Monday, December 17, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 30 - The Test

Since we're tucked into our house riding out a major snowstorm tonight, I felt like posting this older poem I wrote when I was still in high school.

The Test

Winter moon
White and clear
Snowy dune
Icy spear
Silver wisps
Line the sky
Patient stars
Wolfen cry

Haunting hush
Waiting wood
Powder crush
Soft wool hood
Anxious turns
Shuts the door
Stands outside
Full heart sore

Slanting square of white lamplight
Cuts the sameness of the night
Out before the rough hewn house
Vigil flame I pray to douse

Don't fret so
Tighten cloak
Loosen then
Twist and choke
Doubts arise
Hopes spin/fall
Lonesome claws
Poise to maul
Gaze pans night
Worried sighs
Dark beneath
Sharp cold skies

Flat gray fields stretching silent
Streams of ice floes ripped and violent
Clumsy fences trailing far
Clutching branches grasp and scar
All is still and all is screaming
Emptiness and fury teeming

He'll get through
I can feel
Snow beware
He's of steel
Gaze won't leave
Icy road
Sparkling shine
Eerie bode

Body shakes
Not from cold
Heart awakes
Life takes hold
Winter moon
Shines on two
Run embrace
Love is true

Poem Copyright 1980 Julia Smith

Monday, November 26, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 27 - The Fairy Glen

Here's a real trip down memory lane. Believe it or not, I wrote this when I was 13. Obviously, I was channeling my inner Victorian poet.

The Fairy Glen

As I was walking down the lane,
Streams of sunlight rare

Because the trees had formed a veil,
Shadowing the country trail,
My head empty of care,
My heart empty of pain,

I chanced to find among the grass
An old an tarnished ring.
I rubbed it clean and saw inscribed
Something written by one which'd imbibed
Too much of an intoxicating thing.
It didn't make sense to me; alas!

However, as I stood beneath
The ancient limbs of a giant oak,
There happened to me a curious thing.
I spoke the words on the little ring,
Its meaning quite clear as soon as I spoke.
Magic hung over me like a wreath,

Colors of red and purple and green
Twining around me in an eerie dance.
The tingling of bells greeted my ears,
Calming my wild and anxious fears.
I opened my eyes; in a single glance
I beheld a thing I'd ne'er before seen.

Brownies and fairies, pixies, too,
Stood in a ring around me, so;
Bewildered, I stared, my thoughts awhirl -
How could this happen to an ordin'ry girl?
I guess my thoughts my face did show -
A pixie, clad in shades of blue

Stepped forward, grinning from ear to ear.
Stretching out a friendly hand,
He welcomed me to the circle, thus;
Everyone made a royal fuss
As if I were something really grand.
I looked at the ring that had brought me here.

It shone with golden beauty bright.
Transfixed, I held it in my palm,
My eyes, from it, I could not tear.
A voice spoke from I knew not where.
It said, its tone so soft and calm,
"Home do you wish to return tonight?

Or would you rather stay among
Us fairy folk in this magic glen?"
I asked, "I cannot return again?
Can't I go home and visit when
I wish to?" The pixie shook his head. "Then
It's home to stay that I do long."

The blue-clad pixie nodded slow,
His eyes understanding.
When night encased the fairy glen,
Closing day's petals upon the stem,
The pixies and fairies and brownies standing,
Uneven, row by row,

I took a last look and said my goodbyes,
Feeling my tears well up.
Through a misty haze which blurred everything,
I read the words on the magic ring.
Then I was doused in the color cup,
The tingling of bells and the small fireflies,

Made of the sparks that swirled to and fro,
Taking me from the fairy-ring there.
The colors disappeared, and in their place
The lane uncovered its friendly face.
If it weren't for the ring which I did wear,
That the fairies were real I couldn't know.

The ring again dirty, the sun still a-shine,
I didn't know even if I were real.
Home I went and found time had not passed.
Had I dreamt the bit of the fairy blast?
I only knew what was mine to feel:
My adventure, if true, had been one divine.

Copyright 1978 Julia Smith

Monday, November 5, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 24 - A Donna Poem

I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Toronto a few weeks ago, when I was so happy to spend an afternoon with my friend Donna. We share November birthdays, and since I'm just back from a family dinner celebrating the six November birthdays on my side of the family, I'm also thinking of Toronto November birthday people.

