Wednesday, July 14, 2021

diane tucker | nostalgia for moving parts | three poems about childhood

Three poems about childhood that made me cry. From Diane Tucker's new book, Nostalgia For Moving Parts. So particular, so much compassion. Get yourself a copy. I'm not kidding.

Love the sad men
The small, huge things that sad men do, sad
men who build with everything but words.
Build dollhouses, train sets, HO mountains
from cereal boxes and plaster of Paris,
building the mountains they can for their sons.
For daughters they build scroll-sawed
shelves to hold phalanxes of dolls, blown-glass
animals, Barbie barns above the bed’s blue lace.
Sad fathers who’ve eluded words carve magic
circles in their back lawns for swimming
pools. They sieve stones out of the soil circles
so nothing will nick the pools’ thin blue skin.
This is the testament of sad men who live
starved of words: drywall, carport, pickle jars
of nails, lawnmower, farmer’s tan, house paint,
apple tree, soldering gun, handsaw, wood plane.
Wood shavings falling from the vise,
wooden curls on the cold garage floor,
wooden curls warm on little girls’ ears.


Skipping ropes at school, their woven heft.
Steel poles around the roofed playground, the rain
running down them luminous, metal-melting.
I’d press my tongue against a pole and drink.
School was a world of delicious new textures:
fat crayons, creamy manila colouring paper,
notebooks, worksheets stacked fat as animal bodies.
Tables and chairs with shiny metal tubes for legs.
Even light at school felt stronger than at home.
They showed us filmstrips of marmalade leaves
against a blue blue sky, all technicolour-crisp.
How I loved those glowing celluloid leaves!
Then the cloakroom hooks’ imploring curves,
parallel silences in calm, rectangular shadows,
the pavement tap-dance beat of skipping ropes.
How I loved school, the sweet order of desks
in grids. So I wasn’t totally upset when, in grade
two, Danny with the French last name tied me to
a pole with a skipping rope so he could kiss me,
Danny with the round eyes, a cherub’s mouth,

curly hair. He was small even among the small,
as I was. No doubt I’d flirted with him, grade-two
style, cute and clueless. I thought myself a lady.
Were kisses procured? I bet there were a few.
Soon the rope loosened and I made a dash.
But Danny pushed me back. A metal pole I loved,
from which I’d drunk the rain, rushed up
and struck me in the bone below one eye.
A shiner it was called. I had a shiner. I’d seen
them on TV, cartoon-red beefsteaks on faces.
Danny got the strap then, or another time, or both.
He came back to class subdued, his crying
eyes swollen. As if a hiding could patch up his
love-starved soul. He chased girls, he lifted skirts,
he stole kisses, and the grown-ups just spanked
his ass? Poor Danny, tiny paramour, tiny batterer!
As long as I knew him, Danny chased the girls,
staring expectantly through big brown eyes.
Whatever makes boys seize girls roiled in him.
That yearning he had, no strap could smack it out.
And no black eye stopped me flirting. I was seven
and had imprinted on romance like a baby bird.
I followed its Hollywood promises everywhere,
persistent and imploring as a cloakroom hook.


Beautiful grade four teacher
always wore his shirt half open,
had dry-look hair and eyes bigger
than Donny Osmond’s. Sometimes
he used swear words in class.
I fell hard in grade four love.
I remember the day I had to wear
the hand-me-down dress to school.
Polka dots, pleats, Peter Pan collar.
1974 was bell-bottoms, feathered hair,
Three Dog Night and Doodle Art.
It was neither pleats nor polka dots.
It was in no way a Peter Pan collar.
But crushy teacher, lounging atop a desk,
fixed me, with round, pale eyes, in his stare.
He grafted two trees to a single rootstock,
kindness twinned forever with desire.
You look smashing, he said, in that dress.
The world lit up. I clutch that moment,
talisman still, the heat that flowered when he
noticed my smallness, my sadness, and spoke.

Nostalgia For Moving Parts is published by Turnstone Press, 2021. Copies available through their website.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

soul food: the ghost light season | podcast

Welcome to my podcast!  A way of "keeping the lights on" while Pacific Theatre's doors (and everybody else's) are closed. "Soul Food: The Ghost Light Season" is like a radio show, all about theatre and movies, music, stories, and life during this strange time we're all going through.

There was a special edition of the podcast on Easter weekend, Easter Presence. Act One went onstage (virtually) at 8:00 Good Friday, with Act Two taking the stage for a Saturday matinee at 2:00.  It's a special edition of the podcast that's just like Pacific Theatre's great tradition, "Christmas Presence" - except, of course, it's not about Christmas.  Songs and readings for this essential season.

Soul Food is also thrilled to be premiering a brand new novel-in-progress by our favourite playwright, Lucia Frangione!  Grazie is posted in serial form every Monday and Thursday, details and links below.

And Thelma Schoonmaker edited a nice little trailer for our First International Earth Day Film Festival, which happened April 22nd, coincidentally enough. Earth Day Film Festival trailer which you can find on YouTube. There's a nice little interview with Thelma early in Episode 12.

Ron Reed,
Artistic Director, Pacific Theatre


as a podcast: downloadable, streamable, or subscribe-able... or pretty much anywhere you get your podcasts 

on YouTube
here's a playlist of all the episodes in order

Friday, April 24, 2020

loren wilkinson | hot cross buns 2020

A recording of Loren reading the original Hot Cross Buns poem, written in 1987 and recorded for Iwan Russell-Jones' documentary "Making Peace With Creation," can be found as part of the YouTube playlist of selected poems by Loren Wilkinson, Imago Mundi

Saturday, April 11, 2020

ghost light podcast #9 | easter presence | set list | act two

Teacup's Jazzy Blues Tune | Taj Mahal with the Pointer Sisters
from Ooh So Good 'n Blues

sometime during eternity | Lawrence Ferlinghetti | read by Ron Reed
from Coney Island of the Mind

I Am One | Miriam Jones
from Being Here

Samaritan Woman | Sheila Rosen | read by Rebecca deBoer

Strange Man | Ken Whiteley
from Up Above My Head

Kwuz | David Kossoff | read by Ron Reed
from The Book Of Witnesses

Heal Me | Cheryl Bear
from Cheryl Bear

The Christ Of Charlie Edenshaw | Loren Wilkinson

By The Mark | Gillian Welch
from Revival

The Sighting | Luci Shaw | read by Ron Reed
from Sea Glass

What Love Looks Like | Carolyn Arends
from Seize The Day and Other Stories

Jeremy's Easter Egg | author unknown | read by Nicola Shannon

How Can I Keep From Singing | Julee Glaub
from Fields Faraway

Open | Luci Shaw | read by Ron Reed
from one of her books

I Am The Man, Thomas | Viper Central
from Live At The Street Church (out of print)

Food For Risen Bodies | Michael Symmons Roberts
from Corpus

Where Shall I Be
from Up Above My Head

The Lego Easter garden is by Sebastian Tow

Friday, April 10, 2020

ghost light podcast #8 : easter presence | set list | act one

I Want Jesus To Walk With Me | The Nelson Boschman Trio
from Keeping Time, Volume 2

Jesus Was An Only Son | Jon Ochsendorf
recorded for this podcast

Mr Prediction | Ira Glass & David Rakoff
from This American Life #241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes

Touch The Hem | Ken Whitely
from Up Above My Head

Jesus Christ Superstar | Lucy Grealy | read by Chantal Gallant
from "My God," found in Joyful Noise

I Don't Know How To Love Him | Laura Koch, of The Kwerks
recorded for this podcast

Judas | J.D. Salinger | read by Ron Reed
from The Catcher in the Rye

Judas | Peter La Grand
from Duende

The Cast of Christmas Assembles | Steve Turner | read by Ian Farthing
from Tonight We Will Fake Love

All My Tears | Leigh Ann & Ryan Howarth
Rick Colhoun recording

Six Feet | Kirsty Provan
recorded for this podcast

The Cost of My Cure | Allen Desnoyers

Jesus Checks In For the Flight Home | Luci Shaw | read by Ron Reed
from Sea Glass

I'm Headed For | Michael Hart
from Desire, reissued on So Far So Good

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

ghost light podcast #5 | garth bowen | covid wars

Garth Bowen is a long-time friend, and a long-time friend of Pacific Theatre.  He was in our first production of Cotton Patch Gospel at the Richmond Gateway Theatre in October 1989, and has played nearly twenty years worth of Christmas Presences.  He posted a video of this brand new song on Sunday, March 29, on his Facebook page.

Finn Slough, March 24 | photo by Garth Bowen

Lock the gate shut all the doors
It’s time to face the Covid Wars
A battle fought without a gun
Where falling back is how its won

A viral menace fills the air
Another burden comes to bear
It’s not against the foe we fight
Not by power not by might

The markets fell just days ago
A life of saving doesn’t show
Things on end and upside down
The spirit’s gone in Vancouver town

There’s a dozen notes upon my wall
From friends who live in protocol
warmest thoughts and funny shares
sent with love and heartfelt prayers

And still beside the checkout stand
Those glossy pictures bronzed and tanned
What once amused us seems so trite
The simple things are the best in life

Social distance, seems so strange
I’ve got my dear ones on my brain
How long like this, maybe a year
How can I guard my heart from fear?

Sometimes it’s wise to plan ahead
The dreams we once held close seem dead
With so much time to think at home
And the coming storm has barely blown

There’s a dozen notes upon my wall
From friends who live in protocol
warmest thoughts and funny shares
sent with love and heartfelt prayers