Guest Writers

Ken Husband: This Dream

This Dream

Leaning on the door post
Of my dreams
Is a mystic dressed in tails
With a flicker of movement
To her left
To her right
She sets the scene
She dims the light

A light that brought with it
A sense of being floating on the edge
Of something worth seeing

If you don’t know where you are going
Any road will take you there
How long will it take?
Sometimes we just don’t care

In the stillness of sleep
Immersed in a dream
Our lives can unfold
Yet never be seen
Take a deep breath
It is the breath that divides
Our time before
And our time after

As the moon sinks low
And dawn is fast breaking
How restful it is
When immersed in a past
To know that its over
And sigh
Then a harlequin lover
Appears at your shoulder
And whispers its quiet goodbye.

Ken Husband's "Secrets"

Secrets


Adrift on the inner sea
Of every human heart
Is a secret’

Come beckons the fatal shore
Come die on my white sands it says
And we do,
No one can explain them
They are their own mystery.

If to keep a secret is wisdom
then nothing makes us as lonely
as our secrets,
some thresholds are just to wide
to be taken in one stride.

In our heart there is a secret
That answers to the vibration
Of our being,
knowing how to love,
knowing how to be loved
is to trust someone entirely
because in love there is no other way.

Its gentle whisper
brings us back to life
then rises and leaves
with no goodby
with no look back.

Secrecy carries its own price
and has a shyness of the truth
but even if almost unspeakable
secrets are in everyone
all waiting to be announced
Like one tiny spark on a dark stage.

"Silence" by Nel van der Grient

 

           Today I pulled a Zen card, partly out of curiosity, and partly hoping to find a lead for today’s writing. The writers’ guild was meeting today, nothing came to mind what I could write about today. Maybe one word would help. The word on the card was “Silence”. Not quite a word that I have every given a lot of thought. On my way to the meeting my mind remained silent, and during the first fifteen minutes nothing came. But then to my surprise I remembered different occasions and quotes having to do with silence.

           Do I like silence? Yes, I do, especially when I am surrounded by very loud noises, voices and music. The silence that follows, after I turn the loud noises off, or walk away, feels like a blessing. Silence can come in many different ways; it is full of answers. Being in perfect silence when meditating can bring perfect peace.

           Then there is uncomfortable silence. You are hoping to hear back from someone important to you, and there may be many reasons why they are silent. George Bernard Shaw quoted “Silence is the perfect answer to scorn.” Don’t I know!

           In hindsight I should not have spoken in anger or judgment, and let things rest in silence.

          Mother Teresa wrote on silence “God is the friend of silence, trees, flowers, grass which grows in silence – see the stars, the moon and the sun – how they move in silence. This reminds me of something my mother took upon herself. Like all mothers, she did not always agree with the way her adult children lived their lives so different from the way my mother thought they should, or raised their children. How she would have loved to tell them, buy never did, knowing that it would cause friction. She told me, ”I never said anything! I have taught my children to speak, and now they teach me to be silent!” I practice the same thing now with my children. And it’s great to just step back and let them do as they see fit without comments. Silence – what would be the opposite word for silence? I do treasure the silent times I have, even though life always seems so busy. I often spend time in total silence, either creating stained glass pieces or recently – drawing and sketching. Those two activities have given me much joy, were in challenging times a lifeline, and brought back the peacefulness I needed.

          I see people around me rushing from one day or activity to the next – do they ever long for silence? Do we all have an underlying fear of silence to come when everything filling our days will come to an end?

"Surrender" by Doug Aldworth

Surrender

 

Surrender to the light

That shines

In dark

Places

 

Surrender to the waters

That wash over the decks

Of being

Inviting you into the depths

 

Surrender to the present moment

Where thought, word

And action

Can move this world

 

Surrender strategic mind

To the depths of soul

Where purpose and destiny meet

And you find out, you’re where you Need to be

 

Surrender to life force

Chi, Dharma

The wild unmistakable calling

To lament what could have been

But is not

 

Surrender to decay

As leaf changing colour

Falls back… back to Earth

To feed the living

 

Surrender to the inner voice

That knows you

By your true name

And comes back to claim you

Despite your best efforts

 

Doug Aldworth: "And Still I Wonder"

And Still I Wonder

 I sat with the lake yesterday, after a long day of manual work. Taking out pipe and tobacco after finding a bare patch of rock, I sat down and watched the horizon creep-up towards the sun.  Lake, still frozen over with that steel grey glossy ice that comes when winters’ grip tightens once again after a thaw.  I could hear red wing black-bird in the river-mouth, amongst stiff cattails and alders.  It was here, I came to listen and watch and feel winter unravelling under the steady gaze of sun.  It was here I paused to wonder and be.

 If a person is gripped by ceaseless striving and never pauses long enough to be caught-up in wonder, does that person begin to lose something of his/her humanity and place in the natural scheme of things?  What is a man or a woman who has not suffered and died a thousand times to their own self-importance?  Is this what constitutes original sin?  Putting self at the centre rather than divine being or god or mystery or whatever the jargon of choice used to describe the indescribable in relation to being human?

 Pulling breath through pipe, I wondered what was wrong with the world?  I could find nothing wrong.  Even though in this present age of extreme human-centred development and exploitation, as the natural balancing agents of nature are in full swing and human-kind is becoming increasingly more isolated and dislocated from life rooted in the rich soils of wild nature, something, everything seems on the surface to be wrong.  Still I wondered, what would happen if humans chose integration instead of isolation from nature?  What would happen if the human species were to voluntarily step down from their self-proclaimed apex of creation and occupy a position of equality rather than mastery?  Is human-kind past this point of decision, this fork in evolution where we choose to re-engage an indigenous perspective with our wild nature?  Do humans know their place in this world?  Perhaps the human species in its adolescence, is coming to grips with its own mortality and place in the natural world?  Is there anything wrong with that?

 

Doug Aldworth (March 18, 2017)

LInda MacNamara

  Linda MacNamara is a member of our Algonquin Highlands Writers' Circle. She wrote this poem during our most recent meeting, and brought us face-to-face with the reality facing us on October 19.

A RESURRECTION

At night
In my growing up house
Dark tales were told
That surged in my head
Birthing nightmares:
Poisoned apples,
Insane step-sisters,
Hansel and Gretel's hungry witch
Chasing me through a forest
To the pounding
Heard loud inside my head,
Amplified by earaches
With oozing infections.

Along with my body,
Darkness of tales and visions
Ripened
From books beneath the bed,
Read late and in secret:
'Peyton Place'
Orwell's '1984'
Then 'Mein Kampf',
Hitler's ideal Germany.

Right now,
Uncoiling from some
Forgotten inner well
This dark feeling has returned,
Moulding into an archetype
Hissing "Beware"
As we near Canada's election
And the waking possibility
Of losing our compass
To a true north strong and free,
That the years my father
Slogged through trenches
Over land and seas
Will have been for naught:

Do not vote for Steven Harper.
                 ****

A Liminal PLace

Margarita is a wife, mother and grandmother living in Dublin, Ireland. She is a former teacher at All Hallows Colege in Dublin

 

One of the pleasures of studying theology in All Hallows in the 1990s was the expansion of my vocabulary.  At an early stage in my studies I heard the term ‘liminal’.  It was explained to me as an in between place, sometimes a place between one state and another.  The term made a lot of sense to me and indeed I recall writing a long essay on the liminal aspects of Holy Saturday.  However, I think I thought of liminal as a narrow place, temporary, transitory and fleeting.

 

In the last few years I have had to re-think my definition of the liminal state both personally and socially.  Five years ago my husband was diagnosed with cancer which was already metastatic.  Without treatment there was no hope, with treatment he might have some time.  I recall him saying that he had decided to ‘take whatever they can throw at this’, and take it he did.  Since that day he has radium, chemotherapy, a couple of minor surgeries and three major surgeries and he has indeed been given extra time.   During that time he has battled the side effects of radium and chemo and clawed his way back to physical well being after the various surgeries.  His life has been changed from one of well being and health to one where he tires easily, has to plan any activity like family visits or late nights and where he works very hard at retaining some level of fitness. 

 

During that time he and I have been blessed with the support of family and friends who have done so much to help.  It has been a journey which we have undertaken as a couple and as individuals.  Recently I realised that, in a peculiar way, those long months of supporting my husband through his various treatments were ‘easy’.  In this case easy is a relative term.  The long weeks of nursing and caring for him were certainly tough, both physically, mentally and emotionally, but they were easy because I could ‘do’ something for him.  Nursing him, cooking something to tempt his appetite, finding ways of making him comfortable all took a lot of ‘doing’; I am a doer.  We also spent long hours listening to each other as we travelled through the long days and the longer nights.  There were times of triumph as my husband reached mile stones we never expected to see.  Joyous occasions of new grandchildren and their mile stones and all the while we have known he and we are on borrowed time.  Now, however, we are in a different place.  It’s definitely a liminal place.

