Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Sept 2020


We're all inside looking out...

Our times are marked
By the ways we're staying
And the ways we're keeping
Others safe...
With masks and distance
And just plain staying home.

There's a vigilance
That comes with our
Like Kate's Batman, here,
We want to know
What's going on...
Out there.
We want to be
Out there...
And in the thick
Of it,
Whatever "it" is.

But we're stuck
In here contemplating
Our own versions
Of bugs and squirrels...
Of the smells of forbidden
Street food.

Wait! Is that a pigeon
About to land
On MY balcony????

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Aug 2020

Keeping my distance...

Spring has truly turned
Into a steaming summer
As attested to by
Colours bursting forth
Far and wide.
Online images show us
Tulip fields
Without us!
Parks and ponds
Without us!
Forests and glades
Without us!
And the blooms
Frolic unabated
In our absence.

Seems Mama Nature
Knows her part
And is splendidly keeping
Her show on the road...
With the ever-buzzy aid
Of some dusty-bottomed

Kate found this evidence
On the north side of her NJ home.
She says these clustered blooms
Remind her of a basket of
Playmobil flowers.
I see sunflowers, tulips,
And daffodils.
But what are these
Bee magnets called?
Do you have any clues?
The bee, of course
Doesn't care.

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

July 2020

Thinking today of Don Watt and the scope of just one visual message...

As most of you know, I was fortunate enough to work for Don Watt for several years at his Bayview studio here in Toronto. He was the unattributed designer of the Canadian flag. It's a symbol now recognized instantly everywhere and brings particular pride and unity to the people in this beautiful country. Don left us in 2009 and I'm still saddened, in particular at this time of year.

One summer while I was working for Don, he invited all of us and our families to his King City farm for a big afternoon of hanging in the sun, swimming in the pool, and eating juicy barbecue. I took my two grandsons, Lucas (then 4) and Jackson (then 6). Lucas was even wearing a shirt with a Canadian Flag on it.

I had borrowed Peter's car for the drive and on the way there I told the boys about how Don had designed that flag. Each time we saw a flag as we drove (and there were many), I pointed it out to them, saying, "There's another one of Don's flags. Look how one great symbol can make so many people proud."

Finally, Lucas said,"He must get very tired painting all those flags!"
"Yes, I did," said Don when I told him as part of introductions, "but every one was fun because I love seeing people enjoy my work."
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Thursday, May 28, 2020

June 2020

June is quietly considering busting out... maybe just a little...

.... or maybe June's just going to melt us all away. The air hangs thick and pungent. I visit the world from my 18th-floor eyrie and watch outside people (and their doggies) coming and going and distancing socially. I think that must be easy since there are not very many of them. I mostly can't tell from up here if the humans are wearing masks, but in my heart I believe they are. I haven't ventured out for more than 11 weeks now, but I have a couple of cloth masks ready for the "right time"... and supplies to make some more, should the mood (and momentum) discover me. Urgency is not a part of my equation.

But wishful dreaming is. I have a list of things to do once I'm liberated. I know that'll be in stages, but my list is for wishing, not planning... yet.

In the meantime, my balcony Buddha supervises my outdoor barre (aka balcony railing) exercises and my indoor tai chi and even some seated tap dancing—especially with Bojangles' birthday just past.

...and that reminds me...
San Antonio, Texas.
Over a half-century ago.
Listen... that's me practising
My tap dancing.
The music's Sweet Georgia Brown,
Sometimes in Dixieland
But most often a simple piano solo.
I can't remember who played.
But I do remember
The steps...
And I do remember
The smells.

I tap and tap
Change combinations
Ad infinitum.
Childhood home
Comes equipped with
Screened back porch.
Perfect practice room
Away from reading
And television-watching parents.
Here I can crank up
That music and
Tap with all my might.

Oh, yes,
I did mention Smells,
Didn't I?

Hot summer sun is filtred
Through live latticed walls of
Honeysuckle and Jasmine.
Vines are thick with tendrils
Intermingled with blossoms of
Unforgettable fragrances.

