Monday, March 29, 2010

The Choir Party

Our church choir, of which my wife is a long time member, are a wonderful group of people, but no longer teenagers. This little piece was written to give a rather tongue in cheek look at their summer party at our home in 2009.
It gives the term "wild and rowdy" a whole new meaning.

2009 Choir Party
The choir was in a party mood
They’d been singing hard all year
And so they came with lots of food
Summertime was here

Reverent Bob and Jan (his wife)
Were deeply sad to say
That though they loved the party life
They’d be on holiday

Don and Grace apologized
They had a graduation
And so while others fraternized
Theirs was a no win situation

Some others too could not partake
But most were promptly there
There even was a birthday cake
For Joan, but all could share

They ate and drank and talked till eight
Sang many a good old song
Then someone said it’s getting late
We’d better get along

Hold on, one said, I see a pool
And it looks really neat
I really think I’d be a fool
If I did not dunk my feet

So out they went and took a seat
Along the water’s edge
They took the shoes from off their feet
And sat them on the ledge

Well there they sat, eight maidens fair
In water to their knees
But only two men joined them there
Although the gals said please

Then like folies bergere (from France)
One leg went in the air
It was a sort of water dance
This is all true – I swear!

Oh what a wild and rowdy night
They stayed till almost ten
(it’s summer and it was still light)
when they went home again.

Perhaps when Christmas time is near
They’ll want another go
And I would think them all quite dear
If they helped me shovel snow!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Love Poem

Our 50th wedding anniversary is in June 2010.
50 years of life's struggles and joys.
50 years of change.
Some things however do not change!
Written for the love of my life (Beth) in June 1960


My life is simply this
The smile in your eyes
The touch of your hand
The warmth of your kiss
The joys we share
The things we do
Your happiness
My love for you


Reflections on Poetry
I would like to write all my thoughts about poetry, but discovered that it would require a whole book!
Consequently, I will do only a very short version.

My earliest memory of poetry is being taught to sing “You are my sunshine” at age four so I could sing it for my dad when he came home on leave from the army during World War Two. I have never forgotten it, and hearing it now carries me back to 1943.
The first poem I learned in school was

An icicle hung on a red brick wall
And said to the sun
I don’t like you at all
Drip drip drip

Through public and high schools I was fortunate to have teachers who loved poetry and also loved to read it aloud. They helped me develop my lifelong love of the written word, and poetry specifically.
Who can forget lines like –
“Grow old along with me,
the best is yet to be,
the last of life for which the first was made”,
or perhaps -
“reached out my hand and touched the face of God”,
or, -
“The moon was a ghostly galleon,
tossed upon cloudy seas,
the wind was a torrent of darkness,
among the gusty trees,
the road was a ribbon of moonlight,
over the purple moor
and the Highwayman came riding---”,
and, one last example –
“For I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep”.

While I can appreciate free form poetry, I still favor more classical rhyming poetry – poetry that can make your heart quicken with its beat, or bring tears to your eyes with its pure eloquence, or help you feel deeply a thought or emotion that eludes any other form of expression.
I thought I might do a list of my top ten favorites. I quickly discovered that ten is far too small a number. I also discovered that one hundred is not enough.
As a consequence I decided to do a list of poems as they came to mind – without reference to any of my many poetry books and without thinking too much about it.
I don’t necessarily think these poems are my favorites, but since they are the ones that come to mind, they must be important to me. It was an interesting and somewhat surprising exercise, and the ranking is just as I they came to me.
In looking at the list now however, I note that most of these were poems I first read in school. (Not surprising then that several of the pieces are by Canadian poets.)
Perhaps that also says something about the lasting and formative impact of our early years.
The list ends at twenty one, but I had to stop there because the floodgates had opened and poems were still pouring in. I tried to take one out to make it an even twenty, but could not bear to delete even one!
Here they are ---
1. The Highwayman -Alfred Noyes
2. The prisoner of Chillon – Lord Byron
3. The Congo – Vachel Lindsay
4. Beechwood Cemetery – Archibald Lampman
5. Temagami – Archibald Lampman
6. Charge of the Light Brigade – Alfred Lord Tennyson
7. Parliament Hill – H.H.Bashford
8. High Flight – John Gillespie Magee
9. Flanders Fields – Lt. Col. John McCrea
10. The Ballad of William Sycamore – Steven Vincent Benet
11. Sonnet 29 – William Shakespeare
12. The west wind – John Mansfield
13. When the little boy ran away - unknown
14. The children’s hour – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
15. The Inchcape Rock – Robert Southey
16. Simon Legree- Vachel Lindsay
17. Song of the ski – Wilson MacDonald
18. The dying eagle – E.J. Pratt
19. The moon song – Mildred Meigs
20. Land of story books – Robert Louis Stevenson
21. One two three – Henry Cuyler Bunner

You may know some of these but I doubt you will know them all.
You might find it interesting to try your own list, and if you do I would be delighted to hear from you.
I would also be happy to send you the words for any of these poems if you want, although one of the great wonders and benefits of the internet is that you can get the words for pretty much any English language poem if you know the title or even one line.
To close, some classic lines (last verse of The Raven) from Edgar Allan Poe. (this is one of the poems that came after I stopped listing) . Poe's genius was his ability to form indelible images in the mind of the reader!

And the raven, never flitting,
still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas
just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming
of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming
throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow
that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010


This silly little thing was written in February in the depths of the winter blahs!

(why February)
Should we move Valentine’s day?
Why does St. Valentine’s day have to fall in February?
I mean, someone had to choose to put it there.
didn’t they?
It’s not like it is his birthday or deathday
or even his wedding anniversary.
(besides, I think he was a monk,
and could even have been celibate)
Why February?
It could be in the summer!
We could lay by the pool,
naked flesh slathered with ointments
to keep from being fricaseed
and to drive off ravenous bugs
desiring to feast on our blood.
But no – it has to be in February.
A month when the grey naked trees
seem to be tiptoeing,
skirts lifted, across the horizon,
trying to keep their feet
out of the mud
and traces of grimy snow,
left in little ridges
where they were dumped by the plows.
Not a pretty sight.
It could be in the summer!
But then,
February needs Valentine’s day.
Perhaps putting it in February
was actually a stroke of genius,
causing the yukkies to disappear
under the warm glow of love remembered,
present, or hoped for.
Love is stronger than mud!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

PHILLIP 1967 - 1975

I can think of nothing that hurts like the death of your child. This piece was written while still on the raw and bleeding edge of despair, and while the references in the piece may not be understood, I hope the acute agony of my soul is obvious.
I had a tremendous fear that I would stop hurting at some time. Thank God, I never have!
And I know that the same is true for Beth, Stephen, Kevin, and Alison.
The poem was published in a book called Reflections By Moonlight.
March 28, 2010 marks the 35th anniversary of our loss


Untidy stacks of hockey cards
by grubby hands and
the insides of jeans pockets
wait for the return of hands
that lift them
and the voice that says
“Daddy, want to see my cards
I’ve got four of Corneyer”

The robot, patiently, on his track
and neato shoes
with a compass in the heel
now feeling only emptiness
Treasures once, now remnants
all wait
but not alone
my heart
also shelved
for grubby hands to bless it
without hope


Tuesday, March 9, 2010


This was written by Stanley Hanna, a man of many parts.
He is an ordained minister, a skilled woodworker and carpenter, a crafter of fine writing pens, a musician, a teacher, and an avid reader.
He is also my nephew and my friend!
(see his pen website link below)
First Snow
Wind driven snow slants past the streetlight
I dream
a gust of wind fills sail
snap! the brilliant fabric grows taut
the sparkle of sunlight beam
highlights the wave tops
and we are pulled along
as if on a string
the wind strengthens
the craft heels
rudder, keel, airflow,
all struggle for control
we bob, we weave, we tack
harnessing the unseen
to gain fragile steerage
for where?
only to get there before we know it
such joy and exhilaration
then its over
the sail is dropped
wind so carefully harnessed
now left to wend its way free
I awake
wind driven snow slants past the streetlight
I leave
so I can dream again tomorrow

