CHRISTMAS SHOPPING “Well, Santa uses the latest technology nowadays, it helps him with his magic, now go to sleep.” I had the list, now I had to find the stuff. There was no snow, only a rainy dark day that didn’t remind me of any Christmas. I passed a homeless guy on the street, not looking, not daring to look, then popped into a coffee shop to take the edge off. I was groggy from shift-work. I unfolded the list and saw the first item: My Little Pony – London Drugs. Of course, I couldn’t find a My Little Pony in London Drugs so I wandered around looking for an employee. Then I saw a young dark skinned fellow with an interesting beard, the kind of beard that enveloped a kind face. He was wearing an employee’s uniform. He greeted me by bowing gently and said, “How can I help you, sir.” He smiled. “An Arabian knight,” I labelled him. “My Little Pony,” I said. “On sale,” he said, “this way.” On the way to get the toy, we passed two young Chinese girls happily chatting to one another with their push cart full of items. They were close friends, walking arm in arm. I walked out of the store and crossed off ‘My Little Pony’. The homeless guy had moved locations and was now on this side of the street. I walked over to him and looked him in the eye, gave him a ten dollar bill, and said, “Merry Christmas, sir.” Somehow, this Christmas, like all Christmases, brought a sense of goodness home. This year, it wasn’t a big snowfall, or singing carols, or hot chocolate with family and friends, instead, this year, it was three people who I didn’t know, an Arab, and two Chinese girls. Merry Christmas to all.

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CELEBRATION

Dawn; sunny; the air pollution index

only one hundred in a million;

the ocher track beckons, sparks interest.

I am still. I do not breathe too deeply.

I jog easy, listening. The world and

my body—in out, in out, thud, thud, thud.

 

It was on the third lap, I noticed them.

Two Chinese girls walking, happy frolic,

uniforms brisk and red and white glowing,

their long black hair gleams and streaming purple,

floats, shining everywhere till one, the taller,

signals to God, looks skyward, open hearted–

 

She says, “Thank-you Creator for this day.”

She bends and looks skyward with squinted eyes,

whips long locks trailing; arches her being,

her long arms and hands, and touches God’s face,

the universe, and the small world tingled

her touch lovely, consecrated, sacred.

 

On the quiet fifth lap I know she knows.

I breathe deeper now; they are sitting

on the inside lanes–back to back, within

each self in quiet peace, soothing escape,

soft whist closed eyes, rocking, resting, timeless,

loving each, giving each, woman presents.

 

I do not look’ I want to give more of

this singular peace to them; they whose

spirit cups are filled overflowing with air,

sky and sun cool in the broken morning

before the heated chaos, noise, fervor,

the wet wringing day of thinking people.

 

I envy them: their womanhood glowing,

their closeness—their touching backs—and closed eyes,

their slow rocking side to side—Oh—their hands!

As one lays her open palms, the other knows

and lays her open palms atop—touches—connect.

 

They stop time. They celebrate

life in solitude and share.

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Day 60 (or so) in China

OK, so I haven’t had a chance to blog at all because I have been busy learning how to do lesson plans and teaching Grades 3-8 in this huge public school in Jiaxing, China. Internet access to western sites is erratic at best, so I don’t know how long I will be able to connect with my blog before being disconnected.

So far my China experience has been awesome. The people have treated me so well here. I have the support of all the teachers even though they know I have never taught before. I am learning like crazy and while the first day or so was absolutely a pressure-cooker, I think I have gotten a handle on this teaching thing.

The food here is amazing. It is far better than western food because it isn’t so processed. The pork you buy from the butcher (if you want to call a roadside thing set up a butcher), is better, the peanuts are absolutely amazing, and generally, while you don’t always know exactly what you are eating, it tastes good. The only bad food experience I had was in the school cafeteria. I choose something that looked good, and it was chicken! OK, I can eat that, until I saw the chicken foot poking out of the mass of food. The visual thing was too much. I couldn’t touch it. I think I have eaten rabbit.

The first week was a little adjustment to my intestinal system but I am ok now. The toilets are different but apparently that is the healthy way to go . . . if you know what I mean. I have kept up with my novel, which I hope to finally detail out when I get back to Canada. OH, and things are cheap, cheap, cheap, here! That’s always a good thing. The students work hard, as do the teachers.

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Off to China

You must be getting tired of all this poetry. I’ve been involved with a poetry group which requires me to write a poem now and then, so I’d publish them as a way of keeping them collected. The new thing is China. I have picked up a contract to teach English over there. I’ll be teaching middle school children and I hope the kids will be gentle with me. I’m approaching this with a positive attitude (really important), and with a view toward experience and creative prose in mind. Hemingway used to travel all over just to get ideas for a story or book. China, for me, will hopefully spark new ideas toward my current novel or something new. Of course, my main thing will be to teach the kids English. Mandarin is the same as English in terms of sentence structure, that is, it works “subject, verb, object”, just like English, but unlike English, the verb is much simpler. While English has many verb conjugations, Mandarin is much simpler. For example, English has a total of 12 possible verb tenses, while Mandarin has 3, at least, that’s the way I understand it so far. Anyway, I fly out Aug. 28 and will immediately be submerged culturally and linguistically. Have I been learning Mandarin? Well, no, or perhaps a little, but my focus is on my writing so that’s what I’ve been concentrating on. I figure I’ll learn Mandarin when I’m over there. Wish me luck . . .

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A Full Life for Earl

Lusty living
from light to night,

judiciously
juggling odd jobs,

day to day and
cent to dollar.

Earl’s aim strives for
a piece of land.

Hardship hewn he
grins heavenly,

scanning skyward
shares a conscious

godly given
open palmed gift,

upward towards
good people of

citizenship.
Now workforce numb,

citizen Earl
seizing, grasping,

that fateful eve
working fearless,

dent decrepit,
lone undaunted.

A peaceful ease
holds as Earl slips,

tools still in hand
standing, upright,

passes from sweat,
to noble sleep.

Eye-light lifeless,
body lilting,

a pearl sinking,
easing into

final resting.
A red sunset

of prairie dust
lightly settles

gently holding
citizen Earl.

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Boom!

Sawn in
Half they
Camp sep-

arated from
family wise
friends tepid with
philosophic

wisdom. Dreamy thoughts fade,
rawhide hands hold cold steel
to put bread on the list
of things to do beyond

the real call of duty, and so
it is not really surprising
that when one said, one bad glance he
asking for it, got a Boom!

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Hard Pressed on a Lee Shore

Through salt spinning slit mist sharpened water,
I spied the rage ragged cliff of Lazo.
She spits spin-drift fury, dazzled temper
Slaps my face, thrusts her frothing breast aglow,
Heaving, pitching, tossing, hearing old-time
Shanties, stories beguiling fathers’ sons.
She creeps, and my fine cutter shakes the sign
Of those who went before, over done
By fate or chance or some mistaken part.
Bravely, she plunders over jaded chance,
Fearless, I hold her reins close to my heart,
Quiet, I feel the brooding time and glance,
Overboard, my heart jolts, she’s cracked like thunder,
Heart breaks, ashen faced, I sail her under.

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