Poem for Thresholds

One more thank you to everyone involved in Thresholds. It was an honour, and a highlight in my “poetry career,” to host this event. Thank you again Edmonton Poetry Festival. Thank you St. Faith’s Anglican Church. And thank you to everyone who came out—lovely crowd! 


The following, for what it’s worth, was written for this event:


Poem comes in a cloud,
or from the distant plains of thunder,
or further, beyond the tidal edge of expanding space.

Poem does not arise from an outline.
It comes through a window, framing the silhouette
of a solitary goose standing on a frozen slough.

Poem begins near the terminal cells of horsetail and bullrush,
or in the burning arms of lovers who beseech the moon,
and exalt in the dark heat of mouths,
where lips give way to lips, and move,
dangerously close, toward the sharp cliff of jawbone.

Which brings me to Arlene Spilchen’s left clavicle,
the one I brushed riding home on the school bus,
retrieving my paper airplane—
and leaving my fingerprint on that little skeleton key
saw her globed eyelids, fluttering down like paper wings.

Keys, wings, eyelids…
49 years before they would mould to a poem.

Poem is not thought, it is motion
like the creation
of the first day
drawn from the wild deep,

or like Gary Nygren’s 1962 Ford Farlaine,
dragging its ass down the Yorkton-bound Yellowhead,
suffering the deconstruction of time
in the end-over-end roll and roof skid—
trapped bodies, temporal as commas,
a foot through the windshield,
an eternal mercy.

Poem does not avoid holy fear or drunken joy
—does not avoid drunken fear or holy joy.

Poem asks all things and demands nothing,
except the vital unhitching
from the hive-like haste
of acquisitive living.

Dear poems, in your furnace of galaxies—
as you range through orbital veins,
or wander among the stars,
content there, to aid and abet
the wild stories constellations tell—
we have little business bringing you down,
but what grace when you give up the best of yourselves,
to live among us, illustrious, ferocious, gracious.



  1. i wonder if our muses have faces and forms, beyond the childhood friends and lost loves, stolen bicycles and inebriated memories? you put good shape to someone high and mighty, low and clean.

  2. Exactly John. I’m aware that memory is malleable, yet, these scenes, fragments, seem to arrive unbidden and true, while writing toward something completely different. Thanks for reading John.

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