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, almost every day.  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 your worst imagining.  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 your worst imagining.   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 your worst imagining."   

"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
                                              and we are off ...
                                              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

Friday, 9 March 2018

people, places and things

I do not have a lot of things ... I like to travel light ...
although ... some of my things are faintly, faintly
enchanted ... not the utilitarian stuff, of course ... but,
rather, those things I have gathered along the way or came
to me as gifts or keepsakes – many, now, from people
who are gone from this world ... and yet, by some
ensorcelling magic, those things – occasionally – conjure up ...
that time ... a delicate evocation ... that floats across my mind ...
in wonderful wisps of fondness and affinity ... as fleeting
as a sigh  ......................................................

though, the streets and cafés and park fountains, waters edge
and footpaths, where we paused to linger, long ago
– on our divergent journeys – are not easily revisited to
summon forth the lovely subtleties of connection ... they
are softly near ... in my old puka shells ... a mixing bowl ... 
or in the pages of a dilapidated dictionary ... such things as these
can take me back ... to the people of those places ... in that far away ...
and like ancient seafarers on a foreign sea ... we pass, once again ...
ships in mystic mist  ... barely there ... barely there ... 
still ................................................................

photo:  Things  (the picture is part of an Indian brass tea set Mike purchased on his trip around the world in the 60's, which I had a bit of fun playing around with, with photo editing tools) - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 2 March 2018

on clouds and clogs

the wind is picking up outside my window ... perhaps, it will snow ...
snow always stops this – rarely snowy – town, in its tracks ...
he has brought me soup to sooth my disgruntled soul ...
and now he is at the door greeting a new plumber, who enters
our apartment, claiming the buzzer to our building isn't working

this is attempt-number-three to slay the clog that hides – malevolently –
beneath our laundry ... somewhere, deep, deep within our pipes ...
I overhear the plumber speculate that the clog is coming from
somebody else's drain ... that the clog is not even our clog ... he  suggests
bringing in a couple of guys who 'really know what they're doing'

once more – the clog has won the game, and attempt-number-four
is penciled in ... the air fizzles out of me like unplugged water wings ...
life's daily vexations can bog down a day in a flurry of inertia,
as a plethora of details spill from our busy pathways, into the quiet
spaces we seek out, to restore and sustain ourselves with peace

one of chopin's lovely preludes is tinkling from the mish-mash
of electronics in the corner of the room ... the pine trees that landscape
my view tousle on buoyant breezes ... cotton ball clouds sail gustily 

– enthralling – across the blue ... I hear the laughter of my love coming from
the laundry room ... the cursed laundry room ... I pick up my pen and write ...

a wicked and hideous clog, lurks in the dark recesses of this place ...
it sleeps for days ... but, inevitably – as soon as I convince myself that it has

moved on, or disappeared in the way of a vanquished apparition – it rousts
in grunts and gurgles ... like a bad plot in a made–for–TV stephen king movie ...
readying to spew forth a walloping blizzard of sudsy venom ...

there are sounds of good-bying and he returns with the latest clog update ...
the plumber's pretty sure, we'll get it next time ... he lingers over the scene

outside our window ... those clouds are really moving out there ... so nice ... 
and calming ... at least there are always such things as clouds ... he pauses,
for a moment, and adds ... as sure as ... there will always be such things as clogs
photo: Down the Drain - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 22 February 2018

it is what it is

again last night I dreamt ... I was lying in a little boat
that was tethered to a dock ... the cold waves – somehow
I knew they were cold – slapped the sides knocking it ...
over and over, against the pilings,  in repetitive jarring
bumps that shuddered down my spine,  so that I sat up

it was then, I noticed my aunt sitting on an old
spindle-back wooden chair trying to pull a fish hook
out of her finger ... I must have made a face for she said:
you'll have to learn to be tougher than that ... and smiling,
she continued:  you'll see – most of the time, you've just
got to get on with it, as best you can ... it is what it is

she had learned that lesson, well  –  one of the strongest
women I ever knew – as head night nurse in a gritty
northern mill and port town ... she'd seen it all and tended to
just about everything human beings can do to mind and
body ... she was amazing ... she was kind, in the subtlest way ...
she was skilled and patient and tenacious in the face of crisis ...
and she had, absolutely, no use for histrionics and drama

the last time I saw my aunt was when I went back to that
northern town, for my mother's funeral ... I asked her
how she was doing, and she replied – waving in the direction
of her walker:  as you can imagine, getting around is a drag –  
and I'm told I've got ... I've got ... damn ... alzheimers ... 
she grinned one of her rare grins, and added:  you'd think
they could have come up with an easier name to remember, 
than that, but anyway, you know how it goes ... it is what it is

photo: It Is What It Is- W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 16 February 2018

Hot House - A Senryu Prose Piece

Back in early days – when my now-husband first began dropping by my parents home, in winter – he was astonished by the subtropical temperatures of the place.

