Clockwork Universe

Meditations on Messiaen
Revelations

2

Clockwork Universe

A golden globe of sunlight, this orange,
moving in time with the shadows in the skies
that time has ticked to captivate the stars.

Its auburn skin burgeons, polished shiny
by the low fall sun penetrating the window,
desiring to slice this tree-fruit into segments.

A Prelapsarian orange, it glows with the glory
of its unblemished birth in that distant garden
where everything was perfect, before the Fall.

Apples and oranges, chalk and cheese.
Clichés ring out but oranges and lemons sing
the bells of St. Clements as children dance.

Heads bowed they pass beneath archways
of linked hands, imaginary scaffolds bringing
candles and choppers to chop off their heads.

So much more certain, a clockwork orange,
wound up and ready to serve as an alarm clock
that awakes us to the realities of unsustainability.

Or are we all just marginal oranges, placed here
to be devoured, when needed, or thrown away
when our time has run out and our glow is gone?

Circular perfection, balanced now in my hand.
When my nail pierces the peel it releases a perfect
storm of essence of orange, assaulting the senses,
droplets, scent on nostrils, tangy taste on tongue.

Click on the link below for Roger’s reading.

Clockwork Universe

Brother Donkey

Meditations on Messiaen
Revelations

1

Brother Donkey

A statue of St. Francis stands in the corner
of the roof garden. He holds out his hands
for Plaster of Paris birds to settle upon them.

St. Francis wears a brown, sack-cloth cassock
bound at the waist by a knotted, white cord.
Living birds would come to him, if he called,
but he is silent. He knows the birds by their names,
not the Latin or Spanish names, nor their names
in Mixtec or Nahuatl. He knows their true names,
their own ineffable names that grace each of them
and brightens their songs of colored glory.

Brother Sun, by day, and Sister Moon, by night,
bless him with their soft-feathered gifts of light.
Alas, he is bound to this earth by Brother Donkey,
the flesh and blood body he once wore and now
wears in effigy. Of the earth, earthy, his thoughts
are bent on beating this sackcloth body down
and raising his mind in birdsong that will reach up,
higher and higher until it achieves his Kingdom Come.

In front of him, the Bird of Paradise offers him
that which he most desires, a return to earth
in avian form, winged like a miniature angel
armed with a golden harp and an aura of song.

Click on the link below for Roger’s reading.

Brother Donkey

Time Beyond Time

Meditations on Messiaen
Quartet for the End of Time

7

Time Beyond Time

Time beyond time and the eternal
ever-present in the quotidian.

When the Seventh Angel sounds his trumpet,
time will be no more and this earth
will be pulped, like an orange,
in an almighty hand, clenched into a fist.

Thus it is writ, and sundry have read the words.
repetitive forms cycle and recycle themselves,
diatonic chords disassociated by duration.
Laud, bless and praise always the vivid joy,
light and color lighting up the skies
in an aurora borealis seldom seen.

Indefectible light, unalterable peace,
rhythmic repetition, time’s serpent
circling around itself and devouring its tail
in assonance and dissonance, the utmost beauty
of raindrop birdsong, its liquid forever decanted.
Infinitely slow, ecstatic is the message.

“Laud, bless, and praise him all thy days
for it is seemly so to do.”
Old One Hundredth.

Click on the link below for Roger’s reading.

Time Beyond Time

Crystal Liturgy

Meditations on Messiaen
Quartet for the End of Time

6

Crystal Liturgy

Here, in the abyss,
where song-birds pluck their notes
and send them, feather-light,
floating through the air,
here there are no tears,
no fear of shadow-hawks,
for all blackness is abandoned
in the interests of sunlight and song.

Here, the crystal liturgy surges,
upwards from the rejoicing heart,
ever upwards, into the realms of light,
where color and sound alike
brim over with the joy that, yes,
brings tears of release to head and heart.

Here, the seven trumpets will sound
their furious dance that will announce
the end of this singer, the end of time,
but not the end of song itself.

Here, seven-stringed rainbows reign.
Here, the harp is tuned and plucked.
Here, the everlasting music
cements the foundations of earth and sky.
Here, the master musician conducts
his eternal choir, their voices rising,
higher and higher, until they reach
the highest sphere, and song and voice
inspire, then expire, passing from our eyes
and ears into the realms of everlasting light.

Click on the link below for Roger’s reading

Crystal Liturgy

True Love

True Love

True love flows so much deeper
than an exchange of body fluids
or a handing over of ritual rings.

Our advancing lives are no longer
ruled by nature’s primal urges.
Our bodies have been taken over
by old age stiffness, aches, and pains.

Some nights, I wake up to find
she no longer breathes. I reach out
in panic, touch her gently, and when
she breathes again, I heave a sigh
redolent with love and relief.

Listen to podcast here.
True Love

My Grandfather

WWI Dispatch Rider. A friend of my grandfather’s.

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Remember to scroll down to correct episode.

My Grandfather

My grandfather gave me my first sewing lessons.
He sat before the kitchen fire and put a grey
wooden darning mushroom inside the sock,
stretching woolen threads to expose the hole.

He chose with care his colors: bright yellows,
oranges, reds, sky blues, anything that stood out
against the sock’s dark rainy-day drabness. If
the socks were thin, he split new wool, pulling it
into individual strands that he would dampen
with his tongue. Then he would thread the needle.

Wool in place, he would cross-hatch the sock’s hole,
slowly forming a life-raft that he’d fill with color.
All my life, I have darned socks, sewn buttons,
and mended my sweaters. I use bright colors,
to my friends’ dismay. I still have my grandfather’s
World War One sewing kit, all wrapped up in
a canvas bag with his needles and some wool.

