(October 2001) Page 2

Ric's new book
Let It Be A Dance

Troubadour/Speaking Poet Ric Masten has toured the world entertaining and uplifting audiences with his wit and wisdom. In the tradition of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, Masten speaks in a voice we all know, even now, as he battles terminal prostate cancer. "Let It Be a Dance - Words & One-liners," a coffee-table book of Masten's well-known poems and his trademark one-line-drawings combines to create something more - a commanding compendium of the life-work of this inspiring man. 224 pages. 86 drawings.

"Ric Masten's poems take us to the heart of the human experience because they come from the heart of a good and wise man…who takes life as it comes and gives back better than he gets." - Bill Moyers

Bibliography of Other Titles:

I know It Isn't Funny But... I Love To Make You Laugh
SunInk Publications
ISBN 0-931104-41-6

Notice Me!
SunInk Publications
ISBN 0-931104-17-3

Stark Naked
SunInk Publications
ISBN 0-931104-04-1

Voice of the Hive
SunInk Publications
ISBN 0-931104-02-5

Looking for Georgia O'Keeffe - They Are All Gone Now and So Are You - Even As We Speak - The Deserted Rooster - Dragonflies Codfish & Frogs - His & Hers - Sunflowers - A Thin Body of Work

For more details on all the above books click here.

© Ric Masten

Castigated by my sister I'm told
"Never to refer to it again as
'My cancer.'"
and "Helpline Harry" says
I'm the captain of the ship
in other words in this house
I hold the channel changer
right now I'm on Channel 9
running the marathon
a race in which it matters not
how quick you came off the blocks
what matters is keeping pace
and possessing a finishing kick
blistering hot

Click -- over to basketball
not a sport for short people
hell, when I was forty
I was already so far behind I decided
there and then that winning the game
is not what's important
what is important though
is that I look good while losing

Click -- football is a world of hurt
knocks and hits
and playing through the pain
to a place in the game
where we're five points down
with seconds to go
a "never say die" situation
the old flea flicker -- I let the ball fly....

Click -- over to a baseball
of late my favorite sport
played on a diamond in a field of grass
bleachers, sunshine and always
the possibility of extra innings
the contest can last forever
but reality being what reality is
one day the arm will tire
with Sammy Sosa at the plate
on deck ... Mark McGuire

Click -- back to the Hail Mary
me streaking down the field
faking out the linebacker
catching the ball
I fall in the end zone
game over -- game won
the fans in the stands Irish waking

Click -- "If you've just tuned in,
it's the top of the tenth
with the score tied at eight all."
the umpire dusts off the plate
"Batter up." he shouts
"Play ball!"

(Dedicated to Jim Fulks.)
© Ric Masten

I've always been
a yin/yang - front/back - clear/blur
up/down - life/death kind of guy
my own peculiar duality being
philosopher slash hypochondriac
win win characteristics
when you've been diagnosed
with advanced prostate cancer

finally the hypochondriac
has more than windmills to tilt with
the philosopher arming himself
with exactly the proper petard
an explosive statement
found in an e-mail message
beneath the signature
of a cancer survivor's name
a perfect end line wily and wise
quote: I ask God:
"How much time do I have before I die?"
"Enough to make a difference."
God replies

© Ric Masten

In turn I've met them all
Doctors Slash, Poison & Burn

on good days
my urologist is Arthur of Camelot
wielding Excalibur in my defense
Zorro, foiling enemy lesions
a deft dashing master of surgery
on bad days -- Jack the Ripper!
stropping an edge on his flashing blade
Sweeny Todd intent on doing butchery
Genghis Khan hacking and chopping
his way through me

on good days
my oncologist is Merlin wise and kind
dispenser of healing elixirs
the Lone Ranger coming to the rescue
leaving silver bullets behind
on bad days - Dr. Jeckel!
with unexpected side effects to Hyde
like the cackling witch in Snow White
he stirs his bubbling cauldron
feeding me apples with venom inside

on good days
my radiologist is Keeper of the Fire
Shaman - squire of healing beams
firing off therapeutic volleys
the Buck Rogers of my dreams
on bad days - Dr. Strangelove!
fondling his arsenal of bombs
Nero fiddling fanning the flames
and if General Sherman is on the march
then Georgia is my name

in closing
I suppose it's obvious
and goes with out
my having to say
that these contrary lines
were composed
on a very very bad day

© Ric Masten

some stories come linked together
like railroad cars
like death and an old abandoned stove