“How do you stand it in there,” he queried – at a loss to square how a family of mortals could moil on, day after day, in a brick (the house was red brick) oven.

“It’s one of the few things they actually agree on – so best, not go there,” I told him.   "It’s very well insulated.  Whatever you can do in a house to create heat and keep it there, has been done in that house … Lots of research … Lots of cost estimates … I’m talking:  new furnace … new roof … the basement windows have all been replaced with glass blocks … Everything you can weatherproof has been weatherproofed … the windows, the fireplace, the chimney … stuff you've never even heard of – all weatherproofed … Then, there’s steel polyurethane core double doors:  back and front … attic and wall insulation … even the measly electrical outlets did not escape an upgrade … The heat in that house, is my parents crowning achievement at least in commerce ... It fills them with a level of pride that they seldom – if ever – experienced from any of their offspring … It is one of their main topics of conversation – and certainly the least contentious one.  They endlessly remark on how quiet the heat is … how clean the heat is … how it responds – immediately – at a touch.  It makes their day – everyday.   People from all over this city seek them out to soak up their wisdom and advice on products and price and dealers and warranties. They are like heat gurus.  Where else have you seen that level of post-purchase fortification and consumer bliss? “

“But it’s intolerable.  The heat in that house is intolerable,” he lamented.  “And then, when the oven is cranked up for a couple of hours, for the weekly roast, and the stove in steaming along full blast, with pots and pots of food, that one is expected to ‘put away’ between bouts of heat prostration …...”

“But It makes the loveliest frost patterns on the windows, don’t you think … So beautiful … I find I can just get lost in them.”

                              overheated house …
                              the simmering temperatures
                              providing scant warmth

photo:  Frost on Window (a photo taken from my window and enhanced with various photo editing programs) - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Wednesday, 14 February 2018



first kiss

the kiss came  
none too soon
under the stars and gypsy moon
waiting, in orchard breezes,
for the other to proceed:
a preemptive peck to signal 
they were set to do the deed

both wanting to appear sincere and not  
improper – or imply – 
that they were the kind person
to kiss any girl – or guy

murmurs amongst the quivers  
til, she heaved a breathy sigh

then fell

a bashful velvet kiss
her cherry lip-balmed lips . . . 

like magic . . . floating by.

flitter-flutters  flitter-flutters
'neath the WHAMMO, WHAMMO SKY !!!

note:  First Prize:  The Ontario Poetry Society Sparkle and Shine Poetry Contest, 2014.
photo:  Cherry Red – W. Bourke
© 2013 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 9 February 2018

the mountains of vancouver

life in this whirling town
plays out upon
a storybook backdrop

good life, hard life,
end of life … it all
twists and twirls
and slogs and flutters
against the white turreted
pinnacles of the
mountains of vancouver

they enfold the place
like a kingdom

I look to the mountains
a lot … they are omnipresent
and demand to be seen
with awe … every now and then

they are poetry …
and give pause
to thoughts of time …
to all that has gone before ...

to all that those mountains
have reigned over

millennium …
unto millennium …
unto millennium

to where we are now ...
and to where we are heading

always … at some point …
I don’t like what I’m thinking 

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, 
but by those who watch them without doing anything."
Albert Einstein

Sketch:   The Lions Mountains of Vancouver (a sketch I did 5 or 6 years ago and tinted in Picasa) - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 2 February 2018

white magic - a tanka sequence

white magic memories
of the days of spirits bright …
conjured forth
by a winter holiday photo
emailed by my son

I still recall
white magic in the falling snow ...
in a world suffused in sparkle dust
each snowflake ...

I still recall
the miracle of brown woods
cloaked in white magic
I still recall
the fragrance of winter

I still recall ...
in the enchanted mists
of childhood ... the spell
of white magic ...
cast upon me

a lifelong feeling
that has no name …
in the picture … my son and grandson
skiing together ...
wonder full in white magic

photo:  Big White, Kelowna BC - M.T. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke