A Good Friend

A Good Friend

Sitting at the kitchen table, sitting with my friend, Geoff Slater. He drove up from Bocabec to see me and help me sign some books. We have published several collections together – McAdam Railway Station, Scarecrow, Twelve Days of Cat, Tales from Tara, The Nature of Art and the Art of Nature, and The Water Tower.

Scarecrow and Twelve Days of Cat contain Geoff’s drawings and my prose and poetry, while The Water Tower is composed of Geoff’s photos, taken while completing the repainting of his wonderful mural, adorning the water tower in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea. Today we signed copies of Scarecrow, Twelve Days, and McAdam. I have been very lucky with most of my literary and artistic friendships. It always gives me great pleasure to receive my friends at home and to talk away the hours on the chiming clock.

I also enjoy cooking for them, and today I made a delicious paella with ham, chicken, and shrimp. More important, the rice – I had a packet of Bomba Spanish paella rice, and what a difference that made to the cooking of one of my favorite dishes. The socarrat, that crispy layer that coats the bottom of the frying pan or paella was simply wonderful!

Writing can be a lonely life. What a blessing is a good friend, totally creative, off whom one can bounce ideas, exchange artistic stories – our narratives as we call them – and even collaborate on the creation of more art works. Geoff Slater – line-painter extraordinaire – I salute you!

Grey Dawns

Grey Dawns

Was it just a partial eclipse,
that morning when ash-grey horses
pulled a dustbin sun
across a drab and dirty sky?

Contorted clouds
fell from distorted horizons,
light filtered fine filaments
through to a sedimentary world.

Early morning birds,
startled by this grimness,
ceased their celebrations,
their dawn chorus choked

in doubting throats
so that strange, false notes
would not flit grit music
over garden and lawn.

Sat at my grey dawn window,
in the lull before the storm,
I watched and wondered
when my world would end.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Grey Dawns

Loss

Loss

By the time I remembered your name
I had forgotten your face,
and then I couldn’t recall
why I wanted to talk to you
in the first place.

Words and phrases bounce,
water off a duck’s back.
They sparkle like a high tide
rejected by the retriever
as he shakes his coat dry
on emerging from the sea.

This book I read is a word parcel,
a clepsydra of droplets,
a rainbow strung with colored beads,
each scouring a bull’s eye
on the world’s taut literary hide.

Mapa mundi of forgotten lands,
I trace dark landmarks
on the back of scarred hands
and wonder why I have never visited
faraway places with strange-sounding names.

Tourist guide to a failing memory,
I track the trails of drifting ships
as their white sails vanish,
blank butterflies from a distant summer,
floating over a darkening horizon.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Loss

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



Hollyhock

Hollyhock

Is it a silken purse
made from the pig’s ear
of its seed pod,
or just a single seed
excreted by
an incontinent bird?

Its bruised
evening-sky hues
stretch their emperor’s
imperial purple all too thin.
In the late summer sun
it swallows one errant bee
in its leviathan mouth.

Sole survivor,
from a score of flowers
that once climbed
the seven foot,
eight foot stalk
to sway in the wind,
it stands on guard
against fall cold
and winter’s snow.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Hollyhock

Comment: I didn’t like the ending to the earlier version, so, when it came to reading it, I rewrote it first instead. I much prefer this version. Apologies to those who read the earlier words.



To Meditate is No Disgrace


To Meditate is No Disgrace
The Water Tower
16

There comes a time when you can do no more.
You need to take a break, to step aside and wait
for the tide to turn and energy to flow.

The hard yards may be behind you,
but there’s hard yards waiting round the bend,
waiting for the break to end.

And you, you might bend and take a break,
but you must never break.

No one else can see what you see
or do what you do.
Nobody can take your place.
To take a break
and meditate is no disgrace.

Click here for Roger’s Reading on Anchor.
To Meditate is no Disgrace

My Morning Coffee

My Morning Coffee

The Water Tower
15
“The only photo I took today was of my morning coffee.
Looks calm and peaceful, doesn’t it? It wasn’t!

The wind gusts were unrelenting, with just
enough moments of calm and warmth from the sun
to give me hope.

There was also some rain, snow, and a little hail,
just enough to get me running for cover.

A wise man once told me that
‘some days you’ll be the hammer,
and others the nail.’

Today I was the nail.”

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
My Morning Coffee

On the Seventh Day

On the Seventh Day
The Water Tower
14

On the seventh day he would have rested,
but there’s no rest for the restless artists
who create in thought, word, and deed.

They can rest from the deed
and take a day off work,
but thought and word go on.

And even if their day is silent,
with no one to talk to, no words at all,
the everlasting bunnies of thought
dance on and on,
beating their drums,
planning, sketching, designing,
outlining, shuffling the cards,
mixing colors and words
in endless games of creativity.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
On the Seventh Day

Another Long Day

Another Long Day
The Water Tower
13

“Another long day but I completed the sky,
then finished the wharf’s grey asphalt.
Large areas are easier to spray with my air gun.
It’s hard to paint them with a brush.

I also got the base coat on to the ever-greens.
Much more difficult: I painted the inside of the cage
around the ladder that leads to the roof.
Fiddly work, time consuming, but nice
to get out of the way. 

No painting tomorrow,
but Saturday and Sunday look good.
As for Monday, I don’t know yet
I’ll have to wait and see if it rains.”

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Another Long Day

A Good Day’s Work

A Good Day’s Work
The Water Tower
11

 “A good day’s work,” the artist said,
admiring, as light drained from the sky,
 all the different blues of a lower sky renewed.

Above the tower, a deeper shade of blue.
At the tower’s foot, the nascent grass grew damp
with dew beneath the artist’s feet.

And so, to home, but not to rest.
The restless mind plans on and on,
the next day’s work, and after that, the next.

We who bear witness, our feet fixed in the earth below,
cherish each moment, admire the paints as they flow.
Time and space trapped in fragile things
and the water tower, a watch tower now,
standing guard, on high, watching over, mirroring,
all poor creatures, set on earth, and born to die.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
A Good Day’s Work