Remembrance Day (2003)
The children squat
on the school gym floor.
Some dressed in red
No crosses here,
just high hopes and spirits.
Parents take pictures;
teachers cue and caution;
“Flanders Fields” is read;
a few songs are sung;
the bagpipes sound;
a bugler plays “Taps”;
then a moment of silence
to remember the dead
from past and present wars.
The children rise,
resume their chatter
and return to their classes.
Above it all the principal
directs the traffic
while the planets circle
in a drift of stars.
“Pale rain over the dwindling harbour / And over the sea wet church the size of a snail / With its horns through mist and the castle / Brown as owls” from “Poem in October” by Dylan Thomas
I speak of a creature
altogether wonderful whose wild heart
seeking glory is always wont to wander.
It leaves a trail in the grass that spirals upward
toward the constellations.
Magical beasts attend it
to harvest the secrets of lilac and clover.
They put their precious booty
into flowing gowns for the queen of taffeta
and staves for the mad musician.
Such an amazing mollusk it is
with horns extended and a gut full of
half-digested things: old hurts and longings,
marsh mellow sunsets, sweet wind after rain,
lost love and a child’s lost liturgies.
Beside “this frowsty barn”
let out to rain and sheep, it rests
in leaf mold of latent hunger and compulsion.
If only I knew its rare entrances and exits
but it comes and goes on my dreams.
November Gales (2016)
November gales have yet to blow
before the horns of winter sound;
the violent gusts that bend the trees
and turn the seasons upside down.
November squalls have yet to come
out of the mouth of Georgian Bay
riling its waves to a spindrift pitch
of greenish fury filled with spray.
They’ve yet to strip the maples bare.
Shear every leaf on oak and ash.
They’ve yet to come as though
a rushing freight train had just passed.
I wonder why they’re late this year
for silver bugles cannot blow
until first come November gales
to herald the embassies of snow.
And so they wait upon the wind
but now November’s almost gone
as though a dying trumpeter
had quite forgot to sing it’s song.