Yours, for Hallowe’en

Le Revenant

Appropriately, this piece was published on the Full Moon of October 5, 2017. Editor Aurora Stewart de Pena.

http://towncrier.puritan-magazine.com/ephemera/revenant

And I’m posting Le Revenant here on Friday, the 13th of October:)

Jake bike Island 2017 SUN

Le Revenant

“During a Lunar Eclipse conscious concerns overcome unconscious drives and the 3-D overrides the Dream Time. Of course, it’s not really possible to stifle, squelch, hold back, deny, or suppress the unconscious for very long without experiencing a psychosis of some kind.”

October 28th, late. Tonight there is a total eclipse of the moon. It is not at first visible. But as the night progresses, overcast clouds scatter, scudding across the mackerel sky, blown by a strong westerly. In a long cotton nightdress, I lie back for the spectacle on a long white deckchair. The full moon is revealed momentarily just at the height of the eclipse. A silver rim, a palimpsest of its usual silver dish. At first I think it is covered by cloud, but the earth shadow remains on the moon face like a bruise that won’t go away. Earth hides reflected light. I too am without reflection down below. No mirror but immersed, watching my own silvered, slivered shadow cast on the lawn chair. The eyes play tricks.

The full moon seemed to be oblique. The colours astonish: red swirls on the bottom and complementary green on top, curving round. Rose-red flashes along the rim of the moon. Brightness edges away the shadow, gently persistently pushing it back to the right. The clouds disperse; a planet appears in the sky just above the moon. We are edging toward Halloween and I drift into preparatory dream…

My academic cousins have invited us over for a seminar on ghosts. We crowd into the cramped living room of a cabin. They tell me in hushed tones that their mother has just died. I hadn’t known my aunt was ill but she’s a great age. Is that her, stretched out the draped kitchen table they’ve fixed up as her bier? Her face is hidden by the grey cobweb of shroud but I recognize the sharp outline of her nose. I choose a seat on the sofa where I can observe the corpse opposite. Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier grin at me from couches across the room. They are both making notes on poetics for the occasion. At the podium, the professors take turns in an animated, pedantic discussion that focuses more on city waterfront than on the ghosts that were supposed to be their subject.

Scanning the cabin, I spot only one ghost on site, and he’s a desiccated old mummy hanging in a wall cabinet like a worn, discarded suit. There’s no time for any other speeches but the ongoing drone of professors when the service is abruptly over. Even now, as we walk past the zoo to our cars, my relations are still vying for our attention, boasting with civic pride about the proposed new developments in their city. Lorna waves goodbye as we head off in different directions to our respective towns.

In the dream, I’m disappointed because I’d come prepared to talk about my encounter with ghosts. After reading Bram Stoker when ill at fourteen with a high fever, I’d hallucinated. For three days running, at 4 pm, when my temperature was highest, a black cloud would roll out from the electrical outlet outside my bedroom. The cloud would rise and condense into a tall figure in evening dress, riding on a wave of blood that threatened to engulf me. Impervious to the scarlet roll of the breaker, Dracula rode toward me, intent, his imperious eyebrows furrowed. No gentleman, he. But before he got to me, I’d fainted.

By morning, the October yard is golden with teardrop birch leaves and the heart-shaped redbud. The unknown yellow flowers, something between a sunflower and a bolted lettuce flower, continue to bud and blossom. The bees are encouraged, returning for more and more, but slowing under the weight of pollen and the cold. Goldfinches sway on the forlorn and desiccated stalks, seeking the last black seeds from sunflower heads. Late goldenrod rise determined to flower in this unprecedented warmth. Even the surprised forsythia blossoms along the new branches, fooled by the slight frost a few weeks back into thinking this is spring. As does the careless primrose, with its circlet of magenta around a golden centre. And the last daisy, day’s eye. Give me your answer, do.

We have shifted along the spectrum toward light, despite the darkening days. September was the entire spread of red, with its roses, fuchsia, chenille plant and morning glories. A generosity of geraniums. Tomatoes and peppers began to blush. Firm tomatillos burst their lantern skin alongside a passion mix of osteospermum. And early Christmas cactus bursts against the deep splendid coleus, the extravagance of hibiscus. Now is the yellow season. Mists and mellow fruitfulness, vibrant against the persistent green.

*

My first-born was conceived at midnight on another Halloween, after a party in1969. The first month I was off the pill. As sperm trickled into my womb, I lay in the darkness and in that haze of sleepy satiety saw. A cloud descended, a cloud of children’s voices, milling, excited, clambering. A cumulus of little faces, inchoate, coming into form, coming into perspective, children appearing suddenly after a great treat. One little being was the most persistent, determined to present himself first. The others dropped back, lost their form, slipped, returned to cloud. Triumphantly, the winner declared himself, named himself, chose me as his home. Flushed with victory, his cherubic cheeks reddening. I saw this boy again, two years later, incarnated as my son. He realized himself as a toddler just as he had appeared at his conception, as form took hold.

This tadpole swam in me, nothing but a black dot. The tadpole flourished, developed limbs. A small toad explored my innards as its own private pond. I watched from up in my head, fascinated and somewhat horrified at this invasion. The toad stopped wandering, settled into my womb, curved into a ball and concentrated on growing. Would I never know privacy again? During the day, I taught rock music lyrics to bemused Tech kids who until then had no interest in English. Night was given over to swelling. Growth comes at night, and I grew; the foetus grew. Swelling with pride, I became belly. Belly became me. Two heartbeats in me now. And then, as we watched Woodstock, the kick. Not just a kick, a drumbeat rocking to the percussion of Country Joe and the Fish.

Because of the size of the foetus, the doctor proclaimed it would be due the first of July. I waited throughout the summer, our first in the suburbs. Steam lifting off the balcony railing. Our first summer off the ground, in a high rise. In those innocent days, a high-rise was an eyrie, the height of sophistication. We settled into domesticity. I wore a loose Moroccan djellaba and wallowed like a whale. My belly continued to expand in the heat like an over-ripe tomato. Thirty pounds of belly, and my arms and legs still skinny. We painted the spare bedroom for the baby. We painted my academic cousin’s wicker basinet. We entertained bachelor friends, who stayed too long,

I was twenty-five. I thought I was ready. Married, educated, well-travelled. Ready for the next stage. And the urge was in me. My husband accommodated. Neither of us had any conception of parenthood. There were few books on the topic in 1970, aside from my mother’s Dr. Spock. None of our friends had children. But we nested. My belly pulled my intellect into its own wisdom, its will more focussed than mine, which seemed to have melted in the heat. I waited placidly. Hormones suffused my mind. I dreamed of toadlets, amphibian babies swimming through my veins, through ‘hysteria’, the original wandering womb. Wondering when, wondering if and how.

In hospital, I rode out the contracting waves for thirty-six hours. When the contractions were so close they were one crest and trough, ongoing, I left my body to float out the top of my perspiring head. Hovering on the ceiling, I watched with mild compassion the woman below writhe in a white hospital gown, her sheet twisted. Not waving but drowning. It was a long weekend and my doctor was away playing golf. When he returned, I was induced. My son was reluctantly induced into the world.

I recognize him, this revenant. A summer baby, born in Leo, ‘way past due, but once out, bursting to engage us with outstretched arms. Plump and bursting, baby Joy, baby Life, firstborn. My Syrian friend Hassan tells me that if I were Moslem, I would now be called by my son’s name. My honorific would be my role: Mother of the First-born. Out of respect, because I have delivered the son, the centre of the world. Holding this child, I believe it.

He drains my milk, sucks so eagerly that my nipples are raw and bleeding. Blood and milk trickle down from the corner of his mouth, separately, red and white. He sleeps in the cradle of my arms, satiated. The world is his womb these August days so hot neither of us can tell inside from out. We are outside in. I have known him beyond time. And I watch with the decades as he unfolds.

Penn Kemp

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“’Sunlit Might Seem Forever”

Tuck Magazine, http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/09/27/poetry-1023/

Last week’s poem published today: how relevant is that!
I’m grateful to @Tuck Magazine for keeping poetry current!  Here it is:

64e1cabd6e643366bb13cdaa59a7fee7_970x[1]“’Sunlit Might Seem Forever”

Earth (quake)

Air (borne)

Water (high)

Fire (wild)

All at Once

Commiserate

Compassion

Condolence

Console

Days of Awe and Hurricane

and the Season’s just begun.

*

The autumn equinox falls this year mid-
afternoon in golden light, light suspended

over the bowl of time, suspended as mind
opens to a possibility of expanse, of hope

thought stupid— hope beyond thought, held
in the frame of wider events set spinning.

A momentary equilibrium held like breath
in the balance. A turning point we hold as

we careen toward winter, a turning point to
recall while Trump and cohorts bluster on.

Stillness does not last beyond a moment.
The radio calls for a Humidex over Forty.

Our family of goldfinch flock to goldenrod,
twittering, tweeting, chittering at their feast.

Prince Harry breezes through Toronto traffic,
to celebrate Invictus, all winners out of hiding.

Canada’s “a work in progress,” claims the PM.
Words do not replace realities. Mind the gap.

Mistaken identity and charges dropped but now
a bewildered refugee requires protective custody.

What we know we cannot say. What we don’t
know fills the airwaves, as news ongoing, old.

September 22, 2017

Penn Kemp

 

http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/09/22/scuffed-efaced-erased

No automatic alt text available.

Photos of the poem by {poetry in Cobourg spaces} .

An Exercise in Erasure

Scuffed! Effaced!

a Poem without Posterity, a Poem in Pics

Cuz Fuzz As lovely (and acceptable) and welcome as Penn Kemp‘s words are … someone found them unpalatable (for some unknown and impossible to discern reason). Sometime between Noon and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 17, 2017, someone had defaced the lines.

They scuffed many of the words away, plus they employed the little bit of water from a small bowl left out front of Meet at 66 King East for dogs to drink as they pass-by. That was used to wash away certain words — no one could make rhyme nor reason about why they picked certain words instead of others; in addition, they wrote and drew there what were taken to be words and symbols of a religious zealot. Was this the work of an actual religious zealot’s mind, or, was someone was pulling some sort of “performance art” put-on against against the purple rectangle … hoping we would give them a reaction, etc. … as if “trolls” emerged from online existence into the real life of King Street, Cobourg?

It is impossible to think of anything about the lines from Penn Kemp that would produce this response.

People can be odd.

The rectangle was washed clean. The first things removed by sweeping and with water were the add-ons of zealot-nature. It was only then that the thought occurred, “Oh, we should get photos of how it was defaced before washing it all away.” So, the slogans and drawings do not show in these photos. (That is probably just as well. Why broadcast the zealotry?) One of the photos shows outlined in red the spots where the drawings and religious sayings were shown.

Image may contain: outdoor

Image may contain: outdoor
Jf Pickersgill

Jf Pickersgill Thank you, Penn Kemp. Thank you to Wally Keeler for taking (and sharing) the photos.

The defacing is bizarre. I believe it has little to do with Penn (zero to do with her, actually) or anything in her words. There have been other recent instances on two or three occasions, where someone has spit on a word and then scuffed it with the sole of their shoe, and, where someone spilled the full contents of a slushie (purple and red in colour — grape & strawberry flavour, perhaps) all over Stanza Room Only when there were no words there at all. This purple rectangle of sidewalk may have become the focus of someone’s mental obsession (for whatever reason) … through no fault of Stanza Room Only’s own.

I saw the expressions of zealotry in the couple of hours that they showed before they were erased.

One was a drawing of a church with a Cross on the steeple.

Another proclaimed that “The end is near!”

Another was a hard-to-figure drawing that might have been a poorly drawn attempt at the ichthys (“Jesus fish”) — which ended up looking more like a shark circling around on itself to bite its own tail (now that I write that description, I think, “Hmmm. Maybe the best ichthys ever”).

There was something else there, too, that I cannot remember right now.

It was weird, not eerie in the context of every day life but strange in the context of some beautiful words of poetry presented for the public to read. Not an overly provocative act, even in comparison to some of the words people have chalked in Stanza Room Only during the past 3 years.

Because I am fascinated by the workings of human minds, I thought some clues might arise from examining which individual words were the target of the attempt to not-only-scuff the chalk but also to wash letters away with the tiny amount of water available in the bowl-for-passing-dogs.

“fare” “unjaded” “beans” “Three” and “thrive.” If there are clues there, I cannot uncover the meaning of the clues. It might be that there was no focus on specific words but a late dawning about the fact that the water was not going to go as far as was thought.

Penn Kemp
Penn Kemp Anti-feminist?Anti- Indigenous? (“The Three Sisters thrive”). Or random…Odd they left my name unscathed. I’m grateful for the documentation, visual and verbal! And for the opportunity to be inscribed on your sidewalk, momentarily:)!
Jf Pickersgill

Jf Pickersgill Well, your words were there for more than 24 hours. That is good, actually. Sometimes weather conspires to rinse away words earlier than that with rain or to erode the chalk with wind and non-deliberate scuffing from the shoes of passers-by can be the cause of early erasure, too.

Someone else with whom I had this discussion immediately came up with similar thoughts, Penn … “Is it because the words are pro-woman? Is it the call-out to First Nations traditions?”

Nina Grigg

Nina Grigg Well at least Facebook allows evidence of the original work to be preserved. The emotional impact of the words combined with the setting may be what led to its defacement. I wonder if the offender had any clue about the meaning of the poetry? It’s feels like a violent act, makes me feel a little nauseous. I think it is directed towards both the feminine and the indigenous (which are impossible to separate, I think.)

Jf Pickersgill
Jf Pickersgill Yes. That is an important point. It did cause distress to see this deliberate defacing activity. It did come across as deliberate aggression. Penn‘s words appearing in Stanza Room Only had strong impact, no doubt about that. It is difficult to conceptualize anyone taking these lines as having negative impact, though. Clearly that view might be naive.

Image may contain: outdoor

Sitting Pretty: 9/11/2017

I love how Tuck Magazine publishes topical new political and occasional poems!
News that stays news. Now I can share this piece with you.

AFP photo

September 11, 2017

By

Penn Kemp

So Far Sitting Pretty

 

While Hurricane Harvey harasses Houston

While Earthquake 8.1 devastates Oaxaca

 

While Irma’s Eye widens over Florida Keys

and Trump remarks, “Just get out of its way”

 

While wildfires torch pine forests whole and

crossing continental divide, evacuate towns

 

While Trump’s toddler tantrums go nuclear

to defy Kim Jong-un’s asinine missile taunt

 

While race hatred rages in white supremacists

and America turns her tough back on Dreamers

 

While refugees capsize in unforgiving, fraught seas

While Britain’s Brexit divides ancient allegiances

 

While Buddhists slaughter Muslims in Myanmar

While women are executed in dishonorable killings

 

While nightmares confront war game apocalypse

and brinksmanship totters on the edge of Equinox…

*

Then tomatoes gleam scarlet in the green of harvest

and hummingbirds linger in sun before migrating

 

Caterpillar chrysalis becomes bright new Monarch,

folding and unfolding stiff wet wings for first flight

 

While September long shadows our yard in semi-annual

balance between light and dark. What can we maintain?

 

We have read about that perfect summer of 1914

before the dam burst in bloody floods of war

 

We recall an azure morning behind twin towers,

scorching flame brilliant on vertical pure white

 

We do not know recompense. We prepare equanimity

In a world out of control we are not without hope

 

Hope is left for last after all evils flee Pandora’s box

In calm arising before catastrophe, we sit and wait

 

Sitting ducks, perhaps, yet ducks with luck, imminent

ingenuity, feathers still unruffled by storm impending

 

Fare Trade

Sustenance cover 2017

Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food. Rachel Rose, editor. Anvil Press Publishers, October, 2017. https://alllitup.ca/books/S/Sustenance#overview,

The anthology is launching October 22 in Vancouver! Wish I could be there but my poem will have to sustain:) http://writersfest.bc.ca/festival-events/sustenance-a-feast-of-voices/

Sustenance anthology 2017

Here’s my contribution to the feast:

“Fare Trade”

I would eat local food only were it not for temptation.
A green invitation of open avocado in emerald halves.
An alluring variety of mango hot to eye, cool to tongue.

