Friday, April 30, 2010

the space filled by birds

there are many sensorial
empty spaces in winter.

one that affects me
is the absence of birdsong.
the birds make wise choices
and follow the warmth south.

with them
go many little joys.

i love to watch swallows fly.
the great v's of geese.
trees filled with sparrows.

now they're back
those empty spaces
have been filled once more
with their hurried fluttering
and most especially
and wonderfully
with their song


it was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
the day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through which the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.

woman encircled by the flight of birds

when i returned from so many journeys,
i stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
i saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,

miro - the beautiful bird

and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
i saw it all from my green sky.
i had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

pablo neruda

and you know, it was e.e. cummings who said,
"i'd rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance".

nailed that one sweetly boyo!

miro woman and birds

Thursday, April 29, 2010

street night rain

making my way home
friends half a block ahead

darkened doorways
muted colours

hissing tires

the glistening
black skin of rain


light drunkenly reels into shadow;
blurs, slurs uneasily;
slides off the eyeballs:
the segments shatter.

tree-branches cut arc-light in ragged
fluttering wet strips.
the cup of the sky-sign is filled too full;
it slushes wine over.

the street-lamps dance a tarentella
and zigzag down the street:
they lift and fly away
in a wind of lights.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

chance fortune

at the end
of an alleyway
my lucky number

hot lit
in the late afternoon sun

the buzz
of recognition
like a chance
across a crowded room

hey it's my day
my lucky day

to my right
my lower right

a form shuffles
in the shadows
a man's muffled cough
what was once
a sleeping bag
padded with newspapers
and weather-stained

our fortunes
by a chance
beam of light

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


have you ever met
who seems to be waiting?

for their purpose
to be revealed

you see
i think that
there are people
who rest against the outside of this world

like stairs
on an old building

they wait

that perhaps their purpose
will be
to offer a safe exit
to the ground
or a revealing
to the vista above

each year

by a fresh coat of paint

Monday, April 26, 2010

my mother's willow

the willow
on a rainy day
through my mother's
kitchen window

it is a willow when summer is over,
a willow by the river
from which no leaf has fallen nor
bitten by the sun
turned orange or crimson.
the leaves cling and grow paler,
swing and grow paler
over the swirling waters of the river
as if loath to let go,
they are so cool, so drunk with
the swirl of the wind and of the river--
oblivious to winter,
the last to let go and fall
into the water and on the ground.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

spring rain

i welcome the very idea of spring as it spreads the notion far and wide
and most especially inside my head and heart
that its big brother “summer” is not far away!!

spring is full of little “wow” moments -
the first crocuses,
birdsong, buds, the return of life -
a welcome change from the narrow field of experience
the canadian winter provides.

so one of many “wows” of spring left my mouth
when i came across the poetry of new zealand writer hone tuwhare.

i really love how this man sees and then how he writes.

tuwhare is of maori heritage, inheriting his dad's gifts as a storyteller.

we’re supposed to get the first bit of rain we've had in a little while today,
so to acknowledge
and celebrate that fact,
here’s my favourite tuwhare poem entitled “rain” . . .

i can hear you
making small holes
in the silence
if i were deaf
the pores of my skin
would open to you
and shut
and i
should know you
by the lick of you
if i were blind
the something
special smell of you
when the sun cakes
the ground
the steady
drum-roll sound
you make
when the wind drops
but if i
should not hear
smell or feel or see
you would still
define me
disperse me
wash over me

to read more of tuwhare’s writing you should visit here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

the landing stage

sometimes we can be so alone.
so on our own.

even strangers seem like friends.

pierre bonnard landing stage

"everybody else seemed to have people to see them off. so i went back on shore and found a dirty little boy who was unoccupied, and said his name was william. "will you wave to me if i give you sixpence, william?" i said. "why yes," said william. so i gave him sixpence and went back on board.

and when the time came he leaned over his railing on the landing stage, and waved. and now and then he shouted indistinct messages in a shrill voice. and as we slid away , the last object i looked at was a small dot waving a white handkerchief, or nearly white, faithfully."

rupert brooke memoir

Friday, April 23, 2010

small glories

the first
small glories of spring

i know the art of evoking happy moments,
and live my past again as i nestle at your knees;
for what would it avail to seek your drowsy beauties
save in your beloved body and so tender heart?

i know the art of evoking happy moments.

excerpted from "the balcony" baudelaire (translation by francis scarfe (1961)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

what a difference

four of my students got their heads shaved on tuesday
in honour of family members fighting cancer.

one of my girls had her ponytail cut off
to help make a wig for a girl who has lost her hair due to her treatments.

kids are so brave.
so really truly deeply brave.

do you remember how important it was to you
in grade six to not,
absolutely not
look weird or different.

i guess these kids didn't read that part of the book!!!

i skipped that part also!!!

a self-portrait of the fifty three year old steven in the morning sun.

