Category Archives: poems

COURAGE REQUIRED & What A Difference A Week Makes

 

Happy 2021 my pretties! A couple of first drafts, writing still saving my psyche. Rock on and and remain well.

 

 

BRAVE

Noise Manor born,
Leather swaddled, swoon worthy
Lizard Prince, zapped, skull branded,
Wicked brained and lens-handed.

Shades-concealed peripheral glancing
All-seeing oracular eagle eyes
Take me in, propel me
Future forward faster
Than the magic bullets whizzing past.

Once the tousled raven-haired
Son with the most sun,
Expert stick handler alights
Upon a daily industrious tear
Through the cities,
Playing power tools guitar style.

Ripped t-shirt death wishes
Upon a rock star came true
For so many of our comrades.

Fiercely dumb as intelligent,
I pay no heed to gossip
But proficiently kept my location
Secret for much of our lives,
From his eternal knowing snarl.

Avian marked forbear
Spreads his wings to shelter,
Nurture fledglings.
Knows not fear.
Relentless fighter
Lightsabers frenemies.
Relentless suitor
Bears roaring mouths of lily,
Slams shut
Decades of black door
To open the portal to light.

Owns his skin,
Owns beats like no other,
A heart that beats like no other,
Worn on David of Michelangelo arms.
Red boned record lover
Basks in our spotlight
And is here now.
At last.

 

ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HOWE SOUND

Image may contain 1 person,
dog, plant, outdoor and nature,
according to social media.
Grief out of the picture.
Do we really need
another photo of another pet?

No one else had to mourn
when our mutt expired.
They cared but only being polite,
island vet carting away his bulk
for three hundred bucks,
SamIAm’s passing sad
but no tragedy.

A chaotic death that occurred
while I was on the mainland.
Sam had puked in the morning
before I ran to catch the ferry.
He often vomited after devouring
everything in his path; colossal
mushrooms, deer poop, beetles,
voracious as he was vicious
toward other dogs. Ducks.

No fur baby this hound,
though adorable and adored
by our posse,
kids riding him pony-style
or tossing sticks for hours.
My hapless, overwhelmed,
home-schooled and home alone
teenaged son called in a panic,
horror I could only imagine,
sickened as he described
peering into Sam’s unseeing eyes,
I helpless, unable to help
or take charge.
Dammit! On the one
day I have appointments in town.

Attempting to shield my beset boy
I had not yet instructed him,
warned of the cavalcade of loss
steaming its way straight for his soul
relentlessly as a tugboat.
There is no way
to illustrate its impact.
Gentle or tough, hushed or brazen
there is no way to spare anyone
from that particularly cold,
hard fact of life.
Hold Fast,
about all one can offer.

UNSAVE THE DATE / Plague poems…

…say it all, and certainly better than I can in prose.

Try to spill my guts here but I’m never comfortable revealing too much. Apparently I’m a “super-social introvert.” Still I’m not used to this degree of solitude though it equates with freedom, once I tamp down the anxiety. Been writing like mad and happy to share some verse. Stay well my pretties.

 

 

UNSAVE THE DATE

Plague year pall
Over wedding season.
Gloomy groom,
Abbreviated bride-
Hamstrung planner.
Perhaps temperature checks,
Accessorised, matching masks?
But who will admire her lipstick?
How will she kiss her lucky guy?
And who will smuggle in bliss?

While florists go broke,
Whiskery best man’s relieved,
Happily ensconced in his bunker.

 

STILL IN THE KNOW

Does the city teach
Rudiments of urban life?
The corolla, how to sport a crown?
Both must be embraced
To be assimilated, to be chic.
More difficult is learning
To accept my mother,
A Québecois oddly named Corona,
That she skidded into me
While seething squarely.

There had been glimmerings,
As when a hoodie
Becomes a hood,
A mask, camouflage,
An errant clarinet
An instrument of spite.

As when a spangled nation
Tingles or spews
With nothing in between,
Might diffused, though might enough
To take us down with them,
With their rusticated dogmata,
Joy-sticking, foot soldier jingoists.

Boots on the ground
As the coastline burns,
Orca blubber boils,
Pretzel-stuffed crows
And black-lunged raptors plummet.

Messages mauled before delivery,
I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut.

 

 

VOLCANO WATCH-poem from forthcoming collection

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Egads! No time to write, or blog, or even record in my journal I’m so busy relocating/ launching the new business along with my big kid. But, I am making progress on the manuscript with the aid of a dear friend. Here is a poem from the forthcoming collection.

VOLCANO WATCH

Punch tools. Cutups.
Antlered animals.
Arm bones astonish.
Antipodes hook.

Winged jewels.
Bluegrass blades.
Amaranthine throats.
Nothing lost on me.

I am tossed about
In a volcano
Man, billows of black
Tidings. Lured to the horizon

Through a corn maze,
Past turbulence of mind,
Nothing but pink
Stars to separate us.

