Total Pageviews

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Doe and I (shaman haibun/Callahan's Rapids)

                                                      Doe and I


Yesterday I took Chase with me for the ten minute drive to Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area. The small parking lot is surrounded with huge stones to allow pedestrian travel only on the wildlife trails. We meandered down the footpath to the incredible rapids, where a huge, shiny new pick-up loomed over the rapids.

I had expected dozens of schoolkids to be swimming and enjoying the rural equivalent of a water park, but only a solitary fisherman stood casting into the pools below the rapids. I said hi, and he nodded in friendly fashion. The Crowe River is about 100 yards wide at the rapids, and the water is shallow. I tested Chase's new found willingness to wade, and he followed me into the rushing water.

The fisherman and I began small talk, and I told him about my secret fishing holes in the area. I casually mentioned that vehicles aren't really supposed to be driven on the foot trails, and the fisher guy said he was afraid of bears, and that's why his truck was within a fifty foot dash from his fishing spot. Then he casually mentioned he's a retired policeman:

                                               retired guys
                                            cop and hippie
                                            swap fish tales

The little bearded hippie and his licorice allsorts dog wandered upstream, leaving the retired cop to fish and worry about becoming bear fodder. Sometimes we waded in the rushing water, and sometimes Chase and I gingerly walked along the pocked limestone shore.

Several times we were treated:

                                           cold springs
                                     spread soft green lichen
                                           underfoot

Chase enjoyed sniffing along the wild bank, pines, cedars, brush and wildflowers narrowing our passage. With the summer slowdown, small islands of bonewhite granite lured us out into the current. Chase begged a biscuit, and while I waited, my shaman sense pointed to a large russet shape on the other bank:

                                          doe and I
                                     lock eyes across
                                       Crowe River

The mutual curiosity lasted minutes, until eventually the beautiful doe decided the black and white dog and the little hippie/shaman were harmless. To my relief, she returned to browsing, and Chase and I continued upstream to the old CNR bridges.

We clambered up the scree to the trans-Canada Trail, once the CNR rail line, and walked to the second bridge. A huge old tree, which always drew my interest for its many woodpecker holes and mysterious nests, had fallen victim to the recent windstorms:

                                       ants and termites
                                   nest now in the toppled
                                         condo tree   

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Anna Yin's haiku/Larwills' powerful new shaman CD/planning for PurdyFest #5 (insider's peek)

I just wrote several haiku... I know you all excellent on haiku, so feel free to share your suggestions.  Anna Yin

a sofa
sits by the road
rats move in

photographer creeps
near a cub in the cave
eye fits into eye

six blue eggs
hidden in bushes-
footstep near

a hand lifts
dandelions in air-
wings up

mail box
no news arrives
tea turns cold


a door ajar
a snake slithers out
a cry out



On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 12:12 PM, Chris Faiers <zenriver@sympatico.ca> wrote:
Hi RK,
I'll try and talk with Morley tonite about plans for opening the dam reading & see what he thinks. It's hard getting together with him since he started this new gig installing hot water tanks 6 weeks ago - we're lucky to hang out once or twice a week.

I think your CD is important - guess I said all that in my earlier email - the flight thru the dark passage to get to the light. I was at the Doors concert at Dinner Key Auditorium in 1969 when Morrison was busted for obscenity. He started the gig drunk,and then got drunker & prob. the LSD kicked in. Then he started haranguing the crowd how YOU'RE ALL IN THE SHIT, BUT YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW IT!

Of course JM was right, and it made for good theatre initially, but then his drunken ramblings DIDN'T lead to a killer concert, just more BS ramblings with the other Doors noodling in the background.

But now I'm rambling as usu., & I'm not even drinking  : ) ... My point is the importance of Birdman Stoneman to establish the reality of the darkness we're in as a civilization, a society, and as a number of nations (including First Nations). But without beating the audience over the head with the 'heaviosity' of the whole CD.

So I'm glad you are willing to do a 10 or 15 min. version - 'Wolf Hymn' prob. a good choice.

Maybe have you open even earlier than usual at the dam - maybe 4 pm. The stuff is so strong, it could pull in listeners and wanderers from the 'Celebrate Marmora' Day going on in the park.

Then maybe Morley could follow with his mellow music to relax the crowd. That sounds like an interesting rhythm to the dam reading - crank up the volume and message with you performing Wolf Hymn, have Morley calm down the crowd with his singing and guitar, and then have the crowd, which is mostly other poets anyway, crank themselves back up with their own readings.

