Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Autumn Leaves (happy solstice)

Tonight I just picked up the horn and stayed
out of the way, letting the chromosomes
sing their song for once.

They played Autumn Leaves,
a tune I would never
play on a snowy evening
though it's a nice tune in summer.

Why that song when the tree's flurry
lies under the sky's pale foliage?
Perhaps they feel the hand of winter
curling at their throat and harken
back to when death was just beginning.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Panettone recipe

Rebecca, Ludwig came through for me! Wow. I left the loaves on the fridge over night and they rose a reasonable amount. Baked them this morning and they're not half bad. Perhaps not quite as light and fluffy as panettone should be, but definitely moist and unmistakably panettone. I'm going to try again this week, making sure to let the butter cool to room temperature this time. Also, it occurs to me that I used salted butter. I know that salt is toxic to yeast, so maybe that was the problem.

Here's the recipe for anyone interested (from Breads by Sharon Tyler Herbst)


3 packages yeast
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup warm water
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (use the real stuff)
2 tsp freshly grated orange zest
2 tsp anise seeds (I'm leaving them out next time, though it was still good with them in)
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or almonds (leaving these out next time too)
1/3 cup finely chopped citron (candied lemon peel)
1/3 cup dark rasins
1/3 cup golden rasins
eggwhite mixed w/ water for glaze

Disolve yeast and 1 tsp of the honey in the warm water, let stand till foamy. Add remaining honey, egg yolks, butter, salt, vanilla, orange zest, anise seeds, and 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the flour. Beat at medium speed w/ electric mixer 2 minutes (or beat 200 vigorous strokes by hand). Stir in nuts, citron, rasins and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk (about 2 hours). Punch down dough, knead for 30 seconds, divide in half and shape into balls. Place in baking containers (Herbst stuggests 1 lb coffee cans or 1 qt souflé dishes, but I put the balls on a baking sheet and they seemed fine, though they won't have that tall columnar shape to them). Cover with damp cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Brush tops of loaves with egg-white glaze, Bake 35 to 40 mintues.

Buen appetito!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

day off

and whats the first thing s. and i do... go skiing, of course. after that, we started making perhaps the worlds ultimate comfort food-- panettone. the problem is, the dough smells so good that ive had to ask s. to tie my hands behind my back so it makes it to the oven. and im typing this post with my nose, channeling e.e. cummings.

other than panettone, my life is a neverending litany of work, sleep--with visions of imacs dancing in my head--rehearsals, concerts, beer after concerts, and no time to write except now, waiting for the panettone to rise. where is the poetry in all this...

life will be more fulfilling with an imac, im sure of it...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Birds of Florence

white monolith waits
noontime glare
hammer and chisel
David waits
weaverfinches bathe in dust
Michelangelo waits

marble white murmurs
long sunset
David whispers
goldfinches gather in pine
Michelangelo listens

marble monolith wakes
David awaits
blackbirds sing to rising sun
Michelangelo awakens

Saturday, December 04, 2004


EDDIE: You look different ... More relaxed.
SARAH: It's the lights. And the scotch.
EDDIE: How come you didn't catch your bus?
SARAH: I wasn't waiting for a bus.
EDDIE: Then why go to the bus station?
SARAH: Same reason you went: at that hour of the morning you haven't much choice. Besides, I only live three blocks from there. Where do you live?
EDDIE: Around.
SARAH: I know where you live: in a locker, in a bus station. What's it like living in a locker?
EDDIE: Cramped. (she smiles) You always drink like this, so early in the morning?
SARAH: Do you always ask so many questions?
EDDIE: No, not always.
SARAH: Sometimes I wake up and I can't sleep, not without a drink. The bars don't open until eight. Mack over there has faith in me. When I'm broke, he trusts me. Don't you trust me, Mack?
SARAH: When I'm not broke, I usually have a bottle in my room, in which case I sleep very well indeed.
EDDIE: You talk kind of funny, but I like it.
SARAH: I used to be an actress.
EDDIE: Yeah? What do you do now?
SARAH: I'm a college girl. Two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, I go to college.
EDDIE: You don't look like a college girl.
SARAH: I'm the emancipated type. Real emancipated.
EDDIE: No, I didn't mean that -- whatever that means. I mean, you just don't look young enough.
SARAH: I'm not.
EDDIE: So why go to college?
SARAH: I've got nothing else to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
EDDIE: What do you do on the other days?
SARAH: I drink.
EDDIE: (to the bartender) Hey!
SARAH: No. No more. I'm getting sleepy. (puts a scarf around her head) Thank you very much, Mr... ?
EDDIE: Eddie. The name is Eddie.
SARAH: (studies his face) The name should be Eddie. What should my name be?
EDDIE: I don't know. Whatever you like it to be.
SARAH: I like it to be what it is. It's Sarah. That's a biblical name. You want to know its meaning?
EDDIE: I could always get us a bottle.
SARAH: (a little alarmed) No.
EDDIE: Fifth of scotch?
SARAH: What do you want me to do, just step out in the alley? Is that it?
EDDIE: No. I'll take you home.
(There is a long pause as she tries to read his face.)
SARAH: All right.
(Eddie finishes his drink, rises, crosses to the bar, pays the bill, and returns to the booth. As they go out, Sarah stumbles, and he catches her by the arm.)
SARAH: It's all right. (smiling) I'm not drunk ... (serious) I'm lame.

white monolith waits
noontime glare
hammer and chisel
David waits
weaverfinches bathe in dust
Michelangelo waits

Hope for the future

The Isaac concert last Wednesday was sublime. I still have trouble believing that students (mere babies, really) can sing that well. Doug was very pleased and says he wants to try to record it in the new year. It would be neat to find some way to distribute it, especially since this particular mass probably hasn't ever been recorded. I also hope someone has told these kids how lucky they are to sing in such an advanced group at school. And to think most of them are 1st years--freshmen and women indeed. The next four years should be fun.

I was considering posting my last Spanish composition here, but I don't want to drive away the few readers I have.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

A great Canadian...

It's a measure of how fondly Pierre Berton was held in the hearts of Canadians that on the day of George W. Bush's first (!) official visit to Canada, the CBC evening news led not only with Berton's death, but opened with about 10 minutes of coverage and tributes. If you read only one book on the North, read The Arctic Grail--one of 50 books this incredibly prolific writer produced during his 84 years.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Music, music, music...

Wow, what a week. Tonight is the first night I have not had a rehearsal or a concert in the last 8 days. I feel like a professional musician again. Unfortunately, my translation clients haven't been very understanding: the contracts keep rolling in. I shouldn't complain; it's great to have money in the bank again. Hopefully I'll soon be able to buy the new computer I've been drooling over for the last few months.

A run down on the concerts past and future:

Last Saturday was a concert of various early Baroque masters (Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Schutz and company) with the Ottawa Bach Choir . Les Sonneurs, the group I play in, played well, but it was an odd evening...

Last night was an all Schutz concert with the McGill Baroque Orchestra and McGill Chamber Choir, directed by a wonderful young conductor named Julian Wachner. McGill is fortunate to have him on faculty. I was hired as a ringer because all McGill's trombone students were involved in some big trombone choir thing (shudder).

Wednesday night is McGill's Capella antiqua concert, directed by my good friend, Dr. Douglas Kirk. The concert is a recreation of a Festal mass by Heinrich Isaac, as it might have been celebrated at the Imperial Court of the Holy Roman Empire. The music is wonderful, and the capella is incredibly good for a student group.

And finally, in a week, I'm off to Toronto to perform with the Toronto Consort in a Praetorius Christmas Vespers, which we recorded last year (you can listen to a sample track, "Von Himmel hoch," here).

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Oh, those EVIL translators

In the course of a discussion in a poetry forum I've been posting at recently, a few people were spouting the tired creed that goes something like "translations of poetry rarely, if ever, capture the "music" of the original; really good translations are almost impossible." To which I replied:

[testy defensive soapbox mode] Honestly, I wonder what the translators of the world (I'm one of them) ever did to deserve the wrath of so many. Do we revile Ravel because he had the audacity to arrange Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" for orchestra? Of course not. Many music lovers prefer Ravel's orchestral version to the original. In fact, I would wager that not only have most people never heard the original version, they don't even realize the piece was written for piano. So much for the "originality" of art.

