Category Archives: poems

THE TIME TO FLY IS NIGH

Wing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After years of pandemic isolation, my son and I are flying off  to Winnipeg in a few weeks as part of my book launch tour and to visit friends and family. It should be interesting to see what air travel has come to. I inherited a love of aviation from my step-father, a former member of the RCAF. Forthwith one of my numerous flight-themed poems.

FLYING DREAMS

Not much to do in a small town.
We’d skip school, drive to Richmond,
hang out in the airport lounge,
swig Heinekens and watch
jumbo jets land and depart,
rarely carded in those days,
no one surprised if you drank alcohol
at age fourteen. It was expected,
like shedding one’s virginity.

My mother never flew in her life,
terrified the first time I took off
in a 10-seat Otter north to Gilford Island
for a summer job of tree-planting,
hapless recruits seated on the floor,
engine cacophony so loud I nearly puked.
I would have been mortified.
Too young to be a hippie,
I lasted four days,
relieved to escape the stench
of fried tofu and patchouli.

My next flight was south,
to Los Angeles to join fellow aspiring
rock stars Randy, Brad and Karla,
share a bill with PIL
at the Olympic Auditorium,
going so resoundingly
I didn’t return for twelve years,
pummeled but resigned
to my tantalizingly close
to-the-brass ring but never-was status.

Surveying the girl
with the Please Kitty backpack,
fevered skin crazed with crimson,
I knew it was to be my last excursion
for a while, for as long as it takes
for everyone to recover
our dreams.

The Land is a Mother that Never Dies…

Photo: Jon Wrasse

 

Photo of moi in Joshua Tree National Monument many moons ago and enclosed, a work-in-progress. Needed to make a long overdue blog entry. It’s been taken over by bots and persistent spammers like Eric who know how to attract visitors.  So busy of late! But c’est la vie. It is also good and more social as we slowly emerge from two years of you-know-what. Every visit or event is a reunion! Going downtown this evening after rehearsal to see dear friend Soressa Gardener in performance at an outdoor concert at the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Rock on and remain well my pretties!

 

 

 

CAMOUFLAGE

The land is a mother that never dies.
Who said that? Victor would know.
Victor’s mother videotaped her will,
farewells and tenderness immortalized.
A good son, the sort of son I would be fortunate
to conceive one day, a fine young man
who shared everything, especially his apparitions.

Blackbird red against a sky wall of dust,
paper doll shrivelling in firewater,
glass-eyed deer head in earthquake debris,
an angel face in the snow. Yours!
Gray whale shadow on the incoming tide.
Gila monsters, boulders and yucca trees.

He took me to the sleeping giant desert,
to hear with my own ears thrumming
deep within bells of pale blooms,
sprouted in the fossils of mammoths,
sloths and giant bears.
Look down. Beneath our feet. Treasure!

Look up, past your head. Condors bend boughs,
the light a diaphanous linen sheet.
Beats! From within, from without.
Bequests. People being people must conjure up gods
though red army ants conquer these hills each day.
He took me because I forgot to leave.

The city. See, it’s painless. Let’s live here,
in that cloud-cloaked cottage of stone,
kit foxes for neighbours. Look at the way she moves
through the chaparral! Loping, then bounding,
coat the colour of sand, invisible to golden eagles.
Cloak me Victor. Please. Provide camouflage.
You’re the only soul who can.

 

PRINTEMPS- a poem for the glorious season

PHOTO: Gabor Gasztonyi

And a suggestive-of-spring image by my dear friend and favourite photographer Gabor Gasztonyi.

PRINTEMPS
Yet another ode

Immortal springtime is a tease
though not hedonistic.

The pleasure spring brings
is a fluke, for spring

is a cog in the cycle,
we, mere fallout.

Let’s not speak of winter’s bluster
or those who are dead to us.

Today spring is large
and in charge of the decks,

arriving at last in a verdurous tide
to reanimate petrified desire,

to banish the soggy interminable
from this paradise of cedar

sweetened ocean side rainforest,
to spur us on to breed, breed, breed!

Gambol trails awash
with plashing streams, silver vernal pools.

To restore wanderlust.
To hear the splendid racket,

the shrill trill of red birds deep in a tangle
of cherry tree limbs & pink blossoms.

