I relieve the cedar of its costume,
and, interpreting the language of a tree,
I sense its scorn
for dressing it up so.

“But you looked so fine,” said I,
lighted ‘neath Yuletide snow,”

“Fine indeed, but that spirit has fled.
Can’t you see ice at my feet,
my brown tips starting to show?

“Now get that plastic garland off me,
and I’ll return to dormancy.”

What was I thinking? I wondered,
spending those hours
giving each bulb a twist,
to find the one to fix.

And now, the season has fled
indeed, reason, too,
for this January is not worthy
of post-holiday retreat,
resolutions, or wintry blues.

The cedar is right.
Ridiculous that energy
be harnessed for
such unnecessary light.

My lights will be silenced
in a black box they’ll remain,
I’ll let the seasons refrain
until, some days hence,

Sure as January,
I’ll return to that tree
when the early winter fairy
shall sprinkle magic on me.

October dreams

Yellow joins gold
where waves meet in a river
and fill a cove –
a cove of our dreams
framed this morning
by stone, mud, rushes
and the elements
offered to our waking

A thanksgiving table
is set before the artist:

raindrops on the cheek,
wind through hair
“like how the scarf  blows,”
“look, ripples on the mud!”
plenty of exposed rock,
and the passing ship
appears on cue.

October touches
like paint to a brush,
light through a lens,
words in a poem,
and exposes
what dreams inspire.

We are never
quite the same,

you and I
in sheltered cove
the place of dreams,
to capture a breath
of her imagination
before she blushes,
breathes deeply
and blows us back
to heated rooms
and electric light.

Guy K.M. Smith
October 2012

Snowshoes: raquettes

Stubborn first steps: with practice
a peculiar swing,
few hundred steps to where paddles swing
the other season.

Surprise of passion: an immense bed
rippling wind waves sculpted on ice
inviting an act of impression
bound to the lattice
bound together, lovers walk on water

take the lake this instant:
she moves, he moves, east, west, then join:
slow curving path to a point.

Turn those raquettes to wings
beat against the winter air
rise for the limitless sky
freeze the moment in time
to look upon your heart.



Friday in September I’m headed down the line,
Gonna get away with friends of mine,
The road is clear, my time is free,
I know the place I want to be …

Early morning wake-up pondering,
lying back, no hurry,
just thinking on what life offers in the moment …

Who peeled those logs so smoothly?
What spirit raised this cabin?
Pine lifted to its sheltering pitch,
cedar split to shingles resting aloft
like men sleeping soundly
until roused, steaming to the touch of sun
feeling its way through maples.

Signals the jay
“Hey! Hey!”

A canoe waits in frosted mud
on the edge of some ethereal lake.
Paddle draws the forest into deep shadow,
the bow splits mystic green
and stillness reflects the sky, blue as a dream.

A piper plays on faraway rock.

As maples blush with autumn’s first kiss,
I hear his call on the morning mist.


Cells dividing
buds swelling
crowns spreading
stems expanding.

      Each fibre in every tree
            each tree in every forest
                  each day on the Earth.

Elements combine like notes in a symphony eternal:
      composing, decomposing
      crescendos, diminuendos, rests

      verses of growth and decline
      refrains of vigour and decay
      harmonizing the animate and inanimate.

      Each fibre in every tree
                  each tree in every forest
                        each day on the Earth.

Any tree is like any other
yet each like none other
each a product of its particular relationship
with the Sun
and earth
wind and fire,
water and ice

and with family and neighbours
(it’s not all in the genes).

Dominant or suppressed,
hard or soft,
straight, leaning or lying down

trees are of the forest and forests are of trees
to their very fibre they differ
and together,
they are that constant presence

      each day on our Earth.


To everything a season

Autumn wrestles, its fingers numb,
finally lets go. 
Winter grips like a hand squeezing a snowball
until it squeaks.
Snow stays, sky and air play ball,
winter has its turn on the ride around the sun.
Plays all night long,
pants on windows each morning,
sparkles across the snow:
the fast dance of youth’s short days.

