Portraits by Velásquez

 Velásquez sought asylum in Canada.
He set up his studio on the shore at Glace Bay.

He photographed short, stunted people
miners who worked underground
mining Cape Breton coal.

He waited while they shook or coughed,
had patience till they were still, then click.
When he had captured their spirits,
he blew up their photos to NHL size.

Slack jaws, puffy eyes:
“Man’s greatest sin
is having been born,”
one sighs.

Another seeks himself
through inner darkness.
He probes dark galleries
with Davy Lamps for eyes.
He finds no gold,
just seams of coal
that cling and clot his lungs.

Velásquez waits
for his cough to stop
and click he’s got him.
Sally Ann Second Hand clothes
lay siege to his tortured flesh.

“Life is a snap,”
Velásquez cries.
“And every photograph
a lie.”

Sun Worship


Sun Worship

Worship the sun
as it rises over the hills
from whence cometh
its golden glory.

Trees and their forest,
forces older by far
than this Christian god,
walk in darkness
until touched by the sun.

Worship the sun ropes
that tie you to your daily work,
rejoice in your bondage,
for no man kills
to glorify the sun.

Sun, my father and my mother,
sunshine that floods my spirit
and enlightens my world,
here, before sunrise,
I raise my voice in a song
praising you, and your strength,
the life you give, the death
you will one day bring.




IMG_0068 (2)


A champagne glass
bubbling to the brim,
your voice over the phone,
sparking and sparkling.
“I’ve got a new job,” you say,
and fresh horizons
open before my eyes.
I see your ship sailing
towards undiscovered lands.
A better life beckons:
more responsibility,
higher pay, a move away
from the routines, once fresh,
now boring, that hold you back.
“Well done. Congratulations!”
I hear you start the car.
“Take care. Drive safely.”
You accelerate away
driving into the  unknown
dimensions of a newer life
beyond this life,
a life I will never know.




Parched, the dry brown grass,
taut the earth, tighter than a drum.
Footsteps echo a rhythmic, hollow sound:
marimba music with death tones.
No joy in the barefoot beat of heel and toe.

For months now, no rain has fallen.
The fire crackle is feared in the forest.
Elsewhere, trees catch and the woodlots blaze.
What good are showers, dry thunder clouds,
building, always building, but never releasing
the surging tide that this commonwealth needs?

We yearn for a thick blanket of cloud to gift us
with the long, slow soak of an English spring.
The grass speaks out with its many tongues,
each as sharp as a blade, and calls for rain,
for liquid to pour down from the sky and end
the dryness of drought. We need to fill the wells,
to let the streams overflow with the bounty of water.
We need the green, green grass: not this baked,
bare, arid crunch and crumble of taut brown earth.

An Angel at Jarea

15 May 2002 Pre-Rimouski 141

Kingsbrae 25.3
25 June 2017

An Angel at Jarea

An angel moves through the room
in the silences between our chatter.
He fills the interstices of speech
with the wonder of feathers
enlightened by rainbows.

Tranquil his footsteps
as we sense his presence.
He places his hand on an arm,
his arm around our shoulders,
and now, commanding silence,
a finger on his lips.

We sit here
scared by our intimate inadequacies,
scarred by the fierceness of his immanence
as we sense the vacuum
of his soon-to-be absence.


PEI + bockle 2008 101

Kingsbrae 25.1
25 June 2017


This is a glimpse of
how it might be.

Surrounded by paintings,
snapshots and memories,
all we have ever done
hanging on the walls
as if we were visiting
a gallery of our lives.

Impressions from our childhood
line up beside
expressions of our adolescence
abstracts extracted
from our more mature years.

we are running out of time,
and our here and now is
a quality of deafness leading us
into the next dimension.

We will see our whole life,
in that blink of an eye.
Then there will be farewells,
a sudden silence,
and we will be gone.