Neil Gaiman says:

Neil Gaiman says:
pic by Allan Amato

Monday, October 31, 2016

For Alan Salvin

Alan Gordon Salvin November 14, 1954 - October 25, 2016

Rain smeared windshield,
Grey streaks running down
And my forehead is throbbing with that
As the skies drench and mist,
Spreading sodden leaves around my feet.

Limping down a moist sidewalk,
Not hurrying
Not rushing to greet that

The building crouched
At the corner; a white thug of concrete,
Weighty and opulent, yet
This is where the stammered hellos
And final
Good-bye happens.

The doors cradle a hushed entryway,
The wood; real oak,
The brass polished,
The greeter,
Somber in her suit; it is her job
To steer the stumbling mourner within,
To make sure
That everyone knows

The room is the same
Every time.
There are clumps of people;
Friends who know,
Family in staggered, staring shock,
Numbly gripping hands,
As eyes glaze with reddened, endless tears,
Trying not to look away.

There are hushed, gossiped quips and murmured ‘sorries’
There are short notes of quiet pain,
Turning on the spit,
There is the book,
The scrawls of “I Was Here” -
No restaurant reviews or art show gushing praises,
Just your name,
To say
You came.

And she
Not there,
Sequestered in a warm, small room,
Arms holding the shaking shoulders, family,
A knot between the Outside
And within.
Arms tightening, holding,
No words suffice,
For the impossibility
Of his death.

They go?
A child cradled,
Taught to walk and
Nurtured, the breath wafting over the kindled
The joy of Flight
The passion of sound,
The endless talks,
The smile,
The twinkle in those eyes,
The vibrant brain curled within that skull,
Now over,
The twinkle

They go on?
The mourners, clustered in drab greys, blacks and sallow beige,
Shuffling before the powder blue coffin,
The picture of him; looking smiling into your face,
Saying ‘I am Here’ ‘I live’ ‘I breathe’ ‘I see’,
And impossibly

I can’t—

Every end table is furnished with
Necessary boxes of tissues,
Every other table,
A carafe of coffee,
For those who need to
Keep their hands

And the monitor flicks through pictures
Of a young man’s life,
The outdoors, the lake, nature –
Music, the strummed thrum of reverberant sound,
The endless joy of variation
The exploration and hunger
To feed that passionate soul.
The quiet pictures flicker
And the mourners stand in awkward semi-circles,
Half talking, half watching,
Wishing they were there,
For any other reason
Than this.

This last goodbye,
To someone
Who should not be

Suzanne Marsden
(c) October 29th, 2016

SALVIN, Alan Gordon 
November 14, 1954 – October 25, 2016
It is with deep regret and profound sadness that we inform you of the passing of Alan Salvin, peacefully at his home, surrounded by friends and family. Alan was a gifted musician who freely shared his time and talent with others. He was an outdoorsman and recreational pilot. Possessing a brilliant mind, he was not shy to share his wisdom and boundless sense of humour. He is survived by his mother Barbara "Bobby" Salvin, brothers Ian Salvin and Neil Salvin, sister Lynn Eckervogt (Thomas), nieces and nephews Cameron, Tyler, Annabelle, Lilly and Zoe. Special thanks are extended to his good friends Ron and Cynthia who provided love, devotion and support during this difficult time. Visitors may pay their respects at the Westboro Chapel of Tubman Funeral Homes 403 Richmond Road, on Saturday, October 29, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choice. Condolences, tributes and donations may be made at

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Travellers

Since Deviantart makes it tough to view 'mature' themed work unless you sign up, I'm putting my #inktober for today here. Enjoy!

The Succubus and the Rakshasa, co-conspirators and dimensional travellers, causing evil wherever they go! (c) 2015 Suzanne Marsden

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Parade Black

It's been a long time since I've written poetry, and even longer than I can remember that I've stood in front of people and read what I'd written.

I'm fortunate to be a part of an amazing group of writers and poets who accept and don't judge, encourage and dissect (without leaving a corpse behind!)

I'm grateful to the wonderfully talented Bobby Salvin, award-winning poet, author and artist for inviting me to join this year's writing group. Without this group of interested and cool people, it's unlikely 'Parade Black' would've been dislodged from my brain, while I was tightening my laces last week. Thank you!

Parade Black

The shoes lasted longer than the job.
The interview outfit still hangs unworn-
The good clothes carefully saved for later.

The trappings and plumage you present
Like the good silver and the China plates
Only dusted off for Easter
And awkward internet dates.

The hesitant smile
The captured bird
Fluttering madly in its bony cage

The steady gaze
The confident gait
The sway of self
And firm handshake.

