Poetry

Every poem that I post will first be presented on my home page. Afterward, I will move the poems here to serve as a record of my recent work. You’ll notice that a good number of these poems have come as a result of my travels, and sometimes they will relate to a one of my non-fiction pieces as well as some of my photography. Where I think it will help, I will also publish companion pieces with some poems, and this will help to inform the reading of that particular poem. I’m not sure if it is better to read the companion piece before or after you read the poem. After, I think, but you can be the judge of that.

I was travelling out of the country when The Tragically Hip held its final Canadian tour, so I was unable to see them that last time. Instead, I had to settle with watching the documentary, Long Time Running. This was a poignant account of the band’s tour, and it evoked in me this poetic reflection.

The Hip

We come together in a raucous farewell –

a refrain of decades

with friends we’ve never embraced.

In mingled sorrow and exaltation,

we cry aloud

and brush liquid joy from shining eyes.

Even as we sing,

We all know what this means.

We spread arms, press palms to hearts

and become the chorus.

A woman’s hand cups her chin as she listens.

When the song ends –

As the tragic apprehension takes hold –

Her hand closes in a fist—complete.

Completely.

There’s a moment of suspense,

a breath,

a longing to hold on.

The last note hangs in the Kingston night,

echoing to a distant sea

from a dozen crowded squares.

And then it fades.

The final surrender comes.

The stadium,

the country,

grows still.

But it is a stillness of loss,

not sound.

Our cries continue to fill the night.

(These too will have an echo.)

And, dreading the finality of silence,

we struggle to hang on to this moment,

knowing that when it ends,

it ends.

And then it ends.

Cool night and dew

cling in beads

to vacant seats

and spread a sheen of moonlight

on an empty stage.

Kenneth D. Reimer

______________________________________________________________________________

The Black Water

The oars strum a liquid rhythm

as the canoe whispers

through the black water.

Conversations are hushed –

if at all –

and the voice of the jungle

rises in staccato declarations,

echoing a tale of clouded inhabitants.

A hand-signal from the guide

and all movement ceases, then

in the hush, we hear a cry.

The guide murmurs, “Toucan,”

but it is too distant;

something else has caught his attention.

He points,

and motionless beneath a dead tree

that is propped at an angle above the water,

we see the black caiman.  

Very little of the head is visible –

an arc of pebbled rainbow

and a single jewelled eye

that regards us with alien indifference.

Within the canoe,

we are intruders in this world beyond time,

neither predators nor prey,

beneath regard.

Stretching out below the brackish surface,

the cold body of the reptile lies hidden by vegetation.

We pass by,

already forgotten,

but on our memories

this moment has been etched in its precision.

Kenneth D. Reimer

The Sharks

Rhythmic breathing

in an alien world – 

raucous bubbles respond to 

the slow whisper of inhalation.  

Above and below.

Earth and sea.

We lie beneath sixty feet of water, 

clutching stone blocks

while silent killers

slide amongst us.

The sharks have come to feed.

Encased in a tunic of mail,

the dive master brandishes

chunks of frozen tuna.

The sharks’ eyes flash white, 

and the slick stillness of their passage

erupts into violence.

They tear at the meat.

They snap at the diver’s hands.

And we lie still as death,

close enough to touch,

too near for escape.

The dive ends

and we drift toward the world of light.

Our world

where we are the killers.

Kenneth D. Reimer

Were There Butterflies?

Warm sunlight

hazed in the distance

bakes the stagnant summer air.

Mid-afternoon lethargy

deadens limbs

and brings a forced silence

broken only by muted cries

of pain

and the sluggish buzz 

of flies

gross and bloated

that feed off the corpses

stacked by the crematorium

at Dachau.

Kenneth D. Reimer

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