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Capsaicin Structure (The actual title is a drawing of this molecule)

What do people think
When they read my poetry?
Do they marvel at my pretty turns of phrase
And the complexity of rhythmical structures
Sometimes metrical
And sometimes not?
When I rhyme
Do they like
My rhyme scheme?
Rhyme and Meter …
Counting beats
While trying to make the words rhyme –
Are they at all impressed
By how
This challenging task?
Do they recognise
Rhymed Sapphic stanzas, Alcaics if you please?
Alcaeus or Sappho, which one first wrote these?
Sweet Sappho tiptoeing 'neath the olive trees
Flowers at her feet …
Lyric Poetess
Censored through the ages
By Christianity's mages
So that little of what you wrote
Remains for today's lyricists
To read and take inspiration from –
Uncensored and free
To write
What you please:
Free verse!
Such a joy
To write:
Yet every word
Every phrase
Carefully chosen
To get just the right nuances –
Are they
Of such subtlety
Or is it too subtle
To be read with ease?

Are they moved by the plight
Of all those fallen angels
Running through my verses
As their daemons chase them
Through the City's Darkness
Down oozing
Behind the boarded up shops
Of East Hastings Street
In the arrested heartbeat
Of The City's urban depths?
Perhaps they walk with me
On a dark and wintry night
By one of these
Denizens of the streets,
At the snow
Falling down
From the blackened sky
As it covers up
This dingy world
Where these fallen angels dwell …
Do they cry with me
When one of them dies
Alone and lost
In the clutches
Of a serial killer
Or vicious thug
Disappointed john?
Are they charmed
By the sun
Shining from the dazzled eyes
Of the young girl
Bubbling over
With friendliness
In a city where
No one says "Hello!"
To a stranger passing by
Even in a bright morning's promise
Of a September Summer Day
Of warmth and light?
Immer noch säuer
Dieser Vancouver menschen,
Sweet innocent waif
Too young
Too sincere
Too innocent
To be
Hustling strange men
At the busstop
To earn enough money
To buy
Or Cocaine
From the dealer on the corner,
Your blue eyes
Radiant with hope
Touched by disappointment
And a fleeting sadness
When the only thing you have to offer the world
Is refused …

Do they mourn the sad and lonely death
Of that impetuous songbird
Filled with hope
For a good day's foraging,
Bounding up suddenly
Into the still, silent glow
Of the awakening day
From the brush beside the road
Into the oncoming car
Just pulling out from a layby
One Summer morning
On the ever-unravelling highway
To Nowhere,
So all its pretty colours
Were doomed to seep away
In dumb decay
As meaninglessly
And pointlessly
As only Death can be?
Do they swim with me
In icy rivers and lakes
In the predawn morning chill
Before the sun emerges in the Eastern Sky
To melt the frost formed on the sere and dying herbage
Of a provincial park
Shut down for the coming Winter
As the Autumn leaves suffuse the world with firey gold
Shortly before
The road trip begins
Another day
Of pack up and go?
Are they blinded by a snowstorm
In the Dark of a Wintry night,
Hunched over the steering wheel
As they crawl down
The invisible highway
Accumulating snow
In soggy drifts of slush?
Do they see the deer
Concealing themselves
In a brake of Saskatoons
By the side of an empty hightway
Trooping daintily across
The deserted Prairie Road
So sure
Of their fleeting safety?

Do they climb with me
Up those steep mountainsides
In Zermat or Kitimat
Fall face first down a dangerous scree slope
Where the Yukon Territory
Meets the Northwest Territory
And marvel at those alpine views
That require so much strenuous effort to get
As one clambers up
One rugged step after another
On and on
Seemingly forever
In the clear mountain air
When everything looks so close
You could reach out your hand
And clasp those distant peaks?

Are they helping me
Scoop the globs of thick, tarry oil
Off the wet brown sand
Of Long Beach?
Do they bushwack through the muskeg and thick brambles
To get to the next headland
For a sidewise slither
On a thin sliver of frosted rock
Projecting from the cliff-face
Leaning out
Over the angry ocean
Swirling round the sharp spires
Of rocks thrust up to break my fall
Should I slip on the cliff's icy surface
In my tentative sidling round the rock face
To get to the next beach
To look for the oil
Hidden in the clumps of eel grass
And seawraeck
While a Black Cougar
Watches over me?
Do they see the mountains
In the grey distance
Just South
Of the deserted beach
Stripped bare
Of their forest covering
By the loggers
Marching across the landscape
With their chainsaws
And feller-bunchers
Leaving barrenness in their wake
As we scan the empty sands
Stretching away
Towards the North
While the silent Sun
Falls into the empty ocean
On the Western horizon?

Have they learned compassion,
Been reduced to anger or tears
By the plight of the Human Condition
Or the Great Mother upon whom we all stand
Defiling her with our need
To plunder her treasury
For the sake of short-term glory
And wealth?
Have I disgusted them
With our defilement
Of the only home we have
The beautiful and magnificent planet
Whose Biosphere is rich with
The ever-unfolding dance
Of Carbon compounds
In all their ceaseless variety
As they form great trees
Tiny Bacteria
Swarming insects and birds
Flowers and seeds
And leaves that turn gold
As Summer fades
Towards Winter?

I will likely never know
For no one –
Certainly not my closest friends and relatives –
Will even look at
Much less read
I write …

Is it trying to snow?
I don't know
As the endless rain
Keeps falling down …
Coquitlam, BC 24-11-2020; revised and expanded 25 to 29-11-2020

Style / type: 
Free verse
Review Request (Intensity): 
I appreciate moderate constructive criticism
Review Request (Direction): 
[This option has been removed]
Last few words: 
Sadly, I am unable to paste the actual title I drew in a word document in NeoOffice. Saving it to a .dot file format seems to bugger up the diagramme each time. It is a Lewis Diagramme of the Capsaicin molecule (the stuff in hot child peppers that makes 'em hot). Computers are so primitive …
Editing stage: 
Content level: 
Not Explicit Content



author comment

this is quite a long and involved piece. I liked these lines best:

Have they learned compassion,
Been reduced to anger or tears
By the plight of the Human Condition
Or the Great Mother upon whom we all stand
Defiling her with our need
To plunder her treasury
For the sake of short-term glory
And wealth?

I have nothing more to add.
*hugs, Cat

When someone reads your work
And responds, please be courteous
And reply in kind, thanks.

Thanks, Cat! I would never dream of not replying in kind, by the way! The poem is more or less about a lot of my other poetry, even referencing and sometimes quoting them. Everything in it has been part of my life experience at some time or other, from the pretty song bird who flew up one morning into my car as I was leaving a lay-by by the side of the highway where I had camped for the night, to the various women I mentioned who inhabited Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (a place I described in a very long poem, called "Vancouver, Urban Legends as looking like London after the Blitz). Environmental activism, including cleaning oil of the beaches on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, as well as mountain climbing (and putting my life into danger on several occasions) – it's all there, poems alluded to, from "Mountain Climbing in Switzerland" to Inserts Kappa and Lambda in Vancouver Urban Legends. (Although, most recently, I fell face first down a steep spree slope at the boundary between The Yukon and Northwest Territories about 250 km above the Arctic Circle, I haven't actually written about that particular experience. I was too busy exploring our far norther territories at the time, though I did eventually end up on ER in Dawson City thanks to that slip off the mountainside.)

author comment

it sounds like you lead a very exciting and dangerous life! do you snow ski, too? I used too, and I'm afraid of heights, lol! thank you for the in-depth information of your poems. very interesting and entertaining. please try to be careful, and stay out of hospitals, as they can be dangerous too!

*hugs, Cat


When someone reads your work
And responds, please be courteous
And reply in kind, thanks.

I'm afraid much of the excitement and adventure has gone out of my life these days, sigh … Last time I was in hospital and the only time I have ever been in for an extended stay, was a few months after that road trip through the territories. (I went in because my ankles had frozen up so I could barely walk and ended up i the ICU because I had a very slow heart rate. So I spent a week in there waiting for a pacemaker, which, eventually, they decided I didn't need after all.) I have too many weird aches and pains to do the kinds of things I used to do, probably as a result of all those crazy things I used to do. (I see kids on their skateboards and can only imagine how arthritic they will be in a few years time.) I do miss the adventure though. That songbird was the only thing larger than a flying insect I ever killed in all the driving I've done, and I was so bummed out about it afterwards, I was depressed for the next 1000 kilometres of the trip! I mention it in a two part poem called "Back and Forth, Second Look".

author comment
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