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Sunday, December 22, 2013




In these nights of Orion
hunting the Great Bear,
glimmering in obsidian sky,
we tell stories of the old days.
Sleepless, we stir the fire,
re-tell our mothers’ stories,
our grandmothers’ legends
tales of earth, first mother,
made new in our own words.
Nameless longing prowls
Long wind howls
we warm ourselves with stories
fill our bellies, lighten the darkness. 

By Ellen S. Jaffe, from the chapbook Twelve Moons and Six More Poems, inspired by 12 deerskin paintings by Annie Mandlsohn which represent the months of the year.
The art and writing were influenced by shamanic teaching and practice.

Annie and Ellen would like to dedicate this poem to Volkmar (Peter) Hindrichs, who died December 17, 2013, in his 83rd year.
He loved music and the life of the spirit, and played the organ for many years at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hamilton.
Annie and her family are old friends of Volkmar and his family, and Ellen met him through Annie shortly before his death.
He liked this poem, which will be read at his memorial service and which fits this season of the darkest night and the return of the light..

Editor's note:  I knew Volkmar through the Lutheran Church where he played the organ and directed the choir for so many years.  Music was a great love of his as well as poetry and he often times asked me to send him some of my poetry which I was only too happy to do.

He will be sorely missed by his many friends at the church.  Tomorrow is his funeral service which which be at 11 a.m. at St. John's Lutheran Church  at Wilson and Hughson Streets in Hamilton, Ontario.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Seasonal Haiku

Morning light. Breathe in,
breathe out, a  new day opens.
Snow falls – one bird calls.

Ellen S. Jaffe

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Last night was the grand gala put on by Thanh Campbell on the 21st floor of the tower in Jackson Square.

What an amazing space that is.  The view would have been spectacular except for the falling and whirling of the snow. It was like a sheet of snow, obscuring our view.  One must have a card key to get to that floor so my escort and I were met downstairs near the security desk and sent up to the 21st floor. Thanh had arranged that our mutual friend Michael would walk with me due to the storm.We all live in the same building and not too far from Jackson Square. I found that very thoughtful of both Thanh and Michael. Not too often that a lady of my advanced years gets escorted to a gala event!

The snow had been falling non-stop from Friday night and as you can imagine, even with the snow ploughs out, it still was very slippery and the snow quite deep and difficult to walk through.  Mike held my arm on one side and I used my cane and together we made it!

I cannot speak highly enough of Mike as he made two separate trips just to get me there and back as he had another party to go to, before he could come to Thanh's book launch.

Thanh's event was very well organized and he has written a very interesting book.  The musicians were also very good and all were a little different in their approach to music.

Thanh Campbell - newly published author

Thanh Campbell

Part of the planned events for this gala, was to bring an unwrapped gift for children at the MacMaster Hospital and another part was to raise funds for City Kidz.

It started at 7 p.m. and ended at 12 midnight.

Mike walked me over for 7 p.m. and I stayed till 10 p.m.

Judy Marsales

This event was sponsored in part, by Judy Marsales.  I regret to say that I did not catch the names of the musicians.  They were all good, and I especially liked the young fellow who wrote a song about his grandparent.

As it was formal wear, I saw that several of the ladies had on long gowns and I myself wore formal clothing.  The men wore suits.  A very nice affair and I was glad to have been invited.

In order to purchase Thanh's new book, here are the particulars:

Telephone:  1-289-925-2169  for enquiries or  for enquiries via email.

Thanks for dropping by.  Congratulations to Thanh Campbell for organizing such a nice event to launch his book and to help others.  Sixty people were in attendance, which is amazing considering the weather outside.

Friday, December 13, 2013


My good friend David Haskins has had his marvellous book published.  Please take a moment and read the little blurb below and consider purchasing this for your own pleasure or to give as a gift.

This House is Condemned is equal parts elegy, portraiture and exploration of a live lived at the edge of Lake Ontario. In prose both hard-hitting and heart-felt, David Haskins writes essays of immigrating to Canada and building his life as a teacher and writer. Currents of poetry run through the book, which is as touched with humour as it is with sadness. He writes of indestructible garden forks, rafts that bear him away unexpectedly and of the loves that ebb and flow throughout a life. This House is Condemned is a powerful collection that picks the reader up and places them beside the author, walking along the shores of the lake.

