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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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A Good Day’s Work

The Water Tower 10

The Water Tower
10

In the beginning the artist decided to start
with the sky and work his way downwards.

He chose and mixed his paints. Then he climbed
to the tower’s top and began to paint.

“Let there be sky,” the artist said.
He masked his face, pressed the button,
and refreshed the sky’s battered surface
turning it to a delicate shade of blue.

The morning and the afternoon took up that day.
When evening came, he packed up
his equipment and went home to rest.

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The Water Tower 10

The Water Tower
St. Andrews
New Brunswick

Geoff Slater
Illustrations

Roger Moore
Poems

School Days

School Days

Sixty years ago, in 1962, somewhere around today’s date, I left my public school – private school – boys’ boarding school and entered the real world as a free man. I was lost. They educated me to be part of a world that no longer existed, the world of walls, and boundaries, of lists and rules, of school reports and chains of authority, older boys > house monitors > prefects > head boy of house > head boy of school > masters > house masters > head master. That great chain of authority was to rule me for the rest of my life.

Lists

This is my clothing list. Six times a year I packed all items into my school trunk, 3 times to go to school and 3 times to go home. Six times a year I unpacked all items from my trunk, 3 times when I arrived at school and 3 times when I arrived home.

Reports

I still have my school reports signed by by teachers, initials only, and my father, full signature. He had to sign so that the teachers could ascertain that yes, he had read my school report and that no, I had not hidden it from him. The report is a disaster story. I look back on some of the comments and wonder what worlds, what different realities, were we living in? One verbal remark, made in class: “Why are you in the sixth form?” “I am going to university, sir.” “The only way you’ll go to university is on a train.”

I sent that gentleman my train ticket, but he didn’t choose to remember the comment, made to a fifteen year old boy.

Scars

I still carry them. So many of us do. Less than most, possibly, for us ne’er do wells and miscreants.

In the beginning was the word, and the word, maybe, may endure. I guess, maybe, one day we’ll find out.

The Water Tower 9

The Water Tower
9

How do you paint this water tower,
that garden, these flowers, those woods?
Up and down: two dimensions. Easy.
Where does light begin and darkness end?

Where do these things come from – depth
tactility, energy, water’s flow,
that rush of breathless movement
that transcends the painting’s stillness?

This water tower is more than a reservoir.
Restored, it reaches out, an old friend,
with all its strengths that reinforce the needs,
physical and spiritual, of so many people.

The water tower itself is more than a tower:
it symbolizes the creative power of life and art.


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The Water Tower 9