looking out the school window and wishing I was walking the tracks, following the river to the fishing holes.

It was called Steel Bridge because it was the first one in the area not made of wood. That made it special. It had good fishing hole under it. The locals all had their secret ways to catch char in the spring and whitefish in the fall.

It’s still a crossing for the trains hauling coal to the coast to be shipped to China. A few locals still cast a line and drink beer. Some hide out under the pilings and further, towards town in the high brush beside Toby Creek. The tourists paddle canoes and kayaks under the steel with instructions to, ‘stay right’ in high water.

Broken, oiled and cresote treated ties wait to be hauled away. I still walk the tracks and fish below the pilings. Willow saves branch after branch and barks at tourists the same as fish.