(May 2002) Page 2



BRIAN WHATCOTT

"I was breast-fed until I was set for kindergarten. My big sisters loved me and spoiled me too. I passed the entrance for the 11plus, when that was life or death. I failed an aircrew medical, when the alternative was conscription. After sailing and skiing the Med , I emerged as a commercially desirable product in a (then) glamorous job - in computing.

I lost my warmth and kindness of heart there somewhere in the machines, and casting around for the missing part (though I was not sure what it was) decided that it was to be found in the US - though it was necessary to stop off in Canada, where the Quebecois were painting out English road signs in Montreal, and store service was not to be had, save in French.

I drove down down deep into the hot Oklahoma Summer, camping along the way, with my loving wife and kids, getting some dim conception about what I was missing. It helped to strike up with an ex college crowd doing skiffle type band gigs - the pretty girlfriends treated me like person - it was strange. I started to write verse. And I thought: I am a poet.

Then finally when I was still altogether lost, an English girl came to work in my solitary office. She only stayed a few months, recovering from her unsuccessful marriage to a serviceman, before running off with an American Airlines pilot but she treated me like a perfect man - as though I were complete: and so of course, I became complete.

But I had twenty years of heart stored up and crystallized away in some unnoticed place, which began to ferment - so that moving to another job, not far removed, where no one really knew I was a hopeless case, I ran into that runaway's friends, who treated me just as well, and I was touched to the quick, and I bear now the full burden of being an empathetic poet, with raw nerve ends visible to the touch.

And I am touched. Women talk to me and they know - though you would never guess to see my face (I enclose a thumb nail); It looks like an old face, but I am young - barely past adolescence. Again."

GEORGICS, OKLAHOMA STYLE
© Brian Whatcott, December 2000



The life is tough, the work is hard, the shepherd
runs the border dog too soon to death.
But where the old one falls, there is another birth
- a stable dog that never sees the hearth.
The pease pudding, the camembert and crackers,
the ivy league shelf of books, the look
of present, past, and future-perfect books, a crook
is just the tool that catches up the little lamb.
[How sad to think they're destined for the packers.]
Life proceeds in measured steps; the fish paste, the
mutton stew, Crimson preserve, the venison, beef and strawberry jam.
There is a place for granddad, granma, baby, me and you.
Wanting party favors, the little one is entertained by moon and star:
The tractor stands in place of car.




Night Music
© Brian Whatcott, Nov. '01, revised Apr. '02



I have kissed your lips,
as you kissed mine,
a heavy wine.
    I see you now a slender girl
like you were an age ago,
    your face aglow.
    A lovely, slender, soft and gentle girl.
    No ring, no jewels,
eyes deeper than pools.
Stockings, a belt and garters, lace and scent,
Night flowering rose;
    you drape your clothes.
I have tasted you,
    deep into the dark reaches of the night.
You surrender without a fight.
Hair in shining waterwaves
and I, diving there,
swimming slow strokes where
    you: fearless, confident of the nest you chose,
resolved on gliding in my arms in divine repose.
I have kissed your lips, as you kissed mine.



Author's Note re: A Practise Sonnet (below)
"Sara asked for Sonnets, in the plural, so I add this piece, quite faux in tone and intent - because it pleased a poet who works as a Border Patrol in the sandy wastes south of Yuma, Arizona;- who has
written exquisite stuff, so her opinion must be my guide."


A Practice Sonnet
© Brian Whatcott



Or shall I tell thee now what thou hast known?
Or teach the wind to chill the Winter bone?
Or show the wagon wheel to screech on stone?
Thou choose the posture who must stand alone.
There is no master can, with good intent,
dispose a plan so meet that it constrains
the voice with elocution congruent
unto the task at hand - to take these grains
of wordy soil and with a swish leave gold;
discarding dross, arranging what remains
in order, preordained, a tale unfold.
Who would give aid, debates - but then, abstains.
Hear this: the will is father to the deed;
Bold reefs of verse grow great from little seed.


