Tag Archives: Photography

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

 

Down by Jericho Beach

 

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Down by Jericho Beach 

the trees look guilty
the ocean is ill at ease
no one’s fault, but still…..

the courts are empty
no tennis ball pock pock pock
Canada geese honk

eagles isolate
my face itches like crazy
demands to be touched

and those ducks, they don’t know squat
about social distancing.

 

Photo “Social Distancing”

 

The weekly challenge over at earthweal is to write a poem around the subject: CONNECTING HUMANS, WILDLIFE AND THE CORONA VIRUS. So I thought I would throw in this one. Maybe it’s not the connection intended, but it’s still on subject, I think. Check out Sherry’s excellent post  at  earthweal 

 

 

Why National Poetry Month Makes Me Anxious (2)

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Why National Poetry Month Makes Me Anxious

It’s National Poetry  Month
and all across the internet
poets are dutifully posting a poem a day,
the blogosphere is loud with words
like babble, ripple, burble, unfurl
glow, glitter, shine, glisten
winds are blowing
suns are setting
dawns are breaking
waves are crashing
on every available shore
and birds, yes, birds
are chirping, trilling, twittering, even singing
nature is under siege
but I have to admit
I’m not up to it
I don’t have the diligence, the discipline
the creative bandwidth
all I want is one clear image
nailed to the page like a proclamation.

Haiku and Poem written in a pub somewhere in Kitsilano

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Poster

poster on the wall
Lennon at a piano
deconstructing Paul.

 

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Perspective

imagine,
you, a frog
down a well,
above you
only sky.

 

Taking part in open link over at earthweal.  This is obviously a re-post, I have not been inside a pub in Kitsilano or anywhere else for a few weeks. I was working on a few pandemic-related poems but it’s hard to keep pace with events.

Bathos (A Whiter Shade Of Pale)

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Bathos

The moon hung
like a searchlight
in the spangled sky
and we hung
out on
the deck.

 

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A Whiter Shade of Pale

By the time ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ was recorded in 1967, Bob Dylan had already raised the bar very high in terms of what the public expected from a song lyric; song writers were now expected  to be poets. This was a heavy load to carry as few songwriters had Bob’s poetic gift; as a result, bathos was everywhere.

Bathos: “an effect of anticlimax created by an unintentional lapse in mood from the sublime to the trivial or ridiculous”.

There are, as I said, many examples from that era, but the one that always stands out in my mind is from the last four lines of the first verse of ” A Whiter Shade of Pale”:

The room was humming harder

as the ceiling flew away

when we called out for another drink

the waiter brought a tray.

I have to admit that when I first heard this song I had no idea what it was about. Why are sixteen vestal virgins leaving for the coast? What is a vestal virgin anyway? Who is the miller? I still don’t know,  but I don’t think it really matters.  It’s best  to sit back, listen to the song and let your brain feed on the images and in no time at all the room will hum harder, the ceiling will fly away, you’ll think about maybe following the vestal virgins, you’ll skip a light fandango, turn cartwheels across the floor, all the time trying to avoid that waiter and his tray.

Notes:

The recorded version of the song has only two verses, but if you google the lyrics you will find four verses. Procol Harum sometimes included the extra verses in live performances but wisely left them out of the recording; they are not very good and diminish the song’s impact. As Bob Seger once sang:

Well those drifters days are past me now
I’ve got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out

Bob Seger, ‘Against the Wind’

“What to leave in, what to leave out” – whether you are writing a song, poem, novel, short story, if you can solve that one you might be on the way  to something good!

Check out this version by Annie Lennox

 

 

Between (Everyone’s got something to bring..)…..Edit

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Between

Between the caucus and the carcass
between the chaos and the calm
between the fracas and the ruckus
between the righteous and the damned

Between the priest and the sermon
between the singer and the song
no one can determine
why we all can’t get along

Between the question and the answer
there is a life time of space
between the dance and the dancer
there is beauty and there is grace

Everyone’s
got something to bring
affect one thing
affect one thing

Everyone’s
got something to bring
affect one thing
affect one thing.

