Tag Archives: poet

Of Fish and War (Edit)

Of Fish and War

In the city of Nha Trang, Vietnam
at the National Oceanographic Institute
among tanks cramped with
circling neurotic fish
(Hit the glass. Stop. Turn around)

there is a multi-colored specimen
whose toxin,
according to the description,
renders its victims

“unconspicuous or even dead”.

Conspicuous behind glass
further north
in the Hanoi War museum

lie the dog tags of dead American soldiers

to a man
young, buzzcut and hopeful.

This poem was written a number of years ago, after a visit to Vietnam. The news out of Ukraine this week, for some reason, made me think of that visit and what happens to a whole generation on either side of a conflict when leaders decide to go to war.

It appeared in Open Link weekend over at earthweal.

Now also in Open Link over at dverse

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Photo  taken outside The Hanoi War Museum

Existential Boogie Revisited

Existential Boogie

I’m sitting in a café
smoking a Gitane
yes, I’m sitting in a café
smoking a Gitane
I’m reading Jean Paul Sartre
and wondering who I am.

Existential boogie
do that existential thing
you can do it in your armchair
summer, autumn, winter, spring.

If you’re looking for an answer
don’t ask Albert Camus
yes, if you’re looking for an answer
don’t ask Albert Camus
that dude’s been dead a long time
he can’t tell you what to do

Existential boogie
do that existential thing
you can do it in your armchair
summer, autumn, winter, spring

And don’t talk to me
about Immanuel Kant
yes, don’t talk to me
about Immanuel Kant
well I know that you want to
but you can’t

Existential boogie
do that existential thing
you can do it in your armchair
summer, autumn, winter, spring

and some people like to quote
Martin Heidegger
yes, some people like to quote
Martin Heidegger
well, all I can say is
go figure

Existential boogie
do that existential thing
you can do it in your armchair
summer, autumn, winter, spring

Rene Descartes said
I think therefore I am
yes, old Rene, he said
I think therefore I am
well, I call that a beginning
I sure don’t call that a plan.

Existential boogie
do that existential thing
you can do it in your armchair
summer,
autumn,
winter,
spring.

Taking part in Open Link Night over at dverse

Poem in Leonard Cohen Anthology “Before I Turn Into Gold”

My poem “Driving Home with Leonard” has been included in David L O’Nan’s anthology, ” Before I Turn Into Gold”, a collection of poems inspired by the work of Leonard Cohen. That’s the cover artwork above by Geoffrey Wren and the book contains some very fine poems and more wonderful illustrations by Geoffrey Wren.

Thanks to David for including me. The book is available here on Kindle and in Paperback. Check it out.

Also check out David’s Fevers of the Mind Poetry and Art Blog here.

Tales from the Gym (I love the smell of nostalgia in the morning)

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And your gravity fails and negativity don’t pull you through….Bob Dylan

Know your gym……Slim Volume

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 Slim’s thinking
this is one fucking erudite conversation
and he wants a piece of it
so he points 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 Slim fires back wryly
keep telling yourself that
and the locker room erupts in laughter
and in that moment
basking in the unbearable lightness of banter
Slim defies gravity and levitates
above the bacterial swamp
that is the locker room floor.

“A man who is tired of the gym, is a man who has been to the gym”. Slim Volume

Two Bros

Two bros on a mat
one on his back
hands clasped behind his head
legs bicycling like a capsized fly;
the other,
the one with the green hair
and the tattoos of a religious nature
is grunting weights .
Fly bro, it appears,
is having girlfriend problems
and is experiencing
some kind of vague existential crisis,
green hair bro listens carefully to his tale of woe
and after some reflection says:
It’s life, man,
stop trying to understand it,
no one can

and then, as if startled by his own profundity,
he repeats: no one can.
Out of the mouths of bros….

in the background a bearded jock
in a tight black T shirt
his muscles packed with powdered whey
his eyes a steroid yellow
is down on his hunkers
knees akimbo
moving sideways
across the  floor
like a slow motion crab
across packed sand at evening.

Wild Mind

Wild Mind

I’m on the bedroom floor
doing some stretches,
above my head
in the blue rectangle of the skylight
an eagle soars.

I’m thinking about an article a friend sent about “solo polyamory”.

I start a poem:
he was a sensitive guy
he didn’t have the armory
for solo polyamory
he wanted to marry
settle down
maybe do a bit of farmery
somewhere far away
from the clamor,
the goddamery
of big city life.

Well, they can’t all soar like an eagle.

Apropos of nothing
I think about my recent technology issues.
Last week I spent an hour talking to a nice guy from Apple Help,
he was in Arizona, temperature in the low sixties
down where Fahrenheit still rules,
I had iPhone issues which he did not resolve,
he could not meet my iNeeds
but as a result my IOS updated
and every time I turn on the phone
it asks me about my iPreferences
my preference would be to turn on my phone
and be left alone
but call it coincidence, serendipity, synchronicity
because of the update
my Spotify app does not work
so I decide to delete the app
because every time I use it
I think of Joe Rogan
spouting bollocks about freedom
and if, and it’s a big if,
I ever meet Neil Young
I want to be able to look him in the eye.
Now I’m algorithm free
and I’m listening to music
on a chunky old iPod
I found in a drawer
and you know what?
It sounds good and I picked all the songs myself.

