This moment


window inside Sauniere’s house


Time passes
like a shadow over the land
and what is left
of all your worry and anxiety?
Better to pause in wonder
Better yet to walk in beauty
Ever best to speak of love
Yet time pays no mind
and knows not even the thought
of better or best
What then but this moment
to simply be.

~Joss Burnel

My Grandmother’s Poetry

I didn’t have a grandmother so these words are for the elders who have gone before me.


My grandmother’s poetry
lies faded
on dry leaves
of paper

The ink
like blood
being absorbed
until nothing remains
but a faint impression
of its presence

I trace the letters
with my trembling
longing to hear her voice
once again

She who washed
her laundry in
the river
and gathered sticks
to warm
the house
her life was
all of labour
her heart flowing
onto the page
while the house
was asleep
and cold crept in
wayward cracks

Was it
she danced
naked under the

~Joss Burnel

I remember my mother

Something I’ve been working on, this poem, late at night.  Trigger warning.

I remember my mother
her hatred
her fear
her need to outsmart
you and screw you over
her wild laughter
in the middle of the night
her rages
and tantrums
her drinking
way past the point
of no return

I remember how
she tried to drown
my cat in the toilet
how she attacked me
with a wood file
one sunny Sunday morning
how she said
things too horrible to hear
or ever speak aloud
how she always needed
to be smarter than

She is long gone now
and there is nothing
of beauty that remains
only sorrow
and compassion
for the woman she
could have been
might have chosen
to be despite
the fear
the neurosis
that grew and grew.

I remember my mother
and see how terrible
life was for her
how sorrow and pain
marred her path
how abuse
and terror
ruled her childhood
how anger
filled her heart
way past the point
of no return

I remember my mother
and wish for
moments of grace

Within the tightly held bud, beauty waits to unfold

Within the tightly held bud, beauty waits to unfold

A fenced in garden

garden at Vaux le Vicomte in France

garden at Vaux le Vicomte in France

To be still
in quietness
in crowds

Stillness as
heart place

The stillness
of the mind
can only happen
in the stillness
of the heart

The heart can
be the gate
of the mind

The gate needs
to be closed
or the mind
simply allows
all and everything
to enter
its courtyard

Better to close
the gate
than to spend
one’s life
sweeping out
cleaning up
after guests and

The mind allows
free passage
to everyone
and everything

The heart asks
are you an
invited guest?

The mind
fears loss
and is terrified
of being less
and so
it accumulates
and gathers

The heart is
a fenced-in
and the
scent and beauty
of its herbs
and flowers
bless all
who pass by

Visitors are
by choice
not need

Evening arrives
and all return
to their own
the heart rests
and refreshes.

~Joss Burnel

Living Tree

Cap d'Or, Nova Scotia

Cap d’Or, Nova Scotia

Tree who has died
you still stand
in praise to
the skies

Crow chooses
your highest point
from which
to welcome the morn

Ants burrow
between bark and trunk
creating a safe haven
– home

The day will come
when roots
weakened by rot
a strong wind
will knock you to
the forest floor

Slowly, over time
your tired body
will be consumed
by earth and fungus
and still…

you live on

~Joss Burnel