Category Archives: Poetry

Seasonal Crows

Most of our time in school is dedicated to student learning and the celebration of student achievement, but each year, our school hosts an Art Exhibition for works created by the adult members of our community. If you choose to, you can allow your work to be sold by silent auction, with a portion of the proceeds going our Student Service Committee to support the work our students do within the local community. It’s a pretty good gig.

I created two pieces for this year’s exhibition, including this piece, “Seasonal”.

Seasonal-Screen

This is a collage of Instagram pics and other digital photographs that I took, sorted and layered with varying degrees of transparency. I didn’t know what to call this piece, as strictly speaking, the images don’t represent all of the seasons. But it does feel seasonal to me. Like passing time with a lot of motion with a few moments of clarity and the traces of something ephemeral–memories or ambitions–present over everything.

The second piece I exhibited is called “Crows”.

Crows-Screen

We live on the top floor of our apartment building, and one morning the crows were sitting on the roof there and taking the occasional flight about and around before returning to their perch on the roof. It gave me a chance to get some great shots against a neutral background. The images on the left and right are un-retouched, just as I shot them. The centre frame is a composite of several other shots.

I haven’t written anything for a very long time, but I had a sense that visually, these crows needed text to accompany them. Or typography, maybe. So I started thinking about words for crows and then words as crows and then a couple of days before the exhibition, I started to hear the poem and wrote it down.

Separately, the poem is this:

What Needs Out
there is a murder in each of us
a monochrome of misshapen
characters mutually aflutter and
cawing for water, for a bellyful,
for birth at every moment of their
age; each cry a loose cohesion
of shadows and the things they
mean in the swirl and science of
reasonable flight and what needs
out now: jubilation and despair
and yearning for and for;
they flap and gather, beaks agape
misunderstood scavengers hoarding
clever for later, a shiny thing for the
nest, to sparkle between the sticks
and tarry feathers, those points and
balms we settle our hollow bones
angularly over to press out
pollock-speckled eggs of heavy
slate-green and ink, each to crack
on arrival of another hungry word.
beaks agape they flap and gather
and flutter and caw, dark forms of
cacophony and unarticulated dreams
aspiring to the tidy murmuration of
precise elocution–pretty and
ephemeral–shaped, evaporated and
reformed on an invisible web of water
vapour and rising sighs.
hungry, the word-crows flap and
gather against themselves, beat out
their commotion and ego and corvid
noise, their murderous need of a
single melody, clear syntax and
conviction.

Most of the time, I write, take photographs and generally make art to please myself. Often, I don’t even get around to sharing it with anyone. That might sound self-indulgent, but I think art is only self-indulgent when it is made with indifference to (or contempt of) its audience, even if the audience is just you.

That said, in addition to expression, I think art is also communication. Sometimes it is nice to share your work with others and to have it land, to palpably feel the closing of that loop of communication and see that something you’ve sent out has been, in some way, received.

I love seeing what my colleagues present in this exhibition. And I’m grateful for the opportunity.

The Geography of Now

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Monna is running her Geography of Now eCourse over at MonnaMcDiarmid.com. She’s got us thinking about where we are from – not just the physical geography, but the social, emotional, spiritual, historical, ancestral, sum of places, experiences, people and things that have made us who we are. This is what I wrote.

i am from
the dark and still
of night
starlight and
crescent moons, the
aurora borealis one
freakish summer when she
dropped her shimmering
skirts to the 43rd parallel
and danced a
green
flamenco

i am from that node
where thoughts graze
like sheep and breed and
tumble and spit and cry,
scream for attention
catch sight of themselves and laugh
curse and sigh
pick themselves up and
get on with it

i am from in between

i am from the kiss
of natural light
the soft glow the
golden whisper
that magical hour
when the serious sun cuts
its rays loose to linger before bed
the sky full
of sourceless light
accomplishment without ambition
the photography of mind
and paper and
yes, too, of screens;
i am a cinema of dreams

Here and There

this place knows my toes
but thinks them
smaller

the wind lingers here
sings inside my raincoat
and slips
like a kiss
into yesterday’s
wet fog
of
summers green near the flow of water
and strawberries picked
to happy the belly
stain lips sun-soft
and fingers with a smile
a squint
a wink
a blue dream of clouds
and swimming up from the bottom
to crest at the crest
and wave down with feet
at tattooed stones
in the clear

my bones know this place
but remember it
much bigger

Solstice

enough.

the telephone rings
i choose not to answer

my window is large
the world passes
in fragments
for my contemplation

three small birds
sheltering from the winter storm
sleep under the seam of my awning
i close the window
and wake them.
now one of them watches me
while the other two sleep.

i daydream tranquility
while snowflakes fall
slow, white pennies
and jazz sings next to my soul

outside
children impress angels
in the snow

The Skin of a Pear

creased skin of his hands turns tan-dark to white
on a sudden line along the lengthy age of fingertips
the pear cups the palm
comes apart between thumb and straight-edge
moving together sharply

desert is the oldest skin
horizon-line cups sun-curve to grain
palm creases and fingerprints
age lengthily
shift granular with the sudden turn
of snowblind to night

see sandy yellow roundness
curved like her hip
into his palm
the pear feeds his age
gives water to the open skins of his life

but he shakes his head
green eyes burnt brown
whisper grainy as fruit flesh
disintegrating against the palette
a name on his lips
too dry to speak
the taste of love
too long left
in the open distance between

Writing Home

I am walking on the moon again. Funny, how I always end up here, writing on the stars, all white and shiny and falling like snowflakes with my poems on them. Falling into the hands of children or burning up in the atmosphere like prayers – candles lit and consumed in remembrance of our dancing lives before, the ghosts we carry with us in our hearts and words from here to the moon to the falling stars of shimmerlight, expanding in the vacuum where yesterdays return, like space in their blackness, in their depth and cold, with nothing but planets to sit on and wonder and wonder why.

I am done with this poem this story this song. I am ready to be written on a star, ready to fall from heaven, from the moon to the earth, to lift up my arms and hold out small hands to catch the stars of other dreamers, to receive dizzy poems, stories, songs tripping down into my pockets, into my bones growing taller, my fingers growing longer, aching for the green imaginings of a thousand midnight wishes and tumbling purple stars, reaching up, giddy, back toward the sky.