Do Not Keep Count

Do Not Keep Count
On reading Keeping Count
poems by M. Travis Lane


Poems to be picked at
like a bunch of verbal grapes,
muscatel, perhaps, purpling,
seedless, their only off-spring
flowing through your mind.

Pluck one at random.
Hold its silken surface to the light.
Admire sunlight caressing
the unwrinkled skin.
Now taste it.
Savour it slowly,
tongue-held in your mouth.

Watch the world around you
changing as you see things
in so many different ways.
Everything moves into a new orbit.
Your world – born anew.

Just one?
No.
You cannot stop at one.
Taste another. Then another.
Do not keep count.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Do Not Keep Count

Comment: Sitting at my kitchen table, picking at Travis’s poems as I would pick at grapes, or flowers, I wrote this poem. Yesterday, Travis gifted me with her poetry book Keeping Count (Guelph, Gordon Hill Press, 2020). I hope my admiration for the poetry of M. Travis Lane – who has received less attention than she deserves (according to Maisonneuve) – shines though the words and images in this poem of mine.

Red Sky

Red Sky
After a long conversation
with my hero:
Travis Lane.


Red sky at night,
shepherd’s delight.
Red sky in the morning:
sailors take warning.


But I am not a sailor,
nor will I ever be one.
Nor a tinker, nor a tailor, nor
part of any nursery rhyme.

So easy to follow the sheep,
and graze where they may graze,
in safety, and the shepherd’s crook
all too close at hand, with both
hands and shoulder all too ready
to save, comfort, and carry
home to the security of a safe place.

Better by far to float along,
guided by sun, stars, and tide,
choosing your own route as you go,
or going with the eternal flow,
going where it takes you,
red skies at night, storm warnings
in the morning, and everywhere
the give and take of creating
new things, new paths, wherever
you may choose to go.

“Red car at night,
wifey’s delight.
Red car in the morning,
hubby take warning.”


Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Red Sky



Floribundia

Floribundia

Words grow like flowers, invasive, cruel, beautiful, cutting, and when cut, they wither and fade, just like flowers. Catch them while you can, I say. Catch them, hold them tight, press them to you heart, for time is voracious and will soon devour them, swallowing them down in the black holes of forgetfulness, carelessness, and memory loss. Shine a light on your words. Underline them, grace them with stars, think about them, carefully. And remember, the word once spoken or written can never, ever be recalled.

Joy of Light

I wait for words to descend, soft, peaceful.
They brush my mind with the soft touch of a grey
jay’s wings. When they refuse to come, I know
that silence is golden. Sunshine spreads its early
morning light, upwards, under the blinds, into
my room and my eyelashes radiate its rainbow.

Light from the rose window in Chartres
once spread its spectrum over my hands,
and I rejoiced in the glory of its speckled glow.
I spread my fingers before my face and marveled
at the suit of lights clothing my body. In such
splendour mortal things like words cease to flow.

Words are inadequate. They cannot express what I feel
when I breathe in color and light and my heart
expands into an everlasting rose, as red as dawn,
as bright as a blushing sunrise over Minister’s Island.
Flowers burst into bloom. A sense of immanent beauty
fills me as light, and warmth, and joy disperse night’s gloom.

Click to hear Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Floribundia & Joy of Light


Fin on Swing

Fin on Swing

So, how do you get movement into a two-dimensional space? How do you get the to and fro, the up and down, the legs out front, the hair out back? And there are so many things missing. The alpacas watching. The goats guzzling. The peacock making whatever noise a peacock makes. Oh dear, I forgot all of those things. But then, I was never a great artist – just a dabbler in line and color, in sorrow and joy, but joy and happiness, shape and color, emotions above all. And when childhood meets second childhood – then there is joy and laughter and swings that go faster.

To Meditate is No Disgrace


To Meditate is No Disgrace
The Water Tower
16

There comes a time when you can do no more.
You need to take a break, to step aside and wait
for the tide to turn and energy to flow.

The hard yards may be behind you,
but there’s hard yards waiting round the bend,
waiting for the break to end.

And you, you might bend and take a break,
but you must never break.

No one else can see what you see
or do what you do.
Nobody can take your place.
To take a break
and meditate is no disgrace.

Click here for Roger’s Reading on Anchor.
To Meditate is no Disgrace

My Morning Coffee

My Morning Coffee

The Water Tower
15
“The only photo I took today was of my morning coffee.
Looks calm and peaceful, doesn’t it? It wasn’t!

The wind gusts were unrelenting, with just
enough moments of calm and warmth from the sun
to give me hope.

There was also some rain, snow, and a little hail,
just enough to get me running for cover.

A wise man once told me that
‘some days you’ll be the hammer,
and others the nail.’

Today I was the nail.”

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
My Morning Coffee

On the Seventh Day

On the Seventh Day
The Water Tower
14

On the seventh day he would have rested,
but there’s no rest for the restless artists
who create in thought, word, and deed.

They can rest from the deed
and take a day off work,
but thought and word go on.

And even if their day is silent,
with no one to talk to, no words at all,
the everlasting bunnies of thought
dance on and on,
beating their drums,
planning, sketching, designing,
outlining, shuffling the cards,
mixing colors and words
in endless games of creativity.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
On the Seventh Day

Another Long Day

Another Long Day
The Water Tower
13

“Another long day but I completed the sky,
then finished the wharf’s grey asphalt.
Large areas are easier to spray with my air gun.
It’s hard to paint them with a brush.

I also got the base coat on to the ever-greens.
Much more difficult: I painted the inside of the cage
around the ladder that leads to the roof.
Fiddly work, time consuming, but nice
to get out of the way. 

No painting tomorrow,
but Saturday and Sunday look good.
As for Monday, I don’t know yet
I’ll have to wait and see if it rains.”

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Another Long Day

A Good Day’s Work

A Good Day’s Work
The Water Tower
11

 “A good day’s work,” the artist said,
admiring, as light drained from the sky,
 all the different blues of a lower sky renewed.

Above the tower, a deeper shade of blue.
At the tower’s foot, the nascent grass grew damp
with dew beneath the artist’s feet.

And so, to home, but not to rest.
The restless mind plans on and on,
the next day’s work, and after that, the next.

We who bear witness, our feet fixed in the earth below,
cherish each moment, admire the paints as they flow.
Time and space trapped in fragile things
and the water tower, a watch tower now,
standing guard, on high, watching over, mirroring,
all poor creatures, set on earth, and born to die.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
A Good Day’s Work

The Water Tower 10

The Water Tower
10

In the beginning the artist decided to start
with the sky and work his way downwards.

He chose and mixed his paints. Then he climbed
to the tower’s top and began to paint.

“Let there be sky,” the artist said.
He masked his face, pressed the button,
and refreshed the sky’s battered surface
turning it to a delicate shade of blue.

The morning and the afternoon took up that day.
When evening came, he packed up
his equipment and went home to rest.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
The Water Tower 10

The Water Tower
St. Andrews
New Brunswick

Geoff Slater
Illustrations

Roger Moore
Poems