Migration

 

 

Migration

I cannot see the flocks of icons
and words as they migrate,
like birds, from machine
to machine.

I imagine them,
feathered and winged,
hopping from island to island
as they journey north
to their new summer site.

Words and birds,
migrating from winter’s death
to summer’s life.
We watch spring birds
as they settle in our garden
where the grass is greener,
here, on the other side.

We care for them,
keep them from cats,
watching and wondering
as they fledge and fly.

Migration:
many set out,
but not all arrive.
Not every icon
makes its way
to the new machine.

 

Downsizing

  • Downsizing
    Last night’s rainstorm
    shrank the house.
    It closed down rooms
    and
    now the walls are closing in.
    There’s so much
    we no longer use, nor visit,
    so many rooms
    we no longer enter.
    Almost all my friends
    downsized long ago.
    We are the holdouts.
    We love it here
    in this big house with its lawns
    and trees and flowerbeds
    with bees’ balm, butterflies, birds,
    and the yard abuzz with
    sunshine and bees.
    But now we are starting
    to throw things out.
    Maybe we’ll move,
    next summer perhaps,
    or maybe not.
    For now is the time of indecision.
    Like friends of the same age,
    we travel the road of memory loss,
    a name and a face here,
    a date or phone number there,
    and
    the mandatory
    ‘now where did I put my glasses?’
    Perhaps, when the time comes,
    we’ll forget we meant to move.

Obsolescence

  • Obsolescence
  • The programs that no longer work.
    The files you can no longer access.
    Photos that vanish
    leaving a blank space in the album.
  • Memory that goes on the blink.
    Forgotten phone numbers,
    the birthdays of family members,
    that carton of eggs left in the store,
    your cousin’s face, her name,
    the parking spot where you left your car.
  • “What day is it today,” you ask,
    for the second or third time.
    “What time is it?”
    “Did you let the dog out?”
    “Who’s that coming for tea?
    Are you sure I know them, dear?”
    “Where did you say we were going?”
  • “Just round the corner, to visit a friend.”
    Or should that be … round the bend?

My Body

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My body

My body has so many rooms and you,
my love, possess me in them, wander
through them, and I see you, here, there,
everywhere, your presence a shadow
glimpsed in a mirror, or your warm touch
a breath upon forehead or cheek. Where
have you gone? Why did you leave me
here on my own to languish in your absence?
I walk from room to room, but when I knock
you open no doors, and though I seek,
I fail to find. I know you are somewhere near.
I hear your footstep on the stair, your voice
in the silence that surrounds me. My name,
a syllable or two, whispered in the way
I so clearly remember. How can it be true,
my love, that you have gone, that you have
left me here and forged ahead into another
time and space? I count the hours and days.
Will you prepare me a place? Will your face
be there to greet me? Alone, I clutch at straws,
embracing dust motes, counting the angels that
dance on the rainbows on the head of a pin.

Battle Axe

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Battle Axe

A battle axe, the children call her,
grim-faced, ageing, wrinkles
bone-deep scarring her skin,
a grimaced frown, much practiced,
worn like a fencing mask to keep
the world’s sharp teeth at a distance.

Over her shoulder, the mail-pouch
slung like a Viking’s shield,
swung to keep stray dogs at bay.
At her hip, mace and pepper,
twin guns in separate holsters, ready
for Rotty,  cross-breed, and Pit Bull.

Wrapped in her coat of mail,
her eyes aflame, trigger finger twitching,
ever on the lookout for that one wild dog
to run the gauntlet of her gaze
and launch its all-out, mad dog attack.

Comment: I was disappointed with my earlier version(s) of this poem, entitled Mail Lady, and wanted a stronger, more forceful set of images that hinted at the perils of dog attacks on mail (and fe-mail [sic]) workers. This is the result.

Residency: Thursday Thoughts

Chaos

Residency
Thursday Thoughts
29 June 2017

Application:
I would not have applied for the residency at KIRA had I not have been encouraged to do so by my writing group friends and by a friendly voice on the Kingsbrae phone.

Acceptance:
I was surprised to receive notification of my acceptance. It arrived on 2 March 2017. On 3 March 2017, I started to peruse the Kingsbrae web page and make the first drafts of poems that I would later complete on site.

The Red Room:
I was lodged in The Red Room in the KIRA Residence and I had a small desk at a window overlooking Passamaquoddy Bay. I spent a whole month looking out of that window and writing at that desk … or was it the other way round?

Community Commitments:
These were multiple, but they were always art orientated and therefore most enjoyable. They included working with school children, attending various unveilings and openings, and being present in our studios and discussing our art with visitors. On 26 June we had an exhibition in which each one of us either showed our work or produced a live performance.

