Wendigo Songs

They sat that midnight is the witching hour,
when today becomes yesterday
and tomorrow becomes now;
a time of transformation
and I was freezing!

The wind tears chunks out of my ears,
laps my cheeks dry,
singing a song I pretend not to know
as my heart counts down
to the next bus.

my breath flees from between shaking teeth
escapes the matted fibres of my scarf
into the night that may yet be morning,
swallowed by the wind —
I chant impatient oaths
and the wind eats those too…

I am hungry for warmth
by the time that coalred bison won’t stop
I want to charge it
ram my antlers against its horn
feed on those candlelight eyes that rush past mine

my joints crunch in time with my footprints
that I can’t hear for the
crackling of my muscles
the shattering of skin like glass

i dont know how many toes i have left
maybe i broke them off somewhere back
or they melted into black hooves
my hands claw my arms
for any scrap of heat
breath has burned my eyes snowblind white
im not sure if the munching is ice
or skin      flesh      bones
or lungs still trying to breathe
midnight air

the burningfreezing cold tears mouthfuls out of me
and i biteit eatit back

the wind sings wendigo songs

at midnight i will howl them back

© chris DINGLEY 2014
first performed for Words To Live By, Ottawa



I don’t want roses
I don’t want department-store affections
your sickly-sweet scent
I don’t want to stab the pads of my fingers
on the thorns you forgot to remove
I don’t want roses
you’ve cut from their sister-blooms
and left for dead in shallow water

I want you
to plant a dream-big seed
or a hope-small sapling
dig your fingers into damp earth
sift through the stones and the worms
I want to see your nails trimmed black
as you tease hair-soft roots loose
into a cradle of earth

I want you
to tend to a trust-tall ash
we can shelter –
then be sheltered under
where we can sacrifice our fears,
our blind eyes for wisdom

I want you
to make mulch from eggshells
to grind bones into bread for a cypress
that will grow however it wants
over the names we leave fading
on our graves

I want you
to give me wisterias vines
so I may brush aside their pastel-soft queues
from the windows of your inherited home
and peek inside

I don’t want roses
wrapped in ink-fresh paper
that will stain my palms

I want you
to give me something new
in wrinkle-crinkle pages
from your diary

I want your lifelines
to touch mine
and grow
into new dreams

© chris DINGLEY 2014


it’s an unexpected visit
a sudden face you recognize in a public space
that calls out your name
and waves

it’s a song you haven’t heard in a while
that reminds you of hours spent
writing lab reports for that class you hated

it’s the smell of humid plant life
after the first warm rainfall
that transports you to sunny lanais
and failed attempts at making juice
from the neighbours grapefruit tree

it’s the way your hair curls just so
that makes your throat seize
when ghost hands try to cop a feel

it’s the tang of aftershave labeled for men
that smells like your father, your uncles,
like strangers on the bus
their thighs pressed against yours

it’s the sight of the first shoots of spring
that make your limbs shrink
your hands stinging from the acrid sap of flowers
that your mother labels as ‘plants’ or ‘weeds’

it’s the displacement
the way your sight shifts ad distorts
and you have to chant your new name
listen to some new tune over the radio
anything to bring you back to now
away from the names you can’t quite put faces to
and the faces you’d much rather forget

© chris DINGLEY 2014


The siege is broken, and the enemy retreats.
The land is marked where they stood,
dark stains upon the asphalt
thick with the smell of wet and rot.
They fall in upon themselves
stained black and grey and brown
no longer the pristine white
of fresh troops.
They pull back,
revealing the cruel deeds that had been hidden
beneath their cloaks;
death in waterlogged cigarette butts
and crushed aluminium.
The siege is broken, and the enemy retreats,
but I still have to wear my coat.

© chris DINGLEY 2014