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.

Cave Paintings

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Cave Paintings
Cantabria

Who painted these pictures on the walls of night’s cave?
This grayish hand, fingers flexed, outlined in black soot,
that deer dancing, those bears, horses, bison, running?


Did they come from nowhere, plucked from nothing but
the artist’s memories of what he saw as the ice age faded
and heat and warmth returned to warm his world? Drawn
from life, without doubt. Unless these Neanderthals were
truly creating art from a literal vacuum with nothing new
invented since according to Picasso. And he should know.

Imagine them as sounds, as letters from distant relatives,
as colored vowels scored on the blocks of a child’s first
alphabet set. Sit and stare. Watch flames flitter over
sharp shapes. See life enter the drawings as flimsy
light flickers over the cave walls’ dips and bumps.

Once seen, never forgotten. Not just the paintings, but also
the clammy cave damp, the red hanky draped over a pocket torch
to imitate firelight, the drip of water, slow growth of limestone
deposits growing into stalagmite and stalactite. Such things
flit in and out of my mind like owls or bats, drop in on my sleep
wake me with predatory beaks and claws, calling for my skull’s shut
doors to open wide, to let them in, and to bring them back to life.

Comment: The picture comes from an ash-tray my parents bought at the Cuevas de Altamira, in Santillana del Mar (Cantabria, Santander as it was known then) in 1963. We visited many cave sites in Cantabria including Puente Viesgo, where we saw the sooty hands. Back then, the caves had only just been opened. At Altamira, a young lady came to greet us. We asked her if we might view the caves and she whistled loudly. Her husband came down from the fields where he was working. He took a large iron key from his pocket, opened a huge door set in the rock, and in we went. One light bulb illumined the inner chamber. Only a small segment had been dug out. We reclined on a rocky bank. He doused the electric light, took a torch from his pocket, and covered it with a red pocket handkerchief. He moved this back and forth to imitate firelight and immediately the whole wall came to life and the animals moved in the flickering light. Pure magic. Unforgettable. We were the only people there. Four of us. A few years later, you had to book an appointment and a place. Within six years, the caves were closed as the heat of human bodies raised the cave temperatures and caused the paintings to deteriorate. I was so fortunate, so privileged, to see those paintings in what was almost their pristine state. In 1991, I visited the facsimile of the caves built in Madrid. I paid my money, went in, sat down, and came out crying for all those things we had lost, for all that beauty that had been denied.

Ginger Marcinkowski

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Ginger Marcinkowski
(KIRA, August, 2019)

“My walk each morning, rain or shine,
feathers my black galoshes with dewy grass.
There I would ramble through gated doors
that kept out the world and sealed in
my pen’s work for that day. 

I often found myself sidetracked,
exploring paths that led through flowerbeds,
and up to my favorite sculptures.
I paused to watch my fellow artists
as they focused on chosen subjects
unaware that I was eavesdropping. 

Then silently, I would steal away
along the well-trod path to my studio,
pausing long enough to greet the llamas
and baby goats. If I listen carefully
I can still hear their bleating. 

In wonder, every day, I climbed the steps
of wood that led to my studio, opened
the door, and turned to breathe in my good
fortune. “What a blessed woman you are,”
I would tell myself before taking my place
for hours on end at my desk, each moment,
each stroke of the pen, each letter added
to the growing lines on the page, a gift.”

Comment: I have been writing poems about the KIRA artists as part of my next poetry book, The Nature of Art and the Art of Nature. This is my KIRA2021 project. The Nature of Art is a revision and expansion of a poetry manuscript of the same name that placed second in the WFNB’s Alfred G. Bailey Award (2020). This poem appears in the section entitled Impressions of KIRA Artists. Currently this section contains eleven poems, but it is still under construction. This poem is interesting in that it is a ‘found’ poem, in the sense that Ginger wrote these words to me in an e-mail. I removed them, reordered them, polished them, and sent her back her own poem in her own words. What fun! This should help explain the use of inverted commas at beginning and end, for this poem is spoken in Ginger’s own words.

Cage of Flame

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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.

