Poet Commentaries

NaPoMo Journal 2017

April 29th

Inside a Bus

“tweet tweet”
my morning birds prefer
another biographer


It did not start on the bus.
First came years
of evening door knocks,
the creak of a mail slot
and his eerie voice
chanting her name;
“Aaannnie. AANNie.

He loved her
and it was strange as hell
as she was a devil dog.
One must know the approach
and fear wasn’t it.
Dave would put me between
and shake in excitement
as he grunted the orders,
as he imitated her bark;
and marvelled at her silence?
Twice only he was listened to.
Twice only he gave her a treat.

Dave was never articulate.
Words perform poorly
when they are interjections
to laughs and giggles
grunts and groans
but we communicated
and eventually he ran to see me
demanding his hug.
Occasionally butt naked.

Saturdays for two hours
I rode the bus with him.
He would come in my van
to get supplies.
A poetry reading for me.

The sound of a diesel
growling up a hill,
wheels slapping at a pothole,
Brakes perfectly pitched.

I make no attempt to
squeeaak and vrooom vroom
using words.
Words perform poorly
and are no canvass
for his art.

Go ahead, write out the sound
of a bus stop chord.
There is a sound in drawn slack,
in the click just before the ding
and in the sigh of its release.
Or the firm whispers of hydraulics;
the maestro to whining hinges
each squealing an octave
above the other;
their’s not a complaint
but simply their voice.

I know the sound
of each relay’s tongue click
and the subtle sizzle
of electricity in turn indicators.
There is still
a sleepy feeling
at the lullaby of rubber
wiping tears out of eyes,
the expectation in the soul
as they pause and creak,
like a yawn building,
and then release
with aaaawwwww
and a slap.

“honk honk”
is neither goose
nor bus

April 26th

muscle memory
I give a nod
to smile prompt

April 25th

I was thinking of today yesterday.  The thoughts blew into the paint and are unretrievable today.  Maybe next spring.

dark ink
with no whitespace between
words stored

April 24th

stirred sunshine
my reflection dances
a circus mirror
Throughout the day I work on silhouetting an arbour with black paint in preparation for the climbing Hydrangea to grow on it.  It is spring and sunny, people whistle as they pass and…

Magnolia buds
awaken, yawn and stretch
I stir too

I move slow, stepping around the flowers inside the arbour.  Each dip of brush is  purposed, every footfall done with care and every stroke gentle.  The drips off the end of my brush?  They are caught by my tongue and my spirit just so the Grape Hyacinths do not feel this colour so soon after bursting out of it.

the emperor’s wardrobe
taken from closet

There is the taste of black on my tongue and yet I smile. It is not so dark as all that.  Briefly I watch how each stroke glistens in the light and I wonder if there is a way to quantify how much sunlight is trapped in each of the little ruts.  I marvel at the capacity and greed of the paint to grab it all and how quickly the wood of my arbor draws this wealth in; storing it for another spring.

I grope for light
gritty fingers
find a bulb

So much is stored in this black and it takes it all. Eats it up.  Little gnats and blown dust and as many of my past recollections of joy and sorrow as I can muster. I reflect, the paint glistens and the door creaks shut on dry hinges.  Stoke and stroke.  Jamb and pack.  It will be my closet and I will look forward to it bursting open on some spring morning.  I hope I am ready it.

my closet bursts
I have no capacity
to open the door


April 23rd

darker and darker
the heart of the Forthysia
shade for sparrows

April 22nd

This was more cheerful yesterday.  It still is but it has morphed a bit. It now is written to someone still determined to stick a thumb in the dike. He is a good man, well loved, that knows the balance between grinding rust and buying a new truck.



the end of the world
in wax paper
fifty six red leaves

through every age
on every mantel
bronze shoes

Poets know and write about the end of the world, some just don’t know it. They talk of different worlds and hope, a few scribbled appointments in empty boxes on a calendar. Some, like me, have way too many and have all these cheerful hearts and emojis scribbled in. To keep me balanced I have one in a week to rake Daffodil petals, split Hostas and replace my brakes on my car.

