Saturday, December 08, 2007


Katerina Fretwell's fifth poetry collection, "Samsara: Canadian in Asia," is forthcoming from Pendas Productions run by Gavin Stairs and Penn Kemp. It will include a CD of her reading and music as well as reproductions of her art. Her fourth book, "Shaking Hands witht he Night," was also published by Pendas. Fretwell edited two anthologies for the League of Canadian Poets and chaired the Lowther Jury Prize. She sings choral tenor, paints, and plays piano. Here are a few examples of her work:


Each year the hand-stitched booties,
"My Summer Holiday" snaps and crayoned
cartoons cover one less picnic table.
More prizes compensate the loss.

Fewer stalls sell neon T's, cheap tools,
day-glo necklaces, licorice whips,
pogo sticks and cob-corn.
Even the midway boasts less

chance to toss your money
or darts to burst your balloon,
only one ring toss game,
no bumper cars or tilt-a-whirl.

The sole Ferris glitters in the rain
like a downside Catherine Wheel.
A lone neon-cowgirl belts the blues
to fans clumped under dark

umbrellas on a muddy slope, huge
as the Forces Recruitment trailer-
incongruous as Canada's
non-peacekeeping combat.


My Love is Seven Years Older than I Am
California redwoods tower, heartstrong
as you did before your blocked osmosis.
And their ground-rich loam
needs no soil correction, energy
evident in grove upon grove-

in the rear-view mirror, these
giants fading, their moss & mist
a cobweb mirage. I stare forward,
this new vista-bare
but for the odd stand

of eucalyptus-expands,
resigned to squat, brow bent
to the horizon, cropped of trees.
Next bend, presto, surf foams
white as your hair. I alone

get out, inhale the winds
that weather and beautify
a well lived face
and discover such a visage
on the beach-

two glinting shells,
blue like your eyes,
are aligned above
a driftwood splinter
and I grin back.


Final Foray in Gethsemane
Mary, walled inside your mother's garden,
on the carved bench beneath the lunar-
dappled myrtle and olive trees,
you & Yeshu snuggle against your last
night as One on earth. The moon
weeps silver, silver as the thirty pieces
paid to betray Yeshu to Pilate,
come the cold clear morn.

Your hands flow through Yeshu's
carmine beard and locks, he fondles
your flaming tresses highlit silver.
Lips find lips, tongues trace the years
among the desert of men who convert
beliefs to money at Temple,
the years imprinted on you both-
each curve, cleavage, declivity.

As One in love, longing and loneliness,
your thoughts, voiced by Spirit, not lips,
flit back and forth this dying hour,
resting on your mother Hokhmah's tomb
in a cave sealed with a boulder.
Your lids flutter, then shut tight as sealed wax,
Yeshu's limbs shiver cold as the Styx
in Hades. And Nyx, your raven, casts

a shadow over your huddled heads.


On gazing at the Milky Way,
its gaseous clouds of hydrogen, helium, nitrogen...
I'm amazed we carry
the same elements
spread across the sky
within us.
This unity bends my knees,

similar to stepping
over the wooden bar
at an Asian temple's entrance,
watching my footfall,
head bowed before mystery.

an unmapped crystal city
refracting all climes, skins, tribes.
Mosque, shul, wat, coven, kirk,
one holy house.

Gold-leafed sacred writ
or oral epic tales-
each inspired verse shapeshifts
into Koranic, Talmudic, Wiccan,
Biblical, Algonkian or Upanishad
according to the celebrant's tongue.

All traditions slide through us
as if our soul translates each
into a glowing cosmic dome.


"Only, let not our haters brag,
Thy seamless coat is grown a rag
Or that thy truth was not here known
Because we forced thy judgements down."
Henry Vaughan, "L'Envoy"

Henry, Consume is the Word
Flashed in malls before Christmas.
Clothiers ignore the voiceless,
Plump teens not mirrored
In Barbie-mannequins,
Garbed in designer rags
& platinum wigs. Salesgirls tease
these hairdos for hours, waving
A don't-mess-with-me flag.
"Only, let not our haters brag"

That we seniors are frumps
In pearls and pumps. Magenta
Bras raise a chuckle-"Get a lift,
Our cleavage defies gravity."
A pre-teen dress-up store
(Short shelf-life?) speeds the drag
From wallets of six c-notes
For a Grade 8 prom gown. Forced
Into catwalk mindsets, tweens wag-
"(My) seamless coat is grown a rag."

At Playtimes R Us, girls' boardgames
Focus on shopping & stealing
Boys' games reward climbing
Up the company
And shortcuts to own
Their destiny. Is this what
Our culture admires in us-
Greed & grab-get these cloned?
"Or that thy truth was not here known"

That Jesus hangs at the Sally Ann
Shunning brands & mockups
Sweatshopped offshore.
Paid pennies for work so consuming
That pregnancies abort,
Makers faint, injuries abound.
In the Desire Cult, we pout neon.
Caveat to admen & suppliers-
faking demand, you're only renowned
"Because we forced thy judgements down."