I write a lot of business and marketing copy, and frankly, it’s pretty easy. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise hasn’t tried fiction or poetry. The hard stuff requires you to narrow down an idea, fleeting as a leaf in November, containing the end of a relationship or death of a loved one. So, to give some depth to all the fodder I churn out, I’ve added a poetry section. (All content is copyright of Margaret Doyle)


New Year’s Tracks

When midnight came last year

I was taking in breaths

slow and shallow



standing in time

as though in a river


that was rushing towards

the edge


of what I could not know

but in the soft dark

of the new year


I did not think of love.


Tonight all the ephemeral

of the year is gone

like mandarin orange

tissue lit and released into the dark.


What remains?


Your words

tracks on a snowy night

by morning gone


but in the new year

I remember

and follow.


In the Spring

Blossoms float down onto my lips
Full of promises given
On my front porch
When I thought love
In springtime was natural and
appeared as clouds of petals

Falling falling falling.

Now I am a woman
Somewhere in the middle of life
Watching cherry blossoms drift in the
Slow wind, carrying traces of promises
Once made—
So delicate
So intimately sworn and yet

Here they are now, blowing like
Velvet snowflakes across the sidewalk,
Settling on my skin, their touch faintly cold
Like the skin of strangers.


New Year’s Sequins

The day is lazy, slides slowly into dusk beneath

a languid purple cloud over mountain–

it has no regard for New Year’s Eve.

All night fireworks kiss harbours good night–

transient romance glitters brightly at midnight

from Hong Kong to Haida Gwaii, resolutions

drip like watercolours in the untidy reality of


And yet I want to take part,

find some sequined dress from the eighties and

press my face into a sweaty shoulder, Boy George

playing under strobe lights, my hope blind and teetering

on heels that give me just enough height to see

sparkles on the ceiling.



What was lost

is never discussed or measured

except at certain times of the year–

Christmas maybe, an amber drink of some kind

in your hand–what was it you always ordered?


a leftover habit of a happier you

from a trip to New York when

love wasn’t arbitrary,

when love was as real as a gunfight

the yin and yang of great loss at stake

balanced there between you

dangerous and loaded for defence

should you prove to be too weak.

Whiskey, a pass of vermouth and your own bitters

fill your glass as  you

roam in midnight paths

through tangled thickets of memory–

do any traces of Chesterman remain?

a coastal map, my voice, our footprints,

wet and dark in the November sand

petrified for the future

at once a betrayal and a

promise, a kiss and a killing–

this is how we loved.

This is how we remember.


The Violence of Dreaming

At night all the scars come together

They grow and undulate and new stories are told

with scenes that were left out    that had to be left out.

Now I wake with a sore neck

From screaming and screaming

The husk of my throat still raw

With all that I had to say.

At night the memories gather and swarm

Like minnows moving towards the light

The light of a crossword puzzle

Three squares down    four across

Searching for that word I never had

The courage to speak.

Your eyes now surprised in the watery night as I

Cup your chin and tell it and tell it

The moon going round and round

Like a taxi waiting until I’m done.



Wheeling into the hospital I can’t speak

I’m breathing like a tiny animal

Limp in a predator’s mouth and captured in the night.

I’ve been here before–

Seventeen years ago, seventeen years in my cells

Now brother, we’re here together infected and grieving.

Your death hangs like a shadow, blue and tied round my neck

Open at the back so they can listen for clues:

Is it sure, is it true? Will I die too?

The nurses wrap me in warm blankets,

They roll me down hallways like good surrogate mothers

Brothers, fathers–they know there’s no one coming.

I wait behind a polite yellow curtain

As emergency room pain floats over me–

a broken leg, a fever, a certain, deathly test.

My breath is like a hopeless vapour aware

Of itself and unable to barter any deal:

I am face to face with no one; no one can hear.

They’ve gone deaf since birth, strung up by

A rosary that promised protection but

Delivered a poison, a cult bigger than God.


You my family will never be here

And I will never be there–

All that is left is my air, my air, my air.


I taste our history like a wafer

Its feathery lightness dissolves the sin:

We all know now we are just next of kin.

When you died brother we howled and kneeled

As a family should with keening and incense

And our fake religion and our fake pretense

Was like a bacteria spreading, that spreads still–

Sepsis unstoppable, a locomotive of pain

Generations’ board, generations’ wave adieu.

The doctor listens, he’s trying not to look

His stethoscope is pressed against my grief–

He’s heard it before of course, this Irish Catholic tale

Many deathbeds, many priests, many lies.

He knows what ails me and tells me I won’t die.

