Poetry   26 comments

The Fall

fall

These days of fall

The light is so pure

You feel you are

Suspended weightlessly

In a crystal bowl

 

The flow of days

Into the fall

Slow but constant

A trickle of colour into

The slow white fade to winter

 

Yet you can’t help but notice

These days of the fall

The highs are not as high

And the lows not so low

(A blessing after all)

 

And you feel things still

I guess, or do you

Do you feel as deeply as once you did?

Do you care as once you did?

Do you remember to take notice?

 

Maybe we forget.

 

I find even the words like these

Like worn leaves scatter and drift

(the skittering sound they make!)

But do not settle anymore

Into beautiful random patterns

 

On pages like this.

 

 

 

Beckett Backwards  samuel-beckett

 

First he dies

Then he gets sick

And loses his bearings a bit.

 

Then he wins the Nobel Prize.

Then he toils away in quiet obscurity for a while.

His plays get produced all over the place

And then no one will touch his plays.

 

He gets horrible boils on his neck and inside his mouth

He drinks a little.

He writes some novels

That no one will buy.

 

He hangs with Joyce in Paris

And works as his secretary.

He learns French.

 

Then he moves back to Ireland

Where he plays cricket at school.

 

And then he is born.

 

And then

It’s like

He never

Was.

 

Gratitude

roofs

They

Well someone said, (a girl I know I think

OK), maybe it wasn’t her

Maybe I saw it on Facebook one morning

When as usual I couldn’t sleep past 5

Because I worry about things

All kinds of things, all manner of things

Although by the time I give up trying to sleep

And get up to have my morning coffee

I have forgotten what they even

were

Those things that worry me so in the dead of night.

Anyway

I remember reading or maybe I saw it on Facebook

That only 8% of people on the planet

Have a roof over their heads

As well as a savings account

(And maybe access to clean water too

But I might be making that up

Sometimes I do,

Sometimes I embellish things).

But on any account

I do have a roof over my head

I have many of them above me

Well, ceilings, at least,

(Just a matter of perspective)

Because I live in an apartment block

(One time a lady who was much more keen on money than on me

Went for a coffee with me which for the record I bought

And when I told her where I live

She said, somewhat shocked and perplexed, “You mean to say, you rent?!”

And that was the end of that, yep.

But that’s OK, it had never really begun, nope.)

And so, yes, indeed,

I am grateful for those ceilings and that eventual roof.

And then I remembered that I even have

Over $77.00 in my checking account

And then standing in my shorts in the cold

Shivering in my dark pre-dawn kitchen

Smoking a cigarette or two

Waiting for my coffee to brew

Waiting for the sun to rise

Alone again after all  these years

I felt the tears well up in my eyes

And clearly they only could have been

Tears of gratitude.

deathSome Days

Some days, I don’t know

This doesn’t feel as much like life

As a mildly vigourous death

In a trance

Rendered by circumstance

To silence

And absence

Alone apart

I sit

Drinking coffee

Smoking cigarettes

Waiting for my angel of death-

Muse to swoop in on me

Again to kill me

Again and

Again leave me

Bleeding into the pages

As if there were any way

Around it.

My shrink asked how I was doing

And I just said, “I’m dead.”

He asked me what that was like.

“It’s a little like living,” I said

“Only not quite as bad.”

________________________________

The Ghost

I left a grey reflection

In the third floor bathroom mirror.

It dissolved by the time

I had washed my hands.

All pales in the weak January light.

I am no longer left to reflect.

When the sun sets

I wander home

Casting no shadow under the street lamps.

The ghost is out there somewhere . . .

______________________________

Falling into Silence

You fall so far into silence some times

So deep it feels liquid

Like the temperature of darkness

Like the texture of the night

Like the taste of the stars

Like the smell of God.

Sometimes, thus

Up so falling

You land on the surface of the moon

And howl down on the un- and other-

Worldliness of the broken planet

You once called home.

And if you didn’t know before

Your silent scream reminds you

There is nothing left to say.

Moving On

I dream of leaving

This place

This past

This thing I did

This life I lived

I dream of running away

And I will

But I hope

When I do

The winds will blow

Behind me carrying

With them

The few things

That are important

Like so many leaves

So many fragments of paper

Old newspapers I wrote in

Old playbills of plays I wrote

Old money spent

On things I no longer have

That didn’t matter anyway

And if you’re not swept up

In those winds behind me

Because you’re running your own way

In a different direction

(Even for the same reasons

You are running, I know)

I want you to know

I will carry your memory

In my heart always

Even if it’s the only thing

I manage to take with me.

