lost 20: shrewbots

this tool has no options. fartlek fatuous filibuster firkin quarter barrel small cask; get hold of a skull; describe the tongue of a woodpecker and the jaw of a crocodile the flying fish so popular it knocked principia mathematica off the production line inspiration no laws of motion or gravity. fagotto bassoon the reed chorus, extremely soft stop delicate, airy tone single, or double-rank aéoline celeste string, and the salicional future celibate salacious gelatinous ocean and cretaceous of 600 million years ago wind chests enter stage right no, left, you little etruscan shrew divisions back to 1425 – 1430 there’s more to nothing than we know why is there something rather than nothing at all? 68-year-old patricia tabram- the cannabis grandma – charged with intent, viewers shocked by rhoda morgenstern’s abrasive tongue, oh morning star, who why ironically buys vintage star wars figurines, or i’m the type of person who appreciates homemade lamps made from mason jars, william and kate go plastic will and kate go wax the duke and the duchess go all in the family, a catalogue of mary tyler moore abdomens, extremely rare albino ruby-throated limited edition barbie collection in white feathers, pink bills and legs. the red eyes. there’s just no accounting for happiness or the way it turns up like a prodigal ghost ants translucent shrewbot those synthetic whiskers work in the dark like the real thing, catch the moon drifting darkly, city chicken. as billy wilder called it (in the closet) magniloquently, van gogh’s ear for music. those armoured catfish wreaking havoc in the south – we were once published in an anthology together. i’m the type of person who. and american nuns chastised chastitized charitized shafticized satirized listen to the rattle of old bones the colour of the food you eat their fusiform gyrus and inferior emporial appeal.

there’s just no accounting… from ‘happiness’, by Jane Kenyon, Poetry Foundation blog

Also, this week on the BBC you can listen to Jane Kenyon, from Scotland, talk about a trip to the Arctic: Thank you Ray Battams for the tip. It was a good listen.

From Grant Savage: These new poems, well I’ve been enjoying them.

Juxtapositions IX


half full
half empty

in or out
of tune

with/in my mouth
throat singing

for my supper/eat
off the fat

of the land

is it these pills

with my/your

long hair

of lilies
in the breeze


the outward

curve of hips
of flowers

sacroiliac/liliums kiss
sex to sex

for the moments’
summer of flesh

in the mind’s …

rain’s decomposition
these lines

young and gleaning
but the sadistic

the astringent
and the favourite vintage

the black bottles of Samos Naxos
vintners to the gods

sweet since
one thousand B.C.

sex of american novels
the libraries

the couplings
on and beneath

the covers
of paperbacks

the whips on
or the corsets containing

either spill
or prevent

the jiggled

sharp or flat

or full/round

of milk
and honey

via Zach Wells on facebook (no pun intended, Zack works for ViaRail) here is Kay Ryan, former Poet Laureate of the United States.


Nothing whole
Is so bold,
we sense. Nothing
not cracked is
so exact and
of a piece. He’s
the distempered
emperor of parts,
the king of patch,
the master of
pastiche, who so
hashes other birds’
laments, so minces
their capriccios, that
the dazzle of dispatch
displaces the originals.
As though brio
really does beat feeling,
the way two aces
beat three hearts
when it’s cards
you’re dealing.


The Poetry Conversation:

Continuing the conversation with Shai Ben-Shalom:

Shai: Susan’s words (See ynklings April 22) resonate with me, as my writing is often in an attempt to deliver messages. If I don’t have a message, I don’t usually have a poem. Only on rare occasions I may play with words in order to come up with something that sounds good, or reads well, without including some messages in it.
In this regard, most of my poems are built around narratives and I view them as tiny vehicles of communication. Whatever they carry could also be carried by other vehicles, such as short stories, short films, etc. Perhaps my limited command over the English language does not allow me to truly enjoy poetry that revolves around shapes, sounds, tongue-twists, etc. Perhaps my training as a scientist is reflected in my poems, as if I am on a quest to formulate a new hypothesis and support it with data with each new poem.

I don’t know if poems need to be overly balanced. There should be room for personal variations, in a sense that one may write primarily with his ‘logical tools’ whereas another one may be more attentive to his heart, but the two may still live side by side, even within the same poetry collection or during the same open mic session. I don’t see a problem with a poem that is too clever, or too sentimental, although I may wonder about poems that sound too stupid or too disconnected from emotions…

Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking piece!

