Tag Archives: Photography

Toad at the Gates of Doom (with extra verses)

Toad at the Gates of Doom

Outside the Gates of Hades
sits a cross-eyed toad
beside a burnt-out serpent
a broker and a phone

Outside the Gates of Heaven
sits an angel in disguise
beside a corpulent bishop
with ecstasy in his eyes

and the sign on the gate says:

Closed for Renovation
No judgement today

If you’re looking for accommodation
Clear off, go away.

God is on vacation
taking a well-earned break
there’s only so much suffering
one true God can take

So, get your ass back down there
be good to everyone

drink lots of water
and try to get along.

Outside the gates of Hades
sits a cross-eyed toad
beside a devil with a laptop
revising the Moral Code

Outside the gates of heaven
seven priests in a line
they’re longing for eternity
but this is not their time

and the sign on the gate says:

Closed for Renovation
No judgement today
If you’re looking for accommodation
Clear off, go away.

God is on vacation
taking a well-earned break
there’s only so much suffering
one true God can take

So, get your ass back down there
be good to everyone
drink lots of water
and try to get along.

Revelation in a Diner (wayra)

Revelation in a Diner

not the kind of place
for revelations, then boom!
awooga! there it is, the
unbearable flatness
of beige pancakes in the morning.

Over at dverse , Grace’s challenge is to write a wayra incorporating onomatopoeia. What’s a wayra? I’ll let Grace explain:

“The Wayra (Quechua – wind) is a popular verse form of Peru and Bolivia. It appears it originated in an indigenous Quechua language but has found its way into Spanish literature. It is a short syllabic verse form found at Vole Central and some other sites around the internet.

The elements of the Wayra are:

1.a pentastich, a poem in 5 lines.
2.syllabic, 5-7-7-6-8

Hal The Halibunist Looks Back On His Long Career (2)

glass 2

Hal The Halibunist Looks Back On His Long Career

halibuns about Haliburton
halibuns about halitosis
halibuns about Halle Berry
halibuns about Halley’s Comet

halibuns about Spiritus Mundi
halibuns about Rosamund Pike
halibuns about Solomon Grundy
halibuns just for the fun of it

halibuns at Sun Dance
halibuns in Halifax
halibuns about halibut

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse.

Thom Yorke takes a walk on Halloween Night(4)


Given the week that it is, I decided to bring this poem back from the dead…..

Thom Yorke takes a walk on Halloween Night

The dead move slowly
through the graveyard,
they are few at first
but as they pass
each row of headstones
grey fists punch
through mounds of earth
in a manic salute
and the throng grows
and the throng grows
and the night howls
and the fog curls
and a thin cloud
bisects the moon
and at the edge
of the graveyard
is an old well
and at the bottom
of that well
is a little boy
and that little boy
is crying for help
and that little boy
is Thom Yorke

The Name is at the Bottom Blues (2)

View BTH

The Name is at the Bottom Blues

it’s a name that you come across
in someone else’s bathroom
beside the shaving cream
the Tylenol
and those pills that people use
and suddenly
you’re soaked
in melancholy
from your head
down to your shoes
there ain’t no doubt about it
there ain’t no doubt about it
you’ve got those Estee Lauder blues.

A Reasonable Facsimile

A Reasonable Facsimile

that’s what Myron’s mother called him –
a reasonable facsimile ,
of his brother, that is,
in that his brother
was preternaturally unreasonable
if his brother was the weather
his mother said
he would be deemed unseasonable
his actions were incomprehensible
reprehensible, irredeemable
so based on the principle
that no praise is too faint
Myron was amenable
to being called
a reasonable
facsimile of his brother.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

Dunbar the Bucolic

Dunbar the Bucolic

up on Dunbar Street
the barber shops are empty
a guy smokes a joint

and laughs hysterically
at the blank screen of his phone

when asked if the melon is ripe
the girl behind the counter
at the Chinese-Canadian Deli
sniffs the pale green globe,
shakes her head
and pointing to a small beige circle,

this is the melon’s bottom
the melon is ripe,
when the bottom smells sweet.

outside the traffic stalls
on Dunbar Street

Sherry over at earthweal asks us: “Tell us about the places you hold most dear in the corner of the planet where you live. Share them with us; let us see them through your eyes and your words”.

I live just off Dunbar Street and to be honest, the street is more than a tad prosaic, even if the real estate pamphlets call it “bucolic”. But if I don’t put Dunbar in a poem, who’s going to? So these are two slices of Dunbar life. By the way, for some reason, there are more barber shops on Dunbar than the population could possibly need.

