Patrick Lane, a great Canadian poet – and his poem, Legacies










Patrick Lane, a great Canadian poet. In the tradition of Al Purdy, and Charles Bukowski for those who are unfamiliar with great Poetry. The designation I use – the Canadian part, anyway – to specify country of origin.

Of course as to great and to a degree greatly unremarked poets except or even including within the country of their origins I would have to also mention Kenneth Patchen, whose book The Journal Of Albion Moonlight is not strictly poetry yet is poetry at the core. Something along the lines of Louis Ferdinand Celine‘s Journey To The End Of The Night, or his great Death On The Installment Plan. A few books, along with Djuna Barne‘s Nightwood and a few of Anais Nin‘s, with Blaise Cendrar’s ought to be de rigeur reading ( especially so his Moravagine).

Now of course these have nothing directly to do with Patrick Lane, but they are indicative of what greatness inspires in the fact of a joyful association and the discoveries made along the way.

One of his poems from The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane


I’m smoking one of his cigars tonight
after this one
there’s only one left
a pack of cigars
Remington shaver
swagger-stick from the First War
and nothing else
legacies from the old man.

Once in all his eighty years
I saw him – father of my father,
passing my father to me
in one sudden moment
of a prairie night

and I sit here and smoke his cigar tonight
while I clean his earthly hairs
from the razor
sit and smoked
sit and consume legacies

© Patrick Lane

  • and that is just the first page…

Aslo, you might take note of his memoir – What The Stones Remember: A Life Rediscovered of which a few comments are:

“To read this book is to enter a state of enchantment.”—Alice Munro

“Patrick Lane has written a memoir of heartbreaking struggle that manages to be beautiful and encouraging, finding anchorage in what was once called Creation, the natural world and its unstinting promise of renewal.”—Thomas McGuane

“A tough, lovely book.”—Margaret Atwood

So do look for his work, and enjoy a great Canadian poet. Patrick Lane. Take note that there is even a book where 55 poets celebrate his work:

©Dean J. Baker


Past Tobermory… from BLOOD UPON THE MOON










Past Tobermory, away from the eels laid out
on the cement canal surfaces of Bobcaygeon,
the road rose higher towards Huntsville, beyond
rows of vacationers almost awake to new days
of the different taste of Pure Spring Ginger Ale,
my uncle driving towards Moon River, fishing rods
packed in the back of the Volkswagen Beetle

A Saturday morning escape from the street of
the Newfies next door and their evening fights
between a stump of husband and wife, sad Godwins –
the week before we, the neighborhood kids watched
a kitten sit behind a car’s wheel, looked away
then saw Harvey G. crying to his father, who replied
what do you want me to do now, throw it away,

Snickering at his predicament, past tears that he was
that kitten, squashed flat and bloodless; his beer-
bellied father the brute car and forces beyond any
dominion where we had no ideas, mere observers
grateful my dog had chased a car, run under it, come
out the other side, barking and laughing at any concern
over the illusion of empty costumes requiring air

Like the party of about-to-be adults staring from
the front steps, unaware of what they’d generate;
cousin Jane in California, little Timmy stuck in an attic
staring down Dawes Road, his caretakers genteel as his
lightning white hair might speak, and Dougie, white
under his feet but that’s all, hiding from the occasional
thunderings of a mother entertaining guests with broken

Hilarity degenerating into shouts, while next to Godwins,
the superior Hunts took Protestant guilt and apply it
to all in their own idea of exemption, finally stuck in
their iceberg of retreat and doubt; unable to see any fish
caught on any line beyond the spider web, merely flies
surfacing on garbage and incipient gout striking soon
in the small shanty of their museum living room, without

Me now stepping across the plained rocks of a thousand
year collapse above Moon River, a sudden rattle and hush
coming from a bush, velvet crust of snake and other warnings
as the Northern Pike with their knives out like teeth, risking
a bite or more, loss of small limb to gather in
the superior taste of fresh caught fish gone stiff, such
a club we might whiff against a bully’s skin and head

As off side my uncle fished, and I caught the sight of landscape
no longer soft as a picture, but harsh and hard as rock
or bite, requiring worm and string, kite of human survey
looking down and in upon the same visions holding sway
within those pioneers eyes and existing still, needing no ideas
of forgiveness nor of being tamed: the jigsaw sky of clouds
and blue atmosphere ready to claim its people if they consent

©Dean J. Baker

-excerpt from BLOOD UPON THE MOON, 132 pages, $15.99


Review of DARK EARTH