New writing, excerpts from published books – WRITINGS OF DEAN BAKER


© Dean Baker

My Books In Print

My Poetry Ebooks

Great Review of DARK EARTH

Some reviews of my books

Literary Publications

Those who don’t buy my books have Van Gogh’s ear for music

..from The Lost Neighborhood.. ‘Meetings’







I stand in the Sistine Chapel alone
– the crowd reverent and quiet, now disappeared;
the scent of centuries drifting down
from the sacred ceilinged meeting of God
And Man, not even the ordinary everyday would
begin to touch the slight reel of dust
as it mingles there, rising upward as I can
almost hear the flush of history outside:
Roman soldiers, not the carabinieri with
machine guns on every corner, alert for the Coming
of the Red Brigades or other victims of circumstance

God’s present and alive fully within, wondrous
each point we grasp, whether bloody
or noble; the shouts in the street, the quietude
as I move, walking through St.Peter’s Square,
to stand on the Spanish Steps, feet away from
the room I enter then, where Keats’ gasped his
tubercular air that would inspire Dylan into song,
and Shelley: everything so sweet and fair, forever
young – no signs, yet flesh despairs and doesn’t wake
to even that moment as we touch hands
through what remains still and rare, which we conspire to make


© Dean Baker

“Required reading for anyone wanting to learn about wit, wordplay, and good, gritty writing in general. Dean Baker knows how to turn a phrase upside down and kick it full strength out the door. Five stars, and here’s to many more…”

<– click to buy

Dark Earth







Two weeks without you; not
in, nor anywhere but about,
is a long
lie: which may contain the truth,
or let it out again.

I have kept on waiting, simply
impatient; relishing the pain of
though like two twigs we wind
into one another, bind the common root.


© Dean Baker

about DARK EARTH 142 pages, $18.99

“Having read DARK EARTH by Dean J Baker my first reaction is WOW. This was written for me. His poetry speaks to me deep down in my soul. The style of writing then the naming of the poems is so on target. A must read for poetry lovers AND all who just love to read.”

DARK EARTH is a thought provoking collection of poems..”

Rabelais and Hieronymus Bosch look out of dark chinks in these poems…”

Here’s the link where you can buy my books, in ebook or print format. http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM/

Biography    Literary Publications    Books In Print and Links to Buy




.. from SILENCE LOUDER THAN A TRAIN.. ‘Evolution’








The gorilla is swinging
from the rooftops
of a civilization he haunts.
In the back yard of this circus,
the pile of corpses
grows steadily higher.
He handles them quite gently;
as if they were puppets:
no sign of excessive violence.

There aren’t any distinguishing
marks on these tools
foolish enough to get caught.
The ape will oblige whomever
it is wants to be in on the act.
Since he grew weary of his hospital
cage, he falls on their beds
from a great height, always
bearing bouquets.

Poems, evil smelling ways for
achieving wealth; a proverbial
monkey on his back
because it has happened again.
This time nobody gains consent.
He didn’t intend to be provocative,
his hemorrhoids were inspiration.


©Dean Baker

Words – Celebrating Poetry: Live readings from Yeats, Plath, Irving Layton, Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, Mark Strand, C.K. Williams, Galway Kinnell, Seamus Heaney, Adam Zagajewski, Karen Solie, Tracy K. Smith


Words, and thus reading, are our windows into the world, ourselves: a greater vision than one limited by peculiar localities, and consuming familiarities.
I don’t agree with the intellectual laziness of people who attack those whose wordplay is characterized by associations that they object to others using, and thus say words are cheap, demeaning language in its entirety.

What words describe they can bring into being, etch more clearly, and ascribe emotions which can prompt thoughts long buried.

Words are gems, more often treated like coal; designed to comfort us against thought and progress beyond our own associated prejudices.
Poetry of course is the engine against such prideful inhibitions.

Words evolved. A common stop gap. Words are constantly, if not consistently, with any apparent design, evolving – even as we read, as we use them, as they use us. Language is as alive as they who use it.
Words are our exhalation of breath, our rhythm of song, our breathing together: thus our conspire-acy.
We conspire – collude, contrive, devise. That would be our prosaic attitude and mind set at dealing with the world at large.

