• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 08
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Spirit Guide of Childhood

For Judith

from naked seed to root and branch
we do not grow from childhood
suited, booted
pin striped
pinned in
hat bedecked
nor do our women’s weeds fortell a destiny of weeping-wailing
into willow waters

Sweet spirit guide of childhood ever at my shoulder
stoic reminder of skipping days
I dance back to you on the day that we first met
wrinkly-skinned worlds away
downy hair trailing the breeze, brightening rustle of your blue leaves
let down your hair
shadow tree
reach out for me

Send fresh rain
seeping up old pains
water me to sapling

Read more >

Red Light

Did you come back? After it happened, I mean? After the hurt stopped. Before the accusations started. Whilst the blood dried.

Did you come back to try and explain your decision? Your choice to see green when red was dead clear.

You took her choice away that day. Once she knew what rested on your heart. That circle of love was a link in a chain between me and her and you. She would commit to what you had both started.

I wonder then. Did you come back to say goodbye to us as she sat under that budless tree? Or is the end the end. A full stop not pregnant with meaning.


Genesis II: the fair fight

The universe started again with a different god and, this time, I wasn’t so lucky.

First time around, the woman was poorly prepped. “Don’t touch the tree because you’ll die,” means nothing to a fizzy new being with no concept of death. She was still surging with the energy of creation. Imagining death from that standpoint was like trying to picture rainy winter on a hot summer’s day with the sea lapping at your toes and a mojito in hand.

So, my path was easy. Flash a shiny apple, glowing with promise, plant the seeds of doubt, job done.

Humans never learn from their mistakes. History is on a loop; a glitching, repeating loop. But gods aren’t human. This god watched in the wings and learned. How rude!

When the old god died and the whole game restarted, I went to the garden again. Same garden, same tree, so in I swanned, merrily expecting the same response. Humans, as I said, don’t change.

But as I slithered up to her, she raised an eyebrow. “They told me you’d come.”

It all went downhill from there. I stayed with her for hours, using all the tips I’d learned from humans over the years. I tried negging. I tried flattery. I tried neurolinguistic programming. I tried fomenting discord with her husband, about her being made from his rib, and wasn’t that shocking, wasn’t that embarrassing, wasn’t that unfair.

Read more >

Lady of the Wayside

Lady of the untried
Parading her petals
She's planted herself here
To see would she be picked.

Sure enough, here's a boy
He calls her his flower
She warms to his sun
They grow strong together.

Soon she flies his colours
He takes a leaf from her book
Each the other's stake
Blooming equals

Lady of the low tide
Striving heliotrope
Winter comes and he can't see.
Yes, winter comes and she won't see.
But come it does and his sun wanes
Stay it does and her stem strains.

She's read all the books
Seen all the movies
She can't let it happen
They have to be happy.

Read more >


Branches   of my mind shed leaves
find new shapes   forge dead ends open byways
somewhere in the wind
I lost your name
but still I know I love you
I hope you know it too
whoever you are whoever I am

you call me grandda
but have I walked that far...

my life so recently began
I'm dressed for work
attired in my best
togs for my coming wedding day
ring treasured in my pocket —

though my wife
she died giving birth to your mum
and I remember hope and tears
in one rapid cycled day

but who are you...
I had it just then     and now it's gone

you call me grandda
yet granddas appear towards the end
last acts in any man's lifespan
it's hard to understand     I think

Read more >

Over Time

I barely remember your eyes because
You slid them away from me, every chance you got.
I remember your height and your hands
And the terrible awkwardness of a rushed goodbye.
I like to think you almost cried
But I'm realistic and
I couldn't even rely on the rain because
It was sunny that day.
The fallacy left me pathetic in its absence too.

And what's really strange,
For a person so big and bold in real life
You've become almost completely translucent
In my memory
And I can't even recall
How you'd say 'hello'.


The stranger speech

Dear readers, writers, do not mourn:
there is life after life; there are words to imagine.
There are tears, true, and worse, and worse —

the parting beneath the reaching tree,
the flight as fascism scores its course,
the safe passage for a certain fee,

democracy demoted to a farce,
a tip of the hat as Istanbul
again implodes, true to its curse,

and the Hungarian border boasts of its wall,
and more, and worse, and even if
I travel smartly and speak well

(spotted: one sporting handkerchief),
my status cannot *not* look fragile,
since dignity does not reside in cloth

that could secure some safety out of Hell —
a Kentish, not Turkish, detention centre —
and reunite all at the family table.

Yet do not mourn. In a dream may enter,
undetained, the appetite,
the striped flame, the smile, of a TIGER.

He slurps down all the tea in the pot,
he bolts biscuits, raids the fridge,
is both your guest and momentary pet.

Read more >

Some Kind of Camouflage

She put on the suit,
and a tie tight around
the lump on her throat.

She sought solace in
some kind of camouflage.

She stepped into his shoes,
worn. 'Our soles don't match',
she thought.

And a hat to keep the Sun
from illuminating her thoughts.

She looked for his shades
but chose to close her eyes instead
— a waterfall in disguise.

She rubbed her forehead, her
unwanted heirloom — his frown,
like a cloud on a bright, blue sky.

No one's here to stay
and she never solved his riddle:

in a dimly lit room
a man talks to himself, his voice
mingles with the ones from the radio.

Nobody heard him
and she couldn't stay.
She chose away

Read more >

International Harvester

Sometimes the tears fall like jazz-infused droplets, you wipe them with your sleeve but there’s no space there because that’s where your heart is. You tried replacing it with a diamond ring but that grew red and sat outside the chest like the picture of the Sacred Heart you saw in a museum in Seville. The museum that only lasted a day.

The tears drip not from your eyes but from the branches of a melody you are creating, formless but structured. It wanders upwards and seeks out its own trajectories but stays close to the trunk, keeps coming back to the B flat. Her hair has twigs in it, little stray grace notes that are bloodless, have lost their edge and are out of time.

When you compose, you imagine a hat and a pinstripe suit. You really imagine a tiger skin suit but you tell no-one about that. The hat you really imagine is not the Fedora you show us but an insect, recently killed. Japan weighs heavily on your mind, the trees are always German and only the ferns can cool your fury when it rises, as it does, to spread on your neck.


The common denominator

Let swelling men lay where they are you said.
A tongued vocabulary, that bleeds into language.
It’s down to you. What do you see?
Do you see yourself, surrounded by agriculture’s subtle young?
Or do you see a mass of the pillaged, their feeble-mindedness fed on deceit?
No one could ever know, not unless the malnourished ever have their way.
It grows in diameter each year, the hunger crisis does.
This hunger stretches to the lands, the substances, the air, the stock.
The only nutrient, a tear, coming from a dying child’s eye.
Unless the tik-tik expounds the surface, putting the body in an eternal sleep, never to resurface.
While the other folk wander and grieve
For a nation that lay life-like, longing to be rich and fed once more.


