Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hard Time Friends

Brought up in a ghost town you comprehend
There are no friends like hard time friends
Our reflections ran across empty store windows
Then retreated to the suburbs before the sun rose
Where people put shit in a box and call it food
We had to escape, dying to live and make good
Leaving your prefab house to find ruins ancient
Chased by your shadow wherever you went
I burrowed into sewer grates or great big sewers
Finding in old lamps and records something newer
Sometimes I think I’d give my hobo bundle away
To run across those store windows with you for a day

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

History of Poetry

The old poets
Knew the name and views
Of every Hero of Antiquity
Of every God and Muse
Of every flower and tree

The old poems
Spoke of beauty and truth
Followed rules of rhyme and meter
Praised passion and youth
Were devoured by every reader

The new poets
Bust their rhymes to primal beats
Or else in ivory towers slog
Recount their epics in the streets
Or record them on a lowly blog

The new poems
Speak of pain and loss
Of life on the outside
Paint this machine world in gloss
Its showy digital smile hide

I am a poet
Who knows not names of leaf and bud
Lives in a time when gods are dead
But feel the words run in my blood
So must bleed them from my head

Dearest reader
Do not think I write for you
In truth I do it all for me
Projecting my reality is what I do
That is what makes me free

When The Aliens Come Knocking

When the aliens come knocking
Will they find anyone home
Or humans just a myth to scare larvae
In the empire of giant cockroaches
Maybe we’ll live as huge vats of flesh
Plugged into smartphones and feeding tubes
Overdeveloped fingers and eyes
Legs and attention span atrophied away
Or maybe we’ll be here as ever we are
Dancing and drugging and fighting and loving
Some of us doing it on other balls of mud
I hope this last comes to pass
And people will be here to light a fire
To sing songs and dance and warm ourselves
Amid the cold machinery of the universe

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Old Is The New Young

Picture my father at the age I am now
We could be brothers, but he’s older somehow
I’m still a student deciding what my life is
I listen to the latest music and podcasts
He already had house, wife, and kids
His clothes and his records were made to last
Today on the bus to school I saw the flair
Of grandpa in leather pants and coat
His student card showed white with hair
Of his aged virility he seemed to gloat
Dior bag over his shoulder slung
Hemp leaf on his hat right bold
Proving that old is the new young
And young is the new old

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ode to Schoolgirls

A quarter century has passed
Since I dreamed of your eyes and arms
Schoolboy from a priest and boy institution
With love in my heart and shit in my pants
You could not but shine in my eyes and heart and below
My young limbs yearned to entwine with yours
Without knowing what to say or do

As a young man
You became invisible to me
I drank beer and talked philosophy
With pot-bellied university women radicals
Then went to teach you in middle school
Where your shy smile and childish strategies
Substituted for a sister who grew up without me

Now an older man
I look at you again with affection
Your laughing short skirted beauty
Your verve and unwavering eye on what you want
And think that if you were my child
How nervously happy a father you would make me
How joyous would be the promise of your mind and womb

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reflections March 26, 2011

We were in Labrador when the tsunami destroyed Sendai. The images of waves rushing across the countryside were indelible. I wanted to create an image of how life there unfolded moments before it was swept away, much like the depiction of life in Hiroshima from Hadashi no Gen. Of course, people were already shaken by the quake and many had heard tsunami warnings, so this poem is pbest thought of as the way it was the day before the calamity.

Poetry is a Rap
I didn’t want to write only about the disaster, so this was a Kanye-inspired treatise on why I write.

Fear of Rain
The first day back in Japan and the unending news reports from Fukushima gave the whole scene a sinister air. Even snow crystals became objects of fear.

Dear Mother Earth
Just a note on the fridge for the Earth.

Just a recollection of the trip to Labrador to see nan and how that tranquility and hope morphed into alarm and despair back in Japan.

Ode to the Outlet Store
Bit of a boring place. No clocks so it seems outside of time, no newspapers in the convenience so a man can’t escape from shopping and immerse himself in the affairs of the world. Seems like a sinister plot, in a way.

Ode to Chernobyl Scubadivers
I read several first-hand accounts that were very lyric. I didn’t so much write this as rearrange what I had read.

The Young Cousins
Vic, Cath, Phil, myself, and Clint as we all were and are. I am at the age where I finally realize the importance of keeping in touch and regret how we have drifted apart. Something I hope to remedy hereon in.

