Samples

All of these poems have been published at least once somewhere. Copyright was retained by the author in all cases. My for-sale collections are of similar quality, but do not include any of these pieces.

This next poem was published in my blog. It was written for fun, and should give you a good laugh. It can be sung to a childhood nursery rhyme.
tune: Mairsey Doats and Doesy Doats.

FigureHeads

figureheads need bigger heads
to feed their sweet ideas
and repeat ideas too
wouldn’t you?

figureheads rate bigger heads
to state their great ideas
and debate ideas too
wouldn’t you?

now if the words sound weird
and jumbled through my beard
a little bit mumbled, maybe mocking

sing figure heads, have bigger heads,
at least to hear them talking

figureheads breed bigger heads
in greed for deed ideas
and storied ideas too
wouldn’t you?

This next poem first appeared in Speaking Rules! by Cathy Miyata. It was written on-request for Cathy, a very dear and intelligent fellow writer.

Dark Moment

the trees, dark trees, bend listening;
on the hemlocks moon-dew glistening
shivers and stops,
quivers and drops
as the thing from the night goes past us all right
under trees, dark trees, bowed listening

so we crouch in the chill
and we try to keep still
while we each hold our breath
under trees dark as death
is it gone? did it hide?
can it see? has it spied
where we shiver and try to keep quiet inside?

now the moon, pale moon, comes listening
over clouds that drift past glistening
as my heart flip-flops
hear it start? steps? stops –
let the thing from the night go past us all right
hush! as moon-touched clouds part, listening

I might note that, in Cathy’s interpretation of the above poem in her book, which is aimed at teaching children public speaking, (published by Pembroke, ISBN 1-55138-132-X) everyone escapes. If you read it without annotations, you might not be so sure. I live in a less pleasant world than Ms. Miyata, perhaps.

This poem first appeared in Event.

On Christmas Day

walking under sumacs in December
I still hear echoes from your hospital hallway
in a breath of antiseptic moulding leaves
as the path turns steeply down to find the river
I remember your curtained charts and beeping instruments
and the steady drip of liquids out of bags
into slender translucent tubes
worming their way into wrists like roots
that try to hide under blankets of soil
here the water tears to foam around the edges
of a square rock stuck in the bed of a tight meander
so I squat down on a stone by the sunlit bankslope
to reflect your face
awkwardly whispering over feeding hoses
and the hiss of oxygen outlets
you were focused beyond me
and the relatives had come to see
I left them gathering round you
as a bird flies up from the clutch of trees;
is the cardinal announcing a departure
too late too late its fading repetition
tells me what your eyes said at last:
it’s time to just move on

These two cinquains originally appeared in The New Quarterly.

Earthly

heaven
is not above
hell’s torment not below
first shapes your lips,   last makes your mouth
say no

Agnostic

no god
would leave me thus
all life’s commitment worn
to threadbare  cold  each way I turn
no god

The next poem originally appeared in Quest Booksellers Review.

Beside the Outlet

Afoot in a shade-entangled wood
where human paths wander lost in darkness
I strain toward sun-dappled distances;
as a songbird startled
flies up to repeat its urgent signalling
my footsteps hush amid violets
to stop on the sunlit bank of a forest pool.

Should I lean just far enough
I see my face
haloed by woods on a blue-sky day
reflected in silver that hides deep doubts like fish
or restless frogs that shuffle beneath the surface.

Therefore I lie like a log beside the outlet
and let the pond’s view be mine, accepting the wonder
of earthly life
as a vast illusion that any cast stone might shatter
and breathing in violets
my throat knows the kind of fullness songbirds utter
which the pond and its calm reflection hold at peace.

This first appeared in Prairie Fire.

At Dusk

Driving at dusk
with the light behind us:
crossed by stretching shadows
like memorial markers
the fields beside the highway turn to bronze
and in passing
farm homes, grain towers, gain a gilded edge;
everything seems unnaturally clear
as we look toward the end of day and darkness.
Thinking about our travels and our lives
as we look toward the end of day and darkness,
everything seems unnaturally clear:
farm homes, grain towers gain a gilded edge
and in passing
the fields beside the highway turn to bronze
like memorial markers
crossed by stretching shadows
with the light behind us
driving at dusk

This first appeared in The Fiddlehead.

How a Time is Ended

As we leave our cabin
this summer moon shrinks cold beyond a cloud
fern shadows brush our hips with passing whispers
stone crickets chant repetitive shrill witness
that a time is ending
now we repeat the ritual lists of parting
doors locked   shut windows   switches off
check seatbelts on the children start the engine
turned headlamps sweep the driveway for reminders
as we leave our cabin.

In warm days ending
sharp crickets stumble silent and stiff ferns
limp down in frost
with golden summer seeded deep the earth
spins all her children forward into time
ours sleep to turning wheels on gravel murmur
they dream of frogs caught wading into rushes
and squirrel feeding acorns in the clearings
as we leave our cabin these thoughts stay behind us
in warm days ending.

Will we be returning
where once we came back certain each new season
ourselves grown older touch the same green ferns
whose hips began these children once were like them
comparing tadpoles   chasing startled chipmunks
we swim the lake like fish that stare in time
we race the woods of summer on forever
in new child eyes
how many springs permit such borrowed wonder
will we be returning.

Until our time has ended
we must come back to breathe our former selves
content to sit with stones among still trees
delight to wade down sand feet stirring ripples
toward our children
as we leave our cabin these thoughts dwell behind us
there will be returning we must make returning
so long the crickets count while ferns remember
ourselves will haunt these clearings and these beaches
until our time is ended.

 

3 thoughts on “Samples

  1. Jim,
    The poem that resonated the most in my soul is “How a Time is Ended.” Perhaps because for this forever romantic almost-hermit seeking nature’s wonders, it leaves hope for yet another season, another renewal, another reprieve from the inevitable.
    Your poems are deep, sometimes troubled, always stirring. I am glad you are sharing them here.

  2. Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Appreciate it

    • Get a provider. I use Hostpapa. You need someone with always-up computers to host your website. Hostpapa includes a domain name for free. I signed up for three years and I believe it cost me some $140 CAD.
      Get WordPress. It is free. Download the kit and read the documentation. In particular you can change the default location of something key (google search this?) but I think it’s the name of your database. Change that to something more random to be slightly harder to break into (for internet criminals and delinquents.)
      WordPress will come with a decent set of instructions for setting up the files while still on your computer. Then you upload to your provider. You may have to rename a file already there – index.htm? because it takes precedence over index.php. You can check this.
      Once you’ve set up your WordPress on your provider, your first contact will automatically have you set up administrator et cetera. Choose a name other than ‘admin’ for sure, and a decently subtle password.
      A standard WordPress setup will have the blog as the first page seen. Mine does not. You can make such a change later should you wish to do so.
      Additional pages will be in alphabetical order. But, there is a field in each page (scroll down while editing them) which is a number. I set mine up to go up by ten, I’d suggest twenty or thirty. Then you can easily slot a page into a gap. Once the number is there it sorts before the page header.
      All of this and much much more you will find out. There is online wordpress documentation. There is a TinyMCE Spellchecker which I recommend. and so on.

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