Tag Archives: Photography

Slim’s Third Dream (tanka)

Slim’s Third Dream

Slim retires again
to do battle with the night
his mother appears

they share complicated jokes
in his sleep, he laughs out loud.

Over at earthweal, the challenge is:

For this challenge, explore the art and acts of entanglement in a poem. How does one life entangle another? How do the dead remain entangled with the living? Become the thing you see. Reflect on how that seeing changes the world (at least, your view of it). Then (or separately) ask yourself what existence would mean without that entanglement: how much less light and air and beauty. Flip the switch both ways to see how it works. Entangle yourself in the world. Let your witness be our testament.

A lot of questions, I think I may have addressed one!

Down by Jericho Beach (Edit)

 

Social distancing (3)

 

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 scratched

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

 

Photo “Social Distancing”

 

The  challenge from Grace over at dverse is to write a poem using personification and/or imagery:

Personification

A figure of speech in which the poet describes an abstraction, a thing, or a nonhuman form as if it were a person.

When I read the prompt I thought of this poem from back in April 2020, I made a small edit.

The Altar of Zoom (Is there Virtue in Virtual Mass)

The Altar of Zoom

God is now on Zoom
but his microphone is muted
some would say
and I don’t dispute it
that his microphone has been muted
for quite some time now
okay, don’t have a holy cow
that was a joke
but honestly it’s been a while
since he spoke
those proxy sermons
from earnest priests
hardly count
they can’t hold a holy candle to
they don’t have the heft, the clout
of his greatest hit
the Sermon on the Mount
yep, that’s the big one
voted top sermon of all time
by the folks at Rolling Stone
a hard one to follow
one that stands alone.

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse

Ducks Chillin’ (Thanks)

Ducks Chillin’

Thanks for Jeff Tweedy
Thanks for Annette Bening
Thanks for Michael Stipe
Thanks for John Lennon.

Thanks for Lucinda Williams
Thanks for Jurgen Klopp
Thanks for Paul Durcan
Thanks for Roger McGough

Thank for Sally Rooney
Thanks for Saul Bellow
Thanks for T.S. Eliot
Thanks for Elvis Costello

Thanks for Billy Collins
Thanks for Bob Dylan
Thanks for green lakes
glacial silt, ducks chillin’.

Brendan over at earthweal asks us to give thanks!

Also taking part in OpenLink over at dverse

Thom Yorke takes a walk on Halloween Night (3)

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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.

Taking part in earthweal’s weekly challenge, below is Brendan’s multi-faceted prompt, something there for everyone:

Tell your own story of a descent into darkness and return.
Write of moonshine and dark brightness.
Encounter a ghost and haunt us with its image and voice. Who are these visitants from what Hamlet called “the bourne from which no traveller returns”?
Are the elven still to be found in moony places?
Re-live a classical remake ofthe myths, like Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death” Colerige’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” or Spenser’s Faerie Queen.
What is your favorite folktale, and why? Where has it led you?
Would anyone like to turn present politics into an All-Hallows fright feast? (Such a telling does might help drive a stake into our worst fears.)

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)

Blue sunset 2

 

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.

 

IMG_1213 (2)

 

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)

pumper 2

 

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
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 am finding this
to be true.

The theme from Merrill over at dverse is “connections”, so thought I would add this one to the mix.