Thursday, April 2, 2020

2020 April PAD Challenge: Day 2

From Robert Lee Brewer's blog, Poetic Asides, "For today’s prompt, write a space poem."


Endless skies spill over the flatland
as far as any eye can see.  Some say
it’s all we really have on the prairies: 
wheat fields, space to build a life on.
Land leans in every direction, topples
forward to my children’s children,
backward to a sepia photo of great grandad
leaning his sweat-dampened brow
toward the Brownie camera to nod, smile,
before returning to the plough.

Endless space defines generational lines
of a prairie farming family.  How does
a distance of six feet overwhelm me now?

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

2020 April PAD Challenge: Day 1

From Robert Lee Brewer's blog, Poetic Asides, "For today’s prompt, write a new world poem."


I sit rigid and alone in fear,
wild thoughts barking in my mind.
What if the world is shrinking?
What if we are forced into smaller and
spaces where neighbours become concepts,
urgent needs are increasingly delayed,
ever tightening guidelines deployed
to navigate this new reality?

Will we survive? Who will be there
at the end of this


Perhaps, something entirely different
is unfolding and we, who
must go through the process,
have not yet opened our eyes.

What if we are simply sloughing off dead skin
from ourselves, letting go those aspects of
society, that no longer (perhaps never)
served us well?

Life has always been a paring knife.
We are being pared down,
our rough-edged society made smooth,
to fit within a new reality: 
only what is meaningful and profound
is demanded from our existence.

I sit rigid and alone in contemplation
hoping you are there to meet me

when I emerge from my cocoon.

Making Sense of Pandemic through Poetry

Nearly a full year has gone by since my last blog post, with last month alone feeling like the passage of five years over the span of four short weeks.  It's hard to wrap my head around all the confusion and uncertainty, moreover the fear that accompanies the unknown.  I'm sure I'm not alone in my apprehension.

Still, the silver maple tree in my backyard has provided its yearly gift of sap which I boiled down into a litre of liquid amber deliciousness, and flocks of Canada geese honking overhead remind me that spring is arriving on schedule.  Yes.  Despite a heavy snowfall warning issued for the next 48 hours, and directives to stay indoors and practice social distancing, Mother Nature is slowly making her benevolence known to us here in Winnipeg, Manitoba with daytime highs now reaching into the high single digits.  (That's above freezing for those unfamiliar with the Metric system.)  Is it any wonder why we Manitobans pride ourselves on being the heartiest of Canada's prairie folk?

And while April showers are still likely to arrive in the form of snow, the arrival of Robert Lee Brewer's, "Poem a Day Challenge" on his Writer's Digest blog, "Poetic Asides" most definitely warms my heart.  I am especially grateful this year for the daily prompts, and hope to use this exercise in writing to help me process all that is going on in the world around me, as I safely watch from a distance of at least six feet.

In preparation of day one of the challenge, I composed this poem last night.

Prelude to a Poem

Perhaps, this time tomorrow brighter skies
will lift this dull and aching mood I feel. A dread,
uncertain in its form,
has stalked me for days to quarantine all
sense of my creativity.
Housebound.  I sit with thoughts and fears
shed long ago like skin.

Outside, the wind blows fresh and strong
against my cheekbones.
Looking up, the swollen maple buds
shimmer in bold promise to burst wide,
crack open a whole new reality.
The geese in harmonious V’s sail by in
spring formation.

Perhaps, this time tomorrow inspiration will return.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Three Tanka

Today - a link to the Winnipeg Free Press special section celebrating National Poetry Month.  Twelve poems were chosen from an open call for submission.  Mine, Three Tanka, was published in Saturday's paper.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Beaver and Muskrat

April 7, 2019
Prompt- Jealousy

Beaver and Muskrat

There was a time in the beginning when Muskrat had
a fine flat tail, wide enough to sound a—Splash!—and
cause all other creatures of the pond and forest to stop
and look in his direction, and offer him a word of praise.

At this same time Beaver wore a straight and narrow tail,
quite like that of Brother Rat, whom no one cared at all
to watch as he scuttled about his business each night,
beady eyes hidden beneath leaf litter on the forest floor.

And, Beaver wanted that tail for himself!  He thought,
“My coat shines with the smoothest and most beautiful
fur, but no one stops to look at me as I build my dams.
If I had that fine flat tail, I would receive the attention

I deserve!” So, Beaver called out, “Brother Muskrat!
Dear little brother, come visit me in my dam so that
I can admire your fine flat tail!”  Once in Beaver’s dam,
Beaver begged and pleaded with Muskrat to trade tails

and would not let him leave until Muskrat finally agreed
to let Beaver wear his tail to see how it felt.  Immediately,
Beaver swam to the surface of the pond and slapped
his new tail hard against the water—Splash!—making such

a sound that all the other creatures noticed, and wind carried it
all the way to the human village a long distance away.  The
men of the village said, “Let us go to see what creature makes
this sound!” and when they arrived at the pond to see Beaver,

with his most beautiful shiny fur and fine flat tail they said,
“Beaver’s coat is the finest we’ve seen.  We must use his fur
to adorn our parkas and mukluks and keep us warm at night!”
So they laid traps, and that was the end of Beaver’s jealousy.
                                           —based upon an Ojibwe legend

Saturday, April 6, 2019

April 6, 2019

Prompt - After _______

After All

After the airplane landed we watched
the Indian Agents with their lists go
walking to the village, and we sent
our children to hide down by the lake
where the young saplings grow thick
saying, “do not come back until it is
dark, after these men have left.”  We
saw our children go instead to the dock
where sweets were handed out and
children who were good could fly
like an eagle In an airplane and after, 
come back home for dinner.
It was silent in the village after the
children left, and after that, there was
nothing after all.

