Vets

Autumn Leaves, the Peace Park, Mactaquac

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Vets
A Thursday Thought

Mary Jones

I met her unexpectedly in a restaurant in St. George.
I was masked, but she knew me right away. She hadn’t
changed. How could she have? She is as she is. Straight
forward, upright, honest, true to her words and her values.
Ex-military. A United Nations Peace-Keeper. A Blue Beret.
World traveller to some of the roughest, toughest, ugliest,
craziest spots. Everywhere she went, she helped keep the peace.

She came back home to find out what she already knew: that
rural New Brunswick was as wild as anywhere she had been.
She was anonymous, here, was just another number in a book,
a casualty in a nameless war of attrition after which the winners
rewrite the history of events, twisting them this way, that way
to suit themselves and their own instincts and interests.

“Best of the best,” I wrote in the book I gave her. Fortuitous,
it was, finding her again, finding that copy close to hand,
reserved for her alone. That book and this poem are my tribute
to her for her courage, her fortitude, and her strength of will.
They are also a tribute to her role in making the world a safer place
in which others, less fortunate, can create, without fear, their lives.

Comment: There is very little more to be said. Each former soldier is an individual with a history and personality of their own. This is my tribute to a very good friend who served her country and the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces with pride and distinction. Mary Jones, I, an academic, a writer, and a non-combatant, salute you for all the positive values which you have brought into this sometimes troubled world of ours. You and your well-being are in my Thursday Thoughts.

Stars at Elbow and Foot

Stars at Elbow and Foot

I retuned from the Red Room at KIRA to spend the weekend at home with Clare and this is what was waiting for me in the garage: a large parcel with books! So, we opened it and, to our delight, a constellation of stars emerged to bless us with their light and wisdom.

So, here I am, standing before the only island in Island View, with the first two copies of Stars at Elbow and Foot (Selected Poems, 1979-2009) out of the box and in my hands. Delightful. As soon as I have the purchasing details, I will place them online.

With regard to this collection, some thanks are due. First to my editor, Dr. Karunesh Kumar Agarwal who always does such a fine job in editing and publishing what I send him. Second to Allison Calvern who helped me choose, order, and revise the collection. Allison has always been such a strong supporter of writing, first here in Fredericton, and now in Ottawa. My thanks and best wishes go out to her. Third, to Chuck Bowie who told me with no uncertainty that THIS was the cover painting, and forget the others! Fourth, to Brian Henry of Quick Brown Fox who reached out to me one day, when my writing spirits were at low tide, and refilled my spiritual glass with encouragement and enthusiasm. Fifth, to all the readers and commentators on my blog and on Facebook. Your ticks are so important. Your comments are so welcome. Thank you all. Sixth, to the multitude of friends and editors who have encouraged me and my work, supported me, and pushed me to push myself further. Writing is a lonely task. We writers rely on others for so many things: support, advice, encouragement, and occasionally for the bus fares that help us stay on that writing bus and to never get off until we reach our destination.

KIRA DAWN 2021

KIRA DAWN 2021

I guess somethings remain the same, even when they seem to change. Dawn from the Red Room at KIRA. The dawn hasn’t changed much since I came here first in June 2017.

The rising sun, not yet visible, starts to redden the sky. The studio lights stand out in patches of green. The world is reborn as I watch.

Now the fireworks start and the sky runs red. “In blood we were born, in blood we will die,” say the Oaxacans. The only thing missing is zopilote, up there, above the earth, bringing down the fire he has stolen from the sky.

Dog Fox

Dog Fox

Late evening, low light, fox in the distance, photo through windows, two crows bombing him, fox on the run. A lovely sequence. Before the fox came, a hawk circled the lawn. Then came the crows. Then I saw the fox. Sorry about the quality of the photo: best I could do under the circumstances.

Just to say that this is a fine ending to a wonderful day. My fellow artists (Anne, Caitlin, Chantal, and Dan) are fantastic. Evening meal in he Garden Cafe was superb, as usual. Individual tables, suitably spaced. I had a lovely lunch with Geoff and Jeff. Many thanks for the welcome welcome you have all given me.

After the evening meal, we did a live reading on the porch, from One Small Corner and Tales from Tara. That was so much fun. To cap the day, I called my beloved and she told me that all was well and that Stars at Elbow and Foot (Selected Poems, 1979-2020) had arrived safely in Idlewood. Oh frabjous day, calloo callay, he chortled in his glee.

