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And Words Are All I Have

Home Again

A true friend is someone who commiserates with you over your
broken toe without mentioning she broke her foot.

Michelangelo said the work of art awaited him beneath the slab of marble, the task for him being merely to uncover it.

In my own small way, I understand that mentality as I write these days. The poem I feel is "possible" waits patiently beyond the first tentative lines of a succession of untidy drafts, across a murky divide, and with luck and patience perhaps I will reach it, to reveal all that it might be. But it is fleet footed, and elusive, and a task master, each time. Here is one I wrote recently that felt exactly like that.

Enough’s Enough

I should have bought gold.
Written that idea down.
Paid more attention.
Slept less.
I wonder lately where everyone has gone.
Why the most important never
quite makes the list.
And why enormous changes are so often required
at the very last minute
with no chance to catch our breath.
I wonder lately where everyone has gone
and why I stood by.
I wonder
and this most of all
if even for a moment
I made someone happy.

Isle of Skye.

I return to my homeland of Scotland on Thursday. To see my family in Glasgow and Forres. And to help my eldest sister scatter the ashes of her dear husband, who died in October, at Hogganfield Loch.

The last time I saw my brother-in-law was just before he died. We had a wonderful party at our home and, as he was leaving with our other guests, he asked me to sing a Scottish song. (A very common Scots tradition, to close the evening with a song.) I chose to sing one called Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go, as it turned out, a song Barry had never heard before. He called me the next to day to ask me about it and would I please sing it again at the next gathering.

All of us together at Hogganfield Loch will be that next time. I think Barry would be pleased.

Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go, also known as Wild Mountain Thyme, is a Scots/Irish song written in the 1950's and based on lyrics and melody by a Scots poet in 1760.

Here is Ed Sheeran's recent rendition.

It will be a bittersweet return home.


Just before takeoff
when time somehow stands still.
Our real lives on hold,
this our world for the next ten hours,
this sleek steel tube.
Door closed with
distinct finality.
A chorus of seat belts snaps shut
up and down the cabin.
One by one are heard
the sounds of leaving.
A familiar hush settles in.
Earbuds inserted,
blankets and pillows positioned,
lights dimmed, soothingly,
video screens are beacons up and down the cabin.
Contentedly captive,
each for our own reasons.
Untouchables for a time.
May we all travel hopefully
toward tomorrow.

Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said,
most of love is lost.”

Khalil Gibran

It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.

The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.

~~ Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran (1883 - 1931), best known for his book, The Prophet, was born in Lebanon to an impoverished family. He moved with his mother and siblings to Boston at the age of 12, but returned to Lebanon three years later to attend college. He was studying art in Paris when a family death brought him back to Boston. Gibran ultimately settled in New York, where he gained recognition for his poems and short stories as well as for his drawings and paintings.

I had a story published in the Globe and Mail last week in its First Person section. A fun romp (welcome break from writing some very somber poems) and I enjoyed the resoundingly warmhearted feedback from readers.

Here is a link to the online issue. I’m back on the Maple Leafs bandwagon, but hear me out before you pile on - The Globe and Mail


though a child, you became a god
when you lit your first fire.

learning almost nothing to be unburnable
was how you learned love, finance,
the charms of delinquency, and war.

those lessons self-taught
through the repeated act of burning as much
as you could reasonably take a match to
put you way ahead at school.

your teachers, no better than mine,
hated that you knew everything
without them.

when a drunk history teacher
challenged you to a fight, you sparked
him out and walked home across town in your blue
uniform, stopping only to throw stones in the canal.

between the ages of five and eight I thought
you looked like a flying cherub in one of the
holy paintings in the chapel on the hill
where you served as altar boy.

you said a priest up there accused you of swiping
a twenty from the collection basket
just so he could frisk you. i believed you.
i believe everything you say.
you’re always the first person i call when I’m happy.

Eugene O’Hare


An old acquaintance is getting married to a woman named Amy, but she spells it Amye. That wholly unnecessary "e" is why I unfriended him. I don’t need that kind of stress in my life.

Recent Post

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry Reading and Sharing event with poet Tricia McCallum When? Saturday, June 17 at 7:30 pm Where? the WACC, 475 Whitevale Rd Why is it different? Tricia McCallum, our resident poet, will not only share some of her poems, but she is inviting you to share a poem that has a special meaning for you. Before this June rendez-vous, you …
Tricia's Poetry reading on June 17 at the Whitevale Arts and Culture Centre

his poem of mine is a difficult one. Painful to write and perhaps moreso to share.
But what is it a poet promises her reader if not her most hard-won truths? (After Keats)

His Gift

We were leaving the bar and he erupted,
I had been paying attention to everyone but him,
he yelled.
Who was that guy you kept flirting with?
I hurried ahead, mystified,
realizing how little I knew about this guy.
He rushed up alongside me and with a closed fist punched me so hard on my upper arm
that it propelled me sideways,
sent me down to the hard cold ground with a jolt.
He leaned over me, preparing to strike me again.
Oh, you’re not worth it, he spat out as he walked away.
And left me there that frigid February night
so long ago.
Left me with what I came to see as a bizarre gift,
by letting me feel at his hand for those few moments, utter powerlessness,
the terror of helplessness,
and seeding in my deepest core the determination
to never feel those things ever again.

~~ Tricia McCallum
At a certain point I need to go wandering. My feet need to hit earth, again and again,
that bone-filling drumbeat. I need the sky's colored threads to tangle inside me,
pull me somewhere new.

Megan Harlan, Mobile Home: A Memoir in Essays


Book Sales

The Music of Leaving, my collection of poetry, is available to order.
Order directly online — for both Canada and U.S. orders — from Amazon, Brunswick and Demeter.
The Music of Leaving - Tricia McCallum

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