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Friday, 27 January 2017

Three poems at the end-of-days (era of trump, trump, trump): Katherine L. Gordon

Record of Final Entries

They passed a decree approving torture,
another banning houses of refuge in the cities,
yet another silencing any climate comment.
Record our final moments of hard-won civilization
before the books are burned, or:
stand together against oppression.
It has been done before, costly in blood-blows
to those who dare, but a redemption
of the fading finer facets of humanity
that still cherish love and peace,
not through weakness but that nascent knowledge
that truth and beauty
might not be extinguished
in the rising dark.

Piping At The End-Of-Days

Should there be a lament?
Perhaps a Pibroch to merge the wild hills,
the mountains, the rising seas,
with bewildered humans
at the end-of-days,
to finally sound the heart of Nature
so bruised by mankind,
waiting now for our demise
to return to living forests,
fish-flowing seas.
We were not long here
but left the planet poorer for our presence.
We could drown in dollars,
profits that killed imagination and sustenance,
with leaders who led destruction,
forbade any knowledge of it.
Who will mourn us
when like the many before us
we become fossils for a next evolution to discover.
Too late to stem the seas, the bombs,
the pollution of our waters of life,
our corroded air, our last gasping angry breaths
while deserts consume our food and all land is paved.
We build walls against a horde displaced,
but inside them the last of even good humanity will die.
Let there be piping
as the flowers turn to dying weeds.

Image result for piper at the gates of dawn pics

The Silver Pipes of Ur

Buried some five thousand years ago
with their gallant piper,
the music that called the forces of creation
to rouse or soothe a seeking human,
passed down in many forms throughout
the lands of our beginnings.
Music the blood-bridge between earth
and the heavens that kindle it.
Forgetting this connection led us astray,
gold, goods and land forged the wars fought for them,
doused the fire of spirit-paths,
we can no longer know or find ourselves.
Who will pipe farewell for the refugees,
the starving and displaced,
those walled out by tone-deaf leaders?

Katherine L. Gordon

                                                                     .    .    .    .

Jan. 28

Hi Chris and Katherine,

Powerful poems. Thanks for sharing...

The world is crazy...

Take care.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

James Deahl on Trump election

January 20, 2017

Dear Chris,

         Here we are, Inauguration Day 2017. Having listened to President Trump’s speech, with The Cookers on the stereo, and a glass of Elijah Craig Straight Bourbon at hand, I welcome our new President with my second Trump letter. (My first Trump letter was well received, except by a couple of Trump supporters. But, hey, you can’t please everyone.) Eleven days ago Senator Sanders made an important observation:

“Donald Trump did something extraordinary. Trump took on the Republican establishment, took on the Democratic establishment, took on the media establishment and he ended up winning the election to become President of the United States.”

                  — Bernie Sanders, January 9, 2017

         What the good Senator does not comment on is why. First off, Secretary Clinton lost because she deserved to lose. She carried too much personal and political baggage, she represented “more of the same” when voters were looking for change, she failed to campaign well and her style was off-putting and elitist, and finally, she — and the Democratic Party brass — developed a poor election strategy. She was Washington “royalty” when that was poison to many citizens.

         Mr. Trump won because he was the other choice. That is perhaps mainly true, but it cannot be, and is not, the entire truth. Three people went after the chance to stand for office as a Democrat. An amazing 17 people sought the Republican nod. Yet, no one but Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders spoke to the American people about the issues that mattered to them. Of twenty possible presidents, only two — only two — consistently addressed the citizens of their nation. The other 18 candidates, including Mrs. Clinton, were content to speak to and for the political establishment and the coastal elites. Candidates Trump and Sanders were the only ones who seemed to be concerned with the citizens in “fly-over America”. But “fly-over America” is where national elections are won and lost.

         In my view, this election would have been more interesting if it had been Trump vs. Sanders. But the Democrats went in for “royalty” and that truly sealed their fate. Once I saw what was happening, I called for a Trump victory.

         When I said above that Hilary Clinton lost because she did not deserve to win. That was true. But that does not mean that Donald Trump deserved to win. My view is that neither deserved to occupy the highest office in the world. But, of course, like it or not, one of them had to get it.

         If Trump’s speech this noon is anything to go by — and no one but Mr. Trump knows if it is — things might not be quite as bad as many liberals think. Then again, it is one thing to announce policy and another to enact policy. Much of what President Trump proclaimed will have a difficult time with Congress. I strongly expect that there will be very few drastic changes in the status quo before the congressional elections of 2018. Major change will only come after the 2018 elections, and only if the Republicans do better in both the House and the Senate.

         So be happy. The world does not end tomorrow. Nor next year, either. The sun will rise. Trust me on that.

         While I am not pleased with a Trump Presidency, which could prove to be dangerous, it has brought my on-again/off-again romance with the United Stated to its conclusion. Finally, after 47 years, I am a Canadian (not an American ex-pat living in Canada or an American-Canadian). Since my wife is a Canadian and my three daughters are Canadians, I am OK with this. And, really, all but three years of my adult life have been spent in Canada. So claiming some sort of “Americanism” was quite a stretch.

         While I am unhappy placing “President” before “Trump” as I have been doing, would being able to write “President Clinton” make that big a difference? And at least I can say “I called it right.”


         . . . James (Deahl)
Image result for trump inauguration cartoons

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Grey Owl Redux

Image result for pic Grey Owl

If I could find the energy, I'd do a long piece here on the Boyden affair, with reference to Grey Owl. The Boyden fiasco has finally sufficiently piqued my interest in Grey Owl to borrow his book, TALES OF AN EMPTY CABIN, from the Marmora Library. Reading it it's hard to believe anyone ever took him seriously as a First Nations author. Even the persona he presents as the narrator doesn't seem to be claiming First Nations status . . . but I guess all the pics of him in a long feathered headdress make up for his 'misrepresented' authorial voice ;  )  I've only read the first 4 or 5 chapters, but they're all really corny and very, velly British in voice and viewpoint. While reading I keep imagining Boyden decked out in similar Grey Owl head gear  :  )-

On a personal level I feel bamboozled learning Boyden has less documented First Nations heritage than I do! So far as I know I may not have any First Nations DNA, but I do have a high profile documented ancestor, Charlotte (nee Johnston, Oge-Buno-Quay), the wife of Arch Deacon William McMurray (on my mother's side, she was a McMurray - when I buried her 2 years ago there was the stern visage of Arch Deacon McMurray hanging in the hallways of St. John's Anglican Church in Ancaster).

It was just a few months ago that I finally broke down & bought Boyden's THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE at the Bookworm in Madoc. I thought I was reading a fictionalized account of current First Nations life as presented by an authentic First Nations author. I wouldn't have bought and read his book if I'd known he was just another boring white dude from north TO who was Grey Owling! I think there's a huge difference between writing a fictionalized account of a real historical time period when you are genuinely living in that period versus if a writer is presenting himself/herself as someone who has lived and genuinely experienced that lifestyle, but isn't genuine.

Of course time, as is usual with literature, sorts things out. Brit author Hari Kunzru, in his novel MY REVOLUTIONS,  wrote a fictionalized account of the hippie era in Great Britain. I find this acceptable - it's a fictionalized account of a real time, but one which the author wrote about several decades later, and of a life style he obviously hadn't experienced first hand. I do appreciate that Kunzru credited my EEL PIE DHARMA as a source, and there are more than a few similarities between his main character and myself (including his protagonist's first name), but I most definitely wasn't a member of the angry brigades ;  )-   If I'd been able to stay in the us of a I might have become a white panther, tho - scary thought!

Anyway, Boyden's books will find their deserved place in the canons of CanLit based on whatever literary merit they have as appropriated fiction, rather than as a fictionalized account of a life truly led. Be interesting to see if anyone is reading Boyden in over half a century like Grey Owl - I'm enjoying Grey Owl's work in a very different way than a reader would have in the 1930s.  

Monday, 9 January 2017

2 poems for this challenging year: Katherine L. Gordon

Last Millennia

People grow poorer
thirsty and hungry
choking on the dust of others,
leaders align for war, an ancient remedy
for restless rioters
that has lost its transformative union,
declined into tools of oblivion.
Dark angels laugh---
no salvation left, only death undignified
messy, horrific.
We retreat into cant and dogma
dead ideals, unreasoning rant,
afraid to reach out to one another.
Hiding the mystic cure of radiant light
we offer vials of poison, dark matter
black holes, imminent  swallowing.


Katherine L. Gordon

Image result for pic planet earth

Once We Were

I conjure the ancestors
from the furry-faced
recently tail-less
to the fair- visaged, large-brained
gifted and endowed peoples
who rule all far-flung arcs
of a round and shrinking world,
now at the end of our predominance---
air, land and water more hostile than before.
We left oceans, trees and caves,
rampaged and ransacked,
justified the spoil with new versions of god,
forgetting veneration of the feminine force of nature,
the fertile and nourishing,
now demeaned, suppressed.
Because we arrogantly turn from lessons of harmony
we are doomed to disappear,
supplanted by robotic versions
of our once promising yet vulnerable human being.