The seduction of dark chocolate.
The slurped fulfilment in oyster.
The simple necessity of rice.

Otherwise, I would be content with my yard’s fall produce.
But having tasted the world’s fare, how to return unjaded
to simple pleasures that this ground offers?  Beans.

Corn.  Squash.  Corn.  Beans.  The three sisters thrive.

Yes, I will eat local food mostly.  Except for.   Except for…
Accept.  Chocolate.  No chicory compares to caf頡u lait.
Ole!  Import coffee; import tea!  Import taunt.

On to political rant: our food too cheap, our farmers ruined.

Our eyes closed, we rest easy, spoiled ripe fruit in the docks,
turning sleepy to sun-rotten.  Given so much, we reach for more

even when over full.  And poems break off as the lunch bell rings.

Penn Kemp
from Luminous Entrance: a sound opera for climate change action

“Fare Trade” is published in Barbaric Cultural Practice, Quattro Books.
http://quattrobooks.ca/books/barbaric-cultural-practice/

428744_10151426851871939_1663732949_n

Elegy for John Ashberry

For the Rowan Bard

 

Words in proximity to one another

take on another meaning…What you

hear at a given moment is a refraction

of what’s gone before or after.

 

Glorious clumps of crimson berries,

brilliant in long September light.

Sorbus domestica, mountain ash from

the prolific rose family.

 

Rowan is the tree of power, causing

life and magic to flower. Not to be

forgotten, set aside, or ignored.”

 

The Celtic Tree calendar’s second

month. His jewel a garnet and flower

cottage pink dianthus or carnation.

 

Quicken Tree, the high-strung race

horse called after a folk name for Rowan.

Along with Delight of the Eye, Quickbane,

 

Ran Tree, Sorb Apple, Thor’s Helper,

Whitty, Wicken-Tree, Wiggin, Wiggy,

Wiky, Wild Ash, Witchbane, Witchwood.

 

Ogham alphabet’s second consonant, Luis.

His planet Mercury, his element Fire,

clearing the mind to open inspiration.

 

John Ashbery, dead at ninety:

July 28, 1927— September 3, 2017.

Language the legacy he left.

 

Reading is a pleasure, but to finish reading,

to come to that blank space at the end,

is also a pleasure.

 

May his death have been such an ease

 

The poem is sad because it wants to be yours, and

cannot be.

 

By

Penn Kemp

 

Lines in italic by John Ashbery.

cf: http://www.thegoddesstree.com/trees/Rowan.htm

Published on http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/09/05/poetry-991/.

More of my poems are up on http://tuckmagazine.com/tag/penn-kemp/.

I’m so impressed at how quickly & professionally publishes topical poems! Thank you

 

Penn Kemp

Penn Kemp is an activist Canadian poet, playwright and editor.  Her latest works are two plays celebrating local hero and explorer, Teresa Harris, produced in 2017 and published by Playwrights Guild of Canada. Recent books include Barbaric Cultural Practice (quattrobooks.ca/books/barbaric-cultural-practice/) and two anthologies edited, Women and Multimedia and Performing Women (http://poets.ca/feministcaucus/livingarchives/). See www.pennkemp.weebly.com.

 

Poem for the partial eclipse of the sun

At the partial eclipse of the sun

for Ula

We looked down, put on the eclipse glasses and gazed

up at the fiery crescent behind an almost round of moon.

The air imperceptively less bright but imperturbable.

 

By interlacing both hands, you could see five crescents

between your fingers as well as in the shadows of trees.

I showed a woman in a burka the crescents: her symbol.

 

What dragon has nipped a mouthful of sun? What king

must fall? If only, Trump, if only, when shadows differ.

Penn Kemp

Eclipse crescents by Amanda

Partial Eclipse Crescents by Amanda Chalmers

August 21, 2017

http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/08/23/poetry-976/