The Poet

He was born crying and he died laughing.

And in-between? Some smiles

given mostly to the old,

the young, women. And he wept

at the still swings in schoolyards

knowing the god had risen

from the stirrups of a dead mount.


Grass on the one cheek

grave-dirt on the other

it was never clear to us

why he turned the grass to the rain

the dirt to the sun

but the breath was sweet

that commissioned the words.


I say this for him

who would have said it better:

the growl in a dog

the blood in a kildeer

the bullet hole on each side

of the salmon’s grace


became the rope of seeing

from which his body hangs

white as the sheet of the world

the parents sleep on, nightmared,

caging the human cries in bone.

Tim Bowling’s work in poetry, fiction and non-fiction has earned him two Governor General’s Award nominations, a Canadian Authors Association Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Writers’ Trust of Canada nominations, and five Alberta Book Awards. His Selected Poems, drawing on ten full-length collections, has just appeared through Nightwood Editions.