Carpe Diem

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Kingsbrae 21.2
21 June 2017

Carpe Diem

Leos love this longest day.
Their sunshine manes
just swell and ripple
with a lion’s pride.

They lick their lips with joy
at the thought of sun,
and yet more sun;
finger-licking good,
this ice-cream warmth
spilling over from sugar cones
that march past in their memories.

Carpe diem
seize the day, indeed:
for tomorrow brings less sun,
and every day thereafter
sunlight grows less and less
until the frosty stars appear,
Orion thrusts his stormy
sword above the horizon,
and snow men
with their yellow feet
stand stock steady
on the lawn.

Rain

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Kingsbrae 20.4
20 June 2017

Rain

Hand in hand, we walk
beneath black umbrellas.
Grass beneath our feet is wet
and water seeps through
our shoes, soaking our socks.

Cold and numb in spite of the date
(the summer solstice draws near),
my ears strain against the pitter
-patter of falling rain to catch
the nearby robin’s song.

He has mislaid his voice
and I can no longer translate
his liquid notes into soul music
that might lighten mind and day.

Clouds gather and empty themselves
over our umbrella-covered heads.
In spite of damp and dark that rule,
thoughts abound and hop around,
like frogs in a summer pool, while
light bulbs explode in my brain.

Summer Visitors

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Kingsbrae 20.2
20 June 2017

Summer Visitors

Wind-blown birds,
songsters, passerines,
carried up from the south
on the wind’s wings.

Myths become facts:
hummingbirds on
eagles’ backs, warm,
clinging, feather-nested.

The following wind
drives carrier and
passenger onwards
and upwards to our land.

Look to the Mountain Ash
with its Indigo Bunting,
rare passerines flourish,
too, new, sudden and
unexpected visitors, drawn
north by our sun’s magnet
and our short summer
season with its wealth:
swarming northern insects
(never forget
those migrant butterflies)
and pestilential flies.

Lost!

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Kingsbrae 20.1
20 June 2017

Lost!

Mist covers Passamaquoddy Bay.
The stone roads stretch long arms
out into the mist and figures move
along them, losing shape and form,
disappearing, so many gone, lost on
fishing grounds, fallen from boats,
while some, sad and alone, have filled
their pockets with a load of stones
and walked out into the clinging mist,
never to return. What is it like,
that slow immersion into cold waters,
the shallows, the water deepening,
the sudden depths, the rip tide
and the currents that sweep you
off your feet and carry you out, down,
and away to be lost forever in those
swirling mists that cloak the bay?
The mist knits itself in and out,
covering the scene before me
with a theatrical curtain that raises
and lowers itself. I watch the stage
before me. Mist thins and figures grow
stronger. There’ll be no tragedy today,
just a comedy of errors as footsteps
wet and muddy come my way and
a dog shakes salt and water from its coat
covering her owners with mud and spray.

Sandman 2

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Kingsbrae 17.1
17 June 2017

Sandman 2

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.

Comment: This is another example of the effects of a rewrite that takes place in a different time and place. The original of this poem appeared in the blog on my father’s birthday, 17 May 2017. Sandman 1 can be see by clicking on the title. A quick comparison shows how the themes have changed an meaning has been deepened in the later version, Sandman 2, published above. I am intrigued by the differences caused by a change of time and place.  There is room for still more development in this poem. It will be un to see Sandman 3, if it evolves further.

Pinot & Palette

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Kingsbrae 16.5
16 June 2017

Pinot & Paint

“Slap it on,” says the instructor,
“the sky first, various shades of blue,
darker at the top, lighter down below,
by the horizon line you dribble
across the bottom third of the page.
Add some white to lighten the blue
and maybe a little touch of yellow.
Now the landline, on the horizon,
brown first for the rocky shore,
a rub of green for foliage and trees.
Now, for the sea, take blues,
light and dark, mix them with a touch,
yellow, green and lighten them
a little with a touch of white.
Next come the cedar weir poles,
dark down below where the high tide
soaks them, lighter on top, use red
and yellow and a touch of orange.
Remember the shadows, and don’t
forget the way the poles are reflected
in the water, use broken lines for that,
matching colors. When you’re done,
just sign your name in the corner.
Finish your wine and cheese, now,
tell me: wasn’t that so much fun?”

Comment: We, the resident artists of KIRA, went to Geoff Slater’s workshop / studio to join in his Friday afternoon Pinot & Palette painting session. This was a two hour extravaganza with two glasses of wine, a cheese plate with bread and pickles, an empty canvas that we were obliged to fill, and a palette of acrylic paints with which to fill it. Geoff, the artistic director at Kingsbrae Gardens, led us step by step (as sequenced above) through ‘how to paint a picture’. The subject he chose for us was a fishing weir from Passamaquoddy Bay. He began by giving us a history of the weirs (click here for the appropriate poem) and their uses by the Passamaquoddy peoples and then he led us step by step through the painting process. At the end of the afternoon, the participants saw their paintings held up for all to see. They were mounted in a standard frame that highlighted the art as art. At the session’s end we parted with a great gift: our paintings, done by ourselves, and a deeper understanding of the history of the local region, the workings of the fishing weirs, and a deeper knowledge of how to paint. All in all it was a wonderful experience.

This Old Man

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Kingsbrae 16.1
16 June 2017

This Old Man

This old man, with his bundle of memories
carried on his back like a snail carries his shell,
a broken record, he played, with the gramophone needle
stuck in a groove and the same tales repeated.

The ancient  mariner who lives in his brain
stops people in the street and retells
the old story: life’s doldrums where
no winds blew and his ship just drifted,
with no wind to bring it home.

Then blew the wind of change, and suddenly
the sun was just as warm as it was in his youth.
The sea became blue again.  Flowers flourished
brighter, stronger. Birds chirped in the trees.
Light grew bright and he felt beauty return to
the new-born world of his second childhood.

Comment: My journal tells me that I wrote the original version of this poem on Friday, 21 April 2017, and posted it to my blog on Sunday, 23 April 2017 . Today’s rewrite changes the structure and tone of the poem and illustrates how time and place can influence any previously generated word sequence. For time and place we can also substitute attitude and change of heart, as Ludwig Wittgenstein suggests. More important, perhaps, our attitude and outlook can change with the weather and the state of our digestion. This is the same poem, then, written by the same person, on two different days. Or was it the same person? My stay at this residency would suggest that perhaps the person has changed along with his attitude, his outlook, his digestion, and the weather.