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

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca

 

12

Jul

2021

Sparrow

Author: Jim Taylor

            This poem came about by the confluence of two completely different factors. 

`           One, obviously, was finding dying sparrow on the concrete at the entry to my garage.

            The second was an article in The Conversation Canada, about journaling. If you’re not sure what to write, the article suggested (I’m paraphrasing) list what you can note from your senses. Five things you see; four things you hear; three things you touch; two things you smell; one thing you taste. 

            I tried that exercise while thinking about the bird whose body I had just moved into my garbage can, and suddenly they started forming a poem. So here it is – in part...


...

I pick it up, a mortal morsel cupped in my hands.

It makes no effort to flap, to fly.

It rests on my skin, light as a snowflake,

soft as a lover’s touch. 

I move it to a shady spot, where the day’s heat 

bears down on it less heavily. 

 

The bright beads of its eyes flick towards me.

Then close. 

 

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: death, Sparrow, feathers

5

Jun

2021

215

Author: Jim Taylor

             Anger does not produce good poetry. But poetry can reduce anger. So here you are. It’s certainly not the best of my poems, but I needed to write it. So here are a few lines about the 215 bodies discovered undergrouind at the Kamloops Residential School:

 

And now we lie, mouths gagged with soil,

silenced witnesses to a system

that robbed and stole and deprecated

in the name of a loving God.

 

Who did not breathe new life into our clay.

 

Yet we shall rise, 

and point with fleshless fingers 

at your pious posturing...





 


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10

Nov

2020

Seven by seven

Author: Jim Taylor

This poem started with an unusually early snowfall. I’ll tell you the rest of the story after you read the poem. 

 

Snow falls softly on cedars; 

fat white flakes sift down, pile up; 

branches bend, protest in pain; 

white cones burden bunched berries; 

autumn grass falls flat below 

an ermine cloak;  drifting specks 

draw a veil across distance.  


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Categories: Poetry

Tags: darkness, Snow, campfire

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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