Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A shaker-upper eyes the ring

Interesting.  This video was just posted a few days ago  to YouTube and already has over 75,000 viewers.

In this interview Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, an Independant,  echoes citizen anger over economic injustice, corporate corruption and lack of financial regulation/accountability vis-a-vis Wall Street, and the interviewer keeps trying to change the subject to . . . Hillary Clinton.

I'm not the only one to wonder, if Bernie Sanders does, indeed, run for president, what effect that might have on the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election. Judging by reaction to his announcement, not a few are saying he would definitely get their vote, and, as many have suggested, a Sanders/Warren ticket would pull in even more.  It does remind voters of the difficulty of someone outside the two main parties getting elected president, much less granted equal media coverage.  Maybe it's time for a change.

Who knows.  It will be interesting to watch the reaction from certain quarters as this all plays out. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Turtle and the Inkpots

On top my computer desk, every morning - that smile.
Meet Turtle, of the Blackfeet Tribe,  photographed in the 1950s, in Wyoming.
Saw this card on Ebay and that smile got to me.
When down days come, sometimes a single, simple image can pick you up again.
Turtle,  some little happy folk dancers, a tiny Buddha or miniature rhino - personal
brick-a-brack that say stay on track, no matter what.  What floats the boat.

But this is new:  The ink shelf, housing 4 blacks, 2 browns, 1 red, 1 blue-black, 1 Prussian blue, 1 Veridian, 1 India ink, and 3 especially designed inks for the rapidograph. 

I've become interested in ink wells lately, their shape and size and style.  I began to develop a preference.  My old Shaeffer, Parker Quink, and Pelikan bottles, while of interest to many collectors, didn't especially grab me esthetically.  This one, however, did:

I loved its size and shape and simplicity.  It was intended, or so the thrift shop keeper told me, for serving  compote, those little fruit-in-sugar syrup desserts.  I got 8 of them, still in their original package, for a mere $2.00. They were destined, however,  not for compote, but for my inks.  

I felt a bit guilty not labeling which was which--for example, which was a Parker, which a Pelikan and which a Shaeffer,  as if the emptied bottles would be offended if I didn't.  Now the inks all sit next to one another, unidentified--even as to color--and it's hard to tell now which is black or blue or brown.  I have to open it up and dip my pen inside to test it out.  What was I thinking?!  (I know which is which by how they're placed on the shelves.  Of course if someone comes along and mixes them up - well, let's not go there.  The deed is done, as they say.)

I love that they're all together, each in its own special place, each of equal importance. The inks are no longer scattered,  in some desk drawer,  the closet, or an old shoebox from 10 years ago, waiting to fill the fountain pen, a supply that will last a lifetime, and several beyond.  But then I discovered sketch doodling and gathered them all together,  began seeking certain new colors, and the nibs to try them out with.  The desktop, alas, has not been the same since. 

Turtle smiles from the upper corner.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Poets and their places

T.S. Eliot's family's former 7-bedroom/ 3-bath  summer house in Gloucester, Massachusetts is up for sale, for $1.3 million.

Do I dare to say a thought?

He might've worn white flannel trousers, and walked upon that beach
and heard the mermaids singing,
though probably not to him.
I’ve not lingered in the chambers of the sea, like he.
Human voices wake us, t’is true
but they also put us to sleep 
(except those of certain poets)
And dare I say,
what we ultimately drown from

Who couldn't write in such a space!
(says my awe-stricken imagination, comparing . . .)
but muses choose the time and place, 
and circumstance; don't
forget the prevailing whateverelses.

