Archive for the ‘a poem or a song’ Category

Getting the short end of the stick in Canada

January 28, 2009

This may be the greatest poem I, or anyone, has ever written. I wrote it for the anti-Harper facebook group Stephen Harper Poems, where I was the conservative poet-in-residence. Sheer propoganda – I even worked in Harper’s primary election message, that he stands up for the people who “work hard, pay their taxes, and play by the rules”. For authenticity points, I tapped it out on my cellphone in spare moments at work. It’s more than a little snippy, but hey, at least I didn’t call anyone fascist for increasing arts funding insufficiently.

People like to say Harper was divisively making a play for the votes of a particular section of Canadian society at the expense of a group unlikely to vote for him. Considering that he was painted as such for a general increase of arts funding it seems to me that the pointy edge of this wedge we hear of actually faces the other way. What really bothers me about it is that there are people who work brutal jobs in the oil patch – away from home a week or two weeks at a time – and their tax money goes to fund artists doing work that they don’t value and that for many people is a hobby they’d like to have more time for. I don’t care to cut arts funding, although I think there’s a lot that could be done to improve it. But even considering the point of view of that guy in the oil patch is automatically “divisive”.

That guy gets the short end of the stick in Canada every time.

Avant Garde; Derriere Noggined
“works hard” Steve they’ll be floggin’

they live in channels straight and narrow
blind hostile to neighbor harrow’s
call classic liberal evil monster
needed foil to the Good People
he honoured Dalai to Stronach’s sigh
but better
“play by the rules” and no one gets smeared

now wonderin’ just what’s so progressive
’bout paying for Statements
with my labour’s sweat

and livin’ off middle class “pay their tax” fascists.

post script.

Say come to Alberta, welcome able body
Try a hand with your hand
Try labourer’s sweat
Make a working man poetic
Say skip The Dialectic!
Taste the other narrative
And then make comment


A ginger ale toast to Robbie Burns

January 26, 2009

Montreal Simon commemorates Robbie Burns with a fine toast, and a poem I haven’t read before. I notice from his previous post that we have different perspectives on Gaza, but on Robbie – and Haggis –  we very much agree.

Another of my favorite Canadian blogs.

wan gwising gurkin brillig, bolly-gum!

January 9, 2009

…and you thought nothing could make Lewis Carroll turn in his grave. no slight intended to celtic folk, seeing as how I am as much Irish as anything. the “braking” on saturnalya reference is to the first paragraph of this post


The Churlishness of the Conservative Conscience

December 9, 2008

Appropriate huh? I posted this at the anti-Harper facebook group Stephen Harper Poems during the election which actually went silent for several days because of the poem I posted before this one. I felt bad for raining on their party so I wrote this one, more from their perspective.

Harper hero Harper horror
neither one tells a whole story
think I to the moments when
I listened to Louise Arbour:

goodbye radio interview
on dark travelling eve
one speaks of her final treatment
at hand of Canada’s New Government

critic she of Chinese record
critic she of Darfur’s road
critic she of despots many
but critic she of Isreal

so Harp many against Arbour
and with them I full agree
so she received no jot of thanks
no send off, no goodby thee

point made clear, sure foolish manner
more gracious way, not to hammer
just say thanks and if you must
speak your peice, as a “but”

oh noble stand!
oh grand silence!
oh so we bear our chagrined witness
to – 

The Churlishness of the Conservative Conscience

Update: The Arbour interview. There’s this attitude about conservatives that is simply bad manners and it does absolutely nothing to convince people of why we think it’s important to place at least the primary blame for the deaths of innocents in the Israel/Lebanon war on Hezbollah. Hezbollah and Hamas know they have no real ability to materially damage Israel so their entire strategy is propoganda – to try to make Israelis lose their will to go on living against constant hostility and to intentionally try to create photo-ops of Isreali soldiers inadvertantly killing civilians. I consider it anti-semetic in two ways to blame Israel for these deaths: first in holding Israel up for condemnation completely out of proportion to criticism of any other nation like the American response to 9/11 when Israel has endured dozens of 9/11’s for their population size with a far more restrained response, and second in treating the Arab populations who make up and support these ruthlessly genocidal organizations as if they have no moral agency. When Hezbollah triggers a war with the primary intent of creating images of innocent people being killed by the Israeli Defence Forces – and they are not blamed for it – it is the equivalent of treating them like they have no more ability to make moral choices than an animal, something far more disgusting and disheartening than holding Israel to a prejudicially high standard.

