Friday, 18 May 2018

this inspiriting day


without a lot
of directions to go in,
are the best days,
I have found
to, quietly, come upon
an opening
                                             a chasm in the cluttered
                                                      labyrinth of choices

like this day, today ...
the kind of day
I liken to
                                             the gap, awaiting the turn of a page,
                                                      at the end of a chapter ...

such a day
though, seemingly, empty
and without purpose
                                             obliges me to pause and be
                                                      in the moment 
and let go ...
in white space ...
and breathe 
                                             and feel content and gently settled 
                                                      and inspirited 
photo:  Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet, BC - B. Bourke 

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Pointing Toes - A Tanka Prose Piece

One of my first memories of ineptitude was at age seven or eight, when it was discovered that I got a charley horse in my foot, whenever I pointed my toes.   Alas, I did not come upon this revelation privately.  That particular anatomical kink was revealed at my first ballet lesson, accompanied by an electrifying scream ... in front of a dozen, or so, fledgling ballerinas, their mothers and my astonished dance teacher.  It really hurt and it kept right on hurting, as I fell to the floor clutching my foot and shrieking  –  not surprisingly  –  It hurts!!!  It hurts!!!

The affliction has never completely left me.  It isn't that I can't point my toes ... I can. 
I just can't RE-ALL-Y point my toes, to the arabesque standard,  the instructor entreated her pink leotarded charges to aim for  –  as in:  I want to see those toes RE-AL-LY pointing, girls.  She had good cause, for this dictum,  I quickly learned.  There are not many steps you can take in ballet shoes that don't require pointy toes.

Finally, it became clear, to the entire dance studio, that my charley horses were there-to-stay and, thus, it was decided that tap dancing might be a better fit for a melodramatic child with freakishly delicate toes.  Let's just hope there's not a lot of toe pointing involved, I remember my mother sighing,  as we bought my first pair of tap shoes.

the shame of it ...
a dance class full
of ballerina wannabes
and I alone
can't point a single toe

Nobody's perfect, we are told over and over again, as we grow to adulthood.  That is a message, it seems to me, that takes a lot of missteps and gathers an abundance of peccadilloes, before it actually sinks in ... before we 'get it' and make peace with our own shortcomings.  Occasionally, they may even provoke an older-but-wiser chuckle as we reflect back on the histrionics  of youth, and the trials-of-the-damned we visited ... upon ourselves.

photo:  Guess Who? - Mom (sometime in the '50's)

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

the oasis

you should sit for a bit:  my septuagenarian spouse genially suggests – 
a proposal he has taken to advancing, when he notices my wonky back
begin to bend, in the midst of errands ... and I embrace the offer
with the glee of an energetic child allowed to run fast and free

                                                  ~ ~ ~

as is, ofttimes, the way of the genetics lottery, the arthritis that

tarnished my mother's  golden years – has swooped down  upon me,
as the final act commences ... like a lead bearing albatross, that grows
considerably heavier – and more annoying – with each passing season

the wooden benches and leatherette couches that dot the mall, have
become welcome oases, where I, periodically,  hunker down, while
my obliging mate zips from drugstore to grocery – with nary a twinge –
looping by me, at intervals, with a nod and a cheery smile

but for the occasional mother and child, or tween or teen
basking in the glow of fresh-from-the-rack purchases,
the seats are mostly filled by fellow ancients ... usually, alone ...
the ones, with mall-go-fers, like me, wait with pleasant expectancy 

the ones, who wait for no one, look about, indifferently ... in unlit stares ...
often there are remarks about the weather ... sometimes,

I am asked if I'm having a good day ... since I began using a cane,
knees and backs have become a hot topic of discussion and opinion

                                                  ~ ~ ~
my personal shopper circles round the oasis and waves at our little
band of wayfarers as he beetles off to the bookstore ... I wave back ...
as does the, somewhat, older woman beside me ... I'm all alone, now,
she whispers, in breathy sadness ... I hate it, she adds, matter-of-factly


On a personal note, I am truly honored to have one of my poems 'passersby' included in Issue 27 of StepAway Magazine - an Award Winning online English literary journal.  The Magazine showcases flâneur poetry and flash fiction about walking in an urban environment, from cities all around the world.  


photo (photo edited): oasis bench - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Blessing in Disguise


They catch each little misstep
and with kindly, caring grace—
they point out the right direction
by gently getting in your face.

And just in case, you’ve overlooked
that vexsome fatal flaw,
they take the time—to point it out:
deftly hid, midst blah-blah-blah.

