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

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Absolute zero

Author: Jim Taylor

The numbing cold that has swathed most of Canada during February prompted my mind to wander into uncharted territory. 

Cold slithers down

from the far side of 60 degrees, latitude.

When it’s that cold,

when tears turn into salt hailstones

and spit ricochets,

the scale doesn’t matter.

But even a polar vortex

retains measurable warmth.

Heat itself ceases

at absolute zero —

on the Kelvin scale, minus 273.15 Celsius —

a temperature beyond which

there is no beyond.

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Categories: Poetry





When it’s time for me to go

Author: Jim Taylor

When it’s time for me to go,

I drift to the edges

of the bubbling broth 

of chatter

and then I slip 


into the night outside. 

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: death, departure




Pointy hoods

Author: Jim Taylor

I added a picture to this poem, so that you would have a better sense of the scene that prompted this reflection. You'll have to go to the main page to see it, though. 


Fresh snow coats the spiky crowns of evergreens

into narrow cones of shining white

steepled against a brillig sky -- 

a vast convocation 

of pointy white hoods.


Do spruce trees also

have pointy little brains

beneath their whited hoods?


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Crescent moon

Author: Jim Taylor

This poem grew out of seeing the sliver of a new moon, suspended in the night sky shortly after sunset. Net time you see such a moon, try reciting this poem out loud to it. 

Hail to thee, silver crescent in the sky.

Tell me what you think you are.


Are you the universal sickle --

whetstoned symbol of seasonal harvest,

a harbinger of hope 

that reaps the plainest grains,

to feed the famined millions?


Or are you the scimitar of Saladin, 

white-hot steel tempered in the algebra of zero....

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Author: Jim Taylor

            A friend is going through a deep depression.  I tried to imagine myself inside his skin, and out came another poem. It begins

Dimness descends like a curtain.

Murk buries me, plugs my nostrils,

seals my ears; I hear nothing,

not even my own thoughts.

I wallow in my private pig-sty.

I want to move, but my muscles

have turned to water; every step feels like

wading in molasses....

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: Depression, misery, despair





Author: Jim Taylor

“The fog,” Carl Sandburg wrote, “comes

on little cat feet.”

If so, 


arrives on kitten paws, 

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Categories: Poetry





Tangled maze

Author: Jim Taylor

This poem when my friend Arlene Erickson, hearing about what ministers have been taught in most seminaries since the 1950s, demanded, “Why haven’t we ordinary people been told any of this stuff?” Something about the content led me to put it together in lines vaguely resembling the discipline of iambic pentameter.

“Behold,” he said, “thy path unto salvation.”


“What path?” I asked, “for all that I can see 

are thickets of incomprehension; thorns

that reach to snare unwary travellers,

quicksand salivating for a sucker,

roots that rise to trip my thoughts; and tigers 

burning bright, crouched to leap with tooth 

and claw upon my slightest flaw.

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Ahriman wins

Author: Jim Taylor

Like many of the Psalms of lament in the Bible, this poem combines disillusionment and hope. Rather than the psalm format, though, I have chosen  to locate it in the pre-Jewish myths of Zoroastrianism. 


Ahura Mazda kneels in the sand

Patiently building a castle. 

Grain by grain it rises. 

Towers of trust.

Gates of welcome. 

Living spaces lit with laughter. 

Banquet halls full of sharing. 


Ahriman knows 

that a single stomp 

can reduce the castle to rubble. 

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: Ahura Mazda, Ahriman, good, evil





Author: Jim Taylor

I have never been able to meditate the way some others do. Either I fall asleep, or my mind races. So I wrote about it. 

Silence is a pool, deep and green.

I sink into its welcoming womb. 

I empty my mind

            thinking of nothing 

                        nothing at all 

            but nothing abhors a vacuum....


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Categories: Poetry

Tags: silence, words, meditate




A shining

Author: Jim Taylor

It’s easy to say what I don’t believe in anymore – an all-knowing grandfather God who sits on a cloud somewhere up there, out there, distant but keeping an eye on everything, delivering rewards and punishments,, and upsetting things here on earth with what we call “acts of God.” But then people ask me, “So what kind of God do you believe in?” And I find prose can’t do it; poetry at least comes closer. 


 Faces  talk around a table

knees warm around a campfire

voices sing in a circle

hands clasp in the darkness

and in between, among, around them

hovers a shining.... 

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: God, shining, presence



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