Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Words Wonderful Words

Words wonderful words,
Wallowing in the wide spaces of my mind.
I Stumbled upon someone's blog
From somewhere in the world;
I read his poem and wept

With joy at the image
That the writer offered me
For free. No ads, no selling.
A gift
From the wonderful world
Of creative urges
And surges
Of the conscious and unconscious mind
Using only one little tool
With 26 parts:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Respect for Great Authors

I have great respect for writers from every part of the world and from every historical era. The idea that you can communicate your life thoughts, your stories, your opinions and your creativity through a complex display of 26 symbols has never ceased to amaze me. Books and authors have changed my life. I have been actually transformed from reading certain authors- Ayn Rand, Jack Kerouac, Eckhart Tolle, Walt Whitman, Margaret Laurence, J.R. Tolkien, J.K.Rowling, Tony Robbins, Hale Dwoskin, Wayne Dyer, etc.

I read fiction and non-fiction, Philosophy, Psychology, Self-Help, The Classics, Poetry, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc. etc. etc. Most authors will tell you if you want to be a good writer become a voracious reader- READ A LOT!!!

One of the authors I find particularly interesting is Walt Whitman (May31 1819- March 26, 1892- 72 years old) . I'm just beginning to read "Leaves of Grass" an epic poem by Whitman, about his life and experiences. It is a very famous book. Whitman is considered the father of American Free Verse (poems without rhyme/rhythm).  Students in the United States all study Walt Whitman in school.

He's considered to be an Essayist, a Poet and a Journalist. Many writers began as Journalists. Most writers have to do other kinds of work until their books make a living for them. All arts are like that, so if you want to ACT, WRITE, DRAW, DANCE, etc. expect to be a waiter or waitress or Tim Hortons' Drive Thru attendant before your rise to fame.

THIS is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou
lovest best.
Night, sleep, and the stars.   (Walt Whitman)

Walt Whitman had a vagabond lifestyle much like the Beat poets (Jack Kerouac (1950's). Whitman is claimed to be America's first "Poet of Democracy". "You can't really understand America wihtout Walt Whitman..." (Mary Costelloe)

Song of Myself
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. 

This is the first stanza of the first section "Song of Myself" from the poem "Leaves of Grass" 
What do these lines mean? Why begin his poem with them? Why do I use them in my subtitle?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Limerick

To all who are naturally gifted
My hat I have enviably lifted
They have their own path
That I search for in wrath
Oh, how it seems I have been set adrifted.

Limericks are fun and challenging because you have to fit them into certain structure and meaning format.

There was a young rustic named Mallory,
who drew but a very small salary.
    When he went to the show,
    his purse made him go
to a seat in the uppermost gallery.

There was a Young Person of Smyrna
Whose grandmother threatened to burn her*;
But she seized on the cat,
and said 'Granny, burn that!
You incongruous old woman of Smyrna!'  (Edward Lear)


The standard form of a limerick is a stanza of five lines, with the first, second and fifth usually rhyming with one another and having three feetof three syllables each; and the shorter third and fourth lines also rhyming with each other, but having only two feet of three syllables. The defining "foot" of a limerick's meter is usually the anapaest, (ta-ta-TUM), but limericks can also be considered amphibrachic (ta-TUM-ta).  (from Wikipedia)

For your first attempts stay true to the structure even if the meaning is off, just so you can practive the actual structure. Without the structure your Limericks don't work.

The Haiku

I follow #Haiku on Twitter. People all over the world contribute their thoughts and experiences through short 3 line poems using syllable structure:  5-7-5. Haikus are originally Japanese and they are both easy and offer wonderful insights into our human experience. They can be about anything (traditionally they have a nature theme). Haikus often have a juxtaposition of two ideas or images (juxtaposition is the placing of two things close together for effect.
Here are two EXAMPLES: 

My lips long / For the wetness of your touch / My dreams run dry (from Sahrazad528- Twitter)

Notice the contrast between wet and dry and how the dryness implies loss. Also notice that she didn't follow the syllable structure. Here is another. What is the juxtaposition?