Such a showy in-your-face transition
after a long dawdle,

the most raucous season,
the glorious season.

FREEDOM’S JUST A WORD

 

FREEDOM’S JUST A WORD

Neither winter nor crumbling highways
will impede truculent truckers
transporting empty containers
fuelled by misguided millions.

American aping,
peripheral neo-Vikings
off to vanquish snowflakes,
smash Ottawa walls
beneath a shapeshifting banner:
FREEDOM

Machinery as weaponry mission.
Blind to delusion,
roadside placarded converts
eagerly buy their cheap wares.

Infodemic intrudes yet again
via global eternal news,
warring and impotent memes.
By now I have moved past fear.

I am confused though.
When did the chasm’s maw
yawn so widely
it swallowed all reason?
Humanity.

Objects of hate hated in clusters,
according to seasons of scorn
or whichever clever derision
becomes most click worthy.

But first, tea.
I put on the kettle,
sock-footed and well-flannelled,
crawl into bed,
grilled cheese sandwich in hand,
ooze soon meeting the comforter.
Chamomile lulls angst. Outrage.
A little.

I poke my head outside
to meet the weather,
to breathe, night sky a device
replete with luminous constellations,
lunar phase applications and bats
free as birds.

Reading, Ruminating, Composing, Editing …

…after months of being away.

Finding much inspiration in Jonathan Franzen’s latest novel “Crossroads,” a pastor protagonist inciting me to investigate theology. I was raised in a secular household by lapsed Catholic parents but would often attend church in order to sing in the choir. I’ve realized that being well-versed in Bible verses informs my poetry.

In the voice of Marion on page 437, discussing the afterlife with Russ. “I think the only thing that matters is the state of your soul while you’re alive.” “Is that-Catholic teachings?” “Definitely not. Father Fergus and I discuss it all the time. To me, there’s nothing realer in the world than God, and Satan is no less real. Sin is real and God’s forgiveness is real. That’s the message of the Gospel. But there’s not much in the Gospel about the afterlife-John is the only one who talks about it. And doesn’t that seem strange? If the afterlife is so important? When the rich young man asks Jesus how he might have eternal life, Jesus doesn’t give him a straight answer. He seems to say that heaven is loving God and obeying the commandments, and hell is being lost in sin-forsaking God. Father Fergus says I have to believe that Jesus is talking about a literal heaven and hell, because that’s what the Church teaches. But I’ve read those verses a hundred times. The rich young man asks about eternity, and Jesus tells him to give away his money. He says what to do in the present-as if the present is where you find eternity-and I think that’s right. Eternity is a mystery to us, just like God is a mystery. It doesn’t’ mean rejoicing in heaven or burning in hell. It could be a timeless state of grace or bottomless despair. I think there’s eternity in every second we’re alive.

Buddhist, isnt’ it? “Practice the miracle of being here, one moment at a time.”-Thich Nhat Hanh. Something I’ve been pondering since his passing, how to be mindful and in the moment. I touched on it in this poem I started yesterday, thinking about how precious time-and moments-are.

IT TAKES TWO

We engage in a dance
called Together Then Apart.
Intervals between vary according
to the latest news or mutations.

With enough lovers to fill a ballroom
we’ve moved past the Tango,
past clinging, demands, urgency,
and sexual intrigue be damned.

My time alone runs concurrent
with the time I have left,
prizes both,
however long they may last.

I’m ready at last
to honour my body,
its ability to function,
to serve, to move.
I marvel at the ease

with which he inhabits his,
watch it long and lithe
break free of the stove
to pretend with the Pretenders,
neon fuchsia boa flowing

over sinewy chest,
pink feather clamped
between teeth ala Flamenco,
muscle-grooved arms,
a flurry of fists, raven hair,
flying solo in the moment.

IF I SHALL HAVE DESCENDANTS

 

The life force and the pandemic persist. We abide. Endure this volatile time of anti-vaxxer protests holding up hospitals and a fourth wave. I think of the future, my son, my one and only precious offspring and wonder what I’ve gotten him into. At 27 he is in no hurry to settle down and have children. Certainly I don’t blame him. I was so ambivalent about the decision that I didn’t give birth until the last possible minute. A good decision, it turns out. He will never be one of my regrets. I do suffer grandma envy though. Who knows. The future is unwritten. Apparently I must write about it. And as uncertain as it is, can only speculate.

