Category Archives: Photography

The Chester Beatty Library (Poem)

A slightly different version of this poem was published a while back in The Galway Review .  I am posting this edited version as part of dVerse’s open link Thursday.

The Chester Beatty Library                                   

In the Chester Beatty Library
Four elderly ladies
Permed, perfumed and powdered
Stroll past the ancient texts
The papyrus and the parchment
Seemingly unimpressed
By the evidence before them
That ever since we could stand upright
We have tried to leave foot prints
In the wet cement of time.
What intrigues the ladies,
Is how these fragile treasures
These artefacts and amulets
Were safely transported
From their exotic homelands
To the airless glass cases
In which they now reside.
They explore this theme together
In intertwining solos
Like a modern jazz quartet
Like mythical creatures
Compelled to talk forever
Because they believe
That to stop
Would be to die.

 

If you are ever in Dublin, the Chester Beatty Library is well worth a visit. The photo below is not the Chester Beatty Library, but it was taken in Dublin in September. I am including it here to show that the sun shines in Dublin but the clouds are always on the move.

 

Radisson

Home (from Oscar Wilde to Bono, haiku’s)

Oscar (3)

Conversation (hibernoku)

a low Dublin sky
a sentence hangs suspended
cut off in its prime

interrupt or die.

‘Hibernia’ is the classical Latin name for Ireland. A hibernoku is a haiku (seventeen syllables, 5-7-5) with an additional 5 or 7 syllable line, because for the Irish, seventeen syllables is a cruel limitation. The poem must contain an Irish reference and must allude to the weather in some way. In most parts of Ireland, ‘hibernoku’ is pronounced ‘hi-bern-o-koo’, except in West Cork where it is pronounced ‘hiber-nok-oo’.

Photo: Statue of the eternally quotable Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square, Dublin.

 

Sandy Cove

 

Weather (abandoned haiku)

an easterly wind
clouds move in convoy ‘cross the blue dome of the sky.

This started off as a haiku, but I felt like letting the second line run.

Photo: A sunny mid September day in Sandy Cove, Dublin.

 

Vico

Family (haiku)

yep, had a few drinks
with my brother, my sisters
sibling ribaldry.

Photo: View looking south along the coast, from Vico Road. Dalkey, Co. Dublin. Bono owns a house nearby ……where all the streets have names….I checked.

 

End of Summer double septo

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End of Summer double septo 

like a wasp in late August
circling a bin of regrets.

This poem is a double septo also known as a quatorze, it consists of two seven syllable lines. Sometimes, I find that the five syllable lines in a haiku create a flatness, a po-faced solemnity…wasp in late August…too much oracle not enough bounce. A seven syllable line allows room for rhythm.

Obviously, I made up the double septo bit. Recently I wrote a quadrille as part of a dVerse prompt and it got me thinking about arbitrary verse forms. A quadrille is a poem of exactly 44 words, it doesn’t get more arbitrary than that.

Earth (quadrille)

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This poem is in response to the dVerse challenge to write a quadrille (44 word poem) about “earth”.

Earth (quadrille)

wind and fire
earthling, earthenware
is buried in
hearth, dearth, breath
can also be found in
don’t fear the reaper
clear the room
Neanderthal
the Lord’s Prayer;
David Bowie
was the man who fell to earth
Major Tom observed
that planet earth is blue.

A Scarecrow looks back on his Life

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A Scarecrow looks back on his Life

Before Oz
I had control of my life
I had a purpose
a reason for existence

a modus operandi:
stand in a field
and scare crows
that’s it, that’s all.

It was lonely at times
I admit, particularly
at night, but occasionally
a farmer returning

drunk across the fields
would stop and tell me his life story
then fall asleep, snoring
and farting at my feet

and yes, oh yes
I listened in on
acts of intimacy
on hot summer nights

and heard sounds
that made my straw curl;
then Oz occurred
and it was no longer

about presence
it was about absence
the absence of a brain;
children would circle me

and sing that stupid song
suddenly I was pathetic, forlorn;
what got me most was the
sheer illogicality of it all –

to yearn for a brain, one must
have a brain to begin with,
sometimes, I think the sole function
of a brain is to yearn…..

(…hang on a second, I’m sure I saw that same crow yesterday. The little bugger won’t come within twenty feet of me. I’ve still got it….)

This poem was inspired by a dVerse prompt to write a poem from the point of view of a character from The Wizard of Oz..a scarecrow, a Tin Man, a lion. I played with that a bit.

 

Yosemite (the poem)

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Yosemite

The sun is slowly leaving
the party that is the day,
things will not be the same.

When he finally tumbles into his room
at the Mariposa Lodge outside of Yosemite
which the Miwok Indians call Ahwahnee
meaning Large Mouth,
Myron turns on the television
to find Patrick Stewart
shouting into the camera in blank verse
and even though Kenneth Branagh is nowhere in sight
he quickly deduces that this is Shakespeare,
Macbeth, in fact, but a strange one,
there are soldiers in Soviet uniforms and a fridge
and of course bad things are happening, off stage.
Then the bottle of Salmon Creek Pinot Grigio
which he had at the Butterfly Café,
starts to take its toll
(‘butterfly’ is the English word for Mariposa),
and lulled by the convolutions of the language
Myron falls asleep and in his dream
Patrick Stewart is staring at him.

“ Brush thy teeth”, Patrick yells,
spittle spraying the inside of the screen.
“Brush thy teeth
lest thou rise
foul of breath
In the sulphurous morn.”

 

This poem appeared a little while back in The Galway Review 

(It’s open link night at dVerse, so thought I’d give this one a bit of exposure)

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 thing
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.