Tag Archives: Photography

September and Everything After

Summer has left the building
is already in the limo

snorting white powder
drinking champagne

dupes, fall guys
we wait for the encore

ignoring the bouncer
pointing to the door

the door marked winter

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

Also a note to my friends over at earthweal, I have two poems published in The Galway Review, if you have a chance take a look here, (Jim.)

Slim’s Sudbury Vacation ( a poem and a post-poem interview) 3

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The Stack

And what a
beautiful
plume we have
here, Nigel,

a plume with
time on its
hands, look at
it loping

across the
sky like a
giant Chinese
dragon, let’s

hail a cab
to find the
plume’s end, where
the last wisps

of vapor
drift upwards
and a blue
mist hangs, yes,

there it is
in the sky
to the west
stalking the

cars in the
parking lot
outside the
big box mall

while the sun
bawls and the
sky gets all
indignant.

Post Poem Interview 

You played well out there tonight, Slim.

Slim: Well, you know it’s not about me, it’s about the poem, I’m just part of the process.

Are you suggesting that you are perhaps some kind of conduit linked to some higher power, some higher resource.

Slim: No, I am just mouthing platitudes, isn’t that the idea?

Quite, so I am sure everyone is wondering, who is Nigel?

Slim: He’s my cousin.

That’s a very English name.

Slim: That’s hardly surprising, he is English.

Do you call him ’Nige’ for short?

Slim: No!

It sounds like he could be a member of one of those floppy-haired synth bands from the eighties, you know, like Soft Cell or Human League or The Pet Shop Boys. Didn’t XTC have a song about a guy called Nigel. Is he in a band?

Slim: He’s a welder.

Does his hair not get in the way?

Slim: He’s bald, where is this going?

(mumbles) somewhere slow or nowhere fast. So tell me about the structure of this poem.

Slim: I took the 3 syllable line, 4 line verse , I have been using, and applied it to a poem that I was never happy with and it worked, at least it made me trim a lot of the fat and I came up with a better poem, I think?

……….what? Sorry I nodded off there for a bit. Well, I’m sure you are itching to get back to the dressing room and join the rest of the lads in a lukewarm bath of diluted sweat.

Slim: Can’t wait!

 

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse.

Joy (a double septo)

JOY

always there’s another task
joy lies in the avoidance

The theme over at earthweal is “Joy”.

My syllable count is low at the moment, so I have opted for a form I call “a double septo” or “a quatorze” – two lines of 7 syllables each. See here for another example of the form and here for more syllabic discussion involving Adele.

Talking About Evolution (2 poems)

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Watching the Knowledge Network

The earnest English anthropologist
is talking about evolution.
He shows a film of long-haired men
digging on the shores of a lava lake in Africa.
Later, one of them appears wearing a big collar,
a big tie and bushy sideburns.
He has a collection of bones
which he assembles into a skeleton.
A debate follows
about the significance of tools
in our leap from ape to man.

On the coffee table is a copy of “The Little Red Hen”
as retold by Maria M. Southgate M.A. B.Com.
I make an astonishing discovery.
On page thirty-six, the little red hen
is cutting her field of wheat
with a very sharp knife,
and immediately I think:
those idiots, those bell-bottomed fools
as the clamber over each other
into our bollock-naked past
they have completely over-looked the tool-wielding fowl.
All the degrees in the world,
and they miss something so barn-door obvious
I found the above poem today in a box in my basement, while doing a pandemic purge. It was probably written in the late eighties. The odd thing is I was trying to figure out how to respond to Brendan’s prompt over at earthweal, in which he asks us to write about ”evolution” and this poem turns up out of nowhere. (There was a rejection note from Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin of Cyphers magazine, saying she liked it but it was too much of “a one idea poem”.)

In the same box, I found another evolution related poem, which again I had completely forgotten about. I had to ask myself, have I actually evolved as a writer since then……and, you know, I’m not sure…..there is still that tendency to be facetious….talking of facetious, here’s the other poem..

Gorilla

There was a young lady from Orilla
who fell in love with a gorilla
in Toronto, at the zoo.

She could not stay with him
or have her way with him,
she did not know what to do.

Then the government
gave her a grant
to build a halfway home,

a micro-climate
for the primate,
a keeper out on loan.

With visiting rights
and hot jungle nights
all her problems were solved.

Until one day
I’m sorry to say
the goddamn gorilla evolved.

New Horizons (A Lads’ Poetry Project Update)

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Well, a lot has been happening in the Lads’ Poetry Project since we last checked in, we have two new additions to the project, both from the UK, and both of a quality that the project doesn’t deserve.

First we have Sarah Connor who gives us the view from the other room where there is a party of a different kind going on, find out more here!

Next we we have Kim Whysall-Hammond who gives us the perspective of the only woman in the room (she uses the word “engineer” in a poem which is a fairly rare occurrence), find out more here!

Sarah and Kim are both fine poets, so be sure to check out their other work when you are over there…and remember the Lad’ Poetry Project criteria are simple:

the poem must start with the phrase (or some variation of it): “Me and the lads…” and the tone must be somewhat less than elevated.

Bike Ride by the Fraser River

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Bike Ride by the Fraser River

tug boats and log booms
the plaid twock of a golf ball
a band playing soul

the sweet, sweet smell of Purell
backyard wedding, guests on Zoom.

 

The challenge over at earthweal is

“STRANGE WORLD is the theme of this challenge. Take the opportunity to assess what’s become so strange in your world……”

One Bison, One Skunk (Close Encounters)

 

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Sherry, over at earthweal, asks “Have you had an encounter with or a visitation from a wild creature?”. Here’s a couple….

Old Bull Bison

an old bull bison,
morning, Yellowstone

(still dark)

caught, out on the move
in the headlights glow

the arc

of life turning down
no seed to be sown

no spark.

 

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Skunk

struts across the lawn
with a cleric’s confidence
tail cocked, sphincter primed

The Wisdom Tent at the Vancouver Folk Festival

 

 

The Vancouver Folk Festival was cancelled this year for obvious reasons, we will miss it greatly…this is a post from 2018.

Highlights of the festival for me that year were Ry Cooder (and the Hamiltones), Wallis Byrd, Darlingside, James Mc Murtry and Neko Case. The performances were less politically overt than previous years, 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  on the march in some parts of the world.

………….

That was the year my friend, Slim, got a free weekend pass to the Festival  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.)

Slim:

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?

Dead Seal

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Dead Seal

slumped on the tide line,
mottled pink, exposed,
something has been picking at it;
six city workers
in high vis vests
with a garbage bin, a shovel
and a shroud of clear plastic
discuss the path forward.

 

The challenge from Brian over at dverse is to write a poem …… “capturing a moment in your verse”

Stepping Out (A Well-Made Thing)

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Stepping Out

and inside the mask
a faint whiff of grease
from this morning’s eggs

stepping out, he finds
the outdoors secure,
still, in its greatness
the sea still open
the sky limitless
the sky, the limit
the sky, off limits.

Brendan’s post over at earthweal (https://earthweal.com/2020/06/22/earthweal-weekly-challenge-culture-and-nature/  ) asks us to write about “the intersection of culture and nature”. He asks:

How do you see yourself as a poet of culture and nature?”

Well, I have never considered myself a poet of nature. I have to come at it sideways. Here is a poem about the intersection of pop culture and nature.

Jerry Seinfeld takes a walk in the park and writes a haiku
Why, when dogs chase birds,
do we see optimism
not futility.

Brendan asks:

“If your life’s work were assembled in one silo, who would it feed?”

Well, I think my life’s work so far, could probably be served as a light snack and I’m happy with that. I am not particularly ambitious. Stephen Hawkins wrote “The Theory of Everything”. I would be happy writing “The Theory of a Few Things”. I read an interview with Leonard Cohen in which he spoke of tending to his garden. He implied modestly that his garden was small but that he took good care of it. He was talking of course of his particular talent and, I think, of how one should take care of what one is good at, know your talent (big or small, major or minor) and cultivate it.

Brendan asks “What is a well-made thing?”

