Slipping on his father’s shoes,
the little boy was beaming,
“daddy, now I’m just like you”,
and so, begins the journey.

It is a rugged path to manhood,
the shoes do not fit, but
he will grow into them…one day,
and so, begins the journey.

We leave footsteps in the past,
young men stumbling, to keep up,
driving to fill fading imprints,
and so, begins the journey.

It is a human obligation,
from father to son and so on,
each stride planted in different dust,
and so, begins the journey,

Some shoes become boots, hobnailed,
footprints in sand or jungle paths,
a nations youth slide into memorium.
and so, begins the journey.

Old men once in their youth,
now tamed by time and disappointment,
heads bent with anticipation,
and so, begins the journey.

Souls beckon for their escape,
a pursers bell chiming debarkation,
husks arriving at the final shore,
and so, begins the journey.

Creation’s retribution, a return,
fresh consciousness to begin again,
a new being, a new life,
“daddy, now I’m just like you”.
and so, begins the journey.

©2020 Donald C Harbour


This old house

Forever, an old house has stood in a field,
A grey silent sentinel ghost of the past,
It stands consumed by the morning fog,
Leaning imperceptibly, it is unperturbed,
The house knows its value, its purpose remains,
People may forget history, the house will not,
Lives passed through  its doors and rooms,
Children once scampered and played on its porch,
Lazy hounds escaped the summer heat there,
How many meals were cooked in its kitchen,
What joy gathered there in its dining room,
It has seen men go off to war, never returning,
It has heard the moan of birthing pain,
Then, swelling with the cries of a newborn,
Silenced, Sunday hymns once sang its song,
Where old men whittled, a possum or two live,
A tree is growing up  though the porch floor,
Now forlorn, passed by, it is indistinguishable,
Time is swallowing it year upon year,
That boundless cavern has eaten its heart,
Its eyes to the outside world hollow, glass-less,
The house will slowly collapse into the earth,
While it stands, it holds the vault of memories,
But, just as the house, memories die with time too,
When they are gone, only the debris of life remains.

©2015, Donald Harbour

The tale of the Wizard Maerwynn

Circe Invidiosa ("Circe, abounding in env...

Circe Invidiosa ("Circe, abounding in envy") by John William Waterhouse: in the magical tradition, invidia was a danger that could be provoked or turned away by spells

For Stella, Queen of the Fairies, a magical tale.

The child stared at the man’s scarred and wrinkled face,
Her grandfather moaned settling slowly in his place.
A hearth fire glow flickered about the hallowed hall,
As shadows were cast on a rough hewn log wall.
Outside the howl of a fierce winter blizzard storm,
Beat for entry upon the house safe and warm.
She reached out a perfect tiny pink fleshed hand,
Touching the heart and life of this wise aged man.
“Poppy” she called to catch his ear,
He turned his head so to better hear.
“Poppy, tell me the story about a maiden fair,
A tale of Maerwynn with tasseled sun golden hair.”
As she spoke the name the moment seemed to sigh,
A sparkle shown in the old man’s light blue eyes.
Thus he began to weave a tale of long past glory,
The tale of how Maerwynn closed her life story.
“Twas so long ago, far, far in the distant past,
Where lived Maerwynn on the high mountain pass.
Alone with her tomes of forgotten magical lore,
Piled about her on shelves and the cold stone floor.
She had studied all there was to the dark craft,
It had taken her soul, her smile, stolen her laugh.
This life of magic had left her in a word, bored,
A failing the Wizard Maerwynn could not afford.
Flaring her hooded wizard cape she twirled about,
Strode to a parapet, with resolution stepped out.
She wished for more than the powers she possessed,
She wished for more than the gods had her thus blessed.
From her castle keep she saw the village in the valley below,
The windows of the houses lit the night with cheery glow.
She stood in the thin chilled air as it swirled with glee,
Where possessed she kept only a castle as her company.
From the parapet she heard music rising to her height,
The villagers sang and danced this festive winter night.
She was envious of their joy, their warmth and their place,
She longed to sit at their tables, to touch each human face.
Their safety and their hearts became none of her concern,
Gripped with need for her own succor, her desire burned.
She was spirit protector charged with keeping strong the spell,
That held at bay the evil rushing through the gates of hell.
The kingdom was a place of beauty – a paradise it was said,
Though all that looked toward the pass did so with dread.
Maerwynn was one of the ancients of many through the years,
The thought of her filled villagers with awe and silent fear.
Her name was not spoken lest even whispered it was heard,
Carried to Maerwynn by a spellbound black wing spying bird.
She could see beyond the forests and glide through any door,
Though never leaving her escarpment to walk the valley floor.
A captive to her magical obligation, an eternity’s yoke to bear,
Maerwynn was a hopeless prisoner to her own destiny there.
From within her a voice as beautiful as this maiden of olde,
Cast out a chant into the moonlit mountain’s frigid cold.
The spell awoke a Roc to soar up to her from a craggy knoll,
The long forgotten mythical bird grasped her weakened lonely soul.
The giant beast swooped and cried in raucous raptor delight,
Snatching her from the ramparts it flew into the starry night.
In the wink of an eye there appeared in the castle keep,
A figure dressed in scarlet, gold fringed, and silken sleek.
Surrounded by imps and fairies spreading fairy dust everywhere,
The god’s choice for the new Maerwynn had already arrive there.
Thus the Roc set her down at the village mighty iron gate,
Where she stood still in silence to accept her ultimate fate.
The gods had cast a spell upon this maiden wizard’s brow,
Her time prophesied had come, her moment was now.
As Maerwynn slipped her cloak, slowly her form slide beneath,
Accepting what the ancient gods for her had thus bequeathed.
Upon entering the realm of mortals the spell cast did take,
Maerwynn the woman now became a Plume Feathered Snake.
As she had once been she would now forever be,
No more a life far above mortal humanity,
No more a castle on the mountains high,
No more to commune with spirits coursing the sky,
No more to know the lore and magical potion books,
No more to command all eagles, ogres, dragons and rooks.
When she became consumed with what she was not to be,
She broke her kismet thus written on the pages of eternity.
Maerwynn now saw only the feet of those she had once reigned,
Slithering on her belly she was viewed with disgust and disdain.”
Then the old man smiled at his granddaughter with eyes of love,
Reaching out he touched her hair as soft as a feathered dove.
“The lesson my granddaughter; when one has such great might,
Do not covet another creature’s possessions or their meager plight.
For your wish may be granted from a fleeting careless desire,
That, once given, can consume your being in a sin of mortal fire.
Maerwynn the Plume Feathered Snake haunts forests and dales,
A hissing product of wishes granted by an oath taken and misused spells.
Be true to yourself, be proud to carry your family name,
Do not envy others, utter not oaths and do not pass blame.”
Rising the child smiled and kissed the crown of his head,
“Thank you Poppy, I like that story,” then she toddle off to bed.
The old man sat alone for a moment feeling the warmth of the air,
Barely speaking he said, “Maerwynn, I know you are there.”
Hidden in a corner recess where spirits lived in the gloom.
A Plume Feathered Snake opened haunted eyes peering into the room.

