library

A Loose Scattering of Pleasing Images and Rhymes

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Well, here goes another blog post without any plan or rhyme or reason.  I think what I would really like to talk about is friendships.  Sometimes in life you meet people that you connect with, people who mean a lot to you.  For a long time I thought that old friends were the best friends, and they really can be, but I have also thought that, though it isn’t a good thing to play games with people to put their friendship to the test, sometimes life does throw tests at us that tell us who really matters.  As many of you know, I was in Air Cadets from age 12 to 15 and it was extremely influential in my life.  It ingrained a type of military discipline and way of accomplishing things that has never left me.  But then there were also the buddies I made.  One of the closest of them was a young man named Carl who seemed like kind of a funny character, but for a long time we were good friends and I had a lot of respect for him.  His Dad was a mechanic and he knew an incredible amount of things regarding how to repair things, re-purpose them or clean or maintain them that I guess his Dad must have taught him.  Later in life he had a lot of problems and had to live on his own in a lot of rough spots and didn’t have many friends to watch out for him.  I would have him over as much as I could and we would spend long hours talking about our lives over coffee in the kitchen of my parents’ home.  I had really hoped we could have been friends forever, but one day as an adult I called him up and was basically told that he no longer wanted to talk to me and didn’t want to give a reason.  I went through a lot of emotions over that, hurt, anger, loss, but I was an adult and I got over it.  One of the bad things that happened between him and I was that when I was 19 and I was mentally ill I borrowed about $350 from him and didn’t pay it back for a long time.  I eventually paid him back with interest, but that could have been what did it.  I have a number of good friendships that were ruined that way over money but I don’t have any simple advice.  How can a person in good conscience refuse a friend’s need?  I feel so fortunate now to have some financial stability and when friends or family members need money I try to give it to them without asking for anything in return.  I don’t know how I would feel about all that money though if I didn’t have a good job and a stable pension.

For some odd reason I want to talk about some of the friends I have made through going to poetry nights.  There is this one guy, Ahmed Knowmadic who is just an incredible person and oddly enough I worked for a time with his best friend Marlin.  Ahmed is from Somalia and Marlin is from Jamaica.  I am not very close friends with these guys, but I just think they are the salt of the Earth.  People sometimes say that poetry is not popular, that it is on a decline, but Marlin and Ahmed are among the growing movement of slam poets who are making it an extremely viable force in this world, and I am really glad to know them.

I don’t really know for sure what got me started as a poet.  I can recall that even in elementary school I had a knack for writing rhyming lines of verse but I did very little of it and never showed it to anyone.  I can recall a good friend who used to write songs which were poetry but he did something I thought was a mistake-he had his Pastor go over it and correct it for him.  I guess in a way right now I have put my religion in second place and really want to make some beautiful writing rather than write to glorify God and I don’t think I will go to hell for it.  But back to how I started as a poet, I think a lot of it came from a very few famous poems that I really enjoyed, namely “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas, “If” By Rudyard Kipling, “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service and “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe.  I loved Kipling as a young man, and used to watch the movie “The Man Who Would Be King” based on his short story of the same name and read what I could find from his books.  I also read a little Edgar Allen Poe in high school but until I had my own apartment I didn’t get all that serious about writing.  One funny thing I wanted to share about my young young days (elementary school) and writing, I used to make my own comic stories with simple drawings about spaceships and soldiers and take them to school and put them up on the bulletin board for people to read.  I made so many that I was discouraged from making more and sometimes I wonder if that discouragement had to do with me being a bit of a late bloomer as a writer.

Regardless, I think I always loved books.  It seems a bit nerdy now, but I remember loving playing football with other students in pick up games at recess and lunch and after school and one day walking the mile or so to our city library and getting a book about football and reading it.  Even to this day I see books as the key to all knowledge.  You can do research on the Internet about a particular topic but until you get a book or two under your belt I don’t think you really know much about it.  I do of course read ebooks (just finished a wonderful one by a disabled journalist named Cam Tait which I loved) and I use amazon.ca a lot to find books I want that aren’t available anywhere else, but I stand firm on that.  I don’t think books, if you count ebooks, will ever go away.

To get back to the poetry thing, when I first moved out I sought out a lot of books on poetry and really enjoyed both the poetry and music of Leonard Cohen and read a lot of Canadian poets.  I also read some classics, which were loaned to me by a friend and sometimes I would even steal poetry books from a rarely used hospital library where I went for my clinic appointments (I feel so guilty about doing this, I have often wished I could turn back time and not have done that).  But really I was doing things the hard way in the extreme.  I just didn’t know about poetry events, perhaps there wasn’t even many of them then.  But in my later years I have found that poetry has so much to offer.  I have published three books of poetry and they are selling.  I am starting to get a following here for my poems and on my Facebook page (Valhalla Books if you  ever find the time to look it up and go through my years of archives of poetry).  I think perhaps one of the greatest things about it though is that with poetry you really can let loose your emotions on the page in a beautiful way, and when you ramp it up and get into spoken word poetry and get on stage and perform, the feeling is pretty amazing.  I owe so much to some of the poets that have encouraged me, and a lot to some who aren’t poets.  Kiersten my cousin’s wife is one, Mira an old friend another, and then there is a long list of local poets I wish I could name.  I hope that people who read this will be encouraged to go out and take in a poetry event, it is an incredibly democratic and inclusive movement, I have seen rich and poor, old and young come out and have a wonderful time and grow as writers and I hope as citizens of the world.  That reminds me, I need to thank Elisa a great deal because she was reading my poetry and suggested I start attending the poetry event in the first place, and now in a few short weeks I am going to be teaching my very own class of writers!  That’s all for today Dear Readers, don’t forget to drop me a line or a comment any time, viking3082000@yahoo.com

