Swimmer

Swimmer
I had been treading water

for far too long,
when all I wanted to do
was swim
Head and shoulders
above the surface,
scanning the horizon,
 for a life beyond him
Sometimes, just floating,
motionless, on my back
Alone with my thoughts,
staring into the sky
Worrying, wondering,
can I move on? 
Still not quite sure,
but I know I must try

Standing near the edge,
I look for my place
I am in no hurry,
unsure of my needs
It’s natural to hesitate
with the unfamiliar
I search the shallows,
leery of the weeds
I want to get going
away from the past, 
somewhat certain
I am over that hump.
When the time is right
I will find the spot
I will get in for my swim,
but I will not jump

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Sticking one foot in
to test the water,
I am tempted to dive,
but mindful of my haste
Wading into the unknown,
both cautious and curious
Safer to get in slowly,
just up to my waist
The farther I venture,
the deeper I will get
The calmer the current,
the more risks I’ll take
In the waves of my worries
it seems like the ocean
When I rise above it,
I will see it’s a lake

There is so much of life
that I still want to feel
So much about living,
that I still want to know
Strong and steady,
I swim into the distance
The less I look back,
the further I’ll go
Buoyed by my family
and a lifeline of friends,
I am content where I am,
but searching for more
Rough waters behind me,
I look toward my future
If I see love on the horizon,
I will head for that shore

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Past

“So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light…
Just promise me we’ll be alright
But the ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue
But we’ll live a long life
And the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we’ll live a long life”
‘Ghosts That We Knew’
– Mumford & Sons


Past

I took a chance
and let you into my heart.
I let all of my feelings show.
Uprooted my life,
for me and you,
but little did I know.


I discovered your wounds,

written in your own words,
there, for anyone to see.
Cuts and bruises,
vital accumulation,
scars, that you never showed me.

The breadth of your struggles,
so much I didn’t know,
spread across my screen.
Instead of in my mind.
Instead of in my heart,
where they should have been.

I took your determination,
for never again,
as a personal affront.
Your learned defensive posture
as harsh belligerence,
 you just being you, being blunt.

Your fierce independence
was stubborn vulnerability.
Your frustration, was our fate.
The voice of your experience,
sad and specific,
finally heard, but far too late.

I would have tried harder
to let you speak to me,
to let your words get through.
I could have helped you 
confront your demons,
instead of confronting you.

 It became impossible
to live with you
when you wouldn’t let me in.
Hard for us
to start over,
with nowhere to begin.

Had I only known
 the slippery slope
  of dealing with your past.
Known that I would struggle
to wade through
the depths
and dangers of your doubt.

I still would have wanted you.
I still could have loved you.
I would have understood.
I could have pulled you out.


I chose the challenge,

and gave you my heart.
Let all of my feelings show.
Uprooted my life,
to be with you,
but little did I know.


If only I had known,
I could have earned your trust.
I would have opened up my mind.
Instead, I read of our demise,

   determined before we met,
 by those you left behind.

Takers, martyrs, bullies,
sad and hurtful people,
there on my screen.
Instead of in our talks.
Instead of in my thoughts,
where they should have been.

 Until I read it,
I never once heard you 

refer to your mother as
Mom.
In fact, I barely knew
where all of the hurt
and resentment
were from.

Never could I picture, you,
together with your ex.

Made no sense to me at all.
And, until I read the name,
  typed in bold hostility,
I had never heard of Paul.

Bitterness and bravado.
 Broken pieces of the past,
clenched inside your fist.
   Our time, our spirit,
spent fighting with your ghosts.
One more added to the list.

It’s tough to share
with someone
who barely gives.
Hard to live
with someone
who reluctantly lives.

Had I only known
the bleak history
of your emotional pain.
The depths to which
those before me
had sunk inside your mind.
I still would have wanted you.
I still could have loved you.
I would have understood.
I could have been more kind.

I gave you my heart.
Had I only known…

 

 

Dinner

20170801_104703
Dinner

I will raise a glass tonight
and drink to you.
Red wine with dinner
or, perhaps, a cold beer.
I will imagine,
as I sometimes do,
what it would be like
if you could still be here.

The wonderful comfort
of a family gathering.
A backyard barbecue
or, perhaps, a dinner out.
I will remember,
as I often do,
all the little things
that this life is about.

The simple satisfaction
of a table set for many.
Candles on a birthday cake
or, perhaps, an apple pie.
I will look around,
as I usually do,
feel extremely fortunate
and know exactly why.

Tonight, I will say a few words
in honour of you Norm.
Break bread with your granddaughters
and, perhaps, toss a salad in a bowl.
Sit at the head of the table,
as I proudly do,
as a kind and giving father 
content in his role.
—————
You would be eighty-five today,

if you were with us.
There is one less table setting
so, perhaps, you are not.
But we celebrate you today,
as we always will,
because this birthday meal
gives us food for thought.

