Tribute: December 26, 2014

Facing the Epicentre

The time has now come when Earth
connects with Saturn’s North Node.

A weak sun in Capricorn opposes
serious Saturn in Cancer.  Contesting
forces work us over.  Day sparks.

Inner and outer hang on a thread.


How can we stabilize the Earth?  When
she quakes, we too tremble in fear and
resentment.  (How dare our mother shake
us off, like a bitch come in from the rain?)

Just when we had our lives organized,
our houses arranged the way we like,
our business minded, our minds at ease.
On vacation.

Just then.  Foundations heave.
No leg to stand on.  Upright is not
an option.

We are still reeling as the wind blows
wild from the south. Land slides.

Numbers mount to many thousands gone.
But it’s the face of one dead child that counts.

Dreams caution us to acquiescence,
acceptance, equilibrium. We respond
with surface calm but the network
of nerve trembles with the earth.

We tremble on uneven ground.

What is happening below the waves?
When the ocean floor has burbled
cartographers must draw new maps.

The North Pole in shifting an inch
makes the Earth rounder.  May we too
round out our differences, smooth
rough edges, roll with the punches.
Cusping the Age of Aquarius, I hope
we can lean toward collective awareness,
collective compassion

Videopoem In tribute to December 26, 2004.  “Facing the Epicentre”, a poem from the dvd, Luminous Entrance: a sound opera.

Text by Penn. Reading with Anne Anglin and musicians Brenda McMorrow and Rob Menegoni at Aeolian Hall, London ON.
Videography: Dennis Siren



Poem for Solstice Night

All Things Considered

On the shelf inside the storm, an empty
pitcher of light awaits sage and summer
savory.  All puns are planted to present

these things as if saying were enough
to conjure the perfect illusion illuminated.

Now.  At the turning of the year after
nadir of deepest darkness, the small
Moon of Long Night turns to beam
over the orchard above the frozen lake.

The sun stands Solstice still, holding
its breath, biding its time until released
to start once more in utter clarity of cold.

In that perilous moment before cycles
start up again, we all can fall through
cracks.  Interstices of ice drag us down.

We grope from dusk to dark to light.
We slip between stars, drawn out
beyond what we know, considering,
considere, to be with the luminary.

Night rustles outside our window, murmurs
and squeaks.  Whimpers follow outraged
raccoon yowl.  Orange and black streak

across the dark pane I can’t see through
conjuring night creatures’ obscured world,

Scent leads a trail to territorial war, deep
enmities nurtured throughout the long wee

hours before dawn lifts that velvet cloth to
reveal grey, seeping shade back to clarity.

Penn Kemp


The last lines of this poem were first published in “from Dream Sequins” with drawings by the brilliant Steven McCabe. See his gorgeous

The Song of Malala

To celebrate UN International Human Rights Day, December 10, I offer this poem, “The Song of Malala” for Malala Yousafzai and all she stands for.


The Song of Malala

Malala, your name sounds like a song
but it means grief-stricken in Pashto,
language of poets. She is named

after a poet, a warrior woman and
she has so lived up to her name.
Malala, Malala. I hear the ululation
of lament and of celebration for her.

Can you hear what she’s still crying?
Her father cries when Malala falls that
all Pakistan stood up. Now she too can
stand, what will Pakistan do? March on…

“Every girl in Swat is Malala. We will
educate ourselves. We will win. They
can’t defeat us,” states her classmate.

The courage it takes to cross borders
defined by others. Courage to uphold
freedom to read, learn, speak to be
the fully human that is our birthright.

Grief is no time for emotion. Let sky open
and open to more sky. Light, we call for
light to dispel the darkest oppression. Her
name on a million lips in many tongues.

Now it’s our turn to take up the call,
education for every child for which
women and girls still rally across
India, Pakistan and Afghanistan lands.

Malala, Malala, Malala. Hear the ululation
and the elation world-wide after she wins
the Nobel Peace Prize and still speaks out
for girls though there’s always more to do.

Malala, Malala. Let us hear the ululation
and respond. The women are calling  out.

Penn Kemp

“The Song of Malala” was published in The London Free Press on Thursday, December 10 and online,

Thanks to the Free Press for their support of poetry, education and human rights!

“Thank you Penn. That poem is a blessing.”  Shelagh Rogers

An earlier version of this poem was published in the anthology Malala See



poems on climate change

Three of my poems on climate change have been published in the esteemed feminist journal, Canadian Woman Studies: Women and Water, Inanna Publications,, December, 2015.

