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Saturday, May 14, 2011


It has been a long time, Tub
Since we’ve talked together
We should have done something then, Tub,
for it is happening now over again

There was the nation’s policeman
Who said the world was not so safe
But he backed completely off
When the politicians told him what to say.

And the General of the Army
who agreed with the politicians
Yet a million of us ordinary people,
Believed it to be the other way

WMD have come and gone
This time the intelligence services
with names like DIO and ASIO,
ASIS and Pinocchio
Where nobody knows who told what to who

He has won control in the voting, Tub.
So expect it to get much worse
‘ll be easier now to take people’s jobs
and throw them on the street,
in the name of a god called Growth.

I told you before it was time in jail
For speaking out too loud
Dead still we stopped that one then Tub.
But it will come up again now soon,
And the possibility does really exist,
that I might get it too.

My family too has gone its own ways, too
We told you we were worried then,
And now it is more than two years later,
Two sadder people.
That is the world, Tub


Boats, magic in themselves
Pushing into the wind
Lee awash, much sail up
A joy rare to experience.

Wandering down the bay
Wings a–gulled,
Every square of sail spread out
Easy for you; a lazy time.

Wind and rain screaming
across the boat. Wet through;
Eyes squinted tight, barely seeing
A little apprehensive.

At a mooring on the bay,
Friends, pleasant times
Sun streaming, sails tied
Other boats around.

Overnight, further up the coast
A strange harbour,
Raining, the hatch leaks,
No sleep; but secure at anchor

The joy of it all,
Out to sea
Fair weather, cloudless sky
Following winds, coming home.


Expectations placed on me seem all too high
So on us is placed a great and difficult load
And I think at times that they are far too heavy.
But deeply to you they never last

It has been this way over all my years
Asking more of me than I am, can ever be,
Is it my fault ? for I do not always try
Treading a path undemanding but unaware

Is it, has it been, always like this?
It surely has been for me,
Are we those who wander unthinking
Asking little, giving less, from the beginning of time?

Perhaps I try to meet that demand
I think I do, But I follow a path that does not ask,
Nothing. Nor does it create an asking
Rolling; seeking happiness, one or two, never expecting

And your regrets are always there
Readily given; too readily, for they are the deep you
I say it; But they do paper over
any a deepening crack, for I know you mean them .


Words, we are told,
are the setting
of ourselves apart. They
are the reason why
we have conquered our distant past.

I have met many people
who talk well.
Some a lot,
Some eloquently.
Some exactly, precisely, knowingly.

But still an inadequate skill.
For in our hearts, inside our souls
the depth of our thoughts,
our lives, our loves, our hopes
are, inexplicable, impenetrable.

If we do not know ourselves
we cannot  understand
why deeply we search….what
our unknown depths
are truly saying.

And if we know not ourselves,
we cannot speak to others.
Nor can we understand
what they have cried out to us
Now and for years past.

Are they empty, wasted cries?
Never to be answered.
Or will the day come,
that day of awakening,
when we will understand?


Pray for the refugees, dad, she told me,
when I told her where I was going just then .
Many with a much greater need, I replied,             
For there is famine, great terror, and talk of war 
Pray for the world, we said, Lord hear my prayer             
But no-one I am sure, was listening


Storm on an island in a black-grey ocean

Rain drumming incessantly on a tin roof,
Drowning conscious thought
The noise of rain and trees conquers all.

Morning at last;
Emerging sun, broken trees,
flooded pathways, leaves
An island, green and awakening, emerging.

An isle of magic beauty,
Set in a blue-blue ocean
The land of Tusitala
The teller of tales

A land of vivid history
A speck on a wide blue ocean,
Traded among the great powers
Over wars set far from its shores,

Its people were traded too
In a history of their own.
Plus explorers and pirates,
Traders and missionaries.

Aggie Grey and Robert Louis
Bully Hayes and the bible society
All have left their mark
On this green and verdant land

All are there, a society of chiefs;
in the churches on Sunday,
on customs so strange,
In this beautiful island in a blue-blue ocean

Where from the edge
You can see tomorrow.


