When Cold Winds Blow

 

When cold winds blow in darkened night

along the valley’s streams and fields,

while arms hold arms to warm in bed

and children dream their golden dreams,

I ask myself what all this means,

but I’ve yet to answer back,

and how can I when all is clear

as a dying candle’s light,

no, when cold winds blow

I gather strength and slowly breathe in deep,

and deeply drink, of wine, and song,

and sometimes bitter hope,

but long hours grind the spirit down

and sweep it all away,

leaving just one wondrous thing to me,

the scent of perfume in your hair,

but wine is wine, and with some time,

life’s candle flares again,

like stars above the scudding clouds,

singing silent harmonies,

that lull me into reveries,

of a door in Zanzibar.

 

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A Cold, Cold Rain

A cold, cold rain beats softly

on the melting window panes,

like angels’ tears for mankind wept

with hopeless, anguished cries,

and there, look there, those birds, in air,

bedraggled, sad, bereft,

sweep and swirl round sleeping trees,

their quest a warming place,

to sleep, a time, to dream perhaps,

of clouds and journey’s end

they flash this way and then flash that,

look now, they hang on wing,

then suddenly, in silence sealed,

as if en masse ordained,

all en mass descend,

yet each with each unreconciled,

though all a common fate,

like me, alone, the modern man,

blank face among the crowd,

my lost reflection now only found

In shattered mirror shards.

 

 

Night Is A Game That Death Likes To Play

 

“Night is a game that death likes to play,

And dreams are the mind withdrawing from day,”

Breathless, a whisper, these words that she said,

Before I departed for war, and the dead.

 

We kissed and she blushed, an innocent still,

As we lay on the top of the welcoming hill,

Where birds sang in trees of nature’s delight,

While we talked of love, of wrong and of right,

 

We lay on the grass to melt with the sky,

The rosey-sun setting, the moon asking why,

We were one destiny, one body, one mind,

Yet with sunrise I left, to follow the blind.

 

 

Speak Now, My Friends

 

Speak now, my friends, yes speak, but speak true,

Of the darkness descended and what we must do,

When days reek of madness, and nights smell of shame,

And the air smells of gore of the infinite slain.

 

Let’s dream, once again, of democracy’s glade,

The peace and the calm, for which many have paid,

Where the poor are the richest, and the rich are long gone,

And in the bright sunlight the darkness is done.

 

And when we remember all that’s been said,

Of justice for all and where it has led;

While the cruel and the selfish veil their true face,

We’ll sing of the heroes who’ve argued our case.

 

So proudly we’ll speak of the brave ones who die,

There’ll be vows to revenge them, tell truth to the lie,

But yet, as we speak, will come shouts, “who leads me?

So we’ll raise a bright mirror for the doubters to see.

 

But why fades your voice, your eyes look away?

While you suffer alone long night and dark day,

So stay, and reflect, as we join our rough hands,

What our union could do in our, unchained, lands.

 

She Looked In The Fireplace Mirror

 

great-expectations

She looked in the fireplace mirror,

Face lit with the heat of the fire,

That warmed the dead, and the living,

Who of their tears did tire.

 

Around her the few, and the lonely,

Sat quietly, undisturbed,

Yet each the other heard breathing,

Though none dared utter a word.

 

And the priest looked old, and saddening

For he could cast no magical spell-

As the flames of the fire flickered and flared-

He wondered if they were in hell.

 

A cat curled up in a corner,

Content with a memory or two,

Of the one they somehow mourned for,

To whom they had never been true,

 

Two slender, white scented, candles,

Sat graced by two flowers of light,

On top of an elegant casket,

Her bed her fare-welling night.

 

She looked in the fireplace mirror,

At the woman once she had been,

And remembered a longed for lover,

She once had seen, in a dream.

 

She looked in the fireplace mirror,

‘Til the priest hushly whispered, “Let’s pray,”

And the mourners took up their poses,

And thought of the new coming day.

Nagasaki Warning

 

 

 

 

The news came through the din of war,

That things were seen not seen before,

Nor told in tales, nor prophecies,

Nor legends known, our histories,

Of lights and shadows roaming wild,

The veil of death on every child,

 

The news came through of shaking earth,

Of flaming winds and thunderous might,

Of vapours born a bloody birth,

Of melting skin in dark of night,

 

The news came through of cities burned

By blast of flame, by flash of light

As women turned to shadows yearned

For evening songs, a morning bright,

 

The news came through, the last we heard,

Of madmen dancing on a tomb,

Who jeered at life with every word,

And bled the blood from every womb.

 

Then we turned towards the sky,

Towards the rushing, roaring sound,

And, for an instant, wondered why.

 

It Happened One Summer

 

 

 

It happened one summer long, long, ago.

I’ll tell you the tale before you must go,

A young man’s adventure, some claim it was mine,

That took place that summer, in the year ‘69.

 

We rumbled on through the Canadian Shield,

Past forest, past lakes, the occasional field,

Like a cinema show on twin lines of steel,

With music supplied by the rhythmic wheel,

As we sat on our heels or stood by the door,

The old with the young and all of us poor.

 

At the head of the train the red units strained,

To pull all the cars to which they were chained,

Boxcars and flatbeds, tankers, caboose,

“What was that there?” “Oh, that, that’s a moose,”

“Say, you from the city, boy, where’ve you been?”

“Hey, leave him alone. There’s things you ain’t seen.”

 

They all of them laughed, while some lit a smoke,

And one from the Sault offered all a short toke,

That got us all talking of life, or a love,

Or how was it that Mary got knocked-up by a dove?

And all sorts of questions you can’t ask in school,

‘Cause questions cause problems and idiots rule.

 

We slept in our jeans, our shirts and our arms,

Some dreamt of cities, some still of farms,

But all of us dreamt of Vancouver, B.C.

Where we were headed and all meant to be,

For the buzz on the street said things were cool there,

And even the fuzz would treat you real fair.

 

But few of us made it, and few of us cared,

The trip was the thing, not how we fared,

For wherever home was, was a place to avoid;

Better the rails than a wife real annoyed,

Or boredom, a bank, or a job you can’t find,

Hop a freight once, you’ll find your own kind.

 

Stars that like sequins seemed stitched to the sky,

Lit the star-mirrored lakes like rivers that die,

‘Til the morning’s new glow outshone them all,

And one boy said ‘morning’ in a down-easter’s drawl,

To which we each answered, this way and that,

Some back to snoring, some up for a chat.

 

And so the days passed, the train journeyed on,

From the Sault on to Wawa, past White River gone,

On round the lake of Chippewa fame,

The great Gitchigumi, Lightfoot sings of the same;

The wide-open skies directed our way,

“Til on the third day, we hit Thunder Bay.

 

Most of us hungry, food low in each pack,

We hoped for a shower and time in the sack,

But as the train slowed to crawl through the yards

We knew it was over, we’d played all our cards,

The tracks swarmed with bulls, with cops at their side,

So one jumped, then all, for freedom and pride.

 

Some made it, some nabbed, with ten days in jail,

Like Lennie the Loop, we couldn’t make bail,

So did our short stretch, one day at a time,

Kept ourselves laughing with tall tales of crime,

The guards were okay, at least those in the day,

The night was the problem, with those shadows in play.

 

They released us real early, and told us to go,

They didn’t care where, or even to know,

So we walked a few miles, trying the thumb,

But every one passed, why pick up a bum,

Yet onward we kept ‘til we spotted a train,

Stopped on some tracks all wet from new rain.

 

“She’s headed our way, we’ll make Winnipeg,

That’s what I reckon, come on, give it some leg”

So lowdown and fast we ran down the line,

Looking for one that seemed to us fine,

Threw our packs in through a wide open door,

Then jumped in ourselves and rolled on the straw.

 

We lay back, we laughed, we smelled the cold air,

And wondered if, maybe, this life could be fair,

For happy we were out riding the rails,

For trains on the prairie are ships without sails,

And this one would sail before the moon rose,

For we’d picked this one right, this one that we chose,

To carry us rambling through mountain and field,

Wandering sons of Canada’s Shield.