Sunday, February 28, 2010

the hope

this is what i know:

this fragile neural tracery
carries the sputtering arcs
of spring's promise
as surely
as i carry the hope

Saturday, February 27, 2010

open water

with a gentler winter
the river has open water

that holds the memories
of clouds and trees

in its

Friday, February 26, 2010


when i think of the little bits of me
that i have scattered without care
across the landscape of my passing

i am left wondering
whether any took flower

or filled a silence

occupied an uncomfortable space

or if perhaps they lie there still

beautiful little moments

Thursday, February 25, 2010

tree fall

"its roots are bristling in the air
like some mad earth-god's spiny hair;
the loud south-wester's swell and yell
smote it at midnight, and it fell."

i was walking along a snowy trail
a few kilometres south of here.

it was absolutely silent
but for the creaking of the trees

the leaners
you know

the ones that have fallen
but not completely fallen -
making a soft wooden kind of
that feels brown
and grainy
and old.


i came 'round a bend
in the trail
and saw this fallen tree

bark hanging in tattered strips
from its fractured body

and i felt such empathy.

but then too
i felt
the loop of its life.


and then


like ribbons
draped over
its folded
and bent body

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a doorway

standing by the side
of the sea
i watch
seven geese

silently flying
east to west

stagger stitched
like black thread
on the mottled grey cloth
of a snow cloud sky.

i stand and watch them.

my favourite number.

and i know a door has opened.
but to what?

three swans glide across
the winter bay

on the suddenly stilled water

and the air has that
sudden weight
that accompanies
the closing of heavy curtains

and i know
the same door
has closed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


the boy moves in short shuffling steps.

in the tiny arc of his shoulders,

a resigned weariness

reflecting years of searching the pavement

with his eyes.

if you could convince him to lift his head,

you would be drawn to those eyes,

pale as winter moss.

in their hollowness

would be revealed a sense of life

as something

that has yet to be convinced

of his rightful place in it.

as evening spreads across the street,

hard-edged forms soften.

the boy could easily miss the small matchbox in the gutter.

but he doesn't.

passing through a pale yellow slice of of light,

he sees its rectangular outline.

closer still,

the cluster of pale red matchheads.

shuffling to the edge of the curb,

he crouches down

low to the cobbled roadway,

stretches out one small arm

and wraps his thin grey fingers around the cardboard prism.

the boy stands up slowly,

as he pushes the box inside his shirt

alongside the piece of bread,

the half-eaten apple,

the crumpled paper bag,

and the small green glass bottle.

it’s almost time to find a place to sleep for the night.

detail from little cobbler’s shop childe hassam

to read more variations on this meme then visit magpie's tales.

Monday, February 22, 2010


i came across
this gorgeous piece of wood.

- a tree at some point in its life -

watching the sea
from between
two large boulders
on the shore.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

winter in a moment, in its fullness

in a little place,
in a brief moment
winter looks like this.

dry wisps of yellowed winter grass.
a cold, thin breeze.
snow rustling like sugar.

the great sufi poet rumi saw winter in its fullness . . .

winter is a time for death.
do you think death is a bad thing?
then you still haven't got it.
you've lived countless lives and died
countless deaths in an endless process of evolution.
each death has brought you more life.
without, death, there is no rebirth.
the ultimate death is nothing to do with the body.
it is the death of your self as separate from God.
you are standing at the edge of his ocean of love.
plunge below the surf of separation.
dive into the mystical depth.
dissolve yourself into that sea.
like a moth around a candle, be irresistibly drawn
to the light until you are engulfed by flames in an inferno of communion.
the lover chooses the fire because he knows
the secret: "the honey is worth the sting."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

a slow return

the waves -
to my right

i think
they sensed my presence

because they
left very little space
as i inched along
the shingle beach

in fact they grew louder
reaching for my feet
cold water fingers found their way
inside my boots


in my ears the grinding
of small rounded pebbles

in my eyes

an icy promontory

a frozen bearded sea-lion
looking out to sea

icicles even

slowly returning
to the sea
they had just left

Friday, February 19, 2010

nice work, jack!

my little buddy jack
dropped by in the night!

i heard his spiky little paintbrush
scratching etching
on the bedroom window.

a tiny
triple zero

little water crystals
into spiked ferns -
splendiferizing the view!

hey, nice work jack!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the bell

my buddy barry will finish his chemo today.
at two o'clock e.s.t!

