Category Archives: Photography

The Vancouver Folk Festival 2018 (Live From The Wisdom Tent)

 

 

 

Back in mid-July, I attended the annual Vancouver Folk Festival at Jericho Beach Park. It was a beautiful sunny weekend, hot by Vancouver standards. The beach, adjacent to the park, was crowded; beyond the beach the bay was busy with paddle boarders, swimmers, yachts, kayaks and of course, tankers. The north shore mountains looked down on it all, a little miffed now that the ski season is long over and all the attention has moved to sea level.

Highlights of the festival for me were Ry Cooder (and the Hamiltones), Wallis Byrd, Darlingside, James Mc Murtry and Neko Case. The performances were less politically overt this year, there was a sense that enough had been said and the diversity and inclusiveness of the occasion and the creativity on display was sufficient response to the ugliness, racism and bigotry currently on the march in some parts of the world.

My friend, Slim, got a free weekend pass by volunteering at The Wisdom Tent. All he had to do was turn up once a day and dispense wisdom for an hour. Slim is not a man known for empathy, so his choice of volunteer job surprised me. He could, for example, have volunteered at the recycle stations explaining to people the complex and arcane choices available to them; or perhaps, he could have dressed up in a tutu and sold raffle tickets, all perfectly good options. But no, he had to sit in a hot tent, imposing his gnomic bromides on the defenceless public.

Live from the Wisdom Tent

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(I sat in on one of Slim’s sessions and secretly recorded it. The following is an edited transcript of the recording. Note: Slim sat behind a trestle table, his visitors approached one by one. I did not transcribe the sometimes withering and profane responses to his proffered wisdom.)

walk past the writing on the wall
look neither left nor right

*************
always whistle past a graveyard

*************

today is the first day
of the rest of your life
tomorrow is the next

*************

walk towards the noise
walk towards the noise

*************

neither a floater
nor a settler be

*************

to find the person of your dreams
you must first fall asleep

**************

if you’re feeling abysmal
pepto bismol will do nothing

**************

talk softly
don’t carry sticks of any size

**************

be all you can be
then try harder

***************

like a frog down a well
we only know the walls.

***************

to leave no footprint
we must fly and never land.

***************

never drink anything blue

***************

life is waiting for the other shoe
the secret is……..hang on, is that James McMurtry starting on stage 5?

(male voice) hey man, where are you going, you’re supposed to be here until 4?
(Slim)…you should get rid of those dreads, you’re not from Jamaica.
(male voice)…who was that pot-bellied old fart?

Excerpts From a Long Weekend

 

Haiku (conversation overheard in a downtown bar)

he wants to retire
back where all the spires conspire
to show him the way.

Too much of a good thing

summer evening
the red sunset bleeds regret
maturity lost.

Why can’t I write like Rupi Kaur? (1)

my quinoa* quota
was far from quotidian
thanks! sunflower seeds!
*’keen-wah

Climate Change is Opening Windows

rumours dropping from the eaves
neighbours thick as thieves
singing off key at three

o’clock in the morning.

Haiku written while painting a room…

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Haiku written while painting a room…

haiku written while painting a room
searching for a transcendent metaphor
thinking someday maybe I could write
inspirational poetry like rupi kaur

you are
what you
are meant
to be

that kind of stuff
do a book signing at Indigo
start a line of greeting cards
anything’s possible, really,
if once, just once I could resist
the impulse to be a smartass
……the haiku:

classic grey, cloud white
super eggshell for the walls
flat for the ceiling.

Collectives

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Collectives

A durante of toucans
A piety of soutanes
A woggle of scouts

A caveat of emptors
A torment of mentors
A loudness of louts

An agenda of schemers
A cumulus of dreamers
A Hamlet of doubts.
Note: Lines 1 and 3 are taken from Wiktionary, Glossary of Collective Nouns

…taking part in Open Link Night at dVerse, check it out here.