 

 

“Heather Haley-Poet.” How did that happen?

sideways

Certainly I didn’t plan to become a poet. I didn’t grow up thinking, when I grow up I’m going to be a poet. But in essence, it is who I am. I wasn’t exposed to literature. My father read Popular Mechanics and my mother, True Confessions. Though, being an Irish queen of blarney, Corona could spin a mean yarn.

I didn’t get a degree. I dropped out of university and ran away to join the punk rock circus; sang, wrote songs and poetry which I performed in coffee houses and nightclubs. When I returned to Canada, in a fluky way, published my first collection, Sideways, with Anvil Press. Three Blocks West of Wonderland came out with Ekstasis Editions in 2009 so I’m not exactly prolific, though never cease writing. In a haphazard way, I’m becoming “widely anthologized;” Verse Map of Vancouver (Anvil),  Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry (Mother Tongue Publishing), Alive at the Center (Ooligan Press), FORCE Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia (Mother Tongue Publishing), The Wild Weathers; a gathering of love poems (Caitlin Press), The SpokenWord WorkBook (Banff Centre Press), Where the Nights are Twice as Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets (Goose Lane Editions), The Other 23 1/2 Hours, What Your MFA Didn’t Teach You (Wolsak & Wynn), and the forthcoming Simon Fraser University’s Lunch Poems Anthology. Is my approach irresponsible or irreverent? Due to a bad attitude perhaps and Sideways might be entirely appropriate.

I’ve worked in many genres; journalism/reviewer, non-fiction/blog, prose/novel and written several screenplays.  I always go back to poetry. Or, come back to poetry.

Recently I completed a rough draft of my latest manuscript, Detective Work. Why? It’s in me, verse. And I have no idea how it got there.

MY WEEK

Fed a germ.
Old dog.
Spooned flies out of yogurt.
Dislodged ants from the toaster.
Entered words.
Fought for blackberries.
Free stuff.

Doctored bites.
Signed language.
Collected greens,
Heritage tomatoes.
Meme parlanced.
Registered my feelings.

Last house on Husband Rd.
Prolific bamboo décor.
You can sit in a resin chair
Forever, white ones
Especially war strong.
Too late in the week now
To do anything nice.

Or, nicely.
Too late in our life spans
For anything,
Though he’s still trying
To Xerox his ass,
Moon earth.

 

WINTER HEAT

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WINTER HEAT

You and I. We
Warm the cabin
With a fiesta.
Slow dances.
Tortuous torch songs.

He who orchestrates touch
Who once handed me
My limping orders
Favours the melted
And I,
Kiosk chocolate.
Cormorants black as cinder.

You ban air quotes. Kink.
I, fake railings. Balloon releases,
Especially for no occasion.
You inform me that yes
Some gingers are cold.
I confide that meanly handsome
Hot headed micks
Only made me think of We.

Novel reviews are in! And a poem called “Flesh Pot”

Slowly trudging along the dreaded book marketing trail-the main challenge being a lack of both time and money-but so far she’s receiving the star treatment and good reviews:

“The pace is electric, the scenes pulsate with energy, and through the character of Fiona, the reader is pulled into a world that can be beautiful and passionate one moment, and scary and ugly the next. The writing is so honest and direct, and dealing with such powerful feelings and social issues, that it will take your breath away.”-Nick Faragher, author of  The Well and other Stories and No Big Thing. Nick also characterized it as a punk Moveable Feast, which I love.

“You couldn’t ask for a better tour guide. Fiona wants to take you by the arm and show you everything – everything! – and you should let her. She’ll walk you through absurdly dysfunctional families, creatives and poseurs, mountains of cocaine, the thrills and bitter frustrations of band life, a city on fire, and sex that explores a lot of territory: tender, frenzied, exhilarating, surreal, brutal. Fiona tells it all, unflinching, with a survivor’s wry humor. Go on, get in – it’s a ride worth taking. Fiona will drive too fast, and you’ll love it.”-Katy Barzedor

“Don’t let the punk rock scare you; this is a woman’s story of love and adventure and survival. This is about sex and drugs and rock and roll. This is about a woman’s personal journey from young girl to abused victim to scarred survivor. It may begin with the punk rock years, but follows the lead character Fiona through scenes of punk rock violence, to a more insidious violence of personal relationships. Warning: There is quite a bit of sex here, so if you are offended by graphic scenes of sex, stay away. But if you like sex and classic sexy writing, you will love this book. We know that not all sex is good. Sometimes there is a dark side. Poor Fiona discovers this horrible truth as an attraction becomes a trap. The scenes during the LA riots evoke the Jump into the fire scene in Goodfellas, but told through a strong woman’s perspective. Rarely do you read books from a woman’s perspective about sex and music. The Town Slut’s Daughter takes you into the dark side of the music business. Why it makes punk rock seem tame in comparison.”-Dennis Milt