The news these days makes pencilling in tomorrow more difficult though. If the world were a car one would shop around, kick tires and look at their budget. It is odd but if you read this and get it perhaps your car’s brakes are maintained. Perhaps you would drive on the road to your neighbour and not be afraid that you will hurt someone, anyone. Likely you do not get the carnage and could never imagine such horrible “accidents”. I suppose I write this for you and I as we pass on the road and wave.

in the pile up
someone always to blame
their loss mourned too

You will note here no mention of religion or any solution. It is I suppose written in a code that only saints and angels get. I swear by Christ but not in vain.

hair spray
the coiffed doo
in this wind

staples and thread
the Daffodil petals
still need raking

twinkling of eye
hands shake
an X marked

I am sorry this is long but there was one last surreal image that was so neat. It could only be understood in context to what I mused on today and will explain my smilie emojis marked on tomorrow.

peach blossoms galore
so many Rose Buds
in the fall

April 21st

capillary action
drawn up from way down
the garden is fed
if we are still in nature
haiku reach us too

The hardest thing about haiku is the tendency to double dig.  Ironically the work of turning the soil is not as time consuming or as hard on a person as the time spent watering.

I once rooted out wild ginger from a lawn, removing first the sod and then going deep.  When done you could not tell it was disturbed.  In the heat of the summer the section of sod died.

wick out of oil
the flame flickers and dies
double dug garden
sweat drops on leaves
not enough water

The biggest part we play in the garden will take a lifetime to work out.  I am but a sapling just learning.  When I am cut out and my growth rings are examined one could look at my journal and see the difficult years where the sustenance needed was lacking.

exclaimed praise
is not the stones job
two lips
over many seasons
wick amazement

April 20th

Show and Tell

Many desktop haiku will come from one moment, one understanding.

the birds sing
sometimes I listen
to the whole song

Ah ha but that is not what i saw.  This was worked out from internal ponderings on poetry, wrestling with the concept of “show” not “tell”.  It is a desktop haiku. (to my credit when this came I did listen to the birds longer but they are still not done as I write.)

So I now tell where the ponderings came from.  They arose from dissatisfaction with this poem….(which is a start on my future “slam poem”)

No Pants

I did not like how much “telling” was in this poem and envied poets that could write this better and “show” me.  That’s it.  I know showing is critical and very difficult.  How easy it is to drift to telling.  I am a bit fearful of making this statement and feedback is welcome but telling is what good poets do.  The reader should just not know it.

That latter was a poem crammed full of techniques learned in part from reading and studying haiku. What follows are a chain of haiku that show the problem…

show and tell
the heavy backpack
not large enough

she shows
children on edge of seats
rising for their turn

she skips home
catching butterflies
for next week

thunder and lightning
over the horizon
a sunny morning

If more is written that would be telling wouldn’t it.

April 19th

ingrown tree supports
someone forgot to cut
apron strings

wore shoes
inside that hedge
many nests

musk incense
and a cedar woven mat
I enter on knees

April 18th

A good day yesterday.  The lettuce seedlings took after the transplant and I think I heard the soil shift as the tomato seeds germinated. Window baskets now take in more water, they no longer needing just enough to replace what was evaporated. The soil is feeding for two.  Soon baby Begonias will be looked for, bright as the sun and capable of producing their own shadow on a rainy day.

dry and barren
soil, rocks and stones
yearn for cast seeds
a measure of sadness
for spaces in my garden

fluffed and raked soil
my footprints erased

meadow and grassland
my presence in the garden
the Queen’s dropped lace
a sense of thyme
and the rip of velcro burrs

April 17th

my shadow dances
not yet separate
soles touch

It took awhile to distill today’s thoughts down to a few paragraphs. (The slam poem is not quite finished.)

I understand April 16th, that seasons include winter and that time passes. I understand and expect heavy rains that rip young buds from trees and a frost that takes my Magnolia buds. These all seem just somehow. These concepts fit into what we call Karma and our sense of ourselves. Therefore they do not seem chaotic.

