something shifted

can i?

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hallelujah moments

1. the first time i rode a two-wheeler, dad’s steadying hand at the ready but not necessary. hallelujah!

2. the time mom suggested i use a bigger bat because i was older now, and i resisted, but she insisted, so to please her i tried joey’s louisville slugger and swung hard and i hit a home run. hallelujah! my mom is smart, and i am a champion.

3. that time a boy in a wheelchair told me i have a nice aura.

4. motherless at 27; feeling mostly lost, cold, broken and fat. the sculptor next door tells me he used to watch me sunbathing on the roof when i still lived at home. hallelujah! i had a teenage body somebody thought was worth leering at. wait – hallelujah! – you’re a creep. no wonder your wife left you. do all art teachers sleep with their students?

5. i have always always always lived alone. orphaned at three, disconnected forever. there is a manhattan cafe that feels more like family. the chelsea hotel read my book! hallelujah!

6. racing off the end of the dock. no sharks. no rocks. the water is freezing, but i am not going under. i will survive. hallelujah!

7. if you tell enough lies you can get out of synchronized swimming AND piano recitals. hallelujah!

8. recipe for light getting in (come back to this).

9. hallelujah! your life is not wasted just because you are not a world-famous filmmaker. there is joy in quiet mornings and long prairie skies.

10. that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. she left; i didn’t die. another she left, and i did cry, but … hallelujah! i found swing, bourbon and boogie streets without them. hallelujah! thanks for the memories. didja get my postcards?

11. barefoot crooners with white linen suits and banjos. hallelujah!

12. The company of writerly women. hallelujah!

13. hey, that’s no way to say goodbye during sunday dinner and oh brother you were such a bastard. thank g-d you found your hallelujah.

14. the moment the titanium meets the canary and the cobalt and the perfect sky comes out the end of my eternally grateful brush. hallelujah!

15. the blessed communion of asparagus, lemon, garlic.

16. the realization you are holy within and fuck the without.

17. hallelujah! the trees.

18. hallelujah! the river.

19. hallelujah! the wild blue, yonder. the adult moment when you realize ‘yonder’ is a direction, not a coloured noun.

20. flannel plaid and plaid flannel. sensible shoe hallelujah.

21. corduroy bellbottoms.

22. fried cheese and lager. hallelujah!

23. anonymous valentines. someone out there loves me! hallelujah!

24. stones, roses, ribbons, glass hearts. the lovelies rowing across my living room pond on a snowy sabbath. hallelujah!

25. blessings are plentiful when you remember where to look. sometimes you need a flashlight. sometimes you just glide.

26. constellations and ducks, omelettes and libraries, bridges and broken angels. hallelujah times a million for all of these things.

27. there is a place on the bliss trail called hallelujah point. i buried my old scared self there.

28. the big aha: that hallelujah moments are not so much giant koans as tiny flickers in the mitochondria.

29. is a prime number on which to end. hallelujah!

Beneath the White Shirt: Passion, tenderness, vivid colour

Lovely review of White Shirt from George Elliott Clarke
in Sunday’s Halifax Chronicle Herald:

“White Shirt announces itself with stunning cover art by MacFayden herself. The cover art, Allegra, its violent lashings and splatters of paint, testifies to MacFayden’s sensibility: Her work is ejaculations, vivid, colourful, clashing, all indelibly marking the white page. Her first poem, my date with jackson pollock, is explicit about this esthetic: “i want the spatter! but he’s / cleaned himself up / i want loose fields, / vigorous lines, angry smears!”(Come to think of it, MacFayden’s cover painting also recalls the black, yellow, red explosion that is the cover for Irving Layton’s poetry book Fornalutx. She also seems to share his admirable frankness.)”

Clarke continues: “There’s mucho — even macho — passion here. There’s tenderness, too, as when the poet recalls an exhilarating day riding 10-speeds with a girlfriend, the twain, “just grinning like hell and knowing that, oh man, we are best friends, we are invisible,
we are invincible, we are fifteen.”

White Shirt is a fine collection — especially recommended for readers who usually ignore poetry.”

UPDATE: White Shirt was recently long-listed for the Alberta Readers Choice Awards.
I’ll be reading from it on Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Writers Guild of Alberta’s Book Lover’s Christmas Sale, Stanley Milner Library (downtown Edmonton), 2:30 p.m.

dear mary o,

dear mary o,

the soft animal of my body is in crisis.
i went to the river and got turned back
by mosquitoes,
of all things.

i went to the forest
and got turned back by sadness.

i sat in the long grass
turned my eyes to the sky
and was blinded
by impatience.

it has been so long
since carrots tasted like carrots
and tomatoes tasted red.

my toes, too long in shoes,
forgot the forgiveness of sand.

the dirt under my fingernails
was replaced by ink
– which was not so bad at first
but it is hard to wash off,
and doesn’t smell nearly as wholesome.

your galaxy always seemed so much
calmer
quieter
fresher.

even the flapping wings,
the hot buzzing of insects
possessed a stillness.

my galaxy is now – OMG! – so OTT
i can barely
stand it.

so: i have begun construction
on a new planet. admission is by invitation
only. no plastics, electronics
or genetically engineered food products allowed.

lichen, wolves, geese, snakes
and yes, mosquitoes
will be welcome.

fish and bees will thrive.
forests will no longer be sad.
water will be entirely
drinkable.

i would like you, mary o.,
to cut the (all-natural, organic) ribbon at the grand opening
of my new planet.

there will be hummingbirds
and singing
and frollicking dogs
and lemonade and
cherries.

the soft animals of our bodies
will love themselves again.

we will dance
under the whispers
of the moon

and all of our masks
will come off.