PurdyFest #5 is starting to pull together with its own unique vibe ...
peace & poetry power!
Chris the cricket and Chase ......... wrrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof!

p.s. I'm considering posting some of this email exchange on my blog - are you comfortable with this? It might drum up some enthusiasm & speculation & general buzz for PF #5, or it might convince everyone we really are crazy and avoid PF like the plague  : )


On 2011-06-16, at 1:12 PM, Jim Larwill wrote:

>
> Hey Cricket,
>
> You were brave to listen to that CD in the late night.  Thanks for the
> comments.  Feel free to pirate a copy for Morley and Dr. John or pass
> that one around.
>
> I wouldn't do the whole thing for a reading.... don't think I have the
> energy for that... but I have done two 20-25 minute feature performances
> for the Slam in Carleton Place and Sasquatch reading series in
> Ottawa.... the feed back has been positive. (and I see Pearl let you
> know she has put some of it up on Utube and her blogg) The Pot luck was
> the right place for Wilber to show up last year but I don't know if this
> fits as well there, (some lighter stuff like that beaver poem maybe.)  I
> do think a short version 10-15 min of "Birdman Stoneman Incantation"
> would fit as part of the opening of the Dam reading with Morley.  The
> Wolf Hymn "calling up to sister moon" is a good calling together...
> calling out one... to pull in people.  Start things with a howl????
>
> Of course some of the darker stuff can be saved for informal late night
> around the fire.
>
> Well anyway I am easy with being on or off...here or there...  Sorry I
> don't really know Raymond's work very well and can't fill in there.
>
> Looking forward to the ripples of Zen River.
>
> Jim  aka  RK
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Chris Faiers <zenriver@sympatico.ca>
> Date: Thursday, June 16, 2011 0:29 am
> Subject: Re: Damm Reading/Larwill's launch of CD/soundtrack idea for the
> CD???/
>
>>
>>
>> Hi RK,
>> I finally got around to playing your amazing CD tonite ... at
>> PurdyFest last summer I was given a stack of books, chapbooks, even
>> a novel by Jim Christy. And then Jeff Seffinga asked me to be a
>> judge for the Acorn/Plantos Award, which required reading, sorting,
>> reading again, evaluating 30 books by 30 topnotch People's Poets.
>> Well, not all the poets were PP, and some of the books weren't
>> exactly PP either, all tho all had major merits.
>>
>> So the long & short of it is I  felt completely burned out with
>> poetry stuff for most of the winter afterwards. And then I got
>> enthused again when Dr. John helped me start the R&R blog in late
>> Feb.  But basically all the stuff I've been given to read, listen
>> to, etc. has just sat around the house in various piles.
>>
>> I finally got around to starting to sort thru them, & I did an
>> online review of Kent's first major collection on my blog last
>> nite. Quite incredible that he's published his first major
>> collection around age 70.
>>
>> So when I got yer email today, I knew I had to finally relapse, lie
>> in the dark, and play it start to finish before I could reply to you.
>>
>> Yep, it's the dark side - the dystopian vision which mankind has to
>> acknowledge is our rapidly arriving reality. Then Raven can return
>> with the light after man has lived thru his dark nite of the soul.
>>
>> My cable TV disappeared after a wild storm last week, & I'm
>> experimenting with cancelling it. So for the past week I've been
>> spending a lot of time listening to CDs late at nite instead of
>> vegging out to mindless boob tube shite. I've been playing the
>> Doors first album over and over, and I got some of the same vibe
>> from your chants. Morrison definitely channeled a lot of the dark
>> side, esp. on cuts like "the End".
>>
>> So I'm wondering if Dr. John would be interested in putting some
>> music to your chants? Of course it's up to you if you have any
>> interest in someone else messing with your work, & Dr. J would have
>> to listen to your CD & see if he's sympatico with it.
>>
>> Anyway, it's strong stuff, extremely powerful & your vocalizations
>> are mesmerizing (almost singing, esp. on that 'wolf' cut).
>>
>> I really think it's a good idea (an honour) to do a launch of your
>> CD at PF #5, & the questions are, what is the right time and the
>> right venue? I think having you perform around a campfire in the
>> dark is the more powerful place than on a sunlit island in the dam
>> on a Sat. afternoon.
>>
>> Maybe having the launch after the potluck supper, a la the Wilbur
>> performance you did last summer. That was the perfect time and
>> place - everyone was stuffed and sated, relaxed and ready for
>> Wilb's magickal appearance. I think maybe the same for your chants.
>>
>> I timed the CD at around 45 mins. - prob. a a bit long for a solo
>> performance, but maybe not.
>>
>> Then at the dam you could do a reprise perhaps of one or two of the
>> chant/songs.
>> We've still got a month and a half to plan things ...
>>
>> peace & love,
>> the Marm gang ...
>>
> wrooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof!
>
>> On 2011-06-15, at 11:33 AM, Jim Larwill wrote:
>>
>>>
>>> Hey Chris,
>>>
>>> Was just thinking, sounds a bit quiet this year so if Morley wanted
>>> company at the opening of the Damn Reading I have the performance of
>>> songs and chants from Birdman Stoneman Incantation I could call
>> out to
>>> the crowd with...  sort of a ceremonial opening... you could also
>>> advertise as the Marmora Launch for the CD if looking for publicity
>>> material.
>>>
>>> Anyway an idea... don't think Wilber can make it this year... but
>> watch> out he was mumbling about sending you an article about academic
>>> poets.... well at least he was being verbally abusive towards me
>> last> time he was here, but I wouldn't let him on my computer....
>> kicked him
>>> out but think I may have heard him rustling around in the woods...
>>>
>>> Anyway if you think adding to the opening is a good idea let me
>> know and
>>> I can send blurb material.
>>>
>>> RK
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>




