Friday, February 27, 2009

Starfire in the Night

A little painting, still wet, that I quickly painted
to accompany the poem...
(posted with the 'accented edges' photoshop filter)

sliding around the world
through many crowds
Mumbai, New York, Rio
like an image from a billboard
flat like film
a projection of light
these burning neurons
their shadow prism shifts

no separation

a market in Madrid
harsh sleet of Himalaya
blade of grass in the prairies

I could be dying

or in a spacesuit on the moon

no separation between me
and the world,
which is my dreaming paradise

nothing was lost

release the inner hold
there is no tight control
write by cell-light

dark hours of running
on this side of living
in the bright world
of the lion's mouth

flying into outer space

where the universe
contains such combustion

stars burn for billions of years
keeping galaxies alive

I searched for you
and found you

if you could set all your dissolves
to a fifth of a second
the mathematical regularity
would be bliss

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Was a stomach bug, I assume. Not "the stomach flu" (because not accompanied by the usual 'either-or-both-ends' accompaniments) but something that sets into your belly and aches worse than childbirth. I was only 5 hours in labour with my first baby, and a 3 scant hours with my second. This was worse. The gut ache was unrelenting and grumbled in sometime in the wee hours of Friday morning (sort of 2am-ish), peaked on Saturday accompanied by a mild fever, which dropped by Sunday though the gut felt like oozing palpitating ingots of rusted iron. I groaned through the Academy Awards, dang (how often have I watched enough of the nominated movies to make watching the show worth-while?) Today it's mostly gone, and good riddance to ya! Class tonight was thankfully fine - though I didn't eat all day 'just in case,' and munched on some peanuts and a cereal bar in class because I was starving. I don't wish it on anyone!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Running a mild fever, an excruciatingly sore spot in my belly - on my left, lower down, not sure what it could be. Probably they're unrelated: one the flu; the other too much of a work-out last Tuesday doing an abdominals yoga set with my son and then walking a brisk 10km two days later. So Advil and drag myself out to walk the dog in the blizzardy evening, and then rest with a heating pad and perhaps Seven Years in Tibet tonight.

A gadget-type

Speed test of my Internet provider, Bell. I think it looks good, but I'm not a techie! The site says it's faster than 81% of connections. Now what this means I'm not sure...

I admit I'm a freeware/open source gadget-type (who leaves thank-you notes for the developers). Recently downloaded Camouflage, a terrific little utility that 'hides' the icons on your desktop for instant de-clutter! And I just found a great little application, a Timer Utility for the Mac. Then I opened Audacity (another free program - I've not yet gotten the hang of how to do these little things in Apple's Garage Band, not like Apple's old Sound Studio, which was easy to use), grabbed some Tibetan Bells music, cut a small clip out, fiddled with it a bit (increased volume, a few mini cuts), saved it as an .mp3, and viola! I have the perfect "alarm" of delicately ringing Tibetan Bells for when I'm finished a yoga mediation! It's so beautiful!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fragments towards a meditation on the body...

A recording that's bobbing back on the SoundClick charts, unexpectedly, momentarily.

If the embedded player doesn't appear (it's mysteriously absent on RSS feeds), click on these links to listen: DSL or Cable;

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Mujeres," by Juan Gelman

A bello compliment I found on the Internet. Juan Gelman is a well-known Argentinian poet.

Igooh | Letras
Thumbnail del usuario: betzalel
betzalel | 18/09/2008 |

"Debía tener unas 12397 mujeres en su mujer"

"Mujeres", un hermoso poema de Juan Gelman, recitado en su voz.

