Pass Fail

We all fail the test
Of time with flying colours
We all pass the test

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guoande seal script jpegTo 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…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffinjust click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

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Seven Years Later in Parc Laurier: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Sand Washed by Waves”

As letters to words are years to memories,
Seven years today since I quit China,
Right on cue the summer’s first cicada sings,
Pestering with his wordless longing,
Asking what it is we’ve done with his precious time,
Well, I’ve  seen a whole lot of circuses,
Written well over six hundred poems,
Had sex with maybe half as many men,
All these various acrobatic routines swerve
Beauty from what was and never can be,
But I’ll leave it to the crows in Parc Laurier
To dispute over things delicious and dead.
These days when I turn my head,
It isn’t the Yangtze or Purple Gold Mountain I see
It is Mount Royal with the Saint Lawrence at its feet.

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Tune: “Sand Washed by Waves”
In Memoriam
by Li Qingzhao

Outside the curtains the howling fifth-watch wind
Blows away the last vestige of my melancholy dream.
Who will be my companion
When I go up the painted tower again?
I remember how he loved to chaff me
Poking the fire sideways with my jade hairpin—
A memory now vanished like the auspicious omen
In the seal-character incense.

Recollections flood my mind
Of happy days gone by
When the two of us climbed Purple Gold peak① hand in hand
Gazing at the hazy view below:
A river of spring waves wrapped in rain and mist ,
Gliding away as if half-sober and half-tipsy.
I keep on my garment
Tears shed the day before–
To shoot to the wild geese
As they wing past.

①Presumably an allusion to the Purple Gold Hill (Zhi Jin Shan ) on the south shore of the Yangtze River in today’s city of Nanjing.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

浪淘沙·李清照
帘外五更风,吹梦无踪。画楼重上与谁同?记得玉钗斜拨火,宝篆成空。
回首紫金峰,雨润烟浓。一江春浪醉醒中。留得罗襟前日泪,弹与征鸿。

Làng táo shā Lǐ Qīngzhào
lián wài wǔ gēng fēng, chuī mèng wú zōng. Huà lóu zhòng shàng yǔ shuí tóng ? Jìdé yù chāi xié bō huǒ , bǎo zhuàn chéng kōng .
Huíshǒu zǐjīn fēng , yǔ rùn yān nóng . Yī jiāng chūnlàng zuì xǐng zhōng. Liú dé luō jīn qiánrì lèi , dàn yǔ zhēng hóng .

Depth Charge: The photo is of the circus performance Duels which was part of Completement Cirque 2015.

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…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

The Gravity of Accidents

The law cannot control this crowd,
This crush of insects,
This rabble of plants,
This riot of birds,
This surge of humans,
Each with an eye for dinner,
All food for one another,
Or a quickie in the bushes,
In this frenetic genetic game,
This tumultuous , bawling,
Barking, squeaking, squawking mass
Lurching to-and-fro,
Listing side-to-side,
Worms away with no aim in sight,
Propelled by the gravity of accidents
To arrive at this random, horrible grandeur.

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Depth Charge: At last Saturday’s Quebec Writers’ Federation workshop on revision led by Bruce Taylor, we chose from a selection of short prose pieces and transformed our choice into a poem. I chose a paragraph from Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species: “It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” I’ve reworked the original poem a bit, it was a revision workshop after all, but it initial outpouring remains pretty much intact.

No more mourning doves

No more mourning doves
Blackbirds blue jays or grackles
Even the proud crows
Now avoid the neighbourhood
Since two hungry hawks moved in

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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…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

What Possible Pleasures

Now that you are tightly held
By everyone’s final lover,
Leaving us to salt our own wounds
In each other’s wanting arms,
I know, I know you said we must
Get past the problems of today
For the enjoyment of tomorrow,
So please, please forgive us our tears
Because right now it is hard to see
What possible pleasures could be
Born of pain so sharp, so dear.

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(In Memoriam, Doug McColeman, 1962-2014)

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…”

AIDS is the Age of Christ

(A sonnet to the God of Plague)

Now AIDS is the age of Christ
When he was scourged, crucified;
It has been thirty-three years
Since our skins first bloomed bruises—

Passion purpled—pain blossomed,
We began to die too young,
No chance of resurrection,
In our modern fairytales,

And if now we have some pills,
And it doesn’t kill—so quickly,
There remains the terrible
Memory of that reaping,

We see shadows hint at spaces
Where entire lives could have been.

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Depth Charge: 1981 is generally considered to mark the beginning of the onslaught of AIDS in North America because that is the year cases first appeared in the gay communities of New York and San Francisco, although we now know that the virus was present much earlier. There has been an upsurge in interest in this period with the documentaries How to Survive a Plague and We Were Here, and the film The Dallas Buyers Club, and the made-for-tv movie The Normal Heart all being released in the past couple of years. Criticism has been leveled at some of these works that they leave out important parts of the story, but I think that is because that period in history and the issues are so painful and complex that any single effort to encapsulate them will fail. It is best to take them all to together, if you can bear to. It is especially harrowing watching these works because we are still living with this virus in our midst 33 years later. As for the title, 33 years is popularly held to be the age at which Jesus Christ was crucified.

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…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Sweet Paulownia by Michael Leon

Sweet Pawlonia
Music and Lyrics by Michael Leon

Sweet Pawlonia blooms in spring
You and I’ve been through some things
The Sweetest blossoms never last too long
December flowers are cool and rare
crystals blooming in your hair
You were here and now you’re gone

Chorus:
You can cut me down and make me bleed
I’m gonna rise like that phoenix – watch me
Just you wait and see
Days may be dark and nights too long
And this might be a sad sad song
Pawlonia will always smell sweet to me

Met her on a Saturday
She drove all that gloom away
I thought my life was finally turnin’ around
But life is long and times got hard
And she and I we had to part
Misery lost is so easily found

Chorus

A hermit’s life may be for some
And maybe I should be all done
Some live and learn, but maybe I just don’t
Fresh growth will drive winter’s pall away
And maybe next time she will stay
I’ll hold on to her or I won’t

Chorus

12 December 4 Paulownia 12 December 3 Paulownia 12 December 1 Paulownia 12 December 2 Paulownia

This year for my birthday we are having fun with Hanafuda and Tarot cards.

150px-RWS_Tarot_09_Hermit

To see all the Hanafuda/Tarot tanka posted to date, click here.

Barb Lougheed's Death Collage -- Detail

A detail from the Death Collage by Barb Lougheed.

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Four Poems To Be Read in Random Order by Sue Hughson

May Iris_02c May Iris_01cMay Iris_03cMay Iris_04c

Four Poems To Be Read in Random Order
by Sue Hughson

Hope

in days gone by we
called it fear or hope or joy
now mental illness

Pocket

If you look at a
core long enough, you begin
to see an apple

I do not stay in places
I expected you to be

Happy

Some people woke up
happy, early this morning,
others did not wake

I could do quite nicely with
something that lies in between

Starfish

I miss you, you don’t
miss me, reception crackles
here at sea

Starfish, answer’s urchin’s call,
devours her, the shell and all

This year for my birthday we are having fun with Hanafuda and Tarot cards. Sue created a fortune teller from an iris and inside were four exquisite poems.

Susan Hughson Iris Fortune Teller

Sue Hughson’s Iris Fortune Teller

Depth charge: For the story behind the bridge depicted in the May/Iris suit of the Hanafuda, click on the card on the extreme right above, or click here.

To see all the Hanafuda/Tarot tanka posted to date, click here.