Thursday, 10 January 2019

riddle bridge

I had wandered
with my chattering thoughts
in the afternoon mist
of blue light-as-air

barely-there drizzle

that adorned
the peace and quiet
with a wobbly half promise
that my solitude would not be
intruded upon ... 

when I came, at length,
to the tiny wooden structure

that I have come to call 'riddle bridge'

for, as usual,
there was no discernible purpose

for its presence ... 

and while, there might have been
an excuse to build it

it stood, now,
more as an argument for patience
than a means to an end 

though, it always gives me pause
and causes me to wonder, anew,

about that which informs our decisions,
as I walk across it … yet again ...
my hyperbolic ruminations,
replaced by the riddle
of 'riddle bridge'

photo:  'Riddle Bridge' in Burnaby Park – W. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 4 January 2019

the rustle of trees

always ... when I am pinned under
the weight of a heavy day and serendipity
conspires to send the rustle of trees
in the wind, my way ... I receive it ...
as a gift ... often ... with a breathy sigh

for the whisper of trees conjures forth
notes of the primordial connect ... like
the purl of water swirling through a rill ...
or the crash of whitecaps breaking ...
or birdsong in the lightness of  morning

such is the power of this earth to ease
our temporal burdens with its music and
its truth ... much like a leaf that dances
on the buoyant shush of branches, before
the fall of autumn ... there, is this moment 

photo:  Country Road - W. Bourke

© 2019 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 13 December 2018

A Holiday Puente



in that gentle place of light
between the peace of solitude 
and the joyful companionship of good souls

~ glad spirits bask in the warmth of contentment ~

when we find our way back to that sanctuary … 
we are comforted  …  we are renewed  …  it is the gift … 
that we seek  –  again and again  –  all the days of our lives

Best Wishes ... Peace and Joy throughout the Holidays and the New Year …
I am taking the rest of the year off from blogging, and will return in 2019.

photo:  This is the tree in the lobby of the Hotel Vancouver that I snapped two years ago, when my children took me for Christmas High Tea, there, as a treat … a lovely afternoon with family - W. Bourke

© 2017 Wendy Bourke

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

the entitled

another brush with an entitled one:

one of those ego-centric souls who
seem not-to-know what it is to look
at a tree or a sky or a sea – who have
no reverence for true beauty – nor a
drop of empathy – nor a thought to
what they want their lives to be about

another brush with an entitled one:

one of the I-won't-be-around-when-
the-planet-dies-kind – the all consuming
gas-guzzling more-is-better customer –
who want cheap designer labels – and
their produce pesticided, shrink wrapped
on styrofoam – and plastic bags provided

another brush with an entitled one:

one of the I-got-mine-kind – forget about
letting them in at the back of the line –
keep 'em out – just let things be – damn
bleeding hearts – killing the whole country –
the haters of change and diversity –
the I-pay-taxes – what-about-me-kind

another brush with an entitled one:

I breathe deep as I deplore their conduct
… silently …
I remind myself the defeatism
lapping at the soul of my being, will have
– likely – somewhat lessened by the morrow
and the fire of my sadness – assuaged

into a smoulder ... until another brush

note:  As I mentioned last week, Sherry Blue Sky and I have been putting together a piece on Repetition in Poetry for her column at Poets United.  That column can be found at 'A Few Notes in Praise of Repetition'

photo:  See. Soar. –  Seen here, is a picture of the Victoria, B.C. Inner Harbor (that I took last summer) – a much loved place from my past.  This magnificent seaport, kitty-corned, as it is, by the grand Empress Hotel and the British Columbia Legislature, has always struck me as an extraordinary space where wealth and power - and just plain folk - look out upon  a stunning natural vista.  Boats and seaplanes and tourists and street performers come and go amid double decker buses and horse drawn carriages and restaurants and beautiful flora.  Views of the Olympic Mountains are a short –  and lovely – walk away.  It is literally, a little corner of the world that is just packed with awesomeness to feast your eyes upon.  What really resonated with me, by way of an image for this poem, though, was the banner hanging in the corner of it:   'See.  Soar.'  Love it!  If only more mortals, could go forth, on this planet, taking in and reflecting on, that which lies, beyond themselves.  

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 30 November 2018

Did you notice

Did you notice that you just now 
looked me straight into the eye 

and with twisted words, you forked your tongue
and stooped to tell a lie.

Did you notice that my breath exhaled
upon a ragged sigh –
that my fists were clenched in anguish,
as you deigned to tell a lie.

Did you notice that you, smiled
as my silent tears ran dry –
as you flashed those pearly whites of yours
and chose to tell a lie.

Did you notice that your child stood
within earshot – so close by –
did you notice their expression
when they heard you ... tell a lie.

note:  Sherry Blue Sky and I, have been putting together a piece on repetition in poetry (which will be popping up in her column at Poet's United - I believe - some time this month).  Delving into the splendiferous effects that poets (through the ages and continuing into contemporary work) have achieved with this awesome literary device, has been fascinating ... at least, for this poetry lover ... and has rekindled my enthusiasm for wonderful repetition.  Though, I feel like I am just scratching the surface, this is the first of two poems (I'll be posting the other, next week) that have come out of my newly rekindled enthusiasm for this, truly multidimensional, poetic vehicle. 

graphic:  from October 1902 issue of The Delineator magazine (an American women's magazine of the late 19th and early 20th century).

