Friday, 16 August 2019

The Good Ones - a tanka prose piece

I have come to realize that I choose, how I wish to be in this world ... more, by the influence of what I don't like in others ... than by, what I admire in fellow human beings.

What I do like about others, wraps me in a blanket of calm positive energy. It is as comfortable and safe as life can be, at any given time ... it fits ... and it is as natural as breathing.

I don't bristle ... I don't imagine myself being beamed sci-fi – entifically away ... Words like 'narcissist' and 'control-freak' and 'greed' don't pop into my head like crossword solutions ... And I don't feel my heart sink as I put-it-together:  I've just come upon, yet another one, who doesn't have a heart.

The simple truth is ... it is easy to take the goodness in good people for granted ... until ... their steady, pleasant, empathetic, honest, inclusive presence ... is no longer there.

Then... as if intrinsic to the character of the like-minded souls that remain ... IT IS THERE.  And so, they seek each other out ... knowing who they are ... even as benevolence is as unobtrusive as the sky ... they know who they are ... for they have felt it from their earliest acquaintance ... though, it passed without conscious thought ... still ... they know who they are ... as they come together ... away from the others ... the ones who know nothing of kindness and love ... and tell each other

"We lost one of the good ones.”

~ ~ ~

 in the way of humankind ...
when it becomes known
a light has gone out -
the power of love
is at its most illuminating

~ ~ ~

photo: Two of the Good Ones (This is a picture I took in 2013 of my husband, Mike, rocking our Grandson to sleep.)  - W. Bourke

©  2019 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 9 August 2019

where meaning lies

the leaves have begun
to stir, in gladding flutters
... once again ...
and I think the smothering heat wave
has abated

I have
spent these past lost days
in hot flat lethargy
willing it to go

so much so
that now
the reemergence of typicality
appears miraculously
heaven sent

... the world is beautiful ...
in the halcyon glow of summer

though, ordinarily, I would, probably,
not notice
for it is unexceptional

even as
this day floats
on petals of contentment
like apple blossom petal boats
upon a breeze

in the unremarkable, remarkable

where I am sure
that meaning lies ... though I
have only ever felt it stir

photo: Osoyoos Lake,  B.C., in the Heat - H. Bourke
© 2019 Wendy Bourke 

Saturday, 3 August 2019


In my linen closet there is a homemade linen holder. It contains bits and bobs that my mother, her mother, her grandmother – and so on – embroidered, crocheted, smocked, appliqued and tatted, over the years of their lives. Beautifully handcrafted, they are now considered to be old fashioned ... though I do take out the odd piece, from time to time, and add it to a tea tray or a display of flowers. 

Occasionally, in the course of my rural market outings, amid the fresh produce, fudge logs and homemade jams and chutneys, I come upon stands displaying 'olden' things. Often, there amongst the shabby kitchen paraphernalia, ancient tools and rumpled school readers, I find exquisite hand stitched textiles lovingly sewn, long, long ago.

Invariably, I am struck by the give-away price tags on these works of art and see it, as a metaphor for the value that has - historically - been placed on women's work … though I suspect that no price could come close to reflecting the real value of many of these items, for they harken back to a time when women sat and sewed.

At such times as those, conversation rolled along as seamlessly as storybook pages. Inquiries were made into the day's spelling bee. Friendships were discussed. Plans were envisioned and plans were changed. Budgets were rejigged. Good times were recalled and spirited praise for jobs-well-done was bestowed.

The stitches of women's work ... creating and mending ... required that time slow and allow for heart-to-heart sharing. Indeed, I remember it, still, from my own childhood.

So much so that … always, when I lift a doily or dresser scarf or lace edged napkin out into this modern day from its place in the past ... I think of that. 

~ ~ ~

note: This is written for Magaly Guerrero's Pantry of Prose to the prompt of:  writing a short story from an old poem, which fits the theme of 'stitches'. My original 'stitches' tanka being: 

sometimes a simple truth
falls upon a moment
as clear as a mending stitch -
noticeable ...
in a good way 

photos:  Sewing Room in the Roedde House Museum, Vancouver - W. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke 

Thursday, 25 July 2019

passage to eventide

softly ... from far away ... the sound
of train on track ... rattles across the first bridge 

it is the hour of the passage back to eventide

the clatter of locomotion ... briefly pauses ...
in the shift ... from focused occupation
to the slowing of pursuit

the muses are most apt to climb aboard then
and are arrayed ... in a plethora of ever changing shades ...
I never know what they'll shake loose

in the whirling clickety-clack ... as the train
barrels down that … old old end-of-day fast track

