Deliberation


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Deliberation

It’s been a full and active day already,
with even more still on my plate.
Feeling pretty sluggish at half past ten.
Been going since this morning at eight.

Some friends I saw earlier, are visiting from Toronto.
Was planning to meet them later for drinks.
I am going to have a hot shower first,
and then I will see what my body thinks.

I toss my shirt and gitch in the laundry
and grab my bath towel from off the rack.
As I leave my room, I hear a faint whisper,
so I stop, I listen, and then I go back.

Scanning the room from the doorway
I can see, of course, that there’s nobody there.
Must be my phone, in the pocket of my jeans
which earlier I’d slung over the back of the chair.

I slide my cell phone out, and I take a look.
Nothing to see there but my cover screen.
No open apps, or videos playing,
so I slide it back in, to where it had been.

Turning once more to leave, I hear it again.
This time a little louder, and a little more clear.
It seems to be coming from near my bed,
and the voice I hear says, “Gary come here.”

A little less tired now, and a lot more freaked out,
I inch a little closer, and the voice speaks again.
This time adament, with much more authourity.
“Do you really need to go out? It’s well after ten.”

“Who’s there?”, I ask, speaking to no one,
looking in the direction of the pyjamas on my bed.
“Who are you, and what do you want with me?”
“I want you stay home tonight, just like I said.”

Now certain that I must be hallucinating,
I flee my room and head down the hall,
past the closet and toward the bathroom,
rocking the print that hangs on the wall.

I come face to face with myself in the mirror.
Needing a reality check, I smack my cheek.
Feeling it’s sting, I speak my thoughts aloud.
“It has been a busy day. And a very busy week.”

Still hoping that a shower might wake me up,
I hang up my towel and pull back the curtain.
Spend equal time washing, and convincing myself,
“pyjamas can’t talk, of that I am certain.”

I finish up with a cold blast of water, 
with similar results as the slap to my face.
If I am going downtown I had better hurry.
With renewed focus I pick up the pace.

Wrapped in my towel and rapt in thought,
I strategize my night while I brush my hair.
Thinking now of my best way to travel,
glasses or contacts, and what shirt to wear.

Distracted by the tasks on my mental list
and the momentum of my slight energy burst,
I find myself standing back in my room,
with a tall glass of water to quench my thirst.

After a lengthy guzzle, I reach for my jeans,
pull one pant leg up and then make it two.
As I tighten my belt I hear a different voice,
“So glad we’re going out, Gary. Good for you.”

I take a quick step back, with an audable shriek,
knock over the glass in my astounded haste.
“It’s me Gene, Hey, I’m right down here.”
The words seem to have come from below my waist.

“Good thing you didn’t listen to that guy.
He’s flat and lazy, and a complete bore.
Grab your cash and your keys.  I’ve got your cell. 
Let’s call a cab and we can wait by the door.”

“Who you calling flat? You denim deadbeat!”
My head jerks quickly in the direction of my bed.
“Ya you, Levi, with your zipper and your attitude.”
And yes, I clearly just heard what my pyjamas said.

“Always making this guy empty your pockets.
Give him a break. Your material is wearing thin.
He is a bad influence on you Gary. Take a night off.
Listen to PJ, get comfortable with me and stay in.”

“Come on lounge boy! Don’t zap his momentum.
You, with your save some money, save your liver crap.
He knows when to say when, and it ain’t now.
Not with good friends, and so many good beers on tap.”

At this point, stuck in the middle, I decide to just go with it.
I muster up some courage and I join in the debate.
“Gene, I get it, you have some some very valid points.
And PJ, I am tired, and been going non-stop since eight.”

Immersed in this, and actually needing to make a decision,
I get an idea, that gives both sides a chance.
I take off the jeans, or Gene, and I lay them/him on the bed.
I will take some time to think, and decide between pjs or pants?

“When I get back from finishing in the bathroom, I’ll choose.
You two try to get along. I’m giving myself ten minutes to decide.”
My underwear and I depart, back down the hall to brush my teeth,
both with a vested interest in selecting one side.

As I floss and weigh both of the night’s options,
I can feel the cumulative effects of all that I did today.
Yet, it would be nice to see Greg and Chrissy again.
I only saw them for a bit, and they did come all this way.

Spitting out the last swish of my mouthwash,
a realization comes over me, and suddenly I know.
I figure, if any of my clothes are speaking to me,
I obviously need some rest, so it’s wiser not to go.

I make it official, by going from contacts to glasses,
confident and pleased with the logic I choose.
Proud of myself for deciding to be responsible,
I return to my room, to deliver the news.

I can hear some murmuring and muffled obscenities.
The bickering gets louder as I walk through the door.
Once inside, however, I am met with complete silence,
fully expecting to find one of them lying on the floor.