The Next Life
I once heard a prof complain her plumber made more and went on more vacations to wilder places than she did. Fixing toilets seems a small price to pay for honest, well-paying work.

Tiger Lady
For Tomiko.

How I Teach
My philosophy is a mix of what I’ve learned in martial arts, from my dad, during my B Ed, and from life in general. It’s not perfect, but it works for me right now. Just as I urge my students to come to me with an empty cup, I never think mine is full. There is always more to learn.

Shore It Up
A weak poem, much like a Canadian prog-rock song. Still, sometimes it needs to be said.

Nature In Humans
Children especially can have that innocent evil in them. As adults, we have to face that and strive towards a humane humanity and humility.

The Spider
As above.

The Truth About Superheroes
This poem bothered me hours after I wrote it – did it come off as homophobic? Then I realized that those intimations were already there in the source material. Must write something similar about Marvell one day. Comics characters are the new mythic figures, so writing about superheroes is the same as dedicating an ode to Aphrodite, in my opinion.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Truth About Superheroes

“Look at that Superman
Never stops for autographs anymore
Always some alien invasion or deposed god to fight
He doesn’t bother with petty crimes like murder or robbery
What do you expect? I hear he isn’t even human
Why would some alien care about us?”

“What about the Flash?
He only does fashion TV shows
Since he came out of the closet
Transforms guys into in the wink of an eye
Has his own line of spangled jumpsuits
Saves money by walking to events in Tokyo and Paris

“That Batman knows how to make money
There’s a Batcave ™ franchise in every major city
Teaching citizens self defense and detective skills
The latest model Batmobile ™ is a hit with dictators
I’ve heard rumors of him and the boys at his ranch
I guess if you’re rich enough you can do anything”

“Wonder Woman’s singing and acting careers were crap
I am her biggest fan of her porn though
That lasso and bracelets are pure S&M fantasy
The video with Power Girl is my favorite
Figures an Amazon princess would be into girls”

“All those guys with their powers
They could cure cancer or stop war and crime
Instead they draw trouble like flies on shit
New York gets destroyed once a week
Gotham and Metropolis were nuked long ago
That’s the price we pay for living with gods”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Spider

My hand gripped the spray can
Marching through Ontarian trees
Brothers and father in a band
Clearing a path with machetes
I was too little to be trusted
So sprayed red on the slashed bark
Until I felt my fingers brushed
And turned the can around to remark
The spider mirroring my hand
Green brown eyes peering at one another
I screamed and dropped the can
And ran to my oldest brother

I sat on the tatami mats
At night playing Nintendo
Listening to the wail of cats
Reaching their crescendo
When I opened my closet
To get a different game
Eight green eyes shone an instant
So with a broom I bludgeoned him
Later the crippled handlike form
Scrabbled towards me across the tatami
My fear was gone like snow in June
I felt only remorse and pity

This is why I will always fear the spider
But this is why I will never kill another

Nature In Humans

As a child I crippled a bullfrog
Near broke his neck with a heaved stone
For years he swam lopsided in the creek
Beside grandfather’s home
Great old riverside man, forgive me

As a young man I bludgeoned spiders
Whacking them scuttling across my tatami
Putting them on display in bottles
Cursing them as my enemy
Great pest eating night spinners, forgive me

Something there is in human nature
That hates and kills the unknown
It is no wonder we abuse another
If they come from another home
Great heaving mass of humanity, may you learn humaneness
Then forgive and be forgiven

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shore It Up

When the choices you made
Leave you underpaid
You got to shore it up
Build it back up

When the love you planned
Leaves with another man
You got to shore it up
Build it back up

When life’s terrible waves
Takes it all away
You got to shore it up
Build it back up

Life is precarious at best
Do what you can
When you’re dead you’ll rest
You can only shore it up
Build it back up

How I Teach

What I teach
You will forget
So I will teach it again
Until you get it
I promise that
I will not get angry
When you don’t understand
Tell me you don’t understand
And I am happy
To teach it again
If you come to me with an empty cup
I will fill it up
If you come to me with a cup that is full
There is nothing I can teach you
And nothing you can learn
I will try
To take the scales from your eyes
To start a fire
With the branches and brambles you bring
And make a light
In the darkness
To warm you
Before you strike out on the road ahead