Bird song signals dawn /Crickets chirp, cicada's whirl / Nature is noisy! (from josepf Twitter)

Here are some links:

Wikipedia (3 qualities of a haiku)

A good resource on Hakius with some famous Japanese poet masters.

Keep a journal of your haikus. Post your best ones on your blog. You could add a picture for effect- or make a poster with the haiku on the image. Use creative commons for copyright safety.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Who Am I?

In my grade 12 university English class one of the major themes of the course that recurs through the texts is the question, “WHO AM I” (“A Separate Peace”, “The Educated Imagination” by Northrop Frye, and “Hamlet”),
Of course, this is a philosophical question that reaches many levels: Who am I as an individual? Who am I as a productive person, a husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter, a Canadian, a westerner, a human being, a sentient being in the universe?
“Who am I?” is a question that is more worth asking than answering because as soon as we answer it we die in some way. Until we come back to the question of who I am, we have stopped growing, learning, we’ve stopped groping for new answers-we become hardened.  This is the paradox of life- answers are so wonderful until we realize they have a little death in them every time we get them. Somehow, paradoxically, we have to have answers and still hold the questions up to view and consider, new questions perhaps, but without those questions, you might just as well put me in a casket and incinerate me because I am already dead.
People who are so certain of the ways of the world, in any endeavor- they may even be the Tiger Woods of their subject- but if they hold such certainty they have stopped growing.
So the question of who I am continues and what I find fascinating is that while Hamlet questions himself within the context of his castle and his ‘family’ problems, and Gene and Finny define themselves through their coming of age and the mistakes they make as teenagers, today, in a web 2.0 world, our definitions of who we are extend to the entire world through what we blog, what we say, the quality of our ‘friends’ in social networking, the purposes we use the web for. What we are doing here defines us as much as anything.
‘Who we are’ is no longer our little personality in our little community. It must grow to be much more than that and our strengths and our weaknesses will become much more public than ever before- that is if you are willing to take the leap into the 21st century and join the online communities who are thinking through issues of today. What issues interest you? And how far will you stretch and grow and continue to ask: “WHO AM I?”

Thursday, August 11, 2011

“Where I Live”
I don’t live in the role of father;
Although I do.
I don’t live in the role of husband;
Although I do.
And I don’t live in the role of teacher or friend or son;
Although I do.
I live on the crest of the wave
That flushes out the space
Between what it means to live this life,
And my existence.

Because what it means to live this life is the ethical question
The devil and the little angel that rest their horns and wings
On my shoulders, and the question never goes away.

I live this life in the guttural the vocal the physiological
Obsessions and insecurities, addictions and disease.
I live this life in the real the moment the visceral
Guttural way that life sucks me up, spits me out
Makes me feel - in juxtaposition to death.

I don’t live life in a plain and ordinary way;
Although I do.
I don’t live life in the linear, dry working-stiff life;
Although I do.

I live where Hesse creates the Steppenwolf,
Where Conrad creates the heart of darkness,
Where Salinger creates the dead-and-lost Caulfield.
I live where I seek the space between knowing and not knowing,
Where I connect to something greater; yet feel disconnected most of the time.

I live in my mind and my heart. And sometimes people get it;
But most of the time they don’t.
I live on the crest of the wave that moves through time.
No reason- no rhyme.


As human beings, we think, we feel, and we take actions. That's it- simple, really. And as we think, we use words; and as we feel, we use words; and as we act, we use words. Words can take us to the heights of exhilaration and success- and they can take us to the depths of despair. One word spoken from another to you can have the power to build and connect; or, it can have the power to disconnect and destroy.

Learning how to use words is a lifetime experience. It never ends, and that is the challenge: to continue to learn and grow and change your words, your ideas, your thoughts your attitudes and your actions. If you're always open to change, you'll always be a student of life- you'll avoid getting 'stuck'. As a student of life,  you have a great responsibility: To find the words that will make yourself, and others, better.

Wordle: words

Towards a Definition of what it means to ” Learn”

Towards a Definition  of what it means to ” Learn”
If a Tree Doesn’t grow, it Dies
            Learning is the easiest, most natural experience humans can have. The only time problems occur is when we stop doing it. We can make mistakes, small ones like ignoring the sound coming from under the hood while driving; or big ones such as collectively dumping so much garbage into the oceans that the seas die. But as long as we can learn, we will always have a chance.
            If we strip everything away and think about learning as part of our natural experience we can see that there is the obvious ‘growing up’ which is fated learning (learning whether we like it or not) and then there is the learning which is for the most part optional- we can choose to grow or not. The areas of learning include childhood to adolescent to adult, learning skills, a trade a profession, learning about relationships, lovers, friends, relatives, and learning about self- who am I? Now, what would cause us to choose not to grow in any of these areas?
One answer to this question is: we would stop growing and learning if we thought we knew enough. If, in our learning, we came to the lesson that spoke to us and said: “insert your name, you have learned enough, you are a genius, you should stop pursuing knowledge and understanding and skills because you are perfect now at this age of insert your age.” On the one hand, we are perfect just as we are. No matter what age or what innocence or what ignorance, we are perfect where we are; otherwise, we would always be flawed or in need, and then we could never be satisfied and I don’t believe that is our natural state. If we are perfect just where we are, then what to do? Answer: learn.
"The best thing for being sad", replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds.
There is only one thing for it then - to learn."
T.H. White, The Once and Future King, 1939
            The education system came up with the motto. “Lifelong learning” a few years ago and yet once you are out of that system you might  be led to believe that learning is the most boring, contrived, closed minded system ever invented. It could scare people from ever entering another school again. So how do you reconcile the idea that learning is a natural and positive experience with the idea that learning is painful schooling?
            It’s a tricky business to facilitate a learning experience. There are so many variables, and for public education, everyone has to be accommodated. But we are humans and most of us who are adult, recognize the disconnect between what learning is and the education we experienced.
            Learning is an effort to understand ourselves, others, and the world we live in. It is also an effort to get better at things (skills). At the same time we are growing in knowledge and skills, we also have the capacity for meta-cognition, to think about our process for learning skills and knowledge.
            But no matter the path we take in terms of our learning, learning is one of the most natural, most pleasurable experiences we can have as thinking human beings.

Therefore I...

One Fine Night

I believe in some-thing
I believe in s-ome-thing
I believe in someth-ing
Some-thing good.

Universe ex-pan-ding
Universe ex-pand-ing
Universe e-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g

Universe in-fine- ite
Universe in-fine- nite
Universe in-fine-night

Universe e-tern-al
Universe a-tun-nel
Universe e-turn-all

I am a part of this thing
I am apart of this thing
I am a-part of this thing
This thing

Therefore I me ternal
Therefore I’m eternal
Therefore I meet turn all

Therefore I’m in-fin-nite
Therefore I min fine-nite
Therefore I’m in-fine-night
One fine night.

Variety of Poems


Swimming in the warmth
Comfortable in my womb.
Then some jerk disturbs me
And I enter the world.

Backyard 1

Life is the little bug
That lives under the bark,
As the red and white crested woodpecker
Picks and struts his music.

Life is a squirrel rummaging for food.
And the pieces of fallen bark that will make up his home.
Life is my daughter's voice that echoes in the distance.
Life is knowing that this will someday be gone.   Sunday April 24, 2011.

Backyard 2

Spring sun shines shimmeringly.
I don't deserve this.
Paradise in my backyard.
I must allow this to be.


I want to tell you a story
But I don't think I will
'Cause I don't think you deserve it.
You'll blame and you'll stew.

It's a story of forgiveness,
One might almost say grace,
Because the human it happened to,
Very nearly saved face.

But I can tell you he didn't get it
He killed someone that night
And the person he slaughtered
Had saved his life.

