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“Flag” on Canada Day

Today is Canada’s 148th birthday. And this year our flag turns 50!

I’m celebrating by reposting my poem “Flag,” written a few years ago.

One of Vancouver’s downtown hotels sported a gigantic Canadian flag during the 2010 Olympics. It helped  foster the Canadian spirit which infected  the streets of Vancouver during those fabulous weeks. (Photo © 2010 by V. Nesdoly)

Flag

National flag of Canada
two by length and one by width, red
containing in its center a white square
the width of the flag
with a single red maple leaf
centered therein”
*
flies majestic since 1965
over town squares
by cenotaphs and schools
from Cape Spear, Newfoundland
to Beaver Creek, Yukon
Alert, Nunavut
to Middle Island, Ontario.

Proudly raised at Olympics
wrapping the grim coffins of soldiers
feted on Canada Day
marched in to the skirl of bagpipes November 11th
this silk-screened symbol
stitches together
our experience and destiny
sea to sea to sea.

When so plentiful at home you no longer see
till it’s reincarnated into jester caps
umbrellas and wind socks
painted on faces, stamped on T-shirts
decaled onto mugs and beaver pens

abroad even one
grabs your homesickness
like the initials of a sweetheart.
Meet someone with your flag stitched on his pack
and you know he’ll understand Tim Horton’s
hockey, Z that rhymes with “bed”
loonies, toonies, Bruce Cockburn, Diana Krall
Cirque du Soliel, CBC, Air Canad, O Canada.
Sorry, but great is it to have found someone
who speaks your own language, eh?

© 2008 by Violet Nesdoly

* Official description of the flag taken from the Public Works and Government Services Canada website.

The Canadian flag had a 40-year gestation. Read the story of its birth HERE.

The first flag was stitched together by Joan O’Malley, daughter of Ken Donovan, who Prime Minister Pearson asked to provide prototypes of the new design for a meeting with the premiers with just a few hours’ notice. The story is HERE.

 

 
 

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Canadian Rivers

Our poetry group is part of the Abbotsford Arts Council meet and mingle event at Mill Lake Park on Saturday afternoon. We’ll even be giving a short poetry reading.

Because Canada Day is just around the corner I was reminded of and have decided to read a couple of Canadian poems that I wrote a few years ago. One that I’ve been practicing is “Canadian Rivers.”

I’ve posted it on the blog before but I’m re-posting it today, along with a recording of it. Maybe it will whet your appetite to discover some of our beautiful Canadian rivers for yourself!

 

Unnamed Alberta river seen from the air

The river in the photo (name unknown) meanders across the Alberta prairie between Lethbridge and Calgary. (Photo © 2007 by V. Nesdoly)

 

Canadian Rivers

Headwaters drip from snowy melt of mountain glaciers
gurgle down glistening rock faces in nameless rivulets.
Fed by rain and sibling trickles they become sinuous streams
adolescent-eager in descent, unafraid to dash against boulders
froth into canyons, course over rock beds till they reach the flat.

Mature and strong they gouge valleys, meander through meadows
nurture forests, bears and eagles, rejuvenate farms and hamlets
flow regal yet restless through villages and cities
under bridges and over tunnels
ever pressing on to an ocean destination.

The watermark of veins, arteries and capillaries on our maps
they carve their initials, scrawl their signatures
all over Canada: Snake, MacKenzie, Coppermine
Exploits, Hillsborough, Saint John, Margaree, Moisie
St. Lawrence, Red, Qu’Appelle, Athabasca, Cowichan…

Named by Indians and explorers for Indians and explorers
they inscribe the plot lines of our history
hide the gold and call the salmon
propel the ferries, carry the logs, barges and ships
pave thoroughfares for tugboats, speedboats, kayaks, canoes.

We settle beside them for their sustenance and beauty
feel betrayed when, with spring-fevered earthlust
their swift-flowing waters bite off chunks of our land.
Then we fear them, dredge them, soil them,
treat them, dyke them, dam them.

I have toe-squished the mud of the South Saskatchewan
pulled Jackfish from the North
been awed by the Hell’s Gate fierceness of the Fraser
spied loons and cormorants gulping fish in the Nicomekl
otters cavorting in the Serpentine

driven miles beside the Thompson
as it winked at me through clearings
admired the canyons carved by the Bulkley
dreamed the legends of the Kispiox
listened from a tent to the night secrets of the Skeena …

Oh for more lifetimes
to make all of them mine.

© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday. It’s hosted this week by Carol at Carol’s Corner.
This poem was first published at Utmost Christian Writers Canadian site where it received honorable mention in 2007 Canadian Landscape Poetry Contest.
 

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Learning to Skate

Poet Maureen Doallas tagged me this morning in a poetry-writing meme. Her poem, “Learning to Jump Rope,” is based on Lisa Hesselgrave’s painting Jump Rope Pink Room.

I took my inspiration for the poem below from these lines in Maureen’s poem: “your wrists will begin to ache / at a quarter to three…” As I recall, a skipping rope isn’t the only thing that gives a kid aching wrists.

girl in skates

Photo courtesty RGBStock.com

Learning to Skate

My natural klutziness stumbled
more than Cinderella kissing her fella,
kept me stuck on twosies in jacks,
botched up numberless rounds of hopscotch
and learning to skate.
Ice’s cool smoothness
my magnet despite no toe picks
to trip up white tube skates.
Flailing arms broke my fall
dozens of times, wrists ached
from first recess and through the day.
Books were much easier
on the body.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 9, 2015 in Personal

 

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Beware Retirement

Glynn Young’s insightful blog post “Poetry At Work: The Poetry of Retirement” reminded me of when I went through some of the same things he and any new retiree faces—wondering who I would be now, what activities would my life consist of, would I find new purpose and direction?

The poem below came out of that experience. I think I wrote it for a friend, though I don’t believe I ever sent it to her. But I’m sharing it here today. My message to all of you at that stage of life… (Click on the player below to hear me read it.)

 

BEWARE RETIREMENT

I had been drooling about retirement
watching the months crawl by as I
X’d off days like a kid
waiting for Christmas or summer
dreamed of sleeping in, lunch at 3:00
watching all the late movies
time-oblivious as on a holiday
only this one perpetual.

It was a honeymoon at first
as I lay around with books all day
ate out or from the fridge
whim and indulgence my companions
even dusting, laundry, dishes
an imposition.

Then came my life’s day after Labor Day
when everyone was rushing off importantly
in new clothes, their backpacks heavy
with long pencils, empty notebooks
hope and the future.
I missed the challenge of learning,
growing, being stretched, being needed,
making a contribution,
doing something significant.
I wanted familiar rhythms back
the uphill of Monday
the plod of Wednesday
the ecstasy of Friday
and feeling so bone-weary I’d earned my nap.

So I applied for a new job.
Got a new boss.
She began to write me lists.
Not only did I need to do today’s work
but catch up on all the work I’d missed.

Now I hate Mondays again,
jump off the bus on Fridays
like a kid released from school.
Trouble is, this time
there’s no relief in sight
no retiring, now that I’m already retired
and my new boss is me.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 2, 2015 in Personal

 

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To runners true

This is the season of runs and marathons. It seems like every week there’s another one happening around here. I believe this weekend several of my family will be running in the Annual Saskatchewan Marathon (a Boston Marathon Qualifier race—not that they have designs on that). Then on August 22nd, my sister is running in the Canadian Team Diabetes 2015 Islandsbanki Reykjavik Marathon in Reykjavik, Iceland.

I am not a runner, but I do salute all runners of marathons, half-marathons, 10 km. races, even those who just run around a neighborhood block. I dedicate today’s poem to family members who are participating in marathons and other runs this year.

Running

Running (Photo from RGBStock.com)

To runners true

You’re all warmed up
your number’s new
with the champing crowd
you wait the cue.
The cap-gun pops
its muffled “boo!”
There’s a starting line
hullabaloo.

The crowd soon thins
and you break through—
a Clydesdale runner
that’s not you.
Head of the pack
is soon in view
that record-holder
you’ll pursue.

Meters are slipping
strong and true
beneath your flighty
running shoe.
At checkpoint grab
energy brew
drink on the move
like champions do.

High as a kite
and happy too
this run’s a breeze
a whoop-de-do
until you stumble
almost fall
a tell-tale sign
you’ve hit the wall.

You can’t stop now
that isn’t you
quitting too soon
simply taboo.
You slow your
unaerobic pace
with run smarts you’ll
complete this race.

That lactic acid
you subdue
a second wind
you feel like new
spring in your step
like a kangaroo
the finish line
is now in view!

Jujitsu, kung-fu
derring-do
though well behind
the race who’s who
you marathoned
and saw it through.
You deserve an Olympic
medal—you do!

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Poetry Friday LogoI’m linking this poem to Poetry Friday—my first Poetry Friday link-up in nine months. I’ve missed you wonderful poets! Poetry Friday is hosted today by Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

 
21 Comments

Posted by on May 28, 2015 in Light, People, Poetry Friday

 

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When life hands you a lemon

Lemon

Lemon (Photo – RGB Stock.com)

When life hands you a lemon

You are not holding a mistake
reject, or serene yellow egg
but a blonde grenade
that explodes puckering sour
all through your mouth
acid that pales
pear, apple and peach
squeeze that brings to attention
potato, souvlaki, calamari.
Its zesty shrapnel trademarks
loaf and pie, square, drop and tart.
The pungent oil its leather hide releases
sweetens even garburator’s rancid breath.

Life, hand me more!
I could use a whole arsenal
of this kind of ade.

 

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This poem had its beginnings on Today’s Little Ditty, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes’ blog where her excellent interviewee children’s poet Nikki Grimes ended her interview by challenging writers with a prompt. From ten possible prompt words, I chose “Lemon.” (Read the interview and prompt HERE.)

 
9 Comments

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Objects

 

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Success!

I did it!!! I wrote one poem a day for the whole month of April. And this time it wasn’t even hard.

I think that’s because I sat myself down at the beginning of the month and gave my lazy, self-indulgent side a lecture:

– No excuses. Don’t even think of whining or feeling sorry for yourself or telling yourself you’re out of creative energy

– This is your work this month. Priority one. Make a spot for it in your daily schedule; list it along with your other “To Do”s. You have to have something written before bed.

– Any idea is game. Use one of the April prompts or an idea of your own. It doesn’t matter.

I have purposely not shared these raw creations here for several reasons. One, most of them need more work. And too, I’m learning that it’s nice to have a stash of poems that haven’t ever seen the light of day just in case something fits with a contest or publication where there’s a “No Previous Publication” rule.

But I want to share one here with you today, just as proof that I’ve actually been working!  Here’s my poem from April 14th.

Inspiration: that day I happened to read L. L. Barkat’s  Tweetspeak Poetry post about creating and using “jealousy stacks” to write poetry.

Inspired by her idea I then pulled an old issue of Garden Wise (now known as B.C. Home and Garden) off my shelf, made a bunch of jealousy stacks (interesting turns of phrase and lovely words that I wish I had thought of) from articles in it, and finally cobbled them together into the found poem “Gardening Gurus” below.

Butchart Gardens - Victoria B.C.

A gardening guru has obviously been in charge of this plot! (Butchart Gardens – Victoria, B.C. – photo © 2015 by V. Nesdoly)

Gardening Gurus

Gardening gurus bypass pruning shears
for exuberant plantings. In a passion for blue
covet classic blue blossoms, lacecaps
spherical corymb flowerheads
felty silver-grey leaves.

Let nature work for you in whorls
nosegays, posies, floriferous crowns of myrtle
sprigs of rosemary, wheat for fertility
leafy bowers lavish and cascading
the vibrancy of summer.

The wound tar, desiccated roses
rangy growth habit, old deadheads
loppers, weed hounds and recipes for infection
are not in our gardening culture.

Our floral colony is a little summer house,
romantic haven where sage shares the bed
with airiness of lady and deer fern
moon-gated arbors, pergolas and pavers.
Rondel echoes colours of honey citrus sorbet.
Last rays of sunshine fill uncontainers
with peace and enchantment.

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

How did your National Poetry Month go?

P.S. Oh yes, today I start as a blogger at our Inscribe Writers blog. My first
post there is “What is poetry?” Do you agree with my conclusion?

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Found

 

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