Tiger Lady

My Japanese Tiger Lady
The man you made me
Thanks you for your love
Velvet hand in an iron glove
People say I should smile
To have a wife so docile
They don’t know you’re exterior
Hides a fearless warrior
Japanese women defend the hearth
Against all odds and to the death
You have made me stand taller
Made obstacles seem smaller
Wherever we may roam
Beside you is my home
Whatever heights I climb to
My thanks and love I give to you

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Next Life

Great Gautama
In my next life
Please raise me to the rank of plumber
It is a humble station but honest
One knows up front the shit
One will meet everyday
One washes clean with soap and water
One earns enough for a good house and life
It is natural to make shit
As it is to eat food
Most importantly
I will never have to shake hands

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Young Cousins

The Labrador light of the 1970s
Shone on us cousins, made us shine
The oldest boy tormented two younger brothers
The girl shining eyed with beauty and bravado
Middle brother always ornery
Little brother lost chasing butterflies
The last boy playful and left behind
We scattered after the hot Labrador summer
Frozen in the long winter of memory
Living miles and years apart
Broken homes, broken bones, and broken hearts
But when we regroup again
After this quarter of a century
That Labrador light of summer
Still shines from the corner of our eyes
On the maps of worry and weariness
We can trace the young cousin
We knew and were so long ago

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ode to Chernobyl Scubadivers

Forget the cars and the apartment promised
That’s not why they dived
Beautiful boys in clumsy gear
Pedaling through the gloomy waters
The safety valve was heavy with rust
Young limbs tore it into compliance
Its cries reverberating in the water
Back and forth they swam
Happy they were not on the roof
In fake leather boots and real lead vests
Green robots shuttling poison to and fro
Clumsy wheelbarrows and insane speed
7000 roubles for the whole unit was an insult
That’s not why they dived
In Kiev the apocalypse met the stone age
They dived so it would not be worse

Ode to the Outlet Store

Light that outshines the stars
Glitter that outneons the bars
Show me in your crowded place
Consumerism’s ugly haggard face
Women possessed by candy stores
Crash blindly into me on floors
I try in café to find safety and hide
From spectacular spectacles I deride
Newspapers absent from convenience
Therefore do I my purgatorial penance
Not relaxing in a pricey coffee shop
But from tired leg to leg I hop
An hour before the truth I face
An outlet store is no man’s place

Friday, March 18, 2011


Under the northern lights
I left grandmother
An icicle in the sun
Beating red through palms and eyelids
Growing the grass tickling my feet
Firm on this land of the sun
Whose broken shell a place for birds
Their yolk seeping into the land
Peacefully dreaming
Keeping my head while those about me
Lose theirs

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dear Mother Earth

We've gone and shat the nuclear bed again.
Could you clean it up for us?
It's all your fault, you know.
That quake and tsunami gave us quite a fright.
We know we shouldn't have been messing with matches in bed
But we needed light to read comics by.


Fear of Rain

White flakes once tongued with joyous shout
Black snow crystals now cursed and spat out
Caressing close eyed mist ruffling hair
Begets rainbow cloud of slow poison in air
Trust of clear sweet water divine
Turns to fear of deathly yellowed wine
Life spark burning green bud’s windy sway
Births sickly green livery of inner decay
Who can say these mental terrors
May not be realized by man’s errors?

Poetry is a Rap

Any old or young fools who say poems are for wussies
Got no clue what the Bard’s words do for the pussies
Seems like people gotta dis what on my blog I’m trying
Using my poems to keep the inner me from dying
Y’see I’m proud all my homies are dead poets
They told me all about life don’t you know it
So rhymers step up and fend for yourself
Step back poem haters or we’ll put you on the shelf
Gimme any more of your illiterate crap
You’ll wash your head after I pop my ass in your cap

My main French man was Francois Villon
He stirred la merde and kept it going on
Stabbed a priest in the nuts over some hos
Wrote his best words waiting on the gallows
Unknown in his time though people now rave
Booted from Paris into an unmarked grave
In English Keats keen words are truly sublime
Like Biggy or Tupac cut down in his prime
Rapping out odes in the brief candle of his youth
He taught truth is beauty, and beauty, that’s the truth

All us English majors, there’s one thing we knew
Life is too short, so do what’s true to you

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Grey suits slam steel doors at dawn
Schooners bob like gulls in the bay
Children troop in yellow hats
All that beauty cannot stay

Pensioners swap stories on the dock
Towel headed workmen talk of tonight’s play
Children line up for school lunch
All that beauty cannot stay

