Archive for the ‘Writing Posts’ Category

For the end of poetry month here is the poem Lorca’s Grave from my new book Shimmer that will be published in the Fall of 2019 from Black Moss Press (it’s 50th year of publishing). This poem also originally appeared in Eclectica Magazine.


Lorca’s Grave         


I think of a worm

Inching toward light

And the euphoria of

That first puncture of air

Lorca the lover

Stands in a field

Amongst working oxen

Poems plucked

From the heat of animals


For Lorca writing poems

Means walking up a steep hill

And resting at the railing

Of the important house there

Sin opens a rose


He wears a bow tie

And flannel suit despite the August heat

In one hand he carries a notebook

Behind the house are more hills

And he walks into those

Away from the olive fields

Says love is a shadow


Weeks later

He’s arrested

Driven into those same hills

Forced to stand

In the car’s headlights

No one hears the gunshot

Except for a sleeping ox

That raises its head at the noise

But doesn’t hurry away




Above is the cover of my new poetry book, Line, now out from Black Moss Press

Here are links to the recent publications of my short stories and poems over the past year. I wish to thank all of the editors of the various magazines for believing in my writing:




Line published August 2018 by Black Moss Press

Shimmer published Fall 2019 by Black Moss Press



From Don’t Hang Your Soul On That – novel set in Thailand

Chapter 1 – published in June 2018 issue at: The Write Launch

Chapter 2 – forthcoming in August 2018 issue at: The Write Launch




From A Hint of Salt – Short Story Collection


Release – forthcoming in 2019 in Stoneboat Literary Journal

High Water – forthcoming in 2019 in The Antigonish Review

A Hint of Salt – forthcoming in 2019 in Prairie Fire

Keepsake current issue (Fall 2018) of Zone 3: A Literary Journal

Interventions at Eclectica Magazine

Jogging Alone at Vanish: A Journal of Arts and Letters  (Links not working at this time)

Messy a novella at The Write Launch

Photographing Dreams at The Write Launch

Little Pink Houses at The Forge Literary Magazine


From Line now published by Black Moss Press

The Hurry at The Jellyfish Review

A Trick of the Brain at The Danforth Review





From Line now published by Black Moss Press


Reaching Light  at  Laurel Magazine

Moral Shadow in Canadian Literature

Rabbits Along the Highway in The Malahat Review

Spirited Away in Carousel Magazine

Love’s Greater Orbit at

Six Poems from Line in Offside Magazine



From Shimmer – Forthcoming the Fall of 2019 from Black Moss Press


Entanglement Theory, Hibernationand VIP Chair at Juniper: A Poetry Journal (in the Summer 2018 issue)

Mother and Die and Die Ballad in the Spring 2018 issue of Grain Magazine

In The Dark in the inaugural issue of March 2018 Mantra Review

Two Poems at Eclectica Magazine – Your Maker and Lorca’s Grave

Three Poems at The Write Launch – Including Don’t Hang Your Soul On That

Set Matters at Open: A Journal of Arts and Letters

On The Half Hour at The Penultimate Peanut

Poems forthcoming in 2019 in The Windsor Review

The Maker forthcoming in Plume Poetry Journal





Interview at The Forge Literary Magazine



Here is a new poem from Line published b Black Moss Press in 2018:




Time zigzagged for my mother

Like jazz on a sax

She was born poor

Had six sisters and three brothers

Her family eked by

Her father a religious man

Thought God pugnacious

And taciturn

A torturer at times

A dangler of easy promises

Her mother

Played Mozart on the piano

Tiptoed about the house

In the middle of the night

Sat sometimes for hours

At the piano without playing a note


My mother ran away to the city

Wrote a few letters home that’s all

Fell in love

Married my father

Love never the making

But what the heart lets

Stay buried

She played the piano too

And prayed for hours

An amalgam of the house

Where she grew up

Where music had to fight noise

And then a sister would

Throw open the door

Let in the wind and snow

Rush in

Her father standing

In the doorway

Coat pulled tight about him

On his way to feed the pigs


All her sisters left home

Because of love

Their beliefs a product

Of radios and chewing gum

My mother took her time getting to me

And later my brother and sister

Her body resisting

All of us sketchy

Time a kernel

From which life grows

Even those deeds

The good hold fast

I said goodbye to her

A final time on the phone

And then looked for the moon

In the half doused sky

But saw only blinking lights

In the street below

The present pressed

Too firmly into place.

An older poem from Nothing Vanishes. To remember my father who died 22 years ago today on July 16, 1995. He died the year before this book came out although most of the poems in it including this one were written before he died.


Last Words To A Father

There can be none, only a short wave or certain smile that comes again when you are asleep or talking to your daughter, her head tossed a particular way. On some Saturday or Sunday you will call home and there will be no answer only a long ringing in your ear, and as you put down the receiver the words will form again at the back of your mind, and you will think of a particular color or taste, and you will open your mouth as if to speak but you will step forward instead and look into your hands as if they held something beautiful, and as you do you will begin to cry, and from across the room a thin pale smoke will drift as if your father has just finished smoking one of his strong cigarettes. You will stare at the empty chair. The house quiet on a quiet street. Off in the distance a dog will bark at someone. The world will become so faint that you will begin to see behind it the face of your father and his eyes. How did they get there?

Here is a new poem from my book Line (coming April 2018) to remember my father who died 21 years ago today.