Still side by side on the bed, are anxious jeans and pyjamas.
And you could cut the tension with a knife.
I preface my delivery with some token respect,
“I appreciate your concern fellas, but it is my life.”

“While I am seldom one to let responsibility slow me down,
I do have to learn, sometime, when I’ve had enough.
After careful deliberation, I’ve decided to stay home.
Sorry about that Gene, but if you don’t like it, tough.”

“A little harsh Gary, but I suppose it’s okay, just this once.
But I hope you don’t make it a habit to be so boring.
Because there is nothing more sad or pathetic
than a lazy ass, on a Saturday, at eleven, snoring.”

“Point taken Gene. Speaking of a little harsh.”
I toss him in the basket with the other dirty guys.
“I guess it’s you and me PJ, let’s watch some tv.”
“Good idea Gary. And you’re not boring, you are wise.”

I immediately feel comfortable as I put on the pyjamas,
adding a sweat shirt to my lack of cares.
After texting my friends to politely apologize,
I refill my water and we head down the stairs.

After flipping on a lamp, I turn on the television,
pick up a remote that had fallen on the floor.
I plop myself down into my favourite lazy boy,
which seems oddly appropriate, because of before.

“There is nothing wrong with a nice night in.
It doesn’t always have to be go, go, go.”
That was just me, justifying to myself,
wanting to make sure, that both of us know.

Finally settled, I scroll through my movies choices.
“Don’t sit there. Come lie down with me. No need to slouch.”
I am more exasperated, really, than surprised.
It’s a sexy female voice, coming from the couch.

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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…

 

 

Desensitized

Desensitized

My inner voice is muffled by my apathy,
now but a dull monotone of exasperation…

I saw the news scroll by, just before 9:00
Made a vague mental note of where and when
My immediate reaction was indifference
Didn’t bother to look, until a little after 10
What once was a cry of shock and disbelief,
was little more than a feint echo of ‘not again’


Appalled, by my complacency
Stunned, that I was not more sad
Concerned, yes, but not that surprised
More annoyed really, than mad
Uncaring and ashamed
My heartbeat but a dull ache
Desensitized and demoralized
How much death did it take?


My outlook is deplorable, yet realistic,
never once thinking that this can’t happen again…

What I read was just more of the same, only more so
Fifty-plus dead, thousands of lives changed forever
Was not surprised by how many were killed
More surprised that is was the most gunned down ever
It’s America, remember, the land of opportunity,
so you can never ever say ‘never’


Embarrassed, by my attitude
Disgusted, that I see it that way
Dismayed, yes, but not surprised
Another senseless act, another senseless day
Inconsiderate and detached
My heart too hardened to break
Desensitized and demoralized
How many dead does it take?


My curiosity is peaked by the degree of absurdity,
with the same simple questions every time… 

Another homicidal and suicidal loose cannon
Elevated to fame, by an amendment carved in stone
The only unpredictable part of the story was him
Famous now, without ever being known
How can these dudes still get automatic weapons?
How many guns can one crazy man own?

Irritated, by my frustration
Worried, that I chose the lower road
Jaded, yes, but not surprised
Loaded questions, I will inevitably reload
Disjointed and exhausted
My mind cynical, for my heart’s sake
Desensitized and demoralized
How many guns does it take?

There

 

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.

 

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

 

 

Limbo

“As much as I’ve always been driven creatively to move forward toward something bigger, brighter, and unknown, I’m also a deeply-rooted nostalgic. I adore photos, mementos, all bits of ephemera that represent each and every time and space I traverse. I’m a hoarder when it comes to these things…
A flood of memories wash over me when I find these treasures, all of them new again, focused by the perspective I’ve gained in the years since. It’s a beautiful kind of limbo, seeing yourself, your past alongside your present…”
-Mick Fleetwood from Play On…Now, Then, And Fleetwood Mac The Autobiography-

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Limbo
There I am, sitting on the couch

Looking as content as I can be
But what makes me smile now
Are the faces of the other three
Friendships, made in a flash
Cultivated with laughter, and cold beers
The time of my life, so many times
Great nights, that turned into years

Sometimes I sit with a lost friend
If only for a brief while
I gaze into her playful green eyes
I remember his reluctant smile
Realize just how alive they really were
And how precious that our time is
That contagious spirit, so uniquely hers
The distinctive laugh, that could only be his

A note, a post card, a poem

Feelings that are, and/or used to be
A letter filled with distant love
Words, meant only for me
Wee hour messages that I have written
Hastefully penned, but never sent
A shoebox, filled with emotions
Papers lined with what we meant