The afternoon classes wear on
Boats chug home to port  for the day
Housewives nap before kids and men come home
All that beauty cannot stay

Reflections from the Homeland

The Self and the Soul
More crazy conversations with Glen. As soon as we scientifically figure out where the soul is we are doomed anyway.
Three Bloody Valentines
Inspired by a challenge on my former student’s Facebook page. Thanks Alyssa!
Cheating Hearts
Really, cheaters need to grow a pair. Break up, find another, rinse, repeat.
Revolution of Girls
A bunch of guys rioting in the streets may look like a revolution, but until women are free, nothing really changes.
Bliss Versus Canada
The history of civil rights in Canada is bleak, but nobody knows it. The name of this court case adds a poignant beauty to the whole affair.
On Writing Daily
My philosophy, in case you’re wondering.
Ode to Naked Celebrities
Getting shocked by a naked celebrity is liked being scandalized by a stripper. It is a weird, schizophrenic schism between puritan and peeping tom in our culture.
The Age of Dominoes
They’re still falling.
In Fertility Clinics
Only women responded to this one. Even though I sit next to my lover, I don’t even know half of what she goes through.
When The Earth Opens Up
Ironic that I wrote this about Japanese people being pulled out from the rubble in Christchurch when the rescue teams are now heading back to Japan.
Academic Inflation
A degree is what you make of it. It is not a guarantee or a key, more of a prybar  which you have to know how and when to use.
Streets of Old Quebec
Beautiful old streets they were. Must go and see them again someday. And Ann and Jerome.
After the Moment
I had just had one of those major moments that have the potential to change your life, after which you need a moment of peace. A walk down the river is the perfect answer.
Ode to the Mall on a Sunday
Usually, I loathe malls on Sunday, but to see how Japanese turn it into a wonderland for kids is great.
Ode to Beer
Beer has such a weird history.
Marriage can create such bonds between people.
Inukshuks are just as much characters in the story of Labrador as the people.
Ten Things At A Time
Modern life is way too busy.
St. John's Night Streets
Got the change to walk as I did all those years ago. Much quieter these days. Everybody drives.

Where I'm At

Ted here.

Posting has been a bit spotty as of late. I'm traveling around Newfoundland and Labrador, so connections and reflections are imperfect. On the other hand, it's building up lots of things to get out from inside of me, so that is a good thing. I return to Japan Tuesday, so expect a return to semi-normal, unless I go out and do some volunteer interpretation for the rebuilders.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

St. John's Night Streets

After so many lifetimes
To walk your streets again at night
From downtown out to Logy Bay
Feels like coming home

St. John's, I would recognize
Your sussurus of balding tires
Over dirty slush and salt grit
From the murmurs of a thousand cities

The cold night embraces
Making me sweat in my coat
An hour of walking
Gets you anywhere you need to go

In younger times
I walked you twice a day
To and from youth's carnival
A different path just to see you each time

In younger times
Other walkers flashed out from the fog
Nodded or mouthed a warm hello
Then disappeared back into the night

Now your night streets lie empty
Cars quarantine people from you
Sidewalks closed by mayoral misers
Walkers reduced to my transient self

When a grand old city loses walkers of the night
When there is no one to see night's thousand winking eyes
Or be those padded footsteps that disturb sleeper's dreams
Night becomes an empty room in a museum
Or sits like a shining jewel
In a cave long forgotten

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ten Things At A Time

The other day
As I was driving and drinking
Sexting with my left foot
And texting with my right
Taking a portable colonoscopy
While eating TV and watching a sandwich
Calling my mother and learning esperanto
All while reading my stock reports
The wife asked me
"Do you think modern life is too busy sometimes?"

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Standing on the blinding blankness
I see your shape long before you are close
Black silhouette against the blinding white
Your icy rock fingers pointing without fail
A way out of this isolation
To home heart and warmth
Since the time of my grandfather
And the time of his grandfather
If ever you should fail
Tumble down exhausted in the snow
We will build you back up
Just as my grandfather built you up
And his grandfather built you
My hands moving where theirs once did
So you may keep pointing us in the right direction
To home heart and warmth
Out of this isolation

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Side by side
Washing dishes
Talking and not talking
Japanese and Canadian
Laughing and working silently
My beautiful wife and sister
I am glad and proud to see that our marriage
Has also tied these sisters together