Sunday, 21 July 2013

PEI Vacation Summer/Fall 2013

in  spring  grass

foam blowing
with the salted rain
summer squall

install a software pathway
to an old routine

flocking gulls
rolling thunder though salt mist
the ocean's near

high on the beach
shells piled by winter storms
bleach in the sun

Sunday, 30 June 2013



She beckons agelessly

across her threshold palette -
crazed tiles of ochre, green and
umber as sunset in Paris
where flowers blaze reflections
on the sidewalk's sluice and
bolds her letters of seduction:
vins fins, vielles and proprietes.
The deep perspective of
her muted navy grey fa├žade
welcomes with eclectic joy
to blanc, rouge, rose and burgundy,
fanned gently

She bids come taste her art. 

Bryan Cook, Ottawa, July 2013

Context to Sheridan
Sheridan Kovacs is a very talented Canadian artist of eclectic variety. She gave me this acrylic painting of a Parisian Maison de Vins in return for help in baby-sitting her dogs! In this ekphrastic poem I see her through her  painting.

My Office

Art deco shades,
IKEA's articulations
incandescent and halogen,
 my midnight suns

I tried to go paperless
but still the floor joists creak
beneath the bankers boxes
and steel cabinets

Poetry and history
row and stack the shelves
frustrating discovery
gathering dust and DVD's

Tropical bonsai and fresh cat grass
in a window tokonoma  
scrolled with haiku
 fertilized and watered daily

A wall of Scotian oils
memories of blind Father Sharpe
lobster boats, autumn lakes
 and liquorish allsort lighthouses

80's vintage furniture, melamine,
 faux grained government surplus,
crammed and littered;
collapsing slowly

Milk crates, filled with books
topped with laundry beneath
the rack of dressing gowns
pressing the door half open

An antique barometer
beside the Galileo thermometer
bettering the weather forecast
on the transistor radio

Pigeon holes for bric-a-brac
old coffee cups , the cactus
surviving in an iron disc
retired from harrowing the fields

Bottles, nails, and coal
a diver's history of pioneer trade;

medals, crystal statues, a bronze beaver:
awards for toil of 40 years

Urns of pet ashes,
old rods and reels,
carved fish and fishermen,
Billy Bass sings "take me to the river"

A black tower hums
against a bank of drives
hard with data and research
twin screens glow blue

Electronic keys beside the ink well
microfiche readers beside the scanner
speakers beside the printer
three telephones, a nest of wires

I love this mess
hide in it, compose in it
doze in it, dream in it.
instantly world-connected

From my leather chair.

Bryan D. Cook Ottawa  28 May 2013

 Context for My Office
At a Tree Seed Workshop , we were shown ways to stimulate our poetry with new ideas. One was to take a 360 degree look at familiar room and describe it in detail. I choose my  home office. The wall of Nova Scotian oils were painted by  Father Donald Sharpe, who lives in the Annapolis Valley beside the bay of Fundy and suffered for blindness for much of his life.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Winter Blahs

Winter Blahs
Last week
a drip metronomed my window sill ,
the driveway ice ridge thawed,
squirrels gnawed into the bluebird box and
cardinals sang territorial songs as the Pope departed.

I walk the dog without my gloves,
an olfactory progression from stain to stain,  
puddles hide a pox of potholes,
I dodge the waves of grime brine.

A smart-phoned knot smokes pot
just beyond the high school gates
fucking this and fucking that habitually,
crowding out the sidewalk,
seeming bored, texting to belong,
shuffling through the rituals
of teenage conformity,
their daily litter of soda cans,
half-eaten pizza slices and
butt confetti;
yet they call me Sir and say
Tess is sooo cute a puppy,
despite her fifteen years.

I’m tired of winter:
allergic to the mold,
damp cold,
fearful that latest flu
has made the jump from beast to man,
resentful of income tax returns,
annoyed by the mail- box avalanche of spring sales;
“Target” has crossed the border: but
do I really need to buy?

 I will book my escape to
Prince Edward Island’s shore,
to beach comb through the laze of summer;
I can smell the sea and
taste the chowder.

Bryan D. Cook   Ottawa, March 2013

Context For Winter Blahs
I attended a TREE Reading Series Seed Workshop where we were introduced by Gwynn Scheltema  to "playing with constraints".....the application of structure in the style of Oulipo practitioners. Such structures can follow quite complex mathematical series, but I chose a simple approach of expressing my feelings and experiences for last week, today and tomorrow.

Pope Benedict's Farewell

                                                          Northern Cardinal (Kevin Boulton)

Reluctant Orchid Duet

Mother’s Day Orchid
Bryan. D. Cook
Ottawa, March 5, 2013

Tanya’s orchid still won’t flower.
It had a splendid spray
when bought by the kids for Mother’s day,
four years ago,
pale green petals and white tongues
which lingered on for months.
In its new slot pot with special soil
it hung straw roots and grew large shoots
and we waited, waited, waited
for the flowers to reappear ;
but no such luck
watered, fertilised and sun-lit
it smiled a contented, leafy smile
and declared that’s it!

The Doctor Is In

By Bill Arthurs
Ottawa, March 6, 2013

Assure your Tanya that we shall fight
To cure her ailing epiphyte.

Mayhaps homesick for its native shore
In Myramar or Singapore;
But without a voice to cry its plight,
It keeps its silence through the night.

We cannot know its history well,
Or take down its genes to tell.
It cannot call its friends back home
Due to lack of voice or cellular phone.

Could this orchid's dire plight
Be simply due to improper light?
With its photoplasts unemployed
Does it lack the energy once enjoyed?

Or is improper nourishment the cause
Of why it retreated from where it was?
We shall have to wait and see,
And probe the plant’s biology

Context for Reluctant Orchid Duet
I sent the first poem along with my partner's delinquent orchid to a friend and expert in genealogy and orchids, Bill Arthurs, with whom it is now undergoing rehabilitation! He wrote me back the second poem. I thought them is pleasant to dialogue in poetry!

Dendrobium orchid

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Guilty and Cobalt Blue


Caged in wire

Chained forever

On display

Disdained or coveted

A trinket

Hung with your brethren

Around an aging neck.

Is this why, reject shard,

you journeyed far

by current dragged

by wave pummelled

by rock tumbled

by sand smoothed

by salt hydrated,

transformed into a mermaid’s tear?

Hide from my obsessive eyes

and my marauding hands,

cocoon in weed and

camouflage with shell;

and when the ocean storms,

listen to the siren winds,

go back and journey on.

Bryan D. Cook  Ottawa,  January, 2013


I occasionally reflect on the other side, though it is not always good for me! I took this triptych and converted it into a positive point of view in Cobalt Blue. 

Cobalt Blue

Milk of Magnesia

sharded by a winter storm

from the shore-side dump

to journey far,

tumbling and etching

into mermaids’ tears

of misty cobalt blue.

I dance the

light fantastic

when you emerge

from weed cocoon

or shelly camouflage.

Argentium shall

enrobe you,

pearl and crystal be

your bridesmaids; and

you shall be

forever reunited

on a Viking’s knit

of harmony and love

and mystery.

Bryan D. Cook  Ottawa, January 2013

More Context

I put these counterpoint poems on the Sea Glass Poets Society Website and had the joy of having Linda Steger write an ode around one of my images:

I bare my soles and wade in the waters of life;

Along the shore of time, I stitch the line.

Listen to the siren winds, go back and journey on.

Oh, soul you know, you know who calls and journeys on!

This gem of cerulean, and one of fire, another of light, one of desire:

I cage them up to free myself. A selfish gesture but a necessary

Exchange while in this cage of mine to wander.

Linda Steger, January 2013,  “Ode to Bryan Cook’s poetic contribution “Listen to the siren winds, go back and journey on.”

I found the ode delicate…..exquisite….. like a finely wrapped pendant on life’s chain. Every line has a graceful image interwoven with emotion expressed in metaphor…..and yet its form is succinct and simple. Thanks Linda!

Old Phillips Milk of Magnesia Bottle

Sea glass pendant in argentium silver (by Bryan Cook)

For Thine Is Africa

For Thine is Africa

You were mine, my little one
Who rocked so gently in my arms
 And laughed at my stupidities.
You grew, my lovely one
To challenge all my world and
No longer listen to my endlessness.
And so you left, my worldly one,
Fearless of machete, rape and AIDS
Sowing knowledge, giving life and hope and praise

I needed you, my angel
To keep you safe, secure and loved in
My conventional worldly ways.
I dreamt your life, my golden girl
But they were my presumptions
A father’s selfishness transposed

But you now African, my love
Seduced by her wilderness
And her obsidian mysteries.
You will not return.
So forgive me, my gentle grace,
For thine is Africa and free
Take care and sometimes think of me
I always will be there

For although the seas divide us
And time so quickly flies
We still can meet each other
In the dreamland of our minds;
And you’ll still mine, my little one
To rock so gently in my arms and
Laugh at my stupidities

Bryan D. Cook for Bruce Clements,  Ottawa , January 2013

Context for “For Thine is Africa”
I wrote this poem for a musician, Bruce Clements, whose daughter is in Africa. We share the same sentiments about the upbringing of our children. I hope that he will compose a tune for these lyrics one day.

The Ashes of March

The Ashes of March

The warning signs were there

Weak limbs roped
to no avail
Leaves fell before they died

Final flush of seed
a legacy
Grubs fatten in pin-holed bark

Woodpeckers drum out
emerald borers
Above the chainsaw X

The street has lost
its shade
To firewood ashes

Where will the cardinal sing?

Bryan D. Cook    Ottawa, December 2012

Context  for "The Ashes of March"
This poem is about the devastation to the ash trees of Ottawa caused by the accidental introduction of the Emerald Ash Borer...a beetle native to Asia which lays its grubs through pin holes it bores, to feed below the bark of ash trees. The only remedy is to stem the tide by cutting down the infected trees. The result has been the devastation of whole neighbourhoods where they were originally planted for their shade. The lesson learned too late is that monoculture bites back, although it gives the woodpeckers quite a feast albeit temporary!
The poem is another of my attempts at minimalist imagery. I did not realise until after it was written that it is in the form of a bookended series of haiku!

To be felled

Emerald Ash Borer and "D" pin entry hole

Bark chipped by woodpeckers with grub groves

Downy woodpecker feeding beside the limb rope