richard provencher

 

A Canoe’s Journey
 
These waters swell and splash
against the hull
sleekness fingering its way,
whispering alongside
a winding bank — the day
bright upon its face,
ahead are days of gentle grace.
 
 

A Choice of Battles
 
Did you not notice warrior-child
your blood is the same as your victim?
 
Look at his red colour and tanned
face diminished from an AK-47
 
body twitching, choking in spasms
with the sadness of dying breath.
 
You’re just a boy from the streets
attired in jungle green, and a proud
mom-ma sharing tribal revenge.
 
Is this victim he whom you claim
killed an uncle and brother from
your loving Congo family?
 
Will you turn your weapon on
United Nation peacekeepers?
 
Or will your appetite for blood be
whetted in bloody wars to come
Sudan? Zimbabwe? Perhaps Eritrea?
 
until you too lay dying on a lonely
jungle trail crying out, “Mom-ma.” 

 

A Knuckled Fist
 
of trees are awed at the
measure of it all,
half-formed limbs
in magnificent display
hidden by the mist
of morn. Their upper
layers of green
accepting visitors
like a Whiskey jack —
summer’s on the way.
Sun arises. Steam of
mist evaporated. And
day’s journey  
on the mend again.
 
 

A Little Son
 
Come little Nathan
with your curly, dark
hair and smile
so sweet
 
almost two and
interested
in everything
around you,
TV dials
 
rubber blocks
an airplane model,
mommy’s
knitting needles.
 
Come little son. When
you are afraid
of anything,
I’ll hold you close.

 

Detroit is Not Unhinged
 
Faces of despair
on the news last night, city bankrupt,
houses abandoned to vandals
and bargain-dealers snatching
leftovers. Katrina
introduced a beaver from
the river, swimming through
water-filled streets — porch-singer
wrinkled in worry
strumming hard times today.
 
Time has a way of plinking
chords in a song —
renewal can be done.
 
We wept for Katrina’s-America,
now many friends carry
freedom on their shoulders,
wounded but not defeated.
 
You have too much pride,
America. Overcome the decay – cry
over your crumpled
streets, broken reminders
of your pain.
 
Glory will return, America
and we will help you in your
trials along the way.

 

Dexter Bull Extravaganza
 
is a true miniature in size
bellowing as regular
bulls often do, masculine grunts
beginning with conversation
across the fence
 
then a dialogue of disagreement
since territorial interests
are involved —
two bulls on their private space
prancing in the pasture
and leading to several rounds
of head-butting.
 
On opposite sides of wired
fence, anxious eyes are watching
harems proud of their men,
one in muscled state
the other smaller, determined
 
both receiving the same attention
human species receive
when they too think
they are King of the hills
they roam.
 
 

Fever in the Woods
 
The lake is swirling
into a current,
wind prodding —
 
as ducks scoot in rapid-fire
movement
 
clouds breathe sprinkles
from their blankets of grey
 
speckled trout poking
snouts through water’s skin
 
along with
mosquitoes tap-dancing
upon the surface —
 
silence and beauty. Nature
a friend of memory. 

 

Memories by the Moose
 
River, its wooden bridge
a-creaking as we enter the park.
 
The river is a swirling soufflé
of foam-filled bubbles,
loose branches
meandering in the stream
 
a southerly flow.
 
Around the bend, rock-poking ripples
overcome a small sand dune.
Aware of my presence
a squirrel skitters tree-upwards.
 
I am a child of my past,
peanut-butter fingers
fishing with a hooked worm 
dangling low.
 
Upon a nearby plaque:
“In ’36 three men entombed
141 feet below, seeking crowns
of gold within the granite,
one man died.”
 
Paged in time the village   
is somber, at attention 
stapled to a gravel road
 
where peace and simplicity
are not easily forgotten.
  
 

2 Miles and Lots of Dusty
 
The country road we
biked on brought us to our
own fishing bridge —
 
asphalt later taking the fun
from skidding wheels
on loose rock – not many
cars on the road those days
more for the rich folks
 
and journeys continued
until one of our pals was hit
by one coming like an
eagle focused on his prey.
 
At the funeral we promised
the next big trout would
be in his honour. And we
did remember to do so. 

 

Hartland Bridge, New Brunswick

Pebbles spray our wooden
bridge cars hurrying by
places to go, late already

ancient structure a history of
craftsmanship where little boys
wheel bicycles, doll carriages
and dogs slumbering by

listen to thumping tires
in their race over this river, once
laying on belly, soothing water
pure for healthy gulps

now gasoline fumes and oil
dribble out defiance at the
freshness of this night.

A brocade of studded stars
highlight moon’s yawn reflecting
river’s coiling mist an evening
of invitation, sleepy ducks

settling on river’s surface
and silent swoops capturing rest
in the shadows of memory.

 

 


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