Monday, November 24, 2008

The Philosopher and His Maureen - 1973

Taking for granted
your need and your warmth
Taking for granted

I silently sit
with a book in hand
and silently, so silently
leave you

Gone to the mountains
of philosphy and men
gone in pursuit of

While you, painfully wait
for my return to you
while you pray
that I won't be long

Nietzsche, Buber
Spinoza and Leibniz
compete for my eyes
and my time

And you, so quiet, so sad
yet so calm
and you, wait
you, whom I call my wife

- - - - -

There is no doubt that all of us regret some of the small things of our life, things which in the larger picture end up not being so small at all. I guess, that in being able to recognize my disappearances into my head so early has allowed me to consciously make more time for those who are around me. It is difficult to be present, impossible to do it all the time. For a philosophical poet, it may be the most difficult of all tasks. More than 35 years later, I am still married to this woman, and I still disappear into inner spaces.

Hiaku - Winter Dawn - 1972

cold biting winds fly
chasing snowflakes aimlessly
across dawn's landscape

- - - - -

Living in the cold, windswept prairies of Canada has its moments of pain as well as pleasure. The cold is intense, at times so cold that being outdoors is actually painful. Yet, the desire to go outside and pit one's self against the elements and prove one's right to exist is all the more exhilarating for the harshness. And in this intemperate climate, there is beauty.

Shadows and Ghosts - 1970

a song bends the stale air
as children stray between empty buildings,
a robin darts through bare branches
of a chokecherry bush,
a shout rings out from
a backyard beef barbeque,
and a car guns its motor
waiting for a light to turn green

a jackhammer threatens eardums
on a busy downtown street,
a neon sign flashes a rainbow
of pulsing plastic light,
a drunk sprawls on the grass
waiting for the pain to leave,
and a crowd lines up
to see the latest restricted movie

a bus rolls up to one of many stops
and waits for people to board and pay,
a factory whistle announces a shift change
a comman to hundreds,
a class of students leave the museum
forgetting about the relics on display,
and a woman gives birth
to an unwanted child

a man sits silently
on a dusty bench waiting,
a child cries in front of a TV
frightened by Captain Hook,
a young woman looks longingly
at a bargain basement gown,
and another city day passes
into memories as shadows and ghosts

- - - - -

There is no doubt that youth gives one a cynical perspective of life, one that is almost intolerant of human weakness. When I wrote this, I was certain that I would make every moment count and that all of my actions would have purpose and meaning, that I wouldn't get caught like those I pitied all around me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rebirth - Ecce Homo - 1968

windows with walls
shadows in light
encourage superstition
day bends into night
emotions are feelings
some running, some kneeling

rivers of segregation
soon flow into one
semites become christians
black and white are gone
all become a common man
as mountains turn into sand

rise up with curiousity
disregard an uneventful fate
thirst with a hunger
which only knowledge can sate
when the peasant dies
superman will rise

- - - - - - -

Part of my discoveries during this stage of my life, was the work of Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra became the central piece of my wandering around the world of philosophers such as Kant, Schopenhauer, Liebiz, Spinoza and others. For my final high school English paper I wrote a sizable treatise on existentialism trying to use as many big words as I could, not so much for mark, but to show that I was different from the others. I had depth, substance. I wasn't a peasant. However, a lifetime has passed since those days of idealistic fervour and I have discovered that I am a common man.

Animal Man - 1969

awkward embraces
by two strangers
are guided
by need

i need,
your body
raises mine,
instincts feed

the room
stifles enjoyment as
the cigarette smoke
burns my eyes
and my hands
keep searching


nature lets loose
a flood
my skin
quivers with excitement
as your breast
brushes my cheek

the taste of you
is warm
and glows

reason dies

- - - - - -

There is no doubt that the discovery of desire is something that upsets all that is known about the world, especially for one who lives in the world of thought. The neat ordering of the world is shattered. Deeply held convictions that man is rational, that purity is wholesome and the most natural state of being for one who professes to be a Christian. All this dies with discovery that one is bound to the instinctual of the human species. The days of sainthood disappear, never to be recaptured. Man is a messy being.

Flower People - 1967

sandals on their feet
guitars on their backs
living to a beat
not wanting to turn back

'Ban the Bomb!'
'Do away with War!'
show all nations
what we stand for

give not to society
for it's all in vain
love all neighbours
be called insane

in search of love
we have the power
in search of love
people of the flower

- - - - - -

During the spring and summer months I often spent time on Sparks Street in Ottawa, an area that was closed to pedestrian traffic only. During this time, a beaded, tie-dyed and long-haired group of young people began to frequent the street bringing their guitars with them in order to serenade the passersby. Often the young women would wear flowers in their hair and have other flowers on hand to give away. The adults, of course, were distrustful of these young people, but at the same time, they were tolerant and curious. It wasn't long before I too was wearing sandals and playing my guitar along with these strange beings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas Came Early - 1969

Christmas came early
I saw it today
In folded clothes
And things for play

A winter coat
Sans a button of course
Some retired socks
Relics of past city wars

A shiny shirt
What more can I say?
Christmas came early
Then went away

- - - - - - -

Christmas as a youth, even as a child, in the city was an event that was like a double-edged sword. Because I grew up in poverty, Christmas presents were often obtained from welfare agencies who had gathered used toys and games for those less fortunate. A good idea that often fell flat when the gifts didn't work, had missing puzzle pieces or game pieces. One particular Christmas when I was in grade nine saw me get a new wardrobe courtesy of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. The clothes, for a change, were actually decent and included a set of soft suede boots called 'desert boots'. I wore the new clothes with some pride to school as my old clothes were stuck in a different time and era. Unfortunately, one of the students in my large school noticed a shirt I was wearing, a unique one, as being his old shirt that his mom had given to some charity group or other. The echoes of the laughter in the school halls followed me for a long time.


Self Portrait - 1968

I am, myself, a book
to be read and reasoned
to be loved and hated
to be known, yet misunderstood
I am, myself, a man

- - - - - - -

As a young man of nineteen who had joined the work force in Ottawa, working for the department of Public Works thanks to my uncle who was a senior level government bureaucrat, I had begun to see myself as a man though in reality, I was more than naive about almost everything in life. Now, more than forty years later, I find myself still naive about many things. In the moments between work I lived in a world of literature, philosophy and music. I avoided, as much as possible, being involved with most people. Again, it isn't much different in the present. I am still quiet and reserved. I still crave the same things as I did forty years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.