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downloadRecently enjoyed some shelf-roaming time in a large bookstore in Toronto, ON.  Of course, I eventually found myself in front of the poetry bookshelf.

I discovered ‘HELD‘ a remarkable collection from Elizabeth Burns [1957-2015].

I flipped the book open to a random page and without judgment or censorship, I share with you what I found at page 52, Making the moon jar.

I’d love to hear what you think, your reactions, what feelings or memories the piece evokes:


To make a jar as perfect as those from the Choson dynasty
– enormous rounded vessels used for storing grains of rice –
the potter must learn patience. Over and over again,
what emerges from the kiln is cracked or buckled, weak
at the circumference. Another one, flawed and unglazed,
heaved onto the truck, taken down the track into the woods,
where she smashes raw white pottery to bits and buries it.
Back in the studio, her hands shape into being two new hemispheres,
slippery as newborns. She balances one onto the other, smoothes
wet clay between them, makes them whole. First firing, no cracks yet –
she dips the vessel in a milky glaze. Another firing, then
the opening of the kiln-mouth, the lifting out: a full moon jar.
She moves around it, strokes the pearly skin of porcelain,
feels the slight ridge around the centre, an equator. Two halves
are joined. Her heart is singing at what her hands have made.

Publisher: Polygon an imprint of Birlinn Ltd.
ISBN: 978-1-84697-170-9
Cover Image: © The Trustees of the British Museum
Cover Design: Will Brady

Other “Off the Shelf” Selections.

Every so often I pull a book of poetry from the shelf. Today it’s a recent gift from a great pal, “Undercurrents: New Voices in Canadian Poetry” edited by Robyn Sarah.

I flipped the book open to a random page and without judgment or censorship, I share what I found at page 111 with you: Shelter by E. Alex Pierce.

I’d love to hear what you think, your reactions, what feelings or memories the piece evokes:


We were there in that dark with the bleat
and the crying around us. I could still hear you,
in that other language, speaking to them, to the lambs.11106191

I stood still and wouldn’t move,
fearful to go and fearful to stay,
the storm’s voice coming from without,
the animals’ voice, within.

And I knew them, that they were safe now.

The the luxury of the lambs came down,
and you were there where you wished to be,
upon me, rippling out and outer
with a sound of wind over wind and rain over rain,
of wool over wool and flesh over flesh,
the sound of a sound folding into itself,
until my bones were glad to that frame
over which my skin, like a tent, had stretched itself.

Publisher: Cormorant Books
ISBN-13: 9781770860049
Cover art and design: Angel Guerra/Archtype

Other “Off the Shelf” Selections.


Everything you are about to read is the truth …

An early wake up this first day of 2016 left me a bit adrift.  Too sleepy to start a new book, I rolled around on the floor playing with the dogs before spying a massive, full-colour advertising flyer on the desk supporting a modest stack of real mail. It wasn’t yet daylight when I started flipping through the pages and here’s what I learned written in total freefall mode, no editing:

A handsome cowboy in a black leather Stetson
sells beautiful glass doors on 5th street
somewhere in Southwest Florida.

Two sprites ride on the back of a bronzed alligator
posing in front of silk topiaries.

A cross-eyed cartoon caricature of a carpenter’s saw
throws a red-tongued raspberry and ambulates
in over-sized running shoes.

Docks and pilings can be restored by a blond
German Shepherd clad in scuba gear, goggles,
a custom four-legged wetsuit and flippers.
References available upon request.  

A crawling Gerberish toddler can eat his lunch
off floors so clean.

Home theatre specialists conjure magical
technology consultants crowned in black top hats.

A red-headed woodpecker clings to an
endless variety and shapes of architectural
foam guaranteed against woodpecker damage.

A pick axe insert smashes, but doesn’t shatter,
the glass pane of hurricane protection –
two motors free or $400 off!

Sparky, a bright yellow light bulb wearing
a red baseball cap, holds a yellow lightning bolt in one
white-gloved hand and a yellow, ten-to-two frozen
alarm clock in the other – NOW HIRING.

A skeletal fish named Dry as a Bone boasts
breakthrough technology in paver sealing; and
the Grill Guys wear helmets to clean your grill.

Dogs and cats are the only reasons to
Forget the Rest and Call the Best to
clean your carpets.

Little blue, silicone men dangle on
little blue swings and ladders to
clean your gutters.

A full-page woman’s bikini clad crotch sells
pool packages while a red Starfish nibbles at her navel.

And … if you Go Green, the guys who care
promise to turn our little blue planet
into a blotchy and pitted lime.

2016HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL and may you really, really surprise yourself in 2016!

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