Thursday, 23 July 2015



Damn, but she was beautiful

lissome as a reed
bending with autumnal
breezes, billowing gossamer seed,
perfumed with sugar must
of fallen leaves
her blush, star dusted,
my Eve

the sand of years,
sifts down relentlessly,
while in my memory's tears
her reflection changelessly
belies the sadness of


Bryan D.Cook  Ottawa, Spring 2015

Sir Sanford Fleming

Compiled by Bryan D. Cook, April 2015
International Standard Time
  Prior to 1883, time of day in Canada and the U.S. was a local based on local solar time and maintained by local church or jeweler’s clocks. With the growth of continental railways and interconnections between the two nations, time needed to be standardized to accommodate the timetables. The Canadian civil and railway engineer, Sir Sandford Fleming, advocated the adoption in North America of a standard or mean time, with hourly variations set as time zones bounded by meridians. These were initially implemented by the large railways at noon on November 18, 1883. Fleming orchestrated the 1884 International Prime Meridian Conference in Washington, at which the system of international standard time - still in use today - was adopted for general use; though was many years before such time was actually used by the public-at-large.
  Sanford Fleming (1827-1915) was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland. He immigrated to Upper Canada (Peterborough) in 1845, working as a surveyor and draftsman and preparing early maps of Peterborough, Hamilton, Cobourg, and Toronto. In 1851, he designed Canada’s first postage stamp, the “Three Penny Beaver”, which publicized that distinctly Canadian emblem.
  In 1849, he helped found the Canadian Institute. An early professional society of architects, surveyors, and engineers, it evolved into a broad-based scientific society which, beginning in 1852, published the Canadian Journal under his leadership.
  In 1852, he embarked on a long and sometimes difficult career in the promotion, engineering and construction of inter-colonial and trans-continental railways. By 1868, the Government of the new Dominion of Canada appointed him engineer-in-chief of the Intercolonial (Quebec-Maritime) Railway, a position he held until 1876. A vigorous outdoorsman, he thoroughly enjoyed exploring and surveying alternative routes for the railways.
In 1869, he moved to Ottawa in where he could better lobby for railway design; replacing traditional timbered bridge construction with stone, iron and sound geotechnical practice. He bought the residence of George-Édouard Desbarats on Daly Street, which he later named “Winterholme”. This author once lived in the extension he built for his daughter, fronting on Besserer Street. Fleming also maintained a retreat in his beloved Halifax
  So fierce was his lobby, particularly for the Pacific Railway, that he was fired in 1880 as a political liability. However, four years later, he was appointed a director of the CPR. He is, deservedly, the tall, broad-bearded character in the stove top hat photographed behind Sir Donald Smith at the driving of the last spike on 7 November 1885 at Craigellachie, B.C.

“The Last Spike” (courtesy LAC)

  Side by side with steel rails went the “electric” telegraph poles, Fleming’s twin agencies of global civilization. His vision of a trans-Pacific cable from Vancouver to New Zealand and Australia was realized in 1902.
  Fleming was a charter member of the Royal Society of Canada when it was formed in 1882 and its president in 1888–89. He was an active chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) from 1872 to 1899, particularly involved in its standards committee on time. He was knighted in 1897.
  Made Chancellor of Queen’s College at Kingston in 1879, Fleming campaigned successfully to shake its denominational Presbyterian yoke and become a secular university with a strong base in science and engineering before he died, still Chancellor, in Halifax in 1915.
  He is buried in Ottawa’s Beechwood Cemetery.
Sources :
Wilfred Campbell’s Poem
The immense contribution of Fleming to the growth of Canada as a Nation makes even more valuable our recent discovery of a poem in his honor by William Wilfred Campbell (1860 –1918). It had been scrapbooked as newspaper cutting by Ottawa’s City Clerk and fellow poet, William Pittman Lett. Campbell is considered an important member of the “Confederation School”, the poetical equivalent of the “Group of Seven” painters. His homage to Fleming is, to my best knowledge, a new addition to his lifetime collection of verse.

