A Free-Form Poem

© Phillip Psutka, 2020

Once, it embrace my window, its leaves reaching out to touch me through the glass.

And then I returned from away and looked out upon air and a power line; it had been marked for some time, a colon of death, and now began its disappearance.

It stands, limbless, decapitated, stark, tall in the front yard, like some giant child pushed a twig into the earth marking his territory, or perhaps building a sand castle; a beacon of earth about to be turned over.

Halloween is on the horizon and already the spirits have eyed it, preparing to harbor this…

Cycling Along the Bay

Photo by Andre A. Xavier on Unsplash

Around the back, leaning against the weathered boards, my friend waits for me. Though we used to spend more time together — nearly all summer throughout high school — we have hardly shared one another’s company recently. But we always spend a few precious days along the bay together every year.

I walk with my bike out to the short road leading right down to the water, getting acquainted once again.

This place has memories for both of us.

I set the nearest pedal up, put my weight into it to start the momentum and we are off, heading for…

Lessons from a Canoe Trip

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

M y schedule was completely thrown off. On the early morning drive up to Algonquin Provincial Park for my first ever solo canoe trip, I witnessed an accident in Orangeville (which set me back by an hour and a half), and then failed to take into account how difficult it would be to strap a rental canoe to the top of the car by myself. Finally, I managed to get on the water at noon. Now I was in my bliss.

Until I hit the first portage.

Having never solo tripped before, I figured that it would be smart to…

A Poem

Photo by Daan Weijers on Unsplash

The air is stale, I try to rise;
Prop myself up, open my eyes,
Pull off my sweat-soaked sleeping bag,
Pull from my bottle a long drag.

The zipper wines as if to say:
“It’s early to begin the day!”
Emerging from the folds of grey
I look: it takes my breath away.

The lake reflects the sun to me,
Flashes on glass — paparazzi.

The orange and pink and red and white
Methodically removes the night
And I am standing, bathed in light
Directly in the great orb’s sight.

Nothing escapes its fiery gaze
And with its rays it lifts…

A Brief Recollection

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

We arrive, our muscles warmed slightly from the short journey here, and tuck our bikes off to the side, leaning them against the wall: old friends reuniting. After slipping off our sandals and saying a silent Good Morning to the image of the Buddha, we climb the stairs of the pavilion.

It is an atmosphere of soothing energy — a different world than the one outside. All around the timbered room, people prepare how they need to, some lying (or sleeping) in meditation, some quietly talking with one another, happy for the human connection, some just silently sitting there, calmly…

Breathe It In

Red sunset over lake and trees
Red sunset over lake and trees
© Phillip Psutka, 2018

The food is cleared, the wine refilled, and we are back at the table in the grass. The sound of the water lapping against the shore fills our ears, for nature is never silent when you tune out your life and listen to it.

It has been a hot day, but the breeze carries it away and I find myself longing for a sweater. “Not yet,” I tell myself, “you don’t want to miss it.”

Though the air has cooled, the sky has warmed-changed from a beautiful crisp blue to the orange and pick of closure-and my breath deepens, for…

Who Serves Whom?

Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

I go online. This is already a mistake.

Here, there exists the natural world; there, opinions and agendas. It looks like the natural world, perhaps jazzed up by human creations, but still the world as we know it, though we cannot smell it, feel it, nor taste it. A façade.

So if it’s an illusion, what does exist there and what does it cover?

What exists are personas and reactions; what it covers is often the truth.

The natural world, experienced as-is, has strict and simple rules that apply to most living things: eat and drink to survive; don’t get…

A Singular Experience

Photo by Aaron Lee on Unsplash

The stickiness of the heat has been my traveling companion all day and now here I am, arrived. The food barrel rope hung, the tent and tarp erected, a pot of water rising to an excited boil. Time to rid myself from this sweaty embrace.

The water — both in the lake and in the pot — gives me time. A cool breeze passes through the site, offering me a helping hand, an invitation.

Removing the shirt is difficult; removing the pants is easy. Once my bare feet are out of their rank nests they rejoice, the toes stretching east…

The Beauty in Slow Travel

Photo by Chris Bair on Unsplash

A rinse of the travel mug and you’re ready to lock the car and walk away. The road has been long and bumpy to get here, but it’s been relaxing, with Gordon Lightfoot and The Hip to keep you company. Say Goodbye to them for the next five days and say Hello to the adventure before you!

All your gear is condensed into a couple large packs. You set the canoe in the water, carefully loading your heavy bundles in; your lake camel is ready to go.

The push-off from the take-out: a liminal moment, and you have stepped back…

Phillip Psutka

Award-winning writer, canoe tripper, and camp cook. Wilderness in Words. www.canoeflipper.ca

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