Tree Lot (leave no image unturned)

Tree Lot

Call yourself a tree?
My bank has more branches!


a raven rising above the trees
seen from a boat on the swirling river
leads the tracker to the bodies


avoid foliage
excessive leafiness
too many trees
the reader needs to see the poem

The leaves on the trees
bordering the soccer field
have abandoned
that chlorophyll thing
and are leaking
yellows and red
like a paint store catalogue


The sun drops behind the ridge of the house
the wind goes crazy in the trees,
the moth balls smell like halitosis
on the warm neurotic breeze.


Paradise as advertised:
a coral reef
a bluebottle sea
sting rays undulating
pelicans plummeting
palm trees swaying
in the reggae breeze


Life’s like that
from time to time
you bark up the wrong one.

Brendan over at earthweal asks us to ” spend some time and thought in our hearts with trees, for nurture, communication, grace and grief. You decide.” I’m not much of a nature poet so I searched my blog for references to trees and came up with the above collage (?).

Spiders, Vacuums and Mike Pence’s Head.

Domestic Terror

allergens loiter

on the vacuum’s humid breath

spiders abandon

web based solutions

seek cover in crevices

domestic terror.

Sarah over at dverse asks us to write about things that creep and crawl, so I thought I would resurrect these two poems. (The one below was inspired by a fly that appeared on Mike Pence’s head during a vice presidential debate back in the glory days of demagoguery.)

The Fly on Top of Mike Pence’s Head Speaks

It’s so white up here.
What’s that fragrance?
Is it Rogaine?
Is it piety?
Is it Rogaine and piety?
You seem a little nervous
around the women folk, Mike.
Can I recommend a good conditioner?

Five Miles Outside of Austin (Rhymes and Tropes) Again


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.

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


Walt Whitman Finds Inspiration In His Cutlery Drawer

Walt Whitman Finds Inspiration In His Cutlery Drawer

Good tines
bad tines
a tine for every purpose under heaven

no, that’s not it

let the good tines roll

no, that’s not it

a penny for your forks

no that’s not it

a shaft of evening sun light
strikes a tarnished spoon
and flares in Walt’s left eye
he sees a road
he sees a fork
he sees a fork in the road

that’s it, he exclaims,
that’s it……
I should really get rid of that spoon.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

Ironic Distancing (with bonus haiku)…redux.

IMG_1385 (3)_LI

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.

Eat your heart out! Basho!

Victoria over at dverse asks us to write a soliloquy incorporating one or more poetic devices, this one is heavy on alliteration with a bit of internal rhyme. It was previously published here, mid- pandemic last year.

To All You Haiku Masters (Slimverse – The Journey, Episode 4)

(Episode 3 is here)

To All You Haiku Masters

it’s time to
discuss the
in the room.

Back in the time before the time, the Poets’ Circle would hold a meeting every April to honor TS Eliot, the theme was always the same, “April just got crueler”. No alcohol was served.
The last meeting, before the pandemic, took place at the house of The Accomplished Poet in West Point Grey. His wife, Cheryl served her asparagus quiche, by far the highlight of the evening.
At the invitation of The Accomplished Poet, The Academic Poet read his 40 verse poem about the Canadian Constitution and afterwards spoke for an hour about the making of the poem and his creative process. He wore, as always, a Mountain Equipment Co-Op black fleece vest, a pale blue button down shirt, a pair of Khaki pants with more pockets than any normal human being could use, and a pair of Merrill hiking shoes.
His creative process? He, apparently, decided at the outset on a six line verse with an ABABCC rhyming scheme and added the restriction that he would only use rhymes that had never been used before in an English language poem, a daunting task, as you can imagine. However, being a professor of literature at a local university, he had his resources and with the help of a few grants, he had a group of his students devise a computer program that would check all his rhymes for originality. This involved compiling a data bank of all the rhymes in English Literature, a process that took ten years and an ever changing band of students. In the end meaning and clarity had to take a back seat and the resulting poem turned out to be a real head scratcher, a masterpiece of obfuscation delivered in a dry monotone.
Did I mention that there was no alcohol at the event?
Slim and I got out of there as fast as we could and headed for The Post-Coital Beetle. Being April, both the hockey season and the European soccer competitions were reaching their climax, so the Beetle was crowded and raucous. All the screens were on and everyone was eager to take in the final stretch before the boredom and blandness of summer sports.
Slim and I got a booth in the corner, ordered a plate of nachos and a pitcher of Blue Buck Ale and settled in. It was hot in the room, and Slim’s bald head was shining, he took off his jacket to reveal a white tee shirt with the following message on the front:
U is at?
Is u at?
At issue?
Is it u?