PEI Vacation, Summer/Fall 2014


swirl of gold
summer’s sunshine

herring gulls
behind the seiner
fish and chips

 bow wave spumes
against the tide
fresh sushi


gannets spear
above the whales

rolling breakers
born in a perfect storm
seaweed and jelly fish

across the water
clear as a bell
summer laughter

fall mackerel
to the pan

gold, white and purple
cut to green
ritual lawn mowing

tell each other

an April gale
on the cape

dark sea green
boiled red
with garlic butter

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

PEI Vacation Summer/Fall 2013

in  spring  grass

foam blowing
with the salted rain
summer squall

install a software pathway
to an old routine

flocking gulls
rolling thunder though salt mist
the ocean's near

high on the beach
shells piled by winter storms
bleach in the sun

Sunday, 30 June 2013



She beckons agelessly

across her threshold palette -
crazed tiles of ochre, green and
umber as sunset in Paris
where flowers blaze reflections
on the sidewalk's sluice and
bolds her letters of seduction:
vins fins, vielles and proprietes.
The deep perspective of
her muted navy grey façade
welcomes with eclectic joy
to blanc, rouge, rose and burgundy,
fanned gently

She bids come taste her art. 

Bryan Cook, Ottawa, July 2013

Context to Sheridan
Sheridan Kovacs is a very talented Canadian artist of eclectic variety. She gave me this acrylic painting of a Parisian Maison de Vins in return for help in baby-sitting her dogs! In this ekphrastic poem I see her through her  painting.

My Office

Art deco shades,
IKEA's articulations
incandescent and halogen,
 my midnight suns

I tried to go paperless
but still the floor joists creak
beneath the bankers boxes
and steel cabinets

Poetry and history
row and stack the shelves
frustrating discovery
gathering dust and DVD's

Tropical bonsai and fresh cat grass
in a window tokonoma  
scrolled with haiku
 fertilized and watered daily

A wall of Scotian oils
memories of blind Father Sharpe
lobster boats, autumn lakes
 and liquorish allsort lighthouses

80's vintage furniture, melamine,
 faux grained government surplus,
crammed and littered;
collapsing slowly

Milk crates, filled with books
topped with laundry beneath
the rack of dressing gowns
pressing the door half open

An antique barometer
beside the Galileo thermometer
bettering the weather forecast
on the transistor radio

Pigeon holes for bric-a-brac
old coffee cups , the cactus
surviving in an iron disc
retired from harrowing the fields

Bottles, nails, and coal
a diver's history of pioneer trade;

medals, crystal statues, a bronze beaver:
awards for toil of 40 years

Urns of pet ashes,
old rods and reels,
carved fish and fishermen,
Billy Bass sings "take me to the river"

A black tower hums
against a bank of drives
hard with data and research
twin screens glow blue

Electronic keys beside the ink well
microfiche readers beside the scanner
speakers beside the printer
three telephones, a nest of wires

I love this mess
hide in it, compose in it
doze in it, dream in it.
instantly world-connected

From my leather chair.

Bryan D. Cook Ottawa  28 May 2013

 Context for My Office
At a Tree Seed Workshop , we were shown ways to stimulate our poetry with new ideas. One was to take a 360 degree look at familiar room and describe it in detail. I choose my  home office. The wall of Nova Scotian oils were painted by  Father Donald Sharpe, who lives in the Annapolis Valley beside the bay of Fundy and suffered for blindness for much of his life.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Winter Blahs

Winter Blahs
Last week
a drip metronomed my window sill ,
the driveway ice ridge thawed,
squirrels gnawed into the bluebird box and
cardinals sang territorial songs as the Pope departed.

I walk the dog without my gloves,
an olfactory progression from stain to stain,  
puddles hide a pox of potholes,
I dodge the waves of grime brine.

A smart-phoned knot smokes pot
just beyond the high school gates
fucking this and fucking that habitually,
crowding out the sidewalk,
seeming bored, texting to belong,
shuffling through the rituals
of teenage conformity,
their daily litter of soda cans,
half-eaten pizza slices and
butt confetti;
yet they call me Sir and say
Tess is sooo cute a puppy,
despite her fifteen years.

I’m tired of winter:
allergic to the mold,
damp cold,
fearful that latest flu
has made the jump from beast to man,
resentful of income tax returns,
annoyed by the mail- box avalanche of spring sales;
“Target” has crossed the border: but
do I really need to buy?

 I will book my escape to
Prince Edward Island’s shore,
to beach comb through the laze of summer;
I can smell the sea and
taste the chowder.

Bryan D. Cook   Ottawa, March 2013

Context For Winter Blahs
I attended a TREE Reading Series Seed Workshop where we were introduced by Gwynn Scheltema  to "playing with constraints".....the application of structure in the style of Oulipo practitioners. Such structures can follow quite complex mathematical series, but I chose a simple approach of expressing my feelings and experiences for last week, today and tomorrow.

Pope Benedict's Farewell

                                                          Northern Cardinal (Kevin Boulton)