Friday, 20 April 2018

a ramble in the ruins

I have been trying to work on letters I will leave to my dearly beloveds ... 
to be read, privately, at the time of my passing ... by way of softening what,
I've no doubt, will be a lackluster laying to rest ... having wandered 
most of my days and arriving – by circumstance and not design – at this place ...
thousands of miles from most of those I've embraced along the path

and so, I will leave my nomadic family, quietly and without fanfare ...
though, a final 'shush now, all is well' ... perhaps, by way of

some kind of closure for them ... seems, the motherly thing to do 

in this attempt, I have discovered that events and revelations and insights and feelings
do not organize themselves into anything resembling a 'most-to-least-impactful' order ...
nor do they bubble forth like a well honed script ... with meaningful scenes

for each letter recipient, floating onto the page

thus, the task is proving to be elusive ... for the journey comes to me in fragments,
like pebbles at the feet of ancient ruins ... the layers of context, that – in the moment – 
was everything ... have,  by now, crumbled away

and it is left to me to try and gather up the bits of stone and attempt to string them,
one by one upon a thread ... to put the echoes and indelible images ... into words
that will soothe and reassure my children ... who I know will care ... 

that I lived a, mostly, lovely life

photo: The Parthenon (an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian democracy and Western civilization) - M.J. Bourke (while visiting Greece in 1968)

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 13 April 2018

white phantom in the parking lot

by early afternoon ...
the day
which had begun
to the sound of pelting hail
on window pane

 – awakening me
hours before
I had planned
to awaken –

pitter-pattered on
in misty raindrops
and the groggy vestiages
of a hard night's sleep
– cut short –

and I found myself –
as I rested in the car
while he ran down
the last of the errands –

in that space
I imagine
is preliminary to

where perception
becomes that
of spectator
in a waking dream –

I was about to

lay my head back
with the aim
of a catnap when

I spied
a  white plastic  bag
in the drizzle

 ... floating and spinning ...
above the parking lot –

I half closed

my tired eyes and
the empty bag

as ethereal as
a phantom –

it soared
and twirled
in grand jetés
the cars and bins and
rows of shopping carts –

mesmerizing – 
flight again 
and again

until at last

it was captured
by a gust of wind
and carried up

and up ... and up ...
higher and higher –

by then

I had forgotten
it was just
an empty bag –

and I went with it ...
for a time

photo: White Phantom in the Parking Lot   - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Thursday, 5 April 2018


all her life, my Mother had a Pen Pal in Portsmouth, who, through the miracle of happenstance, was named Pauline ... and thus, from time to time, the words,
"I've a letter from my Pen Pal  Pauline, in Portsmouth", would putt-putt-putt across
the ordinary ... tickling a moment ... and evoking giggles from we-two

alliteration can be wonderful when words fall – by chance – into splendid cascades
of kindred consonants ... I love the ripple of similar sounds – the patter of thrums –
the pop and sizzle ... as alliteration injects humor, creates rhythm, bestows symmetry,
alters mood ... or simply signals:  something sinister is skulking in the shadows

I think that we are born loving alliteration ... it fills children's verse and storybooks
and is the stuff of childhood games and riddles and tongue twisters – and yet, alliteration
is really at its most magical, when words find each other and come together, as if
under a spell ... crackling in conversations ... or in a poem ... serendipitously

too different, perhaps, to enjoy a like-minded sense of humor, my Mom and I both
'got'  alliteration ... it was as though, an artfully word-smithed run of harmonious phonemes was the one thing we  could agree, was fantastic ... and often, funny ... and so ... 
we hung on to that ... fervently ... right through, to the end of the story

note:  al·lit·er·a·tion - əˌlidəˈrāSH(ə)n:  the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.

photo: of me, with card or letter in hand - around age 4, I think - probably taken by Mom

© 2018 Wendy Bourk

Friday, 30 March 2018

Heavy Steps - A Tankart Piece

A light post on what for some of us is the start of a busy Easter long weekend.  This tankart began as a picture I took (many years ago) of one of my grandsons, as he struggled to walk in a pair of his Dad's business shoes.    I treated the photo with various photo editing techniques until it resembled a sketch, more than a photograph.  The words came to me, almost immediately, but I felt that the picture would not lend itself to having words superimposed on it as is the case with haiga and tanka art work and so, initially, it served as inspiration for a humorous piece.  But the words were 'on my mind' and finally, I decided to add them, below the picture ... and submitted it to Skylark Journal, where is was published in the Winter 2017, 5.2 Issue.

The internet and cell phone camera, have put images
and imagery before us, like never before.   All of which has prompted me to contemplate the fascinating and thought provoking interplay between our photography and art and, indeed, the art we discover ... and how that influences our creative process, and ultimately imbues our poetry.  