True chaos is love. What scares me is good; goodness that stretches beyond any sense of justice, mercy. We have no capacity for it. What scares us is resurrections and miracles, peace where no peace should exist and grace found in empty pockets. I am careful not to hand out too much goodness and know that loving my enemy is actually a devious plan.

my shadow dances
no longer connected
to my soles

scattered seeds
old boots
serve as a vase

excess manna
does anyone remember
how to compost

tossed bread
returns on the water

Resurrection Poems

April 16th

I went to a poetry slam last night.  There is some of the most beautiful poetry and the finest angst to be found anywhere at these events. To translate my thoughts to examples in nature is this morning’s journal.

This to me is where haiku excels, there is always the other side and an example of possibilities.  There is the ah ha of a different perspective.

It is also Easter, a celebration of the juxtaposition of life and death. One or two of the following attempts will possibly become the beginning and the end of a “slam poem” (if I finish the link will be posted here)

It is ironic but what you see below are the better examples to “show” what i see.  Those cultivated under are nutrients and often they take time to break down in the soil.  My soil this morning is full of future haiku all neatly processed so you do not need to get their muck on your shoes.

verdant alfalfa
seeded to make amends
green manure

a great spring show
the daffodils work
for their cozy bed

the cherry blossoms
at last
they become pits

April 15th


Among the green glades beneath quarry
here i chisel through years.
All day in a perfect cloud among Kita’s shards
shaping our bridge.
Stones made smooth by my callouses, my back stencils their arch.
Three years of cherry blossoms my mat,
chipping at the mountain’s heart.
Each morning I walk with you on the other bank.
Almost now we shall meet atop the river.

At the neighborhood annual egg hunt the kids all talk of who will get the golden egg.  My granddaughter was determined and ran past hundreds to look in the far reaches of the park.

in the egg hunt
only two in her basket
one of them golden

April 14th

In talking to my sister she told me a story that made me laugh; a story about endings.

Her home abuts a cemetery and they managed to get a plot for her husband in it.  The funeral luncheon that followed the interment was held at her home.

her husband

on the other side

she hops over

The gravediggers were taken off guard by this.  One never thinks about it but there is a protocol for everything.  For the workers there is the filing away of mourners after the service and the usual quiet in which to attend to their duties.  This did not happen.  

My sister has umpteen grandchildren and they stuck around to assist.  She felt bad for them as they were at a bit of a loss but there was really nothing to be done.  

six feet of dirt

three Tonka trucks

and four lost balls

atop finished mound

the dog curls up

April 13th

radio song changed

trill and trite

birds not scattered




The inspiration for this is really endings, how there are so very many that we deal with everyday.  The last piece of perfect steak or last sip of coffee.  The tap of the toothbrush on a sink, and the way the light being turned off at night sounds.  We are practiced at them and are both saddened and comforted by the many little seasons we go through.  


another page ends

each time the ritual,

of flicked fingers

wiped wrinkled hands

a new leaf turning


warm epson agar

the culture cultivates

relax and quiet

my weight buoyed

by this warm womb


there is no clock

no set number of pages

but a time comes

when water is too cool

and book is put down


the plug is pulled

there’s that porcelain squeak

and brushed cotton swish

crisp new clothes are donned

as last of the water drains


April 12th

It has been a long time without rain.  I feel the first drop and, on the glass beside, me i see the second.  The first thought is to run indoors but something tells me to wait.  Idly I push against the perfect drop and dimple it’s  surface tension.  I let the one on my brow run down my cheek.  The rain starts.


on the tip of my tongue


summer at the beach

rivers and warm puddles

a stick in my hand

April 11th

buttered popcorn

one kernel at a time

the spring Forthysia

April 9th and 10th.



I am fexed for time to journal.  I am full of natural ponderings neck deep. The passing of a brother in law (whose funeral I must miss), an ailing dog and a brief spat of bachelorhood which I have little taste for.  I am springtime filled with to do’s and what ifs.  

