poems by Rudolf Kurt Penner

Muriel Marjorie is Dying

Muriel Marjorie is dying
She was the poet
who first started saying Meg-witch*
at the beginning or end of her poetry presentations
and interrupting people’s polite way of thinking
Muriel is dying?
Whey don’t X, Y and other jerks I know
– start dying –
but Muriel?

When a friend of mine
started emailing me this message
I ignored it
because I thot it must be a mistake – fake newspoet Muriel standing by fireplace gensturing up
a prank, some bad humour
Or even a dark poem
written by the poet her self
that would make us think of death

She is not the sort of poet you think will ever die
And now, drinking out of the first
of my two white cup and saucers
for the second time,
I see the point – she is not meant to be believed
when she says she is dying
She was a light here in the Downtown Eastside,
but we later found out:
that is not the only place she lived:
She went up north to see her people there
She went east, to see and live with people there
She lived in the forest
She came back
You never knew where she was
And now, drinking my second cup of tea this evening,
out of the second cup of Chinese china
I wonder what the world will come to
without the suggestion
of the wandering soul
the window of her realization
the commotion of symptoms and “truths” not my own

*megwitch: an Ojibwe/Algonquin First Nations word meaning “thank-you”

©2019 Rudolf Penner

January 20, 2020 Posted by | about artists/poets, Not Fade Away | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


As we were walking

  and in a group, she said

I’ll put that on when we get to my place:

  it was Fernando, by ABBA

and that was the artist, Inge

  but she never did

But some forlorn loudspeaker

     that was rather quiet,

       was playing it on the street

I said I could play in on the guitar:

     no comment, so I said it again

     no comment  plus – I’ll put that on

       when we get back home

I have that one

The sun was shining for once; and we’d met

  on the wall that goes around the sea

There I was taking photos of my friend Sylvia

        practicing kung fu

born of a forlorn preacher

The Russians stept in,

and everybody left; everybody who could, that is,

   they soldiered on thru

       to other continents,

miserable oceans by boat

I caught a glimpse of my mum’s Chinese,

   but she would say she forgot

   she would lay in bed for days

     after she got cancer

     and stink up the house with

her rotting peaches

What a drag it must be, to be like that

mentally ill people don’t get cancer

at least I’ve never met one

      miserable oceans apart

what it must be like, living on

  a dog’s leash

a gift of the horse in the mouth

     a grave on either side

     some artist wrote a book

some author plays the game of brandy + cigars

   talks with the gen’lmen-scholars

  and they go back to their boots and hunting

      and triggers and hairpins

and planning the annihilation of the enemy

Tigers walk slowly, eyeing up their prey

   the tips of crows’ wings  setting off the sky

What if the grass is greener on the other side

   And parents off the tan their offspring’s hide

I don’t know what i feel inside

with all the oil paint sitting there unused

the tiggers hoped I’d create a portrait

of them stealing through the brush

the way I figger I can’t get caught

doing something bad

   It’s the best linen canvas you ever had

I would lay back for days

coaxing my back back into shape

  It hurts after working

  and the frog outside keeps croaking

Crow may leave a versatile feather

        for me to pick

  from the ashes

in the sand

And I will go play in the band

with all my wet music

  stained and haunted by

        a silent sadness

©2014 by Rudolf Kurt Penner

January 15, 2016 Posted by | about artists/poets, Not Fade Away, Personal History, social commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jamie Reid

Jamie Reid asked the question,

  lost in Gastown – which

    way do I turn

– to get home

Way over on Main Street,

    he starts some PRIMAL Shit

      dishing out the art

      – with the mentally challenged

         and brain-damaged

I saw him in a university once,

    that used to be a college

      on Purcell Way

      – tryin’ to teach some tish

    Jamie Reid indeed!

The moment was lost on them,

    no primer

      they sat wide-eyed

      – listening to an old man

A lot of people remember

    Jamie Reid in December

      by my watch

      it’s time to glow

reading, retired

    to the in-crowd

    of Canada’s poets

    Time’s up!

  Jamie Reid indeed!

I wonder what would have happened

if Jamie Reid’d been born a rapper

    listening to the youth of yesterday –

    the giraffe came out and ate up

  the long grasses

but he met 4 men

    and they kept going

the basement of Woodwards

    came with jazz &

           island poet Kim Goldberg

black walls and dreaming guests

    listen to the wisdoms speak

      Read and learn, young poets

      by my watch, its time to glow

  Jamie Reid indeed!

You meet him – then you

      don’t meet him

      and you hear all kinda

      political shit about him

black walls, social conditions

    other semi-famous poets

      dying around him

         Al Purdy, Milton Acorn, Malcolm Lowry

don’t take it with you

    when you’re at a loss for words –

      a stone drops

and you are born

   Jamie Reid

©2015 Rudolf Kurt Penner

(written Aug. 9, 2015 12:15 a.m.)

notes to references in the poem:

PRIMAL was an art gallery on Main St., perhaps in the early 1990s, in Vancouver, serving persons with brain injuries and others. There were open mics and shows to which anyone could come

tish was a literary movement Reid started with several other literary figures in Vancouver. tish at Google books

tish is shit backwards as Jamie Reid often explained…

Gastown – in the summer of 2014 Jamie attended a show at Vancouver’s International Jazz Festival. After the experimental session at Ironworks Studio he got lost. I had heard he’d had some health problems at the time and realized it had probably affected his memory. I directed him to Hastings St. but he turned and went back into Ironworks. I was a bit worried about him getting home, but he was in good hands, as he met acquaintances of his at the studio.