--
Anna Yin

"Wings Toward Sunlight"
2011 by Mosaic Press
 
I just wrote several haiku... I know you all excellent on haiku, so feel free to share your suggestions.  Anna Yin

a sofa
sits by the road
rats move in

photographer creeps
near a cub in the cave
eye fits into eye

six blue eggs
hidden in bushes-
footstep near

a hand lifts
dandelions in air-
wings up

mail box
no news arrives
tea turns cold


a door ajar
a snake slithers out
a cry out



On Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 12:12 PM, Chris Faiers <zenriver@sympatico.ca> wrote:
Hi RK,
I'll try and talk with Morley tonite about plans for opening the dam reading & see what he thinks. It's hard getting together with him since he started this new gig installing hot water tanks 6 weeks ago - we're lucky to hang out once or twice a week.

I think your CD is important - guess I said all that in my earlier email - the flight thru the dark passage to get to the light. I was at the Doors concert at Dinner Key Auditorium in 1969 when Morrison was busted for obscenity. He started the gig drunk,and then got drunker & prob. the LSD kicked in. Then he started haranguing the crowd how YOU'RE ALL IN THE SHIT, BUT YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW IT!

Of course JM was right, and it made for good theatre initially, but then his drunken ramblings DIDN'T lead to a killer concert, just more BS ramblings with the other Doors noodling in the background.

But now I'm rambling as usu., & I'm not even drinking  : ) ... My point is the importance of Birdman Stoneman to establish the reality of the darkness we're in as a civilization, a society, and as a number of nations (including First Nations). But without beating the audience over the head with the 'heaviosity' of the whole CD.

So I'm glad you are willing to do a 10 or 15 min. version - 'Wolf Hymn' prob. a good choice.

Maybe have you open even earlier than usual at the dam - maybe 4 pm. The stuff is so strong, it could pull in listeners and wanderers from the 'Celebrate Marmora' Day going on in the park.

Then maybe Morley could follow with his mellow music to relax the crowd. That sounds like an interesting rhythm to the dam reading - crank up the volume and message with you performing Wolf Hymn, have Morley calm down the crowd with his singing and guitar, and then have the crowd, which is mostly other poets anyway, crank themselves back up with their own readings.

PurdyFest #5 is starting to pull together with its own unique vibe ...
peace & poetry power!
Chris the cricket and Chase ......... wrrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof!

p.s. I'm considering posting some of this email exchange on my blog - are you comfortable with this? It might drum up some enthusiasm & speculation & general buzz for PF #5, or it might convince everyone we really are crazy and avoid PF like the plague  : )


On 2011-06-16, at 1:12 PM, Jim Larwill wrote:

>
> Hey Cricket,
>
> You were brave to listen to that CD in the late night.  Thanks for the
> comments.  Feel free to pirate a copy for Morley and Dr. John or pass
> that one around.
>
> I wouldn't do the whole thing for a reading.... don't think I have the
> energy for that... but I have done two 20-25 minute feature performances
> for the Slam in Carleton Place and Sasquatch reading series in
> Ottawa.... the feed back has been positive. (and I see Pearl let you
> know she has put some of it up on Utube and her blogg) The Pot luck was
> the right place for Wilber to show up last year but I don't know if this
> fits as well there, (some lighter stuff like that beaver poem maybe.)  I
> do think a short version 10-15 min of "Birdman Stoneman Incantation"
> would fit as part of the opening of the Dam reading with Morley.  The
> Wolf Hymn "calling up to sister moon" is a good calling together...
> calling out one... to pull in people.  Start things with a howl????
>
> Of course some of the darker stuff can be saved for informal late night
> around the fire.
>
> Well anyway I am easy with being on or off...here or there...  Sorry I
> don't really know Raymond's work very well and can't fill in there.
>
> Looking forward to the ripples of Zen River.
>
> Jim  aka  RK
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Chris Faiers <zenriver@sympatico.ca>
> Date: Thursday, June 16, 2011 0:29 am
> Subject: Re: Damm Reading/Larwill's launch of CD/soundtrack idea for the
> CD???/
>
>>
>>
>> Hi RK,
>> I finally got around to playing your amazing CD tonite ... at
>> PurdyFest last summer I was given a stack of books, chapbooks, even
>> a novel by Jim Christy. And then Jeff Seffinga asked me to be a
>> judge for the Acorn/Plantos Award, which required reading, sorting,
>> reading again, evaluating 30 books by 30 topnotch People's Poets.
>> Well, not all the poets were PP, and some of the books weren't
>> exactly PP either, all tho all had major merits.
>>
>> So the long & short of it is I  felt completely burned out with
>> poetry stuff for most of the winter afterwards. And then I got
>> enthused again when Dr. John helped me start the R&R blog in late
>> Feb.  But basically all the stuff I've been given to read, listen
>> to, etc. has just sat around the house in various piles.
>>
>> I finally got around to starting to sort thru them, & I did an
>> online review of Kent's first major collection on my blog last
>> nite. Quite incredible that he's published his first major
>> collection around age 70.
>>
>> So when I got yer email today, I knew I had to finally relapse, lie
>> in the dark, and play it start to finish before I could reply to you.
>>
>> Yep, it's the dark side - the dystopian vision which mankind has to
>> acknowledge is our rapidly arriving reality. Then Raven can return
>> with the light after man has lived thru his dark nite of the soul.
>>
>> My cable TV disappeared after a wild storm last week, & I'm
>> experimenting with cancelling it. So for the past week I've been
>> spending a lot of time listening to CDs late at nite instead of
>> vegging out to mindless boob tube shite. I've been playing the
>> Doors first album over and over, and I got some of the same vibe
>> from your chants. Morrison definitely channeled a lot of the dark
>> side, esp. on cuts like "the End".
>>
>> So I'm wondering if Dr. John would be interested in putting some
>> music to your chants? Of course it's up to you if you have any
>> interest in someone else messing with your work, & Dr. J would have
>> to listen to your CD & see if he's sympatico with it.
>>
>> Anyway, it's strong stuff, extremely powerful & your vocalizations
>> are mesmerizing (almost singing, esp. on that 'wolf' cut).
>>
>> I really think it's a good idea (an honour) to do a launch of your
>> CD at PF #5, & the questions are, what is the right time and the
>> right venue? I think having you perform around a campfire in the
>> dark is the more powerful place than on a sunlit island in the dam
>> on a Sat. afternoon.
>>
>> Maybe having the launch after the potluck supper, a la the Wilbur
>> performance you did last summer. That was the perfect time and
>> place - everyone was stuffed and sated, relaxed and ready for
>> Wilb's magickal appearance. I think maybe the same for your chants.
>>
>> I timed the CD at around 45 mins. - prob. a a bit long for a solo
>> performance, but maybe not.
>>
>> Then at the dam you could do a reprise perhaps of one or two of the
>> chant/songs.
>> We've still got a month and a half to plan things ...
>>
>> peace & love,
>> the Marm gang ...
>>
> wrooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof!
>
>> On 2011-06-15, at 11:33 AM, Jim Larwill wrote:
>>
>>>
>>> Hey Chris,
>>>
>>> Was just thinking, sounds a bit quiet this year so if Morley wanted
>>> company at the opening of the Damn Reading I have the performance of
>>> songs and chants from Birdman Stoneman Incantation I could call
>> out to
>>> the crowd with...  sort of a ceremonial opening... you could also
>>> advertise as the Marmora Launch for the CD if looking for publicity
>>> material.
>>>
>>> Anyway an idea... don't think Wilber can make it this year... but
>> watch> out he was mumbling about sending you an article about academic
>>> poets.... well at least he was being verbally abusive towards me
>> last> time he was here, but I wouldn't let him on my computer....
>> kicked him
>>> out but think I may have heard him rustling around in the woods...
>>>
>>> Anyway if you think adding to the opening is a good idea let me
>> know and
>>> I can send blurb material.
>>>
>>> RK
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>




--
Anna Yin

"Wings Toward Sunlight"
2011 by Mosaic Press

Monday, 20 June 2011

Meditatin' Man: 2010 (G20 Summit)

This is the third post on my personal history of various protesting styles. I've evolved from the 'street fightin' man' of 1969 to the 'jailbird demonstrator' of 1975 to the 'meditatin' man' at last summer's Human Summit for peace at the G20 in Toronto.

Following is my letter-to-the-editor on this event, which was published in the Northeast Edition of EMC newspaper, July 8, 2010.


Meditating on the G20 Summit

Dear Editor,
I felt compelled to visit Toronto last weekend for the G20 craziness. Not as a traditional demonstrator (did that in the 1960s against the Vietnam War; even wrote about it in my online memoir "Eel Pie Dharma), but as a participant in an experiment in human evolutoin called the Human Summit Project - a group hour-long mediation ceremony in Woodbine Park.

While the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of black-clad riot cops and 'black bloc' provocateurs played out their billion dollar charades, several hundred of us sat in yoga poses, walked a labyrinth, and calmly focused our thoughts and intentions on pacifying the weekend vibes and sending the G20 leaders positive thoughts.

And congratulations are overwhelmingly owed to the people of Toronto and the peaceful protestors for not falling for the provocations of Harper's jackbooted imports or the infantile black blocers. As Kanye West might say, "Stephen Harper doesn't like Torontonians." But almost before the weekend was over, calm had begun returning to the most global city on our hillbilly planet. Jackboots or prayer flags? The people of Toronto passed this test, our Prime Minister did not.