©2012, Donald Harbour

To believe in mermaids

the old swimming hole
is a secretive place
especially under a full moon
the water of the creek
simmers in the lunar light
casting images of magic
across a watery tableau
she came here on those nights
to swim and cleanse her soul
slipping out of her clothes
she stood like a goddess
Athena, Aphrodite, Venus,
a glowing perfectly formed woman
when she let down her hair
it fell in an auburn cascade
against her white skin
accenting her fairness
she plunged into the stillness
her body slicing the surface
no tidal waves were created
a tiny ripple lapped at the bank
she did not come up for air
she had no need for air
upon entering the water
she was changed became different
if one were to ask a knowing person
what had happened to her
they would say, she has become
a mermaid as she always has been
say that she could speak to fish
teach birds to sing and bees to hum
they would say that wolves and bears
watched over her at night
that creatures longed to be graced
by the warmth of her smile
by the gentle touch of her hand
they would say the water gave her life
a rebirth replenishing her being
this must have been true
for in the morning her clothes
were gone from the swimming hole
and she was back among us
auburn hair glistening
her skin pulsating with a faint blush
scented with magnolia blossoms
what one believes is not necessarily truth
but it is enough to believe
though I knew her in love
others did not so they simply believed
in the magic of the old swimming hole
in the mystery of this woman
to them it was enough
to believe in a mermaid

© 2010, Donald Harbour

Monsters stalk at midnight

This poem is written in the Japanese Haibun style that uses prose and Haiku.


There is a pessimism about dreams becoming reality. They have a way of turning into monsters. Misshapen gargoyles of the irrational mind. Flagrant compulsions of life past. The journey between bedtime and morning awakening a startled grappling with ogres.

sunset feeding life
dreams catching playful imps
bridge dark and light

The dogs lay at the foot of the bed. Jerking and whimpering in their sleep. What demons wrestle dog sleep? Humans imagine shadows, creaks, a wind blown branch brushing the roof, imagine T-Rex at the front door. A drooling blood thirsting beast. Bone crushing teeth to devour the flesh. The door is never broken inward, no claw footed scaly apparition appears.

find purpose once
blue birds soar on tiny wings
living is no less

Step out onto the somnolence road of night. Coverlets over the head cannot hide the asphalt. Those that have awakened relish the consequence of meeting night monsters. Hug the twilight of the mind’s abyss. A dark plunge into its rebounding depths, purpose to give purpose, exhilarate in knowing sleep is life as it could be provided you do not awaken to it.

