All posts by Heather Haley



Feels like the right way to kick off the week, return to editing and revising the new poems and my novel.  I’ve been preoccupied with music and the recording process. Life is a balancing act, isn’t it.

This one is inspired by the ocean of course. I tend to take it for granted and living in East Van fools me into forgetting that it’s just beyond those buildings across the street. Conceived on the Atlantic and raised by the Pacific, I am steeped in its depths.


Scattered as if a thundercloud
of savage Eden roses,
exquisitely sultry, she draws
admiration from reptilian denizens,

stares into shark eyes,
tapetum lucidum gleaming,
until their fins turn yellow
and their jaws relax,
a guttural engine driving her
to swim in circles, seeking
a channel red enough
to lead her home.

Mononymous chatterati discuss
the metamorphosis from fingerling to cetean,
her voice, the colour of salt,
as beguiling as a ship on the horizon,

its windows reeking of hell,
a colossal compass within,
vast enough to claim
the hemisphere’s islands of flesh.

Instinctively she steers away,
a creature of the depths,
swept along
towards the time to come,
its heady essence, flames of tide,
urban lighthouses guiding her return.

STUNTED-Another Sad Love Song









Another sad love song. Poem. My only solace is churning heartache into art.


Whispers of us
linger in the ether—
silence is an answer,
and I am listening.

With all that is no more,
and all that waits to be,
leaning into your absence
elicits song but no reply.

How present you are in the hollow
of my palm, in the turquoise it cradles,
a futile talisman to bridge the chasm,
to resurrect the calm before our quarrels.

Starved of forests, lacking in trees,
in branches where secrets unfold,
bereft of mountains,
we ceased climbing, ceased soaring.

We remained grounded
within the confines of four walls—
our love gasped for light,
reached for expanses it never found.

Through a breach I glimpse the cedar’s
grandeur, its tremendous shadow cast long,
a tender embrace that allows
my love for you, your love for me.









That time I featured at the Twisted Poets reading series.

Too busy to blog lately as I’m in writing and editing mode, this one of my latest efforts.


We are warriors, from Beowulf’s might
to the steel resolve of #MeToo,
defending our realms on the ground,
in fields, swamps or office towers.

My tag was Tomboy; armed with long
legs, a hard head and will of iron,
intrepid as any FPS avatar,
I carved sagas and slayed

with a wooden stick turned bazooka,
defending our makeshift fortress
against marauders, human or beast,
battle-sweating and vanquishing foes.

We braved treacherous ditches,
lecherous uncles, concealed glass shards,
blizzards, bumps, badger holes, bug bites,
thin ice, the vertigo of sky-high train trestles,

the ambush of leeches
and the stench of skunk cabbage.
Masters of evasion we dodged coyotes,
bears, thundering big rigs, sinister wells,

stumbling, squawking inebriated
parental units and lurking lone dudes
beckoning from their Pintos
in desolate parking lots.

Unrelenting scouting missions led us
to caves, derelict farmhouses,
looming, gnarled trees, and the vast,
echoing unknown of storm drains.

Our non-linear escapades were bound
by no script or code. No one lagged or rage-quit
and when trapped indoors we engaged
in ancient rites of Rummy, Crazy 8s and checkers.

My son, a paladin forged in digital fires
embarks on galaxy spanning quests, every challenge,
every boss fight a step toward connection,
bonds formed through adversity.

He’s learned to navigate, strategize,
communicate and persevere,
face down demons with a continent-
spanning team of allies united in purpose.

Beneath the gaze of the sun
or the glow of screens,
we share a legacy of adventure,
resilience and ceaseless discovery.










Latest revision of my kooky slay the patriarchy poem, a kind of extended metaphor,  transforming the speaker into Artemis, the ancient Greek goddess of the hunt to explore themes of power, transformation and retribution. I have the rest of April to compose new work and finish editing ahead of meeting with an astute editor to pull together a manuscript. If only I can focus. My concentration has improved. Onward & upward!



My options swell
when I’m a goddess,
a goddess of the wilderness.

If I were Artemis,
beyond mere video game avatar
summoned with a click,

I would weave the tale.
Darling, I would transform
you into a stag,

from predator to prey,
from player to played.
My golden arrows ace your sword.

Machine gun. Hubris.
I’d deploy Nemesis
or rouse the sea’s wrath,

foil your holiday,
or perhaps unleash a hoary boar
to maim your mean old butt.


