From Falsework, published by Goose Lane in 2007. 

I saw my mother under sedation

in the Psych Ward, after she collapsed

at the funeral. She foresaw the bridge

disaster, but no one believed her,

not even father. Her “visions” made him

uneasy. He could not square them

with the fundamentalism he carted

all the way from Medicine Hat, husks

of a not-quite-former self. These

things I see, they’re not contagious,

she told him. Little warnings is all.

Maybe a day to take the bus,

avoid stepladders. She was cutting

avocados the day before it

happened, her face in shadow,

the skinned halves sliced thinly

lengthwise, then pressed to lie pale

and overlapping on the plate, neat

as playing cards. A decade later

I’d see terraced hillsides in Vietnam

that looked like that, rice growing

on man-made ledges. Round pit

of the avocado an unemployed moon

beside the dish rack. Cigarettes

verboten in the house, though wood

smoke from the cast-iron stove

probably caused as much damage

to our lungs. I’d wake up bilious

in the middle of the night, light-

headed from all the zapped brain

cells. Mother’s disguise puzzled me

at first, oxygen mask, I.V. tubes.

Her eyelids would flicker and she’d

utter nonsense syllables. Tongues,

my father might have suggested,

if he’d survived; she’s speaking

in tongues. Out of all the gibberish,

“switchbacks” was the only word

I recognized. Glossalalia? Not quite.

Directions, more like, how to think,

to move forward without father,

without Doubting Thomas, a straight line

being out of the question. And that,

more or less, is what we did.



Gary Geddes is an award-winning poet who lives on Vancouver Island.


Toby Sharpe


I don’t know where a person can go when they disappear, apart from underwater.


Young Earle Birney in Banff: September 1913¹

what a day!at the Basin2 dove from the tufa overhanginto the water, playing my trick ofseeming to drown, not coming up until I finish wrigglingthrough that underwater chimneyand burst into air. always startles the tourists.


Zamboni Driver’s Lament

i know hate, its line-mates. believe me. you kids have, i’m sure, wasted—all early morning anxious and weak-ankled—their first impatient shuffle-kicks and curses on me.