For an evolved planet,
Chris Faiers

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Dominion Day in Jail/Yankee Go Home campaign/hate laws

DOMINION DAY IN JAIL

(Celebration 1975)


I spent last Dominion Day in jail
in a cold cell
on a steel bench -
cold, sleepless, angry and proud
tho almost wanting to feel foolish.

Fed a cheeseburger and a coffee in 24 hours
fingerprinted
stripped of my shirt
frogmarched - mugshot
insulted.

All this for the patriotic crime
of daring to say YANKEE GO HOME!
to the Yankee Shriners
parading thru downtown Toronto.
They thought it was the 4th of July
(Canada Division).

Cold, sleepless, hungry, angry
              PROUD
that I was cold, sleepless, hungry, angry
and not enjoying the July sun
lounging on the green grass in Queen's Park
or lining the parade route for the Shriners.
This growing pride made my solitary jail cell
a celebration of Dominion Day.

Chris Faiers


some publication history and notes:

This poem tells the true story of my arrest in 1975 for the heinous crime of wearing a bright yellow teeshirt emblazoned with YANKEE GO HOME as part of a protest against the Americanization of Canada. Our pro-nationalist group, The Canadian Liberation Movement, had recently adopted this slogan.

I was charged under the new Ontario "hate crime" laws, an example of the police misinterpreting a new law to suit a political agenda. Several other CLM members were also arrested as part of this somewhat misguided campaign - the Canadian people were definitely not of a mind to rise up and bear witness against the ongoing assimilation of our country into the United States.

We fought the charges all the way to the Supreme Court of Ontario, a process which took well over a year. I was acquitted by the Supreme Court, and the judge admonished a testifying officer for his lack of credibility.

In 1978 I started the literary press, Unfinished Monument Press, with intentions to publish more radical poetry than was generally published in Canada at the time (with some notable exceptions, including Milton Acorn and bill bissett).

The first collection I produced was my chapbook, Dominion Day in Jail. The poem was subsequently included in further collections of my poetry as well as in the Steel Rail Publishing poetry anthology Poems for Sale in the Street, edited by Tom Clement and Ted Plantos, 1979. The idea and title for the anthology were mine, suggested to Tom, who was boarding in the house I rented at 2128 Gerrard Street East in Toronto. A new generation of poets made appearances in this collection, including Jim Brown, Rosalind Eve Conway, Mary di Michele, Len Gasparini, Greg Gatenby, Gordon Gilhuly, Gwen Hauser, Jane Jordan, Julie McNeill, Robert Priest, Alfred Rushton, Sara Spracklin, and Kris Sri Bhaggihadatta. Steel Rail Publishing was founded by former members of the CLM house press after the CLM splintered and dissolved over issues of sectarianism and social fascism shortly after the ill-fated Yankee Go Home campaign.


**********************************************************************

This is the second posting on my participation and writings on political protests. The first was the previous post, Street Fightin' Man, 1969. The concluding post will be my piece on the Human Summit, a group meditation at Woodbine Park, held during last summer's G20 protests.
 

Friday, 17 June 2011

street fightin' man: 1969 ... 144 Piccadilly squat

Eel Pie Dharma - contents   |   previous chapter (1)   |   next chapter (3)

EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun -  © 1990 Chris Faiers



Chapter 2 - 144 Piccadilly Squat

L'Auberge Cafe
    ceramic Thames winds
        past teacups

A concert in Hyde Park lured downtown London.  The Edgar Broughton Band.  A group from L'Auberge took the tube to Hyde Park, where we lolled in the patchy grass through the concert.  I remember everyone doodling all over my white turtleneck with coloured marker pens  -  it was a great excuse to roll around and get female attention and enjoy the camaraderie.  The band finished with its trademark shout-along finale exorcism of "Out Demons, Out!"  High from all the excitement we poured through the downtown streets, and three of us decided to take a stroll past the big squat that was being sensationalised in the newspapers.

144 Piccadilly was a huge, decaying stone building in the heart of the business district.  Carefully we crossed the board planks laid across the moat-like no-man's land.  Like crossing the drawbridge into a decrepit urban castle.  We had only planned to visit but we were so immediately accepted as kindred spirits that we just hung in.  In one of the huge rooms upstairs a "war council" was being held.  Many of the leaders were French students from the 1968 demonstrations in Paris.  We huddled in a corner and basked in the excitement and dusty funkiness of it all.