Herself Only

She cried ice, frozen tear drops
Wrung from winter’s fingers forcing their way in
Tendrils of cold claiming the skin of her
Absorbing her into that last age
When heat rushed unexpected to flame cheek
And the mind became sleepy and forgetful
Withered and barren were those tormentors
Wood worming through, punching holes in memory
A forced readjustment of self

Defiant, she chose not to sleep
But to awake in spring, new-suited
Rebalanced, reborn
She was not yet done with the world
Nor the world with her
Old, was not her word, nor aged nor weary
Not Maid, Mother or Crone
She was herself only, at last.


At the cemetery

You stand halfway
down the hill,
weeping over her
grave. Nancy
sits facing away
under the tree
at the top.
I cannot see
her tears
but feel them.

I stand opposite
you, so that she
seems perched
like a little finch
on your shoulder.
I watch you,
study your tears,
your pinstripe suit,
the hat you right
as you say Kaddish.

Read more >


A mixture of blacks and blues and reds,
Precise and sharp but standing in fine rain,
misting down on an unseen parade,
the future, perhaps, where all march
with hung heads proclaiming silently
our guilt for all that has befallen mankind.

Oh Artist! Cartoonist! A woman, why a woman?
Gender confusion sets in; a business woman
in a seersucker suit, respectably coiffed,
orderly, black tie, circular tribal pin, triangular
handkerchief peeks neatly from her breast pocket.
Vertical stripes take center stage, chosen to highlight
endless growth and profit margins gone mad.

Meanwhile the blue vines and roots grow
wild in all directions all at once, invading
and reddening the flesh, confusing the order
of things, darkening the brain. A four-fingered
hand tips her hat like a true gentleman at home
in the neo-gilded age. Her lashes and lids
are manicured. Her face, perfectly egg-shaped,
represents a misshapen sun burning in all of us,
unsteadying us, discomforting us
as the ice melts and seas rise.

Read more >

The First Tear

Who wouldn’t want to live forever,
flesh young and supple, regret an
unknown country?

Paradise just beyond the gate,
we dress in our best finery
for the welcoming ceremony
awaiting us.

But sorrow darkens the bare limbs
of that tree we can’t forget, and no
apple glows red on the sodden
ground where only the innocent
ferns flourish.

Loss casts a long shadow where
the beloved sits, her spine echoing
the leaning trunk, her hair a black

And the groom, already on his way
to becoming tree, purses his rosebud
mouth, a bud that will never bloom,
while the first tear stains his cheek.



It was obvious who wore the pants
in our family. My father wouldn’t have
wanted to even if he had known how.

And then, there was some sadness about her
that would cut you like a knife and stay
with you like an old knee injury.
A distant red star, my mother,
13 and a half days of daytime, followed by
13 and a half nights of darkness,
cold, so bitterly cold.

Violent storms, whipping up
clouds of dust, would spread too fast
around her and hide her from us,
from herself.

We joked about it when we grew up, my
sister and I, how we’d lived in a sealed home,
besides having had to wear special suits near
her so we wouldn’t get burned or she wouldn’t
turn us into ice cubes.

And then, there were flowers in her garden she
often talked to, and a tree she called hers, blue
and wind-carved, which understood her
better than anyone dared to.

Fight for yourself, mother used to tell us.
If you don’t, no one else will.

Read more >

Keeping It Together

Bathe in the scant shade of a skeleton
Tree branches take root in your thoughts
Behind you your love kneels, remembering
All that has been lost on the mountain side
Sadness drips from oozing teardrops
Hovers over your stiff formality
Waiting to drown resolve and dignity
Around you ferns and foliage comfort
Trying to soften the impact of grief
Understanding that your body needs this
A soft counterpoint of nature in art

All time holds still

Fire rages
Creeping up past the boundaries of man
Flushing your neck, chin, cheeks, your whole visage
With wobbly hand you steady the Trilby
Keen to gain composure amid chaos
You remain neat, handkerchief arranged
Red pin strategically placed for show
The slope of your shoulders gives nothing
Sorrow roams your quiet, small features
Your love stays there
Throwing a long shadow

Time holds all still.



People had always been able to see through her. "Corpus translucens," the doctor said, when she was born. "Rare, but more common than you'd think. Poorly described in the literature, but there are no known side effects."

"None?" her mother asked.

"Apart from the obvious," the doctor replied, looking down at his notes.

It wasn't so bad, once she got over the shock of self-recognition, the realization of the peculiar way in which she was unique. People could only see through her body. They couldn't know what she was thinking.

Except in the usual ways, of course. Like when she was sad, and a single tear fell down her face, across the pattern of whatever happened to be behind her. A rain drop almost frozen in time, tracing a slow and wayward path from the heavens to the earth.



You may be alive and still carelessly breaking hearts
or, you may be dead ⁠— I don’t know or care

You may be dead ⁠— then who will grieve for you?
Weeping ladies hidden in heavy black veils
might surreptitiously lay a flower on your expensive bronze casket.

You may be dead ⁠— then who would trace the many secret branches grown of your hot semen?
Weeping ladies in torn black veils
raising your unacknowledged children on their own.

You may be dead ⁠— then who will truly care?
Weeping ladies smiling behind their secretive black veils
whispering “Good-by, Bastard!”


The Woods Wash Anew

She went into the woods

She stepped into the woods in fresh polished brogues
dressed up for a meeting with nature
asking permission for a rebirth
a ring of vines round a finger eternal
her love in a white dress waiting on the edge

He went into the woods

He took tentative steps through the trees
soles peeling from trainers crushing dead leaves
seeking an opportunity
a chance to draw a fresh hand
his life stacks up more than believed

They go into the woods

They tread broken branches into soft earth
greeting the trees like old friends
looking for something
a newness or an escape or a refresh
they of the lost find their way


Among the Trees

I shut my eyes
and tilt my head
I wear my suit
and shirt and tie
I place my hat
upon my head
my thoughts turn red
I will not cry
I will not cry
oh how I try
but I can’t stop
a single tear
a single drop
escape my eye
and trickle by
beside my ear
inside my head
my thoughts are red.

I have to learn
to turn away
from nature’s way
from tree and fern
those birds who say
let’s go and play
just us and you
in black and blue
Read more >


Madrid Blues

Dapper Dave dour, disconsolate;
A blue day after the night before,
Wasn't meant to end this way.
Manchester City dispatched,
Wiped the floor with Ajax ⁠—
Emulating rivals' Barcelona win ⁠—
Final, peppered keeper with shots
In 2nd half but all to no avail...
No last-minute comeback now,
Just despair after Salah's opener
Via penalty spot; Origi's late clincher.
Trademark trilby's dejected angle,
Spurs' best dressed fan downcast,
Needing a consoling hug; a lone tear
To dab with handkerchief; ring pals ⁠—
Phone home, moral support; 'this means more'.


When I’m Gone

Tendril me on the lattice
outside your study window.