Here are “Grazing the Face of Climate Change”, “Gender Bias Even Among the Elements” and “Middle March and Beyond”:

Gender Bias Even Among the Elements

The hurricane was first named for the saint’s
day on which it surfaced, stark mnemonic.

Then World War 2 meteorologists plotted
Pacific storms by women’s names. Ever

since 1980, hurricanes are called equally
after men and women. And so we learn—
“Much gender bias is more automatic,
ambiguous and ambivalent than people

typically assume.” The more masculine
the name, the more respect for a hurricane.
Sound familiar? Bring on mysteries inherent
in the mélange between culture and element.

Our system of belief has no limit but it does
have confused and complicated consequence.

“Researchers find that female-named hurricanes
kill about twice as many people as similar male-

named hurricanes because some people under-
estimate them. Americans expect male hurricanes

to be violent and deadly, but they mistake female
hurricanes as dainty or wimpish and don’t take

adequate precautions.” Such silly assumptions
neglecting the power of words end in salt tears.
Beware an errant hurricane named for women:
the female ever more dangerous than the male.


Middle March and Beyond

Last day of winter and snow recedes slowly
as creatures emerge tentatively to feed. We
are all immersed, immured, enveloped in
this strange in-between time, ice melting
to air. Transition ritual: old kings must die.

So we are told. Be gone, cold. Welcome,
fluctuating circumstance. Holding our breath,
hanging as elements change their nature, we
women wait patiently, impatiently, accepting,
rejecting conditions that no longer serve us.

Hoping against hope, whatever that means
for a future few sure will be any longer
golden or even green, given climate change,
given stupidity on all levels of governance,
internal, external. We await the chance to

vote, elections upcoming, change essential
but arbitrary. We fear the tricks of power
determined to stay in place, in control no
matter how wild the swirl of oceans gone
beyond all known bounds predicated on

past possibility or predicted by those whose
voices are silenced by the powers that be:
that be sly, short-sighted, power-mad and
roiling to keep a lid on that boiling crock—
those melting glaciers, the rising sea.


Grazing the Face of Climate Change

The cedar the bohemian
wax wings twitter among
bare boughs on their way

Envy emulates flight,
lights desire, douses
doubt in fiercer certainty.

Icarus stretches his fine
new wings, disarmed by
possibilities plus.

“Beware the wax, my son. It
cannot last in the face of
strong Sun shine.”

No fear. Bright day beckons.

“I’m on my way and who will
gainsay the path to glory, glory!”

Damn the consequence, o’erweening
teen. Between
between the elements.

High performance art starts
here. Raising mighty arms
he flaps. He flies.

Close, warming his face.
Oh, the glow! Pride
bursts, sun bursts,
sun grazing.

Rising solar flare—
sudden glare incipient—

may might may not

Bright implausible wings dim
before a brighter sun, too close.

Closer. Losing
altitude, attitude


Farther from father info free

(Hubris, they will say
in that all-knowing future.)

The fall, falling. Spring

A flutter of feathers
catching the light
light on the surface.

Follow their fine drift
on the wind, winding

through sub-lunar
splendour onto
sea sparkle.

Living sphere,
Facing fear too late
on a sea of metrics.

Facing ob-
livion. (Immortal
eyes can not cut it).

Dead last. Death lasts
forever. Ever

Reflect, refract, reflect
again and loss a gain.

Free to fail only
once and then no

No longer boy but

Penn Kemp


Khezr, the Hidden Prophet, and My Two Minds

Salaam Aleikum! Wondrous piece by Harold Rhenish… I know Khezr as Khidr, the Hidden One, who is also The Green One… can’t quite call him a ‘man’. See Love the connection. Collectively, poets seem to be bridging a gap of the abyss over that which has not been articulated. Bravo to Harold… and Frontenac House.

Harold Rhenisch

Welcome to my new book, and it’s amazing, unexpected story. The book is Two Minds, a collection of ghazals, an ancient Persian poetic form steeped in mystic sufic tradition and pop song. There’s a story about the ghazal form, which is beautiful to tell, but first, surprise. I feel carried in the palm of God’s mind. I know, not a literary thing to say, but let me tell the story, and then you can decide. To get started, here’s the cover:


That, I told my publisher, is the Green Man of the Schönfeld Dream Palace, a kind of pre-modern theme park north of Dresden, in Saxony. I was there in 2010, and took this snap. The Green is ancient, a human figure with leaves growing from his tongue, sometimes, and from his hair, eyebrows, moustache and beard, always. The original human, in the Middle European forests, an ancient god that the…

View original post 1,011 more words