The Internet (Poetry from Spam Email Subject Lines)


The fake internet is coming!
They want to sweep this under the carpet
Here’s how to pay it today…

Can you have all night long joy?
Your profile caught my attention.
Record it all on a spy camera,
you will LOVE the results on your organ.
Give her the best of you.
Educate the young on ways to have fun.

This is not a myth.
Stop being a nervous wreck, there are
Highly active girls craving for
Individuals devastated by personal issues needing support
and Jailed Because Of Skimpy wear, booze, babes and more!

Have a passion for design?
She will surely pounce on you, so
PROTECT against Bed Bugs!
We consider new variants, no regrets after doing this.
Can I trust you with The Answer To Everything?
You don’t want to pass on this.
Be the perfect size gentleman and
spend time with me.

Yes, it happens to you.


Across the Field

Photo courtesy of Wolf Mountain Writing Collective
Photo courtesy of Wolf Mountain Writing Collective

The best lesson living in the Prairies ever taught me wasn’t about tipping cows.

It wasn’t about how to fix a truck engine, it wasn’t about making do with less.
It was about futility.
The first house I remember with distinct clarity was a brown country house,
just off the highway on Maple Crescent orbiting the tiny burg of Bonnyville.
It was, as they say, kinda in the sticks.
Passage into town for school was carried out on a half-hour trip
onboard a yellow schoolbus affectionately dubbed “The Cheesewagon.”
Home had a sturdy triangular tree fort in the backyard
vegetable gardens, a toolshed under the reign of an irascible skunk living beneath,
and vast fields on all sides.
There were a few other neighbours shaken in
like grains of pepper on an otherwise plain stretch of plains, and
we relied on worn VHS tapes, secondhand toys and
the wilderness between our ears to keep us entertained.
I remember, like you remember the scent of your mother baking bread in the kitchen,
I remember the worn trails with roots jutting out from the cracked earth
we thought were dinosaur bones,
and set up an excavation camp for several days.
I remember Moose Lake, the tiny spit of water
wreathed with muddy beaches hiding sinkholes and long dead fire pits
leeches lurking just below the silvery surface.
The gravel roads crackled underneath your feet,
the clouds bellowed their arrival with gales and hammer blows to the earth below,
and the edge of your backyard may as well have been the edge
of civilization.
This far, and no further.
But most of all, I remember the fields.
Across an ocean of wheat that lay to the east of my house, there was a structure
I never quite figured out just what it was, just this
small dark bump against the skyline, it might have been
a barn, a shelter, something half-finished.
My seven-year old self had no earthly idea, because, well, I was seven.
I just knew that I wanted to find out.

Bidding my mother farewell on a summer morning,
I took the sandwich she’d made for me, carefully wrapped it up
looked both ways before crossing the highway
and set out into the field, carving my path
towards the Whatever It Was in the distance.
I’d told them where I was going, of course,
you have to responsible about those kinds of things,
they should know where to send a search party should things go awry.
My mother had smiled and nodded, I’m sure, trying hard not to laugh,
My father strongly suggested I be back in time for dinner,
before going back to figuring out how to trap the villainous skunk
that had been plaguing him.
So I walked, pushing onwards,
carving a solitary trail through the golden field
taking occasional bites of the sandwich to ensure
the expedition was well fed.
After an undetermined amount of time,
I gave a quick glance back, just to gage
how far I’d come.
The highway was right behind me.
Home stood tall right across from it,
and the mysterious structure in the distance didn’t seem any closer.
Parts of me wanted to double back, spend the rest of the hot summer day
cool in the basement with tattered comic books and Super Mario,
but curiosity had to be satisfied.
So I walked on, for what felt like an hour,
but with every step I took,
the structure in the distance never seemed to get closer
and home, behind me, never seemed to shrink in my rearview,
until, at last, the sandwich was gone,
and my seven-year old patience had worn paper thin,
and I had to put concede that this might better be attempted
another day.