a self-portrait of the fifty three year old steven in the evening sun.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

pedal for hope ride

today i got to ride with the pedal for hope team.
these guys (and one woman rider) are all police officers. oh, and there's john druce the former nhl player who managed to work his way onto the team and really belongs there to be honest!
they ride on their holidays - so three weeks - 1000 km and 53 schools!

the reason they ride is to raise money to help in the fight against cancer - especially pediatric cancer.

i lead my school in fundraising for the pedal for hope campaign and we worked for seven days
selling cupcakes, cookies, holding a raffle, hat day, stuffie day, jammie day, movie day, all sorts of stuff!

this is my second time working with the team but it was my first time riding with them.
i was really really excited!
it might seem strange but i barely slept the night before and couldn't eat breakfast.

the day started for the team at st. catherines school and they were swamped with heads to be shaved (which is the really big fundraiser) so we got off to a fairly late start to my school (otonabee valley).
fortunately, we had a police escort and rode in a loose echolon single-file. the pace was really nice - 30 to 45 km/h with one stretch downhill where i cracked 60+ km/h for the first time on a bike.

then we got to ride along the highway as the escort shut down a lane for us. that was extremely sweet as the road surface was smooth.
really smooth.

the whole school was out front cheering and yelling as we arrived.
the team and everyone else made their way back into our gym where an amazing, powerful, high energy celebration took place during which time several heads were shaved, girls donated ponytails to be made into wigs for girls who have lost their hair as a result of their treatments, and lots of ice cream was huffed back in whatever way was necessary by some eager ice cream eaters!!

here are the bikes lined up outside my school.

and here's me and my buddy habsy (sgt. marc habgood) enjoying a little quality time.
i'm the good looking boy on the left!!

i'm so proud of my school.
we raised $2300 towards cancer research.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

outside time

outside time

from a distance
all i could see
was the soft
silvered fingers
of a stand of birch

the cabin was tucked away.
its weathered pine siding
discretely into the forest.

walking closer
it was obvious
that it had been abandoned.

is there anything
and yet more promising
than a forgotten shelter?

a place to escape time.

a muffled knocking sound
that could have been a lazy woodpecker
turned out to be a shutter that had come loose
solemnly tapping its wind-driven morse
into the side of the cabin.

it was hard to know
what prompted me to kick the door in.

the flimsy door
the cobweb-covered windows
the yellowing lace curtains.

the sound
of the splintering doorframe
was swallowed up
in the rustling of bushes
the creaking of trees
and the sudden anxious cawing of crows.

and then just as suddenly
there was
silence as i stepped
over the worn wooden threshold

the air
hovered thickly
like a silted stream
and shimmering
with dust motes
swirling in the sudden inrush of air

a pale yellow
filtered sunlight -
overlaid the grey scale
of the simple wooden furniture.

i pushed the door closed

and stood
in the centre of the room
the dust settle
back into soft grey drifts

in the corner
a small table
set with
two small
china plates

fogged with time

by one plate
a pewter

i walked over and picked it up
felt its weight
felt the slight
movement of its
tiny hands


Monday, April 19, 2010


music drifts in
from the floating world

this is bim

"Stay In My Memory" by Bim from Gobblynne Animation on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

alleybound sky

down the empty alley
i see and feel
the hollow-eyed bricks
held together
by a forgotten ambition

to ground them
in the present moment

the ladder offers
for a skybound view

Saturday, April 17, 2010


john cage - not a household name - which to me is a strange thing . . . . . but then too, jackson pollock isn’t either and perhaps it’s because they shared similar roles in the ongoing deconstruction of the culture they lived inside.

stepping well outside the bounds of what was nominally “music”, cage was alternately famous / infamous for his creative use of musical instruments and especially for his development of “chance music” in which some element of the work is left to chance or to the whim of the performers.

cage’s writing is less challenging but still carries the presence of a singularly brilliant man who carried the burden of moving culture along its path for many years.

go here to read john’s tiny rich stories of life both inner and outer.

once there you can choose from an “index of names” which allows you to access a list of names of people who appear in the little vignettes, or you can access a list of “first lines” which allows you to select a vignette based on its first line. you may also select from an index of “last lines”.

i have many favourites here but my absolute favourite would have to be the one whose first line is:

“you probably know the one about the two monks,
but i’ll tell it anyway”.
it is numbered “2”.
oh and by the way,
don’t be fooled by this sample into thinking that
you are going to be reading a selection of zen parables . . . . .

far from it!


here 'tis.


