Flickers

10151178_277751725719138_1332118377692813633_n.jpg

Flickers
(1613 & 2019)

a watch spring
this cuckoo-clock heart
fully wound up
time’s ticker flickering
waiting to strike

black hole its beak
poked the world’s fabric
shredded into ribbons
robin’s nest torn
storm-tossed onto lawn

constant this love
its warm ashes lingering
searing holes in shoe soles
soul-sick with yearning
bright bonfires burning

metaphor and meaning
real and imagined
hammering on chimneys
territorial flickers
spring heartbeats drumming

losers of somethings
winners of others
wings lofting upwards
light above darkness
all creature comforts

a spring need to nest
an old man’s need to rest

10150582_277751602385817_3902308875883985667_n.jpg

Grand Finale

IMG_0646 (2).JPG

Grand Finale
(Moscow 1812
&
Moncton 2015)

survey the battlefield
muskets primed
three shots a minute
cities burning
hamlets and villages

world-viewed
through a monocle
stand to attention
be-whiskered faces
small narrow minds
wine glasses raised
gay colored uniforms
dazzling decorations
marvelous medals

balloons blooming
gaudy their globules
pins at the ready
no flash but a big bang

glorious martial music
tintinnabulations
church bells ringing
carillon and cannon
magnificent the music

written cryptic
recorded alive
heard played seen
in  memory’s mind’s eye
again and again

 

Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus

IMG_0145

Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus
Happy St. David’s Day

March the First, St. David’s Day:  and here, in Island View, the snow accumulates and I can hardly see the trees at the bottom of the garden. A squirrel gnaws at the sunflower seeds put out by my beloved on the step by the sliding window so that Princess Squiffy, the house cat, can have her morning cartoon show, her Squiff and Squirrel, through the glass of the sliding door. Nose to nose, cat and squirrel, separated only by a thin layer of glass, stare at each other, like Roman gladiators.

Temperatures are still low and snow continues to fall. Softly, gently, it fills the hoof prints left in the old snow by the hungry deer who come each night to empty the bird feeders.  Gone, all gone, everything that squirrel and bird have left behind. Seven deer visit us. They troop through the garden every night, moving from tree line to feeder along regular pathways trodden down by their hooves. Sometimes I see them, in the middle of the night. They cast eerie shadows beneath the moon and startle if I move too fast and they spy me at a window. If I am quiet, I see their delicate muzzles, their long black tongues reaching out to lap up the precious seeds that will keep them going through this long, hard Canadian winter, a winter made even harder this year with its incredible changes, its highs and lows, its rains and snows, its fogs and thaws, its icy rain, then plummeting temperatures with black ice threatening again and again.

St. David’s Day/ Dydd Dewi Sant. In Cardiff / Caer Dydd, the daffodils blow their trumpets beneath already flourishing trees. The Feeder Brook, aka the Black Weir,  flows steadily through Blackweir Gardens to join the Taff  and the Taff runs out to join the Severn, and the Severn flows out into the Irish Sea, and that joins the Atlantic, and the Atlantic flows into the Bay of Fundy, and the River St. John flows past the end of my road to eventually join the Bay of Fundy and then the Atlantic Ocean, and now, on St. David’s Day, we hold hands in a great North Atlantic Wave and we are all united, from snowy sea to shiny sea.

My day-dreams carry me back to Cymru / Wales, that land of song where the wind conducts the daffodils and their pale, brass voices are raised in a hymn of hope that all will be well, that their spring, that was once my spring, will join this spring, that is now my spring, and that sunshine and flowers will triumph and that brighter days will soon return …

Not that these days aren’t bright. A new snake skin of snow covers the ground and the old, sloughed skin gradually disappears as a blank, fresh page invites new footprints.  A new month, a new page, a new beginning.  The signatures of crow and squirrel, Blue Jay and Chickadee, cat and dog appear as if by magic in the garden’s autograph album. A mysterious finger traces those special words Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus / Happy St. David’s Day and the snow continues falling, blanking out all memories from my old man’s mind.

Butterfly

 

img_0160

Butterfly 

     Un-mown the front garden, the grass long. Like hay, no flowers in the borders, how could there be when nobody can bend down to plant them? They want me to mow the lawn, but I can’t. I call a man who has an industrial mower, a hay-maker, and he comes and does the job, front and back, within half an hour. Even with a scythe, it would have taken me a couple of days.

The magnolia tree leans low across the red-brick wall that separates the house from the street. White butterflies, its petals, blown on the wind, and its perfume regaling our noses of the waft of the wind. We leave the ground floor windows open during the daylight hours so we can take in the thick, rich, delicate scent.

     Pale and delicate, a cabbage white butterfly floats into our yard from the road. The roses are not yet in bloom, more thorn than rose. A sudden gust blows the butterfly across the garden and it shreds its snow-white wing upon a thorn: sudden shriek of white against wall and grass.

     Looking back, remembering  how I cast her ashes over the sea, thoughts pound in my head like waves on that Gower beach. Each word is a grinding of small pebbles. Mother, you are a swift river of blood contained within my skin and bones.

Inundation

DSC01055

Inundation

Seven flashes of light, then raindrops start
falling, one, two, followed by a curtain
dragging its damp dishcloth wetness over
windows, walls. It pocks the river’s troubled
face. Rising waters surpass all levels
from former floods. Water pours into homes,
floods basements, climbs stairs. Drowned branches scratch at
second floor windows as they float by.  Old
people evacuate their houses, are
boated to higher ground, beloved pets
upon their laps, boxed and caged. Men wonder
when this will end while older people shake
their heads, saying that they have never seen
anything like it. Overhead the storm
gathers strength. Rain tumbles, bubbling in
brooks that slide downhill filling the river.
Grand Lake now extends from Freddy to Saint
John. Why has it come to this? What can we
do to appease the mindless river gods,
fall on our knees and pray, if so, for what?
Last year we suffered drought, forest fires,
wells running dry, wild life dying of thirst.
This year it is death by inundation.
Rain continues. Thunder rolls. The wind gets
up and drives waves high against house windows.
Lightning carves fresh scars across dark clouds.
We shuffle our feet, accepting our fate
with grimaces, hugs, kisses, and sad smiles.

Thursday Thoughts: On Water

fundy 05 mist+wolfepipers 081

Thursday Thoughts
03 May 2018
On Water

In the seventy-fourth year of my life,
sitting on the car in Mactaquac Park,
waiting for my wife to walk down the slope
to where I’m writing, a warm wind today,
sunshine, the river still rising, more rain
called for tonight, another inch or more,
that’s twenty to thirty millimeters,
you can hear from here the restless waters
powering the dam’s dynamos, creating
great creamy waves to wash over coffee
colored waters fathered upriver with
their splintered debris wafted from waters
still gathering strength in the north where snow
melts steadily while the stormy sky builds
clouds, and weathermen forecast thunderstorms
yet to descend and overflow our streams:
sitting safely I fear for those downstream
who deal with flooded basements, water pumps,
animals in distress, destruction come,
no sanctuary save in flight, wood, mortar,
brick promising no safety, no respite
from rising waters and eternal rain.

Commentary:

In the great flood of 1973, we lived on the Woodstock Road in Fredericton. We watched the river waters rising. Luckily they stopped on the other side of the road from where we were living and didn’t cross the road. This year we live out of town on the other side of the hill away from the river. Each time we drive into town we see the river waters and measure how they rise. Our hearts go out to those folk who are forced to evacuate their homes. We find it hard to believe that the waters are now at the levels they reached in 1973 and may, in some places, exceed those levels by a meter or more.

Next weekend, Word Spring, the spring meeting of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick, is scheduled to take place in Quispamsis. Yesterday, the people of Quispamsis found themselves on flood alert and were told to prepare for instant evacuation. It rained last night and more rain is expected. While it may not rain here in Island View, the catchment area of the St. John River, the Rhine of North America, is enormous. Any rain falling in the north of the province may affect the river. The snow is still melting from the deep woods and clear cutting along the river banks has, according to some, affected the ground’s ability to retain water.

All in all, a difficult situation and one that is forecast to last for another week or ten days. More details can be found here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/homes-cottages-flooded-1.4645225?cmp=news-digests-new-brunswick

Friday Fiction: It’s Snowing

 

 

img_0436

Friday Fiction
It’s Snowing
20 April 2018

I wish it was fiction, but it isn’t. Friday, 20 April, 2018: clouds fill the sky, thick, fluffy clots drift down nodding at me as they pass my window. An inch of snow covers  grass, deck, pathways, lawn.

It’s snowing.

I check the weather forecast: +6C / 43F with light rain forecast for today. So much for the computer and the weather forecast. Look outside: snow is tumbling down, and it’s getting thicker. The blonde bimbo who waves her arms across the weather map with its bars and contours tells me it’s raining. She’s trapped indoors, in a tv studio, reading from a teleprinter. Wake up, lady, and smell the green tea. Then look out the window. But wrap up warmly … because it’s snowing.

Why is it snowing? Several reasons:

  1. I took my snow tires off the car last week: a sure sign it will snow.
  2. I got my hair cut yesterday: that always brings a change, for the worst in the weather, especially when I get a summer haircut, nice and short.
  3. To reassure me that my choice in coming to Canada was the correct one: I could have gone to Australia where my cousins are in danger of being burned out yet again by their third major bush fire in ten years. Here, it just snows. And snows. And so …

It’s snowing on April 20. This is personal. This is a personal attack on my humanity and sanity. I know: I chose to come here, to spend my life here, and I love it … but snow on April 20, when the tv bimbo is calling for rain and wet weather?

What will the robins do? Yesterday, they wandered in little groups all over the grass, chirping happily, singing for their suppers, pulling worms out of the brown earth as fast as they could go. Today, not a robin in sight. Not one.

But the crows are back: ubiquitous, omnipresent, omniscient, eternal, the seculae seculorum crows squat, feathers fluffed, beaks to the wind, hunkered down in skeletal trees, counting the snow flakes as the fall … caw … caw … caw …

Crows and snow: I think of school porridge, burning for breakfast.  I can’t shake off those memories. They haunt me at breakfast time. Porridge suddenly appears as if from nowhere. The smell of burning tickles my nose. My cereal plate fills with the  grinning face of porridge. It makes faces at me, nurdling and grimacing as I try to picture Corn Flakes, Rice Crispies, and Sugar Frosted Flakes, robins, not crows, green grass, not this bright, white table cloth spread on the lawn before me.

Oh for the sweetness of the robin’s song, the dawn chorus of a thousand songbirds lighting up the morning, sunlight on the grass … not a hope … forget it … look out of the window …

It’s snowing.