YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

July 2005

VOL XIII Issue 7, Number 147

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson;

European Editor: Moshe Benarroch;

Contributing Editors: Pedro Sena; Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald LeWinter

ISSN 1480-6401




      Prayer for my daughter


   Ashok Niyogi

   Cyril Dabydeen 
      The Canadianist
      A Certain Attitude
      Pearl & Me Walking
      Quebec Separation
      Sanskrit Poem
      Saving Souls

   Craig Murray
      I don't want to be like you
      She beats herself
      I Read

   Corey Mesler
      Use More Nouns
      Sleeping in a Box
      Huldre Vigilate
      Sleepe, Angry Beauty

   Deacon Bruce

   Karen Bayly

   Roger Tabor


   Robert D. Wilson
      14 Haiku


Prayer for my daughter
   after W.B. Yeats  
The gentle breeze that rocks this tilting train
speeding through countryside not my own
has given time for prayer and pause for thought.
A child's cry down the carriage fractures air;
some minutes later her red-faced mother
pushes her through feet-encumbered aisles.
If I had such a child, 
I would have wished for her 
an easy birth, a gentle coming into light,
a calm sleep, a room innocent of shadows,
dreams untroubled by dark shapes
and devils pulling down to black caves.
I would have wished for her good friends,
a bright playtime of treasures
discovered at the end of garden paths,
the chase of white clouds,
sun like the tang of orange ice
on tongues in mid-July.
I would have wished her quiet rooms,
the mystery of books not as escape,
but a leading on to new adventures.
And I would have wished for her
the first dance and the last
and all the dances in between,
the comfort of her own space
and the grace to like her own company
until she was ready for the answering smile.
I would have wished a happy motherhood,
a table full of friends and family,
a study filled with photos, songs and books.
All this would I have wished that unknown girl.
But the tilting train runs on and on 
through green and pleasant lands not my own.

Ashok Niyogi



He stood on the huge black rock,
Married to the monolith in the rising sun,
Rock and man equally weathered
By wind and water,
Time and heat,
Gouged into each other
With a bullet from a gun.

Around the rock was a dry dusty moat
Filled with scorpions, snakes,
Centipedes, millipedes and the like,
Wriggling up the moat walls 
And falling off,
Climbing over each other,
In the cauldron, a seething brew.

As the sun climbed the sky
The rock was heating up,
The man jumped from one foot to another,
Rivulets formed by beads of sweat
From his scalp,
From the creases in his forehead,
Trickled into his eyes,
They turned red.

How was the snake protected?
Scales on its torso?
Poikilothermal, as is life?
Twin headed,
On one head the logo from Honda,
On the other forked tongue
A jingle from Dell.

It had a rattle.
'When confronted by a snake
Stand absolutely still'.
It had a rattle.
The man was jumping from foot to foot,
His blisters bloated with boiling water. 

The snake started to sway,
Stood up on its rattle and started to dance,
Faster in its heated frenzy,
Until it was a tornado,
A Dervish of gray
In a backdrop of yellow mustard fields,
Whirled beyond the moat,
Watered by the sweet-water well.

And then all was no more.
Reality was blisters on blighted feet,
Insatiable thirst in the midday heat.

NAKED ~~~~~ I have just rushed into the platform, The huge clock ticks One more minute away, I hear the whistle, But the train does not pull away. I swim up the current, Against people who had come To see people off. I dodge past parcel luggage Sleeping with a lone stray dog. Now the train starts to slide, I am just fifty feet away, I increase my speed, Why do people stare at me so? I grab at the handrail, The train gathers speed, Then its taillights look like eyes, Why do they stare at me so? Now I must catch a taxi, Over tip him to over speed, Preempt the train at the next station, And carry on as if nothing happened. Only, before that, I must put on some clothes, I am stark naked!
FRESHLY DEAD ~~~~~~~~~~~~ The apartment is crowded, Cousins, friends, Bearded aunts, Uncles with cataract, Debtors and creditors And sundry hangers on. Even from beneath the shroud The smell of incense is strong. They have bathed me, And anointed me with sandal paste, I wish they would remove This cotton wool They have shoved up my nostrils, And ease the furrow on my brow. I bubble with hilarity, The moustache line of an aunt quivers, Between the mountains of her breasts Builds an earthquake, I know she is going to shriek. It was no accident, Just meticulously planned, continuous abuse, Ultimately was it the kidneys, Or just the massive blood loss? I catch your eye across the room And see that you share my mirth, I even try to wink at you But the eyelids don't respond. Even though you understand, And across a room full of mourners, Surreptitiously wink back.
BOOKS ~~~~~ The dwarf with the hunchback Weighs me down with heavy verse, Sometimes I float above him Just three feet above the earth. The sky is already black Instead of a friendly blue, How do the spinster sisters know? How does Tolstoy's Chechen feel, In the glint of Kremlin chandeliers? Iago merges into Cleopatra With a scorpion's sting for canopy, Solomon will pass judgment, I meet a virgin close on forty, Hug her to my chest, Breathe alcohol into her hair. The world is but a flattened sphere, The dwarf has an angel face Hidden behind the coarsest cowl.
BUBBLES ~~~~~~~ Pump out the incredible blue Of Crater Lake, And you will find Lava solidified.
Cyril Dabydeen Montreal ~~~~~~~ (for Johanna) Confessing to a misunderstanding, you talk of a childhood all along the edge of the lake as I pretend to understand life in a sailboat that summer Travelling the narrow corners of your life, I watch the trees beckon to an old promise; later we hold hands in old Montreal Now telling me of your mother, and a father ... as we climb a familiar tower where the ancient church brings us back to a pious promise. Small world, you confess. Saintly mother, you look down at us over the widening gap of years, our being alone - one with another.
Conversation ~~~~~~~~~~~ I live in a bureaucratic town-- there's so much paper work here & people, longing for power (so you say) no, I'm not cynical-- dear God, help me to be close to real people & to the things that affect my senses-- let me also continue to renew myself this day, night-- it is my eternal desire.
The Canadianist ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Those who go to India to study Indians become Indologists Those who go to China to study the Chinese become Sinologists Now in Canada I'm studying Canadians Being able to tell differences of people from province to province, region to region - Though everyone's indeed different - from Newfoundland to BC, Quebec to the Prairies ... as I take note Finally I declare myself a Canadian - no longer content on being a Canadianist. A game of lost-and-found really, I come to grips with, trying to be the best Canadian there is.
A Certain Attitude ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ What I remember most - give poetry to the prisoners Make them say the word "bird" And the rest will follow - Like being in mid-air, Feet firmly planted On the ground while in flight.
Pearl & Me Walking ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Going to the George Lamming seminar on the "Conquest of the Indies" at the University of Miami (Coral Gables, South Florida), and inhaling the Cuban-American air, with los exilios - the heat swelters, Hispanic no less. Pearl from Washington, DC, originally from Jamaica - she says, who wants to know why I'm not perspiring. My veins are made of ice, I tell her (in jest), as I'm still part of the Americas - but Canada no less, protesting the US embargo on trade to Cuba - yet front-page news on my return to Ottawa. (July 10, l996)
Quebec Separation ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ - after Marc Garneau (astronaut) Going to the stars and looking down at Earth I can't get worked up about nationalism.
WHO'S NELSON MANDELA? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (after my five-year-old) An old man with frizzie hair who talks about Africa
THE POEM WISHING ITSELF ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Here's a poem wishing itself a newness, a safe place to hide under, to sit back and mull and then tell secrets away from the busy Corporation To leave the Chairman of the Board, President and Vice-Presidents, executive assistants, secretaries and clerks-- so it could go about its own business The poem merely wishes to dream, to mull over despite the frenzy of pain, voices locked in its head for years... from somewhere else, now returning With a distress signal, as the poem takes over with mellowness and talks with itself only, echoing a strange gladness with its hair standing on end Like trying to make things whole, images being all as the poem talks in a triumphant tone, pretending to be different in a new time.
THE DOCTOR ~~~~~~~~~~ You, almost drunk, in these streets; you, Doctor Tache, insisting that I know your name; you who've lived here long in these narrow, forgotten streets in Havana. And that famous American (a writer) who once lived here, too, with whom you ate and drank Hemingway, isn't it? The women you both knew: you insisting that this story must be told to every tourist who comes to Cuba: like emblems of the Spanish past that still haunt with your tale of lost-and-found.
PEACE ACCORD ~~~~~~~~~~~~ My peace accord, Promises to the East, The West, as I travel alone, Strident in my creative writing. Are you a cypher clerk? Do you express a greater longing? Skin itches, body's wanting. This code-- I couldn't teach you the beauty of words. How can we live by metaphor only, Here where it is coldest-- I hear you say. I will make further promises, With a submarine quest, Thrashings of the sea-- Or sheer espionage. Now I simply rise up With a Gouzenko smile, Being far from it-- Without anxiety.
MISSIONS ABROAD ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Consulates, Embassies, Missions abroad beware-- no displays of our country's art I mean-- no nudes in such paces as China and the Middle East, or something else than appreciation might result. Let them feast their eyes on belly dancers and porcelain-- we will give them no hint of our real art-- save for snowscapes Eskimo prints and carved wooden things. These they're bound to appreciate if only to understand a diplomat's distrust of the power of art.
AARON MOSHER ~~~~~~~~~~~~ You sculpted, honoured on a plaque, having pulled the railway up its strap and demanding higher wages for the workers in Halifax. Forming the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Employees, you fought the international unions, established cooperatives; later, obtaining an OBE for selfless work, hurrah! I watch Dennis McDermot on the same platform with Minister Andre Ouellet, both talking about your deeds, a life of value-- there's ample testimony. I take note as Mrs Mosher signs my First Day Cover, then sip wine and eat cheese, moving around the well-dressed guests, mostly bureaucrats-- removed from the grime and sweat Maybe you paid us a visit then, Mosher; this postage stamp's reprieve, a cachet in your honour-- the sculpture attests to your timeliness, here you stand out best! (Stamp Launch, September 8,198l)
Sanskrit Poem ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Each today, well-lived, makes yesterday a dream of happiness, and each tomorrow a vision of hope. Look, therefore, to this one day for it, and it alone, is life.
Saving Souls ~~~~~~~~~~~~ When I quote the seventeenth century Dominican priest, Batholome de las Casas-- known as the "Apostle of the Indians"-- to the Native Elder in Ottawa He replies in a calm voice, reminding me what de las Casas said about enslaving Blacks-- instead of Indians Didn't de las Casas retract that statement, I want to know? The Elder is grateful for telling him that--and the genuine wish for all people to be free According to the four celestial powers that govern the universe which the Spanish conquistadores never heard of, or dwelled upon-- in their "Conquest of the Indies."
Craig Murray I don't want to be like you ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I don't want to be like you I don't want The shallow desires and Empty grasping needs I want to create I want to breath life Into words And watch them fly I don't want suits and cars And houses and titles I don't want Things And stuff And empty friends I don't need The shallow trappings Of emptiness And tv generated lust I don't want Bragging rights And peroxide wives I don't want to be like me
She beats herself ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Self flagellation And imposed crucifixion She sacrifices herself To her mother god A litany of sorry's A lifetime's apologies Constantly spewed She was made this way Apologetic and filled with remorse For everything she has done And so much she has not Still without child No job No husband A thousand answers A million questions And all she can do is Repeat the mantra of sorrow She can't be blamed Although she will She can't be faulted for Failing to accomplish All her mother Failed to do Twenty years old And speaking of death She plans her funeral With hope Her friends gathered To laugh and remember She hopes they have videos To watch What life is this She is chained to? What life will she Always be denied And deny to her daughter Form up quickstep And march in line You are your mother's daughter nothing changes
I Read ~~~~~~ When I read, I read with the poet's voice the rhythm lives free from the confines of page or ink the words cascade over my lips down my chest a pool of warm radiant soft a welcome glow I know these words like i know my hands each line and crease now hard and scarred from years of digging this clay
Corey Mesler Use More Nouns ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We want a poem that will last like a pine bridge. A bridge out of chaos. A poem made of lines from older poems, a generator. A horse, a turnpike, a rindle. Gaia, Eldorado, Dame Nature. A procurator. A nosegay, sandspit, believer. And, The Seven League Boots to boot! That kind of poem, lover, dreamer, antagonist.
Sleeping in a Box ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ After the new dishwasher arrived my seven year old daughter began to sleep in the box. Perhaps she is preparing for the day when she will be homeless. Perhaps she is about to have kittens. In the morning, one must grasp a socked foot and pull to extricate her from her lair, which is plush with blankets and toys. Her coffee hair, a cockeyed coronet, she enters our world, as if she had been rescued from shipwreck. And all day I can only look at her and smile, her switch-thin legs shooting out at odd angles as she scuttles around the house, her constant chatter a mad gib's song, my only daughter, who sleeps in a box.
Huldre Vigilate ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "The devil is hungry." Laura Nyro Here's a little poem about television. There are some good things on television. I watch them. At night when we're alone, the two of us, I eat a cold meal of bone and heartmeat. The TV watches me, for further signs of too much life. The next day it makes me write this.
Sleepe, Angry Beauty ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Let the sleep of the relentless be mine, the sleep of forgiving, recompense, sorrow. My father, dead now 3 years, my first marriage a scurvy, my temperament that of a roiled spado. I have reached this part partly due to the implacable love of one strong woman. Let it be, let it be just that. Let my children understand my last words. Let the sleep that was my wavering mistress lead me through the final doors, a sound hand in mine, one final smile for all the muck my living stirred.
Deacon Bruce MAROONED 3: THE MAZE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My legs feel as though they are about to collapse Beneath the weight of my fatigued body I cannot believe that I have been in here this long With no sense of direction and no sign of progress The darkness is eradicating my sanity And the loneliness is tormenting my spirit In truth I want to end this journey where I stand But somewhere within the still and silence I hear a calm voice telling me to walk on My frustration gets the better of me With clenched fists I strike the concealed wall before me And let out an agonizing scream that echoes in the night Where are you? Why wonít you show me the way? Why wonít you lead me out of this maze? Minutes pass without resolution and my rage subsides Then as before I hear the gentle voice again Closer to me and more soothing than ever "I am standing right by your side" It is difficult to believe that there is another soul Anywhere within the resonance of my rave But with strength from beyond myself I am raised from my bruised knees to continue my trek Never before have I more clearly realized the significance of light Or longed for the last flicker of a dieing flame With many doubts in my mind and fear in my heart I stretch out my arms once again and place my sore hands on the wall Very slowly I place one foot in front of the other And begin to feel my way along the rough planes Of the pitch black enclosure.
Karen Bayly FALLEN ~~~~~~ I watched you fall, spinning out of control, hurtling freely through space and time. What did you feel? Cold terror, blinding and absolute, hope, redemption. I watched you fall. Fascinated by mortality, I screamed survivalís impossibility. I am safe, untouched, but the thought lingers. It could have been me.
BLOOD TIES - SPIRIT ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Alone in the sunrise I see you. Your white heart beats. Through the soles of my feet, I feel you. Away from my flat canvas prison, its pale bland palette, and humdrum brush strokes, I find you. I am set loose to wander. Meandering darkly in the passage of light, I lose you. I turn out experience's pockets. The fluff of failure, the grit of pain, this day's jetsam, yesterday's cargo. You find me and hold me close. Be there, be near, I will feel your white heart beat in this body, my red blood pump through your filigree veins. Spirit, I will always know your face.
BLOOD TIES - HEART ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Land of my dreaming I cry for believing, long for belonging, crave to be nearer, red dirt heart, my source. Wild wiry wind weaves willy nilly, scoops up the red dirt, rolls it down, turns it round, cries, spits it out. And all the while, deeply, somewhere beats this heart. Blood of the land, blood deceived, blood on demand, blood received, blood ties ebb and flow, And all the while, deeply, somewhere beats this heart. I walk the way of the wiry wind. Shatter me red dirt, six feet asunder, chew me up, don't spit me out. And in a while, deeply, somewhere beats my heart.
Roger Tabor THE POET'S SONG ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I am a Painter of Dreams, my brush, a pen - words all the paint available, tackling the unassailable to bring within reach of unquiet heart, restless soul, images of life and love, vision of a goal beyond perimeters of time, space - humanity's crude conception of grace I am a Painter of Dreams, bringing you mine, intruding on yours, winging heaven's elusive towers that flicker in a mist of aspiration, inviting inspiration, daring us to home in, defy the rude mentality of a classroom morality - humanity's crude conception of spirituality Look, see, hear, taste, touch, smell. I am a Painter of Dreams, who means well but often offends who dare suggest I speak for all that seek gold where the rainbow ends; For, like Pandora's Box, our secrets once let fly - each to their own; Painter, dreamer, shades of light or ships in a cruel night Senses, falling apart at the seams for a Painter of Dreams
AN UNKNOWN QUANITY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I answer to no one nor keep within the confines of certain rules as laid down in any handbook, manual or legislature; no one tells me when to come or go - nor where exactly, or gladly seeks my company I may press at the edge of a crowd yet it will not part to let me through, though I'll find my own way with ease; When people hear my name, though a whisper in the ears, they know to include me in their prayers Neither hunter nor hunted, I wing lark skies, tread this earth softly, no blade of grass disturb, sail seas in pitch blackness, no compass; My instincts never fail, emotions playing no part in the final equation - or I digress Often mistaken for Pain, I am Death - and mean no harm
ASPECTS OF ILLUSION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Over sea and sky, meadows green, lands run dry with drought, famine, where waters still rising high - and only trees to live in, I make my way, take my place as wild geese fly - or thrushes sing, antelope roam, lion after a prey pricking up its ears, ready to run at the first sign of threat, a rising heat Over sandy dunes, valleys green, raising hopes, dashing them again watching over sailors in a storm, soldiers unsure whether playing at war or preparing for the real thing, pilots armed with missiles, bombs, wondering if making a hit can really matter in the overall Scheme - or more point-scoring Faces of a chameleon, more tricks up my sleeve than any magician, can disappear in a puff of smoke, clear life's stage of players all - or bring us together at a wake-up call, running for cover or glad to see gone, reminding each other how the show must go on, no matter an audience of one In milling, spilling, parting crowd, a passing cloud


Robert D. Wilson

sleeping in a field
of tomatoes

morning shade---
sharing the quiet
with a blackbird

high noon---
a tree
grasping shadows

shadows prodding me
to write haiku

early afternoon---
a blackbird
preening shadows

evening cool---
a trail of ants
on the bathroom sink

twilight dusk---
raking the garden
one grain at a time

a cow grazing
in the shadow
of giant turtles

twilight, the
silence between
night and day

a shorter night
than yesterday,
and half the moon

lowly cricket?
i cant make music
with my legs!

short breaths---
wind tests the canyon
for sound

in the fold of
darkness, a rubbing
of legs

short night
none of it wasted
by crickets


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