BLOG #9: ‘The Ordinary’s Incense’ published in The Typescript, July 2020

I just want you to know that a new seven part poem of mine, ‘The Ordinary’s Incense,’ has just been published by this great online journal, The Typescript. I am thrilled that Teresa Smalec, an Associate Editor for The Typescript, asked to see this piece and liked it and eventually supervised the way it was published here.  So here’s the link:

The thing is—I once heard Bill Bissett riff on this phrase for almost two hours at a poetry reading here in Vernon so that in the end I was simply and only laughing every time he worked it in—the thing is that this little, long prose poem of mine became something I worked on for a long, long time.  It has a density I really wanted to reach for.  It has a compression that excited me as a writer.

It’s about something my incredible wife, the artist Jude Clarke, experienced as she tried to solve a problem of chronic pain—a crippling osteoarthritis in her ankles—a problem that was preventing her, eventually, from walking.  Jude has always been a hiker, going back to her walking/hiking six miles a day in the late 80s and 90s, to the two of us hiking all over France in 1988, Scotland in 1994, and Prague in 2008.  I’m only mentioning all this because everything about this story took on the power of crucial loss and crucial gain in the process of Jude’s experiences.  [And Jude’s ‘uber’ story is much bigger than this stage of it I’m referring to here, and she tells it best in her book, The Language Of Water, published in 2002 by Thistledown Press. ]  But this particular part of Jude’s journey  turned out being a transformative pilgrimage on many levels.  She discovered that a USA medical professional, Ryan Blanck of the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor Washington, had designed ankle devices called ExoSyms that were limb-salvage devices designed to allow injured American soldiers to walk when they could not have surgery.  Once Jude discovered these devices, she wrote Ryan Blanck, and after a complex preliminary exchange of medical charts and x-rays, was told that she was a candidate for the ExoSyms. Everything after that was guts, blind faith and exhausting improvisation, but the end result was that Jude now walks everyday with no pain. Unbelievable. It still feels like that. ‘The Ordinary’s Incense’ became another way of documenting elements of this pilgrimage that fascinated and overwhelmed me, and that required both density and improvisation.

Other angels who assisted in the density/improvisation end of things were poets Jake Kennedy and Sharon Thesen, and my long time close friend and editor, Mary Ellen Holland whose press, Old Mill Press, is going to produce a chapbook of ‘The Ordinary’s Incense’ sometime next year.  We will let you know when that happens.  Here are two photos: one of Jude in The Hanger Clinic training to use her ExoSyms, and the second of Jude hiking on the Okanagan with our faithful Welsh Springer Spaniel, Mosey three months after being fitted with her Exosyms.




So many beautiful people—family, friends and strangers—helped us in different ways to get these devices, and we can only thank you all again, and again.


8 thoughts on “BLOG #9: ‘The Ordinary’s Incense’ published in The Typescript, July 2020

  1. WOW! what an amazing story! So happy Jude is walking the trails again! i walk the trails every day and if that stopped i would slip fast down the hill of despair to the bottom

    give jude a big hug from me

    love Mona



  2. Hi John This is Linda & Debra We are currently in South Carolina but will be in Lumby soon(hopefully We met you at Bean Scene & sponsored one of your readings Just wanted to reconnect & let you know that we ordered your book on the internet and shared it withfriends in the US They liked it so much that we will be ordering more of your books for Xmas gifts Hope you are safe & well


    1. Holy mackerel!!!! A big hi to both of you. How wonderful to hear from you. Give me a shout when you end up in Lumby. Thanks so much.


  3. Oh John. All of this is so wonderful and inspiring! Thanks for sending the background too. Love Susan

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Thanks, as always, my sister Susan…honestly…my OLDER sister Susan…by one year…my oldest friend…love, John


  4. John, that is beautiful! Thank you for sending it to me. And thank you for the two of you, you and Jude. Wanda, xoxoxo

    Sent from my iPad



  5. Hi John!
    This is absolutely astonishing that you have chronicled your deep feelings and observances of prose poetry and how you were affected with Jude’s circumstance.
    Yes please! Put me on your list for my own personal copy of your chapbook.
    Love BettyXO


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