Words, as the magic they are, inspire. As they inspire, they create.

Poetry is that magic held within a fluid form – the line breaks, the breaths taken – the song sung as a whole in the fullness of the poem, with scraps of revelation breaking through during a reading, a verbal reading, a re-reading done years later.
But the usage is of words, making our world through our perceptions.

Poetry gives us back the child’s delight (which some cynics use as childish verses), discovery, and surprise. The tools at our hands with the ability to articulate are endlessly rich and profound if we choose.

I look at a year and a half old child discovering language and I see: the power to name! The charge of light in enunciating even one or two syllable words. Stella will say, for instance, “Me.. trouble!’ and scream with the energy of coming into the world of objects, things, and people with a yet as unknown awareness in discovering her place at naming.
Bob Dylan used the act of naming in one of his songs in his Gospel days: ‘Man Gave Names To All The Animals.’

What we say, we make.

What is said repeatedly, if not already, is brought more forcefully into being; thus the apparently unrecognized charm of repetitive songs, choruses: to soothe, to stir to passion, to bring into being an active consciousness and transformation.
Poetry was sung from the beginning; was meant to be a song, a charm even against the dark events: a celebration of the new, a welcoming of the unfolding.

Good and great poetry can give that to you with every single reading, each and every poem.

A friend of mine was a great poet whose live readings illustrated this as much as anyone I’ve heard read. His work changed with the reading. Irving Layton, who was a friend of, and taught one of our most singular poetic voices, Leonard Cohen, who called him “Canada’s greatest poet.”

Much as Dylan Thomas’ did. Or in hearing Sylvia Plath read her poem, ‘Daddy.’

You can see she was already where she would go when she opened that oven door to the abyss – or the implication is that here was a great poem, conveyed in the ‘voice’ of the author not distant at all from the voice that conveyed it onto paper.

Even the re-readings of Allen Ginsberg in ‘Howl’, or ‘America.’
And to hear Seamus Heaney, or Galway Kinnell. Or as I did in old Dublin, Maud Gonne, Yeats’ inamorata, and then Yeats’ reciting is altered into full recognition once again.

This is what we have as adults – not an intellectualization, but a fertile development, an enrichening.

Read George Seferis, the great C.P. Cavafy, his brilliant poem Ithaca.

Anyone who has ever been open to being affected by a poem, or poet, knows this. And anyone knowing this has a duty to further the advance of such a reality affecting everything in an artistic world, a musical world, a world consigned to images then described by words.

Those songs around the Greek and Roman campfires were first verses, words – then repeated songs due to refrains common to experiences.

Then the intricacy of such things felt and known leading to what was suspected but unspoken.
Fire was not the only thing of warmth, and still is not. Comforts are fine and necessary at times, but words can illuminate, describe and by doing so, enlighten.

Not the false digitalized shadows, but the real things. Buy a book, hold a book. That is a true investment in the future always to be determined by words – your breath, your thoughts: your discoveries.

And since this has always been a part of history, is a part of every moment and in every breath taken, make your own passionate involvement in your time; and what time will bring, one you know will permit to be nothing less than fresh and new, discovered to be known and true – the process by which civilization is actually created as it is known.

Discover the magic of words – the beauty of poetry, the sheer force of songs – and know there is no settling for anything less, except maybe by the dead or those already so.

Enjoy being a child again – with all the emotions, delights, and discoveries – with the power you hold as an adult. Every grouping of thought can be and is a meditation, a prayer, a song whether a meditation, exultation, lament, or dirge.

Invest in words you can willingly, and with your own informed power, acknowledge – don’t settle for others’ associations, lazy simulations of shadow play designed to manipulate.

Read, and discover the poets. Not only what is served up by the commercial houses, but the independent publishers, self-publishers: discover who deserves your interest.

Don’t settle for what is merely brought forth unless you wanrt to contribute to the derogation of the art by the passive acquiescence of which no real poet is a part.

