Of tiny crystalline wings

fly strip

The fly strip over
My grandma’s kitchen table
Meals attended by
Final fatal flutterings
Of tiny crystalline wings


To read all the Tanka, and writing about Tanka, please click here.

Depth Charges:
Recently I was standing in the Montreal Metro waiting for one of the dilapidated trains to hobble into the station when I noticed a skylight with hundreds of what looked to be dead flies in it. At first I thought they should clean that out, but then my mind drifted back to meals on my grandparents’ farm and the fly strip over the kitchen table. I’ve always been grateful for my time spent on the farm as a child. We learned at an early age and naturally where food came from. It was no shock to us that meat was animals, unlike our cousins from away who were traumatized the first time they saw a pig being slaughtered. I too read and adored Charlotte’s Web and watched Disney cartoons, but I could recognize them for the fantasies they are. In reality, every meal we eat — meat-filled or vegetarian — is accompanied by the death song of some formerly living thing.

I Hate to Break it to You, but You Already Eat Bugs: “The FDA’s Defect Levels Handbook lays it all out. Staples like broccoli, canned tomatoes, and hops readily contain “insect fragments”—heads, thoraxes, and legs—and even whole insects. (I won’t tell you about the rat hair limits…) Fig paste can harbor up to 13 insect heads in 100 grams; canned fruit juices can contain a maggot for every 250 milliliters; 10 grams of hops can be the home for 2,500 aphids (pictured above).”

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”


Praised be tofu! Hallowed be the yoga mat!

“How do you know if someone is a vegan?


“Don’t worry. They’ll tell you.”

My friend Johnny Mac told us that joke this summer when we saw him on Prince Edward Island.  I loved it. It’s funny because it’s true.

Babybel rules!

Nowadays, proselytizing for religion is not considered cool – it is the domain of creepy Mormons in crisp white shirts, greasy southern Evangelical Christians, and fame-addled celebrity Scientologists.  People do, however, feel more than free to trumpet their diet and exercise regimes. Not only do these practices preserve and promote health, they, apparently, often heal the sick, and could even save the planet, if – dare I say it – they were to be religiously applied.

How long can it be before there is a diet to raise the dead?

Of course, dietary restrictions and religions have always gone hand-in-hand – kosher rules in Judaism, halal practices in Islam, prescribed fasting in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and on and on and on – so it should not be surprising that, even in the absence of direct religious influence, diet and exercise take on moralist, even messianic, tones.

Indeed, many popular diet and exercise regimes appeal to spiritual or metaphysical authority, especially – but not exclusively – when the scientific evidence is thin.  Macrobiotics is based on Chinese concepts of qi, yin and yang, and the five elements, as are Tai Chi and martial arts. Yoga, of course, invokes ancient Indian beliefs.  Vegetarians sometimes invoke Far Eastern notions of reincarnation as a rationale for refraining from eating animals. Uncle Izzy, is that you in the beef stew!

The more exotic the rational, the better.  Personally, I am waiting for a diet and exercise protocol based on the four humours of ancient Greek physiology – and the accompanying bloodletting.  Perhaps the International Olympic Committee should get on that.

Ancient Greek Humours

Failing that, I’d settle for the application of Aristotle’s golden mean and some moderation in dietetic rhetoric. Just because I enjoy a slice of bacon, doesn’t mean I go around strangling kittens in my spare time.

And yes, I am fully aware of where bacon comes from. When I was about 10 years old, I watched for the first time as my grandfather slaughtered a pig. Next, I watched my grandmother roast up a chunk of it. Then I ate it. Delicious.