Saturday, July 20, 2013

re unsubscribing from posts or emails

Just wanted to mention, in particular to "Anonymous" - if you have subscribed to this site and are receiving unwanted emails (especially every time someone comments, as you mentioned in an email to me, and which I don't understand as it's been some time since anyone has commented here) ... In any case, I believe you have to unsubscribe yourself...I don't think it's something I can do from this end. Sorry.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Almost four decades ago, she brought
“Tea and Sympathy” to my apartment
and stayed long after midnight
because we were both too tired to ride the
Milk train any more – I knew then that
there was another soul inhabiting
space on the planet with whom I felt
truly simpatico, and it would not matter
if we ever met, as long as I had her
writing to see me through, and through

As happens with muses, mine would flit
in and out of consciousness; sometimes her
writing often mirrored my life patterns
so closely I could not stand to listen
and would stack her vinyl out of sight

Until I could not bear its absence – then pull
out “Stars” and “Hunger” and put them on
the turntable, letting both tears and empathy
help my aching heart expose itself to
the light, listening again and again to
“Getting Over You” and “Jesse” and of course
sharing “Tea and Sympathy” once again,
a song that seemed to be our anthem.

Just recently, my muse came to the town
which I now call home and performed
in a smallish theatre with some cafe-style
seating down near the stage – which is where
I was fortunate enough to sit.

Oh my, Janis Ian is every bit as wonderful
as I had hoped—in addition to playing
one of the meanest blues guitars you’re
likely to hear anywhere, and I do mean
anywhere and from anyone,  including
slow-hand Clapton, Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy,
and Jeff Beck ...

In person – she is as gifted a story-teller
as one could wish for; a natural raconteur,
With a self-deprecating way of recounting
anecdotes that fill in bits of her history
that never seems rehearsed or boring ...
I was entranced; and imagine, in her fifties
her voice is clearer, more resonant, strong
and pitch-perfect than ever ...

I purchased her autobiography that night
—customs wouldn't allow her to bring her CD’s
across the border for some reason but the
book was already being sold here —go figure;
I began reading the book that night and could not
put it down, “Society’s Child” is mesmerizing
and held me in its thrall completely

Now, not only is she my muse, she
has vaulted into heroine status as well
As I join her legion of fans that work
within her organization for freedom and
social justice – in fact parts of her activist life
ring so familiar, I'm not sure she and I haven’t
been leading somewhat parallel lives at times;
It’s almost eerie – but in a good way.

The capper to my enthusiastic and continued
embracing of my muse as one of the best,
in all senses of the word was this – when she
realized how disheartened we were that we’d
be unable to buy any of her CD’s at her show,
she made this offer – if we ordered any of her
stuff off her website, all we needed to do was
scrawl “Canada” anywhere on the order form,
and she would see that we got a free
DVD of one of her recent performances –

Buying anything from Ian is a win-win proposition
since a portion of every sale goes to her
Foundation, Pearl, named for her late mother
Well, I did – and she did; not only did she include
the free DVD, she also sent along two signed
guitar picks,  a nice touch, I thought – tokens
I carry everywhere – ready inspiration.
Yeah, Janis Ian is definitely my muse
More than once I've tried to deconstruct
one of her songs and rewrite it as a poem
and realized her true brilliance when I
discover just how difficult that task is ...
Right now the song in question is “Shadow”
For she is just someone standing closer to
The sun and I am just the shadow by her side
Yeah – I wish


Thursday, February 28, 2013


There is a lake just north of here with magic
Hidden deep beneath its glossy plane
So cleverly disguised is it, one might pass it by

To do so would be sad I guess, not tragic
But a chance missed all the same
To slide inside another world, who would not try

It is after all a lake just, and not at all pelagic
And once discerned the demarcation like a frame
Will pull apart allowing one to slip in and thereby

Entering an upside down town takes adjusting quick
But the enchantment is such you'll be glad you came
In fact it will be hard for you to think of saying good-bye

It's so calming beneath the surface in the town with no name
It's like Atlantis - a place to visit - a place beyond the flame

Samuel Peralta's in charge at dVerse tonight and well worth the visit just for the plethora of info on sonnets and variations on the form (only one of which I've tried to follow with the Trireme sonnet) - he also details some words on ekphrastic poetry, one of my favourite forms and gives a great example using one of his own poems from a new project he's collaborating on...hop on over to dVerse and check it out.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

LEONARD COHEN CAME HERE (after Alexandra Leaving)

Unexpectedly the prince of poetry came here
It was as if by wishing it, I had made it so
On stage a seeming apparition, the man he did appear
Replete with all his words, and his beautiful old soul

He stood in spot lit adoration and sang each song
With perfect modest tone and mild aplomb
Was glorious beyond my wildest hopes, all night long
Wrapped us all in warmth and held each one of us in his palm

It was not magic, it was not imagination, it was real
I knew I'd wake the next morning still floating on the sound
It felt as if every time he looked up, each note was just for me to feel
Each song selection picked with me in mind, how easily I was found

And even though I'm sure the rest of the audience thought
That he was singing for them and them alone
I didn't care, let them have their foolishness, if sought
I knew for whom he was there singing; for me, let it go unknown

As shocked as I was that he actually came here
I almost forgot to relax and take the wondrousness of him in
He pours his soul, his heart and all his being into every piece
It was like receiving communion without committing original sin

And spending such a sacred time within that space
Bathed completely by words and sound and spirit of a kind
When on stage, the seeming apparition, the prince of poetry
He played to all of us with inexhaustible verve and brilliance of mind

And even though I'm sure the rest of the audience thought
That he was singing for them and them alone
I didn't care, let them have their foolishness, if sought
I knew for whom he was there singing; for me, let it go unknown

As shocked as I was that he actually came here
I almost forgot to relax and take the wondrousness of him in
He pours his soul, his heart and all his being into every piece
It was like receiving communion without committing original sin

To anyone who is mystified by my adulation
There are no words of mine to justify it more than these
I am in awe and I guess I always will be
Leonard Cohen came here, if you please

Oh yeah - I am in awe and I guess I always will be
My hero Leonard Cohen came here, yes he did, if you please

 (written the day after seeing L.Cohen in concert Nov.19,2012)

Saturday, February 9, 2013


In open court, the rancor
Rose like a plume
Bathing all present
With the vitriolic terms
Being tossed liked poisoned darts
Between the plaintiffs

More than once, the judge's gavel
Slammed as his face turned coral
And he demanded order
Called for some civility
Mopped his brow dry
Before scrunching his hankie
Into a ball, shaking his head

Thankfully, incidents as bad as this
Were rare, he thought
Trying to follow the thread
Of the arguments
Wishing he could duck
Below the lectern
to where his open bottle
Of single malt scotch lay
Wondered vaguely how much
Of his term on the bench
Was left ...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Pieces of your early life fell
into my hands again,  just yesterday
And surprised me so;  such brevity
linked with such candour, still
I had forgotten how courageous
you were inclined  to be
When writing down the memories
from that storehouse
in your mind, that great private
bunker where such personal
things are stowed.

Not for the first time I wondered
whatever  had possessed you
to expose yourself
to the scrutiny of those
Who would eventually see the lines
for what they were; the detailing
of a life lived flagrantly
In defiance of what was expected
by almost everyone
You ever came up against
or with whom you will
most likely have to coexist
for the remainder of your days

To fly in the face of convention,
 Is that what drove you then
 and what drives you still,
 To pen the words
 that crawl across the page
 and seep into the minds
 of all who view them,
 Without most even realizing
 the effect of such seemingly
 innocent notions
 On the psyche and the soul,
 As they peruse your verses,
 Your non-rhyming poems
 that serve to tell the tale
 Without saying much at all,
 But saying all, just the same.

Read between the lines, they said
When first you wrote
I remember the sound of your laughter
And the incredulity in your voice,
'There’s just space there,
What do they think they’ll find…'

At the time, I thought you were kidding;
I searched with the rest,
And there was nothing, as you said.
It wasn't until much later
When I re-read your words;
I think, in fact I know,
It was soon after your brother died
You began to write again;
Your new stuff very different
from what I remembered,
Starker somehow,
And I wanted to compare.

It was as if I’d been given
new eyes, or maybe the years had
Just granted me some 
much needed insight
Along with the inevitable
Gray hairs and experience.
Your words made sense finally,
And I saw how very bare
You’d laid your soul

At this second first glance
You frightened me with your boldness;
I couldn't stand to read very much
of you at once and wondered
How it was that I had been
So misled and blind the real first time
Or if I’d tricked myself on purpose

Not willing to imperil my own sensibilities
To such a raw emotional exposing
of one’s deepest private thoughts
and feelings and essence really;
the very essence of you,
put into words for anyone,
to trace or touch, or roll off the tongue.

I've wondered
if ever you've found yourself
Regretting such revelations
Or if the unburdening
Was as freeing
as you always said it was.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Between the many medieval villages
Crumbling walls give way to history
Lost among fields of native grass
And wildflowers beneath the scorch
Of Italia's summer sun baking hard
Once arable land now thirsting so
For a merciful rain not in any forecast
And fences fallen into disrepair are left
To rot, sheep and cattle both, roam
Free - to find water and feed wherever
Possible - or death, which one comes first
It is the fourth or fifth desperate summer
In a row and fences mean nothing nor
Does the idea of farming or ranching
Not down here anyhow - where Christ
Reputedly stopped - Eboli, and south
It is not hard to believe no God comes here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

dreaming the lake mayliewan

bull-rushes all around and swathes
of dry wheat stalks almost obscure
the reflections of the rich owners’

mansions— almost but tonight
they are mirrored so perfectly
it is as if another group of elaborate

houses lies beneath the calm surface
a surreal Atlantis where I could slip
and enter the fantasy as easily

as entering any other village
the demarcation point where they
meet, a still distinction

it would not be drowning or death
but gentle in the undertow I’d be
taken in the rhythm of the bees