I made the mistake-or was it-of posting this recently. Almost immediately discourse deteriorated into unpleasantness. No wonder I’m reluctant to employ my voice or post anything remotely political. Navigating such a complex, polarized information landscape is fraught.

First there was a disagreement about the authenticity of the photo, which is fair enough. Then a sort of pissing contest ensued about who was the most well-informed, or least indoctrinated.

It appears to me there is little possibility of rational discussion, or a ceasefire, or the unimaginable therefore unattainable, peace.

What breaks my heart most is that despite our potential, human beings are seemingly incapable of true advancement. It’s all so fucking sad.


The podcaster with a legion of followers?
The journalist who’s been there,
face etched by the sun of that distant land?
What of the emigrant decrying the place,
or at least, its right-wing government?

Is it the loudest voice that holds the truth?
Or the one armed with the sharpest wit,
slicing through arguments with precision?
Is it the one drawing the most poignant,
heart wrenching analogies:
“World’s largest concentration camp.”

The optimists, pessimists or realists?
All claim to know the facts,
seemingly own the facts. Clarity.

Censors lurk, eager to snuff out every voice,
mute dissent, but still, we hear. Listen.

Exactly who are the indoctrinated?
Who wields oppression’s heaviest hand?

No one agrees as debates
devolve into discord none can flee
while sidestepping the vital teachings
of forgotten epochs,
flames ignited in a terrain
rife with deceit and harsh decrees.
I wonder how to mine hope from the mire.

Complexities abound in every human heart,
our aim not to unfurl hate
but to envision a world rooted in empathy.

Can I hear a gentle word?
Is there room for a kind gesture?

I cast my lot with truth,
however elusive.
Weariness creeps
into the wait for illumination,
the vigil for the dawn
of a new era.
A new beginning.

PARADISE & PANDEMONIUM: Crafting Poetry from Chaos


“It was never an apple.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Despite several disruptions, I’ve been writing like a fiend this year in order to complete a collection of poetry and new edition of my novel, “The Town Slut’s Daughter,” for its 10th anniversary in October, which blows my mind. I’m aiming to amass enough new work by end of April, enough to pull together a manuscript with an astute editor.

In any case, I happened across this funny and irreverent meme, the best characteristics of memes-and thought of Paradise, a concept as elusive in meaning as it is in real life. I found two poems with references to Paradise, both character sketches, both inspired by the same character. While some people remain enigmas, churning them into art is perhaps peversely, gratifying.

The image is “The Paradise Sonata – Revelation,”  a woodcarving on paper by  renowned Czech painter, draughtsman, graphic artist, Max Švabinský. Only the ether knows who’s responsible for the meme. Gotta love life in the 21st century; it’s moments like these that remind me to cherish the unpredictability and interconnectedness of life.

Happy Monday my pretties! I wish you all a week filled with fruitful endeavors.



Free from moral constraints,
self-described mental case,
more lewdster than lover
disappears in a puff
of cigarette smoke
along with fig leaf
and cute apple cheeks.

Though his well-crafted sentences
my pronounced longing
did nothing
to create union
or usher in paradise.



Though you may have an affinity
for the coke-addled,
a penchant for the woebegone
and a fetish for the shattered,
you will abandon the road to ruin
if I take too long
or refuse to take direction.

Transcendence is not
your destination, nor love.
Love is beside the point,
as is joy.
You may do jolly,
but not joy.
Whatever the point is,
your needs and desires
are shifty and ill-defined.
“Whatever,” you declare.

May your spittle fly,
may your words be sharp as daggers.
May tremors tickle the foot
of your bed, deliver
the entertainment you crave.

I will arrive at my destination
whether I like it or not.

I arrive as surely as verse and song,
for my destination is mine.
Your mayhem can’t blanket me
or smother chimera,
any more than you can “handle” me,
or get me, or have me,
me and my back-breaking dreams.










On this Valentines Day eve when I’m feeling more than a little disillusioned with romantic love, I will share a poem about a mother’s love for her son. Truly eternal.


In the languid night’s tender glow,
through labyrinthian processions
upon an infinite summer catwalk,
we glide beneath a banana tree canopy,
south of the equator where snowbirds go.

Here we are soul sisters once more,
flaunting our glittering gowns,
tittering, kisses flying
though jasmine-perfumed air,
enveloped in a gauze of unbridled bliss
until, within this splendor
no one knows where my son is.