Katherine L. Gordon

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Hangin' with Bubo virginiansis

Image result for pic of parhelion

contemporary haibun online:
A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
Current Issue | Contents Page - This Issue | Editorial Staff | About This Journal |
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June 2006, vol 2 no 2

Chris Faiers

Hangin' with Bubo (virginiansis)
(Marmora, Ontario trails haibun - December 29th, 2004)

Another adventure on the trails of Ontario . . . it was so bright yesterday (finally) that I decided to do my daily walk facing into the sun. Chose the snowmobile trail which runs behind the old quarry hamlet of Malone. The first kilometer of the trail is thru an avenue of cedars and white pine, which then opens to a mile-long straightaway across a swamp.

About a quarter of the way across the swamp I surprised two white-tailed deer approaching to browse. This is to be expected, as many trails are lined with sumac and various other seed-bearing appetizers. Unfortunately, the deer caught my scent, and they skipped back through the swamp to a thickly wooded hummock.

Bending bloodred clusters
for a future feast

I continued along the straightaway, stopping for several minutes to soak up much-needed vitamin D. Despite the brightness, the day was bitterly cold, at least minus 15C. To keep warm I set a fast pace, and was just about bowled over by a brown and gray buzzbomb from the swamp! A great horned owl brushed within fifteen feet of me, unusual as they are night hunters. I intuited where he had landed in the thick brush on the other side of the trail. There he was, perched in the upper branches of a tree.

Solstice smudging rewards:
another new friend

I had the feeling he was also watching me very carefully, and I gave a thin high whistle to mimic a small rodent. He swivelled his head further towards me like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist". We stared at each other for at least five minutes, and I felt so crazy I held out my arm hoping he'd land on it.

Synchronicity again with the owl tribe. A few days earlier I'd placed a full-colour picture of Bubo virginiansis on my home altar. This was my third major visit from Bubo, and each visit was becoming longer and more intimate.

Ancient monk/warrior readies for fresh battle:
old ways returning

Wanting to mark Bubo's location, I noticed a skeletal stump in the swamp. I paced back to it so I could memorize the spot, and then I noticed an ancient metal number "9", like an address marker on it. Very curious.

Time to head back, and reluctantly I turned away from the sun. A haze of clouds was now hanging in the sky, and taking a last glance I saw something I'd never seen before—a huge rainbow was arcing from horizon to horizon forming a corona around the sun! After the deer and the owl I wasn't sure if this was a flashback, so I walked a few hundred yards without again looking towards the sun. Yes, it was a brilliant full rainbow, framing the sun! Sylvia told me that night these are called sundogs, or parhelions.

Buddha so beautiful
a veil is required

Sunday, 1 January 2017

ZIGZAG: Stuart Ross's New Year's poem for 2017 and Pearl's of wisdom

Dear friends, colleagues, relatives, mentors & those who fit into none of those categories —

I wish you good health, above all — but also happiness, friendship, comfort, peace, art & all the nifty things you want from 2017.

For the past couple of decades, as many of you know, I've been writing a new poem on New Year's Day and sending it out. Here’s my poem for this year.

If you wish to be taken off this occasional mass-mailing list, just let me know. No hard feelings.

Stuart Ross
Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

Image result for pic meadowlark



Yesterday the newspaper said one thing;

today it says something entirely different.
And all we did to make that happen

was sleep. Today, I looked in the mirror,

and I was unrecognizable! A meadowlark

with a broken wing. The news

is printed on paper while the meadow

is printed on lark, and we focus

our camera (a Filmo Sportster

manufactured 1947 by Bell & Howell)

on it as it zigzags into the air,

carrying just one thing under its bum wing:

a copy of Company, by Samuel Beckett

(published 1979 by John Calder). The pollsters

find that people want to hear seven words

from Company. The meadowlark, although

struggling to remain in flight, complies:

“girdle,” “inkling,” “confusion,” “vertex,”

“mountains,” “hitherto,” and “furthermore.”

Seven words of inspiration! Today

the people are frightened but

tomorrow they will rise up. Imagine

what might be possible! In 1702, when

this poem was written, the author

was put to death: an enemy of the state.

In crafting this translation, I have

striven to maintain the vitality

of the original. In this way, the frightened

people will rise up, probably tomorrow.

Imagine what might be possible!