I think of an opening to a poem:
he walked into the room
his eyes like fugitives
looking for a window,

I think of a song title:
Stuck in E Minor Again


I think of a song chorus:
born in the wrong key
there was always something different about me
until you came along
and changed my song
now it’s all sweet harmony.

Sappy, yes, but is it sappy enough?

I think of that eagle
I think, what is that eagle thinking?
I think he’s thinking this:
Man, these thermals are good
I could stay here all day.
Hang on a minute
is that a mouse on that garbage bin
in the laneway north of King Edward
east of Dunbar,
they don’t call them eagle eyes for nothing.
Forget the mouse,
I’ve got soaring to do,
soaring to do before the day is done.

In Brendan’s excellent post over at earthweal, he posits, among other things, that “our brains themselves have been disrupted by digital media.” He also says:

The mind must feed on wild sources; greening is both invitation and surrender. Dogen, again: “Are you going to improve yourself or are you going to let the universe improve you?”

Well, that’s where I started.

The Trucker Convoy Protesting Vaccine Mandates Crosses Burrard Street Bridge

The Trucker Convoy Protesting Vaccine Mandates Crosses Burrard Street Bridge

as seen from the park below
the trucks look like toy trucks
driven by children
which is partly true
given that the logic of their rhetoric
resembles that of a petulant child
and I’m being hard on petulant children

the blaring horns sound like
the dying groans of white male supremacy
the Canada geese look puzzled
the crows go crazy in the trees.

Taking part in open link weekend over at earthweal

Cyphers Magazine New Website

Cyphers is a Dublin based print only magazine which has been in existence since 1975. They publish poets from all over the world, both new and established, and as you can see from the photo above I’ve been a fan of the magazine for some time. They have now updated their website and it’s well worth a visit. They have featured poems from their latest issue and a selection from back issues plus a selection of the art from previous issues. They also have a search function where you can enter an author’s name and get a listing of the issues in which they have appeared. For example if you put in “Seamus Heaney”, you’ll find Seamus Heaney was an early contributor.

And…I too have been a contributor. (That is called “reflected glory”, it’s like describing, in the pub, after playing a game of soccer where you were on the field when the winning goal was scored and your part, usually minor, in the scoring of that goal.)

Anyway, Cyphers was one the first magazines to publish one of my poems and the one that made me think that perhaps I could write poetry, so I am thankful to them!

The link to the website is here. Check it out!

Jim Feeney

A Scarecrow Looks Back on his Life (Edit)

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A Scarecrow looks back on his Life

Before Oz
I had control of my life
I had a purpose
a reason for existence

a modus operandi:
stand in a field
and scare crows
that’s it, that’s all.

It was lonely at times,
I admit, particularly
at night, but occasionally
a farmer returning

drunk across the fields
would stop and tell me his life story
then fall asleep, snoring
and farting at my feet

and yes, oh yes
I listened in on
acts of intimacy
on hot summer nights

and heard sounds
that made my straw curl;
then Oz occurred
and it was no longer

about presence
it was about absence
the absence of a brain;
children would circle me

and sing that stupid song
suddenly I was pathetic, forlorn;
what got me most was the
sheer illogicality of it all –

to yearn for a brain, one must
have a brain to begin with,
sometimes, I think the sole function
of a brain is to yearn…..

hang on a minute
I’m sure I saw that same crow yesterday
Look! He won’t come within twenty feet of me!
I’ve still got it! I’ve still got it!

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

Pivot (Pandemic Postcard)

Pivot

At one point
back in the middle of the pandemic,
or what he thought was the middle,
Slim grew tired of the word pivot.
He proclaimed to anyone who would listen
that if heard that word again
he would vomit.
He became obsessed with lesser known words
like spigot, argot, davit, grommet.
But secretly he wished
that he could, yes,

pivot

pick a life
go out

live it.

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse and Open Link Weekend at earthweal.

Poetic Ailments (Edit)

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Poetic Ailments

irritable vowel syndrome
arrhythmia
pain in the assonance
acute enjambment
inflammation of the lower case
latinnittus
typographical dysfunction
fear of sonnets
halibunions
grammaroids
rhymetism
pundruff
the irrational fear
on entering a room
that someone is going to recite
The Lake Isle of Inisfree
in a plummy, orotund
stage Irish accent.

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal.

Incident on Main Street, Kenopsia, Minnesota

Incident on Main Street, Kenopsia, Minnesota

Kenopsia, Minnesota
is a pissant, little burg
has been ever since
that one horse died,
only landmark is Mel’s Burgers
on Main St, the only street.
Try Mel’s Famous Burgers
the sign on the outskirts
of town says and some people do.