The third and fourth lines of the message were on a different plane because of Slim’s stomach which is about the size of a regulation soccer ball. So the effect was almost cubist, images stealthily approaching the eye.
“Slimverse at its minimalist best”, I say to Slim, “what a relief!”
We both grin smugly and wax snide at The Academic Poet’s expense. The evening stretches before us like a drunk laid out on a pavement. Two pitchers in, our syllable count rises and we compose this haiku about the real estate bubble in Vancouver. The bubble is always either forming or bursting.

white Lexus on lease
new suit, shoes, two day stubble
bubble? What bubble?

Then cut free from the 12 syllable bonds of slimverse we write another:

cherry blossoms bloom
well-dressed ladies from Beijing
pose with hand on hip

The bar erupts, a goal has been scored. Is it hockey? Is it soccer? Slim and I don’t care, we are gorging on syllables. We expectorate another haiku

cherry blossoms bloom
the air is sticky with greed
houses, for sale, sold.

We pause. The nachos are gone, except for a few crumbs. The remains of the guacamole are slowly oxidizing in the bowl. The second pitcher is all but drained. In the hockey game, the goalie has been pulled. We manage a final push and the last haiku comes out screaming.

cherry blossoms bloom
the wrecking ball’s lazy swing
petals, debris, spring.

Then nothing, a guilty silence, the feeling that we had betrayed our mission, that the future of slimverse was threatened, in doubt. We drain our glasses, get up and head out into the spring night. I walk to the bus stop for the 99 express heading west. Slim walks to the bus stop for the 99 express heading east. It will be a number of months before we meet again.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

Jericho Beach Park (mid-August)

Jericho Beach Park (mid-August)

Dried out cylinders
of Canada goose shit
dot the blond grass
like discarded cigarillos
sailboats scud across ruffled water
gulls engage in glaucous caucus
(Ok, that was a bit much)
and the sand, the sand is busy
stowing away in pockets,
shoes, swimming trunks, ear drums
boldly going
where no sand has gone before
and still the pandemic lingers
like that unwanted house guest
you thought had left
but no, no, no, there he is
drunk, snoring and flatulent
stretched out on your basement floor.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

Todd and the Time Machine Part 2 (redux)



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?”


The prompt from Laura over at dverse is:

“conjure an imaginary house of any size, any place, any age
fill it with an imaginary person/people past or present, or ghosts, or leave it empty with its history
make it literal but move into the metaphorical if you wish”

Thought I’d give this poem another outing.

Gibson’s Landing (Summer 2021)

Gibson’s Landing (Summer 2021)

the bark of broken mufflers
pickup trucks idle
at the Starbuck’s drive through
air con running
a gang of bikers
middle-aged and leather clad
roar up the coastal highway

it’s been a long hot summer
fun fun fun
in the pandemic pause
(is this the real life
is this just fantasy?
and yes, it’s hot
but it’s a guilty heat
and there’s the nagging feeling
that the future has arrived too early

that science fiction has become fact

smoke from forest fires
silts the lungs of the town
Daddy never did take the T Bird away.

(songs quoted and misquoted in the poem: “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen and “Fun! Fun! Fun! by the Beach Boys)

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse.

Also taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

So Long, Halong (Redux))


So Long, Halong

As we ride out of Cat Ba

through a valley circled

by limestone crags,

a compilation of pop ballads

from the seventies and eighties

oozes from the speakers

and the affable English backpackers

at the back of the bus

groan in faux horror

as Aerosmith follows Bryan Adams

follows George Michaels

follows Michael Jackson

but when the Bee Gees launch

“How Deep Is Your Love”

the backpackers quieten down

and the driver stops honking his horn

at the dogs, children, women

in cone hats and cyclists

with finely balanced cargos

who drift carelessly

in front of the bus

as if it was an invisible

visitor from the future,

and we all strain against

the tug of the song’s chorus

far too cool to sing along

except for one backpacker

let’s call him Nigel

or Christian, or Jason, or Justin

who, in a high piping voice

declares his oneness

with the song’s embattled lovers.

This poem was first published in Oddball Magazine, and is a re-post from 2016.


Rugged Individual in a Cowboy Hat

Rugged Individual in a Cowboy Hat

He weighs about 300 lbs
is wearing a cowboy hat
and an XXXL tee-shirt,
made by an underpaid worker
in a communist country.

