Saturday, 31 December 2011


Child imprinted,
Adult haunted, drowning, numb,
Parent lost and found.

Knotted muscles pain,
oiled hands press and rub, soothing
until stress returns.

Nerves jammed by bones,
rebalanced to equilibrium
with acupunctured rest.

Bryan Douglas Cook December 2011

Context for "Therapies"
I composed the components of this poem while receiving therapy for my mind and body.

Read at Tree Reading Series 10 January 2012

The luxury of the massage table
Photo: Facebook....SIAM Thai Massage - Cape Town

Acupuncture chart
from Hua Shou (Ming Dynasty 1340s) source: Wikipedia “Acupuncture”

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Medical Machines

Strapped prisoner
in stainless revolution,
magnetic human.

Isotope injection,
a radioactive flashlight
in my heart and brain.

Take this position,
deep breath, hold and do not move,
living skeleton.

Bryan Douglas Cook December 2011

Context for Medical Machines
I had to undergo a series of tests as a "guinea pig" in a research study at the Ottawa Heart Institute. These included MRI, NMR and X-Ray. This poem reflects that experience.

Read at Tree Reading Series 10 January 2012

MRI Machine (also used for NMR)

X-Ray Machine

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Bottom Dead Centre

Boy dreamt in conflict,
downsland chalk and butterflies,
Cairo’s desert boy.

---------A life offender,
---------love’s obsessed assassin,
---------oblivion at last.

++++++++++++++++New senses kindle
++++++++++++++++serenity, knowing now
++++++++++++++++kisses never shame.

Bryan Douglas Cook December 2011

Context for Bottom Dead Centre

This Haiku (5-7-5) Triptych is based on initials drawn from my name at the start of each line and internally to each line....a friend described it as a literary Rubik's cube.... thus:

Bryan Douglas Cook




It's a kind of autobiography.

The structure was experimental and difficult, but helped focus on the essence of each personal experience.

In a reciprocating engine, the dead centre is the position of a piston in which it is farthest from, or nearest to, the crankshaft. The former is known as top dead centre (TDC) while the latter is known as bottom dead centre (BDC).

TDC rather than BDC is critical to tuning the firing and hence performance of the engine. TDC of piston #1 is the datum point from which ignition system measurements are made and the firing order is determined. For example, ignition timing is normally specified as degrees before top dead centre (BTDC) although a very few small and fast-burning engines require a spark just after top dead centre (ATDC). Source: Wikipedia "Top Dead Centre"

Read at Tree Reading Series 10 January 2012

A stone’s throw from London, Box Hill,in the chalk northern downsland of Surrey U.K., has been a coveted place of great natural beauty for centuries of city dwellers. Jane Austen's heroine Emma in the 1816 novel of the same name visited Box Hill to discover what ‘…everybody found so much worth seeing’.
Box Hill’s great beauty is matched by its richness of wildlife including butterflies like the Adonis Blue (Photos courtesy of and the U.K. National Trust).

Monday, 28 November 2011

Cleopatra, Our Immortal Cat

A calico soul left peacefully this morn,
Silent and graceful as her tread,
Her heart, so full of love, was worn,
A pathway reincarnate lay ahead.
Abandoned to a curb- side frozen,
Rescued by humane attention,
A waif princess so quickly chosen,
Giving all such unconditional affection.
Why so young to leave your cloistered home?
Thaw weeps her tears upon the window sill,
Jack cries alone,
Grey mists chill the void we cannot fill.
Our solace comes in knowing that your purity and care
Were needed by another soul somewhere.

Bryan Douglas Cook 24 November 2011

Context for Cleopatra Our Immortal Cat
Before dawn on a misty Thursday 24 November 2011, Cleopatra, our beloved calico cat from the Humane Society, soul cat to our daughter Emily, died prematurely at the age of 9 years from unpredicted, congestive heart failure. There had been an early light snowfall which was thawing out. Jack and Bean were two tuxedo shelter cats she had cared for. Bean died earlier this year, leaving Jack to mourn her alone. I decided to celebrate her life, passing and future in a Shakespearean style sonnet, though words fail to fully express our grief at the loss of this most nurturing of beings.

Read at tree Reading Series 13 December 2011

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Evolutionary Man

Organic replication, ultra-violet boiled in the Archean Sea,
Lighting-charged life nurtured in a sulphur shake
Of hydrogen, ammonia and methane;
Typhus pathogen engulfed in slime,
Energy for life exchanged for symbiotic shelter;
A cell born in primordial ooze,
To replicate life’s twisted staircase.

..................Snake seduced,
..................Swarming simian,
..................Synaptically supreme;
..................Segregated socially,
..................Slaving, spending, slaying;
..................Satisfaction seeking,
..................Spawning, sucking, spewing;
..................Science subjugated,
..................Senses starved,
..................Surviving somehow.

..............................Cerebrally entangled in a quantum universe,
..............................Holographic living, genetically engineered;
..............................Puppeteering force and matter with energetic strings,
..............................Travelling on the trampoline of space and time;
..............................Seven planes of existence infinitely replicated;
..............................Identity, a fiction held sublime
..............................As Son of God.

Bryan Douglas Cook 19 November 2011

Context for Evolutionary Man
A TREE Seed workshop given by Phil Hall taught us the basics of triptychs in the poetic form with “rules” such as changing rhythm and rhyme, symmetry (for example in sevens) juxtaposed with asymmetry, alternating styles, keeping it short, giving no explanations, having no serialization, and trying to create a concrete image on a page. He challenged us with “homework“ to write one. This was my attempt.

Read at Tree Reading Series 22 November 2011

Natural Pain Relief Guide: “Mitochondria Give You Energy to Burn – Literally
Article by Carter, Albert E. : Energy to Burn: Tapping into the Powerhouses of the Cells with Rebound Exercise
Mitochondria are archaic bacteria of the Typhus Rickettsia family living symbiotically in the cytoplasm (fluid) inside our cells around the nucleus. In return for shelter, they carry signals coded genetically in the DNA of the nucleus on RNA for cellular metabolism and other functions in the body, and they produce all the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) used by the body. ATP is the only fuel the body can use. Our food is digested into glucose and the mitochondria convert this to ATP.

Human Cerebrum
The cerebrum comprises what most people think of as the "brain." It lies in front or on top of the brainstem and in humans is the largest and most well-developed of the five major divisions of the brain. The cerebrum is the newest structure in the phylogenetic sense, with mammals having the largest and most well-developed among all species. In larger mammals, the cerebral cortex is folded into many gyri and sulci, which has allowed the cortex to expand in surface area without taking up much greater volume. In humans, the cerebrum surrounds older parts of the brain. The neural networks of the cerebrum facilitate complex behaviors such as social interactions, thought, judgment, learning, working memory, and in humans, speech and language.
The “Space-Time” Trampoline”
This is a two-dimensional analogy of space-time distortion. Matter changes the geometry of space-time, this (curved) geometry being interpreted as gravity. White lines do not represent the curvature of space but instead represent the coordinate system imposed on the curved space-time, which would be rectilinear in a flat space-time.

A reference for the Seven Planes of Existence of various religions and esoteric and metaphysical teachings is found in:

Esoteric Science .org
Integrating Science and Spirituality
Integrating Science, Psychology, Philosophy, Spirituality & Religion
Bladon, Lee
ISBN-10: 1847998933
ISBN-13: 9781847998934

Alternative Names for the Seven Planes or Worlds
The following table lists some of other names that the seven planes of the solar system are known by. These subtle worlds are not "places" that exist somewhere else; they are all around us, all the time.
The emotional plane (2) is often incorrectly called the "astral plane". The term "astral" was first used in the 19th century to describe the fact that three times as many stars are visible with "higher sight". But night does not exist in the emotional world because emotional-plane light can pass through the Earth unhindered, so no stars are visible. It is etheric sight that allows three times as many stars to be seen, so the "astral" plane actually refers to the etheric plane.
The divine plane (6) is often incorrectly called the monadic plane, because Theosophists mistakenly believe the third triad to be the monad.
Various Names for the Seven Planes


Traffic lights, flagmen, hot tar;
Fender bender, rubber necking, jam;
More jam, detour jack-knifed boat;
Six twenty, thirty, forty-five, late.

Bryan Douglas Cook November 2011

Context for Destination
At a TREE Seed workshop with Monty Reid we were preparing a “poetic map”. In addition to mapping our journey to TREE that evening were asked to write a short poem about it to reflect our trip and feelings. I tried to wrap an internal non rhyming string of bad trip events in a blanket of rhyming feelings. The poem was drafted on a napkin in D’Arcy McGee’s Pub (Robertson Road, Nepean).

The marvelous photograph of a nighttime road repaving crew ,'Road Crew 29,' is by Ramses Madina, an Ottawa photographer and film-maker, from his exhibition at the Ottawa City Hall Art Gallery (photo courtesy Ramses Madina published in the Ottawa Citizen, November 17, 2011)

Ottawa Waters

Mighty Kitchissippi,
Incised by glacial torrent into ancient rift
Flooded by Champlain’s Sea
Hemmed by northern granite shield
Cloaked in seasonal colour
Quaking terraced clays.

Pioneering highway,
Canoeing fur and rafting timber
Grinding grain and sawing lumber
Illuminating and diving trams
Life-giving water.

Superficial beauty,
Rancid tea of rotting wood
Throttled Chaudiere and plundered fishery
Fertilised, manured, sewaged
Dumped and hormoned
Food-chain catastrophe.

Creeks and rivers joined your flow,
Fish spawned in freshening beds
Nature sustained the pioneer
Before the urban sprawl
Now bridged and culverted
As suburban drains
Crossed unnoticed
On my dissociated journey.

And yet, if I take time to look,
Clamber amid brush and weed
Bilberry and Greens Creek
Rideau and broad Ottawa
Flow agelessly with strange serenity:

They still give me hope.

Bryan Douglas Cook 3 November 2011

Context for Ottawa Waters
On my journey into Ottawa down the Queensway I parallel the Ottawa River (known by the aboriginal peoples as the Kitchissippi) and cross culverted and bridged tributaries (Bilberry and Green's Creeks and the Rideau River). I am so busy driving and rushing towards my destination that I rarely stop to appreciate these waterways.In a TREE mapping exercise, I took the time to explore these riverine environments. This poem and the photos are the results. They show Bilberry Creek Bridge and its confluence with the Ottawa River, the Queensway culverts for Green's Creek and the Hurdman Bridge of the Queensway over the Rideau River.

Archie Lampman's Cottage

Upon the curve of a secluded lane,
Bowered in stately woodland and grassy knoll,
Near yet far from Hog’s Back hustle and Bytown bustle,
Beside By’s Canal where tower- crested Carleton campus lies,
Thronging with busy, wireless youth and tireless energies,
A cottage once was hidden in serenity;
Then a canoe trip and a hike through pine and field from Ottawa,
Where Archie Lampman found his muse
And dreamt romantic verse beneath the northern star.
Bluff- hidden, overlooking the lush greens of farm and arboretum,
Where a brook lazily confluences in willowed haven,
There once a trout rose to the fly,
A brook, which had meandered free through bush and open glen,
Is now culvert-drained to the will of men.
Here ducks dabble in summer’s rich aquatic bloom,
Turtle and muskrat plough a watery furrow,
Carp and silverside roll with occasional splash,
Kingfisher dive with blue-hued flash, and
Tree frogs' trill the nightfall's serenade.

Bryan Douglas Cook November 2011
Context for Archie Lampman's Cottage
I abstracted this poem and rewrote it in part from a longer poem I composed in August 2010 (and listed in this blog as An August Afternoon at the Arthurs’).It was prepared for the TREE mapping exercise led by Monty Reid. I have added it to my blog in hommage to this great Canadian romantic poet. The picture of Archie Lampman (1861-1899) is from Wikipedia : Topley Studio / Library and Archives Canada / PA-027190 and was taken in 1889, ten years before his untimely death.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Poor Peter

Charles Peter Ulric, Prince of Holstein,
In whose veins flowed blood of conquerors,
Grandson to the savage Peter;
Yet puny from a cradle as his mother lay embalmed.
Horsewhipped, fools-capped, tormented,
Lessons drilled by endless supplication…….on dried peas.

Salvaged by Aunt Elizabeth to be her heir to Russia.

Pole- thin, lank blond powdered hair,
Stiff, straight, wooden,
A piercing squeak from a tiny, projecting head,
Playing manically with toy soldiers in mimic warfare,
A rat hung that scaled his cardboard ramparts;
Congenital coward,
Frivolous, flighty and feather-brained,
Gabbling orthodox formalities glibly,
With a memory of boundless depth…..and pain.

Poxed near to death, scarred hideously beneath the paint,
Snared to marry pleurisic Catherine,
Patient mantis of inuring ambition,
Oxen roasted in the public squares in celebration as
The fountains of St Petersburg flowed red …….with wine.

Crown Prince of Russia, a manikin on wires
Perpetually agitated by capricious eccentricity,
Babbling as discretely as cannonshot,
Effusing vapourings of a half- crazed libertine;
Soul-mate to mistress Vorontsova
As Catherine met Elizabeth’s imperial command with baby Paul …… by Immaculate Conception!

Real guards now paraded his mock fort at Court Orianienbaum,
Compulsively obsessed with extreme precision,
He drilled his manicured troops all day and
Played first orchestral violin all night with manic devotion;
As old crows set their pecking order, ante-chambered around Tsarina’s corpse,
High Priests proclaimed him Peter III ….. Supreme Autocrat of Russia.

But it mattered little ….. This orphan yearned for Prussia, his Germanic patrimony.

Fawning to King Frederick in a fire- sale of Russian honour,
Feux-d’artifices punctuated their Treaty of Peace;
Prussian Ministers now bent his ear,
Prussian vogue demoralized his army,
Orthodoxy lay defrocked to Protestant pastoral care…...iconic banishment.

A social misfit, fearful of formality,
Hiding in a cloud of pipe smoke,
Bum bumping with his Holstein guard,
Whispering state secrets to ladies of low breeding,
Eroding popular veneration……. for a sacrosanct Tsar.

Childhood horror had warped his mind and intellect,
Worthlessness was inculcated well,
But yet his heart and soul were pure:
Generous to friends, indulging petulance of wife and mistress,
Compassionate to Tsar “baby” Ivan, an idiot by solitary confinement,
Absolute emperor without cruelty or violence,
Abolitionist of torture, repriever of the condemned,
Reformer of Law and Order…….. all haste without stability.

Obstinately heedless, he campaigned to conquer distant Denmark,
His army left Mecklenburg field without a fight
For Catherine had staged her coups-d’état;
He had ridiculed intelligence of military disloyalty,
No Russian could stomach a woman’s rule,
A latter- day Nero……. playing his fiddle, ignoring his spies.

Catherine shed her crocodile tears before regiments of Imperial Guards
Entreating loyalty to save Russia, her and Orthodoxy
From the Emperor’s tyranny,
She had simply met the wishes of her faithful subjects;
Catherine II, ascended by Imperial Manifesto as Supreme Autocrat
Flanked by Grand Duke Paul …..her son and heir.

Peter’s rule of half a year was over,
An apologetic offer to share the throne, ignored.
In a semi-conscious swoon for hours,
His abdication, quintessential self abasement,
As incompetent dilapidator of the realm;
Divested of his finery, slippered, dressing gowned,
Banished to his blinded room in a lonely chateau……Ropsha.

Disposal of a husband was Catherine’s main concern;
Ambitious marriage masked in sexual duty made it Orlov’s problem.
Poisoning failed, attendants were dismissed,
A bungled, brutal murder succeeded in July,
Slow strangulation where smothering and battery of flailing frailty failed,
Catherine’s maxim of “crime rather than cowardice” had been fulfilled,
His death by violent colic exhibited to the masses….manifestly Will Divine!

Thirty-four years he rested in Newky Monastry beside Tsarina Anna
Whose mad son Peter showed like kindness and courtesy.
But their peace was shattered by son Emperor Paul,
His bones were to lie with Catherine in perpetual union
At Saint Petersburg’s Imperial Mausoleum ………Poor Peter!

Bryan Douglas Cook 22 September 2011

Context for Poor Peter

This poem attempts a biography of Tzar Peter III of Russia. It took several months to prepare after reading the primary source: R. Nisbet Bain “Peter III Emperor of Russia….The story of a crisis and a crime” published by E.P.Dutton & Co. New York 1902 208 pages (found in a junk store in Arnprior for 4$). I have often abstracted lines from Bain’s translations of his sources, which are quotations from diplomats to the court of Peter III in the 1760’s. My intention has been to paint as much a portrait of the man, and what made him the way he was, as of his life story. It has been difficult to walk a fine line between poetry and narrative. I tried to make it flow like a sleigh ride, hitting branches and bumps every now and then. I believe the story of Peter III would make a great screenplay for a period film.

Read at Tree Reading Series 8 November 2011
I found it reads too long and loses the audience!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Quantum Future

Oh My Goodness! Have you heard about the Tachyon?
It beat a Photon to a mountain in Alpine Italy.
That’s faster that the cosmic speed of light!
Once a mathematics construct of zero- mass dimension,
A square root of something negative or the like,
It’s now a particle of physics, a collider frenzy target, and
Sure to make poor Einstein spin within his grave.
Perhaps it travels through the cosmos on a radiative pathway
Leaving slow neutrino cousins in its wake;
Or takes a wormhole short-cut between alternating universes
In and out of matter, Dark and Light,
Crossing spherical surfaces including Our particular World of Time and Space.
So take heart all of you’ll be proven right for sure!
Dr. Who throw wide the TARDIS door!
The Tachyon is the key to a metaphysical portal, and
Though technology and politics will impose a lengthy wait,
I know I’ll bid you welcome as you step on through the gate!

Bryan Douglas Cook 4 October 2011

Context for Quantum Future

This poem was inspired by a discussion I had with my son Josiah about the recent findings concerning the neutrino called Tachyon. I learned more about the status of the research ( still very speculative) from “Faster Than Light...Have scientists found a particle which breaks the cosmic speed limit” at the Sixty Symbols website of the University of Nottingham at
Some of the wording was as spoken by Josiah and I composed it in a ten minute car ride home from his house.
TARDIS is Dr. Who’s time travel machine named after the acronym for “Time and Relative Dimension In Space”

Read at Tree Reading Series 10 October 2011

Photo is of Kepler's Supernova Remnant, SN 1604, V 843 Ophiuchi, G004.5+06.8
Credit: NASA, ESA, R. Sankrit and W. Blair (Johns Hopkins University)

Juniperus chinensis

Illusion of age, twisted with wire and pruned to conform,
Roots clawing down for life over rock;
Limbs dead and living framing allegory and emotion,
A tree captive in a clay pot....bonsai.

Bryan Douglas Cook October 2, 2011

Context for Juniperus chinensis

At a TREE Seed Workshop given by Mike Buckthought, I learned the beauty and purpose of classical Greek epigrams. This is my attempt to write one such epigram in this style on a personal passion....bonsai.

The classical Greek form epigram is 4 lines with 6,5,6,5 emphases.

Read at Tree Reading Series 10 October 2011

Photo is of a Juniperus chinensis (Chinese juniper) root over rock style bonsai: courtesy Artistic Bonsai Circle

Friday, 7 October 2011

Bill’s Birthday

Is fighter pilot Bill any older today?
I think not a jot!
His step is spry and that same twinkle’s in his eye
As he regales with yet another of his tales!
His memory is strong and embellishment is long,
How many ways could he have met his dear Jeanette?
His one name study shows that the tribe of Arthurs grows,
Dismaying lords of Hamilton with pollution of the lineage,
But Bill’s blood still rises at the call to Bannockburn.
So he sits at his deep desk high in his eyrie over Rideau
Drawing muse from Lampman’s stomping ground,
He never will be silenced and he never will be bound,
He will be flying like his ducks when we’re all underground!

Bryan Douglas Cook 3 October 2011

Context for Bill’s Birthday
A tongue-in-cheek poetry birthday card for Bill Arthur’s, a former cold war fighter pilot who is now living with his wife Jeanette on a bluff over-looking the Rideau Canal where the poet Lampman once had a cottage.

PEI Farmhouse

Joseph Betts chose well when he pioneered Northumberland’s shore;
From brackish marsh and tidal flats
Bountiful in fish, clams, ducks and geese,
His clearing yielded fertile fields up to South Shore’s red dirt road
Which hugged pine-clad cliffs to Rocky Point
And ferry to market at Charlotte Town.
His land rose back to higher pastures and woodlands for the winter fires
And timber to build his farmhouse, barns and byres.

The farmhouse sheltered generations, withstanding
Winter gales and creep of damp and louse;
Until replaced beneath the crest,
With a two-story dormer, trimmed,
Her wood-shingled sides in beige-rust, two- tone.

A century passed with sale and land consolidation,
Manicured emerald green replacing crops and pasture,
Sea- breezed flags now beckon the properly attired to seek a hole- in-one,
Carts align to make the fairway run across the Cumberland Road,
At what cost in natural diversity to fill an economic chest?

The farmhouse stood alone upon its rail-fenced acre patch to face the bulldozer,
Yet another parking lot for Joni!
But this could not be for Steve and Snow despite the risks and challenges unknown!
Lifted and foundationed, gutted, foamed, rewindowed to a façade of proportion,
Tan painted, white trimmed, resplendent with pink door!