(You really should read Brendan’s post, he poses a lot of questions, and is, as always informative and erudite)

When I first started writing poetry, I wrote mostly free verse. Then when I started blogging, I became more aware of short verse forms, in particular, the haiku and the tanka. I see poetry as being similar to sculpture or wood carving, whereas novel writing is more like architecture. The poet takes a large slab of words or a tree stump of words and whittles it down to a small well-made thing. When writing short poems I find a form is useful. I can’t really write traditional haiku. I can’t summon the required ineffability and the results end up po-faced, self-conscious, weighed down by solemnity. But I do like the arbitrary restriction or the discipline, for example, all the lines in the first poem above contain 5 syllables. I read a book of poems recently by Paula Meehan, the Irish Poet, in which every poem contains nine lines and every line contains nine syllables and amazingly she does this without making it obvious (the name of the book is “Geomantic”). Anyway, here is one more attempt at a well-made thing, and yes, nature is involved.

One Swallow

one swallow does not
one tries to swallow one’s pride
one swallow does not

when it comes to (what else?) Spring
one swallow does not do it.

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.

 

Tales from the Gym (Gravity, Don’t Fail Me Now)

 

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And your gravity fails and negativity don’t pull you through….Bob Dylan

On March 16, all community center gyms closed down in Vancouver, drastically altering my fitness level. This is the first in a series of gymcentric  poems, looking back at a different time (3 months ago!). As that great gymgnostic , Slim Volume, once said; “Know your gym”.

Gravity, Don’t Fail Me Now.

two geezers
pink and steaming
towelling down
after a shower
discussing gravity
how it is not fixed
how it decreases
with distance from the earth’s core
how, if one was to climb to the top of Everest,
since weight is the product of mass and gravity,
one would weigh less at the top of Everest
and I’m thinking
this is one fucking erudite conversation
and I want a piece of it
so I point out that
one would regain that weight
on returning to sea level
and one of the geezers replies
yeah but you’d probably burn 10,000 calories
climbing up and down the fucking mountain
and a nearby jock encased in breathable fabric
says, shit, I’d burn that in 40 minutes on the rowing machine
and I fire back wryly
keep telling yourself that
and the locker room erupts in laughter
and in that moment
basking in the unbearable lightness of banter
I defy gravity and levitate
above the bacterial swamp
that is the locker room floor.

 

Taking part in open link night over at dverse 

OpenLinkNight #268

Crow Ops

 

 

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Crow Ops

crows chasing eagle
across the evening sky
solidarity

crows chasing eagle
across the evening sky
there’s strength in numbers

crows chasing eagle
across the evening sky
half-moon, scattered cloud.

 

Today the challenge from Frank over at Dverse is to “write three-line poems or poems having mainly three-line stanzas.”

Check out Frank’s post here.  https://dversepoets.com/2020/06/04/tercets/

Peripatetic Blues (Edit)

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Peripatetic  Blues

The signs along the highway
are leaking semiotic fluid

psychotic cacti strike a calculated pose

linguistic lizards parse the parched desert floor

Slim’s feeling demotic,
neurotic, anecdotal, over-used
he’s looking for a sanctuary
the fisherman and the shoes

he’s got those
needle in a haystack
peripatetic blues.

 

This is a response to Brendan’s challenge over at earthweal  ……..The Perilous Chapel

“This week’s challenge is about finding that Chapel and a way through it. Where have you found it, what perils did you endure, how is it linked to the Grail you seek? What is that poetry? And what initiation is required to transform modernity into Earthdom?”

The poem above is an edit of a previous post, it’s more about the journey than the arrival…..here’s another take

 

The Road (re-mix)

the sun beats down like judgement
on the armor-plated road
you just called out God and the Devil
and neither of them showed

there’s a sour smell of whiskey sweat
on the air-conditioned air
sometimes you think you care too much
and sometimes you just don’t care

in a dream you see an angel
an angel with a gun
you’re five miles outside of nowhere
and you’re stuck inside a song.

 

Heroes and White Horses

 

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Heroes and White Horses

Who will it be?

– the tow-headed carnival barker
leading us always to an empty tent?

– the pointy-headed tyrant
with skin as white as the frozen steppes?

– the lacquered mandarin,
with a talent for oppression?

heroes don’t communicate
through a medium that gets its name
from the sound a small bird makes
heroes don’t arrive in golf carts
heroes don’t arrive in limousine cavalcades
heroes ride in on steeds
metaphorically at least
and those steeds are trusty
that’s all, the colour doesn’t matter.