So brother I leave you, I’m buying up new shares

I’m getting off the train; I’m on my newborn way

Naked as a medical text I am going to tell the truth and

Hope one day you’ll forgive me for what I have to say.



The boughs hang

like nursing breasts

filled with pink petals

gorged on Spring.

The moon penetrates

the trough of winter

calls the songbirds forward

seeds desire, a call, a kiss.

You flare and burst

filaments of memory

residue of fireworks

sparks falling into water

finally absorbed into the past.


You Are Here

Years later I wake in a cloud of white sheets, squinting and expecting you there.

I’ve dreamt I was running, looking for you, panting through a street I seem to know but–

we were never there, no, we never made it there.

As I am running I am thinking you are here, you are here! And my breath

sluices through me like terrible remembered sorrow in my panic to find you.

Are you here? Are you here? Are you here? 

You are still here.

Even in my sleep, I cannot leave you.



Even as she knows it

the intentions that were

once hidden by lips nuzzling a neck

the intentions that came with your

hand turning a key in a car that would

drive to her

drive to her

drive to her

she wants to believe they’re not true.

They are there, clear as a poker hand

spread out on a table

your intentions

thin and black as a Jack of Spades

wanting to be a Jack of Hearts.

In the woods the car slows down

and the intentions of your life

fall away as shadows of trees,

pattern windows and leaves twist and fall,

making small regrets that mute the world

as we construct a moment

transparent as rain.



I want to find the world outside my world.

Pungent, swish of branch, subtle lean of

grass in wind, open sky.

I want my mind to be empty

filled only with what is,

the textured and sweet taste of life in

my mouth like summer fruit,

the sensation of goodness

ripened for this moment.


Your Last Teen Year

There are many reasons not to talk tonight.

There will be many more.

On the far edge of the apartment you

wrestle demons, carry the heft and weight of

them, navigate the dark alone never knowing

I am also awake at the far edge of the

apartment wishing you would let me in.


New Year

A slash of ocean

gray skyscrapers next to Stanley Park

layers of blue mountains, white snow,

turgid sky of clouds tumbling into the harbour

wet and persistent

with another new year.

West coast worry.

What will come?

What will roll in?

Can it be gentle?

Can it be forgiving?

Twigs break underfoot,

ruminating. To the left,

dark forest, grim as a dying handshake.

To the right, horizon, peninsula poems,

Lightness of probability without measurement.

I wonder, secretly, silently

will my small house

survive the gales of this year?

Toss a rock into the waves,

trudge through wet sand, notice

the pearlescent hope of shells, wide

open to the sky, unaware of their



Afternoon Piano

I never knew how special they were those afternoons with everyone at school  when from downstairs I would hear you begin to play the piano    the cascading trills of your fingers dancing  light as air across the keys   the house made instantly poetic  as I scurried down to peer through the crack in the door and witness you  lost in the soft light as your body remembered all the notes you had lost. 



I want life to feel like feathers pulled through

the tail of a comet

light light light.

I want to watch memories fall, sluice through to eternal

darkness, and disappear as soundlessly as they came to me.

I want to speak to you and have the space of

orbits moving slowly between us–

we turn and turn and turn and there is no separation,

only love.

Morning lands with the weight of death.

All through the night I have remembered.

Over and over:

Who was it?

Will we survive?

A virus

that is never cured.

A family infected.



Is it wrong to still feel you near me?

Your memory, like pungent incense sinks into my clothes,

mixes into my food like small doses of saffron–

you are everywhere–

a certain smell, a leaf falling, the sound of autumn rain.

Most of the time everything is ordinary,

like hospital food I know I need to live.

Then I see you in my mind’s eye

and clutch at anything to stay steady, having

completely forgotten how much I still love you.



I’m not that kind of woman.

The kind that is effortlessly efficient

in the kitchen. Baking is for genius’.

I am defenceless against the rattle of measuring spoons.

No, I am the kind of woman a chef wants to feed.

I am reverent, in awe of the tufted tops of Yorkshire, the precise

timing of beans, potatoes, fish, roast chicken–

I quietly accept dripping sauce from a spoon held to my lips,

my eyes meeting theirs in happiness, a perfect balance of hunger and



Here’s an old one I dug up. Seemed fitting with all the rain these days. It was when my son was a baby after a particularly hard day of rain and life.


Drop the groceries.

Watch an orange tumble towards the sink.

You don’t care.

The baby is crying.

The baby is crying.

You jostle him on your hip,

and slide milk into the fridge.

The phone rings,

the phone rings,

it’s money they want,

it’s money you don’t have.

Somewhere a nuclear family is

singing hey la-dee-da and snuggling

into their mortgage.

