Poem – Someone pissed off the rain god


Someone pissed off the rain god
all summer I wake up in the middle of the night
every night
to rain pouring on the roof
to the water gulping  as it wanders the course
of the eavestrough and slaps down
on the wood boards of the side deck
outside my window
I look up and see the dog with his paws on the window sill
looking out into the wet darkness
two cats meditate on the dresser under the lamp
I forgot to turn off

we are all awake at the end of the line
that never concerned me before
now it matters
my beard grey in the mirror
my skin grey in the lamplight
all grey against the white sheets
like a sudden descent of winter
and the snow is not as cold as I feared it would be

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Grosse Île – a poem


Grosse Île

by William Gibson

We are guided through the Reception Hall,
lose the sound of the St. Lawrence River.
Gape at the baggage cages,
the immigrants’ luggage and clothing
packed on these
for disinfection
in the steam and sulphur
boilers.

Our guide explains why the shower stalls
have wire mesh roofs.
To keep the people from climbing out.
I look inside the galvanized grey casing
and stare at the shower tube and the three
wrap-around shower pipes
and I step back.

Later we walk down the trail
to the Irish cemetery
from 1847,
the famine year,
the big death year.

There is still one building from then.
One old cover shed still there.

Later I read how the government debated
the costs of sheds to cover the immigrants,
to get them out of the tents and the open air.
Not enough money for milk and bread.
For medical supplies.
The doctors and nurses, the nuns and priests
falling sick, dying.

How the St. Lawrence was full of ships
anchored, waiting with their sick, and dying
with their dead lying in the bunks of the crowded
stinking lower decks.
Where family members were too frightened.
To touch their own dead, for burial.

I read the list of those who died.
Unknown Dutch man
Unknown Irish child
There was one William Gibson,
Captain of a ship out of Liverpool,
his ship with sick and dead
in 1847.

NOTE: Grosse Île is an island in the St. Lawrence River downstream from Ville de Quebec. It has had a fascinating history including biological weapons research during World War II (anthrax), but less alarmingly, it was the quarrantine immigration station for Quebec. In other words, it was Canada’s Ellis Island. Actually Ellis Island was America’s Grosse Île. Irish and other immigrants entered Canada at this point at the time of the Potato Famine, 1848. It continued to be used as an immigration depot into the 20th century. Today you can visit the island, Parks Canada manages the island. It is a moving experience to tour the site.

Poem – I Just Noticed This


it was so quiet I could

hear my feet falling asleep

in my boots

 

my teeth clean for my tongue and my hair

brushed for no one to see

the dog walked without

 

meeting the Spring mating skunks — I was

run out of steam reading my new history book — all day

it had been sunny but the air never warmed over

 

the freezing mark to make the snow

bank mountains dwindle — the cats were running

up and down the halls like the Indianopolis 500 time

 

trials — all my scribbling done for the weekend — the car

refuelled to finish my Sunday afternoon

then laundry done and the dirty dishes scoured the week’s

 

grocery shopping list complete in every way ready to go to

the store on Monday night — all ready for my

prayers — it would have been a perfect moment to hug you

Poem – Midnight at My Feet


Midnight at My Feet

the dog is dreaming again
yips and yips and more yips

and his paws are running
and he’s not getting anywhere

he’s on the rug
chasing something in his sleep

we are both getting to be old farts
and Winter is fine with us both

as if that White Bitch cared
cackling crone, wheezing outside

throwing snow flakes and making
the tree branches shake and moan

the five wild kittens are six months old

and are replaying last night’s demolition derby
as they begin climbing the book shelves

to resort my collection and paste a smile
on my mug as I turn to call the dog’s name

in a slow low voice and tell him that
he is safe and that I love him

Poem – On Sunday Morning


On Sunday Morning

– William J. Gibson –

 

I knew a song once about crocodiles

You used to hum it on your bike

 

When you were ten and told me

about it one morning in bed

 

Your eyes were blue and I tried

to see you as a little girl who cried

 

But all I saw was the hot burn of your lips

the tossed gold of your hair

and the black ice

under your eyelashes

Poem – 38 years


– William J. Gibson

38 years

it used to be about addition
now subtraction rules

there was an old pair of shoes to throw away
a ratty pair of slippers wanting to end it all

the cat was lieing on the pile of clean clothes
the sun pouring in the window the lightest honey

birds singing absolutely sincerely in full contact competition
and the waves breaking insistently on the sand and rocks

I had been in swimming and my shoulders were a little tired
and the wind began to chill me down – my legs felt okay

now i stood in the shade of the oak tree
that I planted 38 years ago

making so many generations of squirrels very happy
a screen for the meteor shower of August

the next people who own this place
I hope they choose to cut it down

Poem – Love in 10 easy lessons


love in 10 easy lessons

 – William J. Gibson –

in elementary school on Valentine’s Day

the girls giggled and the boys got red faces

and everyone was energized and shy and bold

and spinning in our seats

was it all fun and good or maybe there was more

I wonder were we scared that we might

not get any little red hearts

would be left out

shame on you, Hallmark

how much love flew round the classroom

scraps of red paper

traces of liking

faces with smiles

eyes hiding worry

waiting for the jokes to land

a life time of love songs and romantic movies

toy trains full of imitative emotion

learned behaviours and valiant attempts

to hide from the disappointments

the boredoms, the ache of breaking, roller coasters

of ecstasy and loathing, kisses and kicks,

little red hearts pieces glued back together

again and again, careful with those scissors

they are very sharp