 

IF I SHALL HAVE DESCENDANTS

Shall I presume my descendants
will not know my name?
Shall I presume
my descendants will not care?
I care about my grandmother
though I never knew her.
Do I know her mother’s name?
That could be a short bloodline.

Our descendants are busily alive,
some having served in Afghanistan
immediately after breast stroking
through university, its Olympic sized pools.

Several are currently detained in China,
suspended within an excruciating wait
for “quiet diplomacy” to kick in,
while others populate
pandemic frontlines in hot spots
India, Brazil and the U.S.

This is no time to cry.
There is no time to collapse
though we must seek stress relief
and quality sleep; eight hours
every night. Seven minimum.

We have birthed the same soldiers,
priests, evangelists, titans,
police and politicians
every other generation conceived.

Perhaps our influencers,
media personalities and content creators
can save Mother Earth.
I suppose that qualifies as hope.

Is she still referred to as Mother Earth?
That’s what this sweet old orb
is to me and my generation,
the generation young folk
are relieved to see dying off,
for they are more
than mere descendants,
they are redeemers.

I hear the birth rate is slowing
in parts of the world.
Perhaps our descendants
are our mothers.
Know best.

No Family Is An Island

Photo: Gabor Gasztonyi

UPDATE:

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. I’m re-posting this post from Oct 24, 2011 wherein I documented our autism journey, its heart wrenching challenges. Since then our son has attended Capilano University to earn a certificate in documentary filmmaking, worked a stint at Electronic Arts and attained huge success with his RAYCEVICK YouTube channel. With half a million subscribers, he’s blowing me out of the water! More importantly, Lucas has become a fine young man and an even stronger individual.

My baby turned 17 yesterday. My baby is autistic. ASD. Aspergers. On the spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder, largely characterized by a withdrawn personality to varying degrees, a condition I’ve become all too familiar with, a very nuanced condition. I don’t like the term disorder. I believe there have always been autistic people, people whose neurology is wired differently, both the highly functioning and severely affected. These days it’s called “neurodiversity.”

A colicky infant, I noticed my son’s language delay around age two. I took him for a physical examination and a hearing test, both of which provided relief and positive outcomes. The next step was a visit to Sunnyhill Health Center for Children in Vancouver where he was subjected to a series of tests and evaluations by a team of pediatricians, psychiatrists, occupational therapists and social workers. Junior was diagnosed with a “moderate to severe language disorder,” which to this day bemuses me. Though late, Junior was talking, albeit not as well as his peers. Being my first and only child, I had nothing to gauge his behavior and development against. Being my son’s matrix, I didn’t detect inconsistent eye contact or social awkwardness. We were bonded, Junior affectionate.

Speech therapy was recommended and for the following seven or so years, we worked with a series of speech and language pathologists, one so horrid we turfed her after one visit. Yes, he needed to learn self-regulation but my son is a Continue reading

2021 WAYS OF COPING and transcending the moment…

Dramatic spike in Covid 19 cases, the highest they’ve been. The dreaded third wave has hit and hit hard. BC Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced restrictions for the next three weeks. Bar and restaurant owners are freaking out. No indoor dining. They’re struggling and so many businesses have succumbed. We’re all so weary. What to do except wait it out, cope and hope for the best, and for me, write. Some of my recent output concerns the pandemic but not all because though it feels interminable, this moment will pass. Knowing so might be a rare perk of getting older. A couple of years is nothing in the big scheme of things. So hold fast my pretties, the end of this particular dread is near.

 

2020 WAYS OF COPING

Wiggy weird times
clamorous as a bouquet of wildflowers.
Reports have become necessarily wacky,
democracy a debacle.

Pimp among men
plunked into this particular space and time
to the amusement of some,
the dismay of many.

Some may squeeze white icing
onto chocolate cookies,
bake,
because murder is wrong.

Some may hump, some may waltz
to the harpist on the front lawn,
dance,
because murder is wrong.

