North Wind

North Wind

North Wind descended from the pole
sending its wolf pack through snow-
bound trees. Listless, they stood there,
then wind and wolves came, cutting
and shuffling, playing snap-the-branch,
chase-the snow-flake, and strip-jack-
naked. Wolves danced on their hind-
legs, round and round, shaking trees,
biting at branches, testing winter games
until trees stood naked, stripped of snow,
tresses and garlands gobbled and gone.

Oh the wickedness of winter, its cold-
cut cruelty, the lash of the wind, ice-
pellets hurled, picketing fences, pecking
a wild winter-song, forlorn in its fury,
its pace, its power, its reckless race
to hurl everything away, out of its way,
snow twisted, tormented, twitching
its snake-way down barren highways
devoid of secret places in which to hide
tender faces from the North Wind.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
North Wind.


Poetry Painting

Poetry Painting

This was a totally new experience: a poem written over a painting that linked visual to verbal. I tried several versions of the words and have come up with a better one… but, once the words are on the canvas, it’s so hard to change them. The spoken word, once loosed, can never be recalled.

Our New Brunswick leaves have gone already. We are looking at ships’ masts, sails unfurled, in an anchored harbor. Further south, Thanksgiving is here. My distant neighbors and friends are contemplating turkeys and family gatherings and all that is good about harvest festivals and the end of the productive year, the agriculturally productive year, that is. Below them, in Mexico, the land of four continuous harvests, growth continues.

The cycle of the seasons rolls on and on. In the British Isles Woodhenge has turned into Stonehenge. Four thousand five hundred years of history measured in stone circles, seasonal star and sun points, times for sowing and harvesting. Absolutely bewilderingly marvelous. More than 5,500 standing stone calendars can be found in those islands.

And here, in my painting, leaves, letters, words deliver a message of intertextuality. Change is upon us. We live with it, focus on it, describe it in words. Each letter, each word, is a leaf on the tree, falling or soon to fall.

Autumn Leaves

Catch them
if
you can.


Catch them
while
you can.

Autumn Leaves.
Don’t grieve.
Close the door
when she is gone.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Autumn Leaves

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

She surveys her empire
from a tall tree, then steps
into space, plunging her
body’s weight downwards,
diving into fragile air.

A feathered arrow,
she makes contact, feet first,
and pins the unsuspecting robin
to the ground. His shrill shriek
emerges from a beak
that shreds failing life.

The hawk’s claws clench.
Her victim weakens.
His eyes glaze over.
One final spasm,
a last quick twitch,
the robin is gone.

One wing drags, flaps weakly,
borne skywards in the hawk’s
triumphant claws.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Sharp-shinned Hawk

Snow Geese

Snow: no geese!

Snow Geese

Snow geese falling, plummeting from the sky,
dropping like leaves, slowly and tumbling,
swiftly and twisting, spiralling down. Fresh
snow on the ground, their seasoned arrival.

Some land on water, others on the earth.
They gather in groups, snow banks of geese,
ghost-white, frightening, true sky lightning,
celestial, striking from its ancestral throne.

Always some sentries, necks stretched, eyes
open, alert, watching, guarding their needs
while the flock feeds. One honks “Who goes
there?” the flock looks up, watching him move.

Slowly, at first, they waddle from the walkers,
then faster and faster as the man unleashes his
hounds. An idiot woman, grinning like a death’s
head, points her cell phone and barks instructions.

The dogs run at them, barking and growling.
The snow geese panic, run ever faster, taking
to the air with a clap-wing chorus, honking
and hooting. The woman laughing, shouting

and shooting. “I’ve got them, I’ve shot them,”
she calls in her pleasure. Frustrated, the hounds
take to the water. Whistling, calling, the man
cannot catch them, not till they tire of the chase,

no match for geese, not in air, nor in water.
Joyous the couple, their videos made, hugging,
cuddling. They get back in the car, dogs shaking,
spraying them, baptismal water, cleansing all guilt.

Geese: no snow.

Click on the link for Roger’s reading.
Snow Geese

Songs of Praise

Songs of Praise

Who has seen the early spring wind drifting
its thought-clouds across the grass, moving
shadows over the lawn’s green, thrusting spikes.

Sometimes, I speak my thoughts aloud, hoping
that nobody can hear or see them as they leave
migratory footsteps across my mind.

Autumn now and I watch the wind twist
leaves from the tree. Yellow and red,
they flee from me. I do not understand
their reluctance to stay, their urge to tear
away and leave. The birds must leave for they
cannot bear the cold, cannot stay without food.

At night, when I close the garage door, I sing
hymns to the trees and to him who always hears.
Each note forms like a pea in the pod of my throat
and launches itself skywards, migrating upwards,
in a feathered flock that celebrates in songs.

Words, migrant birds, their flight unplanned,
will not stay still, will neither perch, nor gather,
nor feed from the outstretched hand.

Click on link for Roger’s reading.
Songs of Praise.

Late Fall

Late Fall

Late fall with falling leaves,
trees stripped wind-blown bare,
and winter drawing close.

The huntsman, the archer,
the Cerne Abbas Giant,
Hercules and his club
walking high in the sky, a dog
forever at their heels, ever faithful,
ever true. Star-jewels line his belt,
where the star-sword swings,
the bow, and all his magnificence
displayed before us.
Bow down before him and rejoice.

