Wednesday, December 30, 2009

News Flash

We interrupt this blog's regular programming to share some very sad news. As Santa's crew crossed Alaska early on Christmas morning, Sarah Palin harvested Rudolph and collected her trophy, which now hangs in a place of honour in her Wasilla, Alaska home. Unable to contain his grief, Santa has unfortunately since passed away.

Stop by Arsenisms to read the full news story here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ten pounds

Lose ten pounds of belly fat
follow this simple rule
cadaverous is the way to go
they should teach this in school

She scurries to the bathroom
for the thirteenth time today
to void that tub of ice cream
heavenly hash, no way


It’s a long way from heaven
to long for food, to dream of food,
to sleep for food, to die for food
you can’t touch, can’t have,
can’t keep down
must hold on
one day, two days, three days, four
then eat, eat, eat
to swell with food, to burst with food,
greasy lips, greasy chin, greasy
must
purge
must
hold on

Lose ten pounds of belly fat
don’t ever let yourself go
bone-child you’re so gorgeous now
your ribs and hip-bones show
 
Rachel Westfall
December 29, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Teenage

I knew you then, caught in hot amber light,
pierced in a fixed position
your look of alarm like that
of a butterfly captive. I knew

that shifty look, remembered myself in it -
the slink-away feeling where you hope
to move just slowly enough to evade attention,
and just fast enough to get away. You’d never

lie to me, you said, fingers crossed
and crossed again to hide
the stink of that lie, shaking thick, dark bangs
over mournful eyes to hide

their certain betrayal, their helpless,
voiceless truth.

What taste was on your tongue?

Rachel Westfall
December 27, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Raven's delight

The angry flight of birds blacken
the late-morning dawn, feathers crisp with frosty breath
an arrow painted by the streak
and shriek of the hollow-boned ones, straight up
and across town to the place
where the orange berries sit in iced clumps, bitter and dry
for their midwinter flesh to be torn
in clumps and scattered, ravens’ delight

Just one man, coat puffed-up blue
jeans frozen stiff, a streak of vomit spittle running down
mouth‘s craggy corner, waterfall or avalanche
caught by yesterday’s frozen night tongue sore, head throbbing
with the racket of those damned birds
up and around this handy snow bank, this of all places
why can’t they go cuss up their mess
somewhere else, must get up and find me a drink

Rachel Westfall
December 21, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

on the first day

She slips into the intersection, small daughter’s hand cradled in her own, packages slung over the other arm

lights flash, some commotion mid-street as two large hoodie-garbed men press a third, smaller man into an unmarked car, several friends pressing close, small commotion, muffled voices, small sound

the man smashes the window, raining blue crystal over the icy street and the big cop’s face rolls into a silent curse then flashes back smooth and calm

and she presses the little one’s hand tight, steering her carefully away, across to the other side of the street, the promise of gifts hanging over one arm, blocking the sight


Rachel Westfall
December 15, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday sillies

What better way is there to celebrate a wintery Saturday morning, than writing silly poems with the kids? These were inspired by Dennis Lee, and the kids and I came up with them together. We'd love to see your silly rhythmic rhyming creations, so please share them in the comments!


I went to play in the snow
I saw someone I didn’t know
He climbed up a tree
Then he said, Tee hee
Then he started to chuckle, Hoho!

I went to play in the yard
The dog was starting to guard
She growled and she barked
At the sleigh badly parked
On my rooftop, stuck really hard
 
The fellow was starting to yelp
He started to yelp for help
I did what I could
With my ladder of wood
While he stood there, munching on kelp!
 
After the sled was freed
I went to the man who was treed
A nut came down
On the head of the clown
From a squirrel, who wanted to feed.
 
I went to play on the roof
With a horse with a tender hoof
He had to eat hay
And couldn’t pull a sleigh
But he was a wonderful goof.
 
I’m running out of ideas
If you have any more, I’m all ears
Just type them below
(don’t slip on the snow)
And later, we’ll laugh over beers!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The sky is on fire

This was the sky at around 9:30AM a few days ago. Again, what words can I possibly find to describe it?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yukon river

How can I possibly find words for this? It's like a scene from some primordial age.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We thought of you

For you, long-ago friend, and all the missing women.

We thought of you there
out alone in the frigid air
with your heart
pinned to that tree.
Those sleeves, your hands
tucked in, didn’t make up
for the powder pink
dollar-store shrinky gloves
that the weather only laughed at
so you lit up a smoke
to feel warmer. You were snug
in your jeans, not the best thing
for this time of year
and those boots, they were designed for
shopping malls and department stores
not these grit-worn streets.
We thought of you out there
alone with your heart
pinned to that tree
waiting to be somebody special
for somebody special
hair up like it’s the eighties again
black and shiny, black and shiny
purse studded metal
drooped securely
reassuringly
over one arm.

Rachel Westfall
December 3, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Goodbyes

When we buried you, the ground was still just soft enough to break with the shovel, the tip cutting through an inch-hard layer of frost on the surface, winter’s first kiss. The child’s tears flowed as we put your small body, stilled now, wrapped in flannel, on a bed of hay at the bottom of the narrow hole I had chiseled carefully alongside a newly-planted fir tree. Goodbye, sweet guinea, I said, but the child’s body was wracked with grief as she choked on the words, so we left you silently then in stilled dreams.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tantalizing haiku

Glory of the night!
New moon hides in winter’s shroud
Frigid, lacy scales

How can I resist the temptation of 3 little lines, a mere 17 syllables? We're all on the mend; the flu is nothing against my precious stockpile of medicinal herbs and potions. Bit by bit, I'm finding my way back to the computer. I hope to visit my blogging friends again shortly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Healing haiku

When cough, fever, chills
wrack your body, wrap it warm
elder flower tea

(The kids and I are all home sick with the flu this week. What a great opportunity to dig through my herbal medicine chest, stoke up the woodstove, and cuddle up warm.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Forgotten angels

The truth swings round. The memory
too old for this, too old for this now

a bridge, broken loose swinging, a slow arc
through river’s mischievous current
swim, swim, flutter kick home

swings round. The arc a small child running,
a curve, giggles full of glee, arms held wide
to snatch and spin, laughing round,
spinning to the ground. The memory held
lost now, lost now, too late to swim home

precious as a momentary lapse of moth,
brush of wings, silver powder the gift,
scattered carelessly, of long forgotten angels.

Rachel Westfall
November 11, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Your bed is full of dragons

Your bed is full of dragons, their tails
wrapped surreptitiously through clefts and hollows, soft
and abandoned with the breath of your sleep still clinging
like dew to a cottony nest. Your bed

is strewn with nightingales, each one
holding a grand story treasured in her breast, sung clear
as mountain air to the delight
of dreams, the sweep of meadows. The breath

of dragons, the clinging of nightingales sticks fast
to the cuffs of your flannel pyjamas, abandoned
in a crumpled lonesome pile as you dashed forgetful,
forgotten, singing your donkey song into a bright new day.
 
