The Poetry of Place Blog



Gettysburg, PA, Federal Pointe Inn, Lincoln arrives to deliver Gettysburg Address, photo by Mike Keenan 39°49'42"N 77°13'56"W
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Gettysburg, PA, Union soldier in front of Federal Pointe Inn, photo by Mike Keenan 39°49'42"N 77°13'56"W
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Just ten sentences
In "his best and truest voice"
Gettysburg Address
A place to reflect
On remarkable carnage
War between the states


Alaska Highway, Mile Zero, Dawson Creek 49°1'11.7"N 122°48'9.4"W
British Columbia/Washington State Border
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Contact Creek, completion of southern sector of Alaska Highway, photo by Mike Keenan 55°54'51"N 130°01'28"W
British Columbia/Alaska Border
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Celebrate the past
Alaska Highway triumph
Starts at mile zero
US engineers
Finally meet to connect
Alaska's Highway



Alaska Highway, Stone sheep, photo by Mike Keenan 58°26'40"N 134°13'47"W
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Alaska Highway, Bison on highway Photo by Mike Keenan 58°26'40"N 134°13'47"W
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Such sure-footed grace
Over inclined rock and roll
I admire your style
Some NFL types
In the middle of the fray
Resemble bison


Alaska Highway mountain range photo by Mike Keenan 58°26'40"N 134°13'47"W
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Alaska Highway, black bear with dandelions, photo by Mike Keenan 58°26'40"N 134°13'47"W
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A wildlife paradise
Amidst Alaska Highway
A glorious trip
A skinny black bear
Who enjoys dandelions
Keeps a wary eye


Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler, BC, photo by Mike Keenan 50°7'15"N 122°57'16"W
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Canadian Rockies, photo by Mike Keenan 50°7'15"N 122°57'16"W
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COMMUNION

Have you ever caressed a snow-covered slope?
Cautiously kissing gentle valleys and folds,
stroking and probing and feeling your way,
anxious; eager to embrace no delay
taking a risk, increasing your speed
out of control yet paying no heed.
Rushing headlong to the base at the end;
an icy-cold ride transports you back top.
Warmed watching others, you arrive at your stop.
A moment of silence, a pause to reflect,
flooded with wonder and profound respect.
Down again - quickly you slide and you swirl,
imprints behind that zigzag and curl.
New contours and mysteries and challenges
below - experience rebirth!
Salvation of soul
LEGACY

Cirrus - Castle - Whistler - Pyramid
Ancient combatants
Mysterious peaks - mantled in mist
Playing shadowy - peak-a-boo games
Revealing riddles - summoning symbols
Omnipotent - cruel, wicked, beautiful
Suggesting - life should be ascent.
Tenacious towers, holding heads aloft
Scarred victors - survivors of timeless past
My formidable favourites offer challenge;
Command respect.
Entrenched in splendid solitude
The scrawny lodge pole pine - stunted, fragile,
Perfect foil, straining in erect salute
Majestic monoliths - carved
Etched - erratically traced
By capricious water - wind - ice
Exquisite tons of grace - a testament
Our covenant with you
To preserve and keep sacred this trust
For others to savour and share
If we truly love and honour
The sustenance
Of Rocky Mountain air.


Vancouver Island, Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park, British Columbia, photo by Mike Keenan 49°17'24"N 124°39'41"W
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Arizona Spring Training, photo by Arizona Tourism 33°30'N 111°56'W
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Arizona - Cactus League
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Cedar, tree of life
Spawning myriad growth
In nature's churchyard
Baseball is a game
Best for family bonding
Between hotdogs


Fort Erie, Ontario, War of 1812 American Soldiers Repatriation Ceremony, Google Pics 42°54'N 78°55'W
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Isaac Brock, British Leader, War of 1812, Google Pics 43.160102°N 79.053054°W
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TIME TRAVEL - 1988

Rankin Inlet, NWT -
Ancient Thule site
Laden with reminders -
Inuit ancestors,
Hardy types who travel
From Siberia aboard dog-sleds,
Construct igloos for shelter -
A thriving community 3,000 years
Before Jacques Cartier.

Now, I'm at another dig -
Unearthed skeletons of American soldiers
At Fort Erie during the War of 1812,
The feisty Napoleonic era;
Buildings burned into history -
Niagara, York, Buffalo, Washington,
And everything in between.

As I sit on town council,
I consort with the Pentagon,
Colonels dispatched to transport the remains
For internment at Bath, New York,
And amidst dig-site visits and attempts
To orchestrate our sludge-like levels
Of government - we form a bond.

Media coverage escalates -
AP, Reuters, global TV.
Smithsonian sends their top archeologist.
National Geographic wants in;
The scientific world on full alert,
We fear a circus.

Dr. Stephenson, our archeologist,
Talks with the historian,
Lieutenant-Colonel Whitehorn.
They enthuse about the three B's:
Bones, buttons and burial positions.

Whitehorn visits me at school.
I give him copies of my video
And as a bonus, Fort Erie municipal
And Peace Bridge coins
Plus the vaunted Fort Erie Secondary School banner
To impress the folks back home.

Lieutenant-Colonel Trotter is the boss,
A smooth bureaucrat who assesses then addresses
In perfect pitch, yet thrilled about the find,
He summons his son as I guide my daughter
During several on-site visits.

Finally- Major Cook,
At University, the type we marched to the pub
To help release spirit held in bondage.
With the enthusiasm of a child watching
His first hockey game, he describes
Vietnam jet crashes, the trauma
Of bone shattered by projectiles.

The past, no matter how deeply buried
Or discarded by the winds of time
Is always prologue to haughty
Gossip of our alleged progress.
LEADERSHIP

Leaders view life as a chance
to transcend personal issues,
mundane drama;

whereas those who magnify the self
at the expense of others,
poison their leadership.

If we encounter the former,
we enjoy unparalleled
opportunity for growth.

Leadership expands,
does not contract; opens doors;
does not seal them shut.


London, England, Nelson Mandela Statue, Park Across from Parliament Buildings photo by Mike Keenan 51°30'26"N 0°7'39"W
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LEARNING

We yearn to discover,
become aware,
integrate experience
into brief harmonies.

We also inhibit -
folly's chief inquisitor.
The more expertise we claim,
the less likelihood of growth.

If judgment is suspended
on each tour, we might learn
from every situation.

Easily said; hard to do!


Ted Talks
View other "Ted Talks Videos" about Learning



Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of LEARNING
1 the act or experience of one that learns
2 knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study
3 modification of a behavioral tendency by experience (as exposure to conditioning)


Examples of LEARNING
a computer program that makes learning fun
different methods of foreign language learning
The first year of college was a learning experience.
They were people of good education and considerable learning.


Arizona Horseback Tours, photo by Arizona Tourism 32°13'18"N 110°55'35"W
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Arizona, Cactus League Spring Training, photo by Arizona Tourism 33°30'N 111°56'W
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Pick me shout the steeds
To take pretty sunsets rides
In the once wild west
A baseball homerun
Machine, the Babe was magic
When he swung the bat


BC Ferries, Coastal Renaissance, photo by BC Ferries 49°52'27"N 125°44'38"W
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Vancouver Island, Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park, British Columbia, photo by Mike Keenan 49°17'24"N 124°39'41"W
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Two heads are better
Than one in BC water
When a ferry boat
Like a furry coat
Keeping cedar warm at night
Ancient, vibrant moss


British Columbia, Bowen Island Ferry, photo by Mike Keenan 49°23'N 123°23'W
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Arizona, Water-skiing, photo by Arizona Tourism 36°56'10"N 111°29'03"W
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It slips into dock
Like a hand easing into
A warm leather glove
Carving the water
With sharp skis, consider new tricks
A quick flip or two


Vancouver Island, Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park, British Columbia, photo by Mike Keenan 49°17'24"N 124°39'41"W
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Vancouver Island, Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park, British Columbia, photo by Mike Keenan 49°17'24"N 124°39'41"W
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Migrating upward
Seeking the sun's warm embrace
On a cedar stem
Small inviting entrance
For the tiny timid creatures
Like Tolkein's Hobbit


Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region, BC, Bowron Lake, photo by Chris Harris 50°44'00"N 128°20'00"W
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Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region, BC, Bowron Lake, photo by Chris Harris 50°35'N 127°06'W
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Odd portage technique
Paddle at one's side in hand
He may need a rest
Canoeing delight
Magic moments on the lake
Bliss amidst beauty


Arizona, Papago Park, photo by Arizona Tourism 33.452°N 111.948°W
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Arizona, Saquaro Cactus in bloom, photo by Arizona Tourism 34°51'36"N 111°47'21"W
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Mounting the summit
Never easy, but always
Well worth the effort
Approach with caution
Some flowers may yet emerge
Even when prickly


Cattle Ranch, Arizona, photo by Arizona Tourism 33°18'N 111°50'W
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Arizona Cowboys, photo by Arizona Tourism 31°37'32"N 111°3'7"W
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With my toy six-gun
Hopalong Cassidy was
My sagebrush hero
High-riding heroes
They have always been cowboys
Says Willie Nelson


