Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ode to Beer


O! Woman’s drink from times Sumerian
Stolen from feminine hands in ages past
Brewed until Elizabeth to support children
Then taken by greedy innkeepers at last
Just as midwifes were pushed out of medicine
To satisfy Renaissance man’s cruel bombast

In Papua New Guinea made with women’s spit
Still the life filled aqua vitae of fermentation
Ample bosomed hippies wash their hair with it
In English lands it rules the pubs of the nation
From Quebec comes La Fin du Monde and le Maudit
To go with poutine or else just for degustation

I admit I did not appreciate you as a youth
And still don’t enjoy your dark bitter brew
I preferred the decadent grape in truth
And did so for ages till better I knew
The pleasant bite of your bitter tooth
The camaraderie of those who drink you

Ode to the Mall on a Sunday

              
O carnival of carnal delights!
Where girls lick phallic popsicles
And boys’ belts are nowhere to be seen
The barker babble tugs at consciousness
A string of 1s and 0s running through tin lips
Lies canned long ago in some booth in Tokyo
Yummy mummies and scummy mummies push in trams
Perfumed papooses who drool and spit up on Gucci naps
Neon lights proclaim the trendy triple priced
Everywhere is bodies and bodies washed and sleeked
You can look down your long condescending adult nose
At this circus of consumption maximus
Until you realize this place is not for us
Us the jaded, the mature, the world weary
The counters of change and days
Those of us who look down at our shoes
No, this place is Xanadu for them
This Aladdin’s cave is for those who look up
The innocent, the immature, the world hungry
The eaters of change and days
And when you see a young, young girl
Wrapped in safety harness and crash helmet
Eyes shining like moonstones in exultant joy
Sling shotted to the second tier and back
By a giggling stoner holding a winch switch
As a young, young boy sits in gape mouthed silence
Knowing he is next to go where you can never go
And do what you are not supposed to
You will know who this place is really for
And why it is not so bad to be here

Saturday, February 26, 2011

After the Moment


Another day by Duck River
Promenade to a fanfare
Of shakuhachi, saxophone, and dijeridoo
The emperor’s thumb has yet to turn
Rise or fall and decide my fate
I don’t care either which way
With life burning on my face
Chill can of grapefruit death in hand
I walk away from the coliseum
Or back to its bloody sands
It makes no matter
To these tired thews
As long as I have another day
Down by Duck River

Friday, February 25, 2011

Streets of Old Quebec


Walking you in winter
Homesick for out east
Gliding between stone houses
Icicles beautiful, danger pregnant
Moon dyed icy blue sidewalks
Dancing at Le Fourmit Atomique
Refusing mescaline and pot peddlers
Alone on Crémazie ouest
My foolish young sadness
I now laugh at
Gripped by cold nights
Called by your beauty

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Academic Inflation


Child me, 1979
Weeding in the potato patch
Grandfather says
Go to university
Get a good job
Don’t work hard all your life
Like I did

For the job I have now
All you needed in 1979
Was a bachelor’s degree
By the skin of my teeth
In 2008 I got in
With a master’s degree
And a teacher’s certificate
Highest level in foreigner Japanese
And a guide on the inside

English majors are unqualified to teach English here
Foreigners can work no more than five years at one place
To be the professor of grandfather’s dream
I need five more years of study and research
To be the forty-five year old virgin
Hunting a doctoral position

Old me, 2011
Teaching and reading and writing and researching
Labrador Grandfather didn’t know
About academic inflation
If I had to do it all again
I’d do it smarter and faster
To try and outstrip the pace
Of academic inflation

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When The Earth Opens Up


The Japanese people say
“If you have beloved children
Send them on a journey”
We teachers say to them
“To improve their English
Send them on a journey”
Growing independent children say
“We need to find ourselves
Send us on a journey”
But when the earth opens up
In a faraway land
There is nothing sadder
Than never seeing their faces again

In truth, these trembling isles
Have had their share of loss
From Kobe, to Edo, to Uriyujima
When the earth opens up
In the land of your birth
The natural catastrophe
Draws people together
Bends their backs in rebuilding
But when the earth opens
In a faraway foreign land
People are torn asunder
In unnatural catastrophe
Lives can not be so swiftly rebuilt