Canada for Disassembling

December 2, 2008

Alan said it:

For me, it started with Mulroney and the cutting of national programs like the train and the post office. Maybe even further back and the changes to the military’s uniforms and structure. It continued for another two decades with more and more removing and cutting and denigration of the land as a whole in favour of local interests and a do nothing attitude. The Government of Canada is for disassembling. It’s not so much as these programs and institutions were sacred but they were not replaced by anything that made the federation stronger.

Recently, I had the honour to go to a US village council on official business and witnessed the pledge of allegiance being recited before the meeting began. It was a casual, competent and fully aware moment of commonality by everyone of all persuasions in the room that could have been played out anywhere in the nation. Not jingoism. They just love their country. We have nothing like that. Maybe we did once.

Something unsurprising happened when I was in Saskatoon. Because there was a non-Canadian with us we realized what it means that we thought of it that way.

Somebody pointed to a license plate from the Yukon. A fifteen passenger van, the mostly Inuit bunch of kids jumping out into a gas station parking lot – what were they doing in Saskatoon!? Oh yeah, it’s pretty close to Canada Day. They’re traveling back from Ottawa of course – see the Canadian flag in the window?

You should have seen Andreas. These people had driven across a continent to celebrate a country. He couldn’t imagine Germans driving across Germany to do that. He said that if you waved a German flag in the street the Russians and other immigrants would beat you up.

We have something. We have a country where patriotism has a good history. Canadian patriotism means liberating Holland was part of looking out for our own rights. Our Commonwealth heritage has given us a cosmopolitan nationalism. We’ve known how to feel kinship beyond borders for a long time and being in the Francophonie means we’ve got something really unique.

We’ve got a country where a Russian is a German is Korean is Inuit is Canadian – right across a continent.

It’s been said that the Dutch know what it means to be Canadian better than we do. So does a German. Our system of government is being tested. Let’s remember that this mess proves how well it’s been working up to now. A coaliton could make a lot of people – and not just in Alberta – question the country. But an election doesn’t guarantee anything. Let’s keep in mind that Canada’s been through parliamentary mess – even one that was essentially between anglo and french blocks and that took a Grand Coalition to keep us going on – and that it’s been seventy years since the last one anything like this. And…

Let’s remember that from outside eyes, it’s a country worth keeping.

Sleep I to all around me, when…

November 25, 2008

Miles up, so close
Moving spirits
Press ephermal curve
Into blue concave

Moment’s kinship with these
Who may ne’er bend near again
Faces I will never know
Ever beyond my little purview

Yet sleep I to all around me
And feel so close to them

Neither a Raphael nor a Stageleft be…

November 10, 2008

Immigration is a hot topic over at stageleft. I might actually write this blog at about the same time as I actually clean my place – don’t anyone hold their breath. Nevertheless, this is something I wrote some time ago. This is my view.

Welcome to the West Ayaan, Hassan

welcome to the west
weary, o’ opressed

welcome to the west:
mow grass for gold
pick aluminum gems
to trade for keys to the city
for your daughter

welcome to the west
you – you long shot sons of allah
you are welcome here –
if you do not wear it
and piss it away
here you will find irking freedom
her bright vista of struggling Thought
her Danish heroes
her points of light
and dark and naked her grotesque hangers on

come lend modesty, peace, gentle spirit
if you will learn to love your daughters and your brother here
may we listen, I pray.
come to David’s american –
his canadian bastion
And the world will see Ishmeal’s seed live in peace with his brother’s six point star
if you choose to.

Hate not your brother, Ishmeal
Ishmeal, hurt not your sister
Or go
For this is then never your home.

You have freedom here to enrich an old faith.
Draw unharried breath and sound clarion symphony for your patrimony
Kind cohering community among atomized people.
A calmsoul countenance amidst the absorbed hurry.
Or build greater hollow monuments
Clanging decibel dominance
Debase Islam’s sweetest tradition
With tribal hate blinding
Lockstep rage when you man obey
And misogyny’s heresy to humanity

Fitna fought
With struggle’s mindless cries
The telltale dagger
Proof paid in detractors heart
An inheiritance made pariah.

Speak your choice Islam.
Or compatriot cowed silence will take that freedom from you.

Even here.