October 2010

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George Chuvalo in his time

The best things of my lifetime
are there to see in books
tucked away in corners
in boxes, vaults and nooks
anyone could look them up
watch late without the sound
no one ever in his time
knocked George Chuvalo down.

He fought Patterson and Quarry
and Muhammad Ali twice,
Foreman, Ellis, Bonavena
Joe Frazier and Terrell
three sons fell to drugs and darkness
a wife in sorrow gone
but no one ever in his time
knocked George Chuvalo down.

We held a century in both hands
glittering bright across the land
the Railroad Trilogy echoes yet
Leonard Cohen and Suzanne
roads ran gold from east to west
a nation sensed beyond its bound
and no one ever in his time
knocked George Chuvalo down.

A good man came and then was gone
up winter roads on new year’s eve
medicare, the maple leaf,
a Nobel Prize, diplomacy
the common wealth exists for all
but rarely knows such common ground
no one ever in his time
knocked George Chuvalo down.

We fought a clashing war on skates
a time, a test to set things straight
Tretiak, Gusev, Kharmalov
was it luck, or was it fate
that men like this could shock us so
a moment lost that lightning found
but no one ever in his time
knocked George Chuvalo down.

A nation weakened may not stand
tears and smoke, À la prochaine fois!
shadows, anguish, would it be
could we rise and gleam again
one man stood when others swayed
yet still we hear a heavy sound
but no one ever in his time
knocked George Chuvalo down.

I once believed in family
men and women, daughters, sons,
spokes to spin the artist’s wheel
a realm with place for everyone
we cannot know, we cannot see
mystery wraps the final round
but no one ever his time
knocked George Chuvalo down.

© 2010

Thanksgiving

Along the river clear and blue
past that old cabin in the sun,
great pines rising from the shore,
I touch the birches with old eyes
and know from somewhere
far away
I’ve seen these woods,
I’ve been this way a
thousand times before.
Somewhere in the mists of now
that blue jay once was me,
a flash of colour from a dream,
light leaping from creation’s door,
these currents in the air and sky
sing through my blood and me.
I see my neighbors east and west,
old friends to north to south,
we seem to meet at every turn
then mysteriously turn away.
I reach a place where apples fall
and acorns gleam and winds
grow still in autumn leaves.
I sense old souls I used to be
and paths where they turned off.
There is no union in these realms
- there does not have to be.
I suck old life from ancient bones
and it comes back to me.

© 2010