The year is turning,
or has turned and we are turning
with it. Back to our pasts,
on to our futures, or else we stand
here, gazing skywards,
our feet mired in the present,
minds locked, nowhere to go.

Click on the link for Roger’s reading.
Late Fall


Osprey

Osprey

An osprey on the wind
wings thrusting
for maximum lift
then flattened
for feather-tip control

Wheeling up and away
the soft-wing
sway of him
ascending his celestial
staircase
in a rush of blue air

Light his flight
sky steps
danced to wind music
played over beach below
and rock and rolling waves

Watch him
wave good-bye
with a waggle of his wings
and a well-judged flick
of his paint brush tail
brown white and black lines
neat strokes
across a cerulean sky

Click here for Roger’s reading of Osprey

Signs of Age

Meditations on Messiaen
Wisdom from Beyond

1

Signs of Age

Wisdom in the wrinkled skin,
the grin that glows with humor,
the sun sign of old age,
or merely that of ageing,
the knowledge that, yes, many
have walked this wobbly way before,
and many will follow.

What is pain, but the knowledge
that we are alive, and relatively well,
and still on the green side of the grass.
Long may it last. When the pain is gone,
we shall soon follow. For this is age,
and age is this pain, and the painful
knowledge that we are no longer young,
can no longer bend the way we bent,
or touch our toes, or even see our toes,
some of us. The golden arrow pierces
the heart. Fierce is the pain. But when
that arrow is withdrawn and the heart
no longer lives in love, why, how we miss
that pain, how we weep to find it gone,
perhaps never to come back again.

Pain, like rain, an essential part of the cycle
of the seasons, of the days and the weeks,
and all the months and years that walk us
around time’s circle, in time with the earth
and its desire to open its arms, and welcome us,
and greet us, and bring us rest, from our pain.

Click on the link below for Roger’s reading.

Signs of Age

Brother Donkey

Meditations on Messiaen
Revelations

1

Brother Donkey

A statue of St. Francis stands in the corner
of the roof garden. He holds out his hands
for Plaster of Paris birds to settle upon them.

St. Francis wears a brown, sack-cloth cassock
bound at the waist by a knotted, white cord.
Living birds would come to him, if he called,
but he is silent. He knows the birds by their names,
not the Latin or Spanish names, nor their names
in Mixtec or Nahuatl. He knows their true names,
their own ineffable names that grace each of them
and brightens their songs of colored glory.

Brother Sun, by day, and Sister Moon, by night,
bless him with their soft-feathered gifts of light.
Alas, he is bound to this earth by Brother Donkey,
the flesh and blood body he once wore and now
wears in effigy. Of the earth, earthy, his thoughts
are bent on beating this sackcloth body down
and raising his mind in birdsong that will reach up,
higher and higher until it achieves his Kingdom Come.

In front of him, the Bird of Paradise offers him
that which he most desires, a return to earth
in avian form, winged like a miniature angel
armed with a golden harp and an aura of song.

Click on the link below for Roger’s reading.

Brother Donkey

Why?

Why?

“Where are you going?” I ask again.
 “To see a man about a dog,” my father replies.
  “Why?” I ask.
  “Hair of the dog,” his voice ghosts through the rapidly closing crack as the front door shuts behind him.
  “Why?” I cry out.
 Years later I remember this episode. The mud nest nestles tight against a beam beneath our garage roof. Tiny yellow beaks flap ceaselessly open. Parent birds sit on a vantage point of electric cable, their beaks moving in silent encouragement. A sudden rush, a clamour of wing and claw, a small body thudding down a ladder of air to crash beak first on the concrete.
“Why?” I ask.
The age-old answer come back to me.
“Wye is a river. It flows through Ross-on-Wye and marks the boundary between England and Wales.”
The swallows perch on the rafters watching their fledgling as it struggles on the floor, the weakening wing flaps, the last slow kicks of the twitching legs.
“Why?” I ask.”
“Y is a crooked letter invented by the Green Man of Wye.”
“Why?” I repeat. “I want to know why.”
Silence hangs a question mark over the unsatisfied spaces of my questing mind.
A golden oldie. We would all like to know why. But there are no answers. Just riddles cast, like two trunk-less legs of stone, on the sands of time. Nothing beside remains. Yet still we ask the age old question: why? And still we receive the age-old answers from those ageing wise men who ruled our childhood and taught us everything they knew.
“Why?”
“Because.”

Comment:

Alas, we have lost our hollyhocks, not all of them, but most. They have been drowned in torrential rain, blown and bent, ravished by raging winds, and they have been scorched in a heat-warning scorched earth policy that left them and the garden all forlorn. As for the lawn, between chinch bug, crows, raccoons, and a surge in weeds and bugs, it is a desolation.

What is worse: they were so beautiful, those hollyhocks. Multi-coloured, stately, and tall. Hopefully, they will return next year. We do hope so. And equally hopefully next year will be a better year for them. And for you and me. Meanwhile, I savour the photos and mourn their loss. Meanwhile…

“Why?” I ask “Why?”

The answer echoes back across the years in well-known voices that have long been silenced.

“Because.”