“I sing myself.”
— Walt Whitman

“I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.”
— Seamus Heaney

It’s so easy to lose yourself in all that’s going
On, the endless muddle of work and strife,
The chambers of social media echoing
Stale opinions, reality programs – this life
That serious experts on the TV news try
To reduce to – what? – something to be plotted
On a graph, an intersection of x and y.
Only that which can be counted allotted.
I resist it, push back against the stark
Black grid lines of their ledger that try to limit
What I can imagine for myself in the dark.
Their reason, devoid of rhyme, can only inhibit.
I open my eyes, my ears, my throat – I sing!
My rhyming self, irreducible, reverberating.

© Mark Milner, North Vancouver


for Adele

“Nunc scio quid sit amor” – Virgil


strange how my memory
moves my hand moves
my pen on the paper and there
we are, caught in the lens
of a moment

walking beside the river
talking, trying to curl our tongues
around things we are afraid
to speak

(I know your type)
one slip, and the words
come spiralling down
caught in the momentum
of a vortex, and even fear
cannot stop their gradual descent
into the heart
of the matter

(I feel that way, too)
we two stand at the centre
of it all, words and the world
whirling around us, hardly
noticing how my hand moves
to hold you, or my memory
this moment


Although it is winter, and the skeletons
in the front yard have dusted themselves
with snow, and the streetlights’ insomnia
is reflected all down the block
in the mostly black ice, and my shadow
has grown longer than the sun is up,

although my feet sink softly, and each
impression I make defiles
the near-perfect amnesia of the landscape,

and although my body, for the most
part, has ceased to feel
exactly how cold the world
has become,

I am peculiarly warm
tonight with the anticipation of your
body, and my every step bursts
with our wild green love.


Wherever, now, I imagine your face
There is music. The “Moonlight” sonata,
“Round Midnight,” follow your image from place
To place like light, surround you like an aura
Or the halo in some renaissance painting
Of a saint.

Like now, as I imagine
You standing at the window and facing
Out into the such blue green afternoon,
Light bending around you, it is Cockburn’s
“Love Song” I hear, and thrushes swift the chords.

(Although it is night, and the full moon turns,
Without a rattle, to the deep reed horns
Of geese landing.)

And just there — Listen … See?
— Wrapped in moonlight is you, imagining me.


my heart leaps awake
as now suddenly dancing
your eyes catch the light

you smile, ask me, “what?”
“nothing,” i say; and then, “now
i know what love is.”

thinking, this is what
poetry was always for:

of the heart’s dance,
words for translating “nothing,”
a sudden echo, light.


© Mark Milner