Trotted out twice a year to caper and perform
Then carefully hung back on its hook
Because that is not your norm.

The rictus and unblinking eyes,
Which punch-clock cruelly victimized
The creative heart, the fairy wing
Crushed by a nametag on a string.

     The crawling commute
     The daily pressure
     To conform, fit in, be timely and grin,

No matter the strain and hopeless pain
Of a desperate creature circling the drain,
The foundering horse in unceasing rain
For one who dared go against the grain.

The shoes lasted longer than the job.
True, they’re not new,
     The leather’s cracked,
          The sole’s worn through,
But they fit more comfortably
Than proper jobs do.

And the interview pants, worn sparingly
At gatherings with friends and family,
Not for those you’d hoped to impress
Are fitting in a little better
As you are
     Loosed of unwelcome fetters.

Suzanne A. Marsden
© September 28th, 2015

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Five years

Photo montage for Dad's funeral & visitation
I was thinking of my Dad today; it is the fifth anniversary of his passing. It seems surreal that it is five years later and that it is snowing, and I'm here remembering. It is real/ yet not real-- for me he is always vibrantly alive, sparkling with his humour and intelligence, gentle love and support. And yet, he is definably gone as well; no physical hugs, no sharing of stories, passing along of books, awkwardly and accidentally pressing the wrong button on his electric chair while bending over for that good-bye hug.

It is the dichotomy of death; wherein you hang on with all of your will to that which you do not wish to lose, and at the same time there is the ultimate letting go. You cannot hold it strongly enough for it to stay, it can never be that way. The soul slips through your fingers and joins the ether; that great unknown beyond; whether to comfort, omnipotent awakening or the void. We don't know; no one has come back and said: yea or nae.

Gathering at the Royal Canadian Legion 618 Stittsville
ON for Norm Marsden's memorial.
I feel bittersweet this morning; an aching poignant squeeze in my heart. I miss him. But it is not the heart wrenching stab of excruciating loss of February 5th, 2009. It was so raw; a wound that would never heal; just bleeding out the wrenched scream of 'no---'.

There is that deep ache of the past wound; like the broken bone, healed that foretells of storms. Tears stand behind the eyes; to be loosed if (should it happen) a song randomly appears on the radio; whether 'Men of Harlech', or 'Singing the Spirit Home' or (and this did happen last year: 'I come from the land down under' while shopping for groceries)...

I miss him in a thousand tiny ways that seem insignificant, but they pile up like the grains of snow swirling, rising into an 8 foot drift on one side of the house and nothing on the other. Significant in that together they build the wavering remembered image of him, from all those tiny thoughts and feelings.

I find myself watching a movie and saying 'Dad would love this--I can hear him laughing right now!'. I am partway through a book and want to share a passage with him (as he would always share with us around the table). I am at a restaurant with Mom and our eyes meet, and we know Dad would love the food, or the atmosphere, or the server; using his 'universal language' of a big smile and dancing eyes to immediately cement a nascent friendship.

I miss him.

In ten years; my memories will be dimmer; the strongest ones will be of my childhood, swinging; hanging onto his thumbs as the enormous giant strength of my Dad lifted from the ground and made me laugh. My memories of him at his end will be dimmer; I will be hanging onto the warm, loving images I sort and sift; choosing the best and turning them like jewels in my mind.

But, Carl Hiaasen said things better... a character's eulogy that Mom chose to represent my Dad:

"He was a fighter, a real tiger, but he had a generous heart.
He was an idealist who believed in the innate decency and honesty of everyone he met.
He faced profound sadness in his life but he never let himself be defeated by it.
He never lost his sense of humour or his optimism.
He was one of the most positive and unselfish persons.
He chose a simple, ordinary life because he believed that was the secret to true happiness.
He wasn't perfect.
He had weaknesses as all of us do.
Impulsive moments, blind spots, and lapses in judgment.
He wasn't a perfect person but he was a truly good person and we'll all miss him dearly."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

CONTEST Anne McCaffrey Day

Dragonquest, painted by Michael Whelan

Anne McCaffrey (April 1st, 1926 - 21 November 2011) introduced me to a deep and passionate love for dragons. As a celebration of this year's Anne McCaffrey Day (April 1st), I've proposed a contest to honour her and dragons as well!

I've set up an area on Deviantart where people can link to their dragon drawings, poems, written work or any other draconic representation that shows how they feel about dragons. The contest opens April 1st, 2013 and closes April 8th 2013. You have 1 week to get all dragony n__n

Have fun with it, draw, paint, sketch, scratchboard, write, fingerpaint, sculpt.. whatever moves you. Then photograph or scan the work and share it over on Deviantart. You can also link to your work in the comments section here as well.

