My First Thanksgiving

My First Thanksgiving

For the first twenty-two years of my life
Thanksgiving held no meaning, no life,
no substance, no form, nothing familiar,
nothing special to hold my attention.

When I emigrated to Canada
my cousins changed all that
with an invitation to visit them
in Kincardine for Thanksgiving.

Turkey on the table, colored
table napkins, and a family gathered,
arms outstretched, to make me welcome.

We were all surprised at how alike we looked.
“Like Cousin George, in Vancouver,” they said.
“Like Cousin Elsie in Revelstoke.”
“Like my mother’s mother, back home
in Swansea,” I said.

They told me how the Second World War
had brought the family back together
on these special holidays:
Christmas in Wales for the Canadian boys
or Thanksgiving in Winnipeg
for the Welsh boys learning to fly.

That Thanksgiving, the old family names
turned to photographs: snaps of my mother’s wedding,
my grandmother holding me, age three, on her knee.

And finally, as a special Thanksgiving gift,
a long-distance call to Britain and Clare
on the telephone saying
“Yes,” she would come to Canada,
and “yes,” she would marry me.

And I remember crying all the way
from Kincardine to Toronto,
and that was my first Thanksgiving in Canada.

Comment: A Golden Oldie, indeed. This poem is from my collection Secret Gardens. The secret love poems I write to Clare. It was published on our Silver Wedding Anniversary, 24 December 1991. It is a pleasure to re-publish it here for Thanksgiving, 2021. Now what am I going to do for 24 December 2021?

Click on the link below for Roger’s reading.

My First Thanksgiving

Octo-+Plus

Octo+Plus

The Octo-Plus has eaten up all my words and the stream has run dry. When the words don’t flow, I let the paint flow instead. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. That might actually be a self-portrait, lurking in the bottom left corner of the painting’s glass. Ah, the ghost, not in the machine, but in the painting. It’s a hard life, being a writer when the words dry up.

I remember the old school’s terms of abuse “Oh, dry up!” Well, 70 years later, I have done just that. Mind you, it’s only for a day or two, and look, miracle of miracles, I am writing again. Leave the keyboard, take up your pen. The words are flowing and you’re writing again.

True Love

True Love

True love flows so much deeper
than an exchange of body fluids
or a handing over of ritual rings.

Our advancing lives are no longer
ruled by nature’s primal urges.
Our bodies have been taken over
by old age stiffness, aches, and pains.

Some nights, I wake up to find
she no longer breathes. I reach out
in panic, touch her gently, and when
she breathes again, I heave a sigh
redolent with love and relief.

Listen to podcast here.
True Love

Man from Merthyr

Man from Merthyr

Memory loss punched holes in your head
and let in the dark, instead of the light.
Constellations faded from your sight,
erased by the arch-angel’s coal-dust wing.

 “I’m shrinking,” you said, the last time I saw you,
you, who had been taller, were now smaller than me.

 Tonight, when the harvest moon shines bright
and drowns the stars in its sea of light,
I will sit by my window and watch for your soul
as it rides its coal-fired rocket to eternity.

My eyes will be dry. I do not want pink runnels
running down this coal-miner’s unwashed face.
I’ll sing you a Welsh lullaby, to help you sleep.

“When the coal comes from the Rhondda
down the Merthyr-Taff Vale line,
when the coal comes from the Rhondda
I’ll be there.”

With you, my friend, shoulder to shoulder.
“With my golden pick and shovel, I’ll be there.”
Farewell, my friend, safe journey, sleep deep,
as deep as a Rhondda coal mine may you sleep.

Rainbows

Rainbows

For my teenage daughter
who has just cried on my shoulder

not knowing which courses to take
nor what university to attend.
21 December 1991
12:50 pm.

Rainbows go up and down.
Only you can say which way to go:
upwards to the heavens
or downwards to the earth below.

Rainbows are a promise
of ever sunnier skies.
We see them after rainstorms
or in tear-filled eyes.

There’s no shame in grief.
Every cloud has a silver lining
and rainbows gather round it
waiting for our mind’s refining.

Search for your rainbow.
Follow when it points the way.
But remember, when you fall
to earth, like you did today,

that always at the rainbow’s foot
there lies a pot of gold.
Well that’s what the Irish
Fairies say, or so I am told.

In Praise of the Other

In Praise of the Other
A Thursday Thought

I have lived with the Other.
He treated me well.

To him I was the Other,
yet he fed me when I hungered,
gave water when I ran dry.

I fell ill and he cared for me,
nursed me back to health.

He taught me his language,
culture, history, and skills.

He loved me, never forced me
to forget myself and become
something I could never be.

He made me what I am today:
a believer in humanity,
not man’s inhumanity to man.

Cage of Flame

Remember to scroll down to appropriate audio recording.

Cage of Flame

Now you are a river flowing silver beneath the moon. High tide in the salt marsh: your body fills with shadow and light. I dip my hands in dappled water. Twin gulls, they float down stream, then perch on an ice-floe of half-remembered dreams. Eagle with a broken wing, why am I trapped in this cage of flame? When I turn my feathers to the sun, my back is striped with the black and white of a convict’s bars. Awake, I lie anchored by what pale visions fluttering on the horizon? White moths wing their snow storm through the night. A feathered shadow ghosts fingers towards my face. Butterflies stutter against a shuttered window. A candle flickers in the darkness and map in runes the ruins of my heart. Eye of the peacock, can you touch what I see when my eyelids close for the night? The black rock of the midnight sun rolled up the sky. Last night, the planet quivered beneath my body and I felt each footfall of a transient god. When will I be released from my daily bondage?

Oh dear, I no longer know whether I am writing poetry or prose. Maybe I should contact Survey Monkey and have a survey on the subject. Clearly the above is prose because it has no line breaks. But what happens when we do this?

Cage of Flame

Now you are a river flowing
silver beneath the moon.
High tide in the salt marsh:
your body fills with shadow and light.
I dip my hands in dappled water.

Eagle with a broken wing,
why am I trapped in this cage of flame?
When I turn my feathers to the sun,
my back is striped with the black
and white of a convict’s bars.

Awake, I lie anchored by what pale visions
fluttering on the horizon?
White moths wing their snow
storm through the night.
A feathered shadow ghosts
fingers towards my face.
Butterflies stutter against
a shuttered window.
A candle flickers in the darkness
and maps in runes the ruins of my heart.

Eye of the peacock,
can you touch what I see
when my eyelids close for the night?
The black rock of the midnight sun
rolled up the sky.

Last night, the planet quivered
beneath my body and I felt
each footfall of a transient god.
When will I be released
from my daily bondage?

Sure, it’s the same text. But is it? And what happens if we change the line breaks? Does the rhythm stay the same in both cases? It certainly does when I read it, but how about you? Poetry or prose? Tell me if you knows! And what’s the difference anyway if the words roll off your tongue and metaphors, mystery, and magic rule?

Cage of Flame can be found in my poetry collection Though Lovers Be Lost and also in Stars at Elbow and Foot (Selected Poems, 1979-2009). Both are available at this link.

Tiz-Woz Days

Tiz-Woz Days

Well, it’s been a couple of Tiz-Woz days sitting here, looking out of the window, waiting for the results of the bone scans I underwent a week or so ago. I should be getting the results next Monday, on my father’s birthday. He would have been 111 years old and I always celebrate his birthday by wearing either his watch or the one he gave me for my own 21st birthday, way back when.

This is a very special photo. It shows my 21st birthday watch together with the bracelet, with my name on it, that my grand-daughter made for me when she was four years old. Four generations of memories sitting on my wrist. I think she put my nick-name (nom de plume) on the bracelet in case I forget who I am. She knows it can happen in old age. The four dots are to remind me that she was four when she made this present for me.

Allan Hudson very kindly interviewed Jane and I for his blog: the South Branch Scribbler.

Here’s today’s article.

South Branch Scribbler: Branching out with New Brunswick Authors Jane Tims and Roger Moore. (allanhudson.blogspot.com)

This is my first interview with Allan.

http://allanhudson.blogspot.com/2016/02/guest-author-roger-moore-story-plus-4q.html

This is the second one. Today’s is my third appearance on his blog.

http://allanhudson.blogspot.com/2016/02/guest-author-roger-moore-story-plus-4q.html

Thank you Allan, for all you hard work on behalf of New Brunswick writers.

And here’s the latest book to be added to my collection. Thank you Dr. Karunesh Agarwal.

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

Books for Sale

Oh dear, dear bear!

Oh dear, dear bear.

Basil decided he liked beer, especially in small tins. The news says that many teddy bears have become addicted to alcohol in the course of the pandemic. What the Strolling Roans call Teddy’s little helper, or Basil’s in this case. I do hope he’s all right.

Basil swears he likes cats. “Look,” he says. “She’s reaching out to me.” I am worried that she’s coming to give him a nasty scratch. Am I worried? Of course I am. I thought Basil was a tee-tee-tee-total bear. I think he’s trying to break in.

Suddenly, I am not so sure. I think he has been talking, in secret, with one of my friends, whose name we will not mention. Couldn’t be him. How could he talk when … (comment removed by MI6, or equivalent).

Chance Encounter

IMG_0138.JPG
“You only find what you leave behind.”

Chance Encounter
(Overheard at the bar)

“Meeting her, unexpected,
with another man,
and me, with another woman,
all four of us looking
bemused by what the other
had chosen in each
other’s absence
— suspense and silence —
then the halted, faltering
politeness of a nod,
a handshake, ships
passing in the night,
signals no longer recognized.”