Tags: juan gelman, mujeres, mujer, poema, poesía, audio, brenda clews

"Mujeres en verano". (Brenda Clews)


decir que esa mujer era dos mujeres es decir poquito
debía tener unas 12397 mujeres en su mujer
era difícil saber con quién trataba uno
en ese pueblo de mujeres

yacíamos en un lecho de amor
ella era un alba de algas fosforescentes
cuando la fui a abrazar
se convirtió en singapur llena de perros que aullaban
cuando se apareció envuelta en rosas de agadir
parecía una constelación en la tierra
parecía que la cruz del sur había bajado a la tierra
esa mujer brillaba como la luna de su voz derecha

como el sol que se ponía en su voz
en las rosas estaban escritos todos los nombres de esa mujer menos uno
y cuando se dio vuelta
su nuca era el plan económico
tenía miles de cifras y la balanza de muertes favorables a la dictadura militar
nunca sabía uno adónde iba a parar esa mujer
yo estaba ligeramente desconcertado
una noche le golpeé el hombro para ver con quién era
y vi en sus ojos desiertos un camello

a veces
esa mujer era la banda municipal de mi pueblo
tocaba dulces valses hasta que el trombón empezaba a desafinar
y los demás desafinaban con él
esa mujer tenía la memoria desafinada

usté podía amarla hasta el delirio
hacerle crecer días del sexo tembloroso
hacerla volar como pajarito de sábana
al día siguiente se despertaba hablando de malevich

la memoria le andaba como un reloj con rabia
a las tres de la tarde se acordaba del mulo
que le pateó la infancia una noche del ser
ellaba mucho esa mujer y era una banda municipal

una noche como ésta que
nos empapan los rostros que a lo mejor morimos
monté en el camellito que esperaba en sus ojos
y me fui de las costas tibias de esa mujer

callado como un niño bajo los gordos buitres
que me comen de todo
menos el pensamiento
de cuando ella se unía como un ramo
de dulzura y lo tiraba en la tarde

Visitar la galería de cuadros de Brenda Clews en Flickr

"Debía tener unas 12397 mujeres en su mujer" fue publicada por betzalel el 18/09/2008 a las 11.28 en Letras.
Ha sido marcada con los tags juan gelman, mujeres, mujer, poema, poesía, audio, brenda clews
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Link to the original page.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why do we write? Or create?

Why do we write? Or create? For moi, it's over-ripeness... and for you?

Click here, if the embedded video doesn't appear.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Figurative No.1

for my son

It may or may not be finished, but feels as if it is. I'll call it a figurative abstract.

(click to enlarge)

First Wash of a new painting...

This drawing sat on my desk, it's 55mm x 74mm, 300lb archive watercolour paper, on that piece of plywood, under tissue paper, since last Summer. Many things have rested on it, papers, purses, gloves, hat, scarf, sweaters, until I cleaned it all up a week ago. Yesterday afternoon I threw water all over it, which ran everywhere, on the floor, all over my class notes (requiring a 'drying out' on a towel in the living room) but never mind that, and started rubbing paint in.

The painting wasn't too bad, really it wasn't. But for no reason that I can think of I found a Waterman fountain pen that still had ink in it (oh, rue the day for pens with ink when you shouldn't!) and inked in the figures, after they'd had their first wash of paint. I only looked at the lines, was comforted in the process of outlining and ignored the whole painting in my act.

What a mess! Why'd I do that? Inking by rote, rather than with a sensitivity to the image?

Now I have to try to clean up- the inked lines far too dark and insensitive. Because I drew them after the first wash of colour, the colour doesn't adhere to them, nor did they bleed into that first wash as would normally happen (since I used to ink first, then paint).

Oooh, la!

Is this why it sat like an accuser on my desk for over 6 months saying, paint, paint, when I would choose the 'by rote' path rather than the 'in the moment' shifting and changing as light and colour asked, and be forced to confront my own predilections, my own habitual patterns, all the immovable grids in my perception?


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Playing with an Animoto slideshow...

Does it work, or not? Doesn't matter. Just playing. Animoto mades a video out of whatever photos you upload, and adds whatever music (in this case an .mp3 of a poetry recording I did some years ago) to it. It's a 30 second freebie. The slideshow video is here (if there's any problem with the embedded one below). The poem, Whorls of Angels, of which there is a snippet, can be found here. Hope this posts alright!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Cupid's Day!

