Speaking

Speaking

I speak to a generation
I cannot see
as others in the past
have spoken to me
in languages I had to learn
words in books
hand-written on paper
or carved in stone

who now will listen with their eyes
as I have listened with mine
adding subtracting challenging
sometimes blindly accepting

my world is not their world
nor is their world mine

yet the sun still rises
the same moon
waxes and wanes

hate happens
yet hope and wisdom
still remain

Click for Roger’s reading on Anchor
Speaking



Quilting

Quilting

A man among many women,
I sit silent, feeling their eyes
explore my flesh, my stitches.

I need glasses now for delicate
needlework. To thread a needle
the workshop leader has a gadget.

It passes from hand to hand,
ties the perfect quilter’s knot.
My grandpa’s canvas sewing kit,

World War One Vintage, served him
before the mast and in the trenches.
From it, I take a small looped wire.

I remember when I could see and he
could not, hence his need for me
to thread the needle and knot the knot
that he could no longer knot.

Now I choose my tiny patches,
join them, stitch them into a square
and, ironed out, into the quilt.

We must sign them, and I do.
My name and little sayings
in Spanish, Latin, and Welsh.

The leader asks me to translate them
then writes the meanings down.
“Beautiful work,” she tells me.

“Where did you learn to sew?”
I close my eyes, sew my lips tight.
Some secrets I’ll never let go.

Click for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Quilting

Comment: I wrote this after reading the section entitled Quilt in M. Travis Lane’s book A Tent, a Lantern, An Empty Bowl (Windsor: Palimpsest Press, 2019). Poems that could double as paintings, proclaims the paragraph on the back cover. I have no such talent. My own poem is more of a memoir in the form of a narrative sequence. To each his or her own, or, in the modern parlance, to all their own. And a poet must do what a poet can do, each of us adding our own little offerings to the great sea that is poetry.








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



Grief

Grief

Grief leads us to the cliff’s edge.
It hardens our features,
brings tears to our eyes,
or turns our hearts into stones,
hard as rocks, cement blocks
that feel nothing.

Sometimes it pushes us
over the edge and we fall,
down, down, into a darkness
that never, ever seems to end.

Friends desert us.
Food is fruitless and fallow.
Our table top is a desert,
barren and bare,
with a lone and level
patchwork cloth that stretches
into far-reaching Saharas,
Gobi wastes of endless sand.

Who will resurrect the dying heart?
Who will hold it in their hands
and bring it pulsing back to life?
If you won’t do it for yourself
nobody else will care to try.

Think of the happy times,
the times when the sun shone,
the earth was warm,
and your life was a walk
in a garden full of flowers.

Then feel the sharp stones
beneath your feet and know
that joy and sorrow,
laughter and tears,
sun and clouds and rainbows too
will always grow
to lighten the lives
of all of us who dwell below.

Click for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Grief


The Way

The Way

Old Roman Road
Puerto del Pico


I sought the way and thought
I had found the way, but now
I feel I have lost my way.
Long walked I in shadow and sun,
hard Roman road beneath my feet.

Then I found bleached beach sand,
heard the sea-gull’s piercing sound,
walked sun-path, moon-path, bright
across a shimmering bay and knew
that by chance I had found my way.

Then came the way of ice and snow,
Hudson Bay parka, the ski way,
the snow shoe way of winter boots,
and still I believed, eyes wide open
that I knew I was still on the way.

Now my feet are old and slow.
Blood runs cold, bones ache,
head spins, heart is an ambush,
lungs throb and clutch at air,
head in hands I sit in despair,
hoping to be found,
draped over a shoulder,
brought safe to flatter ground,
comforted, and set again on my way.

Click for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
The Way

Redemption

Redemption

I had no paper with me in the car
and wrote this on a bottle redemption slip.

Redemption:
that’s what I seek
and some days it seeks me.
A double need this need to redeem
and be redeemed. A double need too
this god I need, the god who needs me.

Lonely he will be without me,
and I without him.
Knock and the door will open.
Seek and ye shall find.

I look and, yes, he’s there,
him within me and me within him.

This redemption slip is all I need:
empty bottles on the one hand,
my empty heart on the other,
both now redeemed.

All of this while I sit in the car.
outside Wendy’s or outside Taco Bell,
sitting quite still and ready to wait,
not knowing my upcoming fate.

Listen to Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Redemption.

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


Cloud of Unknowing

Cloud of Unknowing

Sometimes the yearning heart
wraps itself in a cloud of unknowing.
Then come doubts and fears and a sense
of being alone and abandoned,
adrift on a rising sea, with night
drawing nigh and no horizon in sight.

But, at the centre of that cloud
that aching heart still thirsts
for cool water to soothe and cure
the ills of an internal world
that seeks a lighthouse on a shore
yet finally finds that light within itself,
and then is safe, and lost no more.

Rainbow Flower & Pot

Rainbow Flower and Pot

Finley has decided, quite rightly, that what she wants to paint, draw, or colour, is much more important than any of the page prompts in the drawing book I got her. That said, this could easily be a comic book cover – or the cover photo of my next book.

“I want to see the world again through the eyes of a little child” – Picasso. The gift of so doing is precious.