Let me vine, cling, stretch,
rippled by your wind song,
cooled by the breath of words.

Tendril me in blank verse
through azure, crimson hues
with bold black strokes.

Let me sway, dip, float
on the assonance
of near rhymes,

breathe between
in the empty spaces
where thoughts pause.

Ivy me in arcane,
ripe, nascent words.

Spirit me with images —
thin tapered lines,
rounded globes,
geometric wonders.


The Ring

I dream the April cherry tree
will blossom into season of bliss.
Now it stands naked of every petal and leaf.

On that gently
sloping hillock, she,
in dress the color of raw meat,
turns into chill breeze.

Who would have thought
I would bend,
amid stanchions of wildflowers and ferns,
on a battlefield where I burn
in total defeat?

In my left pocket the ring,
sudden anti-symbol,
scorches an irreparable hole.


From One Refrain to the Next

Back then, when I lived life as if it were a song,
when each minute was a note, each day its refrain,
when a rude suggestion could make me blush red,
back then I thought I’d be content to reach 50,
maybe die blowing out my birthday candles.
Back then, when I wasn’t afraid of everything,

I was once very adventurous…

When I was 24, I packed an overnight bag and
drove to the airport. Took the next available flight.
Any flight.                I ended up in Chicago.

Stayed in a pokey hotel room with hundreds
of hibernating ladybugs asleep in the sash window
frames, and ivy that rooted itself in the brickwork.

No one goes to Chicago in the depths of winter.
But I did. Back then, I wasn’t afraid of anything,
back then, when I lived from one refrain to the next.

I’m a few steps off 70 now, and I like staying
near home mostly. I’m rooted deep in my comforts.
I’m just another old lady who writes too much poetry.
Last month, my granddaughter said,

“Nanna you’re very old. Are you going to die soon?”
“Yes, one day," I told her, "but probably not today.”
I was explicit: probably. I’m not sure where I’ll be
pushing up roots from one refrain to the next.


Sparrow’s nest

“D’you ever wonder how it’d feel?” Dennis asked, chewing on his hay-straw.

“How would what feel?” At that stage, the rope of conversation had frayed beyond the thread, to the fibre, which smelled like weed and summer sun. Ellie turned her head and exhaled the smoke through her pursed lips, in his direction, but the white puff dissolved into the heat before reaching his cheek. He sighed.

“How it’d feel to be… I dunno. Proper adult and all, I guess. The kind that own a nice car, new-looking. That host parties and shit. Like your folks.”

Ellie did not like to be reminded of her family. That meant thinking about her father’s naked back on the day she had seen Dolly’s head poking from behind it, red and confused ⁠— that meant thinking about her mother shrugging and walking away. Her mother shrugged at many things, especially the ones that mattered.

“I’m not looking forward to it”, she said.

Dennis hesitated for a minute or two. “I’m gonna change your mind”, he said, finally. Ellie shrugged.


There was some mild excitement in the community about Eleanor's wedding, and it came in all shades. The gossip-infused excitement of her father's clique from the mayoral office, the sniggering excitement of former school friends, and the relieved excitement of her mother, who had taken no part in the wedding preparations, but had lined up all of Eleanor's belongings in neat suitcases before her (now former) room's door. Read more >


Portraits of the Entertainer Billy Tipton


Her back to the plains
and to the cottonwood
growing on the river bank,
to the ferns and flowers
that look like paper cut-outs
in this harsh sunlight,
Dorothy is waiting
for her first wife
to leave her.

She remembers
the notes she played
last night, the audience
she could not have
if she were a woman.

She pretends
only the morning
is making her cry.
She imagines leaving this place
for somewhere,
not quite Hollywood
but out West. Anywhere
will do as long as
she can entertain.

Read more >

The heart that grew

When we dated, his heart's mouth was slightly open
like an asthmatic. Overwhelmed by love, for it didn't know

what it felt like. It kept over-thinking what we had.
I told him exactly why I couldn't make it to dinner ⁠—

my fingers had grown abnormally large overnight.
Side-effects of his overwhelming doses of love.

I didn't want anyone to see me this way. I needed
space, I needed time to recover. He ended up with

the ring in his drink, his heart swallowed it in one gulp.
Ten years later, his heart has grown abnormally large, cushioning the ring, pushing through his rib cage

for people to gawk. Strangers stop him to ask:
Who did this to you? He tells them everything.


Dress Code

On the occasion or occasions
of this celebration or commemoration
kindly observe the following forms:

Evening wear and black tie are de rigueur,
although, in concession
to the anxious spirit of the times
some indiscernible looseness may be permitted,
within limits.

Gentlemen of a certain ageing
are asked to recall dim school days,
tuck in their shirts,
stand up straight,
and think quietly about fits.

Ladies inclined to imperial pronouncements
are kindly requested to wear no heel
so towering and Iceni
as to prevent a one-hundred meter dash
over rain-soaked lawns.

At the appropriate order of the day,
compliments on another's dress will be given
off the shoulder in the chattering lobby
and are required to be insincere,
and, where possible, unimaginative.

Read more >

Death of the Storyteller

A lone tear on a solemn face
But do not mourn for I never leave
Ideas hidden under my hat
Are yours to discover now
yours to ignite
And bring to life
Like the hidden ring in my breast pocket
A lover on bended knee
New love, new life
Springs forth from all nature
As seasons turn and summer suns fade
Autumn shades and fallen leaves
Bring winter snows
And once more spring sun will soften the ground
New shoots, new flowers, new colours spark to life
The lone tear falls and lips will tilt upwards
The lover receives a yes
The ring revealed
The ideas once buried
Germinate, sprout, and words fill pages
For life does not end nor ideas, nor seasons
Each one begins anew with the turning of the tides
Each story a word followed by another
A smile, a character
A new adventure for readers
The pin stripe suit becomes armour
Knights battling
Or a fancy dress – princess dancing
Or a set of stripes on a tigers back
Read more >


The Seed

We are seeds ⁠—
Springing from the multiple genes
And transferring to different genders;
Me or her,
She or him;
Doesn’t matter when the tree falls,
With each drop
Carrying ourselves to another genes,
And springing again in the
Heart of the life;
Full of red and blues and blacks
Curving in the green and dried branches
Here and there.
Once I was her;
Now I’m him.
My clothes are changed
And I’m again changing them.
To suit the purpose
In each of my tangled


transubstantiation: from earth to air

a pressed flower is a lost kiss,
she said, scuffling her toe, dragging it in cross-hatch
in the sand,
it's an art, for the wallflower bold, the ones who
are dizzy for loneliness, but never show more than
a shy smile

; she stooped to pick a shell, finger traced its ear lobe
studying its soft curves, the milky cream tea colours
the ring of blue on its lip
- she raised it to the sky, as if admiring a fine gemstone
consecrating it as host
the sky moodily squawked a seagull's reeling cry back -
amen _

shrugging her shoulders, the shell ruched its ridged spine
as she put it to her lips, her wish whispered
carried on the wind, she mimicked a kiss
sending it skipping back along
into the water, -
this is where you belong, eventually
she said,
so do I



Only when I look back your eyes are clear answers
that tells me it's inside my head
the trees are blossoming. Anyway, I go
forward in the maze where blindness
is my strength and every snowflake
is stirred like a thought.
There is no way back,
and there is a long way to the point,
where the sea is falling out of the sky,
but when it happens, I call the calls
a call
in the darkness of your presence.
I'm a nice sea.
You can empty it for ideas.


A symbolic gesture

Let us start with the rainstorm where everything begins in the monsoon and we will return to this place again. I do not doubt that, quite possibly in an hours time or less.

In the meantime on the far side a figure steps out and something will happen. I am sure of this. Trees silhouetted in blue, ferns picked out in black and a cocked hat at a rakish angle adrift from a red head. Pinstriped, an oval face, tattooed in branch and trunk with a polka dot handkerchief and an unforgettable red ring pull conveying all that we needed to know. But that’s another story.


Same Self

You said goodbye to the
white-faced woman, made her the absentee
Left her looking at her shadow
left her by the tree

Cut your hair and bought a hat
tattoos creeping from your collar
Found an old striped suit to wear
rose your voice and heard it falter

Felt shadows trail along your cheek with
empty-hearted hope and grief
Ferns echoing your dry choked weep
throat rasping like winter's fallen leaves

Put her kerchief in your pocket
hidden breasts beneath double breasted lines
And pursed your lips and shut your eyes
gave yourself to new designs

Knotted your tie and tipped your hat,
looked inside to see,
That same self, white faced woman
someone you used to know, someone you used to be.


Flora and Fauna

The willow is a brain, veritable
Nervous system, stolid by the river.
Nearby the ancient ferns and their shadows,
Venerable, unravel their small scrolls
To disclose verdant pages of being.
Veins and neurons play canticles in our
Bodies, blood and fire droning in darkness,
Singing songs of joy and melancholy.
Amid the paisley patterns of nature
We instantiate straight lines and perfect
Circles, ideals that survive in numbers
And promises and other abstractions.
They often slice us open, or constrict,
But we persist until we must desist.



I left my land carrying the words of
the dying trees on my back.
I wait.

I lived in a library, slept on shelves,
swept up spare words, dined on documents.
I waited.

I found a disgruntled pinstripe which had lost
it's whip and a hat on a dummy.
I waited.

I scrubbed my skin into a rosy English apple.
I waited.

I laced on father's boots to stamp out flames
then walked the paved footway.
I waited.

I want to be in the house of dropped eyes and busy
fingers, to be seated on the green leather bench.
I wait.

in father's boots. I came to speak.
I am waiting.


To The Spurned

It’s in all the stories ⁠—
we each will have
a mouthful of sorrow
to choke on or swallow,
and will carry our grief
with us, a ballast
dependable as gravity
keeping us here.
And whether you, or she
was first to turn away,
you both remain
for each other,
heartache and joy
worn like a scar,
a mark, a badge,
a testament of grace ⁠—
declaring love,
once lived, remembered, known,
can never leave us less
than we would have been
without it.


Missing Presumed Dead

Uncle Maurice was never seen in public without his pinstripe suit. Even if we called on him unexpectedly, in his tidy prefab, he'd be in shirtsleeves, the jacket on a chairback. He used to wear a trilby too, and doff it very politely to every lady he encountered. He had a clerical job at the town hall and I used to love to watch him write with his fancy fountain pen. I asked my mother how it was that he was my uncle, being as he wasn't actually related to any of us. She said as far as I was concerned that was his name and she'd thank me to show a bit of respect.

One day he missed the Sunday service and there was a quiet sense of panic. My mother's hands were shaking so much she could hardly hold the hymn book. I could feel her willing the vicar to hurry up. We always stopped at granny and grandpa's grave afterwards but this time I had to go straight home with the neighbours while she went to 'just check on Uncle Maurice'. I had to have my dinner there and even get changed into my pyjamas. When mother came back she kissed me goodnight and her clothes smelt of something sharp.

I didn't see Uncle Maurice after that. My mother said he had a growth in his brain and that hospital was no place for children. I had to play by myself a lot while she was at the visiting. I looked at all the ornaments in the bureau and all the photographs too. There was a little album at the back. In it there is a picture of granny being May Queen in 1942 — it says so on a sign that a man is carrying.The man is smiling and he looks a lot like Uncle Maurice only he isn't wearing a suit. Then there is a picture of granny and grandpa, who never smiles. Underneath it says 'Our Wedding Day, November 1942'. Granny looks very fat. Then there are baby pictures with my mother's name underneath them. Read more >


The girl with the moon in her heart

Some girls get the sun in their head;
I got the moon in my heart.
I’m just pretending to live, while feeling dead ⁠—
oh to be a girl with the sun in her head.
Why can’t I have Mars in my spleen instead?
Being a cherry warrior would set me apart.
Some girls get the sun in their head;
I got the moon in my heart.


lament for José Marti

(Cuando, oh Poesia, cuando en tu seno reposar me es dado! José Marti)

i'm closer to the embrace of brugmansia in my mazie in which my forgotten hendecasyllable transpires upon the sunset lit iris just the length of caesura until the Mexico evenings grow into my white bones & your songs run warm like a bullet in my skull

like a sword-billed hummingbird that must hold its long bill up high to balance i once called it belief called it poesia what do they hum like when a turquoise blue crawls inside your jazz wanting to fly back to the dead of the oceans what do they hum like when the pendulous toloache bleeds & i hear my horse coming back for a second time to play favorites with dead



Oh, but look at the braintree bleeding! Meyoublue tree,
redredred of my head. My mind is branches,
a dreamer of wooden veins. Tipsy hat,
cap to trap the blustered leaves, keep lidded on my pain.
Turn away and cry from where she boughbows, hooks
her body upon the grass, shadowcast. Weepywillow
she makes me. Shewillnot, shewillnot.
She was not tempted by roots.
She will stand all saplingslim when I am gone,
or lay herself beneath the gentle shade. Or dance.
I will not know. I wonder if she will leave the shape
of an angel on the ground?
I am a curse of ferns.
I am walking away with copsescar on my face.
I drear a brooch of sadpool from my unsmiled eye.
The ring burns a hole on my heart.


Endangered Species

I carried that ring around with me for six weeks. I had plans to poke it in fancy puddings, hide it in pillows. I knew you would eventually unwrap or hang it around a favourite dog's neck. I even contemplated a drone delivery but didn't trust the local operator. But it was always there for that opportune moment and when that day came it was bittersweet ⁠— you, teary, made your case, you were honest (and I respect that) you were going to tell me sooner but... I understand. All you needed was five thousand pounds. The ring burned a hole in my pocket. I thought long and hard about love and realistic expectations; I was a fit, desirable man who won her heart on a zip-line in Montana ⁠— my humour coming a strong second. How could I refuse what she needed if I truly loved her? I pawned the ring that very day and instead of the ubiquitous knee-bending, my love was handed over in a large envelope of crisp, plastic twenties (I asked for it in twenties so it looked more, but got a mix of fifties and twenties, but the envelope still looked substantial). We said our goodbyes. The next day, I patted my pocket and you were missing. I never thought in a million years that I would lose you to Harry the Sniffer; a six-foot, 600-pound Eastern Lowland gorilla wedged somewhere in an Ape Sanctuary in Africa. I doubt he carried a diamond ring in his pocket or rode on zip-lines telling jokes yet he'd won her 'forever' heart. I decided not to write or buy jackets with pockets; oh, and it might be a while before I donate to a wildlife fund... Here's a good one. What do apes call sunbathing? OranguTANNING. (Yeah ⁠— I still got it.)


Forsaken Lover

A single blue tear lingers,
wrung from plant leaves
against sun and sea’s effects.
Skin smacks red, wracked with pain
and a broken heart, one unfaithful lover,
who promised a diamond ring.
Sleepless nights under a willow taxed
the false, both, man and girl to each other,
tears of woe, what ifs and shame.
Bring forget-me-nots, marigold, violets.


The Wink of His Words

I bloom in the back of his mind
where tea leaves speak and blood
is thicker than tears.

He walks hat tipped in salute
to every dreamer that catches
my silhouette in the wink of his words.

Pin striped lanky limbs struggle
to keep him centered, but I am
the ink writing him out of his mind.

There’s no warning when a pen breaks
a glass heart, or madness finds a mirror.
Love is never born from common sense.


The Things Done Before Pride

you confessed
my smirk was exceptionally queer,
curved upwards of straight, and that did not

quite enough confidence,
for this union to work.

you then mentioned my handkerchief was
cheery, but      it's
                    the only one i owned.

i swore change would come and noted
all the straight things i had done:


wear a boring suit.

- you interrupted but i went on -

refrained from touching my butt cheeks
or plucking my eyebrows for longer than a minute,
banning phallic looking vegetables from the kitchen.

one bent knee in time became     two,
and i felt like i once had in church,
where my wrists too bent downwards of straight
and i was duly reprimanded.

Read more >

London Bridge Station

Slave of an impoverished labour market and political advocacy, she went to work every day in pinstripes and an immaculately pressed shirt, her only real rebellions the colour of her cardigans, handkerchiefs and the engagement ring legend on the breast pocket of the bespoke jacket.

She’d majored in botany at university and had grown to love hiking through its pursuit, travelling abroad in her student years to see, touch and experience the true aroma of exotic plants in their natural habitat. Asia in particular had been a revelation. And New Zealand — she mustn’t forget … couldn’t imagine forgetting … New Zealand.

But trees were her real passion — great expansive trees which defied time and gravity and human interlopers to reach through epochs and make them insignificant.

When she had hiked the Himalayan Triangle the rest of the adventurers had revelled in the majesty of the peaks, the grace of the Dzongs and the indescribability of the temples — but her focus had been on the trees which spread like an immense blanket in the valleys and foothills.

She leaned against the steadying pole of the carriage and imagined she could smell the luxuriant perfume of the path to Bhutan.

There was an ugly crackle followed by an announcement.


She followed the fellow slaves off the tube and up the ramp, pleasant memories replaced by visions of Hebrews sweating under the Egyptian sun.



Some scars hurt in different ways. The scars of a love lost aches the heart and numbs the soul. The physical scar pulsating, beating red, is the worst kind. Nothing can soothe that pain. Not even the bountiful trees in the garden with the chirping birds and hopping white tailed rabbits, will ease the anguish. Dressing in a fine blue and white pin stripe suit and dashing black tie will not make it end. The only way to succumb, is the ease and comfort of the red hand glove gently pressing against the body.



They find each other again amidst the solemn silences of lonely waiting rooms
Where the air of unspokenness has broken down the wall of time between them
All wounds ceremoniously stitched and healed with no trace of scar or incision
As their movements breathe a new skin of understanding

They find each other again in moments of habitual freedom
Short walks whose memories draw a protective spiral of trust around them
Age at once a miscalculation of time and space
As Winter seems content to propel them through

They find each other again through the vehicle of optimism
Powered by a reignited flame which runs on air and strength alone.
As she denounces pain behind a backdrop of apprehension

They find in each other again a new semantic for “love and in love”
As the egg timer exhales its last grain of sand
Two reflecting paradigms of unwavering defiance
Who find themselves again as one


Bacchantes In The First Canto

The ring was promise inverse,
To the obscure wood a vow:
Tender high the thyrsus,

Make me tender now.
In honey and in civet musk,
Take your pinstripes down,

Cry out all the dry-husked
Barley tears of winter.
The ones kept fast in banker’s trust,

All storax, sweat and cinders,
Notes or pounds or howls.
Tip your derby to the vintner

For what vintage matters now?
Undrape your suited shoulders,
Unfurl the furrow of my brow.

Perhaps one consults stakeholders,
Meets to assess this wayward slope?
But straying nightly bolder,

We sensible observe the leopard’s coat,
That lexical infinitum spotted,
With lion and with slavering wolf.

Halfway through our lives,
And lying in the bracken,
Your bucking hips on mine,

We forget the question of the damned,
And all the answers of the poets.


The Shame

So much to lament. I'm told that I don't fit "the norm," yet how can there be a norm when I live in a time when pussy-grabbing men "lead the free world?" How can I fit any norm when on D-Day, a man who refused to serve his country because of "bone spurs" calls people fools and weak and nutty? When his leadership would repeal every gain people like me have made? Why should I try to be respectable when his kind don't want me to be respectable? Just unseen, or worse.

Why should I try, yet what else can I do? I am human and yearn for acceptance.

Once, in his exuberance at seeing me, my dog knocked over a cup of coffee. My surprise and dismay caused him to feel shame. he languished on our sofa until I comforted him. He licked my face then.

I know love.

And I know shame.


Never Too Late To Say “I Love You” Until…

Futile lamentations reverberate along
corridors of times long gone, this papa
tearfully apologetic revisiting his base,
fitfully lachrymose torturing unrelenting
voluminous wrongs against thee dearest
precious daughter aware poetic/prosaic

ministrations cannot substitute bonafide
nor ameliorate cumulative forsaken joys
requisite to bolster compromised delicate
innocence exhibited upon begetting deux
darling (wool worth more than fine spun
gold) healthily nurturing priceless progeny

two quickly grown to young womanhood
priceless offspring, whose treasured quasi
nubile kindled joie de vivre far surpassed
petrified plaguing yours truly (particularly
during pre/post pubescent phase), outlook
grim to take life by the horns, nee apathetic

pestiferous psychological, frankly zapped
wracked, plagued aversion to live steering
any natural borne autonomy, (within meek
minecrafted muffled mortgaged self) bereft
existence, (albeit manifesting during latter
sainted days of boyhood), a death grip vis-à-

Read more >

the uncanny valley of the shadow of death

Is a sad clown someone you
feel pity for?
feel anything for?
Is a sad clown someone?

I fear I inspire something
closer to disgust like
what you feel when you find whatever's haunting
the back of your fridge or
the bottom of your shoe or
the inbox you have too long neglected.

I fear I inspire shudders, the dread you feel
when—too soon—you peel off the bandage or
walk face-first into a spiderweb or
when you overturn a rock and confront a writhing underworld beneath.

At best I think I am birthday party detritus—
the cake crumbs the ants march away and
the flaccid balloons and
the piñata (once you’ve bashed in its head and ripped out its guts by the handful).

Am I dramatic?
(I am a master of my craft, well-studied in the art of human emotion.)
I traffic in extremes, so I wonder why you accept
my pies in the face,
my banana peel antics,
my floppy shoes like a stuck-out tongue and why
you shun all the rest of it.

Read more >

An Arboreal Proposal

‘Oh, Mr Black Tie Man, you are not the lover for me.’

‘But why not?’

He allows his sadness a single, starched tear. Too many tears and the world will descend into chaos.

She will not say anything more than this:

‘Look at the trees, Mr Black Tie Man. They will teach you to become a true lover.’

The ring, he carries about in his breast pocket. Although it is as close to his heart as is humanly possible without surgery, it is too unnatural a ring for hers to submit to — too faultless, too flawless. It lurks underneath his silken pocket square, this fingerless manifestation of elusive amore, as he casually regards the irregularity of the trees in the park around him.

The woman leaves, noting with disdain that Mr Black Tie Man’s life in the City could be carbon-dated by the uniform pinstripes of his suit.

In a quandary of anguish and desperation, he stands tall, puffs out his chest, and experiences an excessive quantity of tears rolling down his cheeks. Tear after tear waters the ground around him. Still, he remains, and he remains still.

The days pass and the leather uppers and soles of his brogues begin to spread apart, his toenails searching for the darkness of the soil.

Weeks go by and the woman returns to find a full canopy of foliage sprouting from his sap-slick hair.

‘This is an improvement, but you are not ready,’ she says, before leaving.

Read more >


quiet rose the dawn shedding a perfect tear
silent breezes seethed tempest brewing fear
within a seed of doubting grew anew
the soured bile of mistrust did accrue

at first it was a simple matter to ignore
but soon enough the tenterhooks of blackness gnawed
at the last vestige of hopeful longing left
behind the wake of desolation an empty nest

virtuous desire better intentions promises shatter
tendril shoots shrivel beating heart tattered



Genuine Calibans all,
We slip between cedar
Branches to spy on strangers
Invade sandy beaches,
Insist desolate areas
House crimson thoughts
Appearing as deep rouge on
Furrowed, flushed faces
Where lips pout like
Pursed valentine hearts
And wool pen stripe suits
Challenge crass humanity
With wilderness civility,
Savage ingenuity.

One empathetic tear drop
Like a lone eco monster
Rolls down an organic cheek
The Damp journey awakening
Even Aubrey Beardsley’s
Evasive peacocks, irreverently
Undeniably, ignoring baby-blue ferns;
All senses on edge watching,
Listening, hand held ear
Harkening dualities demands;
Propriety reduced to the
Sight and sound of
A falling hat.


War Story

Many men died      in the Argonne Forest     I survived     the bloody battle     the war     alive amid     cold and silent bodies
I was still a young     vigorous man
when I returned     married you
farm girl from a Mennonite family

The cries of dying men     echoed in my dreams     You were there in the
darkest nights     I thought
my heart     would beat open     my chest
I knew many nights     the end was near     Your touch your silken hand strong

You gave birth     a hard     unforgiving labor     I cancelled the concert     my debut
the violin     lay quiet in its black case
for months     I who survived     the threat
of annihilation in France     now
alone     with our boy     my life a coffin

Life — this life — I could not shake
your loss     I never could forget
the sharp     beautiful mornings
Pennsylvania country     great hope
I carry your ring     hidden in a pocket
I became the war     I survived



Her tablet computer sits on the conference table, behind which the interview panel sat, awaiting the next applicant.

Dressed flamboyantly in pinstripes and fedora as a coping mechanism, Ethna has her own CV file open, and sits silently: looking at images of her degree certificates. She uses these to centre herself, to connect with the tangible world. She can’t quite accept them as real yet; but the evidence is irrefutable.

She closes her eyes and utilises the “mindfulness” strategies taught to her by her therapist, envisioning calmer moments – this morning’s early walk among the singing trees and fragrant fern, unbothered by the high pollen count.

She is blessed that way and spares a moment to pity the younger generations who are not. She smiles at the uncharacteristic empathy thus conjured before sinking to the usual self-disparagement.

Knowing you’re clever means little when ‘children’ with little common sense, but a range of diplomas and certificates step on your neck in the rush to clamber over you and into the careerist clouds. She had been oppressed and used at work, and thought her chance of progress on any stage had evaporated when she finally had a nervous breakdown in the nineties.

The applicant’s a fresh-faced lad with all the beaming vapid arrogance of a millennial. He approaches the table with a confident Masonic gait. Fuck him.

Read more >

The Niemandsland

‘The butcher and baker didn’t know who they were leaving food for at the edge of the field; the hotel was indiscernible from the road, despite rising fourteen to eighteen storeys into brown sky. Inside, every day, the hotel manager – a strange red-moon-faced fellow in a pinstripe suit – opened the guestbook to paper as empty as the moon, and slapped the pages closed with triumph,’ says the old man to you on the sun-hot steps outside.

He laughed. ‘But the patrons did come. They came across the fields with the surgical precision of napalm and exacted their business on either side of the hotel for days. The first of them arrived at the doors with so little luggage, the bellhop wasn’t sure how to assist them – but he soon discovered a talent for fireman’s lifts.’

‘Those without names were given them from the manager’s favourite books, I reason, so the place soon filled up with men who’d escaped prisons and travelled to Mars, that lunar paper filled with mud scribbles, before each man was taken to a room with the curtains tight closed—’ He mimed them shut. ‘—and put in an armchair by a fire, blankets over their knees.’

You lean in, sound is bleary in the heat. ‘Lots of them died,’ he said, quiet. ‘They spread too far in their chairs. But those who didn’t? They emerged into corridors, whispering in languages and waving in surprise at golden wallpaper… Lambswool carpet… Brass numbers on their doors… And they crept down wide staircases to find their guns all organised in elephant foot umbrella stands.’

Read more >

The Wrong Corpse

She’s smartly pressed, flat, sad,
leaning her head on the wind,
doffing her new hat at failure
to keep someone alive long enough
to weep for her, buy a pinstripe
suit, march across crunching gravel.

Trees snap bare branches, click
their fingers to halt her sideways drift.

Who dressed her? It was someone
in the mirror; they poked lipstick
at her frozen mouth... pointed out
the twist of fate that holds a creaking
gate shut to make way for sudden
death. Eventual gets there in the end.


Don’t Let Them Tame You

Flushed, your head tilts in lament. Thoughts of trees
are imprinted upon you, the quaking aspen

and palmer oak. Oh, Isadora, how you miss the ferns,
bracken and maidenhair,

each frond, where flowers yawn with morning scent,
then inchworm. Now you remember, you weren’t

prepared for this inch by inch evolution, the pinstripe
suit transformation. You’re a creature of wildness,

wilderness—you’ve leaped through forests, twirled
through glens, hung from branches,

swung from limbs, where you caressed the grasses,
whispered your passion to the wind,

“You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.”



She was beautiful
like ballads tempting the lilies red
She had a pretty dress
with birds, ferns, trees singing
something precious in her breast

In a terrific city
— bright talk, stir-fry, metal towers —
you can eat life with a spoon
even meet salesmen of vacuum suckers

The problem with salesmen is...
...well, you know what it is

Afterwards she had to make new clothes
pinstriped, like a caged animal
The first time she tried them on
she shed blue tears — where was her pretty dress?
Wiping insects off a hard, fast windscreen

But something precious in her breast
was birds, ferns, trees singing
a closed circuit where nothing ever leaves
without her consent
there would be none, she said

In this terrific city
she bought a ring
and proposed to herself
She took a big breath
and was beautiful again
like ballads tempting the lilies red


Master Jerry’s Garden

Master Jerry, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With sadness and tears and diamond rings,
That’s how my garden grows.

Master Jerry, quite contrary,
When will your garden bloom?
When she will accept me and say that she loves me,
And when I’ll become her groom.

But she doesn’t want me.
Entranced by own beauty,
She spends her days by the lake.

Her hair brown as a turn soil,
Her eyes blue as heavens,
But her soul is the one a snake.

She says she will love me
When I’ll bring her a fern flower,
And an acorn from an old dead oak.

And so, I must wander
To beyond and yonder
To search for love and hope.


Career Path

just look at us all

swimming upstream in wrong clothes
a wake of sadness swells behind
behaving professionally
holding it in holding ourselves

too tightly

environment is like a wardrobe
buttoned by traffic breath shallow
whilst the lines on your face
branch out in the forest of

a keep it all together culture

and all you want is to slip out
of your dress into a lake and watch
reflections ripple their projection
that changes with the light

move slowly away

from the place of straight edges
cultivate ferns and weeds
as wildflowers grow tall in this
the grand design of your life


Quarter Century Man

What you whispered on peach sticky Junebug porches
And promised on the steamy lakes of glass
It was the coward's way
The seasons cycled with your love
Your plans prematurely postponed
(You did this) whisper the trees
Empty clang
Died with falling foliage mutilated

In winter rivaling __
Intentions derelict
Forever etched
In your bosom
On her grave
All the things she left unsaid
The assumed prophecies you long to hear

Every morning
You spray your seductive regret cologne
Fester. Bleed. Undress.
Thumbing the rosary of Forget
Your nighttime basis

Yet you
Even you
As the trees stripped of foliage
As the dying fawns and the frozen rivers

You, too, can be restored


How To Create A Diamond

We snowball grief
in the garden of origin.
This way it eases the parting,
hiding one bead of tear
salting one of the eyeballs,
and the ferns, orchids, hyacinths
sprawl like insomniac veins.

I am dressed to the T.
In my breast a pocket pyramid,
all silk and chosen by you once
for no reason, is nothing.
Hey, it can't even mop one's cheeks!

Near the heart
all desires (Hush!) evolve —
fossils first, then coals
and a diamond of an engagement
ringing to no answer.



I cast a shadow
not of my own languid shape
but of long hopes stretched now
beyond the reach of my raw
fingertips or gravelly legs scraped bare

You wore the signs of love like a formality
a noose knotted round your neck
an ill-fitting suit for a dress-up game
there is no ring no single tear to stain
your face
                 should be red in shame

Do you remember
we stood beside a tree once
it spread lovingly over
our nestled heads
and I told you that the whole
was contained in the branch

this branch finally unfurled to its tip
you have proven me right
my last leaf has fallen on wet ground
you have made an autumn in June.


How Could I Forget My Name and The Way He Put It

In his phone my name is eleven numbers,
saved on a short win
street lights
It's a loop string of secrets stood outside his apartment like a dog
It’s the pouring wine into glass behind the counter
sounds like something coming
I was named after Venice, so wet and eventually screaming underwater
Knew not to overstay my welcome,
so kept it short enough to quick step on the tongue
Flat enough to flag on the roof of the mouth
and small enough to swallow whole
I dressed it in teeth and gave it pink
unlocked lips for him to spread on the bed like a cake
I thought it was happy when dealt
in the palm of his hand,
the body of it small and white like a dove
Now I’d like to baptize myself with a new name,
one he can’t read or fold over like paper
A name that burns from the mouth,
spreads like human jam
instant and all the way to a heart
that is strong enough
to hold it


The Wisdom of Years Well Lived

Because they have a knowledge of the self and unselfish kind.
Seen and done it all before, some with distinguishing tattoos.
Of an infamous time when lives were discarded industrially.

Because they see beyond this petty day with all its tribulations
And see the vast panorama of Normandy's scarred beaches.
Landing terrified but undeterred – last survivors of D-Day.

Because they see history through a prism of past failures.
And meretricious leaders who trash their legacy in rhetoric.
Of the mean spirited kind – isolationism and nationalism.

Because they are now wheelchair-bound but still hopeful
of a better tomorrow as they live their days in thanksgiving
for mates, children and wives no longer there.

Because they miss them with fortitude and strength.
And the certain knowledge that they were blessed.
As we all are because they themselves are still here.

Because their sense of humour is still intact.
Not obliviated by twenty-first century living.
In an age where wisdom is considered for the birds.

Because we do not learn from past mistakes.
And we travel hopelessly down a treacherous path.
which for our sakes they travelled and know the distance.


Tears For The Town Cryer

It is impossible to find the small town of Mellon Collie unless someone who has really hurt your feelings gives you the directions.

The quiet town is tucked away on the edge of a very beautiful, very big and very silent forest. The silence is broken only by birdsong, the gentle rustling of leaves, and the even more gentle sound of barely suppressed sobbing.

Tristan, the Town Cryer, has been doing all of the crying for the town for almost 20 years. It isn’t an easy job at all — it is physically and mentally demanding. But someone has to do it. He has been elected Town Cryer every year since he became eligible to apply, and he is proud of his perfect track record of tears.

Every day, Tristan wakes up at the same time. The clock in the town square strikes six, and he puts on his dressing gown, goes downstairs, makes himself a strong cup of coffee, and checks the letterbox. Every day, his routine is the same but the letters are different. His job is never boring.

