Not so simple

I drew a border
line around her
a boundary first in sand
then soil
and finally granite
boundaries blocking all
of necessity,
I confined her
in black and white
flat borders
lined in pen
my heart aches
to create a troupe l’oeil
even if depth
is only
she was always a lie,
my borderline

1SageFemme All Rights Reserved 2016


some journeys begin slowly, tentatively,
one toe inching across a border
unsure of the terrain

not this one
it was immediate
the friend-of-a-friend
(they kissed once, did you hear?)
became one of us,
peeing in the woods up at that campground
with all the nuclear

and more than that,
she became one of mine;
the precious few I cleave to,
drop everything for,
invite over when my baby is a day old
and my body hurts
and I can’t feel the joy yet
because I am in a Bad Marriage
but she has fed me
and made me laugh
and been my anchor

she told me of moving from house to house,
being a peacekeeping nomad child
in a sometimes happy childhood
not quite unaware
of the war waging about her,
“did you know,” she would say,
running her finger around the rim of her glass,
“that my name was chosen in revenge,
because my father hated it,
and he left my pregnant mother
for her best friend, who lived across the street?”
she knew this,
that she was supposed to be a weapon,
so, whether in rebellion,
or because she had no other choice,
she became incapable of fighting,
pathologically peaceful and agreeable;
she became a counselor,
and, by a lucky turn,
kissed her neighbour,
who also kissed my wife,
and this is how I came to meet my
once-upon-a-time friend
with the weaponized name,
a tendency to lateness and forgetfulness,
a heart bigger that anything
and the most beautiful drunken singing voice,

if I rewind far enough,
I find a few years, in the beginning,
when we were both happy,

she saw how my wife was fun and charismatic
and drank more than the rest of us
and didn’t work, and put me down
while praising me,

I saw how her wife
worked hard, and wasn’t that fun,
but sure could be mean when she felt like it,
and how my friend, just like me,
smiled, and moved the conversation

we kept each other’s secret;
that keeping peace
was exhausting,
that really,
we were broken,
cracked into a thousand shiny pieces
always picking up bits,
and handing them back to one another,
“here you go sweetie,
you dropped this,”

when her sister got married,
and she left the wedding in tears,
the homophobia finally too much,
I met her on my porch at 2 am
in my pjs with a cup of tea,
she in her bridesmaid’s dress,
mascara running down her face,
and we laughed into the low-rent
east end

when my second baby was born
and I wandered aimlessly about my house
puke-bucket in hand,
not sure what to do,
my friend would show up
when my wife was at the bar,
make me tea,
and tell me
“you got this, honey,
you’ve done it before,
you’re strong,
you’re a good mom,
keep on”

when her baby was born
my life was a mess;
we began to drift,
not apart, exactly,
but into fragments,
parcels of time perpetually interrupted
by our three small people,
conversations unfinished,
and only now,
at this moment,
do I understand;

we were,
neither of us,
to begin with
and parenting required
damage control

we put on our big-girl pants
went to work
managed life with grace
and a smile,
exactly as we were raised to do

my marriage fell apart first
and my good friend was there,
in the shadows,
helping when she could,
but mostly,
because life was crazy then,
I was alone

then her marriage fell apart
in a grand finale
of domestic violence,
that turned out to be
not the end,
but a pit-stop

I tried to be there,
to help her plan her exit strategy,
and promised not to call CAS,
even though her daughter
saw everything
her daughter
her mother

but she was leaving,
had left already,
was only going back to get some things…

“please, please, don’t call,”
she begged,
and I listened,
she didn’t want her wife to be fired,
they needed the money,
would need the money,
for the divorce,

I didn’t call
and she went back
and that was that
the end of us,
diverging into the one who stayed
and the one who got away,
and I think of her

with hope

1sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2016

Miss you

Today I miss you
Scrambling best I can
Up this muddy mountain
Of regret.
It’s taking effort
To move my mind through the exercise
Of cleansing and renewal
Burning mental sage
Scorching my
Bonfire belly
Choking on smoky tendrils
As they billow upward
Carrying my incantation
To be free
Of the scent of you,
The image of your
Parted lips
Your sigh and the taste of raw
To be free
Of your arms
Surrounding my dreams,
To be free of the want,
The dangerous longing
The liars memories
The gut-deep sensation
Of missing

1sagefemme All rights reserved 2016


notes to my sons


October 19th, 2014

I search the horizon,
Scanning northeast past
the Don Valley,
See two red lights marking a hill
In the general direction of you
My boys
It is Sunday morning
You are 26 km away
From where I sleep tonight;
The fastest route up the Parkway
Zipping eastward on the 401
A quick jaunt south on McCowen
I could perhaps sneak in
And creep to your bedsides
Rub your sweaty hair
And whisper in your ears
“Mommy loves you”
I hope your dreams are sweet,
Your souls resting free
Of the despair I feel
Knowing that you might need me
And I cannot be there.
My children,
I wish you the self-centred joy
Of a happy childhood
Untethered by longing and regret.
I will her to be good enough
To love you as I do,
To put your needs before her own
To put down the vodka
To really work to support you
To be the parent you need her to be.
But even then, I know
That one day you will see
What now you are too young to know.
And I hope you will forgive me
For being forced into this split life;
I hope this way is best for you
Though it breaks my heart.
I feel you tonight
Plain as if you were calling me
From the other room.
I want you to know
When you call,
My heart hears
But I cannot respond
Except with these words:
My children
I love you
To the far reaches
Of the very last star
And back.
I will love you always
And forever,
From the moment you first took shape in my womb
Until my last breath on this earth
And into the unknown beyond
Your joy is my joy
Your pain is my pain
You are so special
My gifts to the world
My boys.

1sagefemme All Rights Reserved 2014


Here I sit with this shit
In the pit of my soul
Over-wound, vibrating,
Break or stay whole?

Safety’s off and I’m cocked
And I’ll scream ’til I’m heard
With a mouth full of fire
And a pen and a word.

Hope the words that I choose
Will carry me through
This treacherous journey
Between me and you.

What word, what sentence,
What fucking phrase
Will free me and see me
Out of this maze?

Is the word “love,”
Or “laughter,” or “loss?”
Should I stare down the tank
Whatever the cost?

And are you the tank,
Or a soldier at play?
Or a woman or victim
of life in some way?

I’m fully loaded
And ready to fight
So kick me and bite me
And scream in the night
And you’ll find me still staring
Into your gun
Repeating my truth
Until I am done.

You are a fraud,
Not a victim of life;
You cut your own flesh
With a liar’s knife.

And the pain that you feel
Soothes your unquiet soul,
But you’re weak and you’re vengeful
And nowhere near whole.

You drink ’til you think
That your stories are true
That the car wrecked itself
and in fact I owe you.

But the kids know your coffee
Is really red wine
You hide vodka in boots
And no, it’s not “fine.”

You won’t work, you can’t parent
But you lie cheat and steal;
What the fuck are you thinking?
This wasn’t our deal.

So I’m done with this dance,
With this fight with this life
With bandaging bullshit
With being your wife.

If you cut yourself now
You can bandage yourself,
I was never a nurse
And you don’t need my help.

Safety’s off and I’m cocked
And I’ll scream ’til I’m heard
With a mouth full of fire
And a pen and a word.

1sagefemme all rights reserved 2013