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Excerpt for Royal City Poets 4- 2014 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

ROYAL CITY POETS 4 2014


by

Silver Bow Publishing,


Published by Silver Bow Publishing at Smashwords

Copyright 2015 Silver Bow Publishing


ISBN 978-1-927616-38-3 (e-book)


License Notes


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given

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ROYAL CITY POETS 4


Silver Bow Publishing

Box 5 - 720 Sixth St.,

New Westminster, BC

V3L 3C5 CANADA

Email: silverbowpublishing@gmail.com



Black Onyx Lake ~ Candice James

(Poet Laureate, City of New Westminster, BC)


Above the lip of a black onyx lake,

I walked as a ghost in a foreign land,

All around me in a state of flux:

Mountains dissolving;

Sand dunes shifting;

Sky cracking open;

Stars in free-fall

Above the lip of a black onyx lake.


I saw stars being born,

Burning out, disappearing;

Angels in flight touching down on the lake.

I saw high-wires, guidelines and cities

Constructed with neon and gauze;

Rainbows shedding their colours at will.


In a moment of madness

The sun kissed the moon;

And imagination’s children were born,

Spilling from a crack in the sky

Onto poets, musicians and artists

In reverent and sacred free-fall.


I stood as a ghost

Turned inside out,

Eyes filled with stars,

Moon, sun and sky

Bearing witness to

Both sides of the dark

Above the lip of a black onyx lake



Ghosts Of Summer ~ Candice James

(Poet Laureate, City of New Westminster, BC)


I found you breaking holes in the ice

Searching for a perfect snowflake

In a prison of shattered tears.


I slid down the winter slope of your smile

Hypnotized by the frost in your eyes;

Warmed by the heat of your body.


We huddled together

Safe in the depth of our breath.

In the catch of our desire:

A fire running wild in the blood

Stained with the amber residue

Of Nirvana spinning blue.


Hands clasped tightly

And skin pressed together

On a cold dark night we crept away,

Sliding down the curve of winter’s back

While she lay sleeping.


We travelled light

With the ghosts of summer

Into a surreal season

Of broken rainbows and fading sunsets.

We slid down the whisper of Spring

Chasing the shadows of summer

Before the sun burnt out

In the freeze of winter’s breath.


I left you breaking holes in the ice

Searching for the lost ghosts of summer

Inside an endless winter.


I had to leave…

I’d stopped believing in ghosts.



The Thick ~ Candice James

(Poet Laureate, City of New Westminster, BC)


Night drips from the sky;

Ink from an ebony casket

Onto the pages of day,

Closing the book of light,

Opening the story of night.


The thick of its touch

Clings like cashmere,

Brushing the breast of this moment

With star-shadow and moon-dust;

Falling in mirrored songs

Onto a satin dance floor;


Whispers to voices

To whispers again

Inside the blue of a fading song

As the awakening begins

In the thick.


The universe stretches and yawns,

Exhales a stiletto sharp breath:

Cracking the black open;

Skinning the bear of night;

Wrenching the dark to a standstill.


The keeper of light emerges,

Bright yellow disc in hand,

Hangs it high in the sky;

Thinning the thick to the quick;

Closing the book of night.



New Westminster ~ Trevor Carolan


Night sounds drift up from the river:

exquisite screech of train rails, grinding steel

on cold, raw steel

slowly

up the line to Port Moody.

Tug whistles bawl counterpoint off Brownsville

beneath Patullo Bridge,

chugging and chugging

burglar alarms ring and ring back of warehouse row,

gulls scream mad all night in feeding orgies—

oolichans arc-lit by mill-yard sodium lamps,

white ghosts hovering, and veer in the false light

iridescent

swoop the spawn run, cry on starts of wind blown up

from the delta;

muscle cars rev cobbled, hilly streets;

swarthy, glistening sea-lions bark and bark

for love

in moonlight.

Hometown boy…



Staying Put, Koan ~ Trevor Carolan


Land really is the best art

Andy Warhol said,

and that’s true.

Take a rock in the rain

now there’s a picture,

a real story –

a thousand, million years of consciousness

maybe.

What does the raindrop remember when it’s

in the sea?



Tangkas In The Pawnshop ~ Trevor Carolan

for Ed and Ulu Hill, Richard Pua,

Richard & Angela Tavares


Cloudy Saturday

Io Valley, Maui peaks mist-swallowed, but no sign rain.

