Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Morning At Babine Lake

I followed a narrow leaf-strewn trail
Down from my campsite at Babine Lake
To the placid water’s edge.

The lake covered its secrets like a mirror,
Smooth multi-colored stones cobbled its shallows.
Birds warbbled and gossiped in busy cacauphony,
A flicker rattled a tree trunk, a grouse drummed his passion,
A trout lept with a splash, loons sailed fishing by,
A moment of reverence,
One met me eye to eye and flew,
Wings beating in labourious panic,

Moments of meditative silence,
Nearby, a quiet family of ducks,
Peacefulness torn remotely at distant edges
Like mist when
Somewhere a squirrel scolded,

I sat on a gnarled root at the foot of a great life,
A cottonwood tree, very still, growing there,
A gnarled man, a poet watching God’s world
From a window in his poem

Life is for moments like this,
Thoughts leaning branches,
Reflections undulating upon gentle

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

To You, My Faithful Reader

I would like to break into this flow of poetry that has poured out onto this page for well over a year and thank all my readers for your faithfulness and patience and dedication to the reading of my poetry.  Both to write and to appreciate is a gift for which we can always be thankful.

I have just published a book (the first of probably several) as an eBook collection of the poetry that is on this blog and some that you have never read before.  This book is the equivalent of about 100 pages and is called "Collections From A Forest, Volume I"  In the next few weeks it will be available at all the major ebook retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, etc.  but for now it is available at the publishers for 99 cents (the lowest price they will allow)  at

I would love to make it so my poetry can be given as a gift, I find it is more easily read that way by those for whom poetry may be a strange and different form of expression.  If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

I intend to keep this blog going, as a poet is what I am, and poetry is what I write.  I have enough written material at this point for about four more books and I write almost every day.  Your comments are always appreciated!

be blessed,
charles Van Gorkom

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rain Forest Full

Slow lament of single
Plucked string of banjo
Resonates like rain
In these forested
Haunting silences.

Piano notes gathered on leaves
Distilled from musical mist
Fall from scales
High above my head,
Feed moss minuets
At my feet,
Tumble among stones
In fugal streams.

Open throated
Calls of worshipping
Alto flute
Breathes darkly among silent
Dripping rain forest trees.

Far away, ocean waves
In mighty hallelujah choruses
Then recede in tidal
Forsake the sandy shore,
Leave no print of the score,
No record of even
One listening soul

With this emptiness again
 I am made full.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Soldier Songs

Goodbye lurks everywhere,
different kinds of soldiers
marching into different kinds of war,
behind them a devastation of closing doors,
guarding memories in bottles
or velvet lined oaken chests
against predation:
goodbyes try to steal one from the other.

Sitting alone with his kit along a river,
at his campfire,
he sees her dancing again in the flames,
somewhere he is flickering in hers,
another goodbye stretched taut and thin
as a long low howl in a sleeping forest
at midnight.

He looks at the mystery and misses it,
the question and the answer,
setting sun on the water,
the bright eagle soaring.

He will remember a distant dog barking,
at his feet water softly lapping,
days getting shorter,
menacing tyrannies
crouched upon the border,
a campfire burning,
a prayer wheel slowly turning.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quantum Prayer

When we lift our hearts
the light within us
that has become scattered,
even destructive,
is made coherent.

Many waves,
discordant colours,
opposing vibrations,
unify in harmonious

When we pray
after the pattern Jesus gave,
rescued from random,
we are healed,
body and soul.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Speak To Me

Speak to me in the subtlety of a perfect day,
The heart-breaking with thanksgiving tears
For the sun-warm, sun-green, water-falling,
Buds-bursting, bird song in the mossy branches,
Life-sharing, silently parted
Symphonic honey dew ripened lips,
Unspoken sharing of a single
Tree ripened sweet plum,
Tongue-shaped word.

Speak to me intimately
In the language
Of a perfect day.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Confluence bleeds
blue electric flame
till soul and spirit
breathe the same

from harvest cutting
Sharons long stemmed rose
to midnight shining
Southern Cross
street lamps line the path
His kingdom came.

Weeds whisper
as they toss
to the wind
and rattle
dry seed pods
as if promises
from pagan gods.

I heard them rustling sigh
"Our weakest are the first
to die
first to rise again"
in floral descant to what
the dusty weed-straw
chorus said:

"Valley-lily somewhere by
is Balm in Gilead
there is a Balm
in Gilead."

