Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Distraction Begets Absence


        in no particular order:

interesting quotes
sea pebbles
potentially usable research
so-and-so's artwork
fountain pens
that type music
important family/friends' keepsakes
odd shaped bottles
kind rejection slips
artful figurines
old untold stories
amusing images
particular past journal scribbles
impressionable whatevers


(the pen pauses) -

poems that itemize,
like this one,
to fill the blank space,
to remind maybe there's still a There


Find the There that's still there.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ginger Face while Making Soup


Hot onion-cabbage-rutabaga-celery-carrot-potato-spinach-tofu-garlic-ginger-curry Soup.

At the kitchen sink.
What did I leave out?

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Little Photo Gallery

Founded in 1608, Québec City is North America's oldest walled city
and the cradle of French civilization in the then 'New' World.

Easier going down than up

Take a book, leave a book.

December 2015

*Photos by Luis Lázaro Tijerina, with permission.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hi brrrrrr nation

not a flake on Christmas Eve
be careful what u wish for
for then it comes oh boy &
then some, it won't
leave now 'till


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Beyond words, music, images

A little 7-minute film produced in 2006 at Saint-Lukas, Brussels, school of arts, as part of the graphic design course, animating  "Of Death", a poem by Ivor Gurney, English composer and war poet who spent the last 15 years of his life in mental hospitals.  He died in 1937 at the age of 47, of tuberculosis.

Ivor Gurney, of Gloucestershire, wrote over 100 poems and 300 songs.  Some of his letters and poems were written in the trenches of World War I.

Gurney expressed, in verse, his experience of war, of those things he observed and reflected on during his long walks, alone; his sadness, his yearning for death.  A number of years ago artist Tom Denny created eight magnificent stinglass panels in his honor in a chapel in Gloucester Cathedral, each depicting moments from Ivor Gurney's life and writings.

I was particularly drawn to the 7th one ("To God").   The person who took the above photo remarked that the people standing and gazing at these windows"were moved to tears by what Gurney had seen and suffered."[1]

Poetry, music, and art that move us.  An odd verb--"move"--usually meaning 'to go to a different place', 'change direction', or in this case, 'cause us to react emotionally'.  You don't have to have experienced "war" to understand what its victims feel; you can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice, identify with its expression in poetry, music, and art.  Not perhaps the specifics, but we all recognize pain, loss, suffering, despair.

Why would one want to continue staring at something that moves one to tears, re-read a poem, or listen to a piece of music, again and again, that haunts by its sadness?  Perhaps for the same reason one reads uplifting verse, is moved by exquisite beauty, or senses the presence of overwhelming love.  Sometimes it's just to make yourself remember, both the joyful and the sad.  One minute you're standing there, and the next minute you're suddenly taken to a whole other  place, and you don't resist.  It's like a magnet, pulling you in.

These moments make a mark; you remember them.  It's how we connect with our shared universe, and by extension, to one another, to people or events that occurred before we were born, to those ongoing.  Such moments will continue to draw others long after we're gone.  Even more so, when we know the story behind the story, as in this case, of Ivor Gurney.

Gurney actually thought of himself more as a composer than a poet.

You can listen to his Sonata for Violin and Piano in E flat major here,
and his song "Sleep" here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

They Found Her

Eight and a half years ago, 9-year old Cédrika Provencher, a little girl in our city, disappeared.  It was summer, she'd gone out near her home, on her bicycle.  A man approached and asked her to help him find his dog.  They found her abandoned bicycle and bike helmet.  She was never seen nor heard from again.

I remember that summer, because of the sudden appearance of posters, everywhere, showing her picture.  Just in my neighborhood alone, stores, banks, bulletin boards, telephone polls posted her picture with pleas for information. Each time I crossed the border into the States, her photo would stare out at me, on the bulletin board at Customs, facing every bus traveler coming or going, alongside that of Canada's other missing children.  Despite the offer of a $100,000 reward, despite 200 volunteers for days combing fields and forests, despite massive and frequent media coverage, despite 500 tips phoned in, no trace was ever found.  Until this weekend.

Hunters in the woods in an area off the highway 20 kilometers away found some bones and a skull, authorities determined to be that of Cédrika.  

Persons hundreds or even thousands of miles away spent months (some, even years) trying to help locate her, many convinced they would eventually discover what really happened to her.  Psychics chimed in, people reported having dreams about her, that she was alive, that she was a victim of sex trafficking; others felt certain she was dead.  I myself believed she was still alive, as every year, on the anniversary of her disappearance, local media again reminded us that yet another year had passed and still no answer.

It made me think about all those other disappearances, the other names and faces on the missing children list; about the disappeared in general.  Some had gone missing as long as 20 years ago, with age-progressed images to show what they might look like now. 

Everyone in this region knows who Cédrika is (was), that missing girl from Trois-Rivières, whose photo is still displayed on some local billboards.  How many other Cédrikas there are out there, whose name we'll never know, their stories kept alive by those still hoping they'll be found.

Rest in peace, Cédrika.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Understanding the "Other"

[Artist: Javier Zabala].

On Re-reading Bartleby the Scrivener

Nothing so aggravates ... as passive resistance,
the stubborn persistence of the unaccepting Other, 
where the refusal to comply
forces others to react.

Understand that you can't always reach or understand
the souls of those who suffer.
They sometimes seem ungrateful, treat you with disdain.
There is no compromise, no felt need to explain,
theirs is the only universe, and you're not in it.

Know you what it's like to be undone?
Bound up in
overwhelming hopelessness
where you can no longer Be, where 
even hunger's ceased - one
dies, despairing, choked by
unrelieved meaninglessness.
At days' end will still they murmur
 "asleep with angels now"
to restore lost balance?

Ah lost soul.  Ah humanity.

I would prefer not to
on the whats, or whys or whos
inside or outside the Tombs,
on action versus passivity, guess
the motive, know the reason,
judge the Silent.
We adapt, pretend, shut down, continue -
do or be done unto, who's ultimately
to blame?  "We are all brothers" but
don't communicate, and even if we did,
what is there to say.

We, I, you, him, her, can you divorce
an "us", reject all life, to let the world know
none of it applies?  Oh do not lecture, that
the rules have been bypassed, that one has
self-destructed in the process.
All life is a process, it's not life but the
with which we concern ourselves -
and there are many ways to Be . . .
and even more,


To read a text of the complete story, go here.

To hear the full audio book, click here.

To see a 27-minute film reenacting the story, go here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

And on the political front ...

Chris Watte/Reuters

"Canada’s Liberal Party swept into power for the first time in nine years Monday night, ousting the Conservative government in a dramatic upset in the country’s parliamentary elections.

"Justin Trudeau, the charismatic 43-year-old Liberal leader, will become the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history.

 "His father, Pierre Trudeau, served as prime minister from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984. During his lengthy tenure in office, the elder Trudeau severed Canada’s last legal ties to Britain, passed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, enshrined multiculturalism and bilingualism as national policy, and dominated the Canadian political scene like no other postwar prime minister.Although the final few days of opinion polling suggested a strong Liberal showing, the younger Trudeau's victory is nevertheless one of the most surprising upsets in Canadian electoral history. Never before has the third-ranked party in one Canadian parliament won a majority government in the next one."   [Source]

Saturday, October 17, 2015

First Snow Today

Imagine, I said to a friend the other day.   It's snowed already in Moscow!

When we woke up this morning huge flakes were scurrying past the window,
covering the ground.

Maurice our tree had not yet shed his yellow coat, it was occurring leaf by leaf.

Well all right then, we'll have it the full six months this year.

Bring it on, as they say.   Send sun. 
Hold off  the cold.

Like the sky ever listens.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


from a trip down to the States,
returning through wonderful Vermont

 Detail from a painting by artist Mary Callahan,
hung in the reception hall of a medical building
 on St. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA

Grandson's little toy moose,
cloth canoe, wood wheels

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Back to the Island


Felt a need to get away, he took me
across the river to the island, I
trekked across the bridge.


At the wooden table, a piece of tooth
broke off, surprise.  The wind whooshed past
so strong it took my pencil.  About eight people braved
the breeze and currant in an end-of-season swim. Why
did I bring my umbrella and not my
bathing suit!!

I breathed in sand, and wind, and sky, in
company of the gulls perched there expectant,
like sentinels on the shore.  I love this place, the
trees, the many paths, the Quiet.
You can scatter my ashes here
when my time times, I'll tell him.
I'll show you the exact spot.

The bridge

The Island
The Boardwalk.  It takes 30 minutes from
start to finish. Bikes not allowed.

Rest Stop in the Woods
 I follow the gulls

to the Beach

 The River

     In the park I saw:
          A series of gates to nowhere
             A homeless man who asked "Quelle heure est-il?" 
               A chatty octogenarian on her bike
                 A wooden stick that spoke to me.  I took it home.
                   A sand fort licked by the waves
                       Two little siblings giggling feetfirst into a puddle
                            Eleven baby pine trees in pots in the grass.
                              A red leaf so red I heard its shout through the silence.
                                  A found photograph of a fox that I wish I had met.

Free parking

In the park,
a gate to nowhere

Dead Tree Carcass

For the weary walker

It blew past, then turned inside out.  Rain tonight.
 Under a tree, little swing for two

On the way back

Where are the fish

The Salamander House

Nobody home

Salut, toi, salamandre
Wait here for A.