Saturday, 11 November 2017

The Vault of the Sky

In the vast vault 
And chamber of sky,
Venus sparkles,
Upon black velvet, bright;
Galaxies on the horizon
Are veiled and sealed;
With a special lens
These valuable gems 
Are revealed;
Glowing orbs 
And radiant rings twinkle
With diadem's delight - 
The universe, a rich vista
Of jewels in the night
---
November 11, 2017

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Manitchewan, Saskbertoba

Rust coloured trains
Snake alongside 
The Trans-Canada Highway
Through fields of summer
Or flat lands of snow
Past slow-moving tractors
And elevators
That go nowhere at all

Between static 

On the car radio,
The twang of country music
Crops up,
Heat billows in
Past the bug-splattered screen,
The scent of a disturbed skunk
In the distance

The living sky flashes

With echoes from our genesis,
The boom and crackle
Of God's voice in our receptors

There is wildness here

In the land of cattle and combines
Where the wind whips,
Corrals into tornadoes
That reap destruction,
Tips cows on a whim
But the people are friendly -
They'd give you the plaid 
Off their brown, leathery backs
---
November 8, 2017

Sunday, 5 November 2017

No Poets Allowed

No poets allowed
The morning classified read
Well, that just made me fume,
Go red in the head

No wordsmiths like Wordsworth?
And decent blokes like Blake?
Like lots of the news these days,
Maybe it's fake

Is it legal to say
To Shakespeare's crowd
"No stanzas! No quatrains!
No sonneting allowed!"?

"You're not welcome here
With your quill and your pen
Thank you kindly, but please
Don't come back here again"

What about people
Who might dabble in haiku?
"No, none of them, too!"

How dare they discriminate
Against the versifying masses
Oh, wait a minute
Where did I put my glasses?
---
November 3, 2017   

The Plastic Ocean

I tell you there is a beach on Oahu
with blue and green sand;
you say, "Cool, I want to go there"
then you change your plans
when I tell you
it's because of all the 
plastic in the Pacific;
you are utterly repelled
but I wonder if you are compelled
to stop buying what 'they' sell
styrofoam, disposable cups, 
straws, plastic tampons, 
tally it up
crush it, flush it, brush it aside
we live in a disposable world
of generational genocide;
save your plastic Raybans 
for your grandsons and granddaughters;
their future's so glaring
they'll be walking on water
---
October 27, 2017    

Friday, 27 October 2017

Bouffant

My house was on the avenue
The neighbours lived down the road
My hair was in a bouffant
Theirs in pigtails and bows
 
We had bureaus in the boudoirs
Filled with negligees and camisoles
They folded PJs and undershirts
Into dressers, or onto chairs, let them fall
 
At dinner, we sipped on Merlot
In the salon, we perched upon divans
They lounged about on couches after supper,
Ate pizza with their hands
 
We were chichi before it was chic
And bewitching and beguiling
They were down to earth
And always seemed to be smiling
---
October 25, 2017

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Sailboat

The sail
The white
The blue
The water
The sparkle
The shine
The waves
The wind
The air
The birds
The song
The stars
The moon
The pull
The draw
The breath
The laughter
The smile
The peace
The calm                             
---
October 25, 2017 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Keepsakes From My Father

My father's workshop 
was not much wider 
than our Pontiac station wagon
but it was plenty of room for him,
always the shortest
in his airforce snaps

A crib and doll cradle
were birthed in the shadows
where sawdust and smoke
from his menthols swirled
then came a dollhouse and playhouse,
later a desk, all for the oldest girl
then a clock and coffee table
of lacquered burl 
but that didn't keep him away 
from the liquor store

In his 40's, he learned new tricks
at night school, with plastic his clay,
he made groovy melted vases and bowls 
and a purple fishing line lamp,
not as cool as the old wooden one
a spiral staircase to the sun

They sold the house 
and boxed up family memories
of digging out the billiard room
and painting 3 additional bedrooms
one blue, one green and the red one
which later became his office
where he watched The Flintstones
and drank spiked cactus cooler

My dad reconstructed himself,
baking muffins for the seniors' group;
he stood tall next to his trophies
for snooker and curling,
his 7 grandchildren;
he was 6 feet under 
before they reached 5 feet
---
October 22, 2017