Read them aloud.

Know your singers, and the songs in all aspects of contemporary things: get to know yourself… in other words.

©Dean Baker

read The Naming from Our Geographies




Yeats reading live http://www.openculture.com/2012/06/rare_1930s_audio_wb_yeats_reads_four_of_his_poems.html

Sylvia Plath reading ‘Daddyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hHjctqSBwM

Dylan Thomas reading https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mRec3VbH3w

Galway Kinnell reading https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtV8FaS5fiI

Seamus Heaney reading https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mJ0G58D_9M

Tracy K. Smith reading https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLIH6ewfplA

Irving Layton reading http://irvinglayton.ca/Recordings/index.html

Allen Ginsberg reading http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Ginsberg.php

Karen Solie reading https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pFUyFNNUBg

Mark Strand reading https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V4W9WGqi5U

C.K. Williams reading https://www.ted.com/talks/c_k_williams_reads_poetry_of_youth_and_age

Poetry & How It Gets That WayIn the face of an ever diminishing interest in one of the oldest arts, poetry, this book serves as an introduction why that interest should be revived in schools and individuals: illustrating the loss that accrues by not doing so, and the benefits to society through a passionate involvement in the poetic arts. Poetry has been an essential art in history and is in danger of being trivialized into extinction. Several seminal events in recent literary history are detailed in illustrating how poetry is not merely an adjunct to history and culture but can elucidate, influence and in changing perspective alter those same events and deeds. Find out more in this treatise more sociologically descriptive than academically oriented.

MY BOOKS IN PRINT <– buy one, such as Silence Louder Than A Train, Dark Earth, Blood Upon The Moon, The Lost Canadian Vol. 1, & 2, The Transits Of Revelation {prose poems}, The Poetry Hotel, etc.




©Dean Baker

..from DARK EARTH.. ‘This Is Poetry’







This is poetry

I’m sorry I don’t
agonize over the poem
I apologize for everything
spoken, and unknown

I repent my deeds
Misinterpreted, or not
my torment won’t be forced

I acknowledge
you are the final arbiters of taste

I do admit
I investigate emotion
with my thousand bad habits
yet I still own the lines
and music, you would supervise
though you will allow
others to tell you otherwise

I know if I succeed
I have earned your praise and lust
If I have displeased
I must be shown
the multiple errors of my way

but I confess to nothing
In this experiment
of sunsets and slaughter
where you always know
more than I could hope to show


©Dean Baker

[read further here]

  • excerpt from DARK EARTH, 142 pages, $18.99 – and since it is the first day of National Poetry Month -> ‘In the face of an ever diminishing interest in one of the oldest arts, poetry, this book serves as an introduction why that interest should be revived in schools and individuals: illustrating the loss that accrues by not doing so, and the benefits to society through a passionate involvement in the poetic arts.Poetry has been an essential art in history and is in danger of being trivialized into extinction.
    Several seminal events in recent literary history are detailed in illustrating how poetry is not merely an adjunct to history and culture but can elucidate, influence and in changing perspective alter those same events and deeds.
    Find out more in this treatise more sociologically descriptive than academically oriented.’104 pages, $15.99
  • “I know of NO modern writer, still alive, or dead, who writes with such honesty, such power, and, such erudition.”
    “Dean is a combination of thought and torment that has made him write more than a baker’s dozen of fine poems.. he might produce a collection that could astound us all.” – Irving Layton (“CANADA’S GREATEST POET” – LEONARD COHEN)
    “Having read Dark Earth by Dean J Baker my first reaction is WOW. This was written for me. His poetry speaks to me deep down in my soul.”
  • ALSO.. do check this post here for April’s Fools – PAYTRIOTISM
  • my books http://www.amazon.com/Dean-J.-Baker/e/B00IC6PGQM
  • My Books In Print
  • My Ebooks

..from OUR GEOGRAPHIES.. ‘The Naming’







Darkness draws down the curtain,
the liquid sky swirls into a shift,
coalesces to be made solid again