Montgomery, Alabama, Alabama Dance Theatre, Tourism Alabama 32°21'42"N 86°16'45"W
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Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks Museum Bus, photo by Montgomery Tourism 32°21'42"N 86°16'45"W
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Swan Lake takes my breath
Away, so richly mixed with
Drama and beauty
Take me for a ride
In bus terminology -
She gave new meaning


Whistler, British Columbia, Peak2Peak gondola, photo by Mike Keenan 50°7'15"N 122°57'16"W
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Whistler Mountain, British Columbia, Inukshuk photo by Mike Keenan 50°7'15"N 122°57'16"W
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The red gondola
Connects two mighty mountains
Its name - Peak2Peak
A stone figure stands
Atop the cold, snowy world
Pointing direction


London, Ontario skaters, photo by Tourism London 42.9837°N 81.2497°W
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Kleinburg, Ontario. McMichael Art Gallery, Lauren Harris, photo by Mike Keenan 43.840776°N 79.625205°W
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A PRECURSOR TO MAGIC

At seven, I dream about the next day's hockey game -
a bulky, slow-skating kid retreats for a loose puck
near his blue line, and with his back turned,
I speed from our side of centre, steal the puck,
deke the goalie, and score a goal.

Saturday at Ted Reeve Arena, the scenario unfolds
right down to my exquisite deke and goal.
I recognize the gestalt; discern what to do.

It was not mental practise - but a precursor to
psychic events later in life when I vacated
my body twice to shape swift reactions
to the Angel of Death, once when I fell off our
two-storey roof while shingling and again,
out of control on an icy viaduct, my car
spinning towards disaster.

Ted Reeve Edward Henry "Ted" Reeve (January 6, 1902 - August 27, 1983) was a multi-sport Canadian athlete and sports journalist. He was on two Grey Cup winning teams as a football player, a Mann Cup championship as a lacrosse player and three Yates Cup championships as a coach for Queen's University. He is a member of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. As an athlete Reeve was noted for determination and inspiring team-mates. He acquired the nickname "The Moaner" in later years after one of the characters in his newspaper columns, Moaner McGruffery.
Reeve was a lifelong Toronto Beaches resident. A rink in east Toronto is named in his honour. From 1929 to 1932 Reeve coached football at Malvern Collegiate, a local area high school. They won so many championships under his guidance that the school board passed a ruling requiring that only teachers could coach.

Ted Reeve Arena
MY FIRST SHAMANISTIC EXPERIENCE
A DESCENT INTO THE UNDERWORLD

My head pokes through the quinzee,
an igloo-like chamber, icy-cold, bluish-white,
shimmering inside like a bronchiole tube,
shaped with boney cartilage rings.

Prior to descent, invasive darkness with
anticipation of strength - preconscious,
transfixed as in staring intently at
The Source in Buffalo's Albright-Knox.

Bodily present in one of the heart's four
chambers - listening to thunder roar,
a huge vessel's engine room;
a valve opens, blood bursts inside.

I descend an inclined tunnel
into a pyramid - cut-away, a sliced
museum display, inside open to reveal
hidden contents.

I pass an Egyptian figure sprouting
a hawk's head with a steady eye
and razor beak, static, suspended as in frieze,
the magical death scene in Blue Velvet.

Basking in bright light,
two metallic doors slowly unfold,
yawning at street level -
the sort used for truck deliveries

Yet suddenly, I'm in a sulphurous swamp with
dinosaurs - long necks, tiny heads.
Light shines with the head of Lady Guinevere -
Luminescent; her fine features contrast
With dark cloth that tightly fits her face like a nun.

She wears a multi-tiered crown; I sense I am
her knight; I sit at a table - large, oval, oak.
Abruptly, I return from my first shamanistic
descent into the underworld.


Seattle, Washington, Superman, photo by Mike Keenan 47°36'35"N 122°19'59"W
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Edmonton, Alberta, Muttart Conservatory photo by Mike Keenan 53°32'N 113°30'W
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Seattle Superman
Posturing on a city street
Kryptonite alert!
Neon pyramids
Reverberate with a plea -
Remember my days!