 

Hip

 

 

If this is it,
then so it shall be.
I want you to know,
it means a lot to me.

                        

                       Hip
Lining up at the campus pub

1985, a cold stubby in my hand
Doors would eventually open
No cover, for a cool cover band
Some suggested Jim Morrison
Felt more like a Rolling Stone
A mix of B-sides and originals
The hip vibe, definitely their own

A different stage, Lakeview Manor
People from miles around
A fan base that had grown
Along with their singular sound
An E.P and a break-through
Up To Here, and it was time to go
As good as each next album was
It was more about the live show

Passing on some arena gigs
Four of us, in my father’s car 
Five and a half hours south
The Hip experience, in an unhip bar
Taking a break from winter
With our Canadian content in tow
Sharing our rock n roll landscape
With those who might not know.

A slice of our identity
A uniquely Canadian sound
Taking our reciprocal pride
and passing it around

No matter where this life takes you
it’s good to know
that you can always come home…
Back to your family and your friends
with stories of where you’ve been
To the harmony of your hometown
To where you always begin
Accompanied by the music of your life,
that defines you from within.


Outside at The Forum, August ’93

Bigger stage, overflowing crowd
The same electric atmosphere
For the appreciative and proud
Reconnected with a great friend
Gary and Hodgie, the Queen’s years
Kingston to Toronto, and back
A hug, The Hip, and a couple of beers

A common thread of identity
The words, drums, the guitars
Intimate and intertwined
under a constellation of stars


Fast forward 25 years, Ottawa

Tailgating, second to last show
We are raucous, we are ready
Inspired by what we know
A brave, triumphant journey
Our home and our native land
Man Machine Poem, and mutual respect 
The storyteller, their crowd, this band

It’s not about patriotic pathos
It’s a celebration, for 30 plus years
It’s new songs mixed with older
Rhythmic recollection, maybe a few tears
It’s whole cities of support
An entire country, and its heart
Lyrically linked, together as one
Joined at the Hip, from the start.

The strength of our identity20170731_185540
The pulse of a nation
A Tragically Hip tune
on a radio station

No matter where the music takes you

it’s good to know
You can always come home…
Back to those perennial seeds,

the ones you chose to sew
Firmly planted, in hometown soil
The seeds that helped you grow
Pride, a poet, and a band of brothers,
home for one more show.

Last night…     

A front row seat in Port Perry
It’s Scotty, Tim, Peter and me
A musical postcard from Kingston
The Tragically Hip, in a pub, for free
Honoured guest at a party for all of us
August 20, 2016, a tall pint, a toast, a sip
A thoughtfully wrapped three-hour gift
To Canada, with love, from The Hip.


If that was it,
then so it shall be.
I want you to know,
it meant the world to me.

Thank you.
            G.G.
Kingston, ON
August 21, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ascend

ASCEND
I thought that I was strong

and focused
and wise
Then pain came along
and clouded my eyes
Feb. 3rd.
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Physical pain
with its fists
with its knife
The singular beat downs
and the double life

Bravely buried face
belying its agony
denying its control
Digging myself deeper
into a cavernous hole

Psychological pain
with its depression
with its doubt
The sinking in
and the lashing out

Dirty dark delusion
outside of my head
inside of my gut
The filthy depths
of my rotted rut

Emotional pain
with its superiority
with its second face
The nightly bring downs
putting me in my place

Soiled sullen eyes
unable to sleep
unwilling to see
The smudge of support
lying with me


I thought that I was alone

with my pain
and my compromise

Then healing arrived
to lift up my eyes
Sun for Every

Holistic healing
with healthier habits

without the medication
A stairway between me
and my situation

Patience plus purpose
in a manner of time
and a matter of space
An unobstructed view
from a loftier place

Professional healing
with nothing to lose
with everything to gain
A lucid escape
from my pit of pain

Calm cleansing clarity
sure answers
assured absolution
A clean break
from all of the pollution

My healing family
all of the conversations
none of the demanding

A tower of compassion
and understanding

Brightened blue eyes
able to dream
ascending to see
A horizon of hope
in front of me

 

BOUNDLESS

                    
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BOUNDLESS  (for Anna)

A limitless future 
  as vast as the sky
A reachable distance
when you dare to try


Attainable goals

  as close as they are high
Boundless potential

  and the reasons why…


You are intelligent

and you are strong.
You easily distinguish
the right from the wrong.

You are ambitious.
You are dedicated.
Your work ethic prevails
when you are underrated.

You are athletic
  and you are kind.
Your distinct determination
  is both body and mind.

You are confident.
You are sincere.
You will be more than ready
when your time draws near.

You are talented
and you are brave.
You’ve earned this opportunity
through the effort you gave.

You are motivated.
   You are mature. You are wise.
You will surpass your goals 
  to no one’s surprise.