Stars at Elbow and Foot

Stars at Elbow and Foot

Stars at Elbow and Foot
(Selected Poems,1979-2009)
is now available online at the following link:

Purchase
Stars at Elbow and Foot

“These poems reveal an impressive tenderness and have a very great variety.
The ceaseless radiation of sublime ideas is perceptible in these poems.”

“A poetry book is a dream you hold in your hands.”

KIRA 2021 Books

KIRA 2021 Books

I stayed this morning for the KIRA public visits. It was very cold on the back porch and not many people visited. I received four visitors between 10 and 2. However, word will spread and the people will come. Especially if the weather improves. Books above: On Being Welsh, Tales of Tara, McAdam Railway Station, Time Spirits, Lamentations for Holy Week, Land of Rocks and Saints, Obsidian 22, Obsidian’s Edge, and Twelve Days of Cat.

The porch at KIRA: a place to meet, read, write, and display one’s works. What a pleasure to be there. A double pleasure to be invited back.

Books washed up on the Beach, Holt’s Point, NB. Some of the above and a few others. Looking good, as the book worm said when he crawled along the beach for breakfast.

Books in Studio #1, laid out for the visitors, KIRA, June, 2017. So much color, so much hard work.

Garden of Memories

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Garden of Memories

Last year, a star as red as the warrior planet,
fell down the chimney and covered the poinsettia
with its annual story of glorious, gory leaves.

The cat and the dog stood shoulder to shoulder
to deliver new versions of their Christmas broadsides.
Ghosts danced on the snow bank, slender and bright.

This year an obsidian knife, chipped from black,
volcanic glass hacks into my mind, carving it
in two. Snowflakes invade its split personality.

I tread thin ice that burns with a glacial fire.
Incarcerated birds sing deep in my rib cage.
All my lost toys lie buried beneath fresh snow.

Tears freeze in my eyes, drip from my eyelashes.
They shoot towards earth and descend as stars.
A sunflower grows from my rag-and-bone body.

If I sit here in silence will the world, like a garden
growing wild, go on without me? I pop the question
but spring blossoms seal their lips, refuse to reply.

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

Monet at Kingsbrae

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Monet at Kingsbrae

Clos Normand and the Grande Allée closed to him.
Folded his flowers, their petals tight at his nightfall.
Dark their colours, in mourning for his mornings
of light, fled far from him now, left way back behind.

The Lady of the Garden holds out her hand, hands him
an apple: l’offrande du coeur. A scarlet heart of flame
and his world regenerates in roses and in tulips. Especially
when the dying sun pours molten fire on a crimson lake.

The limpid sky brims over into low clouds trapping
a slash of colour here, and there a tree, a fountain of gold.
If the sun is an apple blushing on a setting branch, the money
plant hangs silver-white of moonlight between fine-tuned fingers.
When it rattles its seeds, coins blunt the moon’s sharp edge,
clouds weep, and earth is eclipsed by nickels and dimes.

The breeze bowls clean dry bones across the sky. Wind of change:
that first fast bite too bitter to remember and timeless this tide,
this ebb and flow, this great pond-serpent coiled around the tree,
devouring both tail and tale, dictating itself to death, forever.

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

Books for Sale

Not on my watch!

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Not on My Watch!

The black-and-white cat
sits in the window and watches
the ginger cat that lounges on the porch
and watches the five deer
that stand in the woods at the garden’s foot
and watch the neighbor’s little dog
that watches the raccoon
that disdainfully removes the garbage can lid
and fishes out the food, scattering
paper and wrappers and cans
as four crows sit in the tree and watch
the wind as it whistles the papers
round and round in a windmill
that wraps itself round the feet
of another neighbor who is watching
the raccoon with open-eyes
as a seagull flies above him
and bombs him from above,
damn seagulls, and the bird poop
falls right on my neighbor’s watch face
and he cries out
“Oh no, not on my watch!”

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Books for Sale

Comment: The photo shows the Omega watch that my father gave me for my 21st birthday. I am wearing it now, together with the bracelet that my four year old granddaughter, his great-grand-daughter, gave me for my birthday two years ago. Four generations in one photograph. Unbelievable.