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…

 

 

Shallow

Shallow
So many faces,
just this week.
Most of them
are but a blur.
Flashing by me,
as I refuse.
Pausing, briefly, 
as I concur.

At my computer,
sitting in judgment.
Picking and choosing
on a casual glance.
Swiping my phone
past faceless heads.
If there’s no photo,
you miss your chance.

I thumb my way 
through someone’s hopes,
the honest submission
  of a lonely soul.
Personal insights,
for my perusal.
Wishful thinking,
under my control.

One, of every thirty,
manage to satisfy
my shallow criteria,
my superficial need.
The rest, apparently,
are unimportant.
Carefully chosen words, 
I can’t be bothered to read.

How many times,
just today,
did some decent person
do the same to me?
Drift on by,
with their own standards. 
This dude is too old.
I don’t like what I see.

Fair is fair,
as they say.
It’s a two-way stream.
To each, his or her own.
We both may have missed
a hell of a catch.
Two more thrown back,
into the great unknown.

Okay, so…

Attractive picture,
check mark.
Lives fairly close,
there’s two.
The requisite interests
and required numbers.
Yes. You’ve been chosen,
hurray for you.

Now we begin
the message game.
Spurting out sentences
to lure a reaction.
With honest intentions
I revisit her disclosure.
I extract her own words,
for her satisfaction.

We both have kids 
to brag about.
Claim to like music,
so there’s that.
Slowly, painfully slow,
we find out more.  
The more we find out,
the more we chat.

Back and forth,
we give, we take.
It’s serious business,
  when it should be fun.
Often left dangling
by my own line.
Hooking my ego
to the last one.

Finally, exhausted,
I cast out an invitation,
thankful we are done
discussing the weather.
Patiently, I await
her obvious response.
After all of this typing,
we’ll be getting together.

It’s Thursday for drinks,
we both took the bait.
Some candid conversation,
our next place to start.
We’ve gone this far,
through uncharted waters.
A first date might be
the easiest part.

 

 

 

 

 

Hatred

                HATRED 
Hate came to town today
dressed in white supremacy.
Neo-Nazi indignation,
Anti-Semitic ugliness,

masked and marching,
in a cavalcade of the obtuse.
A mounted symbol of slavery
deployed as a lightning rod.
A rusted relic, a reminder,

as a spark for uncivil unrest.
A statue of limitation,
disguised as a pointed excuse.

Steaming cauldrons
of racist contempt.
Trumped-up tension,
rocking violently,
teetering, on the thin lever
of our deepest fears.
Boiling vessels
of blood and bigotry.
Hatred and ignorance,
spilling over,
scalding our common decency,
after simmering for eight years

Hate came to town
waving a confederate flag.
White bred nationalism,
with automatic weapons,
carrying the Klan torch,
still lost in the dark.
Unwilling and unable
to see the light of today.
From candles and smart phones
to the pall of burning crosses.
Taking America back,
in Emancipation park.

Right-wing extremity
for all the world to see.
A car, used as a weapon,
driven by intolerance.
Four wheeled empowerment,
the basest depths of cowardice.
A century and a half
of deep-seated contempt.
Hatred and ignorance,
a stark picture of America,
still in black and white.

Tell me, please, what year is this?

Hate came to Charlottesville
and the president was indifferent.
Splitting thinning hairs,
divided by his loyalties,
shrugging off responsibility
like a coward in the fray.
Puny, meagre condemnation
on a historical, immoral stage.
Commander of the white alt-right,
placing blame “on many sides”,
simply walked out of the room
on this dark and dire day.

 

Brusque

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Brusque

Opinions, for the ears of everybody
Words, of a mind for only one
You talk and you talk a good game
When, actually, you have none
A misplaced sense of self-importance
Confident, to the point of delusion
Constantly rubbing people the wrong way
A reality, wrapped inside an illusion

What colour is the sky in your world?
Does the sun only shine when you’re in it?
Is the planet lonely with just the one person?
Does it only turn when you spin it?

An endless list of those you’ve alienated
Astounded, by your condescending tone
An ego, that pierces the thickest of skin
Daggers, from a mind all your own
Common denominator to many problems
Divisor, for those who cross your path
You are 100% certain, and 90% wrong
Little remains, when you do the math

What colour is the sky in your world?
Is it grey and spattered with dots?
Do you ever get to see the sunlight?
Is it overcast, clouded by your thoughts?

You ride in on your high horse
Give the royal wave to all you pass
Those who don’t acknowledge you
Can just kiss your royal ass
You share a seat with your superiority
Oblivious to the ooze that you spill
Sitting smugly beside your judgement
In a sticky puddle of your ill will

What colour is the sky in your world?
Is it showering blood, instead of rain?
Are you sheltered beneath your thin cover?
Or drenched, in the red of your disdain?

It is by no means an overstatement
Your demeanour is your disguise, your demise
Whenever you reveal your true self
It’s like a storm, sweeping the skies
From the nasty depths of self-absorption
Blunt statements, soaked in the odd
Revealed, one assumption at a time
From beneath your shallow façade

What colour is the sky in your world?
Does anyone ever reach you there?
Perhaps someone should tell you?
Would you really even care?

 

Dinner

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Headline

Headline
You instantly stop everything
Eating, drinking, breathing

Hesitate before continuing
Pausing, considering, reading

You float for a moment
Hovering, above the news
Suspended, out-of-body
With the worst of views

It just doesn’t seem possible
Conceivable, thinkable, plausible
Yet, there it is, clearly legible
Believable, credible, probable

Seeing it, in black and white
Jagged, brutal, true
Unconscionable meets real
As it penetrates you
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Dead. Killed. Murdered.
Gone.  Lost.  Taken
Certain. Senseless. Final.
Deflated. Shattered. Shaken

Blood and air draining
Legs, faltering below
You sink into the chair
You have read, and you know

Bold, pointed letters
Piercing hearts, puncturing lives
Cutting, stabbing, slicing
Words, as sharp as knives

 

 

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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