She cared for him and loved him
But he was lost in his role
And that night he finished it off
What was left of his soul.

The Buffoon

Let's face it, he helped no-one,
Sorry that's not true- he helped himself.
To a life of uncertainty
In a post modern world.

He wondered and thought, and thought and wondered.
Found a world without answers and answers without a world
Then slept with uncertainty, the whore of tomorrow.

The sky vibrates over his city
The stars say yes to whomever he is.

The sky says glory
The sky says grace
The sky says cold,
In this insignificant place.

The Existential Angst

Poem 1 Jan. 2010-01-31
The rub between living and meaning
A fight made up by me.
My cat doesn’t stress like this.
So why do I?

The friction between the day and the life,
Seeking for something more,
But, nothing more do I find
But another day closer-
 To worms meat.

Searching for meaning in this crazy world
Wanting something that doesn’t exist.
Meaning can be mean, said the lady of thought
Until you turn that meaning back to the moment,
And see,
The bliss of here and now.
Another challenge to be able to do.

Knowing that that’s all there is
Creates, the rub
Between living and meaning- The angst of existence.


Nothing to be Done

Nothing to be done
Nothing lost, nothing won
One road one life
Time and a choice
And the never ending
Of life within death-
And death within life.

And so I laugh
At the smiling moon
She’s pale- and weary
Of looking at me;
Yet, still smiling,
Watching me writhe and squirm,
A worm
About to be trod on-
Nothing to be done…

My Life in the Shade

My Life in the Shade
The light and the shade
Is the essential paradox
Two is always the nature
Of love and conflict
Two is always the flavour
Of yuck and mmm.

Every age, for the single human
And the single era
Probably the single eon,
There appears to be an
It’s me and you and you and me
It’s all the things that we can be
But aren’t

And I hope that before I die
I experience its opposite
The unnamed
The one.

Tom- March 5, 2010.

I Don't Want to Die on a Day Like This

I know what it means to die now
Thinking abstractly does not do it.
With only my words sitting in my yard, I begin to cry.
The May day of bloom and sun and beautiful daughter's,

And through my sun glassed sun drenched teary eyes
I see blue heavens sparkling through maples
And buds so young and green,
Witnessing life growing.

Birdsong is beautiful; but not like this.
Thinking about my time so imminent
I know what I see of my canoe and my daughter-
She's spraying and playing and tending the garden-
Is but a moment of forgotten time.

As I realize this, my heart aches to know I will lose this;
This moment- the ache of knowing what I will miss-
I don't want to die on a day like this.

Creepy Doll

 CREEPY DOLL (May, 2010)
When I was a little girl
My momma said to me
Daughter, don’t go to the basement,
There’s something I don’t want you to see.

Well, for a long time I didn’t go down there,
But then my cur-i-os-i-ty
Kicked in really strong-like,
And it got the better of me.

They say curiosity killed the cat,
And they say a cat has nine lives
I decided to go to the basement
And I carried with me two knives.

When I tried to turn the light on
It was broken at the switch.
So, I walked along in the darkness
And for a moment I noticed a witch.

It was a face that I saw in the dark
Not a witch but an ugly old doll,
Sitting on a box in the corner
Not looking at me at all.

A glimmer of light from the window
Showed me the head of that doll
And it showed a scar and a tattoo
And some blood had splattered the wall.

I laughed at my fearing that toy
A scarred up, dirty old doll’s head,
 Then it turned and gave me a smile
And laughed- this is what it said:

“Hello little girl, do you want to play?
We could go out and play in the sand.
Pick me up and take me upstairs
And, oh, give me that knife that you have in your hand.

I felt so very hypnotized
I gave it both of my knives
The doll used the knives. That night
Me and my mom lost our lives.

The new owners were cleaning the basement
They saw the blood on the wall

They tried to box up that little doll
And their bodies were never found at all.

The doll's name is Sabrina,
A cute little name it seemed
If you own a cute little doll,
Treat her very well indeed.