words cannot describe the moment of joy that hovers over this magic moment.

as he leaves princess margaret hospital in toronto,
signalling to every single person within earshot
that he has finished his chemo.

many years ago my best buddy peter, a man who smoked like a damp campfire all his life, found himself dealing with lung and brain cancer. he really didn't let it cramp his style at all though as he travelled to and from toronto for all sorts of radiation and chemicals and counselling and support, and then he ended up with a metal frame attached to his head which made him look like a nutbar. all the while he showed up at the local hockey games with me and we laughed at the pics of him, and then we laughed even harder at his truly horrible baldness! like me, peter couldn't really carry it off because of his skinny head and noble proboscis.

later, when the cancer really nailed him, i remember one moment in palliative care
when i held his hand and then took the plunge and hugged him.
i love hugs. but peter was not a person who hugged.
but we hugged and held each other close - because it was so damn unfair.
the whole thing sucked.

i didn't know that it was a taste
of a challenge that would be even more difficult.

two years ago, i watched one of my students - diagnosed with brain cancer - wade through the endless trips to toronto: appointments for this, that, and the other thing.

i celebrated her tortuous walks into the class when she somehow found both the strength and the will to come in. her hair was gone, her face puffy, her body exhausted, and yet still she sat at her desk and tried to go after the work we were doing. her voice slurred, her balance shot, constant headaches from the shunts draining the fluid from the area around the tumor and then the brain surgery itself. this girl would go in for brain surgery and a week or so later arrive at my room ready to go. well, not ready at all, but wishing she was.

can you imagine?

she'd sit there with blurred vision, her scalp freshly scarred and every time i saw her i thought - this is all she can stand - this is my last time seeing her. i once thought in my mind "please take her back" and the thought left my head almost as quickly as it entered because i wanted her to win this battle as badly as she wanted to win it. i just couldn't stand to see the suffering.


i want you to know that she was given days at one point - less than a handful of days - and her mother came in to tell me and we cried together because her daughter had a christmas gift for me from sick kids hospital and she wanted me to have it for my christmas tree. this kid - dying and days from flying away at the age of eleven wanted me to have a christmas ornament! what can you take from that?! what can you learn about the strength of this child?! what can you learn about valuing every single moment and living your life as it was meant to be lived?

i want you to know that she won.

i want you to know that she is alive. that she is a feisty, gutsy young woman. i want you to know that she beats up her sister, that she hates school, that she argues with her mother and most especially that she managed to ride a bike - a dream of hers and that she is concerned with her appearance like any kid her age ought to be.

i want you to know that through the course of this experience, my class raised thousands of dollars through whatever means we could, including me shaving my head - which cost the kids more than they'll ever know - as each are scarred with the vision of their skinny fifty plus year-old man teacher - completely and thoroughly bald! (unlike barry, i'm not naturally handsome and i can't carry off the bald look that easily!) i want you to know that this year my class will follow the same process of raising money to help make life better for people fighting cancer including shaving my skinny head.

but let's move to this present moment.

i'm writing this today,
knowing that around two o'clock e.s.t,
barry is going to either smash the snot out of that bell,
or perhaps gently tap it -
or even something in-between.

i know a little of your joy barry and as you read this
i am celebrating your fortune
as you experience it in its fullness.

by the way -
what's extremely cool is that there are hundred's of other people out there ringing a bell for barry and if you would like to read their take on this magic moment then you should nip over here!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


on my walk home
in the early evening
i pass this old fenceline

weather worn and silvered wood
held together
by rusted wires

at its feet
sit streamworn boulders -
a glacier's gift.

an entanglement
of leafless maples
reach into
the slow-forming cloud
that is
the sun's last rays.

as i pass this fenceline,
i am drawn into the eyes of a man
who once stood with his hands on these posts
looking south and then westward
across his fields.

he and i share
a similar wistfullness
at the sun's setting
as light and colour fade
before the night's
soft and dark silence.

in my sky at twilight you are like a cloud
and your form and colour are the way i love them
you are taken in the net of my music, my love,
and my nets of music are wide as the sky.
my soul is born on the shore of your eyes of mourning.
in your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begin.

(italicized text) pablo neruda excerpted from in my sky at twilight

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

a familiar language

i hold willow in high regard.
so when she recently created a blog
that would allow for people
to "write"
you know . . .
like "writers" . . .
then i didn't think twice
and took her up on her generous offer.

i haven't deliberately "written"
for a very long time.

thankyou willow!

my eyes follow
their deliberate arcs
and sinuous arabesques -

an echo of a lexicon known to all
who have walked their fingers
along the length
and breadth
of a woman’s body.

