Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Lie of Despair

"Everyone will be better off"


No we won’t.

look for unwritten notes
answer endless questions
stare at the empty pillow, vacant office
watch the dog mope room to room
clutch each other and scream

do paperwork in an endless wormhole
stand silent in a broken circle
make reservations for us minus one
meet with moneychangers
turn tables upside down
sort pictures collections trophies mementos
whose only meaning is you

receive flowers meals charity pity reasons
dear god the reasons
rage because there is no reason
accept nothing assume nothing
watch shadows fall on a cloudless day
across the eyes of your son
go deaf from the echo of your absence

You assume too much
to think you matter so little

Photo credit: #23343800, standard license

Friday, October 2, 2015

Marketing Yourself

As welcome as the telemarketer’s call
as fun as a slap in the face
more eagerly anticipated than
a door-to-door peddler
is your offer when I didn’t ask

My mirror isn’t broken
and while this may come as a shock
I don’t secretly want to be like you
or make you more like me

I’m happy with who I am
and accept who you are

Perhaps it’s time
to love yourself enough
to give up the need
to make me over
into another version
of you

Picture: sourced online

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Monday Morning

for my new friend, Renee, a flitter of fun and friendship

Sink into the empty loveseat
witness finches
flit fly flutter
bounce over the bannister
change direction
like hummingbirds
free as a ...

free as themselves
hang upside down
to eat captive suet
through the feeder cage
lest the magpie
in his tux and tails

take it all away
before chasing that squirrel
he'll never catch - the one who
runs circles around him
leaps branch to branch
in the spruce

chickadee, sparrow and finch
fly free, fed and happy
in their brown suits
spotted breast
or striped waistcoat
blushing head
or masked eyes

They don't stay long enough
for me to catch their names
or their eye
but they thank me
sing me
with their song

Photo credit: #34283549, Standard License

Dodge and Drive

Yesterday behind the wheel:

I watch a man carry
the whole world in his hands
downtown on the street corner
dressed in business attire
he looks quite capable
of handling it but - not to worry -
it is just an inflatable globe.

A teen with a whole world
full of death wishes in his backpack
darts across six lanes of traffic
too busy, important or foolish
to walk the fifty metres
to the intersection
for safe passage

And another rolls across
through the intersection crosswalk
against the light on a longboard
rebels against
traffic control devices
that dare to say stop. Powerless
in face of immortal youth

This morning from the chaise:

Magpie, squirrel, finch and blackbird
flit, flight and fight around their feeder
like a flock of teen boys whose
whole world disappears
when food is involved
the daring and death defying

deeds of the day gone to seed

Photo credit: #32420353, Standard License

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cut Flower

The roses are
holding their breath
Trembling petals brush
the velvet cheek
Blushing pride
shock and wonder

I am wanted
like a favorite shirt
comforting book
glistening cold drink

I relax into you
like a cosy chair
at the cabin
warm in front of the rusty
smell of cedar on the fire

and the rose exhales
opens its arms

Photo credit: Joyce Rempel

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Winter Widow

While it is true
I have a new life
and new love
that I am happy, content and fulfilled

I am also still a widow
draped by all that has come before
I process this mantle every single day
like remembering to pick up my winter

coat from the dry cleaners
and put it on when I walk past the place
where I spilled wine on the hem
at supper that last week

I pull the fur
lined hood over my head
as his favorite song rumbles
through the playlist

The elbow snags when I bump
into his former employee at the game
and she adds the scarf of her arm
around my neck, chatters on

about how excited he would be
that we are in the cup run,
how he regretted not opting
for playoff tickets in '04.

I take the coat in again
ask if they can remove the stain
repair the snag, box it up
like the wedding dress of '81

I use the coat less now
it's getting tattered
no longer a go-to choice
and while it was

very helpful for three winters
and I will never get rid of it
the weight is more than I
need for this spring

Picture 1: #5278483, standard license
Picture 2: #14069717, standard license

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bully Bag-o-Bones

You stood at the head of the beach
counting down from ten
to get us to come.

Dad was busy
so you got the job
keeping us in line

His confidant, best friend,
you did as he bid
honoured, served


Always the faithful son.
The first brother.
The responsible one.

Mature. Leader.

You stood at the back of the pack,
hum the right pitch
to start us singing
picked the right hymn
to keep us singing
knew the right words
to keep the program flowing
researched the right roads
to keep us driving
contacted the churches
that kept us traveling

Put off your life
to corral ours, support Dad’s

and there you are still:
pastor of his church.
praying for his people.

Your Father’s son.

My hero.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Surrender to Love

In the weeks following the traumatic event that left me a widow in December of 2012, I picked up a book, recommended several years earlier by a trusted friend: "Surrender to Love" by Dr. David Benner. It grounded me during the initial maelstrom of grief and prepared my heart and mind for venturing into a new life, knowing this unshakeable truth: I am carried by a God whose essence is unconditional Love and there is no fear in this Love.

Earlier in 2015, I was asked to write a poem on the same theme for the Good Friday service at my church. The video which follows is the end result. I am deeply grateful to have been a part of this, and my admiration and thanks go to the creative staff and volunteers at First Alliance Church who produced such a powerful video.

May you find this Love.

Good Friday at FAC - Surrendered to Love - #FACdefiningmoments
Posted by First Alliance Church Calgary on Friday, 3 April 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Mystery of Yes

I have seen too much death.
Most of it much too soon.

two nephews, two nieces,
parents, sister-in-law,
brother, husband.

But this is why I celebrate Easter.
The mystery of resurrection.
The wonder that God became man
to pay the price for me
to defeat the death that comes by sin

Came alive again, Hallelujah!
to restore the original design
of open and complete connection
with the One Who Is Life.

Love came to me in such a tangible way
after Brent's death
A presence of light so real,
a comfort so inexpressibly deep,
all my doubt about God's love

Jesus was mocked.
Some of you still do.
I invite you to hear my story,
hear His heart.

Only Jesus has the words of eternal life.
and he has his arms open to you.
right now.
say yes.
just yes.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Comparison is the Eighth Deadly Sin

I used to be friends with a dental hygienist
who judged people by their teeth
and so my mind begins to wonder
about the condition of my bicuspids and molars
so much that we eventually drift apart.

If this is true for teeth, says Perfectionist,
then surely other experts cultivate
similar measures for acceptance?
And so, the professions of various acquaintances
begin a long march across the field of comparison.

The merchandising manager at the dress shop
had to know about my threadbare closet
(how the floral blouse always shows up on Wednesdays)
and thus my limited wardrobe would invariably
have to circumvent that friendship

A psychologist raises my lingering suspicion
that he has X-ray vision into my psyche;
the nurse knows instinctively about that small goiter
the fireman discerns the smoke detector battery must be dead
and a pastor knows the hidden depths of my soul

Expert knowledge becomes a smile killer,
beauty competition, mental or physical health exam
home safety evaluation and a spiritual assessment
if everyone can see me the way I see myself
All those not-so-hidden little faults on parade

And it crushes me then that my life as a poet
could possibly discourage others as they read my words
quash so many, if they think I look at their writing
with some measure of carefully crafted eloquence
and find them wanting.

Comparison kills.
On the other hand, connection grows
if we set aside the rulers
human measures of success
better-than, less-than subjectivity

then, we are grateful to learn from friends 
the life-giving principles of collaboration,
share knowledge like a library loans books
our own personal Wikipedia
downloaded from one to another

Expertise to build a life:
that caring for teeth improves overall health
certain clothing can minimize body flaws
that no, it’s not just me
who feels inadequate at times

If we only compare notes about life. love. longing.
put down one-upmanship, then
home can be safe, goiters can be treated
and redemption is possible, 
even for a judgmental hygienist
or a renegade poet.

Picture: #5431243, standard license

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Rempel Psalm

For my husband, Henry, a man after God's own heart

The Lord is your foreman, you don't lack anything.

He orders you to take a load off in lush green meadows, he gives you the best camping spot beside the clean watering holes, he restores your soul like a classic Mustang, he leads you in right-living paths because your life reflects well on his name and reputation.

Even though that path goes straight through dangerous, shadowy Death Valley, you don't fear the black hats because He is riding shotgun. His Winchester and lasso comfort you.

He prepares a campfire feast for you in the face of your enemies, he massages your body/mind/spirit with healing oil, your wine casks of blessing are always full and you pour it out freely to others.

Goodness and Mercy are your personal, lifelong friends and sidekicks. Your final bunk is in the Lord's ranch house - you'll hang up your spurs and roam his territory forever. It's a done deal.


Photo credit: 1397515, Standard License