(Photo of Bill Arnott)



Used Book Store


Step through and smell –

used book store

only smell of its kind

aroma alive in a roomful of dead

palpably crushing hush, irrational

compulsion to whisper

listen –

the munch of bookworms

wood beetle larvae

gnawing, masticating

gluttonous, slobbering

mawfuls of words, of wisdom

swallowing Homer whole

digesting Wordsworth, Coleridge

shitting Stephen King

in paperback

the whole ensembleÕs here

playbill characters in order of appearance:

quiet young woman

discrete tattoo beneath long sleeves

loose clothing over curves

incessant tapper drums his fingers

urgency quelled a bit by medication

poster boy for system failed

a duad of giggling private school students

hello kitty one and two

used book store works its wonders

silences the two

in dampening net

none of us can see

but feel

in shelf upon shelf of poetry

titles and authors

who knew there was so much poverty!

I need the lone step stool

solely to sit back

crane neck at vaulted ceiling

sunlight strikes a spiderÕs web

a dance in invisible puffs of air

IÕm left lightheaded with magnitude

of liberating mass

how many years of composition

reading, thought

how many generations

of searching?



Weekend Poetry

fingers hover


how much to reveal?       


rational voice does its best

to convince you

you wonÕt fall


reminding you where safety, support resides

a net, with nothing to fear in open mesh

but sincerity


tidy metaphor

if youÕre willing to share

with friends you never knew you had 


breath held

a clenching grip

you peer, beyond

the precipice, the plummet

allow, force yourself

to press ...





Wordless Song

Cradling guitar on hotel bed I feign the rockstar 

with a resonating

soulful strum – E minor

rumpled sheets, residual musk

layered on stacked pillows

complete the weary scene

perhaps itÕs just the lofty view, hangover, broken lamp 

that resonate of glory days imagined

along with thickened tongue, I left to sound uncannily like 

Tom Waits, awaiting


wisps of germination 

sleeping muse now dormant

suspended animation

until it stirs ...


Outside ugly sleetÕs transformed – now wondrous, crystalline 

drifting downy fluttering flakes

through high rise glass, a snow globe 

where life-size action figures shuffle through their day

shoulders hunched to elements

beneath a weighty whitened world 

dampened city hushed

same off-white as tangled linen masking weathered mattress 

Egyptian weave now taken on acoustic bedmateÕs curve

É it stirs


Uncertain tap, a rap

incessant now, ignoring Do Not Disturb 

peers in, its pretty head anew, my bouche amused

in-room unexpected

rising taste buds, manifest 

creative hourglass, reaching, yearning

copper lifelines

tremulous touch

relaxes, resonates

drawn close, caress

harmonic tonal note

to chord, up tempo

match dynamic

build momentum builds

moment held



a perfect wordless song



Mayan Sunset

A shudder of leaves in autumn gust


Each fibrous paddle volleys low slung sun

light-beams bounce from chlorophyll

rustle onomatopoeic, wind-chime through flora

shared intimacies, signing, deciduous jazz-hands

I half expect roots and trunks to step and kick in line

dance away to something annoyingly catchy

Sondheim or Sullivan

then clap and laugh like no oneÕs watching

secretly hoping everybody is


Heat hangs, tomorrow should start chill

assuming sun decides to rise

maybe Mayans had it wrong

I wonder, but donÕt care

soothing satisfaction of indifference, now

IÕll look for the box of sweaters, something

warm and comforting with just a hint of itch, a hug

you pull on, push arms in, squeeze head through

fact is (IÕve shared this with no one) I like

wearing a dickey. There,

do with that what you will


Turns out the chorus line is rooted, going nowhere

leafy little mirror greens lackluster now as fishing lures

trolled too slow, thereÕs life there still, although no longer

as attractive as they were, even peckish fish

have grown disinterested, somehow diminished

chime effect of breeze in green has softened too

unless my hearingÕs grown weak and what I thought was hot

I now find temperate, agreeable

like the slightly musty sweater from the bottom of the pile

comforting, as sun sets, slow

the world a wash of sentiment in crimson. Maybe


the Mayans had it right


© Bill Arnott


Bio: Vancouver author, poet, songwriter Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, Dromomania, and AllanÕs Wishes. His Indie Folk CD is Studio 6. BillÕs work is published in Canada, the US, UK, Europe and Asia. Bill ArnottÕs Beat appears in numerous magazines and literary journals. Bill has received poetry prizes with honorable mention and is a 2019 finalist for the Whistler Independent Book Awards with Gone Viking: A Travel Saga. @billarnott_aps