Poetry: Pillow Book ii

This is the second piece I’ve written inspired by The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. In this case it’s actually more inspired by the Peter Greenaway movie of the same name.


You lie there

silent, blank canvas

just the hiss of air escaping

the difference between

present and past

I turn pages

of your once-favourite books

softly, almost reverent

coupland, kesey, conrad

they decorate this

impersonal space

with adjective sketches

they let us float above

in the world as it was

I place the pillow book down

its hard cover eases into the plush chair

settles in as a bird to its nest


the brush waltzes over skin


strokes in stone ground ink

so very black against you

nearly lifeless pale

it traces words like the

meaning of a garden

the ink runs meaningless

in your geometry

now your vacant body

is covered with meaning

I embrace the staccato

the faded strokes

this last dance we share

this final chapter

played out in flesh and pigment


Editing poetry: Dead book

I’ve had my own hospital experiences, but oddly enough I wrote this based on the second-hand books for sale in the hospital I went to that housed the Student Health Centre at UBC. I was thinking about the traces of their existence people leave on things that we view as purely material.

When a patient dies
They leave their books
Like petty debts
Sitting softback shuffling in the drawers
While nurses move, arch and serious,
Remove every trace,
Reduce Reuse Recycle
Sterilise dust, motion and memory.
The relatives, hands on shoulders,
Exchange grief by diffusion,
Collect clothes and eyeglasses
Smudged with the trace of a fingerprint
While the air conditioner howls like a storm wind.

And the books sit shuffling in the drawers,
Eventually found,
Pressed closed and silent
Stacked tightly in rows like a crypt,
Given life,
So another can die between their pages.