Tag Archives: poet

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.

Who’s That Knockin’

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Who’s That Knockin’

It’s early in the morning
you’re sitting on the can
who’s that knockin’
who’s that knockin’
at your front door, man.

Well it could be Jesus
it could be the Pope
it could be Barrack Obama
carrying a message of hope

who’s that knockin’
who’s that knockin’
who’s that knockin’
at your front door, man

It’s early in the morning
you’re eating some raisin bran
who’s that knockin’
who’s that knockin’
at your front door, man

Well, it could be Angela Merkel
or it could be Miley Cyrus
it could be Sanjay Gupta
with a cure for the virus

who’s that knockin’
who’s that knockin’
who’s that knockin’
at your front door, man

 

Taking part in open link weekend over at earthweal. check them out below:

earthweal open link weekend #25

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/

Not All Protests Are Equal (poem)

 

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Not All Protests Are Equal

Put on your balaclava
shine up the old AK
you have an inalienable right to be stupid
no one can take that away,

storm a government building
occupy a city square
wear your camouflage jacket
there’s revolution in the air.

But, just a word of caution
it’s a cruel world out there
the virus has no politics
the virus doesn’t care.

That could be you on a ventilator
or wrapped up in a bag
that AK won’t help you
neither will the flag

So do us all a favour
it’s not that much to ask
stay at home, leave it alone
and get your head out of your ass.

 

The theme of the week over at earthweal  is “protest in a time of pandemic”. Check it out here….https://earthweal.com/2020/05/25/earthweal-weekly-challenge-protest-in-a-time-of-pandemic/

Also taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse. https://dversepoets.com/2020/05/28/openlinknight-267/

 

Americano Misto (kyoka)

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Americano Misto

the girl in Starbucks
fails to praise my awesome choice
nor does she inquire

’bout the progress of my day
I feel oddly unaffirmed.

 

Continuing with coffee-related poems (see previous post), another one for Frank Tassone’s challenge over at dverse.

I originally posted this as a tanka, but on reading Franks’s very informative post, I realized I may be writing kyoka’s.

 

Living on Covid Time

 

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Living on Covid Time

You read the newspaper
and there they are
on every page
conclusions drawn
from wisps of smoke.
There is no big data
just sad data.

You Facetime, Whatsapp, Zoom
and always there’s that moment
when you look at that small rectangle
in the top right hand corner of the screen
and think “Ahh for fuck’s sake
is that really me?”

In the absence of the new
the brain feeds on itself
like an animal caught in a snare,
in a dream you drive to a town in British Columbia
which for some reason is called Trenton
you attend a meeting at a hotel
where everyone knows you
but you know no one.
You walk out into a vast square
full of white marble statues
of a man lost in thought
elbow on knee, chin on fist.

You watch Germans play soccer
in an empty stadium
and it’s not a dream.

You take your bike
down to the Fraser River
and cycle through Southlands
past the stables and the houses of the rich,
horses, but no courses,
a steaming mound of dung balls
decorates the road
that Covid sun is shining
and no one is making hay.

 

The challenge this week over at earthweal is “Vast Particulars”.
“Illustrate the changing tenor of the time with a snapshot or observation or tale which is both vast and particular”

 

When the Going gets Heavy, the Verse gets Light

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My Friend Norman

my friend, Norman,
hasn’t changed one bit
since this pandemic began
if there’s going to be a new norm
it certainly won’t be him.

Deaf Shepherd

no sheep bleat
no sheep dog bark
the silence of the lambs
but still my flock is tended to
you can’t pull the wool
over these eyes.

Cistern

he’s been the same damn tern
since the day he was born.

 

food bird animal animals

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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/

Loophole (Time, Space and “Interstellar”)…poem for dverse

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Thought I’d give this a second outing!

Interstellar

Once on a bus
across the Altiplano
from Puno to Cusco
I watched the movie
Interstellar, starring
Matt McConaughey.
Matt’s a clever feller,
I just said that
to rhyme with Interstellar
no one
says feller anymore
anyway, it appears that
time is a line
our lives are
moving along
and we can only
move forward along
that line, never back,
but there is a loophole
or a wormhole,
to be exact,
way out there
in outer space
and if one travels
to outer space
and passes through
that wormhole
one can visit
the multiplex cinema
where one’s life
is playing
and view
any previous point
on the line one’s life
is travelling on
problem is
when one returns
to earth, it’s fifty
years later and
everyone one knows
is either dead or dying,
thus the line one’s life
is travelling on
is irreversibly altered
that’s the catch
which by the way
is different than
a loophole.

 

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse

 

Umbrage in Umbria

Umbrage

 

Umbrage in Umbria

In which Diane Keaton
plays an American woman
recovering from the pain
of a recent divorce.
Sandra Oh will feature
as her quirky sidekick,
and smoldering local love interest
will be provided by
Xavier Bardem or Antonio Banderas –
they’re not Italian
but if you want “smoldering”
you’ve got to call in the Spanish.
We’ll need a Brit,
Maggie Smith, perhaps,
as a sage but ageing dowager
and the local priest must be wry and twinkling,
Morgan Freeman, I’m thinking,
an explanation will be needed
as to how he got there.
Richard Gere will appear
near the end,
as the ex-husband
rich and massively contrite
now that the younger woman has left him,
the philandering bastard.
And as for the umbrage
taken by whom
because of what
you’ll just have to wait for the movie.

 

The challenge from Lilian over at dverse is to write a poem about a place you have travelled to, well I’ve been to Umbria and this poem kind of plays around with that!

A Dissonant Sun

bird on deck

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” !

The Path Forward

 

 

The Path Forward

no dumbass in a MAGA hat
is going to solve this one
all the bluster you can muster
will do nothing at all,
remember that guy
who got first in the class
the one wearing glasses
who never got the girl
he’s the one who will save our asses
so get out of the way
you won’t be missed
this one will be solved by scientists.

 

The challenge over at earthweal is to write a poem about The Crossroad we are at. Well, this is possibly not the subtlest poem ever written but hey…..these are not subtle times.

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