Tag Archives: poetry

A Resolution for A Good Life

Rise early 

Do as much as you can, to the best of your ability 

Be present in each moment, with each encounter 

Stay positive in thought and deed

Be grateful and count your blessings 

Share memories with the ones you love

Sleep well

etched in your consciousness, a resolution for a good life

 

– Chris George 

Like the ancient mariner

Like the ancient mariner, I hack at the neck of the albatross

I must be free. It’s all I can do to imagine

its head stuck at the end of my stick

held high above my head – with its swollen tongue

protruding out its beak, its bulging eyes

glaring straight ahead, piercing through me.

 

– Chris George 

2015 

Who brings this undesired intrusion?

I heard a cry in the middle of the night

like it has come across a decade

accusatory and pain-filled

leaving me chilled and wet

 

who has wanted to make this point?

who other than my own conscious?

I have too many memories suppressed

and some long forgotten

with my focus on the here and now

 

it was a cry of desperation that awoke me

a cry that signaled out me and my

hapless sense of responsibility to the past –

it was like a strawman’s backbone had been snapped.

 

who brings this undesired intrusion?

violating my peace of mind

leaving me with piercing headaches

and a troubled hollowness in my soul

echoing endless questions about past conduct,

current responsibilities, future intentions

 

(more troubled reflections –

I need to better ‘know thyself’

to realize its my own innermost thoughts

that haunt my sleep)

 

Chris George 

From the collection entitled “At 42” 

June 2004

Self-depreciating rot

I have sat through this scene before

Witness to my past and forever future

I didn’t move then – and am not about to now

I simply lack the will to change

 

I need to find my balance — and then set it off kilter

 

At the core of every scene has been a troubled soul

There needs to be a yearning to uncover, explain, fight, expose

— and I have none of that.

What do I yearn for in my comfortable surroundings?

Nothing…

 

So, life becomes like a death spiral of personal depreciation –

It is the quiet moments, early in the morning,

When you’ve just woken from your dreams –

And you realize that it is another day.

 

Aching, stifling anxiety

Permanently reflecting on what can be

What could have been, what should be

Rendering one’s self worthless

 

An eunuch of what once was…

 

I long for nothing more than to look into the mirror of my soul

and to say again, “I know that man, and I respect him for his action.”

 

and yet, these are nothing but the idle thoughts of middle age

that take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them

 

Chris George 

From the collection entitled “At 42” 

June 2004

a spray of anxiousness

Each day breaks, as a wave would

Crashing into my senses and awakening me to

my bedrock of nonsense and idleness.

 

I awake with a spray of anxiousness.

I imagine gull cries to herald the morning

(another wave crashes, then it lapses away without notice)

I stand dumbfounded, uncertain, before another day

I search for a fresh breeze and wipe a salty sting from my brow

 

scene after scene, incident after incident,

wave after wave, each with a potential to

crash the shallow meaninglessness I wade in –

and provide real hope of achieving,

of completing one’s self

 

Chris George 

From the collection entitled “At 42” 

June 2004

Consuming consumption

In this dizzying, consumer-driven world

where we are what we buy

we are no longer concerned about what we create,

what we produce – our being, our doing, our making

 

life is a mall alley and we are challenged

to put as much as we can in our shopping carts

 

so, like DeNiro in the Mission, we drag our purchases along

through each phase of life… and in the end, to have it sorted

by an auctioneer or a Salvation Army volunteer –

and, the legacy we had hoped for

becomes, simply, a legacy we must accept – not of our making,

and reflecting nothing of our soul

 

hinging on a decent Sally Ann cheque for deposit into our Estate

 

– Chris George 

2004 

Pictures of me in my younger years

The vivid pictures of me in my younger years have all

but yellowed and blurred, all details hidden ‘neath a smoky hue

I’ve noticed I am no longer the center of my world;

where once there were clear thoughts and purposeful intent,

today, I’m no longer sure footed, planted

but left with an awkwardly lean, unbalanced and uncertain

I can stand unnoticed in a middle of a crowded room

trying to catch a phrase or a single word to pick up on

and then contribute a thought, any notion,

something intelligent and real and interesting;

perhaps reflecting my insight and wit and yet

there’s nothing but pensive glances, grins and nods

as I grimace through another conversation,

straining to remain interesting – and interested

saying anything to cut through the silence and exhume

those lost hopes and dreams of my blurry, faded younger self

 

– Chris George 

2015

A Keyboard Swan Song

click

 

life’s a click away

clicking away

mentally turning over, churning out,

burning out

click:  new topic, same perspective – need to refocus

click. double click (let’s delete that thought)

AND wipe clear that idea

 

it’s a major shutdown

fatigued – no chance to stretch my imagination

or hide away in my gray matter, with what matters

 

So hopeless, I remain scratching words to form phrases

with a desire to describe a riddle of humanity for those who

struggle under the weight of the human condition

 

Yet, reaching inside is harder than stretching forward

It is exhausting to reach and grasp nothing but air

to attempt to grab hold of your guts and have them

slip from your hands

 

click

(longing for those brief moments of exhilaration…)

 

click

(…when there’s a connection that grounds you in the present…)

 

click

(…and forces you to admit that life’s for the living…)

 

I think of Nietzsche: Even the bravest of us

rarely has the courage for what he really knows.

And I hear echoes of Springsteen’s refrain:

Is a dream a lie that doesn’t come true?

 

as I reach for the delete button

 

– Chris George 

2005 

Requiem for the Disheartened

None of us will ever accomplish anything or commanding, except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

[ This is for the hopeless who recognize and accept their lot ]

 

How do you feel in the silence of the night?

Betraying your own promises,

breaking your personal pledges…

When you know you haven’t done your best

and given your all?

When unrealized potential is lost and has slipped away

When you don’t want to open your eyes

and stare into the mirror

Blinded by too much of very little – and not enough of reality.

 

At the end of a day, there’re no regrets, because there’s an acceptance that

there’s no more to discuss.

 

There’s a creeping dread found in quiet times – no epiphanies

sitting in the dark and not daring to turn on the lights.

How unsettling – finding comfort in holding your head in your hands and

repeating the first thing that comes into your mind

and ruminating the unsatisfactory answers with blank stares.

 

There is only a cold comfort keeping company with an empty casing

where you have come to understand your soul should be –

wanting for more where there is none.

And there is no comfort at all uncovering simple truths –

knowing they are for simple minds.

 

Tomorrow will dawn, yet, another day that doesn’t count for anything

Just falling into a timelessness – lost yesterdays and unplanned tomorrows

and you lay, uneasy, in bed – counting all misfortunes,

lost opportunities, the times you wish you could have back…

 

– Chris George 

2005

Seemingly in a permanent state of reflective discomfort

At 42, I’m content.

I am sitting in my easy chair,

surveying my blessings

My only desire seems to be a yearning

to ‘freeze-frame’ this happiness

 

Is there anything more to say… I think not…

Honestly,

this state of mind has driven out any aspirations

 

I don’t think I’ve ever been so honest with myself

 

Yet, there is much to ponder:

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of potential – for the eye that, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints; possibility never. – Soren Kierkegaard

 

So, I wish to redefine and refine myself

to illuminate the darken corners of my world

with energy, hope, inspiration

 

I ponder all of this often – of course, with my feet up

 

Chris George 

From the collection entitled “At 42” 

June 2004

My inability to count blessings

The shallow breaths betray my guarded uneasiness

The heaviness in my chest

The lightness in my head

 

I fight this meaninglessness with

hand to temple, eyes firmly closed

A pool of bile churning in my stomach

 

Until every mountain has been ground down

Until every river has run dry

I need to count my blessings.

 

Instead, I count black crows

I smell damp dirt

and I wonder why I don’t get it

 

What part of life must I come to understand

beyond a child’s laugh or my boys squealing ‘Dada’

 

‘Dada’ — nada

 

really, nothing

 

and, yet,

 

Chris George 

From the collection entitled “At 42” 

June 2004

I need purpose and passion and…

muck mire

no burning desire

simply damp and cold

feeling old

and sick

 

For what end?

What’s the product?

What result?

 

I need purpose

to provide focus

and I need passion

to produce results

 

I want to shed my skin

to redefine and refine

to illuminate the darkened corners

of my world

 

with energy, hope, inspiration, and…

 

to be refreshed and

clear my mind so that

I charge into the day

Spry, positive, hopeful

 

– Chris George 

2005  

I try

I try to answer the question of purpose, of meaning, of what significance my life is

I’m grasping for answers

 

Life isn’t found in a summation, but in the right question.

A person’s own self-exploration is the answer to life.

 

O’ Oracle of Delphi, you’ve given us the answer in a riddle:

Know thyself

 

It is not where you are –

it’s the direction you’re heading in

 

It is not the destination –

it’s the journey

 

It is not the conclusions –

it’s the honest attempt of explanation

 

Seek and ye will find

The search is your salvation

 

– Chris George 

2005 

Contemplating a Glass of Life

Do you stare at the rim of the glass, and strain to see if there are any smudged fingerprints or lip marks?  Or does your gaze settle on the rich redness of the grape and your mind wonders, as you count your blessings?

I was told that middle age brings a new level of self-awareness. Yet, my middle age has delivered more questions and an uneasy feeling on what my responsibilities are to those around me and to those I’ll never meet.

Are there absolute morals — absolute rights and wrongs?  In our world of constant conflict, can we distinguish immorality anymore or are we living in an amoral world? Do any actions have consequences?

Reflecting on these matters leaves me feeling psychologically violated. I’m left disoriented, unsettled, disheveled, and wary. Like a snake shedding its skin, I rip away layers of pretense to expose ugly realities and my own unfulfilled promise. I arrive at more questions about myself and the world I live in.

At 42, I’ve learned that life is too short to have regrets and second thoughts. Much of the time I choose to live ‘the here and now.’ When troubled, I’ll refocus on the good and on my blessings. Yet, I am uneasy knowing I am but a voyeur to the larger world and its absurdities.  I believe more than ever in thinking globally and acting locally. It’s time that I act on my thoughts.

So, I ponder if the glass is half full or half empty..

 

Chris George 

From the collection entitled “At 42” 

June 2004

 

 

The smell of a newborn

The smell of a newborn causes you to pause

There are no insurmountable issues,

no unspeakable worries,

when one catches the hint of

the odour of innocence

a damp, wet, powdery smell…

 

With it comes a joy and wonderment and

thankfulness for dreams and prayers answered

There is a lightened sense of the present, like knowing

the world can stop spinning and our souls will rest

with a sheer contentment for this all too brief moment

when we’re privileged to hold a sleeping newborn to our chest

 

– Chris George

2004

The fiddler’s smile

fiddle_01 - Copy

I can’t seem to shake loose this stupid grin
As I watch my son lean into the mic to project the opening notes
he cocks his head to the side and lets his fiddle sing
a series of double strings, then his fingers run up and down the fiddle’s neck
and then a clear high siren, before he brings the reel home with a cascade of sounds

A young girl is up and dances in front of him
shuffling back and forth and keeping rhythm by
running her hands through her locks
Others stand, smiling, tapping their toes, clapping
And the bow dips and dives, the music seems to
carry all of us off to another, livelier place

There’s a faint smile and glint in the fiddler’s eye
Though he’s never travelled the road to Errogie
he’s brought the Scotland highlands to this hall, this night
We are there, transported with him, delighted with each draw of his bow

The right foot stamps as he gazes off somewhere between his notes
and then his eyes catch mine and he raises his eyebrows,
nods his head towards me, then flashes that fiddler’s smile,
small gestures that lift and carry me away with him and his tune

 

– Chris George

 

(ed. – This is a newly released poem found in a compilation of verse just released under the title of MIDSTEP – A dozen poems towards where I want to be. To get your copy of Midstep, contact chrisg.george@gmail.com.) 

walking-349991_640

MIDSTEP – A dozen poems towards where I want to be

standing, gazing, thinking  

Over the Victoria Mills waterfall, the spray awakens my senses

Standing here over this precipice with a river of emotion exposed beneath me

WTF, I’m lost, gazing, and just content to stand and think

I don’t want to “get into it” yet the falls splash up and I hear

Those questions of aging…

Are those the cold hands of reality tightening their steely grip around my neck?

I believe real courage is to stay focused and finish each day’s tasks with a kick

Without reserve and without resignation – to do the best you can do at all times.

My shoulders slouch forward and I stare into the current, defying any time to pass

Isn’t it fitting that the world spins counterclockwise?

Man keeps pace by counting minutes, marking days.

One man, one life, reflected against the earth’s revolution.

 

So, gazing at the water I must ask whether I am drifting away with the current

or have I long ago sunk and haven’t noticed that I have been sucked below the surface

and now lay slowly decomposing on the riverbed of limestone and muck

 

And I feel that cold hand closing around my neck.

Is any of this real? Am I all here? Or do I just occupy this space?

Every now and then I see that there’s traces of life.

Water splashes up and the drizzle again awakens me, and I refocus

On echos of my thoughts, spoken straight to me,

something about not giving up on your dreams

for something inside is about to die too…

 

So, this will be the day; this is the year.

Starting now; going forward.

Like past oaths that ring hollow before they even escape my mouth

But it is whatever gets you through to the other side…

And every day I have been left to think of the possibilities of the promises broken

It’s a sinking feel that is found in the deepest pit of my stomach

That reaches up and takes hold to swallow my senses and leave me numb

 

I simply want to live again; to feel my life, feel my breaths

feel the aches and pains, the draws of my breath

every fiber of my being

I want to feel the space I occupy and all the space that surrounds me

in this overbearing world filled with anxious uncertainties

This large, unfathomable, hungry world in which I am but one being,

at this moment, searching the emptiness in the middle of nowhere,

not certain which direction I’m heading or how to choose

But scrapping, crawling from day to day to make something of my existence

and, perhaps, to stand again and step forward

with a purposeful stride and with somewhere to go.

 

– Chris George 

2015  

The starry nights over Lanark

It’s the big, clear Lanark skies that provide the canopy of a million stars each night

a comforting blanket offering up the knowledge that there’s infinitely more

in this universe then our daily preoccupations

 

All is quieted under the twinkling lights – absorbed in the space between here and there

and that steely silence carries me beyond where I stand now to who I want to be.

 

It seems too perfect. I can’t remain still and transfixed in this serenity

 

So I pull back from the numbing expanse and stumble forward into my darkness,

with thoughts of my next day and the challenge of becoming that new man

and filling my world with the warmth and the light of just one unfathomable star.

 

(ed. – This poem was written in Spring 2013, since our family’s move to Almonte. It is one poem in a compilation of verse just released under the title of Midstep – A dozen poems towards where I want to be. To get your copy of Midstep, contact chrisg.george@gmail.com.) 

walking-349991_640

MIDSTEP – A dozen poems towards where I want to be

Draining emotions

You cannot step into the same river twice.
Yet we’ll harbour a hope with each reunion
That there’ll be familiar feelings to wash over us

Our greetings always elicit a warm embrace
Smiles that drain away all time and distance
And then we plunge headfirst into our stories

Yet we wonder in our heart, wander in our mind
Just how much water has flown pass us? and
how far have our affections been pulled under?

How is it that our talk is so hesitant and dry?
We remain safely splashing about in the shallows,
ever reluctant to dive and lose ourselves to the current

We stay planted, careful not to slip or stumble and fall
in the flood of memories that are gushing against our senses
and threatening to sweep us away, downriver somewhere…

And I note that it is none too soon that we step to shore
and climb out from that river bed that once was – and now
I stand, dripping and chilled, so glad to watch you leave.

 

– Chris George
   June 2014

 

 

Happy New Year

Like a reluctant host, I open the door for the New Year

Uneasy and unwilling to suffer more of the same

 

This year, again, there is so much to close our eyes to:

there is too much ugliness in our post 9/11 world

There are too many questions that need to go unanswered, to be ignored

It seems too much insipid reality that hurls cruelty, hatred, sickness and despair

 

What horror

The eyes of truth have been gouged from its sockets

–and hopelessly lost with the crumbling of two towers

Erect in our memories,

yet no longer enduring monuments of humanity

 

Tonight, with the door pushed opened,

I am left to pray for a new order:

May love blanket our loved ones, our friends and community

and cover us with hope, faith and love,

and the strength to do right, to recognize good and act for

a better, just, and, at the core, compassionate world

 

And I must begin living with these ghosts and refrain from

pulling myself tight into the fetal position

for comfort and some relief

 

I must stand and repress heaving sighs of despair

Look to those things I hold dear and ensure

They are cared for and do not go neglected

In the long shadows cast by those remarkable towers

 

– Chris George 

January 2002