______________________________________

Silence

1. Silence

I must insist on silence

I am an old man

I stole this image from someone’s blog . . .

I have heard too much

Already

The same things

Again

And again

Promises

Plans

Criticism

Praise

Always

A gush of words

A torrent

Of words

Always words

Words . . .

I have heard them all

I think

In every combination

Permutation

Please, enough

Silence

Please . . .

 2. Or If We Would Consider

Or if we would consider words

Consider these

Dream

You

Yourself

Dream into being

Don’t apologize

For yourself

Celebrate

Yourself

You

Do you celebrate

Yourself?

Consider this:

The death of apology

The celebration of

You.

Just you.

Who you are.

You figure it out.

Figure it out.

Now.

Silence.

3. The stars

You hear

The tension

Of the stars

And the sizzle

As they burn a million miles

Away from you.

You hear

The light

The different pitches

The frequency

That hold the stars apart

Fixed, but moving

You hear the motion

Of the great wheel of heaven

And the icy creak of constellations

You hear all this

You hear the stars.

The rest

Is silence.

This summer I’ve been going through some old file folders and notebooks looking for poems for my book of poetry, now tentatively titled Shoot the Moon.  It’s a curious process. Some of the poems you can only think deserve never to see the light of day and you’re thankful you never managed to get them published anywhere. And yet others are little gems from your own past, reminding you in a rather abstract way of the life you have lived. I thought I’d share a few of these on my blog. This one about Tom MacDonald speaks for itself, I think. It was written on a typewriter probably in Regina around 1989.

LATE NIGHT PHONE CALL FROM TOM MacDONALD

It’s Tom MacDonald

I’m in Melfort

The walls are closing in

My wife and I are fighting

No one to turn to

No cash

Bills are piling up

My dog got put down for biting a kid and disfiguring her face and now everyone in town hates me

So here’s my question to you, Eugene:

Do I stay or do I go?

Here’s the problem:

I have no idea who Tom MacDonald is

But whoever he is

I tell him to get the hell out of Melfort.

Fever

The fever travels around and through the body

Swabbing with throbbing pain the darkened hidden spaces

Strange unvisited places in my own body

And then the pain moves on meandering

Place to place

New territories, conquests

Before settling in my brain

Engendering a steady stream of images

Terrible, frightening

Deep in the dead of night

Not seen since childhood

When I would lie on the old grey couch

The paisley pattern in the fabric swirling

Bending into the great unknown

Time reduced to a feeble crawl

And now so far removed in time

I am seized with the fear

That I could not have felt as a child

That in this way

Alone at night

On a night like this

I will surely die

No witnesses

No sobs or dully murmured prayers

Just the eternal silence

From which I came

To which I return

With a sigh unheard

Alone, alone.

The Poet Prepares

This moment of silence

All alone on shore

Near the suck of the undertow

Of the millions of words

You have read

You have said

You have written

You have bled

All sucked back into the vast ocean

Of all the words

Of all the tongues

Of all the times –

Alone, silent

You take your sharpened stick

Scratch these words

Into the soft wet sand

Quickly

Before the next great wave of words

Breaks and crashes over

Obliterating everything.

___________

I am a poet and a playwright. (I used to add “man about town” to that list, but I seem to have become more retiring of late.) There is obviously a relationship between the poet and playwright, it’s really just using different muscles to complete the same task. On any account, my friend Joyce Doolittle and her friend Phil McCoy who were once colleagues at the University of Calgary Drama Department are putting together a piece about aging. Joyce was kind enough to ask me if it would be ok to use a few scenes from the play I wrote for her, Queen Lear. Of course, Then I remembered a monologue I wrote for the full length version of another play, Closer and Closer Apart, which I thought would be of interest to Joyce and Phil for their project. It’s really based on thoughts my mother used to share with me before she passed away. It’s one of my favourite pieces I have ever written. And so I wondered if it could function outside of the play, as a poem. So here it is. I like to name my poems, and so I think I will call this one Home.

I read this as part of the eulogy I delivered for my mother at her funeral.

Home

It’s an issue of space.

You start out on the farm,

That great, vast prairie

To run and tumble in

The endless horizon

And the great dome of the sky

Boundless, unfettered.

But your mother calls you back

Back into the house

And it’s a big fine house

With many rooms

Sheltering a family, a home.

And then you muddle around and

The space around you expands and

Contracts to the seasons of your life

Your enterprise.

