Baker's Oven

Digging up poetry from the past

I’d be lying if immunocompromised me said I wasn’t scared shitless about the pandemic.

I mean, it hasn’t rendered me useless like Wade the Duck from U.S. Acres, or as hermitic as Howard Hughes, but I only go out when I have to.

And I’m fine with that. I’m also more pessimistic about our society given the numbskulls who are anti-maskers or believe the pandemic is a hoax. They are the ones who put people like me at risk.

All the talk of death, thanks to Trump’s American example, gets one thinking about their own mortality.

How we depart this mortal coil is something that Canadians and Americans tend to avoid talking about, which is a sign of an immature, in-denial culture.

It’s the most natural part of our lives, death, yet it is shirked as it makes us all vulnerable.

I’ve had a couple of brushes with it, and during my diagnosis of aplastic anemia in 2003, I wrote this winding, verbose monstrosity as I was being influenced by the Romantic era poets and the film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come.

I had been to see the doctor, or one of his fellows, and they told me that people with aplastic anemia only had six months to live if left untreated. Then the fellow told me we’ll book another appointment, not telling me that the form of aplastic anemia I had was non-severe.

Still, not sharing that detail during the appointment set me into panic mode. I wrote a lengthy email to my doctor asking why they weren’t doing anything. Then I wrote the below poem.

Plenty has happened in 17 years. Career, marriage and kids. But my deep love of the woods, animals, music and film still shines through. My celebrity crushes at the time were Daniela Pestova and Penelope Cruz, so that explains the Czech and Latin references.

Anyway, I like going back through old poetry, just to see where my mindset was and just to see how I’ve progressed as a writer.

Enjoy, “Portrait of Heaven’s World.”


               To foresee heaven, one shall imagine

               There is no static land; clouds of white,

               No seraphs with lyres and bearded robed gents

               Strolling the upper spheres of the surreal.

               But, there is a landscape, locked in fathoms

               Of a ceaseless soul created with life:

                              The imagination is the blueprint

                              That designs the soul’s final enterprise.

               It is that imagination that builds

               the imaginative world that is heaven.

               From the runic roots of ancient sylvan

               elders standing like silent juggernauts

               Blessing land in sessile supremacy,

               To the small friars of the cliffside way.

                              These are but visions drawn and visited,

                              much like that man at Tintern long ago.

Castle & Sequoias

               What lies behind that mysterious cloak

               of liquid crests of ivy strewn over

               grey masses of archaic stone legend?

               Lithic structure, fortifying the hearth,

               Within a fiery aromatic sea

               Of great antediluvian redwoods

                              Born before Noah’s rising, his flocks paired

                              life in harmony with human homeland.

Alabaster heraldry, castle home,

solid wood frame, scent of redwood within.

Flame flickers in the great hall fireplace,

comforts from the free flowing mind breeze by.

Rooms upon rooms and secret corridors

the elder European style of stone

               formed to create such amazement and awe

               in the spiritual embodiment.

Lithic citadels, born of hidden realm

Nestled in the lake of antiquity.

Wood’s immobile trunks exist, warning flares

 To unworthy trespassers; the unsought.

Their russet bark aged by Time’s slow exhales,

Carved with long claws, an exact calendar.

                Living amongst lofty faunal nobles,

                In walls of legendary lore is peace.


               Black and white tile, entrance to the old gem.

               Uncle Pio stands there, calls Glenn ‘Peasant.’

               I smile, fedora tilted to one side,

               passing through the halls I enter Mike’s home

               away from home, faces I admired there

               amongst a sea of tables and laughter.

                              They may have been splashed on silver screen shades,

                              But here, their colours precede their icons.

               The stage is set up with Miller’s medley,

               Dooley plays ivories, Louis on horn,

               And there she is, satiny shine glory

               Long scarlet locks, songbird pitch, Rita sails

               Through her tributes: “Put the blame on Mame, Boy”;

               A song that made her audience all hers.

                              Someone speaks, quick, terse, stern and feminine.

                              Kate tells me to quit gawking and sit down.

               An empty chair at one, I sit by Kate

               And Bogie, there’s Tierney, Lake, Peck, Bette,

               Cooper, Ava, Cary, Stewart, Monroe,

               Mitchum, Dietrich, and Lana; they all smile.

               A Scotch is brought before me, golden fire

               Gleaming in the thin lights, my eyes transfixed.

                              Applause breaks the still silence all at once.

                              Rita sits in that empty chair; all talk.

Dancehall & Wurlitzer

               Oak finish, wooden paneling on the walls.

               Smells of cedar, lilac, crisp scents diffuse,

               Through the den like phantom hands fingering harps.

               Concealed in the corner of the ballroom,

               Flanked by a tall Czech blonde, svelte, statuesque

               And an elegant Latin Lady,

                              Is a half lozenge box with bright bold bars,

                              Yellow, Blue, Red lights, Wurlitzer jukebox.

               In illustrious vocal brilliance,

               Sound resonates like fluid honey floods

               Hives of humming wires, glistening, golden.

