Butterflies

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Butterflies

Here today and gone tomorrow. Ephemeral. Like all of us ‘poor creatures, born to die’ (as Dylan Thomas once wrote in Under Milkwood). It seems strange to look back on last summer’s photos and to remember that yes, they were here, those butterflies. Outside the window. Perching on the flowers. Showing their varied colors. Alive. Vibrant. Raising and lowering their wings.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, when I wore a grey suit and lived in a concrete, four-walled cell that they called an office, I was asked if I would edit a new journal for one of the institutions with which I was involved. ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘That would be great.’ ‘We’ll need you to submit a title and a theme,’ they said. ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘Of course I will.’

I thought about many things: titles, themes, topics, writers … Then I thought about other journals with which I had been involved in various capacities. Then I considered walking in the footsteps of the Journal of Higher Education with all of its cutting-edge articles and high-powered inspiration. I breathed a sigh of frustration, then of relief. ‘Got it,’ I said, and the Journal of Lower Expectations was born.

Alas, it was a butterfly that never spread its wings. ‘Your services will not be needed,’ came the curt reply when I submitted the title.

Think about it: a couple of years back, there were no bees in the garden: CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder). Last year, there were no birds. The feeders stood empty, and bird flu was the cry on everyone’s lips and the plague on every bird’s beak. Ephemeral. Butterflies on a rock. Australia burns and people are rescued from the beaches where they have taken refuge in the sea. Everyone, everywhere, now needs to live with lower expectations.

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Butterflies and birds and bees: will they be back next summer? Who knows? I certainly don’t. But then, I am a true agnostic. I have no scientific background worth speaking of and neither ax no knife to grind on this topic. I genuinely do not know where we are heading. But I believe least those who protest most, especially when they bluster and bluff and try to pull the cocoon of disbelief over my eyes by shouting loudly their point of view. I have eyes. I can see, even if there are no butterflies, birds, or bees to be seen. Alas: I can still see and suffer their absence.

Please
will ye no come back again?”
Poor kangaroos, kookaburras, koalas,
wallabies and platypus ducks.

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We will miss you so much if you any of you,
let alone all of you,
along with the butterflies, birds, and bees,
go AWOL.

Going, going …

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Going, going …

… and soon they’ll all be gone, save for the lucky ones that Clare gathers and sticks in pots to winter over in the house-warmth. Over the coming months, if you visit us, you’ll find these flowers in corners, on tables, in places that are touched by the low winter sun. Clare keeps lots of geraniums and they do winter over very well. She makes a selection of colors and then places them in sunlit spots. They bring color and light to the darkest days and help keep winter at bay. They are also great to photograph against snows and crows, and I often use their window reflections in my indoor photography.

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Here are some red and white geraniums getting their last touch of fall sunshine as they cling to the back porch.

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This little group await their fall prune. Clare will trim them down and then bring them in. They will be slightly dormant for a while and then start to flourish once again. By the time next spring comes round, they will be ready for their outdoor adventures, a day at a time, back in overnight, and nursed and nurtured until they are ready for their full summer blossom.

It’s Thanksgiving this weekend, so a Happy Thanksgiving to all, and may you all have flowers to brighten your life and bring you some beauty and peace.

 

 

Humming Birds

 

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Humming Birds

Do humming birds hum? Of course they do. Well, mine do anyway. Here is my drawing of them, humming their way across the page. Miracles of nature, they are, caught with their wings in slow motion, and listen to them as they hum. I think they are humming the ‘Song of Joy’ from Beethoven’s Ninth. They certainly are joyful creatures. And, speaking f joyful creatures, look at this photo.

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An uninvited breakfast guest, this little guy has been measuring up the picnic table on our back porch for several days now. He is having fun.

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He reminds me of my dentist, probing my mouth with his toothpick as he searches for cavities. The tiniest excuse and out comes the drill and away he goes, enlarging the hole, and digging down for his pirate treasure. I told him one day that if he found oil down there, all that drilling, I hoped he’d share it with me. I don’t think he was amused.

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Ah well, we can’t win them all. But it certainly is a busy time of year for all those little creatures preparing themselves for the winter to come. The hummingbirds have gone, incidentally, and I must make do now with drawings of them. The woodpeckers are still with us and will winter over. The geese are gathering at Mactaquac and will soon be winging their way south. The land will soon fall silent and then Fall will be over and winter with all its snowy finery will be upon us. I look forward to that too. Meanwhile, summer lingers on, but only in my memory.