 … to … the last bridge along those rails ...
and so begins the curl that wraps
round a deep, enduring, visceral exhale

... the sum of strung together vestige breezes ...

of the odysseys … to nowhere
of good journeys spent  to get there
on and under ancient bridges
in the tune of whistling byways ...

to wait and see at boarding stations
 and embark to follow lost trails ...
courses that came to naught
yet find me still

… the sum of strung together vestige breezes ...

that stir and light the way … on the passage
to the near and far that comes at end-of-day

photo/graphic: passage to eventide - W. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke 

Friday, 19 July 2019

golden rule

this day is full of meanness ...
and I'd ... much rather ... it was kind

perhaps I'll add some sweetness
to the words that tumble down this page …
or let the air out of
... the mournful sighs and sorrowful rage ...
that float, unseen, between the lines of this poem ...

as if fluffery can take heartache away …
and lassitude can keep … 
all the sad plights of man … at bay … no … 
there is no way for me, to stem the grief
from the human suffering I see

… still ...
I can write of values such as empathy
and scruples and inclusion ... still … I can do
an act of kindness ... better yet ...

ten acts of kindness ... I can try harder
to be kind ... to keep that simple credo
at the forefront of my mind ... always,
at the forefront of my mind ... 
and fight for what is right

might I find the hours brighter, if I tried …
… for I must try … because ...

the days become more cruel
and I am … no where near ... resigned
to throw the towel in on kindness ...
and give up on humankind

Do unto others as you wish others do unto you. Confucius circa 500 B.C.

note:  The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as oneself would wish to be treated.  If you google the maxim/phrase, you will find a variation of it (in some form or other) in virtually every religion and almost every ethical precept around the world. Although, occasionally criticized on the grounds that all people do not, necessarily, want to be treated in the same way, I think that is a very literal interpretation. I believe it is fair to say that all people want to be treated humanely, with compassion and dignity. Thus, I believe the spirit behind the maxim, is to guide your behavior in the same general manner towards others, with which you would want to be treated – that is to say: humanely, compassionately and with dignity.

note on photo:  In 2014, one of my sons was privileged to be involved in building two homes in East Africa to house babies and children orphaned as a result of the AIDS crisis.  It was a life altering experience for him, on many levels - though he was particularly struck by the fact that, in the face of tremendous adversity, the bright, articulate people that he met there, were happy and welcoming.  He queried an African University student about this and the student explained that there is a saying there:  "Be comfortable in your discomfort".  Such a profound outlook and really, perhaps, the answer to many of our global problems.  Maybe if each of us could learn to live with a little less - endure a bit of discomfort … there is hope for our planet, yet.  

photo: Light in the Global Village (a picture of my son, Patrick 'caught' doing unto others) – submitted by P. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 11 July 2019

to rest

I rest now
a breeze is wafting through the window –
it smells of grass and from the street
the sounds of voices float ... an errant scene
from a short play – that I envision in my mind

here where I rest
there is no paper that is due ... there is
no test to study for ... no teething baby –
who kept me up for hours and hours –
is threatening to commence that punishment,
once more ... there is no work that cannot wait …
and there are minutes to be spared, for there is no job
to which I can't arrive a single minute late ... so I can rest

and thus, I rest
for rest ... has got to be the very very best
and brightest thing about the escalating tick of time, to death …

on my short list of all ... of what is wonderful
about becoming old ... blessed rest ... is, by far, the best –
at least for me – for there is time to ... finally ...
stop ... oh what scrumptious luxury ... to stop
and give a thought ... and give a thought

and as I rest
perhaps I'll add soft music to the hour ...
a line of poetry is drifting ever closer
and if I stay-this-way ... it just may find me yet ...

soon ... the 'to-do's' will call my name ... but until they do
... far from the hullabaloo ... I rest

photo photo-edited: I rest now - W. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke 

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

there ... in a moment

... he adds a smile to the moment ...

and suddenly, there is no need
to race from here
to some place else ...
no need, to waste away good hours
jostling to where I want to be ...
for I am there

the ivy on the fence
has performed 
its brilliant trick
and transformed
from green to crimson

a glaucous-winged gull
soars overhead ...
and it is wonder full

and look ... as if by magic ...
a spell of purple pansies bursts
like grinning bells upon the flower patch
that ... yesterday ... was bare

the grass is freshly cut
and scents the air

here and now... and here ...
in this repose
there is so much
... to lift me up … 
and lifts me up
and lifts me up
... and then ...