It’s Vancouver. It’s November.

It’s hell.

Except for one small forehead that meets yours,

and you inhale soft blonde hair

that smells like a reason to live.


A Summer I Will Never Know With You

I never knew you in summer.

What your back would look like

biking ahead of me down a country road


twisting a cork out of a bottle and pouring

wine into plastic cups by the seaside


kissing with only the sound of morning birds and

the delight of lake water waiting to be dove into.

I will never know you this way.

Yet you stay, you stay with me under the watchful sun,

ghost memories like spider webs

still spinning in my heart.



You found me just as I was stepping into

the river one last time

my pockets weighted down like Virginia’s

though the rocks weren’t my own and I

was hardly aware they were pulling me


into the whirling and froth of your illusion

so beautiful in a certain light

so deadly in another.



Living in a land
wired for bombs, celebrity
bellies, child filmmakers
a young mother’s morning
coffee as she writes her

first blog and her coffee drips
down over a keyboard.

Is it just a Gen Z moment
or is it the fascia that connects us?
The telepathic sorrow of
insominiacs sharing secrets at
3 am that holds us together
or in some digital moments,
lets us fall apart.

Translation isn’t neccesary-
we’re digital misfits longing
for story, sharing our typed language

where we join in deeply electronic kisses

despite the tsunami’s, sinking bank accounts,  and child soldiers.

The revolution isn’t
in your head:

it’s in translatia, the space between
our fingers and the message.


The Weight Of It

Love is not
letting another’s
revelation kill you


Let it press down
on your chest

until you have no breath
and at last you weep

realizing there was no
weight but your own



I only just

realized a kiss

is not a way but

an ending.

The journey

to the moment

I answer yes is

a silent one,

led by my own

voice and no other.


Polaroid Self 

You were a polaroid
we both loved
we would look at it
for hours together
the way you smiled
the larger than life halo
the blue light refracting
off of your shining promise
the way your easy bachelor smile
floated up and out of the
snapshot so full of the
human being you wanted
me to believe you were.



You need to feel it,

you need to

let it in.

Even if your heart feels like

barnacles, hard salt and sea foam

feel its soft tongue of petal velvet

like a lovers hand stroking your brow

ever so softly in the afternoon,

your naked shoulder open to her kiss.

Let spring in.



Once I held on

I held on

I held on

I held on

I held on

I held on

Until I let go

I let go

I let go

I let go

I let go

I let go




And yet, the scar that

should be softly silver by now

still blooms red.



I am speaking at the end of many things.

I am speaking to you.

You, as hapless as a songbird there

under a blooming apple tree.

You should know what is coming.

This may be the time to brace yourself.

I’m speaking about Lady Lazurus.

I’m speaking about flaming hair.

I’m speaking about my voice,

Shouting in the square,

The old story you

Feared would come back one day:

My memory, the star of our play

Splintering the fourth wall of

Your secret.


For My Son On Valentine’s

Love doesn’t know anything.
I’ve said love a thousand times.
Where are those words now?
Like vacuous cumuli
Taken by any old gust of wind.


But I know true love
Whenever I look at you or
Your beloved art–
and drop to my knees
In my hope it never ends.


You, Who Are Not Yet Named

Your arrow carefully,

gracefully even,

between your fingers

balanced there for

fifteen years? Thirteen?

We don’t know 

We don’t know

is loosened, and released–

sluicing the dark air

with French precision

finding its mark

deep into flesh, now

feral from your

huntsman lust.



If I cannot be unbuttoned

will I still be found?

Only my own two hands

on my body as I

bury romance in a quiet service, just me and I.

Goodbye goodbye goodbye!

I throw flowers on her shallow grave–

a choir the size of a school of fish

sings in the background

hurray! hurray!

relieved I have let it all go

and returned to my self

to repair the ruin, a root of

lightning in my hand, a new desire

both dark and willing in my heart.


The Life You Were Meant For

I tug my boots on, head to the

winter beach of my childhood.

There are the same red freighters

like aquatic grandfathers sitting

patiently between the mountains

and the shore.

There is the sand, the same sand

I lay in as a tiny child.

There is the water, the same water

I swam in as a girl,

the same faded fish and chips stand,

the same wood counter I rested my chin on as my sister

bought us lunch.

I used to think you needed to run away from

your childhood home to find yourself.

Today wet logs hunker down in the cold dark sand as

low clouds gently float across the first afternoon of a

new year.

My lungs fill with the ease of letting go and

I pull up the last tent pegs of a life I wasn’t meant to live.

Walking on

walking on,

walking on.


