The Piping Plover

Brackley Beach_20130803

The Piping Plover

objects in motion
objects at rest

steps are taken
if you are walking

on the beach at sunset
a bird with a broken wing

the piping plover
is small and secretive

just above the high tide mark
it thought hunger had drawn

your feet to its nest
sought to lure you away

by faking injury
it could not know

you are only feeling pity
or perversity

in the knowledge
that backtracking is impossible

Independent Thought

foxes, gulls, and crows
take their toll
with the necessary haughtiness
of scavengers denying

they have tricked many

Sunday School

the fear of           repeating
the dread of        mistakes

a creeping thing   delivered
a living thing          unto Thy Hands


the classic broken wing display
was tried without success

on the playground
children about suffering

instinctively know
and never turn away

Mistaking Motion for Purpose

as an experiment

Mary Jane, John
Susie, Laurie
Peter and me

piled into my wagon
at the top
of the hill

by rocking rocking
slowly slowly
the wagon started

rolling rolling
faster faster
Stop! It’s much too late!

a tangle of legs
and arms in the ditch
and someone screaming

Let’s do it again!
Let’s do it again!
Let’s do it again!

There are No Lessons to be Learned

we traced outlines
of our hands and feet
the teacher told us

We are The Hands and Feet of God
in the schoolyard
we knew this to be true

throw out both arms
spin faster spin
fall to the ground

you will feel the earth

unless steps are taken
the piping plover will become extinct
unless steps are not taken

AGG21031106 (Redux of 1989 original)

Depth Charge: This is a slightly cleaned up version of a poem cycle from 1989.  I still like its treatment of emergent sexuality in a religiously hostile environment and the various ploys, mostly ineffectual, that can be used to protect oneself. Ultimately, in a decidedly Daoist twist, inaction can often prove more effective than action. Amid the Biblical allusions and natural history references, there is also a rather obvious and deliberate misquotation of Musee des Beaux Arts by W.H. Auden.


The Time Machine (@ the Montreal Queer Bookfest)


The same diet, the same clothes,
The same politics, god knows,
The same people, different faces
This is where thirty years goes.

It was something to be seen,
This cultural time machine,
Looked and sounded eighty-three
Smack dab in twenty-thirteen.

The language platitudinous,
The rules of conduct gratuitous,
Appearance of doing something
For problems far removed from us.

But there are things you cannot hide,
And the energy of youth survives,
Catching a temporal wave, landing
In the twenty-first century alive.

And as well you might have guessed,
There’s been some concrete progress,
The women now rule the roost,
And that’s something for the best.


If you’d like to view the poetry and writing that is not tanka, or tanka related, please click here.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Mythical Creature


How can such a creature exist,
One minute resting corpse-still,
The next all dragon-golden coiling mist,
How to speak to such a being,
One minute loud as thunderclaps,
The next silent as the abyss.

You insisted on dressing me,
While you remained beautifully naked:
“With these clothes on
You look nothing like you are
in bed, but it is not a lie,
not a disguise, it is a second skin. ”

(for Route042, nods to Zhuangzi)

If you are in Montreal on Saturday,  Aug 17, 2013, come and say hello at:

August 17, 2013 12pm – 6pm
Comité Social Centre-Sud
1710 Beaudry Beaudry Subway Station
Wheelchair Accessible

If you’d like to view the poetry and writing that is not tanka, or tanka related, please click here.

To see all the posts on this blog with explicit and implicit gay content, click here.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman

For such a slim volume, Oliver Burkeman’s The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking manages to bring together a vast array of topics which have been touchstone’s for my own thought for the past 3 decades: Stoicism, Daoism, mono no aware, meditation, and the Mexican Day of the Dead, to mention just a few. He even manages to find a few takes on negative paths to happiness, such as rejecting security as desirable and refusing to idolize goal setting,  which were new to me.  For a summary of the book, here is the ad for it from Youtube:

Burkeman’s style is light, flowing and humorous  He manages to squeeze in a wealth of facts and references, all nicely indexed and with a notes section replete with citations. For a review of the book, albeit by a colleague of his at The Guardian, check out this link.

The slenderness of the volume leads to its main weakness: he too often sticks to modern, new-age and popularized versions of ancient philosophies. This is especially true on his discussions of the self that draw heavily on Daoism. He does not delve deeply enough into Laozi and Zhuangzi, but rather relies on Wei Wu Wei and Eckhart Tolle. Curiously, he does not mention the “Negative Daoism” of Yang Zhu at all. This seems an odd oversight as Yang Zhu deftly combines critiques of the self, society and death that chime well with the Burkeman’s overall themes. Stay tuned for my blog on Yang Zhu.

The other point of irritation from an atheistic, skeptical point-of-view, is that he lets Buddhism off the hook. He does briefly mention that it is a religion before going into his chapter on meditation. He is rightly attracted to the philosophical and psychological insights of the meditative practices; however, like so many purported secular humanists, he fails to highlight the misogyny, homophobia, war-mongering and superstition (reincarnation, demons, gods, etc.) inherent to varying degrees in all forms of Buddhism.