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 23 November 2018

Toys on the Floor


He lies snug in his little bed -
Sunny arm around his head.
Chubby cheek and tousled hair,
Fingers curled round little bear.

The end of an exciting day.
Tuckered out from hours of play.
Dreaming of the feats and fun,
Of new adventures still to come.

Romping with his favorite toys,
Brought to life with moves and noise.
Now sitting where he sat them down
A mumbled, jumbled odd toy town.

Froggy perched upon the train.
Monkey, driver of the crane.
Block tunnel for the racing cars.
The rocket ship crashed down from Mars.

Little child all worn out.
He built, he climbed, he jumped about.
He ran the farm and rode the horse -
Backwards with eyes closed, but, of course.

I think that there could never be
Two sights more beautiful to see.
A boy that you could not love more;
And his toys all over the living room floor.

note:  I spent a day looking after a sick grandson, this week - and this piece came back to me.  It is one of the first poems that I ever wrote - as I'm sure you can tell.  I wrote it, at the end of a day spent with another sick little one.  It is a favorite of my husband's and also, my oldest son.   (No surprise:  he is the father of the child, I wrote it for.)  Much to my delighted bewilderment, in spite of its, almost embarrassing, simplicity, it has done quite well for itself - having been selected by the Ontario Poetry Society for publication in Encompass V (published by Beret Days Press, 2015).    

photo:  Toys on the Floor - W. Bourke

© 2011 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 9 November 2018

On Looking and Leaping - a Tanka Prose Piece

Years ago, shortly after we had moved to Vancouver, I got on a bus ... to nowhere.  I thought it was going to the University.  Instead the bus tore off in the opposite direction.  Upon inquiry, I discovered, I was on my way to Maple Ridge.   EGADS ... I was being carried off to another town!   For whatever reason –  I had boarded a bus with the wrong number.  In my alarm, I did something, very stupid.  I pulled the chord for the next stop, and jumped off.  And there I was:  plucked from a reasonably pleasant commute, and abracadabra'ed into a discombobulated bag lady – sans bag – in one fell swoop.  I didn't own a cell phone and there were no businesses nearby where I might make a call.  I had not looked – before I leapt.  Straightaway, I knew, I had done a really dumb thing.  

No vehicle ... no phone ... and WOWZERS ... no sidewalk.  The road being more akin to a highway, than a street, I found myself set adrift, on foot,  in a  decidedly non pedestrian place.  I remember thinking:  somewhere in this world ... a pot of tea is steeping ... there is music and laughter and baskets of kittens .... there are books to be read and hugs to be given … and in this glorious moment ... I have chosen to do this.  What is the matter with me!?!?!

I began walking along the shoulder for what turned out to be a nightmarish distance, back to the bus interchange where it had all gone, horribly, wrong.   It was the morning rush hour and the traffic was wild.  And then as luck would have it  it started to rain.  Soon, I was stumbling in a blur of puddles and mud – bereft of umbrella – in downpour and car splashes.  The absurdity of the situation – a situation of my own making – has never left me, nor has my shock at the speed with which a bad choice can send life, spiralling into a torrential abyss.  Eventually, I managed to slog my way out of that miserable trek, though the specter of my recklessness would remain with me, from that day forward.  It has given me the gift of 'pause', whenever folly loomed.

walking in a storm
it becomes clear to me –
there are reflections
that were not there
before the rains came

photo:  Rainy Day Dice - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

you never forget the nice ones - a tanka prose piece

I looked up from my hometown's October obituary postings and murmured, " A girl I knew, years old, died this week."

"Did you know her well?" M asked, glancing from his book.

"Not well ... not very well at all, actually.  She was a couple of grades ahead of me in high school.  Now that I think about it, it's kinda odd that I knew her at all.  I remember once, she was at the sink next to me in the girl's washroom and she said, "You write a column for the school newspaper, don't you?  I love your writing."

let the words flow
a stranger
has cheered my pen to paper …
how can I not
take inspiration

"Another time, she mentioned that I looked awesome in turquoise,"  I chuckled, more to myself, than aloud, lingering  momentarily bemused  somewhere between the inexplicable  and the extraordinary ... to have recalled such a tiny smattering of conversation, over half a century.
"Later," I continued, "we both worked at the university  different departments  but, periodically, I'd run into her and she was, invariably, so ... lovely.  She was like that ... just a lovely girl ... so nice ... she had that sunshine-twinkles-in-a-sea-of-blooms 'thing' going on ... and I smiled.

autumn garden
amongst the dying flowers
bittersweet gratitude
for what was …
always - it rises as a revelation

"I really didn't know her well at all, but ... you know ..."  I paused to contemplate my words, astonishing myself at the depth of loss that I suddenly felt sweeping through me.   What was this loss, I was feeling? ... Grief:  at the passing of a sweet girl ... Sorrow:  at the disintegration of a congeniality that I have come to associate with a gentler time; when kind pleasantries were scattered round, customarily, like petals down a bridal path.  Or was it, simply, a selfish portent, that my own mortality drew nearer with every death of a peer.
"... you never forget the nice ones," M remarked, after a time, finishing my sentence for me.

