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A FAMILY LANDSCAPE - poetry chapbook

by Richard L. Provencher  
7/24/2008 / Poetry

The enclosed 30 poems are about relationship in families. Love and strength within men, women and children of all areas are part of this world. And I wish to portray them in every aspect of society.

A Family Landscape

Night sky provides a celestial
necklace of
diamond pin-pricks
above a Cape Breton village.

At home Nathan
promotes his report card
and dad's lobster
catch, something else.

Now mom lays quietly in
the silence, her man asleep
in the darkness,
son in the next room

counting blessings she
does, her family
a castle of dreams.

Published Online April 3, 2006
The Dublin Quarterly
An International Literary Review


A Song of Love

tall pine trees
dark forest shivering
under a cooling breeze quiet river

three hands are waiting
to be felt to be touched
to be loved

one canoe glides slowly
admiring the smooth the silence

i am the canoe and you
and you and you three hands
i touch you i feel you
i love you

Published 1974 Polished Pebbles
A Bluewater Anthology
Seeker Publishing Co., Sarnia, Ontario


Apartment View

Whew, 90 degrees by the sofa
a cup of tea should cool things off

perhaps another peek out the window
Sally might come along for a visit
or Harry, now that's a handsome man.

Annie rests in her rocking chair
eyes dim from a busy bowel movement

medicine taking hold.

Maybe she'll make a pan of cookies
peanut butter, the ones hubby used to like
he's gone now, two years this August

sure liked Fall colours that man, and
trips to Cape Breton, nice then

children now far away in their own
lives, grandchildren all grown up.

The little old lady falls asleep in her
sweet dreams.

Published Online 2003 by CanCon
Canadian Content Poetry


As a Child Learns

Baby footprints straddle
foam-crested waves
each push of water
tests her confidence
mama calls
be careful honey
don't fall,
statement of mother-love
as a warm wave
little time to hear
her voice of
Restless toes grasp
Northumberland pebbles.

Published Summer 1988 Vol. 63 #4
Canadian Author & Bookman
Toronto, Ontario ISSN 0008-2937


At The Cottage

swimmers are
at dusk

that flaming stillness
is everyone's sundown
stare, dad's


tie down the boat
and clump across the dock,
supper's waiting


Published Spring 1991
Tabula Rasa Magazine
Volume 2, Number 2
London, Ontario
ISSN 0843-9842


Auschwitz, a place

where father lay alongside me
at night.
I held his hand against
my face, and

in the morning we arose as a family.
Daytime was a prison, my
arm with a number like a beast.

"Is God hiding?" someone asked.
"Where is the breath
of mankind?" my answer.



thirst an impediment
in a crawl of hooves across
the Sahara, eyes of stars

breakfast among the dunes
shifting, wailing ridges of windy
nudges challenging camels

throaty calls streaking across
the terrain, a dust storm
spirals from the sky, creates
a stamping on the ground

it's the measure of sun's anvil.


Below Our Fokker 100

aircraft, traffic lights crawl across
the landscape of our
imagination. From here we see
stars of civilization, power
moguls planning their next moves, a
high-rise here, concrete four
lane there. Such small incidents
in the humanity of life.
A thimble of activity in our worldly
adventures. Life is much more
than a stack of greenbacks or
a muscle car, even a 5-bedroom
penthouse. It's love.

Published Online Jan 2005
Contest winner at
Alexandria, VA


Beside Dorchester, New Brunswick

Behind locked doors
a man walks inside a boy, and

lonely heartbeats
whisper loudly in the room.

Children rush by, bouncy and
carefree and full of beans
sons and daughters, see dads

moms and wives and lovers cry

It took 1.5 hours for the journey, but
10 years in the making

come and visit your new son, you
said in the letter
I've changed inside, really.

And we came

Published Spring 1987, Volume 5 Number 1
The Cormorant, Saint John Campus
The University of New Brunswick


Children of Camelot

twirl cardboard swords behind
winter forts, others active
with wallops of snow.
Brave ones prepare for a
frontal assault, as

King Arthur's men charged
enemy forces, except
today it's boys in a parking lot.

An old Knight like Grandpa
remembers his youth of
Round Table days. Now a Nursing
Home is his fortress
and snowballs flung only in
dreams, the past
replaced with skidding wheels
from his wheelchair. But

memories still hear the
charge of busy feet,
swords swirling, snow hurling.


Children's Aid Worker

Bart's thirteen
left home the other day
for good, just
couldn't take it anymore
heard it all from mom and dad
the fighting and boozing
and about how expensive it is
to raise kids

put out his thumb early Tuesday night
and his first ride took him forty
miles from what used to be home

now the cops are out looking,
and his parents are worried
and the Children's Aid worker
is phoning around asking
if you see this kid, tall for his age
and kind of lonely, call me.

Published Fall/Winter 1984
Vol. 111, No. 3-4
The American Poetry Anthology
Santa Cruz, California
ISBN 0-88147-008-2


Costa Chica, Mexico

Missionaries inhabit poverty
in the villages,
bringing drilled water to
coconut-stick houses

children finally splashing
in a sweet taste of life

where Polaroid families dress
hair combed, cheeks with
smiling teeth.

