NaPoMo poetry party.19


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Nygel Metcalfe
is someone I have come to know through collaboration and  friendship grown in creative and faith communities of Kelowna, British Columbia. Nygel is as comfortable bringing his slam poetry to the stage in fierce competition, as sitting down for a glass of Okanagan wine and a chat about philosophy, or personality types, or tigers.

The poem Nygel is bringing today is a favourite of mine. I can attest Harvest is equally captivating when Nygel performs it live, and you are in for a treat as both written text and video performance are shared here today. My heart is gladdened by being in Nygel’s presence, and yours. Welcome.

Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?

Nygel: I suppose I am just as guilty as the next person of wishing that I had more time, however I’m not a very disciplined individual, so even when I have hit the proverbial paydirt, a wealth of time on my hands, I don’t use it very well. I fritter it away on entertainments, partially out of selfishness, and partially as a defense mechanism, out of fear of the current unknowns and disruptions that we are facing on a global scale. So, I would estimate that [I am] two weeks behind everyone else.

If we’re thinking in terms of stages of grief, the first being denial, my denial phase lasted for two solid weeks. I buried myself in distractions in order to avoid having to face the monumental changes. This past week, however (largely in part to your invitation, Lesley-Anne) has been a beautiful process of thawing, awakening, and allowing myself to confront these new realities and process them to some degree. Anger was definitely present, as well – anger at myself, and the world – and I think depression was definitely rearing its head on Wednesday. Now, despite these things being recurring and cyclical, I do feel an increasing acceptance settling over me at the moment.

Lesley-Anne: Why is art important?

Nygel: Art, to me, is one of the most laudable human pursuits. Art is content creation and, subsequently, action, and embodiment, and forward motion, and dialogue, whether we speak of renaissance sculpture or a youtube channel. The content creators are those who we look to for answers, for language to describe our experiences, for stories to tell, and for emotional appeasement or reassurance. The consumer merely waits, and is fed, and follows directions.

For example: Tiger King is all the rage right now. Why? Because it’s the first thing you see when you sign into Netflix. Nobody “found” Tiger King, but everyone is talking about it and how “interesting” it is. I won’t watch it out of principle, because I feel like choosing a movie on my own terms is symbolic of my humanity – the exercising of my own preferences and judgement. The alternative is like some Orwellian nightmare – a trudging and mindless series of clicks and swipes. Let me read from an alphabetical list, and choose whatever jumps out at me! (It’s best not to think too deeply about the fact that virtually every choice I make has been pre-determined for me by environmental factors or the programming of corporate interests ). Just let me watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers while I cling to the last vestiges of my illusory autonomy, damnit! But I digress…

I have heard many beautiful assertions over the years: Art is subversion, art is survival; art is a creative impulse which results from our own innate divinity as those made in the image of a Creator. Poetry is Bearing Witness. Poetry is a finger pointing at the moon. Poetry is “speaking your truth.” I appreciate all of these. Perhaps the definition that feels most true and most potent for me at this time is of poetry as liminal space: the place where language still ventures, but logic unravels; instinct, sound, and symbol intermingling.

Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?

Nygel: For starters, I accidentally went on a full-tilt rant about Tiger King…
Other than that, I found myself writing two very personal, emotional letters. One of them was a letter to my first love, to apologize for some things my younger self was ignorant of and to wish her health and happiness in her new marriage.The other was a letter to my future daughter, to capture some of the thoughts and feelings that have been occupying my heart and mind this year (my wife and I are not yet pregnant, but have been trying for several months and I feel that it is soon to be).

I am grateful, for poetry, and for green growing things, and for friends who reach out with invitation. May you discover, dear reader, in this season, the groundedness to face whatever feeling emerges within you and the strength for whatever task which you decide to undertake.

If you want to investigate further the work and the man, here you go: nygelmetcalfepoetry.com
birdsofcray.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/breakinggroundpoets/?hl=en

Also,  here are two of Nygel’s chapbooks well worth perusing:
Nature Poems  and DEEP BREATHS.

Nygel, this has been wonderful just hanging out and hearing from you. Thanks for honouring us today, and we will leave now, carried by these poetic lines…and if you scroll waaaaay down to the bottom of the page, your video awaits!

Peace and poetry,
Lesley-Anne

HARVEST (OR, AN EXHORTATION TO OUTCASTS)

When it comes to speaking your mind from your mouth, 
the sentiment spills into scenes, 
and the saliva sprays are, in fact, a sacrament.

And sometimes Winter feels eternal, 
these endless frozen months that grace the stage

and we have long been caught
 in the rib cage of an ice age.

But we have not waited in vain; frozen, 
yes, but ever thinking and ever dreaming, waiting 
to be thawed out in a hundred years and and put on display
in the national museum, amongst the sarcophagi 
and holy books and rosetta stones…

We will be historically significant when we awaken.

Each of us is a crucial part of the cacophony, active 
and electric participants in the symphony: we are movements, 
and we are being conducted together.

and I don’t believe that you are what you eat, 
because despite the steady diet of notebook paper 
and napkin scrawl that has been ingested 
by my kinetic and unrelenting soul, 
I have yet to become… stationary.

We are seasons. We are not becoming extinct, 
only changing our clothing 
accordingly to suit the weather. We adapt.

Call us earth-shakers, record breakers, 
the brand new lawmakers.
The scientists, the activists, the strugglers 
and haphazard courageous sleeping on street corners, 
and in care homes and in spare bedrooms.
We are the little brothers, tag alongs, 
the late-night fiction readers, the cheekbone shiners 
and nose-bleeders.
We are the halloween ghouls, 
the thanksgiving pilgrims, and the sleepy, 
tea-time and lullaby-loving citizens 
of the hometowns we all have in our back pockets.
We are the spirits who will visit you at midnight 
on Christmas Eve. We are here to open our mouths 
in order to unlock eyes and ears, our own notwithstanding.

We are cuban cigars and aged scotch on the rocks, 
letting the fireplace warm our woollen socks, 
getting up to answer the door every single time 
opportunity knocks books open on our bedsides: 
our Tolkiens, Tennysons, Nerudas, and chicken scratch 
love songs to all of our various Prufrocks.

Still, there is more for us…

Step out from under the awning, this protection –  
Walk past the skeletal branches and barren hillsides 
of the things you used to believe in, 
and come be my guest.

Warm your hearts at this hearth. 
Feel the heat of kindness and truth 
permeate your body, and let yourselves soften.
I long for us to learn how 
to warm the wintry places inside each other,
Revive one another.

I know people love their cars and credit cards, 
but pardon my disregard, sympathy for civilized society 
is harder when part of me is still in the garden, 
under the arbour. When winter scatters, 
I’ll be searching the sky for patterns 
and coming alive soon after, 
when springtime gathers and summer lingers.

See, I have big, big plans for the harvest, 
to fill up my larder, with wine and stories, 
shared experiences, conversations,

Dancing hard, because the day is not done,

A tiny blue dot with the power to separate the moon from the sun,

Freddie mercury high notes, bird feathers

good round potatoes,
pieces of paper that I have dreamt upon,
sheet music i saved from the fire, beautifully charred 
edges but not forever, shoes with worn out soles, 
unable to take me any farther – 
Why don’t you come over, and enjoy the warmer weather?

Sit, just sit. Be Still.

We can talk about how people are mountains, 
worthy of our expeditions;

and how righteousness can look a lot like being wrong,
if we can no longer hear the beauty of someone else’s songs.

This is the promise – of the thawing out of hearts 
who are locked up like lifetimes of sunshine in December
This is for the wanderers and farmers alike. 
This is for Prodigals.

This is me throwing wide the cellar doors, 
and letting the voices pour out, setting them free 
without remorse. I can hear them every day, 
calling to all of us, here, now, and forever. They’re saying…

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the rain fall softly on the fields of you,
May you be restored to the beautiful bonds 
of our interconnectedness,
and May your arms be strong 
for the sowing and reaping that is to come.

More poetry…


I’m giving them away, I know it. Instead of saving them up for some bigger purpose, I let them trickle through my fingers like sand. Time passes so quickly, and these are only words. Why not say them now.

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Sub Zero

The fridge trickles and pops,
the ice maker oblivious to the deep freeze
outside, and our growing thirst 
for wine, and flames.
The lake is thick skinned with ice.
Like our winterizing bodies layered in
blankets, Fazl socks, and comfort foods,
water is a memory of itself,
a dream of what comes next.
We have done this before, hunkered down
in tired horizons when darkness comes.
We will wait it out,
try not to think about
four season sleeping bags
or Fentanyl
or our saviour complex.
On a night like this
our hands are empty. We need
mercy. We all need mercy.