When I first moved to Toronto in 1986, I was 21 years old and very lucky to be hired by Donna to be her daughter's nanny. I lived with them for two really special years. Here's a poem I wrote for her just after I turned 22.

A Donna Poem

Your lashes drift awake
Your eyes see a different view

Not the red of your mother's womb
Exploding into the anticeptic green
The latex palm in which you were cupped
The cheesy residue of your old life
Erased as gently as those who have forgotten
Can manage

First impressions
A blessing
That newborns are half blind
In that way
Every mother is beautiful
Her smile wide
Words a tonal haze
Floating past the insular life
Of hunger, confusion, sleep-escape

This date looms out from the year
The anniversary of your entry
The letters, numbers have no bearing for the rest of us
They were your co-ordinates
You chose midnight
Riding the cusp between days
You knew even then
Essential freedom
Would be immeasurable

This day finds you
The former channel
Your own daughter sleeps downstairs
Her crib housing her thoughts
Her emergence spun you around
One destiny fulfilled
Leaving you open
How many more before you

What you understand today
Took years of interpretation
Each survived second
Unrecognized victory
You scan the molecules
Swimming transparent
Unlike the murk of past practical jokes

You've learned that a greased pig is hopeless
The days ahead have their own plan

Why not lay in bed
This time to yourself
It really is yours
People will sing you that song
While every nerve is attuned
The earth vibrates with your frequency

It's your day

Copyright Julia Smith 1986

Monday, October 29, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 23 - The Red Joy at Last

The Red Joy at Last

On battlefields he'd watched it spray
Spattering cross his face
Slickening his hold on the
Pommel as he swung

His horse's hooves swirled the
Russet color of it
Sucking through mud and men's sodden hair
Floating facedown

The smell of it
Clings to his memory
Slime of a man
Swiped from his cheek

He'd seen this look before
Most often from a height
The solid weight of warhorse
Dearer than a lover

Now he steps close
Fear rich as lust
He hears the heart clench
Pulse like rain on his tongue

Shining terror turns
Blue eyes into torch flame
Lighting his way
To the feast

Fangs descend against lips
Curling back
Arms pull the trembling man close
Dearer than a lover

The night's battle looms
No sword for such as he
Could this man have been
A shield brother once?

His worth shines like gold
Twin points sink deep
He sighs as he tastes of
The red joy at last

Copyright - Julia Smith - October 28, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 19 - Vertical Narrative

This is another one from my university days. I've chosen one of my mom's paintings as a companion to the poem. Titled 'Ships at Sail', the painting and the poem were created within a few years of each other. I'll be showcasing 13 of her pieces on my Thursday Thirteen this week.

Vertical Narrative

When I was five
I looked to the heavens
Unsure of 'forever and ever

If everyone wanted that
Ascention to paradise
Why should that lack of
Unnerve me

Why did everyone point
And ask if I could
See the face
The Man in the Moon

Why did they gather
Gazing upon canvasses of
Blobbed color
Even holes torn

Twisted bronze
Sculpture or


How I remember that night
When two eyes
A smile emerged
From the lunar surface

Riddles of design
Recover from their sojourn
To the Tower of Babel

I am left reaching for
The face of Creation
Happy for now with
My stake in the
Garden of
The very

Poem copyright 1993 Julia Smith

Watercolor ink and sand, copyright 1995 Paulette Phillips

Monday, September 10, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 18 - Liberation

Believe it or not, I wrote this in grade 11 after recovering from my first broken heart. My first boyfriend and I broke up and I spent a year being single before starting a new relationship with my second boyfriend. Clearly, not a casual dater!


How freed my soul
With blinking eyes
That smart at light
Weep tears at day

My soul, whose cell
Carved far below
Dripped with mildew
Rats and cold

Clung fast at first
To slimy stones
With unworn nails

To breathe the dust
And not let go

Now bent, my soul
Could feel the sun
Shrivelled flesh
Sprung pink with life
My trembling bones
Felt sick with joy
Stumbling clear
Before I knew

I think of you
But dream no more
I wonder
Would I rush
Back to the dust
At your late call

Who knows at all
To fall

Copyright 1981 Julia Smith

Monday, September 3, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 17 - Citadel

Here's my very latest poem, finished today. It feels so nice to have a few in the works. I find poetry to be more like sculpting. It's a very different process for me than prose. I often write a stanza and then leave it for a bit, standing back to see how it wants to reveal itself to me.


