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,
unbelievable.

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

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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?

Bacchants

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Bacchants
after

Velásquez

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

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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
movements
 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

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Talking with my mother in an empty house

2

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

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Talking with my mother in an empty house

1

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

 

In Absentia 3

 

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In Absentia 3

Questions

I hear her voice, delicate, distant.
I run to the sound, jump on the table
in my usual spot by her play thing,
but she isn’t there. He’s there, damn it,
talking away. I can see him, smell him,
I hate him, his other sex perfumes,
but there he is and when he stops talking,
I can hear her voice. I move to his play
thing. A shadow, I can’t make it out,
then her voice again, my whiskers stiffen,
I lean forward and sniff, but no smell,
she has no smell, and scentless, I cannot
sense her, I bristle and she calls me, calls
me by my favorite names, and mews, I mew,
but I can’t smell her, and there’s no sense
of touch … is this the hell all pussy cats
will suffer … shadows on a screen, a haunting
voice, memories shifting and dancing,
no touch, no hugs, no sense of smell …
and nothing solid … just shadows and absence?