Monday, November 10, 2014

The Seasons - Bruce Meyer (The Porcupine's Quill)

Today's book of poetry:
The Seasons.  Bruce Meyer.  The Porcupine's Quill.  Erin, Ontario.  2014.


Deep, deep respect.

The Seasons is a one hundred sonnet love song.  Really, really not my cup of tea.

So why did I LOVE it?

I'd ask my new intern, but since she read it she has been softly weeping in the corner, sipping tea, and glaring at me.  I know what she is thinking.  She is thinking that if I don't rave about this book she will have to kill me.  She looks very serious about it.
She needn't worry,  No problem.  I would've raved without her menacing, unspoken threats.

I loved this book because it reminded me how powerful love is, how precious.  Meyer's gentle voice hits exactly the right note, again and again.  Honest and clear.


Just as I am woken by a passing plough
in the middle of the night, I open my eyes

in time to catch its flashing blue light
reflected on the bedroom wall, the engine

grunting, the scoop grating the street bed,
and my dreams are paved like the road

in destinations where I want to see the way ahead,
cleared for us, but that is not the world's way.

If I am lucky enough, the snows will clog
your route to work and we shall spend

the day together, housebound, your voice
filling the silence as if summer returned,

and to assure myself you are still near,
I shuffle my toe to touch your leg until you sigh.


Bruce Meyer is an accomplished and well published old pro.  These beautiful sonnets seem effortless but the discipline to sustain such a high, sweet note is remarkable.

Tenderness is too overlooked in our society and often mocked in poetry.  Bruce Meyer's The Seasons is a living, loving testament to tenderness.  One long whisper into a lover's ear.


Flannel leaves more to the imagination
than silks or satins against smooth skin.

It tells me that just as in all great art
the mind must be engaged in discovery,

that the curves of your body are uncharted
and my hands will trace my thoughts--

that when I close my eyes I see a goddess
hidden beneath your warm-skinned smile.

It is cold outside. The wind is howling.
It claws at the house and whines to come in.

It merely wants to be warm at last--
to slip its hand inside your button front

and dream of paradise and tropical light
as a navigator kisses land on his arrival.


It took me a while to read The Seasons because every time I teared up my glasses steamed.

Damn Bruce Meyer.


We are one soul built from a solemn vow,
a tree whose branches reach beyond us,

a place that maps cannot contain, existing
in both shadows and sunlight, the music

of wind that makes our lives speak the love
of life together growing brighter as we grow.

To be one is to offer shade to others on days
when sun bakes the earth and air lingers

waiting for a passing breath to give it voice.
To be one is to fill the air with life magnified

as a beacon standing tall across a harvest field
where the farmer has drawn out the soil's life

so others might be fed: and we shelter love
the way a tree guards a nest until hatchlings fly.


Where I expected formality these poems sounded warmly sage, Meyer never wavers.  These one hundred sonnets of love, in the tradition of Pablo Neruda's Cien sonetos de amor, sing of boundless love.

What a pleasure.

Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer is author of numerous books of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, pedagogy, and literary journalism. His broadcasts on The Great Books became the CBC’s bestselling spoken-word audio series, and evolved into the national bestseller, The Golden Thread: A Reader’s Journey Through the Great Books. He is professor of English at Georgian College, and teaches for Laurentian University, Victoria College in the University of Toronto, and St. Michael’s College Continuing Education Program. He is the inaugural Poet Laureate of the City of Barrie, and lives in Barrie, Ontario with his wife and daughter.

"Bruce Meyer's latest collection, The Seasons, is an unabashed paean to human love and the invisible cords that bind a man and woman together. In a brave and passionate hundred sonnet sequence the poet's moving tribute to his wife navigates the vagaries of intimacy through the passage of the seasons. A work reminiscent of Neruda's hundred love poems, Meyers's words shine with sincerity and originality."
     James Clarke, author of The Kid from Simcoe Street

Bruce Meyer - Best Lecture  2010
Bruce Meyer discusses his poetry.


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