Wednesday, July 10, 2024

the abbess appears

the old monk sheds his sandals
wades into the mucky ditch
swinging his sickle
mowing thick swamp grass
just ahead of torrential rains

pulling heaps of vetch
stuck in choking muck
rakes, shovels, loads
three heavy barrows full

the water runs free at last
down through the culvert
into the low valley stream

the abbess appears
smiles
offers a dark rich
French press coffee


Friday, July 5, 2024

Ranching

my first job: was on a ranch
creates cowboy visions
of mountains, cold creeks, 
patting the neck of a beautiful horse
oh the romance

more so
shoveling horse shit...the literal kind
flecks of creosote paint
burning my hands
rich girls in clean new jeans
laughing as I wheelbarrow by

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Sierra Nevada "1957"

Townes is playing
he's fingerpicking a Martin
under a sequoia tree 
he yells out:  "this one's called red wine blues"

Jack laughs 
hoists up two jugs 
and takes a healthy slug
and passes it to his young wife

more people arrive
walking up the winding path
Gord, Stephen, John, Benjamin...
and many more
some are holding cases of Labbatt 
over their heads
then dumping them into
troughs of ice

Gary wanders down
from his mountain shack
he'd been up there cooking
all afternoon
huge pots of chili
we start to spoon it out
two California girls 
top the bowls
with shredded cheese

everything shimmers...fades
a robin starts to sing out
into the dawn
a crow joins in

a final ethereal glimpse
of Gary smiling
 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

On the Road

On the Road 
beautiful Penguin edition
photo of Jack, and Neal
looking out over the library...
(learning commons)
up high yes
just like a fire watch tower
on Desolation Peak

below
students sit
staring into chromebooks
and the occasional Manga

the Kerouac paperback
sits unstamped since 2007
yellowing under 
fluorescent lights

Sunday, May 26, 2024

a new song

slow steady climb
up the rocky ridge
scouts used to clear this path
now it is rock strewn
overgrown
blocked by a fallen tree
up over the shattered pine
then down into the small 
creek cut valley

drop my pack
by the door
little camp hatchet 
snaps through dry wood
flint sparks fly
warmth spreads
across the cabin floor

in the corner
an old Fender acoustic sits
six rusty strings hang loose
soon it is fitted up 
with a new heavy gauge set

low lonesome chords ring
up over the mountain top
a new song echoes

Friday, May 10, 2024

four more years

four more years...and 39 days
I'll walk out of here
dropping plaques
and ink wet cards
in my wake
stepping over
deflated yellow balloons
spinning slow
against the stairs

like Lot
like that prisoner
walking out 
that jail in Edmonton
but I won't be breaking
a store window
to get back in

I'll keep walking
out to my 4x4 ride
then drive
into the wild
deep into the wild.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

silence

music carries me
up over back country road short cuts
Neil Young and Crazy Horse
blasting hard fast distorted buzz

clicked off in my parking lot spot

a day of unrelenting cacophony
a stream of non-sequitur "facts"
questions and questions 
and questions about questions

head spins
exhausted monk

out to the car
silence
all the way home
just a slight tire hum

The Monastic Heart: Bells

a bell rings
attention is called
to this moment
a thin slice of a slice 
of the never ending present
in this micro moment
I think of you
and pray

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

haiku 60

poems are out there
waiting
to be collected

in my case written 
and numbered
in little blue books
59 haiku poems so far

the tired monk wanders
to the forest edge
past a little patch
of crocus flowers

haiku 60...

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Ditching School in '88

got to school early
started looking for my buddy French
the smoking area?    empty
only Cliff...there as usual
selling loose American cigarettes
from a zip lock bag
he hadn't seen him

he wasn't in math
one of his best girl friends 
said he might be ditching
so I ditched too

I found him at home
out by the shed
sitting on a discarded kitchen chair
he'd found last garbage day
nursing a tumbler of Canadian Club
his cassette player was on
a low hum of Pink Floyd the Wall
filled the air
mingling with cigarette smoke

he looked up from his book
a beautiful hardcover edition:
Catcher in the Rye 

French poured me a glass of whisky
passed me his beat up school copy
the white cover torn and battered
he handed me a smoke 
lit it and said:

"this fuckin' Salinger guy...
man...he knows what's up."

