It is a long way off now, but I can remember being a child.  I recall the wonder and anticipation of awe I felt.  I remember the urges, the crushes, the secret moments, the adventures not yet had.  I remember nature in a way I almost forgot these later years.  I remember how it felt to know eternity was not only real but tangible. I lived it. I touched it.  Then gradually, with not even a hint of remorse, the world began chipping it all away.  Now in my adulthood I find myself looking back more and more.  Because now even the earth’s beauty seems like a foreigner to me.

I like to take pictures of nature.  Maybe because that little mechanical eye piece acts as a security blanket protecting me from confronting real and imagined demons.  But I must confess, I feel like some apologetic voyeur, stealing snapshots of someone not belonging to me. A moment and a life I am alien to. Like peering through a cafe window at lovers adrift in each others eyes only to catch my own demoralized reflection staring back at me against their soft rendezvous.

How did it happen? Is this the curse of age? I don’t understand time, but I understand enslavement to it nonetheless.  Life became sullied by the bureaucratization of time.  Every minute so regimented and explained that the next is barely experienced. Time has been used by industrial society as a way of reinforcing economic consumer cycles, shackling the soul and causing it to forget the ancient and the eternal. It becomes little more than a march of phantoms. Everything becomes a parody of itself when you are in nothing more than a big waiting room. Spoiler alert: Godot never arrives.

But now I stand on the edge of my own time, a blip in the geological sense. Each year seeming to get shorter and more hurried than the last as I make my quickening approach to the veil. Not getting out of this alive, I know. But can I live? Can I really live now? An alien in nature, an alien in my own skin, and an alien in the culture of man?  Rest assured, I am not lining my pockets with stones and preparing to wade into the River Ouse, but I am most certainly on a ship laden with boulders on the same ill fated mission. Can anyone tell me our entire species is not on this ship right now?  And countless other hapless sentients too?

I have realized with great pain that the couple in the cafe, the couple I was spying on with envy, is dying. Really dying.  The glass I was looking through was fogged and refracted. But the longer I looked, the longer I shed the cloaks of vapid optimism, the more I realize that the photos I took were of a hospice bed. And how does the culture of man answer this? “Speed it up, boys. Onward to the cliff!”

Perhaps we will all end up on the cutting room floor come the next act. Exit stage right. But my delightfully amusing and ever so clever wittiness is starting to really bug me. Whatever will I do if no one reads about my existential angst in these last chapters of a self absorbed and suicidal race?

Kenn Orphan  2014



Here on the coastal barrens of Nova Scotia the morning fog blankets the bramble and the sun struggles to pierce its cottony thickness. It does, though not without a struggle. Heated grass and pine unleash a rush of scent. Evening light full of spindly arms of weightless colour. Then night falls and the galaxy lays out its spiral path in the sky over my meadow.

The air, the grasses, under rocks, atop trees, everywhere life is teeming. Blue Jays shatter my morning sleep with their deafening screech. Mice scurry and snakes lace their sinewy bodies through the tall grasses. My skin reflects all this life too. Red welts dot its landscape, the surreptitious piercings of tiny, unwelcome visitors I seldom see.


August, in its rushed laziness, one might miss the minutiae of it all.


And me, I am all too reminded of the coming end. Of season’s end. Of life’s end. My melancholic genes persuade me to contemplate those things whenever I get too high or dance too close to ecstasy. It puts a halt to my reverie in no uncertain terms.

And I think. Of earth, now endlessly battered and beleaguered, deforested and commodified.  Of ocean with its calcified coral cities now draped with suffocating algae. Of humankind in endless enmity with “the other.” Locked in ignorant borne hatred until their hearts transmogrify into icy granite. Of the cloaks of privilege I don each day sewn from skin and gender and religion and geography and class. Of those beloved now gone from the sphere I inhabit. Some lost recently. Some lost long ago. Their faces bless me, haunt me, elude me. Fortunate, perhaps, to no longer be locked in this orbit of birth and destruction and rebirth and annihilation.

Then, between tears sting and slumber, the moon lifts its bloated face above the horizon. First slow and orange and blurred. Then open and bold and the colour of new snow. Lifted out of that prison cell of my forgetting. Like it vanished for half a day and then was re-created of salt and stone and God dreaming. Another dance of celestial distance repeated as if scripted.
And I feel this ethereal flight of mine sucking the wind out of my lungs.  Frightened to catch that breath as if doing so might shatter this all to pieces.


Kenn Orphan 2017