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Shower (A Selfie)

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Shower
(A Selfie)

I smell. I whiff. I gloriously stink.
My arms, my feet, my crotch, reek with beauty.
This is me. I am still alive. I’m rank.
The time has come, the Walrus said, to take
a shower. I strip. I weigh. I obey.

Hot water streams. Bathroom steams up. I draw
faces on grey glass, smiling, glum. Soft soap
works its miracle turning Japanese
nylon into a rough body cloth that
rubs and cajoles all putrid dirt away.

Butterfly from its chrysalis, I step
from the shower, sniff with caution, and stench
no more. I am clean. I no longer pong.
My body has been taken over by
perfumes no longer mine. Who am I now?

I am no more myself. I am no more
my own gorgeous underarm muscular
ripeness. I have left my odor circling
in the soap suds and drifting down the drain.
What a pain. It will take me a week or
more to start smelling like myself again.

Comment: The cartoon is today’s effort. I looked out of the window and saw all the garden plants with ‘no particular place to go’ and that’s how it is sometimes, especially at this time of year, the summer behind, us fall present , and the winter ahead. We are left with the tiding up, the readying for next year, a sense of sorrow, and a feeling of hope that yes, the garden will return and yes, we will be here to witness it.

So, what are the figures in my cartoon saying to each other? Well, they have been reading the wise words of my olde friend, Oscar Wilde. “Be yourself,” he told them, ” everybody else is taken.” What are they you ask? They are themselves, as I am myself, and you are yourself, and yes, I am very happy to be who I am. And of course, everybody else is taken, so who and what is there left for us to be?

Red Face of Fall

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Fall

red leaves are multiplying on the maple trees
bright berries draw rings round the mountain ash

just one flower survives on the hollyhock
its blaze of glorious blooms lost with the bees
faded away to silence and dried seeds

hummingbirds have departed too and geese
gather in great gaggles on the grass feasting
before they take flight and soar to the south

I want to walk out and talk about their journey
but they waddle away and won’t let me get close

 

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Yellow

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Yellow

Sunshine and daffodils: my grand-daughter
paddles in the kitchen sink. Her mother
washes feet and dishes. “Sit,” Finley says,
and “stand,” following the words with actions.

“Yellow,” she says, “yellow,” as daffodils
fill the computer screen to shine in that
far-off kitchen five hundred miles away
by road, but immediate by I-Pad.

“Yellow,” Finley repeats, “yellow.” Soon
in that distant province where spring arrives
so much earlier than here, she will see
daffodils dancing their warm weather dance,

tossing their heads to gold and yellow trumpets,
fresh, alive, and young in the soft spring breeze.

Commentary: Not a large vocabulary, back then … yellow … yellow hair, yellow jello, yellow dog, yellow cat, yellow daffodils, well, we got that one right anyway. So, she is here now, yet again, with an enlarged vocabulary and two feet taller. She comes shopping with me, swings on the shopping cart, runs everywhere, will not sit still, slips and slides like stones in a slate quarry. She takes my cane, I call it a walking stick, and thwacks it in the air, a danger to sundry and all. Knows what she wants: not this, not that, no, yes, THIS … and points with a sticky finger at whatever it is that has caught her fancy.

She runs away from me, and I cannot catch her. I stand there quietly, waiting for her to return. And she does, with a squeal and a shriek and cries of joy after even a brief absence. We talk magic. I say I am invisible, and she cannot see me. She says she is invisible, but I poke her in the ribs with my index finger and she squeals again. Magic, she says, you can do real magic. I nod. Me too, she says. And she is the real magician for she is four years old and has me bewitched.

Read My Book

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Read My Book

Of course, you don’t have to, if you don’t want to. More important, why spend  money on purchasing someone else’s words when you don’t have to? So here, for all you poor people, old and young, for penny-counters, penny-pinchers, and ultimate scroungers, here a is a free poetry book.

You don’t have to spend a penny (well, not in that way anyway) and all that poetry is all yours. Just click on the butterfly, decipher the words, and all my genius will be yours in the flick of a butterfly’s wings, be it Monarch, Red Admiral, Swallow-tail, or Indigo Bunting.

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Now tell me: what exactly is a butterfly kiss, or a butterfly’s sting? Answers on a postcard and in word-cloud form. And remember: there’s more to poetry than meets the eye.

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