Pigments of the Imagination

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Pigments of the Imagination

black crow, a
chunk of white
bread, becomes
an eagle,

pigments in
flight, flying
pigments, yes,
imagine.

….the return of slimverse* after a month of haiku.

* A verse form in which each line can contain only 3 syllables and each verse can contain only 4 lines. In its purest form, there is only one verse, a poetic morsel.

High Plains Sushi

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High Plains Sushi

This bar’s insured by Smith and Wesson
Says the sign upon the wall
Vern studies his empty beer glass
Time slows down to a crawl

Audrey, the lank-haired waitress
Watches from the bar
Order something soon, she yells
Or get the hell out of here.

There’s a special on at Wanda’s Ranch
Tuesday night 2 for one
But Vern doesn’t have the appetite
He doesn’t have the wherewithal

There’s only one thing that he wants
And he’s going to get it soon
High Plains Sushi
High Plains Sushi
Hot Sake in a cup
Five thousand feet above the ocean
And he just can’t get enough

Two guys from the goldmine
Old Arsenic and Rock Face
Have journeyed up from the centre of the Earth
To join the human race

But no matter how hard they try
No matter what they do
In the glow from the pool table
They’ve still got that subterranean hue.

Something’s warming beneath a heat lamp
Looks like deep fried road kill
Beside a tub of mashed potatoes
It’s making Vern feel ill

There’s only one thing that he wants
And he’s going to get it soon
High Plains Sushi
High Plains Sushi
Hot Sake in a cup
Five thousand feet above the ocean
And he just can’t get enough.

 

I spent a little time once in Elko, Nevada. There was a sushi restaurant in the town which served individual portions large enough to feed a small Japanese village. Elko hosts an annual Cowboy Poetry Festival. Interesting place. This poem started as a song lyric and then became a poem with a chorus which I believe is called a “duranga”.

 

Waiting for Summer/Vincent Buckmaster

Waiting for Summer

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Vincent Buckmaster

At school,
Vincent was known as either “Vince” or “Vinny”.
He does not currently like to be called either.

“Vince” is too rockabilly and rhymes with “wince”.
“Vinny” is too mobster and rhymes with “skinny”.
He is not even that sure about “Vincent”,

but the sonic collision appeals to him
– the chain saw screech of “Vincent”,
the Germanic boom of “Buckmaster” –

This is the way he thinks.

 

Landline (for Dad)

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Landline (for Dad)

Sometimes, I think
I should text my dad
give him an update
tell him where I’m at.
Not that he would answer
he’s been gone a few years now
and even if he were alive
texting would hardly be his thing;
at the turn of the century
he was still approaching
what we now call a ‘landline’
with some trepidation.

Landline: a rope
uncoiling towards the shore.

He once told me
that when we have children
of our own
we begin to understand
our own parents better
so I think my text
would be an attempt
to let him know
that, yes, dad
I have found this
to be true.

 

Samantha Bee (a delayed reaction)

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A flashback to pre-history when I first started drinking in pubs………

It’s closing time, Saturday night, Dublin, the rest of the evening is stirring like a patient emerging from a coma (sorry, T.S) . I’ve had a few pints and got a nice buzz going but now I’m standing in the men’s washroom (toilet, bog, jacks) staring at the white tiled wall trying hard not to make eye contact with the guy beside me whose eyes are drilling into the side of my head. I eventually cave in, turn and look into his bloodshot eyes….”what are you looking at, cunt?” ….he slurs. He’s pissed, langered, hammered, plastered, three sheets to the wind and he’s angry. Why is he angry? Could be he doesn’t like the length of my hair, could be he recognises that I’m a student and considers me a member of the elite whereas he is a member of the noble working class who earn their daily bread with their hands (although, back then, the word “elite” was not typically used to describe educated people with liberal views, it was more likely to be a found on a box of chocolates – Cadbury’s Elite, save the soft centers for your mom) but mostly he’s angry because he’s a miserable cunt and the ten pints he’s consumed over the course of the evening hasn’t made him any less miserable.