The book is available for $17. from Wolsak & Wynn, 280 James Street North, Hamilton; your local independent bookstore; at Chapters/Indigo and; or plus shipping and HST on order from via the shopping cart; or email the author at if Hamilton area.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Since the Christmas season is fast approaching, I thought this might be appropriate for the time frame we are in.  Hope you enjoy it.  Gore Park is a downtown Hamilton park.

Christmas at Gore Park                                                

Twinkling lights on Gore Park trees
little children shout with glee
riding in miniature red train
I see them through my window pane.

Parents, grandparents, older siblings
shuffle feet to keep cold from nibbling
as the snow starts to whirl around
the little red train does its round

Faces all aglow from the cold
little children  a sight to behold
scarves wrapped around red faces
snowsuits and boots with laces

Fingers tingle in red mittens
hands and feet feel frost-bitten
Santa’s elves in North Pole
two are here playing their role

Christmas lights, falling snow
Happy faces, a bewitching hour.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Shaken, Not Stirred

My bones need to rattle
a test of their ageing strength,
the bits that chip off
no longer a part of who I am.
They scatter around my feet
    like pure tiny crystals,
absorbed into the firm ground
to disappear forever.


I ache with questions
to which the answers don’t
really matter,
when knowing won’t change
what is.

Memories are just softly polished
versions of truth,
to be tucked away once
sharp edges are smoothed
to one’s perception of what was.

If I was turned inside out,
tender innards brutally exposed,
they would tumble out in the
shape of bones
with bits of cartilage thinly attached
to my former self.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


my heart beats proudly
alone on this ridge horizon
blue skies suspending clouds
across my heritage
our failing chief
praised higher spirits
for accepting his choice
I become tribal leader
invaders never conquered our beliefs
or this place of natural life
night howls of a solitary wolf
ice sheets reflecting stars
roaming dusty herds
bears in plentiful rapids
teaching their young
springtime fishing rights
I recall life and times of when
this land was full of movement
until the roaming sole predator
of man and bears
seeking riches and trophies
from the buffalo hunt
arrived on iron rails
holding a long rifle of change
powerful is my pride
welcoming new challenges
respectful in decisions
fearless and brave
our people trust
future plans
in time great spirits
will accept my soul
from a fiery tribute
into the night sky
as the next proud chief
will stand on this sacred land
to lead our people in honour

Monday, November 18, 2013


Two Souls Meet

My heart is pounding
its beat irregular
we’re on the way to
the airport to pick up
a small boy with his mother.

there he is, I call out his name
his eyes round with wonder
he turns his back and snuggles
in his mother’s lap

once again, our eyes meet
I sense deep inside
that he recognizes me
as a kindred soul

I pick him up, his head rests on my shoulder
at that moment I know, from the throbbing of  my heart
that I have not made a mistake
he is indeed destined to be my son

the cord of love binds us together

two souls become as one.

Alberto Magsuci
Bahrain, November 2013


Poetry Pick


by Wilma Seville

Minnows swim around pink runners
As I forge ahead into deeper water
Shades of green and blue shimmer
Sun beats down on bathing cap
St. Lawrence River feels cool
On such a hot and steamy day
I float upon my back
Eyes closed against the sun
Water laps gently over supine body
Arms move up and down to gentle rhythm
Feet flutter as I lazily float
Movements calm but deliberate
At peace with my little world
All anxieties at bay
One with the water
One with the world

From Tower Poetry, Vol. 59 #1, Summer 2010

Friday, November 15, 2013


VIET NAM , August 11, 1966    

11 people die, 187 are wounded
it is a tragedy
they are civilian

11 people die, 187 are wounded
it is a victory
they are the enemy

11 people die, 187 are wounded
it is an atrocity
they are ours

skin off the labels,
taste the darkness beneath
ask a leg if it is civilian
an arm if it is the enemy
an eye if it is ours

Ellen S. Jaffe, published in Crossing Lines: Poets Who Came to Canada in the Vietnam War Era.  Ed. Allan Briesmaster and Steven Michael Berzensky, Seraphim Editions: Hamilton, 2008.
Ellen and Steven talked to Steve Paikin of TVO’s The Agenda about this book in February 2011 as a webcast feature. You can watch the interview, in which Ellen reads this poem, at

Thursday, November 14, 2013


A Poem for my son, Aldi

I hold you in my arms
hug you close to my breast
my inner voice whispers
to love you with all of my heart,
this moment of joy I feel
I know it will last.

I've enjoyed life,
I can write prose to a beautiful rose;
paint in canvas with greens and blues
something is missing - a father's longing
for the smile of an innocent
love is  purest at infancy.