 Edmonton, Alberta, Arts Council, Sculpture, photo by Mike Keenan 53°32'N 113°30'W
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Alberta, Arts Council, Sculpture, photo by Mike Keenan 53°32'N 113°30'W
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Best quickly learn to
Avoid negativity
It hinders our growth
Do you grow or die
When a friend succeeds, not you?
Adjust your outlook


Edmonton, Alberta, Arts Council, Sculpture, photo by Mike Keenan 53°32'N 113°30'W
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Edmonton, Alberta, Arts Council, Sculpture, photo by Mike Keenan 53°32'N 113°30'W
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Why lead truncated
Lives doomed to broken hopes, dreams
Thus never alive?
Scrutinize your friends
Some share; some heal; some poison
Best discriminate


Calgary, Alberta, Calgary Tower, photo by Mike Keenan 51°04'47"N 114°12'57"W
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Edmonton, Alberta, Muttart Conservatory, photo by Mike Keenan 53.53522°N 113.47650°W
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Each bustling city
Sadly sports phallic symbols
High up in the sky
At night we reveal
Outlines that suggest our form
Hidden underneath


Calgary, Alberta, Olympic Flame, photo by Mike Keenan 51°04'47"N 114°12'57"W
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Calgary, Alberta, Olympic Rink, Manon Rheaume poster, photo by Mike Keenan 51°03'N 114°04'W
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Calgary is host
To Olympic fire and ice
Athletic prowess
The Olympians
Talented ladies on skates
Hockey heroes all


Philadelphia, PA, Rodin Museum, The Sirens, photo by Mike Keenan 39.961937°N 75.173934°W
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Corning, New York, Glass Museum, photo by Mike Keenan 42°8'53"N 77°3'25"W
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SECULAR YOUTH

Twice daily in high school,
a disembodied voice from the PA -
"Let us remember that we are in the presence of God."

I was more troubled with erections
each morning on Toronto streetcars and buses
filled with vibrant women, wondrous scents,
legs, arms and breasts; lipstick, firm hips, soft hair.

I throb in teenage agony
striving to be a man,
join the human race.
BIG BANG THEORY

The global psyche
Jung's collective consciousness
Glasnost
All boundaries - political, geographic,
Military, economic - delimiters
Permeable
Flowing into one another,
A religious movement
To reflect upon, fitting response
To our presumed origin,
One big bang augmented by another
Echo through time.


Philadelphia, PA, Rodin Museum, The Thinker, photo by Mike Keenan 39.961937°N 75.173934°W
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Hamilton, Ontario, Annunciation by Wayne Allan, photo by Mike Keenan 43°15'N 79°52'W
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FOOTBALL SATORI

Assured look, total focus -
we will thrive for we inhabit
Mount Olympus.

Not inflated ego; passion
and timelessness merge
in an odd bliss.

Some recall long runs, a finger-tip catch,
but the drama involves mere inches;
lined up shoulder to shoulder,
a row of rugged men.

With Imrie on my right at guard,
we surge and smack - battering rams;
reductio ad absurdum - sheer will.

Adrenalin screams; we explode like rockets.
No one denies five yards to us
let alone inches.

Harmony and grace flourish
in leveraged angles for force and speed;
we dance like Wu Wei masters.

If only it was still that simple!
TAKING A STANCE

Next time someone advocates a stance
Forcefully takes a position,
Respond with the phrase -
"That's an entertaining idea."

Removes the imperative to judge,
make a choice, join the team,
take up arms,
storm the barricades.

Freely experiment -
toss it like a Frisbee,
play in the rain,
enjoy the process.

It's neat - no admission charge;
come in, sit down, relax, view the screen;
if you like what's playing, stay;
if not, meander to another site.

Far removed from movie critic;
they produce hard copy
on deadline (appropriate term)
late at night.

Befriend the theatre manager;
enjoy a free pass
used as you see fit:
             lights, camera, action!


Regina Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, photo by Mike Keenan 50°27'17"N 104°36'24"W
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Ypres, Belgium, Menin Gate, Last post photo by Belgium Tourism 50°51'N 02°53'E
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MY CAREER AS SORCERER

I remember a large fullback named Cramner
who ran and looked like a moose,
while under-sized at tackle,
my game involved finesse.

In the huddle (this was rare),
I claim I can dislodge
my opponent to the outside
as I please.

Our quarterback, Bob Israel,
Calls an off-tackle to my side,
And Cramner stomps through the
Gaping hole; no one touches him for 45 yards

An easy touchdown and the beginning
Of my career as sorcerer for Cramner
Such that if I was Jimmy Jones,
He would drink cool-aide whenever I asked.
MY FATHER'S DIARY

On Remembrance Day, November 11th
I read the diary of Private G. J. Keenan
- Britain declares war; Canada declares war;
I join the 48th Highlanders of Canada.
Why? I'll never know!

Peculiar behavior even then;
Too old for the regular army,
An Irishman joins the Scottish regiment
(Apparently, they accept anyone)
And one week after marriage,
He leaves her behind,

They would never be the same
Nor would their children
For war plays havoc with spirit
And renders us poor.

Often, I dream that we were close
For I enjoyed his manly feel and smell
And wish that he had come to see me play
In my own wars.



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