I've built my own keep
Brick by smiling brick
No room at the inn
How they suffer
Bottomless and vast
I kick fresh straw
Free another corner in the stable

I'm greedy with compassion
My outstretched hand
Beacon of sanctuary
They see a wave of cheer
Though it flails to break a fall
I limp and soldier on
Grimace or grin, hard to say

I'm pilloried by pride
So many heads
Invited to my shoulder
My neck stiff with them
Progress is glacial
Boulders uproot to be
Dragged, scouring the bedrock

I've built my own fortress
The bricks all made of smiles
The bedrock is compassion
The moat was dredged by pride
My arms stretch wide like ramparts
Chains release the drawbridge
I am their refuge. They are mine.

Copyright 2007 Julia Smith

Monday, August 27, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 16 - Celestial DNA

Celestial DNA

The world we inhabit
Hides its numbers
In the leaves

While buried in the sinews
Swirling within blood cells
The rhythm of the firmament
The curling of the tides
Tell the tale

The Young Ladies of Avignon
Standing in their
Crystal congress
Know their geometric afternoon

Amoeba glide
Snowflakes drift
Pollen ride the breeze

A mother feels the flutter
Child turning in the womb
The sweep of the grandiose constellations
In the frightening maw of time

God's fingerprints
And ours

Copyright 1994 Julia Smith

Monday, August 20, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 15 - McGregor Bay

When I first moved to Toronto in the late 80's, I spent the first few years as a live-in nanny for a family with whom I had an outrageous amount of fun. If you can believe how great this was, each summer they went up to the Georgian Bay area north of Toronto to spend a week at their family cottage. And they brought me with them! And paid me my week's salary to basically be on vacation with them.

Sure, technically I was there to still keep an eye on the little girl, but in reality her mom was on duty and I think she just wanted me to have an opportunity to have some fun with them. Which I did!

Here is the poem that resulted from the first visit:

McGregor Bay

The envelope is opened
And the breeze chilled with rain
Opens on my skin as I
Separate the double prints

Slimed sunscreen and Muskol
Returns to my skin
Remembering becomes
The rustle of the pines
The hollow thunk of deck shoe on root

The hanging schools of rock bass
Under the shadow of the boat
Sharing the lake
I emerged from

The pictures time tunnel me
B-52 bomber drone of deerflies
Interrupt the pleasant giggling
Of blueberries hidden
In the springy shrubs
As they give themselves away
To be cradled in my hand like jewels

Smoke erupting skyward
Wine poured on skewered grill
Lake swallowing CD strains
And after the baby's safely asleep
To think we piled around that tiny screen
When we could have
Sacrificed some blood
For a look at the star show
Playing this location only

Copyright 1987 Julia Smith

Photos of McGregor Bay by Liz and Andy Betterton

Monday, August 13, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 14 - The Flautist

Saturday night I attended my 25th high school reunion. That led to yearbook reminiscing, where I found this poem.

It's printed at the back of the year book along with five other poems by other student poets. For a middle class high school attended by children of working class parents, we had a thriving arts education when I went to P.A. (short form for Prince Andrew High School.) We had Drama classes, Art and Music (split into choir students and instrumental students.) We had one play and one musical per year, plus assorted choir or band concerts.

This poem was inspired by a friend of mine who took music class with the choir students even though he played the flute and was in several bands. 25 years later he sings with the basses in the Canadian Opera Chorus in Toronto.

Photo by Michael Cooper, 2001 Cavalleria rusticana

Here he is, third from left holding the basket - Michael Downie. This poem came to me one cold day when he came into the music portable (a satellite classroom on the school grounds, adjacent to the main building which was overcrowded with Generation X-ers) to stash his flute in its case first thing in the morning - first thing for me, but I knew he'd already been at school for awhile at band practice. And I knew that later on he'd have choir rehearsal with me because we were both in "Oklahoma!"

I trimmed this down a bit - all my early stuff is a bit longwinded.

The Flautist

Sagging sky
Purpled puffs
Punched in and held
By unseen threads

Tensed and grim
The chill, the wary gusts
Stir the hairs
Upon his neck
Soaked shoes
Trailing jets of rain
Sidesteps sopping
Crunchit bags
That skit sporadic
Cross the lot

Circle of uneasy light
Fluorescent beam
Retreats from
Morning's hazey glow
Rounds the corner
Dented metal sides
Versed with coin-carved words
Of youthful fun
Filmed with heavy mist
Mounting hollowed
Metal steps that shudder
With his sleepy weight

He grips the freezing handle
Jerks the blue door open
It takes a moment
He pulls his jacket off
Puts his books down
Flicks the water from his hair
Just sits

Numbed and red, his hands
Unclasp the case's lid
To lift it

The morning's bite releases

Her slender form rests languidly
Her lips as rich and sweet as fruit
She lies on crushed blue velvet sheen
Her flowing fingers long and lean
As with her hand she stretches, Queen
Of Woodwinds reaching up, his flute
To greet her servant graciously

Humbly then her servant bows
And takes her hand to kiss it soft
Reverently he watches her
He sees her rise and hears her purr
Surrenders to her strong allure
She in his arms and held aloft
He weak with all that she endows

So cool and clear the voice that sings
Dame Flute in song professes joy
To all who hear and all who feel
Such lightness, airiness - unreal
The glacier's freshness, ice-cool peal
That chills and melts the trembling boy
Who sets her down by crystal springs

This is the time for which he lives
He lies upon the deep green grass
His arms about Dame Flute, whose voice
Floats up among the leaves, the noise
Of birds stilled by her sound, their choice
To stop and listen to the lass
Is taken up by most, as more she gives

Pulses flit and dart, sweet pain fills
Him as he takes her, trembling soft
The glory of the honor she
Bestows on one such man as he
Drunk in the heat of victory
He holds Dame Flute up high, aloft
And in his mercy. Now the wills

Of both stand fused as one. He plays
Her body with the deftness of
The greatest lover, with the grace
Of the most humble servant, lace
And satin thrown without disgrace
On top of coarse wool cloth. Their love
Bared to the world, greets proud new days

Rehearsal's done
The bell has rung

He looks around

He places her back in the case
And leaves

Copyright 1982 Julia Smith

Monday, August 6, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 13 - Playground Politics Grade 4

This is the second part of a two-poem piece. The first one recounted a grade 1 experience of mine. This one happened three years later.

The friend to whom I refer in this poem is the same friend who is the subject of Precious Friend from a previous Poetry Train post.

Playground Politics Grade 4

The insurgents
No longer requiring their
Already regrouped
Taking new positions from
This morning's skirmish
I'd even rushed home
Inhaled my Kraft dinner
And stepped onto the playground
Half an hour early
To find my troops
Already kicking away

The huddled group of boys
Shoved each other toward
The hob-nailed harridans
Seeking to prove their own endurance
A primal quest toward manhood
While all we wanted
Was an excuse
To maim and bloody
Before the bell rang

Inexperienced colonel
I didn't hear the whispers
Ricochet off the walls
A coup erupted from the giggles
I hung from all fours
The girls were gone
And they dragged me
To be their
Signature victim

I couldn't face
My own invention
Far more chilling
The absence of outraged mobs
Defending the founder of their movement

I hoped their lack of action
Was due to perceived shame
I felt the snowy wool
Congeal on my skin
As I bumped along the ground

The procession halted
Mere paces from the slaughter
Unceremonious and sprawling

I saw the boys scatter
Two fists
Two feet
A wild mane of hair

My champion dispersed them

As if on cue
Every girl on the playground
Pursued the enemy
I scrambled to my feet
The urge to reclaim The Corner
Swelling in my chest like fear
My previous horror
At what I'd created
Dashed to a pulpy splat
On the asphalt

In the comfort of my desk
As we copied from the board
I stared at this class of deserters
Connie wrote behind me
We never talked
And so were not separated
As all best friends must be
I turned
And wordlessly
I picked up her eraser
Her gaze turned to me

How could her shining armour
Lay so unobtrusively
Beneath a polyester turtleneck
And Levi forest green cords?

Copyright 1987 Julia Smith

Monday, July 30, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 12 - Playground Politics Grade 1

This is the first part of a two-poem piece recounting significant events that happened to me in elementary school.

Playground Politics Grade 1

Even to my Third Eye
Turned me into a bad kid
In the space of a hundred yards

Upon waking that morning
My cells had replaced themselves
I remained the same girl whom
My daddy had kissed goodnight
My body fit my clothes
As Mommy helped me with the
Zipper at the back
My friends recognized me
And walked with me to school

On the playground
I crawled with the others
Through tunnels we carved
Through the bushes
Leaving the others to swing and slide
Preferring life at the edge of the concrete
Past which
Lay unknown terrain
The teacher on duty
Would have to send search parties
Decked out in space suits
To poke among the craters

The mutating gene
I looked down the path
Hearing the cries leaking through
From the other dimension
I checked for Mrs. Sturman
The wind screamed past my ears
The sound of my steps on the packed earth
Reverberating in my chest
I felt two others behind me
All it took was one step
And my rebels bolted
On the coattails of their liberator

We reached the edge of the trees
To my horror
We stood at the foot
Of a manicured lawn
Intruders in some backyard
The others fled
Frightened by the skull-socket windows
I dawdled
Turning my back
Hoping that the presence of
My comrades had played the trick
And the voices
Might yet beckon through the green

I emerged from the solace of my sylvan interlude
An angry hand gripped my arm -
Stand against the wall
Until the bell rings!
The universe as I had come to know it
Suddenly splintered

Slowing my vital signs

All I could do
Was stand there
As if I were a
Bad Kid

And suddenly
The ones playing hopscotch
Seemed like long lost sisters
Instead of the
Whining dullards
I had always known them to be

Copyright 1987 Julia Smith

Monday, July 23, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 11 - Spatiotemporal Limits

This poem came from a creative cycle while I was in university.

Spatiotemporal Limits

Antigone only guessed at the voices
Which whispered their laws
Though Kubrick's apes
Swayed to the music of the spheres
Gazing upon the implacable
Face of the monolith

Were these the same angels
Who mixed the paints
For Kandinsky to dip his brushes
His planetary musings
Were they actually cells dividing
Could these forms
These colors
Be molecules
Or solar roundabouts
Or untabulated laws
Did Sophocles feel them too
On that Meditteranean morning
So many rotations ago?

1993 Copyright Julia Smith

Monday, July 16, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 10 - For So Long

This was written about a week after my husband and I found ourselves in a major relationship transformation. We met while we both worked at a Famous Players movie theatre, became best friends and were very close for two years. All of a sudden things began to change between us. Once we figured out that our friendship couldn't contain our true feelings, it seemed very shocking. We started telling everyone, "You'll never guess who I'm going out with." But absolutely everyone guessed it was us.

For So Long

I saw you and
Recoiled in horror
I knew who you were
Even as we were introduced

You patrolled
On the outskirts
Sensing the danger
Sending yourself out on reconnaissance

Your affable grin
All made it easy
Your barbed humor
Your penetrating stare
Gave rise to whispers
And I heard them
Each time we parted

What was it that told you
To step to the right
As I moved to pass you
One step
One kiss
I dropped my purse
Waved the white flag
How could I resist
When I knew who you were

One touch of your hand on my body
I feel the terror, the serenity
How I long for the sting of
Your palm against my skin
I could draw back, then
Keeping my sword
Already offered up
My fingers wary of the cutting blade
Your fingers outstretched
The pommel a perfect fit

My rage was easy
But when you kissed me
I cried
It was so hard
Your soft lips
Ripped the clothes from my body
I moved to deflect
What was merely the glass of champagne
You poured for me

Two scorpions facing off
Stingers arched above our backs
The poison dropped instead
Upon our shelled spines
Blinking away the sweat
To find it's only
You and me
Entering the lion's den
Martyring the known
For the unknown

It's hard to beat back the Destroyer
When he's your Lover

Copyright 1989 Julia Smith

Monday, July 2, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 8 - Polly Cove

With yesterday being Canada Day, I was drawn to this poem about my favorite spot on earth. Polly Cove is just a little ways along the coast from Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia. My dad and uncle used to go scuba diving on a wreck there, and my mom and aunt would hang out at the picnic blankets having chick time while my cousins, my sister and I would run around on the rocks. The coastline there is nothing but giant boulders and endless stretches of rock.

It's quite a trek from the road to the cove. Everyone had to carry supplies for the day, and the path wound down a very steep cliff. It's not merely a childhood-only place. It's a 45-minute drive from where I live, and I return every summer if I can. But my best memories are from those days when I could still run and leap over that incredible landscape.

Polly Cove

The slow dip
A seagull skims
The clouds slide

We leap from the crag
And the lichen springs

Below yawns the whispering seethe of the salt
The drop looks enticing

The lazy coil of the seaweed
A maid's demure flirtations

Behind us
Scraggling pines huddle
The cliff face

Far beyond
The frightening power
Of swelling froth

While here
The air skids to a stop
Your eyes look at me

And the sun snags in the tangly growth

Copyright Julia Smith 1985

Monday, June 25, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 7 - Precious Friend

In honor of my best friend's birthday - today - here is a poem I wrote this past March, during my dad's last week of life.

Precious Friend

My heart can't find words
Your eyes fill with love
Your steps fall in with mine
My heartbeat lightens
You leave behind your day
Gather your own fear
You cross the threshold
Smile at my father
He reaches for your hand
Knowing for certain
He need never worry for me
With you there

Precious friend
The heart of the Happy Prince
The swallow who would not leave him
Nothing will stop the wave of loss
You merely place yourself
So my knees won't buckle

Copyright 2007 Julia Smith

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 6 - In Medieval English Woods

This one is from 1986. Twenty-one years later, and I've still got the same images playing through my mind! (Current novel takes place in Dark Age Britain)

In Medieval English Woods

The pound of hooves beginning
Bodies crouching
In the waiting

The hiss of leaves
And popping branches - torn
The rip of moss from earth
The thud of hearts
In night attack

Demon shadows leap
A fear-stained man
His arm to swing at air
While one who sees his moment
Their faces kiss
The slipping sliding for the stance
On blood-slicked rocks

The knights astride their mounts
Heavy spathas hacking
Stopped with wrenching force
By parries
Or the shield of breastbone

The sword sucks from the wound
The dying form
Slumps from his horse
And falls

Spirits linger
Cold tendrils hanging
From the shoulders of
The ones still fighting

Weary with the clotting blood
With steaming breath
The horses strain to bolt
Each head dragged by the bit
In the leaving

The knights canter from the scene
Indifference flowing from them
Like a billowing cape

The others slog
Exhausted through the mire
In confusion

Copyright 1986 Julia Smith

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 5 - 100% Humidity

And it's raining, right now!

This is from my June 1987 burst of poetry writing.

100% Humidity

Why do I feel like
Running out of the house
When the rain explodes over the
Seeds clogging the drainpipe
Obscuring the view
A camera's blurred focus
Flashing me backwards

If foundations should be
Swept away
I want to feel it on my skin
Want the danger
Of being smashed against the rocks

I've never yearned for wings
To split the speed of sound
No, I was the kid
Who dipped her boots
In all the puddles
Watched as Mom
Pulled the stopper from the tub
Sat till the last swirl down the drain
Left me run aground
Turned willingly into a prune
Unready to leave the water's embrace

Perhaps I suspect
This collection of raindrops
Will wash me out to sea
My powerful tail
Will kick off the cumbersome garment
My sisters will dress me in pearls and coral
My hair will sway with the tide
And I'll dance with the mermen
At King Neptune's court

Copyright 1987 Julia Smith

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 4 - Awaiting the Unicorn

I've been looking through my old poetry notebooks since I boarded the Poetry Train, and I noticed I had a big spurt of creativity in the summer of 1987. I had been in Toronto for a year by then, getting to know the real me. My best friend had just visited me for a week from Nova Scotia, and we'd done some shopping for her upcoming wedding later that fall.

She gave me a beautiful 'Writer's Notebook', a journal with quotes and lovely Arts and Crafts graphics, plus lots of space to write. And I filled it with poetry.

Here's one from June of 1987. At this point I was a few months away from meeting my husband-to-be.

Awaiting the Unicorn

Let those women
Dream of Prince Charming
Kneeling beside the bed

I shall wade into the wilderness
For I await the Unicorn

A feathery breath at the shoulder
Leaves me with thoughts of ghosts
Branches spring back into place
I happen upon his glade
But carry no sword
The pool of light cascading
Through the red veil of maple

My foot has no shape
To slide into slippers of glass
My bare soles
Curl beneath the folds of my snowy gown
My back settles gratefully
Into solid gray bark

Wind seeps in
While someplace beyond
The water trips, collects and plunges
He lifts his neck
Blue eyes scan the forest
The brook dripping from the perfect mouth

Twig snaps
Under careless hoof
His face lowers to my lap
An invitation to the arrow
Murderers could creep
To his very shoulder
Releasing the blue from his neck
Till it soaked the flaming bed of quills
On which we lay

His gaze through the forelock

Who needs chandeliers
Crowns or cotilions
When death
Blue eyes
A perfect mouth
Await by the brook
In the wood of the silver-white stallion

Copyright 1987 Julia Smith

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 3 - Skewed Landscapes

I thought this one was in keeping with the American Memorial Day weekend. Though I found myself wondering, why does the US have Memorial Day when they also celebrate Remembrance Day on Nov. 11th?

At any rate, here is a poem I wrote in 1994 while I was in university.

Skewed Landscapes

As Darwin's hairy men
Turned and strode from
Adam's gentle brow
Begloved matrons
Swooned in their seats
Overcome by Stravinsky's dissonance

A democracy of junk
Ripened into collaged provinces
Turner's spectral train
Retreated to Romantic gloom

Europe turned to mud
Its watery trenches
Inheriting the fallen

Big Bertha spewed hard death
At the Somme
Gallant bayonets faltered
As noxious clouds robbed the
Divisions of their glory

Braque's Portuguese man
While Picasso's Harlequin
Shouldered his sliced violin
Digressing into the angular fragments
Of a modern age

Copyright 1994 - Julia Smith

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Poetry Train Monday - 2 - The Poem of You

Here's a reworked poem that first drew breath in 1981, but which I edited this morning.

The Poem of You

I feel a poem starting in me

Silken spider trappings
Fall gently in my breast
At your soft breath

Music fine and clean
Shepherd minding flocks
Stretching sky holding my world
Wide as life
Your voice tinged with morning haze
Settles itself about my tingling skin

The darkened depths
The coves and eddies
Teeming in your eyes
The secret hiss of foam
I dive and lose myself
Among the folds and swirls
Of water worlds uncharted
Ringed by stones
Alight with salt and age
Your gaze promises
The endlessness of sea

I float on the kiss
Your touch brings fanfares
Banners flying long and true
My willingness
To step outside this moment
Trampled under hooves that tear up ground

Your sighs fell the flimsy forest
Rays of warmth break through
Slanting rays shine on fern and moss
The untread ground
The magic wood
Of me

Voices whisper
Unseen hands guide my pen
Words flow over
The imagery of you

The poem of you
Dazes and stands ready

Copyright 2007 Julia Smith

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hopping Aboard the Poetry Train - 1

Well, it was bound to happen. Let me dust the notebooks off and see what I can dig up.

Oh, here we go. Something I did for my grandparents' 45th wedding anniversary, the year after I graduated high school (24 years ago!) This is the grandma I live with, who plays piano and had the fiddler and guitarist come over for a kitchen party a few weeks ago.

My grandfather was a portrait photographer, oil painter of landscapes and Cheticamp rug hooker.

The Artisans

Time fashions its pearls
Beneath crusted grey shells
The milky white salve
Lifting sand from the tender flesh
A simple act of survival
Creating precious jewels
To be opened
Strung together
And displayed
A wonder of time preserved

Spears of light pierce the trees
Penetrating the transparent pane
Of transformed sand
The grains quickened to molten elixir
And frozen in a thin sheet
Looking in on two
Who greet the day
As two living pearls
Their time together, creating treasures
From the grains of the world

Two hands that clasped on a morning
Two faces that turned to a future
Overlooking a sea
They jumped into without answers
Waters that raged
Inlets becalmed

Two pearls who emerge from the ocean of time
To see with the eyes of that morning
The wonderful ripples their plunge could create
To feel the remarkable pulse
Of those whose existence
Began first with them
With the smiles they gave each other
With the echoes they felt
When they first looked in each others' eyes

Days spent
Time shared
Lives fashioned
From the grains of the world

Copyright,1983 Julia Smith