Friday, April 5, 2019


April 5, 2019 - prompt is to write a "Stolen" poem


These are not my words, not my voice
that speaks them.  No longer can I hear
the songs my mother sang, collecting
berries for the pemican she’d make
when winds turned cold, skies churning.

My moccasins have disappeared.  My
feet no longer feel the land beneath them.
I dance no more to drumbeats and I fear
that Mother Earth herself has died without
Her heartbeat carried by the drummers.

If I were to find a stream or river, I would
look to see if my reflection still remained.
Perhaps that, too, has disappeared.  I’m
nothing but a spirit left behind, afraid to
walk among the dead who still reside here.

Emily Carr

April 4, 2019 - the prompt was to chose the name of a painter as the title of the poem

Emily Carr

Big Raven stands on ancient lands.
The skies fly down to meet him and
vegetation curls round his pillar feet.

He watches as the village empties,
the children led away to schools far
from home where mother tongue’s

forbidden.  Forgotten are the early
days of the world, when Trickster
Raven transformed the earth—look—

how his black eyes shine with curious
knowledge and mischievous  intent!
But, even Raven could not save the

people of the village. Once messenger
between the realms of spirit world
and ours, now Raven stands transfixed

within the paintings he inhabits.  Are
portals reaching back through time her
calls? The times that Emily warned of? 

Her calls received too late, too late, to
call, too late to call, too late to caw, too
late to caw, to caw, to caw, caw, caw.

Running Wild

April 3, 2019 - the prompt for today was to write an animal poem

Running Wild

Dogs run wild here,
casting aside ten thousand years
of domesticated design for
the comfort and companionship
found amidst another species—us.

Instead, they prefer to pretend
they are wolves once more,
running in packs
through the Boreal forest
and across the school playground.

They are misguided in their quest
for wildness, misreading our
intentions toward them.  We,
who first enticed them by our fires
to lay beside us at night,

cannot have our children mauled
by creatures who no longer
serve our purpose.
Signs are posted at the band office:
Dog shoot Saturday.

Bingo Night

April 2, 2019 - the prompt for this piece was to write either a best or worst case scenario.

Bingo Night

Tonight is bingo night here ‘cause
everyone’s trying to raise money for something
and me, I’m just trying to win some cold, hard cash.
So turn on the radio, pour me a beer—
God knows I can use the dough.  If I’m lucky
maybe not too many people are tuning in tonight
‘cause I could sure use some cold, hard cash.

Tonight’s jackpot is $25,000 in cold, hard cash
and God knows I can use that dough, so if
I pray hard enough, maybe I’ll get lucky this time.
Buy me a new skidoo with that kind of money.
Take it out on the river and do some ice fishing,
down there near the bridge, where little Dante
went through the ice and never came back.

We were playing bingo that night, too, ‘cause
someone’s always trying to raise money for something
and there’s never enough cold, hard cash around.
God knows the school needs work, so there’s always
fundraising going on down there, but that don’t matter
too much to me since Dante’s not in school now.  God
knows I can use that dough, so maybe I’ll be lucky.

I’ll buy me a new skidoo with that cold, hard cash.
Take it out on the river and do some ice fishing
down there near the bridge, and maybe I’ll hear
little Dante calling for me.  I’ll just slip in and get him,
if I do.  And if I don’t win that jackpot tonight, I’ll
listen in tomorrow, ‘cause tomorrow is bingo night, too.
Everyone’s trying to raise money for something.

Early Morning Flight North

I've been away so long!  A full year has elapsed since last I posted any new poems...  Thankfully, the calendar page is once again turned to April, which just happens to be National Poetry Month!  There may be lots of things going on in my life that get in the way of my writing, but nothing stops me from celebrating NPM and participating in a Poem a Day challenge!  The first five poems this month have been written while I was away working up North.

April 1, 2019
The prompt for this poem, "write a morning poem", happened to arrive at 5:30am as I was sitting in the Perimeter Aviation terminal waiting for my flight.  I almost feel I cheated with this;  it's more observation than poetry.

Early Morning Flight North

You’d never know by looking at us,
swaddled in our down parkas, wool toques and scarves,
eyelids still heavy with sleep from the warmth of a car ride,
but we are all awake as we sit
hunched and silent
awaiting our northern flights.

Some of us are returning home. 
Yesterday’s doctor appointment.
The passing of an elder.
A nephew’s court appearance.
The Jet’s last home game of the season.
These are the reasons that brought us to the city.

Some of us are leaving home.
A 10-day shift at the nursing station.
Another school needs consultations students.
An attorney with Legal Aid is meeting with four new clients.
A water treatment facility needs another replacement part.
These are the reasons why we fly into the North.

We board 16-seat commuter planes that fly to communities
with names like:
Garden Hill/St. Theresa Point,
God’s Lake Narrows, and
Tadule/Lac Brochet.

Most of us will sleep on our flights, hoping to find
high ceilings with minimal crosswinds,
someone to meet us,
transportation from the airport, and
a bed to sleep in
when we get there.

These mornings when we sit in the air terminal,
hollow cheeked, sallow skinned with eyes half-closed,
you’d never know it, but we are all wide awake
as we view our own lives in transit,
broken down into primordial elements,
and packed neatly in our carry on.

2020 April PAD Challenge: Day 2

From Robert Lee Brewer's blog, Poetic Asides, "For today’s prompt, write a space poem." Acreage Endless skies spill over the...