Sunday, March 11, 2012

elegiac poem

It's a San Miguel Sunday morning in central Ontario.
Smell of woodsmoke, lonely bells, and someone outside chopping at something in the yard. Chopping wood, having a spit at hands and back to working on the block. A sound of a McCulloch chain saw. And then silence.
You can smell the smoke, but it is not pungent like the brush and mesquite in Mexico.. It is hemlock and pine (Ontario cactus and Chaparral?)

But it might as well be San Miguel this smoky morning, ageless Mexican hill town, my town in Canada old too with telltale Indian trails and still-standing hemlock trading trees, where once Chippewas had come along the Holland river in canoes, some still wet, from the rapids, stripping down, slapping their breechclouts against the old maple that had served as the trading post for Indians on their way to the big mart in Toronto.
There is somehow a sense of of lost continuity. Your continuity. Divorced, and living on the edge of the Canadian shield. The soul trying to catch up with the body, Christ untouchable because He is in- between dimensions. Cagier this time, but still trans-dimensional, oxymoronic somehow, like the Devil in Dostoevsky, who was a time traveller too. And had offered his excuses. "When God struck down all the rebellious angels, I at first applauded.
"But now I'm shabby and bourgeois."
Christ never shabby or bourgeois.

Sunday morning in Ontario.
I hear bells, but no. It is a jarring sound. There is a fire drill in my apartment building. Everybody lines up.
Sleep still in their eyes.

There are no fire drills in San Miguel.
Only occasional Sunday morning gunshots.


Charles Gramlich said...

Evokes the place well. You've got all the senses activated in this one.

Chris Benjamin said...

Agree with Charles. Like this a lot, Ivan.

ivan said...


Thanks Doctor.

I am still trying to doctor my own literature, but it's nice to get a pro in to comment. BTW, at the college, they used to call me doctor too, but at the watering hole, it was something more anatomical. :)

ivan said...


Thanks, man. We all be published poets now.

As in the joke, we all be Corporals now, no problems with the Privates. :)

the walking man said...

I see the longing for a do over and the satisfaction of having accomplished more than you ever thought you could, regrets yes but self pity NEVER.

There is an ageless/infinite quantity here with your conundrum of the time traveling devil and Christ stuck between between dimensions.

I LOVE how you start out with physical labor right down to the spit on the hands and back to the axe to move us both forward and backward in time..McCulloch chain saw and the Indians of Canada and Northern Michigan, the Chippewa, who carried their continuity with them back to us who have no real continuity between wars.

Then in the end right back to the here and now. You take the reader fore and back and back and fore and leave, me at least, wanting to never end here and now, in line, half asleep in a fire drill.

the walking man said...

By the by find me on FaceBook if you are there. said...

Thanks so much, Mark.

Found you on FB...Not too much up yet.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Yeah ... there are no do-overs ... only a longing for moving forward and getting it right with a heightened sense of awareness. said...

JR. Funny thing.


Anonymous said...

Happy Friday,

My big news is that Eco-Innovators has been shortlisted for an Atlantic Book Award, which among other things means I get to go to St. John's Newfoundland for the May 17 awards ceremony! The full list of nominees is at

Also, my latest column is on the Lorax movie, Hollywood's latest attempt to capitalize on the sacred, and the role of pop culture in environmental education. See that at

Lastly, a wee favour to ask. If you've read either, or both, of my books, I'd love it if you could take a minute to comment on it/them at Go to to find my profile there.


Chris Benjamin is a freelance journalist, fiction writer, CBC News web writer/editor and a columnist for The Coast. He is the author of Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada and the critically acclaimed novel, Drive-by Saviours. In 2006/2007 he worked as a journalist in Ghana. He shared an honourable mention in the 2009 National Magazine Awards. Chris has also written for The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Chronicle Herald, VoicePrint Canada, This Magazine, Now Magazine, Canadian Dimension, Descant, OpenFile, Arts East, East Coast Kitchen Party, Third Person Press, Nashwaak Review, Pottersfield Press, Rattling Books, The Society, University of Waterloo Press, Z Magazine, Briarpatch Magazine, Coastlands, Progress Magazine, Rural Delivery and many others.

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