I Am From…a Poetry Exercise…

I just came across a little chapbook from Sue Reynolds’ Fearless Writers Spring 2004 Session. Some great poetry in it from my fellow participants. An archaeological look at some fine writers who have gone on to do great things since attending Sue’s workshop. If you EVER get an opportunity to be mentored by Sue Reynolds…just do it. No questions asked…just jump in–parachute free–and do it! She’s an exceptional teacher, and a passionate writer!

I thought I’d share the poem I have in the chapbook, mostly because I forgot it ever existed until just now. (-;


I am from the rusty Miramichi,

which swells and contracts to the heartbeat of the distant moon.

I am from the smiling lips of Shakespeare,

who tells the young lovers to look up into the night and shout out:

 “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?”

I am from that ancient of minds.

“It is the East,” I say, and I am from the sun.

“Arise fair sun and kill the envious moon,” which I am also from.

I am from the liquid reason of Neruda’s lines.

I am from the forest creatures

who beat a path to my door,

calling out my name through the darkness

of night’s great blanket.

I am from the place where dreams die.

I am from a woman who is strong and dark and proud…

a woman of this soil who tells me that what doesn’t kill us

makes us weaker, but more determined.

I am from that smell that escapes

off the tattered spines of books

in the ancient library.

I am from the sadness that breathes in loneliness

and the happiness that comes with remembering the dead.

I am from anger,

mounted foolishly out of false pride.

I am from the crumbling mountains

that yearn to be flat.

I am from Icarus,

the melted wax of his fallen dreams.

I am from the bridge we left behind

as the last Autumn leaves finished falling.

Thanks to Sue Reynolds for inspiring a whole group of writers to explore their worlds through words! Check out her Inkslingers Writing Workshops, Retreats, and Mentoring (which she does with James Dewar, another great writing mentor) here.

Recovered Poem (Maasai Adumu at Keekorok) and The Tiny Book Fest Recording…

Every once in a while a publication that has published one of my pieces goes under. The reasons are various, but we know funding has a lot to do with death in the art world.

Message in a Bottle Poetry Magazine came through for me in 2010 and published my poem Maasai Adumu at Keekorok. I wrote this poem soon after returning from a writing retreat in Kenya where I made a side trip to Keekorok Lodge on the Maasai Mara National Reserve for a safari.

MiaBPM is now defunct. As first rights are now gone for this poem, I thought I would share it here so it doesn’t slip away to someplace where I can never find it again.

Maasai Adumu at Keekorok

Their voices lift
like gazelle in fright,
swell your insides
to heights that burst
and bleed in rivers red.

Their screeches
hit that place inside,
cracks it into pieces;
that place you did not know,
you did not dream you carried.

Their dance beckons,
screams your name
and you are left in tatters,
feeling loss of life,
your old life slips away,
you lift with every jump and neon yelp,
to stretch yourself complete.

Their red shúkàs sway,
entice ancient longing,
scream to all who are present,
“We are, we are,
we are Maasai.”

While you’re here, I did a panel for THE TINY BOOK FEST by INTERLUDE PRESS AND DUET BOOKS this past weekend. The panel was LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION and it was moderated by Sarah Penna of FROLIC MEDIA. Also on the panel with me were fellow pub-house authors Julian Winters, Lilah Suzanne, and Laury A Egan.
Apparently, if you missed it, you can still watch the Facebook recording:

The Tiny Book Fest continues next Sunday (APRIL 26, 2020) and you can tune in via Zoom or Facebook on Interlude Press’s Facebook page. Here’s the schedule:

Because I Also Poetica…

Barefoot walking on the Camino. Spain, May, 2015.
Barefoot walking on the Camino. Spain, May, 2014.

A List of Reasons
When a poet makes a list,
death cannot be far behind.
He says, I will go here and there,
I will see this and I will touch that.
But that is all, that is all he will stay for,
he is a poet at the end of his life.
He has better things to do than live.
These are the things he has promised himself.
He makes a list of all the things.
And quietly checks them off, one at a time.
He hears the clock ticking down,
knows it’s time to slip into
that well worn funereal suit.
But he is reluctant to go,
he adds to his list.
I have not yet seen this,
I have not yet touched that,
Things will be different,
if only I touch that one last thing
And then he’s in the mountains one day
and he shouts and shouts,
and no man, no woman, no child
responds. He knows he is utterly alone,
but this time he remembers
that it has always been this way.
Alone is no longer lonely,
he steps in the puddle at his feet,
decides he does not need the list.
He sits and adds all the things
to a new list, this one of reasons
not to die just yet.

A found flower. Tai O, Hong Kong. April, 2015.
A found flower. Tai O, Hong Kong. April, 2015.

Joy’s Irony

Poetic silence is a three step process.

First step, you must relinquish
all tears. They help the words to flow.
While you break, words crystallize pretty and big.

Second step, you hold your breath,
this is the in-between phase
where nothing happens
but the passing of time.
Healing occurs, like an underwater lake
being made into mud as it steams away.

Third step, you have nothing left to say,
lost in your own fleeting happiness,
the poems run dry
as words left to rot
in a noonday sun.
You revel in the joy
that incidentally killed them.

Whispers of Sandburg from a Poet Now Silenced

(A poem I had published some 4 years ago. I like to remind myself that I used to be a poet. In hopes of being prodded back to that calling.)


In ‘22 I was Sandburg,
Swirling words into Susquehanna beauty,
but only for a single day,
just long enough to hear the bells
of money
as castanet clicks,
to declare the poets as workaday bankers.

I wore his august skin
to conjure lies,
wore that blond Warholian ‘do just to do it,
anything to chase the ennui,
‘fight against the bla bla
and lah de dah’.

There is, though,
a time to leave behind
the beautiful skulls of poets now gone,
to sift back down to loam
and resurrect the one who breathes
somewhere still
beneath his brittle tomb,
scribbling virgin paper
to something dirtier
than the words
he strives so hard to bleed.

When You’re a Few Moons Late, Everything Can be Everything

I just came back from the monthly breakfast meeting hosted by the extraordinary Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR)!

Sometimes these meetings prove to be more brain food than you’re expecting, but just the right amount you need. I was in the right place at the right time this morning. The guest speaker was DANIEL SCOTT TYSDAL, a man who gingerly walked us all out onto a taut tightrope, asked if we were comfortable and then snipped the end with a honkin’ huge pair of clown scissors. Well, at least figuratively speaking. Actually, I can imagine him sneaking up on the rope with said scissors, stopping to snicker, tip-toeing forward ever so slowly, and then POW! 100 writers free-falling to the death of their comforting yet stagnating common-sense.

Not exactly what he did, but I felt the security of the rope under my feet…and I felt the free-falling giddiness of having lost my breath by amazement. Like all great poets, Daniel Scott Tysdal seems to understand the need to leave the security of the laws of physics and normalcy behind when donning the POET hat. He left me feeling the need to get back into some poeting. That’s a good thing.

Every once in a little while you need someone to cut that string that holds you to the sharp-edged confines of reality. Judging by the air in the room at the Ajax Convention Centre this morning, that was handily accomplished. I felt these little cement balloons of normalcy lightening, melting, snapping and transforming into helium balloons of wild mind. Daniel held the secrets of the universe and he fed them to us one tiny little lie at a time. I walked away from the breakfast thanking the universe for offering up such a wizard this morning. I really really needed this. I have missed the juggling of words, the loose-lipped word leaves falling into the unstructured structure of poetic lines.

Here’s a poem for you to enjoy. Daniel Scott Tysdal on the Toronto Quarterly Journal’s website:


If you live in the GTA, don’t miss a WCDR Breakfast. Each meeting is a gift to creativity. They pump you up and ready you for your next adventure in writing. Community is such an important aspect of writing. And to think, for decades…nay…millennia, we thought it was a solitary act. The sitting, the foraging, the writing, the words on papering…sure…that’s solitary. But before the segregation…that’s the secret the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION has realized together. Before the segregation comes community. Together, we prepare ourselves for the rigueres of our solitary acts. We enter our offices and our dining rooms and our basements and our garages alone…but we all know that the writing community we leave behind is with us. We’re here for each other.

When the group has such profoundly explosive creative types as Daniel Scott Tysdal to entertain us…we know we’re doing the right thing. We’re widening our circle, exploring our craft and loosening the grip that reality has on us. We’re preparing ourselves for the cave. Today, when I crawl into that little cave to create, I will have new knowledge with me. I will have the memories of this breakfast meeting to spur me on. I’ll do my best to snip that concrete balloon that holds me to this earth, to float effortlessly into the wild mind needed to explore creation. And if I’m really lucky, I won’t be interrupted by any of that cumbersome spam that attacked Daniel today while he attempted to give his talk to his enthralled audience. (-:

While I enter the solitary silence, I’ll leave you with the book trailer for my second novel, SEBASTIAN’S NOVEL…a book I wrote in solitary confinement with a head filled with community.

A Collection of Poems based on Joni Mitchell’s Hejira Songs

This is a post I took from my old blog. It was originally posted March 4/08:

These poems were inspired by song titles from Joni Mitchell’s Hejira album. The poems are also based on the songs themselves.




While the sun rises,
Coyote beauty,
Our paths,
They will not cross or touch.
You will lick the body dry
But never touch the throbbing heart,
Coyote beauty.
When they are kicking divine
To the music of night,
You, coyote beauty,
Will be my love,
Rape my anger,
Tear me free of will,
Trap me to the highway leaving.
And you, coyote beauty,
Jumping for the moon
While taking flight in field,
Chasing prey, you pray
For solace in the fray.
You, coyote beauty,
Burning in your seat,
Watch as I take flight,
Running to the highway leaving,
Your prey, your wish divine,
Your prisoner in the night.




The lust of flight,
Of heavens reaching
The desert dance,
Like music stretched
From strings divine.
The machine of flight, surreal,
Amelia, images through time,
To trap you there, in romance,
Make of you my wings.
Oh, Amelia, my Nirvana,
You shake with wisdom,
Draw from your hair, my wings.
You, with your Icarus wings,
promising to lift you higher,
With arms to keep you
Floating, lingering in the clouds, Amelia.
Motels, dust and wanderlust,
They’ll never keep me down,
But false alarms and ringing dreams
Of Amelia taking flight,
They’ll stop me of my wings,
And make me sing, instead,
Of Amelia taking flight.


Strange Boy


The awkward dance
of boy to man,
the need, the want,
crazy shake of weaving
backwards in time
playing, the child man song.
I begged him, with a scold,
To take a deeper hold
To life less wild and crazy.
But he slowly took me under,
Swayed me with his love,
And clatter,
Sucked me to his shores
With his special lunar laughter.
I gave him of my body,
Forgave his boyish ways, strange boy,
And in the cellar, I sang his charms,
Strange boy, he made me wonder,
Piano love, we made,
Slender limbs entwined,
He took me in his dance.


Furry Sings the Blues


With his leg beside him,
Dancing in the corner quiet,
Furry, intoxicated, wanders,
sings gummy blues in wonder,
and Ginny can’t dance,
can’t sing or sigh,
she’s there beside him,
cosmic Ginny, with her laughter,
mercy washing over
a bed bound Furry.
The scratch of words,
from Furry’s wounded lungs,
alert the sparkling wonder
in the dancing Ginny,
as words rebound,
and blues are sung
and soaked in morning light.
And a leg in the corner,
made to prop the Furry beast,
it taps a tortured tune
of Tennessee,
a Memphis night of long ago,
when Furry danced
a throbbing beat
to Ginny’s mercy
new and meek.


Black Crow


Sky emissary shivers,
shakes, black wings whisper,
attracted to all things shiny,
he swoops the neon sky,
I am one with the black,
traveling always,
searching homeward,
mingling in the black.
I am the sleek silk
of wings made to glisten,
collecting shiny things
for my everything journey.
And I am up all night,
like the black bird shining,
my soul burdened downward,
but lifting in the wind,
I can see the black thing singing
in the spirit of its flight,
oh, blue sky dreamer,
I’m connecting with your light.