Why is literary translation so sneered at? Maybe because there have been a lot of mediocre efforts. Maybe also because some "erudite" readers will  disagree with a translator's version, failing to realize that it is but one person's interpretation. No translation is ever more than an interpretation, a performance, if you will. But that doesn't mean that a translation is ipso facto worse than the almighty original. The fact is, great poetry transcends language and in the hands of a skilled translator, a translation can be just as good as the original. Not quite the same, of course. but worse? Hardly, and maybe even (gasp!) better.

So lay off the translators, people, please! You're doing a great disservice to a technique that has brought a lot of poetry to people whom it would be inaccessible to otherwise.  [/testy defensive soapbox mode]

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Colour in Motion

Found the link to this fun site at Questo Mondo, through Wingtips. The movies are especially fun, and the music is great.
We are bubble buddies, you and I,
inhabiting crystal globes of free
will in a grey sea of determinism.

We have the idea of seeking other
bubbles to merge with ours until
we form a sphere so large we no longer
notice the infinity of fate all around us.

We cluster in the centre of our expanding
bright hole, sweeping the universe for specks
of awareness untill finally the cosmos is more
free will than fate, and god may finally sleep.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

In the mail today...

...the latest issue of Maisonneuve , a cool magazine that I'm proud to say is published in Montreal. I'm trying to convince all my friends to subscribe, though I realize it's perhaps not the rag for everyone. It's edgy, irreverent, funny and original. In every issue, there's at least one article where you think "the author's making this up, it's just too wierd," but a quick google and lo and behold, the world rock-scissor-paper chapionships really did take place in some forgetable town in New Jersey. I'd love to send a gift subscription to my father, just to let him know what life is like here, but it sometimes publishes articles in which homosexuality is tacitly approved of, so I think I'll hold off.

Like all good "literary" mags, it publishes a few token poems, some excelent, some that leave me shaking my head. One that made me laugh but which I wonder, in honesty, how it made it to print is " If Paris Hilton Wrote Poetry". It's been among the top ten artilcles on the web site for months.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Lost in space

If, like me, you spent too many hours of your teenage years in video arcades, then you'll probably find celestia pretty darn cool. What amazes me is that this is free. I spent hours last night in orbit around Mars, chasing down the Mars Express orbiter. How geeky is that?

Friday, November 12, 2004


The notes connect me to a human
continuum that stretches back to the Awakening,
each melody dripping the blood of players past,
every one in the audience,

I feel their weight in my breath,
steady gazes challenging me
to abandon math,
abandon myself to love…

…and they take wing like mayflies
emerging from a river

condensing into movement
of lips and hands
of hips and magic wands

flutter about the room,
landing on tables, in hair,
clinging exhausted to clothes,
drunk on the euphoria of flight

fly into ears to lay eggs
larvae growing into associations,
feeding on memories of cigarette smoke,
weak beer, the colour of your eyes

spiral away
their small yellow songs, our oxygen
a flash of rapture
a nameless but beheld resurrection

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Red pajamas and red wine

S. is dancing around the kitchen in the red flannel penguin pajamas and penguin socks I bought her in Calgary to make up for the fact that I left her alone for a week. And while she was impressed and thrilled that I had dared to buy her clothes (after almost 16 years, I'm starting to take chances) she still had to go back to La Sensa to exchange them. I was sure a medium would fit her but forgot to take into account how unbelievably silly women's fashion is. Who would have thought that pajama bottoms would be low-rise? (can you see me shaking my head?) So now they're comfortable in the waist but baggy everywhere else. Oh well, they are pajamas...

What is it about November that makes me want to cook with a glass of red wine in my hand. This never happens in the summer. Alas, no red wine is on hand, and a beer will have to do. Fortification for what's to come: S. is going to teach me what I missed in last week's salsa lesson (and how I got roped into dance classes, I'll never figure out). OK, I admit it, it's kind of fun, and the music is cool. Just don't ask me to dance with anyone else.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

My apologies to FFTMC readers

I've been away helping put Gramps (that's what we call my grandfather, with great affection) in a nursing home. If ever there was a case for staying active mentally and physically, he is one. Do the crossword every day (preferably the NY Times), run, walk or ride your bike whenever you can. There's a poem here somewhere, but I'm not sure if and when I'll be able to write it.

On the up side, it was nice to see the family (six days was perfect). My nephews are getting to be at that really fun age between 6 and 12, though I have high hopes--perhaps unrealistic--that "Uncle Pete" will still be cool when they're teenagers.

Monday, November 01, 2004

In the mail today...

A book of poems called Meditations that I had ordered from an antiquarian book store in Toronto. The book is by Fred Cogswell, a fine Canadian poet and a longtime editor of this country's longest running literary journal, The Fiddlehead (BTW, on that site, scroll down and read a fantastic poem by Elise Partridge, "Chameleon Hours.") Cogswell died this past summer and latest issue of The Fiddlehead has a number of tributes to him. One of them spoke of this book, and I was so intrigued I immediately searched the web and found a used copy. It's even signed by the author himself: "For Joy, with all good wishes, Fred Cogswell." Seems like a fitting and neutral dedication, especially since one of the poems in the book is entitled "Joy." But the remarkable thing about this book is that it's a collection of 50 sestinas. It seems to me that publishing a book of sestinas 20 years ago, when Everybody and their Dogs were writing free verse, took a lot of guts. But, as he writes in the first poem "[...] the house of poesy/ Has many rooms. The one most crowded now/ Is that you name [...]" (i.e., free verse).

The other Canadian poet I've been reading of late is Anne Hébert. In a used book store on St-Denis, I picked up a collection of her work published in 1960 called Poèmes. Unlike the copy of Meditations, this book has been read many times and isn't in nearly as good shape, but it's readable, and that's all that matters to me. One of her most well-known poems is Le tombeau des rois (disclaimer: since she died in 2000, I'm pretty sure her work is not yet in the public domain, so the web page I'm linking to may be breaking copyright, though then again, it may not be). There are several translations of this poem, but I'm just itching to do one of my own.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Poor Elvis (more sensational news)

Since this blog is going down the tubes artistically anyway, here's a story that should catch your attention. I'm considering contacting the authorities in Florida to tell them I think I know who did it, though I might hold off a bit to let her turn herself in.

The accolades keep coming

Another award for Joni. The girl's on a roll.

Hmmm.... this blog has become a pop entertainment magazine of late. Oh well. I'm sure I'll start thinking Great Thoughts again soon.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

It's about time

Overshadowed by the incredible World Series victory by the Boston Red Sox last night was an event that, while perhaps not so momentous in the Great Scheme of Things--though I suppose it depends on your perspective--was also long overdue. McGill University, my alma mater, conferred an honorary Doctor of Music on a truly Great Canadian (I wonder where SHE placed in the voting): Joni Mitchell. To my mind, few other artists have ever blended such emotionally striking texts (i.e., poetry) with music that is both complex and highly original--not even Bob Dylan. Joni has it all, a Renaissance woman. She's a fine writer, a unique composer, a wonderful singer, an accomplished musician, a painter--AND, she managed to stay in control of her career and choose her own path. Among Canadian musical figures, her genius is up there with Oscar Peterson's and Glenn Gould's.

Joni and I have one thing in common (besides combining poetry and music--assuming one would call my humble attempts at playing the trombone while reading poetry as such): we have both read poetry at the Yellow Door Coffeehouse . But I doubt I'll be getting an honourary doctorate...

Here's a link to one of my favourite Mitchell songs: A Case of You

lunar eclipse
over Boston, the Sox win
the Bambino winks

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Interesting lives

Funny how blogging connects people. I came across a cool blog this evening. Many people lead interesting lives, but few have the knack of making them SOUND intersting. This girl's writing reminds me of Bill Bryson.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Saturday night...

... and I'm not so tired, but too lazy and too busy writing a Spanish composition and preparing to stare at the computer screen watching the Gameday broadcast of the ball game (no cable for me, alas, though I only miss it at times like these) to write anything intelligent (one need just look at the previous sentence for concrete proof of this). Anyway, I came across a found poem by my dear friend Aisha (not her real name either... shh...).

Passing flashy orange
sycamores along a silky autumn
sea, a poem came and went
for want of paper.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Friday night...

...and I'm too tired to think, let alone write. But my good friend Eliot Prufrock (not his real name) just posted a pretty cool poem on his blog called "Cossacks of Love." Killer first line. Check it out. Hope you don't mind the link, Eliot.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


"Every high C accurately struck demolishes the theory that we are the irresponsible puppets of fate or chance."
          W H Auden, Notes on Music and Opera.

We discuss quantum mechanics, the idea
that given a computer powerful enough
every vibration in the universe--
minute or momentous--is predictable.

But what computer, what entity large
or small, could ever predict this mote
quivering around its shell, to settle
gently in my ear this joyous day?

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Craziest?

If you have a high-speed connection and are a lover of scrabble, click here, and don't say you haven't been warned.

The Greatest?

I have to say I'm ambivalent about these "The Greatest [fill in nationality]" shows that are the Next Great Thing after the "[fill in nationality] Idol" craze. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, look here, here or here). Sure, they might be fun and democratic (or as democratic as the Idol shows were at any rate), but the winners... Ugh! Actually, I don't much have trouble with the actual winners. It's the top 10 lists and the relative placements, especially where artists are concerned. You might say, "yes, but it's arbitrary, you can't dictate taste". And I would reply, "perhaps, but when on the top ten list of greatest Britons, Princess Diana places third ahead of Will Shakespeare's fifth, well, my faith in humanity takes a swandive into the outhouse pit." Sure, Diana was cool, but a greater Briton than the Bard? Puhleese! The winner was Churchill. OK, no problems with that. But he got over four times as many votes as Shakespeare, and even Diana got twice as many. We're talking about the guy who single-handedly created half the idioms in the English language. I'm shaking my head. (Incidentally, John Lennon was eighth, while Sir Paul didn't make the top ten. Bet that just bugs the hell out of him.)

The Greatest German was even worse. Can you believe that Bach, BACH, only rated 6th? Even worse, Guttenberg, originator of arguably the most important invention of the millennium, fared worse than J.S., placing 7th. And Einstein, the man who irrevokably and radically changed the way we think about the universe? He only just cracked the top 10. Well, at least Hitler wasn't on that list, though I'd be curious to see how many votes he got.

The greatest Canadian should be a funny one. The top ten list of nominees (voting hasn't started yet) is maybe not quite as silly, with one exception: Don Cherry (and if you've never heard of him, considerself lucky and forget I even mentioned him). If he places anywhere but 10th, I'll hang my head in shame. But like the other lists, there are some notable exceptions, especially among the artists. Where is Glenn Gould (he finished 55th in the preliminary voting)? What about Oscar Peterson? Love her or hate her, Margaret Atwood? Marshal McLuhan? Emily Carr? In fact, there wasn't a single artist of any kind on the list. In any case, the winner is a foregone conclusion before the thing even starts. If Wayne Gretzky doesn't win, I'll eat my laptop.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Owls Head

The terror of birds at the ungreen saps
warmth from the air, palpable as the stone
taken from this mountain, now damp
in your hand, stealing heat from your body.

You walk beneath a flock of grackles staging
their getaway--nervous, rusty-hinge clucks
erupt into a chorus of screeches as they shudder
upwards, dark cloud on grey wheeling above the flames.

Higher up, lost in the low cloud ceiling, geese
circle for hours, honking themselves hoarse
in their fervor to flee the lurid scene.

At the top, you hear a gang of adolescent crows
mob an owl. They're drunk on red and orange
wine and will need all winter to get sober.

To Rebecca

Don't be sad on Thor's account.
Though the humble smith will dream
at times of orfèverie, he knows
his best is forged with hammer and tongs.

Constant heat and pounding remove
impurities from iron ingots and leave
a gleam that only fools call golden--
that time and weather burn to rust.

But a thing of joy is for ever beautiful--
in the smithy, the mortal god strives
content to fashion ferrous charms
that will endure a human touch.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Estamos hablando en español y francès
mais on ne s'écoute pas, ni un ni l'autre:
     in our common language, we can't say "love"

Las palabras no tienen significado,
on se serve des gestes pour tout
     but miss the words for which there are none

Friday, October 08, 2004

Just in time for the weekend

Nice to see the new Mindfire issue up and running. Way to go Aish and Gary and the rest of those involved. I've got a translation in this issue (for my three readers) of Émile Nelligan's "Les corbeaux".