´ ¸.♥¨) ¸.♥*¨)
(¸.♥´ (¸.♥´ .? *¨* ¯¨*´¸
`*.¸.*´* .• *¨* ´¸ .`¯¨*•´
¨*• *´HAPPY CUPID DAY!!!!!¸
¨*• .*¨¸ ¤.¸ ´•.¸ * ´¤.¸ ¸.
.¸.*´¤ ¨.*• ¤.¸
¨* *.¸.*´*¸ .• *¨* ´¸ .`¯¨*•´
¨*• .´ *¸ .• •**”˜˜”*°•. ˜”*°•♥•°*”˜ .•°*”˜˜”*°•.
(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
★ º ♥ `•.¸.•´ ♥ º♥.•*¨`*•♥.•´*.¸.•´♥

(gotta thank Carmen Colmenarez for an extraordinary explosion of happy punctuations!)

Friday, February 13, 2009

DVE Course trailer assignment

Looks innocent. Yet this little 2 minute 'trailer' for my Digital Video Editing course took, well, an all-nighter and then some. First I spent many hours cutting it up into tiny 'best shots' sub-clips, 35 in all. Then I took some still photos of backgrounds to try. Then I started to put it all together. I think I got into bed at 6am for about 2 hours. And it wasn't finished.

In class last Monday, where we got an extension of 2 weeks, whew, I realized that what I was doing was a 'mini' version of the story, and that's not what's required in the 'trailer' assignment.

So, begin again... (or finish this and begin again)

Final Cut Pro (in class) and Express (what I work in at home) is drag and drop, and ooh la! I think trying to line up a snippet of a scene with the layers I like to work with and with dissolves in and out would take minutes rather than an hour if it were all done with a time line, with numbers. But I am told once I get used to the drag & drop interface that I'll find it very easy to work with. I haven't crossed that threshold yet, still being stuck somewhere on the learning curve like Sisyphus.

Music in the Morning

coral breakers in the sky this morning,
waves of luminous red

Jamendo blog, playlist: Valentines 2009 (quite listenable, enjoyable, especially since it's a list put together by someone else, just sit back)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Octaves

Melt into the edge of the room. Eyes shut; no-one can see me. Slide along walls, over chairs, until the table. Where I was going, I realize. Varnished wood, thick, old, probably Walnut. Carved in a carpenter's studio, perhaps. Legs spun on spindles. I imagine the tree who was stripped for the table, sawed into planks. Centuries old, sap running through limbs, leaves drinking rain and sun, rooted in earth. I hug the table, in the dark of my closed eyes. My chest to the tabletop, beating, then turning over, until my back lies flat. Reaching forward and down, from the safety of the wood, fingers groping air, the unknown. I cannot touch floor. It is the end of the world, the emptiness of the universe, nothingness. Only the wood holds me here.

The octaves. I am a child on a swing, flung out past the boundaries. My long-silenced throat clears, a tiny AUM. Louder. A simple scale, up and down.

I hope the others in the room, for we all move with our eyes shut, dancing our internal dramas, aren't irritated by my sudden child-like joy, the octaves.

I release the table, roll on the floor, light laugh,

Graceful and majestic, lyric and epic, intimate and panoramic. Very beautiful.

Ai!R, Waxworks.

Comment I left:
This music uplifts and takes me to places I haven't been before. It mirrors my experience. Gentle and majestic. The intimate and the massive vision of the panorama. Very Russian! Heaven in a grain of sand, or eternity in a wildflower [Blake]. You can feel your own pulse in Ai!R's music, and the expansion and contraction, the heartbeat of the galaxies. In this flowing jungle of orchestral electronic ambient alternative music. Beauty. Longing. Gracious love. Strong bonds of the heart, warmth.