Apologies to T.S. Eliot for borrowing some words here.
The pruf is in the frock
Either it fits or it
doesn't.   But that thought about
our old houses and their handed-down rooms, as
shrines -
I hear some mermaids leaving

Saturday, September 6, 2014


 geese flying above the house this morning
heading south

flannel shirt needs  new button

Thursday, September 4, 2014

When Imaginings Stun

  War Child. .  Artist:  Michael D. Edens


Imagine nothing to read or write
no way to watch your saffron thoughts
unfurl in gray graphite on pristine sheets of white

Imagine loneliness without solitude
no way to swim between friends and lovers
and the treasured company of your own secret muse

Imagine only filthy, brackish water
or no water at all to cleanse your body, inside or out
no clean springs in which to play by graceful glades

Imagine children conceived in rage and revenge
mothers without means to provide, to protect,
endless explosions stilling life on killing grounds

Imagine knowing only

Imagine dying before you are old enough to know who you are

~ ~ Jamie Dedes

First published in Poets Against the War (February 2010).


Words and an image -- from poet  Jamie Dedes and artist Michael D. Edens, who once gave me their kind permission to share their creations on my poetry blog over at Salamander Cove. I would like to re-share them again today.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


  about 80 birds,
  loudly chattering 
inside the
cedar tree, suddenly descend as one, onto the front lawn  
and   frantically   begin   picking  at the  grass.  Then, in a 
 fly   off   in  a
 single dark swirl
  directly over to the
 telephone wires where
 they    abruptly  go     silent.  
A minute or so later, as if on cue,
 they  head back en masse to the cedar tree
and resume their  loud, shrill cacophony, before
 bursting out of the leaves in a single blast at bullet-
speed, and disappear.from view. All that's left, a gentle
 breeze and eerie  silence --  the calm before the storm.
Here are          for the
 53 of              second
them               chat
when                fest
 they                  in
  got                  the
     the                 cedar
    call                 tree


Nature's metaphor for how I've felt all week, reading about Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Ferguson, ISIS/ISIL, Ebola, bombings, beheadings, surveillance and war. Under a darkening sky,  watching in fear, everyone nervously chattering, or numbed into speechlessness, huddling together (like those birds in the cedar), or scattered, directionless, waiting, wondering how to weather  the storm we all sense may be coming.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Morning's Harvest


Photo taken outside in the back yard this morning after putting the tomatoes on the bench and noticing the play of yellow/ red, the insistent little "rudi's" poking through the lattice, and the smallest tomatoes seemingly collectively turned to greet them.  I imagined them . . . conversing.   Only later did it occur to me how different are their lifecycles.  The tomatoes have to be planted anew  year after year after year, while the rudbeckias,echinacia, strawberries, raspberries, lemon balm, lavender, chives, mint and parsley all just automatically arrive and claim their usual spaces.  Some, like the raspberries, insist on 'traveling'.  A few even migrated into the tomato patch this year.  The strawberries, I see, are moving as well, beyond their designated borders.  Encroachables on the march.  And don't let's even talk about the mint!  My perennials continually surprise me. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Next Door

On the old woman's clothesline:

Doll Baby

it will never grow up,
or not need her to care -
or leave, or ever

Monday, August 25, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Trench Art

 "The Best Time of Day"
A postcard from the Trench Art Exhibit
"Dear Irma, the mail has been delivered. Good cigars. A letter.
 But in the newspaper there is nothing about peace?! 
1000 greetings, your Otto."
December 26, 1915

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War, Postcards from the Trenches: Germans and Americans Visualize the Great War centers on the art created by German and American soldiers on opposite sides of No Man's Land.    Hand-painted trench postcards, sketches, ink drawings, and graphic works made by soldiers in the midst of the conflict, juxtaposed with mass-produced postcards and government propaganda, movingly illuminate the personal landscapes and bitter truths of the Great War.

In Washington, D.C. - Aug. 19 - Sept. 27, 2014
In Houston, TX - Oct. 23, 2014 - Feb. 14, 2015

Saturday, August 16, 2014

When Knowings Visit


Even those wired to feel perpetual astonishment,
awed by life despite its darkest overwhelmings,
could face a time when wonder ceases -
and at that moment wonder
if it matters.  And if so,
what then? 
    And if not, 
        what then?
In either case, an astonishing conversation might take place
of what one can live without, or in spite of,
or without which life's not "Life",
as Life waits listening at the side,
its bag of gifts and horrors, 
never-to-be's, unimagined possibles,
opening and closing
opening and closing
opening and closing..