Saturday, April 6, 2024

date night

work ran a bit late
the "urgent" email said: "water emergency"
not such a big deal
ever heard of a shut-off valve? lol

quick stop for gas station bouquet
she just loves flowers
box of wine from the cooler
couple six-packs of pilsner
medium pizza from her favourite place

it is a warm April back deck night
a blanket over her legs
to ward off a slight cool breeze
sun sets in oranges...pinks

a refill of her glass
she says "to the brim" and laughs
one more slice
one more beer
as the first stars appear

 

soup poem

the maples fell two years ago in twisted splinters
today they are dry and gathered
chopped up neat with a camp hatchet
fed into the wood stove

heat grows
early spring snow flies
hambone, water, yellow peas simmer
remnants of an Easter feast

Thursday, April 4, 2024

a good man

no one stopped
to ask this guy
why he was standing
unmoving
looking up into the grey sky
every now and then a tear
spilled
rippling down 
staining his light blue shirt

you okay? you okay man?

he kept his gaze to the sky
answered 
slow and measured:

I'm good
real good
blessed
full of gratitude
I lost someone
a friend of 60 years
almost a surrogate father
a good man
he stepped in
with love

yeah I'm good
I'm just taking it in
taking in the beauty

thank you

two pauses

i)

pausing 
on the way to work
a few steps off the path
into a clearing
looking up
into beauty

seeing

trees

their branches
embracing the buildings
embracing the sky

ii)

pausing
soaking in an outdoor ofuro tub

a crow flies past
a junco lands on the fence

spring snow falls
melts in the hot cedar bath



Tuesday, April 2, 2024

evening breeze

shifting evening breeze
sugar bush smoke blows in
curling through pine
followed by
backyard barbeque steak
car drives by slow
leaving a faint waft
of marijuana and KFC

Thursday, March 28, 2024

fading light

cigarette butts pile
spill from the lip
of a rusty coffee can
beside milkcrate seats

orange dusk clouds flow
drifting east
then south over New York

moon rises slow
over boy scout trees
crossroad traffic slows
motel lights dim 
click 
off

Sunday, March 17, 2024

a pub moment

The pub is warm
windows thrown open
salty sea air on the ocean breeze
pre-dusk clouds glow 
with reds, a tinge of orange

the barkeep laughs
as he cuts a steaming soda bread
the joke:  he's poured a full pint
of Guinness into the batter

the result is a brown moist delight
washed down with another stout
and a shot of Jameson

Sunday, February 25, 2024

sauna prayers

sauna door clicks shut
birch water ladled
over volcanic rocks

heat rises
edging on unbearable

the tired monk
thinks of poems
as he soaps his head

razor slicks foam
slides on sweat
smooth and renewed

steam and prayers escape
via the tiny door crack
up through barren branches
and white pine needles

Thursday, February 22, 2024

one road over

the road is straight
just off a divided highway
past suburbs
butted up against
working farms

through a little village
down past a cemetery
a horse farm or two
then some open 
wind swept fields

the road narrows
the pavement stops
gravel and rutted dirt
right up to
a rusted dead end sign

keep going
the road dwindles
to a winding path
almost overgrown

under a tarp
by a cedar fence
a small red canoe

I push it out 
into the creek
paddle a few strokes
drift with the mallards

Friday, February 16, 2024

secrets from the deep

secrets
sure I got 'em
a little spell ago
I pulled them up 
from the deep morass
slathered in canal muck

I hosed them off 
took a look
poked them with a barge pole
watched as they dripped
black guck, and slime
on the boardwalk
and slowly dried

I kicked them 
hard 
back into the murk
sinking down
past bicycles
knives, guns, empty bags
and litter
...so much litter
to rest 
still
on the bottom
forever



 - for the record:

I'm very much pro surprise and very anti secret. 

