Letters & Opinion

Three poems from Cyril

Avant Garde

—Love makes us solitary.


This beautiful girl

in the park I glance at

as she maunders along,

who loudly says

to her dog—

              Don’t eat bird shit!


And the geese close by

tilt their heads as I look back

thinking only about what

we carry in us, or

with us, sheer emotion—

nothing more sublime.




Your first attempt at verse

& you declare that

you do not like sad poems

touching upon a life

in the Sudetenland, about

a father dying before

your mother’s eye—

a pogrom, sort of

(first or second world war,

I’m not sure which),

& you insist you do not

like sad poems,

so I ask you to play your

recorder & watch

your guinea pig stand on

its hind legs & dance

before your eyes as your budgies

will soon hatch when

an overcrowded cage will

make life more bearable

in your apartment.


The Cello Player

Playing Beethoven in the park

here in Ottawa this man looks

at me and I praise him for his

rhythm & his style on the cello

—Yes, his art.


He hails me with a thank-you,

so I ask, Where are you from?

Our common interest you see

— Congo, he replies.


“But I lived fifteen years in Cuba,”

he adds. So I ask about Patrice Lumumba,

in the Congo indeed a hero, oh

— Lumumba he knows.


But it’s his knowledge of Cuba—

Che Guevera indeed, but he doesn’t

know about  Jose Marti, you see

— father of the Cuban nation.


He regales me about peace & about

love   not about communism, then

it’s about yoga, what’s really good

—for the soul, you see.


And before he leaves he gives me

his calling card to know him better,

who he really is playing the cello

— being a construction worker.


“You see, I grew up in Cuba where

you have to be good at everything,

and it’s why I also practise yoga,”

now being here   I must know

— only in Canada.


Cyril Dabydeen is Ottawa Poet Laureate Emeritus and a fiction writer who lives in Sandy Hill. He taught Writing at the University of Ottawa for many years.