 

Another joy of doing theology in All Hallows was the campus with its beautiful chapel, trees and greens and Drumcondra House which lies at the centre of the campus.  Built between 1726 and 1727 it is one of the finest examples of early Irish Georgian architecture.  Many of the rooms have what I can only describe as double doors.  There is a door which opens into a small, liminal space about two feet in depth, then another door which opens into the room proper.  I have no idea what this liminal space was designed for by Lovett Pearce the architect of Drumcondra House; perhaps it was a way of excluding draughts or perhaps a servant would stand there ready to enter the main salon on the bidding of the master.  Whatever the use I have become more and more aware of the metaphor of liminal space in my life and I often think of that space between the doors in All Hallows. 

 

Far from being a fleeting or transitory space it seems to me that my husband’s illness has brought us both to a semi-permanent liminal space.  He has not died from cancer, he is living with it but living in a very different way to the way we imagined these years.  Our life together, as we knew it, has ended.  We have a different life.  It is a life of regular hospital appointments, ongoing chemo, sudden tirednesses, a life where there is little spontaneity.  Living with cancer means that while he is not very ill all the time neither is he very well for much of the time.  We are also at a place where I can no longer ‘do’ a lot of things to help.  Medication helps but I am no longer busy with the chores of nursing and caring because he is not very ill and we thank God for that.  We stand in this liminal place, this metaphorical place between the double doors. The door to the past is not quite closed.  We can look back but we cannot go there. I have been amazed at the grace with which my husband has accepted the limits which his illness puts upon him.  He doesn’t complain or speak longingly of the past, he lives very much in the present of today.  The door to the next stage of Frank’s illness is not quite open and neither of us is rushing to that place where death awaits, and yet, we know it’s there.  Today, some people would encourage us to kick down the door to the future, to take charge by way of assisted suicide, Dignitas or some such place.  That will never be a choice, life is sweet even in its limits.   It seems to me that our task, right now, is to find love and joy in this small liminal space.  Of their nature liminal spaces are not large, they don’t lend themselves to crowds or to lots of decoration and beauty.  They are just in between, on the way to and from other places.  But, that is where we are and that is where our life together is calling us right now.  To live and find joy in the in between.

New Day by Kenneth Husband

(For the Truth and Reconciliation Commission work)

 New Day

 
A shadow crawls across the ancient land,
from the east,over the shield and vast forests,
high up into the arctic,down to the great plains,
and on to the west,place of the tall cedars.
Everything that it touches will change forever,
the shadow growing darker as it creeps 
in a relentless silent spread.
 
Perched atop a giant pine that covers
much of our land,
Crow stands,
head cocked to one side affording her
to see the sun and moon together.
 
From the beginning of time,Crow has watched
as our shadow slowly covered the land
like a fog that did not stop,
until it had taken the children
to a place they could never understand,
to a place where many would not return.
Making sure that they would never forget,
they where left with a scar 
from the searing bite of a viper,
to carry for the rest of their lives.
 
Crow has dwelled in two worlds,
one light, one dark.
She has seen the shadow of false spirit,
and the destruction of many generations.
Yet she stands, ever vigilant at the gateway
between shadow and light,
watching for the darkness to receed,
in shame.
Watching for the soul, that is beginning to unfold.
 
And then, with her beckoning call,
black wings touch our face,
and we journey with her.
Flying from the night of denial,
to awaken,
and acknowledg the beginning of the new day.

Tundra, by LInda MacNamara

 
(For the little white rescue dog from Attawapiskat, May 2015)
 
When did the wind begin to blow in all directions?
Why does one leash a thing that knows where it is going,
Sniffing for live food and silent competitors
Like a canine sheriff arriving from a town
Where starvation and bullets are dog control.
How is she to settle into the softness,
The boredom of this safety net?
What will she do with her longing
And eight milky teats
Dragging on foreign ground?
She has survived danger and depravation,
And I feel no fear in her.
 
Later, under the stars
She howls a mournful cry:
From somewhere in the darkness
An owl answers.
Tension on the leash lessens, like she's made contact 
With a spirit I seek from long ago.
We wait a long while
Before going into the house
Where she sleeps on my bed
And I breathe
To her heartbeat.

Deep Breath by Ken Husband

Are you there
can you hear me
in the morning
long ago?
 
As I stand in the pre-dawn and gaze skyward 
it feels as if I am carried to an unknown place.
A place where I no longer understand the language.
 
The Cosmos, the Universe.
The language is still spoken there,
in sparrow song,wind sigh and leaf fall.
The Ocean still whispers the song that originated there, and if you listen to the longing in your heart,
you may hear the sacred song as well.
 
There is a community of beings within the welcoming cosmos.
The ancient ones, they have left their finger prints on us,
their soft whispers,gentle nudges,
rituals,songs and dances.
Trees that are alive and have personalities and have a voice noless than we humans.
 