Refuge of the Road


He took me by the body,
shook the new sky free,
his spirit, echo of my echo,
illuminated me.
Yet I left him
and his echo
for a journey to divine,
awoke in stranger places
than a dreamer cares to dream.
I took a refuge in my leaving,
winding down the ancient roads,
sucked the wind
in lungs made real
by the burn of afterglow.
And in the forest,
meek and frazzled,
I ran against my will,
fought to find an echo
of the echo of my self.
With the moon in clouds
and an archipelago
of gods seen canting,
I whispered to my sorrow,
my friend in spirit lost,
I’m lost
and heading westward,
seeking refuge in the road.


Blue Hotel Room


Like a ghost inside the blue,
I’m lost inside of me,
tumbling in turmoil,
fractured by the sea.
And the rain,
it’s been drowning me,
one swallow at a time.
Will you let me call you,
and suck from you your joy,
when madness like this blueness
eats inside of me?
I need you on Ganesha,
prancing through the sky,
think of me when I’m leaving,
and when I’m bleeding blue.
Will you love me when I leave
this stinking blue hotel?
Tell me now, my lover,
what’s left inside of me
inside this blue hotel room
remembering your plea.




In Honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Thursday April 19, 2012 — Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The following poem was originally published in the print version of Swords for Plowshares, put out by the Phil Berrigan Institute for Nonviolence. It was written in June 2009, shortly after the tragic shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. The poem was simultaneously published electronically on the Institute’s Swords for Plowshares website.

Gunfire at the Holocaust Museum

The tower of faces
still is not enough
to muffle disbelief
and silence
The world must know.
The whispered breath
of what is left of Anne
still is not enough
to stop the spokes
from turning round
and grinding to the ground.
The world must know.
The crematoria doors
kept open just a crack,
the ghetto bridge
spanning distance measured
in silent hollow misery,
these still are not enough.
A list of names rings out,
two on two on twenty-two,
and twenty-two and twenty-two
and on and on,
and still it’s not enough.
A shot rings out
to wipe away
the tortured

used to be
and bring it
slowly creepi
ng back
to live in here and now.


Fall & In Here – Poems for Poetry Month


I taught you the street,
fought you tongue in cheek
for the benefit of movement,
the latitude of kites.

We were a parade
in the cold, a place to go to
when 2am was all the world
could offer. A fight not real,
your twisted steel resolve
how it carried you forward,
made you more
than the street from which you lifted.

I raised you unequivocal,
meant for your feet to dance
onward into night unseen.

your trip was too contagious,
I contemplated melting
at your side,
into sugared winter streets–
The way you made it all romantic,
the dive, the swoon,
your lead balloon.

But I was more than tragic,
I was more than soaring loss
could ever be,
I taught you tongue and cheek,
but forgot to teach you sleek
and beauty,
the latitude you held inside,
of gentle winds and lifting kites,
the beauty of the night.



In Here

so hushed in here,
the echo of your laugh
will die in here,
even with your wide-eyed
cathedral stare
pumping blood
from my splintered limbs
to my mitted throb,
i cannot hear
your slinking tongue
in here.
enwrapped in your flesh,
a shroud of pink embers
stretched to smother
the cruel intent
of my animal ways,
even so entranced
by these layers inside me,
i cannot hear
your whispered song,
i think i’ll die in here.

A Leonard Cohen Kind of Day…

Back in the old days (2007-2008) I had a blog called Wandering Mind. It was mostly poetry I posted there, but I also posted random stuff like the music I like, novel excerpts, articles, etc. Once it hit 30,000 hits, I took it offline. I figured that was enough views of my bad poetry. (-;


This post is a compilation of a few posts I did over at Wandering Mind on Leonard Cohen. In 2008 I took my daughter to a Cohen concert…we both worship in theChurchofCohen(much to the chagrin of the rest of the family!).


I was just remembering that concert this morning while listening to some Cohen. So, I decided I would post the following here:


Leonard Cohen is in Toronto

There’s a monster poet in town,
a laureate linguist, circus clown.
You can hear his heartbeat
in the city’s newfound heat,
the strum of bellows
in his liquid lungs, in flex.
I’ll take communion
within the milky thighs
of his every waking word,
take refuge in the spring
he calls to life
with his fervent golden voice.
There’s a God of light in town,
an ancient thread to beauty gone.
You can see his glow
above the night,
lift your hands into the bright,
and with nothing on your tongue
but a cold and broken hallelujah.