Sing To Me Again

Sing like the rise and fall
of winter wind at night fall,
blowing light snow
around my frozen caravan.

Sing with many voices
in spacious harmony
like an icy wind
from the mountains
scented with snow burdened spruce.

Sing light and clear
like the Aurora Borealis at midnight
sing out from behind dancing curtains
of many colors.

Sing me a Klezmer chorus,
an ancestral wedding veil
of suffering and grace.

thus will I be warm again
and sleep in your arms.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Robert Louis Stevenson

Eighteen eighty-nine finds you
with the king and princess of Hawaii
at a luau in Waikiki

there are more than eight
at the table
king Kalakua, princess Liliuokalani
and you
gaze at the camera
royal eyes veiled
yours measuring
your face tuberculosis thin
reaching for another paragraph
or verse within
as others reach for roast pig

words place you there
title and crest you

words that fall in you like rain
collect in the deep
pools of your eyes
steep sentient solitary tea
sound seas
probe jungle deeps
walk beaches beneath
tangle-rooted kamani trees
explore the darkened soul
shadowed curse
brown girls in grass skirts
Oxford primitives in starched shirts
grizzled sailors
domiciled in grass shacks

you sit sallow
in your canvas chair
thread words like shells
weave air

rule written centuries
with a pencil

Chemainus Garden

Still is green water
From which lilies grow.
Still are lilies
Embracing sky.
Still are reeds,
But a breath will bend them.

All is green and shades of green,
But the pearlescent Lily,
Pink and white or yellow and red
Candles sculptured on green velvet.
Floating flames,
Waiting for your opening eyes,
For the ravishing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

After The Earthquake

Stinging gnats, scorpions,
Deceptions, illusions,
Harmless entertainments,
We are weakened,

Until none can survive
The collapse of buildings
Anywhere in the world
With loved ones buried,
Instantly under shattered
Tons of concrete.

For that, one needs
A real living God.

All those who will
Are called upon to pray,
Those who can
Must dig.

Candles we lit with love,
In a trembling moment,
Plunged beneath
A stony sea.

Let all tears,
Even our animals weep.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Every Seven Days

I wait in the hallway
with the choir,
wait for the morning
processional through
the groomed church-yard,
then the low arched door
into the sanctuary,
the pews filled
with people who carry lamps
in their souls,
older people, mostly,
soaking in light filtering down
through arched stainglass windows
upon the earthen tweeds
unvarnished woodwork,
wrinkled skin,
with transparent overlays
of blue and green
golden and red.

The brass bell
resounds from the steeple
over the town by the sea.

We line up for the service,
the organ fills and swells,
we sing the processional hymn
as we walk to the choir stall
down the centre aisle
between the rows of people,
the priest in his robes following.

Not but for love,
never but for love,
so the service begins
every seven days.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Poet Wakes

To graveyards now
Where bones of poems
Restless sleep
Cradled by thornful
Hedges of neglect

Shadows lengthen
Pulled from westering sun
Til fallen night is come

And feathered vowels
In crooked oaks
Mournful watches keep
They moan
Rustling consonants of leaves
Sighing inspiration blown
With moonlit ivory
Clatter of dry bone.


You want to draw and paint
muscles and nerves
in naked skin
clean of all blood

Manifesting female one
as beauty alone, sans lover

I agree--
aesthetically speaking,
blood, when spilled,
is messy as sin,
yet, ugly thus,
needs beauty begin,
divinely other.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Poet's Prayer

Let my words
eddy ebb and flow
with currents of tribal sea
streams of light
threads of blood

let them be marbles
in the canyons teeth
rolling in the mouth
of swollen flume

let them fall with rattle
and battle roar
unharnessed tides
surging after the moon

at war with all
but the canoe
threading upstream
between skirmish
and silver beam
paddled strong-shouldered
where river churns
by Desire and his lover
Gentle Dream

til an island
where tall pines
shelter a cabin

in whose window warmly
an oil lamp in darkness

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Scrawled In The Book Of Hospice

I have been called
to the bedside
of a dying dream
with Jeremiah
who was cast
into a soggy well
and with History,
the Director’s shadow
that cannot be driven away

A waltz plays
behind a curtain;
thoughtless dancers
trample little ones
guilty of being gullible
and poor
but this is all a dream
and it is dying

one by one the patrons
cannot pay
soon the band
will fold
and put their instruments
we’ve seen it all before,
now everyone
is gullible and poor.

Those who will prosper stay
to offer gathered sticks and fears,
wild figs
and wait upon the Lord.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shell Swirl

I see the swirl of your life
in this shard of shell,
in the marble of this sea-polished
your endless energy shines.

I hear your voice in the pound and
diminishing symphony of sand,
each wave collapses
in salty forte’-diminuendo.

I feel your caress in the wind,
steady provision of radiant sun.

So what of these gathering clouds,
the rain?
They come and go,
in your circuit
return again,
forest mosses green and grow,
here, in another shell.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Life Is Art In Cowichan Bay

Smooth-sanded and oiled,
this marine varnished morning,
the sea still as glass,
Cowichan Bay
reflects the encircling
enchantment of wooden boats,
hand polished and painted,
bright in the early sun.

Reflected mast and boom, cable,
hull, cabin and spar,
still upon the water,
shimmering, a retreating dream,
at once clear and remembered.

From my window
in a cheese and soup shop
on a pier built out over the water,
I see houses on floats
every plank, shutter, and painted planter,
window and wooden latice reflected
in the mirror.

Sea gulls pose
as porcelain angels,
statues of themselves,
on pilings rising from the water,
traditional, well tended
wooden boats, old retiring fishermen,
nuzzle wooden wharves, sleeping
each with his double.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Scribble To My Wife

for us, a gift,
the scribble of love,

curved and straightened,
joined, intersected,
bone combed,
fearlessly curled,

entwined, overlapping,
hand brushed, caressed
plucked, crushed, treaded,
bottled like wine
in circles, sailing swirls,

braided, plunge twisted
poured from coiled rope
made of twine,
our every written line,
tied, knotted and tossed
spinning to its own music,

folded on itself, unfolding,
pounded in damascus steel plys.
holographic snarl of two,
impossibly tangled,
inseparable, undivided,
flowing in love’s scribble
we are coincided.

Friday, February 10, 2012

He Has Friends

Man's epic struggle with fate
assumes there comes a man or woman
strong and heroic,
maybe many of them,
beautiful and tough minded
enough to beat it,
to win over all the odds,
defeat the gods,
--and there was,
but we are not tragic fate,
ourselves we killed him--
and horrors--
he rose again after three days, sailed away
and will return
only for his friends,
he has friends,
yes, he has friends.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

To Be Made Again

You made me, when mist
hung low on the mountains,
every microscopic droplet
you suspended,
encased every branch and twig,
every needle on every spruce
with crystal frost,

You made me on a night
when moon shone on sculpted
rounded every stone and craig
with shallow valleys
of drifted snow,

this was your promise
to the universe,
that you would shelter, shield,
and cover me to surely grow.

When I fell through the ice,
or lost your trail under
the northern lights,
or stormed from my warm cabin door
without a jacket to snowshoe
in the sweaty moonlight until I dropped
in self pity and despair,
you would be there.

I even heard your angels sing,
opened my eyes to find my table set
in the middle of wilderness
and I dead centre
in a ring of music and light.

The universe has watched,
you have kept your word,
you led me not into temptation,
you delivered me from evil,
but I searched it out,
I studied the stars,
forbidden books
in the library of constellations
of my own heart,
and found it anyway,
the Lost City,
faded myself there where only you
could find me, my tracks
erased with freezing rain,

yet still on a silent night like this,
a star of hope shines
over Bethlehem,
and I know I am found,
you will make me again.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February 2012 Looking Back

It's only been a few weeks and I can see
already, I can see
that what was day to day ordinary up north
under a loving sky,
I should have recorded more.

 Like the times between my porch and bootshop
when I met a bear or a wolf,
the time I was laying under the truck
working on the wiring system
and foxes crept up to attack my legs,

The geese in Spring and Fall migrating
in formations, the eagles and grizzlies
and salmon  thick as fireweed
 in the crystal mountain river,
(you could snare them with a cast hook,
with a dip net
the ooligan running up from the coast,)
the raspberries and gallons
of home-made wine.

Always surrounded by snow clad mountains,
solitude always your companion.

Splitting and stacking firewood
at forty below. Shoveling endless snow,
trapped by it.

The river breaking up in the Spring,
ice moving powerful and slow
like battleships
taking out the giant cottonwoods
and poplars.
Flooding with angry mud.

My shop where I made my living
as a bootmaker by hand,
was ten feet by thirty,
floor to ceiling shelves full
of materials and supplies,
tools and projects for survival,
windowless for warmth and security,
heated by a wood pellet stove.