There can be nothing than sadder
Than never seeing those faces again

In Fertility Clinics


Make no mistake gentlemen
This is a staging area for war
Walls a dull and barren pink
Ready for red trench warfare
A woman quickly learns the jargon
The drug names, the side effects
The prescriptions for hope
The officers stride in calling names
Nurses in skirts or one pieces
No pants allowed here
No obstructing the avenue of attack
Obscenely healthy and smiling
Egg shell shocked survivor soldiers sit
Exchanging thousand yard stares
White faces need no powder
Look inward, find nothing
Something has gone wrong
With the coupling and decoupling
Five hundred million soldiers
Burnt in acid, smothered
Lost in endless caverns
Only one winner can emerge
But this time again, none
Or else babies lost before they were
Shapeless ghosts of dreams
Like worm eaten wooden crosses
Behind a pioneer homestead
Science drags its steely fingers
Along the battlefield
Readying for trench warfare
Trying to find the answer
When sometimes there is none
Except loving hope and hopeless love
And the coupling and decoupling
Of two soldiers’ hands

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Age of Dominoes


Hear them falling
In the darkness
This is the age of dominoes
Making money from money
This strange alchemy
Cannot last forever
Lean bank against bank
In an endless line
Farmers, workers, at one end
How long can they hold it up?
Strongman next to strongman
In the desert sands
Cannot stand forever
Prop dictator after dictator up
In an endless line
Students, artists, prisoners
How long will they be held down?
Hear them falling
In the darkness
This is the age of dominoes

When they go we will not miss them
For when they fall they take us with them

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ode to Naked Celebrities


Oh Heidi,
Don’t let any hypocrite
Give you any more shit
Come to your own front door
In bra and panties, sure
I thought that was your job
Don’t listen to the unruly mob
Anyone who lambastes you is rude
He shows himself as prurient prude
Bra and panties is normal in the tropics
Only frigid idiots make it news topics

Mr. Kusanagi
Roll naked in the grass
Show Tokyo folks your ass
Don’t listen to the papers
They’re just jealous of your capers
You ask “What’s wrong with being naked?”
Indeed, the pleasure can’t be faked
I do it in the comfort of my home
But it seems you prefer to roam
You’re paid to bare all on the stage
Ignore those who now rant and rage

Dear Paris,
The motor sounds and red light
Should have tipped you off that night
But often in the throes of ecstasy
A girl loses sense of what’s next to she
It’s not your fault your man
Took the footage and then ran
But if he peddles your naked butt
Make damn sure you get your cut
It’s not as if you need the money
Give it all to charity, honey

What stars have others want it
So never be ashamed to flaunt it

On Writing Daily


Writing a poem every day
Is like cooking pasta in a way
Throw it up against the wall
Let it go if it should fall
If it sticks put it on a plate
And serve it out to those who wait

Bliss Versus Canada


Is it the Canadian cold
Vampire wind which steals breath
That keeps us from speaking freely?

1960, great year of change
Southern neighbors marched in the streets
Asking what they can do for their country
Demanding freedom for the black man
Freedom from killing the yellow man
Diefenbaker’s tattered Bill of 1960
Protected neither freedom for the red man
Nor any lifegiving hardworking woman
Bliss versus Canada

Now unmusical Harper
Uses the scepter of England’s crown
To stop the law of Canada
To bully peaceful gatherers
To draw green lifeblood from the provinces
And gives nothing back but
Bliss versus Canada

When will Canada find its voice?
When will we will ride Trudeau’s charter
And let our laws no longer be
Bliss versus Canada

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Revolution of Girls


When old communist lands
Raised the red banner
Of revolution high
Women fought beside men
As comrades in arms and thought
Doubling the strength of their people
This is why the dragon now rises

Now new Islamic lands
Raise the clenched fist
Of revolution high
Women hidden behind veils and doors
Barred from fight and freedom
Sapping the strength of their people
That is why the sphinx may falter

We need a revolution of girls
Enough of male wealth protectors
Give us female hearth protectors
Enough of old men arm racers
Give us young women child raisers

Let all people join as one in struggle
Let women make men’s barren world pregnant
With the thoughts and love and life and hope
That this world needs to survive

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cheating Hearts


Cheating hearts and greedy loins
Beating the bushes for two birds
Gripping tight the one they have
Squeezing the life from it