Her life renewed, she keeps her perpetual watch over the glories of sunrise and set,
The moon’s wax and wane over shimmering evening waters.
Her watch extends from Hillsborough Channel into Charlotte’s Harbour
Across the Bay past the light of Prim and the slumber of St Peter’s Island,
To Nine Mile Creek from where mussel tenders ply to pluck the harvest of the Bay,
Further beyond the tidal bar towards the Argyll Shore
And the distant Windsor salt mines of Nova Scotia.

The vision and the landscape of old Joseph Betts may be gone,
Still lowing of the cattle and barnyard pungence waft upon the breeze,
Salt hangs in the mist and seaweed tangs the air with the tide,
The gulls align the fairway where once they mobbed the plough,
The fox still crosses Cumberland Road beside the creek,
And Harris House stands proud and grand,
A testament to history and love for this peaceful land.

Bryan Douglas Cook 26 August 2011

Context for PEI Farmhouse
Snow Harris works at Robin’s Nest Antiques at New Haven, PEI. We have been customers and friends for two years and in August of 2011 she invited us to join her and her husband Steve at friends for a social night of music and recital. I wrote this poem for that night to celebrate their successful and loving reconstruction of a century old PEI farmhouse close to where we stay near Nine Mile Creek for our holidays.

Avian Shore

Flocking gulls mushroom the pasture lushing green from evening rain;
A flooding tide replenishes the feast of shrimp and worm,
A migrant dunlin scurries out a shoreline meal;
Caplin scud the calm of sunset water, iridescent tempered steel,
Tempting fate beneath the heron sentinel;
In salt marsh ponds, the piper and the curlew rest in single stance,
While loon and duck are aimlessly adrift in seeming headless trance;
Upon a solitary pillar of red amid the surging waves and torn wrack,
A barred hawk plucks and tears the gull ambushed in dawn’s half light,
He rises angered at my intrusive step
And, talon loaded, glides silently from sight.
As tide recedes the stranded crabs seek refuge in the matted weeds
From squabbling mobs of raucous gulls with frenzied needs;
While high above bald eagles soar,
Surveying all that moves along the Southern Shore.

Bryan Douglas Cook P.E.I. August 2010 revised October 2011

Context for Avian Shore
Tanya and I vacationed from August 1 to August 22, 2010 in a small rented cottage (an old relocated ferry station) at Nine Mile Creek on the Northumberland Strait, South Shore of Prince Edward Island. I wrote an extended poem “South Shore Holiday, Prince Edward Island” which related events almost chronologically as they happened during the holiday. As the first poem I had ever written, I later found it uneven and still somewhat of a slave to romantic rhyming pentameter.
I have chosen to revisit it and edit sections as stand-alone poems. This is the second in the series, inspired by the wealth of bird life living on the South Shore.

Read at Tree Reading Series 13 December 2011

Metal Scrap Yard: A Recycler’s Saga

Relics of a pioneering toil,
Cast iron stove and harness chains;
Jumbled with electronic chassis and
Alloy bric-a-brac of fleeting gains.

Keepsakes of generations,
In barn and garage troven;
Conjuring memories and ghosts,
Guardians of infinite possession.

All now are gutted for their precious ores,
Pig iron, copper, brass, aluminum and steel;
Silent are the motors that once drove the electric age,
Batteries no longer spark life to the wheel.

From showroom pride to muddy charnel pit,
Crushed carcasses mountain high in bales,
Their guts eviscerated into rusting piles,
Amid the City’s rotting bones of sewer pipes and rails.

Surveying all his hellish abyss
Towers a Giant, open jawed;
Archangels feed his infinite appetite
Ceaselessly craning steel into a grinding, fuming maw.

He belches steam and groans as knives grind cars to shreds,
Bolts and metal shards fly from his head
As shrapnel on the killing fields of war,
Beware all those brave to venture near; hasten or be dead.

A sixteen wheeler rumbles in with more corpses for the auto pile,
Battered pickers’ trucks deliver scavenged loads for meagre gain.
The weigh scale converts intrinsic value to raw poundage,
A lady at the front desk gives little cash for all your pain.

Bryan D. Cook October 2010

Context for Metal Scrap Yard: A Recycler’s Saga

On Friday October 15, 2010, I took a trailer load of scrap metal to recycle it at Bakermet Scrap Metal Buyers and Recyclers at 2555 Sheffield Road, Ottawa, Ontario. The scrap yard is dominated by a 4 story steel shredding tower fed by articulated cranes. I was hit on the head by shrapnel from the tower (see the attached photo). Fortunately, my safety helmet saved me from serious injury though I was stunned for a minute or so. The dominant material being recycled is automobiles. This poem describes my impressions of the yard.....with abject apologies to Milton!

Read at Tree Reading Series 10 October 2011

Cliff Top Reflections

Gazing far beyond the misty headland, eyes teared with sorrow, love and joy,
Aged, beloved Aunt Elizabeth has died so far across the sea.
Her passing evokes childhood memories of her welcoming embrace
Of how she wakened in my heart a love for natural grace.

Holidays in rocks and sand beside the Northern Sea,
The gritty miner’s row house where Eliza served high tea.
Allotments rimmed with pigeon lofts and summer pigs in sty,
A hot coal fire to boil the crab and air the washing dry.

Images of parents flood my mind,
My mother’s reassuring touch, her resolution steeled by matrimony;
My father’s guiding hand, his nervous practicality punctuated by elation.
Deep is my longing that they too could join me on this cliff of contemplation.

A warming sun now dries my eye with promises of discovery,
A freshening breeze has scudded white sails into a bluing sky.
A morning chorus sings an anthem to resurrected light,
My soul is soothed with peace and calm at Nature’s sight.

Bryan Douglas Cook P.E.I. August 2010

Context for Cliff Top Reflections

Tanya and I vacationed from August 1 to August 22, 2010 in a small rented cottage (an old relocated ferry station) at Nine Mile Creek on the Northumberland Strait, South Shore of Prince Edward Island. I wrote an extended poem “South Shore Holiday, Prince Edward Island” which related events almost chronologically as they happened during the holiday. As the first poem I had ever written, I later found it uneven and still somewhat of a slave to romantic rhyming pentameter.
I have chosen to revisit it and edit sections as stand-alone poems. This is the first in the series.
Cliff Top Reflection relates my thoughts while seated on a red sea- cliff looking out over Hillsborough Bay. I reflect on the news of the death of my Aunt Elizabeth in Barnsley, Yorkshire England. The reference to Eliza is to Eliza Cook, my paternal grandmother with whom I often vacationed as a child in Newbiggin-by-sea, Northumberland, England.The photos are of the coal fireplace,range and drying rack, and of Aunt Elizabeth (left) and Grandma Eliza Cook

Friday, 30 September 2011

Home Children

Damaged collateral of industrial revolution,
abandoned into Orphan Homes,
schooled to cross the Golden Bridge,
wooden trunks inventoried with practical philanthropy,
a Bible and the Progress to guide the Pilgrim’s way.

Adventure beckons as tears fade with the shore,
sick ‘til pitch and yaw delight,
pale faces flush in salted air,
awestruck at galaxies of stars,
chasing western suns into fogged Banks, where icebergs keel;
to Scotian shore and endless miles on slatted seats,
nose-pressed to steamy windows,
as a pioneered bewilderment trundles by,
matchbox cabins replace stone-cold, slate-grey memories.

Ahead, Receiving Homes and Destiny,
labeled for indenture, contract or adoption.

Some toil farms and sleep in frozen barns,
a master’s cur, servile to a mistress,
an option-less survival excepting passage back with slaughter cattle,
or finding that death’s comfort is not always cold.

Others are welcomed to fill the void of death
or sons homesteading for themselves,
brogue yields to Gaelic, Deutsch, Québécois and Valley;
siren-called by new-laid track and virgin land,
staking prairie sod, mining coal, panning Yukon gold,
they fight with pride, volunteer to die for King and Country.

Fame, fortune, families founded by foundlings,
weft woven tightly in the warp of Canada.

Yet they rarely told their tales to those they loved.
Was it for shame of who they were, from where they came?
Or had they long abandoned memories of pain?

Bryan Douglas Cook June 21 2011

Context for Home Children

In celebration of “The Year of the Home Child”; dedicated to the Home Children who played such a major role in building Canada 1833-1939

In 1869, the philanthropist and home child champion Annie McPherson wrote in a pamphlet:
” We who labour here are tired of relieving misery from hand to mouth, and also heartsick of seeing hundreds of families pining for want of work, when over on the shores of Ontario the cry is heard ‘Come over and we will help you’. We are waiting to seek out the worthy not yet on the parish list, but who soon must be; we will see to their being properly started on the Canadian shores if you will give us the power to make a Golden Bridge across the Atlantic.”

Home Children was published by Anglo Celtic Roots of BIFHSGO in the 2011 September edition.

This was my first “free form “poem

Read at Tree Reading Series 27 September 2011

Friday, 23 September 2011

Full Moon Eve

Sea horses have ceased to toss their foaming manes
Before the lashing of an eastern wind.
The anvil clouds of driving rain have fled,
Mist mutes an inky sky,
The air is stilled with hushed tranquility
As the Moon ascends to her celestial zenith.
The ocean lies prostrate and grey in supplication,
Awaiting the command of her full orb to ebb or flow.
Black seaweed windrows line the red sand strand.
A dark canvas on which she casts her pale reflection of the Sun
And scatters her moon-beams across the water,
A shimmering path of ephemeral fractals,
Ghosting bleached driftwood and
Blazing sedge and sea mustard with ethereal light.
Suddenly, a sea breeze heralds night; colour flees;
A cloak of darkness wraps the shore in restless sleep.

Bryan Douglas Cook 19 August 2011

Context for Full Moon Eve
Inspired by a photograph I took of an evening full moon on the PEI South Shore over Hillsborough Bay, while I was on holiday in August 2011. I hope Hester Boyle paints it.

Abby’s Passing

High tide rests awaiting a beckoning moon,
The bay calms to tranquility,
My tears mingle with the brine
That gently laps a requiem of peace.
Your soul sails on the breeze of freedom.

A pup, hair askew and ears aflop,
Gazing quizzically from your cage atop the stoop.
You ‘walked the plank’ searching for a fishing bobber
And were safely netted from the deep.
A patient mother to your errant sister Tess;
Loyal and faithful through life’s turmoil;
Tanya’s constant shadow.

Countless walks along the old Kemp Road
In rain, shine, wind and snow,
Geese, turkey and the coyote were our wild companions,
You always kept a lookout from far behind.
Sniffing spots on River Path and Mystery Park
Demanded your freedom from split- leashed tyranny.
Being lost meant run, panic and then find me at the gas bar!

All dogs big and small respected your Scottish bred authority!
No TV Maggie you!
A groomer’s scourge in your dowager years,
And yet a good companion,
Chasing squeaky toys on lawns and corridors,
Rolling for a belly scratch at the sight of Jos’s lean frame.
You brought us joy, health, comfort; requiring little in return.

And so I gaze upon the ocean spume, a thousand miles away from you,
A black crow feather drifts slowly by in a gentle swirl of sea grass,
It carries my prayer of thankfulness for all you gave us
And my hope that we will walk together once again.

Bryan Douglas Cook August 2011

Context for Abby's Passing
Written sea cliff-side as our first Westie, Abby, was being put to sleep in Ottawa to suffer no longer the effects of a brain tumor. Tanya returned to help her in her final days along with Emily and Josiah. The prayer feather actually floated by in a swirl of sea-weed. A sweet and sad reflection for a faithful friend and walking companion.

Read at Tree Reading Series 27 September 2011

Death on a Mountain

The climb sapped Stemmer,
Hypoxia so intoxicated his mind
That he hallucinated a superfluity of nuns
Exalting to engage the Heavenly Host;
He joined them in Final Judgement
To a descant of wind and harp.

Bryan Douglas Cook 27 July 2011

Context for Death on a Mountain
A TREE class exercise in July 2011 in which I had to create a poem from a translation of a German verse, knowing no German, and then edit it. The verse could have been in any foreign language to explore the technique.The actual source was from Rainer Maria Rilke "Duino Elegies"


What’s the fastest way to learn a language?
Act like a baby.
You get lost by being so complex and obscure
that reruns require subtitles.
Shouldn’t a good story just stand on its own?
The nexus of science and poetry
is buried in an in-box, waiting to be found.
Does cash slake the cravings of hearts and souls?
No, rather language, language, language.
So make a difference to your morning
with do- it- yourself word butchering:
Cleaver? Check. Hook? Check.
Hell Yea!
We poets are dismembering language into choice cuts.
Point, click, drop and leap into Warhol’s void
where two heads voice the muse.
Bryan Douglas Cook 20 July 2011

Context for TIME MAG MUSE

This is an edited montage poem from clippings cut from Time Magazine as part of a course taken at the TREE reading series in Ottawa, July 2011
The original clippings read:
What’s the fastest way to learn a language?
Act like a baby.
Lost became so complex and obscure, reruns required subtitles. Shouldn’t a good story just stand on its own?
The eternal clash of science and ethics
Inbox...Lost and never found
Is cash the answer?
Language ,language !
Make a difference in your morning.
DIY Butchering. Cleaver? Check. Meat hook? Check. Street cred? Hell, yea. Why meat lovers are becoming meat cutters.
Point Click Drop and Dive
Leap into the Void (1960)
Two Heads Better


Why me? Why kiss?
When all you want arises from my groin;
Shivered fear engulfs my tears,
Virginity is raped of all its cares.

Bryan Douglas Cook April 2011

Context for KISS
As part of a poetry composition course the author was asked to write a short poem about a kiss remembered from youth....child abuse by a third party (not parents) is not an easy thing to express.

Death Of Elsie

Elsie pined for elusive death;
A showgirl collapsed to living corpse.

Her brain kept time but time kept back;
Terror stalked her soul.

She needed hands to lead, not heal;
I shared her dreams and play her requiem.

Bryan Douglas Cook April 2011

Context for Death of Elsie

Elsie was a surrogate and beloved grandmother to the Cook family who died on the Thursday before Easter 2011 at 97 years of a failing body and a tired soul. Her passion was music and the author inherited her organ.

Forest Before Snow

The naked forest reveals her form, sculpted by ancient glaciation,
Granite ridge, steep slope and bog too poor for cultivation.
Gnarled roots of mighty pines, toppled by summer thunder,
Reach skywards clutching still in vain their granite anchors,
Their broken ribs lie stark along their rotting spines,
Guarded by buckthorn, wreathed in sour grape vines.

A carpet once emblazed with hues of beech and maple leaves,
Perfume laden with the musk of Fall upon a rustling breeze,
Now lies down-trodden, blackened, soiled;
With remnant weeds bent low in final toil to sow their seed,
By scavenging rodent, chickadee or clasping burr on fur.

The beaver dam is rimed with floes,
Its dark pond edged with gnawn aspen boughs.
The shallowed stream chills to icebound stillness;
Marsh pools creak and crack a passing warning
Mud is cast to iron corrugation.

A blight of metal, rubber, foam mushrooms on the forest floor,
Debris of man’s insatiable demand for more,
Plastic baggies ripen on the brush, scoop-filled but not disposed,
All soon to lie beneath a white veneer unseen,
And re-emerge as toxic leachate to the stream.

Biting sleet is driven by a relentless, chilling wind
Trees groan and chafe as limbs are pruned.
Wounds cauterise; the weak and aged are culled.
Woodpeckers drum out the grub and crows clean carrion,
Distant guns hunt duck and goose and deer, no longer hidden.

Scattered on the forest floor lie tales of pioneering lives,
Broken fence rails, rusting wire, rotten stumps and stacked rock piles.
Sweat and toil that was in vain against infertile soil and cold;
They left, perhaps to move out West to harvest Prairie gold,
The forest overgrew all trace; their story left untold.

The pines and firs stand sentinel over this frigid land,
Their green reminds that deep within renewal is at hand.
But though they watch, they cannot defend against the yuletide axe,
To decorate the home with tree and bough so soon to lose their sheen,
Oh hasten Winter, load your healing drifts upon this tired and melancholy scene.

Bryan D. Cook Late November 2010

Context for Forest before Snow
Walking my dogs in late November and early December 2010 in the Mystery Park and woodland along the Ottawa River in Orleans, Ontario, I felt that Fall was over and we were in a limbo before the true Winter season. The forest had so many melancholy overtones deserving of reflection.
Bryan D. Cook 9 December 2010

Is It Worth It?

A writer of doggerel is a lonely person
Whose verse is praised by only those within its phrases,
Established laureates expect extensions of the day’s conventions,
Feelings once again retreat to empty places.
Torn to ribbons but not a page is worn,
Ridicule leaves muse still-born.
His voice retreats to a mirage of silent safety,
His manic roller-coaster ramps and dives incessantly.
His purpose may be for introspection, or
Perhaps he yearns for personal vindication,
Or could both string his soul and muse to hypertension?

Bryan D. Cook September 2010 revised October 2010 revised April 2011

Context for Is It Worth It?

The author is on a journey of discovering his feelings through poetry after years of suppression to the norms of work and the expectations of society. His style is evolving rapidly from late romantic towards more free-form. He still however believes in the values of rhyme and rhythm, which are sometimes dismissed as old fashioned, almost to the point of being traits of doggerel.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

An August Afternoon at the Arthurs’.

It’s hot and still on August’s final Sunday,
When Arthurs’ welcomed explorers of ancestral lore to their home
Upon the curve of a secluded lane, bowered in stately woodland and grassy knoll,
Near yet far from Hog’s Back hustle and Bytown bustle,
Beside By’s Canal where tower- crested Carleton campus lies,
Thronging with busy, wireless youth and tireless energies.

The Arthurs’ home breathes peaceful elegance,
Welcomed by broad doors burnished red,
Within its grounds, a cottage once was hidden in serenity,
Then a canoe trip and a hike through pine and field from Ottawa,
Where Archie Lampman found his muse
And dreamt romantic verse beneath the northern star.

Alas, why have Canada’s Romantics banished been?
Crawford, Campbell, Lampman, Service, Roberts, Montgomery, Drummond, Scott and Carmen
Champions of Nature‘s idyll, the homestead farmer and the driven quest of pioneers;
Alienated urban man found raw expression in Modernistic form: abstracted, stressed and terse,
Academic mores favoured intellect over the vicarious joy of feelings, widely shared.
Survival’s hour-glass has turned; truth calls for telling in the most popular of verse.

The furnishings betray a life of exploration,
A tasteful mingling of artistry from Europe and the Orient,
Antique blended with art nouveau,
Discreetly jeweled with crafted bottles of perfume and scent;
Orchids and geraniums blossom in solarium;
An antique Jaguar patiently awaits its rebuild in the shed.

Bluff- hidden, overlooking the lush greens of farm and arboretum,
Where a brook lazily confluences in willowed haven, there once a trout rose to the fly;
A brook, which had meandered free through bush and open glen, is now culvert-drained to will of men.
Here ducks dabble, fatted contentedly on summer’s rich aquatic bloom,
Turtle and muskrat plough a watery furrow; carp and silverside roll with occasional splash,
Tree frogs resume their nightly trill, once stilled by force unknown; kingfisher dive with blue-hued flash.

We ate and drank at leisure beside the water, celebrating those that paved the way;
Diverse were our reflections on global interdependency, of sharing common bonds and life experiences,
Of man’s valuation of news, hopes and aspirations.
As if on cue, a skein of geese flocked honking overhead, heralding the end of summer and our reverie;
A fountained pool, embraced by a mighty basswood, gave final reflection
While seated on marble and cast- iron, gazing at the follies of the industry of Campbell.

Fitting closure to a Romantic afternoon.

Bryan Douglas Cook 29 August 2010

Context for An August Afternoon at the Arthurs'

On Sunday afternoon August 29, 2010 Bill and Jeanette Arthurs’ hosted the DNA Study group of BIFHSGO to BBQ at their home at 1228 Lampman Crescent Ottawa. Bill chairs the group and Bryan Cook attended as a member. The meal was held in delightful surroundings at waterside. The home is on idyllic, secluded grounds beside the Rideau Canal where the Late Romantic Canadian poet Archibald Lampman had a cottage. It is also where the Campbell’s,of Ottawa foundry fame,had a retreat around which they adorned the heavily wooded grounds with iron gazebos. The sound of tree frogs did indeed disappear for 4 years and has only recently restarted.....mosquito spraying is the suspected culprit.

Kaua’i Seduction

Garden Isle, a tapestry in green,
With flowered thorn, Jurassic fern and buttressed tree,
Cloaking razor ridge and crater bowl
Once over brimmed by lava, flaming red,
Now canyoned down to torrent beds.

Mighty Wai ale ale bathes in warm Pacific rains,
Flooding crystal falls which from her summit drain
To hidden azure pools, cool retreat from tropic heat;
Mists shroud the mystic cliffs and clefts of magic Napali,
Echoing thundering breakers fetched from far-north Bering Sea.

Trades first beached Cook upon Waimea’s blackened sand,
Delta threshold to a Canyon, deep and grand:
Feral goats graze the sun-burnt, rusting precipice,
As white-tailed tropics wheel above, and
Wild boar tusk the upland swamp for root and grub.

Waterfowl and taro share valley ponds, sustaining poi traditions,
Above are Princeville mansions, manicured by millions;
Bali Ha’i and Hanalei recall romantic film and magic dragon,
Turtles laze the sheltered drift along Anini beach,
Boobies dance cliff thermals at Kilauea light as humpbacks breach.

Leeward, fertile coastal plains of weathered ancient reef and lava soil
Once grew sweet sugar under plantation rule and toil;
Hanapepe’s weathered face reflects a youth of opiate escape from cane field misery,
Abandoned mills and rails rust in the tinder grass,
An ancient garbage dump transforms into shimmering sands of glass.

The Spouting Horn trumpets its rain-bowed plume
From rocky shelf above the pounding spume,
Mere shadow of a giant blasted to desalt the cane;
Beyond in dark, gloss- green descend the bushy rows,
Coffee, aromatic brew from black earthed lava flows.

Before Koloa’s dappled, eucalyptus-tunnelled way,
A post trades beads of pearl, fire coral and shelly lei;
Monkey pods frame the board-walked market square,
Roosters rule the beach, villa lawn and mountain brush,
Crowing dawn to dusk in territorial lust.

Monk seal and turtle green haul up on Poipu’s beach tombolo,
Boards boogie surf and ride the curl,
Below, in coral rock and foaming surge,
Wrasse, trigger, parrot, unicorn and moon-idol
Medley with tang, goat, trumpet, butterfly and moray eel.

Past Brennecke and Shipwreck Beach where cast nets snare in ocean’s boil,
Past stately Hyatt’s lawns and pools of koi,
Stand fossil cliffs, carved by Pacific gods into mythic gargoyle beasts
To guard sacred warrior beaches beneath the gaze of mighty Kawelikoa,
Where wind-gnarled bonsai cling to cliff-top lava.

The crimson orb of a setting sun sinks gently to Pacific rest,
Silhouetting anvil clouds above the luminous ocean crests,
At silent vigil lovers, young and old, kiss farewell to a balmy day;
Half sun crescents to a final flash of green,
Night falls; calm darkness lit by Kaua’i’s moon bids serenity in dream.

Bryan D. Cook February 2011

Context for Kaua'i Seduction

Bryan, his wife Tanya and family friends Keith and Alexa Brewer spent a sunny winter week (January 29 to February 5, 2011) on the island of Kaua’i in the Hawaiian archipelago. Though located very comfortably on the south shore in Aston Villas, thanks to villa owners Mark and Ann Riley, the quartet was seduced by Kaua’i’s rural beauty and wild variety of land- and seascapes. They travelled extensively, armed with Andrew Doughty’s Ultimate Guide (Wizard Publications Inc), a truly honest and detailed companion. The result was this memory written at 30,000 feet on the return flight to Canada.

Winter on Granville Island

Eclectic Isle of winter mists and rains,
Sheening boardwalks and ancient rails,
Relics of colonial trade;
Now yacht and cruiser haven past the deco span,
Safe from Pacific swell in False Creek’s calm.

A western silhouette of snowy peaks graced by English Bay,
Hosts setting suns to amber the clouded haze and
Pierce the rusting girders of the Granville Bridge;
Iron gateway to the Island streets
Where life’s pace slows and urban stress retreats.

Ringed by a million dollar condominium view,
A kaleidoscope of grays, yellows, greens and blues,
Nurtures in its heart the vibrant passion of Miss Carr;
Leather, fabric, gem and fine art studios
Neighbor metal foundry, boat dry docks and concrete silos.

The Island once was under docker rule,
Hotels of notoriety, thirst quenched by local brews;
By-passed by trade, vagrant and flower power shared her abandonment,
Now reborn, she welcome's all who seek her charms
In parks, in floating homes and experimental theater barns.

Incessant water beetles criss-cross the bay,
Ferrying daily shoppers to the Open Market’s maze
Of stalls, overflowing with the fruits of land and sea;
Aromatic coffee roast, vibrant orchid sprays,
Pacific seafood brined and smoked in tempting ways.

Island dining is a secret poorly kept of maritime menus:
Here, a hotel brews fine ale to quaff with Salt Spring blues,
There, a fishing smack hangs raftered over sushi, ocean fresh.
Aztec pipes echo haunting melodies from the row,
An evening stroll sees floured bakers raising morning’s dough.

At the point stands sentinel a silent cargo crane,
Ochre-yellow, tracked witness to the Island’s heritage fame.
Before the dawn, black scions of those who haunted once her wharfs and railcars
Now flock her gantries, there to recount with raucous caw
The continuing saga of the Island’s times ‘til drawn by market scraps once more.

Bryan Douglas Cook January 2011 revised November 6 2011

Context for Winter on Granville Island

Bryan and Tanya Cook stopped in Vancouver in January 27-29, 2010 at the Granville Island Hotel, on their way to Hawaii. Once again the misted, winter jewel of the island captured their hearts. They dined locally with long-time friend Irene Goldstone who graciously shared her beautiful city with them. This poem was written over the Pacific heading for Kaua’i.

Student Days

The Sixties Bloody Eve
Birthed War: We Cried for Peace and
A Bright Alaskan Light Was Killed
On Tessler’s Chariot Line.

Soldiers Marched in Montreal
As Bombs and Curfew Reigned, and
Psychedelic Experience Turned To
A Young Confusion High

But No Matter How I Rage
There’s No Turn’in Back The Page
And There’s No Coffee Brew’n
Underneath The Ghetto.

Across Drifted Cars Down Sherbrooke
We Skied to Drummond’s Bars
To Drink, and Play and Sing
Those Irish Lancer Tunes

Israel, She Came Dancing,
Her Hashish Smoked Our Minds;
We Jammed Until Our Fingers Bled,
While She Traded Souls in Kind.

But No Matter How I Rage
There’s No Turn’in Back the Page
And There’s No Coffee Brew’n
Underneath The Ghetto.

Fredericka’s Trial Is Over,
She Pines For Love No More; and Oh
What Hearts Were Torn When
Graceful Russia Knocked Our Door?

Friends Parted, Sad, Stone-Hearted,
Choosing Paths Which Each Believed In;
Perhaps From This Delusion
Some Joy May Come Some Day.

But No Matter How I Rage
There’s No Turn’in Back the Page
And There’s No Coffee Brew’n
Underneath the Ghetto.

Bryan Douglas Cook Spring 2010

Context for Student Days
A poem of memories from the author’s student days at McGill University from 1967 to 1971. The Chariot line refers to the suspicious “death” of a professor in Alaska immortalized in the book the “Firecracker Boys”. “Russia” is the author’s future bride Tatiana Marokin. Parting friends and many of the experiences were shared with Don “Paul” Prozetsky.

Walking our Westies

Ten thousand paces to the rhythmic tap of trusty walking cane
The panting patter of eight tiny paws split leashed in double rein;
Our faithful Westies scent out the hidden trails;
Where passing coyote, dog or skunk have sprayed their signs.

In Spring, we take the old Kemp Road, before the seed is sown,
Over sandy hill and shaded bush to pick the fiddlehead fern.
Wild turkey flee in single file, and deer a distance mind,
We keep close watch on coyote for an ambush from behind.

The Summer route’s from the parking lot behind the grocery store,
Through balmy pines of Mystery Park where crows and ravens caw;
Along the winding river path of roots scalped by spring-time flows,
Back along the sewer line, fragrant incense to a canine nose!

As Summer drifts towards the Fall, sweet raspberries and tangy blackberries entice
My stick to clasp luscious clusters from ivy’s poisonous embrace.
Elderberries droop heavy, and the rosy crab-apples signal jelly-time,
Wild mushrooms beckon those who for their earthy flavours dare to dine.

Back we wander to a long forgotten sandy excavation
In a fossil dune-rimmed beach from ancient Lake Champlain,
Where sandhill cranes nest amid the rusted frame of an abandoned truck,
And, sheltered near the Mer Bleue Bog, a sedge-lined bed for white-tailed buck.

Hidden by the corn field, we hike the deep ditch line,
Past stalks trampled by marauding deer, and cobs gnawed by porcupine;
We maze through towering corridors of rustling stover and golden ears,
In peaceful separation from a world of fears and tears.

Hips and haws of thorn are mock holly garlands of hedged fields;
Where goldfinch and the chickadees forage ‘mid the butterflies
On carpets of goldenrod, aster and thistle down;
While burrs maddeningly knot white fur to gnaw and comb.

We rustle a mosaic of autumnal leaves; sweet is the scent of their composting ferment;
Beavers splash the ditch dammed over an aging railway culvert;
A red-flashed blackbird calls raucous indignation from a bulrush,
While dogs roll with oblivious contentment in the fetid marsh.

All too soon, the swamps and paths ice in Winter’s time,
Our breath steams, trees glisten with their coats of rime;
I stamp out paths through drifts for tiny paws to follow,
Finally, we retreat to truck-ploughed ways until return of geese and swallow.

And so, ten thousand paces more to the rhythmic tap of trusty walking cane
The panting patter of eight tiny paws split leashed in double rein...............

Bryan D. Cook September 2010

Context to Waking Our Westies
Bryan and Tanya Cook have two West Highland Terrier bitches, Abby and Tess. Bryan has walked them every day, all year for the last 14 years. This poem touches on the highlights of the usual walking routes; not specifically on the natures of the dogs themselves.
I was honoured to be named poet for February 2011 by the Poet Laureate for Canada for this poem.

Monday, 4 April 2011

His Mother's Hands

The forest clasps him to her breast

With cold embrace of thorn
To slash his skin with scorn;

Her ivy bracelet of waxen pearl
Blisters deep his longing soul;

She sighs and cracks in arthritic pain
A requiem eternal to his shame.

Bryan D. Cook April 2011

Context for His Mother's Hands
Written as homework for a workshop with slam poet Ian Keteku, this poem reflects the feelings of somebody with a lack of maternal nurturing.It is not autobiographical as my mother,Jean Patricia Cook (nee Baker) was always nurturing and understanding. The forest is both allegorical and, sometimes for the me, real.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A Laker Saga

From Ottawa to Big Rideau Lake, Sir Bryan made with Ghillie Bob, his stalwart keep,
Their quarry was the Laker... elusive denizen of the deep.
Bob led the fearless duo ‘cross Ontario’s verdant plains,
To launch at Hudson Bay, of famed explorer named.
Bob threaded worm and hooked the bait... pan fish of sun and crappie ilk;
While Bryan pulled harness and calmed their mount to purr of silk.
A faint morning sun was slowly sapping life from mists of dawn,
As silver steed sliced through steely grey in her flecked-foam wake of haste towards the Northern Shore.

The Northern Shore is a bastion, ramparted by ochre rock,
Of timeless age, a granite shield raised to glacier attack.
Wind-scalped pines align these haunted bulwarks where doe and fawn belie.
Here shadows of ancients beckon with echoes of raven and wolf;
Splash of paddle recalls voyageur quests for beaver pelt and western gold.
Here fevered Irish blood was spilled in Scottish stoneman’s thrall:
Both bent their backs and Rideau’s mighty will to By’s Victorian call.
Here osprey spears fry with talons razor sharp;
And here dark loon, diver of abyss, wails curse of death on all who would assail.

The western sky was clouded high with mountains of turbulent white;
A distant funnel of grey flashed and rumbled warnings for stormy flight.
Past buoy sentinel to laker lair, they rode on, course charted by human star;
Tailed baited Johnny Greens and silver threads they laid into murky fathoms there.
As a blooded sun rose from eastern cloud towards its noontide zenith,
The fates of several lonely greys were sealed in Ghillie Bobbie’s creel.

But then a strike that veered the steed; Neptune’s challenge was at hand!
Sir Bryan reigned in and calmed his raging, silver mount,
Ghillie Bob withdrew his armour from the plain of battle blue.
The silver thread grew tight and taunt and throbbed with tug and pull,
Smoke burned from screaming clutch cinch as from a dragon of yore.
Time hovered on that fulcrum of capture and escape,
As Ghillie Bob lowered the snare, his hand it did not shake!
The monster head rose from the depths, bare-jawed with teeth agape.
The barb was sunk; the blood line flowed, and still the body wrathed.
But Ghillie Bob no quarter gave and scooped it to its grave.
The gulls above gave requiem to the death of a mighty foe;
The fearless duo in silence sat before the photo show!

A Context for “A Laker Saga”
The Rideau Canal Waterway ( is a 202 kilometre (125 mile) long National Historic Site of Canada, a Canadian Heritage River and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of a series of hauntingly beautiful lakes and rivers connected by canals stretching from Kingston, at the foot of Lake Ontario, to Ottawa, Canada's capital. Maintained by the Canada's Parks Service, it is arguably the most scenic waterway in North America. Opened in 1832, it is the oldest continuously operated canal system in North America. Its construction was conceived after the War of 1812 when American threatened to invade Canada. It was intended to provide a secure supply route from Montréal to Kingston by way of the old voyageur fur trader route up the Ottawa River, thus avoiding the vulnerable St. Lawrence River route. In 1826, Lieutenant Colonel John By of Queen Victoria’s Royal Engineers was assigned to supervise the construction through a wilderness of rough bush, swamps and rocky Canadian Shield terrain. The system of 47 masonry locks and 52 dams is one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and a tribute to the craftsmanship of Scottish stone masons and the sweat of Irish “navvy” labourers, many of whom died from complications of swamp fever, a form of malaria. Big Rideau Lake is one of the larger lakes whose water level is maintained by the Rideau Waterway System. Big Rideau is famous for excellent bass, crappie and lake trout fishing and is surrounded by forested deer yards and the fertile valley of the River Tay at Perth to the north.
Bryan Cook and Bob Presland went lake trout fishing on Big Rideau Lake at dawn on July 20th, 2010 from the launch at Hudson Bay at the westerly end of the lake near the Long Narrows Lock, cutting past the main channel marker buoy and following our GPS for depth, direction and speed to what is locally known as the north shore cliffs. The traditional fishing technique is very slow steel long- lining with a “Johnny Green” curved spoon with a pan-fish tail mounted on a treble hook and bounced along the bottom.
Several lakers and one trophy inspired Bryan to write “A Laker Saga”. It is in mini epic, saga style with tongue in cheek; somewhat freeform with hints of Chaucer, Spencer, Beowulf and Service but no pretentions to match such lofty prose. It’s meant to be recounted like any good fishing tale. We just had fun fishing in our little, aluminum boat and 9.9 horse motor!
Ghillie (edited from Wikipedia) is Scottish for an attendant on fishing, fly fishing or a hunting or deer stalking expedition, primarily in Scotland in the Highlands or on a river such as the Spey. A ghillie may also serve as a gamekeeper employed by a landowner to prevent poaching, control unwelcome natural predators such as fox or otter and monitor the health of the wildlife on his lands. The ghillie was the most knowledgeable person about the location, availability and habits of the quarry, be it fish or game.