Every breath we take,we take from the cosmos.
We inhale its air,
we speak with its breath
we are its poems,
we are its dance,
we are its rythems of music and writing.
 
I still may not understand the words being spoken to me
but I can dance the dance,write my words
and sing to the rythem.
 
Are you there
can you hear me
in the morning
long ago?

Rev. Allan Reeve: THE SHIFT

the saints have been sleeping

under blankets of deep snow

their prayers frozen solid silent still

 

and now

at the end of the months-long winter’s night

they begin to dream in dawn’s first glowing

their rapid eye movement

                            the first fluttering of life deep under all

 

they dream of places where even god has never been

they dream of things not yet seen this side of the moon

they dream up songs both ancient and new

 

and slowly, slowly, slowly a melody rises from the pores of rock hard ground

the returning birds sing it first

the sun offers a slow strong bass beat

the swelling creeks accompany

and it wakes the sleeping bear in you

 

these songs have never been heard

these songs await lyrics that only you can write

these songs have a chorus we’ve heard before our birthing

and now is when we are called to sing

 

something’s shifting

something’s broken the frozen heart’s secret hold

something’s rising with a sweet surprise

and soon

and not too soon

 

we’ll see the saints dancing

with the seventh generation’s joy

at last

 

(spring equinox 2015)                         reverend alleycat

"The News" by Doug Aldworth

 The News

 

 It’s being streamed in now

 We hear it live

 The news makers

 Have our attention now

 

 With their punk, rhythm and jive

Oh- yeah the weather

 It’s so nasty out there

 

Gangs in the streets

 Put your armour on

 Duck down, go ninja, beware

 Lines are being drawn

 The proverbial us and them

 

 Wait, clear my throat

 Masticate the words

 Clear the pflegm

 And we watch

 Voyeurs of the world

 

 Licking moist lips

 We watch someone’s

 Life become unfurled

 “Thank-god that’s not me”

 Says the Loyal One on watch

 

 Or rather…maybe it’s

 “If only that were…”

 Subconscious shadows

 Secret yearning

 Ratchet it up another notch

 

 I’ve heard it myself

 Watched and listened

 With furrowed brow

 Waves of plunder

 Another cash cow

 

 The ultimate in self loathing

 Yes, you know what I mean

 News of the world

 Our world

 Falling apart at the seams

 

 Piped in trash

 Enough already!

 Dow Jones falling

 Keep it safe, offshore

 Everybody’s hidden stash

 Damned, why didn’t I think of that?

 

The information factory

Gutted of all the wisdom

 A Thousand years of Ancestral learning

 Can bring to the masses

 Coffee for the masses

 That’s it for sure

 Inject a thousand calories of Tim’s

 Wash it down

 Streets, arteries, movement slow as molasses

 Live stream-it

 Illusions of hyper speed

 No dead air

 Keep the direct stare

 Engage the audience

 Set the trap and trip the snare.

                                  (DA Mar.-22-14)

 

 

 

 

from Doug Aldworth, a longtime member of our Algonquin Highlands Writers Circle:

 

HALLOWED GROUND

 

Arctic air

And wind-blown snow

With all edges knocked-off

I walk, snow-shoes getting a grip

 

Skin covered-up

I am a two legged

Traversing frozen pond

Through hibernating forests

 

Tracks of four leggeds

Fox, Coy-wolf, Hare, Martin and Deer

Criss-cross my way

Wind and cold dictating pace

 

And there is Sun

Earth, gradually tilting

Coming around

To face the warmth

 

And all this

Softens my knees

Slows the cadence of footsteps

Opens me up

 

Gradually, subtly

Losing my edges

I become malleable

So the Creator can work me

 

Not, work with me

Work me

With hands I cannot resist

A will that causes me to cease and desist

 

And I shed the cares of this world

The tasks that cry-out

“What about me!”

I walk-on…

 

Feeling lighter with each step

Quiet and poised

A still vessel of being

With a body born of this dynamic universe

 

Entering the flow of this day

Resistance fades

Replaced with resilience

And a knowing, I am part of all this.

 

D.A, Feb 2015

This page for guests

I will be adding here the poems and other writings from friends and colleagues who share my love of writing and do not have their own websites, so my usual readers can enjoy them here.

 

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Latest comments

28.11 | 07:46

Now into a second reading of INK and HONEY, I am finding it much richer and it's pulling me ever deeper into contemplation of my daily life.

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28.11 | 07:35

Perusing your musings about these books are a great help for me so I can choose my next book.. one that resonates at this time in my life. Thanks Brenda.

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22.11 | 20:53

Welcomed reading recommendations !

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24.10 | 21:40

and you have gifted me with cards that were like visits!!

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