LAE2016

 

Enough

You come to conclusions
like you know
the end from the beginning 
have the verdict from the judge,
are a presiding member
of an end-times jury.
You call it child abuse,
and murder – you are
a character assassin,
your slogans a series
of slicing pronouncements resulting in
curbside fatalities, pedestrian
bleed out. 

He was silent
and then he said, let you
who has no sin cast the first stone,
let you who has no sin.

I try to look away but see
you are an elder, with a time worn face
and commitment to a particular flavour faith.
I see sandwich boards and signs,
team huddles on your gang turf
railing against the other side
where girls walk, drive, and ride
a gauntlet to the clinic.
I imagine they have tried
to find another way through tears
and bargained prayers, lost sleep,
arrival at a cross-road and
a choice. This.
And you choose. That.

I drive by. Each Tuesday.
I want to drive through… my over-righteous
indignation, then I am ashamed
I am not blameless, yet I blame.
I once shared your state of mind.
No longer sure, I am witness while I drive by,
every Tuesday, before 9.

He was silent, finger marking dirt
with what…a symbol of his throne?
And then he said, let you
who is without sin cast a stone,
and the righteous weaponed ones all left.
And only he and she remained.
Neither do I condemn you, proclaimed the voice
of overcoming Love.

How then does it end,
me judging you judging them?
(apart from any conversation about sin
which I am clearly choosing not to enter in
because it is bigger than I can entertain.)
My commentary though cathartic is just the same
as you. This is how we cancel love. Enough.
Enough. Enough. Enough.
Dear God forgive me I have said enough.
Forgive me for what I do not do,
and what I do, not knowing.

LAE2016

Something old, something new


Dear friends,

This is a short public service announcement to let you know about my new blog

“pop-up-poetry”.

I’m out and about and up to something and wanted you to know.

Feel free to visit me here or there… you know how much I love it when you do!

Lesley-Anne

Sunday Soliloquy


 

 

 

 

 

When did Jesus know He wasn’t welcome
When did HE first feel the rejection of men
When did HE know this world
The world HE made
The world HE loved
The world created by the power of HIS word
Was not his home, that he might be alone
Did he know the manger wasn’t fitting for a baby king
Or did you rest, contented baby, where you were for that season
When did HE sense
That he didn’t fit in
That it was so temporary as to be a breath
Or a withering piece of grass
I sometimes get a whiff of that stuff
I know the happy sad feeling of being but not belonging
Longing and living but coming up short
Making a house a home but never really settling
Settling would mean belonging, being one with this world
And I am not that
Peace evades me
Contentment blankets me at times,
but then a deep discontent that longs for more
that’s not at the store
it rises to a roar
More of what I don’t always know
But more belonging
More wanting
More connecting
More knowing
More feeling
More Jesus
More me and yet less me
I am not ‘it’
I am a part of something I can’t even figure out
I have a promise for a hope and a future
I want the future, but instead I have now
Life, packaged one day at a time, that’s it
And the promise
Jesus, Baby Jesus when did you know
When did you feel the sting of not belonging
When did you sense you were different, inspired and despised
What did you do with those feelings, those longings
What did your mama do to soothe and comfort your hurt
What did papa Joseph do to assure and secure you
What can I do with the knowing
What do I do with the wandering happy sadness of being here
And not being there
Where is there, when is there
Bringing me back to the place from where I was taken
Ending exile
Baby Jesus did you feel exile
Did the angels song make the screaming ache of not belonging go away
For a season, for a day
Did the Shepherds admire and the angel choir
Did they make it ok for the day
When did you know that season was over

When did rejection season begin
What did you do with rejection
How did you endure and last and overcome
How did you love the haters, heal the sin stained, feed the greedy hungry mob
How do I? And Why?
This is not my home, I know exile, this is exile
Why no home? Why no belonging?
Why the constant pain of exile, being away?
Longing for Baby Jesus peace
Peace that isn’t for sale in a Walmart flyer
Peace that isn’t cheaper in Bellingham at the mall
Peace that isn’t groovy and disrespectful of the strain and pain of today
Peace, Baby Jesus Peace
When did you know you were the Prince of that Peace?

Written by a poet who wishes to remain anonymous