I was introduced to poetry by my father, who was a meat factory labourer. Though he injected salt brine into pork bellies for a living while standing on a cold concrete floor, he could’ve been an English teacher if he’d had the opportunity. He never finished grade nine but that’s another story.
Dad loved language, especially poems, which he’d recite while he walked about the house. I remember how his eyes twinkled with joy while he spoke aloud the poems, If, by Rudyard Kipling, and Daffodils by William Wordsworth.
And so it isn’t too surprising that I’ve written the odd poem.
My first published poem, The Tattered Robe, was in DreamCatcher, a U.K. small press, the issue that was devoted to Canadian poetry.
Another one, Day To Remember, was written not long after I read the following in Maclean’s magazine Nov. 23, 2009.
“On a peaceful mission in an Afghan village, Captain Trevor Greene was sitting in a patch of shade with a circle of elders, his helmet off, when a teenager snuck up behind him, and buried an axe into his head, splitting his skull and his brain almost in half. ”
A Day To Remember
I turn on the tube
and watch some ceremony,
then hear a soldier talk of letting go
the hate that came with battle’s harm.
In halting words he shares the time
he sat on sand in a circle of men,
a few from his company
and some from the so-called foe.
He sat there listening,
trying to make sense of a fight with no end,
‘til a man with an axe struck him hard
on the back of his head.
No Call of Duty game here,
no quick recovery.
And yet his faith in peace,
like the light of the sun,
was not snuffed out by an enemy’s blow.
How I came to write Togetherness
I wrote Togetherness during my days as a couples therapist.
I was struck by how easy it is to lose yourself in the one you love. It was an issue I struggled with myself. How do you hold onto your identity and still embrace togetherness?
This idea surfaced for many in the 70s, often coined as the ME decade, but it’s still relevant today. Brian Brett — a Canadian poet who won the CBC literary prize for poetry one year — recommended the poem be read aloud to get its full intent. Here it is. Enjoy.
Who am I to be,
who do you want me to be?
is it you, really you, that you want me to be ?
when you look in the mirror, what do you see?
do you see you, or do you see me?
am I a mirror of you, or a mirror of me?
If not you, can you live with me?
if I am me and you are you,
what’s to become of me and you?
are we then we, instead of me and you, or you and me?
is that what you want us to be, we, and we, and only we
till there is no more you and no more me,
only we, more we, only we.
what is to be then if there is no more you and no more me?
can we survive as just we, if that’s what’s to be?
only we, how sad that might be,
or are you glad there is no more you and no more me?
only we, only we, only we.