Yet at a certain point

You feel the walls begin

To close in around you

From a house

To an apartment

To a room in a home

Until finally

You are left

In just the smallest of spaces

A wooden box

And the prairie opens up

And you are lowered down into it

Home again

The circle complete.

Those Thugs at the End of the Bar

You see them?

Don’t look now!

And whatever you do

Don’t look them in the eye!

That’s who I’m talking about

Those thugs at the end of the bar.

See the bald polished waxen heads

Gleaming dull in the lights

Big round thick hard skulls

Propped up on necks a bit too thick

Heavy cords of muscle running along the shoulders

Holding them up too high

Like they’ve been hung up there

On coat hangers like costumes

For a divine comedy.

Biceps big as loaves of bread

Honed and hardened in a hundred Gold’s gyms

Tattooed strands of barbed wire running around them

(As if anything could contain their awesome power!)

Big solid rock-like formations of the pecs

Formidable as the Rocky Mountains

Cascading down to a not quite so flat anymore belly.

Wardrobe by Affliction and True Religion.

Drinking Grey Goose and a million shooters

All paid for with shimmering gold cards.

Eyes a little too bright.

Laughing a little too loud

Slapping the back

With a little too much smack.

Not so much personalities

As accumulations of commodities.

Tonight something will be bought and

Someone will be sold

And something will go down

And someone will have a fight

Over something or other

And someone will break his collar bone

And someone will lose his truck

But they will all come back here

And drink a million more shooters

And take their huge hootered and otherwise

Cosmetically and surgically

Enhanced women who share the empty dream

Back home to their water beds

And pump them into something like an orgasm

And then pass out and dream it

Just as it happened

And then get up

And do it all over again

Just exactly the same way.

Jazz

The colour drains

The spirit wanes

I hardly know

What to make of it

It was a day like this

Jazz first got blown

Or Bell Talked into his phone

Or Einstein bent the light

Or Leonardo dreamed of flight

Anything

Not to be alone

Anything to discover purpose

And so I write, deep into the night

There are better ways than this, I suppose

Commerce

Athletics

Alcoholism

Yoga

Making out with a stranger in a basement suite

While the big dog scratches at the door

But I struck on this

Years and years

Ago and so

Here I sit

Doing it

Still

Cut

Some nights the paper seems like skin

And the pen feels like a scalpel in your hand

A thin veil

Delicate

Covers the soul

That pulses and glows

Radiant, below

Everything

There will be some blood

But then you will be in

Deep inside where every thing

And everything is possible

Everything.

Go ahead

It’s OK

Take the pen:

Cut

Cut

Cut.

Poem for Ginger

Well, it’s only a colour after all

Don’t lose your shirt over it.

Yet there’s one thing you can’t quite put

Your finger on —

Like is it blue

Or is it green?

It doesn’t matter

If it makes you think of icebergs

Or soft afternoons near the sea

Or a dream of the planet Neptune

Or everything in between

All that really matters

Is that we can’t agree.

A poem for the end of the year . . .

I Live With Ghosts

Although it seems I live alone

I live with ghosts.

My brother still come around

(after 43 years) and confounds me

With an unexpected smack upside the head

Apropos of nothing, he says it’s to remind

I need to be tough so I won’t get hurt.

My mom and grandma and some aunties

Drop by from to time and share a cup of tea

They remind me that I must keep making music

That I should sing and write a poem

They remind me above all else to be kind.

My old lover comes by from time to time

Always late at night when I can’t sleep

She tells me it’s no sin to cry

In fact she encourages it

So what can I do, but comply?

And my father, the ghost of my father,

Sits in the twilight nursing a rye and coke

Staring off into the middle distance

Searching for the words and the way

To say the thing that never did get said.

This is one of the poems I read at the Auburn Thursday evening . . .

At Caffe Beano

A tax accountant is giving advice to a client

And my soul is dying.

Outside, the sun is too feeble

To melt the snow.

Inside it is cold

And hollow.

If I was a bird

I would migrate.

I’m a poet.

I stare off into space.

And listen

To the second hand

Advice . . .

. . . keep all your receipts . . .