First Snow
Written by Stanley J. T. Hanna ©
Autumn 2009
Nepean ON Canada

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010



What can anyone say about the Vancouver Olympics that has not been said already? Positives and negatives have been aired by countless people in all possible media. Perhaps the only thing I can add is my personal experience as a spectator.
Let me start by relating a story that took place in 1980 – 30 years ago.
I was driving to my office in Toronto when the westbound traffic slowed. A long line of cars ahead of me were proceeding around some kind of obstacle on the road, and all the feeder roads were blocked by cars as far as I could see.
My patience was running low and I finally realized that the blockage likely had something to do with the one legged runner I had heard and read about. I finally got to the point where I could see a van moving slowly along the side of the road and then I saw someone running in front of the van with an almost comical hop skip and jump step. In the next few moments I was able to pass and as I did so I saw the curly hair, the artificial leg (he was wearing shorts) and the determined look on the boyish face. In the brief moment that our lives intersected I was overcome by emotion and tears ran down my face. Somehow, Terry Fox reached out and touched my soul.

I cannot explain it, nor can I explain why these Olympics touched me in a very similar, and very unexpected way – I only know they did.

It was not because of the medals, although they were an integral part of the whole. It was not because of the spectacular visual effects of the opening ceremonies, nor was it because of any of the individual performances. No, it seems to me that the whole came together with a much greater significance than the sum of its individual parts.
I loved the fans! I particularly loved the fans that crowded the curling venues, shouting and yelling and chanting and singing. Many were not knowledgeable about the sport or about the etiquette expected. I was reminded of a member of the board of directors of a symphony orchestra who said “our audience does not even know when not to clap”, and he was right, they did not know. But they did know they loved the music and enthusiastically broke into applause whenever the music stopped between movements. The conductor of that symphony responded saying that he enjoyed their enthusiasm, and that if he could bring a new audience to symphonic music, they could learn the protocol later.
I am pretty sure that curling has won an immense new fan base, and by the last few games, the audience was learning to keep it down at the appropriate times. How can you not love that kind of enthusiasm and pure joy.

The reports and coverage of groups of people from coast to coast breaking spontaneously into singing our national anthem touched me deeply. How could this happen without magic?
There was also a pride that came with seeing the fans at all venues embracing the athletes from other countries. While many of those countries had their own national cheering sections, the Canadian fans were generous in their show of appreciation for all the competitors. Perhaps this is just Canadian “niceness”, but if so, I am all in favor of it.

Youth and Beauty, Beauty and Youth. Toques and masks and goggles came off and revealed spectacularly beautiful people. Many had what we might call traditional beauty, almost all had an additional kind of beauty – the beauty of being young and healthy and full of life and vitality and happiness. The beauty of high expectations and of reveling in the Olympic experience and of reacting to the magnificent display of support and enthusiasm by the attending crowds. I admit also that the bodies were beautiful and generously displayed by the colorful and generally skin tight clothing. Beautiful healthy young bodies. You don’t need to be a leering voyeur to appreciate them.

Then there was Clara!
If there were a statue to illustrate Lady Canada, I would give it Clara’s face. I would give it her smile. The smile you cannot see without finding yourself grinning. The smile you cannot see without feeling that somehow Clara is smiling at you. The smile you cannot see without peeking into her soul. The smile that tells you she is delighted with life, delighted with the moment, delighted with herself, delighted to be Canadian, and that she is delighted with you.
Clara Hughes, you delight me!

And so, today, I am a different Canadian than I was before the games started. I am prouder of our country than I was. I appreciate anew the singability and the emotional resonance of our anthem. I have a new and higher affection for our Canadian flag design that is recognizable around the world. I have a brighter and more optimistic hope for our future.
Vicarious living? Maybe, but it feels GOOD!