Personally what pleases me about haiku is that nature reflects so beautifully my own seasons.  It rarely is me being encouraged by the cherry blossom but rather me egging it on and saying “Yes I feel that too.”  My next few haiku are likely fading petals on gravel or footsteps on a waterlogged lawn but they are not heavy haiku.  Uplifting really, it is always nice when nature listens and understands.

blue and jaundiced

the daffodils grow

in Blue Bell blush.


skipped steps

the happy old dog

falls down the last few


the daffodils

they were not there

for the Mums in fall


April 8th

The squirrel was trapped in an empty six yard garbage bin.  There was no hold for it on the metal. It was frantic looking for a way out.  It was necessary to fill the bin to give the little guy a foothold.  Hmmmm.

empty and swept
the frightened squirrel
seven worse demons

a trail of crumbs
into oneness
mercy me

April 7th

This comes from just watching the dog lieing down while I wrote, taking in the wind and raising his head to each song of the birds.  The breeze was strong with a lot of information for him to take in.  There were so many birds.  Through it all he was calm and so relaxed.

the dog’s nose
that trick not taught
to his master

he does not translate
the scents
or bird song

 April 6th


well oiled gate
in three foot picket fence
nailed shut

one thinks too late
about Zuchinni bounty
when gates are sealed
stiff fences grow
and compost burgeons


night grows darker
squished between
tires and gravel


a swear
on the tip of tongue


April 5th

My response to James.  This response references journal entries from April 1 up to and including April 5th.

a short summer hike

it takes longer

to fold the map


in fold of the map

old summer hike

not quite legible


cool summer breeze

on hot feet

shoes air out

I read James today and wrote what it inspired.  It was an enjoyable read. Beautifully done, understandable and succinct.  Frankly it is thoughts like these that we all should have and recognize on our journeys.  That is what journalling is, cartography.  (Says Mike)

I finish off this chain with my first image.

the many portages

clearly marked on map

the scenic views

****back to me


out of the wood shed

with a broken stick




arms full

of gathered kids


April 4th, 2017


The emergency call came at 3:15am.  Early even for me.


shrill the screech

can no one shut him up

there is no wolf


a bucket brigade

every pail leaks

there is no fire


watch and hold in

no laughter

or rubber pants


frantic industry

the mayor arrives

the coffee cold too


water under bridge

the only ember

my cigarette


Later, at 6:30am, when I finished the emergency call and was a writing report in the quiet of my “dog house” with my dog asleep at my feet.

the eaves steady drip

like I need hypnotics

to fall asleep

April 3rd

There is something very powerful in sticking your hands under a farm wagon discharging a full load of soybeans.  I took what I needed, a pocketful of possibilities.


soy seed everywhere

laughter and joy

spit through a straw


My grandkids were with us for the day helping in the garden.  These followed.


a pocket of peas

spit through a straw

grandkids help seed


little buddies

among Daffodil spears

not enough armour


April 2nd.

Spring is not my favourite season.  I think of the list of “to do’s” and possibilities and how all these sprout up right beside a million distractions.  I am easily distracted.  

There is the other reason this burst of enthusiasm wears on me.  It makes me have to be judicious and make assessments on what can stay and what can go.  How that there are limits to garden boundaries. Always I am the one with pruner, rake and shovel.  


apples cordoned off

so many broken limbs

and homeless sparrows


say the kigo

ah ha inappropriate

the snipped bud


the tulips grow

in the fall

of the snowflakes


(Snowflake Anthophora plumipes)

I saw this contest today and it produced this thought.


crushed earthworms

the stench of tannin

he sweats and bleeds

Boswellia tears

wash his feet


I had to shorten it to a haiku and make it humorous.  See what I mean about pruning?  Where am I to compost all the extra words?  Ah, I have a journal…I will just leave them there.


frankincense and myrrh

the sweet balm of empathy

Boswellia tears

April 1st

It is April Fools day.  The dog as always sits with me as I write.  He is no fool but sometimes I smile at how silly he can be.


at my feet

a ball

so precious


he is wore out

chasing my words

he loves the light


from my cell phone

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