Evening Salons:
Most evenings we had a literary / artistic salon in which we discussed various aspects of our art. These lasted two to three hours and some were summarized while others were video-taped. These quick-fire exchanges provided a backbone to our daily work.

Trips:
There was time for local trips and we travelled, individually or in groups, to many places including Deer Island, Passamaquoddy, Campobello, St. Stephen, New River Beach, Holt’s Point, Greenlaw’s Mountain, Jarea, Minister’s Island, Ile Ste. Croix, and several other locations. The photographic records enabled us to build our creativity.

Artistic Development:
This was individual to each of us, but we all remarked on a widening of our perspectives, a new commitment to narrative and theme, and a broadening of our artistic horizons.

Returning Home:
On my return home, I turned to my everyday life in which art, in my case writing, was of secondary, not primary, importance. The need to cook, to shop, to do normal household duties suddenly conflicted, once again, with my need to be a writer.

24/7:
24/7 is indeed a cliché. But for 28 days it became the pattern of my writing life. It was indeed a fertile time. I wrote some 100 poems, 25% of which will be rejected, with a possible thematic structure and three revisions already completed. Sooner or later, I will produce a book about this experience..

Conclusions:
This type of time commitment turns us from budding /artists into the real thing. We must strive to re-create these last 28 days in what remains of our creative lives. There can be no lesser or secondary choice, if we are to be serious about our art.

The Journey:
If we wish to travel from Halifax to Vancouver by bus, we must make several decisions.
1. We cannot get off at Moncton.
2. We cannot get off at Montreal, nor at Toronto.
3. Winnipeg, Regina, and Calgary are beautiful; but we mustn’t get off the bus.
4. If we do, we will never get to Vancouver.

Conclusion:
Art is a life-time journey: don’t get off the bus.

 

Wollemi

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Kingsbrae 21.3
21 June 2017

Wollemi Nobilis

To see you on this day,
the summer solstice,
when time and the sun
stand still,
is to recall you as relictus,
then to acclaim you
as Lazarus,
risen from the dead.

Your fossil footprints
walked for so long,
two hundred million years,
and you walked with them,
unknown, unrecognized,
lost in the wilderness.

What poverty in language:
we either describe you
in impossible scientific Latin
or else we reduce you
to a chocolate coco pops
breakfast cereal.

Hand-cuffed, chained,
your feet rooted within
this immobile crockery pot,
you will never leave us now.

You are your own solstice,
a stationary seed,
growing to adulthood,
sown in a circle
of never-ending time.

Comment: I have been trying since Sunday, 5 March 2017, to write this poem. But what are four months in the life of a seventy-three year old poet or a pine tree that was thought to have become extinct 200 million years ago. I do not have the words to express how I feel looking at this throwback to the time of the Dinosaurs. And maybe that is how this poem should start for it is, after all, Wordless Wednesday … “I do not have the words …” and thoughts, too, jam in the brain and refuse to cycle, let alone re-cycle. So, I’ll leave this poem for now. That said, I will probably come back to it. Meanwhile, do I ever feel so absolutely, totally, and completely inadequate.

Labyrinth

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King’sbrae 9.3
9 June 2017

Labyrinth

What thread will lead
blind Theseus
this labyrinth through?

Light the ladybird sun
caressing his one cheek
the other in shadow.

Fanciful the bumble bee,
heard but not seen
its miracle of ponderous,
heavier-than-air flight

Sight-blessed,
life’s obstacle course:
a flat track frolic
for all those confident
of foot and touch.

Listen to the ladybird:
she cracks her wings
and launches upwards
to join her companion,
the bee, twin specks
together now in the sky.

Love Spoon

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Kingsbrae 9.1
9 June 2017

Love Spoon

Celtic the Knot
binding heart and soul
the love spoon
carved
by caring hands

Sharp moon blade
honed by the wind
white
wooden clouds
flowing against
dark sky grain

Sweet surge
time and tide
tied together
knotted
our heart strings
twisted our love
forever in this
Celtic Knot

Comment: Celtic Knot is the name of one of the more formal gardens at Kingsbrae. It is also one of the symbols carved into Welsh Love Spoons and signifies eternal love. Carving the love spoon was one of the traditional tasks given to the young man when he asked for the hand of his beloved in marriage. In addition to showing craftsmanship and woodcarving skill, the task of carving the wood spoon kept the young man’s hands occupied while he was courting. Parents would then be able to check on the progress of the love spoon and ensure that their daughter’s virtues were in safe and trustworthy hands.