Tribute to Irving Layton


Tribute to Irving Layton


I just read your verse.
Where are you
composing now?
Your words remain
and echo on the page .
What fine voice,
and what fine mind,
and what a heart
worthy of a
pharaoh or a king .
That fine voice,
that fine mind,
and the passion
In your heart,
with all its’ many lovers,
resided in
an old age home,
in a mental haze,
In your final days .
I can only hope
you had a garden
In the sun
there .

From “Ruminations of the Dead” by PWChaltas

One of Irving Layton’s Most Moving Poems-“Senile, My Sister Sings”

Senile, My Sister Sings

By Irving Layton

Senile my sister sings. She sings

the same snatch of song over and over

in a quivering voice, her lips trembling

when she tries for the high notes. Her white

hair close cropped like a prisoner’s

and her unobstructed tongue lolling,

over her furrowed lip while her dentures

grin at us through a glass of water,

my sister is some kind of vocal chicken ,

especially when her small raisin eyes dart

from visitor to visitor  as though about

to pluck worms out of their garments .

My heart breaks , remembering her beauty

and wit , the full mouth with a tale in it

she finally exploded our ears .

Is this my sister so frail and emaciated,

whose valour and go were family legends ,

her smiles so dazzling they made the roaches

leisurely roaming the walls of our kitchen

scurry behind the torn wallpaper

to hide there till the incandescence had passed?

Sing, my dear sister, sing

though your trembling lips break my heart

and I turn away from you to sob

and let the tears course down my cheeks ,

my grief held back by pride and even a kind

of exultance. You do not mourn or whimper,

you do not grovel before the Holy Butcher

and beg Him to spare your days ; or rock

silently like the other white haired biddies

waiting to be plucked from their stoops. No

though His emissary ominously flaps his wings

to enfold you in their darkness, you sing.

Your high-pitched notes must rile him

more than rage or defiance. You sing him

no welcome and if your voice trembles

it’s not fear or resignation he hears

but the crack voice of the elan vitale

whose loudest chorister you are , abashing Death

and making him skulk in his own shadow .






The wind rose

gradually steadily

to a storm.


it came in

off the coast

and it shook the

chandeliers in buildings,


and signs off of their posts.

And in it’s force of gust

It took a young

woman from among us

while she was


not far from home .

And in it’s force of gust

It took a wizened willow

from amongst a grove of

wizened willows

by the lake.

It cracked the thick limbs

of its trunk,

clean in two,


leaves and branches by

the lake besides,

the severed dark limbs

that sat split on grass

opened to their

pale and white insides .

The heartbreak for the woman :

that she

she was so young

and so alive

The heartbreak for the willow:

that it was

so old,

snapped , pale

and white inside.

Both died ,

and so did a part

of everyone who heard 

or saw the outcome

of the furious gust

of wind 

that left

all other things around them,

as they were,


and unscathed .


                            After Sandy  Oct 29/12







Persephone’s Call

Persephone’s  Call

you call out ,
for scythes
to save you ,
to razor slit hell
with crystalline precision .
Your not yet ripened beauty picked
In cockle shell despair
traverses  convoluted
acres  of ash
in satin stride .
Dark loins
are thrown into you ,
in a moment’s drop
of translucent
and prosaic dementia.


The events of the recent months, all the brutal travesties and tragedies of sexual violence and rape , in the news have disturbingly etched themselves into my mind. This poem came into existence  from those events . WE should never allow modern humanity to slip and fall so far and so low again. There must no place in the modern world for abduction , rape, or sexual violence . it should be relegated only to the past and to the myths of the past , not to the present or to the future .- PWC


4 Seasons

4 Seasons

In the lounge
at the four seasons
are close cropped pharaohs
and longer haired pariahs .
Celebrity chefs
with handle bar mustache
hold court .
The music is Buddha-bar-ish

And all French Colette .

Elegant gazelles  in black,
slim brokers in tight tailored
or  V-necks over crew neck tees,
mix, mix it up.
The mood is beige and tan.
Ladies at the bar
are smoothing out
their long  dark
flowing hair
or pulling light strands
of sheep dog frizz.
In between their sips
the gentlemen
can’t help but
discretely stare.
And I’m finally
whore of Babylon free
at last.

Just wrote this tonight …Its a poem to celebrate a change … I’ve always thought the number 4 is significant. It  prompted me to write a collection called “A Matter of Four ” in honour of 4 and its permutations.
This poem is now part of the collection that I’m currently working on called “Persephone’s Call”- PWC




Surrounded by concrete,
and a crescent moon,
the obsolescence
of hearts confounds.
The milquetoast of regret
and shattered glass
cuts a tear
of cerium oxide rust
in the soul.
It’s imperfect with
the screech of feather
cutting air,
as crackpots entertain
trained monkeys
on bandwidths,
while we engage
in the urbane .

From “Persephone’s Call” by PWChaltas

The Great Hall

The Great Hall

They all enter into the great hall

The short ,the tall

The great, the small

The slim and the fat

The arrogant, the wise

The great, the humble

The proud, the ignorant

and those full of lies,

The collectors,

and those who love to possess,

The simple and the complex,

The difficult, and those who love sex

The strong, the weak

The idiot and the freak

The beautiful and the plain

The sane and the insane

The angry and those morose or sad

The sick, the well,

The good, the blind

The coarse, the fine

The ones which life made glad,

and who were good to life as well,

They all enter the great hall

and here they are simply all the same.

The only difference being each has a name
to identify the part

but they are all still just a part of the larger whole .

And those left behind embrace or battle with the snake

and wage the war of give and take

before they too can climb the stair

and over or under the wall

or through the gate

Into the great

and lofty hall

that leads

to different destinations.

From “Picture Book of Poetree” by PWChaltas.

The Plain of Light

The Plain of Light

Morning hours before dawn

In contemplation of the Tree,

years ago with closed eyes

and tears of patience.
The path upward impairs ,

is tiring , dizzying

and absorbing.
It weakens the legs

and they border on collapse.
Then a light so bright illuminates the eyes

and fully floods them from within.
A brightness so great

that all that is perceived,

is the plain

on the horizon

and nothing more except

the joy of an incredible lightness

and a wonderous illumination

that bathes & soothes.
In a blink, like a novice

on a tightrope who realizes where he is …A switch,

and the light is lost.

The peace ,

weightless joy,

and renewal remain .
I have not been there since.

From “Seeds of Self Fulfillment .Work of Love . Part 1” by PWChaltas

Mrs. Pavlov’s Reply

As per “On the Other Hand”‘s request here is :

Mrs Pavlov’s Reply

Mrs. Pavlov is laid out in her bed.

Pavlov is next to her

asleep, almost dead .

Mrs. Pavlov is waiting.

She stares directly

at the bald spot on his head.

The dog is now barking,

but Pavlov .

he just wont wake up.

It seems the bells of desire


just refuse to ring,

but Mrs. Pavlov ,

she still loves him .

That’s the thing.

Some appropriate Pavlovian Music below: