Poetry Collaboration: Richard M. Grove and John B. Lee

Two Thousand Seventeen 
(Sesquicentennial Poems)

Richard M. Grove and John B. Lee

Sanbun Publishers, New Delhi, India



Three poems from the chapter: Of Place and Time

By Richard M. Grove

 

March 26th,  2016

for John B. Lee

 

Dear John:

A few days ago we experienced a winter storm.

Everything was covered with an inch of ice.

Shining branches bowed in submission,

my car a glistening sculpture.

Against my better judgment

I went out for a walk on that day and slipped

and fell hard. Picture this Blue Bear,

as Adonay calls me, flying in the air

winter boots three feet off the ground

landing square on my back followed by

my coconut head cracking the ice.

I rolled to my side gasping. Ten seconds,

fifteen, twenty seconds passed

before I could haul a breath of life

back into my collapsed lungs.

In those twenty seconds I thought I was going to perish

without saying good bye to you. My lungs

billowed back to life as I lay on the frozen road.

Kim paralyzed, helpless, praying.

 

When you are trying to stand back up,

after a sack-of-potatoes fall like this,

in the middle of a frozen road

there is nothing to grasp but God’s great wing.

I shimmied, danced and skated myself erect

back to my six feet, two inch view of the world.

That is a long way for a bulk like me to land

without a runway or parachute.

 

In contrast, today, only one day later

I am out working in the garden.

I just came in from doing some winter clean up

in the front flower bed – raking and pulling

dead plants from the sun-bathed earth,

ice still lingering in the shade,

beneath the bushes, on the north side of the house. 

It is a sunny gorgeous fourteen degrees Celsius,

iceless road, cloudless sky – tonight promises

to be the beginning of spring.

I’m working in short sleeves,      

wiping sweat from my brow as I dug.

How wonderful it is to be digging.

How wonderful to be able to dig.

 

 

 

Aching to be on the Water

    March 22

 

With morning blur I look past

burgundy blooms of my re-flowering orchid

to motionless grey branches.

Red-winged blackbirds and Grackles arrived last week.

As if in a panic, dogs barking at my heels, fire lapping,

I rummage for my life jacket.  With a shrill

I blow the cobwebs from my emergency whistle,

grab my toque and gloves and headed to wake

my kayak from a five-month slumber.

 

Scratching over winter’s dulled gravel shore,

I slip her belly into freezing lake,

skimming to freedom.

Fluffy flakes free-fall through

sullen sky, freckling

mirrored cove, melting

on bobbing green prow. 

 

It is well past middle March

but still there are crystals of ice

on south shore hidden

in deep shadow, death clinging

to last year’s rushes.

 

I paddle first into calm

testing my steel. 

With confidence gained I head north

past the tip of Salt Point into waves

of east wind pushing quickening foam

over bow. I zip my collar

tight, snug the straps of my life jacket,

tilting my strokes towards lighthouse.

 

Gloved fingertips now wet and freezing,

lap splashed, bobbing wildly

in troughs of black.

I swing east around Boulder Island,

glide west surfing, south back

into the leeside calm of cove.

As I drag my kayak from lapping shore

placed back into its bed of crunching leaves

my spirit sings.

 

 

 

High Bluff Island September 11, 2010

     on the 9th anniversary of 9/11/01

 

the island is eerily quiet now

still

golden rods bowing gently

to fluff-headed thistles

sending their seeds, parachuting

next year’s generation perpetuated

 

the seething cacophony

of writhing life has turned

to a battlefield of skeletal remains

dead gulls, cormorants, terns,

twisted sun-bleached rags,

progenitors legacy, now hollow

shells, tomorrow’s dust

the foundation of life.

***

 

 

Three poems from the chapter: Beyond the Last Sandbar

By John B. Lee

 

Living at the Monk Motel


I wake in the morning

to the crimson hallelujah

of divine sunrise

burning off the last vestiges

of vaporous darkness

with the slow coming on

of consciousness after dreaming

only the visible spire

and the white stone architecture

of the Abbey’s clarified geometrics

breaking through the pines

with its bells calling out for the earth’s

deep attention

gonging through the groomed hills of Gethsemani

over the grave thoughts of the dead

in the yard as ghostly companions

to the meditative garden

only these human interruptions

corrupting the wild

insignificant and always worshipful

chorus of cold-light cicadas

sawing their wings into wilderness choirs, this

and the irrepressible urgency of birdsong

celebrates daylight and silence

and that we are humans then

comes true in the body

as bones, locked

in otherwise golden inches

where pleasure

pours dark honey of heart blush

to the pulse points of temple and wrist, my words

like cut grass falling

at the meaningful edge of the meadow

with its redolent fragrance of clover’s

interweaving perfume

unseen in tall timothy

grown wishful of seeding

 

 

 

Mike Wilson’s Chestnut

 

Mike Wilson

speaks of a chestnut tree

occupying the property line

where he lives

near the vanishing shores of the lake

and he says

he has overheard intentions to cut it down

though it is redolent with lovely

wind-scrap fragrant white blossoms

littering the green life of early summer

by autumn grown prickly with pericarps falling in spiked

spheres

it seems where the shade lies soothing the earth

there’s a swath of sweet sorrow

cooling the sand on the lawn light deep

Mike swears the tree is moving

his way its shadowline sidling closer

like a widow slow dancing for grief

 

 

 

Blue Sorrow

“Oh damn I wish I were

dead - absolutely nonexistent –

gone away from here – from

everywhere …”

– Marilyn Monroe “Brooklyn Bridge”

 

Marilyn Monroe

and my mother

were born the same year

and my mother

born in the little house

on the hardscrabble farm near Mull Crossing

was also a great beauty

my mother

in the apple orchard

wearing a ragged straw hat

her hair

still long to her shoulders

captured in a late- summer photograph

before she met my father

when the ladders

were still in the barn

and the baskets were light

in the shed

with autumn to promise us cider

and winters to hold hard on the ground

heaving field stones through frost in the spring

and yes

she would marry

have children

and live through her life

until now

confined in a chair

her memory gone

as she fades in blue sorrow

like the light that we lose to the sun

***

 

Richard Marvin Grove, otherwise known by his nickname, Tai, was born into an artist family in Hamilton, Ontario, on October 7, 1953.    His photography and digital paintings have been on the cover of more books and periodicals than any other Canadian artist.  His book of digital paintings and poetry entitled "Sky Over Presqu'ile", was published in 2003, "Substantiality" a book of digital paintings was published in 2006 with a book of photography entitled "Oxido Rojo" released in the fall of 2006 followed by a book of Photography entitled “terra firma”.

Richard shared the titles “North of Belleville”, poetry by James Deahl, photography by Richard M. Grove and “In This We Hear The Light”, poetry by John B. Lee, photography by Richard M. Grove. “Beyond the Seventh Morning” includes 16 black and white photographs as the solo photographer of the book.

Along with his visual art Grove has been writing poetry, fiction and memoirs, seriously for decades and has had over 100 of his poems published in periodicals and has been published in over 30 anthologies from around the world. Including his poetry and photography he has 20 titles to his name. To mention only two of his poetry titles, his book entitled "Beyond Fear and Anger" was released in 1997 and his book "Poems For Jack" was released in 2002. His collections of short stories include “Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life” was published in 2008.

“The Importance of Good Roots” was published in 2013 – both of these books include selected poems. Richard is the author of two novellas; “The Family Reunion” was published in 2010 with “Living in the Shadow”, a realist fictional-autobiography, was published in 2016. Grove is the author of 5 travel memoirs “A View of Contrasts: Cuba Poems” was published in 2000; “A Trip to Banes, Cuba 2002  was published in 2008; “From Cross Hill was published in 2008, “Trapped in Paradise: Views of My Cuba” was published in 2011; with “Destination Cuba” published in 2014.

He is an editor and publisher and runs a growing publishing company Wet Ink Books from which he publishes books of every genre for authors around the world. Aside from being a published poet, Grove has also exhibited his poetry in acrylic on paper paintings as well as in audio sculptures. For his poetry and prose, Richard has won a few prizes and honourable mentions as well as a finalist spot in two contest anthologies.  For his short stories he has won a top ten prize.

Richard now lives with his wife, Kimberley Elizabeth (Sherman) Grove, also a writer, editor, in Presqu'ile Provincial Park, Brighton, Ontario, situated halfway between Toronto and Kingston, south of the 401 hwy on Lake Ontario. Their location is a constant inspiration for their work. They have two B&B rooms in their house that they rent to birders, writers and artists.

***

John B. Lee was inducted as Poet Laureate of Brantford in perpetuity in 2005. The same year he received the distinction of being named Honourary Life Member of The Canadian Poetry Association and The Ontario Poetry Society. In 2007 he was made a member of the Chancellor’s Circle of the President’s Club of McMaster University and named first recipient of the Souwesto Award for his contribution to literature in his home region of southwestern Ontario and he was named winner of the inaugural Black Moss Press Souwesto Award for his contribution to the ethos of writing in Southwestern Ontario.  In 2011 he was appointed Poet Laureate of Norfolk County (2011-14) and 2020 he was appointed the Poet Laureate of the CCLA Canada Cuba Literary Alliance. In 2015 Honourary Poet Laureate of Norfolk County for life and in 2017 he received a Canada 150 Medal from the Federal Government of Canada for “his outstanding contri-bution to literary development both at home and abroad.” A recipient of over eighty prestigious international awards for his writing he is winner of the $10,000 CBC Literary Award for Poetry, the only two time recipient of the People’s Poetry Award, and 2006 winner of the inaugural Souwesto Orison Writing Award (University of Windsor).  In 2007 he was named winner of the Winston Collins Award for Best Canadian Poem, an award he won again in 2012.  He has well-over seventy books published to date and is the editor of seven anthologies including two best-selling works: That Sign of Perfection: poems and stories on the game of hockey; and Smaller Than God: words of spiritual longing.  He co-edited a special issue of Windsor Review—Alice Munro: A Souwesto Celebration published in the fall of 2014.  His work has appeared inter-nationally in over 500 publications, and has been translated into French, Spanish, Korean and Chinese.

He has read his work in nations all over the world including South Africa, France, Korea, Cuba, Canada and the United States.  He has received letters of praise from Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Australian Poet, Les Murray, and Senator Romeo Dallaire. Called “the greatest living poet in English,” by poet George Whipple, he lives in Port Dover, Ontario where he works as a full time author.


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