We ended up in a little room with a couple in a sleeping-bag trying to make uncomfortable love:

Sleeping-bag
    stuffed, squirming
        on bare boards

I went for a recon stroll and ended up on guard duty with a greaser.  By now I realised that most of the original squatters had left and had been replaced by English "Hell's Angels", greasers (sort of understudy Angels), and other hippies and dossers like the couple in the sleeping-bag.  The front yard of 144 remained no man's land.  Occasionally a few Angels would foray into the yard for a skirmish.  A line of bobbies separated us from a howling mob of skinheads in Green Park across the street.  The yowling, aggro skinheads reminded me of the orcs in Lord of the RingsOur ammunition was rubber balls, most of which had been pumped full of water from hypodermic syringes  -  these were the waning days of legal junkiedom in the UK.  Thousands of these toy balls had been stored in the basement.  The greaser and I shared a turret-like window, peering into the dimming light at the bobbies and the taunting army of skinheads.  Watch me nail that bobby, the greaser bragged, and he bopped one of Britain's finest in the helmet.  My turn on guard.  Three or four stories below us a limo was winding its way passed the entrenched riot.  I thought 'I'll teach you to arrogantly drive through a battle zone like fucking tourists' and threw a ball.  I don't know if I dented the roof, but the car sped away, and in that moment I felt the thrill and danger of committment.  Certainly I was now going to get a year or two in a British cell for throwing that ball.  For me, the revolution was here.

We stayed a day or so.  Tiring of the diet of countercultural soup and the building paranoia of an impending police raid, we decided to try and get out.  We weren't sure if we would be allowed to leave by the other squatters, and I was sure that if we were, I was going to be arrested on damning evidence taken by a police photographer.  Incredible tension was in the air when we got downstars to the main hallway.  Everyone was preparing for an all-out assault by the police.  Angels and greasers were running round with balls and clubs and wrapping leather belts around their wrists.  The biggest, meanest, ugliest renegade skinhead I had ever seen was standing guard by the front door with a great big club.  Nobody tried to stop us, or even seemed to mind that we were leaving the impending battle scene.  Perhaps they thought we would be beaten by the police anyway.  We did.  We crossed carefully back over the planks of no man's land towards the waiting line of blue.  The worst was about to come  -  beaten silly on a London street, then beaten again at the police station, and finally five years in a cell.  'Just a couple of dossers', one of the cops sneered as we reached the end of the planks.  Amazed we just kept walking.  Freedom!  We couldn't believe it.  Later the police raided.  We had walked out hours before the siege ended.




Eel Pie Dharma is protected by international copyright laws. Individuals may print off a copy of this work for personal use only to facilitate easier reading.


Eel Pie Dharma - contents   |   previous chapter (1)   |   next chapter (3)
Eel Pie Island (words & pics)   |   more memories of 144 Piccadily   |   squatting archive
Eel Pie Dharma - contents   |   previous chapter (1)   |   next chapter (3)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Zen River Memories

by Kent Bowman


Savouring this back road rendezvous
North of Seven,
filled with promise, contemplation and peace.
Escaping from a world driven insane
by endless reports of disaster,
I watch this river find its time-laden course,
while the rest of the world
scurries towards oblivion.



from On the Other Side of Paradise
Hidden Brook Press, 2010

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

poems by a well-adjusted draft dodger: ON THE OTHER SIDE OF PARADISE/Kent Bowman

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF PARADISE
Kent Bowman

Hidden Brook Press, 2010
$16.95  isbn 978-1-897475-52-2
85 pages
http://HiddenBrookPress.com



POEMS BY A WELL-ADJUSTED DRAFT DODGER
a biased review from Chris Faiers


Kent gave me this, his first major collection of poetry, at PurdyFest #4 last summer. Kent sang and played guitar to warm up the gathering in 2010 and the year before. So he is demonstrably a man of many entertaining talents.

Kent was also one of the first Americans to make a strong statement against the U.S. war in Vietnam. He left the U.S. in 1965, and ultimately renounced his American citizenship, an act of incredible bravery and a profoundly ringing personal statement of integrity.

I didn't have to make this decision until 1969, as I was raised in the U.S., although a Canadian citizen by birth. It was moral visionaries like Kent, and his longtime ally, Mick Burrs, who showed a generation of young men that there was another way to live on this planet other than through tribal warfare.

So a reader could reasonably expect polemical poetry, rants and rages, a la Milton Acorn, perhaps. But what one comes across repeatedly in this collection is Kent's normalcy, his very Canadianness, a profound ability to make an incredibly powerful moral statement early in life and then return to as normal a life as is possible afterwards.

The first of the book's four sections is simply titled Madawaska. The accessible poems detail the routines of cottage life familiar to generations of Canadians: corn roasts, Algonquin Park, The Shield, nature in it's obvious but sometimes sneakily transformative forms. 

Many times Kent acknowledges his poetic mentor, Toronto poet Ted Plantos. But the poet I'm most reminded of while reading this is Raymond Souster, another significant Canadian People's Poet whom I know Kent visits on a regular basis in a Toronto nursing home.

Like Souster, Kent's best poems are so pure, so simple seeming and artifice free, that on first visit they can almost seem naive. This is a talent all poets should learn.

Kent's laconic wit is another testament to his normalcy. Poems about getting duped into cane toad kissing sideshows and similar tourist traps on a recent excursion to Australia give proof that the poet's sly smile on the back cover is well deserved.