Cheating hearts in cowardly children
Afraid to sleep in this bed or another
Clutching all the toys to their chest
Screaming these are all mine

The old country song was wrong
Cheating hearts don’t kiss and tell
They smile inside at their cleverness
Then bring home hate and STDs

Monday, February 14, 2011

Three Bloody Valentines


Nosferatu siren valentine
Let's drink each other's blood like wine
On nightwalking lovers we will dine
Then in our tomb all day entwine

Necromantic valentine all alone
I’ll shape for you a couch of bone
Then if my presence you’ll condone
My spirit raising arts on you I’ll hone

Cold corpse valentine all in parts
I’ll tessellate you with my sewing arts
Then choose for you the best of hearts
With electric kisses make sure it starts

The Self and the Soul

What is the Self?
A fish in a bowl the someday will break
A program in a computer running down
Light in a tunnel that comes to its end
Phantom in the limbs that are strong for a while
More than the sum of its parts.

We lose 21 grams when we die
Is this the Soul?
Matter gains weight as it speeds up
So where is the Soul going?

If you weigh a cigar then smoke it
Being careful to tip all the ash onto the scale
You'll know how much smoke weighs.
Measuring the Soul is purely Pythagoral
It is not how much is there in the real world
But how much isn't.

It sounds like Jazz
It's the notes that he's not playing that count.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine’s Reflections

Ode to Japanese Buddhism
My RC upbringing was just the right medicine to cure me of religion. I’ll never become Buddhist, but seeing how people pay to get into to temples here, they’re definitely on to something.

The Garden
This sushi restaurant in Kyoto has a wonderful traditional teien at its center. I’ll take you there sometime.

Fortean Crimes
Our truth is stranger than any fiction. Even when paired with the supernatural, its unnatural nature stands out.

Egypt
I hope they make it work, I really do.

Riding
Horses and me – I love them, I just have little luck riding them.

A Professor’s Life
If I can become a prof, I know what kind of life I want to live.

Mad Dog
Yep, I bite if you push me.

Little Fish
Some people think moving to a city makes them special snowflakes. It’s not where you go, it’s what you do.

Ode to Captain Kirk
Conversation with Glen always stretch the limits of my mind. Is a transported person still an original, or just a copy? What does this mean about their soul or self?

Moving Blood
Part of being Canadian is having travel in your blood, for me. Interesting to think where my blood has come from and where it has gone.

Ode to Dubai
Saw a documentary on this place. Is it for real? Will it last?

JANUARY

On Human Nature
Just a change in tone or inflection can show people’s true nature. Just read this one out.

Paperwork
If you’ve ever applied for a Phd, you know what I mean.

My Addictions
I have never found real addictions interesting, and am always disappointed by books or films that glamorize them. Mine are rather boring, but I can’t and don’t want to stop doing things that are good for me.

When In Rome
Eat local food. It’ll be cheaper and (usually) healther.

Discomfort Food
I usually let my better half decide, but sometimes I’d like to choose. Usually she notices it, this day she didn’t. Sure I am sensitive and over-reacted, but this was how I felt.

Back On The Path
The year end kills my fitness. It feels so good to get out and pound the pavement in the new year.

Ode to Dubai


Sparkling desert diamond tower
Built of black dinosaur bones
Shall your new crude Babel
Topple like the stone spire of old?
Liquid flower of the tan desert
Spraying skyward to songs sung
By muslim princesses loved by Old Man
Shall haggard remnants of Mankind
Gaze upon your wonders and despair
In some dry and desolate future
And wonder how you flourished
How mere mortals shaped steel
Into a divine Mother of Cities
And how you tumbled into dust?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Moving Blood


Mother’s blood to keep alive
Marched shivering behind caribou
Across a bridge of ice and earth
Long before history knew

Ancient Thule killed and lived
Unmolested along Labrador’s coast
Until black robes appeared
Giving their body to eat as host

Robes returned and ruled
Devouring ancient wisdom and ways
Stoppered her blood in villages
Bound life with clocks and days

Orkney blood came rushing in
Fleeing from Europe’s wars
Inuit maids fled brutal lives
Wed trappers from Europe’s stores

Father’s blood fled Gaul
To live in Fenian territory
Mere centuries ago
Giving name to my family