Highly recommended! Kudos! You honour us, Ai!R, with your music! Thank you....

(I posted a link to this site last month, but it had only two tracks then, the entire album has since been added.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Flying Earth

Authentic Movement workshop this evening with Gennie, amazing expressive witnessing releasing deep painful joyful wisdom powerful.

Gennie was wonderful, witnessing, giving us her responses, the woman is a seer, a poet, she is. We got into some pretty deep stuff, some of us. Yeah - I sorta was rumbling by the last set! Authentic Movement is a beautiful process. I'm always amazed at how deep everyone can go with it.

It felt strange, for me, who is so private, to cry before others, and yet I did, and I was grateful for the 'river of life,' healing, survival, continuance, profoundly so for love, loving, and then out to torrential rains, wet-through by the time I reached home, and a fresh umbrella and a 2km dog walk, she in her leaking red nylon dogcoat, my boots leaking near the end when we came to the park, both of us waterlogged, the rivers pouring from the sky...

Post the little pastel I did after the middle set, which I won't get into, but, ahh. Well. I literally had to force myself to go to the workshop, held in my area, so close by, I've been cloistered and very withdrawn of late as I come to terms with everything that's happened.

The nearly four hours we spent together, the small group gathered, the facilitator, her perceptions, compassionate, non-judgmental, helped.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls - link to flickr slideshow

Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls
Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

Bowl After Singing Bowl of Horizons, a prose poem of my life in sections, part scrapbook, part travelogue, an immigrant poem of the always arriving with its tracings of memories of the singing bowls of horizons traversed, maps a journey across continents...and is embedded in the following nineteen photomontages. The full poem is appended here.

flickr seems to do a better job of posting a slideshow of photos, it's just got limitations (of 200 photos max) on its free service that Yahoo introduced when it took over the company (flickr originally created by a small Vancouver company of 5 people, one of whom I met at a blogging conference there & talked with for about an hour). Picasa, while a great service with far more 'free' space (1GB), seems to muddle the appended text, in this case poems, by removing the formatting, whereas flickr leaves it in. And the flickr slideshow is definitely better- just image, sized to your screen, no finding what to click to render the text invisible and that you should only see if you want to look at the images individually.

I've added a link to the flickr slideshow of this autobiographical photopoem to my blogger sidebar.

Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls - link to Picasa slideshow

an autobiographical prose poem in 19 sections

Bowl After Singing Bowl of Horizons, a prose poem of my life in sections, part scrapbook, part travelogue, an immigrant poem of the always arriving with its tracings of memories of the singing bowls of horizons traversed, maps a journey across continents...and is embedded in the following nineteen photomontages. The full poem is appended at the end.

For years I have been meaning to re-size and upload this to a better site than where it was. I composed it in 2004 while living in Vancouver, Canada, from family photographs, mostly, and sometimes other images from travel or government sites (which are documented in the file info). I moved with my children to Vancouver in 2003 and returned home in 2005, coming back to Toronto, to the familial and the familiar. I've created a slideshow at Picasa, as well as posted each photo montage poem here (click on them for a larger size). It's long, but I hope you enjoy!

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls

From Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls


for my father, D. Richard Clews, 1922-1984

An autobiographic prose poem in 19 sections


My father is pulling me
over the ever-changing horizon,
moving from one country to the next.

I am an immigrant,
I am the landed and the converted.
I am one of the millions from elsewhere.

I arrived when I was ten,
and I am still arriving.

I crawl over the globe,
composed of bowl
after singing bowl of horizons,
I am a trajectory;
I have no roots;
only the tracings of memories
of the continents I have lived on.


Deft sweep
between earth and sky,
dividing one from the other,
the horizon holds us in place,
the horizon keeps us here.
It surrounds us like a bowl,
an arc, a place of vanishing...

What is on this side
is now, the actual, the real;
what is on the other side is sky,
the unfathomable, mist,
what is disappearing into the beyond.

I am from elsewhere,
over and past the horizon,
from the place of vanishing.

The horizon opens before me
and closes behind me.


He is striding
over the landscape
khaki pockets full with stone shards
dust in his hair, on his clothes
hundreds of sample bags in canvas carriers
reading the land, its composition
the way I read a recipe.

My father, the geologist,
when I was two, emptying
our tiny apartment onto a truck,
packing my mother and I into his jeep
journeying deep into the bush in Zambia,
dirt roads bumpy with potholes
untouched raw land, Savannah, grasslands, forest
the jungle closing over us, like vines, tall winding grasses
like branches of baobab trees grown thick as roots in the sky,
pushing the petrol pedal with his snake boots
our surrounding thick with insects
alive with the fauna of jungle animals.
Two hundred miles from the nearest town
our encampment in Kafue National Park
half a century ago, without fridges or stoves or bathrooms
or the TV that didn't come to Africa for another decade,
joining a team of white explorers,
an American mining company prospecting for copper.

Our house, stamped dirt walkways
between mud huts:
living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, outhouse.
We travel from hut to hut the way you walk from room to room.


My playground, all of the outdoors.

Singing bowl of life, the Kafue River flowing clear,
fresh, pure, under a deep, pure sky.
We live among the animals:
slow and awkward giraffes, lazy belching hippos,
crocodiles as sly as water-logged logs,
long slithery pythons, blinding spitting snakes,
deadly black mambas, panoplies of birds,
herds of lumbering African elephants,
buck nimbly dancing over thSavannahah,
ants as huge as the paperclip holding these pages,
and once a lion who was blond and noisy.


My father, the prospectors
digging trenches, taking samples
following the flow of the river,
its sediments.

My nanny, who I climb all over,
welcomes me into her brood of children,
and Neddy, my first best friend...
though forbidden, I go often to their village,
sit in dark huts, roofs of thick dried grass
and bright sarongs for doors, eat meals
of mealie-meal, a young white guest...
the Nedembu people, their hospitality
their stories of the many spirits their
rituals appease in the beyond for the here.
On weekends we hear drumming,
and the gigantic ones used to send messages
from village to village, and there is dancing
and singing, this drumbeat in my heart.


I am the only white child.
I am blonde, blue-eyed, pale-skinned.
I am an English transplant.
I am worshipped, honoured, adored.
I am shy and frightened, and always
ride away on my tricycle as soon as I can.

In meditation, I imagine those ebony people,
their dark eyes, so shiny they reflect you back to yourself,
huge baobab trees, cerulean skies, flies and mosquitoes,
spectral warmth of sun, their hair, curly and fuzzy, soft,
bushy, that I love to touch, their language, its short
fast syllables that I speak better than English,
the vivid patterns of their wrap around clothes,
and elegance, carrying huge baskets of fruit on their heads,
their sensual movement, the way they speak
like a music of rivers flowing into the Falls,
and try to understand why,
why not a black child?


Lorries come and go
carrying supplies, medicine in
samples of rock and soil out.
Before the rainy season
a convoy of trucks appear,
sacks of flour, rice, potatoes,
cans of condensed milk, powdered milk,
fruit, vegetables, corned beef,
crates of beer, wine, coffee, tea
a truckload of toilet paper,
everything a civilized group needs.

Then the land closes in, and the rains come,
and flood our dirt roads, and everybody stays in,
waiting, playing cards, arguing, writing reports,
struggling with mosquitoes and isolation.


For four years, collecting samples
waiting out the rainy seasons,
flying into town and back
in the small bush plane,
then the mining company
looking for copper shuts camp
and we journey out of the jungle.

Out of the back of the jeep,
the horizon like a green snake
holding the earth on this side.

The dome of the jungle sky
unfolds from the earth
clear blue in daytime,
dense black in night-time,
clustered with billions of stars,
the great lights of the sky,
calling us beyond
our imaginings.

For the last time
that dome of night sky
unfathomably rich with stars.

The lights ahead spread like stars,
each town we come to,
streetlights, cars, movement, energy,
the rectangular glow of office buildings,
lights emanating from windows
of rows of warm houses
kitchens and living rooms and bedrooms,
places to eat, relax, sleep,
everywhere this light
twinkling if you are ascending or descending
in an airplane,
meaning, always, inhabitation.

Everywhere in the world.


The world of the jungle vanishes
behind the horizon as we journey on
now a family of five, to Lusaka,
capital of Zambia.

No soft earth underfoot here,
concrete and tarmac,
stiff school desks, whites only,
our house in the suburbs,
the tiny concrete box out back
with a mattress and shower
for the black servants,
my playmates, my friends, my teachers,
my soul mates, this apartheid.


in the shadows
of my bedroom
in our brick house
where only the angels
offer comfort.

Angels whose wings
are like iridescent
rainbows in the spray
over Victoria Falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya,
the smoke that


My father pulls us through the southern tip
of the continent,
leaving Lusaka, a year later,
on our way to England,
whirling through the eyehole of Capetown,
birth place of my parents,
here, grandparents, aunts and uncles,
and dozens of cousins, all strangers.
I am seven years old, the merry-go-round
in the park my favourite place,
spinning around and around,
as I thread the horizons of my life.

I am learning to make friends
and to leave them.


Curl of ocean foam, white sand beach, mountain flat on top
this picturesque picture remains.
Boarding a huge ocean liner,
relatives like mirages, people I am connected to but do not know,
waving, waving goodbye.

I am leaving something I have never known,
extended family, a brood of belonging, an understanding of heritage.
I am an immigrant, always from elsewhere, always under my
eyelids another vision plays its scenes.

The ship, like a village on the ocean, massive, luxurious.
From the porthole in my cabin
the slosh of ocean blue against blue sky.
Only this stark horizon of the leaving of Africa.

A man dresses as Neptune as we cross the equator.
Long flowing white scraggly hair, stamping his trident on the deck,
a sack wrapped around his torso, judging.
Beautiful women are captured by crew,
their hair scrubbed with flour and water,
thrown into the pool.
People are drinking and cheering.
The whole ship parties.
I hide while I watch,
not wanting to be dowsed with flour and water,
not wanting my hair turned into solid snake strands.
My brothers and I are twirled in streamers
as we race from Neptune's helpers.


Tropical heat, its comfort radiating
everywhere, the freedom of sundresses and shorts
drifts into the haze beyond the horizon as the air cools,
cooler, approaching the English shore,
grey, dismal, raining landscape.

Damp and wet and cold, I shiver for months.
When I discover the snow one morning
I cry, the cold, my feet burn, my hands, red and frosted.
We live in Frinton-by-the-Sea for a year,
then move to Barnet for two years.

My accent is strange,
my skin, sun-browned.
I am shy, an outsider
who doesn't fit in
until my Zambian accent
submerges under an English one
and my skin becomes as pale as cream.
I look and sound like any English school girl.
Africa is not a very romantic continent to come from.


My father is always away working,
in Zimbabwe prospecting in the fields,
now Uganda researching his PhD thesis,
then home to write in the tiny room we share,
by day, his study, by night, my bedroom,
then offered two positions, in Australia, in Canada,
deciding that Canada is better for raising children
he leaves half a year early to find and furnish a home.
My father, the geochemist, running a lab in Toronto
by the airport, hundreds of bags of soil samples arriving daily.
Later he runs the company, travels, publishes, speaks
at conferences, becomes a world authority in his field,
always bringing gifts, charms for my bracelets,
from every continent, country, state, province,
Indian elephant, English teapot, Mexican sombrero,
Egyptian cobra, Polynesian fish, tiny silver clogs from Holland,
a French Eiffel Tower, Chinese pagoda, Norwegian reindeer,
memories of his travels, tiny chinking bells wherever I go.