They’re sweet and giving—to a fault
and seldom dally to dispense
the inestimable value
of putting in—their own two cents.

And yet, despite the flak—and knack
for getting underneath your skin,
when you bring a big mess to their door:
family lets you in.

note:  published on the website of the The Society of Classical Poets, April 2017.

photo:  Little White House in Deer Lake Park - W. Bourke

© 2013 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 20 April 2018

a ramble in the ruins

I have been trying to work on letters I will leave to my dearly beloveds ... 
to be read, privately, at the time of my passing ... by way of softening what,
I've no doubt, will be a lackluster laying to rest ... having wandered 
most of my days and arriving – by circumstance and not design – at this place ...
thousands of miles from most of those I've embraced along the path

and so, I will leave my nomadic family, quietly and without fanfare ...
though, a final 'shush now, all is well' ... perhaps, by way of

some kind of closure for them ... seems, the motherly thing to do 

in this attempt, I have discovered that events and revelations and insights and feelings
do not organize themselves into anything resembling a 'most-to-least-impactful' order ...
nor do they bubble forth like a well honed script ... with meaningful scenes

for each letter recipient, floating onto the page

thus, the task is proving to be elusive ... for the journey comes to me in fragments,
like pebbles at the feet of ancient ruins ... the layers of context, that – in the moment – 
was everything ... have,  by now, crumbled away

and it is left to me to try and gather up the bits of stone and attempt to string them,
one by one upon a thread ... to put the echoes and indelible images ... into words
that will soothe and reassure my children ... who I know will care ... 

that I lived a, mostly, lovely life

photo: The Parthenon (an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and Western civilization) - M.J. Bourke (while visiting Greece in 1968)

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 13 April 2018

white phantom in the parking lot

by early afternoon ...
the day
which had begun
to the sound of pelting hail
on window pane

 – awakening me
hours before
I had planned
to awaken –

pitter-pattered on
in misty raindrops
and the groggy vestiages
of a hard night's sleep
– cut short –

and I found myself –
as I rested in the car
while he ran down
the last of the errands –

in that space
I imagine
is preliminary to

where perception
becomes that
of spectator
in a waking dream –

I was about to

lay my head back
with the aim
of a catnap when

I spied
a  white plastic  bag
in the drizzle

 ... floating and spinning ...
above the parking lot –

I half closed

my tired eyes and
the empty bag

as ethereal as
a phantom –

it soared
and twirled
in grand jetés
the cars and bins and
rows of shopping carts –

mesmerizing – 
flight again 
and again

until at last

it was captured
by a gust of wind
and carried up

and up ... and up ...
higher and higher –

by then

I had forgotten
it was just
an empty bag –

and I went with it ...
for a time

photo: White Phantom in the Parking Lot   - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 5 April 2018


all her life, my Mother had a Pen Pal in Portsmouth, who, through the miracle of happenstance, was named Pauline ... and thus, from time to time, the words,
"I've a letter from my Pen Pal  Pauline, in Portsmouth", would putt-putt-putt across
the ordinary ... tickling a moment ... and evoking giggles from we-two

alliteration can be wonderful when words fall – by chance – into splendid cascades
of kindred consonants ... I love the ripple of similar sounds – the patter of thrums –
the pop and sizzle ... as alliteration injects humor, creates rhythm, bestows symmetry,
alters mood ... or simply signals:  something sinister is skulking in the shadows

I think that we are born loving alliteration ... it fills children's verse and storybooks
and is the stuff of childhood games and riddles and tongue twisters – and yet, alliteration
is really at its most magical, when words find each other and come together, as if
under a spell ... crackling in conversations ... or in a poem ... serendipitously

too different, perhaps, to enjoy a like-minded sense of humor, my Mom and I both
'got'  alliteration ... it was as though, an artfully word-smithed run of harmonious phonemes was the one thing we  could agree, was fantastic ... and often, funny ... and so ... 
we hung on to that ... fervently ... right through, to the end of the story

note:  al·lit·er·a·tion - əˌlidəˈrāSH(ə)n:  the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.

photo: of me, with card or letter in hand - around age 4, I think - probably taken by Mom

© 2018 Wendy Bourk

Friday, 30 March 2018

Heavy Steps - A Tankart Piece

A light post on what for some of us is the start of a busy Easter long weekend.  This tankart began as a picture I took (many years ago) of one of my grandsons, as he struggled to walk in a pair of his Dad's business shoes.    I treated the photo with various photo editing techniques until it resembled a sketch, more than a photograph.  The words came to me, almost immediately, but I felt that the picture would not lend itself to having words superimposed on it as is the case with haiga and tanka art work and so, initially, it served as inspiration for a humorous piece.  But the words were 'on my mind' and finally, I decided to add them, below the picture ... and submitted it to Skylark Journal, where is was published in the Winter 2017, 5.2 Issue.

The internet and cell phone camera, have put images
and imagery before us, like never before.   All of which has prompted me to contemplate the fascinating and thought provoking interplay between our photography and art and, indeed, the art we discover ... and how that influences our creative process, and ultimately imbues our poetry.  

Tankart:  Heavy Steps - Wendy Bourke 

© 2017 Wendy Bourke

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Chance Encounter – A Tanka Prose Piece

Running into someone that you know – in this town of millions – hardly ever happens.  It is such a rare event, that I find myself inclined to believe that, something akin to divine intervention must be involved. 

I hadn't seen her in years ... a by-gone co-worker from a long-ago office.   The last time we had talked, was over the phone.  She had called to cancel an, ever elusive, lunch date.  Her son was sick.

Time passed and we never did 'catch up' to each other again.

"I can't believe it's you," she effused,  as we were about to pass by – coming and going – on a suburban Skytrain Station platform.

"Wow!  What a wonderful surprise," I responded, equally pleased.  'How are the boys?" 

"They're good – they're great – teenagers, now.  You know, I think about you, all the time.  I think about what you said to me the last time we spoke.  Do you remember?"  I shook my head and she replied.  "You said:  things are almost never as bad as our worst imaginings.  My baby was sick and you said, if you can get him down to sleep, try to rest  ...  things are almost never as bad as our worst imaginings.   And you were right – I have found that to be so true.  I think about those words, all the time.  I worry so much ... about stuff ... about my kids – I worry too much.  But  then I tell myself:  things are almost never as bad as our worst imaginings."   

"That sounds like something I'd have said ... I think that – a lot."

"The curse of a vivid imagination," she laughed.  

"And a restless mind," I added.  " I so envy those lucky souls, who can just" – I thought for a moment – "you know ... park it ... all that nigaling angst." 

"I'll bet the 'parkers' don't write nearly as much poetry as the 'angsters' do," she teased, "another reason why I think of you, so often ... you got me started – getting it out on paper.  I can't tell you what that has meant to me.  But, I know, you know."  She grinned  and then  sighing, rather wistfully, remarked, "We have got to get together for that long overdue lunch ... one of these days."

The screech and squeal of a train braking as it whooshed into the station – broke the moment.  

"So lovely to have run into you," I said, signaling the end of our chance encounter with a brief, but affectionate hug ...  She turned towards the train, and then, glancing back and smiling, she walked away .... both of us, I think, suspecting, that – chances are – we will never meet again. 

                                              a chance encounter
                                              at a train station ...
                                              we part
                                              carrying each other's words
                                              in different directions

photo:  Sky Train Station (photo edited) Vancouver BC - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 16 March 2018

crows in the garden

 (click on photo to enlarge)

finally ... there are rare cracks of glorious sunshine – tears in
the glum gray cloak that fell upon this place, sometime last October ... 
to whirl and roll, for months, in fog and drizzle and icy gusts

soon, a sea of blooms will replace the murky gloom 

always, at this time of year, I think about planting a small garden
on my balcony ... fragrant inlet on the leaf and petaled main ... 

but – I refrain – the neighborhood crows, would never let me enjoy
that tranquil reverie ...  having found the power to take it away

once ... many years ago, now ... I planted a garden, here ...

the crows:  metaphorically – every bully I have ever known – 

would gather, in their little black feathered suits, behind 
my sliding glass door ... deflowering and devouring flowers and herbs ...
strutting about on the iron rail ... bating me in caw-cawing taunts

occasionally, when inanity sequenced into a scene from The Birds,
I would open the door a smidge, and bang it shut

off they'd sweep like a black cloud retreating ... that ... felt wonderful

– but, of course – the bully crows would inevitably come back
to do more damage ... because ... they could

until, at last, I gave up ... there is no reasoning with bullies, I reasoned, and –

in this City of Gardens – there are lovely, peaceful spaces everywhere ...

everywhere ... but near to me, on my balcony ... and that ... nettles me, still

photo:  Rock Quarry Garden in Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver BC - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke