Tag Archives: Photography

Repartee

Repartee
Slim gets off the no.3 bus
at the corner of Hastings and Main
-the corner of Desperate and Lost-
having travelled east on the 99 express,
his nose stuck in the feral stink
of some guy’s armpit,
wishing, not for the first time,
that he was six inches taller.
A country lyric twangs in his head
something about “the losing side of town”.
He surveys the wreckage all around him:
a guy with a raw scabrous face
scratches frantically;
a bundle of rags twitches in a doorway;
people are scurrying back and forth
like they’ve received a message
from an alien dispatcher
that the mother ship has landed,
and they can’t find a toothbrush;
further on in a laneway that smells of piss
a man and a woman, both dressed in black
with sweating raddled faces
sway back and forth shouting:
Fuck you! No! Fuck you!
in a profane loop.

Repartee, Slim says,
to no one in particular,
what an unexpected bonus.

This poem first appeared in The Galway Review

Taking part in OpenLink over at dverse

After The Queen’s Funeral

After the Queen’s Funeral


after 10 days of pomp, mourning
and celebrity tears


the evening news with alarming insouciance
reverts to reality

the high cost of bananas
the prices at the pump
the war in Ukraine
another climate change catastrophe

the door slams shut on a fairy tale world
of kings, queens, princes and princesses
palaces, country estates, horses, hounds, corgis

and armor that’s always shining.

Skipping The Light Aphoristic

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

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse, where the prompt is Aphorisms

Pigeon (Anthropocene Poem)

sunrise-4

 

Pigeon

Early December,
downtown Vancouver
and it’s raining
more than the usual
cats and dogs,
it feels like the city
is trapped
in a giant car wash.

All year long the weather
has been acting like a child
that hasn’t been taught limits.

Three months of summer drought.

We woke up one morning
and white ash from forest fires
covered the deck,
and that evening down on the beach
we were treated to
a red ball sunset
worthy of Beijing or Mumbai.
The Indian guy in the coffee shop
told me it made him feel homesick.

Something’s happening to the frogs.

The Oregon spotted frog is Canada’s most threatened amphibian,
I saw that on TV program called
“Canada’s Most Threatened Amphibians”.
Also threatened is the northern leopard frog.

Sea stars have sea star wasting syndrome

We’re losing song birds, bats and bees

The world is an orchestra
and the string section is leaving
one by one.

Anthropocene
Anthropocene
Sixth Extinction,
soon there will only be us.

******
At the corner of Georgia and Granville
a pigeon waddles through a puddle
created by a blocked storm drain

and I’m thinking:
Who’d be a pigeon on a day like this?
Who’d be a pigeon at a time like this?

 

This poem originally appeared at dVerse and  earthweal

Having a Coffee and Reading Tom Wolfe on Chomsky in Harper’s

Having a coffee
And reading Tom Wolfe
On Chomsky in Harper’s
Riding the express train of his prose
As he hurtles through Chomsky’s early life
Circling back all the time to linguists in the jungle
Linguists in the jungle some where
Until finally he pulls his linguist out of the jungle
To attack Chomsky’s theories of Universal grammar and Recursion
With news of the Piraha tribe in Brazil
Who have no time for Jesus or Crooked Head tales
And no concept of the future or the past
There is only today and the other day
And together they conspire
To chew up Chomsky
and spit him out.

The theme for this week over at earthweal is “Wild Language”

This poem first appeared in The Galway Review

The Doggerel Days Of Summer, Part 2

The Doggerel Days of Summer Part 2

Oft on a still summer evening
I take my doggerel
for a long, long walk

looking for rhymes
in all the wrong places.

I bring with me
a small, beige, plastic bag;
when I finish the poem I’m composing
I place the poem in the plastic bag
and deposit the bag
in a trash can deep in the forest

a trash can known to all the local poets
a trash can where moon always rhymes with June
a trash can where clouds
are as fluffy as mashed potatoes.

The challenge over at earthweal is to write about ‘wild stillness”. So this is a poem about an attempt to write a poem. Check out earthweal here for poems that actually meet the challenge!

Relatives

Relatives

Slim* has an aunt and uncle
who fight all the time
like Simon and Garfunkel

they have a son
who looks like
Russ Kunkel

the session drummer
who played with,
among others,

Joni Mitchell
and, yes,
Art Garfunkel.

Slim also has a cousin
who likes to snorkel,
at the local swimming pool.

She is constantly amazed
at how pale the human body looks
when viewed under water.

I’m amazed at how pale
the human body looks
when viewed under water

she says,
every time she returns
from the pool

her name is Rachel
Rachel, who likes to snorkel.

*aka Slim Volume, real name Reginald Dwight…..not really, think that’s Elton John’s real name. For more about Slim, see here.

Father’s Day()

Father’s Day

A low metronomic plash
waves flat-lining on the shore
sailboats tacking
kayakers kayaking,
someone talking loudly
about the cost of child care,
two blankets down.
It’s Father’s day
and all the dads and kids are out
throwing ball, kicking ball
building elaborate castles in the sand
and they are not alone,
the ghosts of fathers passed are here too,
including my own;
pale-bodied, they roam the beach
wearing old-fashioned swim trunks,
grinning widely
at the continuum
of dads, kids, sun, sand and sea.

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse.

Also taking part in Open Link weekend over at earthweal.

Forest Gumption

Forest Gumption

Sometimes driving by an empty field at evening
on an island somewhere
where we have gone to get away
from whatever it all is
I experience, out of nowhere, a primal longing
and I imagine stopping the car
and crossing that empty field
to enter the forest beyond
a forest that is shutting down for the evening
all rustle, chirp and squeak
and walking through that forest
I encounter in a clearing
a deer illuminated by a shaft of sunlight
the deer stares at me doe-eyed as I pass
but does not move,
as I continue down the trail
a ball of white gas darts between the trees
keeping pace
there’s a whiff of sulfur in the air
in another clearing I come across a log cabin
moss on the decaying cedar roof,
a thin wisp of smoke exiting the chimney
I walk across the slick green of the porch
and open the door to a room
smelling of mold and mouse shit
there is no furniture except for a table,
a chair, and an old fashioned typewriter
I walk to the table, sit down
and start to write this poem
I get to the point in the poem
where I sit down to write the poem
and there’s a knock on the door
I walk across the creaking floor
and open the door to a tall stranger
dressed in black, his wide-brimmed hat
pulled low over his eyes
“I’m in your poem”, he says,
in a voice that has travelled centuries,
“I’m in your poem, what happens next?”

(apologies to Stephen King)

Over at earthweal, Brendan asks us to write about “wildness”, that’s what I started with!

Also, taking part in Open Link over at dverse.

The Universe Can’t be Explained (or can it?)

IMG_1286 (3)

I re-discovered this post just the other day. It was written back in those heady days when Slim and I thought that slimverse in all its 12 syllable glory would sweep the internet and replace the haiku as the verse form of choice. Needless to say, this hasn’t happened and I have to admit that even this blog has succumbed to the luxury of those extra 5 syllables. I’m including the interview with Slim from the original post to re-capture the innocence and optimism of that time.

The Universe Can’t Be Explained 

1

The engine

does not know

where the car

is going.

2

like a frog

down a well

we only

know the walls

An Interview with Slim

So Slim, what inspired you to write this poem?

Well, I was watching the Stephen Hawkins bio, “The Theory of Everything”, and it got me thinking about the Universe. By the way, I’m also thinking about writing a book called “Managing Expectations – The Theory of a Couple of Things”.

Very droll.

Indeed.

The poem is in this new form which you are working with, are you excited about this?

Yes.

You don’t seem excited.

I have a condition, I’m auto-impassive. It used to be called ”acute solemnity”. I’m incapable of showing emotion, and in my case, the condition is limited to positive emotions. I can display anger and irritation as you are well aware.

Is it hereditary?

Yes, on my mother’s side. Half of my family has it, that’s why in family photos one half of the family is smiling and the other is not.

Fascinating. Now tell me more about the poem.

Well it’s quite simple, four lines of 3 syllables each. I look on these poems as poems for the 21st century, the smart phone era, the era of distraction. Something you could read on the bus, on the subway, something that can be enjoyed without too much effort. Like a small square of chocolate with your morning coffee.

Cadbury’s Milk or Hershey’s?

Cadbury’s or maybe one of those artisan bars, you know, 70% cocoa, or a peak from the Toblerone mountain range.

When did you first get the idea for this form?

I was out drinking with a group of fellow poets and one thing led to another and I got home at 4 AM and sat down and wrote “Magic” which was blogged a week or so back. It’s a clumsy attempt, I think we should trash it.

What were you discussing until 4 in the morning?

Enjambment.

“Magic” has an uncharacteristic cod-mystical feel to it, were there other substances being abused?

I can’t remember.

What do you call your group of poets.

The Poet’s Circle.

Really, isn’t that a bit literal, a bit prosaic for a bunch of poets. It’s like saying “a party of plumbers”, “a coterie of carpenters” and that at least would be alliterative. Very disappointing.

Fuck off.

What?

Fuck off!

Okay.

Photo: Laptopia.

High Plains Sushi (2)

IMG_1357

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. The theme over at dverse is food poetry.

This version of this poem appeared before as a dizain, one of those poems that keeps changing shape.

Rapiers and Pistols and the Sequencing of (Whiskey In The Jar, a Deconstruction)

Rapiers and Pistols and the Sequencing of (Whiskey In The Jar – A Deconstruction )

I have often wondered why
when he encounters Captain Farrell
while going over the Cork and Kerry Mountains*
the protagonist first produces his pistol
and then produces his rapier.
Surely the rapier is redundant
once the pistol is produced.

(*In the Dubliners version, it’s “the far-famed Kerry Mountains)

Whack fall the daddy o.

Apparently people occasionally wonder what “whack fall the daddy o” means. Well it does not mean anything, it’s kind of like Irish scatting, what singers do when they run out of words.

I once wrote a sea shanty in which I used a variation on whack fall the daddy o. Here it is :

Sea Shanty

Oh. the herring were running wild and fast
as we sailed out from St. John
and the cod were plump as Mary’s arse
on a Sunday morning after early mass
with sausages on the griddle-o
and rashers in the pan
whack fall de diddle dairy oh
whack fall de diddle dan.

Take it away, Phil….

Bucket List (a ghazal, sort of)

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Bucket List (a ghazal)

mountain climbing in County Meath
put it on my bucket list

fly fishing in the Sahara
put it on my bucket list

snow shoeing in the Serengeti
put it on my bucket list

surfing in Saskatchewan
put it on my bucket list

stop hiding behind a shield of sarcasm
Really? Put that on my bucket list?

write a ghazal about everlasting love
aw fuck it, put it on my bucket list

stop peppering my poems with profanity
that’s a prohibition, it has no place on the list.