The journey across the Atlantic, stormy, cold,
the ocean a heave of blue and black depth, icebergs float
nearby near Canada, land of extremes we are coming to.
My father prepares us, shows us pictures
of the hot, steam-filled Summers and the cold, snowy Winters.
He says Canada is like America, but less violent, safer.

Canada, an answer to the apartheid he chose to withdraw from
to protect his family and his family's family. Without us,
he would have stayed to fight the system from within.
The P.O.W. who did not want his sons conscripted
in a battle he did not believe in: Give Africa to its rightful peoples.
The man who struggled with Apartheid in his bones,
the food he was raised on, the way it built his culture,
and the clash of a contradictory belief in democracy,
education for all, a fair and just society for all.
South Africa, what he escaped from, returning once,
twenty-two years later, a memory of pain.
He did not live to see liberation.


They are shouting, Canada! Canada!
I run to the top deck and hold the railing
looking at the land that is drawing us in.
My first sighting, the evergreen forests on the St. Lawrence.
Tall, straight, fern-straight trees, imposing, not letting you in,
this grandeur, these trees that survive heat and cold and high winds,
not like the overflowing chaos of a tropical jungle.

We land in Montreal at night, car lights, street lights, train lights,
throwing bags from one vehicle to another, as if in a dream
and catch a train to Toronto...
Toronto, where I live for 40 years of the four seasons,
school, university, falling in love, marrying, having children, becoming
a single mother, this not uncommon story.

Yet the child who arrived here is always drawing another landscape
behind the horizon of this city.

I look Canadian, I sound Canadian, I know the history
of this country and who the prime minister is.
But I am a counterfeit Canadian.
I have traversed continents, my accent replaced three times.
In the back of my consciousness
the two great continents have not drifted apart but remain fused,
under the layer of the North American continent
the African subcontinent.

These lands, different as they are, interlace,
svelte pine forests and the tangle of jungle,
crowds of shoppers on Queen Street and the amassing
of villagers before a dance and feast,
cars, trucks, trolleys, noise of the city, ambulance sirens screaming
and the jungle at night, roar of animals, prey and predator, sounds of death.

Two transparent layers vying for authenticity.

I carry dual citizenship.
My overlay, Canadian; my underlay, other.


I am not a woman of colour, my accent, not foreign,
my ethnicity not carried like a passport, I'm not from
romantic Europe, or the lush Greek Islands,
or the exotic Middle East, nor the Russian expanse,
no cradle of Western art and thought,
nor South America, its pre-Columbian heritage,
or the panorama of Oriental countries, their
early writing and ornate art, and architecture,
nor sensual and spiritual India, rich with culture,
and even Egypt�s wonders classified Ancient Near East
as if to distance it from the peoples without a holy book
of their own, the strange black shadow, the land
of warring tribes, of wooden stone art, where
starvation and AIDS kills millions, an orphaned land,
the primitive continent.

I carry Africa like a proud heritage.


I was born in a country in the lower end of Africa
with perfect weather, not too hot, or cold, or humid,
lush, rich, flowing, abundant.
Now that country is ravaged by disease, poverty, a despotic government.
Now it is the saddest country in Africa.
That is where I am from.

I did not grow on Canadian soil,
my mother was not nourished by these skies,
she didn't carry me through three starkly different seasons
and deliver me into a fourth season
as different from the other three as ice from snow.

I am an African transplant.

I was born under a canopy of stars in a small mining town,
Sinoia, in Southern Rhodiesia, an English colony.
My mother says my head was covered in blonde wet curls.
A white child in the black country of Zimbabwe.

I am a colonial transplant.


Do I belong anywhere?

Lured by warmer winters, the lush green
rainforest that bathes the city in one long season
most like Spring, a horizon of ocean and mountain,
I leave Toronto for Vancouver.

Outside my window the twinkling of lights of houses
like stars nestled against the mountain.

How many of us are from elsewhere,
carrying our memories?