I sit in a sidewalk café

(There are not enough in this city)
a busy street – many rush by
within their own worlds

and the worlds of those with them
who share their time.
All different – every one.
Brown, white, faces, bodies

Every one
a person to themselves.
distinct and separate.
We know that now.

I watch them - some rush,
Some laugh, not hurried
I think about them
Some interesting – others not.

The short Chinese woman
wobbling a little
following her husband;
cannot keep up.

A young girl, midriff showing
An older woman - a flower person
of decades long past. Still trying.
Not interesting.

The traffic –noisily struggling.
A truck with a painted sign
for a cause. I try to read,
but it is gone, behind many others.

A woman with a stroller,
That baby will grow
to become a person
different from every other.

A man in a suit
A woman – well dressed
Why is it, that at such a moment, more women than men
still turn my head?

There are many of us.
Is what they see in me,
if they see me at all,
different from
   what I see in them?

We are all distinct.
So must we also think differently
– each one of us?
Is what they think
different  for every one?

Yet they all - we all – are asked to think
this way or the opposite.
black against white
on a hundred different issues.

For it or against it,
With us or against us.
With all-too-few a grey,
Although the world is a thousand thoughts,
and a thousand different colours.



A magic moment it is

And certainly it should be

for all of us.
That first full encounter
With love, and exploration
and new bodies. You would need
to be floating, to tell it all.

They were.

The first story
about the number nine bus
Not that it happened there.
It was the going home after
Top front seat. Both hands,
cupping  a crotch,
quietly singing to itself.

The second was hilarious
on the sands by the estuary
when the tide came in
and the car floated away
at the moment of magic .
And after, he was quite sure
that there had been only half a first time,
Or perhaps only a quarter.

Rozzie’s story was the best , however,
for Rozzie had a broken leg.
In plaster – top to toe,
And they only had the sofa.
The others in the flat,
Were asleep. They hoped.

The time had come,
She knew that. He knew it too.
He had been there,
the day she broke her leg.
Too many fumblings since,
On the sofa, in the car, the park outside.
The both knew it.
Her leg was the only problem.

He propped it this way,
She propped it that
Nothing worked well
But much patience and some care,
and finally an achievement came.
Of a sort.

The last was not fun
In the long undergrowth
prickly and damp
Much time but no patience, no warmth.
She laughs now, but two years went by,
before trying again.

Many years later
they told their stories.
Four of the six. Two
would not tell.
And for none of the four
Was it truly a moment of magic.

But we had grown in the years since
For now we could laugh
at that broken moment of magic.
The first of the many
 that follow us all.

The answer lay in the jigsaw puzzle

What sort of sentence is that
Which sounds like Dutch to you or your cat
But you try to combine
In syllables at least nine
A sentence that rhymes with puzzle
And the one only word is guzzle
As well you have the problem
Along with jigsaw it’ll fog em


[With apologies to Tang Man Lan and others of her age]

Arthritics anonymous they called us
But we are not anonymous at all
For you can hear the creaking joints
At least half a mile away.

It is all a wonderful adventure
For we have showed the world how we are
Men and women, sleeping side by side
With common showers
And unlocked, and unlockable, doors

Mind, it is not all that unsafe,
For the fires of youth are a little dimmed
And if not, the creaking floorboards,
Or the arthritic joints
Give ample warning
of nocturnal adventuring.

There are of course the writers
Who within a week will master the novel,
with plots, openings, endings, short stories,
and several varieties of poetry thrown in.

The landscape painters are the heroes,
For off they go in 30 degree heat
Painting the central plains in washed out browns
And coming back with burnt out reds and pinks
But triumphantly having captured on a canvas
the wonders of our western countryside

The doubtful lot are the sculptors
Women of a wonderful age and presence,
With one of the few men amongst them
Being I hear of not a dissimilar age
taking off his clothes each day.
I cannot help but marvel, that the fingers
and the object that they are modeling
have a hundred years between them.

The unknown quantity are the printmakers
With their lino cuts and printers ink.
It is they we need to investigate
For it seems they started late
And there just maybe a chance,
That it was they who started the rumours
Of the anonymous arthritics at class.

My house.

Some people live in a fish bowl,
Others in glass houses.
I live in a washing machine
Not one that goes round and round
But one that goes up and down,
Somewhat like a yo-yo.