So when I hear Samantha Bee call Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt”, I think of closing time, urinals, drunks and I wonder, how in Trump’s name, did the level of discourse get this low.

 

Dog in a Tartan Skirt (Edit)

 

Dog in a Tartan Skirt 

There’s a dog wearing a tartan skirt
outside the window of Starbuck’s;
a tartan skirt, a belt, and a knitted white sweater.
Its little dog legs are moving frantically
on the wet pavement,
while across the slick road
and the sodden green park
the ocean sits
like a slab of lead
having clearly decided
to take some time off,
no crashing on the shore today.
South of the border
America blunders around
trying to remember
where it parked
that big ass car
that everyone admired
and envied.
The people look to God
but God, once again,
is moving in mysterious ways
and I, for one, wish He would knock it off,
enough already with the mystery
could He not for once in His eternal life,
clarify something?
I mean, for fuck sake,
there’s a dog wearing a tartan skirt
outside the window of Starbuck’s.

Weekly Photo Challenge (Sunrise on Planet Cistern)

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Sunrise on Planet Cistern

The weekly photo challenge is closing down for some reason, so the final theme is “all time favourite photos”. I am not a photographer by any means, I just take photos to decorate my poetry blog, but this one amuses me no end. I have sliced and diced it and used in a number of posts.

Now for the first time I will reveal its secret. The windows in our upstairs bathroom face south and in the late evening the sun shines through the  side windows and the glass shower doors and creates rainbow patterns on the walls. This particular pattern turned up behind the toilet cistern in the angle between the walls. I zoomed in as close as I could with my iPhone, took the photo then rotated it. The curved surface at the bottom is actually the shadow of the cistern.

Equipment used : iPhone, Kohler 6 litre (per flush) cistern.

 

 

 

Five Miles Outside of Austin (Rhymes and Tropes)

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Listening to alt country on Spotify I begin to wonder….

who are all these country boys
with their cowboy hats, pickup trucks and beards
staring clint-eyed into the mythical distance
listening for the call of who knows what
a phantom cattle drive, perhaps,
anything at all to git them
back on the road again;
and who are all these country girls
left behind or waiting
and why the hell do they care
about these feckless drifters
who love their whiskey
as much as they dread commitment
and why does all this happen in Texas?

rhymes and tropes, folks
rhymes and tropes

and slowly through
a Spotify fog
a Spotify trance
in the distance
a song emerges…..

Five Miles Outside of Austin

I’m five miles outside of Austin
with a pounding in my head
full of yesterday’s whiskey
and wishing I was dead

I left a girl back there sleeping
as dawn began to break
I gave her all that I could give
and I took all I could take

and I wish I had done better
that I hadn’t stayed so long
now I’m five miles outside of Austin
and I’m stuck inside this song.

Five miles outside of Austin
and I’m stuck inside this song.

II
Down the road, a girl is waiting,
drinking beer and playing pool
waiting for deliverance
waiting for another fool

and I’ll dust the road off of my coat
and walk through that door
she’ll say “howdy stranger,
I ain’t seen you before”

but now my head is beating like a bass drum
there’s stubble on my tongue
I’m five miles outside of Austin
and I’m stuck inside this song

Five miles outside of Austin
and I’m stuck inside this song.

 

Photo (by Marie Feeney) of Lukas Nelson and Neil Young at Desert Trip

 

Don’t Play in the Traffic

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Don’t Play in the Traffic

they met on a zebra crossing
it was a pedestrian affair
she had an air of competence
he…just had an air
they went downhill from there
to her house
in the middle of a roundabout
near the station
one morning they looked out
and the cars had changed rotation
the clouds were tinged
with a tawdry shade of orange
the sky was diffident
the sun judgmental
things would not be the same
would not be the same again.

 

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