Thursday, April 15, 2021

Read to Me


NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 15:

"...think about a small habit you picked up from one of your parents, and then to write a piece that explores an early memory of your parent engaged in that habit, before shifting into writing about yourself engaging in the same habit."

Read to Me



Always, always his nose in a book

each night after dinner he’d read aloud

            Now We Are Six 

                        and all the rest, then 

            The Wind in the Willows

and as I grew, he taught me humour with

            Cheaper by the Dozen, 

            and Onions in the Stew,

            the horror of Lobo the King of Currumpaw, 

            delighted in mystery with Sherlock Holmes.

Poems he spoke from memory—

induced shivers with 

            Comes a breathing hard behind thee—

            snuffle-snuffle through the night—

then calmed me singing Daddy’s Little Girl.

Once, before he lost his mind

he wrote a letter, quoted

            Let me not to the marriage of true minds

            Admit impediments…

and added if ever I found someone

with whom I could truly share my mind

I should marry him.


I guess he knew that would be a tough one.


He was long gone before I did,

never met my son, 

doesn’t know his wife has outlived

just about everybody.

Sometimes I go to where he lies 

and read him poems of my own.




Well, if ever a name came in handy! ... "Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that delves into the meaning of your first or last name.

Let's hope so. It's 2345 so I have fifteen minutes to get this together!


When I married late in life
I traded one patriarchal name 
that appeared over six pages 
in the Vancouver phone book
for another that would require constant correcting 
when it came to spelling it with its single s.

Can't find you says the vet,
the optometrist, the florist,
am I sure I've been here before,
made that appointment, 
reserved that table.

It's a small cross to bear
as crosses go, the rest of it
easy as a walk across the field
in the back yard with its aspen grove
and ancient apple trees
that still produce a flounce of flowers in spring,
autumn bounty for pies.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Aubade for La Manzanilla


The "short and sweet" prompt today, "write a poem in the form of a news article you wish would come out tomorrow," got me nowhere. I wrote a poem I don't understand based on that prompt but instead of confusing myself and anybody reading this I'm writing an aubade, a memory of a place I wish I could return to.

Aubade for La Manzanilla



that last day

            some of us hugging     

            some of us not

surely this 'flu will disappear in no time

surely we’ll be back at the end of the year


last look around in case we forgot something

pat the street dog goodbye

one last wave to Doña Chuy in her Frida-blue house

will she be here when we come back


            if we come back


so much can change in a year            

borders turn elastic

               snap shut

everything recast


we learn to mask      to wash      

stare at screens      eat too much

            play old tunes 

            start day drinking with a neighbour

                        tiny bubbles


rid ourselves of things we never use 

remember how we used to touch each other

crowd a dance floor 

blow out candles on a cake and eat it

back in La Manzanilla

Pedro is making fish tacos and margaritas the size of coconuts 

in the mangrove a crocodile slaps the water 

at sunset a symphony of birds returns to nest for the night

Laura Loca is singing

Lionel is selling his wife's almond cookies on the beach

as the sun falls into the sea

tomorrow we'll get torta piernas from Marta

to take on the flight


that last day

        surely this ’flu will disappear 

        surely we’ll be back 



Monday, April 12, 2021

Salad Days


Busy day. Too tired to work on anything faintly resembling a prompt. Determined as I am to post a poem a day this month, here goes:

Salad Days


    we thought

                        we hoped

            Rip Van Winkle days

we're just      waking up now

                            and all around us

                birds are singing


Sunday, April 11, 2021

Dear Sveva I'm Sorry


"Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a two-part poem, in the form of an exchange of letters. The first stanza (or part) should be in the form of a letter that you write either to yourself or to a famous fictional or historical person. The second part should be the letter you receive in response." 

Every once in a while in a life you come across something or someone that speaks to you so directly you cannot help but listen. I've written about Sveva Caetani before, and as it's a nice day and I'd like to get out in it I'm just going to copy (and edit) what I wrote Jan 1, 2018:

Sveva Caetani came into my life one winter day in 2000 when I happened to be walking down Baker Street in Nelson and there in a window was one of her paintings. I went in (it was a little ad hoc gallery that wasn't there very long and I don't remember its name). I looked at all the paintings. I came back a week or so later and looked at them all again. The show was up for a month or so and I went whenever I could. I bought the book that went with the exhibition, ninety dollars when I didn't have the budget for ninety dollar books but I couldn't stop thinking about the paintings. I poured over the book. I was struck by the story of Caetani's life, most of which was spent in Vernon, B.C.