In a further email, he adds:

 I looked at ynklings; an interesting site that offers plenty of food for thought! I had a special interest in what Grant wrote about homeostasis in nature and the need to have some imbalance in order to preserve life. How true!

As far as your own thinking goes, well, I have had the opportunity to listen to you on Open Mic sessions, and to read a few of your poems in chapbooks, and my impression is that a lot of thinking goes into your writing! You may avoid the formalities of putting down your thoughts on a paper for all to see, but this is different than avoiding the thinking…

I hope the discussion will continue. I was just starting to get engaged…

From Pearl Pirie’s Pesbo blog:

What’s the use(fulness) of poetry?
At best it may bump and knock loose something else in someone else that dislodges a hidden brick of meaning. Then their chimney falls in and there’s a house fire. Then you get on like a house on fire. No, that’s not it.
A poem is a synthesis of all that’s come before. Copy, combine, transform. It’s remixing and perpetuation of some part of something. It’s the outcome of perceptions.
I like the idea of poem as by-product, like paper scraps cut off after the real product of text is printed. It isn’t useful as by-product, if not used. Unless it existing is a use. Which it is. Is it sufficient leveraging of the gift of living? Poetry is a thankfulness, a paying back, the gift of being alive.

Yeaayyy!!!! Carol A. Stephen and Luminita Suse!!!! Finalists in the 2012 Canadian Authors National Capital Region Poetry Contest!!!!

A last note: Tomorrow’s ynklings will be posted late as I will be in Montreal. My overnight holiday!

magnolia buds

lost 18: magnolia buds
ten minutes, just ten minutes, magnolia. you’re carrying a big stick more than mere; what we want is a sky deep as heaven pale as memory with the watermelon scent of mown grass feeling a little underdressed in its own office. denmark and canada may share hans island while back at the ranch, this poem (so crazy, no wonder you’ve been bitten by a zoo penguin; the day overweight in a three-piece suit huffing and puffing, the moon a big bad wolf shining through the windshield with a big bite out of it; play zach zero, or south park, technoman’s revenge) makes too much sense. magic magnolias newt, getting everywhere fast. there’s no moon. never mind we’re lucky, dark uncontrolled vegetation’s abandonment of orphans, annoyance of mobile phones. fungus-ed two ways, one munching only on polyurethane the other on styrofoam burgers,  so as soon as they’re cooked on one side, pete, please turn the patties over – children hold up drawings of their dream homes: four walls, a roof, sometimes a chimney, steps to the front door days spent stepping over quartered and flayed corpses. hell yes, ah’m the one who owns that quarter kg of cocaine in mah l’il magnolia’s purse. gaberlunzie gardyloo! gastromancy, gazump gobemouche hell’s angels, here’s m’badge, jes mah own l’il effort ta help the tourist trade she says simultaneously teaching a course called “stuff” and another on telling fortunes from the rumblings of the stomach. the fluffy duck just sits there, without too much heart, a fluck.

(Thank you, Grant D. Savage, for the glorious shahai above this piece)

A poem by James Langer, from the same issue of Ireland’s Southword that featured other Canadian poets such as Richard Greene (see yesterday’s ynkings) via Riddle Fence magazine. All three poems by James Langer, especially Home Suite, are so strong, it was hard to choose just one. Read the others at


Snow eddied, amassed, erased the trails,
and all the instruments failed.

The robot eye of a flashlight bulb
faded to a burnt out retina and blinked out.

In the absence of heat, I struck
the flat of a fire-stick, and sparks

flocked to dry tinder and cloth
like lucent moths.

On the great lake of dark, I was afloat
in a skiff the size of my campfire’s glow.

With no food left, I hung the dog on a spit,
pissed in a pot, and boiled my boots.

And with no dog left, I slept
spooned with the helve and head of an axe.

Then stirred by illumination, not
the back and forth sway of a searchlight,

but the blue cascade from a television set.
Traffic outside. The baseboard heaters ticked,

and all my clocks flashed twelve.

Grant Savage has been writing a new series of lyric poems. I was excited to read  this and be given permission to put it on ynklings today1

Juxtapositions VIII

The Blues

That blue you stole
from another poet

that bleeding from Rothko’s sea
in darkness

the curse that brought
blue couch and thieves bent

under that weight
back into Seymour’s shabat afternoons

its deep blue sea
rather than the devil’s

now if i’d stolen that …
and i have

ridden the light
of morphos

my eyes on their flash
the dappled dark

the sun-splashed canopy
the flown to the beyond … rainforests

of latin america
is it condor

or harpy that gives
the lift and deadly

talons to these lines
doves and violets of venus

or fine ladies and their hawks
the blues of male merlins

their side-saddle blue blood mistresses
bumbles bees too half dangling

drunk with the cold … last new england asters
a mere groundhog

i bury my face in those seas
the Fall’s last ray-flowers

a mere groundhog … yes
but i have dreamt

of us earthpigs flying
noise like V-1s

raining down on London

a mere-groundhog … yes
i wallow in marion blue grass

eat among the blu
and the greyes hairstreaks

was once the rampant mount
of women

who would otherwise
ride eagles

and eyes pulsing

lashes lashes
black … and fluttering

the flash the blue
of morpho wings

grey hairstreaks blues*types of butterflies
Grant D. Savage.

Luminita Suse, Pearl Pirie and Bryan Cook have been kind enough to let me include their email back-and-forthing on poetry: 

Luminita: It is simplistic to say that the poem is a handshake between head, heart and language. Why language? What about visual and sound poetry? Poems are performed, sung, drawn, gesticulated, mimicked etc. What have all these in common? I see poetry in paintings, sculptures, graffiti. So, I’d say poetry is a handshake between intellect, emotion and some form of expression. The poet has the power to decide the objectivity extent, the passion dosage, and the intended impact on the audience. Balance in poetry is what scientists expect. By the way, isn’t the chemical imbalance in the brain a possible definition for emotions? Imbalance, asymmetry, instability tend to accumulate around singularities, oddities, exceptional moments and aspects that generate the most profound impressions. I have an open eye for these unique aspects.
What if the poem exists outside our awareness? Omnipresent and desperate for attention, striking or commanding to be written. Taking different forms of expression and bearing different messages depending on each one’s insight and vision. Two or more poets will create distinct poems given the same theme. Two or more people will understand the same poem differently. What is poetry if not an attempt to use some form of expression to give new definitions to what constitutes our tangible part of the world, an effort to paraphrase our slice of reality? Drawn from the world and given back to the world. From the muse AND for the muse. This is my point of view.
Pearl: Glickman has a short piece on poetry on her site where she talks about poetry as something that is developing towards something rather than something composed from inspiration, reading, experience, reaction, etc….
It sounds similar to what Barry Dempster was saying in his workshop last year — that poemness is achieved once you have an even weight of the poem among head, heart and language. Those are the 3 dimensions you need for the structure. If it is too clever, or too sentimental or too much in the head, or all the linguistic techniques but no content, it fails.

Pearl: on more or less the same topic, from another of her Pesbo journals: Any communication can be made more densely packed or easygoing conversation or messed with to highlight out some aspect, sound or omissions or collecting repetitions, or making an emotive oratory arguments.
Poems don’t have to make sense but making ideas is sweet. One life to live so calling it in with an utterance that could be something special but ends up bland is kind of a waste of life. Because you can do anything, that doesn’t mean everything is equal.
No point has a prescribed destiny. If any direction is possible, how do you choose?
Communicating in an open loop is more interesting than a closed loops among internalized self. Writing is a dialogue. Reading a great deal helps so you know what other people typically gravitate to. A reader or group of readers or editor all can help tease out what is more standard and what is more unique or well-wrought.
Luminita: Forcing the poem into expression may lead to failure and disappointment. Bending the will of a poem into being a popular creature may trigger a rebellion. Some poet’s hope to become famous and rich. Some just feel better by offering it to the world. What constitutes a wonderful poem for me, may mean nothing to you. Letting the poem write one’s mind or heart may not be acceptable for the one that twists the language to hide oneself true nature. There are way too many aspects to take into consideration, when in fact no one has a clear definition to what constitutes poetry or a good poem. It would be science, not art, if one did. (Luminita adds this poem…)

Let Me Make This Perfectly Clear
by Gwendolyn MacEwen

I have never written anything because it is a Poem.
This is a mistake you always make about me,

I have never written anything because it is a Poem.
This is a mistake you always make about me,
A dangerous mistake. I promise you
I am not writing this because it is a Poem.

You actually think I care if this
Poem gets off the ground or not. Well
I don’t care if this poem gets off the ground or not
And neither should you.
All I have every cared about
And all you should ever care about
Is what happens when you lift your eyes from this page.

Do not think for one minute it is the Poem that matters.
Is is not the Poem that matters.
You can shove the Poem.
What matters is what is out there in the large dark
and in the long light,

Bryan Cook: I discovered the Tree Seed Workshops, the best of which taught me new poetical forms to experiment with and give me some structure: slam, triptych, sonnet, haiku etc. I found this discipline good for me because it made me stop and think about what I was writing. They slowed me down to be more reflective, to breathe.
…So my poetry reflects an ongoing journey of self rediscovery in my heart, soul and daily living. I cannot write in abstract about things outside of my experience. For me, all poetry has to make sense in these contexts…I have to feel something from the writer…. otherwise I cannot relate to it.
…Here’s another thought: a poem is much like a theorem that proves the poet’s point of view, his/her take on a subject. In mathematics, a special attention is given to singularities or points of extremum. In depth proofs are built around singularities in math branches such as calculus, optimization, game theory, geometry, differential equations, operational research, the theory of disasters, if not all.

…there is art in math and science in poetry… The interdisciplinary approach makes more sense than separating them.

Thank you so much Luminita, Bryan, and Pearl for sharing these thoughts. They are rich in ideas and conviction; ynklings is fortunate to have been given pernission to use parts of that longer conversation.

a properly clothed man

lost 17: a properly clothed man
pale, almost hesitant, daylight settles on rooftops. memory palace and the love song of alfred j. prufrock (the poet losing consciousness several times during the slam – the body takes over, knows what to do) why did i open the refrigerator door where are my keys what is that wedding ring doing here what was the author’s name moonwalking. with a hill of beans casablanca-ed; walnut – sized chunks of einstein’s brain matter have disappeared, and yet soccer explains the world of japanese chicken sexers, but it’s only mildly temporary. mandolin stanley cup hippocampus. out of new york city, the mystifying equation, 1 + 1 = 2.5, 5th century bc – by running the charge in one direction the volunteers’ learning speed increases by 10 per cent. current the other way dulls the brain cells. a boiled egg hard to beat, a properly-clothed man has a right to be there;the pattern will grow through cumulative distortions, planned and replanned: she was not a friend of the poor. she was a friend of poverty, he clutche dit, clutched. heaved. her kiss burnt his forehead. the kimball ballroom and the right stage chamber, grand exit in a cloud of pink smoke. is that all? please don’t apologise; i did not meet a soul on my way to the river. know the seven songs that are bad for your health. the blood’s got to get to the brain, add another log to its fire, long idle servomotors judder into life. the catch clicks; a passionate kiss with the same effect as belladonna or a flatfish staring, pupils dilated

Christopher Hitchens She was not a friend…re Mother Teresa  

Photo of/by Bruce McGregor/Magoo, one of the finest performers, presenters, singer-songwriters/ dressers I know.
So I’m fascinated with pipe organs (cross me off your ‘sane’ list) and much of the music associated with them. This piece mentions The Kimball Ballroom Organ, the World’s Largest Musical Instrument. Known also as Atlantic City`s Boardwalk Hall Pipe Organ, it has over 600 stop tabs, the only organ in the world that can produce, (once it’s renovated) particular super-low frequency sounds. Now this means little to me, but just the words, the idea of it, knowing that the 64ft pipe (64 feet high!!!) would sound at 8Hz, and the 64ft + 42 2/3 would sound at 4Hz. Makes me want to go to St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany, where one note is now being played of John Cage’s Organ²/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible), a musical piece written in 1987 for organ. The particular performance now ‘playing’ started in the year 2000 and will last for 639 years, ending in 2640. The last note was changed on April 5th, 2012. The next note begins on October 5th, 2013. It’s worth googling ORGAN²/ASLSP not only to read about it, and how it’s being performed, but to find Youtube videos in which you can see this once abandoned church and hear the current long note. So okay, I’m weird. And yes, this blog is about writing, not organs, so, alright, I’m writing already.

Here is a a brilliant double-exposure shahai (photograph with /haikutanka imposed upon it) e from Grant Savage: (I’ve posted the poem again under the image)
in the middle
of the double
exposed lily
           green of the missing
The following part is about Peach Farm Studio: Peach Farm Studio (c) 2012 Peach Farm Studio. photo: The Writer’s Desk.

Peach Farm Studio
is a studio where photography, poetry and letterpress projects are created. Through this blog, (a link is on ynklings website) we provide you with an opportunity to take a visit inside the studio (from the comfort of your own chair) to see what we do, how we do it, what inspires us and to provide you with a peek at our works-in-progress as well as some of our completed projects.
Peach Farm Studio is a proud member of Ladies of Letterpress in Northern California. Its blog has been nominated for many blogging awards, and in February and March 2012 received the Sunshine Blogger Award, The Very Inspiring Blogger Award and the Liebster Blog Award. This from their blog:
Photo (c) 2012 Peach Farm Studio.

We are being invaded by lemons and can’t get any work done. The only way we know how to rid ourselves of this lemon infestation is to eat them. Yesterday on facebook I shared one of their letterpressed pieces that featured several haiku; the haiku were very good haiku, so I was surprised. The photographs on the site are so vivid. I just love them.
Back to talking about poems with/without emotion… two things: a note, Pearl Pirie on her Pesbo blog, a poet thinking about poetry:
It’s more the characteristic of the company I want in my head than anything to do with the poem. It can be a painting or an architecture that behaves in the same satisfying way. It can be an oral conversation that doesn’t have a lack of self-awareness but does have a wit for patterns and playing with them. All the pretty sentences that are put together with skill are fine but I think I’m drawn to a personality of inclusion, a crooked-laced outlook.

and whether they are still being written…this poem by Richard Greene, republished from Riddle Fence, in Southword, an Irish publication: http://

At the College

Serpentine, the path unwinds its innocence
from building to building in flickering shade
where my students feed lazy raccoons muffins

and glazed doughnuts, as if to domesticate
the last wild things on this suburban campus,
though nothing can make the few deer unafraid

of engines, words, footfalls, the human rumpus,
or subdue the fox’s wily nonchalance
and teach him not to kill anything helpless.

Here, among these fierce and sentimental students,
I stand on the edge of a world not my own,
snatching small goods from the large irrelevance

of what we do, making the old sorrows known
to children bearing their first calamities,
teaching solitudes to the newly alone,

explaining writers’ exile to refugees
and notions of intrinsic worth to half-fledged
bankers, already driving smart Mercedes.

Yet they live by their hope, curiously pledged
to some afterness that will reward and bless
them for gifts that nature leaves unacknowledged

or earnest labours I grade at B or less;
they know some need of love that poets speak to,
and few can absent their hearts from every class,

however many dronings they may sleep through;
they will mark a perfect image or a phrase
and hear it years from now, wilder then and new.

(I think Kaz Connelly would be pleased. I shared the magazine on facebook; she may have time to read it.)

who took the stepladder


i see myself pale and delicate as a chicken sucked clean of meat
the steps to where i might want to go, missing, and too the genes
to make it easy to exercise. why did my sister get the long lean legs.

still this need to go there, climb somewhere, use any ladder nearby
but my own, built mainly out of air and dream is gone. is it a
psychopath’s trait then, along with lack of conscience about stealing

a certain poet’s line, and having (at the moment) no sense of humour
and zero human empathy as far as ladder thieves are concerned. why
have I come to look at the world as if it had an unhealthy

whiff of concrete and polyester about it, nothing more, no center.

(The above lines are from an exercise set by Barry Dempster in a Tree workshop. We were to write a poem based on his prompts and include the Rothko painting he specifically chose for each of us. He could not have known my favorite colour was blue, nor that ‘light blue, dark blue, rah, rah, rah! was my high school cheer. And only today, coming across the painting again, do I see that I didn’t think then, of the high school connection. It probably would have been a completely different poem…)

lost 11, scilla liberally

opening a new bar of soap for a hot bath I don’t know let’s start with this. by the hoarfrosted bridge feeling as good about life as as a dodo as a suitcase as the snowdrops and the scilla; liberally though the gap between slats, a cracked shell gazing at infinity. some critters are much much, ever so much much, so muchly much much more unlucky than you. not the right toilet paper. he buys it because it looks like… do you have enough stars do you have enough feathers. why didn’t you say you came out of a suitcase. scilla liberally over the graves. crash of falling wave/their long withdrawing. choose to be rich by making your wants few. sprinkled black as raven’s shadow, rain-mottled petals bearing the sky in a suitcase.

With thanks to Dr. Seuss!

Yesterday two poetry events, both absorbing. George Murray and Roo Borson captivated at The Manx, and Pearl Pirie led readings at the last Slowest evening (Bridgehead Coffee House) a funder for The Guatemala Stove Project, at which Sandra Stephenson, Shai, Grant Savage and Monty Reid made it a worthy celebration of the Slowest series. Earlier Sandra, her partner Brendan, and I had gone to the Poet’s Walk at Beechwood Cemetery (a poetry month project of Sandra’s) and she and Brendan spoke some random acts of poetry there.  We spent a couple of enjoyable hours looking for poets’ graves and found none… but it was a perfect thing to do yesterday.