Our friend Jack

Remember trying to catch
a snowflake on the tongue?
The little sun-spun miracles
spinning down from winter sky
dodging at the last instant
all a frosty scatter,
lighting on size-six boots.

A sea of snow followed,
the sky turned grey,
a bell rang.
Footprints hid,
waited in the playground
to be found
under snow.

Snow Magic

Like a screen playing black and white,
silent shadows have such definition:
leaning trees growing long
in the shortening day;
a bird darts between them,
confined in one dimension
until its call penetrates the theatre:
sound is introduced
to winter pictures.


Lonely in the missing hours

I try to see your touch
     vivid, beyond these needy days.

Missing you for all you miss in me,
     for all that waits.

But first, some raindrops for this lonely ground,
As I look down, phone pressed to my ear.

8th Avenue never knew such love,
As in the rain that falls,
full of you,
     waiting for me,
          full of time,


What new home will two travelers find?
On what breeze blown, to which state of mind?
To which new song will their hearts incline?

On swelling smoothness of summer sun,
unbroken, the floating feather spun,
turning tunes on the wandering waterway.

With shared spirit the paddlers came,
reaching like the lily to claim,
a portion of placid perfection that day.

Love beckoned beneath the bowing pine,
warm winds free from limits of time,
senses soared and flew away.

Souls found seclusion on the lake,
where a pair of loons their nest did make,
shadows sheltered the spot where they lay.

Like brushstrokes, dipping dapples depart,
and leave a lasting landscape on the heart.
The canoe lain against a spruce stem grey.

Hills to ascend, blueberries to pick,
a feather, a coloured stone, a beaver stick;
among the treasure discovered that day.


Water in my hands
seeds on the soil
grass will grow once more.

Stars in the night
lights in my mind
stories will be told once more.

Children play
in shadows on the grass
they reach like branches to the sky,
rest and sway in afternoon sun,
we will rest in their shade one day.

Seeds find a place in the earth
born of trees growing old
eyes water as they look to a star
wind whispers past our ears
and the mind remembers days long gone
and stories long foretold.


a page from the Book of Winter:
hunger; fear; circles chasing moonlight.

Feathered impressions cast in white.
Here seeds spilled from a cone suddenly dropped
there scraps of fur snagged on protruding twig.

(Trust wolves to keep the tempo of the work-play balance).

Points at the tip of pads betray coyote
while lynx keeps claws hidden under loping steps.

Morning exposure and paws patter fast as heartbeats
scatter for cover, waiting to be captured again
by moonlit magic.

And she taking ballerina steps,
carefully weaving her dotted path,
does she fancy herself upon a canvas?

(Her impressions really do collect afternoon shadow).

Perhaps the story teller knows, under his blanket sleeping
his old chair bending low, dreaming of rising again
and walking on the snow.


Lights flicker along the shore this night
like coals glowing on tongues
of travelers, once in the sun
which yesterday beat upon the road
from whence the stories come.

Stories growing old, that speak to dreams,
hold cups by night,
collect ashes to hold for tomorrow
to cast before the gnawing hours,
the unstoppable exposure,
the raw ideals burning on public highways.

In the glare, would travelers pause,
would they feel, would they remember
the twists and turns, the whispers, the embers?

Would they yearn for night,
for moments round the smoky ring,
hanging on the edge of cold
camped with the wisdom of the story told?

They would keep faith with the fire’s glow,
speaking quietly so as not to rouse
the road that sleeps,
dreaming on tomorrow.


“Crows sway over rooftops like sailors lost at sea,
they cling to naked branches, black eyes peering.”

– Rime of the Autumn Navigator

Tenacity in shiny black
through drizzle peering,
an eerie sway
naked, waiting
on branches grey …


which will be first,
with iron-black bill,
to scatter leaves
dig the ground
split the shell …

and let November in.