Tankart:  Heavy Steps - Wendy Bourke 

© 2017 Wendy Bourke

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Chance Encounter – A Tanka Prose Piece

Running into someone that you know – in this town of millions – hardly ever happens.  It is such a rare event, that I find myself inclined to believe that, something akin to divine intervention must be involved. 

I hadn't seen her in years ... a by-gone co-worker from a long-ago office.   The last time we had talked, was over the phone.  She had called to cancel an, ever elusive, lunch date.  Her son was sick.

Time passed and we never did 'catch up' to each other again.

"I can't believe it's you," she effused,  as we were about to pass by – coming and going – on a suburban Skytrain Station platform.

"Wow!  What a wonderful surprise," I responded, equally pleased.  'How are the boys?" 

"They're good – they're great – teenagers, now.  You know, I think about you, all the time.  I think about what you said to me the last time we spoke.  Do you remember?"  I shook my head and she replied.  "You said:  things are almost never as bad as our worst imaginings.  My baby was sick and you said, if you can get him down to sleep, try to rest  ...  things are almost never as bad as our worst imaginings.   And you were right – I have found that to be so true.  I think about those words, all the time.  I worry so much ... about stuff ... about my kids – I worry too much.  But  then I tell myself:  things are almost never as bad as our worst imaginings."   

"That sounds like something I'd have said ... I think that – a lot."

"The curse of a vivid imagination," she laughed.  

"And a restless mind," I added.  " I so envy those lucky souls, who can just" – I thought for a moment – "you know ... park it ... all that nigaling angst." 

"I'll bet the 'parkers' don't write nearly as much poetry as the 'angsters' do," she teased, "another reason why I think of you, so often ... you got me started – getting it out on paper.  I can't tell you what that has meant to me.  But, I know, you know."  She grinned  and then  sighing, rather wistfully, remarked, "We have got to get together for that long overdue lunch ... one of these days."

The screech and squeal of a train braking as it whooshed into the station – broke the moment.  

"So lovely to have run into you," I said, signaling the end of our chance encounter with a brief, but affectionate hug ...  She turned towards the train, and then, glancing back and smiling, she walked away .... both of us, I think, suspecting, that – chances are – we will never meet again. 

                                              a chance encounter
                                              at a train station ...
                                              we part
                                              carrying each other's words
                                              in different directions

photo:  Sky Train Station (photo edited) Vancouver BC - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 16 March 2018

crows in the garden

 (click on photo to enlarge)

finally ... there are rare cracks of glorious sunshine – tears in
the glum gray cloak that fell upon this place, sometime last October ... 
to whirl and roll, for months, in fog and drizzle and icy gusts

soon, a sea of blooms will replace the murky gloom 

always, at this time of year, I think about planting a small garden
on my balcony ... fragrant inlet on the leaf and petaled main ... 

but – I refrain – the neighborhood crows, would never let me enjoy
that tranquil reverie ...  having found the power to take it away

once ... many years ago, now ... I planted a garden, here ...

the crows:  metaphorically – every bully I have ever known – 

would gather, in their little black feathered suits, behind 
my sliding glass door ... deflowering and devouring flowers and herbs ...
strutting about on the iron rail ... bating me in caw-cawing taunts

occasionally, when inanity sequenced into a scene from The Birds,
I would open the door a smidge, and bang it shut

off they'd sweep like a black cloud retreating ... that ... felt wonderful

– but, of course – the bully crows would inevitably come back
to do more damage ... because ... they could

until, at last, I gave up ... there is no reasoning with bullies, I reasoned, and –

in this City of Gardens – there are lovely, peaceful spaces everywhere ...

everywhere ... but near to me, on my balcony ... and that ... nettles me, still

photo:  Rock Quarry Garden in Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver BC - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 9 March 2018

people, places and things

I do not have a lot of things ... I like to travel light ...
although ... some of my things are faintly, faintly
enchanted ... not the utilitarian stuff, of course ... but,
rather, those things I have gathered along the way or came
to me as gifts or keepsakes – many, now, from people
who are gone from this world ... and yet, by some
ensorcelling magic, those things – occasionally – conjure up ...
that time ... a delicate evocation ... that floats across my mind ...
in wonderful wisps of fondness and affinity ... as fleeting
as a sigh  ......................................................

though, the streets and cafés and park fountains, waters edge
and kitchens, where we paused to linger, long ago
– on our divergent journeys – are not easily revisited to
summon forth the lovely subtleties of connection ... they
are softly near ... in my old puka shells ... a mixing bowl ... 
or in the pages of a dilapidated dictionary ... such things as these
can take me back ... to the people of those places ... in that far away ...
and like ancient seafarers on a foreign sea ... we pass, once again ...
ships in mystic mist  ... barely there ... barely there ... 
still ................................................................

