Cave Painting


Prof. Jeanine Kowalski, PhD, Anthropology:

“I write until very late in my parents’ farmhouse, in my old bedroom. 

I am visiting at Thanksgiving, writing my research.  

I love my parents, to be here, my work. 


“When I was seventeen, here, in my childhood bedroom,

Threatened with boredom, which my parents implied was the Prince of Darkness, 

And to be fair I believed it myself, independently,

I did not honour the life and love commitment I made to a seventeen year old boy.

I gave up, temporarily, the love-courage of girls. 


“The combine harvester working by floodlight in the field outside this room is harvesting soybeans while I write.

The man who was that boy is driving the combine harvester at night, harvesting his parents’ crop, helping his parents.

He is driving back and forth by tractor floodlight and headlights and the headlights of the trucks aimed up the rows. 


“I do not have to live without love or happiness or beloved children.

 I am pretty, too. I got most of the gifts.

He has a wife and children and a life of his own.

If I was treacherous, I am, I am sure, forgiven, but still, 

After even the fullest and truest justification, you must look at the thing itself,

Just the thing itself ….


“And to do that I would need the kind of love poetry which is hardest to find, the love poetry which is all we have left

Of the great art of cave painting, poetry not drawing its power from melancholy, but shining with wanting, with excitement and awe.

He had, of all the gifts, character.”


Paul Anthony Hutchinson

copyright Paul Anthony Hutchinson 

They Were Children Together

They Were Children Together
I remember her white poet shirt and clean clear face.

She is on stage at the Mansion House, a St. Catharines bar:

Songs she wrote and songs learned from the radio

Brag of coarse and earthy evenings.

She sang, “…when I’m drunk I’m a nihilist…”
She jokes that her life is a documentary limerick.

She has two children.

She’s the eager daughter of rich peasants.

Impulse, defiance, insults, she defends as truth and a joke.
“I’m going to tell him you’re his father,”

She said to her best friend while I listened.

“You don’t have to pay.

 I told my parents you’re the father”

And while he cried she said:

“You could make everything all right for me.”

Paul Anthony Hutchinson

copyright Paul Anthony Hutchinson
(this poem was published May 2002 in Shadow Voices)

Pictures on the Cave Wall

I look for the humility and pride I want in doubt

When I can only look there.

I close my eyes. Help me pray like a man. Not like a fool.

Accept my doubt and my self-conscious blessings and

My rote mumbled grace. Give me a chance.
I know I can be good.

Plato saw shadows on the cave wall. They said something eomewhere else is pure.
I saw bright painted animals. I will go with the hunters and their dogs.

I want a fire and food and love and

I want to hear the love story again,
Or the friend story:

I’m 17, back in the boys’ bathroom at high school, punching and kicking

Andrew Fane, who hit Colleen so hard and often. I didn’t know.

She was my friend.

For months I didn’t know. How stupid. He humiliated Colleen, she crawled,

She was my friend and that is more than a saint for me.

She was my friend and this is more than a saint for me and for many like me.
Save me from the coarse things all men are offered.

I will do the right thing.

Help me guess the right thing.

​Paul Anthony Hutchinson
Copyright Paul Anthony Hutchinson



I have been with my eldest child
Where she lay small and in pain.
I was bouncing her bed to sleep
To sleep to the song of the oldest prayer,
To one of the oldest songs of love,
Known to Priam and Hector at Troy
Known to Lear, Known to Kent,
Known to the heart that pumps in a jar,
Known to the crowd at the accident.
I want to die before you die
I want to die before you die.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson
Copyright Paul Anthony Hutchinson
This poem was published in Canadian Poetry
Thirty five years ago

Carla at 75

Carla at 75

Adventures in charity.
Compassion as the last pity goes.
You knew they would be dangerous.
You used to win people. Now
Like a missionary you live among those
You did not attract, or choose,
Or win, witness for a sweet god only as strong as alms.
Since you were 16 you knew
You would stop making your life shine.
You are working on the invisible cathedral.
Now you know what gargoyles really are.

Here is what mother Theresa learned:
Only alms are stronger than doubt.

You are a pilgrim now, the word worn out,
The pilgrim washed and scrubbed and fresh.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson
Copyright Paul Anthony Hutchinson




It felt more important to have a darling and children
Than to live a story.
We have vignettes
of love and work and study.

I tried hard to be good.
I had to make up for the gifts that god, the fairies, or genetics did not give me.

What is certainly true except vignettes?
You my love have been compassionate and brave.

I think the names
Of love, courage, compassion, diligence, honour,
and some others as if they were gods.

Paul Anthony Hutchinson

Copyright Paul Anthony Hutchinson