The residents of Mellon Collie use different-coloured envelopes depending on the kind of crying they need Tristan to do for them.

Bright red for angry crying. Charcoal grey for loneliness. Deep, bruised purple for heartbreak. Queasy green for homesick tears. An even queasier green for chronic pain. Burning, shameful orange for failed exams. White for the emptiness of rejection. Pink for embarrassed crying. Grey the colour of rain clouds for regret. A flat beige for news stories that get you choked up. Read more >


Cabaret Café

When the ferry pulled in at the pier, smoke was billowing from the engine room.

'I can't take you to work today,' the captain called.

I sighed and said to a fellow commuter, 'It's time for a change.'

'Good for you, James,' came the reply.

I returned home, rang the office and resigned. Then I packed a suitcase before realizing that I had responsibilities.

'Iris, what am I to do with you?' I said to my pet rat.

Iris ran up my arm and settled on my head. I considered for a moment and rummaged on a shelf at the top of the wardrobe.

'Perfect,' I said, extracting a felt hat of my father's.

I cut two air holes in the side of the hat and placed it on my head over Iris.

'Let's go.'

A day later, Iris and I were in the Portuguese countryside, staring at a waterlogged building. A sign lay in a puddle on the road. It read, 'Escola de Cabaré.'

A woman in a three-piece suit and fedora stepped from the nearby woods.

'Are you here to enroll in the School of Cabaret?' she asked.

'We are.'

'I am Beatriz. Welcome. The building has had a little trouble with its plumbing, so I am holding my lessons in the woods. Come.'

Read more >

An Unfinished Portrait

Let me tell you what I choose for your tear that runs onto your waistcoat dotting your handkerchief lining your trilby splashing onto the ferns spilling into the ground growing a tree.

Let me tell you where Cadmium Red not being painted on your lips your eyes softened with the years your hand invisible but a comb-like one propping your head up

Let me tell you about the double-breasted suit you've been wearing far too long the collars of your shirt tightens round your neck the insignificant small real you in a distance staring at the leaves that scatter round your shadow

Let me tell you that I wish you'd grow taller than the tree of responsibilities whose veins crawling back at you taller than the tallest tree you've ever climbed in the bed of Emerald Green ferns in the wild you'd lie, eyes wide open your face a cerulean blue

Let me tell you: you will


Gentle Man in Pinstripes

Shall we meet in our dreams my love?
I will wait for you beside the lake.
Slate skies subdued now the birds have flown.
Beneath, the willows in Autumn rains
The leaves cascade among the ferns.
Night upon night, year upon year
There are no seasons just Autumn here.
I wonder do you know me still?
The Gentle Man in blue pin stripes.
White dotted handkerchief, jacket top right.
Shall I tip my hat, should I blow a kiss?
Still waters run high about your island.
Take care my love lest you slip and fall.
No rush, we have all the time in the world.


Under the Blue Ipê Tree

In spite of what they may have said,
He was not a clown disguised behind inked tears,
With drops tattooed on his cheeks.
His tears were real.

He always wore a wool felt cowboy’s hat,
And parked his wild pinto horse in the tiled veranda,
Surrounded by manicured orchids,
Pierced by rainbow humming birds,
Carrying sugar lumps in their beaks.

His horse waited patiently to rush him back to the desert country,
Lit by the fiery sky of the wastelands…

He was a troubadour, a storyteller,
His stories didn’t die in the silent patches of the surrounding mouldy walls.
Tales came dancing out of his hands,
Stories about places he visited and people he met…

He followed the path of the golden river
Back to his beloved homeland,
He named the ghosts from his childhood,
He once left behind,
But who he never forgot.

He laced his dreams on the passing clouds.

During his life he became suspicious of strangers,
And the familiar faces faded away,
Most of his friends forgot his name.
But in the end it was a stranger who carried him in his arms,
To try to save him. Read more >



“To match the shoes with the jacket is fey. To match the shoes with the hat is taste.”
– Gene Wilder, in a letter to Mel Brooks regarding 'Charlie & The Chocolate Factory', Letters of Note, Vol.2

You never dressed for the occasion,

but always for an occasion

—this walk in the park
a case in point
with a point to prove.

To match your suit to the ferns

and foliage was fey, I’m afraid.

To match the ring with my dress

and your tears with your hatband
is a taste we won’t display

together again. Now go.

A hat tip to you, but don’t look back;

I’m too busy seeing what goes

with the shadows around this place.


Forever In My Pocket

I doff my hat
And put this moment –

Gathered graveside
Eyes down
Sadness writ in every line
Those lines run deeper –

Times passed
And memory’s woven loose...
But long –
So long.

Like nature slowly crowding in
To reclaim its own –
Remembered tellings and retellings –
“Which one would you like?”

I doff my hat
And put
This moment



Forgetting is an uneven road
enticing with the panoramic
edges of dreams
the center a snake rising
from the ashes
burned alive

The open gate the lost key
the horizon full of abracadabra
and tarot cards
that speak only in the language
of branches without birds

Coming into focus
the face about to fall
the landscape
emerging as it disintegrates
into secrets that choke the air

Thoughts drown in each other
drown each other

The hand that grasps
at glimpses of nothing
that opens full of yearning
and then returns

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The Sad Man

I take my hat off to him
the sad man
of the leafy suburbs
always smartly dressed
old-fashioned smart
all our problems
with all his grief
on pinstriped shoulders.
We all took our hats off to him
that sad man,
as we played in the streets
as we grew older
as we changed
while he stayed the same
all those problems
all that grief
that we never understood.


Dr Fibonacci

this perfect
gentleman who opts
to dress in natty pinstriped suits
tailor-made in the pulsing, enlarged heart of Sydney.
His name’s Dr. Jones but his colleagues have been known to call him Dr. Fibonacci.
He’s a biomathematics expert who recently took a risk and returned to university to retrain as an actuary.
He now tilts his skinned watermelon head and tips his hat, bidding a sad farewell to
the plants he’s lovingly studied mathematically.
A teardrop moistens a red cheek
as he leaves his lush
for the



Those tears of sadness they never stopped.
Those incessant clutching of teeth, lips pursed and head tilted
to balance the sorrow and pain precariously on her frail shoulders.

The pain never stopped. It's trajectory different from
the last time but it never diverted.
Her salty globules are staining the roots of the willow tree
as she sat under it with her despondent heart.
A companion to the weeping willow.
This autumn has taken away more than its
share of crumpled leaves.

The frail skeleton of this tree
resembles her bony self,
as she waits patiently for his return.
Only to scratch the inner of her red eyelids
matching the red polka dots of her dress.

she has waited long enough
for the sadness to arrive
despair suited in the pinstriped suit,
and decked up in the hat
only to dupe her again of happiness,
which takes the shape of a ring.

Gold-plated and shining from a distance
This is what the hope looks like, she says,
with teary eyes.

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