photo:  Things  (the picture is part of an Indian brass tea set Mike purchased on his trip around the world in the 60's, which I had a bit of fun playing around with, with photo editing tools) - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 2 March 2018

on clouds and clogs

the wind is picking up outside my window ... perhaps, it will snow ...
snow always stops this – rarely snowy – town, in its tracks ...
he has brought me soup to sooth my disgruntled soul ...
and now he is at the door greeting a new plumber, who enters
our apartment, claiming the buzzer to our building isn't working

this is attempt-number-three to slay the clog that hides – malevolently –
beneath our laundry ... somewhere, deep, deep within our pipes ...
I overhear the plumber speculate that the clog is coming from
somebody else's drain ... that the clog is not even our clog ... he  suggests
bringing in a couple of guys who 'really know what they're doing'

once more – the clog has won the game, and attempt-number-four
is penciled in ... the air fizzles out of me like unplugged water wings ...
life's daily vexations can bog down a day in a flurry of inertia,
as a plethora of details spill from our busy pathways, into the quiet
spaces we seek out, to restore and sustain ourselves with peace

one of chopin's lovely preludes is tinkling from the mish-mash
of electronics in the corner of the room ... the pine trees that landscape
my view tousle on buoyant breezes ... cotton ball clouds sail gustily 

– enthralling – across the blue ... I hear the laughter of my love coming from
the laundry room ... the cursed laundry room ... I pick up my pen and write ...

a wicked and hideous clog, lurks in the dark recesses of this place ...
it sleeps for days ... but, inevitably – as soon as I convince myself that it has

moved on, or disappeared in the way of a vanquished apparition – it rousts
in grunts and gurgles ... like a bad plot in a made–for–TV stephen king movie ...
readying to spew forth a walloping blizzard of sudsy venom ...

there are sounds of good-bying and he returns with the latest clog update ...
the plumber's pretty sure, we'll get it next time ... he lingers over the scene

outside our window ... those clouds are really moving out there ... so nice ... 
and calming ... at least there are always such things as clouds ... he pauses,
for a moment, and adds ... as sure as ... there will always be such things as clogs
photo: Down the Drain - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Friday, 16 February 2018

Hot House - A Senryu Prose Piece

Back in early days – when my now-husband first began dropping by my parents home, in winter – he was astonished by the subtropical temperatures of the place.

“How do you stand it in there,” he queried – at a loss to square how a family of mortals could moil on, day after day, in a brick (the house was red brick) oven.

“It’s one of the few things they actually agree on – so best, not go there,” I told him.   "It’s very well insulated.  Whatever you can do in a house to create heat and keep it there, has been done in that house … Lots of research … Lots of cost estimates … I’m talking:  new furnace … new roof … the basement windows have all been replaced with glass blocks … Everything you can weatherproof has been weatherproofed … the windows, the fireplace, the chimney … stuff you've never even heard of – all weatherproofed … Then, there’s steel polyurethane core double doors:  back and front … attic and wall insulation … even the measly electrical outlets did not escape an upgrade … The heat in that house, is my parents crowning achievement at least in commerce ... It fills them with a level of pride that they seldom – if ever – experienced from any of their offspring … It is one of their main topics of conversation – and certainly the least contentious one.  They endlessly remark on how quiet the heat is … how clean the heat is … how it responds – immediately – at a touch.  It makes their day – everyday.   People from all over this city seek them out to soak up their wisdom and advice on products and price and dealers and warranties. They are like heat gurus.  Where else have you seen that level of post-purchase fortification and consumer bliss? “

“But it’s intolerable.  The heat in that house is intolerable,” he lamented.  “And then, when the oven is cranked up for a couple of hours, for the weekly roast, and the stove in steaming along full blast, with pots and pots of food, that one is expected to ‘put away’ between bouts of heat prostration …...”

“But It makes the loveliest frost patterns on the windows, don’t you think … So beautiful … I find I can just get lost in them.”

                              overheated house …
                              the simmering temperatures
                              providing scant warmth

photo:  Frost on Window (a photo taken from my window and enhanced with various photo editing programs) - W. Bourke

© 2018 Wendy Bourke

Wednesday, 14 February 2018



first kiss

the kiss came  
none too soon
under the stars and gypsy moon
waiting, in orchard breezes,
for the other to proceed:
a preemptive peck to signal 
they were set to do the deed

both wanting to appear sincere and not  
improper – or imply – 
that they were the kind person
to kiss any girl – or guy

murmurs amongst the quivers  
til, she heaved a breathy sigh

then fell

a bashful velvet kiss
her cherry lip-balmed lips . . . 

like magic . . . floating by.

flitter-flutters  flitter-flutters
'neath the WHAMMO, WHAMMO SKY !!!

note:  First Prize:  The Ontario Poetry Society Sparkle and Shine Poetry Contest, 2014.
photo:  Cherry Red – W. Bourke
© 2013 Wendy Bourke