An armor-nosed afflicted
squelches his noisy couch
to sit and devour a lonely hotdog
as nearby lung assistant dutifully

spins a homespun door prize,
a personalized No Smoking sign.
He scans channels for virus news.
Genetic detective work

claims it’s jumped
from bat to human
to mink to human,
mutating along the way.

He bolts for a bladder relief visit,
returns to scribble,
write,
because murder is wrong.

THE LAST PING-Itching to Collaborate!

I haven’t produced a videopoem since 2012, since moving back to the Big Smoke and starting a business. Gots to pay my (astronomical Vancouver) rent. Like many people, I have more time these days; perhaps it’s a good time to adapt this poem, The Last Ping, to the moving image as friend and colleague Fiona Tinwei Lam is encouraging. It has mutated into song, in collaboration with guitarist pal Keir Nicoll. We’re discussing this next step, anxiously anticipating meeting up again as soon as possible, continue music-making. Is it just me or is the wait excruciating? The end of a marathon is the most daunting though and requires discipline. We’ve come this far with health intact, I’m determined not to blow it now. (Knock on wood!) Rock on and remain well my pretties!

 

THE LAST PING

After the girl is gone,
long gone, out of character,
statistical, presumed dead,
the verifying department
hops to it, sniffs out
the revelers, especially
the life of the party,
his liquid engine of beer.
Anyone with information,
to confirm names and addresses,
substantiate stories.
They watch your gestures.
Read your face.

Last seen wearing a blue ski jacket,
white blouse, black jeans,
Phoenix tattoo ascending
from the right hip.
Bright, unintentional dropout,
inadvertently delinquent.
Boyfriend person of interest
according to the RCMP.
Always. Constable passes the flyer.
Her cell phone may be dead,
last ping traced—pinpointed in fact—
to here. Right here. Last known location.
Right where we’re standing.
This town. Your pretty little town.

Fucken eh.
Check your property,
your shallow ditches,
So petite, she takes up little space
in one’s psyche;
turkey vultures leading us
not to her
body but to a deer carcass.
Parents pray
to repair the squabbles. Home.
Local kids clam up,
weighting the secret with smoke.

A teenaged girl can forget
she’s graduated
the fenced-in yards of childhood
to this vast plain
where condoms provide safety,
sympathy muttered. Crocodile.
She forgot
townies find transcendence in fury,
one vaguely recalling
Eminem shouts,
a catfight in the backyard.
She looked kinda posh,
smashed herd fumbling,
fawning, pushing.
Over. Under.
Dancing.
Sending her sailing.

 

PLEASE PROVIDE CAMOUFLAGE

IMAGE: KAth Boake W

Though disconnected during these pandemic years I continue to seek. Compose. For you, rough draft of a prose poem, my first in many years, inspired by dear friend Jhim Pattison; sweet, kooky neo-surrealist whom I miss terribly. We could talk for hours, about everything and nothing. An avowed alchemist, Jhim was a stalwart guide on my inward journey toward peace.

 

 

CAMOUFLAGE 

The land is a mother that never dies. Who said that? Victor would know. The 80s was the video decade and 1989 the year my dear friend Victor’s mother videotaped her will, farewells. Tenderness immortalized. My friend was not left out of the will, in fact Victor was the executor. A good son, the kind of son I would be fortunate to reproduce someday, a fine young man, foreign concept in the 80s. Aside from Victor, who shared unerringly, especially his apparitions. Blackbird red against a sky wall of dust, paper doll in firewater, deer head in earthquake debris, uncovering an angel face in the snow. “Yours!” Orca shadow on the incoming tide. Gila monsters, boulders and yucca trees. He took me to the sleeping giant desert, to hear with my own ears thrumming deep within bells of pale blooms, in the fossils of mammoths, sloths and giant bears. Look down. Beneath our feet. Treasure! Look up, past your head. Condors bending the boughs, light a diaphanous linen sheet. Beats! From within, from without. People being people must conjure up gods though red army ants conquer these hills each day. He took me because I forgot to leave. “See, it’s painless.” Let’s live here, in that cloud-cloaked cottage of stone, kit foxes for neighbours. Look at the way she moves through the chaparral! Loping, then bounding, coat the colour of sand, invisible to golden eagles. Cloak me Victor, please provide camouflage. You’re the only soul who can.