Winter Birds

Huddled on a naked branch,

puffed up in the cold,

winter birds are brave

on frosty days.

They flutter to the feeder,

scatter seeds, scuffle for scraps,

and leave hieroglyphic footprints

on the snow.

Finches, cardinals,

cheeky chickadees,

and simple sparrows,

practical in brown,

jaunty juncos,

ink spots on the snow,

all these fearless fellows stay in town.

All winter long,

their song so much the same,

never sorry that they chose to stay,

and I know why…

they’re wearing downy vests

beneath their flying feathers.

That’s why winter birds are bold

and never fear the cold.






March Breakdown

March Breakdown

(sometime back in the 90s with three little boys at home)


The way I remember it,

March wasn’t like this.


Fields were soggy yellow sponges

that could suck the boot

right off your foot.

Ditches meant certain soakers,

melting snow poured

into sewer grates,

water trickled, dripped,

flowed, tumbled towards spring,

and so did we,

stamping, tramping,

sloshing through slush

in the mild March air.


I don’t remember

this tenacious crust

of snow and ice

encasing us in winter

far too long,

trapping us all indoors

like cryogenic experiments,

to stare at flickering screens,

to bicker and bitch

and wonder how

one week in March

could possibly

translate into

so many






Young Adult Stratford Writers Festival





Please join me for the launch of my new novel, The Secrets We Keep, on Wednesday December 14th, 7:00 p.m. at Harbourfront Centre, Lakeside Terrace. Many thanks to the IFOA for sponsoring and promoting this event. And thanks as well to Dundurn Press. Hope to see you there. All are welcome!!


Winter Morn (first published by Atlantic Advocate, 1978)

Winter Morn


A frosted, glittering world

greets the sleepy eye

the morning after a blizzard.

A quiet bright world.

an unfamiliar,

muffled white world,

where rooftops glisten


where sidewalks glimmer,


where fence posts glister,


and fir boughs low bow

with the weight of their

sparkling robes.

The backyard is almost edible,

with its gleaming ice-cream

snow drifts,

fancy-iced hedge cakes,

and twinkling tree-stump sundaes—

landscape unforgettable.

The crisp air is alive,

awhirl with a flurry of

shimmering flecks.

Show showers on a sunny winter morn—

A winter reverie newborn.


Time to share some of my children’s poetry!

Just the Wind


It’s just the wind, my mother said,

so snuggle up inside your bed

and think of things that make you smile,

you’ll fall asleep in just a while.

It’s just the wind, she said to me,

what else could all those noises be?


What else could all those noises be,

the ones that keep on scaring me?

The ghostly murmurs and the creaking,

the creatures in my closet, speaking,

planning how they’ll slowly creep

into my room when I’m asleep.


When I’m asleep, they’ll sneak inside

and find themselves a place to hide,

then whisper nightmares in my ear,

weird words that only I can hear,

then I’ll sit up in bed and scream,

because I had a scary dream!


I had a scary dream last night.

I made my mom turn on the light,

and quickly check my closet floor,

but they weren’t in there anymore.

It’s just the wind, she said to me.

What else could all those noises be?

Untying the Apron

untying the apron

Mothers of the 1950s were wasp-waisted, dutiful, serene, and tied to the kitchen with apron strings. Or so we thought.  This collection of searing and startling poetry and prose unties the stereotype and reveals women who were strong, wild, talented, wise, mad, creative, desperate, angry, courageous, bitter, tenacious, reckless and beautiful, sometimes all at once. The contributors include multi-award-winning poets, novelists, and essayists, as well as compelling new literary voices.  And I’m thrilled to have an essay included in this collection.

Find it on Amazon:

Belwood Luncheon (I must stop being such a hermit!)

Belwood lunch 2012

I’ve been spending far too much time lost in stories of late, which is very easy to do.  It’s hard to lure me away from my desk these days, and the fewer invitations I accept, the easier it becomes to remain trapped in my own head. Or to sit here banging it against my desk as I try to come up with a decent plot twist.

Sure, I get out to walk my dog a couple of times a day, and I’m always part of the mix at family functions.  But it’s so easy to lose myself in the creativity trap and become bogged down in my own musings. Being alone is fundamental for a writer, which Margaret Buffie explained so eloquently in a recent post entitled ‘STARVED FOR SOLITUDE…’ on her website. But sometimes it becomes almost debilitating.  Sometimes I almost wonder if I’m becoming agoraphobic! Which is why I was almost reluctant to drive to Belwood, ON June 26th for our annual authors’ lunch with a few writing friends.  I’m so glad I did!

Spending time with fellow scribes is essential with this all-consuming, ever mercurial business / passion of ours. And time spent amongst writers is different than that spent with non. It’s the only place and time you can feel comfortable talking about ‘it’ publicly, knowing that you’re not inducing yawns as you watch faces sag with barely contained ennui.

Writers actually ‘get’ each other.  We trade ideas, share triumphs and rejections, we empathize and vent, we sympathize and rant. And we feel perfectly comfortable doing it. Which is why a writing community like CANSCAIP is so important.  That’s where I met most of my writing colleagues.  And honestly, I’ve learned so much and gained so much from knowing them.

I’m grateful every day (when I’m not beating myself up) because I get to stay home and write stories. But I really must try to get out more and spend some time with my ‘peeps’.  Would someone please remind me next time I disappear for a while!

(Thanks to Sylvia McNicoll for sharing this photo. From the left, Jadzia Filipowicz and Oma Sylvia, moi, Gisela Sherman, Cathy and her mom Estelle Salata, and our gracious hostess, Marilyn Helmer, with unfortunate regrets from Lian Goodall.)