One day a stranger came to town
dressed in black with a low brim hat
and Lee Van Cleef eyes
some say he hailed from Aphasia, Wisconsin
others were past saying
you know what I’m sayin’.

The stranger walks into Mel’s Burgers
and Mel’s dog starts to howl
a pitiful howl that could be heard
in Amentalio, ten miles down the road.
Give me one of your famous burgers
he says to Mel, and Mel does
ten minutes later
the stranger is dead on the floor
and all hopes the town had
of appearing in a Stephen King novel
or an episode of Fargo
died with that stranger.

Thanks to Linda over at dverse for her excellent prompt, check it out here. The names of the towns in the poem were taking from the book The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig. All is explained in Linda’s post.

The Ghost of Hangovers Past (returns)

The Ghost Of Hangovers Past

Your cell phone rings
but you’re not listening
because you left it
in The Fox and Vixen
behind the cistern
in the last stall on the left
next to the condom machine
and now it’s 4 am
your wife sleeps soundly beside you,
in the corner of the room
your hangover squats
sorting a tray of instruments.

It all began with a few beers,
some Christmas Cheer
so how did it get
from there to here?

Slowly you remember or think you remember….

Did you really poke your boss in the chest
and tell him that you know better
that you know best?

Did you really down three shots of scotch
grab Mark from marketing by the shoulders
and proclaim “I love you bro”
over and over ‘till he begged you to stop
to let go?

And why, why, why
did you call that shy Dutch girl from accounting
“sad-eyed lady of the lowlands”
again, over and over?

You groan inwardly
you groan outwardly

and just when you think
it could not get worse
your hangover stands up
and crosses the room
carrying what appears to be
a small mallet
Zooooosh,
he enters your head
and proceeds to knock on the inside of your skull
with that same mallet
all the time chanting this manic mantra
“deck the halls with human folly
Fa la la la la, la la la la”.

Four hours later your wife is shaking you
Up you get, she chimes
It’s time to do some Christmas shopping!
Joe Fresh opens at 9!

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse.

This poem first appeared in Sarah Connors advent calendar 2020. Check out Sarah’s 2021 calendar here,

Fragments From a Long Weekend

 

1 (conversation overheard in a downtown bar)

he wants to retire
back where all the spires conspire
to show him the way.

2 (too much of a good thing)

summer evening
the red sunset bleeds regret
maturity lost.

3 (Why can’t I write like Rupi Kaur?) 

my quinoa* quota
was far from quotidian
thanks! sunflower seeds!
*’keen-wah

4 (Climate Change is Opening Windows)

rumours dropping from the eaves
neighbours thick as thieves
singing off key at three

o’clock in the morning.

The challenge from Laura over at dverse is to write a poem consisting of fragments:

“Either:
a poem of several numbered stanzas. Each being complete in itself and having only a passing relationship to each other, if at all
OR
a poem of disjointed images (like listening to conversation in passing, repetitively switching between radio/tv station, random images across a screen, or paintings/photos seen in a gallery)

Rules:
Your poem should NOT conform to any rhyme scheme
Your poem MUST include Fragment(s) somewhere in the title”

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.

An Atmospheric River Runs Through It

An Atmospheric River Runs Through It

The moon is waning gibbous
the pollen count is low
and yet another atmospheric river
is on the way,
all that warm moist air
all that water vapour
looking for a place to condense;
based on anecdotal evidence
this is either normal for the time of year
or a signal that we should start building an ark
but one thing is starkly clear
the data with which the calculated risks are calculated
is no longer valid
is in need of an update
the paradigm has not shifted
but the perimeter has been breached
like a dike in need of repair.

Taking part in Open Link at earthweal….it’s raining again in British Columbia.

Mother’s Day in Ollantaytambo/ Station Road (2 haiku’s) Redux

A post from the time before the time.

We got off the train from Machu Picchu at the Ollantaytambo station, walked up the station road to the town square and came upon this: Mother’s Day in Ollantaytambo. It went on all day – entertainment, raffles, prizes, politicians’ speeches. The ladies seemed to enjoy themselves, although they never clapped once.

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Later that evening, we had dinner in the restaurant down at the station and walking home we witnessed this haiku-worthy scene.

Station Road

                I

Two black dogs humping

a puzzled white terrier

on the station road.

              II

Puzzled about what?

about the expectations

of the dog in front.

photo by Marie Feeney

Taking part in Open Link over at dverse.

Apunkalypse Now (A new movie by Francis Ford Cortina)

Apunkalypse Now

In a dystopian future
there’s rioting in cities and towns
all across the USA
and anyone who cares to
can own a semi-automatic weapon.
One fateful night
a seventeen year old baby-faced punk
called Kole
heads into town with his semi-automatic rifle
to restore order on The Streets of Somewhere,
by the end of the night
three people are dead.
Kole is arrested, tried and acquitted
in The Court of the White Over Caste.
He becomes a hero, an icon, an example
and soon young punks all across the USA
are starting to feel lucky.
(Spoiler Alert:
It’s not the Future).

Taking part in Open Link Weekend over at earthweal

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
3.unrhymed.”