I tap and tap,
Wipe face
With towel that
Hangs 'round neck.
I gulp air filled
With sweetness
Stirred by breezes,
Where each gust mixes
Potion with
New variation on
Nectar's theme.

How can I describe
Maybe you've known
Maybe you've known
Have you known them

They smell of
Sun and
Dancing dust motes.
They smell of
Joy and movement.
They smell of
Nature's hopes
And promises.
They smell of
Effort to be better:
Quicker and slower.
Shuffles and flaps.
Turns and cramp-rolls and kicks.
Black tights.
Gold lamé Cuban heels.
Capezio taps.
They smell of
Sweaty terry cloth.
They smell of
Soft rustlings.
They smell of
Butterflies and
Oh yes,
And bees.
Of course.
They smell of
They smell of
Memories in my bones.

I'm showing you
Some of my memories here,
Evoked by smells past.
Just relax and drink them in.
This summer I invite you
To notice each day's smells...
To remember smells past
To find ways to enjoy...
And describe
Your smelliest summer ever.

The joy is still around us.

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Sunday, May 3, 2020

May the 4th

This month's red-letter day...

I know you know. Unpack and polish your light sabres, then relax with a margarita, or ten.

This month I've decided to give us al a little alternative calendar to use for a few days... just to get us unto the spirit of the times—or is that, the spirits of the time?

If you'd like to have this version for your own desktop for a few days, I've put the usual higher-resolution in the folder linked at the right.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Thursday, April 30, 2020

May 2020

Batman shows us how it's done...

Now, my friends,
Let’s let the earth breathe.
We can doze and stretch
Like Kate’s Batman
On his bright, bright, bright
Green chair
On a bright, bright, bright
Sunshiny day.
I think you can sometimes
Judge a book by its covers,
Especially when those covers
Look like these:
An embossed dust cover
Over a paperback cover!

Each day I open
One new page of
Béa Gonzalez rich book,
The Mapmaker’s Opera.
I’m reading it slowly
On purpose.

This is part of my work
As artist-in-residence,
Sequestered doyenne,
Locked-down grande dame,
Quarantined mémère,
Sheltered Nana-Bee.

As I finish reading each page
I stop and grab a pencil.
Circling a word here and there,
I find a poem
From Béa’s lush words
On her page.
Eventually, I will have read
And enjoyed
All her pages and
I’ll have a whole book
Of my own little found poems
Bound between
These glorious covers.

There is no deadline…
There is only process,

Here’s my Page 6:
     Heart diseases
     Hint of mockery,
     Parchment transformed
     By trembling names.
     Something secret…
     Years of mysteries,
     Once again.

And my Page 9:
     The red spot…
     Wait at the edges
     Of mortality
     Pause briefly.
     Oh! Hush!

Like Johnny and Jimmy said,
We can see clearly now
All obstacles in our way!
We’ll be ready to
Have our own
Bright, bright, bright
Sunshiny day.

Johnny Nash 1972

Jimmy Cliff 1993 (for movie Cool Runnings)

and this utter delight from Bobby McFerrin 2011


And about found poetry: Austin Kleon's Newspaper Blackout. NOTE: I have chosen to circle words in pencil instead of blacking out the unused words because this book is so beautiful and I don't want to let black ink bleed from page to page. I'm very disciplined, however. Once I've completed a page I will not go back and add words.

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April 2020

Just look at what the sun is bringing forth...

As many of us shelter in solitude,
Or cling together in personal situ,
Last month's promise of sunshine
Is unwrapping the way.

This is
Farley Hill National Park
In Barbados.
The 1818 mansion, setting for
Movie Island in the Sun, burned
The year I graduated from university.

It's perched atop a hill, overlooking
Both the Atlantic to the East
And the Caribbean to the West.

I think we all would like to
See life with a 360° perspective...
Only maybe we'd like our degrees
To be time-stamped.

This sun-drenched garden,
Glimpsed through long-abandoned windows,
Offers us all reminder

Of the sun's arc of promise.
And of Nature's determination
To renew...
To persist...

In the meantime, my friends,
I'll be watching from my balcony...
and thinking of you