Tag Archives: poetry

The Arena: a Lens onto Life

I lost and found my son this weekend on the ice

He was there, and then…. he skated into a corner away from sight

I imagined him in the middle of a scrum of bodies and sticks – eyes locked on the puck

Somehow he looks bigger as he wheels around the net, glances past the crease and backhands a pass to his waiting teammate

It is his ease of movement that makes me search for the answers I don’t really want to reflect on – just, how did he grow up so fast? And what’s next?

I blink. He’s gone… then I focus to see that he has gathered in the puck from his opponent’s blade and has nudged it forward;

He spins off his back leg and begins a deliberate, looping stride towards the side boards, flicks the puck against the boards and accelerates over the blue line

It seems he carries the puck in slow motion,

Yet I realize that this game is really in fast-forward

He’s skating too fast, as there’s no stopping his advance

So, I need to ask these questions:

In five years – will he get the shot off – and find his mark?

In ten years, which arena might I find this young man?

I study his moves. I need to burn it all into my memory.

With a burst of energy he cuts around a player, and with shoulder down, stickhandles neatly beyond two defenders and swings in towards the goal – mere seconds of ice time capturing years of development

A whistle, some yelling from the bench and pounding music from the arena’s PA system

He circles around to line up for the faceoff – what’s next?

University courses; wedding receptions; a first day at a new job?

He sets for the drop of the puck – and I’m processing a whirl of freeze-frames:

tugging his sweater on overtop of his shoulder and elbow pads

tightening his laces and clicking the snaps of his helmet

my parting locker room words of endearment: “Skate hard every shift. Have fun.”

then after, his tired, satisfied smile; that smell of sweat from soaked mats of hair

and the car rides to and from the arena; and those questions that start with


Peering through the glass, I’m witness to this game, yet unable to be part of it

I watch his boyhood in flashes now – with our family turning on his every blade stroke

He’s reaching forward, stick extended, body twisted – anticipating a pass

And I’m anxious with hopes and aspirations for his future happiness…

In another instant, he’s stride for stride, leaning in against another body, locked in a match of force and determination

Yet, I remember vividly those precious moments when I held him in my hands, and ran around the house carrying him piggyback

There’s another whistle, he twirls on one skate, right in front of me, and skates away towards the bench – it’s him, yes, I see it is, but only after focusing on our name on the back of the jersey.

There are times I see my own breath rise in the cold of the arena, and our reality is caught up in a few seconds of blurred colours, sticks, a puck – and my son

He’s turning and digs in to push off, the puck dances on his stick in front of him, and he darts ahead to open ice, sure of himself and where he must skate

On the ice, he’s always enjoying the moment, yet I see that he’s stretching, honing skills

He circles, glides with one leg lifted in front of him, lifts his head towards me and grins

I stare upward; the game clock is going too fast for us at this rink. I don’t want to avert my eyes – there is only so much time to etch these glimpses of our lives.


— Chris George 

To bike these days (a poem)

almonte_140722_1The accident has taken an edge off this fun. It’s just become another thing to think about.
These days I carry my knee like some foreign appendage
wincing and praying to myself that it doesn’t explode
There’s that sharp, stabbing in my left knee that reminds me of my vulnerabilities
Yet, thankfully, I can bike through the pain (still) to climb the next hill
and, take the crest, shift my weight, relax, coast, exhale.

What had I expected with this climb?
I had felt that jolt as I raised myself from my seat and then I checked
the cantaloupe appeared overtop my knee, my tendon as hard as the Rock of Gilbraltor
The only consolation is the thought that I will not falter, but continue to ride through…
The wind and the hills and that sharp stabbing pain of my leg
all these certainties that make this ride so important – and I can’t help by grin

I check ahead and prepare for the next climb, gearing down
to enter the climb, slow but steady
right, right, right, I pump through
The right leg extended – ignoring my left knee
There is a drop of sweat rolled down onto my nose.
The strain is obviously good for my soul, no?
Honest effort to wash away all the worthless self-inspections
I dig in, shift in the saddle to take weight off my leg

My mind wonders…. biking is therapeutic –
along with exercise there is reflection and self-inquiry
On one level a biker will see the roadside and take in its wonders
Stretches of trail with ever changing horizons
Then on another level, he is dragged through daily encounters, cascading memories and irritants, just to reaffirm a doubtful significance
It’s a mix of physical and mental exercises,
starting with a few easy stretches – pulling back and then pushing forward
to retread ground that just yesterday you had visited
It’s a continual peeling back of thoughts and ideas and reality
underneath the helmet –
Ride after ride, routinely humping your way through the same mental landscape,
annoyed with the inability to produce closure to the nonsense you’ve chosen to recall

Before me is what I have come to know
as my favourite countryside vista
Why does it look so unattractive today?
It seems on days like these
all I do is complain

How’s it that wind can blow two directions at once?
I am pumping hard and my head is down
Leaning against strong, steady gusts of wind
That same wind that greeted me when I was peddling in the opposite direction

Loose gravel gives way to a washboard surface
And I’m uncomfortably bouncing in the saddle
Now, what did I do to deserve this?
Suddenly from out of the curve a car appears
The tires spit up dirt and two stones
It passes, leaving dust and the smell of exhaust to envelop me
I ask again, what did I do….

I know I must fixate on something else: crows
The crows caw at me with amusement, no encouragement,
just an annoying call of delight as they watch me climb the twisting hill,
head turned and shifting back and forth in the saddle.
They seem to herald me to continue around the bend
to more road and another hill.
I relax my left leg and glide through the decline,
praying all the time to be able to survive that next ascent.
All the while, crows fly along beside the road, just above the brush,
so that they can keep an eye on my ride.

I now see the finches dart in and around the cat tails
and coming ever so close to where I can only dream of being
They seem stuck in a pattern of full circles,
repeatedly diving as close to the ground, then turning suddenly;
they glide sideways above the dirt as they have done so many times before.
And just as my legs go full circle, my knee turns over,
and then I see that I have sprouted finch wings.
I am out of the saddle and lean to continue my own turn downward spiral
and pick up speed to feel that rush again, take in the full breath and hold the moment;
not to let it escape as it had when I was younger and not smart enough to feel anything.
It’s a complete moment. It’s absolutely why I carry my knee out to bike these hills.


– Chris George

(ed. – This poem is from the collection entitled Midstep – a dozen poems towards where I want to be. The collection can be obtained without cost by contacting myself at chrisg.george@gmail.com )

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. And yes, Chris also would rather be cycling… #bikealmonte

A Ride at Dawn


Sunday morning traction

my soul skimming

over the front tire

nothing but a clear road

and the rising sun and

clarity with each breath

digging into each hill

warm beads of sweat  

drop off my forehead

somewhere from above

and I catch myself smiling

knowing this is a start

of a beautiful day

Chris George

June 2013

To see more on cycling, pedal through the By George Journal menu.

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. And yes, Chris also would rather be cycling… #bikealmonte


Dionysios Solomos and the Hymn to Liberty

Dionysios Solomos is commonly referred to as the “national poet” of Greece. He is best known for writing the inspirational Hymn to Liberty that recounts Hellenes dream of freedom.

In 1863 he wrote this poem of the bloody beginnings of the war, the patriots’ Christian character, and of the struggle.

The poem is a significant legacy of the War of Greek Independence. Nikolaos Mantzaros put the first two stanzas of the verse to music in 1828 and, decades later in 1865, this war-time ballad became the Greek national anthem.

Here is a rough translation of the leading stanzas of the verse.

I recognize you by the fearsome sharpness,
of the sword,
I recognize you by your face
that hastefully defines the land (the borders)

From the sacred bones,
of the Hellenes arisen,

and valiant again as you once were,
Hail, o hail, Liberty!

and valiant again as you once were,
Hail, o hail, Liberty!

Here is a rendition of the Greek National Anthem.

In 1918 poet Rudyard Kipling translated the ballad to become familiar to English speaking peoples around the world.

We knew thee of old,
Oh, divinely restored,
By the lights of thine eyes,
And the light of thy Sword,
From the graves of our slain,
Shall thy valour prevail,
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

For more information from Wikipedia:

Dionysios Solomos

Hymn to Liberty

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Staring into a Summer Day

appletonbike_3Another timeless, hazy day lakeside

so much of so very little on my mind.

The opposite shore is a curtain of beech and pines,

their tips jut out against a pale blue canvass.

There is no pattern; yet with every scan of the tree-line

there’s a comfort in seeing how earth meets heavenly skies.

I’m lulled by sounds of a continuous lapping against a rocky edge,

a soft melody passed on through the ages. Slaps of water, time and time again…

carrying all things to this place; and, from this place…

I gaze, then peer deep into the water beside the dock,

only catching mosaic reflections of cloud and green darkness.

Dancing ripples advance across the surface of the water;

it’s the single chaotic motion on this still day.

and my attempts to follow one proves pointless – as each ripple will rise to fall,

and, then, seemingly rise again.

IMG_2866A sighting:  a solitary loon stretches out its wings

then folds them neatly back in before it tucks and dives –

a sideways descent into eternity.

Just how long might I hold my breath

so I may be graced with this day forever?


Chris George

July 2012


(ed. – This poem first appeared in By George Journal in July 2012.)

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

A Dozen Poems by Chris George

Here are a dozen that have received the greatest amount of response through the years. I am pleased my words are enjoyed. – cg

The Arena: a Lens onto Life

To bike these days

The fiddler’s smile

Almonte’s Riverview

Looking to not drop the ball

The Move

The smell of a newborn

The repeated cawing of the crow

All wound up like a toy soldier

A Knave


A Sisyphean Refrain

For more poems by Chris George please click here.

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

A Timely Self-Reflection

the hands of time are not meant to be tampered with

clocks are meant to be on the wall — out of reach

yesterday is yesterday; today, today; and,

tomorrow is tomorrow.

it is as it should be and

it is easy if you accept it.

frustrations are measured in minutes —

unhappiness in epochs.


– Chris George 

January 1991

A rather pointless ride

In a matter of months our world has skidded sideways and

we are being carried away on a rather pointless ride


a failed attempt to topple the regime

accidentally shot down plane carrying humanitarian aid

killed when a fuel lorry rigged with explosives exploded

encouraged police to use “lethal force” on criminals

broke a peace deal and declared military rule

banned flogging as a punishment

warned that coronavirus “doesn’t take weekends off”

filing bankruptcy protection

now lifting lockdown restrictions

call for mandatory testing

return to a “new normality”


It’s too much, and enough to have you bury your head into

your hands if you could only make it all go away


– Chris George

June 2020 


Incomprehensibility: stepping from room to room 

at the National Art Gallery 

Vatican Spender

thru a blender

Volia: Dali…

spaced dimensions

contorted distortions

with a slice and a smile,

courage and guile…

from the entrails of St. Erasmus

to hidden crevices of consciousness

all in twenty paces and a blink.


– Chris George 

April 1986

Winged Deliverance

I never quite remember what I’m doing when I catch the black swirls out of the corner of my

eye; but I have come to appreciate how crows have always demanded my attention.

For as long as I can recall crows have captivated my imagination

All-seeing swarthy figures flitting into my consciousness and

Dark brown eyes staring through me, seizing my thoughts, causing me pause,

to take stalk of what I have been doing, and whether I should continue.

Then there is the clarion caw, snapping me back to reality

In a matter of seconds this bird has again delivered me from my mindlessness.


– Chris George

June 2020 





Dreams of Will

out of this whirlwind of indecision

I plan to institute order.

I plan to march through the chaos

and plant my flag triumphantly.

to struggle into, topple over, move aside

with cries of victory and then peaceful songs

fistful of flowers to be replanted.

smiles and wisps of laughter, a dance of joy

and all from the pushing, the serious intent

the inspired labour – the sweat, the explosions of energy

the clearing of all hurdles / obstacles / enemies

the trudging over bodies

to establish an order and find a peace of mind.

I’ll be filling the hallowed holes reserved for faith

with might, discipline and

a powerful display of intellect, of will, of power

I will triumph with cannons, flags and trumpets blaring

bells of joy and freedom and victory

and then rest, a peaceful rest.

so, out of this whirlwind of indecision

I envision I will institute order.


– Chris George 

December 1985 


Our Promise

2:10 a.m.

It’s a constant preoccupation: whether we’re living up to our promise

Those middle-of-the-night reflective assessments of the promises you made to yourself

And wondering, perhaps praying for the promise of another day

Why do we celebrate those who succeed, yet we look over those who continue to try,

those who continue to believe in their promise?


4:30 a.m.

What’s the difference between a salty mariner and a dung beetle?

An adventuresome hero or the toiling Everyman?

Both roles suitably casted for me (really, for everyone)

And the seconds and minutes and hours of the day

are counted off to give meaning as I make a stand and

shoulder the weight of those promises I have whispered to myself

nearly each and every night


Sisyphus is a hero because he readily shoulders his burden each day

knowing he will not fulfill his promise by sunset; and so,

I’m trying to determine whether I’m tossing on open seas or sifting in a sandbox

Whether I’m smiling at a foreboding horizon or obsessively rolling my shit?


6:50 a.m.

Which is it: a tragic figure

Or the hero of my own comedy?

Is it steely determination

Or quiet desperation

that overwhelms me at sunrise?


– Chris George

May 2020 

A Sisyphean Refrain

It’s okay to lay here and not want to open my eyes

To listen to my heartbeat and feel blood pumping through my legs

It’s okay to admit that I don’t what to be here

At the side of the mountain, in the early pre-dawn stillness


What if I got up and ran through the fields – as fast and for as far as I could go in a day?

Where would I be? (I doubt I could outdistance this mountain.)

It would block out the sunset. And then I would feel the tug of the weight of the task

that I had run from, crushing any satisfaction about the field in which I have laid.


It is true that hope is but the dream of those who wake.

Yet, running is hopeless. It’s an abdication of duty.

And, now, it is time again to open my eyes and rise.


– Chris George

May 2020 

The repeated cawing of the crow

Was that a warning of some sort
when that crow swooped low, inches above my head to let out a shriek?
Just how did I get to this spot,
on this straight road leading me onto the hazy, distant horizon?
There’s 12 black birds glaring down from the wire,
and another solemnly sitting atop a fence post;
all observing my every move with quiet, mocked disdain.
I can only stare back in silence at my judge and jury for
is there any point in shaking a fist into the air, or hanging my head to avert my eyes?
The early afternoon sun hangs high in the sky
I’ve broken into a warm, dripping sweat
and turning my face to the light, gentle breeze, it carries nothing but
whispers of doubt and unanswered propositions from my past.
No solace. No relief. No comfort on this road, in coming to terms with my inquisitors.
The repeated cawing of the crow is unnerving; so too the black birds’ unrelenting stare.
If only this high wire act would share their insight:
what is it that they see on the horizon, and why do they glare at me so?


– Chris George

July 2013

Chris George has released “Almonte and the summer of 2013 that was”, a compilation of 10 poems. The verses capture the expectations raised in moving into a new community and making a new start. They also include personal reflections of a writer’s challenges to begin again, afresh. If you are interested in receiving “Almonte and the summer of 2013 that was” – write chrisg.george@gmail.com – and provide your e-mail.


the pale green grasses stood knee high

the tin god rode into the field on his

wooden horse


he showed no spirit but strained his eyes

in his restless and annoyed manner

the sun shone high in the cloudless sky

and the heat could be felt under his worn coat

decorated with his red and blue medals,

ribbons, and pins which hung heavily as

accomplishments of his past battles


he smiled as he pulled on the bit of Xeelo

because he knew no one would enter this pasture

hidden behind Mount Parnassos in this hot valley

His dismount was stiff and stately

the tin clanked against the stirrups

sending the birds reeling to the treetops:


a fanfare for his efforts.


he saw in the treetops the mountain’s shadows

and saw the glade where he had eaten goat

and rice the day before over a brazier

Janos had comforted him and given him

the new directions and his new coat of mail

they fitted light on his shoulders and

were comfortable when out of the sunlight


this he concluded as he squatted in the grass.


Janos is serious but then

he is sure to be laughing at the sight

and welcoming this god to rest in any oven


being neither iceberg nor island but rather tin

planting a flagless pole next to his horse

the Hero relieves himself before anybody comes.


– Chris George 


Duo Exposure

no brass bands needed — no smoke, no bullshit.

HONESTY – a good dose.

we looked into the dark

and laughed; placed

men’s frailties into the spotlight

no pretensions.

two of us,

seeking those things we fear

and outing them,

exposing them with unfettered honesty.


– Chris George 

March 1986


I am wondering what craziness is

I am wondering what craziness is sitting in a room watching the clock digits change

smoking and coughing on my smoke as my eyes water from the clouds exhaled

thinking of food when I realize I’ve gotten too big for my own stature

delaying the work if front of me by doing every possible thing to avoid it

making animal noises from a barnyard hidden away in my closet

thinking of my past beauties being eaten by the present beasts

laying down and intently staring into the space between

the clock and me, wondering what has happened to the lost time and

the lost matter of the room — whether it exists outside the room and

if there is some connection or relation?

writing it all down and knowing that I have missed the point because

how do I know exactly whether I have my sanity – here

with the smoke, the space between, and the clock.


– Chris George 


untitled (flung, head over heels)

flung, head over heels,

as if you’re catapulted by your own convictions

lights flash by you – memories

blurred afterthoughts;

there is no way you can concentrate at this speed

relax: you’re in this for the ride now

no choice in the matter

no way to get off;

there is anticipation of when you’ll skid to a stop

focus on a street light

feeling comfortable on your back

staring into the night, the shadows, and the light;

ghosts dance overhead

a ritual step to annoy you

to prick your consciousness and

stir your soul to crystalize

(this is a cold world

and you’re part of it.);

shake the aches out and get up,

pick yourself off the pavement and walk

take the steps necessary to stride again

if there is the will you can find a way.


– Chris George   


In Memory of Frank Day

In Memory of Frank Day 

friend, decent human being  

time dies; flesh rots

memories are the life


“to pass away”

from sight? from the senses?

time will deny us this

but cannot transcend the grey cells

that turn back the hands of the clock and

given people, places, things an immortality.

as time ages, so do we all.

as time passes away…


– Chris George

March 5, 1990