I worked diligently in there for twelve years,
and other tiny shops 30 years before that,
fed my family, traded on the market
using the internet when it came,
and built up my small fund.

But everyday was so ordinary and usual,
the sun set in winter at four p.m.
and rose at eleven a.m.

Or hardly dipped down in the Summer.
The garden exploded from the ground
and could be harvested in eight to ten weeks.

What about today near this southern
Canadian city?  It is ordinary too,
but different,
and needs to be written.

I still make boots and shoes
in a little shop, nicer now.

Here we walk to town,
so ordinary and social
under a loving sky,
for coffee and a little shopping
every day year round.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pattern Of Jesus

You will learn to love me,
then I will die.

You will be devastated,
then I will rise again.

You will be dumbfounded,
then I will leave you.

You will feel abandoned,
then I will fill you
with my Holy Spirit,

Love, joy, peace, patience
and self control
will spring from your heart,

you will wait expectant,
victorious in hope;

Many years later,
I will return.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Over Bethlehem

A star,
a luminary seed,
a guide, a watchful eye,
a signature on a letter
of legacy from a father,
an umbilical termination,
withdrawing as a mother
slips away, closing a door
on her sleeping child,
swaddling him in the safety
of Mary and Joseph,
his friends,
and all the troubled pharasees.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Peace Like A River

my ears are open
to your voice, but
I hear the river,

the buzz of a mosquito,
the mechanical sounds
of a distant highway and homes,

listening for more,
reading a psalm,
praying a prayer,
my head filled
with the sound of the river,

strange how my heart
gently rocks in the musical water,
filled with peace .

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Woodland Shrine

I know a large lily pond nearby,
in an over-grown garden estate,
a small opening in the rainforest.

A secret place,
with reeds congregated
here and there along its mossy marge,
ducks on its placid surface,
golden fish rising from dark depths,
an arbour-like structure beside
 with vines upon it,
airy, a framwork like a foreign shrine
from another century,
of ancient mossy wood still hard and solid,
assembled without nails or screws
with the  image long missing
on a central seat looking out over
the blossoming lilies.

 Three times I have sat
 perceive me charitably)
in the place
and tuned into a sense
of  lost lordship
under the Lord of all,
sought another perspective
on what may have been hidden,
lost or displaced,
what could be reclaimed.

From there I could pray
for the whole world.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pilgrim Song

Because of famine
in my desert Caanan
I have journeyed seeking
to a distant land

you are Goshen
my green garden
in you I feed
grow satisfied

when foes that pillage come
with flashing fears
slash glittering blades
in dark shades of terror
wielded by pouring hoards
of fang-fallen fright
blood-bound to enslave
bind me in chains
to exile drag

you are my Ramoth Gilead
to you I pleading flee
within your walls of refuge
there is peace

with love unwrought unyielding
your iron gates
protect those helpless ones
you gather gracefully

around your undying fire tonight
accept my grateful pilgrim song

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Was A Sailor

I was a sailor
when I met the Fisherman,
my shadow until then
had not been darkened
passing through a nave
to where the candles
ever burn.

I had worn the tattered cloak
of proud entitledment,
even though, as now,
I sought for poems

How my sails like wings pursued
the retreating horizon!

Mainsail and jib,
my exaggerated shadow,
barely perceptible,
projected upon them.

But my thoughts circled
with all my generation,
and we landed where
we had begun
on tiny Destitution Island.

But Love came trolling,
in his slow boat,
one day, ever trolling,
and rescued me,
a refugee,
His ancient craft filling,
ever filling,
with ever  room
for only one more.

And so you find me here
as an old friend,
leaning at peace,
beside your answered door.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

From Poems For Change

Once upon a time was too often
when full moon splendor
came only once every thirty days,
So I looked for you
in sunlight by the sea as well
as in your book of chosen words,
stones cut and chiseled
that surging breakers dash upon
lifting spumes and misty
rainbows in worshipful display.

Your sunlight, salty sea,
your words like walls
the watchful walk upon,
not only when stars sing,
but in the green moss
at mother's soft breast,
babe whispers,
lisping your name.

I heard your voice in the wood-cutters song,
a bamboo flute
by the brookling waters fall,
felt you at night between stars
in the cradle of my beginning
because once upon a time
is too often
when full moon splendor
comes only once every thirty days.