Chance Encounter

“You only find what you leave behind.”

Chance Encounter
(Overheard at the bar)

“Meeting her, unexpected,
with another man,
and me, with another woman,
all four of us looking
bemused by what the other
had chosen in each
other’s absence
— suspense and silence —
then the halted, faltering
politeness of a nod,
a handshake, ships
passing in the night,
signals no longer recognized.”


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(1890 AD)

I lived with him
he treated me well

to him
I was the other
yet he fed me
when I hungered
gave water
when I ran dry

I fell ill
he cared for me
nursed me back
to health

he taught me
his language
culture history
traditional skills

he loved me
never forced me
to forget myself
and be like him

he made me
what I am today
a discerner
light and dark
still the other


Sandman 3


Kingsbrae 18.1
18 June 2017

Sandman 3

The sandman brings sand
to put in the sandwiches
we have packed for the beach.
It’s as coarse and fierce as salt
flowing through an hourglass,
or red sand in an egg-timer,
not clockwork and wound,
but the sort you turn upside
down. Sand: it counts each
minute of each day, turns
minutes into hours, hours
into days, sands the stone
block of our lives, like a sculptor,
into smaller, more manageable
shapes and chunks. Sand sticks
to our clothes, makes us wash
our hands and brush ourselves
thoroughly before we sit down
to eat the sand that has sneaked
into the lunch-time sandwiches
we brought to nibble on the sands.

Sand in the sandwiches:
grit in the machine.
Sand in the sand glass:
measuring our lives.
Sand on a childhood beach:

Comment: My thanks to Dwight Roth, a fellow poet, for sowing the seed that grew into that last stanza. It’s funny how art can grow. A suggestion from a friend, a chance encounter, a moment of madness. As artists, we must keep our minds open for these moments when the small universe of the poem turns and changes, pivoting sometimes on a single thought or a seemingly careless word. A careless word: that is sometimes how and why the greatest books are written: “En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme …”

Kingsbrae Creations




Kingsbrae 14.4
14 June 2017

Kingsbrae Creations

Carlos Carty has recorded me as I sat reading some of my poems out loud. He has also put some of them to music. I think of it as mood music, because he captures meaning from tone and voice and then adds a music he has created to match the emotions expressed in the poem. We have recorded six poems so far and I list them below. Just clink on the links and turn your volume up. Carlos and I hope you enjoy these Kingsbrae Creations, one of the many results of our collaboration here at Kingsbrae and KIRA. Here are the poems, click on their titles to access to voice readings and musical accompaniment.

Giving Back

Word Blooms

Scent & Touch

Small Corner

Yellow Bird



Fifty Years

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24 December 1966 – 24 December 2016

This what all those poems were leading up to:
Clare and I, married for fifty years today,

Share the joy with us.
Blessings to all.

Roger and Clare.

“Brightly Dawns Our Wedding Day” from The Mikado

Goodrich Castle

I thought I had felt everything worth feeling
until I looked on Goodrich Castle and explored
with you its walls and towers and labyrinth
of inter-connecting corridors and rooms.

Do you recall the way its old stone bones
thrust out from that pelvis of red bedrock?
Civil War tore down its curtain walls,
fired its stables, drove horses and people mad

with fear. Sometimes at night fate mans
the pumps of my blood and sends alarums
surging through my arteries. No. I don’t want

to die before you. I don’t want to leave you
here, alone, defenseless, besieged by memories
that gnaw at you and devour your days, like flames.

Love the Sorcerer


Love the Sorcerer

“What sorcery love must be
to make such fools of men.”

There’s more to love than the magic
conjured from chemistry as eye
meets eye or flesh makes secret
contracts, body to body, in free
trade agreements that are remade,
over the dinner table, day after day.

Hands that plug in the kettle,
pour boiling water on the tea,
poach or fry the breakfast eggs,
brown the early-morning toast,
write out the weekly shopping list,
flick the switch on washer and dryer,
peg wet laundry to the outdoor line,
pack the children’s lunch boxes
and get them ready for school
day after day:
such love is truly a magician.

My cartoon speaks
not three words
but a thousand.

Ties that bind:
what more can I say?





Go down to Queen Street
on a summer evening,
or walk to Odell Park
and look in the dark
beneath the trees:

you’ll find them
gathered round a fire,
drinking meths or after-shave.

Fly Karsh from Ottawa.
Lodge him in the Beaverbrook
then bribe these Bacchants with free
booze and bring them to him.

One day their photos will hang
with those of Hatfield or Robichaud
in the New Brunswick Hall of Fame.

That’s what Velásquez did
when he painted his dwarfs
and topers, and you can see them
in the Prado today,
as famous as
Spain’s King and Queen.

Talking 3



our conversation this morning
a sun-dried Roman aqueduct
no longer capable of carrying water

I envision brown sacking
lagged around leaking pipes

your words are lifeless kites
earthbound: too heavy to rise
each sentence: wasted
 of lips tongue teeth

dead soldiers gone over the top
my thoughts hang like washing
pegged out on the Siegfried Line
on a windless day

I am afraid of this enormous barbed
wire fence growing daily between us

Talking 2


Talking with my mother in an empty house


The postman knocks on the door
then thrusts a letter through the letter box

when the letter falls to the mat
the dog leaps upon it and snaps her teeth
ripping the intruder into soggy bits

am i now the intruder?
will invisible bandages of cellotape
make me whole and readable again?
will i survive in the words of your song?

mother, you are still a swift river of blood
flowing within my skin
and bordered by my bones

Talking 1



Talking with my mother in an empty house


pale and delicate
much too frail to survive

an early butterfly
blows against your rose bush
and is caught on a thorn

the white of its shredded wing
a sudden shriek
bleeding snow over the garden

did you write those words to disguise my voice?
am i the butterfly?
 does your writing echo my cry?

thoughts pound through my head
like waves on the shoreline
each spoken word
a grinding of tiny pebbles