After swimming in salty bay here, no sign sharks today:

twenty lengths, shore to dock, then quiet reading in the shade,

meditating on the holy Tao,

on Our Lady blossoming in plumeria,

in orange ohia flower.


Complete enlightenment at Wailuku Plate Lunch Shack:

chicken & shredded pork long noodle, mint, bean sprouts,

shredded cabbage;

combination head cheese, pork pâte sub and

tapioca coconut milk, or

from the glory of Spain, flan custard.

Today, maybe even both.

Or choice of opakapaka garlic fish, grill on rice;

enjoying cold tap water outdoors

beneath umbrellas.


Ah, the beauty of getting old together,

like reading in the paper - a precious collection of holy tangkas

unredeemed in the pawnshop, now on offer,

bargain cheap across island in busy town.

We look at each other and shrug, wistful dharma bums

not quite caring enough to drop it all, to go running after

any more–


Happy here, with just enough.



Meadowlark ~ Calvin Wharton


Whenever I mention Saskatchewan,

meadowlark interrupts

with a song so magnificent

it can only be sung where geography relaxes

into grasslands and table-top horizon,

while luminous sky sweeps away

the pitiful small concerns we humans

carry around with us.


When meadowlark mentions Saskatchewan,

the rest of us stop and pay attention,

feel the muscles in our shoulders

loosen and our mouths open slightly

as if we were about to share the song, ourselves.


And while Saskatchewan mentions meadowlark,

the breeze falters and daylight

becomes a verb, conjuring

time stopped, with only music

alive and moving through this world.



Suitcase Full of Birds - Calvin Wharton


A Vancouver resident has been fined for trying to smuggle a suitcase full of songbirds into the city from China.”

The Vancouver Sun, August 3, 2012


Nine and twenty Old World birds,

chosen for their intonation,

a mix of babblers and flycatchers

melodious laughing thrushes, red-billed leiothrix

and Oriental magpie-robins,

he sedated and wrapped each in a sock

then slipped them into carry-on luggage,

lined up like keys on a piano

dreaming melodies and harmony

of morning light and fragrant breeze;


on the aircraft he lifted his case

carefully into an overhead compartment

with other bags, who knows

what might have been in them:

souvenirs, photographs of family,

a jacket or a pair of silk pyjamas?


He made no sound while

the birds slept across the Pacific

they had no passports or travel plans,

flying without flying, the irony

not available to them until

the bag was opened,

and they began to sing.



The Fine Point - Calvin Wharton


Insistent,

argument invades

like a sliver of glass,

or how my mother told me a needle

could travel, that is

if you stepped on one,

embedded it in the flesh

beneath your heel,

the metal would begin to move upward

like a silver-scaled fish

swimming against gravity

through the muscle at the back of the leg

and up the length of thigh

into torso, nosing its way

toward a vital organ—

liver, spleen or heart, perhaps—

intent on finding a resting place

a spawning ground for the discomfort

of its host, who remains

unaware of this menace

remembering only the slender stab

felt once, back when foot

inherited the fine point,

the beginning of an end

established itself in the blood

and meat of distraction.



929.2 ~ Kyle McKillop


She wonders if he tells strangers

that he has four children or five:


in photographs she is missing,

sisters laughing without concern—


she becomes the woman imagining

in the locked attic,


a stakeout in a film,

the Greeks besieging Troy,


an umbrella in his passenger lap,

the book assigned to “Poetry”


that longs to join

the laureate’s nonfiction.



Sky Blues ~ Kyle McKillop


The table textured like the moon,

with craters and wishes.

I am 1/128 Swiss and I should know; I counted.

In photographs Lorca, like my grandfather,


mirrors elocution lessons.

The band riffs, notes stumbling upward in sky blues,

the salt shaker, self-contained desert,

rebuffing the pepper’s nuzzle.


At the dark border as I sleep the bus driver,

unfamiliar with my name,

elects to mark the form feminino;

I enter Brazil a woman:


a house in which to sculpt books

into pillars and arches,

a word on the page to break the silence.

Astride the mooning pond, I miss Li Po.



The Fog ~ Kyle McKillop


Enveloped as if by silt

in a slow estuary,


clear to that square

form and not beyond,


the functionary drops

of reluctant rain pooling


overhead, a motor reverberates

through the calm—


one can almost see

the raven ruffling


its night feather

on the grinding beach,


the season settling

into its stony nest.



Upon That Young Revelation ~ Dennis E. Bolen


In a song of days

bye

never

to come again


and of course ignoring the im


morality


of that which had

to be over


looked


on our quest

for truth


and sur--vival


Finally to be stretched

over death

after all the sideswipes

past affection

now

to be exposed by pure light

of her eye

heat by the basic cell structure

and coalescence

of two hearts

and the end it would be

if it would end


At the age of nine

CATHOLICISM

was not what I'd seen on TV


thus


had no relevance


and soon the 20th Century tide


which saw church transition


to day care

community centre

casino


and forever therefore and evermore unto eternity I knew

anything manmade was groovy

any faith manmade

not connected to electronic communication

was not to be

considered


And another thing

upon that young revelation

I knew I'd love many women

without restraint

and that by that time anyway

life had kicked

and discovered

fraud

in the imposition of ethereal faith

and failure

thrust up my face

when the third-grade teacher declared me

insufficient

so

don't be shocked

fired as I was from a tough cannon

sped eager

toward trouble (criminal, affection, many dozen left in the

broken

glass

road


behind...)



My Trip South ~ Dennis E. Bolen


To the 30-year civil death survived

Guatemalan

fleabag dweller

who

sees government agent on my face

ranks the only sport jacket

in Central America in June

up a wall

and chants

FBI FBI

You are right my friend

and I

will never

go back

to Quate

again



Like Her ~ Bonnie Nish


When she lets down her hair

she dances a tango unaccompanied,

a rosary hung

from her bedpost left by the lover

now asleep in his wife’s arms,

she commands the moon to disturb them,

to silence their unborn child

to lay regret for music they cannot hear.

She holds the slingshot that misses,

the wishing bone she can not break

her hips swing in circles, her head falls between

imagined gentle hands that remove the darkness

from her sky.


Like her

my tight braid holds

the breathing wilderness

of an untamed child.

Like her my body alone

rooted disenchantment

shaken off by a thimble of prayer.

Like her I scour

the expansive night

beg for comfort

with the movement of my hips.

Like her

I witness the purple wings of butterflies

in a tango, a salsa, a rumba.

Like her

old lovers that can’t be touched are touched

handcuffs of disappointment broken.

Like her I move.



Four Versions of My Truth Today ~ Bonnie Nish


Oh my beloved father

I love him I love him.

O Mio Babbino Caro, Giacomo Puccini


One:

When my mother turns away,

her averted eyes, her silence so loud

it hurts my head to think in death

she can still ignore me.

It is no different from when I was sixteen

her threatening timbres shaking

the roof, when she discovered

my putative love of an Irish non-Jewish boy.

My tortured father made sightless by the fight,

while I like Lauretta pleading,

Oh yes, I really love him.


I too ready to throw myself from any bridge

into wailing rushing waters, my skin burned

by my appetite for a sense of understanding and words.


Two:

When a hush now comes over me

as vast as a wolf

standing alone in a field coveting the moon,

a howling answer to an unsettled night

takes hold, it is probably a sleeping wound

slowly walking into consciousness

devouring the lonely bones,

the unlocked pain of my lover missing, my mother gone,

my father old and blind.

My love for which I suffer.


Three:

When I float down a river

on a barge that is big enough

to clamp all the grief that has accumulated

below my left lung while he sleeps,

And if you still say no,

I cramp the river’s banks

with the mass of my injury passing

a moan, a scrape, the edges of my muddy loss

falling onto floorboards

where I try to clench the wind in place.


Four:

When I tag the sleeping toe of this man

the giant booster of hope,

his fabricated versions of courage and tenderness

pillars in my trifling world,

while his soup and hands turn cold,

it is time to stop the dance.

I am not done. I am not done. I am not done,

I say trying to figure out how to be done.

It is all the same now and at 16.

Father I pray, I pray.
Father I pray, I pray.



A People’s History of Gardening ~Alan Hill


First the weeding and the hoeing

cutting the scruffy and the dead off at the neck


then the manufacturing and repackaging

of fresh sprouted sunlight

the hard grit of seed rubbed between finger and thumb

the soil imprinting into my flesh , fingerprinting me


rubbing up my DNA , making me real

laying out the stiff limbs of garden implements

the shovels and rakes, tools of pleasure,

taken hard and ready from broken bodied sheds


Then the cutting of the grass, the first of the year


untangling the mower from storage


from the ruptured bowel of broken Christmas lights

the un-decorations , un used bicycles and ski shoes.


To take down the lawn to its virginal military length

back to short back and slap


after the slow hippie slip of winter.


A lawn ready for active service, barbeques

the envious glances of strangers

children’s birthday parties

the shitting of passing dogs.


Then at the evening’s end – the pressure washing

declaring war on a whole generation of fungi

that are unwilling to give themselves up,

that thought I and they were friends


now they peel themselves away in stripes

show their inner tigers in shadow and light

become mammal, primordial

moving themselves beneath the waters slap

in the

spitting back of its spray

of liquid hammers

against the neighbors windows


in the vomiting on to the lawn

in pursuit fleeing children


but it is there, undeniable

beneath the watered concrete. There is beach.



The First Known Fire  ~Alan Hill

 

There is this spark     that cannot be killed


refuses to be extinguished       however hard

it is stamped on


that has no interest in reason     burns holes

in the banality

into the darkened drapes between u 

 

eats itself into the ear of an otherness

that cannot will not  be explained


that feeds us      with its un-measurable body

in the unfocused glimpses     of its something 

that can’t be seen  

 

in the cut of shadows       the sprinting pinnacles  

of light

in the warping labyrinth  of caves and tunnels

at the nearest tip of the all we know of it

 

in the slightest caress  of its whale sized being

against the  pressing flesh of the leaky ship  

of us.


Sometimes the spark will hurt

leave me gasping for air  opening windows  

forcing doors

releasing the bodily heat  of unmet need


taking the  sharp nails of frustration

vacationing them  against the skin

carting my heavy luggage of blood and bone

pressing shut my fists on unchecked tickets


mopping the cooling brows

of the weeping infant

of an unobtainable consummation.



Fairy Tales ~ Fran Bourassa


Once upon a time there was a family and a wolf.

Was it make-believe?

No, you say. Just long ago.


There are so many versions of the story

Which to believe?


The wolf is your grandmother

The wolf is your murderer

The wolf is your salvation


Probably all are true.

So many ways to be taken, devoured


You say you only remember your mother in a picture book

What big eyes you had but still you couldn’t see any more of her than that

Your finger points at her tiny head, her tiny arms stiff by her sides


Then you tell the part

Where your father sends you away through the forest

With a hand shake and in a picnic basket

A note of introduction to your stepmother

But when you made it home, you were lost

There was no one to let you in


You tell the part of how

When you are forsaken, you think

It is the end

How if something swallows you whole, you think

It must be a wolf

Because grief can cramp your throat, tears out your voice

It locks you and your heart in the closet forever after


You don’t tell about the rescue.

There was no rescue

Only the gory details I heard through the grapevine

How you chewed your own hand from the trap


It is the thing that wounds you

That writes you, you say.


Later when I tell you

Someone saw the friendly wood cutter

marking the dead with a hunter’s tag

Your family’s bodies stacked up like firewood in the woods -

You howl.


I am not sure if it is laughter or sorrow

You howl again

And then I hear it


A sound

A beautiful, terrified freedom in the timbres of your voice

And you begin your story again.


There was, once upon a time, a family and a wolf.



Strange Fruit ~ Fran Bourassa


I’m not sure how to eat

The beautiful pomegranate you gave me

The first I have ever seen

So I peeled open its leather pouch with my teeth

It’s skin like the hide of a desert animal

I have only seen in picture books

I never knew such riches

 

Inside, berries red as rubies

behind the delicate curtain

And now my mouth full of juice and stones

I see how I have made a mess of it

In your eyes, my reflection

Mouth, like a truck driver

Hands dyed red as a tanner

 

I know you know now for sure

How unworldly I am

It was only time until you found me out

You look away politely

While I spit into my own hand

Seeds and all

 

I am not used to such strange fruit

There is no going back

to what you didn’t know about me

To the 1001 stories you told yourself  

about the princess that would come

And I already see the end in sight

 

There will be an empty room

A torn curtain

And whenever

I say your name

the taste of pomegranate

In my mouth

 


Adorned From Inside Out ~ Celeste Snowber


I slip under beige sheets

hoping sleep will greet me

after my return from Hawaii

but instead I am welcomed

by bright red images of heliconias

lying inside my body as if they

were drooping from the trees

lobster claws, wild plaintains,

false bird of paradise –

they have many names,

to me they are star jewels

dripping from tropical plants

illuminating the earth

intoxicating the senses

with color, design and shape

which can’t help sing inside my flesh

if I could only wear organic necklaces

that droop with the kind of boldness

that these plants offer in a gentle rain

I would be accessorized in a riot of color

but the presence of these red-green jewels

adorn me from the inside out


Table Wisdom ~ Celeste Snowber


You have been with us for decades

years raising my three sons

7, 352 candlelight meals

on your rough-hewn weathered surface

our lives shaped around a slab of solid oak

you are the hips of our family and center of our home

love was poured on you through a thousand variations

pasta, pesto and alfredo, lasagna, hummus and cereal

exuberant voices and grand gestures

your wobbly big legs carried

art projects and epiphanies,

books written and comings out

hundreds of hilarious conversations

a kitchen full of festivity

food groups of liveliness

sanctuary for celebrations

refuge for consternations

all sons have moved out

I let go and sold the house

but could not release you, beloved table

too big for my new condo and the boys don’t need it

the time arrived for your departure

a charity came to take you

my belly wept with the love

infused into your arc of support

through the softening of tears,

I heard,

“You are the table”

here is table wisdom

residing within me –

“I am the table”

you are the table,

we are the table.

I ate what I deeply

knew to be true.



Sea Glass Rosary ~ Celeste Snowber


she held them

between her hands

a dance from one

palm to the other

softly listening to

their notes

of coming together

a shimmering voice

in the late afternoon

fall, white, beige, gray,

brown, hints of green

glass accents

of the earth.

sea accessories

she has been after

accessories, of late

ones with meaning

dressing the body

from the inside out

how appropriate the

sea has its own jewels,

free for the picking

waiting for their lover

to pick them, cherish

their salted beauty

rolled and tossed

from ocean’s mouth



Dancing With A Sociopath ~ Lara Varesi


They smell you, I think. Almost like prey.

No. Exactly like prey.

They look for you, your type.

Seek you out.


Kindness is like candy to them.

Jelly beans of all colors of naivety

waiting to be consumed veraciously,

filling empty pits of twisted needs.

A Wonka factory where sitting ducks replace the

oompa loompas, their songs silenced.

Target practice is now the dance.


Where softness of character is like a t-bone steak

sizzling on a distant barbeque,

its scent breaking through erected barriers

to fill the neighborhood,

hit the nose of strangers.

Its tantalizing scent revealing every cell,

unable to be misjudged for anything other than what it is.


I have no protection from this assault.

The stick clasped tightly in my hand will not guard me.

No, it weakens me instead.

A visual cue of my vulnerability garishly displayed.

It says, I am less than you.

No worthy opponent

but ready and ripe to be picked at and defeated.


Tested, I prove to be even flimsier,

so easy to manipulate and bend.

My own needs do not matter,

I silently scream out with my body.

I will bow and quickly.

I will not resist.


And even when I do it will be quietly, hesitantly,

always thinking of you first.

Your feelings. Your reasons.

Trying to find reasons.

To rationalize that which can’t be

reasoned away.


I feel as a prisoner might against those that guard.

That mock and torment yet hold the key.

Holding power as a sword that slices through humanity

reducing it to rubble,

to be cleaned away by those from who it springs.


I am this rubble.

I watched it crumble gradually, achingly,

and did nothing.

I saw that first crack and I looked away,

even as it grew to make a fragile pattern

of deep gorges filled with seething anger

that burst their seams,

spreading outward to shatter.

Those cracks I saw but patched with cowardice,

twisted into excuses of trying to understand.


I did not see that once you are fully in the dance

you are pinned.

I did not see that the escape was opening wider and wider,

begging me to fly through the doorway and be free.

I did not see. Or yet, I pretended not to see.


My blindness to what I knew changed everything.

Late at night I hear the words “you knew better! you knew!”

circling around my mind.

That is the worst part of the steps, the knowing.

The knowing it didn’t have to be that way.

I didn’t have to be this way. I knew.

I heard the alarms, saw the sirens,

yet still thought I could

keep going in that direction

with just a slight detour.

That I was strong enough.

I wasn’t strong enough.


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