Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Silence for Jack by Antony di Nardo

one solemn bagpipe drones
two beats of silence between guns

a child cries alone
a crowd applauds

the bells of the Peace Tower sing
an anthem

Imagine …
an ellipsis of notes of steel rings

for words won’t move
his body forward to its hearse

where the media roll its ready visuals
with a tenor in Hi Def

a distinct nation in self-surround
and for a serious moment

all the rest is silence
for Jack

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dream no little dreams (from an Indigenous prayer, spoken at the funeral) by Ellen S. Jaffe

Bagpipes play their strange sad lament –
TV lets us see everything without being there:
Olivia’s strained face, baby Beatrice,
the silent surging crowd.

This morning I cleaned my kitchen cupboards,
touched up the orange paint (Colorado Dawn) –
death does this, makes us clean, straighten, see, listen, and touch –
loved ones, flowers, household clutter.

Rise Up – Amazing Grace – Hallelujah –
O Canada, how can we lose this man, who gave a voice to the voiceless,
home to the homeless, a song of hope to people in need –
not a saint, but a very human being.

I regret I did not know you, met you
only once – an NDP meeting – shook your hand,
saw your smile. The political is personal,
the personal political – you knew this by heart.

Now you go from the ordinary world – bike paths,
jam sessions, elections – into the mystic...
Into The Mystic, where we can’t yet follow.
All our love goes with you – love is all
we need to keep your dreams alive.

Ellen S. Jaffe

Monday, August 29, 2011

For Jack Layton, d. August 22, 2011 by Penn Kemp

Jack Layton, photo taken from Facebook page

Now it feels significant to let Jack free to dance
or rest in peace, after such a monumental fight.

Somehow I feel he has won the war; I feel him
triumphant. As for the NDP, I have a vision of

not one leader rising to replace him, but a collective
of MPs riding the national swell of love for Jack.

Now Canadians in experiencing such devastating loss
will recognize his value and the values of the NDP. 

At last. This may be his greatest gift to us. The time
has come not for another charismatic leader to see us

through but for the collective tribe to work in unity for

You can hear Penn being interviewed at Sound Therapy Radio and on CBC's Ontario Morning.

September 1, 6-6:30 pm.

The Spirit of a Leader with Penn Kemp in honour of Jack Layton on her show, Gathering Voices, CHRW FM, 94.9 FM. (Repeated September 8, 6:30-7:00 am).

Listen live on First interviewed by Jay Peachy on .

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yesterday, for Jack Layton (1950-2011) by Waldemar Ens

a carved wooden cane called cancer
              came out of nowhere and
                            whacked us in the solar plexus

but when Jack carried it he used it like a
magically inspiring the different strands to tie together

reaching out and hooking us in
poking prodding the soft underside of

pointing out a better way down
a clearer road

helping us walk that road
even with our broken hips

a gentle wooden cane
             fell out of nowhere
                            at our feet

waiting for us to pick it up

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Among Today’s Dead and Sorely Missed by Penn Kemp

photo by Heidi Greco

So there’s Jack, standing at the gates with Jerry
Leiber, who co-wrote 'Hound Dog,' 'Stand By Me,'
and 'Jailhouse Rock’. Sure hope Jack managed
to smuggle up his guitar. Wonder which song
he’s singing first. A duet I wish we could hear.
By this irreverent ditty, Jack would be chuffed.

You can hear Penn being interviewed at Sound Therapy Radio and on CBC's Ontario Morning.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Last Line is Yours by Penn Kemp

Penn & Jack reading a poem for peace

I dream Jack Layton is sitting up in bed
joyously celebrating his win, beaming,
radiant: his indomitable optimism seeing
him through cancer and out the other side.

I know the game’s over. He understands
what we won’t till we too join him across
that last finishing line. Wherever you are,

Jack, we love you. Thank you for all you
won for us now that you are one with all.

His last line? “And we’ll change the world.”

You can hear Penn being interviewed at Sound Therapy Radio and on CBC's Ontario Morning.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Up and At 'Em, for Jack by Penn Kemp

Who is always hip!

Hip enough to lean left,
very left of centre and
perfectly well balanced.

Hip enough to call down
injustice when he sees it.

Hip enough to calm down
doubt and call out for all

those whose voices are
silenced. Hip enough to
know when the next
election is called for.

Hip to the latest outrage
fraud too easily lent.

Hip enough to lead
opposition into power:

Our next Prime Minister
surely. In confidence.

When a hip poem is called for,
a hip poem responds,
comes out swinging.

Hip, Hip, Hooray! 

(March 6, 2011)

You can hear Penn being interviewed at Sound Therapy Radio and on CBC's Ontario Morning.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sleepless by Elsie K. Neufeld

Blackberries, taken by Elsie Neufeld
Elsie says "This poem was written on Monday, August 22, before I heard the news that Jack had died. I had him in mind, as well as the wife of a friend who was diagnosed with cancer at the time that Jack made his last public announcement. Therefore this, and the other poem I submitted, is for Jack and others recently diagnosed, and being taken from life by cancer. There is no "Battle". Some cancers are bigger than life and human efforts." 

for Jack and others, and especially for their loved ones.

this morning at five
streetlamps illumined
the dark wet ground. Light
arrowed down from
shadowy posts, shone
upward and out from
rain-mirrored asphalt.
Each puddle a mine of
refractions. Elsewhere,
unnoticed, hanging on
roadside or field, a hard
green berry will soften. Turn
black. What eye doesn't
need such glossing, beauty
of blackberry and light

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

just jack by Joe Blades

no aide
no entourage
no bodyguard
just jack
at the entrance
to moe’s
in dorval
make that
pierre elliott trudeau
a plane or
between flights
and jack goes
to the bar
not a table
like the one
for two i’m
at alone with
mug of beer
and empty
sandwich plate
while jack gets
a build your own
montréal smoked
meat platter
et un verre
de vin rouge
looking out
over the tarmac
gates and
the endless
of silver birds
and domestic

Poems for Jack Layton - memories, thanks, sadness, grief at Canada's loss ...

