The Shirts

These shirts show signs of wear and tear,
The collars frayed, the cuffs rubbed bare.
I see the signals everywhere.

I see them in my mind like doom.
They float like ghosts upon the loom.
I slip them on like skin, perfume.

I'll have the collars turned before
I fold them neatly in the drawer.
Perhaps they'll look like new once more.


© Glen Fisher

Clouds – A Poem

A boy lies on his back
looking at clouds. Only
he is not looking, he is
up there with them, up
where they slide and collide
mysterious as fate
insubstantial as air.

I have not seen clouds
in sixty years, until
today - there, overhead, in the blue
sky that scrolls and unfolds -
there, where they always were.

©

A Poem for my Dad

The Saw

Hold this, my father said,
Meaning the board he was cutting
For another project he would never finish.
The silver-toothed saw snickered and whined.

It was his way, I guess,
Of reaching out. I saw nothing at all,
A small boy who wanted only
To go out and play.

© Glen Fisher

Botanical Gardens

From the Lost Poetry Project

This Sunday morning constitutional
finds us traipsing across the stubby field,
over the earthen wall of the dam
where a couple of Egyptian geese meditate
or drowse in a circle of brown water.
We rise toward the morning light, 
climbing toward trees, seeing the rolling
grassy joins and planes of the Botanical Gardens
lay themselves out like an architect's drawing:
the pencilled city an imagined hum
on the horizon.
                           Marching along, one eye
on the roving dog. Uniformed plovers in a line
keep watch amid a few tall blades of grass.
Two break away, yapping, running decoy.
We crest the hill; pausing to draw breath, 
to look back. This is the way that we
have come. This is where we are.

The sky reaches, hazy, poignant,
over our heads. The sky today is the 
delicate, light-filled blue I remember
as a small boy plunging my arm into the salt
shock of the rock pool, grasping for starfish,
anemones; or hunting with a muslin net
bound with wire to a length of knotty bamboo
or pale dowel for snail-green fish that
flicked through watery weeds. I remember too
the blue eye, tender, all-seeing, that peered
through shimmering leaves, onto a circle of grass
in Newlands Forest, onto white knees,
skirts, a girl's arms and lips and face:
the marvel of trusting flesh and
miracle of first love.
                                   The boy that I recall
is not the same man who pauses near you, here.
Perhaps the light is different, after all. 
The Botanical Gardens, in this mild sunlight, 
stretch before us like a tracing; the contours,
the trees, the cyclists and walkers,
the stilted plovers, the quiet open spaces,
a sketch only, the colours implied. And we, also,
stand in a harder light. Trial and error
have taught us that some things
can not be shared between us, can not be said.
Some things, we've come to accept, 
are not - are possibly never - to be. And yet,
yet the light moves me, this soft bright
autumnal morning; the boy reminds me.
Lost in our thoughts, we gaze out, separate -
but, inevitably and still, joined together
by the passing years: responsibilities, children, 
laughter, friendship, tears.
                                              The wind stirs.
I turn, as if some presence urges. As if the sky
is hurling meteor showers, cosmic dust, asteroid fragments.
But then, without a word being spoken, our feet
have found the path again. Some subject occurs:
your voice beside me as I go, and other voices calling.


Two photographs, and a poem

If I have been remiss lately in posting my photographs, here are two images from an ongoing series on rural Ontario, with the promise that there will be more to follow.

And just to mix things up, here is a teeny weeny poem from my Lost Poetry project.

Words and pictures, folks, words and pictures!

The Gift

Let me wake within your eyes
And sleep again in your safe arms,
Free from the terrors of surprise
Protected from all worldly harms:

I swear your love, with its strong powers,
Will raise a man so joyful, true,
He'll charm the desert into flowers
And give the sun and moon to you.

Lost Poetry Project – Two Pomes

The Road We Travel

I think about the road we travelled,
How it all seemed so serene -
The sun shone down, like no tomorrow,
On timeless hills and fields of shimmering green.

Yet there was work to do, and cares to manage,
Your sick child never really out of mind.
This journey too would end, no matter -
We understood, and still the world seemed kind.

This was forever - as if we knew
Nothing could harm us, there'd be no blame;
The love we shared, whatever happened,
Be unconsumed by flood or flame.

Your sleeping spirit, trusting, still,
Lay in my care throughout that night.
Thankful, when the morning brightened,
I saw you turn toward the light.
Speaking of Love

I say these words
In place of touch,
For things unsaid
Or dreamed too much:

For finding love
And learning 'wait',
And knowing words
Like love, are fate.

Lost Poetry Project

Once upon a time – it was a dark and stormy night, as I recall, my poor heart in turmoil, my tongue let loose upon the world in verse and worse – once upon a time, when I was younger, quite a lot younger in fact, and of course much less sensible than I am now, now when I think and talk mostly in prose, I was a writer of pomes, long and short, a few of them published, in little (very little) magazines but most of them – not that there are many – folded in darkness, and to all intents lost.

But now, as I sort through boxes of old letters, photographs, scribblings, mementos, the big clean-up in preparation for our return to Toronto, a fistful of old poems have resurfaced. Some of them I think had best remain in the cupboard, and a few, for the sin of bad writing, belong in the dustbin. But there are a few – just a few – that I might allow out, for a spin down the driveway or a night at the ball, before midnight strikes and the party is over.

I call this the Lost Poetry Project, and here is a modest first instalment.

Matisse's Painting of a Nude

In Matisse's painting of a nude
the woman sits with her back to us,
arms lifted up, doing her hair.
Paint moulds her body; it is as if
Matisse's fingers, without a brush,
by pure feel, have touched
and shaped her into life.
Domesticity and love: her tender
curves, her weight, sturdy
yet delicate - the intimacy
and trust of a moment held forever
in Matisse's mind.

Feeling her presence, stillness,
almost imagining her scent,
I realise it is not the painter
who has shaped the girl - 
it is she who has filled his heart,
moulded thought and feeling into one,
and projected herself there.

So this year
rises in my mind: everything
you have said, gesture, touch,
inhabits these spaces
and re-creates you here.

Did I know then it was over?

That long-ago moment
in a hotel corridor –
a woman’s soft mews and a man’s
blunt panting. My own life
suddenly unraveled,
undone by this happiness.
Or by no more than a mutually
satisfactory encounter, a moment
stolen behind a thin painted door.
Until the couple stopped
whatever they were doing.
A sudden silence
and I moved quickly on.

African Fish Eagle

This was not one of those
Swooping soaring
Photo opportunities, you know,
Where the bird glides in from
Stage left and
Exits beautifully
To the right
With a pristine
Pink and silver
Salmon or something
A missile ready to launch
From its claw
Flakes of morning light
Falling from its not yet barbecued
Flesh.

This was murder, a brawl in the shallows
Which ended badly
For the thrashing creature in the water
Which had not started it
But for a moment there I thought
Could have drowned the fish eagle
Dragged it under.

I must have shot
Twenty pictures
Intent on the action, thinking of
Flickr, of the prints
I would make. Only after
Did I see what had happened.
There was drama, certainly,
Struggle, death.
The bird had to eat, and the fish
Grubbing about in the mud or slime
Had no idea
How its world would instantaneously
Flip upside down.
They make a good series,
Those images, nonetheless.
I am happy to show them.

The morning light fell in flakes on the deck
That overlooked the bend in the river.
We are leaving here, I thought.
We won’t see this again.

Pomes, unfamous ‘cos unknown

Then there are the poems – pomes, John Lennon called them – which are unfamous by definition, since they never were published, or submitted for publication.

This is a conceit, of course – these poems like their published cousins would doubtless be languishing in the same dry obscurity even if they had been published. Still, it’s a nice point to make – you know, I coulda been champion of the world!

Here’s one of them.

The Journey

Some journeys are a metaphor, and this

Just past, continues in my mind.

It’s true, we’ve travelled down this way before,

But love sees more when love is blind.

 

The journey outward seemed like a return.

Once in the air, our thoughts turned south.

Though coming home was leaving all again,

I touched your knee, and longed to kiss your mouth.

 

We both knew better. But who cared?

Time heals, it seems, but does not cure.

A different kind of truth was bared.

We said goodbye, but wanted more.

 

My darling, though you are not mine,

My journey has a different aim:

To leave until you give the sign

That brings me to your heart again.