               Bold bass battling the battered box shell

               Here it stands, a collective soul entranced

               To melodic beats of its mythic flu.

                              All is infected with its lurid drone

                              All is feverish with sated vigour.

               As in life to dance with rhythmic bodies

               Is a deep lust sunk in the heart and soul.

               Jive, swing, rhythms lost when eras faded,

               These are movements wanted to be favoured,

               Savoured in succession, much like others

               Replaced by motionless convulsing acts.

                              Still, reborn within this lost moment’s room

                              Among lovely women and Wurlitzer.

Steppes & Horses

               As if painted memories shooting from

               Shadowy tan vistas were not enough,

               Their grey elderly crowns royalty, look

               Over the steppes, dreaming in grasses thin.

A million thunders crowd the horizon,

Brimming manes flowing like sand on a beach

               Their motion is a lone wave wandering,

               A stealthy passage to endure the shore.

Freedom of far flushed meadows, flushed sunlight

Beaming on brilliant stallion silhouettes

Blankets the florid grasses grazing air.

Their braying gentle and full of gusto

Game for a wild run through the bare grassland

With shielded hooves forcing sun in craters.

               Blackness shirked with every guarded inch lit,

               Blackness hedged with every leaflet blade split.

Amongst their massive brethren migration

Soft cream bodies span with grey rain-dropped steeds,

Ebony mares and brown blotched on white colts,

Large bulk, draft power, full-fledged wits and wiles

The patterns these stately beasts quilt crosswise

Envisions a lost triumph and freedom

               Spread to a select few on Sable Isle,

               And before man became the harsh tamer.

Mountains & Wolves

               Endless chasm-like howls haunt the star’s night,

               As the ancient stone liths remain at rest

               To amplify the commune of lupine

               Kindred, in the Romantic abstraction

               Carving a yawning opening into the night.

               The absent sky’s canvas gleams in reply.

                              Mute mountains stand guarded over speakers

                              Lending their plateaus to shelter families.

               One solitary wolf all ashen grey,

               Jade orbs flickering in rivery fire,

               Beckons his pack, the warmth collecting mist

               Around his muzzle, as the dark chills breath.

               He howls harmoniously, hazy highs

               And lurching lows lumber through alpine sides.

                              His group gathers amongst separate posts

                              In the shadows of moon and hanging berg.

               The natural defence granted by mounts,

               Strengthens the bond with species and kin line.

               Pattering limbs collectively charge through

               Duff lined forest floors as they move as units

               Spirited by the moon’s phantom hand light

               By the alpine creeks and aged rocks fallen.

                              Lupine lords slowed in time to shade spectres

                              Grey coats blurred by screens of thicket and copse.

Orcas & Ocean

               Continual motion of the ocean,

               Saline cleansing fluid ebbing from sea

               To sea, pitching forth froth with momentum.

               Continual potion of the ocean,

               A remedy to regain lapsed records

               Lost while growing older in surging wilds.

                              From below a rushing marbled dweller

                              It’s passage rapid, through vast velvet seas.

               Streaming through the wetness it’s supple skin

               Ripples the undercurrents, fighting ways,

               Opposite directions, against the grain.

               Its battered brow bulling, bulging burden

               Causing the sea to swell, growing of geyser

               Flux at a plane in limbo of air, land,

                              The Orca’s oblong shape spews agilely

                              Perpendicular to shattered mirrors.

               Soaring mercilessly, veiling fissures

               Beneath it’s monochrome rubbery flesh,

               Penetrating that mystery lying,

               Lurking beneath a dessert world above.

               For an atom of time split mirrors turns one,

               The sun, touches it, shines under the whale

                              Until the Orca’s mass calmly flushes

                              Forth in rapid motion of the ocean.

Cliffside & Puffins

               Decorous, their design and manner mute

               Like fasting friars in their Lent moments.

               Frocked in feathers bound about bodices,

               Arrowhead bills bright in reds, golds, and blues.

               Gathering for an unspoken sermon,

               Little brethren birds shuffle upon rocks

                              Precipice the aviary pulpit,

                              Avian prescience from the prelates.

               Avalon was a venerated land,

               A paradise, expressed by Eire’s own Celts,

               Now mixed with the steppes, sequoias and

               Mountains, these symbols overlook the sea.

               They bind all, unify it, finalize

               And sweep their identity over me,

                              Like the sea swiftly signs the sandy shores

                              Fitting the cliff’s feet like sheltered sandals.

               Puffins have become the icon remaining

               Vigilant to this visceral moment.

               Their black and white with orange tinge painted

               Images upon the canvas of life

               Have imprinted a permanence in the mind

               Forever lasting on all those who trail.

                              That Fratercula, that “little brother”

                              Has become the atypical benchmark.


            To foresee heaven, one will imagine,

               While their life gathers corporeally,

               What the ethereal will subsist of.

               The scribe scrolls aptly on the soul’s inland,

               Mind’s most secure elements for living

               Time without end, measure without a sum

                              The imagination is the blueprint

                              That designs the soul’s final enterprise.

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