Category Archives: blog

A mother named Corona


Fortunately she never went viral. My mother’s name was Corona. French/Irish Catholic, Québécois, no one seems to know why. I vaguely recall some family lore that claimed a nun at the convent where she was born took it from the typewriter in the office. Why? Was my grandmother incapacitated? She’d become pregnant at age 15 by one Reginald Haley and sent to the home for unwed mothers. Apparently he returned the day she reached the age of consent to marry her. They had four more children before he went off to war with the Royal Rifles regiment, eventually taken prisoner by the Japanese army and dying of dysentery. Grandma contracted cancer forcing Corona to quit school at the age of twelve to care for her and her siblings. Damn. It’s a Shakespearian tragedy! All this according to Corona who loved to regale us with stories, mostly sad and horrifying tales of terror and abuse. Though I loved her deeply, Corona was a horrendous mother and I wince every time I hear “coronavirus.”

Ain’t life grand! As I told my sister, all the pain becomes assimilated, though we had to ignore it in order to survive.

She does a good job of not thinking about it and though not much consolation I told her we will never be free of the past, memories a vital part of who we are. Like scars, always visible but integrated into and onto our body. Soul. And I cherish my scars; hard won, well earned, the best sort of tattoo.


My Blessing


Though a devout atheist I am blessed. Twenty-five years ago my son was born. I always joke I nearly forgot to have children; in other words, he wasn’t planned. Conceived in love certainly but I was still conflicted about parenthood. My mother did not inspire nor evoke tender feelings. We did share a strong bond but because she was bipolar, or something-undiagnosed-our relationship was fraught with tumult, pain, anguish. And abuse. My father-who turned out not to be my biological father-was no picnic either. They were miserable together; took it out on each other, then me and my two younger sisters. “Dysfunctional” would be an understatement. Of course I knew none of these terms, just knew we were fucked and that beating your kids, wrong. I considered running away many times but there was no where to go. As we moved often there were no aunts or grandparents close by. No refuge.

When I discovered I was pregnant I was dismayed but knew it was now or never. The doctor tried to convince me to have another abortion but for the first time I felt strongly, said no, I want this child. No doubt the hormones might have clouded my judgment and my dreaded biological clock was ticking but I have no regrets. Raising a child with special needs has been a huge challenge and I’ve had much less time for creative pursuits but my passion for poetry dims in comparison to the love we share. He’s a good son. A good man. It took me far too long to realize nothing in this life is more vital than family, friends, community. Nothing sustains us like the power of love.


Escaping the Big Smoke

Near Lillooet

Got to go on a road trip, one brief summer escape; drove up to 70 Mile House in the Cariboo to visit my previously estranged sister Donna. Despite my trepidation there was little to no awkwardness, as if nearly 20 years hadn’t passed. Well, we went through hell together, which creates an unbreakable bond. Both Donna and her partner Gord were kindly hospitable. She doted on us and he made several repairs to my vehicle. Also, escaped the Internet, caught up on some reading; relaxing.

Got my dog fix as well! Went on a walk along Watch and Green Lakes with sweet border collie Davis and my sister’s friend Sonja, owner of an  exuberant beagle/lab cross named Ridley; thrilled to hear the call of the loon,  the area dotted with wetlands. Donna carried an air horn, in case of bear encounters, though we weren’t exactly in the wilderness.

Enjoyed driving in wide open spaces! Visiting parts of the province I haven’t seen in a long time reminds me how epic this place is, how fortunate I am to live here. My new 2002 Camry performed well. I need to add oil more consistently, she got somewhat overheated in those mountain passes. We travelled Hwy 1 up and returned via the 99 south. Felt so good to get out of the Big Smoke. Lyle had another scooter stolen recently! Nothing to be done about it apparently, certainly not by the VPD. I will always love Vancouver but I don’t need to reside here. I’m a small town girl at heart. These days, all I want to do is get the hell out of the city, permanently. We’re discussing the possibility which might even become Plan A.

