from The Lost Canadian, Vol. 1 – ‘Rice Lake’

Dean J. Baker - Poetry, and prose poems

Why
did no one tell me
about the poet-kings
and the slow collision of light

That summer went by,
like an unlocated sound
of night, spent
on other shores

I was too young
for fire or the gasoline banquet;
burned instead
in your different breath

The wound open
to visitors and praise;
like the list of names, only
secret to ourselves

© Dean Baker

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Series of Book Covers with photos of Canadian Places

A series of my #bookcovers, attesting to my origins #CanadaDay #Canada150 – photographs of #Canadianplaces #CanadianPoets #poetry

A series of my , attesting to my origins – photographs of

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©Dean Baker
https://www.facebook.com/DeanJBaker

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http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

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from Dark Earth… ‘The Herald’

Book of Hours, f.58v, (184 x 133 mm), 15th cen...

 

Nothing more than abstract ornament,
explanations and discussions
keeping us to ourselves; we were
too petty for anything else. God
and Spirit, man and God again: no
insight into the common denominators.

Stupidity categorized the crews
taking over. In Canada, one was
reduced to waiting; at best,
you sent yourself notes (not poems)
hoping they would stay closed, or
fall open revealing all upon arrival.

You are lost either way. Death
enters your life: a troubadour
strolling through the provincial town.
Each gesture of government singing
the unwanted guest to bed, who is
finishing the last bite of food.

One brought no plans for conversation,
issuing invitations in the dark
he slips from his clothes. The livery
stark amusement, leaving only the arc
of a streetlamp which constellates:
the hard vistas of distant expectation.

©Dean Baker

available in DARK EARTH, 142 pages, $13.99

https://www.facebook.com/DeanJBaker

https://www.facebook.com/DeanJBakerPoetAuthorComposer/

http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

– title from my first book The Herald, poem first published in Jewish Dialog

 

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New writing, excerpts from published books – new blog: WRITINGS OF DEAN BAKER

GO HERE for more poems, etc – WRITINGS OF DEAN BAKER

© Dean Baker

My Books In Print

My Poetry Ebooks

Great Review of DARK EARTH

Some reviews of my books

Literary Publications

Those who don’t buy my books have Van Gogh’s ear for music

Irving Layton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thing could barely stand. Yet taken
from his mother and the barn smells
he still impressed with his pride,
with the promise of sovereignity in the way
his head moved to take us in.
The fierce sunlight tugging the maize from the ground
liked at his shapely flanks.
He was too young for all that pride.
I thought of the deposed Richard II.

“No money in bull calves,” Freeman had said.
The visiting clergyman rubbed the nostrils
now snuffing pathetically at the windless day.
“A pity,” he sighed.
My gaze slipped off his hat toward the empty sky
that circled over the black knot of men,
over us and the calf waiting for the first blow.

Struck,
the bull calf drew in his thin forelegs
as if gathering strength for a mad rush…
tottered…raised his darkening eyes to us,
and I saw we were at the far end
of his frightened look, growing smaller and smaller
till we were only the ponderous mallet
that flicked his bleeding ear
and pushed him over on his side, stiffly,
like a block of wood.

Below the hill’s crest
the river snuffled on the improvised beach.
We dug a deep pit and threw the dead calf into it.
It made a wet sound, a sepulchral gurgle,
as the warm sides bulged and flattened.
Settled, the bull calf lay as if asleep,
one foreleg over the other,
bereft of pride and so beautiful now,
without movement, perfectly still in the cool pit,
I turned away and wept.

©Irving Layton

The economy of language, the spirit of truth; sociology, philosophy: the distillation of experiences reflected, and altered, in one brief poem – that’s the magic of poetry, and a great poet.
Irving Layton is a poet everyone should read, and hear reading his own work.  http://irvinglayton.ca/Recordings/index.html

Irving Layton was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, twice. He was friend and mentor to Leonard Cohen. Leonard called him “Canada’s greatest poet.”

Looked up to by Allen Ginsberg, Williams Carlos WilliamsMichael Hamburger, and many other fine and great writers for decades.

Disclosure: Irving was my friend for decades. He once said of my very early writing, ” Dean is a combination of thought and torment that has made him write more than a baker’s dozen of fine poems.. he might produce a collection that could astound us all.” And he did not play favourites.

my books http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

alternatively, direct from – https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/links-to-my-books-in-print//

****if you wish to add me on any social media sites –*** Facebook, Twitter,*** etc., – feel free to click the relevant links****

Everywhere I Go – John Newlove

jnewlove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are people talking about. Everywhere I go they whisper.

They stick their eyes at me, right at the base of the breastbone,
when I’m not looking.

The breastbone seems flat, pointed like a dagger to the top
of my stomach.

O, my stomach, my stomach… when the knife rips you open
it will find coffee and four strips of bacon, pieces of chewed
beard and a handwritten note saying I have left town forever
again.

©John Newlove
– excerpt from his brilliant work, Lies, jnewlovelies1972 and from A Long Continual Argument, The Selected Poems of John Newlove

John was a friend of mine – yet I had only said hello back him when I heard him read this live one time at York University. I’d been searching for the room in which the reading was to be held, and came around a corner to come face-to-face with him, and Joe Rosenblatt.

https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/links-to-my-books-in-print//

The mothership: http://deanjbaker.wordpress.com

©Dean J. Baker

Alden Nowlan – Greatness in Poetry

nowlan_

 

 

 

 

 

Alden Nowlan is one of those poets whom I never got to meet, and always wish I’d been able to do so.

I first saw one of his poems when I was in high school. And as with that poem, his other poems: they always evoke, a ‘yes!,’ about honesty and the truth of things. Always memorable. You’ll find them repeating themselves at the least expected moments.
The poem that first struck me was his ‘Aunt Jane.’

Aunt Jane

Aunt Jane, of whom I dreamed the nights it
thundered,
was dead at ninety, buried at a hundred.
We kept her corpse a decade, hid upstairs,
where it ate porridge, slept and said its prayers.

And every night before I went to bed
they took me in to worship with the dead.
Christ Lord, if I should die before I wake,
I pray thee Lord my body take.

 

©Alden Nowlan

Just to be sitting in your own world and to have 8 lines smack you awake out of the blue, away from your concerns and take you to revelation so quickly, so easily, and with such delight – amazing.

But Alden has many, many poems of the kind that do so – surprising in their humility, strength and understanding. His are the works you could carry in a small book with you and find sustaining every time you looked.
He covers history, patriotism, and more all in a beautiful way.

One other:

Canadian January Night

Ice storm: the hill
a pyramid of black crystal
down which the cars
slide like phosphorescent beetles
while I, walking backwards in obedience
to the wind, am possessed
of the fearful knowledge
my compatriots share
but almost never utter:
this is a country
where a man can die
simply from being
caught outside.

©Alden Nowlan

 

Brilliant work.

And from Alden Nowlan, Selected Poems

A Poem About Miracles

Why don’t records go blank
the instant the singer dies?
Oh, I know there are explanations,
but they don’t convince me.
I’m still surprised
when I hear the dead singing.
As for orchestras,
I expect the instruments
to fall silent one by one
as the musicians succumb
to cancer and heart disease
so that toward the end
I turn on a disc
labelled Götterdämmerung
and all that comes out
is the sound of one sick old man
scraping a shaky bow
across and out-of-tune fiddle.

 

©Alden Nowlan

These poems of Alden’s are a few of the good, and representative of his best. You need the book to even begin to get an awareness of his greatness.
Robert Frost may be more well known, but for me Alden wins the laurels.

© Dean J. Baker

all my books on salehttp://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/links-to-my-books-in-print/

The Herald

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing more than abstract ornament,
explanations and discussions
keeping us to ourselves; we were
too petty for anything else. God
and Spirit, man and God again: no
insight into the common denominators.

Stupidity categorized the crews
taking over. In Canada, one was
reduced to waiting; at best,
you sent yourself notes (not poems)
hoping they would stay closed, or
fall open revealing all upon arrival.

You are lost either way. Death
enters your life: a troubadour
strolling through the provincial town.
Each gesture of government singing
the unwanted guest to bed, who is
finishing the last bite of food.

One brought no plans for conversation,
issuing invitations in the dark
he slips from his clothes. The livery
stark amusement, leaving only the arc
of a streetlamp which constellates:
the hard vistas of distant expectation.

©Dean J. Baker

  • first published in Jewish Dialog
  • I wrote this and sent the first copy to John Newlove, a fine Canadian poet, who phoned me with what amounted to a surprise and wonder at the poem that I fully could not appreciate til much later. Joe Rosenblatt later opted to publish it in Jewish Dialog, which he was editing then. (Later I would edit two of Rosenblatt’s books – Tommy Fry and The Ant Colony, and Loosely-Tied Hands.)

all my books on sale – http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM

 

alternatively, direct from CreateSpace – https://deanjbaker.wordpress.com/all-print-books-links/