Stars at Elbow and Foot

Stars at Elbow and Foot

Stars at Elbow and Foot
(Selected Poems,1979-2009)
is now available online at the following link:

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Stars at Elbow and Foot

“These poems reveal an impressive tenderness and have a very great variety.
The ceaseless radiation of sublime ideas is perceptible in these poems.”

“A poetry book is a dream you hold in your hands.”

Stars at Elbow and Foot

Stars at Elbow and Foot

I retuned from the Red Room at KIRA to spend the weekend at home with Clare and this is what was waiting for me in the garage: a large parcel with books! So, we opened it and, to our delight, a constellation of stars emerged to bless us with their light and wisdom.

So, here I am, standing before the only island in Island View, with the first two copies of Stars at Elbow and Foot (Selected Poems, 1979-2009) out of the box and in my hands. Delightful. As soon as I have the purchasing details, I will place them online.

With regard to this collection, some thanks are due. First to my editor, Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agarwal who always does such a fine job in editing and publishing what I send him. Second to Allison Calvern who helped me choose, order, and revise the collection. Allison has always been such a strong supporter of writing, first here in Fredericton, and now in Ottawa. My thanks and best wishes go out to her. Third, to Chuck Bowie who told me with no uncertainty that THIS was the cover painting, and forget the others! Fourth, to Brian Henry of Quick Brown Fox who reached out to me one day, when my writing spirits were at low tide, and refilled my spiritual glass with encouragement and enthusiasm. Fifth, to all the readers and commentators on my blog and on Facebook. Your ticks are so important. Your comments are so welcome. Thank you all. Sixth, to the multitude of friends and editors who have encouraged me and my work, supported me, and pushed me to push myself further. Writing is a lonely task. We writers rely on others for so many things: support, advice, encouragement, and occasionally for the bus fares that help us stay on that writing bus and to never get off until we reach our destination.

Brandy Cove

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Brandy Cove

I remember teaching my granny
how to climb the steep slope
from the beach to the headland.

“It’s easy, gran,” I said. “Look!”
I leaped from tussock to tussock,
up the path, each patch of grass
a stepping stone leading me upwards.

She stood there, below me,
breathing hard, her left hand
held against her chest,
just beneath her heart.

“Wait for me,” she said, panting.
“I’m catching my breath.”
I ran back down, then held out
my hand to help her.
It was so long ago,
but I remember it well.

Who now will hold out
a helping hand
as I age, pause, hand on heart,
to catch my own breath,
as I climb, not a steep cliff path,
but the stairs up to bed?

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Freedom

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Freedom

We are all so lonely,
locked in our cardboard castles,
no view beyond the battlements,
save for the wild lands, the forest,
from which the enemy might come.

Wild beasts, we cage ourselves
in our isolation and bang our heads
on the bars we built to protect us.

Sometimes, at night, we ascend
to the topmost turret to observe
the stars that dance above us,
tracing our lives in their errant ways.

And is this freedom, this night sky,
with its wayward planets, trapped
in their overnight dance and weaving
our futures, for ever and ever, amen?

Driving at Night

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Driving at Night

Once upon a time,
my hair was brown and curly,
but now it’s straight and as white as
this drifting snow clogging the windshield.

I smooth down my hair with my fingers:
swollen knuckles, crooked joints.
I burn with feverish thoughts
yet cold blood shivers through my arteries.

Headlights blind me in my good eye.
The other one’s useless when I drive at night.
It’s a long time since I last saw,
let alone touched, my toes.
Putting on my socks or tying my shoelace
is a morning no-no.

Short of breath, of agility, with no ability
to climb up stairs: I stop to catch my breath,
pause, and shudder with despair.

What happened to my youth?
Where did my childhood go?

Potholes and Portholes

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Potholes and Portholes

My poems are drawn from my life,
not from the lives of others.

I live my words,
drawing them wriggling
through the holes
punched by others in my flesh.

Pot-holes,
portals to the underworld,
so many cars
slithering in spring’s freshet
melt of tarmac and metal flesh.

Portholes:
so many ships,
leaving port,
sailing away
into unknown seas
well beyond my ken.

Little Boy Lost

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Little Boy Lost

I’ll never forget, years ago,
standing in the snow,
looking through a window,
seeing a friend’s family
gathered inside by the fire.

Shadows danced as the children
decorated their Christmas tree:
laughter and warmth and joy,
and me outside in the snowy street,
walking past, on my way home,
an only child destined
to be alone in my lonely room.

I also recall empty rooms,
cold corridors, stark loss,
and the sorrow of surviving
on my own.

So, I created my own family
and filled my mind with
boys and girls, siblings,
people I could see and touch,
a family to which I could belong.

Golden Angel


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Golden Angel

He stands beneath guardian trees,
his saffron garments glossed with gold.

Hands cupped, body bent,
he softly swells as he dips
beneath sun and rain.

He speaks to me:
wild prophet from an ancestral book
that I believed in when I was a child,
but no longer read or understand.

I try to interpret the aroma of his lips,
his slow, small growth of gesture.

His winged words are traps
tripping my tongue, clipping my wings,
preventing me from flight.

Shape-shifter, she changes before my eyes
and takes on her earthly disguise.

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A Farwell to Charms

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A Farewell to Charms

Early tomorrow, my love, you’ll fly away.
Today, you’ll walk around the Beaver Pond
where red and yellow leaves abound. A thin grey

webbing garlands one dead tree. I’m not too fond
of tent worms. I hate them when they swing
from low branches. Give me a fresh green frond

caught by the morning sun in early spring
or else bright autumn leaves so soon to fall.
I love American Goldfinches when they sing

that last departing song. I love most of all
those occasional visitors: do you recall that bright
blue Indigo Bunting with his “I’m-a-lost-bird” call?

The hunting hawks give everyone a fright.
They perch on top of a garden tree
then step off into space to claw-first alight

on some poor songbird trilling away, quite free
from fear, his unfinished symphony of song.
It’s getting late, my love. You walk towards me
out of the woods. I’ll end this poem with a plea:
don’t forget me … and don’t stay away too long.

Covid-19

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Covid-19

In bed, you turn your back to me,
pushing me away, even in sleep.
I only seek warmth and comfort.

Blankets don’t touch the cold I feel,
deep in my body. I reach out to you,
but you’re locked in your dreams.

A grunt or two, a muffled snore, a half-
-whistling sound, sometimes, a cry.
Last night you shouted “Help!” out loud.

I hauled you back from some black pit
where sharp-clawed devils clutched you
and tried to snatch you away from me.

Today, it’s my turn to call for help.
I face a horizon filled with darkening clouds.
They refuse to go away and weigh me down.