The Mountain We Did Not Climb

Your love

like footprints in snow

so clear when the sky is open

and the galaxy is blinding in her blue light

as Sirius and hopeful angels bend towards

our journey.

Your  footpath lit by stars,

lucent edges of purpose

ahead of me in the night




Your love

like footprints in the snow

when the sky is closed

and a slow wind begins to whip

and froth out of the German forest.

The sky goes dark as a closed theatre,

tracks vanish in a feral gust,

and the earth spins faster

until it is singing white,

a shrieking comet of regret

so great there is

nothing to do but

let it consume me.

A year after

you can see the


looks exactly the same,

but buried below

our names together

never to be found.



Just the thought of it

makes me want to have a cigarette

and a large Bushmill–

Sláinte and all of that.

It’s only 30 days so

what am I so afraid of?

Don’t bother with that bravado here.

My stomach roils at the

thought I’ll have to live through them yet,

those days–you know which ones–

when you carried me in the rain and

walked with me near the endless ocean

and we drank amber port in a sun-drenched winter dream

so real it even had a number on a door–

do you remember Room 11?

The door that led to the place

where our bodies coiled and curled

in the liquid night and each heart depended on the

other to reach morning.

Now, the red numbers on a

calendar before me,

ticking off one

by one by one like a

flat metronome.

No less, no more.

Far away, sounds of a storm, an ocean that

no longer belongs to us, my tears, your voice.

November, at the end of you

pry open my palm and make me let go

of love like a balloon into an old sky:

say it,

say it,




A Small Promise Kept Against the Cold

The Italian pajamas you bought

weren’t really my style–

they had a demure frill and seemed

re-purposed from another life

you’d known that had never known me.

In the late October chill,

I pull them out of a buried drawer

and let the frill sit on my skin without judgement

feeling the light, soft weight of their

intent hold me in remembered care.


Heart Surgery

I cracked open my rib cage

snipped apart heart scar tissue

carefully cut the last tendons that

kept you from crawling in



come in

and you lay within

and we sang, we sang

the same song in one body.


Falling Leaf

The leaves will fall

just as they are

dropping past my shoulder

landing there and there and there.

I won’t put my hand out to catch them

and imagine them veined with an

undying love–

A love so great

it would make the tree it came from

long for it back.


(This poem is written for the character of Lily for a transmedia play I am collaborating with my writing partner on. Here Lily addresses the audience directly in a quiet moment).


I would be pure If I thought you were.

I’d roll your dirty cigarettes

And pick you up at the stage door.

I would hold your face

and tell you Haikus that made you think

you never knew love before me.

If I thought you were pure

my secrets would be safe,

and what you whisper to me when you are naked

would be true.

Now we kiss with a mouthful of lies, one of us waiting to turn Brutus.


September 8

I wake to dawn,
to a room without
hunger, vice or blue light.
I wake to a world you do not live in
just as I had last year.

It took me you to come back to me, to wake to this

morning, in this way, no longer hearing the death drum roll rumbling

there in your words.

I resuscitated myself.

I won’t lie and say I haven’t thought about
kissing you over vodka
but then if I did, I wouldn’t be as
beautiful as I feel now.


Bis Bald

I was like a bunkhouse,

your wartime getaway, with

shuttered windows

so no one could look inside.

You took me in detail

piece by tiny piece

held me to the light,

and I was assessed, experienced,


I thought I was


Later, you shook your head

and  felt bad about that

last time while I lay awake

all night burnishing you with

gold, my love blind with belief.


Die Affäre

I tried to change the river;

the river could not change.

I tried to stop the sun shining through my window;

it shone anyway, blinding me.

I tried to light the darkness,

lit fire upon fire to burn down its stubborn edge

but it came, it had your name, and held me whispering

stars and oceans remain as I will, as I will.


After you left, I kept my heart still and contained like rain water.

I did not bend to winds that stormed through me and

howled at the undoing of my self with a growling oxygen

itching to light the dry kindling of your lie,

pour gas on every ich liebe dich and





After months I still wake to the same place

unable to erase us from my day–

you appear like a crossword puzzle in a newspaper

I did not want.
Perhaps that is the point.

I am to hold the expression of our love

and bear witness it occurred, a small weight on your




Fall (audio recording)

As you must fall, fall

Mo chuisle

Be soft in the dropping from

Boughs, hushed, beneath this

Autumn moon, no less dead

Than the last unattended moment

The last lips brushed against cheek

The last hand clasped on shoulder,

Now gone before the first frost.

Mo chuisle

From these bones dug up,

Churned into warm sourdough biscuits,

Plated and perfect–

From these

I’ll construct anything to resemble

You, mo chuisle.