 

It’s Open Link Weekend over at earthweal, so I thought I would re-post this one. Be sure to check out earthweal, always something interesting going on there!

 

Storms

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Storms

If it’s getting stormier
and it surely is
then we have to put a bit more work
into naming those storms
I mean to say, c’mon now,
Storm Dennis?
Dennis is a guy who wears cardigans
and washes his car every Sunday.
Margaret Thatcher’s husband
was called Dennis –
Storm Margaret
now there’s a storm,
a storm full of righteous certainty
levelling working class towns
circumnavigating domiciles of the rich.
How about Storm Boris
a tropical storm perhaps
full of hot air and bluster
a flatulent tail wind
or to switch professions and countries
Storm Janis
now there’s a storm to rip the roofs of houses
flatten whole trailer parks
transport cows to far off fields
or Storm Aretha
a storm that demands respect
sock it to me
anything but Dennis
side-parted, brilliantined, undershot Dennis.

The subject over at earthweal is “storms”.

Todd and the Time Machine Part 2

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Part 1 can be found here.

Todd and the Time Machine Part 2

Todd’s basement materialises
he sees the dark wood veneer panelling,
that tartan colonial sofa his uncle gave him,
the dark patch where his uncle rested his head
still glistening from the oil slick of his uncle’s hair,
in the corner, his wife is playing with an electrical cord.
“Don’t pull the cord, I’m not fully back yet!” Todd screams.

His wife’s voice comes back
a little garbled by the time lag
“I hope you’re going to clean up that damn dust this time”.

Todd returns to the present,
presents himself and sneezes into his sleeve
leaving a black smear on his plaid Mark’s Work Warehouse shirt.
Unknown ramifications
unforeseen outcomes,
that 21st century air
trapped in the time capsule
drops to a lower carbon dioxide concentration
as the capsule travels back in time
the surplus carbon dioxide
reverts to the original carbon
forming a black dust
which coats the inside of the capsule;
thing is, it’s a one way process
no one knows why

“You look like shit”, his wife says
“You look time-wasted, you look timed out,
what happened to your hair?”

Unknown ramifications
unforeseen outcomes
time travel messes with your hair
alters your DNA
deletes your vaccinations
the dangers of rushing a technology to market
too soon.

Todd’s wife grins
“I wasn’t really going to pull the cord”,
she hugs him, grinding slowly
“What did you bring back for me, this time?”

 

Taking part in open link over at earthweal, the poem was inspired by earthweal’s prompt “A Clockwork Green”. 

Check out earthweal, a lot of good poetry and Brendan’s no-holds-barred editorials manage to be informative and entertaining at the same time.

Allergic (there is poetry in chemistry 2)

 

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Allergic 

there is poetry in chemistry:

dextromethorphan hydrobromide
pseudoephedrine hydrochloride
chloropheniramine

antihistamines
expectorants
decongestants

loratimide
netipot
rose hip

post nasal drip
post nasal depression
catarrh,
but no catharsis.

 

……another re-post, but ’tis the season.

 

 

Short Unsolicited Advice on Writing Poetry (redux)

 

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Short Unsolicited Advice on Writing Poetry

write long poems on short days
short poems on long days
you don’t need a drummer
but you do need rhythm
avoid melodrama
your head cannot explode all the time,
there is uncharted territory
between ecstasy and despair
look after your images
they should splash like cold water
on the reader’s face
observe, always observe.

 

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Caye Caulker (poem, take 4)

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Caye Caulker

In the café below
the locals talk about the old times
about Eve and the apple
about Paradise lost
about how all the bottles
washed up on the shore
carry the same message.

pelicans plummet into the bluebottle sea
sting rays undulate

out on the coral reef
tiny organisms
fret about climate change
and that damn carbonic acid

I fink the pH is dropping, I really do

meanwhile, over in San Pedro
on the Redneck Riviera
hermetically sealed resorts
march north towards Mexico
and thin, blond soccer moms
mingle with sun-damaged matrons
dedicated to the preservation
of floral print muumuus.

in the café below, Bob Marley’s still jammin’.

 

This poem has had a few lives. Participating in open link over at earthweal. Head over and check out Brendan’s thought provoking and eloquent post .