Vintages

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wine_glass

When the grapes speak,
how soon do I listen?
The pinot noir who traveled
from the crumbly soil of a vintner’s legacy,
the subtle oil of tending hands
upon the fruit, picking up the whispers
of Etruscan poplar groves
passed down through generations;
hungry snuffles of the truffle pigs,
their handlers sharing tales
of honeymoons and fruitful traipses,
decades past.

Do I hear the symphonies
and feel the grace of wine amazing me—
or are numbness and escape the goal?

Obliteration’s all the rage, you know,
to wit, the Snapchat photos of the drunken wit
who, next day, wishes still she could be free
of it, whatever it may be.

Let’s not begrudge,
the vintage sings to me,
the excellence of depth humanity
provides to any mind who minds
her business and allows the rest
their rest or muddled conflict.

Nothing good will budge
or come of kicking at a wine
before its time.

A greater yield surrounds
with equanimity each comprehensive
soul contributing to greater wholes.

In this abide,
proclaims the pinot noir
abundantly.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2016

Pot Belly Stove

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potbelly-stove

~~a villanelle~~

In the center of my kitchen sits a pot belly stove
made for cooking and for heating, just like every other.
My appliance has no cause to think and nothing to prove.

I gather wood from an apple grove,
buy yesterday’s news from a friend’s big brother.
In the center of my kitchen sits a pot belly stove.

Last night, a troubled neighbour drove
into the lake to get even with his mother.
My appliance has no cause to think and nothing to prove,

so I shall not comment on their familial love
or lack thereof. Too much of anything will smother.
In the center of my kitchen sits a pot belly stove.

Earlier this morning, an acquaintance shot a dove;
its peace, apparently, disturbed him. He could use a lover.
My appliance has no cause to think and nothing to prove.

Peddlers of corrosive fuel and cheap vitriol move
daily through our village. They are of small bother.
In the center of my kitchen sits a pot belly stove.
My appliance has no cause to think and nothing to prove.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2016

One Quick Word Before You Go

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leonard-cohen-4

What a time you chose to disentangle, friend,
to leap when plummeting’s the rage. Cassandra’s
wailing everywhere with tolling bells, beware,
beware, by millions multipled, through fingertips
and tongues behind their masks of facial books
and other social casques.

I wouldn’t mind so much if all these prophets—
most well meaning, to be sure—were quick as well
to praise when praise is due. Alas, I seldom find
that to be true.

I grew beneath the concave dome of a catastrophist
and did not like it much. Direness shrinks heights
and dulls the taste of sweetness and of life.
Who lays the mat of strife unasked at doors of friends
and kin is fevered, yes, but this I learned and learned again—
contagion is a choice.

And so, the doom prognosticated by the people
I care deeply for and others not so much, I shall ignore.
The oaths they hurl, their smoke bombs, will not break
or cloud my stride. I shall abide content, believing hope,
convinced by you and all you’ve sung to us that death
is but a clearer set of eyes.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2016
November 11, 2016

These are my current events

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al-fresco-2

To eat outside at a long table in Tuscany
is not available to me today, but I did find
money on the beach two blocks from home
and five happy dogs named Basil, Bessie,
Daisy, Rowf, and Magog orbiting
their walker and my feet like a wet-nosed,
furry galaxy, alive and eager with the possibility
of treats. None of us, clearly evident to each,
was interested in argument, debate, in victory
or defeat. We’ll save that, maybe, for a day
that isn’t sunny or worth living.

And then came Leonard, toddler,
with curls like an Athenian athlete, who
deemed me worthy by holding out his little red
football. For one long and happy stretch along
the boardwalk, he and I, we scampered, laughed,
allowing Nonna to catch up with his stroller now
and then. Only eighteen months upon this planet,
my new friend used two words—“ball”, meaning,
let’s play some more, and “no”, I’m not yet ready
to say goodbye to you. An honour it was to be
selected from a world of big, anonymous—be
careful of them!—strangers to partake
of Leonard’s day.

Giddy with the joy of things, I came upon
and bought an Australian cabernet named
19 Crimes with the stark and vivid label of
a convict from the transportation days when
Australia was a prison, and to be hungry in
the British Empire was a grave offense.
Homeward, with a pause at the Little Free
Library where fresh books from neighbours
sprout like alfalfa every day. These are
my events, my currency, and they suffice.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2016

For Yusuf

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hurricane-orig

~~a pantoum~~

Who am I to judge your calm,
you who vanished when the storms
around us swirled their fiercest?
I moved inland. You chose the coast.

You who vanished when the storms
were still gathering the anger of others
around us swirled their fiercest.
I memorized their lyrics. You withdrew.

We’re still gathering the anger of others
wearing confusion like fractured pearls.
I memorized their lyrics. You withdrew
to the almond grove to practice new chords.

Wearing confusion like fractured pearls
around us swirled their fiercest
storms, gracing us with one stilled eye.
Who am I to judge your calm?

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2016

Giving Thanks

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img_4600

Thank you for my all-at-once moments of
the wonderful: sun and sky, cherry pie,
a child’s laugh, the seagull’s cry. Your big love
around me congregates when I don’t try
to make sense of other people’s quibbles.
I’ve quite enough forgiving mine. What’s more,
forgetting brings me marvels in dribbles
first, then joyful inundation. The floor
is cleared of notions grim of helplessness
and sin. We’ve room to dance now, sexy thing,
so wear your finest! Kissing off restless
thoughts of loss, letting expectation bring
more of what I think and feel. Each new day
of thanks shines proof that Life is how we play.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everyone!

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2016

Sonnet to the Autumnal Sun

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railway train bridge winding cliff track

railway train bridge winding cliff track

All laud this equinox to Helios,
locomotive engineer whose aeons
of impeccable attention to Earth’s
fine clientele from least to uppermost
has wavered not a jot. His sacred bonds
to cargo in the form of death and birth
hold tight, & yet he’s quick to loose for those
intrepid riders who can see beyond
outdated schedules and rails not worth
pursuing. Cheer him for the way he coasts
into the station of your dawn. Begone,
insipid darkness, to your lower berths!
The greater Sol and I triangulate
to lay new tracks through joy, we luminate.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2016
Photographer unknown

Glassine

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010

There is a word, glassine
vitreous, pristine
the texture of tranquility
reality beyond the mean.

I run my hands within
my mind along what’s smooth
and hear the gentle commerce
of approaching worlds.

The biofilm that seals us
each within our sequences
and scenes of tenderness
and grief
is pervious, but only on
the surface, dimpled,
and of momentary worth.

It’s when I seek to justify
myself and those around me—
reckless provocation—that
the shattering reduces
to a billion sparks
and thence a billion more.

When I decide,
when I decide and no one else
that chase has lost its savour
and allow the ripples their descent
and play with gravity,
my recollection of the word
I opened with is swift
and all becomes
where I begin again:
glassine.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2016

Jeb Miller Clancy & the Silk Knitter’s Fancy

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british-pub-inside

This is an ode to Jeb Miller Clancy,
publican of The Silk Knitter’s Fancy.
Rented out rooms by the seat of his pants, he
never saw life as forbidding or chancy.

Night after night in his tavern on Mile Street,
Jeb Miller Clance served his clients a wild streak
of savoury pies and craft beer called Hey, Wheat!
seldom bothered to tally his eat, sleep & play week.

Normally, now, in an ode of this type,
we expect our protagonist living his right
and substantial good life to encounter a fight
with some jerk and his knife, or a moll
with a history of psychos and strife.

But the aim of this verse isn’t what you might think,
for the life of Jeb Clancy, while centered on drink,
food, and bed sheets avoided the brink
of self-pity that wedges us into a chink
like a tiddly wink…

…of belief in a past or a future of doom
with barrages of fact that deny wiggle room,
See, the thing about Jeb and this jiggedy tune
is that death will o’ertake us all, later or soon,

as it did on a cold stormy October night
when Jeb took his sweetie out dancing. The light
of the moon caught them kissing just right—
when the meteor struck with spectacular might.

Today there’s a hole where the publican rests
that’s become what you might call a pilgrimage quest.
All who pay homage insist they feel blessed
by the spirit of Jeb who sees you as his guest

of The Silk Knitter’s Fancy that only admits
patrons with hunger for meat pies and wit
and a pint with good friends who begrudge not a bit
your decision to live with fine humour and grit.

~~~

Author’s Note: I mostly wrote this poem for the opportunity to say tiddly wink.

© Elaine Stirling, 2016

The Long Game

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lighthouse-1

~~a pantoum~~

It’s easy to be easy
to be knowing with the flow
that all is well and getting better
where I focus, there I grow.

To be knowing with the flow
that emotions smoothly navigate
where I focus, there I grow
by ignoring the unwanted, I define above, below.

That emotions smoothly navigate
hand in hand with chosen thoughts
by ignoring the unwanted, I define above, below
as a light beam of affection

hand in hand with chosen thoughts
that all is well and getting better.
As a light beam of affection,
it’s easy to be easy!

© Elaine Stirling, 2016