The following poem is based on an incident mentioned in a Leonard Cohen bio. I loved the idea of these 2 poets hurtling through space on the Trans-Canada, forgetting everything but the words they shared. Leave it to poets to forget to mind a gas gauge… twice!


The Farmer’s Wife

(A retelling of an incident in the lives of Leonard Cohen and Irving Layton)


The farmer’s wife,

perhaps with a hint of a smile

on her wind-hardened face,

traces her willowy hands

through the work-stained apron

that covers her solid frame.

She has but one word

for the marauding poets,

stranded by the highway, laughing.

consecutive trips find them wanting…

what with opening the cosmos

with their wakening words,

they drove on in the midnight dark,

not stopping for the needed fuel

that would bring them to their now-forgotten destiny.

Running a hand across her weary brow,

she sighs,

looks to a sky not yet bruised

to the plum of dawn.

“Poets!” she exclaims

with a weariness bred of morning labour.

She walks away from the door,

leavingLaytonto lean on its splintery frame,

while Cohen, sitting still in the dew

of his wakening mind, titters,

unable to believe the fortune

of landing, yet again,

on this kind woman’s porch.

Poets traveling onward of a night

can never be trusted

to find their distant shore…

but a beacon in dust,

a work-weary Mother of men,

they will trip upon lightly,

She, a harvest of needful things,

brought forth by the patron saint

resurrected to protect

the flighty of mind,

the absent men of omnipotent vision,

and masters of words un-spun.



Leonard Cohen – June 8th, 2008 inToronto – A Night of Intense Prayer


I’m still high from the concert last night. I have been beating my head against a wall trying to come up with the right words to describe the experience. And I’m a writer. I work with words on a daily basis. I look around me at these word bricks and none are bright enough… none are majestic enough… none will do. These bricks are blasé. They just will not capture the essence of the experience no matter how I rearrange them and sort through them for prettier ones that may be trapped at the bottom of the pile. It’s sad when that happens– when you have so much you want to say and you can’t find the words to say it. A friend asked me today what it was like. In my frustration I blurted out, “It’s like being in Church on the very day that God shows up!”


Beautiful is a generic word… it’s used so often it has kind of lost most of its meaning. I wanted to say the concert was beautiful, but it wasn’t enough.


What I saw: 10 year-olds and 90 year-olds. Suits, evening gowns, shorts and tank tops. Sweats and jeans and mops and raven-twisted beauty parlor miracles. Bald heads, aged heads, liver spots and creamy complexions of eternal youth. Leonard Cohen is a man for all of these people. He is a maestro for the ages. It’s a strange thing to go to a concert where children run with the ancient. But it is a beautiful thing (there’s that impotent word again).


What I heard: Dance Me to the End of Love, The Future, Ain’t no Cure for Love, Bird On a Wire, Everybody Knows, In My Secret Life, Who By Fire, Anthem, Tower of Song, Suzanne, Gypsy Wife, Boogie Street, Hallelujah, Democracy, I’m your Man, A Thousand Kisses Deep, Take This Waltz, Waiting for the Miracle, First We Take Manhattan, That don’t Make it Junk, If it be Your Will, Closing Time, I Tried to Leave You, and last but not least a prayer for leaving, Wither Thou Goest.


What I experienced: Total Inner Peace.


The audience… that’s the most unique thing about a Leonard Cohen concert, besides the man himself. There is a love emanating from every person present… too much love. More than they know what to do with. And there is Leonard on the stage receiving it all… appreciative of it all and sending it back in folds uncountable.


I remember being 8 and 9 years old (that was over 30 years ago now), listening to Cohen albums on my turntable and losing myself in his language–in his words. I was able to do that last night while he performed his 3rdTorontosell-out performance. I was lost in his golden voice, in the music, in the applause and prayers of the audience. It is a concert I will never forget.


Thank you, Leonard.