Winnipeg

Cry me a red, red river
A river of dust and bones
Of hearts that bleed and shiver
From broken and bruising homes

Blow me a kiss of willow
To echo a mourner’s moan
The ache of an empty pillow
Another child’s fate unknown

Cry me a red, red river
To fold me within its bed
And comfort the cares that slither
Through thoughts of unending dread

Bring me a message, finding
Too late what you had to face
My anger a knot, a binding
A coiling of thoughts that race

Cry me a red, red river
Reflecting a distant star
A chorus of souls, a quiver
That calls to me from afar

Paint me a cold moon rising
Surrounded by frozen waste
Still warmed by a hatred, blinding
For victims that leave no space

Cry me a red, red river
From words that no longer mean
An end to the dreams that linger
Its path a forgotten scream

Soothe me to sleep through Winter
To wake in the roar of Spring
With gifts that are carved to splinter
Where birds cannot bear to sing

Cry me a red, red river
And lay there upon this shore
The past where I long to wither
And hold you again, once more

This was written for the Red River Women.

Human Rights

Rectitude and moral maze
Seem like to meet their end of days
In hands of saint whose might has ways
Of punishing our own delays

While failure to address unknowns
Has sold what titles to our moans
Could yet be called mere gifts or loans
With careful words we’ll leave these zones

Ally ourselves to no more men
And disbelieve reports of when
The road to peace was better ken
Of others’ culture, sword and pen

The velvet curtain will hold fast
And legislation will bow past
Poor sight-impaired judicial mast
Whose figure seems to fade, aghast

As scales are stripped of balanced view
No counterpoint, but reference, new
Established as alternate to
Our older values, now too few

To understand the loss we face
Try to supplant a lesser place
And see the bold, inhuman race
Condemn all pity, justice, grace

Awakening at last, too late
The image of our fellows’ fate
With little thought and careless hate
We’ll watch our own asphyxiate.

A Race

Fleet of foot, we rose up on new legs
And crawled from the ocean,
Found caves by the shore more secure,
But ambitious, precocious, we wanted more.

Overtaking the bones of dinosaurs
Forging weapons of our bodies
We set out to outsmart competition
Surpass them with strength and speed.

It was not easy. Some fell early
To malnutrition; attrition rate high,
But we were stubborn, focused;
Too intent on growth to die.

Hurdled germs on our own terms
Through the darker ages, lettered pages
To illuminate and illustrate
Our superior ways, our mind, our fate.

When prayer for days fell out of fashion,
Revolution wrought new passion
Choosing sides and burning towns:
Spoils to victors, death to clowns.

Bloodied our hands in War and Peace
With the drawing of borders and global police
Such inventive solutions to building new homes
That we thought we were Gods, not flesh and bones.

And now we have entered a digital age
We find new forms of life engaged
In fights for supremacy, violent rage
Evolved to the glare of a flickering page.

But we haven’t forgotten our primitive roots
For one, in anger, aims and shoots
To rid this world of other tribes
Ensuring only “ours” survives.

The Secret Ingredient

The girl that cooks bakes cake and pies
And plays at house and tells no lies
That can’t be wriggled into line
Parading truth and saving time

The girl that cooks makes soup and stews
That chase away the taste of blues
Her kitchen hums with spitting fat
She works and cleans and strokes the cat

The girl that cooks whips up dessert
And bandages the parts that hurt
When all the world is making war
She’s tossing aubergines in flour

The girl that cooks is canny, chaste
Her sauces never go to waste
No eggs are dropped, no milk gets spilt
Her apron strings are edged with gilt

The girl that cooks with fiery flame
Whose every nuance tastes the same
Is ready with another dish
To feed you meaty, wholesome fish

The girl that cooks is clever too
She knows what suits won’t always do
When with a smirk upon your lips
You peck her brow and grip her hips

The girl that cooks in every room
Will not be left alone so soon
While every mouthful, reels you in
You’re caught within her roasting tin

The girl that cooks must take the blame
For ruining your filthy name
Enticing you with food so fair
You hung your hat and took a chair

The Peacemakers

Simple lines are drawn in sand
Before too long a raid is planned
Evading those so underhand
They would presume to claim this land

Off we sneak in battle dress
Such gentle men and ladies, less
To mop and mock the endless mess
Than blow things up, as merciless

To violence we’ve long adhered
We have become the thing we feared
And afterwards may not be cleared
Of careful killings, well prepared

Poor War has wandered far and wide
From hill to valley, mountainside
And sunk such fortunes, fear and pride
To foster thoughts of suicide

Promoting causes, long since lost
He breeds support and hides the cost
Our future terrorists to host
More pointless conflict, until most

If not quite all are lying dead
Two tribes with matching holes in head
Surrounded by twin pools of red
Both died for an ideal, it’s said

And what is left to selfless men
But legends of their struggle, gain?
We heed such calls to follow pain
Our children reach for arms again.

Peace

We buried the hatchet
At ten years’ détente
Each knowing the other
Has nothing they want
For friendship of sorts
We rekindled our flame
No longer so taut
That we flinch at a name
Though lovers we were
Now a decade has passed
Since the ending turned sour
All that lies in the past
For the first time in years
I just spoke to a mate
Unreserved, without tears
It was not yet too late

The Pantomime of Peace Offerings

One must take responsibility
For all the ills and woes that life can send
When feeling in a muddle
Raise your eyes above the puddle
Remember that you are your own best friend

It’s all this incivility
That lands a damsel squarely in distress
When the wolf is wanting in
And the walls are looking thin
Make more effort, window dressing to impress

There’s no reason you should wait upon the hero
And stand there with your knickers in a knot
It’s a cert he’s very busy
So before you go all dizzy
Take a breath and count the blessings you forgot

Don’t pin your hopes on happy endings
For all of life’s a journey, don’t you know?
Keep a hanky up your sleeve
So you can signal a reprieve
And pack your troubles in your pocket as you go

Taking a back seat

Racist grannies on the bus
Tut and stare – it’s them v. us
Martin Luther was their King
But did his words mean anything?

Instead of peace from A to B
Oneupmanship is all they see
A trade in slaves they scowl and claim
No other story merits blame

How then may one girl best explain
Two thousand years of Jewish pain?
Our ancestors have suffered too
But my pale face meets hostile view

No white devil yet understands
The misery of foreign lands
Of being torn from all you know
And sold for servitude, although

If we had time enough to show
So many tales of mankind’s woe
Are written, spoken, danced and sung
To exorcise this bitter crumb

As painful history lays bare
How little pity all do spare
For those they see as lesser folk
The truth is plain, a racist joke

Revolution

the categorization of life lets us know our station
so we cannot fail to grasp just where we are
the nametags thrust upon us show degrees of separation
and we see that some among us have come far

but I am more than just a name,
a string of letters just the same
as many others in this vast humanity
and when you try to box and file me
in a cabinet of others
I must scream out ‘individuality.’

I am a person, not ‘a human of caucasian extraction’
and there sure is more to me than meets the eye.
You must surely understand my very evident frustration
for you’re clearly not a ‘simply average guy’.

why don’t we start a revolution
overthrow the institution
show the world what we are fighting for and why?
put down your weapons of destruction
and let’s build a brighter future
where tomorrow’s child can dream to reach the sky.