The Man with the Unfocused Eye

“This is my raft”, he told me

The man with the unfocused eye

To the horizon he smiled gently

And clung fast to his chair’s sides.

“I found wrongdoings elsewhere,

So I have chosen my confines

Though progress builds her gilded stair,

As the days blur into times.


“You might tell me of fair reckonings,

In a world ever made anew

Of real places and sheer dreamings,

In art both rendered true.

You might tell me of glass cities

Towering giants against the blue

Delights lost on heady breezes,

Across beaches I never knew.

“There are wonders, this I know

But each year the lilacs fade

My adventures fall to ghosts,

And my hurts are not repaid.

This is my raft, this is my cave,

My cell, if it please you so;

I left my glasses upon a grave,

And I have nowhere else to go.”


He closed his eyes, still clinging,

To the chair though it had gone

It was that lonesome edge of being

Where the night awaits the dawn.

Her Seventh Letter to Kate

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>> Back to her Sixth Letter to Kate

Dearest Kate,

My new address will be The Haverly, Kingstowne, under the care of Mrs. Brougham. If you have not done this already, tell Everett that he is very lucky and that he had better bend to your every whim.

I am afraid that, after embarrassing myself, I recklessly made my application to serve as a District Officer for the Crown, and even wrote my name as G. C. Walker. I know they are even more for equality there than here, but the instinct to make myself as formidable as possible on paper took free rein. The short of it is that a wire arrived two days ago to congratulate me, and another came yesterday to ask if I might hasten my arrival; thus I will be on the airship mere hours after writing this letter.

I am very close to tears knowing that my letters to you and to my father will not reach their destinations before I am set upon my journey. And the lilacs are only just beginning to bloom. Continue reading “Her Seventh Letter to Kate”

One girl was tan but the other was pale


She uncoils over the sand, letting her hip and elbow sink down with a noise of contentment that isn’t quite aloud.

“They’re watching you”, he says, amusement plastered on top of his irritation.

“Good. I’ll be happy to eat up their feelings, and spit out dragonflies”. She laughs and shifts and the sun gleams off her thighs. “Bejeweled dragonflies that won’t fail to delight.” Continue reading “One girl was tan but the other was pale”

Her Sixth Letter to Kate

>> Back to the Beginning of the Series

>> Her Fifth Letter to Kate

Dear Kate,

I’ve been negligent in writing, and I realize my last letter was only about me. I should have asked about Everett, for now you have surprised me – engaged, Kate! I cannot believe you didn’t tell me that you’ve been so much in love with him and his tennis arm for all these years. A thousand reproaches, and a thousand hugs. I have a lovely tennis arm if I do say so myself, so would you come and marry me instead?

I don’t mean to make fun, it’s only that you are so firmly rooted in York. And I am going to miss you very much, so much so that I was about to make a harebrained proposition, and it should have been very awkward to have you refuse. Continue reading “Her Sixth Letter to Kate”

Le film magique


En juin, les bicyclettes font les terrasses au volant

On boit l’atmosphère de verre et des roses

Puis les étoiles remplirent les rues

En jouant leurs fantaisies

Les vieux hommes ont des chapeaux-palettes

Avec lesquels ils peignent tous les portes

Et les planètes glissent par-dessous les toits

En laissant les tasses en porcelaine

Entre les jardins-nuages, le film a son début:

Tout le monde vive à Paris


Clubs were a thing of my 20th  year, horribly outmoded now that I am a whole 3 years older. But last night I did something irresponsible.

Instead of continuing to write I went to a skeezy student bar with some friends “just to watch the hockey game”. As fortune had it, I was halfway through a beer when the game ended, and as often happens when people try to coordinate finishing up a pint, it took one or two more pints to get it right.

The skeezy bar had been chosen by one of my acquaintances, whose amazing self-centredness and inability to read social cues makes him the butt monkey who does not realize he is a monkey. He recently got a girlfriend, and said girlfriend had been planning to go a FOAM PARTY at a nearby club after the hockey game, with her friends in tow.

I had been in Kingston 5 years without going to that club. Earlier I had said quite adamantly that I would never go to that club (a sentiment shared by my more socially erudite friends).

As you can probably tell, I was about to eat those words and discover what a foam party actually was. Continue reading “Bubbles”

Her Fifth Letter to Kate

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>> Back to Her Fourth Letter


I am a monster of my own making, a gargoyle on the lintel, a capricious brownie. I have done badly and I may be committed to a rash course of action.

It is all because I cannot ignore stupid Edward. To like him is very vexing, and to disregard him is intolerable. It should be illegal for a gentleman to be so insensitive to a lady’s sentiments when such trouble as this can result.

At Alexandra’s last night I stood at the far end with the boys who don’t dance, both to keep myself out of the way of partners (who might be nonexistent and/or embarrassing), and to keep myself in the way of easy talk. We somehow got on the subject of New Britain, and Edward threw himself into it remarkably, saying that the future will be made across the Atlantic. Trying to be witty, I immediately interjected that, because things are rather odd over there, the future might be missing a few bolts.

I knew it was a mistake before I finished speaking. I cannot for the life of me recall the set-down that he delivered, but it mocked my tone, refuted my statement, and was much funnier than what I’d said all at once. Continue reading “Her Fifth Letter to Kate”


Champ and stamp and plough the way

No drifts may bury hallowed graves

Though flakes in doubled flurries fall

And moonlight casts its silent pall

We sweep and leap and claw away

To bare the shallow, stony graves

For one is yours, and yours entire

And one is mine, in flood and fire

And one is the grave of Aristo

Whom all have mourned but none have known

His are the softest falling snows

And his are the winds that cease to blow

But champ and stamp and clear the graves

And sing and croak the cold away

The moon spares naught for Aristo

Nor do the sparkling veils of snow

Elizabeth Cook, 2014

Her Fourth Letter to Kate

Her First Letter to Kate

Her Second Letter to Kate

Her Third Letter to Kate

Dearest Kate,

In a perfect world I would recommend painting over your father’s soldiers in your favourite colours and setting them out for a picnic romp – I like to imagine that the sight of his tin men cavorting would nauseate your father to the point of giving them up. But as he would probably have an apoplexy and burn your house down instead, I think you must continue to give up the tea table to the War of the Lilacs. Which actually seems like a sweet use for a tea table.

Or so say I, miles away, who need not be inconvenienced by holding my cup, saucer, and biscuits all in my lap, and by living in dread of stepping on the odd tin lance and having both a poke and a fuss for my pains. I hope this shows that I do understand your frustrations, Kate, but I can’t help but be amused by such scenes as you describe. Continue reading “Her Fourth Letter to Kate”