Poetics of Poetry Film

I was contacted recently by  Sarah Tremlett of Liberated Words out of London, UK regarding the forthcoming book, Poetics of Poetry Film published by Intellect Press. Me plus Whore in the Eddy, the videopoem I produced on Bowen Island with my son Lucas are to be featured. Nice to know I’m not entirely out of the loop. I had dealings with Sarah and her Liberated Words associate Lucy English when I was the Artistic Director of Visible Verse at the Cinematheque, of which they were big boosters. As I told her, I’m counting the days until I semi-retire next spring-hopefully-and can get back to writing, perhaps even videopoetry.

The latest…from most fronts…

It was a huge relief to have the cast removed after six weeks. Any degree of debilitation is irritating so a fractured radius constituted a huge challenge to my finances and morale. I am grateful for the Internet and good friend Thesa Pakarnyk who kindly facilitated a GoFundMe to cover rent, bills and groceries while I was off work. I had applied for income assistance to no avail. Ignored for two weeks, when the ministry finally made contact I was given nothing but a series of hoops to jump through; sent in 20 documents and still they wanted more! I gave up in disgust.

My latest challenge is buying a new old car with a $2000 budget, financed by my dear son. The Volvo is on its last wheels; broken doors and a leaky sunroof. I’ve decided I will not drive out to Surrey to look at cars, no matter how long it takes to find a deal closer to home. So many scam artists on Craigslist!

Oh! And speaking of poetry, after years of searching for a home for Rattler, the 80s zine Peter Haskell and I published in Los Angeles, Simon Fraser University Library’s Special Collections has acquired it and are in the process of cataloguing. Oddly, no one in So Cal could see its value.

And lastly but not leastly my poems Houla and Birdwatching appear in the current issue of EVENT Poetry & Prose. Nice to be reminded that I am a poet. I hope to write verse again in the not-too-distant future. Might as well post them here:


An infant is not a toy.
An infant cannot breathe underwater
Or fly though the air. Do not drape it
Over the prone man’s head

Or dress it up like a doll.
Journalists view the grisly scene.
Post. Share. Tweet.
UN observers abort,

Prominent commentators punt.
But the drunken skipper acts,
Ordering clean sheets and neat rows
Down below in the hold.

Rogue unidentified man
Hoists the limp boy
Let’s not quibble.

It matters not if the child
Is southern or northern,
Whined or knew pride.
It is as good as dead.

Crooked passages.
Limping messengers.
Frantic, dog-chasing-tail orbits.
A million ships cannot transport us.


 Binoculars resting on the sill

Blackly inveigle us to look.

The luxury of observation,

Rackety silk.

Cotton sheets abuzz,

I sleep with a mad bomber

In a bed too narrow

To contain explosives.

Eroding acres encroach

Shores of receding flesh.

Grip off, I watch


Elfin hummers amok,

Flap-happy mallards

Swarm a blustery afternoon.

I recall bionic gunrunners, East Van,

First day back from gangster land.

Recoiling at the forecast I’d fled,

Cramped in a compact car,

A woman piloting the wife at last.

Blindfolded against his scrutiny,

Foiling implicit shame, I skirted

Roadblocks, sculpted my spine

Straight, forced it

To withstand gales. Tolls.


Lousy steward, I drop

The argillite raven,

Gleaming abalone eyes divided.

I slap my back with hot plasters

So it might bend when necessary.

Fit inside. Repair.

When will listening

Reveal the shape? When

Will seeing decode the trick?




Mangled my arm recently, which is why I finally have time to blog, albeit slowly, with one hand, the left. Suddenly I’m a southpaw and stranded since I can’t drive either. Survived a long winter of cold and flu viruses, snow days, then, bam! Only thought I was in the clear. Freak accident. I was sitting on the floor, leaning on a folding chair when it suddenly collapsed, crushing my forearm. Ouch! It’s the same radius I broke in a horrific car crash as a teenager. Surgery was required again, this time to remove the metal pin used to set it way back when and replace it with lighter, stainless steel hardware. I got an upgrade! I’ve been in a lot of pain and off work for a minimum of 6-8 weeks according to my orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank. Being self-employed I am not eligible for EI or such benefits. I’m currently subsisting on meager savings which will run out soon. Dear friend Thesa is kindly setting up a GoFundMe campaign. There is hope. There is always hope.

