A Second to Breathe – A Poem

Award-Winning Canadian Immigration and Refugee Law and Commentary Blog

First: A Catch-Up

In lieu of doing something substantive at this stage (check out my Twitter for that) I want to do a bit of a remedy piece. These past two months due to the changes at the Firm and the influx of work, I have been writing submission letters, memorandums of arguments, presentation, and papers, instead of blogs. I hope that when I head to Cuba in a week I can catch up a bit on my blog writing and as well when I am travelling most of March for conferences. 

This year I will be presenting at:

  • AMSSA (online) – 14 February 2020 on pathways to permanent residence for migrant workers;
  • Keynoting the 40th Annual Chinese Legal Community Banquet – 12 March 2020 (tentative date);
  • Metropolis Conference – Winnipeg – 19 March 2020 – 21 March 2020;
  • Cornell University – 23 March 2020;
  • Canadian Bar Association – National Immigration Conference – 2 April – 4 April 2020; and
  • Ottawa Immigration Conference – 7 May 2020;

I start teaching in UBC’s CILPP program at the end of March and again in June, am rebranding/building an immigration-specific legal clinic at LSLAP (ongoing). 

Did I mention my full case load as well?

To junior lawyers out there (as I slowly step out of my first five-years): don’t do this. Say yes, but don’t say too many yesses. As my mentor and now Justice Edelmann always told me: “operate at 80% capacity, as you never know when you will need that extra 20%.”

With all that said – time to engage in a little poetic break in this piece titled “A Second to Breathe”

A Second to Breathe

I need a second to breathe

I see these face masks, wondering whether it’s real or fake tasks

Too many asks, but not enough answers

Caught myself slipping at McDonalds with my poor manners

Impatient all the time, like getting rid of click-bait banners

Caught between five stars, and the star-spangled banner

I understand her, she’s wanting to make a move

What am I doing caught up dancing to my own groove

It behooves reality that the handcuffs are being applied so liberally

But not literally, only when there’s too much non-white colour in the vicinity

I’m confused by these pipelines, right after we say yes to undrip

It’s like saying don’t drink and drive, and justifying your two sips

Half these cats around me preparing for their next job to quit

Too many people hustling around carrying other people’s sh*t

How do I preach it’s about liberty or all about justice

When in reality, it’s always just about us and just his

How do I tell these students, not to worry when it’s just a quiz

When these laws get rewritten faster than the answers of a math whiz

I no longer know what’s reasonable, seemingly achievable

What rule of law means, when most the people are not regal

When whistleblowers get ignored, but they listen to those sounding their own begals;

When we feel like society’s seagulls all trying to be eagles;

What’s the meaning of my role in this process, I ask you;

Are we just here peddling in lives,

Or are all we making honey, in this mutually shared hive.

I’m sick and tired of wallpaper but that’s what I’ve become;

They got me thinking so individualistic, I forgot I was someone’s son

I forgot there’s a sun, been too much rain these days;

There’s so many routes, we forgot about pathways;

Damn, I need a second to breathe. Actually maybe a minute.

Cause this world has got my head spinning all up in it.



I promise to blog soon. Once I get through this home stretch. In February. I hope all of those currently going through a rough time are able to get ample rest this weekend. With all that’s happening in this world, we all need a getaway. I hope you find your own little piece, wherever that may be.




About Us

Will Tao is an Award-Winning Canadian Immigration and Refugee Lawyer, Writer, and Policy Advisor based in Vancouver. Vancouver Immigration Blog is a public legal resource and social commentary


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