Monthly Archives: March 1999

SALMON LEAPING

SALMON LEAPING

In the very center of New Brunswick

Half way between the equator
and the north pole

Half way up the river Mirimichi
Half way between the spawning grounds and
the sea the salmon stop to rest in quiet pools

As you watch, one or two or three
will leap high above the water, twist in the
air and splash down again

I asked the best guide on the river
and the best outfitter too
Why do they jump like that?
They said nobody knew

I suspect it’s all part of something simple
that has always been true
There’s just a lot of joy in doing
what you were born to do

ROBERTA’S WEDDING

ROBERTA’S WEDDING

When I returned from anywhere by air

Roberta would run
full out across the crowded floor
take a gymnast’s leap ten feet away
and fly through the air into my arms

So pure a show it was of joy and love
so affirming of the goodness of all life
so full of youth’s unquestioned faith
she would be safely caught and held

that travelers all around

would stand in awe

Today she runs across a crowded floor
and leaps with equal joy
into the arms of another man with
equal trust she will be safely caught and held

And now I see what all those others saw

and I stand back in awe

A NEW WORD

A NEW WORD

We need a new word

A word for how you feel about someone
that you want to hang around with all of the time

I mean really want to be with every night and day

A word for that feeling that makes your heart sing
every time you see them

Causes a warm smile to rise every time you think of
them

Love doesn’t quite do it anymore
it has been battered and bruised and bled too often

A word for that feeling that where you meet them is
in a land of
acceptance, filled with air so light that fear cannot
breathe it

Friend won’t do, even though
friends are people you can count on, and who can count on
you,

And brother this and brother that, or sister this and
sister that are now used by people who have nothing
more in common than a perceived common enemy

No, we need a new word

Something as fresh and clean and bright and pure and
as innocent as a baby’s chortling laugh

Yes we need a new word and we need it bad

I sure hope we don’t find it

ODE TO NERUDA

ODE TO NERUDA

You have gifted the world with your being
and your words the fruits of your being

You have seen the mother and the lover
in the sea tides rocking rhyme

In the flowers of her hair
in your politics of care

You remind us of the role of all poets
to open and meet the world naked

To perceive the world naked
to receive the world naked

To sing the world naked
naked as your hand

I’M GLAD I SAW

I’M GLAD I SAW

The tall old lady in Austin bent over her walker
inching her way across the street to the Driskill

She has a few drinks, listens to Margaret sing
has a few more and starts to sting along

About midnight she stands up to her full six feet
picks up that walker, and it never touches the street

The city crew in Edmonton all leaning on their shovels
watching a pretty girl walk their way
As she passes they pick up their shovels as one man
Turning in chorus line perfection they set them down
and lean on them as they watch her walk away

A blind man stands on a narrow street in Florence
A man comes up behind him, grasps his elbow
points the man’s white cane into traffic
right in front of our hotel car
Brakes screech, he pushes and follows
the blind man across the street
leaving him and us with mouths ajar

Climb out sunsets gain altitude as sun sinks
into the oceans or mountains, one more hour of beauty

A sun dance in the Dakotas, a fire walk in California
sunrise on Oahu, babies smiles, and Northern Lights

And You

BIG BOYS

BIG BOYS

The deep sadness
The red anger space
The hang on tight we
may end up in the next county passion

All hidden behind the great wall of control
That terrible land where I locked
the little boy who would cry

And if I open the door to one of these
they will come bursting out
And with what years
of build up force behind them

I know big boys don’t cry
I don’t remember why
Would they die

SHAMAN’S HEART

SHAMAN’S HEART

Two centuries back I look down at legs
covered with buckskin white as whitest sand

In the valley below are the tepees

I go home my wife rises to greet me
I speak her name
like water laughing over small stones

Feel full and more with a love for her
as warm as the sumer dawn
strong as my manhood rising

I am a chief and the son of a chief
not brave enough to deny
the life of a brave

Though Shaman at heart
not Shaman enough to break
the heart or the will of my father

I hang by my flesh at a sundance
and lead the young men to war

Say goodbye to my wife and babe in her arms
ride off to the folly of a raid with no cause

As spirit rises from body
my enemies honour my courage
cut my heart from my chest and eat it

Neither friend – nor foe – nor father know
it is not the heart of a brave

NOT IN MY YARD

NOT IN MY YARD

We’re living in a leaf blower world

Why should we
rake them and bag them and burn them
and recycle and compost and mulch them

When we can go down to the Handy Dan
and just hand some money to the man

Got a two and a half horse with overdrive
gonna be somebody else’s problem now

Varoom, Varoom, this is easy
this ain’t hard
they’re heading for the streets and the
neighbour’s yard

Wait a minute he’s bought a five
and he’s blowing them back again
so we drive to the store and get a ten
he gets a fifteen, we get a twenty
now the s.o.b. has a twenty five

Next trip I’m getting an UZI