Head to the wind, face to the rain,
Pulsing and pumping over the pain,
Splashing mud on frosted ground,
Red and gold swirl around.
On a trail by rocks and pines,
Past aging relics of earlier times,
From clouded thoughts that drift away,
Like morning mist this autumn day,
To outer limits I take my mind,
And further still, where I might find,
A rhythm that breathes in ebbs and flows,
As noise abates and spinning slows,
Where pools echo the sparrow’s call,
‘Neath waters that cascade and fall,
Clear through the morning I run.
Opening acts of the sun,
Filter through the balsam trees,
And play upon the wetted leaves,
Like sparks alighting in the night,
Igniting fires of new found light,
Lighting ways unknown before,
A young man on a timeless shore,
Running a circle around a lake,
Its crystal coolness does awake.
A sense of ending and beginning,
A loss of drive to be winning,
A gain in knowledge of the trail,
All must travel without fail,
Past times lived and places been,
Like subtle shades of evergreen,
Blending with the days to come,
This I ponder on my run.
And on this palette of September,
I am one who will remember,
Each rock and root, each slip and slide,
Up and downhill I have tried,
On leaves that slowly skeletonize,
When wind whips tears from my eyes,
And the body starts to fail,
I’ll see the picture of this trail,
And find my place here, running free.


Hair blows in waves over sculpted shoulders,
Gold streams in twitches and tumbles into the current.
Blue and silver dance on a curving back, among stones smooth and white.

I am drawn to you, and feel your breath rise,
Heat teases steam from shadows and I thirst for you.
I drink of your waters wild and tame, which timelessly reveal the lines of age.

Our day is going the way of molten gold,
Poured into clay cast in the cold of ancient night.
Rippling moonlight stirs with the ever-distant lament of the circling loon.

I awake.
Morning slants silver flashes,
I ride your body; it heaves back ten-thousand years of compression. 
A fly crosses the face of the sun.

Iron rusts.
Your ice undermines decades,
At the crossing children wave at their great-grandfather’s invention.
Concrete crumbles like chalk in old hands.

Street lights rain glass at the end of the line,
Five hundred miles closer to somewhere, so I’m told.
Five hundred miles from anywhere is where I’d like to be, far from this place,

Closer to you,

Reflection on Inspriation

Aboard Old Tranquility distance between stars an illusion,
pulled starlight close to take the chill off night, dozed and woke on celestial streams.

One seated cross-legged right aft tilted his head to another sun, his eyes never closing, Emile Nelligan in one hand and Browning in the other; mysteries lost in two deep oceans.

Il y a 500 ans, le garçon qui seul attend. A moment arrived: “I see sparks. Noonday and midnight passing at once.” In those early hours we followed his fountain of words…

“Far to the east of Boundary Road, burned my last hours like waiting for a promise never kept. Took a left turn and knew it was time to stop. Followed lights along the river to a group of travelers around a dying fire. They told me to lighten my load and poured embers on my last regrets. Surely now was time for new direction, different speed.

“That night we slaughtered a machine used to generate account numbers and passwords. Dismembered a television that played news 24/7 on 500 channels. Buried the parts under a big stone ‘lost inspiration.’ Never returned to that place. The next day returned to the highway and travelled our separate ways. Drove west and covered 500 years in a day.

“Went straight to the Daughter of Antiquity, entered her room and the universe unfolded. She opened a leather-bound volume, waiting for me to discover that I had been there all the time. The last words I remember: ‘the only storm to fear is the one that never comes.’ If I’d known then I was going blind I would have asked her to restore my sight.

“Sans m’arreter j’ai foncé dans la noir…
In blindness I found sight, in a moment of silence I heard my music. Then I saw time unraveling like a golden spool spinning at the speed of light
... ces innconnus vivent roi chez moi.”

His last words fell like saltwater from a polished shell.
He sat back, palms turned out and we could see his thinness, roots growing deep.

Roots seeking water beneath rocks, searching for a way home, thirsty for inspiration.
His eyes turned upwards, straining to see, as if blinded by flashes struck from midnight.