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’├ętat;
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!