The New Canada

Experts say that much of Vancouver,
including, for that matter, my home
lies on the silt deposits of the mighty Fraser river

and when that great earthquake of ours hits
(and don't worry, it will hit)
that silt is going to shift around
and our houses will crack and crumble
and slide into the rumbling sea
gasping women and
gasping children first.

So I've decided that I might as well ship off now,
compose my eulogy and
book my plot in a mountaintop cemetery.

A gravesite chiseled out of deep Cascadian granite
where my drowned and shaken skull can rest
even after the meteorite kills off the rest of you poor bastards

even after the next generation flaps its muddy fins
up the forking tongue of the Fraser
into the shock-browed peaks of the new Canada.

from the July 2004 issue of High Altitude Poetry

more of my poems from HAP here.


The Malcolm X-treme!

i'm often proud of my suburb. when it comes to social issues, the environment, etc., it's usually low in 'sub' and high in 'urb'. then we go and do something like this:

Black Panthers to prowl ice in Port Moody

By Larry Pruner The Tri-City News
May 14 2006

Port Coquitlam Buckeroos are history, which was the theme of many of the monikers submitted in the Junior ‘B’ hockey club’s recent name-the-team contest.
Only team owner Ron Luniw wanted something new when he shifted the franchise to Port Moody from PoCo after the last Pacific International Junior Hockey League season.
Meet the Port Moody Black Panthers.
In the Black Panthers, Luniw believes his team will have a fresh look while keeping close ties to the Port Moody Minor Hockey Association, whose rep teams go by the nickname Panthers.
“Nothing against Port Moody minor hockey at all but I still wanted my own identity,” Luniw told The Tri-City News Friday. “Hopefully, their players will go one day from being Panthers to Black Panthers. I want them to also realize we want a close connection to their faction.”
Luniw said he received nearly 200 submissions over a three-week period in the name-the-team contest, including such traditional suggestions for the PoMo club as the Prospectors, the Gold Rush and the Locomotive.
Two youngsters offered the name Black Panthers, with Port Moody 16-year-old Patrick Moussa and Port Coquitlam 11-year-old Callum McDonald sharing the winning prize. For their effort, the two will each receive a season pass to next year’s Black Panthers home games.
The team will retain its former uniform colours of red, white, black and grey, although Luniw said that’s more to resemble Canada’s national teams than maintain tradition.
A new logo has also been designed; it’s a panther bearing its teeth and claws atop a hockey skate, with the words “Black Panthers” encircling it.
“I guarantee you we will be the best-dressed team in the league,” Luniw raved.
The Black Panthers, whose players are usually 15 to 20 years old, will hold an invitational rookie camp June 16 to 18 in Pitt Meadows. For more information about the camp, or regarding season tickets, email portmoodyjuniorhockeyclub@shaw.ca .

i don't know whether it's worse that our PIJHL Hockey Team has chosen to call itself the Black Panthers, or that no one at the Tri-City News said "hey, this name choice may not be entirely appropriate. maybe we should make a note of it in our article." yeesh.

i sent a letter to the editor about it. they didn't print it:

The editor,

The Port Moody Black Panthers? After games, will there be parties? Black Panther Parties? And what am I expected to do to celebrate a goal, bow my head and raise a gloved fist?

The 16 and 11 year olds who came up with the name shouldn’t be expected to know better, but their parents and those in charge of the team most certainly should. Surely someone involved in the operations of the team, or, say, your own reporter covering the story, could have pointed out how inappropriate a name this is. This name selection reveals our incredible ignorance of (or indifference to) North American history, and will make us a laughing stock once the word gets out.

I may be too quick to judge, however. Is Black Nationalist literature going to be distributed at games? Will players be encouraged to use their sticks to forcibly resist oppression? If so, the name might just fit. Otherwise, lets find a new one. How about the “Port Moody Malcolm X-treme”?

Yours truly,

Rob Taylor

on that note, a poem from the suburbs:

socialist paranoia

green means 'go'
unless turning left.

red means 'stop'
unless turning right.

even the traffic lights
are out to get me.


upon my graduation from simon fraser university

most of all i will miss the first-years
eyes bulging, hands sweating
distributing trotskyite newspapers in the morning
attending stephen harper rallies in the afternoon

newborns staying up all night
desperately finishing that last reading
highlighters flashing like emergency flares
illuminating their faces -
the cherubs of the study hall

(though i, too, know the stats:
the percentage of them who have criminal records
who drink too much, who illegally download mp3s
the percentage who were sexually active at 13
raped, molested, gay bashed)

they can be found in the hallways
crying after a career-ending
GEOG 100 mid-term
shrouded by seven of their closest high school friends
who hurriedly comfort them
coo like doves

i see this performance often

a messy reminder that squall
is not only our term for the
howling tantrums of babies
but also for storms

the sky dark
wind relentless
you and i holding on to
palm trees, lampposts
praying that soon
this will pass
the sky will clear
and a new day
will be born,
more tender
than the last.

from the May 2006 issue of High Altitude Poetry.

more of my poems from HAP here.


it's ok, she asked permission

the may issue of High Altitude Poetry is coming out next week, and when it's online i'll link it here.

Jenn Ku, however, has provided us with a sneak peak of her poem that will be featured in the HAP may issue on her blog. the poem is more than a little good. read it here.


april - pri = al

april was 'national poetry month'. more accurately, this april was 'Al Purdy poetry month'.

in mid-april, a documentary/reading/gordonpinsentlookingwistful on Al, called 'Yours, Al' aired on CBC. it wasn't as good as the Bukowski documentary 'born into this', but it had some of the same 'my-god-they're-typing-the-words-right-on-the-screen' effect, which pleased me.

then, later in the month, Al's 'Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets' placed second in that silly 'Canada Reads' radioganza (like a normal extravaganza, but on radio). mad props to Susan Musgrave for nominating it.

on top of all that, early may brought with it an Al Purdy conference at the U of Ottawa.

all of this tickled me silly, and just might aid me in my goal to have every person i know (and possess at least a moderate inkling of care for) read one Al Purdy poem before they die. any poem would do, like this one, or this one. 'The Country North of Belleville' would be preferable though, or 'Transient'.

to end my Al Purdy wet dream post, here's a poem i wrote quite a while ago, when i first started to realize that poetry was more than the English 12 curriculum:

continental drift

I’m having an Al Purdy moment,
one in which everything I've
ever written is shit
because Al wasn't a 16th
century playwright, he didn't
strut around in pantaloons
pacing the chartered Thames
he wrote poems about
100 Mile House and slept in
Eskimo huts in the N.W.T.
he crapped in the woods more times
than Byron, Donne and Shelley combined
and maybe that's supposed to
give me some relief, a clearing in
this wasteland of trees and gravel
but before Al I always took
comfort in my distance from talent,
from species of birds I'd never heard of
and all those elongated words.
Talent was something I didn't
particularly care for
something I was quite happy
to keep at an ocean's reach.