Distant Shadow Dance

Distant Shadow

where is the mountain pass?


I need you

but the mountain

is in my way


if I cross

I can never return

for I am the mountain

while my need for you

is the mountain pass


I love the way this piece doubles in on itself – a spiral that rewrites what you have read by the time to get to the end. I had been reading books on Zen by this time. Partly to step out of the culture I felt trapped in & partly to seem more intellectual than I really was. I’m not sure how much I understood of them at the time but they sure looked good on my book shelf. 

It’s another poem to a non-existent ‘you.’ The shadow was perhaps the fear of coming out? There’s also a realization that we often stand in our own way & until we learn to get over ourselves there is no progress. Maybe getting older was the shadow because as we age we can only remember but never get back.

Persephone Danced

I hear carousel music

when I want a lullaby

a dreamy hand to cover

this melody I can’t control –

who will I kill today?


Persephone danced for Gauguin;

Medusa carved for Rodin;

ears bled for Van Gogh;

children laughed for clowns;

who will we kill today?


let’s hang the clown,

railroad the circus out of town;

leave him sway till he rots;

who will we kill today –

ha, let’s hang all the clowns


I am a fan of Gauguin. I had prints of his painting hanging on my walls. The adventure of his life, the escape to the Pacific, were ideal fantasy fodder for me. If I had gone to French Polynesia it certainly would have been the native men I would have fallen for. I read & reread a biography I had of him. I had the Time-Life art series ‘The World of …’ so I was familiar with the works of Rodin; Van Gogh. They were thwarted geniuses – just like I was 🙂

I’m not sure how this poem segues from verse to verse – dance music painting sculpture – all fine arts, I suppose, but the connecting tissue is lacking. I’m also not sure where this penchant for hanging, or for clowns came from either. Maybe the face painters present to the world is a painting hung on a wall – like clowns presenting their painted faces to the world?

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

Paul Gauguin

Not all my inspirations were writers. Some were painters, some musicians and some imaginary. At one time I was ‘infatuated’ with Paul Gauguin. I have reproductions of several of his paintings; including the Oriana Maria, The White Horse. I read the 1971 biography ‘Gauguin’s Paradise Lost” by Wayne Anderson repeatedly before lending to someone who never returned it 😦 I’ve read his collected letters.

Looking back I suspect it was his suffering as much as his painterly eye that fascinated me. Like his compatriot Van Gogh, he was derided by his contemporaries. I felt he was a true artist, one not enslaved by marketing, by the need to produce work that would sell. Though he was disappointed that his work didn’t sell, his sense of vision didn’t change.

I envied his travels in Peru, Denmark, Martinique, Tahiti, the Marquesas, & his life in France. I used to dream about my own Tahiti escape, though I’d be more inclined to let the local native men colonize me. It seemed like a time of greater innocence & of a deeper respect for the artist. He also had a gift for titles: “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” 🙂 His influence goes on in the art world.

As an inspiration his persistence in following his vision is a passion that I emulate. Sure, I’d love to be a best-seller but writing for marketability isn’t driving me creatively. It never really did. I knew a writer once who was putting down commercial press while trying to come up with a concept that would get her a writing grant. The market she picked was driving her creativity.

There are studies looking at the roots of genius – Van Gogh & poisonous paint (& other mental issues). Gauguin and untreated social disease. There are discussions of their problematic relationships with women filtered though the sensibility of 2019 values. Does it matter? 

Why Why Why

I’ve never figured out why

I prefer hairy to smooth

why what I want rarely wants me

and when it does

I wonder what the hell is going on

I can’t  deal with this

it can’t last

I’m better at longing than getting

there must be some mistake

like those lottery numbers

that I never really believe will line up for me 

if they did would I believe my tired eyes

well I guess I would but

I’m not holding my breath


I don’t understand how 

one day he’s all smiles

and the next is at death’s door

how a slap can mean true love

why rescue is the only way to be compassionate

how money can’t buy me

but you can make an offer I might not refuse

I never really figured what he sees in her

what she sees in him

why does the moon shine

when there is no one to make love under it

I don’t get why

the subway is always full 

when I need to sit down

why that cd skips on my favorite song

why I never got past the credits on Friends

I don’t comprehend 

a media so fascinated with 

droopy-eyed doped up babes

that it takes an assassination of a world leader

to get those haggard pop stars

off the front page for a few days

a very few days


when did news turn into entertainment

when did hockey become a free-for-all

blood on the ice

more interesting than goals

I don’t understand weather

why one day there is ice

the next day swarms of cuddly nuzzling winds


what happened to the good old days 

which actually never existed

for people like me

who just don’t understand

who find it hard enough to decide 

which designer knock-off to wear

without feeling like I’m exploiting someone

why does the world keep on turning

when there is nothing 

but diseased air to turn in

I don’t understand 

but luckily I don’t have to 

in order to be blissful



every Tuesday 2019

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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