It is all yours for the taking

  Who you are, Anna, is the reason why
Boundless and limitless
So reach for the sky

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Answer

              Answer

When am I the happiest?                     Family25-5x7
When I am with you.
What is the most fun?
The things that we do.
Sports and travel.
Laughter. Games.
Family and friends.
Daughters. Names.
Anna Kate
      and
Erin Elaine.
The answer is always the same.

The source of my contentment?
As clear as can be.
Love and time and us.
Happy Every Day to me.

 

Rain

           RAIN

I open my window,
a crack,
just to hear you
You have this way,
a knack,
when I’m near you
I close my eyes
and listen 
Imagine the leaves,
their glisten
You relax
and you sooth me
You inspire
and you move me
You put
my mind
at ease
As you breeze
through
the trees
The rhythm
of your tears
It’s music
to my ears
The breath
of a sigh
As the clouds
gently cry

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I open the curtain,
the blind
Open my heart,
my mind
I see your
scattered flight
Framed
in morning light
You relax
and you sooth me
You inspire
and you move me
You change
my mood
in an instance
You wash
my worries
to the distance
The tranquility
of the scene
Sprinkles
on my screen
The essence
The refrain
My affinity
for the rain

 

 

Free

Free

April 8th.

At long last,
I can breathe.
Fill my lungs
with hope
with exuberance
with fresh optimism
Enough of
the incessant reminders
No more
of her suffocating grief
I exhale
only contentment
Breathe only
a sigh of relief

At long last,
I can think.
Open my mind
for creativity
for revelation
for honest expression
Free from
the condescending paralysis
Away from
her sickening superiority
I speak volumes
only for myself
Think clearly
as sole authority

A long last,
I can look.
Cast my glance
to tomorrow
to possibilities

to cloudless horizons
See beyond
the judgemental glare
See past
her irrational ways
I focus
only to the future
Look forward
to my everydays


At long last,

I can breathe.

At long last,
I can think.

At long last,
I see.

At long last…
just be


 

 

Fortitude

Fortitude
From father to father,
and friend to friend,
I send you thoughts
I can barely comprehend.

I have been reticent
and respectfully hesitant
to send my thoughts,
any thoughts, your way.
Because, for the first time,
perhaps first time ever,
I simply could not find
any words to say.

After laboured rumination,
days spent distracted,
with all of your family
weighing on my mind,
feeling extremely selfish
and somewhat irresponsible,
I will attempt to express
thoughts I’ve managed to find.

As a distant friend
it would be remiss,
and inadequate,
to send you my love.
If I was a believer
I could send a prayer,
deferring my sentiments
to someone up above.

I have no wisdom
to pass on to you,
no innate answers
that I can honestly give.
It’s an experience
that I have never had,
and one, that no one
should ever have to live.

You already know 
we send our condolences,
and we know you have family
for a comforting hug or a soothing kiss.
So, as my tear touched sentences
gain their momentum,
the least that I can do
is to let you know this.

We have read the resilient words
that you have shared,
have great respect for your fortitude
in the face of such pain.
We’ve seen the positive approach
that you have displayed,
the cascade of beautiful memories
and there affirming refrain.

Pictures of a young life
well-lived, always to the fullest,
by a vibrant young man
who seems exceedingly wise.
Smiles and great experiences,
friends and family, and life,
images of dedication, and pride,
seen through his father’s eyes.

We admire, from our distance,
your immense courage, and resolve,
as you lead by example,
for those also exceedingly sad.

The best representation of a parent
and a dedicated husband,
the brave face of a grieving family,
the embodiment of a caring Dad.

Seeing this fortitude in you
provides us all with inspiration,
with the stark realization
that we must cherish every day.
And, what I realize now is,
that the most important thing,
is not what we have to offer you,
but rather, what we can take away.

Thinking of your love, and loss
makes me want to give my all,
recognizing a perspective
that I should have embraced before.
When I see your stance,
representing such strength,
I am inspired to be stronger
and to love life just that much more.

Whenever I get down
I will climb right back up,
look at my little problems
with the appropriate perspective.
Will take the time to notice
the warmth that surrounds me,
to understand how lucky I am,
whenever I feel reflective.

Every time I feel the impulse
I will give my daughters a hug,
holding on to it, and them,
just a little longer.
I will tell them, far more often,
just how much I love them,
with a renewed certainty,
which is just that much stronger.

And, I will never use distance
as a lazy, convenient excuse,
because when time is so tenuous,
it should never be a bother.
This is a promise I intend to keep,
in honour, of both you and your son,
as I draw upon your fortitude
to be a better friend, and father.

Father to father,
and friend to friend,
my words barely touch
the respect that I send.


Fortitude
– 
courage in pain or adversity:

synonyms: courage · bravery · endurance · resilience · mettle
In memory of Ricky Davies
(1993-2016)

 

 

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