[+ Rori O’Keeffe, Poet & Author+]
Window On The World
Cheer-up! Cheer-up! The robin sings;
Springtime brings many new things.
Like puddles of snow-melt on my grass,
And watching daddy reel in a bass.
Everyone says I’m a very good girl,
Writing thank-you cards for treasure-gifts,
And helping mommy whirl around;
Sometimes I think they don’t really care,
But then they hug me for the little things.
Cedar trees are my favourite smell,
And the purple Christmas light is my favourite colour.
I don’t know why people look so sad –
I think the newsreader on TV’s a handsome man.
Daddy’s beer is a bad drink,
And there used to be a fireplace till they covered it up.
I live in Ottawa,
The Milky Way Galaxy,
Steak leaks blood, so I don’t eat it;
Dr. Schreyer’ always saying I’m in a phase,
And older kids say I’m fun to tease.
I love my white wool sweater,
And my softy dolls –
I can’t be without a stick in my hand.
Abraham Lincoln was a great man,
And the Indians were killed to take their land.
An old Indian on TV weeps at the garbage,
And Archie Bunker hates bleeding hearts.
My friend’s posters are strange to see,
Rainbows that kill,
And big fishes eating the little fishes;
They say he’s tough, but he cries a lot,
And everyone knows he’s just mean.
I love my softy dolls –
I don’t want them to ever go,
And I’ll always walk softly
With a stick in my hand.
The Wind And The Light
Sentiment is rooted deep and stands sturdy for the weak –
Under its boughs I’ve married the storm that batters you.
Time crystallises and memory cries at my touch –
I am here for you now, fool that thinks the past matters.
You say all is sweet in those old photos –
How they fly now in the gales I have brought;
You are owed a debt for apologies not given?
The truth I tell you will blow you high.
Do not die in the storm; life is here, not back there,
And when it passes, you will be gifted with sight;
The future is seen by those who live in the light.
My Sky At Night
Grasping at the sky and opening it wide,
I took a star and made it mine.
In my pocket I always carried it,
By the TV set, I knew it was there.
Over drinks at Roger’s I’d feel its warmth,
And in my dreams it glowed by my bed.
Rebellion came and I cast off my clothes,
Only to find the star still burning.
I cannot be without it, as it has shone within me
From the beginning of my days.
Gary never was much of a child –
More like a man waiting to die.
His father was gone and he didn’t speak much;
His mother was a drunk so he never cried.
I saw him one day looking at the ground;
Kat and Sylvie tried to cajole him;
I never saw him laugh, come to think of it.
The Sunday school teacher locked him in the boiler room –
Told him, That’s what Hell is going to be like.
He became a rider, all dressed in black,
His hair flying free at last in the wind.
He rode away, until it was all behind him,
And drove his bike straight into a concrete support.
Gary never was much of a child,
And for that, they said, he must be forgotten.
A Married Lover
Your broken life moved me
To mend you, as best I could;
Your heart sighed its sorrow yet again
When I left you by the side.
Waking up years later,
I find you still in the fabric of my life;
You were half-healed by our tryst,
And I, my friend, am forever half-broken.
In those days, long ago now,
I walked so lightly,
Buoyed by the feeling that nothing is real;
I dashed about, hither and thither,
Up and down, inside and out.
Where was I going?
I did not know;
I was always confused,
But didn’t feel so.
Death was ever near,
Though I ignored the cold.
I count the blossoms now,
And Death has retreated;
But I need to manage in this withering world,
So I move forward, confused still.
What once soared into the sky is nevermore,
And innocence, then battered, is entirely gone.
Three-thousand lives lost that day,
Thousands more yet to be taken away.
An endless procession of funerals circles the world,
Bodies drowned in shiploads of oil.
Sweet sentiment, where are you now;
This maddening terror is making us
Lose our minds, sell our souls,
Listen to the neurotic cries that Freedom is the enemy;
9/11 was the daydream that haunts us to this day.
Want this, want that, want-want-want,
And there’s no gas in the tank.
Shop for him, shop for them,
Oh – we’re not greedy, just consumers.
Second-hand is for losers like me;
I get my thrills, cheap as they are,
Watching the cars stall
On their way to the mall.
It grows exponentially, can’t go on forever;
Future people will say we lived for nothing.
Sweet memory, grant me a smile.
I need to know my past wasn’t for nought.
Sweet memory, they cared for me then;
They that now look the other way.
It was good to be young for a while,
And I’ll enjoy being old as well, someday.
Standing in the middle-ground of my life,
I’ve forsaken children, wealth and most vices,
Only to find, sweet memory, that you inform me
More and more, as time passes by.
Stripped of sentiment, you are honey to a bee;
Denying myself bitterness, your guidance sets me free.
Life is an endlessly fascinating accumulation of memories that shape us, inform us, and amuse us. Poetic Memory is not an attempt to recreate the past as it literally was, but an expression of what some of my memories have come to mean. With a rejection of sentiment and a disdain for bitterness, I show aspects of my life as they come to me now. These nine poems touch on different themes, with an emphasis on the unjustness and commonplace missteps we've all witnessed and experienced. ~1,000 words