A Once Impromptu Sonnet For Pretty's Sake
© Brian Whatcott



Dear placid girl, your tender heart I find
where night-sky fills with glowing fire-flies flung
by that immense, romantic heavenly mind
that sees an artist's soul, refreshed and stung
to life by quiet words and gentle thoughts.
Here, Ma'am, I grasp with care these ancient tools,
The ones that graced the ancient Medes, the Greeks,
The Persians and romantic Celtic fools
who sought to set in words the thought that speaks
too warm to say aloud without remorse.
Emotion closely guarded, that still leaks
around the social brakes, a straining force
too haunting for the ones you hold most dear.
What can't be said, is written for you here.


RICHARD VALLANCE

Richard Vallance was born in Guelph, southern Ontario, Canada, on March 11th., 1945, and currently resides in Ottawa, the nations capital. A graduate of Sir Wilfred Laurier University, Waterloon, Ontario (H.B.A. 1968) and the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario (M.L.S., 1975), Richard is a professional University librarian, now on disability pension. Richards career as a librarian reached its zenith in October, 1983, when he won the prestigious Data Courier Award for Excellence in Online Papers ($1,000 U.S.), in Chicago, Illinois.

However, progressively aggravated alcoholism eventually forced him to retire prematurely, in September, 1991. Fortunately, Richard ceased drinking altogether in 1992, and has been sober now for a decade. While he did write some poetry during his "wet years", alcoholism severely blunted his inspiration. Creativity only truly blossomed in 1995. Since that time, he has written over 1,500 poems, most of them Sonnets, though he also specializes in both Haiku and the stricter, more traditional Japanese Hokku verse form. He has also composed numerous so-called "free verse" poems, and has published one book of poetry:

A Quilt of Sonnets: Forty Four Familiar Poems. Ottawa: Providence Road Press, 1998. 56 pp. ISBN 1-896243-7-x. [National Library of Canada]

Richard has been published on numerous occasions on some of the worlds best known poetry E-Zines, including, Poetry Life and Times (UK) and Autumn Leaves (USA). He also maintains his own bilingual international E-Zine,

Poetry in Emotion la posie smouvoir

and will soon be the editor of a new international Sonnet E-Zine, Sonnetto Poesia.

Richard is the Poetry Reviewer for Poetry Life and Times. Anyone, who writes poetry for Poetry and Life and Times, is cordially invited to submit any poem of 20 lines or LESS for consideration for review to:

[email protected]

Richard also moderates numerous Poetry Discussion Groups, the most notable of which are: 1. Describe Adonis [Shakespeares Sonnet 53] 120 members. Yahoos largest Sonnet poetry group by far. Here are posted historical sonnets, commentaries on sonnet writing, and sonnets by members:

Describe_Adonis

2. Kawasaki Zen Haiku 90 members. Yahoos 3rd. Largest Haiku-Hokku poetry group, featuring links to historical Haiku Web Sites, examples of historical Haiku by such illustrious composers as Basho, Buson and Issa, and Haiku/Hokku posted by members, in any language they like:

Kawasaki_Zen_Haiku

3. Iliassia [Homers Iliad]. 61 members. Discussion group focussing on Homers Iliad, both in the original "Epic" Greek and in translation. Includes a repertoire archive of pictures, paintings, archaeological sites and cartographic information + maps:

iliassia

My Carousel Home Page is: Poesie's laissez-faire Foire

PUBLISHING HISTORY:

  • 1. A Quilt of Sonnets: Forty Four Familiar Poems. Ottawa: Providence Road Press, (c) 1998 56 pp. ISBN 1-896243-07-x
  • 2. "À la belle inconnue (Robert Schumann)", in: Arts and Literature Review. Lakehead University. Vol. 1 (3), 1972
  • 3. "Chanson d'Auverge", in: A Ray of Hope. (c) 2000. 257 pp. pg. 129 ISBN 1-58235-559-2
  • 4. "Pow Wow", in: An Hour at Sunrise. (c) 2000. 313 pp. pg. 167 ISBN 1-58253-539-8

    INTERNET:
    Autumn Leaves [May/June, 2001] - and several of his poems will soon appear in Kedco's Millennium Dawn Anthology

    March 2002 - Nominee for
    The Poets Hall of Fame

  • MOMENTIDE
    à la belle inconnue
    © Richard Vallance 2002


    [Apocopated Sonnet] *

    How dare I say I have not loved this
    momentide, this ceaseless ebb and flow —
    seaward oh my soul — from where your kiss
    on my eyes falls in waves no waves know?