THERE IS A PRIZE! What would a contest be without a prize?
I will pick my absolute favourite draconic representation and present the winner with an original piece of artwork by me (the subject will be dragons of course!) So, you should PM me your vitals, if you'd like to receive your prize.

suebrainpower (at) gmail (dot) com.

Good luck and clear skies, Dragonriders!

PS Michael Whelan has painted some of my favourite Pernese dragons. Check out his site for inspiration n__n.

The White Dragon, painted by Michael Whelan

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Brain Power Studio sings for Sick Kids Hospital TO

Hi everyone,

Beth Stevenson's animation studio Brain Power Studio in Newmarket ON (where I freelance part-time) put together an amazing video this year to raise money for Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. Please take the time to check out the video, click and share with folks you know to help raise more $.

Brain Power Studio is one of the co-sponsors of the monthly Ottawa Comic Jam, along with DragonHead Studio. Without the help of Brain Power, it'd be a lot harder to make the Jam happen on a regular basis. Beth Stevenson and crew have always been there for us, so I'm doubly thrilled to be able to promote the video and see if we can get those views/ numbers up to help with their great cause!

Thanks again, and have Merry and safe Holidays.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vegetarian recipes


I've been wanting to return to being a vegetarian for awhile, but didn't have the push to get back into it. Last week, on the 401 on the way home from a retreat for Brain Power Studio, we were stopped near a large livestock truck. As the car and truck paced each other, I looked over and saw a pig's curious face checking me out. Then I saw little hooves, and finally, a cute snuffly snout checking out the tiny air space that they'd provided for the pigs to breathe. My heart hitched at the sight and I blurted to my pal beside me: 'That's it, I'm going vegetarian'.

She said: 'What? When?', I said: 'Right now, today.' And the little hairs on my arms stood up. Wow!

So, lately I've been making big piles of hummus and also really gotten into dahl (tx to my Mom ;-)

Due to popular demand, I’m posting my how-to guide to delightful hummus (from my good friend  Brenda) and the recipe for dahl that I’ve been concocting lately as well (that is nommy!) Hope you enjoy.

(From the Moosewood Cookbook – Cooks at home)

How to Cook Dried Beans

Measure 1 - 2 cups of garbanzo beans (chick peas) and pour them out on a cookie sheet. Check them out. If there are any weirdo ones, or pieces of dirt or little stones, get rid of them. Rinse your beans!

Place the rinsed, picked over beans in a pot, add cold water to cover the beans, plus at least 2 inches and set aside to sit at room temperature. After 4 hours or more, drain off the soaking water. Cover the beans with fresh water and they are ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the picked-over, rinsed, soaked and drained beans in a large pot and cover with water, 2 inches deeper than the beans. Place the beans on high heat and bring them to a rapid boil, then transfer them to a large covered casserole dish and place in the oven. Bake for about 1.25 – 1.5 hrs.

Remove from the oven and drain your beans!

Brenda's Hummus

1 19 oz. can chick peas (or your freshly cooked beans, right out of the oven)
1 clove of garlic (or more)
½ tsp salt
3 – 4 Tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
¼ cup lemon juice (or juice from 2 lemons)
¼ cup water

Place the drained chick peas in a blender or food processor and process.

Mash the garlic with the salt. A mortar and pestle work well to mash garlic. Add the garlic, salt, tahini, lemon juice and water to the chick peas.

Mix very well until texture is smooth, adding more water if needed.

Serve on a platter and garnish with paprika, olive oil and parsley and/or toasted pine nuts.

Freezes well. Hummus thickens after being frozen, so after thawing, add a few drops of water and mix.


(From the January 23rd, 1991 ed. of the Ottawa Citizen, Silk Roads Afghan Restaurant on Sparks St.)

1 lbs (454 g) red lentils
4 – 6 cups water
1 Tbsp salt
½ c veg oil
2 med onions, finely chopped
2 med tomatoes, finely chopped
¼ Tbsp cayenne pepper
¼ Tbsp gr. Coriander

Rinse lentils under cold water, then place in a large pot. Add 4 – 6 cups water and the salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 5 minutes, or until lentils are soft.

In a frying pan, heat oil and sauté onions and tomatoes until onions are translucent.  Add cayenne and coriander to the mixture and simmer until it becomes sauce-like.

Add mixture to cooked lentils and stir. Simmer for 5 minutes (or longer).

Serve in bowls, topped with juice squeezed from a ¼ fresh lemon.