oaks have deep root
ocean bottom limitless sky
a fence contains

© 2010, Donald Harbour

Bastard to the Golden Jeweled Throne

Words, mumbled in fits of lucidity,
Words, poetic crumbs scattered,
The paper ash burnt, wine stained.
What was she, whore, free spirit,
Thighs brimming with creation?
Tattoos as multicolored flesh brands.
Did they make a statement or condemn?
A volcanic pleasure of congress,
That sexual upheaval of satisfaction.
The play was sweat and scent beneath,
Licked erotica sucked into nostrils.
Inhaled as life, tainting olfactories,
marking the soul with winters need,
clasped in warmth creating a summer gift.
In the light of a full August moon,
She cried with a wail that shook
those granite halls of manhood,
Broke the iron stones of desolation.
From her prostrate body in fluid
flowed a man child of wanton desire,
an innocent marked with the label.
She ignored the sire, his craven distance.
Ignored the condemnation of the ignorant.
The scepter she cradled in her arms
Bastard to the Golden Jeweled Throne.
Relief to the masses a chaste and pious king.
When they came for the man child,
Swords unsheathed, hearts of stone
Solicitors of death and evil,
She hid her babe in swaddling,
In a reed basket and cast his fate
Upon the soul of the ancient Nile.

Copyright: 2010, Donald Harbour

How smart is your crow?

I once saw a murder of crows hanging upside down on a telephone line.
Having a knowledge of how to speak crow I asked:
”Hey dudes, why are you hanging upside down?”
They cackled, as crows do, and said:
” To get a human perspective of the world.”
Crows are so damn smart!

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour

The night I learned

It seems like a dream,
but then that’s only how
it seems. Truth is more
than a dream could ever be,
for there were others there,
the truth, they too could see.
Still, disbelief is a malady
that haunts the mind when,
one does not believe what
eyes and mind truly see.
My eyes saw tree tops
far below, and mountain tops
covered with winter fresh snow.
There were street lights,
aglow orange and yellow.
All were there beneath me,
so very, very, far below.
The frightening thing is,
how to stop when you soar past
those majestic mountain tops.
One must concentrate on lightness,
concentrate on air and feathers,
the space where ducks and birds
gather. Know with all your
might, you are one of them
flying through the starlit night.
Kindred aviators drawn together
by a dream like state.
Some would say it is a lie,
it cannot be done, it’s not human fate.
I know it’s true! I’m the one
that lived it, the night
I learned to levitate.
Ah! You are a nonbeliever.
But here is proof if this you’ll do.
On a full moon night,
in the amber lunar light,
when a shadow casts an inky blue,
think about me, then look-up,
you may find me high above, smiling,
and waving, looking down at you!
Honest, trust me! It’s true.

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour

Viva el Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

The scribe scribbled in pointed prose,
Writing the missive with his ink soaked nose.
El Presidente invitation to a party grand,
For nobles far flung across an enchanted land.
He ruminated the words so as to be clear,
Struggling to define the who, what, when and where.
In the musky corner of his hovel room,
He consulted with magic the portended gloom.
Rolling with thunder an arc shot across the vault,
A spirit’s voice proclaimed the day would be without fault.
The scribe scribbled faster consulting his master’s list,
For he knew uninvited nobles would really be pissed.
Alas and alack time had worked its evil task,
Memory had faded so he consulted a tequila cask.
The golden warmth of the brew up lifted his addled brain,
Shaking his body with giggles mordant and insane.
Drooling he squinted his blood shot watery eyes,
Confused and confounded he sobbed whimpering cries.
There he saw a parchment hanging on the wall,
Rising he staggered toward it swearing lest he fall.
He had swallowed the worm that now wiggled within,
And it spoke in a voice condescending and thin.
“Senor, queire usted por un fiesta mas grande,
Un dia con musica, mujeres, comidas, tequila y brandy?”
Not understanding the words or really giving a damn,
He poured another flagon downing it with a slam.
But as always the worm was now in complete control.
He approached the parchment with a staggering stroll,
Holding his gnarled hands to his unshaven face,
The scribe knew the worm had his brain replaced.
Thus he pointed his finger to a blurry calendar page,
With foaming spittle on his lips he cried the ‘when’ in rage.
The worm had won; ‘arriba’ it would have its say,
The when ‘September sixteen’- Mexican Independence Dia.
El gusano-gritó: “Viva el Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.”

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour

The cause of Killing Times

The hand that clutched the sword,
The one that cleaved men apart,
The arm that fought for right,
Drew blood from a strong brave heart.

Across the dank moors green,
To the peat bogs down the glen,
The fog crept ‘or them all,
Eating the souls of fallen men.

But one stood above it there,
In Ferguson kilt and shaggy mane,
A warrior of the blue plaid clan,
Fergus Prince of Galloway was his name.

A Jacobite from the highlands,
The Scots Ferguson King from Ayrshire,
He raged against the English,
With steel and stone and fire.

Twixt the rivers Givan and Stinchar,
From the south to the Firth of Clyde,
It was the cause of Killing Times,
Stuarts were want of British hide.

Copyright: 2009, Donald Harbour