Monday, February 15, 2010

i laugh at myself

village girl sir george clausen

sometimes i catch myself
what you wonder about me.

wouldn't that be something -
to fully know another person!

i can only imagine
that it would be like
at the end of time.
the journey done.
the jigsaw completed.

"oh it looks just like the picture on the cover of the box".

and then what?
break the puzzle
into all its little pieces.
put it back into its box.

put it back on the shelf.

let it collect dust.

let it sink into the well of memory.
until partially or wholly forgotten
and then perhaps on a whim


i enjoy the mystery
the not-knowing.


i laugh at myself, old man, with no strength left
inclined to piney peaks, in love with lonely paths
oh well, i've wandered down the years to now
free in the flow, and floated home the same
a drifting boat.

trans. james sanford &.j. p. seaton

Sunday, February 14, 2010

like a river through trees

i get glimpses
of the flow of my life

like a river through trees


small ripples
all the shades of blue

my mind tries to assemble
the pieces
into something
resembling a whole

but moving
down the road of a day

i leave the vision
fragmented behind me

Saturday, February 13, 2010

my blogspot

a while back, dan upped a post in which he shared his blogspot -
the space he sits and writes in.

he asked people to share something of their own favourite space
for writing blogs in.

so dan (and fascinated onlookers), here's mine!

i work on a macbook in a wireless house
so i can work anywhere.

but there are two places i really like to write in and i'll share those here.

one is in our kitchen.
the windows there look west and allow the afternoon and evening light in.

right behind me is my favourite piece of art in our home.

it's a print by a local artist named martina field.

right next to the print is my favourite object in the house.

a box made by an artist from oakville, ontario
named norman chandler.

the other space i like to work in
is our living room.

the windows here face east
and allow the morning light in.

i love that great big soft chair.

it is stuffed with the chin hairs of over three hundred thousand
bearded salamanders.
the hairs fall off their chins naturally once every five years.
it is a labour of love to collect them and then carefully stuff them
into the chair.

the outer covering is made from the white rind
of seven thousand seven hundred and seventy seven oranges.
they are pealed by trained tamarind monkeys
and are then hand cured and stitched together with specially treated banana strings.

on especially humid days it's like settling into an over-ripe fruit salad.
only not quite as damp and sticky.

there are lovely objects here as well.
two of my favourites include this glass container filled
with one small part of my daughter's beautiful rock collection

and this blue glass goblet.
i see that right next to it are the remains of a robin's egg
and a polished ammonite.

oh and i should mention that right across from me
is where my dawsonboy likes to shred his licks
(which can get pretty intense at times)!

there's a peek at my blog space.

i hope you enjoyed your visit!

Friday, February 12, 2010

the winter bench

i wanted to be an artist
but i heard
that it wasn't
a "practical" existence.

i heard that
i could paint and write
and create music
"in my spare time".

i heard that
i shouldn't confuse
a hobby
with making a living.

i did manage to
work and paint
for a while,
but eventually
the demands
of my many commitments
became more vertical
than horizontal.

some were more
necessary than others.

i wonder
how many of you
from well-meaning
and influential friends
and relatives?!

i wonder how many of you
harbour the same wish?


the wish is still lit
inside me.

i feed the wish
with other artist's work,
with music that paints the air,
and of course
with the inexpressible benevolence
of the world around me.

like this winter bench,
the wish waits
for the time
when its purpose
and the features of its world
merge into one
and the sameness.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

the door latch

in the middle of winter
in the eastern woodlands

a leaf


an opening
to both worlds

the door latch
rusting scarlet...
winter rain

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

in the air

in the air
in the morning

"your prayers are your light;
your devotion is your strength;
sleep is the enemy of both.
your life is the only opportunity that life can give you.
if you ignore it, if you waste it,
you will only turn to dust."

in the air
in the evening

living with fullness

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

every way

the subtlest film -
it moves
like gauze
in an open window.

moves across the light
in filament threads
woven into shade

threads and feathered wings

- soul wings
bound to the body -

soft and grey
across the snow sky canvas.

oh stormy winds, bring up the clouds
and paint the heavens grey;
lest these fair maids of form divine
should angel wings display,
and fly far far away.