Welcome to wordcurrents

January 30, 2015 * * My new poems here to date: 1,140 * *

riverwriterThe new look  includes an illustration of our island from a postcard dated 1914

Here is a plug for a Forum that I run: Zeugma, an internationally subscribed Forum for poets, and related to the renowned Zeugma lists.

Over time, I have taken my own advice and compiled a collection of my favourite poems from this site. I did this by clicking on the “Favourite this post” link above each poem that I like a lot. If you are a subscriber, your list is stored in the site database. If you are not a subscriber, the list is stored on your computer in a cookie, which deletes your list if you delete the cookie. All lists are private; even I can’t access any but my own. If you do have a list, I would be pleased to hear about it. Cheers.

“Popular Posts”  I am amazed to discover that some of my posts have been viewed multiple tens of thousands of times in the past four years, since I enabled the counter. (see column to the right).

What do you think? Please comment on any post.

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Letter: Does Cornwall Need an Arts Coordinator?


Arts Coordinator


Does Cornwall Need an

“Arts Culture Coordinator”? 


A letter published in the Standard-Freeholder

January 19, 2015

Note: I wrote this letter to add some perspective to the issue that Councillor Brock Frost presented to City Council, that Council should investigate the Feasibility of hiring an “Arts Culture Coordinator”


The last paragraph, which appears here, was deleted by the Standard-Freeholder.


I am posting the letter here in PDF format to keep the paragraphs distinct. To enlarge, click the magnifier in the upper left corner of the letter.


Douglas Hill

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After the three hour drive south down desultory highway 11,
during which, dazed from cigarette smoke and gasoline fumes
and making a thousand comments about virgin mouse fur
and wondering if we were there yet and giggling and whining
until we were ready to throw up but not on the upholstery
and finally feasting through the car window on wild cherries
we picked from the scraggy tree leaning over the gravel shoulder
while Momma found a discrete bush well out of sight
but not to far nor too difficult to reach in open-toed sandals,

we finally arrived at the top of the escarpment. Far below
sprawled the tree-clad city of North Bay, and beyond that,
glorious sparkling Lake Nippissing with its shallow sandbanks
beach cabins, sun and islands drifting on the far horizon:
heaven on a con-your-parents-for-everything-you-can-get bun.


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Perhaps Poseidon
had wielded it
like a magic wand
under the sea.

Three worn,
steel tines
curved to a common
cylindrical base
that gripped
a weathered
worn old pole
long enough
to grab the dock
with the bent tine.

He used to spear
mud pouts
in fresh spring
when dandelions
bloomed along the shore.

Now he was as dead
as Poseidon
and although
he could never
hold pitch
to sing out
over the waves
the trident
could still
sing of him
for his great
grand children.

Whose eyes
grew wide
as we sang
his mighty
silly deeds.



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The handle of the vacuum cleaner
hung on his hand like
the ring in a bull’s nose.

Retired one week
and already he was
half way down
the main staircase
vacuuming the blood
red carpet runner.

If she knew, Rita,
his ex-secretary,
would be staring
The news would drop
like a stone into
a reflecting pond.
Was he making his
own coffee too?

How many treads?
only fourteen?
It seemed like fifty.
He descended another step
and began a clumsy Veronica
with the cleaner’s hose.

He turned off the howling machine
sought the contemplative
silence of the stairs
knelt, placed a figurative
gold coin in the dust before him
Kissed it, dedicated
the blood of the afternoon
to the mantilla of his lady.

Wasn’t retirement about
doing what you wanted
when you wanted?
He wanted to sip cool sangria.
He wanted to sail the Spanish Main
He did not want to be the
amateur matador in a corrida,
but he had no choice:
he had chosen this.

He had planned
all his working life
for retirement.
And this was it?
Vacuuming the stairs
before he changed into
the suit of lights
for his own retirement party.

Usually such parties were
surprises or so he had thought.
The only surprise about this was
the vacuuming part.
And the dusting part
And the silverware cleaning.
Pray for a quick death
he thought, in the afternoon.

Who would have thought
retirement would make
tear him like a horn
goring a passing cape.
He shuddered
he knew something
was going to have to change
and deep in his heart
he knew it would be he.


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Stone on Stone

Far below the surface
at depths that rock
could metaphor clouds
and their village
a remembered sky home
they moiled for gold.

The daily fall to work
of one hundred and eighty
men in the double-decker car
down the mile-deep shaft
took minutes rapid
openings to upper drifts
seventy-five metres
every three seconds
for too many minutes
until the hoist operator
up top
saw the marker
and the hoist slowed
and knees took three Gs
and the cable stretched
and the car rose
to pass then settle down to
to the forty-five hundred foot
level where they crossed to the
next hoist down
to eighty-three hundred

Then they left the lighted
landing and headed into the
drift to the stope.

Far along the drift
without the lamps
on their hard hats
dark was so absolute
eyes would be unnecessary.

On the day in question
the rookie was to scale
his first stope
Sven showed him
how to grasp the long scaling bar
and use it to jab into
the freshly blasted stope
and chip loose rock
from wall and overhang
so they could muck safely.

He chipped and scaled
for a half hour
dropping several tons
of rubble to the floor
finally he turned to
old Sven, who was watching
and said “It’s ready.”

Sven stood
reached for the bar, and tapped
the overhang a few paces
from where they stood.

a rock the size of a small
appeared before them
with a slam
that shook the rookie
for fifty years.

“Not quite,” said Sven,
and the rookie scaled
for another hour
on the day in question.


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That’s me at twelve, missing a tooth: such a naive young girl.
It was taken in calmer times, before my father put up the fence;
You can see all the way to the dacha on the hill behind me.
Here’s a picture of my boys. No, that’s Vladimir;
he was so small as a child. But he’s bigger than Arseniy now.
And he takes advantage of it. Would you care for some borscht?

Pardon, what? An explosion? Goodness gracious, no.
It’s just the boys playing upstairs. They’re so rough!
You’d almost think they were killing each other.
Excuse me; I’ll just be a moment.

Vlad, are you standing on your brother’s face again?
Well, I warned you: you’ll have to go outside and play.
Inside the palings, not on them. No. I told you before:
it’s too dangerous; they are too sharp and he could —
Vladimir, you remember what happened to the dog.

Such silly boys! So full of life. They must try everything.
But your tea is getting cold; can I warm it up?
Oh, he experimented with the dog and a pointed stick
and learned a lesson the hard way. Really?
Well he impaled — one moment, please.

Will you behave? Your new tutor is just —
If you do not behave, I’ll tell your father:
and he`ll cut off your allowance; then you`ll be sorry.

Where were we? Oh, yes: so you can start on Monday?
You know, brothers can play nicely if
you are firm; otherwise, they try to get away
with murder. See? Already they have quieted down.
Have some borscht; it will put colour in your cheeks.


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That moment in the night
when Luna wakes you
and sings to
your heartbeat against
soft breathing nearby.

Sings so bright it hurts
but opens you to
the moon-wakened watchers
like you, hear what happens
in the silence
like you, see the hand
of what you believe
right there in the sky
singing truth at you
until you go fall back
and forget.


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