Of course my favourite poem is Zen River Memories about my neo-Buddhist retreat and PurdyFest campsite (published in And Left a Place to Stand On: Poems and Essays on Al Purdy/ Edited by Allan Briesmaster, John b. Lee, Linda Rogers, and R.D. Roy/ Hidden Brook Press, 2009, $22.50).

But my second favourite poem is the collection's final piece and an Acornesque tribute to mankind:


A Man of Many Hats

"How many hats could a hat man wear
If a hat man wore many hats?"

We all live in a one-dimensional mindset, one in which we file
each other away in narrowly constructed, uni-dimensional
compartments.

This is an odd human concern, when all of us know within
ourselves that we are all really multi-dimensional beings who
define ourselves daily in a variety of ways.

I am a husband, a father, a homeowner who can, when required,
operate a snow blower, use tools and perform simple home
repairs.

Other favourite hats I wear include a cottager who swims,
operates a motorboat, kayaks and canoes, hikes,  and is a
pantheistic seeker, trying to grasp my relationship with the
natural world and those mysterious forces beyond us.

My well-fitted, passionate hats are those of a writer who travels
regularly to this uncharted country we call poetry, a musician
who writes songs, and a fledgling arranger-pianist who plays
trombone, guitar and sings.

Nearly worn-out hats I still wear: rehabilitation consultant,
counselor-teacher, report writer.

Occasional hats identify me as a modest art collector, an
Aamerican-Canadian expat, a foodie of sorts, minor world
traveler (in spite of myself), and driver (born in L.A. with
a steering wheel in my crib).

When reading about acquaintances I am always amazed by
how much I never knew about their many hats.
 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

fireflies and master monks (haibun)

                                  Fireflies below Goat Hill

I did end up doing the Goat Hill walk again last night. Set a slower pace than the two major treks of last week, although I still did it in about 1 1/2 hours. It was overcast, with departing rain clouds, so I didn't expect the same magic as experienced last week with the "Green Tara" sunset. But nature always rewards those who visit ... when I got to the foot of Goat Hill, the swampy fields were full of fireflies zipping around. They more than made up for the lack of stars.

                                             no stars
                                  while rain clouds depart
                                      fireflies everywhere

Sylvia relied, "Great haiku, I love it ... probably because I've always found fireflies fascinating." Her enthusiasm inspired me to further reflection.

                                             mating rituals
                                                of fireflies
                                              brief cosmos

I had been doing the walk in a mild, or light, state of meditation. I had started with shamanistic awareness, then gradually raised a cone of meditative energy and entered the next realm of light. I had been walking in this state of awareness when surprised by the fireflies.

                                            night walking
                                        in light meditation:
                                        fireflies ground me

These lighthearted reflections on fireflies and their rituals inspired the final poem.

                                             Zen monk
                                      playing hide and seek
                                           with his soul
 


published in my 2008 book ZenRiver Poems and Haibun
Hidden Brook Press
isbn 978 1 897475 25 6





postscript
June 12/11
                       
I wrote the above haibun this time of year, mid-June, circa 2004. While walking my dog Chase by the Crowe River several nights ago, we saw the first lone firefly of the season. Within a week thousands more will entertain.

Two years ago I made one of my infrequent visit to the Zen Forest Buddhist retreat in Actinolite. I have been visiting the head monk, Thay (Thich Thong Tri), since 2006. Thay asked to visit my little neo-Buddhist retreat, ZenRiver Gardens, in the hamlet of Malone. We were accompanied by another venerated monk, Nando, and a novice, Minh Tri.

The visit was a great and friendly success, and we were greeted on our arrival at ZenRiver by a number of ZenRiver regulars. Thay pronounced powerful fung shui at ZenRiver, and said it was created in part by the powerful minerals underground on the edge of The Shield. All the monks also expressed surprise and some delight at the general absence of insects at ZenRiver.

Thay graciously presented a dharma talk under the crabapple tree on the west lawn of the shaman shack. Morley Ellis played guitar and sang for the small gathering, and everyone enjoyed the spiritual camaraderie buoyed with classical country songs.

I returned the monks to ZenForest, and was invited to a vegetarian supper. While Minh prepared the meal, Thay suggested we visit the large beaver pond where he had spent many years meditating before formally opening the retreat.

Thay, Nando and I sat by the still pond for about fifteen or twenty relaxing minutes. Nature constantly entertained us - a splashing frog, a distant swimming beaver, clouds wafting clear for sunrays to shine, sudden breezes to cool us.



                                        meditating
                            master monks  flickering
                                     light thoughts








     

Friday, 10 June 2011

Limnal to Shelley's A Defense of Poetry

(In writing this blog I've noticed how often I've referenced Shelley's brilliant essay from almost 200 years ago. To refresh my personal enjoyment of this great work, I've excerpted the following pieces and titled this homage a "limnal".)

In the infancy of society every author is necessarily a poet, because language itself is poetry; and to be a poet is to apprehend the true and the beautiful ...  