AWOL

AWOL

I never dreamed I would one day share the Red Room at KIRA with a portrait on the wall of Roger Writing in the Red Room at KIRA. It is a great honor to be here again and to be the first alumnus (June, 2017) invited back for a second stay (May-June, 2021). I will do my best to ensure that this stay is a successful one. I am honored to be the first returnee. I most certainly have no wish to be the last.

My desk is in its usual place by the window. To the right, on the wall above me, hangs my portrait. This is new, especially for me. The view from my working window has changed. The auditorium was just being constructed when I was here first (June, 2017). My companions from that first cohort of resident artists are here with me, in spirit. Ann, Carlos, Elise, and Ruby, the one who painted my likeness. My hope is that they too may sometime return.

The Tower on Minister’s Island is still visible above the trees. It has long kept me company and long may it continue to do so. Across the bay, behind the red tree on the left, Magic Rock and Holt’s Point can almost be seen. What beauty. What joy. Sitting here, at my desk, I review twelve days absent without leave, AWOL from Social Media and the Blog. Those Tiz-Woz days are hopefully over now. The bone scan was negative and showed no metastases. So that is a huge relief, though there may yet be some complications. There will be further testing, ad possibly some more medication. That lies in the future. This is the present. The sun is shining. I am here among friends. All’s right with the world.

Hollyhock

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Still Life with Hollyhock
for
Geoff Slater
the inventor of line painting

How do you frame this beaver pond,
those paths, those woods? How do you
know what to leave, what to choose?
Where does light begin and darkness end?

Up and down: two dimensions. Easy.
But where does depth come from?
Or the tactility, the energy, water’s
flow, that rush of breathless movement
that transcends the painting’s stillness?

So many questions, so few answers.
The hollyhock that blooms in my kitchen
is not a real hollyhock. It is the painting
of a photo of a genuine flower that once
upon a time flourished in my garden.

A still life, then, a nature morte, a dead
nature, portrayed in paint and hung alive,
on display in this coffin’s wooden frame.

Click on the link below to peruse my books for sale.

Books for Sale


Rainbow Return

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Rainbow Return

I opened the car door
and he ran across the parking lot
and jumped into the back seat.

“Where have you been?” I asked.
He thumped his great tail, sniffed,
and licked my hand.

As we drove home, he thrust his head
between the seats and placed his paw upon my shoulder.
Then he licked my ear and the side of my face.

I pulled into the garage and let him out of the car.
He raced to the end of the drive, surveyed the neighborhood,
and drilled an invisible pee into the snow.

I whistled, and he ran back to the door,
whimpering and scratching, impatient.
I held the door open and he bounded in.
“You’re back home now,” I told him.

He ran to the cat’s bowl and lapped some water,
scoffed her kibble, and lay down in his usual place.
At night, he lies beside me in bed,
a fluffy spoon carved into my body’s curve.

In the morning, he walks through the kitchen
and doesn’t make a sound.
The cat senses he’s there and bristles and hisses
at rainbow motes dancing in the sun.

He’s sitting beside me now,
head on my knee, as I type these words,
one-handed, because I’m scratching him
in his favorite spot just behind his ear.

Click on this link to peruse my Books for Sale page.

Geese

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Geese

Late last night, high above the house
in the sky’s giant highway,
geese flew overhead, honking. 

 I pinpointed their calls
leaning back, straining my neck,
and for a moment there were no stars,
just a feathered blackness blanking
the Big Dipper as it hung in the sky.

Harbingers, bringers of spring,
those Canadian geese erased
selected stars and left me breathless,
overwhelmed by so many memories
as they carved their sky path
far above my head.

International Book Day

23 April 1616 > 23 April 2021
International Book Day.

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the deaths of three great writers: el Inca Garcilasso de la Vega (Comentarios Reales, Peru), William Shakespeare (poetry and plays, England), and Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote and so much more, Spain).

Our hibiscus decided to issue its first official blossom of the year, just to help us all celebrate this day.

Daffodils

Daffodils
A poem for the lady who brought some to us when Clare fell

IMG_0145.JPG
Daffodils in our garden, last year in Island View. We won’t see the live ones until May, at the earliest. I dream of them at night, tossing their heads in sprightly dance’, in Roath Park and Blackweir Gardens, Cardiff. They will be out now, all ready to welcome Dydd Dewi Sant on March 1.

Daffodils

For ten long days the daffodils
endured, bringing to vase and breakfast-
table stored up sunshine and the silky
softness of their golden gift.

Their scent grew stronger as they
gathered strength from the sugar
we placed in their water, but now
they have withered and their day’s done.

Dry and shriveled they stand paper-
thin and brown, crisp to the touch.
They hang their heads:
oncoming death weighs them down.