Saturday, 21 October 2017

My Mother's Kitchen

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In my mother’s kitchen,
(Her daily domain)
I kissed her goodbye
Before I walked to school
While she ironed aprons,
Embroidered pillow cases,
My father’s boxer shorts

Porcelain ducks flew over the sink
Missing the window’s view
Of our maple leaves littering the street
And the dubious neighbours
(Not the ones with the pond filled with koi)
I stood there hours after supper

Beside the well-used stove
Butter tarts and cookies cooled,
Banana bread, coconut cream pie
In the oven, a regular roast,
The room warm with aroma
Of cinnamon and sage

The grey Formica table was in a nook
My dad had fashioned with aqua Naugahyde,
Hiding our barrel of monkeys and puzzles below;
On the weekends, we’d play rummoli
And when my mom got the giggles
We would all follow suit

On the rounded counter, the radio played
“These Boots are made for Walking”
And I would rush and don my little red boots
To dance around the green and grey tiles,
Washed, waxed and buffed to shine               
---
October 21, 2017


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Sorrow is a Banquet

Sorrow is a banquet
Rich and poor attend
Spread out in a garden
Where the trees are empty
Of their fruit;
The ground, an uneven
Mosaic of decay;
The tablecloth has been pressed
And pressed again
But wrinkles will not be
So easily erased;
On the table is earthenware
Where liquid leaks out
Through the cracks;
There are plates, bowls, spoons,
And knives that slice;
There are no forks
To put in anything
Say, “I’m done”
There is a single folding chair,
Rickety and unsteady;
Shadow people mill about,
Nameless, faceless;
No one speaks -
There are no words
Upon the tongue;
You nibble on pork,
Gnaw on taffy;

Everything's salted with tears
Doughnuts are dusted with memories,
Ice cream, sprinkled with regret
It rains, of course
You look up to the sky for answers,
For a waiter to tell you
Which is the room
Down the corridor of doors
That will open to the place
Where glasses clink
And a soprano,
Dressed in deep lemon yellow,
Sings              
---
October 18, 2017                  

Train Tracks

I have stood on these train tracks,
A portal to the past
To the place where I grew up
Where bullies laid me flat

I have looked through the pane
And seen where I have been,
Time itself a blur to me
Amid the forest green

I have travelled many miles
Over weeds near fallen trees,
Through stations of the cross,
Found light in tunnels deep

I stand here again
But the train no longer runs;
I pick the berries from the bush,
The thorns and thistles, shun                
---
October 11, 2017

In Trauma, There is Art

In trauma, there is art, 
Hiding, waiting to emerge
Rough, jagged edges are reshaped 
As chisels slice through knurls 
Health is found upon the lathe
Where new angles are spun 
Once skewed by dark scars, 
Now angels spin in the sun         
---
October 11, 2017

What Truths Does the Moon Tell?

What truths does the moon tell?
What secrets does he hide
In the back room, whisked away
When the light subsides?

Does he slyly smile
And whisper through the clouds?
Does he broadcast through the air
Like a peacock crowing, loud?

Does he beam like a feline
With feathers in its fur?
Does he howl with the wolves 
At the tales he's seen and heard?

Not the regular rotation
Of peoples' late-night antics 
But weighty lunacies 
Super-charged, gigantic 

What truths does the moon tell?
What does Neptune know?
Does Uranus hold your secrets tight?
And why do stars explode?     
---
October 11, 2017

Robert

He first floated 
in amniotic fluid
on the Neusiedler See;
he was birthed 
into the sailing world,
his Opapa telling tales
of the merchant marine

Fleet of foot, 
he ran after school
to the swimming pool;
with his teammates, 
he dove into chlorine 

But the salt air 
filled his lungs
with contentment,
cementing his passion
to sail far 
and sail now

Through the North Sea, 
the Atlantic, Pacific, 
San Francisco Bay,
Gulf of Mexico,
the Mediterranean,
and Nootka Sound

Simply put,
he's more grounded 
when the sea is around him
and terra firma transforms
to a port on his charts,
with the wind in his face
and peace in his heart              
---
October 9, 2017

Hummingbird

prom queen mermaid 
with angelic wings
hovers by foxgloves 
reverberating 

she glides in the air
a gilded sculpture
vivid, vivacious 
sweet than nectar
---
October 7, 2017      