This paragon of rugged individualism
this zaftig freedom fighter
this ersatz John Wayne
is telling the interviewer
he doesn’t believe in vaccination passports

because, you know, I mean
it’s a threat to our personal freedom

if we go down that road
what’s next

and I’m thinking
yes there are slopes out there
and yes they are slippery
what next indeed…
driver’s licenses
birth certificates
visas to enter countries
security checks in airports
concealed weapons licenses

but most of all I’m thinking
God help the horse
God help the horse.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal



The other day
I came across the word ‘runcible’
as in ‘runcible spoon’.

The word was invented by Edward Lear
as in ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’.

There is something risible about the word ‘runcible’
as in ‘laughter provoking’
which is different than ‘laughable’,
‘laughable’ has connotations of contempt
as in ‘derisible’ meaning ‘worthy of derision’,
‘derisible’ is almost an anagram of ‘desirable’
but back to ‘runcible’,
there is a great bounce, a great versatility to the word:

he walked out the morning after
humming a runcible tune

he had a runcible air about him
an odour that lingered
long after he had left the room.

the sun rose, red and runcible
in a diffident sky

I once spent the best part of six hour plane journey trying to describe the sunrise. There was no inflight entertainment, I could have used the downloadable app but I couldn’t imagine watching out of date Jason Bateman movies for 6 hours on my phone, so I had picked up a Craig Johnson novel, The Cold Dish, to get me through the flight.
This is the first novel in the Walt Longmire series. Walt is a sheriff in modern day Absaroka County, Wyoming. His wife has been dead 4 years and his life is a bit of a mess but there are various people looking out for him including his best friend, Henry Standing Bear. I know what you are thinking – an American law man with a Native American sidekick!! Anyway Craig Johnson navigates this well enough. There are a number of women in Walt’s life, including his daughter Cady, his dispatcher Ruby, a café owner Dorothy, Vic –his deputy, and Vonnie – a romantic interest. Vonnie is rich, beautiful, and troubled. They are all strong women and they don’t take no shit from Walt.
Walt is at Henry’s bar talking to Vonnie when he gets a call from Vic that a body has been found in a gulley up in the mountains. Walt heads to the scene, the body is hard to get at and the crime scene is complicated by the fact that a herd of sheep has surrounded the body, shat upon it and chewed at the clothes. The body turns out to be Cody Pritchard, a local boy who was involved in the rape of a girl from the reservation and got off lightly. It’s early morning by the time the crime scene has been secured and there is this moment after a long night where Walt, the narrator, says : “I gazed back up to the patch of sage and scrub weed and watched the sun free itself from the red hills”.
This is what amazes me about novelists, they have to handle character, plot, dialogue and create a world for characters to inhabit, for events to occur and they still find time to come up with lines like I have just quoted. So that was it for me, I spent the rest of the flight trying to come up with different ways to describe the sunrise.

As for the book, it’s well worth a read. Craig Johnson creates believable characters, characters to care about, to root for and the whole thing meanders along laconically with lots of witty banter and joshing – the kind of  joshing you would find in a small town cafe at 10  in the morning, one of those cafes with gingham tables and a robust waitress with chemically damaged hair who won’t take any shit from the bunch of plaid shirted retired guys who turn up every morning to shoot the breeze.

the sun rose, red and runcible
in a diffident sky

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

Mr. Cahoots

Mr. Cahoots

In the dream
I’m walking in East Vancouver

the setting sun illuminates
the low shoebox buildings

the streets are empty
except for me
and the guy who’s following me

his name is Mr. Cahoots

he’s wearing a pink top hat
a pink frock coat
pink flared pants
and gold boots

mostly he follows
but every now and again
he scuttles past
and walking backwards
he gives me the jazz hands
and laughs in my face

his eyes are manic
his nose is aquiline
and I know what he is saying
although he isn’t saying anything

he’s saying
You! You are not in control!

he’s saying
You! You are not in control!

In response to Brendan’s prompt over at earthweal

Write a dream poem using its language and rhetoric and dark sense. What moony light does it cast on the day? If you care, add to the poem or a note with any associations from waking life that the dream seems to be commenting on. If the dream is your unconscious speaking to you, what is it trying to help your waking writing mind to see?

My sister died recently after a very short illness. She was the eldest, there are six of us. I had the dream described in the above poem around the time she died. A family , particularly a large family is, in some ways, a collection of vantage points and we lost our top vantage point, the one who had seen it all. Now five seems like a very small number.



They’re taking photographs down by the water
in front of the cubist whale
float planes take off from the harbor
the mountains slumber in the morning haze.

Inside the convention center
paragraphs of opaque prose
attempt to describe the genius
of Vincent, Vincent van Gogh.

But if painting is the medium
there is no need for go-betweens
it’s all there on the canvas
the painting is what the painting seems.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

Photo taken at Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibition, the convention centre Vancouver