 

This is in response to Brendan’s prompt over at earthweal 

The prompt is MODERNITY’S HERO QUEST, who will be the knight in shining armour to lead us out of this pandemic into the brave new world.  I may have got the intent wrong but as Gilda Radner used to say “never mind”. Either way I encourage you to visit earthweal and take in Brendan’s informative, challenging and entertaining editorials. I know, I know, so many blogs to follow but this one is worth your while and hell, we need blogs that stretch a bit, sometimes haiku just does not cut it.

Herd Immunity Rag

 

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Herd Immunity Rag

herd immunity is not the way to go
this wolf takes the fast and the slow
all this talk of removing locks
is just people talking bollocks

Lysol, Dettol, disinfectant, bleach
keep that stuff far from reach
all this talk of miracle cures
is just people talking bollocks

and be careful where you shine that light
now’s not the time to ultra-violate
there is no genie in the lamp
that’s just people talking bollocks

herd immunity is not the way go
the herd is people that you know
all this talk of removing locks
is just people talking bollocks

 

The theme this week from Sherry over at earthweal is “protest’. Thought I would this one into the mix! https://earthweal.com/2020/05/25/earthweal-weekly-challenge-protest-in-a-time-of-pandemic/

A Dissonant Sun

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A Dissonant Sun

the sun is setting in the west (no surprises there)
that sundown breeze is blowing white petals like confetti
from the cherry tree  into my beer
tap tap tap
behind my back a woodpecker does his nut
on the silver birch tree;
two weeks of sunshine
an indecent amount for Vancouver,
that low spring sun, long shadows,
everything over-lit
like in a David Lynch movie
or The Truman Show
or one of those movies
where humans are being turned into aliens
one by one, and no one knows who the real people are;
a black-capped chickadee hops along the deck rail
bush tits flit from bush to bush
a fat crow waddles across the lawn
like a cardinal across St. Peter’s Square
a blue jay watches from the roof of the garden shed,
and I wonder how do I know all these bird names
I mean, crows, fair enough, but bush tits?
black capped chickadees? Is this the movie
where I wake up and I’m a nature poet
wandering lonely as a cloud,
where I’m from, the clouds are never lonely
where the clouds are never lonely
didn’t Bono write a song about that
or was it the streets that were never lonely
anyway, fuck this for a lark
hey, isn’t that a zebra finch?
aren’t they native to Australia?

 

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

In Praise of Extended Benefits

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In Praise of Extended Benefits

born identical twins,
they became indentured servants
to Lord Denton,
a wealthy landowner
who believed passionately
in the benefits
of dental care,
consequently
the identical twins
lived a long
indentured life
and never endured
the shining indignity of dentures.

This is one from the Daily Prompt years, the prompt was “identical” !

Ironic Distancing (with bonus haiku)

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Ironic Distancing

The mind wanders
I think of a word that rhymes with ‘banker’
and marvel at how
in the middle of a global crisis
my brain still tilts
towards the trivial, the juvenile.
I try a sound poem
panic, pandemic, pandemonium
but it’s missing something,
panache, perhaps.
I make up a joke involving Peter Pan
but decide now is not the time to share it.
I detect the late onset of maturity
and feel depressed.
I text some friends,
we try to out-snide each other
but after a while
we are all chewing on the same bone.
I’m besieged by an idiocy of idioms –
the whole nine yards
the whole kit and caboodle
and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
I re-assess my relationship with surfaces
I can no longer count on
that counter to lean on,
and as someone inclined
to whistle past the graveyard
walk past the writing on the wall
I have to admit
that the object in the mirror
was a lot closer
than it first appeared.

I write a haiku

four in the morning
moon shining on toilet bowl
porcelain pathway.

Watch your back! Basho!

 

Taking part in open link weekend over at earthweal.

 

The State We’re In..

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The State We’re In..

the stock markets bounce up and down
like a man who’s landed on a trampoline
landed on a trampoline
from the top of a tall building;
the analysts are nonplussed
nothing adds up
two plus two does not equal four,
only the postman comes to the door
we watch documentaries, comedy specials,
Scandinavian crime dramas cold as an autopsy table
we learn that Miles Davis was a creative genius
an addict and a hard man to live with;
we learn from a childhood friend of Joe Cocker
that as a young boy, Joe had two Weetabix every morning
we watch a Diane Keaton movie
she falls in love with an Irish tramp
and still anxiety crackles like static in the background.

 

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal