They Say


They say,” The sea is made from mothers’ tears,”

And I know dearly mothers’ fears,

But I been swilin’ for years and years…,

I’ll cut a heart for you.


The wooden walls plough through the deep,

With greasy jackets below, a sleep,

‘til the shepherd’s watch does spy the sheep…

And tonight, there’ll be seal stew.


The shout of “Whitecoats!” fills the air,

But soon eyes meet an icy glare –

The weather, she’s no longer fair…,

But below, I think of you.


That storm, she blows over,

Then our eagle-eyed rover

Spots the dotted floes…

How many white coats

Will be taken this week,

No one really knows.


With gaffs in hand,

We take to this land’,

Of floating ice and snow

The pups’ soulful eyes

Are no disguise though,

As we men put on a show.


Copying from floe to floe,

Nimble, light-of-foot, you know.

Can’t move too fast, can’t move too slow,

Death, she waits so wet and blue.


I’ll sharpen me knife, and don me cap,

Wipe hands on me bloody lap,

Then return with me sculps to take a nap..,

Sculpin’s the thing to do.


The journalist within our midst

Is shocked by what we do;

But he’ll never know just what it means:

I’ll cut a heart for you.


“A quivering stomach’s a terrible sight,”

This he writes by his seal-oil light.

When a childless mother may weep this night;

He just don’t know our ways.

He writes that I don’t feel a thing,

While on the floes, he hears me sing…

Thinks I feel just like a king-

But he don’t know our dreams


I’d gladly take to other work

To keep my family fed,

But as long as he wears sealskin boots,

My kids eat meat and bread.


It’s dangerous, sure, and it don’t pay well,

The ship’s guts are like a bloody hell,

Tis true, tis true, neither curse nor spell…,

But sculpin’s the life for me.


He sees an anger in my eyes,

Sees me smile when another pup cries,

Sees me laugh when another one dies.

To him, I’m a killer, that’s all.


But he’ll never crawl inside me heart,

To feel the stop and go and start,

To know how I lose a little part…,

Every time I kill.


The hatred in my eyes he sees,

Is hatred for that young pup’s pleas-

Like a child in prayer and on its knees…

That looks to heaven, but instead finds me.


I’ll never show all what I feel,

Like the wooden wall and its hidden keel

Praying for new dawn.


Some will just never know or understand,

What makes a ‘killer’ of a man,

But with that European ban…,

Most harps are free to go      

I’ve no bloodlust or killer’s zeal,

To crack the head of a newborn seal,

But tomorrow, my love, the hunt’s for real,

I’ll cut a heart for you.(original-1987/88, Toronto-Kim P.)

why go to school at all..?

                     “Under the Sycamore Tree”


                    I sold you and you sold me,

                    That was the yum-yum tree, shouldn’t matter,

                    The rain still hits the sill, pitter- patter

                    So, all the schooboys and girls run at the bell; there’s me and you-

                    Someone, please tell me:

                    What does education do?

                    We’ve always had eyes, but it helps make us see..

                    And that’s why we all gather

                    Under the sycamore tree:

                    It simply takes you to ancient cities,

                    To see ancient peoples and ancient times,

                    But it still doesn’t help with your children

                   With those  before bed-nursery rhymes..

                    Or does it? Or does it?

                    It doesn’t pull your pants on every day,

                    And it won’t tie your shoes-

                    But it can help to buy meat and vegetables…

                     For BOTH your family and you!


                     Yes, it brings great literature,

                     Right up to your very door, and so, to you

                     Helps give a certain knowledge… and some wisdom, too

                     This, in part, to answer, ‘What does education do..?’

                     To know then that First Man, in Eden

                      Adam, he had none, and what did he miss?

                      He knew some what’s, some where’s, not how’s

                      Because ignorance is bliss.

                      You see, with some education,

                      He learned-oh, yes- just what the Father had done

                      And what great pains, the burden…

                      He placed there upon his son.


                      And, still, today, in far off places,

                      The masses know not what thy do

                      They eat and sleep and work and eat

                     -Some even tie their shoes!


                      Some folk make out just fine in life,

                      In their own bubble, their own reality;

                      They did not like, or could not excel

                      Sitting under  the Sycamore Tree             (Nov.29,2012,


cHINESE-aMERICAN WRITER, iRIS cHANG WROTE A REMARKABLE, SUPERBLY DOCUMENTED account of the Nanking Massacre, perpetrated by the invading Imperialist armies of Japan. I t is called "The Rape of Nanking"(in China and much of truthful Asia referred to as the 'Nanking Dat-Tu-Sh of 1937 where over 300,000 people were mercilessly, brutally and often cruelly slaughtered by Japanese troops. Let me say that again- BY JAPANESE TROOPS!There's no hiding that fact regardless how many temples you visit, how many incense sticks you burn-or how many history books you refuse to include it in. It is what it is;and it was one of most heinous, darkest chapters of human history, paralleling, even surpassing in some regards what atrocities the Nazis were carrying out in western EuropeI found her book engrossing, enthralling and apalling. It was the embodiment of Joseph Conrad's 'heart of darkness', the evil men can do when left unchecked to quenchtheir appetite for hatred and prejudice Powerful stuff,so mesmerizing in fact, I had trouble putting the book down. I could not and did not want to believe thatMYFELLOW MEN could be capable of such things. So moved was I, it inspired a spate of poems,1-3 of which follow here:




        The bells are all broken;

You can hear no voices sing

An eerie silence-like a fist

Is all that grips Nanking!


Where once there was a choir,

Joyous, singing hymns..,

In the aftermath, quiet tears

…The only music in Nanking.


Yes, the bells are badly broken

So, too, the angels’ wings

And , now, that silence-like a fist

Still there, trying to muffle voices

Of the dead and dying in Nanking     Oct 19/20.2012(Beijing)


"On the Nanking Massacre(1937)"

In 1937, Japanese Imperial forces invaded and seized the ancient Chinese capital of Nanking and would begin the systematic slaughter of over 300,000 people-men,women and children over a three month period. This heinous dark chapter of human history was superbly documented by Chinese-American writer, Iris Chang in her remarkable book,"The Rape of Nanking" which used sources from all sides, Chinese survivors, Japanese troops, and international foreigners stationed there;much mystery surrounded the author , herself, too who committed suicide, and some have argued largely because of what she she discovered in the course of her research.I've read her book twice and am enthralled and apalled by it all, the atrocities unleashed by thoseJapanese men-who were the embodiement of Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'-the darkness of men's souls. While the Nazi jackboot stepped hard on Europe's throat and its maniacal machinery set apace in the annihilation of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, the unchecked armies of Imperial Japan were wrecking a sad havoc thousands of miles away on the other side of the globe.Sadly enough, what I read in her book inspired me to 'madness and ultimately 3-4 poems,one of which I share with you here:

:”Twelve Hundred Tons”



Legend says twelve hundred tons,

Twelve hundred tons of blood…

By sword, by gun, by bayonet

Soaked into Nanking’s mud.


They say twelve hundred tons,

A red river, in a sea of blues

Co-mingled, twice as much in sobbing tears,

So many lives to lose.


Twelve hundred tons, twelve hundred tons,

Crazed wolf among the sheep,

So many slaughtered cruelly,

Before release, there- eternal sleep.


Twelve hundred tons is heavy,

In truth, we can never weigh such cost,

Of so many souls there silenced,

And of so much spirit lost.


Twelve hundred tons, first they shouted

Sons, daughters, husbands, wives –

Soon hushed whispers, then mere echoes

To remember these good lives.


Twelve hundred tons, twelve hundred tons,

Forever Nanking, it cries,

No legend was its cruel history,

But still crueler are the lies!             (Fall, Beijing, 2012- kim P.)

"tHE uNTHNKAble...Unsinkable..!"

3. On TITANIC SINKING(after seeing several documentaries and of course J.C.’s huge box-office smash, I learned the coordinates that were last reported and eventually where the ship would be found at the bottom were

                      “Forty-One, Forty-Six”

There was no rabbit and no hat,

No magician handy with his bag of tricks;

The poor girl would founder, the Titanic,

At forty-one, forty-six

A night to remember

Too hard ever to forget,

So many souls to watery graves..

And some still asleep in their beds

Mill-pond calm, they say…

Not a whisper of wind,

But one ‘berg lay in wait

And loomed in the dark cold night;

First class to steerage, the rich and the poor,

All on board that fateful night,

All would die and  take their licks..

…When the great ship met her match at forty-one, forty-six


There the ice and a clear, starry night

Wide open ocean, what else in the mix?

No more cigars or brandy, sorry-

At forty-one, forty-six!


 There were a few “Nancies and Betties aboard,

And even more Margaret’s and Jane’s, if you will…


And then, on the male side:

Plenty of “John’s, Harry’s, and Dicks

-Though most preferred “Richard”- those Dicks…

Until Forty-One, Forty-Six

There were a few Stuarts, some George’s and Paul’s,

So, too, Daniel’s and Stephen’s;

Butthe cold North Atlantic, she would swallow them all!


                           Summer, 2012 (Van/Beijing)

Hallowe'en, 2004 at Lenovo where I spent/worked one year as their fulltime English trainer- and part-time clown; just sharing some of that foreigner spirit/celebration with a gang of my colleagues in training &development My boss, Qiao Jian(Gina) is womanin red to the right, looking on in stunned enjoyment..? K.P.

This section will include parodies and poems, some hybrids, I suppose, some satirical, some moreserious-I'll leave that for you to decide.....     K.P.