Fall, fall, fall

While I sleep and in the morning

Wake to a yard of leaves, your memory

In the claw of a rake, returned to earth.


Too Late

It is too late

To take my love back now.

I’ve hung it in the afternoon sun

Pink, blue, something old, something new–

The wind has done its work, the sun

Has bleached our touch of tongue.

Now I have folded the crispy towels that

Scrape and scratch–

No more envelope my skin in your universe

Of midnight baths and bare toes in bed.

Still, I hold them to my face

To smell the sun

Contained there,

Like a thumbprint

I search for you in.

MargaretDoyle ©2011


Theatre of the Absurd

Dinner is set.

Cutlery placed neatly by

Baccarat crystal

candles waver

as linen napkins float down

onto laps

Chet Baker plays with

a half-smile from

the other room.

I look across at the buttons on your shirt,

remembering how they felt between my fingers,

slipping open, one by one

by one.

My mouth closes on warm brie, mixed

with soft blackberry, and I swallow slowly,

staining my white napkin as I bring it

to my lips.

Across from me you offer to refill her

glass, a question you’ve asked a million times.

The berry seeps in,

spreads through tiny threads


this moment.

MargaretDoyle ©2011


Kawkawa Lake 

It is dusk when you dive in.

At first you shudder then kick hard to warm up;

Loneliness like a vapour surrounds you.

End-of-the-day waves lap tiredly against the dock,

As a loon sings her sad aria.

Now you move neatly away from

The bobbing oars and cast off hats that

sleep like turtles on the wharf.

Backstroke, backstroke, sidestroke then breast.

On the beach a chair lies sideways

Beside a red table, beer bottles faintly shine in the slow

Night sun as mothers pull cool sheets over tanned bodies.

Ahead the aphotic rim meets boughs that hang like

Slack tongues into the water’s edge and you

Long for the mystery there in the numinous edges

Beyond family games of

Gin rummy, backgammon and scrabble.

Water swirls in your hair and around your sleek skull

Goosebumps flare up on your white thighs that shine

Below a feral moon and you wonder, who have I become?

Between tenebrous poems and cottage chores

The hanging of children’s suits and unwritten stories that

Wake you at 3 am–

You are pulled this way,

Towards the distant mountain hide that bristles with Fir trees

To doorways you dare not open.

On the shore a dog’s solitary winsome bark

Reels you back to shore, and you are suddenly thankful

With a mouthful of salty tears as you

Kick and stroke back towards those tiny anchors

Moored so deeply on the bottom of your silty mother-heart

Son, daughter, husband

calling you from their summer sleep.

Margaret Doyle ©2011




The curtain

Floats away

From the window

But no air enters.

The heat descends

Languid as a lover

On the bed as

Her fingers

Trace back to

Where he has

Touched her.

She sketches the shapes

Across her naked hip–

Hours slip by

Like this—

Back yard

Laughter dissolves

In the city’s

Humid trance

Below a shimmering starry sky.

She has a longing so sharp

the glass edge of it

Sinks in and scars her.

Alone in the night heat

Her mouth opens


His name

Like rain

On her summer tongue.

MargaretDoyle ©2011


For the final One Shoot Sunday challenge at One Stop Poetry featuring photographer Rosie Hardy, here is my poem inspired by this image.



Oui, I will come

at dawn, in the time

before our world’s awake,

in the tender air not yet filled with

morning duties,

before fires have been built,

or wardrobes tied,

before horses are groomed, while their

breath blows warm  in the cold air of your stables,

and young couturiers

collapse into their royal beds.

I will come, mon bien-aimé

and speak our secret language

and a thousand kisses will

be set free, like small birds appearing

in the sky, your name in their song,

you in me.

(Inspired also by the story of ‘Petite‘ or Louise de la Vallière, a little-known mistress of Louis XIV, whose story is brilliantly explored by Sandra Gulland in her book Mistress of the Sun. Here is an interview with Sandra talking about Petite’s fascinating story.)



Oh let it slip, let it unfold, then fold back on itself

your life there curled like a cat

just step out of it like it was a suit

you no longer need–oh yes, a suit that

never fit you anyway.

See? this red lipstick

has nothing to do with duty

it is a wide red dahlia saying

my name down the street

sashaying free as party ribbon.

Dear dear dear

get me out of here

before I stay.


Here is my poem for One Stop Poetry’s Sunday poetry challenge, featuring photographer Adam Romanowicz. Below is an image of his I was inspired by and in fact wish I could just enter into. Thanks Adam for letting me escape for a moment.


Would you like to create a memory?

