The Water Tower

The Water Tower

I took the e-file to Covey’s, the Printer on Prospect Street, Fredericton, on Monday. On Tuesday, Jared set up the files for printing, and I received the book on Thursday morning – nice and early. What an incredible turn around. The writing time-frame is interesting too. Geoff painted and posted. I wrote. The whole thing came together in less than a month. It just shows what inspiration, collaboration, and hard work can do. Here is a poem (# 17) from the book.

17

This year’s snow is not last year’s snow.
Tell me, if you know,
where did last year’s snowfall go?

These flowers you paint,
they are not last year’s flowers.

Time flows and the world renews itself.
It may seem the same, but it’s not.
Nor are you the same. How could you be?

You too have renewed yourself,
grown, like these flowers you paint,
these flowers that will wither and perish
to lie buried beneath fresh snow.

You cannot walk in the same river twice.
Nor can you paint the same flower
once it has withered and gone.
The flowers you paint can never be
the ones you painted before.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
The Water Tower

Garcilasso

Garcilasso

“When I stand still and contemplate
the path that led me here.”

I see purple arrows
painted on the corridor floors
their sharp ends
pointing to the treatment room
where the machine’s stark metal throat
waits to swallow me.

I shed my Johnny Coat
and lie on the bed.
I mustn’t move
as they adjust me
tugging me this way and that,
in accordance with the red marks
painted on my belly and hips.

Then they raise my feet,
place them in a plastic holder,
cover me with a thin cotton sheet,
and leave the room to take refuge
in the safety of their concrete bunker.

With a click and a whirr,
the bed moves up and in,
the ceiling descends
and claustrophobia clutches.

The machine circulates
weaving its clockwork magic:
targeting each tumor, scrubbing me clean,
scouring my body, scarring my mind.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Garcilasso

Comment: It all happened a long time ago now, but one never forgets. The desire to reach out and help and comfort any and all sufferers is still with me. This is the link for my book, A Cancer Chronicle.

Hair

Hair

Some have it, many don’t.
Some find it floating
one morning on their pillow,
short or long, all gone,
a dream faded in the light of day.

A woman’s crowning glory,
or so they say
yet I admire the bald skull,
its stiff stubble
stubbornly growing back
beneath head scarf or cap.

The lucky ones wear wigs,
often made from
another person’s loss.

The bravest flaunt their baldness,
battle flags their shining skulls,
blazing like badges of glory,
shiny medals awarded
in this never-ending war
against our own fifth column
and the enemy who devours us
from within.

Comment: Yet another of my friends is suffering from cancer. When will it ever end? This is my tribute to all who fight, or who have fought, the enemy within. Meet him head on. Never surrender. D o not give in.

Click here for Roger’s reading of Hair on Anchor.
Hair

Oily-Garcks

Oily-Garcks

And the oily-garcks betrayed the earth.
They drilled it full of holes
until the planet looked like a circle
of Swiss bankers’ cheese floating in space.

Mining, fracking, exploitation, internal combustion,
everything combined to make rainfall rise,
rivers flood, wild winds blow, hurricanes hustle,
lightning strike, again and again,
until forests flared, skies grew dark with cinders,
and land was reduced to water, dust, and even more ash.

The oily-garcks read their bibles and in their pride
they built super-fortunes, super-structures, super-yachts,
modelling those super-yachts, two or three each,
on double or triple the dimensions of Noah’s Ark.

Then they loaded them. They invited, two by two,
their friends, physicians, doctors, opticians, surgeons,
specialists, generalists, nurses, masseurs and masseuses,
body guards, anybody, really, who would keep them alive.
Next came their wives, concubines, girl friends, partners,
and those they loaded, old and new, by the dozen.

Earth warmed and her ice caps melted.
The seven seas rose higher and higher until
there was only one cruel, grey, destructive sea.

The oily-garcks set sail in their arks beneath
dark skies and an even darker future.
They sailed for forty days, forty weeks,
forty months, and then for forty years.

Nothing.

Gaia, raped, mocked, tortured, and destroyed,
had neither given nor promised a rainbow covenant.
No let up in the rains and winds, no supply ships,
no neutral landing sites, no undrowned friends,
no friendly rainbow in the sky to promise peace.

The oily-garks had brought no living food.
Their fridges were stacked with frozen dishes,
caviar, lobster, tenderloins, great wines, fine liqueurs.
They didn’t even bring a dove, just helicopters
launched from helipads that took off, year after year,
in search of the land that had disappeared.
They searched and searched until their fuel ran out.
In all that time, what did they see? They saw the sea.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Oily-garks






Gloves

Gloves

“I work in a match factory.”
“Do you put the heads on?”
“No. I put the gloves on.
They’re boxing matches.”

A golden oldie, still vibrant,
from the Goon Show, BBC, 1950’s.

Your gloves are off now and they lie
on the table where you work.
How long have you had them?
Fifteen, twenty years?
Like good wine, carefully stored,
old friends are better with age.

A second chestnut from the Goon Show:
“Have you put the cat out?”
“No, dear. It wasn’t on fire.”

And that’s another good reason
why the water tower,
and its full renovation,
is so very, very important.