SCROLL DOWN PAST THE PHOTO FOR TODAY’S POEM

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To A Friend Of Thirty-Two Years

 

Dear friend of my youth you are oft on my mind

So few old friends stayed so close by my side

Some saw life changed me as the years went by

But you were always like a brother I don’t really know why

 

I look back on our younger days of first love and first loss

It seems my dear friend we were cut from the same cloth

It meant so much to know later when I lived far away

That we would reunite some fine summer day

 

I was so proud to hear of it when you found a wife

And that soon you had made for yourself an enviable life

Then with your new partner had two wonderful boys

It filled up my heart as I listened to all of your joys

 

I will admit my own path was not quite as smooth

It was as though for myself I had something to prove

Both you and I competed, both hardworking and smart

Though you never gloated when life had torn me apart

 

My oldest dearest friend don’t ever forget

As long as I live I will owe you a huge debt

For all the great memories, through good times and bad

And the fact that through most of them you were all that I had

 

A close friend is something that is better than wealth

Something so critical for each person’s mental health

I will tell you a secret I want to share with your sons one day

Their father is an incredible man in his very own way

 

I won’t butter you up any more with my words of praise

Just wish you true love and warm, happy days

A person with one true friend can conquer all his or her dreams

You may live far away now but you are right here it seems

 

There was this one time I thought all was lost and gone

And you came to see me and helped me go on

I wish I could give you some gift of great price

But I think I will have to just give you some lame advice

 

Care for those close to you, speak always from your heart

Give of yourself and your time and rarely depart

Love your family dearly as you have cared for me

And never forget you deserve to be happy and free

 

Leif Gregersen

May 19. 2015

The Incredible Beauty of Edmonton, My Home

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there is so much new construction going on in this town

Today’s Blog

Hello Dear readers!  Well, I had a great sleep for the first time in a few days and I woke up feeling creative.  Normally I would wait a few more days to write a blog entry, but I figured since it is Saturday and a lot of people who like to read my stuff don’t have much to do, it would be a good idea to write one anyhow.  Life is interesting here, as many of you know, I recently took a trip to Hawaii and a few people close to me asked me why I came back.  The truth is, I love this city.  Sure, it is minus 20 something out right now, but there is something so renewing, so refreshing about getting out in weather like that, and I also find I sleep a lot better.  It doesn’t hurt that I can bundle up and hide my bulging 43 year-old gut behind a parka either.

There is so much in this city to be proud of though.  We do have a lot of homeless people, which is of course a very serious issue, but in my travels I haven’t known a place that takes better care of their down and out.  There are rehab facilities, housing facilities, all kinds of churches and organizations that give food and clothing and sometimes shelter.  Sadly though, I should note that a woman was found dead yesterday outside an apartment building in my neighbourhood, and that is a sore tragedy.  My prayers go out to her loved ones and family, I wish I could do more, but sometimes that is better than nothing.

To go on with how much I love Edmonton, I should mention that we have some great restaurants here.  There is this one place, Double Greeting (a lot of people call it double greasy but the food is really awesome) and I have to admit I have gone there for the same wonton soup over 100 times, twice in this past week alone.  I live in Little Italy, and I have access to some great pizza places, and it is very near Chinatown which has all kinds of great little places.  We have such a large Asian population here that we have a number of Asian grocery stores, which I just love.  You can buy anything there from powdered Miso soup to fresh buns or hot ready-made Chinese food.  As a book person, there is something that I really like a lot which is that we have, literally, the best library in Canada.  They really go all out to reach out to the community and to provide things that people can’t afford themselves.  I will have to admit that often I can’t find exactly the books I want and so I go on amazon.ca and order them (normally books about poetry or writing) but they have things like video games, tons and tons of audiobooks available online or in the physical location.  They even have this room called the Makerspace where you can access an espresso printer and print up and bind as little as one book, and in this room they also have free access to Macintosh computers and Playstation or Xbox consoles, and the most amazing thing I think, they have two 3-D printers.  I could go on an on, but there are many more things about Edmonton that are amazing.  One of them is that we have some awesome fitness facilities in our city.  There are facilities that accommodate everything from swimming (including water slides, kids pools, climbing walls, lane swimming, hot tubs, saunas and steam rooms) to indoor soccer and football fields and everything in between.  What is so great about all this?  If you are low-income you apply and you can get a free year’s pass to these places, which I did.  I absolutely love swimming and try and go about 3-4 times a week, there is nothing like it.  Well, I don’t want to bore everyone too much.  I do want to say I really appreciate the feedback and ‘likes’ I have been getting from my poems.  As per usual, scroll down past the below photo for today’s poem.  Take care all!!

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one of the many examples of urban wildlife we have in Edmonton

 

Back Row, Biology 101, Long Blonde Hair

 

I did not think life could be great as this

My world was opened up with just a kiss

Someone I loved had showed her love to me

Now life was vast and open as the sea

 

With love in you anything can be done

You search your whole life for that precious one

And when you find them you are born anew

You pray your love can make them love you too

 

Years back I loved to go for long, long walks

My heart and nature would have long, long talks

The moonlight on the snow so white and new

At night the world was made for her and you

 

I saw her face in bright star studded sights

I saw her soul in dancing northern lights

We had not met but I knew we would soon

It was inside me like a lovely tune

 

I saw her from afar and knew I would

Go after her because she looked so good

But now she is so much more than that

Loving and independent as a cat

 

Twenty years down the road I love her more

Than any of those girls I knew before

 

Kiss me, hug me, show you love me as much

As I love you and long for your sweet touch

 

 

Leif Gregersen

January 10, 2015