But I never got that other day.
Shortly afterwards, my father got transferred.
We moved outside of Edmonton, to the thick of suburbia,
swapping the endless fields for arranged streets
and if you happened to ride your bike to the very edge
all you saw were construction crews building
the next Great Living Experience.
Everything was reachable, by bike or by bus,
and the strange shapes in the distance didn’t shout out to you anymore,
they were just there, and you already knew
they were oil refineries, seven elevens and new condos rising tall against a defiant prairie sky.

But in my dreams, sometimes, I go back,
and I’m swishing through that same tall field
pushing my tiny legs to carry me just a little further
just a little closer, close enough
to finally discern what was just beyond my sight.
I can hear the din of the highway behind me, and I know if I turn around
the old brown house surrounded by its crown of trees
will only be twenty paces behind me at best.
The best lesson the Prairies ever taught me was the nature of futility.
Somethings are always going to be beyond your grasp, past or present,
and today, when everything is discoverable with two clicks in a search engine,
sometimes the best thing to remember
is what it’s like not to know.

We Thought We’d Be Astronauts

When we were young, we thought we’d be astronauts,

had comets and starships orbiting our cradles

we were the centre of this diaper-clad universe,

and our parents were suns and moons,

keeping us warm, guiding the tides

with divine consistency.

Until the moon started working late

and had arguments with the sun in the living room

about mortgages and missing glances and

Who The Fuck Is Gloria?

The solar flares carried on well past your bedtime,

and you decided maybe space wasn’t all that friendly,

and sailing the stars could be left to someone else.
When we got older, we thought we’d be explorers

striking out from the motherland across oceans and jungles

driving handmade flags into foreign soil

that had been erroneously claimed

by the kid next door.

(What a jerk, right?)

There was always new continents to conquer,

a fresh playground, an undiscovered shortcut,

the secret tree-fort you cobbled together

that would stand the test of time…

until it didn’t.

The hidden paths were bulldozed to make room

for new subdivisions,

you tree fort rotted away, exposing tetanus teeth

And when the neighbourhood bully made you

eat dirt and worms as punishment for trespassing

you decided exploring the undiscovered corners

could wait until you came back later

with a proper expedition.
When we grew older, we thought we’d be knights

charging down windmills and wizards without

the slightest concern for our safety

cause we were the good guys,

and good guys never got hurt, if there was one thing we’d learned

from comic books and Saturday cartoons,

it was that everyone but us has terrible aim,

and all explosions reach out in slow motion

too slow to catch us. There was nothing to fear, so

we flung ourselves from the battlements howling like lions

until we tripped over our pride and limped back home

with skinned knees, broken arms,

and memories of the one kid who danced

too closely with the freight trains.
When we grew older, oh man, we wanted to be cool….

…whatever that was.

It felt like the greatest bonfire party of all time

except instead of wood, they were burning

all the things you used to love, throwing your wide-eyed self

upon the pyre, adopting a smoothness

reserved for fighter jets and dreary-eyed dolphins

performing backflips for strangers just to

feel some kind of love again, and either

it ate you whole

or it left you cold, shivering on the outskirts,

broken toys by the donation bin.
And when we grew older, older still,

old enough to take the long view

atop a mountain of late nights and rocky days,

maybe we climb down back to that bonfire, the heat

long since off the ash, sift through with weathered fingers,

trying to find a remnant of a storybook we once held dear

fragments of fantasies, the scrap of a blanket

we clutched like a shield,

the compasses that guided us through foreign fields

the spaceship pieces we stole from the garage

it’s not just a nostalgia trip, not just an homage.

To hell with the rent and the job and the cars

We were supposed to be astronauts,

now we can barely put our eyes to the stars

like fingers to the most painful braille,

that jabs “We let go.

All of this was just letting go.”
So if you still have that smouldering scrap of yourself

that you pulled from the fire of your youth

lock it tight in your lungbox

swallow the key

and shout out smoke signals into your sunset skies

They all made a damn good case for letting go.

Doesn’t mean we have to.