The backdrop to every dream creates
a breathing landscape; out of every
stone and tree, dog’s calling card

Enmities or alliances, stick or name
from earth’s clean dirt and mongrel
mouth that shouts the plan

Which shall be explained, but lifts
changed within the secret metamorphosis we live:
to rearrange verbs, and the sacred sentences


©Dean Baker

.. from DARK EARTH.. ‘Antic’







Goddamn the penny
Ante satanic antics of everyday

Adversarial lies that pass
As discussion, in which you

Assume, graceless
You’re above the fray

Competition you made
For a self

A mere ego stroke away
From having its heart

Attack itself in protest of the narcissism
And die

Suddenly disabused
Of the notion that others do not remain

Puppets in your museum
That monument to unholy lies

You enshrine until
The idea of sacrifice is suicide

The unpetalling of a rose
Your only crime

©Dean Baker

  • excerpt from DARK EARTH, 142 pages, 18.99
  • Buy a book, support Poetry – DARK EARTH – – to own for next month – National Poetry Month….especially for those for don’t own any of my books….

    “Having read Dark Earth by Dean J Baker my first reaction is WOW. This was written for me. His poetry speaks to me deep down in my soul. The style of writing then the naming of the poems is so on target. A must read for poetry lovers AND all who just love to read.”

    Dark Earth is a thought provoking collection of poems..”

********..from a review..”Rabelais and Hieronymus Bosch look out of dark chinks in these poems…

instead of Emerson’s “Whim” above Dean’s lintel we might assume “Melancholy” resides here… that dark brooding that laughs below, and rises through the bones to jerk you awake from your too lazy sleep of existence.”***********

A Few Things.. Memoir Of My Father On His Birthday



On June 6, my father would have been 100. He died 10 years ago. First on July 1, then again on July 2. This is about that time.
Also, my latest book of poems, – here – The Lost Canadian, Poems Selected, Vol.2,  dedicated to him, is published today.

I was taking care of my father, in a small way, helping him out because I’d promised I’d do so when he found out he had bladder cancer, went through a few operations, etc., and was on recovery road.
He’d been religious in doing so for my mother when she had cancer in 1978 – him, and my brother – hospital bed in the living room, as much comfort as possible.
One February day in 2003, he was standing in the bank, and his leg broke as he turned around. This was the beginning of a long, uneven road.

He was doing fairly well, but then slipped at home, which required a hospital stay for about a month.
That went ok as far as hospital stays go – and once back home there were exercises, then weekly treatments for the bladder cancer for a time, which tapered to once a month eventually.
I’d drive him back and forth since he’d have a tube inserted directly into the bladder for the chemo, and might or might not be sick afterwards – so simply sleep it off for a few hours.

That went not too badly until the morons at the hospital giving the treatment, after assuring me the procedure was sterile, next time told us it wasn’t – I was asking because he didn’t feel well, and why there was an infection from the procedure.

This led to more in and out hospital stays. The last cycle was from Sept.9 until February/March the next year when he went to a rehab hospital.
While in the hospital prior to the rehab the workers managed to give him a heart infection – who washes hands there anyway – place him in a room immediately after coming out of ICU with a wandering shithead of a patient with MRSA, attempt to give him multiple doses of the wrong medicine, meds contrary to his condition, etc etc etc. (More details later.)
One result was that I was there every day for months to the extent that my father would jokingly refer to ‘our stays in the hospital’ at 10 am until some time after midnight or 1 am being watchful; wheeling him around the hospital in a wheelchair, outside in warmer weather, getting any extras like newspapers, etc. This often resulted in overnight stays sleeping on a couch in the ICU waiting room. My brother was managing his business in another city but did manage to come in on weekends.
My diet then consisted of coffee, some donuts, toasted cheese sandwiches at night. Not good.

At one point while my father was out of the hospital over Christmas holidays, and into January, my brother got hit head-on by some traveling dingbat going the speed limit (she said) on a blustery, very cold day. I found out through a phone message from the police on my answering service when I got back from shopping for some stuff for the house that he’d be transferred when stable to a hospital in Toronto that night if he made it.


He survived – barely. Broken neck, broken collar bone, broken legs, destroyed kneecap, broken ankle, broken foot bones, etc. When he was transported from about a hundred miles out of the city that evening after being stabilized during the afternoon, I was at the doors as the attendants wheeled him in and up to a room where doctors were at work on other accident victims.
I left that night after they had to insert a tube into his side to drain excess fluids, cutting a hole as I stood nearby as he lay there grimacing, tubed out.

That began a series of visits to his hospital which weren’t that frequent, often only 3 times a week, sometimes 2 as he did have a girlfriend who would travel there to stay with him. But that became ‘special’ when my father had to go back into the hospital, and I was ping-ponging from one far end of the city to another those several times a week.

Eventually, 3-4 months later, my brother was getting out of the hospital, and I was going to drive him home that night, checking on my father by cellphone. At the first stop – not driving in the rain and talking – my father didn’t sound good, said he didn’t feel good (and being a realist rather than an alarmist was convincingly able to convey his real state to me), so I proceeded to call a friend of his and mine at the time, and she said she’d call 911, tell them she’d be there, so I called him and told him what was going on.
Firemen broke down the back door, she was there to comfort him against any increasing upset, while I wheeled my brother homeward bound, stayed maybe 5- 10 minutes, and left after he said to just go see to my father, especially since it would take at least an hour in that weather to get to my father’s hospital.
My Dad was stabilized, okay, relaxing, so I left after a few hours.

Over the next several months due to slack attending nurses, disregarding my requests different nights to be extra watchful since I kept a notebook and monitored my father’s blood levels and rhythms and eventually could tell there would be cause to add potassium or whatever else was necessary, they managed to give him several heart attacks, when he’d never had trouble with his heart before. (There are many other incidences or different occurrences which I’ll detail when I do the book)
Nothing like a call or two or three.. at 5 am, after I’d left at 1 am, made it to the bed by 2 am, informing you of those heart attacks; or some wrong-headed panic driven nurse saying ‘we think your father’s going, you’d better rush in’ and finding out that she was uninformed and just dumb.

Rehab came in went, my father only 20 minutes away instead of a half hour, so I’d take him lunch I’d make, get newspapers, we’d walk around the rehab hospital. All this time of course they were pushing, pushing, pushing to get him out.
I had several meetings with all the hospital staff present, doctors included where I argued successfully to maintain my father’s care there awhile longer as he was getting to the point where he’d be better able to manage outside.

He eventually came home, and once again fell, whereby the at-home services said they could no longer provide therapy because he was bruised and thus unable to complete their exercises. Assholes.

Until one day, one night. I said good night, rubbed his legs for the blood flow, got him a warming bag to lay at his feet – all per usual – said good night, gave him a good night kiss, he said he loved me and my brother. I said I’d be back in 15 minutes, as usual again, to check he was sleeping okay.
Had a bath. Went downstairs as my brother came in – he was visiting – turned on the hall light so as not to disturb him, and as I peeked around the corner into his room saw he was asleep on his back. Not usual, as he slept on his side, and I’d left him turned onto his left side.

My brother had just come back in, having been visiting my father earlier in the evening; shaved him, got him into bed. One great thing about my father, for our sakes, was that his mind was always there.

I spoke out to him, as I might usually do, where he’d glance over and smile, and fall back to sleep. This time, nothing.
His eyes were the half-open they are when people die – seeing that made me shiver and I felt as if my stomach had dropped to the floor.

Off to the hospital, riding in the ambulance.
They took him in, and I had to wait as usual before I could go in.. to round a corner and find a doctor with a class inside my father’s room, saying ‘This patient was brought in brain dead…”
Outraged, and hurting, and wanting to hurt, I said, “That’s my father. Not yet a subject for study. Now get the fuck out” loudly but calmly, as I moved into the room. A few of the students looked embarrassed, muttered ‘sorry’ and all filed out, with no word from the doctor.

Death followed next night.

©Dean J. Baker

The Lost Canadian, Poems Selected, Vol.2