Welcome back to the party.
Today’s guest is Richard Osler from Duncan, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. His blog Recovering Words is a wonderful repository of poetry, and published frequently. I have come to many poets and their works for the first time through Richards blog, and am grateful to him for it.
Richard borrows the words of his mentor Sir Laurens van der Post when he says he lives his life not by conscious plan or prearranged design but as someone following the flight of a bird. From business journalism with the Financial Post, to financial analysis, money management and back to words as a poet and as a facilitator of poetry workshops and retreats, describes the richness of Richard’s life so far.
I have had opportunity to be with Richard as a both a poetry facilitator, and a workshop co-participant. The depth of his poetic knowledge and passion for it is extraordinary. I am equally taken by Richard’s recovery practice, where poetry becomes a healing doorway to many who have never written a word. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, my husband Bob and I were planning to join Richard in Umbria, Italy, for a 10 day poetry retreat. Sadly, this too is paused.
I’m inviting each guest to consider these three questions;
1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
2. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Having been given this gift of more time, what are you spending it on?
3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?
In response Richard says this;
In this time of quiet I quiet down inside poems, gardens and an evening fire’s burning eye. And I come back up to the fires burning cold to the touch in the poetry inside my library and allow more time to be curious about the poems that burn me to the quick. And today on the phone with a friend I put him on speaker on my smart phone so I could talk and click the wonder of the sunlight on two yellow roses in a vase on the altar in my bedroom. Yellow light on yellow shouldn’t be a marvel should it? Yet, I tell you, it was. It was.
Richard’s newest poetry collection Hyaena Season, is available through Quattro Books.
The poem Richard has chosen to share today is First and Last, a poem he tells me has been looking for a place to be. Thank you for the privilege of being that place, Richard, and thanks so much for spending time with us at Buddy Breathing.
Blessings and peace,
First and Last
Somewhere a small boy, already poised
to be something foreign even to himself
stands robed in front of an altar – the wind,
the rain, the wild hewn out of it – and sees there
a symbol made proud with adze and chisel
from the birch planks it rose from – Ω , omega.
And he knows it, end letter in the Greek alphabet, last.
But paired on his tongue with Α – Alpha and he knows
it too. Beginning letter, first. Α Ω. A hierarchy.
First and last. Not yet confused with the teaching –
the first will be last and the last will be first.
But first and last wedded to become God.
This metaphor raised on an altar made
from stuff of air and ground, the “this is really that”,
and why, now, this memory, as down-under forests
burn and fall, of these names he used for God: Α Ω.
Richard Osler, November 11, 2019