Such wonderings arrive,
on reading how others have met and dealt with
the cloudy grey of life's tossed mix
of the ever-meshing Dark and Light,
'mid one's own 'knowings'. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

100 Years and our wars

[Harry Patch died in 2009 at the age of 111.]
 "No war is worth the loss of a couple of lives, let alone thousands."
~ ~ Harry Patch, former soldier

100 years after the "Great War"
and all those other wars that followed
. . . and continue,
some will turn off the lights tonight and light a candle and
pause for a moment of silence,
say officials televized visiting the graves of the 'fallen'
or giving speeches to honor the soldiers who fought.

What of those others, though,  who did not fight or serve,
those millions of citizens whose lives were also taken?
Mothers, babies, old folks, children, nurses, grocers, teachers, farmers,  bricklayers,
clerks and cooks and artists and scientists and students?
Nine million soldiers died in the fighting, 6 million civilians died from disease or starvation
and 1 million more as a direct result of military operations.[1]

"One million died as a direct result of military operations."
The military has a name for this latter group. "Collateral Damage."
Collateral means 'additional but subordinate; secondary; supplementary'.
Collateral Damage is damage to things that are incidental to the intended target.
Things like . . . people.
The intended target at Hiroshima was Hiroshima, the city.
A single bomb instantly destroyed the entire city.  And most of the incidental people therein.
The intended target in Gaza this past week has been schools, a hospital and buildings
full of refugees whose homes had been bombed, in this latest 'little' ongoing regional war.

Big wars and little wars, declared or clandestine, defensive or punitive, death is death.
We 'war' against crime, and drugs, and poverty - there are always, it seems, the need to
"fight a war on". 

In a dream I imagined an international  public memorial commemorating the
brave and the fallen due to war--any war--where instead of famous officials and military images
media-blasted to remind us of our war history (uniforms, medals, rifles, tanks, troops, battle scenes, trenches, etc.), where the focus is War--I imagined instead a sea of ordinary people, each holding a photo of a loved one lost to war, or the after-affects of war, assembling to remember not war and death (the how and where) but the life of the person war took, the focus on why.  Why war?  Why did we have to go to war?  Was there no other option?

The military rewards those who are exceptionally brave in war by giving them medals of honor.
What reward of honor to the mother caught in a war who meets a bullet head-on, rather than let it reach her child?  To the mortally  wounded brother who'd insisted that his sister be saved first.

In my dream there was no distinction among the dead - of who'd fought with a rifle
and who'd died as part of the group referred to by military strategists as "collateral damage". 
You don't have to have been there to be a victim of war. Ask the dead soldier's widow and children, the slaughtered parents' orphaned child, the nurses who take care of the returning war wounded.
Life, for them, goes on, but not without having gotten war's scars.  You just can't always see them.

Only when the second massive global war came along a few decades later
did The Great War ("the war to end all wars") start being called "World War I".
World War II showed that even "the most devastating war the world has ever known"
could not convince humans to end all wars.  Au contraire. 

The next world war won't be fought with soldiers on a battlefield. (The AI progammers haven't yet figured out how to get the future  robo-grunts to think like humans.)  Battles will be waged in a control room. Someone will just push a button and Poof!  the world as we know it will disappear, thanks to our evolution from crude canons and muskets to swift, precise nukes.

Imagine . . . a world without "war".
Our Militaries would become obsolete.
There would be no need to amass more sophisticated and more ingeniously concocted lethal weapons to keep up with other players in the race for better national defense. Departments of Defense could become Departments of Peace.

In my dreams.

An interesting observation - while commemorations commence on this 100-year anniversary,
reminding ourselves of the horrors of war, the focus should be on how to not let this ever happen again, right?
Without realizing it, I'd relegated Peace to being a fantasy.  That was . . . sobering.

I further note that in the above piece I've referred to war 23 times; to death or dying, 13 times; to the military, 6 times, and twice each to targets and bombs.   And only once, to peace.    (The part about lighting a candle, in a moment of silent reflection - is only performed for one minute, out of respect for each nation's warriors, rather than as an urgent call for peace.   Perhaps because in so many parts of the world, peace just can't take hold yet.)  I wonder, on the 200th anniversary of The Great War, if we will have finally figured out that war is not the answer.  If we make it to that time, as a civilization, that is.   I prefer to remain optimistic.  I don't know the answer (if war isn't 'the answer'), as to the exact  "how".   But maybe we'll get there "yet".  If not in my lifetime, another's.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Life's Little Flybys


This morning, a burst of birds
from tree to sky
       (not one hesitating).
I watch them soar.

Unlike us, weighed down with words -
our me, our my -
       caught, forever waiting
our something-more.

* Photo taken of a mural on the side of a building in Montreal, last Friday, en route to Boston.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Our Hands

Faces of the Hand by Tamas Wormser   (National Film Board of Canada, 1996)

 We use our hands to work, play, communicate;
love, kill, pray, write;
point, punch, caress;
 create art and music; 
climb mountains, dig in the earth;
 and to heal.

A pottery maker:  
"I touch the clay, and my fingers can feel the form inside it."

A violin maker:  
"Manual labor is becoming so rare that someday people will beg us 
to have something made by hand."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Phone is Calling

Got a call this morning announcing they were going to be spraying my sector and a particular date was given.  July 14.  And July 19.  Actually, July 14 through July 19, is what I understood them to be saying. Wait, they're going to be spraying my neighborhood for six days?  What for?

Last year when the city replaced some of the pipes supplying water to our neighborhood, everyone got a robo-call announcing the date and which hours the water would be shut off.  That should have been my first clue - the city does not call each individual house and ask to personally speak with the owner by name.

"Spraying for what?" I inquired.
 "Insects".   Wow, this must be serious, I thought.  In the years I've lived here the city has never come to my neighborhood to spray for insects.  What sort of insects?  Yes, we have mosquitoes. The entire province has mosquitoes.  We have always had mosquitoes -  and flies and gnats and bugs of every sort, including tics that bring Lyme Disease. Has West Nile Virus recently surfaced here?

"We are coming to spray in your sector.  The spraying will take place on  July 14th" is what stuck in my brain.  By air?  Instead I envisoned a big truck passing on each street, spraying, house by house. 

"We have pets," I said.   (Should they be kept indoors?  Should I stay indoors?) "What sort of chemicals will be used?'    Oh, not to worry, the voice on the phone assured me.  "It's biologic.  It's all natural."    Me, I wanted to know  specifics, like what might be its effect on the pets, or my vegetables out back.  Was it safe to breathe in?  I was having trouble understanding her French, she spoke rapidly and used terms I wasn't familiar with.  She passed the phone to someone who spoke English, who assured me my pets and veggies would come to no harm. 

Bees are insects.  Might it affect the bees? I wondered.   "It's biologic", the second voice repeated,  the tone less authoritative and more soothing, adding:  "Wouldn't it be nice to have a bug-free lawn, not to have spiders on the porch?", etc.  (How did he know about the spiders on the porch?!)  And then, almost as an afterthought, "It will cost $47.  The effect will be good for a year."


Seems I mistook a telemarketing call for an urgent city announcement.  "Spraying my sector" is different from "spraying IN my sector".  And they wouldn't be spraying "house to house" for six days, they would spray (if invited) (and paid $47 first) only once, within a six-day time frame. 

Double Duh!

Maybe it was not just the words, but the tone in which this "service" was presented, as if it were inevitable.  "We are coming to spray in your sector on July 14th" - like an official announcement.  "A biological spray."   The minute he mentioned "lawn", I knew.   These lawn help-keeper-uppers crawl out of the woodwork all spring and summer, offering to come cut your grass, clear your shrubs, landscape your garden, spray for insects.  Their area code told me the call came from Montreal, an hour and a half away, but this didn't register at first.  They're not even local lawn help-keeper-uppers!  (The local ones also call, but usually they're more direct and don't sound quite so 'official', like a Mandatory Bug-Eliminator Patrol.  They just stuff flyers in the mailbox or have it included in our PubliSacs.)

The telemarketer calls I really find incredible are the ones where they call you and announce you've just won a prize, but not really..

"Congratulations!  You've won a trip to the Bahamas!"
   --  Great.   Send me the tickets.
"First we need to see if you qualify".
   --  But you just said I won.  How could I have won if I didn't qualify?
"We need to verify if you are eligible.  What is your name, please?"
  --  I am the person listed under this telephone number. that you just called."
"What is your telephone number?"
   -- You just called me.  Don't you have my number in front of you?
'Well, if you qualify, you have a chance to win a free trip to the Bahamas.  Do you own a credit card?"
  -- Did I win something or not?

My phone calls me several times a week with these type offers - lawn service, new car deals, are you happy with your TV cable service, would you like to subscribe to Le Nouvelliste? etc.   Sometimes I pretend I don't understand French.  Sometimes (if they speak very fast) I really don't understand their French.  As I' once worked in a call center, I can sympathize  being paid bottom-of-the-ladder wages being required to call lists of random numbers at dinner time trying to get someone to take a lengthy survey or to sell them something.  As well as the pressure to make a quota.  Amazing that in this day and age they are still using the same old, tired methods with the same annoying approaches, getting the same predictable results.

I can't believe I didn't recognize a lawn-service call from the get-go.   My antenna must need tuning.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stories, Big and Small

 awyn art

Isis the goddess gets a candle lit in her honor
by a newly initiated young witch
crafting healing spells when the 
novenas failed,
while ISIS the terrorbringers storm fist-thrusted 
'cross gun-swept sands -
caravan style -
in identical new Toyotas.

In a dark, rented room
a lonely man in a faded armchair smokes a borrowed
wondering where his life went.

In a loft, a frustrated painter
hurls his prized ivory paintbrush at the wall,
its splattered flecks bringing unexpected
           "At last!"

At the BookFair, a writer bemoans his perennial
Leaves with a pocketful of
scribbled hopes.

In the suburbs, a woman slips into her nightdress, aglow -
the letter that brought forgiveness within reach
on the night table, wedged between
the jar of pink face cream and her
chipped porcelain pillbox.
           “I am loved.”

A child looking out a school bus window
witnesses a brief  act of kindness;
hasn’t yet learned that big word called ‘empathy’
but instantly knows its opposite,
suddenly arm-pinched by the bully in front.

A soldier looks death in the eye and gets a reprieve,
his life forever changed.

Everywhere, a story
and stories behind the stories
behind the stories -
too many unwritten,
untold or

~~ A.W.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ride Slide

At the park this morning
boughs descending, river rising -
the bike waits, hooked to a bench.
I'm on the bank
hooked on the

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Of Dads

 Poet Jessica Goodfellow has collected and posted some wonderful  poems about fathers on her blog at Axis of Abraxas today, here.   Too good not to pass on.

Some  poems to, from and about fathers, reposted from Salamander Cove, here.

Happy Father's Day today, Alexi and Nate!!   :)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

At the neighberhood yard sale . . .

I wouldn't dare show that to the cats -
instead I
 bought a miniscule jade 'desk' frog
for 50 cents

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Not Letting It Go Down the Memory Hole*

man facing tank, alone
Tiananmen Square
25 years ago

Lone protester on a street in Tibet
five weeks ago

[April 26, 2014, Nqaba County, Amdho region, northeastern Tibet, a 19 year old monk of the Kirti Monastery staged a peaceful public protest, alone - for which he was beaten, then taken away.[1].]

tank man
monk man
not alone

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Accidental Artscape

Mini wooden cityscape

Photo taken during walk in the forest behind the centuries' old (1765) former flour mill
 in Pointe-du-Lac, QC, on Sunday, May 24, 2014.

  (Same photo cropped and repositioned, with Picassa3)
"Dreamscape", in Black and White

(Same photo re-cropped and re-sectioned, adding color )

"Red Wood Fence"


Accidental mini landscapes -
We see what we see.
I'd never have noticed
had the tree not told me.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Crinkle Vision

Experimenting with a new kind of paper 
[See 'the rest of the "Crinklies"  here.]

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Creativity, unfettered

Most people liked this video because of this child's adorable, big-eyed cuteness.  
Several noted that "son français est meilleur que le mien!"  (her French is better than mine!).
I agree on both counts, but what really fascinated me was her vivid imagination.

Hippos that are allergic to magic, refusing to go to heaven
Witches that can be felled by an orange ring
Boxed animals, "frightening trees", powerful mammoths
Flowers!  The sun!  Clouds!

One commenter described her story  as being "dark", asking if this example was "normal for French toddlers, or is it just her?"  He expected a cute story about Winnie the Pooh and friends playing games. "Instead she [the child] talks about animals going to jail for being poor, baby-eating crocodiles, and a suicidal Hippo trying to go to hell but HAS to go to heaven.  WTF?"

Apparently this commenter has never heard of those 'classic' fairy tales  read to us as children or seen cartoonized on TV, about trolls, and monsters, treacherous deceptive wolves and witches, threatening to kidnap or eat children, nor has he apparently been exposed, as a child,  to ideas about heaven and hell, fighting with helmets and swords (or even the idea of jail or animal attacks or suicide) through hearing words from one's parents, playmates, religion, hearsay or the TV.  Why is it  "not normal" then that children might weave all this information and their perception of same into their imaginary tales?

She's holding a book about "Winnie the Pooh" and straightaway begins improvising.  The commenter above, I guess, expected a rote book report.  Has he never, as a child, colored outside the lines?

Fairy tales have told her witches are "bad".  She's figured out that if you eliminate the "bad", you won't feel threatened .Cause and effect.  She introduces this reasoning into her story, saying that "If you kill all the witches, people will be peaceful."    And her tale of crocodiles eating babies tells me that in her narrative, she intends it as "just a story" here.  But recognizing the elimination of evil will have a positive effect is more than just a story, it's become a belief. 

When my grandchildren were the same age as this French child, every time I visited, they would beg me  to tell them favorite remembered stories.  As I always made them up as I went along, and there were so many of them, they would sometimes have to refresh my memory.  I was amazed at their capacity to recall so many  exact, tiny details.  What about those particular stories made them worth remembering, I wondered.

Sometimes I ran out of story ideas (or wind).  So we would communitize the story teller role:  One of us would begin, and then each in turn would continue it.  Odd, as well as perfectly ordinary figures inhabited magical worlds, accomplishing improbable tasks; where plot was secondary;  the ending unforseen.

As my grandbubs got older, now reading books on their own, I was surprised to find that their enthusiasm for hearing oral stories made-up "out of the blue"  has not diminished.  A kid for whom writing a story for an assignment in class is pure torture, let lose for oral storytelling becomes an instant orator; his voice unable to keep up with the ideas pouring out of his head.  It wasn't the story so much as that transformation that surprised and delighted me.  It was like seeing a flower suddenly open in the light.

At what age, I wonder, do we begin self-restricting our imagination, self-correcting, self-censoring?  At what age do we begin thinking "I can't say/ write/ paint/ think  that because . . . because people will think it silly/ it won't be understood/  it's too "different"/ it might offend.

Worse, though,  I think, is when we start noticing that something elemental has gone missing and wonder where that once-familiar spark has fled - that enthusiastic, spontaneous well of creativity that lately (or suddenly) seems to have abandoned us.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Musings on the Week's MediaFeedia


To strike, or not to strike
is not the question.
The question will never be asked of us at all.
Turn off your device, unplug the session.
When sleepers awaken, empires
 could fall.


 Pukapab  - contraction of  "Je ne suis plus capable", meaning: "Enough!"/ "I just can't anymore"

MediaFeedia - lies/ distraction/ chroma-key blue screened/green screened 'news'/ fake reality.