One day I was curious as to whether anyone had written poetry about her so off I went to the Google mines and discovered that Jack Pine Press had a chapbook of such poems by Daphne Marlatt. I tried all kinds of ways to get a copy but it was long sold-out. Some years later I asked a mutual friend if they'd connect us via email. Daphne and I corresponded briefly and while she didn't have any extra copies lying around she very kindly sent me a file with the text of her poems so I could read them. I printed it out and it's tucked inside the Recapitulation book. Since then Daphne has published a larger collection of poems called Reading Sveva. I continue to look at the pictures of her paintings in my book. Best $90 I ever spent. (The italicized lines are mine from previous poems.) 

Dear Sveva, I'm sorry
     I didn't know you when you were still alive
     didn't know you lived scant hours away
     didn't know you were a prisoner in your home.

          How I could have related
                    felt like a prisoner in mine those days
                    my mother disapproving of everything

I did

I said

I wrote

                                 only her music making her happy.

Dear Linda, don't be sorry
          you learned
                    as did I 
     to guard your secrets
               spin them out later
     when the time was right.

                                Years and years of mother-stifle
                                our mothers had demons 
                                taught us to battle our own.

    I saw you see me 
    the first time you saw my paintings

                        knew you were kindred

                        knew you would write me poems     

    how did one go—

       the day the muse came
       did you cry out in anger
       or fall to your knees

I think you know.


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Spam Love and Such


I'm departing from the prompt, not that I don't like it but it involves looking into a junk drawer (like I have only one!) and I know what that could lead to so I penned this whilst cleaning out my inbox and decided it can be today's offering. 

And here is a picture of what it was doing in these parts this morning. Now it's sunny and bright, but cold. However, the forecast for next week looks very hopeful! I'm seeing a couple of 21sC later in the week (that's nearly 70F for my American friends).

Spam Love And Such

this is the third time      I've written to you
says the woman      in my inbox
who's looking for love      or something    

sorry hun      but first      I'm not      and
second      I'm not a simple guy      and
third      I can't read Russian      and 

fourth      I don't want to meet you      and
fifth      even though you're very pretty      and
sixth      just no      honey      just no      and

somebody      posted a picture
of what Jesus really would have      looked like      and
I'd have done him      and

somewhere in a hospital ICU      someone who's dying
gets a water-filled rubber glove      to clasp their hand
     instead of the real thing

at least it's warm water
    although who knows how long      it'll stay that way      and
don't you just want to smack it


Friday, April 09, 2021

The Filing Cabinet Finally Takes a Stand


"Our (optional) prompt for the day is to write a poem in the form of a “to-do list.” The fun of this prompt is to make it the “to-do list” of an unusual person or character."

Against all odds this turned out to be quite a bit of fun!

The Filing Cabinet Finally Takes a Stand

• add a folder for the days they nearly packed it in
• be kinder when they can't throw something out

• call for reinforcements; they pulled out two of my drawers and I nearly fell on them!

• ditch those records of their abandoned gardening projects and long-deceased pets 

• eliminate everything that reminds them of the road they didn't take

• find last year's income tax info for them STAT

• get rid of their Humour folder; there is none to be had here

• hold onto everything concerning wills and pensions

• indicate the year on their writing group work

• jam another folder into their "submissions—unsuccessful" section

• kill the darlings they won't

• look into Christmas / consignments / grad reunions / kids / subscriptions and be firm   

• make allowances for waffling and bad behaviour

• nix the urge to tip over and spill everything on the floor

• open quietly so they can peruse me at night

• pick one of cars / automobiles and eliminate the other

• question everything 

• remind them receipts belong at the front of the top drawer

• show them how easy it is to put things away instead of throwing everything on top 

• toss the forty-seven versions of that really bad poem that's never going to work

• unleash the shredder

• validate currency of everything in their Electronics folder

• warranties are overrated; ditch those, too

• X-acto those letters they no longer wish to keep from a former lover 

• yank out the "Nostalgia" folder; do not let them keep it

• zamboni the huge garbage bag you've amassed out to the burn pile. You got this.