POETRY hallway at Art Show in 2000

I helped arrange an art show at the Toronto offices of Cyberplex, a professional internet services company where I worked, in 2000. This was a mixed media event with work by many staff not just the design department. Here is the poetry hallway.

Poems from some half dozen poets on staff.  

Camera was my Sony Mavica FD-7. I recently recovered this photo.

MVC-029S CX ART SHOW POETRY HALLWAY

 

one poem of mine shown

Way Past Midnight

 

I look at my hands by electric light.
They are becoming the dry wrinkled hands
of an old office man. Not yet my father’s hands
Not my mother’s
which became deflated as she almost made it to 80.
The wrinkles deep,
her skin on her wrists
paper thin
so fragile when they took the blood tests.
She would bruise like they had used a coal shovel on her
We should grow old in a big old house
surrounded by grandchildren
not in the white sheets of the f**king hospitals

I hate the thought of it
sitting beside her as her breathing in the coma shuddering slowing
more work for each breath
I sat in the ugly metal and vinyl padded chair
my hand under the sheet holding her leg below the knee
her good leg
not the left with the stroke twisted ankle
feeling the warmth of her in my hand
and the shudders of her breathing growing harder
and slower and slowing
to nothing
her mouth still open
the IV pump with saline and the other line morphine
I listened
and listened for another breath
then I walked around to look at her face
half turned from me
my hand brushing her hair
still brown, just a line or two of grey
then I sat back down in the chair
and put my hand back on her leg below the knee
and felt her warmth and it was quiet, January quiet
then I got ready to go find a nurse
to check for a pulse, a heartbeat, and to find neither sound,
just the shell still, three days short of her 80th birthday,
and then to tell me that
my mother was dead
officially
and then the doctor who I had never seen before
came to tell me
that my mother was dead
officially
for the second time
the doctor a young woman
younger than me
following her training
having put on the doctor face
with emotion tucked away
explained to me that my mother had passed away
I said, “I know. I was there.”
The nurses on the floor looked at me as I waited
for my sister to arrive
they looked at my face
my hands spread out held high
holding the metal doorframe of the room
so that the building would not explode
the metal was cool
and had no wrinkles.

Poem – On the Ice (2000)

On the Ice

We stood on the lake
Frozen in January
The first year

Of the new millennium
Talking of computers
And the internet.

Just eight feet of water
Under our snow boots.
The dogs rolling, snow baths,

Pushing their snouts
On the ice
Pulling winter inside

Their bodies.
Maybe they thought
They could melt the cold

And bring summer sooner.

a very old poem – In the Company

In the Company

 

The letter slot did its thing

and over Darjeeling Tea I read your letter.

 

His name is Joe,

and your daughter is Maude.

 

And everything’s fine.

Your hadnwriting hasn’t changed.

 

He plays golf, tennis, 

was a swimmer on the team in school,

that’s high and post secondary too.

 

The shine of it all comes through

like the polished steel water, sun

drilling the brain through the eyes.

 

He’s an accountant.

 

I’ve been driving a cab this winter,

getting a few parts in good shows that don’t run.

Writing the fourth draft of my novel,

wearing sweaters in the room,

eating soup,

just fine.

 

(December 1979)

this is one of my early attempts at narrative poetry

poem – Trust and Time

a poem written and revised today Feb. 1, 2013

 Trust and Time

Sunshine lies about the deep freeze outside.

Trust me says the clear, clean light.

I wonder if I am making the same old mistake.

Makes me worry if summer will find her way back.

My muse is still wandering around out there

and nowhere close enough to help me.

The empty branches sleep under ice cold, snow trim.

I study the tracks – our boots and the dog’s paws,

adding up the rabbits, the squirrels, the full-grown raccoon,

and the mourning doves’ dance marks.

The cedars balance their snow and ice burden.

For a moment I recalI planting those

with my Mother thirty five years ago,

shovel cutting the hard-packed dirt,

gently planting the new trees,

back filling these tiny tree-lets,

patting down the soil with my hands,

the warmth of the air that day,

rising from my annoyed knees,

carefully watering in the new green occupants.