Starved out by English nobles
Hand stained in bloody crime
Fled again across Atlantic waves
To mix again with Gaulish lifewine

Cruel crucible of Labrador
Fused mother and father’s blood
Love withered and fled
But blood lives on in brood

My blood has taken me
Far from nightless Labrador
Far even from docile Canada
To sunrise on Nihon’s pacific shore

Whether my blood stops here
Or mingles with noble Yamatonochi
Think not that I have moved my blood
But know that it has moved me

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ode to Captain Kirk


Oh Captain Kirk
Were you destroyed
The moment you set foot
In a transporter?
Stamping your numbers
On a different set of atoms
On the planet below
Is no guarantee
You’ll complete your mission
If the original
Is not destroyed
And the copy
Goes on its way
Which one is the Self?
The cells of my body
Regenerate every day
So is I today
Different from the I of yesterday?
Can we be who we are
Without who we were?
If we hope to conquer
Both Time and Space
We better figure this shit out

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Little Fish


Little fish in big ponds
Do not fool yourselves
Changing to a larger shell
Doesn’t make the hermit bigger
Likewise moving to a great city
Doesn’t make you greater
It only shows how small you are
And those who stay behind
Who keep the same old shell year after year
Grow enough to burst the seams
And show themselves the greater for it

Mad Dog


Notice: To anyone
Who tries to bully, belittle, or annoy
Or treat me like a dog in any way
Know that this dog barks back
And you may get bitten

A Professor’s Life


Sir Ken Robinson has rightly said
A learned professor’s body
Is mere dumb locomotion for his head
(Which makes him quite an oddity)

Some professors view life or fun
As grist for their intellectual mill
Materials to get another thesis done
(You’d think they’d have their fill)

When I move to that ivory tower
Years later than my fellows
I’ll bring love and life into my bower
To make the ascetic academic light mellow

For if I leave less written words for strangers after my depart
At least I shall have left more laughter and joy in friend’s hearts

Monday, February 7, 2011

Riding



Half-Inuit boy in Ontario
Farm of my father’s friend
Legs barely straddling tan flanks
Blond maned muscled beauty running free beneath me
Leather reins slipped from my fingers
Pitching forward grasping and hoping
A moment of terror then triumph

Long haired Labrador native
Étudiant amérindien au Québec
On a black prancer amid cold clouds of white
English signals confused le cheval
His rolling weight pressed my angel deep in the snow
The guide was shocked to see
My body black and blue and sore and alive

Young English teacher in Mongolia
Beside Gansook, descendant of khans
Small red roan pounding grass beneath me
Tourists all fallen except me
In my pride I raced a native son and put my hoof into a hole
Lost his balance, threw myself
Breathless and broken fingered

Married man’s last trip alone
Carried by a dark sweaty pony
Shuffling around the pyramids at Giza
Egypt is no place for galloping
Drinking water licking salt
Plodding along and staying shadowed

I lost control and I have fallen
Broken pride and bones
But I have never feared riding

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Egypt


The year I married in Japan
I left my bride and inlaws
And went walking in Cairo
As M1A1s kicked up Babylonian sand
The Egyptian Brothers of Baghdad
Scowled at my white skin
And called “Amerika? Amerika?”
I quickly learned the answer
That made them smile and hug me
Ana misch Amerika. Ana Kanada.”
Every cab driving Cairo lawyer
Every deal driving tea sharing merchant
Had a brother in Toronto
Working at a pizza shop

When Sadam’s statue was toppled in Firdos
I stood with Egyptian students
Looking at Mubarek’s face in Tahrir
An angry young man calmly said
“One day, we too shall arise
And drag the dictator Mubarek down”
The Egyptian beauty with us
Took off her headscarf in protest
And was called a whore and spat at
By laborers at a mosque we passed
“I have not seen her hair”
The angry young man calmly said
“Since we were children
Some things in this country
Make me very sad”
The Egypt Daily News exclaimed
“The Arab world has lost
The greatest dictator it has ever known”

One percent Muslim a millennia ago
One percent Christian today
Who knows what Egypt will be tomorrow
This is where gypsies come from
The only constant in Masseru
Is change and shifting sands
The Sphinx gave only riddles
Never answers