Another day

In Paradise.

some poets fuck I guess

some poets fuck I guess

mythical virgins in diaphanous gowns

on a bed of pine needles

deep in the forest at midnight

deep in the virgin

deep in the forest

deep in the night

some poets teach night classes I guess

and fuck their young poetry students

and even some who are not so young

over their desk in their gloomy office

on opened dog-eared copies

of the collected works of so and so

and the wasteland

and other poems

and if the person is fucking the poet

then it’s all right I guess

but if the person is fucking the teacher

then there are some questions to be answered

some poets fuck I guess

basically anything that moves

or put another way

they fuck anyone who will fuck them

in the washrooms of coffee shops

or gas stations

in shopping malls

in hospitals

in cathedrals

in the auburn saloon

but the truth of the matter

i guess would seem to be

that some poets fuck

their perfect partner

alone in their bed

on a night when the poems would not come

so they come

instead

alone

I guess

yes

but happy

some poets fuck.

Bring Back the Moon

Bring back the moon

The one that shone on the lovers

And the horse in the field

And the rain-soaked streets

Of Paris. Bring it back

And hang it low and harvestly

Orange as a pumpkin

Lengthening night shadows

Along the properties of the dead

And I will dwell in that ghostly light

And hide in the shadows out of the sight

Of prying eyes and inquiring minds

Of insidious design

And under the moon

I will make a quietus

If only you will bring the moon back

Again.

I wrote this poem a year ago or so. It was included in the Caffe Beano Anthology 2 that came out in the summer of 2011. Later this year, film maker Randy Bradshaw is going to make a video poem of it, which I will post when it’s done, some time in the late fall, I think.

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Posted August 11, 2011 by Eugene Stickland

26 responses to “Poetry

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  1. Hi admin, i must say you have high quality articles here.
    Your page should go viral. You need initial traffic boost only.

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  3. “When the sun sets I wander home, casting no shadow…” dark, dark image of what is beyond life, or perhaps a life with no purpose…
    T.S. Stickland?

  4. wow so cool all… thanks for telling me bout your site
    xx maria

  5. Gawd damn I love poetry…I have snuck in to this site before to read your work… pretty amazing collection Eugene

    If you know who’s style is avantguard, is your style known as western Canadiana? (she says, showing her country hick roots)

    Just watched the Ikea story… simply stellar Eugene and so very honest, have not laughed so hard in ages.
    .

    Thanks !

  6. You have a passion to work with the written word, be it poems, plays, or publishing others … are you not still a “man about town” with those qualities??

    Many would be saddened if you retired your passion to a 30 X 30 apartment complete with a computer, a BFF budgie and TV.

    Maybe if you SPEAK that passion at the next party you attend….

  7. I really like Silence. I like the format of the three parts, each connected but having their own theme. I know I crave silence as well

  8. Ridiculous being the operative word. 🙂 Anyway, my email is eugenius@telusplanet.net if you want to talk more. Thanks for all your wonderful comments!

  9. Ridiculously funny 🙂

  10. She actually said that. Damn . . . 🙂 I had never watched it, I just did. It’s actually funny!

  11. Afraid not. By the way I saw a video of you where you talk about going to the doctor because of anxiety and going to IKEA it was so funny.

    • That performance piece that is part truth part fiction has made more people laugh and it went over very well that night. It was never written down so I guess it only exists on YouTube. I’m glad you found it funny, I did. After a while I did. Not on the night.

      • I like how you use different voices it makes it so funny I laugh every time I watch it especially when you talk in the girls voice “oh no I’m going to a movie with a friend”

  12. I very well could be I am in customer service though, you must be glad I caught your mistake.

  13. Thank you, three smiles. 🙂 I really appreciate hearing that. I found the typo and fixed it.Tell me do you write poetry yourself?

    • No, I’m afraid I’m incapable of writing poetry I wouldn’t know where to start. I like the one about the thugs its funny you have a good sense of humor.

  14. I absolutely love your poetry, you should definitely keep updating it I would like to read more. I can’t pick a favorite but there are four I can easily read over again, there is a typo in “Fever”. 🙂

  15. What a wonderful collection! Thanks so much for sharing it. Mary Ann

  16. Hi Eugene,
    Thanks for the very thoughtful and intelligent prose/poetry. I enjoyed reading them for the first time and was moved by the eulogy for your mother. At my own mothers funeral, a few years ago, I was so overwhelmed,”all” I could do was cry.

  17. Eugene:
    It’s good to see you doing well with poetry. You also look the part, rumpled and dressed up at the same time.
    I really liked the one about the moon. Our band Moon Dancer is doing very well and if you send me an email address I can send the song Moondance to you. It’s one of the four we’ve recorded so far, and we are very happy with it. It’s where we got our name from, and the title of our album (It’s A Marvellous Night) come from the same Van Morrison song.

    Allan Wilson

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