50 before 50

It seems like a lifetime ago now, but it has only been ten years since my last birthday project when I wrote forty stories before I turned forty. To honour my fiftieth birthday next month, I decided I would put a gallery together of fifty pieces of art that I created before I turned the ‘big 5-0’. My hope, plan, loosely put together plan for this year is to create more space and time to get back to the brush, back to clay and stone, back to pen/pencil and paper. It is not certainly because I stopped being creative. I think would find a way even if my arms fell off to create art, but my intention is to do more.

My oldest, Andrew, is finishing up their BFA at Western University this year. I will admit that I have lived vicariously over the years of their time at Western and I have learned from what they have shared with me. One of the more challenging pieces I have learned this year (and have not yet attempted) is a formula for writing an artist statement. In fact, it is a series of questions that can be answered to create the statement.

Perhaps this is my next task after sharing the gallery. I will try to tackle answering these questions in a more intelligent way than current response: Gah! I don’t know.

In the meantime, fifty pieces of me:

I did not ask

I did not ask 

After the sun had left

For anything

Not in the darkness

Or the darkest part of the night

As the rain fell outside

And sirens wailed

Somewhere in the streets

I did not ask one word

In the stillness 

Within the walls of

Concrete and plaster

But I lay within listening

To the wind dance 

With autumn raindrops

Waiting for sleep to steal in 

Between one breath

and the next

The weight of knowing 

Like pouring honey over

A hornets’ nest

until no longer 

Can I stay in place

To receive the consequence

Or help those

Who must bear it

I should have asked 

To be taken

Like a leaf newly turned

Dropped from the limb

Swept up from the ground

By the wind then left

Plastered by the rain

On some other window

Waiting to be seen

To be discovered in time

Then discarded long enough

To return to the soil

I know well

I should have asked 

To scream my silence

Pierce the night

Until dawn broke in 

And let the light reveal

As it could

I should have

But could not

Instead in the darkness


Wrapped in blankets 

against the chill

I listen to the rainfall

And imagine parts of me

Washing away with it

Into the deep night

Hoping dreams

Will take me there


my voice

my voice has grown thin in this storm

with the coming and going of waves

the rising tide

and boats crashing in the harbour

you will continue to tell me 

how to feel 

though you are dressed now 

in different clothes

fighting for annihilation 

of what you have sewn up 

into justice 

for those you hate

toes in the sand against the shoreline

I watch the sky for glimpses of stars

through broken clouds

the storms breathes to gather strength

debris litters the beach 

as the waves crash in front of me

I have been kissed in awkward silence

an impuslive unwanted moment that ended

when I went home alone, unharmed

I have been asked to do something 

I did not want to do and no was enough 

I have been touched when I have not wanted to be

I have been raped and no was not enough

I have been beaten by one I loved

until bruises filled my chest and arms

were filled with sleeves of black tattoos 

knowing that difference 

has now not become enough 

for you

writing poetry in the waiting room

writing poetry in the waiting room

worn seats in lines 

bland taupe comfortless


to the pain and discomfort 

of others

I wait for my child’s return

alone in a quiet corner

somewhere a doctor watches 

over them

does what I cannot do

heal, find answers or 

more questions

all I can do is wait 

to see what will unfold

within the walls 

and pray 

the discharge may bring

nothing but relief

a familiar bed 

a hot meal

fresh clothes

a cup of tea

all of which I long for

sitting with the stench

of vomit 

and creeping malaise 

every emergency room

the same

those who vomit blood

sit next to the short of breath

the anxious mothers

daughters, fathers and brothers 

a nurse washes spittle 

from the window around her desk

a woman with a broken foot

and a scorpion tattoo on her neck 

swears at the wait time

a ninth ambulance rolls in

and we wait together

under the silent flashes

of the televisions 

hanging on wall

high and out of reach 

You will always

Day 30

you will always
be safe with me
to unload your heart
on a sea of tears
or to rage
in the last few hours of the day
to laugh through the veil
to question and share
moments of doubt
of fear
of uncertainty
of relief
of joy
of quiet stillness

you will always be safe
with me
because I love you
without condition
or restriction
I love you
like the sea loves the shore
like the cloud loves the sky
like the tree loves the forest
like the stone loves the river
like the bird loves the wind

You will always
be safe
with me
to just be you.