On August 8th I thought there were no more poems coming for Lipstick Press blog and so I thanked all who had submitted, in effect closing up the project.

Now that Jack Layton has died there is a renewed call for this outpouring of grief.

If you would like to contribute, please send your unpublished work to with "Poems for Jack Layton" in the subject line. And please confirm that the poem is yours, written by you and is not being considered by another publishing outlet.

Lipstick Press thanks you for your time and your art.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jack Layton 1950 - 2011

Jack Layton died today, of the cancer that stopped his meteoric rise as leader of the opposition.  Below is a collection of poems of healing thoughts to Jack, submitted by Canadian poets.

I believe Jack was a leader in that sense that he worked for the greater good.  May we pick up the torch and carry his energy, his spirit and vision towards the kind of world he would be fighting for if he were still with us. 

May we find the optimism that Jack had, through our own work for social justice, and may Jack's family be comforted by this shift in Canadian consciousness.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Daniela Elza's Review of Robert Martens "Poltergeist"

This first appeared on Daniela's website Strange Places. Re-printed with permission.

I just finished reading Robert Marten’s chap book Poltergeist (published by Lipstick Press, 2011). I had the opportunity to listen to Robert read from Poletrgeist at the Harrison Hot Springs Arts Festival, where we ended up performing in the same show.

After I put the book down I found it circling around my head. Echoes calling me back to contemplate what was stirred, what was raised. The Poltergiest became my own history haunting my present. (As if I needed more encouragement.) And the doors of my wardrobe, or shall I say wordrobe started to rattle.

I found a shared space with the stories told, the way Robert weaves the present and the past. There were even moments that remind me of instances in my travel poems. Of layers, of juxtapositions. That was spooky. But, really, more joyful to find a sensibility which resonates, one that is not afraid of time
travel. Or raising things up…

(Aside: I was also reminded how during the time I lived in Bulgaria poltergeist stories were a staple. I worked with a producer on a documentary about a family who drew media attention for having a poltergeist in their house. I am a skeptic by nature, but when the carpet flipped and the washing machine stood on its edge and no rationalizing or reasoning could help me, I started to listen. (Then I contrast that with my life here in North America. How often do you hear people sharing stories of ghosts and poltergeists?)) That too is spooky.

Though the book begins with

i don’t like to tell
 this story, i sd, &
 sipped my coffee
 black, because people
 will think i’m
 crazy, & i smiled,
 but maybe, i sd,
 maybe i should write
 a poem about it,
 sure why not, she
 sd, because they
 think you’re crazy
 for writing poems

Robert does tell the stories through his poem. As he goes through Childhood, Rome, Barcelona, Ukraine etc. He tells them well using the tools of poetry to enhance the story, the moment, and its significance.

I loved it when the children in Sunday School ask their teacher: “will there be cougars in heaven?” The urgency of their questions, the curiosity of their young minds, challenging the adult world, the rigid ideologies that it gets wrapped in.

Do you hear your poltergiest rattling in your words, in your house, in your bones? Listen.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Message from the League of Canadian Poets and a Poem by Susan McMaster

photo by Elsie Neufeld
Dear Jack Layton -- You may remember we met some years ago on the Hill, when you kindly accepted a poem and book from me for Random Acts of Poetry. I'm now the president of The League of Canadian Poets, and wish to express for all of us our very deep appreciation of your integrity, passionate belief in the importance of community and humanity, and longterm, active commitment to the arts. We join in offering our warmest sympathy and support to you and Olivia and your family.

And as a personal offering, here is a poem of mine that can be read as a prayer or as a thought (depending on the shades of your stance on such matters!). I wrote it when my 15-year-old daughter was in serious danger of death from a ruptured appendix. She recovered completely and is now a happy and healthy 30-year-old. Sent with love and hope.

for a morning
not yet frayed
for every mourning
night endured
that wakes to ease
in the breathing chest
warmth of joints
taste of rest
that wakes
to the sky
blue silk
of day

Susan McMaster

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jack Layton by Michael Anstead

Mike she asked why are you crying
Because he is so suddenly sick and I
well maybe this is the last time we will see him
It’s a time for hope she said
That man is Jack Layton

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Prayer for a Jack of New Lantern by Stevens Taeho Han

A White Ox walks over the speaking moon.
An angry soul stands under the weeping tree.
A birch king, lost his red tongue cut in half,
Goes back to the cave where a bear lady waits no more.

O Jack, you can lay tones of humane Samsara causation
Off the new democratic people, who always whimper
Their hungry desires, more & more for their umbras.
God only knows he’s not a Jack of all trades or destinies.

O Let’s pray the king could toss away his pine cane soon
To wave a new scepter before he yields to ulcerated cells.
Angels could show him the way to the Palace before the sunset.
My fellow, arise and push off to bask on the sea before too late.

You know the sun is still green and fresh for a New Day Party.
Even they twist your chicken neck, the new dawn will brighten up!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Below and Above (poem for Jack) by Sho Wiley

This buglia flower looks almost like a moustache

Jack L's moustache lives
eyes too wise for final sighs
smile ever rises, wins

Lipstick Press is not publishing books now

Dear Poets Sorry to let you know we have not been publishing chapbooks since 2010. We did some online publishing - mainly for social iss...