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Back in the early 80’s, when I was yet a child of the single digits, the morning show of CFTR with Tom Rivers and Mike Cooper Brampton radio station CKMW ran a contest surrounding the hit new board game SuperQuiz. (Editor’s Note:  Mum corrected me on the station and says she can’t remember the DJ’s name but does remember that he was very good looking!  I think it was Russ SomethingOrOther…) My mother managed to get through on a regular basis and became one of the multi-show winners.  One of the early prizes, of course, was the actual game.  As the contest went on, Mum continued to win as did two other contestants.  All three became finalists in one last game held at the centre court of the Bramalea City Centre.  The grand prize was a brand new Commodore 64.

My father being a young electrical engineer, this was quite a coveted prize.  In preparation, he and Mum spent their evenings memorizing every card and every question in the box.  As a result, Mum was indeed crowned SuperQuiz Master and the computer came home with us that day with full fanfare from family and friends.  Its arrival in our living room was a grand party – complete with pizza and flowing alcohol.  The kids were spellbound and the adults jockeyed for position at the keyboard.  I’m sure my sister and I were carried off to bed just before our eyeballs dropped from their sockets.  The adults, meanwhile, stayed up learning all about BASIC, floppy disks and that oh so brightly coloured joystick.  Everyone had a great evening.  Except, of course, for the poor frog; he never did make it across the highway that night.

Santa’s Calling

In a sleigh full of eggnog, a fortnight ago,
Sat an unsuited Santa, without a ‘Ho Ho’.
It was two weeks till Christmas – he was dreading the trip –
The thought made him nauseous and made his bowels drip.

His anxiety had built bit by tiniest bit
Through the past several months and by now was a fit.
For he knew what would greet him at the end of that day
When the reindeer were ready and the elves packed the sleigh.

It would be just like last year – he had no hopes for better –
For proof he had only to turn to the letters
Stacked not nearly so high as in centuries past,
Even counting the email that had come in a blast.

No, there was not even hope if he opened a few,
His sad eyes had read for a moment or two
Of the greedy, ungrateful demands held within,
And he wiped a small tear from the tip of his chin.

Well, at least some had written, he thought with a shrug,
For it had been many years since he’d found on a rug
A tiny wee child of just seven or eight
Who had snuck back downstairs and stayed up very late.

To catch just a glimpse of a wondrous sight –
A big bellied Santa by Christmas tree light.
The memory brought a smile to his old withered face
But it faded as quickly as a snowflake of lace.

For the truth now was not one of laughter or light.
Indeed, it was often of darkness or spite.
For children today thought they knew all, and now
He often saw worry on each little brow.

And Santa, he thought that perhaps it was sad
That each little girl or boy’s Mummy or Dad
Could google an answer to questions of love
Or of mercy and hope and of what’s up above.

He didn’t think children now learned much of magic
Or of stories of wonder – the results were quite tragic.
The number of believers was dwindling so…
His heart burst with longing for so long ago.

When Christmas lists were of just one line or two
And children knew true joy and real magic, too.
And the tale of the first Christmas day in the barn –
That it wasn’t just some old man’s rambling yarn,

But the truth of a baby who just with his birth
Brought joy to all children all over the earth.

And so Santa sat in his sleigh in the snow
And watched o’er his flock of wild reindeer below.
Then he lifted his head and he gazed at the Star
And it seemed just so very impossibly far.

But the Voice spoke to him, as it had always before.
And he got to his feet and decided once more
To be there for each little wee spirit of grace,
For that tiny small child with a smile on her face.

 For if he didn’t work to keep Christmastime true
Just who could he count on – could it be you?

Liberations

“What time is the next train?” the shrunken old man asked the ticket seller.

“I’m afraid the last train left ten minutes ago.  The first one tomorrow is at 5:25 am.”

Realizing that this was a full six hours away, the old man seemed to shrink even further into his disheveled trench coat.  From my spot on the bench beneath the station clock I could see him sigh as he reached down to pick up his valise.  He shuffled towards me; thread bare Florsheims barely leaving the terraza tile with each step.

As I turned back to my book he gingerly eased himself onto the other end of the bench.  I had to feel for the guy.  While I was young and had my whole life in the backpack propping up my feet, he had very little padding left to protect his backside from the hard metal bench and couldn’t have had much more than a change of clothes in the bag at his feet. Continue reading “Liberations”

Commuters

They shared a look across the platform on a cold November day.
Two wrapped up travelers wishing they were hurrying off to play.

His cashmere scarf belayed the scuffed old satchel on his arm;
A man of style who knew that thrift would never do him harm.

Her trench pulled tight against those pounds she could never seem to shed.
She thought if he ever saw her less adorned the shame might drop her dead.

But still, she smiled as his eyes found hers, as they had every day before,
And his perfect smile sent in return left her wanting ever more.

She couldn’t know, but on this day the man had made a pact
To his mirrored self to make a move and finally to act.

He strode across the platform, sure and swift as knights of old
And taking off his glove extended a hand out in the cold.

“Good morning, Miss, I feel it’s time to meet and say hello.
You see, I’ve watched you every day and have longed to know you, so…

My name is David, and I hope, if you don’t think it vile,
You’ll sit with me upon the train and chat a little while.”

She met his hand and then his smile as the train pulled up beside,
And accepted his invitation for their Monday morning ride.

They talked of work and dogs and books and flirted just a bit.
And the ride was far too short this day – they wished that they could sit

Side by side for days on end, for each was sure they’d found
A kindred soul and fellow heart where love could run unbound.

Her station loomed and they parted ways with a promise to return
At the end of the day to talk again – there was so much left to learn.

And that was just the start of a love affair to last forever
All thanks to a train and a cold grey day – a happily ever after.

I believe

I believe in the power of humour, love and the written word.  All can conjure magic and all can induce inspiration.

I believe there is order in the chaos.  It’s just that, like any great masterpiece, one must be at a distance to see the patterns.

I believe in the guiding grace of the unseen God.   There are many sacred places on this earth and few of them have a roof.

I believe that Jesus walked the earth – as a male, a rebel and one heck of a storyteller.

I believe in MacGyver, Kermit the Frog and my Poppa.  All three have taught me invaluable lessons.

I believe that Trevor Linden was the best Canuck of all time.  And I believe there are those who should be ashamed that they let him leave for awhile.

I believe that John Denver, Great Big Sea and Matchbox Twenty can quite happily co-exist in a playlist.   Indeed all music, when played from the heart, goes together.

I believe we should bring back lawn darts.  Too many stupid kids are making it through childhood alive to reproduce.

I believe Rick Mercer should run for Prime Minister.  And if he won’t then Justin Trudeau will do.

I believe that stories change the world.  No village has ever followed a leader who couldn’t speak to them.

I believe a whisper will always trump a shout.  Everyone stops listening when one person starts shouting to be heard.

I believe the species we are exploiting will survive to enjoy this world long after we’ve self-imploded.  The only way to avoid this end is to stop the uneducated masses from breeding.

I believe we should be building factories on the Shield and growing plants in the Horseshoe.  You can’t grow a carrot in two inches of topsoil.

I believe the bottled water industry is killing the planet.  Full stop, no discussion.

I believe Paul Gross is the best actor Canada has ever produced.  If you watch his hands on stage you’ll see what I mean.

I believe that truly good lives are short.  Because they do all the right things up front and get picked to the winning team first.

I believe I will write the great Canadian novel.  But I might be eighty by the time I finish it.

I believe in kindness, politeness and in walking gently on this earth.  And I hope you do, too.

Sea to Sky

Old Stanley stands atop his post, his arms stretched out for rain
Another blessed weekend in this city once again
Broad leafed trees catch the fleeting sun as horses shuffle past
The girl in the carriage longs to be the girl forever cast
A sweet salt breeze lifts the flag of jaunty white and red
As prayers and dreams go rushing through the weary traveller’s head
The mountains stand just waiting, calling, beconing the spirit
The cruise ship docks and half a city moves so quickly off it
If she could walk forever here beside the sea instead
So much to see and breathe and hear but alas she must to bed!

Ritual

The rational part of his mind knew that it was ridiculous.  Normal people didn’t live like this.  Normal people just turned off their lights, locked their doors and left their houses.  Every day.  Without bringing on the cataclysmic consequences of not checking everything three times over.

Or nine times.  Not six, never six, nor any multiple of six.  Three was good, even five was okay, but six or twelve…no, then he’d have to start all over again.  From the top.  No cheating or the house would burn down for sure.  Or flood.  He’d forget to turn off the tap and come home to find the bread basket floating near the kitchen island like Noah’s Ark. Continue reading “Ritual”