Life Story


1. They told each other what to do 8
2. But it was a very long conversation 11
3. You bond, we separate 6
4. This part fits here! 4

5. They sent out calls for help 6
6. And those that were needed 6
7. Would always arrive 5
8. It was their nature 5

9. And so it was. Because 6
10. they couldn’t resist each other 8
11. And slowly, in time 5
12. not yet measured in millennia 9
13. “miracles” started to happen. 8

14. Do atoms in the heavens 7
15. form Angels? 3
16. On Earth they wept 4
17. an ocean of tears (joy and sadness) 9
18. Those first molecules 5
19. out of which 3
20. Life emerged. 3

21. The first cells had to go it alone 9
22. One makes Two, One makes Two 6
23. Lonely in their multitudes, 7

24. They bonded with their offspring 7
25. new complex formations, 6
26. Until, perhaps in awe of some universal Eros 14
27. (the sun embracing moon and earth?) 8
28. Or perhaps their own creativity? 10
29. They made a new discovery 8
30. One and One makes Three 5

31. And then it began all over again 10
32. Just a prime necessity, 7
33. a desire to seek each other out 9
34. Unicelled, multicelled 6
35. We bond, we separate, etc., 7

36. Not always face to face 6
37. but leaving our gifts 5
38. for each other to thrive on 7

39. Eventually, some of us 7
40. became more selective, 6
41. more private in our co-creative ventures 11

42. No more random fertilization, 9
43. no wind and sea 4
44. moving us together, 6
45. But of our own volition, 6
46. an increasingly complex desire 9

47. And oh! The pleasure 5
48. of fitting the parts together 8


49. Then X became the O (type) 7
50. began the fertilization of the ∆elta 12
51. began the cycle of the uroborous 11
52. began the scattering of Tribes 8

53. Each seeking its own wisdom 7
54. and fearing to tempt the fates 7
55. possessed of envy, greed and all the other` 11
56. deadly sins that quivered in their souls 9
57. Still they dreamed of angels 7
58. and gods who made things right 6
59. saw the glory within them 7
60. drove their destiny towards the light 9
61. As a nebulous, archaic “self” 9
62. a dreamlike confabulation 8
63. rose like the face of God and Demon 9
64. in the cryptic, evanescent mystery 11

65. And slowly making their way 7
66. across continents and crises 8
67. learned the ways of weather and wilderness 11

68. And cast out from the garden 7
69. they dreamt of another 6
70. their lives infused 4
71. with the corpus of human yearning 9
72. breathing in us 4

73. Perhaps that is when things began in earnest 11
74. as empires rose and fell 6
75. in the heat of passion 6
76. with the frustrated desires and lofty dreams 11
77. of a new Eden 5

End here

78. We are distillations 6
79. you and I and every single 8
80. participant in this experiment 10

81. Filtering through the 9
82. hourglass of time 4
83. wellsprings of ancient identities 9
84. as we sift and settlle into a life 9
85. we claim as ours 4

86. And from the mists of history 8
87. the voice of God still calls to us 8
88. though it sounds more like our own 7
89. Whilst in the scattered remains of our journey 11
90. endings and beginnings are found 8
91. lying together 5
92. reminding us of dreams realized and 9
93. the recurring devastations 8
94. the costs born by others 6
95. who are not us 4
96. their family and friends grieving, 8
97. hopeless, distraught 4

98. And, not without human feeling, 8
99. but not wanting to pay 6
100. now, or later, for such errors, 8
101. we devise battles of Good and Evil 10
102. become conquerors and protectors 8
103. forget how small we are 6
104. how vulnerable and afraid 7

105. We dread the dark forays into pure instinct 11
106. so build up armies 5
107. against such terrors 5
108. noble plans with God on our side 8
109. stirring righteousness in our bellies 9
110. and wounded heroes 5
111. to exalt us 4

112. And on we go heeding imperatives 10
113. given by those who seek to lead us 9
114. to safety or gain (whose is not clear) 9
115. onward to our glory or defeat 9
116. And claiming always moral victories 10
117. we tread too close to the edge 7
118. and try to escape our peril 8
119. with frantic diversions 11

120. But now, whole continents of others 9
121. the air, water, soil and all the gifts of nature 14
122. speak to us of our betrayal 8
123. a cause of some concern 6
124. When we allow ourselves to realize 10
125. the true meaning of their peril 7
126. Our own grim future peering closer 6
127. While still protesting
128. Such things have happened before 7
129. ignoring those outcomes, feeling ourselves Godlike 12
130. in our vast knowledge 5
131. surely someone will know what to do 9
132. at the last minute 5
133. to clutch us from the jaws of death? 8
134. Or so we imagine, comforting ourselves in denial. 15

135. Can the work of ages be so easily squandered? 13
136. a journey of so many millennia 10
137. be so casually wagered? 7
138. the victim of an ultimate and final elitism? 8

139. And who will rescue us from such fallacies? 11
140. Who will now set things aright? 7
141. We twist and turn in the night with such questions 11
142. Will those that are needed arrive? 8

143. Will Earth grieve us 4
144. as we will grieve? 4
145. Will we find eternal peace or damnation? 11
146. Now at the beginning of a new century 11
147. Will we reverse the mistakes of the past? 10
148. or follow them to a final conclusion? 11
149. These are the questions we ask, but only 10
150. hope someone is listening 9

151. Some have no time for questions and hesitations 12
152. for thoughtful, second sight 6
153. they look forward always, 6
154. as they seek to evade the grasp of death 10
155. to capture the imagination 9
156. with cultures of immortality 9
157. To be worshiped infinitely by future generations 15
158. Here were great men! 4

159. But, in the end, undone by hubris 9
160. by simple molecular errors in judgement 12
161. our glory, if attained 6
162. is fleeting 3
163. our massacres almost as quickly forgotten 12
164. and what we sought so greedily 8
165. we must leave behind 5
166. walk naked into the dark night ahead 10

167. As generations follow one another 11
168. to unravel the truth 6
169. Our hearts often well with tears 8
170. at the sweetness we find too late 8
171. for a love that we left unrealized 10
172. until it was only a parting farewell 11
173. a glimpse into eternity 8
174. 8

175. And the essence of our being
176. now and then of present, past and
177. future all melding and fluid We hear the ocean, rising and falling 11
178. the wide space of sky 5
179. intensely silent 5
180. while destiny unfolds like a flower 10
181. the continuum 5
182. a paradise where we lose or find ourselves As the soft breeze caresses 7
183. we mortals. 3

• Jan: We bond we separate, etc. we separate we bond
• With frustrated desires and lofty dreams of a new Eden (leave out commas)


who are these flowers?


in a luminous opal
gathered close
they took root in my heart
and smiled patiently
as i opened the book
read all the accounts
i had been storing there

for just such a moment

and as the circle grew
each of us happy
and somewhat incredulous,
sighed deeply
heralded the jewelled visage of night
affirmed and nodded our consent
as the warmth of a gentle light
moved before us on the journey
this way and that
until we reached the road
and saw there edifying signs
erected for just such occasions

And managing to find shelter
on cavernous rugged climbs
and even on sunlit afternoons
clouds in regal puffs of white
above us

how we luxuriated in the
presence of angels
and whirling dervishes
the chants of lament and
of new snows, ultimate liberations

the journey drew us in
without knowing it we were waiting
– what would happen?
gathered here
from flowering fields
for just a brief while

and yet all things must pass
and so it is

but here
we dropped seeds,
produced bulbs
laid down networks of roots

from which will pop up

a live of flowers
in a lovely bunch

for susan, nov. 8, 2007.

A Sunday Memorial for Allen Ginsberg

Allen, we came to honour you today
Allen, can you hear us in your celestial grave?
You roly-poly imp of a man,
you stood below everyone and
Roared like a lion

Man, you made the squalor on the street
glisten with truth and beauty
cherished the golden life of sunflowers
beneath man’s tainted progress
You sang to that good
wherever you saw it
Allen, can you hear us as we sing your praises now?

I was naïve when you appeared
across the street from the White House
It was too much for you to
pass up the opportunity
that Artists could influence Presidents
“Every day you walk by there you said
Every day you can protest
It’s your right. It is your duty”

You sparked a momentary curiosity
but later a fire burned in my belly
when I saw the evening news
Kent state, killed by our own guards,
And children
with sweet, haunted, faces
running along a jungle road
into the silent scream – the wide gulf that opened
the terrible sadness between us

Years later,
I heard you again on the radio
found myself in your Howl
lost myself in your humour
thought of you as the voice of America
I saw your foibles and marvelled at how you
found the poetry in them that
I had failed to see

Today Allen, we honour you in death
because you honoured life
In it’s unseemly underbelly,
you deciphered songs that remind us
of our common heritage,
of rage, of humour,
of blessedness, bittersweet losses, and
the profound and transient awareness
that prevails as the only constant,
ever ready to receive us.

You taught that the belly needs to eat
and the soul needs to sing
But your mission is at last ended,
survived by countless poems that live on without you
They wail and gnash their teeth in the night, as you
dream sweetly, in restful repose

Farewell sweet poet,
your name was Allen Ginsberg, and now
We sing your praises.

Vancouver, September 28th, 1997.

A poet’s funeral is wide as the world

They said he was a great poet
which set me off
to find him
in Geddes discovered

And so I sat down
outside it was raining
To read the poems of Irving Layton
who died yesterday

At the funeral,
praise and humour,
a resilience in loss
We watched on tv
who didn’t know him
and wished now we did

On the radio
Leonard is reading
from the poet’s shimmering pool
How fortunate
His reflection remains
The lighting of many candles
Birth days
He rests but still stirs

Jan 9, 2006

A big sky pilgrim

I can understand now how myths are created
He walked among us, yes
and the mishaps and misconceptions
were steps taken lightly
show a retrospective wisdom

What remains now
is all that is worthy of him and us
we are a community of worshipers

Simple things,
those big, gentle hugs, warm and enveloping
his open laugh and playfulness
the way he truly revered the best in others
We all awoke to that touch

He was here among us, roaming wide
in all four directions. In full abandon to the world
A big sky pilgrim
gazing out from rocky bluffs, wandering the woods
he loved, the mountain passes, streams and rocks
breathing with little laps of waves at the shore

And in the secret journeys of heart and mind
sacred labyrinths of meaning
seeking, delighting, discovering

Once, in a dream, long ago,
he sang into a large burnished pot
resonated into the deep well of my being
became a memory, a person I cherish

And in his passing, in that final glance of knowing
realizing fully the world of love
he took us all on a journey
like a pied piper
with a sound so sweet that
the child within each of us responded, followed
knowing in that place
was a profound beauty
freedom and joy, laughter

The sound still pulls at my heart, a deep yearning
but he is gone
and we are left behind to tell the story
of a wonderful being we were blessed to know
who honoured the best in all of us

For Rients, December, 2008