The redheaded hairdresser holding scissors to my face
is an embalmer—or used to be—she says cheerily,
studying my reflection in her Mad Hatter’s mirror.

I’m a bit of a freak, she says nonchalantly,
waving a 4-inch razor at my temple,
tugging and hacking the silky strands.
They fall, curling at her feet like sleeping muskrats.

People don’t die between nine and five,
she sighs, smoothing my widow’s peak,
lamenting long hours spent alone
with bodies scraped from sidewalks at midnight
and beyond.

What did you like most about embalming the dead?
I ask as the busy wrens of her hands flutter
around my face, pecking cowlicks into place.

She stands back, satisfied, and smiles.
I loved to make them beautiful again.

  • First place, 2012 Northern Ontario Poetry Competition.
  • Arising from the Mist anthology, 2012, White Mountain Press.


Call to Prayer

Miles from any mosque
you hear the heady cacophony
of Abu Dhabi’s myriad minarets
calling Allah Akbar in unison.
It’s Easter morning,
the Arabian Desert is drenched
in sunrise—cool, red and lingering,
like last night’s wine.
Your fellow campers are asleep,
so you scuttle from your tent,
choose the tallest dune,
scale it like a beetle. From the peak,
as far as you can see: a white sea
of sand, SUVs and tents far below
in the campground like plastic toys.
The wind spits in your face,
grabs your hair by the fistful.
You don’t mind—you’re eye to golden eye
with the sun, which rises now
like the singing inside you,
swelling like a swarm of honeybees,
all sweetness and sting,
a million different voices
calling the name of God
with one tongue.

  • Honorable Mention, 2012 Kisses and Popsicles Spring Poetry Contest,
    Pandora’s Collective.
  • Arising from the Mist anthology, 2012, Blue Mountain Press.