Dad by Rock 1940sMy Dad on Smith Farm 1940sPicture 001


This precarious perch
our one go
the row of lights
blinding at times
but around them only dark
a hedgerow of rhododendrons
spiked intent
behind the facade
a child plays with spark plugs
the timing of my father’s engine
the grin godly
mischief how it all leaps ahead
the timing belt on his truck
could snap sends stars
scattering into the night
no one draws near
all wrongs not righted
but propped up somehow
every creature
complete with some sort of spine
or other mechanism
for explaining
that the perch is gained
but once and not for that long
the moving parts always different
if my father looks now to one side
as a bear or beaver
hurries in the underbrush
down the way a creek swells its banks
the birch and poplars around
greedy for all that water
roots pushed so deep
they hit rock and progress sideways

my father parks
on the other side of the creek
carries a 30/30 rifle on his shoulder
finds a rock to settle
disturbs the moss and sits
waits for a deer
there are few noises
now and then
the huff of wind
leaves flutter
or to his right a bird of some sort
calls once
a squirrel chatters
then bounds between trees
all this movement
how it all keeps
spinning out of control
if not brought here
then how
does it come to be?
all of it a lurch of some sort
explained only in some
unravelling prayer
it is autumn
my father the deer hunter
wears running shoes
red checkered hat
pushed back exposing forehead
glasses scratched
teeth mostly gone
he holds the rife a steady aim
he was once stars
and will be stars again
and is stars now
but that day he
is all of us
ashamed holding fast
telling the truth
in his head
he craves a cigarette
but stays focused
hears the deer
to his right
advancing toward the creek
for water
each animal
needing precisely what
the earth serves up
even my father here
moments from killing the deer
sees how everything he needs
has been provided
all of it working fine
before laws
before the amassing of wealth
before that nimble thing
called history
that prepared argument
even a god would shun
if one were asserted into place
the precarious perch
even my father
then only a decade or so
from being dead too
he has known this bush
since a boy and now
hunts it as an old man
the deer too has a journey
that took it to this
very creek
its head a truthful place too
even if my father has no sense
of what its thoughts might be
later after my father
pulls the trigger
and approaches the still warm body
it is all familiar to him
as he cuts into flesh
hands bloodied
he learned this chore
years ago
the meat inside
only a ghost of something older
the wind at his back
another of those negotiations
he knows
later he washes his hands in the creek
carries the carcass to his stone boat
drags it back to his truck
parked between spruces
lifts one end of the deer
onto the tailgate
then the other
pushes across that metal scrape

on the drive home
he could check on the dead deer
in his rear view mirror
but doesn’t
his thoughts race
past the point of words
when he signals
for his road
there are no oncoming cars
but waits a moment before turning
as though there were
can’t explain that
now or later
when I ask him about it
all he says
is that it was his last deer
that there wasn’t as much meat
on it as there used to be
that’s his argument with god
I know that even if he doesn’t say
it takes a very long time
to gain what a life holds
and then it is all lost again
the final exhale
erasing it all
then he is still my father
even if all that made him
is mostly shut off

that day though with the last deer
he sits on the tailgate for a few moments
after loading the deer
sniffs the air
catches hints of spruce needles mixed
with the sourness of fallen leaves
he doesn’t reflect on the deer’s life
or his own or what brought them both
here today
mostly his mind empties of thought
the moment not really requiring thought
only the necessities of being
breath, balance, movement, pause
attention or at least attending
eventually he gets in the truck
and drives away
his hands perched on the steering wheel
grip firmly and he aims his truck
down the highway
the dead deer in the back
not the only thing he
is transporting with him

My Dad on Smith Farm 1940sMom and Dad 1957Four of us in River Hills 1957Picture 001

My father, Austin Edwin Hilles (Micky) died 20 year ago today  (July 16, 1995). He was the inspiration for this early poem of mine and the last lines in particular are an homage to him. I have written many poems about him over the years but this poem in particular recognizes what he tried to give me. I wrote this poem 40 years ago now.

The poem, Then, from my very first book, Look the Lovely Animal Speaks, published in 1980 by Turnstone Press. I wrote this poem in late 1975 with a pen and paper. Did not even have a typewriter yet. Seems a long time ago now that I wrote this (I was in Chris Wiseman’s creative writing class at the time – he is a master teacher and poet).


poverty teaches no one
it’s just dark and small
like a revolver.
always ready to be
the final judge.

I remember dirty walls,
macaroni, television, and
dumping the slop pail.
there was no beauty
you just survived
between paydays.

my father
drank every Friday
and Saturday nights
he lived between
the borders of the day shift
and the night shift.
that was the only
structure I knew.

I know now
that he sold
what little of himself
he had so that I could eat.
what kind of change is that?
where one generation sacrifices
itself so that the next one
can walk on its bones
with a new pair of shoes.


A poem to remember my father and mark the 19th year since he died on July 16, 1995. This poem is from Time Lapse, Black Moss Press, 2012. Here are two pictures of him. The first is of my father and mother taken in River Hills Manitoba in the summer of 1957. The second picture was taken on the Smith farm outside Kenora around 1939 when my father was still a teenager:

Mom and Dad 1957




The final two weeks of my father’s life he spent on the west coast in an early heat wave. The last night back in Calgary, I found him sitting out under the stars enjoying a rare cigarette at three in the morning. That’s the North Star, he said pointing at a particularly bright object. He told me how he used it to find his way home after hunting.

He butted his cigarette on the cement steps of my house and insisted on going up the stairs on his own. I stood below watching each shaky step. He didn’t look back even when he got to the top but kept going to the guest bedroom. When I went up later the door was open a crack and I almost went in but I couldn’t think of what I’d say once there.

He died a week later during morning rush hour, the hospital room already stuffy with summer heat, the city going about its daily business. When I saw him lying on a stretcher in the morgue I couldn’t get used to his deadness and how his body was in this room but he wasn’t. I wanted him to get up and say something but I had to do all the talking.

It is the unyielding of that which is most difficult. The day too hot to be alone in and yet I was.