Every original language near to its source is in itself  the chaos of a cyclic poem;

Not that I assert poets to be prophets in the gross sense of the word, or that they can foretell the form as surely as they foreknow the spirit of events: such is the pretense of superstition, which would make poetry an attribute of prophecy, rather than prophecy as attribute of poetry. A poet participates in the eternal, the infinite and the one;


A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth.

Hence epitomes have been called the moths of just history; they eat the poetry out of it.


But poetry acts in another and diviner manner. It awakens and enlarges the mind itself by rendering it the receptacle of a thousand unapprehended combinations of thought. Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, ...


A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and of many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own.


Poetry strengthens that faculty which is the organ of the moral nature of man, in the same manner as exercise strengthens a limb.


The cultivation of those sciences which have enlarged the limits of the empire of man over the external world has, for want of the poetical faculty, proportionally circumscribed those of the internal world; and man, having enslaved the elements, remains himself a slave.

Poetry is indeed something divine. It is at once the center and circumference of knowledge; it is that which comprehends all science, and that to which all science must be referred.


... ascend to bring light and fire from those eternal regions where the owl-winged faculty of calculation dare not ever soar

... for the mind in creation is as a fading coal, ...

Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.


... they (poets) can colour all that they combine with the evanescent hues of this ethereal world ...


It creates anew the universe,


The most unfailing herald, companion, and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution is poetry.


Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. POETS ARE THE UNACKNOWLEDGED LEGISLATORS OF THE WORLD.


Percy Bysshe Shelley
1821




In 1981 bill bissett kindly published a collection of my poetry titled "unacknowledged legislator"
with his blewointmentpress
isbn 0 88971 044 9

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Poets' Paradigm: rich in spirit, poor in pocketbook

Rich in Spirit, Poor in Pocketbook:
entering the poets' paradigm

Chris Faiers

Most fellow poets I've known have been rich in spirit, but poor in pocketbook. With the global financial collapse of two years ago. large portions of the rest of the population are being forced to consider the economic conditions many poets consider normal, even ideal.

As I prepared to start this brief essay, I received my daily email from poet/astrologer Michael Zizis. It was a quote by Robert Graves, There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.

Too true. This is the reality most poets accept and live by. I remember when I was starting my small literary press three decades ago. Two poets who were beginning to establish credible reputations decided to become lawyers. At the time, being incredibly naive, I couldn't fathom how two such talented wordsmiths could choose this path in life. Why be a financially secure lawyer, and a respected member of society, when you could be an impoverished poet looked down upon by a capitalist society which worships money, power, success and consumerism?

Scientists are now describing an "empathy gene". When I was a hard-core lefty, my comrades and I used to think right wingers were stupid. Decades have proven this untrue. But maybe the explanation of a missing empathy gene does explain the attitudes and behaviour of most of our political leaders (the ultimate oxymoron).

Perhaps there is a yet undiscovered "poet gene" which leads some down the garden path of poverty, misunderstood empathy, and little or no public recognition, but which does cultivate a richness of the mind and spirit. These strange creatures with this genetic anomaly are POETS!

In 1821 Percy Bysshe Shelley concluded his essay A Defense of Poetry with the sentence, Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. We are not lawyers, nor politicians, and we often consciously choose to live in conditions normal people would rightly consider appalling. But generation after generation of new poets are born, and continue to choose this path.

The richness of spirit experienced by all poets, and beautifully expressed by some, is life enough for those with a true understanding of the wonder of this human existence. I think of William and Dorothy Wordsworth wandering the English Lake District, tiny Dove Cottage more than sufficient refuge from the not-so-rugged wildness of their domain.

Closer to home, I think of shaman/poet Jim Larwill, living year round in his cottage lacking indoor plumbing, content to watch the seasons change around his small lake in rural Quebec.

We daydream of the "great generation" of Canadian poets, Milton Acorn sitting on a sand dune by the shores of his native Prince Edward Island. Al and Eurithe Purdy cozied to Roblin Lake, hidden even from public acclaim in the pioneer hamlet of Ameliasburgh.

Simple lives on the surface, but lives more fully lived, more deeply understood and in tune with the phases of the moon, the length of winters, the breezes of spring, the flowers and the falling leaves. These are ecologically valid ways to live, No SUVs to carve through downtown traffic. A jug of homemade wine, a pail of fresh water from the lake, and thou beside me in the Canadian wilderness, perhaps.

Cliched, yes. A role model for a less money-oriented future society, which has suddenly, impossibly, become Now. Hopefully.

We can whine and complain about our dwindled mutual funds, our inability to afford a new car this year, and the loss of our daily support for the local trendy cafe. Or we can learn to live like our role model poets, the unacknowledged legislators, who have been thriving on bucolic, back-to-the-land lifestyles since we shared our first dens with moneyless wolf brethren.

Rich in spirit, poor in pocketbook. The new paradigm is here, free yourself to enjoy it.



Publication credit: first published in Tough Times: When the money doesn't love us
edited by John B. Lee
Black Moss Press, 2010