Friday, January 13, 2006

Random Jottings on Life's Little Games

Julain for Julie Carter

Someone's raised the stakes -- life's like that.
As soon as you think you know the game,
suddenly nothing is the same.

Christopher T. George

The above poem was written for a "casual contest" sponsored by poet Julie Carter on her blog, to write a Julain. I believe the julain may be Julie's own invention, a three-line poem of regular meter where the last two lines rhyme. See

Julain Contest--Deadline January 31st

Card Games

In the capital, everyone is playing cards.
It's how the nation's business is conducted:
Three-Card Monte, La Belle Lucie, Forty Thieves.

"I will trade you New Orleans for Iraq."
"My hanging judge for your activist liberal."
"An armored division for your aircraft carrier."

Texas Holdem, Omaha, Draw Poker, aces are high.
Noone above the fray, we're gambling for a robe,
tax-sheltered retirement plans, Social Security.

Eyes on the dealer's hands, sweat on upper lips,
seek the Queen of Spades, playing hide the joker.

Christopher T. George

The Blue Iris of Estremadura

The blue lips of the Virgin.

The blue iris by the stream
in the birth-village of
Conquistador Pizarro.

During the Civil War,
a child suckling

a mother's
shrunken breast.

Christopher T. George



You whom I once called friend and lover follow me home.
Your shadow poisons my doorway. You purloin my protests.

Words become wounds, mouths speaking violence, violation.
You are as unwelcome as a stain to be scrubbed from the carpet.

We can have no converse, we will leave that to the lawyers
and naysayers. The seer envisions another future.

Christopher T. George

Monday, January 09, 2006

Special issue of Ygrasil: The Poetry of Barbara Ostrander

I am pleased to say that the special issue of the Canadian e-zine, Ygrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts devoted to Barbara Ostrander is now available:

Ygrasil, January 2006: an appreciation of Barbara Ostrander's poetry by Christopher T. George.


Christopher T. George

The Poetry of Barbara Ostrander (1956-2005):
An Appreciation


The Poetry of Barbara Ostrander:

Africa Unleashed
Intensive Care Nurse
Raxaul, Armpit of India
Yeti Airlines From Raxaul, India, Back to Kathmandu
Shucking it down to the cob
broken dreams
story goes like this...
I'll Never Get Used to These Words
Cat Nap


The below poem I include here because it is one of Barbara's best, and says so much about who she was--

As I wrote in the introduction to the poem, Barbara began writing poetry as a child and a number of her poems are about her time in Africa. I view the following poem as one of her best, sensuously binding the love of her husband with longing for Africa, while ever mindful of the wildness, beauty, and dangers of the continent.

Africa Unleashed

I wonder if it is the way you pace
soft-pawed by the window
that makes me think of home.
You watch for me to reappear,
a lion on the move.

Or maybe it's the way your nostrils flare
that brings to mind the gazelle standing alert,
knowing it's being watched
sinew-tense, aware.

I map out beneath my fingertips
the parched plains of the Serengeti,
feel along your spine and hips
the urgency of the dry season,
poised for the rains.

Your heat soaks my skin,
consumes like a bushfire,
leaves me stretched spent,
a lizard on the windowsill,
limbs languid and still.

I smell in you the raw nerves
of Africa unleashed,
close my eyes, breathe deep
of home.

Barbara Ostrander

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Shape I Am In

Well, it's been a long haul, and I am sorry to have been so long away. But honestly I couldn't figure out to get back into this blog. But now I have finally managed it and I come skidding back in with my New Year resolutions just prior to my fifty-eighth birthday (this coming Tuesday, January 10. . . Happy Birthday to me! ).

The first of the poems below was written for a challenge at Wild Poetry Forum and was not occasioned by my birthday (liar! liar!). . . I wrote the poem in October after returning from attending the Jack the Ripper conference in Brighton, England. In the poem I liken myself to Ariel Sharon in terms of size. Following Mr. Sharon's unfortunate massive stroke of the past few days, I have written a couple of poems since announcing my New Year resolutions to give up beer and Kit Kats -- [A sidelight for Ripperologists... the rotund man who inspired the poem is not Sharon but author and D'Onstonite, Ivor Edwards, seen in the bar of the Royal Albion Hotel, Brighton]

The Shape I Am In

It's my birthday... fifty seven today,
and in a pub a man floats by with a pint of beer.
I construe him as tubby Ariel Sharon drifting
over porpoised carpet, as Sharon hovers blimp-like
over the mosaicked, jigsawed Mideast. But with despair
I realize I am the tub shape of Sharon -- reject
workout for one more lager at the bar rail,
more munchies. Where is that thin young man
who sailed to Nixon's America,
paddy fields with napalm or Canadian sanctuary
-- I didn't get drafted, lottery no. 315
of 365. But heard of another Liverpool boy,
a non-citizen who died in Vietnam,
could have been me, tear gas and blood
at Kent State in Neil Young's lyrics--
"Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio."
Ah, but luckily at fifty seven
(all those Heinz varieties of me!)
I can sail above it all,
rolling in the stratosphere
like Ariel Sharon.


No Belly Laugh for Me

No, ma'am, now that
I've given up beer,
y'all cain't call me
Mr Beergut no more.

I'm a lean machine,
venting my spleen
at the couch potatoes,
those spare tire folks.

I WILL be thin; I WILL
get in those duds I never
could before -- now I
have given up the suds.


No Kit Kats

on the train going home
from D.C. to Baltimore, MD:
no treats to munch between
the Anacostia and Seabrook.

In the poem I wrote, published
of late in Words-Myth,
aptly titled "The Shape I Am In,"
I blithely compared myself

to tubby Ariel Sharon,
testimony to my flab -- but
now Ariel lies near death
in a Jerusalem hospital;

blood flooded his brain
after a second stroke
brought on no doubt
by his undue obesity--

I remember the April photograph
of Bush greeting Sharon
in Crawford, after the overweight
Israeli hauled from a limo:

our slim leader accompanied
by his black Scottie
grasping the meaty paw
of the rotund P.M.

What a salutary lesson as I pray
for Sharon's recovery and
continue my fast, slimming
down into the New Year.

Christopher T. George