As I write, I see many belongings,
glossy-haired Native Indians, the original beholders,
and English and French colonial settlers
and their descendants, stars, spreading,
inhabiting this expanse of northern land.
And peoples from every country on the globe,
arriving, living their lives from this moment, here,
other horizons, translucent memories, but here, their families,
a dance of many-hued races, colours, a multi-ethnicity.
These charms singing, these horizons of singing bowls.

Copyright 2004 by Brenda Clews

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I am drifting numbly through the days, spending most of my time alone.

My son is working through massive issues and I want to support him in that process in any and all ways I can.

The 'ex' or 'father' is being inexplicably, oh, can I say it, cruel, refusing to speak, even hanging up on me, not paying child support for our daughter who lives with me and is returning at last to school to take a night course that may help her get back on course.

I have employment worries as my employment insurance is coming to an end, and while I have a good independent business idea have not been able to afford the courses I need to prepare myself for marketing my services.

I continue to look for work while feeling caught in a nethersphere of possibilities all of which are indistinct like balloons you can't quite catch and which you're not sure if you could whether they could carry you to a place of security.

Of course I worry continually about my son in the midst of his bifurcated family that is warring with itself continually, if that metaphor is apt.

One of the main reasons I moved to Vancouver, a move that only lasted two years, was to remove my children from this situation in the hopes that they might regain their inner strength and happiness and energy to forge their lives. It didn't happen - I wasn't able to find full-time work and so we returned to Ontario. Where the worst things happened. Everything I feared with the 'other' household came to pass. The effects have been disastrous. In retrospect, I wonder if we should have remained on the other side of the country because we would have become used to West Coast life eventually and it might have been much healthier for all of us. My kids would never agree to this vision of what life 'could have been like' of mine, but I wonder if I'd just 'stuck it out' in Vancouver if somehow we could have bypassed the breakdowns both of my children have experienced since returning and once again spending all or a large part of their time in the other household (and I would include the total and irrational rejection of my son for an entire year by his father/the other household as part of the 'problems' generated by that household).

With no answers, but many ruminations, I drift humbly through the days, spending most of my time alone in intense meditation.

Perhaps it is life that is the poetic itself: the 'messiness of reality,' the chaotic undercurrents.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Great Bliss Queen's Mansion of Flaming Bliss

Back-dated a post of the The Great Bliss Queen's Mansion of Flaming Bliss as the first entry of this blog in 2003 (when I wrote the poem). It's a birthday gift, I suppose.

It's also a celebration of finally being able to copy everything from my old 2003 iMac - OSX 10.2.8 - (which still runs like a charm) onto a storage hard drive successfully. I found the poem and its image among the documents from the old iMac and was able to post it along with an embedded link to a reading of the poem (my first poetry recording).

Which feels good.

While I should have sent "Bliss Queen" out to literary journals (I have read it at a few university conferences, and at various poetry readings and received postitive feedback from the academic crowd -being taken aside for private commendations afterwards), my blog is my journal and having it here starting this writerly enterprise seems right.

Direct url:

Sunday, February 01, 2009

bon vivant dog walk, melting neighbourhood, passersby smiling at each other, slushy lakes sloshed through joyfully in waterproof boots

bruised tailbone is sore, but it's okay and the point is not to focus on it, not on such an afternoon of thick blue presided over by a winter sun

spoke to my son by phone and he seems to be recuperating, says he feels physically alright although perhaps not quite so emotionally but things are fine

I'll see him during the week, when we can talk more
I've woken with a different understanding of the last two decades with my son. In the pre-dawn darkness, I make notes, trace underlying connections, am open to what patterns are emerging.

The patterns are like deep ocean currents and not what the current weather is.

'Pull Down the Northern Lights for Chandeliers,' Zoom video August 20, 2020

   "I'd dance to death to evoke it." "Who in me writes?" It was a rich, varied poetry evening where we read, talked ...