Time quickly passes
my hair is now grey
I ask for something
to find the joy that lasts
in what remains of my life

God is great!  
the gift of life
Aldi my son, enters my life
my happiness knows no boundries
bright like the stars shining in the night
the best gift I ever have,
the gift of life with Aldi..

I am old,perhaps I will not see the
day of his maturity
everyday the innocent smile
of my son I always see
which brings out the best in me,

This poem I write
shows the inside of my heart
I will always love him
this happinekss will last till the end of my life.

by: Alberto Magsuci
Nov. 11, 2013

Editor's note: Alberto and his wife live in Bahrain along with their little son Aldi. Here is a picture of their little son.




Fifteen years of waiting, living in suspense  
my freedom about to be dashed
the day has arrived – the day I dread
Forced to leave the only home I know

Pounding at the front door vibrates in my head
echoes in my ears, jerks me awake – afraid!
In her sleep, Maadar cries out in Farsi

The banging continues, it will not stop
I cling to my pillow as  a life raft
I am in the sea, surrounded by sharks.

I force my legs to move - to answer the door
Immigration barges in, Maadar awakes,
shrieks and cowers -  terrified –  memories vivid
of Evin Prison in Tehran - torture

Stern faces gaze at us, show no mercy
here to escort us to the plane
shipped back to a country I don’t know
my education in English – not equipped for life
in a country with foreign ways and  tongue.

Monday, November 11, 2013



I stumble along, unsteady and unsure, weaving from side to side. Looking back, my footprints mimic the map of some crazy new dance step in the loose dirt covering the unpaved road. The sun beats down, hot and steady, and my shadow weighs a ton. In my left hand I clutch the smooth neck of the near empty bottle, remnants of last night’s mind numbing session. My right hand is empty, consequent of a subtle but progressive tremor. My scattered thoughts are as blurred and woolly as my head feels.

My foot hits cement, jarring my unfocused brain into reaction as I pitch forward, slamming into a brick wall. The Town Hall. As formidable and unyielding as the brick wall surrounding it. It was the first building you happened upon entering this shithole of a town at the end of the dirt road. Clever and insightful planning by the town forefathers and founders. A dead end.

With my back to the wall I slowly, painfully turn my head, looking right. A few steps away, loud slurred voices emanated through the open door of the local pub. Pounding music merged with the sounds of a drunken heated argument, making an indistinguishable cacophony of noise. The stale smell of a thousand cigarettes mingled with the sour stench of unwashed bodies drifted my way, marring the sweet scented breath of wind ruffling my hair. In a rush, my rank cotton-dry mouth watered, craving the liquid relief a cold one would bring.

Suddenly my head snaps to the left at the sound of a car horn blaring down the street. Tall majestic maples line both sides of the street, shading clipped green lawns from the early morning sun. The faint echo of children’s high spirited play floats from the direction of the local park, filling me with a half buried longing. The subtle odor of  bacon cooking tickles my nostrils, stirrings unfamiliar pangs in the pit of my stomach.
- 2 -
My hazy vision catches the vague, distant shadow of a figure walking towards me. I step forward. A flash of recognition momentarily lifts me from my stupor as I focus on the sultry parted lips lifted in an unconsciously sensuous smile. I had forgotten how beautiful he was. I walk towards him, last night’s remedy slipping from my hand and smashing on the cement sidewalk. He clasps my trembling hand in his and pulls me alongside of him, never breaking stride. We walk past the brick wall, where, moments before I had stood rooted in indecision.

We enter the dim, smoke-filled bar, together.

(c)copyrightdonnadesmarteaux-girard 2005

Editor's note:  Donna and her family live in the Laurentian Mountains in the province of Quebec. She is originally from Montreal.

Donna Desmarteaux-Girard

Sunday, November 10, 2013



The summer before the cat died,
she clumped up and down the stairs,
an old woman with arthritis,
and gave long, longing looks
into the garden.  We took her outside,
let her brush against iris and daffodil,
snooze on the unmowed grass, let her dream
of chasing birds again, and climbing trees.
Then she woke up startled, needing to be loved.
We gave her cheesecake for her birthday,
chicken hearts, and vitamins.
All that summer, we remembered her as a kitten,
the colour of freestone peaches.
We didn’t know she’d live with us for years,
familiar and strange.

Next summer Peaches was dying,
though for months she ate sunshine and rain.

Ellen S. Jaffe

published in Water Children. Hamilton: Mini Mocho Press, 2002.