“you probably know the one about the two
monks, but i’ll tell it
they were
walking along one day when they came to
a stream where a young lady was
waiting, hoping that someone
would help her across.

without hesitating, one
of the monks picked her up and carried
her across, putting her
down safely on the other side.

the two monks continued walking along,
and after some time,
the second one,
unable to restrain himself,
said to the first,
“you know we’re not
allowed to touch women.
why did you carry that woman
across the stream?”

the first monk replied,
“put her down.

i did two hours ago.”

john cage

Friday, April 16, 2010

deliquescence (iii)

in everything that begins
in everything that falls apart


comes to pieces

we're granted
a vision
of endlessness

in the event horizon
that is
flaking layers of paint
are revealed
pale carmine ripples
of age and decay

in the slow return
from form to formlessness
is revealed something
beyond the crumbling surface

much as
my tired eyes

creased by smile wrinkles

reveal something
who i was

and who i am

all finite things reveal infinitude:
the mountain with its singular bright shade
like the blue shine on freshly frozen snow,
the after-light upon ice-burdened pines;
odor of basswood on a mountain-slope,
a scent beloved of bees;
silence of water above a sunken tree :
the pure serene of memory in one man, --
a ripple widening from a single stone
winding around the waters of the world.

excerpted from "the far field" theodore rothke

Thursday, April 15, 2010


brick and limestone

a jigsaw

a formed puzzle


looking out
looking in

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the floating world

the effect of arriving
in the downtown
of a city
in the year 2010
is spectacular
and moving

you hit the ground

it's a whole different space

energies of all sorts
swirl in abundance
people fly by
in worlds of their own creation

i like to
find the air
they breathe
and join the dancing
floating souls

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

her muted form

grant wood stone city

some of grant wood's work
makes me think that
i am seeing a woman
under an eiderdown quilt.

grant wood young corn

the dips and hummocks,
the muted outlines of her body.
grant wood spring

and that
of what i think
when i see
the earth.

grant wood sheaves of corn

Monday, April 12, 2010

ice gardens

sit in the spring sun
with me
and remember
ice gardens
of not so long ago

Sunday, April 11, 2010

in those moments

on friday i bicycled home
up and over the hills
through a snowstorm.

no complaints from me
see, when you know
winter's gone away
for a while,
you can laugh
when snow falls
and really
appreciate it
in an entirely different way


on those days
when clouds
hang low to the ground
and a late spring snow
holds tight
to winter memories

the wind
thin grey tales
that can be heard
in the rustling
and scraping
of empty seedpods

it's best
to be entirely alone
in those moments

winter solitude--
in a world of one colour
the sound of wind


Saturday, April 10, 2010

rose, carnation, fern

with the return of warmer weather
the pool has frogs and all sorts of bugs
spending time in it.
i was getting it ready
to be opened
so i pulled the collector bucket out of its little space and
inside the bucket was a semi circular chunk of absolutely clear ice.

i spent one glorious hour of my life
taking pictures of that piece of ice
in various locations in and out of my home.

over the course of time
it changed shape and even its internal architecture
veined with air bubbles and radiating striations.

today's set is of flowers around my home as seen through the block of ice.

roses, carnations and ferns.

(click on each image to enlarge it)

Friday, April 9, 2010

night meeting

to read this poem is to watch a film.
a rich, luxurious, romantic film.

the heart that beats fast

short hurried breaths

wide eyes

the deep grass of the fields
brushing against arms
and legs

the stone walled farmhouse
dark brown and muted grey
rises from the moorland

broken only by the wind
and then

a gentle tapping at the window

the match scrape
the muted flicker
of a candle
through old rippled glass windows

i see and feel it all
here 'tis


meeting at night
the grey sea and the long black land;
and the yellow half-moon large and low;
and the startled little waves that leap
in fiery ringlets from their sleep,
as i gain the cove with pushing prow,
and quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
three fields to cross till a farm appears;
a tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
and blue spurt of a lighted match,
and a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
than the two hearts beating each to each!

here’s the author robert browning
- a dapper dude -

someone who knew love.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

faces called flowers

as spring unfolds and the warmer days meld
with cooler rainy nights,
my thoughts become filled with the prospect of gardening.

i never achieve as much as i plan
and it's probably in the planning
that i gain the greatest satisfaction
(in almost anything)

advice that i treasure
that my grandmother
and my father both said at times in my past.

"always leave a place for the fairies at the bottom of the garden"

helen allingham cow parsley and bluebells

when faces called flowers float out of the ground
and breathing is wishing and wishing is having -
but keeping is downward and doubting and never
- it's april (yes, april; my darling) it's spring!
yes the pretty birds frolic as spry as can fly
yes the little fish gambol as glad as can be
(yes the mountains are dancing together)

when every leaf opens without any sound
and wishing is having and having is giving -
but keeping is doting and nothing and nonsense
- alive; we're alive, dear: it's (kiss me now) spring!
now the pretty birds hover so she and so he
now the little fish quiver so you and so i
(now the mountains are dancing, the mountains)

when more than was lost has been found has been found
and having is giving and giving is living -
but keeping is darkness and winter and cringing
- it's spring (all our night becomes day) o, it's spring!
all the pretty birds dive to the heart of the sky
all the little fish climb through the mind of the sea
(all the mountains are dancing; are dancing)

---e.e. cummings

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

the winter pool

when winter ends

the ice
on the pool

in clouds
of cerulean petals

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

heart line

seen from a distance

you might not know
that this tree
looking out over the sea

the sky
like a heart line
in the palm
of its hand