It’s wonderful to touch where his strong hands were.
There are dark blood traces where he pricked his thumb
and deeper stains where he sewed up wounded friends.

Comment: My Grandfather, the poem, is available on DiversityTV where it is read by Alejandro Botelho. Thank you, Alejandro, for a great reading and a fine interpretation of this poem. Click here > My Grandfather < for Alejandro’s reading. Note that My Grandfather begins at 13.30. Note too that the other poems on this site are worth listening to as well.

Dance of the Spheres

Dance of the Spheres
Thursday Thoughts
26 August 2021

I thought for a moment that, yes,

I was an angel and I was dancing

on a pinhead with so many other

angels, and all of us butterflies

spreading our wings with their peacock

eyes radiant with joy and tears spark

-ling in time to the music that wanders

up and down and around with inscrutable

figures held spell-bound in a magic moment

… and I still feel that pulsing in my head,

that swept up, heart stopping sensation

when the heavens opened and the eternal

choir raised us up from the earth, all

earthbound connections severed and all

of us held safe in an Almighty hand.



Comment: This poem is from my book A Cancer Chronicle (2017) where it is published under the title Sewing Circle. While in the Auberge Monsieur Henri Cormier, in Moncton, undergoing treatment, I joined the quilting group. What fun, one anglophone man learning French from, a dozen Acadian women. What fun: and yes, I did learn a tremendous amount about so many things, including the peace, mindfulness, and inner concentration of sewing and quilting.


A Cancer Chronicle
The verse-story of one man’s journey
Click on the link below to purchase this book

A Cancer Chronicle

Dance of the Snow Flies

Dance of the Snow Flies

“When the snow flies…” they keep saying.
I have seen blackfly, felt them nesting in my hair,
picking painlessly at my scalp, until, next day,
the itching begins and the bites get scratched,
one after another, until they turn into scabs.

But I had never seen a snow fly, hard as I tried.
When the geese fly… yes, I have seen and wondered
at their spring invasion and their autumn retreat.
I have marveled too at the goslings’ rapid growth,
those golden fluff balls taking first to the water,
and then one day, suddenly, they rise in the air.

Last year, in a moment of madness, I stood beneath
Aurora Borealis and marveled at the sky’s flickering
colors. The light became sound and it was then,
astounded, I saw them dancing, those snow flies,
dancing me senseless, in their rainbows of light.

Listen to the podcast here.
Dance of the Snow Flies.


Comment: “La Poesía se explica sóla, si no, no se explica” — famous words by Pedro Salinas the great Spanish poet of the Generation of 1927, who taught at Johns Hopkins University. So, I will not attempt to explain my words. They stand for themselves, or not, as the case may be.

However, I will venture into the area of the cliché and the commonplace. People use so many phrases without thinking about what they mean. To examine the cliché and explore its meaning is a delight. What are snow flies? And what will they do when that moment of their release comes about? When the snow flies dance beneath the Northern Lights on a late fall night in New Brunswick, they become visible to the watchful human eye. And now you know what happens “when the snow flies… dance!”

Survivors

Survivors

Last night’s rainstorm shrank the house.
We closed down rooms
and now the walls are closing in.
There’s so much we no longer use, nor visit,
so many rooms we no longer enter.

Almost all our friends downsized long ago.
We are the holdouts. We love it here
in this big house with its lawns and trees
and flowerbeds with bees’ balm, butterflies, birds,
and the yard abuzz with sunshine and bees.

But now we are starting to throw things out.
Maybe we’ll move, next summer perhaps,
or maybe not. For now is the time of indecision.

Like friends of the same age,
we travel the lesser road of memory loss,
a name and a face here,
a date or phone number there.

Perhaps, when the time comes,
we will have forgotten how to move.
Meanwhile, the mandatory old man’s question:
‘where did I put my glasses?’

Building on Sand

Building on Sand

Everywhere the afternoon gropes steadily to night.
Some people have built fires,
others read by candlelight.

Geese, drifts of snow their whiteness,
settle on the riverbank. They walk
on thin ice at civilization’s edge.
Around them, the universe’s clock
ticks slowly down.

Who forced that scream
through the needle’s eye?
Inverted, the Big Dipper,
hangs its question mark
from heaven’s dark eyelid.

Ghosts of departed constellations
stalk the sky. Pale stars bob
phosphorescent on the flood.

The flesh that bonds,
the bones that walk,
the shoulders and waist
on which I hang my clothes,
now they stand alone
and listen at the water’s edge
to the whispering trees.

They have caught the words
of snowflakes strung between the stars.
Moonlight is a liquor
running raw within them.

Comment: The verse version (above) is from Though Lover’s be Lost. The prose version (Below) is from Stars at Elbow and Foot.

Building on Sand

Everywhere the afternoon gropes steadily to night. Some people have built fires, others read by candlelight. Geese, drifts of snow their whiteness, settle on the riverbank. They walk on thin ice at civilization’s edge. Around them, the universe’s clock ticks slowly down. Who forced that scream through the needle’s eye? Inverted, the Big Dipper, hangs its question mark from heaven’s dark eyelid. Ghosts of departed constellations stalk the sky. Pale stars bob phosphorescent on the flood. The flesh that bonds, the bones that walk, the shoulders and waist on which I hang my clothes, now they stand alone and listen at the water’s edge to the whispering trees. They have caught the words of snowflakes strung between the stars. Moonlight is a liquor running raw within them.

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