Yes gringos, stay
here, dig more wells like those
in Las Penas and El Paso.


Country Harbour, Nova Scotia

Red plastic surrounds
treble hooks, silver lures teasing
mackerel wary

thunder of ocean on Atlantic

seagulls as kites of
windy nudges in feathery flight

pigeons rock in jerky motions,
fishermen crowding the
new concrete wharf

tidal movement six hours in
another six out

outboards continue trolling for
supper, loons join ocean's spray

people-watchers joking, comparing

Children add to the cast of characters
jigging their lines, reeling in.

Published Feb 2005 Northern Views Magazine
New Glasgow, NS (reached 25,000 homes
in Pictou and Colchester Counties, NS)


Easter Island

Eyes peer from three storied giants
ancient stone men, Moais

look at how the tourists gawk,
cameras clicking
beaches at Anakena and Ovake
enjoy the laughter,
white sands.

Not since the Long Ears and Short Ears
battled at Poike Ditch in 1680
has there been so much
energy wasted.

Be careful,
Orongo is sleeping
for now.

Published 2002 Bogg Publications #72
A Journal of Contemporary Writing
(An Anglo-American International Journal)
ISSN: 0882-648X


For Selwyn

Saw him quiet in the corner
of his train seat, just a cough once
in awhile, a burp now and then.
And finally the next day I
looked beyond his shuffle,
the way he cradled his hand.
"Did you have a stroke?" my
bold command.
"Yes," he shyly answered.
"So did I," and a friendship began.

Off to Toronto to his son's
wedding, from Yorkshire, "Great
country this Canada. After 18 years,
still too big to travel."

And then a tiredness in his chatty
voice, "Got to rest now," he said.
As the VIA rail attendant
approached, Selwyn took his pillow
and winked, "Good for hiding
beer farts in the night." And you
know something, he was right.


Fort Louisbourg

The sentinel is happy on guard
over the fortress.
His belly is full of fish and
beans and
a fine woman in la maison
promised to meet him
He's proud of this new
one day he'll marry
raise strong sons,
but to-day
his eyes are alert for Les
They're coming to steal his

Published Winter 1987 Vol. 62, No. 2
Canadian Author & Bookman
Toronto, Ontario ISSN 0008-2937


Hidden from View

We came upon a clearing in the woods
a little cemetery, private
in its surroundings

three obelisks in a row, one
in two parts, the others
weathered from changing times

here a young lad aged six
there Adeline, only two

within the family plot they rest
a mom and dad and uncles too
McPherson, Robertson and
Dunn by name

we came upon a clearing in
the woods and left with thoughts
a hundred years ago.

Published Summer 1996 Volume 12, Number 3
York-Sunbury Historical Society, Inc.
Fredericton, New Brunswick ISSN-0845-4868


I Do, Forever

The Margaree Valley in
Nova Scotia
is a tease of winding twists
clinging as a lover

clusters of birch in crowded
beauty aside the
Cabot Trail highway
picnics, and warm
swims at Cape Tormentine
kisses are lasting.

Now two families
join as rosebuds on the
matrimonial cake
decorations, sandwich tables
pickles and other treats
add to the occasion

but first, whispers of "I do
until death do us part"
the sanctity of our wedding.

During the night love
is an arrival of enchantment
and shy smiles. Sunrise
embraces our blessing.


Inside These Walls

Headlights pierce the darkness past
an attendant's cage
rushing passengers to new
appointments others clench hands
in warm coats like
November colours passing swiftly
across the parking lot
playing catch-up to friends
and dinner dates
they've somewhere
to go a
place to hide anywhere at all
on the sixth floor
behind hotel's curtain shy fingers
peer their owner
adopting the scene below
no one to wait for no one to share.

Published Online Feb/Mar 2004
Poems Neiderngasse



Eyes of dark glow
swallowing me
heartbeat thrumping

a world of books, away from
life's pain
and mother and
hoping their daughter will
go out and play
with boys and

they don't realize her world
is fun and games,
books are her

Published Winter 1985 Vol 34 No 2
Tower Poetry Society ISSN 0495-9701
Dundas, Ontario


Life's Spiritual Banquet

Our canoe discovers a feast of pleasure
its sleek hull an arrow
piercing the stillness of God's plan
reflections shunted
from stately trees where cozy cottages
circle like a ring of jewels

this lake created from cups of freshwater
a sanctuary from grasping
life, woes and errs of human contact
left behind. We step up to Nature's
table and absorb vegetables
of beauty
birthing a baby-blue sky.

Ripples nudge against
our fiberglas prow, thrill of a loon's lament
slap of beaver tail
upon the pond
the curious stare of a deer.

We hold firmly
to these precious moments-

dip of cherry wood paddle, sureness of
J-strokes moving us forward
to future feasts.

Published Online January 2003
Utmost Christian Poets Gallery
Edmonton, Alberta


Milk Wagon Days

I remember horse hooves
following steamy
eyes leather-protected

and little boy friendships

through alleys,
between overstuffed garbage
cans and
a serenade of clinking

milk bottles announcing
morning deliveries.

We eagerly awaited our hero
to appoint
one of us, hoping for
a chance to be today's

and the lucky one hopping
aboard the wagon
clink-clanking away.

Published Online August 2003
Sentinel Poetry Magazine, UK


Momma's in the Kitchen

baking biscuits and I'm
in the back yard
getting kindling, arthritis
not a friend each
time I bend, the pain
reminding me
eighty is no longer
young, grandson gone
to town some milk for
my tea, nice kid
best of the lot, scares me
how quickly he's

pretty soon he'll not
be visiting, I won't be
around for a chat, only
bits of wood chips
left behind, a reminder
I was here a short while.


New York City Sept 11, 2001

It's time for work, traffic heavy this AM.
Burp of cereal a signal of what's to come?

Elevator's crowded, coffee hot and
Sally is pregnant, Big Apple's
North Tower accepts another day

work pile awaits, sun-bright Tower Two
shimmers in glorious splendour.

Then the unthinkable, from the street
an imposing view, something
causes an explosion. A bomb? A plane?

Strumming feet are hasty on the stairwells
rushing down and down, not knowing
why, just moving quickly to safety

all the time captive victims face flames
upon top floors, aware of
the crackle of approaching death

cell-phones cry love to distant homes
families listen in terror, sad conversations
memories of precious voices, and
then silence, smoke, faces raised in awe.

A pair of shoes made it to ground zero
escape not complete without its passenger.

Published Online 2003 "In Remembrance"
Best site 2002 and 2003 for 9-11 memories.


Port Bickering Harbour, Nova Scotia

A creaking scow of wooden planks
and steel, our ferryboat charges
towards the mainland

the engine's echo of power
surrounds the bay

onboard, tourists in Tilley hats
watch from motor homes
and brand name
muscle cars

salty water framed in busy
photo lenses, where jellyfish roam
as orange
tendrils of tangle.

We all share in that harmony
sun's brilliant stare, a
glowing from places in the heart
Nature's casual march

a parade of moments
across our brow.

Published Online Voices in the Roses
Fall/Winter 2003 Issue 2 Volume 1-2


Sea Gypsies

are wayfarers content
to sail off the
islands of Burma

wanting no
material things happy in
their ancient
rituals of handmade
boats harvesting

crab spearing fish
mussels and oysters

each day a
celebration of life.


Second Time Around

Left him for
good this time, ma.

Harold and me,
we don't get along

Hope you and
dad don't mind.

Me and the kids
is coming home.


Published Spring 1972 Vol 47 No 3
Canadian Author & Bookman
Edmonton, Alberta


Southshore, Nova Scotia

Hunched over, that
dreamy stare

a splendour
outline against Canso's shore
at harbour's open mouth

we share his vision,
visitor-searching along the Marine Trail

as seagulls pause, bleached necks
colouring tide-abandoned

framed by an Atlantic expanse.

Our car intrudes upon the winding
asphalt, travels from cove
to silent cove
our strength renewed.

Published May 1988, Vol 3, No 2
Edges, the new literary magazine
Ledges Publishing Society
Edmonton, Alberta ISSN 0833 0077


The Mennonite

Melvin rises early
listens to the quiet

his little son curled up
alongside his wife
touches her lovingly

the cat carefully stretches
readies herself
for outside adventures.

He spends most of the morning
preparing an abundance of 'chop'
then feeds the pigs
cleans the barn

and walks the horses.

Lunch is a restful pause
then back to work

tractor needs fixing
Dora wants a ride into town
three year old Bud cries
to go for a walk

a little trading with two pigs
brings in needed clothing.

As the day slips into
early evening
there is satisfaction
a comfortable feeling

this land, his loved ones
woman and son
it's all here, wipes his brow
emotion eases down his cheeks.

Sun is burning the western sky
and shadows drift across the trees
God is up there somewhere


The Postal Worker

is a jawbone of goodwill and
cheerful exclamations.
She's a hardy soul, behind the desk
so many years, looking forward
to retirement. But right now
gives out facts, figures, addresses and
names. "Good day, Larry"
and others collecting their mail
in the morning of good times.


When the Fishermen are Gone

A wooden hull
bumps gently
against the dock

Slap of water
along the

Skim of glass upon
the lake

Distant hills outline the sky

And in the cottage
mom and dad
are resting

Children no longer here

Now grown into
careers and faraway places

They remember the boat.

* * *

Richard L. Provencher 2008

Writing poetry has always been one of life's pleasures. And I credit Raymond Souster, referred to as a "Toronto Poet" for inspiring me with his own work. We met in 1965 and introduced me to some very fine people who went on to personal fame; people like George Jonas, Michael Ondaatje, and Milton Acorn for whom I bought a cup of coffee. I learned to also write stories, then co-authored novels with my wife as I fought back from a stroke in 1999. My recovery continues. And I do hope readers will enjoy these poems.

Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.

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