Monday, February 5, 2024

church

nursing a slight hangover
in the back pew
boozy spirits waft
amidst some mumbled
yet earnest prayers
only one mid-sermon nip
from a battered flask

last hymn fades
jacket, scarf, and Irish cap
on quick
  a quicker exit out a side door

a short brisk lonely walk home

too Christian for the world
too worldly for the Christians

Saturday, January 27, 2024

hearthside

my obituary burns
torn into tendrils
tinder to light the hearth
the flames move
consuming kindling
birch logs ignite

this old ghost sits
warm in the fire glow


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

gotta be the shoes

old monk knocking down jumpers
in the high school gym
his handles are tight
ball is on a string
quick crossover 
a flash
step back fade away
hitting all day

on his feet
well worn Jordan 1s


Closing Time at the Russel Hotel

stubby bottles cover the tables...
along with tall quarts and pitchers of draft
thick cigarette smoke plumes the air

Toronto power trio hits the stage
plugs in oversized (for the room) amps
buzzing barre chords wail
thundering bass and drums

they rip through some originals
gets the crowd cheering 
when they swing into some Zeppelin

in the corner by the bar
the manager cringes - too loud!
the girls can't hear the orders

he snaps  - rushes the stage
flicks off the breaker
Geddy and Alex laugh
and promise to turn it down
...a notch or two

the settle back in
wrap up the gig
with Working Man

the manager grabs the mic:

"Hustle Bustle - closing time in the Russel.  
This is a Hotel, not a motel.  
Drink up and get the hell out!"


Friday, January 19, 2024

monk's bridge

spare wood pulled out
from behind the shed
remnants of an ill built deck
carried piece by piece
down by the deep ditch

rusty hand saw
my grandfather's hammer
pocket full of nails

12 foot spans 
crossbeams banged into place
ugly but solid

new path
over this weedy watercourse

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

don't let 'em

a custodian mopping
in a dim basement corridor
beckons me over

usually he has a joke, 
or a wild story from the job

today a word of wisdom

"hey man 
don't let 'em steal your peace".

he looks at me real serious
and says "ok?"

I nod
respond "ok"

we shake on it

I hear him shout
"don't let 'em"
as I turn the corner

Monday, January 15, 2024

morning routine

hot water
over a old monk's head
steaming sandalwood suds
razor slicks
cuts away the grey hair

braced 
by a generous splash
of Brut

Thursday, January 11, 2024

silence

hours upon hours of radio
couple "bad" tunes in a row
search the dial 
bantering bitter talk shows
call in complaining

quick click
silence

takes a while
to get used to the quiet
just a faint
whirring 18 wheel hum

Father and Son

met my father
once

ran into him 
by chance
at a funeral

we shook hands
beside a coffin

he spoke seven words

I wrote them that night 
in a black book

Friday, January 5, 2024

three kings day

pea soup is simmering 
on the wood stove
snow coming in heavy
pine boughs bend

the tired monks sits
reads by Christmas tree light
one more day
one more feast
for the three wise kings

Thursday, January 4, 2024

2 million miles

jacket says 2 million miles
in gold embroidery (just slightly frayed)
right over his heart

he'd driven more than a few thousand
more long haul miles
before the jacket was delivered
bureaucracy...

25 years on the road
so much more than miles
every state
every province
...pretty much

thousands upon thousands of radio songs
and parking lot nights
missed birthdays, holidays, and days
with family

blizzards, construction, highway delays
of every sort - even a tornado or two

today the last delivery is done
heading back north
up and over Pennsylvania hills 

temperature drops
the cold snatches moisture
from the evening air
delicate snowflakes fall
lit by rig headlights



Wednesday, January 3, 2024

My First Albums

buried
shoved into a dusty dark corner
battered boxes of canning jars
obscure a red milk crate

a few vinyl gems plucked:

Cosmo's Factory
Abbey Road
Through the Past Darkly

these were played 
flipped
and played again

41 more wait below
each one pulled out 
and played 

oh that stereo summer



Note: Woodstock, The Band, Rumors, Chubby Checker, CSNY, After the Goldrush, Elvis, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan...and so many more.  It was a beautiful and life changing find - I was about 7 when I starting listening to these albums.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

2024

laptop clicks open
blue light cuts 
through morning dark

emails have stacked up
over the holidays
first one: The World Should Fear 2024
an essay of doom

the tired monk leaves it unread
puts on steel toes, a thick scarf, 
and new Christmas toque
tackles the big Aspen rounds
axe cracks through cold seasoned wood

a fresh cord split by noon