Susan

I have stood in this lineup
countless times, 
counting 
and recounting items 
in the red plastic basket,
making chitchat with cashiers,
harping about politicians,
whining about the weather;
some are cheerleader types,
some cheeky,
some have zero cheer;
I steer my cart clear of those
and find the one
whose light is always on,
a beacon to the burdened
with a sympathetic ear,
the one who knows my name
but still she calls me Dear;
she works hard 
for the pittance she's paid,
is, herself, double bagged 
by the end of the day
but from where I stand,
she is the best source
of loyalty, rewards,
hands down
and I can count on her,
to fill me up 
with good things:
encouraging words,
gifts of thoughtfulness,
warmest of hugs;
her name tag reads: Susan
which means lily,
a tall fragrant bloom
and that she is,
standing out 
like a bouquet
in a lackluster room;
as friends go,
and they do,
she is more
than I bargained for
when I entered her queue     
---
October 6, 2017

Swan Lake Sanctuary

I have stood
At this makeshift altar
Where arborists preach
To the clueless and converted
The lake below
Was once a dumping ground
For the old winery’s dregs
Or so I have heard
Here, eagles, blackbirds, ducks, geese
But no swans,
Find sanctuary,
Mating for life
This is where he and I came,
Him capturing me
Through his lens
Somehow he saw into the future
Our bodies facing each other
Saying, “I will plant myself
Here with you”
Letting our roots intertwine
See what grows;
We both shifted our schedules
To be here,
Altered our agendas,
Let the past sink
Into the dark earth;
Around our feet,
Tumble petals
From aged bouquets
Of ruby and rose      
---
October 4, 2017

Mara Sang

The lighthouse
shuttles light 
by the cellophane sea

A mermaid
mimics moonlit waves
in a maillot
of aquamarine 

From the frothy white,
a nymph's hymn
collars sea dogs 
to get tangled up
in a mirage  

A sea-foam symphony 
births a bright goddess of love
ascending from
transcending tides
the stars, her brilliant
camouflage
---
October 2, 2017
                                 

Cherish the Question Mark (From Mary Oliver's poem Everything)

Cherish the question mark,
The curve of uncertainty,
The open-ended endings,
The life punctuated with mystery
Go on a quest
For the what and wherefores
The who, how, when
And incessant whys
Send your gumshoes
To the delve into sewers,
Your sleuths,
To eavesdrop on the skies
Ponder the imponderables,
Rest in the tension
Of the vast unknown
Don’t peek at the answer key,
Or flip to the last chapter
Because if you do...       
---
October 18, 2017

Monday, 16 October 2017

Before We Were Born

Before we were born,
our parents had lives,
my father, a battalion of friends
to carouse with,
strangers in photographs
perhaps visitors in my memories
"My, how you've grown"
Do I know you?

These people are foreign,
laughing and dancing, 
their gin glasses gauging empty,
their mouths bursting
like they swallowed the stars,
sparkling smiles and carefree
not an apron string in their midst,
their shoes tossed on the floor, 
footless, with laces relaxed
and unfettered,
before we were born
---
October 15, 2017

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Developing From the Negative

She remembers nightmares,
some imagined, some real,
the bullies who splattered her
with tomatoes and abuse
and the dark night 
when her father stormed 
through the house,
and the black cloud 
that hovered for years 
over her rickety attic 

There were glimpses of radiance 
that she could tangibly access,
like the yearbook photo
with her profile awash in light
through her English teacher's lens;
he had read her lackluster poems 
to the 8th grade class, 
one about a funeral for a squirrel;
death was a prominent theme
even as she stepped off the curb

She never saw what was coming,
her moving away from small town minds,
her inspiring daughter's convocations,
her visiting her in divergent homes 
her encouraging circle of friends,
her embracing marriage, finally,
her writing with a polished professor,
her reciting her published words,

her learning from experience, 
her looking directly into the light 
---
September 28, 2017

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Blood, Sweat and Tears

We are composed of
More water than not
First we slide down
The Fallopian tube
Then float 
In amniotic ooze, 
Incubating,
Not imagining 
What waits beyond 

This is where we all come from
But where we get to from there,
How viable our vision 
Depends on how hard
We are willing to push

And our crowns 
Are flooded with light 

---
September 20, 2017