“A whirlwind tale about a girl looking for identity and artistic expression, that takes you from the early Vancouver punk scene through the trenches of rock and roll, life and excess in 1980’s Los Angeles and culminates with the L.A. riots. Intense, passionate, at times brutal, and also funny. The dialogue between characters had me laughing out loud. A rollercoaster ride that raises your hair and lands you back into your seat with a hard bump.”-Tracy Bissonnette

No time to write! But I will be included in several anthologies coming out next year; Love Where the Nights Are Twice As Long, a Goose Lane collection of love letters penned by Canadian poets, edited by David Eso, and a Simon Fraser University anthology of work from their Lunch Poems reading series which I participated in. They selected this one:

FLESH POT 

Born muscle bound

Backboned, map, matrix-

Mother intact

Into families, slums

 

Manors, private

Security firms, institutions.

Pirates or the pious

We flourish. Raw teeth, germs,

 

Clubfeet do not impede us,

Rank and garbled speech fleeting

As tin jeeps, our struggle

Barbie Doll drama, tumult banal,

 

Pain prosaic, strife fueling ripeness

Gauntlets passed through swiftly

Until the day we drop. Nominated,

Cornered, required to wither

 

Under the gun,

Succumb, for we remain

That tender, precious human

Flesh terminators aim for.

 

 

NOT MUCH TO MISS EXCEPT THE GLAMOUR & BARFLIES. So glad I quit smoking…

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I rarely enter writing contests but I like the bent of this one, the Tobacco Lit Writing Contest and I like Geist Magazine as well. My entry, from my book, Three Blocks West of Wonderland:

BIG TOBACCO HEIRESS

Quit cigarettes too late, just as he bumped

into the pleasures of paternity. Cigar rituals.

Crystal trapezoid ashtray ready on the desk

itchy sedge thin, trumped up gorgeous

delinquent daughter in mind. How did I spawn

such a barren, martini-swacked maladroit?

Off to fiesta every three months, flea circus of slackers.

fasionistas and slap jack suitors along for a free ride.

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He’s precise, positions the Cohiba in a double blade

stainless steel guillotine cutter. Scrutinizes the Avedon

portrait, a study in bad attitude. All attitude, filter less

Camel protruding from punk sneer. Karsh of Ottawa

snatched it, snapped rage.

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Dreading her return from Wagonga Inlet, he toasts

the tip above a flame, ensuring a good, even smoke.

Took them fishing. For yellow fin. Bream. He draws

rapidly, harshly, locking Bentley convertible keys

in the top drawer. Heading back early. Slow, due to a drop

in water temperature according to the pricey guide.

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Determined to cut her off if she doesn’t clean up.

Damned ash tunnels. Should puff gently,

though everything is about to give; the straw house

slanted as a rhombus, his lungs, faded to black.

Could leave it all to charity. Tough love

too callous. Probably rushed–ruined–her too.

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Bringing home our inner pseudo commandos

Yes, I have lived many places, known many people. All I can do is write, if I’m lucky, as I struggle to understand human behaviour. While still in mourning for the loss of one of the most loving and magnanimous individuals in my life, somewhat ironically, I am astonished at the capacity of others for spite, as if anger holds redemption. Well, if nothing else, I suppose it provides fuel, though far as I can tell, anger only propels one further and deeper down into a well of despair, paranoia and depression. I’ve resided in isolation. I know how it works, feel fortunate to have surfaced, partly due to the efforts of friends and family who never gave up on me.

PSEUDO COMMANDO

Cave apartment.
Lonesome injustice collector,
Lame prospero
Maintains object relations
With others based on envy.
Revenge-romance writer.

Between mean street patrols
And bitch prowling, corrals
The unwanted, hated, feared bits
Of himself, to reassemble,
Form of an enemy
Deserving of merciless rage.

Welcome to the neighbourhood.

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PRAISE

PRAISE

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The sea never ends.

Ask a trawler.

Every unexplored trench

Propels her to dive

Into urban ruination.

Blonde brick facade

Fails to deter local rapture consultant

Friendly neighborhood ecstatic man

Ecstatic with belief.

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Brother Earl pronounces

Each defeat of the heart

Each leave taking

Must ignite a torch song

For Jesus.

Any definition containing the word “God”

Is proof of God.

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She protests, demurely.

He persists, naturally.

There is no convincing the devout

You don’t need convincing.

The right(eous) crave victory

More than more than fish and loaves

She his undeserved indulgence.

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Piqued, he spends days

Mane taming, grip maintained,

Malignifying every utterance

From of her reluctant mouth

Discourse so acute

She threw up her hand. A signal. Stop.

Let’s restart. Imagine peace.

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Expert at diminution

He named her Heathen. Sub-human.

Steeply, speedily Ignorant. Condemned.

Though the pious never cease flaming

Both remain standing. Hopeful.

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