Flipping through the pages and photos
Snapshots of my life until now
People and places, that shaped who I am
Images of who, of where, when and how
Framed pictures of significant moments
Rectangular reminders of family and friends
Travels together on this wondrous journey
An evolving road, that curves and bends

It’s a beautiful kind of limbo
Spent with people that I know
A transcendent state of mind
And I can choose where to go
The full gambit of my experiences
The love, the pain, the pleasure
Memories, that take me away and back

Moments, I will always treasure

Camping, Christmas, the dinner table
My whole family, together in one place
The truest essence of who I am today
So much influence, etched in each face
My Mom, my Dad, right there for me
Whenever when my heart yearns 

I am able to go home, again and again
With happy, and melancholy returns

Time-lapse capsules of my two daughters
Wide-eyed infants, in the back seat of the car
From half-day kindergarten to incredible teens
Ever-emerging lives, chronicled so far
First steps, dance recitals, and graduation
Lovingly preserved, in albums or on DVD
Even when they seem too far to reach
I can find them here, in front of me

Awards, team photos, newspaper clippings
Memories of play that are always fond
Reminders of an enduring love of sports
Teammates, championships, a life-long bond
Wondering what became of those I coached
Peewee signatures on a thank-you card
Events and people that helped me to grow
Character built, through practicing hard

These boxes that I’ve moved many times
To different homes, to cities and towns
Different cabinets containing my life
All of us sharing the ups and downs
I can open up whenever I want to
These memories, of importance to me
Their significance, personally priceless
Sentimental value, I can always see

It’s a beautiful kind of limbo
Sitting there, beside myself
A transcendent state of mind
Brought down from a shelf
My life, captured in moments
The past, seen through today’s eyes 
Images, taking me away and back
Suspended, for now, while time flies

 

Affecting

 

     An influential soul can affect a life. 
     If we are lucky, someone comes along when we are lost or misplaced and makes an impression that lasts a lifetime.  Sometimes all we need is a boost or a new direction to get us going on our way.  It is those people who realize that their influence has possibilities – and who realize that possibilities are endless — who affect lives. 
     Quite often, it is a teacher who is that influential soul. Your life path may be altered by their inspiration, motivation, imagination or subtle persuasion.
     The right person at the right time.

Affecting

It might be only one simple gesture
that changes the course of things

One turn of phrase, or turn in the road
One solid notion that a teacher brings.
An influential soul, who can affect a life
The extra yard, that goes an extra mile
The ability to inspire a want to aspire 
That singular soul, who finds the smile.

Positive thinking, meets untapped potential
Opening a mind, by opening a door 
Initiating the urge to take on the world
Lessening the less, to motivate the more.
 Noticing that possibilities are indeed endless
Giving more of yourself, despite the clock

The right person at the right time
You’re welcomed in, yet you always knock.

Making a difference in their world
by sharing what’s unique inside of you
That place where experiences live 
and understanding comes into view.
Where your common sense prevails
Expressed, in uncommon ways
Where your perception turns a page
and affects their future days.

Every year brings renewed opportunity
with a new group, beginning anew 
Fresh influences and malleable clay 
Shaping character with what you do.
You matter in these impressionable minds
It’s the substance that’s in your style 
Asking only for an honest effort 
You make it worth their while.

Inspiration found, with subtle persuasion
Motivation, to where you shine the light
Imagination, in the eyes of tomorrow 
  The vision to see the higher height.
Encouragement and understanding

Providing balance to their uphill climb
An unselfish stamp on an emerging life
The right person at the right time.

Making a difference in this world
by sharing the life inside of you
That place where experience lies 
and humility comes into view.
Where your common sense prevails
Expressed, in uncommon ways
Where perception turns an important page
and affects their future days.

For all the right reasons,
you affect the rhyme.
The right person
at the right time.

 

Morn

 

 

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Morn

On the still waters
of  Mulville Bay
I stand alone
and greet the day

Nature welcomes me
with open arms
Surrounding my boat
with her obvious charms

The fresh smile of sunrise
The grace of a lingering moon
 The dance of two water bugs
Greetings from a loon

The soft whisper of the trees
The cheerful burst of a frog
 Announcing his presence
from a shoreline log

A passing muskrat
gives a pre-dive nod
One last greeting

 before I cast my rod

The exultation I feel
is crisp and pure
I break the surface
with the splash of my lure

We are in this together

and the message is clear
The morning is awake
and it knows I am here

The murmur of my cares
seems a world away
 as I fish, accompanied
by Mulville Bay

 

 

 

Vivification

     From the ‘blue folder’ archives written during my Queen’s University days – the birth of my nephew Jason in 1985.
     Raised by one loving family, in two loving households, he has become a man to be admired and respected for all of the right reasons…making these words ring true.

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