... he adds a smile to the moment ... 

note:  This was written in response to Poets United Midweek Motif:  Weathering Uncertain Times.  I have long felt that the way to finding inner peace, is to look for it in moments.  It can be found as close as your own backyard … or nearest park ~ smiles ~

photo:  As close as Your Own Backyard - W. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 27 June 2019

'The Second Narrative' - a tanka prose piece

I pour the tea ...
long ago I learned
the fragrance of cured leaves
fills the hollow spaces of hurt
with more warmth than words can

Pots of tea-and-tears later, my good friend wipes her eyes, blows her nose, gives me a hug, shrugs and whispers – resignedly – “what can ya do” ... before we say our good-byes and she leaves.  She is going through something, in her job, I have seen so many times, that I have given it a name:  ''The Second Narrative'.

Nothing in all my years of reading and education and spiritual exploration and relationships, has prepared me for 'The Second Narrative'.  I was not provided with guidelines on how to fight it, nor steps on how to cope with the anguish that accompanies it.  And yet, it has darkened many of the days of my life, and the lives of those I care about.  Like the annual flu bug, it can be almost impossible to completely avoid ... and, lately, there seems to be a particularly virulent strain going around.

In all facets of living, there is, of course: that which is real.  Things unfold and proceed in a manner that most reasonable, stable people – without a personal agenda – would agree on.  I call this 'The Narrative' of the story.  Sadly, all too often, one of the characters in the story is not pleased with the narrative.  They want a legend – and they want to be the star of the legend.  Unfortunately, in order for that to happen, the plot has got to change.  There's got to be a 'Second Narrative'.

In my experience, whenever, there is someone who sets their sites on something that they can't get at – fairly – there is always a 'Second Narrative'.  It is created by individuals who have aspects to their psyche that equip them, splendidly, for the task.  Though often superficially charming, these are very egocentric people.  It's all about them ... always.  They are greedy.  They are conniving.  They have an exalted sense of entitlement.  And they have little-or-no sensitivity to the feelings of others. Hence, the 'The Second Narrative' generally entails casting doubt on the legitimacy of anyone who is in the way of what the manipulator wants.  This typically involves an arsenal of behind-the-back eye rolls and sighs and head shakes – as well as a myriad of highly interpretive, fuzzy equivocations, such as 'rigid' or 'out-of-step'. 

Manipulators, I have found, are linguistic savants.  They are masters of nuance.  They can turn a pro into a con, faster than they can dot their 'i'.  Wherever you find them, they are there to promote themselves.  It is all they have ever done and they are very good at it.  In work places ... in families ... in politics ... they know who can give them what it is that they want, and apply themselves ... shamelessly, if need be ... to the task of winning them over.

Alas, the 'Second Narrative' works.  It works really well.  Unlike the 'First Narrative', 'The Second Narrative' runs on the fuel of grandiosity.  Hence, it gets a lot more 'air-time' than the 'First Narrative' ... The Real Story.  A skilfully rendered 'Second Narrative' will contain, little beads of truth, conferring upon it a speckled splash of veracity, so that, by the time, a minor player in the 'First Narrative' smells a rat, it is usually far too late, to undo the damage ... 'The Second Narrative' is fixed and loosely adorned with carefully selected fact-ish tidbits.  At that point, any defence a minor player attempts to mount, is interpreted as divisive and ... well ... defensive.

It is late in the day. Soon the sun will begin to set. I turn on some light dinner music ...

glancing from my window
up into the still blue sky

... why-oh-why-oh-why-oh-why ...

do we make each other
so unhappy

photo: I pour the tea - W. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke 

Thursday, 20 June 2019

the one true thing

the rock and a hard place
the path meanders

... like belief ...

… and so ... 
the way proceeds
in unhesitant steps

... and then …
it stumbles to a stop

... and then …
you get back on the path again

… even when ...
it requires a profound act of will ...
for there's nothing-but-nothing
half way up that hill

… and so you go …
on and on and on

though it stops
and starts and peters out … still

… still … you press on ...
you press on
 … until ...

at last … you come
to a fact you embrace

so far from the dark rock
of that rock hard dark place ...

… and it lifts you up ...
… and it gives you wings ...
… and it stays with you always …

the one true thing

photo: taken at a small off leash dog park in Surry, B.C. - W. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke 

Thursday, 13 June 2019


the dawn awoke in ragged sheets
of gainsboro gray fog ...
draped along familiar streets

… hidden, lost … in the smog ...

it was an otherworldly backdrop
to a phantasmagoric day ... and then ...
in the thrill of the extraordinary

… I watched it float away ...

clear, as the rising of a curtain
on a vague, unfinished play 

... though … 

the gothic mists were poetry as spires
recast as trees

… alas … those ethereal … 

wisps of poetry
… passed, too … upon that breeze ... 

photo: the fog - W. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke