Why We Don’t Know

Trams slow
tracks curve or taxis
block the rails. Maybe we’re the ones

curving. Get to the end
we hop off. All day
we don’t know and it rains we walk

with canes for umbrellas. Maybe it’s
the wine we’re about to drink two euros
a bottle. Mornings we catch

BBC World Service. Pakistan will never know
Kashmir again. We lay out our streets in
a grid after earthquakes. The trams

move slow or topple. We start a page
and down the hill turn it filling
the square like birds

hopping on tables. Meet
the quake of ’14 though
nothing yet has fallen.

Lisbon, Jan.28, 2014

Questions and Answers

What inspired you to pursue poetry?

Reading. Reading anything as a kid. Reading Al Purdy and early Michael Ondaatje as a poet. Without reading, there cannot be writing.

Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (e.g., books, film, art, websites, etc)?

We don’t need much as writers. Commitment to readiness—aka attentiveness, curiosity, willingness to play with language—belief in the inherent story-ness of everything, and a notebook and a pen.

What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

I was travelling in Europe and committed to a daily writing practice. Go to a coffee shop, pub, or plaza, open my notebook, and pay attention to what’s in front of me and what’s inside. Write freely in prose lines, with no other concept of form initially.


This poem “Why We Don’t Know” originally appeared in Recursive Time. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 222 (Autumn 2014): 69.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.