Sharing the easy work, loving the hope and promise

of all the future love of these green gifts.

 

Today sparrows and chickadees arrive to perch there,

fluttering down from our dark green wall

for the sprinkled seeds, winter sustenance,

our annual winter gift to them. It is all trust and familiar

and the repetition of small joys.

a new poem – The Colour of Memory

The Colour of Memory

The giggles began
at the end of the first bottle of red.
The muse was hovering
over your right shoulder
smiling at me
for the moment a little later
when my pen would
strike the paper and attempted magic
recreation would slap down words.

You were telling me a story
that made you look foolish
and you turned red again,

matching the wine,
matching the colour of memory
which is blood red for
a set of reasons, some
of them ferocious, some
of them courageous,
some of them still stuck in the blender,
beaten into the froth
we ran from
on the beach in North Carolina,
the sun just about down,
you remember the time I mean.

We finally came up
with a universal solvent principle,
our litmus test to end
all litmus tests.

Without personal standards,
the tennis net of life never gets cranked up.
No matter
how well you hit the ball
your game is all fake and lies.

You ruled that all zippers
must be made of metal.
All ties must be silk.
only German autos are really cars.

I remember how you warned me
about your mother.
Still we visited to make sure
that her new TV you had ordered for her
had arrived to keep her shredded nerves
in the general vicinity of her body.
No sign of the bottle,
just the tea cup,
never told me if it was vodka or what exactly.
Mrs. Devil and her details.

Red wine has drained out of my corner of the universe.
Coffee slides down.
Sleep stops by some nights.
Reasons keep coming to mind
I keep slapping them down like slow houseflies
at the end of October.

My new hobby
killing geriatric houseflies while
reading every line Shakespeare wrote.
Turning off the television and the computer.
Such a shame one cannot turn off memory.

an old poem of mine – Grosse Île

Grosse Île

We are guided through the Reception Hall,

lose the sound of the St. Lawrence River.

Gape at the baggage cages,

the immigrants’ luggage and clothing

packed on these

for disinfection

in the steam and sulphur

boilers.

 

Our guide explains why the shower stalls

have wire mesh roofs.

To keep the people from climbing out.

I look inside the galvanized grey casing

and stare at the shower tube and the three

wrap-around shower pipes

and I step back.

 

Later we walk down the trail

to the Irish cemetery

from 1847,

the famine year,

the big death year.

 

There is still one building from then.

One old cover shed still there.

 

Later I read how the government debated

the costs of sheds to cover the immigrants,

to get them out of the tents and the open air.

Not enough money for milk and bread.

For medical supplies.

The doctors and nurses, the nuns and priests

falling sick, dying.

 

How the St. Lawrence was full of ships

anchored, waiting with their sick, and dying

with their dead lying in the bunks of the crowded

stinking lower decks.

Where family members were too frightened.

To touch their own dead, for burial.

 

I read the list of those who died.

Unknown Dutch man

Unknown Irish child

There was one William Gibson,

Captain of a ship out of Liverpool,

his ship with sick and dead

in 1847.

 

from the Parks Canada page:

Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada commemorates the importance of immigration to Canada, particularly via the entry port of Québec, from the early 19th century to the First World War.

Grosse Île also commemorates the tragic events experienced by the Irish immigrants at this site, primarily during the typhoid epidemic of 1847.

The commemoration on this site is also based on the role the island played from 1832-1937 as a quarantine station for the Port of Québec, long the main port of arrival for immigrants to Canada.

old poem – old habits

old habits

We sat in the art house cinema
where we used to go after your divorce

you used to go there with him often
over your years – everybody loves old movies don’t they

but that night he came in with his new woman
and sat on the other side of the mostly deserted cinema

he saw you and you saw him and suddenly
we were in a whole new movie of our own

you started to shake and we talked over what to do
but they got up and left before we could

we watched twenty minutes of the film
then left by the exit down by the screen

walked back along  between the buildings
you waited as I looked carefully

to see that the coast was clear
and we made it to my car

after I got home you called me on the phone
and we talked about everything else

in the universe till dawn cracked an egg over
both our new days and after you hung up

I thought about how she looked like your
identical twin and wondered if his hands shook