Panic ignites a creeping ivy of dread,
blossoming into a frantic search
the way I searched the one time I lost him
in waking life, when he vanished
into the maw of a vast supermarket,
leaving me to frantically call out
for an eternity/five harrowing minutes,

his absence now a shadow that grows
with the passing years, perhaps a catalyst
for the portraits of Junior that surround,
each frame a shrine to the fleeting nature
of moments.

In his realm my son reigns supreme,
an architect of worlds,
weaving narratives,
parading his own grand designs.

“…The Poet’s Dust…”

Happy Robbie Burns Day! My son and I only unearthed our Caledonian roots seven years ago. After posting Family Tree DNA test results, a cousin and genealogical researcher contacted me and from there, the search began in earnest. She found a fairly close relative which eventually led to our long-lost Ferguson clan/kin. Thank you, Amy, you’re an angel!

We come from a long line of Robert Fergusons and I like to imagine we’re descendants of Robert Fergusson, the 18th poet who “ led a bohemian life in Edinburgh, the city of his birth, then at the height of intellectual and cultural ferment as part of the Scottish Enlightenment. Many of his extant poems were printed from 1771 onwards in Walter Ruddiman’s Weekly Magazine, and a collected works was first published early in 1773. Despite a short life, his career was highly influential, especially through its impact on Robert Burns. He wrote both Scottish English and the Scots language, and it is his vivid and masterly writing for which he is principally acclaimed.” This article discusses the influence of Fergusson on Burns.

I was fortunate to visit Edinburgh for the first time last fall and certainly felt right at home in a city that reveres literature and honours poets, including this statue of Robert Fergusson who “was buried in the Canongate Kirkyard. Robert Burns, who admired his poetry, arranged for a headstone and provided the inscription in 2004. “No sculptured Marble here, nor pompous lay, No storied Urn nor animated Bust: This simple stone directs pale Scotia’s way, to pour her sorrows o’er the Poet’s dust”.

Perhaps my seemingly mysterious penchant for verse and love of language, which always puzzled certain people, might be explained by our heritage and inspired this poem.


Ferocious as I am elegant
I did not ask for this
protracted neck, pale plumage,

penchant for the pond.
I may appear to be gliding
but my palmate feet paddle.

Neither did I ask to be a versifier,
foolishly speaking
in the voice of a swan.

We did not ask for this fate.
Who in their right mind would,
the gift of life bestowed without consent.

Born with words in my mouth, placed
by an unseen hand, an omnipresence
whether I believe in divinity or not.

What does it matter, my faith?
I can identify with a hissy waterfowl
or the Virgin Mary’s quiet grace.

Blame it on nature.
Biology. Perhaps a tribal resonance:
Yeats, Baudelaire and Burns whispering.

Words surge forth, a torrent,
language coursing through my veins,
language etched in my bones.





Happy New Year my pretties! Eat my dust defamers and bloodsuckers; I am not only moving forward, I am hurtling ahead, resolute and able to compose consistently. Latest poem, first draft:


Forecasts foretell the fading rustle of paper,
echoing the decline of oracle bones
and though I roam a boundless digital domain,
treasured scrolls still clutch my heart.

Cull your darlings, for eco’s sake,
as I grapple with releasing their tenacious grip;
bankers’ boxes tucked beneath my bed
brimming with artifacts; broadsides, pamphlets,

postcards, chapbooks, flyers, now contained,
finite, defying the allure of documents.
My successors may not revere their significance,
no meaning when I’m no longer here.

Thus, I must sift and winnow
before my journey into the abyss,
allow ephemera to dissolve into the ether,
including the once cherished,

purging a sort of strength planning
amid life’s gyrations,
as to better leave behind
these oh so poetic chases.

Seeing As Our Desires Guide Us…









A work in progress for those paying attention. Thank you. I’m diligently toiling away on two books, my fourth collection of poetry and a rewrite of my novel, which buoys me amid daily heartbreaking news of strife, war and disaster.


Seeing the mountains,
however distant buoys me.
Grouse Mountain presides
outside my window,
its Eye of the Wind turbine intrigues,

the way beholding a constellation’s sprawl
casts enchantment,
the way beholding you
the way we stood apart together,

contemplating Vincent’s eyes and irises,
engulfed in cascades of cobalt,
amid a sea of raw self-portraits,
lost in ecstatic undulations,
imperceptible dilations,

transported from the shackles of realism
to a realm of painterly distortions,
to Saintes-Maries,
unfurled before us, as if a canvas,
a portal to the 19th century.

I see your mammal gaze,
sinewy strokes, tumultuous vigor,
the disastrous mettle of your being.
We carve our vision, craft sightlines,
allowing desire to guide us.