Stuart Ross
1 January 2017

A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent (Wolsak and Wynn, 2016)
Certain Details: The Poetry of Nelson Ball (editor; WLU Press, forthcoming 2017)
Bad Engine: New & Selected Poems of Michael Dennis (editor, Anvil Press, forthcoming 2017)
Pockets (ECW Press, forthcoming 2017)
Please consider supporting my writing at

                                                            ~   ~   ~   ~  ~

Happy New Year, Chris

Who says things can't be unsaid? Lessons unlearned repeat. Of course one should never edit in an online browser but copy & paste from a file. I wrote 6 paragraphs of optimism of new year = new beginning, then lost it all. Life smirks, so, what's your attitude now?
Defiantly hopeful anyway. Things when starting again, don't take the same shape, they become better. Shane Parrish said "Velocity is a vector dependent concept. Moving in two directions that are not 100% aligned creates drag." In doing schtuff, is the focus the activity, intent, effect, words or people?

I look at Liam Burke as a model of proper direction. As he hosts Sawdust reading series and realize how well he does it. He is present for each open mic reader, each featured reader, introduces with welcome, acknowledges with appreciation, quotation, connection to other people. It's a thing of beauty to witness. There are so many people to learn from. It's the quiet ones sometimes who glow in their corner who show how life's done.

There are so many who inspire. On twitter Sarah Gailey did a run of 106 life-lessons of 2016, like "98: if someone is talking about how they like a thing, don't step in to tell them it's not that great. Dampening enthusiasm is a dick move." Or her 55: "a good way to bust through the blues is to go tell someone else how great they are." Life is continual learning.

I'm grateful for the chance to learn about things that I have no application for because knowledge in itself is interesting. It doesn't matter relevancy or how it connects. To know more about moss is its own reward.

I appreciate people who change things in the moment they occur. Like Charlie Petch who doesn't let b.s. pass, doesn't get ranty but stands ground, putting dignity in the face of undignified harassment. It's more stressful to let things pass than to call out with a simple no.

There are great poets like Sanita Fejzik who launched a chapbook with Natalie Hannah's new press which is like How Do I Love Thee, except not billowy and unresolved. Writers wow me. Their articulacy, clarity, adamancy, nuance and bravery. Natalie also does interviews for the Arc Poetry newsletter and interviewed me a few days ago. Interesting to think philosophy of why.

Life is not all dire. Chris Hadfield on twitter pointed out the advances of the year, a vaccine for Ebola, wiping out malaria from Sri Lanka, the numbers rebounding for tigers, wolves, and the gentle manatee taken off the endangered list.

Richard Van Camp, a generally inspiring person challenged: "I Double Dogrib Dare everyone who reads this to create something new in the world where two enemies make peace at the end. Ready, set, create!"

I am grateful for many people. My mom who insists on forming her own path. After a lifetime in her father's house, then her husband's she comes into her own in her 70s. She's seeking her bliss, not what other people say she should. She takes a good hard look at what she wants and needs. She grabs onto self-reliance, self-definition.

rob mclennan, who beyond his general support for writers and creating constellations of ideas and communities, recently invited people to say what did work in 2016 and derek, Amanda and I responded.

Part of my glad game is helping to organize Tree, to bring writers into the community, have people meet people who may spark and show the next step.

For you, what worked in 2016?

The new season of Tree is back next week at the Black Squirrel bookstore, 1073 Bank St. It's an extended open mic to welcome you all back.

I have a couple manuscripts on the front burners, one a surreal chapbook and one a nature/lyrical book.

My blogs have mostly petered out. My is getting out of date but I'll get that revised sometime soon. The cooking column still runs monthly at the Centretown Buzz, online or at Herb & Spice and area pharmacies, etc.

Studio Nouveau Workshops are resuming in spring (April?) probably centred around 6 weeks of eastern forms of poetry, haiku, tanka. That should be fun to explore. I expect to do an online-only side and possibly an in-person one as well.

Literary Landscape on Jan 10th is with Mirolla of Guernica books. The show continues to roll along. It's a pleasure to work at CKCU and get this excuse to talk with writers of all types.

At the 95 book challenge I crested 170 books and chapbooks, over 23,000 words read. In a shift, my favourites tended to be non-fiction. This year I ranked them and added more columns for demographics. Writing by males I ranked 3.5, by females 3.1, by multiple gender 3 and by non-binary 4 out of 5. I aimed to read more diverse but natives and people of colour comprised only 1/4. GLBTQQ2 was only 13%, disproportionally few to population. I aimed to read more classics but half was published in 2015 or 2016 and only 15% from over a century ago. I like stretch reads where they don't resonate and are hard reads, as well as oh-yes ones.

Until next time, keep reading and keep writing,
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