"No, you never forget the nice ones," I reiterated in a sigh of remembrance ... deeply drawn, with a wistful ache ... validation to  the truth of it. 

nearing journey's end …
I begin to discern
there is wisdom to be gleaned
in the profundity
of what remains

photo:  Along the Road Near the Exit to Stanley Park, Vancouver - M.S. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 11 October 2018

I was the one

I was the one who was first – in my class – to get glasses.
I was the one who memorized snippets of poetry – and
lied about it. I was the one, my father called 'Bird'. I was
the one who made tissue paper poppies in all the wrong
colors and had imaginary sword fights and practiced
yodelling, while I dressed for school. I was the one who
wouldn't step on a crack and gagged at the smell of oranges
and walked on my toes – though it hurt like the dickens.

I was the one who crossed my eyes, whenever I was taken
by surprise – and – despite my granny's fervent predictions
they would stay that way, forever ... I was the one spared
that googly-eyed fate. I was the one who didn't catch
the baton. I was the one who had to stand in the corner,
when the boy behind poked me in the back to ask what
page we were on.  I was the one who tripped into a hornet's
nest. I was the one, most often, told to 'Sit still' and 'Shush'.

I was the one who worried for days, that a tree was growing
in my tummy after I accidentally swallowed an apple seed.
I was the one who talked with an English accent when we
played board games and tied my shoes with bunny-ears and
and couldn't snap my fingers. I was the one who got hiccups 
from pop ... that threatened to never stop. I was the one
who held time in my hands, catching the sunlight  – just so – on 
the crystal of my mother's watch, a lifetime ago ... that was me

                                            … I was the one

Photos: Me:  Now and Then (top photo with Ed).  

© 2018 Wendy Bourke 

Thursday, 4 October 2018

empower the girl

It has been a very bad week for women ... a very bad week.  Something I never could have imagined happening:  has happened.  The world's most powerful leader, has seen fit to step before supporters and cameras and launch into a diatribe that openly mocked and demeaned a victim of sexual assault - seemingly ridiculing her for having the audacity to come forward, as part of the constitutional confirmation process - with information that she believed drew into question the suitability of an individual seeking appointment to the highest court in the federal judiciary of a democratic country.

What a sad, sad spectable.  How does one raise a woman, in such times as these?  I really don't have a definitive answer to that question.  Several years ago I wrote down a few impressions.  I would be interested if readers have any thoughts to add.

~  ~  ~
empower the girl:
Teach her to light a lantern and hold it high, to tell the truth, to own up to her mistakes, to listen and never stop questioning, and to be respectful, empathetic and fair in her dealings.

empower the girl:
Encourage her to find serenity in solitude and introspection; but, allow her to explore her world and be exposed to – and tolerant of – new ideas, so that she is inspired to think, create and innovate.

empower the girl:
Talk to her about making intelligent choices – with an open heart – for a strong, nurturing woman, never surrenders to being a victim.

empower the girl:
Sprinkle positive affirmations throughout her life so that she remains true to herself, puts forth her best efforts with confidence, and recognizes the good qualities in others.

empower the girl:
Seek her counsel and advice, admire her laughter and her wit, tell her that she is wonderful and give her unconditional love and respect.

empower the girl.

[Published in the Voices Project: Empowering Women through Self-Expression:  9/10/15.]

~  ~  ~
"The story of women's struggle for equality 
belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization
 but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
- Gloria Steinem 
~  ~  ~

note:  Yep, that’s me pictured, walking the line, at a legal Canadian Union of Public Employees job action, shortly before my retirement.  CUPE is Canada’s largest union and women comprise over half of the membership.  Pictured with me, is the WONDERFUL all-grown-up-girl in my life – my daughter, Brynn (probably the most empowered woman that I know) joining me, in solidarity.  She is a feminist, an activist and an organizer on several Provincial and Federal political campaigns – and (the picture says it all) she is a dedicated Labour Unionist.  I really do believe, in the words of Hillary Clinton:  It takes a village.  In the Acknowledgments in her Master’s Thesis, Brynn paid tribute to the many, many people who have influenced her life in a positive way.  She wrote (in part):  “I would like to thank my mother, father and brothers, for believing in me and always making me feel that I had the strength to achieve anything that I put my mind to.”  What a joy it is to have such a woman in one’s life!  AND she and her husband host the most incredible dinners – to boot!  Thoughtful, empowered women Make Good Things Happen!

photo:  Mother and Daughter – Walking the Line in Solidarity.

© 2015 Wendy Bourke