Rachel Westfall
November 5, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

shallow roots

Something has gone terribly wrong in the native culture education programming in our elementary schools. My daughter told me last night that she can't be native, because she doesn't eat moose. We talked about it again in the morning, and she said a man came into her grade 1 class last year and taught them how to make gopher and beaver traps. As an animal lover and a vegetarian, she was offended by the idea of killing these animals, so she rejected the whole notion of native culture and tradition, and disowned that part of her own ancestry.

As we talked this morning, my daughter got more and more upset to hear that things like picking wild berries, making wildcrafted herbal medicines, and knowing the sacred plants are also native traditions, ones which we practice in our family, yet these things are overlooked completely in the 'native culture' teachings at school. Though our conversation is a start, I've got the feeling that something has been broken, and I'm not sure how to fix it.

shallow roots

last child in the woods
never wondering how you got here
heart dreaming green and crowberry
soaring song and the owl’s cry
clanless in school halls
as they talk the culture
you say isn’t yours because
you’d never do it that way
the way those experts say
their hands weaving near-forgotten traps
and kneading borrowed recipes of dough

last child in the woods
spirit of my heart
you are the forest’s daughter
berries roots and medicines of green
brow furrowing at what they say
no matter what they say
you create the way

Rachel Westfall
November 1, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Curandera

I would take your pain,
hold it like an egg until
it warms in my hands,
turning it over
every few hours
until it hatches. A soft
yellow chick would tap
through, and with my thumbs
I’d gently widen the rent
in the shell to set
this new life free. Free,
I would hear you sigh,
nerves finally eased
with the release of this long,
low sweet gestation.

Rachel Westfall
October 27, 2009

For Christopher

Monday, October 26, 2009

Award time!

Thanks, Joseph, for gifting me with a Creative Blogger Award. (If you haven’t checked out Joseph’s blog yet, please do! It’s well worth the visit.)

The Creative Blogger award comes with two requirements: I’m supposed to pass it on to 7 people, but first, and I’m supposed to tell you all seven interesting (bizarre?) bits of trivia about myself.

Alright. Here are the seven oddball tidbits about me:

1) All my life I have dreamed longingly about times before motor vehicles, as something in me rebels against a car-oriented landscape. My young daughter recently said the same thing to me, so maybe it’s genetic.

2) I have ancestors from North America, Europe, and Asia. Maybe in the next generation, a few other continents will get added to the mix. My kids and I have enough variety in us that we qualified to become members of the Yukon Metis Nation. Having no clear ancestry, I’ve felt unrooted all this time.

3) I was fascinated by animal behaviour as a kid and I always thought I’d study it one day. In the end, I majored in botany because I couldn’t justify animal dissection in university.

4) Both my kids were planned homebirths. The first, my son, was a last-minute hospital transfer due to a nervous midwife; the second, my daughter, was a freebirth (no midwife). My daughter was born in a fishie pool. It was wonderful.

5) I love my woodstove and my house full of pets, plants and kids.

6) I don’t own a television, and I probably never will.

7) My dad used to bake cookies using the applesauce he made from the Dolgo crabapple tree he’d planted in the backyard of my childhood home. I can still remember exactly how they tasted. I planted two Dolgos in my yard last year, so maybe I’ll get to taste those cookies again some day soon.

As for picking seven of you to pass this on to, yikes!! Believe me, if I’m following your work, I consider you to be an award-worthy creative blogger. So, I’m going to use this opportunity to spotlight seven of the bloggers who have recently come to my attention.

Check these out for yourself. You won’t regret it.

Word Garden by Shay
In Through the Back Door by Erin
Dancing with the Waves of the Sea by SarahA
Kigo of the Kat, Kat's latest creation
Epiphany by Cynthia
The photographs by Morgaine
Misty afternoon photography by Ida

Friday, October 23, 2009

remembering

Maybe there’s a place
between the words you said
and I, mind downstream
laughing on an inner tube
slightly high and giddy
decades past, drawn back sharply
by your irritation, crust-like lichen
a memory, 50 years
to grow a hand’s breadth
across granite punched through
by the mineral seeker’s drill,
maybe there’s a place
in there I left something,
back then for myself
to find today, rediscover
and come back full circle and spit,
those words no gift but a curse,
slow venom held cradled
like a charm
 
Rachel Westfall
October 23, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

what we won

The sky tossed jewels that day, a carpet
crunching under our booted feet
and lining the trails with brilliance.

That night, surely the moon painted us a curve
of shimmer through the forest, so the thought
of getting lost never crossed our minds.

Instead we shuffled our feet, stomped
and blew frosty breath into chilled hands, reluctant
to head home just yet and kill the moment.

Rachel Westfall
October 21, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cool desert

I'll never get tired of this view.

Or this one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How memories were made

The child wove small baskets
her raven-head tousled
sitting in the corner
knotting thread
and grass together
while the voices went on.

The voices went on
weaving low tones
rising into anger
sliding through reconciliation
diving
in the slow song of speech.

The child caught the words
her raven-head tousled
caught them in her basket
wove them tight
tangled with coloured thread
and tough dry grass
then hid them

hid them deep
in her pocket
deep
in that secret place
where none would ever find them.

Rachel Westfall
October 14, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What you said

I wrote this in one of those conversations with Christopher, then somehow missed it in the queue. So here it is now.

What you said

There was nothing but silence
even echoes muffled, buried
under threat of avalanche
though I screamed and raged,
stomped my feet, needing to know
Why, Why? Until

softly at first
just a gurgle trapped
under winter’s glaciation
you whispered

then spoke

a shout breaking through, a roar
shimmering a thousand mirrors
of pale sunlight, kissing
earth’s hope of spring.

How I loved you then.

Rachel Westfall
September 27, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Appearances

You think you can watch her, benevolent
as she lies splayed out across
the snow bank watching
streams of green
ribbon over
the sky.
You think the moment is all zen.
You imagine the air freezing to crystals
fills her hair with ice beauty
shards of glass all tangled
with eyelash
white on black.
You think she waits to breathe in magic,
the wonder of the night, so
blind to her reluctance
unaware of her delay
to step inside
the house
and face
that man, drunk and heavy-fisted
red-faced with jealous whisky
wasted body roaring
for a brawl.
 
Rachel Westfall
October 4, 2009


Yes, Christopher inspired this one, too.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Refraction II

And then you ran
my anger a shout

round cheeks unhappy
big sister to small

tear-stained and red
hollering in frustration

stumpy legs stomping
with a quick grab at your back

on down the hill
fingers sliding off

to snatch the wild asparagus
your thin cotton sundress

breaking it crudely
yellow as the sun

as you flew by
running not fast enough

a cloud of sand dust rising
to save us from the loss

choking out the promise
of rivalry’s vindictiveness

of that delicious treasure
that delicious treasure gone


Rachel Westfall
October 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

For Joseph Harker

This is for Joseph, in honour of his birthday. If you don't know Joseph's work yet, well you should. Please stop on by and check him out. He's brilliant.

I would see you, all made up of words
drawn on the wall of the subway, a sketch
flickering by in the fluorescent wave
of a passing train. I would see you there,
a glimmer of face pale-moon, lost in thought,
an echo of my thin-wild shadow.
I would see you, and know the sudden touch
of your mind, a scorching point in the blur
of tags and tile, of bodies rank with stress
and press and hurry, the endless hurry
to be home.

Rachel Westfall
September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

The thief

Who am I to gift
you with anything, my love?

So I placed it there,
what I would give you if I
had the courage to,
hoping you would find
this treasure I made for you.

When you picked it up,
looked around, furtive, and slipped
it in your pocket,
then grinning, silently I
watched your back, lithe, slink away.

Knew I had you then.

Rachel Westfall
September 27, 2009
This is a reply to Christopher's poem which he left in the comments of my poem from a few days ago, Offering. And so we weave...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

For Catherine Vibert

I wrote this little poem for Catherine Vibert, who requested that her readers write her some short interpretive poetry for her birthday. She provided a glorious image to inspire the poetry.

For those of you who don't yet know Catherine, she is an extraordinary painter, poet, and videographer. She is a vital and much-loved part of this creative blogging community.

Happy birthday, Cat!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The egg split, transient
as a golden bubble blown
by a downy--headed child
with a wand and tube
of birthday soap.

The egg split, and out
came the sky, birthed
new and gleaming,
dreaming
of a chaos of feathered
wings and the patter
of triumphant storm.

Rachel Westfall
September 26, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Offering

This gift is a secret

It cannot be eroded
or corroded

It has no words
but just a feeling
of the heart

It smells of the relentless wind
the hollow breath of moors
and forgotten marshlands

It feels like the great arms
of the sea, that turquoise mother
who gives and takes
with the same love,
the same stroke

Rachel Westfall
September 26, 2009
 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All dressed for Halloween

The trees dress early for Halloween, here in the north. In September, already, they stretch their goblin-arms, bared and raking, and rub their creaking, groaning limbs together in gleeful anticipation of long, dark evenings and wetness turned to snow. Soon, they will huddle down white, their menace muffled in a blanket of winter frost.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Temple

With gratitude to Cat for the image prompt.


The moon was rubbed gold that night,
a sliver of wealth
anointed layer by layer by the hands
of the living,
the hands of the dead
and the touch of those long gone before.

Grandmother was there
somewhere too, sandwiched
in peeling gold micron-thin,
and great-grandmother, her hair
shiny-black under a silk scarf
fresh and bright, full of air and sun.

The moon was rubbed-gold that night,
and beyond it stretched
an impossible sky of milky way,
a light-filled bowl
long-stirred for the feast.


Rachel Westfall
September 18, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

The end of desire

Sing into the wind
a raucous chorus
just you and the crows
your tangled voices a dance
vibrating over,
spinning under low hillock
and rattlesnake meadow,
sweeping up
the sun-hot scent of sage
brushed loose, startled
into dew-soaked night

Sing to the end of desire
harsh call, the shrill cry of hawk
keening for one
sought here in the deep black land
of desert’s sunless chill,
rolled warm
and beloved in grandmother’s
rough wool blanket
patterned copper-earth
with subtle dyes
of desert plants, found here
under this veil of stars,
your song the thrill
of a kiss
long
slow
and remembered

Rachel Westfall
September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The return of magic

It was you who I missed.
Though I tried to hide
behind a jeer, you found my secret
and named it true. I thought
I held you trapped, but in the end,
you caught me with
the enchantment
of your gentled hands,
their power stilled as they hid
their strength lying smooth
on tread-weary thighs, your face
cast down silent
half hidden in shadow.

Rachel Westfall
September 13, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

loss

We were pulled alongside one another
in some tide, some swell,
an accident of the current
or mischief of the moon
that drew us into stride, braiding
our images together
with the elegance of tangled seaweed.

We slept that way, tossed onto the sand
by the restless sea
until its jealous tendrils teased us apart,
leaving no name, no mark
to show you were real
but the half-remembered tang
of your words.

Rachel Westfall
September 11, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Nowhere, Canada

With a bit of creativity
alongside the ravens
as they scrabble over chicken bones
every child finds what he needs
sweet nothing
And the moon draws low
full as a soup bowl,
sweet as a song
floating with all you wish for
dive in
She walks down the street
one hand on her hips,
pants stretched tight
as an invitation
hey, sweetie
The girls stand in rows
huddled for warmth around
the pulsing glow of
their cigarette wands
drag down
with the force of habit
all eyes sweep the ground
for traces of the lost ones
seduced by this northern town

Rachel Westfall
September 4, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tyrant

you hold me with fear
branches claw and creak, brittle
as their leaves fall, dead

(Easing in again with a slice of haiku)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thrown-away lore

We mapped the stars perfectly, lying
on our backs on dew-covered lawn chairs
until the summer-night chill sent us
running into the safe-sure warmth
of the brick-oven kitchen, steaming mugs of tea
then the dry soft comfort of our beds.

We knew the seven sisters, the bright
corners of secret constellations
and the dark hollow in the swan, pondered
the mystery of what lay on its other side,
its light swallowed whole by some gluttonous
sky-dragon before it found our way.

Somehow we got too old and misplaced
our beloved charts, forgot how the sky
was built from the ribcage of a goddess
torn apart by jealous sons, her heart
ravenous, devouring worlds as her fractured
womb erupted with the angry births of nebulae.

Rachel Westfall
August 29, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Skipping rhyme

Inspired by this image prompt

How does a child take root in
the faulty soil of
playground politics
when the bonds are all formed
before she arrives and
the rank and order is
so defined
in unwritten ways she
will surely never decipher?

They taunted her until she
sulked away to a
corner of the yard where she
scowled at their skipping songs
under sallow bangs and
picked at a leaf that
strayed into her hand,
sucked its violet strand like
sweet-ripe chewing gum.

And the curious ants crawled
up her legs from the
earth where she sat,
tickling so she
brushed them off,
scratching at newfound
noseeum bites drawing
slow smooth beads of
scarlet brown across
the ramshackle folds of
her grass-stained
cotton sundress.

Rachel Westfall
August 25, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Night mystery

When
sleep’s
fuzzy
blanket
clouds
your
mind,
who
do you
dream
lies
behind
you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Refraction I

With just a whisper
the glass dropped from her hand
I found you standing on the stairs
and fell like shards of rain
one hand on the rail
across the tile floor
the other holding the soft blanket
and she caught her breath
thinly draped across your shoulders
as a large slice skipped by
I wondered how much you’d heard
singing like nothing but glass can
your eyes encrusted with sleep
and his fist swung like words
brow pressed warm by the pillow
Quiet, you’ll wake the children
abandoned how long ago?

Rachel Westfall
August 18, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Yahoo spotting


It was a glorious summer’s day
so quiet in the sand
the strip of forest filled with birds
and berries o’er the land.

We wove our way through piney groves
filling our buckets high
with ripe delicious treasure fruits
to keep til winter’s nigh.

It may seem strange, but here I know
wild Yahoos do abound
they roam at night, lay low by day
with hangovers that pound.

So quiet in the desert sand
it did make sense to reason,
I thought we’d surely never spot
rare Yahoos out of season.

Lo and behold, then I did sight
some droppings piled quite high
the tin encasements sure-fire sign
that Yahoos had been by!

For droppings to be piled just so
the Yahoos must be rutting
so we got out, quick as we could
before they came back, strutting.

Rachel Westfall
August 15, 20009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eleven

My boy will be eleven this week. Eleven. I remember being eleven. At eleven, I ran free with a gang of kids; we garden raided, lit cookfires down by the river, jumped onto train cars for rides, held seances, predicted our futures with a ouija board, lured boys into kissing games, watched naughty movies, and experimented with someone's mother's wine and BC bud. Wow. I can't imagine my own child doing any of those things. Maybe it's true that girls grow up faster. Or maybe times really have changed.

Eleven

And the wind caught your hair

In that secret place we built, high in the sands
a cave, hollowed hand over hand
between summer-curled willow knolls

And the wind caught your hair, tousled it golden

Digging just a little further each time, discreet
while the adults did adult things, resolved
to issue frail warnings, glass of wine in hand

And the wind caught your hair, tousled golden shards of sand

The adults did adult things, and hinted how
the earth may fight back against
this scar and collapse, smothering us foolish

And the wind caught golden shards of sand, raining down

So we snuggled in, backs pressed
sinewy long, browned legs lanky, and told stories
of the boys we would lure here to kiss

And the wind caught your hair


Rachel Westfall
August 11, 2009

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I told you so

You said you didn’t know, brushed off
their warnings as the chatter
of spiteful birds, wings idle
drifting smoothly in shallow clumps
of black feathery gloss
and noisy beak from the places things happen
to the places things end up
when discarded, lives used up
no longer relevant.

Oh, how they circle now
with gleaming curiosity, tasting
the musk odour of your confusion
with the pointed black tongues
of wicked gossip, swallowing
a hint of word caressed
with the elegance of a gentle tease;
I told you so.


Rachel Westfall
August 9, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Magnolia's delight

And how each blossom swells,
with anthers golden ripe
and heady, each wee lolly glistening
with home-grown treasure
elevated, high upon a filament,
each one a flagstaff as if borne
by triumphant faery queens.

And how each blossom curves,
ovary ripe and pendulous
suspended in a luxurious bed
of calyx, velvet petal sheets
draped around plump carpels,
limbs high in perfect anticipation
of the messenger’s most certain
arrival, mail-bags stuffed
and spilling over glorious golden pollen.

Rachel Westfall
August 4, 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Late summer

Leave,
stirs the wind
drawing a breath
quick long
lifting something within
some mysterious, forgotten
shadow-self;
dropping it
just slightly out of line with
the pattern from which
it was etched
instilling unsettlement
and an obscure
restless itch

Rachel Westfall
August 1, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

anxiety

Breathe

the rip, the tear, the gut-heart-twist-claw
fear
breeds fear

Breathe

Monday, July 27, 2009

Heat wave

The swallows are gone.

We think and breathe in delphinium blue
peel melons, scratch
until we bleed
graze
soft berries
piece by piece, stolen
from ancestral picking grounds
littered with the cast-off husks
of a thousand squirrels
bog-moss
and dropped syringes

But still, with mournful regret
we see
the swallows are gone.

Rachel Westfall
July 27, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

death-row dog

If I knew you were alright,
I could sit still. I could breathe,
write poems, sing
a silly song about a bullfrog,
scrub my girl‘s grimy feet
and whip up
a fine batch of supper:
whole-wheat crust
black-peppery sauce
and fistfuls of vegetables,
ripe from the garden.

Instead, I spent the day
worrying about you,
death-row dog;
composing letters,
making calls,
and contemplating
the absurdity of the thing.

Thankfully,
the children
have forgiven me completely.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I played it forward...

Remember the play it forward handmade gift exchange? Well it has been a while, but I did remember… I haven’t forgotten, seriously… and I mailed my packages yesterday. I made some wind chimes out of some old copper pipe and maple flooring off-cuts. It was a fun project which took me way longer than it really needed to. Kara, Kat, and Lirio, I hope you’ll enjoy your chimes!

My gift from Erin was a set of cards made from some of her amazing photos. I framed the cards and lined my hallway with them. Erin, it’s a delight to have your creations in my home!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

No remedy

If this love for you was a bruise, aching
there would be such relief
cool, sweet relief
seeing it fade.
A slap,

a tap,
a pinch that would hurt just so,
bleed dark blossoms under smooth skin

raised rough, a tender spot
probed with a finger for a little
ouch
reminder,
fading to the yellow
and green of crushed fruit
under a tropical heel, a Jamaican heel
square, confident and matronly
working its way purely
from memory
down the old stone sidewalk.

If this love for you was a bruise, tomorrow
or the next day, maybe
it would be gone.

Rachel Westfall
July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Doomed dog days

Check it out... We're doing what we can to save Trevor the dog, who's been convicted and sentenced to death without a trial. The poor fellow has only just recovered from his past life of severe neglect, during which his collar became embedded in his neck. And now this.

brown-eyed, fur-brained dog
life has got away on you
dancing short-lived joy

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A sympathy tale

Hey girl, my pen’s run dry;
my ears are full. You’ve told your story,
cried your salt-sweet rain,
walked the whole great shoreline
seven times, looking for a door
out of today. Or yesterday, the days
that won’t recede, the taint, the smell
of must upon your clothes. You’re marked
as with the scent of feral cats;
the smile across your mouth
has no one fooled. Hey girl,
my pen ran dry, your story’s told.
There’s nothing more to do
but hang it high, hang it to dry
across the power lines, forgotten
like another sorry joke; a sweatshirt,
abandoned, holds no one’s soul.

Rachel Westfall
July 15, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

writing in the dark

sleep steals words
sound steals sleep
blanked-out windows
artifice cover
for a forest of dreams
dark, rank moss
cut through by sirens
emergency lights
drunk voices
loading cars
loaded engines
pealing backwards
sneaking home
through not-dark
as the sun goes round
and round and round
in tireless circles

Rachel Westfall
July 12, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

EBay Remorse

I didn’t mean to steal your treasure.
It was just a friendly bid-war,
but I couldn’t help thinking of you
at the other end, and what you would bake
in that lovely cake pan
if it was truly yours. Maybe,
just maybe, your mother had one like it,
the secret to her day-and-night
birthday cake surprises,
and you’ve always
wanted one just the same.

Or maybe, just maybe
this pan was your grandmother’s,
sold by a fickle cousin
in a heartless online estate sale,
while your heart

stood

still

in Granny’s summer kitchen watching
delicious lemon-sugared steam
rise from a perfectly curved, oven-hot
treat.

Yet here I am, waiting
for my seven and a half pound
cast-iron treasure
to come in the mail, while you
have to start

all

over.

Rachel Westfall
July 8, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cyber-inspiration

I couldn't get online yesterday. What a relief to find a working internet connection this morning! It's frightening, actually, just how dependent I've become on this online life-line.

Cyber-inspiration

How I missed you
your words, the breath
of entanglement

such a spark, painting
these walls in peacock blue
shimmering with golden fish

a gut-deep swirl of fish
flashing down the hall
brought to life by
their own
imaginary
current

Friday, July 3, 2009

Unlikely fowl

Flagrant blue display
jeweled golden bridal train
longing for worship

This is one of the riverbank peacocks in Souris, MB. He saw me with my camera, so he came over and struck a series of lovely poses. When I walked away to try and find some other things to take pictures of, he followed me for a while.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A vengeful sky

When you came round to seeing it my way, I thought surely I had won.
I carried out my plan, knowing you were covering my back.
Imagine my surprise when thunderheads rolled in, voicing their rage.

Blackbirds lick the sky with ruffled wings, as wind tears through the grass.
They know what is to come, and yet I've foolishly ignored the signs.
It's the price I pay for arrogance, thinking only I know the way.

* * *
These are my first attempts at the Korean poetry form called sijo. Is it any good? Probably not. I'm sure I don't fully understand the rules underlying the form, which involves 3 lines of verse, each split in two by a pause, and an average of 14-16 syllables per line. However, it's always fun to try out new forms, to experiment with them and see what treasures lie within.

Thank you, Joseph, for bringing my attention to the sijo. I lived in Korea for a while, and loved it. All things Korean make me feel a bit nostalgic.

Anyone else want to have a go at the Sijo? Please feel free to use the comments section here to post a link to your poem.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Falling

I never meant to fall in love;
I kept my heart apart, separate
as I looked to him patiently,
expectantly as any good student
looks upon a teacher.

But then he began to weave his sound,
reaching low, pulling notes
from the dark sacred soul of the earth
herself, pulling high, reaching notes
of the swallows, of the hawks
in their long slow circle
of the hot summer sky.

I never meant to fall in love;
but it came, pulled out
tendril by red-slick tendril,
with the force of the conjurer-surgeon
calling out a swollen appendix without
a single cut
and so I laid it
on the ground at his feet.

Rachel Westfall
June 25, 2009


And again, this was written in conversation with Christopher. It still needs a good title.

Friday, June 26, 2009

All clammed up

I welcomed you warmly
inside here, it’s true, the fire stewing charcoal
and my banged-up old tea-kettle
whistling.

Now here you stand, smiling
that Cheshire-cat grin,
that sunshine fa├žade roping me in
all poetry, stories and a fresh
baguette, still crisp
in its brown paper sack
tucked underneath your arm.

So why is it that
all I can think is dammit,
you’re gonna see
right
through
the thin-woven legends
right through into
this twice-mixed, thrice-baked
garage-sale value priced chaos
that I really am

and so you will go
on your merry way, dropping meaningless
promises to call?

Rachel Westfall
June 23, 2009


In poetic conversation with Christopher.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pile o' Bones

deep barrow yellowheaded impostor
wee lilacs
redwinged beauty
mr. gruff
nested silhouette
professional daycare
for julie
mr. longlegs

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sixteen

Fifteen cats there were, fifteen in all, over the leap-long years.

Fifteen cats, each twined around her legs, one by one as she grew from a soft breasted girl into the bosom of a full-grown woman, as her hair went from long-thick chestnut to winter-black and one day, streaked with grey.

The fifteen all loved her, in their own way.

So what’s with sixteen?

Weren’t fifteen enough; plump ones, skinny ones, alley cats and posh cats; long-furred and short, ragged-eared and tattooed?

What’s with sixteen, and why does he look at her so, out of the corner of his amber-gold eye, as if she might do something unexpected that he wouldn’t want to miss, as if she might have a bit of sweet magic about her tired old bones yet?

What is it about this one that makes her blood want to sing, her bones want to dance the sly old dance of long ago? What is it that makes her skin glow ruddy, her hair shine the shine of a hundred strokes with a bristle-brush, reaching long past her behind once again, like in those early years, trailing down in anticipation of a playful swat from velvet paw?

What is it about sixteen, his rowl jagged, his cowl ragged, his haunches still strong yet hanging just a little bit low?

She sighs, she sits as the hearth burns low

and he climbs onto her lap, tentative, slow

turns around three times, for three’s the charm

and he sits. Rumbles deep

chin on paws, just a twitch

on the soot-smudged tip

of his dear, merry tail, just a twitch

as her hand runs down his knobby old spine

to its very merry end, runs home.

Rachel Westfall
June 23, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Believing

You said they weren't real,
Those winged-scaled-figments of our
hyperactive imaginations

then I saw
a little dragon curled
perfectly, pointed tail swept up
like paisley, scales pressed
firm around the girl's wrist
where it hung on just so,
like any contented pet.

And her eyes shone so bright,
the smile switching on
across her moon-round face
filled with trust as she
stroked that wee lizard's back
and gazed up at me happily
through a delightful swath
of erratic dark hair.

I saw her truth, but you,
you I will never believe again
after this.

Rachel Westfall
June 21, 2009

For Christopher's dragon.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Textures

bright tools

earth soleil

patchwork quilt

painted farm

moss tile

nestled homes

history student

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Contagion

Back online; there's free wireless where I am now. :) I'll do the blog rounds shortly; try to catch up by tomorrow. I hope you all are well. Here's an idea I was playing around with a couple of days ago. Small pox? Chicken pox? Bubonic plague? Whatever it is, it certainly isn't swine flu.

Contagion

It starts with an itch.
The tailbone, crawling upwards
nerve by nerve
through the spine, fluid river
into unforgivable
awareness.

Smash it. Watch it grow
shattered, each fragment forming
a new whole, miniature
of the parent
skin buckling, slow, raw
with an unfamiliar landscape.

Contagion creeps low,
over and away with the patience
of busy one-celled lives;
sliding, dividing, retracting;
and is gone.

Rachel Westfall
June 19, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer storm

Tearing humid sky
snake tongues lick through rumbling black
cool rain, sweet relief

(A few minutes online, so why not try a bit of haiku journaling?)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Salt-dreams

Watch the skyline

An old poem.

And something new...

Salt-dreams.

A tank of pirates
armed with primary
colours and foam-balls,

one swashbuckling
striped boy

and four or five
glorious black-haired
girls, swim-suited
and dripping wet.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Journey (and, Play It Forward winners anounced)

Tomorrow, we leave town. The kids and I will be on the prairies for two weeks. The kids will get to visit my parents, sister, nephews and niece in Brandon while I take a course in Regina. I'll be online sporadically, and I'll do my best to keep this blog lively. Please forgive me if I don't make it by your blogs as regularly as I'd like. I'll be sure to catch up in July!

Before leaving, I wanted to announce the winners of the play it foward handmade gift exchange. Kara, Kat, and Lirio, please email me with your mailing address. My email address is on my profile. Sometime in July, I'll send you each a homemade gift package. After you get a package from me, please don't forget to play it forward!

Thanks to all of you who put your names forward for this. If you volunteered but you didn't have your name drawn, if you send me your mailing address, I'll put a postcard in the mail for you, just because you might find it entertaining to get mail from another part of the world.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Woodland feast

What is this wild sweet
concoction you have slipped
so slyly into my regular
afternoon tea?

It makes me want to dance
the wild dance of faery,
the slick of forest brine
glossing my skin, the ruddy skin
of a newborn lover.

I love weeds. We eat dandelion greens and lamb's quarters for free all summer, and the rabbits and guinea pigs feast on all the fresh greenery the kids bring in for them.

I have a huge problem with weed killing chemicals. Way back when I was pregnant with my daughter and I was paranoid that she'd have childhood leukemia because she was exposed to so many herbicide sprayed lawns and fields in utero, I had a petition going in Victoria to get the cosmetic use of herbicides banned, as they have been banned in many other communities. I haven't decided yet if I want to make some noise about this here in Whitehorse, too; the city council here doesn't seem very open to environmental concerns. If you are local, you are probably laughing at me right now. Ha! Ha!

Anyway, I did up this little pamphlet with a some information for people about weeds and weed killers. I think the best part about the pamphlet is the dandelion recipes. As soon as the kids got their hands on this pamphlet, we had to try out all the recipes. Our latest concoction is the dandelion syrup, and it's a huge hit. Eventually, I'll get around to indexing the pamphlet from my website, so people can find it, print it off and use it if they want to. But for now, at least I can share it with you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Handmade gifts: p(l)ay it forward

When I stopped by Erin's place one day recently, she was asking for volunteers for a homemade gift exchange. It worked like this: she signed up to play, someone sent her something lovely, and then it was her turn to draw the names of 3 volunteers and send something lovely to each of them.

So I, being very appreciative of homemade goodies, of course responded with a loud and obnoxious "pick me, pick me!" My name was drawn, and what should arrive in the mail yesterday? Some gorgeous homemade photo cards, and a bar of yummy chocolate!! Oh, yeah! Thank you, Erin!

So now it is my turn to draw three names from whoever volunteers to play, and to send each of you something I made. Want to play? Just respond to this post and say, "I'm in." If there are more than 3 volunteers, I'll draw names and announce the winners in a few days.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spotted slug

If you put your finger out
just so
and block his leafy path
her eyes retreat
to their soft ganglion haven
then emerge cautiously,
first left
then right
on slippery stalks

His sticky foot
slides forwards, just enough
to edge her mouth
onto your finger’s
salt-tip

He slides his tongue,
stony surprise,
rough as a cat’s
across your skin, tasting
briny dew
her molluscan kiss
startling out unexpected
giggles of delight

Rachel Westfall
June 11, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

and then...

Rick, Erin, is this the ending you were hoping for? I suppose we each dream up our own endings. Here is one possibility. A conversation can take many turns.

As the sun nudges
the low horizon to the music
of the early dawn

and I slide my cool-slick,
dew-footed presence
alongside your sleep-warmed
self in the sleeping bag

thank you for not asking
me to explain where I've been
all this time.

Cold feet

I knew you were waiting,
waiting for me there
by the fire,
soft-sharp-crackle heat
in the dewy night,
and the fear of that touched me cold.

The blue of this night
I have craved so long;
the deep-blue
moon-blue of the ocean's sky,
the sky of of infinite falling,
of sleep's deepest desires

but now, here we are,
you waiting there by your
twig-fire, bright leaf-fire
as I shiver, only wanting
to go home, the blue
of this moon suddenly
too much for me.

Rachel Westfall
June 9, 2009

And on goes the conversation...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Impermanence

He said he loved her,
carved those words into
the granite wall
so they would stay
until the mountain fell.
One day, he promised,
they would be together
again, and with that thought
cradled against his heart
he carved progress
through the valleys,
into the sides of mountains
blasting-digging-heaping
pounding iron rails
that would connect
north with south,
bankrolling his progress.
These rails, each ravenous mile
was bought in sweat, in mashed thumbs
caught between spike and sledge,
each soul lost by blasting error,
fatigue or bone-weary loneliness.
These rails, he has faith
they will be here forever,
each inch, each line
a measure of the progress
of man, champion over
nature, just like his love,
indelible love.

Rachel Westfall
June 8, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Raspberry surprise

I thought I could tame you,
confine you to the shrubbery
bordered by dim pansies
and prim red petunias.

I dug a perfect hole
in the centre
of the border garden,
tucked your roots in, watered
and tamped you down
firmly with my slick-black boot.

I turned my back for just
a moment, distracted
by a passing mosquito swarm;
then when I looked again,
there you were, sprawled
naked and raw, green anarchy
all over the lawn.

I caught my breath
at the sordid sight,
unexpectedly trapped
in that itchy place between
titillation
and outrage.

What frightened me most of all
is that I liked you
this way
best.

Rachel Westfall
June 4, 2009

Thank you once again, Christopher. If I ever get around to publishing these things, I should call this the Christopher series.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Shaman's song

My love, I said;
this world is fine
thrumming, alive,
but stagnant.
I need a moon to call my blood,


so he sang a fresh
new moon for me;
he sang one into being.

Curved she was,
smooth sliver of a fingernail
at her hesitant beginning,
barely cradling one small corner
of the light-enchanted sky.

His song, it grew from croon to howl
as vines stretched long
and strong, reaching tendril arms
swaying, stirring life-sap
secret night secretions

and that moon-sweet sliver
swelled and grew, coaxed tenderly
in guttural chants and lullabies
older than bedrock and ocean’s swell;
coaxed tenderly
from sliver into orb.

My love, I said;
this world is fine
thrumming, alive.

Blessed be this moon
that calls my blood;
Blessed be this song enchanted.


Rachel Westfall
June 3, 2009

Inspired, yes, by Christopher.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Come walk with me

Aspen sky
Blessed shade Fire totem
Moose meadow
Ghost moon
Bear claws
Winding river
Trapped sun

Squirrel stash
Forbidden forest
Squirrel brain
Berry promise
Striped arachnid
Homing signal
Happy dogs

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why I stay

An old school friend just sent me a package of comfrey roots for the garden, and she threw in some wonderful little packets of heirloom seeds, with a few bird feathers for good luck. Summer is suddenly here in all her glory, and the kids are down to their last two weeks of school. The yard is full of nesting birds. We've planted so many little rescue trees from a construction site, my entire body is humming from all the digging and lifting. So I guess you could say life is pretty good.

To top it all off, Christopher keeps handing me delicious poetry-fodder. (Quite unintentionally, of course, but I must give credit where credit is due.) Please stop by and visit his blog, as my poem will make more sense if you do, and his place is wonderful besides. This one seems like a good counterpoint for yesterday's poem.

Why I stay

That you hold on,
this makes it safe for me
to love you, even knowing
one day
I just might
have to wail with the wind
that lonely wind
in a healthy course of mourning
when you reluctantly
take your leave.

Other bright flames
dance in the wind
that self-same wind, mocking;
daring her breath to strike
them down
abruptly,
snuffed.
I guard my heart against
their charm, knowing
they would never stay
for me.

Rachel Westfall
June 2, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why I ran

Here I was, wondering what I'd write about today. Thanks to Christopher, I don't need to wonder any longer. What would I do without Christopher?

Why I ran

Touched, I was, that you followed me
that I mattered enough
to be counted among your lost treasures.

If only you had kept your voice down,
touched me with the softness
of a robin’s wing, careful
not to jar our fragile eggs of blue

I would have fallen, fallen deep

but for the edge of anger, your
voice rising, an axe, gut clenched
like a fist, shattering the day.

Rachel Westfall
June 1, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Chipmunk

With all the clearcutting and construction in the area, this little fella has decided to take up residence in my woodpile. He's been very busy gathering mouthfuls of hay and fluff, stopping every minute or so for a snack of bird seeds. You can't really tell from the picture, but he's quite tiny, not much bigger than a gerbil. Nonetheless, he's quite brave; he rushed out and scolded my son last night for leaning against the woodpile.

Progress stripped your home
so you wandered, lost, this way
settled down by me

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Freshly made love

This is a morning for chocolate,
for the sun’s kiss tingling smooth-slick skin
and robins, contented in their rich song.

Crack the window for the unforgettable smell
of line-dried sheets and a touch of rain
on the chaos-wild garden.

This is a morning for cow-plops,
horse-doovers in the tall meadow grass,
and bluebottle flies all a-buzz.

Somewhere, freckled kids laugh
along a barbed-wire fence, tickle-grass
and dirt roads their new mother.

Rachel Westfall
May 28, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Love

To love is a choice:
slow mountains yearn
with patience, broad
and stone by stone
caress the plains
so as not to crumble
alarmingly, nor suffocate
the fair grass-swept
dear flatlands of their desire.

To love is a promise
the swallows make
to the bright spring sky,
into which they soar
with trust and joy,
never to doubt or criticize,
nor have eyes for another
(perhaps that hot-sweet
sky of summer?)

To love is the loss
the river takes
when she releases her guard,
her crust of ice
to warm her embrace
for the nesting gulls
who she held in her heart
all winter long
though they had left her,
fickle, seeking warmer flows
nigh on a year ago.
(This year, this year
oh finally,
perhaps they will stay?)

Rachel Westfall
May 24, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hawthorn

What you don’t know is that I,
having nothing left to lose,
set down root and burgundy thorn
just here, alongside silent stone
beside your door, your intimidating door
looming broad, carved strokes of wood
dressed all brass-knockers and shiny knobs;

I set down root and burgundy thorn
and cast my limbs surreptitiously wide
so I might snatch you as you saunter by
tangle and trip you so you bloody your chin,
split and scar your surly chin
across the rough-hewed path.

Rachel Westfall
May 22, 2009

Feeling just a little bit prickly today?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Skullduggery!

Skullduggery!

He turned from the window and looked at me out of the side of his eye, flashing with delight, grin maniacal. Turning back, he peeped through the blind so the neighbours wouldn’t know they had a witness.

It’s skulduggery, just look! The old auntie, I saw her on Wednesday, giving that young man hell in the garden. Just giving him hell, pointing at all those prickly weeds and shaking her finger, her jowls flapping. You should have seen him, he’s got to be fifty with his hair thinning and his belly gone to pot, and he just stood there with head hung low like a naughty little boy. When she was done, he got behind her and rolled her wheelchair inside like it was just another day. Well I haven’t seen her since, they went in the house and I never saw her come out. Now there they are, digging a hole in the garden like there’s no tomorrow. Skulduggery!

I joined him at the window, peered at the goings on next door. His three middle-aged neighbours, a man and two women, all dressed in nice conservative clothes like it was a church day, had clustered around a corner of the garden. This was a wild, mature garden, the kind with enviable ancient roses growing up the sides of the house’s stone foundation, with flagstones sticking out here and there through its carpets of moss and grass. I lusted after gardens like this, ones that made my feeble attempts at cultivating my own suburban strip of sand and clay seem laughable. One of the women held a potted plant in her hands, and the other stood, hands on hips, gazing up into the maple tree. The man held a garden shovel, that infamous tool of skulduggery.

They’re planting a clematis, dad, I said.

Oh, they make it look that way, you see? I know these nefarious types. Just wait until it’s dark, then we’ll see what they really need that big hole for. His eyes gleamed, the gaps in his teeth crackling in anticipation. They’ll put the clematis in to cover up the hole. So it doesn’t look like anything’s changed, you see?

A house down the street, when they excavated to build an addition last summer, you know what they found? Bones. Human remains. Probably a hundred years old, they think, and nobody knows where they came from.

He rubbed his hands together, rifled through the clutter on his table and pulled out a newspaper clipping, brittle, slightly yellowed. He stuck it right under my nose, close, too close for my eyes to focus, and I shifted back a little just to see it right.

Just wait, one day they’re going to knock down that old house, and guess what they’ll find?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ugh

The garden is full of stones.

The smooth patches, let’s call them happiness.
Delight, bliss, rapture even.

Lay here for a while, soak up some sun.
Feel it run through you, tingling,
the hiss of birdsong, the squawk of a leaky tap.

Thunk.

There’s one of those blessed rocks I warned you about.
Shouldn’t have let your head down so damn hard.

That’s what our soft spots are here for, isn’t it?
So we can hurt, bleed, crack open.

So you can see what’s inside,
our juicy, squishy pomegranate bits,
stone.
Not stone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Easing in

Even a break of a few days from writing, and I feel like I need to ease back in. These are times when I appreciate haiku. It is demanding in such a contained, predictable way, requiring so few words. It's as if I feel myself resisting the journey back to language itself:

feral, tangled mane
when I toss and rear, resist
rhythm gentles me

Interview with Jorc

Remember those interviews some of us did of one another a little while ago? I've just had the pleasure of interviewing jorc. Please stop by and pay her a visit. It's such a treat to learn just a little bit more about her.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

thinking

I woke to images, not words. Maybe my words will be back, later.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

morning

the moon slinks low
days waxing long
into apple-scent light
catching the dust-dance
surprised, naked light
our hair brushed with flour
tousled, tangled bright sheen
pyjamas still crumpled
sheets warm, the beds
remembering
the slow kiss of sleep

come, come to the kitchen
sun-brushed child
dapple your sleep-skin
with the ethereal crackling
light, orange and gold
where we fold and stir
the sourdough batter
for our pancakes,
fry spitting plump berries

to the garden, for handfuls
of fresh herbs, tangy chives
to cleanse the scum of sleep
from your ragged mouth,
blink crumbs out of corners
rumpled eyelashes, birdsong light
a sweet awakening
as we dig and we churn
the dark earth, fill clay jars
where our pansies hang
their mismatched faces
and strawberries delight
the child, this child

Rachel Westfall
May 14, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The chase

That mangy scratching fleabag is stalking me
again, no, again, why won’t he leave me alone?
I just know he’s caught onto my lemon scent
ripe melon-rind-crushed-lemon scent
as I bleed into the ground.

I hide downwind in a scruff of trees
hoping he’ll go some other way
but the turncoat breeze sweeps surely ‘round
betraying me and my persimmon scent
rotting red-persimmon scent
as I bleed into the ground.

Feet pounding the earth, here comes bag-of-bones
tongue lolling down, scrawny face, ratty ears
so I plunge into the raging, boiling stream
as she gives sudden birth to the spring overflow
and ice-water combs through the willow trees
scouring my hot-pepper scent
accursed sharp hot-pepper scent
as I bleed into the ground.

Rachel Westfall
May 12, 2009


For you, Christopher.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Granite

In the heart of your eye is stone

granite, flecked with mica; impassable
rough but for one corner, polished smooth
where my hand rests in its habitual way
each time I linger, caressing every moment

In the eye of your heart is stone

impervious, you thought, but see how warm,
how feral-scented it has become along the curve
where I pressed my back, curled tight naked
as a forest creature deeply burrowed

Rachel Westfall
May 11, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Crooked stories

A story slides from her crazy lips,
her crooked glasses twinkling
polyester pants pilled, all wrong.

And we lap it up.

We all want to be her, when she walks
her funky walk down the street, at least
that’s what you’d think seeing
the way we egg each other on
until one of us gets brave enough to pull up
and do a perfect mock-up from behind,
a caricature, too short and far too skinny
knock-knees over tall socks,
parody of a parody
but we all laugh anyway, raucous
‘til she shoots a look back-a-way.
Stand perfectly straight, face expressionless
wooden, suppressing giggles, wait…
for her to look away again
and move on down the street
walking her funky walk

but we all want those crooked stories
to slide from her crazy lips,
glasses twinkling, polyester pants pilled
all wrong.

Rachel Westfall
May 9, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

temptation (the language of cookies)

steam and crumble
ground nuts, flax
honey, oil, cinnamon
oats milled fine as flour
sultanas puffed pillows
sweet-heat, chocolate
slick, slippery
on the pan, dare
we dare, we dare you
to sink your teeth in,
ouch! gums on fire, skin
will hang in strands
from the roof of each
unsuspecting mouth,
so readily succumbed


Rachel Westfall
May 7, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Columbia

I'm running a fever, probably because I was up most of the night washing my son's pukey bedding and listening to him make frequent trips to the bathroom. Damn you norovirus, why do you like this boy so much?? Are you running low on cruise ship victims to torment? Here is a bit of gastrointestinal grief haiku for your entertainment, and my catharsis...

virus, get ye gone!
you are no dear friend of mine.
why not take a cruise?

Also, I worked from home today, writing a thesis-sized report, and my writing energy is pretty much drained. Maybe I'll find it in me to write something later today, or maybe not.

So here is a mouldy oldie for your reading pleasure. I wrote it after the shuttle Columbia came apart, so it has rather a grim tone, but it came from the heart. Christopher reminded me of it with his talk of astronautical journeys.

Columbia

What perspective was gained by seven
Who went above, outside, beyond
To see the earth a blue pearl beneath them
What perspective was gained?

What thoughts went through their minds
When they saw home from above
All countries one, the war machine irrelevant
What thoughts went through?

What wisdom filled their hearts
As they drifted silent, weightless, cold
Above us as we slept warm in our quilts
What wisdom filled?

What hope is there now for us
To learn what was lost
When they came down in ash rain
What hope is there now?

Why do I weep as if
It was my breast-blood-children lost
Coming home from first spirit journey
Why do I weep?

Rachel Westfall
February 1, 2003

Monday, May 4, 2009

Neurochemistry

My friend Christopher says he and I are wired differently from a lot of other people. Maybe that’s it. There must be some explanation... Others have just called me weird. Whatever it is, it seems to keep me entertained, anyway.

Neurochemistry

I woke this morning thinking in metaphor,
nothing as mundane as riddle or rhyme.
Only you understood, swung me around,
helicopter style; my toes barely brushing the grass
on each rotation, sandals skimming
the cold spring lawn. Too early for sundresses,
I wore one anyway, three stripes of yellow,
red and blue, and it whirled into
the tricolour rings of a flower
the way a bee sees them.

I woke this morning seeing in u-v.
Only you understood,
plopped me down in the dandelions
golden with pollen and bee-licked nectar,
so I could lay on my back and watch
my fuzzy-bottomed brethren
go about their business
against the hazy-blue sky.

Rachel Westfall
May 4, 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Inspiration

I like to think of writer's block not as a bock, really, but rather a search for inspiration, then the words to convey what inspires us. Karen wrote a lovely piece on this just recently. Here's something that I wrote in response, thinking of how inspiration is found in some of the most everyday things, those things that are precious and dear to our hearts, but which we sometimes neglect.

And sometimes it is you
who inspires me, you;
words written scarlet
from something as simple,
as everyday-ordinary
as the way you carry yourself,
strong and unassuming;
the turn of your head,
a flash of sun-brushed cheek; or
the way the light swims mischievously
in your eyes, a golden fish
brushing the surface of
the murky pond.

Where do you go to find inspiration when you are feeling void of creative words? Most often, I find the words start to flow when I visit my neighbouring blogs...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Misery (snippet)

She roars, and where is sleep?
Hiding somewhere in a far corner
of the room, hunkered down
preparing for the storm
ears flattened, tail dropped low
between folded limbs.

If you know of a cure for childhood night terrors and sleepwalking, I'm all ears. My household hasn't slept the night through in over a year. I wanted to add more to this poem, but stalled after the first stanza... maybe it will come later, after a bit more sleep!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Flight

This grace, this tender beauty
is just an illusion cast from feathers
I thieved hungrily from a fallen swan.

I'd fly straight to the sun in my robber’s mask
but for the ominously softening wax
holding my air-bound pristine white appendages on.

Instead, I go north,
I go north, to the cooler air
chasing the slip-stream trail of the proudly honking birds.

Look up next morning
and you may see their sweet formation
then me, a crude mimic clad all black and white
flapping coarsely after.

Rachel Westfall
April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Image prompt: trumpeter swans

For fun, and because they deserve to be celebrated... I have hugely enjoyed hearing their cheerful honks every day for the past couple of weeks. Whoever thought the sky would fill with trumpeter swans? If the swans inspire you to write something, please use the comments section to share your creation! Everything is welcome: silly or wonderful, descriptive or abstract.