Kim Goldberg, Nanaimo, BC is a fascinating poet

August 12, 2015 Posted by | about artists/poets | , , | Leave a comment

the Celine Dion pen

Celine Dion was walking down the street poet holding Celine Dion pen
where I found her pen
lying on the ground
with her signature on it
I picked it up
and drew a pretty picture

when she went back to French
I sold turpentine in the dime store
in a small city in Canada
and took pity on all the starving artists
lining up before my door every morning
I would see them from behind the curtains

I wear sunglasses when I work,
so as you can imagine
things are pretty mellow
on rusty mornings
trying to look preoccupied
for the few customers
on a Wednesday morning

© 2012 Rudolf Penner

October 9, 2014 Posted by | about artists/poets, All Poems | 1 Comment

the man with the black guitar

no the black man with the guitar and rollerskates

the busking skinny man in Gastown

with the voice – what a voice

– what a memory –

– someone who created ‘the scene’ –

and will never be famous

in the dark fall evenings

you could hear him

1/2 a block away

and my face would light up long before

ever getting to him

perched on the ass-freezing concrete

sometimes, oodles of months later

with no guitar: just that voice

the voice that can cut the dark blackness anyday

©2010 Rudolf Kurt Penner

October 1, 2014 Posted by | about artists/poets, All Poems | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Girl That Looked Like Julia Roberts

There was a girl that looked like
Julia Roberts, in the line-up
at the Hindoo temple, waiting
with her friends, same ski slope
nose, with a jump
end this note
and bother with tying up loose ends
in your sewing
creme-coloured stripes in your
fingernails aglow
with song and with summer-
sweet nectar dripping
down your cheek
a side of the pink (…to get the full poem contact me)

© 2012

February 29, 2012 Posted by | about artists/poets, All Poems, food, girls and trees; flowers and bees | 1 Comment

A nook in Rome

Pickled eggs and pickled herring
pimento peppers from Greece
cheese from Rome and I’ll have a slice and a piece
Reading a book in a nook in Spain
getting choice and chic ideas
in case of a brain
small shovels, spades for digging holes for dropping poo
a feather pen and blood for taking notes
I almost know my life by rote
wear thin coat in the summer
of my love, din drizzle
pattering on its green
Before the Flood and After the Flood

© 2011

February 29, 2012 Posted by | about artists/poets, All Poems, food | Leave a comment

Listening – is the Greatest Thing

Listening to the greatest hits of the Doobies

with my leaf green-, yellow- and red-striped Parker pen in hand

the guitar, naked, parked against a crack-open dresser drawer

       perched like the sounds won’t come out

this long diatribe on the state-of-affairs

because of being the long version of ‘the best’

striped bacon ready to be ranch-fried

am I ready for Spring?    Are you?

fickle telephone books with their changing number, lying discarded on the floor

Come to think of it

        All things are planned

        thus the Doobies made it Big.

Here on April 7th, the weather rainy and impinging

Top-heavy like a topcoat at the start of summer

Listening – that is the greatest thing

© 2010  Rudolf Penner

April 7, 2010 Posted by | about artists/poets, All Poems, hoping for success, Not Fade Away | Leave a comment

(See Sandor sign)

See Sandor sign
his new painting sings of wine
betrothals to Nature
the walls of the Old Garden
crumpling, overgrowing themselves with leavy trees
the green leaves drooping over ochre
the moist branches draping lower portions of the sky
twelve baskets hanging form the widest virtues
the sinewous worms stretching from their ground
earth feelers ,  gummy unfettered naturals
letting themselves be brick red and the
flowers of the sun, casting their seeds to
the breeze of gentle summer
The Northern Sampson sees clearly, his mountains
a brilliant sapphire ,  blue as the snows on Kilimanjaro
a coyote hunting in the orchard, the apple
he took too peachy red
For the painting grows as the garden glows
The adventure of painting never finished
The woman sitting on the natural wall
diffused earth ochres her bare feet
motioned by the wind
Her smooth back is a rest
the greyest panther ever walked calm & wild
towards her circumlocution
the apprentice ,  sits and stares at the scene

© 1995  Rudolf Penner

November 13, 2007 Posted by | about artists/poets, All Poems, girls and trees; flowers and bees | Leave a comment

The Artist

The Artist sits all day in his easy chair
and dreams of what life is like
Then he goes out and buys himself
an expensive weapon
And begins to attack society
he rages against lunatics and Freemasons
he bullies religious and tears apart angels
he takes old rags and burns holes in them
he accesses hidden sources
and teases recognition out of his onlookers
Hey! Ya! it’s me, he says
Ya! You! You’ve got eyes in you head – See!
he begs for a meal
and turns it into a healing implement
he gives away his dinner
to the poor of spirit
he rebels against authoritarian tactics
knowing full well the power of constraint

His weapons are paints and thoughts
his elbows are made of iron to crawl on
the avenues of his departure
are as vain as a flamboyant magazine
the nasty afternoon is full of empty air
where he’ll burn his hair with gasoline
in mid-traffic to get across
an ecological point

The artist sits all day,
and spins his thread of unsound thoughts
and nobody hears
as the worms begin to crawl over dead bodies
the artist with his alarm bell
with his whistle and milk thistle
begins to pull at the needle of drunkenness

But it is always too late by then,
for by the time you hear,
the earth is sinking
or the water will cover your head
and fire surround your bed

at this point the artist has a good laugh
because now you have heard him
and now you’re going to die
and he laughs so hard he cries
and as you sink into the quicksand
you know he’s laughing at you

And he goes back to his palette
and begins printing the alphabet on it
in plain black letters

and you think, Now?
but he just goes on painting them
as your head slips beneath the sand.

© 2001 Rudolf Penner

November 13, 2007 Posted by | about artists/poets, All Poems, social commentary | Leave a comment