And wings. Flight.  I am grateful to my fellow avian afficionados across the street that hang both songbird and hummingbird feeders. Once again I have a use for my binoculars. Such a lovely distraction.

I Am A Quitter

I used to smoke. A lot. Though it took at least three major attempts I finally succeeded in breaking up with cigarettes. Nicotine has to be one of the most insidious addictions! Don’t quit quitting, I always say, eventually it will stick. I’m celebrating nearly 25 smoke-free years!

Happy Anniversary! One year since our Ferguson (Re)Union


We are celebrating! As I related in my blog, on November 13 Kelly received long-awaited results of her DNA test proving we are half-sisters. I have three other sisters Cindy, Tricia and Janet, 13 nieces and nephews and numerous clan members. Many thanks to cousin Amy Newman, whose genealogical expertise put me in touch with first cousin Valerie and then everyone else. Sadly my father Bob Ferguson died mere weeks before my son and I were scheduled to fly out to Toronto to meet him. Still, I am grateful to have finally solved the mystery and found our kin who are unerringly kind and warm and fun to be with. I began to think it might never happen.  We are happily getting to know each other and establishing relationships.


Photo by Gabor Gasztonyi

Our island boy is now a smart, handsome talented young man, an urban dweller and turning 24 today. Being a millennial, he’s also a digital native, Internet and media savvy, so much so he’s earning a living via his YouTube channel RAYCEVICK.

Being Asperger’s, Junior is a loner, content in his lair/studio producing videos for 300,00 plus subscribers. He is very exacting and does it all; writing, editing, voice-overs. There was a time when we were certain he would become a golf pro-people swooned over his natural swing- but he lost interest, or perhaps hope at puberty, which has a way of colliding with one’s dreams, of putting reality into harsh relief. But, surrounded by poets, musicians and artists from a tender age, Lucas learned to create content by osmosis, teaching himself to edit video and launching his first YouTube channel at age ten. Happy Birthday my son, you truly are a blessing.


Is it cold enough for hot chocolate?
Yes. We’re baking cookies. Come and help.

The kid that insists on blueberry candy canes
would rather drive through virtual streets of San Francisco

or James Bond jet-pack over snow drifts
than join us in the kitchen.

Takes no heed of time until the sun
sets on his screen. He has heat. Love. Pockets

of pizza. All the bare necessities. He is beyond
baking, toy aprons or pretending

to wash the dishes, toddler hands lost
inside flock-lined rubber gloves.

Helmeted in his racing seat
before the steering wheel our boy laughs

at vintage Looney Tunes, unaware
their blackface is racist, Porky Pig’s stuttering

politically incorrect. Where will he find ferocity
knowing nothing but Disney warfare?

Molokai, lost in time island where he refused
snorkeling, even to wet his head. He will jump

on a trampoline, will not punch a bag.
Kick the can. Form a fist.

He will sink a 32-foot putt
but can he take a hit? No worries.

He’s happy biding island time, its moat
foiling the bears, bores, kindergarten foes.

My Favourite Agitator; RIP Randall Desmond Archibald AKA Randy Rampage

Photo: bev davies

Randy means so much to me. We were in a band, the short-lived, ill fated 45s, which I chose to believe was about vinyl, not firearms.  Few life experiences are more bonding than writing songs and performing together. I met him at a time in my life when I was fumbling, uncertain. NO FUTURE after all. He provided direction and made me feel like I could do anything, by example, through sheer exuberance, and with kind and encouraging words. I marvelled at his unparalleled self-assuredness. Certainly he could do anything! And did. His confidence and sense of purpose were infectious and for that I am eternally grateful. It was a privilege knowing Randy and Randy will remain an inspiration. Always.

More photos here.