    You list? — where once manna moondrops fell
    drops along our fernsleeves made too still,
    hear tears, one’s angel’s? Does Raphael
    alighting on, quell our leaf-fringed hill?

    He writes Dawn a Waltz to cheer this hill
    whose pirouettes send lilac scents, sensed
    we trust if responsive to his will!

    If dusk soon waives her forest showers,
    will our steps, rustles made, fade away?
    If Eden’s spruce amidst, dare I say?

    Originally composed, August, 1971, at the age of 26

    * In this Petrarchan sonnet, every verse is missing one syllable; hence, there are only 9 syllables per line, and the sonnet is not “pure” iambic pentameter. This is deliberate. I was thinking, at the time, of creating a poem similar in effect to Schubert’s, “Unfinished Symphony” number 8.

    The Leaf
    à la belle inconnue
    © Richard Vallance 1970, 1997 & 2002



    The leaf (whose hand is
    hailing me) denotes
    exquisite fall through all
    implicit space…who floats

    on scruffy air,
    and though now dead
    for days end on, spins
    who spins off grief… who’s shed

    his chlorophyll too lumen-like
    summer’d spent on him,
    who tumbles out from skies
    dun blue, who skirts some dim

    brown river where an auburn sun
    deflects Fall’s own gloom’s
    farewell. His death
    makes light so roomy.

    Fire his is, his funeral’s rites,
    phantasm, red in snow,
    mute tree hard by that’s shed this leaf,
    throws shadow on his soul.

    What squalls I crave, what gusts
    cut me all up to gashes?
    Why do you drift off dust on dust?
    You’ve trembled long enough. To ashes.

    originally composed at the age of 25

    MALIGNE LAKE
    © Richard Vallance 1970 & 2002



    (Maligne lake is a painting by Lawren Harris
    [1] From Pictures At an Exhibition: 1970-1972)

    Whose freaked, laconic smileless light slights
    purity in winter’s sun, or appearances it ripples?
    What indolences of Jasper’s floes flow
    sluggishly as if theirs were some vague repose
    sheared, once icecaps tumbled off brittler crags?

    Insensate shores of stones! Who’d ever bothered even ask
    why you, insensate, watched souls pass, their sallow breaths
    spun threads in star milk’s shawls, where all of frost
    limelight surfaces on its veils, vermilions lost
    to shadows little moonlit in our Sky Maiden’s [2] well?

    Where snows are overarches, who haunts cathedral vaults
    spit mountain slopes jut out and lift up silently
    over your icy main, as if by Dreaming Quests yes you’ll
    discover something of what the Sky has sent,
    as you in two more solitudes pray to Manitou?

    originally written in August, 1970

    [1] Lawren Harris (1885-1970) was one of the painters of the Canadian Group of Seven, most of whom were early Twentieth Century artists, whose magnificent works have often been exhibited worldwide. His painting, “Maligne Lake” (Jasper Park, 1924) is one of his greatest masterpieces. I wrote this poem the year of his death.

    [2] The Sky Maiden Nokomis Montes, is daughter of the weather god in Algonquin mythology. She was highly revered by Amerindians everywhere in North America.


    4 LEAVES
    © Richard Vallance April 6th, 2002


    For Louis-Dominique, with love

    Spring's expectations
    are akin to a clover's,
    where four leaves seem rare.


    [email protected]



    Jan Sand in New York

    JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals, or science fiction.

    Recently Jan was published by Kedco Studios Artist Profile Press, on their latest CD ROM e-book, "A Way With Words (Poetry Real and Surreal), which also includes complete books by Dale Houstman, Sara L. Russell and Keith Gabriel Hendricks. Jan's illustrated book on the CD is called "Wild Figments And Odd Conjectures", which is also sold separately, in a limited-edition "single" CD.

    To see an illustrated article about Jan's poems, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter. He also has his own poetry pages on Charlotte's Web at Artvilla.

    WERF
    © Jan Sand



    Now, master Frankenstein, most senior and benign,
    Had assembled many creatures
    With both plain and fancy features,
    Some with wings, some with tentacles or claws,
    Furs or feathers, beaks or paws
    And all the other possibilities of design.

    But aged and retired, alone and unadmired,
    Except for Werf, his old dog,
    Also old, in mental fog,
    Who merely dreamt of hunting rabbits.
    No longer capable of habits
    Of leaping after prey - too weak and much tired.

    The master looked with pity and with love
    Upon the ancient ailing hound.
    "By God," he cried, "I've found
    It possible to bestow new life
    With skills of healing and my knife.
    Why not give mother nature one more shove?"

    So, with energy and love inspired
    He sorted through his organ stores -
    Kidneys, eyeballs, muscles, bones - he ignores
    The doggy stuff, for his dream has joy.
    He will create Werf as a boy!
    Werf will be the son he never sired.

    Long hours he assembled all the parts.
    With care and seamless integration
    Fitted he the nose, the knees in expert preparation.
    He carpeted the skull with perfect face
    And engineered the body made with grace
    By his expertise in surgic arcane arts.

    The final act concerned old Werf's brain.
    Deftly then he scooped it from its skull,
    Its awareness made, with drugs, completely dull,
    And set it neatly into its connection
    In culminating wisdom and affection
    On the throne where it could start its human reign.

    Free of lightning rods upon the roof,
    The doctor plugged his boy into a socket
    Set the timer switch to clock it
    And pushed the button set to make the heart aflutter
    While waiting for the sound his boy would utter.
    The lungs most gently prompted, "Woof!"

    Werf, at first, inclined to doggy mode.
    He scampered after cats and gnawed on bones.
    But multitudes of bribes of ice cream cones
    Gained him an elevated human status
    Along with abstract thought that does unflate us
    To journey on the more human road.

    In short time he mastered the techniques,
    That Frankenstein took years to acquire,
    With cleverness and overweened desire.
    He learned all the doctor's witchery
    To free his master from daily drudgery
    To manufacture frogs, monsters and freaks.

    But the old man grew weary. He required
    Rejuvenation through a unique formation
    To continue without consternation.
    So Werf repaid his debt in like kind
    By a transplant of his master's mind
    Into a form familiar and inspired.

    Nowadays Werf has his own canine.
    A dog that romps with joy with bones and balls,
    Who delights in full life that never palls,
    Who sniffs at lamp posts, bushes and trees
    And unashamedly, with gusto, pees.
    His faithful dog, his love, his Frankenstein.


    DESPERATE SONG
    © Jan Sand



    Who will act for mankind?
    Not me, not me.
    For time's not kind,
    And I'm not free.
    I've sat so long to watch the will
    Of anger and destruction
    Smash good sense into disruption.
    My hand's not firm,
    My mind's not sure.
    I cannot know
    What will endure.
    Do not look to me, not me.
    For time's not kind
    And I'm not free.
    I've looked long years
    To see the truth
    That might make clear
    What from my youth
    Led to mere complexity
    And complete perplexity.
    Do not look to me, not me.
    For time's not kind.
    I've lost my mind
    and I'm not free.
    But mankind's not
    What it should be.
    So, if not me, then who?
    Then who?


    VERNAL PROCESS
    © Jan Sand



    The cold is gone,
    The Spring's begun
    And life begins to spill from time
    In green cascades.

    Miniscule eagernesses
    Coalesce from rain and air
    To gobble up the energies
    Pouring down from the sun
    To fabricate life's brocade.

    So now the killing must begin
    As tooth and beak ply to their trade
    To swallow down the newborn hopes,
    Divert their purposes unmade.
    Elemental shapes reform to new sophisticated norms
    Which rise in waves of ceaseless change,
    Anticipating to arrange
    The modules of the living things
    To patterns of both death and hope
    In this grim kaleidoscope.


    [email protected]

    Click here to return to rest of the May 2002 issue

    Click here to return to main index