Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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20

Oct

2020

Hope

Author: Jim Taylor

In the night, a firefly blinks

once

a single speck of light, a mote, a flake

flung into a slow, black, sloe-black

river of loneliness

rippling through

the gnarled fingers of the darkling forest

seeking a silent echo


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Categories: Poetry

Tags: hope, future, fireflies

15

Sep

2020

...has left this place

Author: Jim Taylor

At the end of Elvis Presley’s concerts, the venue’s management typically announced, “Elvis has left the building.” The phrase seemed appropriate in a different context. 


one bag of garbage 
one load of laundry
one plate on the table
one side of bed unrumpled
one datebook to compare
one has lost its other
one of us has left this place


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26

Aug

2020

Anger

Author: Jim Taylor

It has been a long time since I felt like indulging in poetry – over six months. During that time, my wife Joan has died, and I have gone through some of many stages of grieving.. 

            “How are you doing these days?” people ask. 

            “Just fine,” I reply. And usually I mean it. But sometimes I’m lying. 

Daisies lupines and long green grass
wave and waive and weave the meadows
bright brush strokes splashed against 

the sky. Savory sage bristles higher 
on the drier slopes. Roots reach down 
into the depths of dark. A sunless 
river runs through it, silent water 
seeping through millennia of limestone....


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18

Feb

2020

Fragile composure

Author: Jim Taylor

My wife Joan has been handling the gradual decline of her life with astonishing composure. But occasionally, the veneer cracks, and I realize how fragile she is, physically and emotionally. I try to imagine myself into her experience, and can’t – inevitably, I drift off into my story, not hers.

            So as once before, I’ve chosen the ruthless structure of classical haiku – three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables – to enforce some discipline on my monkey mind. 

 

 

Walking on water

ice fractures under my feet

fall into nothing


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Categories: Poetry

Tags: dying, death, unknown

18

Jan

2020

Midwinter

Author: Jim Taylor

 Here in the Okanagan we had nothing like the storms that have hit Newfoundland, or the American Midwest. But temperatures down to -20C, and snow that has fallen every day for more than a week, propelled my creative juices a little. 

            This is what musicians call “variations on the theme by…” Chopin or Mozart or…. In this case, the familiar Christmas carol by Christina Rossetti. 


 In the bleak midwinter

grey snow shrouds the ground

bare branches claw the sky while

overcast clouds crush spirits

 

Frosty wind made moan

arctic vortex strikes 

a coiled serpent sinks 

icy fangs into bare flesh....

 


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4

Jan

2020

haiku

Author: Jim Taylor

n these months, as 12 years of Joan’s chronic leukemia move towards their inevitable conclusion, I have found it – as you may imagine – difficult to write poetry of any kind. And yet I feel that it is somehow important for me to try. 

            Something about the sheer sparseness of the haiku formula appealed to me: three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. The format leaves no room for maudlin meandering. I wrote about a dozen of them; after consulting with a pair of friends, four remain. 

 

 

tides suck life away

anemones scrunch in pain

rocks rise wet with tears

 


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17

Sep

2019

flipped images

Author: Jim Taylor

I don’t write poems in a flush of enthusiasm. I start writing because there’s something in my gut that I want to express, but I don’t know how. So I write, and I set aside, and some day months along I come back to those inarticulate gropings and see something in them, and start rewriting, amending, polishing. 

            This is one of those long-buried beginnings, resurrected. 

flipped images

 

my printer went to sleep

it dozes off, when it’s not

making black marks on white paper

it has to keep itself busy

when it’s not, it turns its neurons off

grabs a nap, goes dormant

puts its digital processes on hold

to save energy

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22

Aug

2019

The invitation

Author: Jim Taylor

Hear the sad story of Johnathan Fewless

who knew that at sex he was hopelessly clewless.

He admits that without a specific instruction

he won’t recognize an attempt at seduction.

Coy hints are too easily misconstrued;

they don’t always mean someone wants to get scrued....

 

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: sex, seduction, humour

3

Aug

2019

Brain fog

Author: Jim Taylor

I watch as friends struggle to find words, to follow instructions, to grasp concepts. Some call it dementia; some call it cognitive impairment; some call it “chemo-brain.” And some simply wear a bewildered look. 

            I realize this is dangerous ground – I haven’t been there myself, yet. But by the time I get there, I won’t be able to put the experience into words. I also realize that the people who could tell me if I got it right – or badly wrong – probably can’t respond. My hope, however, is that this poem may help some of you, who have friends or relatives with some form of ongoing dementia, appreciate what they may be feeling. 

 

 

Brain fog

 

The fog creeps in

on little dendrites and axons, 

It short-circuits the fungal filaments 

that feed the chemistry of communication

from gray cell to… oh, what were the numbers

for the combination lock

on my memory locker?

Clarity scampers like a squirrel,

always just out of reach. 

I grasp at dust motes dancing in a sunbeam....

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: Dementia, aging, fog

19

Jul

2019

West of Winnipeg

Author: Jim Taylor

--

Prairie

Flatlined horizon

Flax fields, canola fields

Patchworked blue and yellow

Swedish flag quilted on rich brown loam

Telephone poles poke out of the future, one by one,

Pass by, get sucked back down on the far side of yesterday...


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Categories: Poetry

Tags: Winnipeg, prairie

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