Come, walk with me, down this sleeping path

Of white sand–hush, be still–undo your hard laces,

Loosen your tie, step out of all that you know.

There now, have your toes known such happiness as this?

Shade your eyes, look out to no one, the ocean now our

Only audience, forgiving, and forgiving, and forgiving

Washing us like stones until we rise up gleaming under a lover’s sun.

Take my hand, come to the water’s edge, sink into wet sand,

Surrender to warm wind whispers, let your lips be lazy at my throat,

With nowhere else to go

But each moment together.

Margaret Doyle © 2011

Picture by Rob Hanson for One Stop Poetry Challenge, my poem inspired by this image below.


At first you phoned every day.

I loved the small sounds your breath made

between words your tongue pausing

just before you tell me you want me

my mouth curving into a smile

my ear cataloging the moments

before you hang up, as though by

recording them in my mind they would

be permanent, archival,


Now the phone stares at me for days

mocking in its solemn black, like a stern widow

fool fool fool the numbers whisper

like little girls on a playground

chanting your number over and over

daring me to call–just once?

Cruel silence now hangs like

a slack lover, the clock an indifferent

metronome marking the hours without you.

My nerves align with wires pulled taut

like violin strings, waiting for your voice

to come back to me, your breath filling

me with your words.


Te he amado

In the dark belly of night

barely breathing, cupped to me

like a bird, my will the fulcrum

the hours pass around like a ferris wheel

the inhalation of you is us.

My darling, my darling

if you knew how much I loved you

all your breath would come easy

but God didn’t make us this way no,

love is ours alone to learn

in a caress or savage strike–

my darling my darling 

I have loved you since

the moment you chose me

and still choose me each day, every day

gloriously alive, my child,

my son.


After You

A table not set, waiting

A bed made, hospital corners

Longing to be torn

Glasses, standing like silent

Lovers, wanting to be held

Garter hooks softly curled,


In unopened drawers

Telephone gone mute

Lips remembering your taste.


My poem for One Shoot Sunday poetry challenge at http://onestoppoetry.com/ with photographer Fee Easton:


I feel your eyes on the back of my neck

the beating there soft as the tiny hearts

of nighttime prey as

thoughts scurry and

scatter under the certainty of your hunt,

eyes wide searching for invisibility.

But there is no stopping it–

my white skin is phosphorescent,

a beacon for your hard grip that comes

swooping into me and we sink

into pine and spruce, fungi and

last-minute cologne, shred of silk,

gasping in our shared ending.

Margaret Doyle © 2011

For One Stop Poetry with Anthony Desmond, who is hosting today’s Mother’s Day poetry challenge!

In Utero

(For Brendan)

It started out as a dream

You swimming somewhere in the cosmos towards me

Then inside    your stubborn heel pressed up

And into my ribs for all of August

Then your tiny hands wrapped around mine curled

In my hair as I walked for miles to the store

Your legs dangling out of a thriftstore pack I

Bought for five bucks from the second-hand store

The cashier who was a single mom too gave us a toddler bed

That you were too small for but I wanted to

Believe you could do it    sleep by yourself     and you did

Then a miracle you crawled out of your diapers as though you knew

They were too expensive to keep up with never making

Me feel less than    not once    and when you were four

We ate our last box of Kraft dinner and I thought maybe

Your auntie could take you just for a while?

But you calmly looked me in the eye from the cooling bathtub

Water and said that you would rather sleep in a car than be with

Anyone else     and this was the moment I really became your mother

Because you’d chosen me      now you are my

Teenager long legs hanging off your bed as sure of your place

In the world as any child raised in kingdoms of wealth

Your lovely eyes fully open.

Margaret Doyle © 2011

(For One-shot Wednesday poetry/ Week 43, at One Stop Poetry)

Argument by the Bay

My clear tears that day in the bay

did not hew my cheeks in rage

but slipped down like little whores

as open and porous as two large breasts

freed from whalebone.

Twice you left.

And twice came back.

My jaw lost its pins

and hung like a dime-store mannequin

jigsawed with fear and slumped in

stillborn space.

If only I could I have been a ventriloquist

I would have sung the star-spangled banner

so the men in their skiffs would have

beat their fish hearts in sympathy for me.

My fishbone words, my testament, were eaten by gulls

that flew flapping from your vestments.

You said ‘let’s end it all’ as a

family of three giggled insipidly

past my weeping hag act

and the sea a smiling mirror of amusement park cheer

as all the stick men and women marched by with

appendages of red and white checked gear.

You said you loved me

before you turned on the gas.

You said you loved me

before you turned the screw.

Oh, for night vision to see into the inky black heart of you.

I pleaded, take one rib, take two!

But you put on your mask

pieced together my cadaverous heart

and dipped me in the ice-cold Pacific–

twice for good luck–

Until I rose up

baptized in kelp

my slippery eel love

bleached white and brittle

in the beak of a dove.Margaret Doyle © 2011


This is my poem for this week’s One Stop Poetry Challenge, featuring this heartrending photo by photographer Greg Laychak.


Who will lay with me

In the ancient night

With my bones thin as papyrus

My heart luminously open,

My mind having figured it all out?

Who will know me then?

Who will hear my words

Now that I have found my voice?

Who will know my stories

Of my life long lived, my heart

No less alive in this prison I am in.

Margaret Doyle © 2011


This is my poem for the One-stop Poetry picture challenge this week, inspired by Lauren Randolph’s beautiful image.


It was five different coloured balloons

It was ecstatic roses in love-forever red

It was delicately wrapped pink shoes and tucked away cards

It was lacy bustiers and flavoured lube and dress up time–

It would have turned any tomboy into a lollypop sucking fool.

I was jumping for joy, I was in full-sail, like a girlie

Regatta aimed for your harbour of illusion.

Candy-flavoured promises melted on my glossy lips

Sweet as Sunday communion and I gulped down your

Your Kool-Aid with dollar store abandon.

But man-made Princess stories

Nearly always get turned into the Devil’s work–

Pop! Pop! Pop! goes the fairytale and just as well–

My plain but sturdy feet stay on the ground,

Rooted there and never swept away.

Margaret Doyle © 2011



I wished I were a shore
so that waves came upon me
day after day
until all of you was washed away
and shards of glass softened
from white foam phosphorescence
covered my skin like scales
and I became crustacean

blood cold, under a moon with no memory.

Margaret Doyle © 2011

Champagne in the Afternoon

I sit across from you

in your uncle’s chairs

drinking champagne at 2

it’s as though you do this everyday

and I find I love you for it–

innocent bubbles on my tongue,

so welcome, so new.


For One Poetry Picture Challenge:

Image by Sean McCormick

Going West

I was your wild west lover

your Irish immigrant, your

horse’s mouth that took

your bit and your saddle that said:

you are mine, you are mine.

I was your untamed thing

unfettered as red sand blowing

through a canyon or prairie grasses whistling–

you could say you were caught up in my freedom

panning for gold, searching in the lawless

saloon of my heart for your own permissions.

But you were were of the east coast,

the never-ending Protestant brick,

building and building and planning

and planning and your tight suit held you

and your Lincoln love held you and she held you

that woman from the place between us, a

nowhere place of importance  but nonetheless

on the karma map.

I left, riding bareback,

the house of dreams up in smoke, ashes of

words, silent after burn.



I know you can drive.

Your hands tell the story

of your infinite control

the grip and release of someone

who understands subordination

the delicate place where you exact

direction and the necessary

relinquishment to get to

the finish line.

Yet– I want you before

the moment you decide to win–

in that place where there is

is still space for two.



walk run kneel fall
into arms
opened or closed

know courage
never taught
by your mother

offer your heart without
panhandling for love

Margaret Doyle © 2011



All day I hear it. Fat talk.

How it bulges under the arm

The neck, the knee, the eyes even—

Women everywhere each day

Falling out of themselves

Careening around in these fat, fat bodies

Jumping from fat thigh to fat chin

Like a game of weight watcher’s hopscotch.

No one seems to remember the real use

Of their body, small miracles like touching your toes

Or breathing, that sacred privilege of the living.

Instead, we dine on castigation

And delight as our needs diminish into bone.

Our lives are arranged around fat talk.

Little fences contain our

Proportionately measured hours

Each day regulated by a careful map of calories

Egg whites, grapefruit, water

Lunges, running, weights

Like Stations of the Cross we kneel down and

get blessed for our beauty.

The media likes it best

When even your soul weighs

Absolutely nothing

When you are filament, transparent

As a wet blossom, like a Geisha without

Her makeup.

How did we become so small

While talking about how enormous we are?

Margaret Doyle © 2009

Here’s a live, mostly improvised version of ‘FAT’ performed with some of Carolyn Mark’s band and guests at the Orange Hall in Victoria, BC:



This morning at the wood pile

A crow or raven?

Flutters black overhead

Then is gone.

Now a day full of longing

From some umbilical place

As though my infancy

Could be explained by wings.


Last Romance (audio recording)

(For Zero)

I don’t want a paper ring

I don’t want a swath of lace

I don’t want your something blue

I don’t want a love that can be replaced

I don’t want transient lips

That kiss with opera flash

I don’t want a limpy hand

That isn’t sure where to go

I don’t want to be a wife

I don’t want to be that scourge

I don’t want to be your recycled ideals

I don’t want to be any leftover urge

I don’t want you to just stay over

Or your early morning grudging kiss

I don’t want your drunken dance

Or your late night hit and miss

I want the silty bottom of your soul

I want the salty tears you cried when you were six

I want the shame the guilt the rage

I want the moment when you let go

And slip down into love

As though it were your last chance,

Your last dance,

your last romance.




37 responses to “Poetry

  1. What a way with words you have Margaret. So much passion and far too many favourite lines 🙂 I am glad to have found your site. I would like to be updated with your posts and would like to follow you on twitter. My twitter ID is padmavani

    Look forward to reading you regularly

  2. “Going West” is a really intriguing poem. The characterizations are really strong, and it’s got a whirlwind feel to the whole thing. The ending is fantastic with the house of dreams on fire. Great write!

    Also, I loved “Fat”–such a great ending!

  3. Wow what a delectable array Margaret ~
    will return again ~ the Tanka was a perfect form for the Romance of the day ~ great info from Lady Nyo ~ nice one Margaret ~ hugs Lib

  4. nice…i like your verse on the balloon…some nice touches…turned any tomboy into….great line…and the fairy tale popping of the balloon, yeah it can be just like that…

  5. dustus

    Re: Princess

    Very cool to read. i imagined that “like-OMG-type of voice” as a narrator, and love the tongue-in-cheek debunking of illusion. Excellent poem.

  6. “Papyrus” I read this as one near the end questioning death and also as a writer questioning the end and present as well. Very nice work.
    “Fat” cool reading

  7. who will know me…sadly none too many it seems…

  8. Adam, Brian–thanks for the comments…it was a hard one this week to write to but made me think of my mother, and how the inside, the heart, doesn’t match the body in the end.

  9. Argument by the Bay: Supercharged with rage and imagery. Some great connections made through your rhymes. The you said you loved me repeating lines seem to hit a fever pitch.

  10. wow…your poem this week is exquisit…the vicious imagery…the unpinned jaw of a mannequin, the breasts released from whalebone…the tale inbetween rich with feeling…i am glad it was a dove in the end, perhaps signifying peace…great one shot

  11. Thank you Adam! It does get to a fevered pitch for sure.:) It is rather an old poem (16 years) that I recently dusted off and reworked as I’d never been happy with it. I ruefully smile at my younger self, so full of vim and vigor!

  12. I so appreciate your comment Brian, that poem has never been made public so wasn’t sure if it might be a bit much–thanks for making me feel it isn’t.

  13. I enjoyed your words. Quite a good mother’s day poem. thank you for sharing.

  14. moondustwriter

    The Hunter is excellent
    The hunter can take on many forms as inmyiur poem hmmm
    I’m glad you are enjoying a breather from the work force
    I agree that tech writing is easier – fewer variables
    So nice to meet you

  15. “Hunter” is a brilliant take on the prompt—perhaps even a social comment on relationships at large; or on other levels depending upon interpretations and suggestive use of language. “…we sink / into pine and spruce, fungi and / last-minute cologne, shred of silk,” a wonderful mix of telling imagery.

  16. oh what is done to win love and how easily it is forgotten in quick time…you capture that well in your words today…things change way too quick…

  17. dustus

    “Wires”… great love poem; especially the ending and what precedes it, for example… “the clock an indifferent
    metronome marking the hours without you.”
    Sorry to take that out of the flow there— telling visual lines. Time controlled, yet off kilter back and forth.

  18. hot verse…1000 kisses, birds released, you in me…hot, i say…lovely final one shoot

  19. “and a thousand kisses will
    be set free, like small birds appearing”

    Beautiful poem, interesting background info too. Thanks, Mags. Excellent work.

    • Thank you for all of your comments Adam, I’m really going to miss this poetry challenge…I hope we can keep exchanging images and words, you have inspired so many artists.

  20. What a way with words you have Margaret. So much passion and far too many favourite lines I am glad to have found your site. I would like to be updated with your posts and would like to follow you on twitter. My twitter ID is padmavani

  21. I just discovered this glorious page on your blog. I can’t wait to linger over the words this weekend.
    Beautiful, beautiful.

  22. Wonderful poetry! The Kiss, Poloroid Self, and for your Son on Valentimes Day were three of my favorites. They really speak to me.

    • Thank you Deborah for reading my poetry. I sometimes think I put it out into the ether and it sort of floats away and disappears. Nice to hear back from a reader. I like those ones too.;)

  23. What a feast of poetry! A wonderful way to start my day!

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