Bible and Water Tower,
hand in glove:
“And Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed
like any of these.”

Comment: A gorgeous photo, colors and textures, light and dark, from my friend, Geoff Slater, the line painter and muralist. He is working on restoring the mural on the water tower in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick, Canada.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Gloves.

May Day

May Day

Mayday, Mayday, S O S,
this is a plea for help, I guess.

Dit-dit-dit- dat-dat-dat,
the world lies dying
and that’s a fact.

Add another dit-dit-dit
and that’s morse code
for we’re in deep shit.
What can we do
to get out of it?

Very little, as I see it,
if the world can’t be
bothered to see it.

Another half country
of forest gone,
right whales diminishing,
they won’t last long.
Rivers flooding,
forests on fire,
what have we done
to earn Gaia’s ire?

Human beings
long-forgotten,
but profits are up,
maybe that’s what’s rotten.
We’re near rock bottom
I would guess.
Mayday, Mayday, SOS,

We’ll soon be gone
our works forgotten.
No more humans,
the world in a mess:
Mayday, Mayday, SOS.


Comment: Well that’s how I see it some days and this is just one of those mournings. Say it in paint, say it in rhyme. Nobody’s listening most of the time.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
May Day

We’ll rant and we’ll roar…

We’ll rant and we’ll roar

Rant, I say, rant and rage away, rage, rage against
the death of friendship, and loathing built now
on what was once holy oath and undying love.
This is a blood sport where even the spectators
are spattered with the refined frenzy of friends
turned into fiends and foes, and this is a protest,
a rant against love that doesn’t last, that doesn’t stand
the test of time, against families that break up,
against a society that breaks them up, driving wedges
and knives between people once bound
by the puppet strings of love, against relationships
that can no longer continue, against the rattling
of dead white bones in empty cupboards where skeletons
dance their way into legal daylight and the spectators
 call for more: more blood, more money, more blood money,
and the engagement diamond is a blood diamond now,
a tarnished garnet, and where is the Little Old Lady
of Threadneedle Street, that spire inspired needle
that will stitch their world back together,
and stitch you back together when you’ve been shocked
out of your own ruby-sweet rose-tinted world
and torn into little bits in their oh-so-bitter one,
the biters bitten and those bitten biting back in return,
 a new world this world of snapping turtles,
turtles standing on the back of turtles, and turtle after turtle
all the way down until this carnival world puts down
its dead clown mask and turns turtle in its turn.

Comment: My thanks to Brian Henry for publishing this on Quick Brown Fox.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
We’ll rant and we’ll roar

The Dying of the Light

The Dying of the Light
Rage, Rage

Sometimes you wake up in the morning
and you realize that you can do no more.
What is it about family split-ups, the ugliness
of a disputed divorce, the glue coming
unstuck in an already unstable marriage,
a financial settlement that satisfies nobody
and impoverishes both sides of a divide?

And how do you bridge that divide
when you are friends with father, mother, children
and the wounds are so deep that everyone wants out,
whatever the costs and whatever it takes?
And what is it about the deliberate wounding
of each by the others, leaving permanent scars
that will never heal over, no matter how hard one tries?

And what is it about lawyers, when too many guests
gather around the Thanksgiving turkey and knives
are out for everyone to take the choicest cuts
leaving nothing but a skeletal carcass,
no flesh on the bones, and the guests all hungry
and their empty bellies rumbling for more, more, more.

My thanks to Brian Henry for publishing this on Quick Brown Fox.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

The Auld Enemy

The Auld Enemy

Divide and Conquer

They divided us into houses, Spartans and Trojans,
and encouraged us to compete with each other,
single combat, and then team against team,
house against house, eternal, internal civil war.

We divided ourselves into Cavaliers and Roundheads,
Monarchists and Parliamentarians, Protestants and Catholics,
and we continued those uncivil wars that marred the monarchy,
brought down the crown, and executed the Lord’s anointed.

We fought bitterly, tribe against tribe, religion against religion,
circumcised against uncircumcised, dorm against dorm,
class against class, territorial warfare. We defended our bounds,
bonding against all outsiders to guard each chosen ground.

With it came the denigration of the other. Not our class.
Scholarship boy. Wrong end of town. Wrong accent.
We don’t talk like that here. Speak the Queen’s English, you…
and here … we inserted the appropriate word of vilification.

Our wars never ended. We carried them from prep school
to junior school, to senior school, sometimes changing
sides as we changed schools or houses, always clinging
grimly to our best friends, protectors, and those we knew best.

After school, all those prejudices continued to hold us down,
haunted us through university, red-brick or inspired spires,
Trinity Oxford, Trinity Cambridge, or Trinity Dublin,
each gilded with the white sniff of snobbery that gelded us.

Alas, we carried them, piled in our intellectual rucksacks,
through university, into grad school, out into the wide world,
infinitely small minds based on prejudice and pride, continuing
our tribal warfare, unable to understand anything at all,
other than us or them, shoulder to shoulder, divide and conquer.

Comment: My thanks to Brian Henry for publishing this on Quick Brown Fox.

Click here to listen to Roger’s reading on Anchor.
The Auld Enemy: Divide and Conquer