I was just a kid rummaging through the junk
people dumped off Highway 1 onto our property
busted appliances.... rusted machinery.... car parts
a constant aggravation to my father
a hat full of stars for me

one day a beat up old stove
graced the roadside bushes
in those days mercury
was used in the oven thermostat
just the kind of treasure an 11 year old
could salvage
and use to make dimes shine

headed back to the house
quicksilver cupped in my palm
for the very first time
and for no apparent reason
it came to me
that one day I would die
the scary thought
falling on me like a bomb
shutting me down
nailing my feet to the ground

like any kid would do
I put the prize
the precious ball of mercury
back on the front burner
shoving death aside
after all
nearly a lifetime would pass
before my oncologist would say:
"... and when the time comes,
I promise you a graceful end."

nearly a lifetime
till I'd need to remember
that hat full of stars
and the childhood trick
of focusing
on the quicksilver at hand

[email protected]


Born, raised and educated in Windsor, Ontario Canada. Since adulthood, Paul Gilbert has lived in various parts of Central and Western Canada. Now residing in the city of Niagara Falls Ontario (the place with the waterfall), and taking photographs of the scenery. Also working in the field of long term care and taking courses for that.

Paul's ublished work has appeared in "Enlightenment", "Melange" and "Cjacks". On the internet, his work has appeared in Artvilla and a couple of times in rec.arts.poems, as well as Poetry Life & Times. When not working, Paul doing things around the house and raising the children.

He is the publisher, editor and keeper of the espresso machine of the ezine "Above Ground Testing", this is a monthly poetry and literary ezine. He has also developed a couple of quarterly ezines, "Avant Garde Times" and "Exit522 on the Cosmic Highway".

Neo-Romantics Revisited
© Paul Gilbert

Hairspray and mousse attitude
Of concerned indifference
In the latest fashion treat and statement
A strong desire to know
Just what to wear and why
To be seen by others of the tribe
Tribal dress of left bank haute
To dance over the hours
In the latest house of Chanel

Look at this look at me
For I'm the pretty one
Don't be jealous
When in reality, do be jealous
I've spent all this money to make you hate me
For I am beautiful
For today
As for tomorrow, who cares,
It's now that counts
So look, envy and copy.

© Paul Gilbert

 Stop for a moment 


just hold that pose 

                          what pose? 

for this exact second 

              you mean like this? 

 Is this what you have in mind 
Yes, stop, don't breathe 
Let me absorb your presence 
At this moment 

 What's so special about right now? 
It will never happen again.

September 11, 2001
© Paul Gilbert

The eagle sheds no tear
But takes wing with talons bared
To seek its prey.

Autumn Scenery
© Paul Gilbert

in constant hurry
The race from
Tree to tree
The squirrels chase
The changing season
To find the needs of the
deep winter to come.

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.

© Jan Sand

Who could think of these
Two fine white shafts
Of stone and steel, keys
To something beyond utility,
More hung from the sky
Than based on solid ground,
As anything but an immensity
To delight humankind
With the capability of mind.

But things that overwhelm
Are affront to some
Whose joy resides in that realm
Where the urge to destroy
Dominates the fervor of life.
They smear excrement on white walls,
Attack Rembrandts with a knife,
As it is far easier to destroy
Than to create.

No white paper fist can grasp
The totalities that cancel six thousand lives.
No net of letters express that gasp
At sounds of screaming terror, crash of flying knives
Of shattered window glass that drop with bodies
In a horrid rain down to the street
With broken stone, bent steel
In a ghastly mockery of Magritte.
A vicious gesture, both immense,
And void of any basic human sense.

Their absence now has a solidity
Greater than their presence was.
All those lives, that stone and steel
Vanished in an instant tragedy.
A moment that still seems unreal
Manufactured from pure stupidity
A glance at the space which they once held
Is a monument to the volume they had filled.
That emptiness is stronger now than anything
Which could signify what was relentlessly killed.

© Jan Sand

We are each communities
Of complex individuals
Assembling opportunities
From presented multiplicities.
Choosing this, discarding that
In conformity with what
Are acceptable simplicities.
Thereby, by means discrete,
Innovative, and with mime
We manage the strange feat
To manufacture time.

© Jan Sand

My rabbit has a passion
To chew upon my shoes.
The straps are castellated.
The tips are not good news.
My sheets have ragged edges
And bite holes in the middle.
The tips have cutout wedges
And she likes to fiddle
With eyeglasses on the table.
She flings them in the air
As far as she is able.
She leaps into my lap
With a heavy flop
Demanding that I pet her
And bites me if I stop.

[email protected]

Click here to return to rest of the October 2001 issue

Click here to return to main index