Going away for the Thanksgiving long weekend. The colours should be at their peak. It's going to be stunning, though perhaps not quite as spectacular as an exploding volcano. No webcam for me this weekend. Maybe she's been waiting for me to avert my eyes. I wonder if I'll be able to write with pen and paper. It's been a while. I should get some ink for my fountain pen--much better than those new-fangled ball points, which give one no feel for the page at all. But even with a fountain pen, there's all the scratching out and re-writing, so messy. On the other hand, you don't lose anything if your hard disk crashes, which mine did a few weeks back. Maybe I should try not writing anything at all for a few days...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Nocturne, take II

Vocanoes are creatures of the night
creeping through the dark unafraid
wearing lurid I-dare-you-to-touch-me colours.
She knows the men will flock to her side
only to glimpse the face that will launch
a thousand tons of hot ejaculate into the air--
voyeurs getting off on Gaia's lap dance.
If she blows at night, they'll see bright lava
flows creeping across the screen, hellish
halloween colours illuminating clouds
from below, twenty-four-year-old trees engulfed
in a molten Styx. A bubbling cauldron
no witch would ever stir. But give me this dark
spectacle over drab daytime TV: grey snow
transforming her dress into an Ansel Adams
landscape. Volcanoes are creatures of the night.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


As a Canadian, my interest in tonight's debate between Cheney and Edwards was minimal at best, and I didn't watch it. But after reading this quote by Cheney--"If we want to win the war on terror it's pretty clear the choice is George Bush."--I'm wondering how much he and Bush talk to each other. Didn't Bush say a few weeks ago that he didn't think the war on terror could be won? These guys need to exchange e-mail addies...

Whatever... Back to poetry.

Monday, October 04, 2004


Though at 8 pm, the Mt. St. Helen's webcam is dark
snow, the urge to load the site every five minutes
overwhelms me. If she blows at night, will we see
bright lava flows creeping across the screen,
hellish halloween colours illuminating clouds
from below, twenty-four-year-old trees engulfed
in a molten Styx? Will we see orange-on-black
vomiting into superheated air, a red bubbling
cauldron that no witch would ever stir?
Give me this dark spectacle over the drab daytime:
grey snow transforming all into an Ansel Adams
landscape. Volcanoes are creatures of the night.

Mount St. Helen's webcam

Monday, September 27, 2004


Hidden in the Oort cloud
panther among rushes
Comet feels the hand of Neptune
nudge him out of orbit

At the same moment, over a gumbo
lunch, we discuss--darting and feinting
like fencers--the pros and cons
of evolution as a provable theory.

Overhead, fans blow humidity
into heavy air, softness filtering
from the skylight, moisture dripping
down stone walls. If we ignore the young
sparrows playing tag among them, hanging
ferns complete a Devonian atmosphere.

During that single hour,
mutations occur the planet over,
glacial change creeping through murky
gene pools, predator and prey
locked an eternal game of run-and-chase.

When Comet arrives, he will lay
a gentle hand on every living thing
and say, "You're it."

Thursday, September 16, 2004


In response to Rebecca's prodding, here's a first, incomplete draft of something. We'll see where it goes.

controlled exhalation
connects me to a continuum
millennia of musicians pulsating
down a quantum river that flows
from measure one to some theoretical
double bar line at the end of the page

they swarm
           condensing into
           movement of lips and hands

as I draw inspiration
           their yellowed song
           my oxygen
they spiral from the horn
brought to life for a flash of ecstasy
                      nameless but beheld resurrection

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Bushy-tailed Menace

Heavy sunflower heads bow,
hang-out of upside-down,
trapeze-jaded rodents.

Corn planted on a lark
never has a chance to ripen,
husks hastily ripped open.

Neighbours offer peanuts,
but this side of the fence,
slingshots inhabit autumn dreams.

Friday, September 03, 2004

The True Meaning of Winter

Wind is blowing the leaves around,
air that smells like sleep.
Yet this is when the true Canuck awakens:
When we hear that familiar tune on the tube,
Dah-dat dah-dahh dahh daaaahhhh!
Tingles course the spine like rivulets
of ice racing across a pond on a cold night.
What sight could be more joyous than the white
gleam of a fresh, unscarred sheet?

So what if the powers that be determine the big
boys won't come out to play this year,
the rest of us—true lovers of the game—
will skate on 3 a.m. ice, skate until we puke,
alternate swigs of beer and coffee for breakfast
bitch about whining millionaires, then drive
the kids to practice. Because if you let winter
clamp down on your heart, you slowly wither
among four walls, in front of a TV reality.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Living Sound

When I play, I am connected to a continuum
of millennia of musicians. I can feel them all
in the swirl of emotion, condensing into a gesture,
a breath, a movement of the hand.

They come spinning out of my horn
brought to life for a fleeting moment of joy--
the joy of re-birth,even if for a moment,
the joy of experiencing the vibe once again.

By comparison, the recording is a dead thing--
a zombie moving through the air, entering
people's minds, animating the flesh and leaving
the brain numb with mindless repetition.

Burn your CDs, people! Delete your MP3s!
Listen instead to the real sound--the love
of fifty thousand years of humanity
coming at you through the atmosphere!

Friday, August 27, 2004

After reading "Petrified Wood" (for JL)

If trees could feel, a petrified
forest would be an arboreal Pompeii

What hundred-year romances
were frozen in stone that day

Long distance lovers, a feathered
touch their only intimacy

the kind of love Michelangelo
painted in the Sistine Chapel

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Music in the air

Notes carry on humid air
moisture greasing frequencies
so they slide around trees and buildings
enter windows open on a hot August night
tickle the ears of returning night-shift workers
haunt light sleepers who wait for them
before finally settling like exhausted mayflies
on coffee tables and dressers
forming a thin film that gets wiped away
with the week's dusting

Monday, August 23, 2004

Big Easy Vignettes

Afternoons in the heartland of jazz
even the buskers are hot,
sitting in the shade,
blowing on Summertime.

Evenings, the ghosts of bayou pirates
groove to the new music then drift
down Bourbon Street throwing
beads at drunk, giggling girls.

Mornings, revellers stumble
to Café du Monde for Café au lait,
echo of driving blues and the day's
street cleaners pounding in their heads.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Evolution (a short one...I'm tired)

When things are running smoothly
there's no need to change or think
differently. Just sail down the river
making minor steering corrections.

But if you're asleep at the wheel
when you hit the rapids, you're
liable to end up with a smashed
up boat and a wet ride downstream.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Walk fast
walk till your legs give out
visions will come

crescent moon
is the bulging sail
of a ghost ship sailing
in and out of a dank fog

headlights in the distance
morph into feral eyes
tracking you through the night
they keep their distance

Walk fast
Walk tll your legs give out

shadow of the sun
rising behind you shortens
darkens into the nothingness
of a yawning grave

A coyote dogs your trail
from noon till dusk then disappears
into a copse of cottonwoods
but he howls at moonrise

Walk fast
walk till your legs give out

Sit by the river just before dawn
the animals are awake and talking
listen to what they say
listen to the river's gavelled voice

Remember this, take it with you
whereever you go when you rise
then walk fast
walk till your legs give out

Friday, August 06, 2004

Sonnet to C & S

Wrote this for some friends who are getting married tomorrow... I'm such a sucker for romance.

When discussing matters of the spirit,
when chewing on your life’s great mysteries,
It’s clear, your thinking must be accurate:
German, the language of philosophies.

And when you wax poetic to the moon
or sing an aria to your sweetheart,
the language that you choose must make her swoon—
Italian: tongue of music and of art.

But when two people’s paths cross in a field,
and the letter made is not an X but Y,
a supple mode of speech they’d better wield
to guarantee their course is unified.

But you two both know what I’m speaking of
because your common tongue is that of love.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

It's OK to be second-rate

In ten thousand years,no one
will know that Mozart ever existed--
Obviously, genius will only get you so far...

Mediocrity, while humbling
is not the end of the world.
The trick is to avoid too much comparison.

Just have a good time, make an honest attempt
at doing something worthwhile, and don't worry
too much about your "contribution."

'cause for you, monkey brain,
history will be far less generous.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Three dimensions

This medium forces a certain message,
as if three dimensions had been crushed
into two, and we now must imagine
the third. But we become bitter, sour
grapes in our screaming mouths
and all we can talk about is how
the world is so dirty nowadays

Our iPods play screams
to drown out the real screaming
and we sit blankly in front of screens
that screen us from the third dimension
We move up and down
left and right, but mostly
we sit in one place, and soon
I fear our remaining two dimensions
will be crushed into a single point

We came from the trees
And we can return
It's not that big a step
Lose the gift of language
of letting our minds roam
in three dimensions
and we're nothing but monkeys
howling at one another

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Don't you just hate it when
the moon hangs
in the sky accusingly

staring you down in an eternal
contest to decide who will blink
first, a game you can't ever win

as if world hunger and world
peace were your responsibility
as if it weren't your right
to waste your life in this city of sterile
abundance, doing your best

to fill the air with diesel fumes
and onion-scented halitosis
and smoke from yet another
(ho-hum) fireworks display--

and the noise, always noise
squealing tires and funny "mufflers"
screaming kids and wailing parents

lucky lovers oblivious to it all
cranky old men banging the ceiling
with broomsticks because the music
is too damn loud--

All this because the moon won't blink

Monday, August 02, 2004

so what

Its hot
so what
some place
it's cold

I'm old
for this
so what
she's young

My tongue
hangs out
I can't
keep up

A cup
to drink
then stop
so what

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


I wonder how Laika felt,
The dog the Russians blasted
into space in the 50s.

Did she pee with terror
in her dog-sized pressure
suit upon lift-off?

Or did she sit there stoicly,
the capsule transformed into
a shaking high-gravity kennel?

Did she whine with wonder
at the blue-green planet revolving
slowly beneath her?

Or did she think it was all
a particularly strange dream
and vow to avoid dumpster caviar?

Back on Earth, a stamp in her honour--
imagine that! A stamp!--did the adulation
go to her head? Did she refuse

to behave or sit still for the camera
unless she was called
by her real name: Kudryavka?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


you're walking down the street
whistling that happy tune
stuck in your suboncious
for the last week

sun shines on your smile
wind propells you along gently
you go to cross the road
and get run over by a bus

the wind changes suddenly
time-lapse clouds approach
and you're eating gravel
and drinking rainwater

and you think, this is more like it
nobody likes a happy ending

Your best buddy on the other hand
is on death row for a murder

committed by a pimp who shoved
the gun in your pal's hand and ran
of course the cops thought he did it
standing there like a dumbass

the legal-aid newbie out of lawschool
didn't help his case
of course they threw the book
but now years later they get the pimp

on another charge and he fesses
up and your friend is free
And the first thing he does
is comes to see you in the hospital

Monday, July 26, 2004

In a hundred years...

...nobody will know that you or I ever existed.

My grandfather is fading away
like ink on a page left out in the sun,
the once crisp lines of his memory
becoming harder to read every day.
When he finally goes, his pages
in my book will eventually turn white,
and I will unwittingly write something
over them, until he is nothing more
than a name and an image my own
son has written, and after I die,
even that will be gone.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Absense of light

an absence of light signals
another day is gone
Sunday is over
didn't get much done

no writing, much reading
two hours wasted on TV
my head is flooded
with thoughts of humanity

Who is my Adam
the first human born
an ape-man walking
on the savannah forelorn

it's not possible to hold
six million years in your mind
all the births and deaths
the past has left behind

small sparks of awareness
never truly opened
and not so far from now
mine too will end

but gosh this is bad
such a terrible song
my Sunday's still wasted
and this is just WRONG

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Quilliams Creek

Quilliams creek was high
for the end of July
high for April even
we paddled upstream

to the bridge
had lunch in the shade
of an ancient maple
listening to yesterday's

rainwater rush below
the fields were flooded
hayrolls soaked and leaning
like sleeping elephants

the scene flowed
like a movie pan
the only sound track
our laughter as we avoided

Low hanging branches
heaved the canoe around
oxbow turns
leaning out of opposite

sides perfectly
balancing each other

Friday, July 23, 2004


Lost in a crowd
I feel the secret thrill
of the middle aged
walking through in the bad
end of town in daylight

"Don't be scared
it's only street art"
scrawled on a wall
bikers and hookers
smiling at me

I'm not scared, oh no
just getting old
so I start a blog
maybe go to a rave tonight
drop some E

(or does "drop" apply only to acid?)
A better and cheaper solution
than buying a Ferrari
maybe buy a can of spraypaint
spray this on a wall

maybe need some editing though
I know I won't anyway
nor drop the E
but starting a blog
harmless fun, no?