From many places, speaking truth
and making magic happen. Celebrating language.

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The reluctant sailor Pause Body Robbers Sharks
The Death of a President The Burning Bush The Morality Thing Woodwork
Happy Childhood The Famous City Piece of cake A Kind Of Prayer
September Rain I knew that song Love Me Tender The Eyed
M/S “Kari” (and her Captain) Santa Claus The Love Past & Future
The Seeker Summer Poem An Autumnal Day Her Song
senryu tanka The Big Wish Tree Planting
Wings Palm Sunday senryu Foreign Roots in Desert Fall
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The reluctant sailor

Sailing close to shore, distant stars are
lights from hamlets on hills,
a halo of longings where dreams are born
and a silk shawl is drawn over misdeeds.

Home is a house on a hill,
that’s where my heart is, not here on
the changing sea in a ship of company men;
dreams will not let me be one of them.


A shaft of sunlight broke
through a band of grey,
uniformed clouds;
Biblical. Waited to hear
god's voice.... Silence.

A dog came out of a shed,
entered the stage,
sat in the spotlight,
closed its eyes and enjoyed
a brief moment of joy

Body Robbers

He was a fine old man
and very famous
but at the mortuary
they stole his bones and
filled his suit with straw.

Craven people, they know
there is no god,
only utter destruction;
they'd rather eat caviar while
they can.

Their costumers, the surgeons,
need money for
flying lessons,
know there are no wings
to be had in heaven or in hell.


Didn't come to this atoll because
I want peace to create a work of art,
or as a mystic who paints with his fingers;
no, I do enjoy the bottle green sea,

would swim amongst schools of silvery
sardines, gossip with halibuts, dance
with eels and pick seaweed with crabs
and lobsters

if it hadn't been for sharks, sleek and
neatly dressed, swimming around the atoll,
grinning, telling me not to fear them
and their sharp teeth

glint in the sunlight; they are asking me
to put my trust in them; they will sell
my art, if only I will come into the sea at
five when it's feeding time.

The Death of a President

The first elected president, after seventy years
of dictatorship, was a big man with a flushed
whisky face, a bully too, knew how to get
to the top, but when there he was incompetent,
spent much time getting drunk. So the nomen
clatura took charge, created an oligarchy that
robbed the Soviet state and her people; that
many oligarchs are Jewish is purely incidental,
if anyone keeps mentioning their origins I will
not hesitate to call him/her a sour Anti –Semite.
They are disloyal Russians who grabbed what
they could before fleeing abroad with their
loot. Nationhood is a commodity that can be
purchased and betrayed at the drop of a shekel.

The Burning Bush

Last evening, big news filled the screen,
a plane crashed into a building in New York.
The great country cowed and trembled
with self-inflicted fear;
haven't they seen a plane
crashing into a building before?

Doctors and athletes, supremely confident,
tend to fall down from the sky in their little
aeroplanes; a dead pilot is strapped to his seat,
Icarus has landed, a Yankees pitcher,
not a son of a god.

Fireman walk purposefully towards
the flames, aware of their status at the top
of the working class heap, act as in a movie.
Wonder if they have brought their own film
crew; great entertainment though.

Houses and whole towns on fire in Palestine
and Lebanon, cluster bombs galore, children
in ruins, dust in open eyes; all this killing
gets to be tedious, like an overlong, apocalyptic
movie, directed by a leviathan.

The Morality Thing

Sex, immorality, the pastor confesses
and is fired, but he is charismatic;
so is Saddam Hussein, but he'll hang;
the victor has a cold, christian's heart.

The pastor will be forgiven, it is said
the devil spends more time preaching
than ordinary blokes who only get around
to thinking about sexual dissipation.

Misty days are good for the soul,
deceitfulness wins; the dictator will
hang on a hook before he is called as
a witness to our moral degradation


Made mother a wooden spoon, didn't hollow it out much,
she said it was an economical spoon and giggled. I also
gave her a bread board, with a pattern; it had warped
and was quite useless; feeling futile it quietly left and
wasn't missed. Mother used to laugh a lot when she was
young, once I gave her a painting I had made, called it
"night"; except for a few stars there was nothing to see;
this caused great hilarity, she promised to hang it up in
the hall, never did, it ended up behind the wardrobe in
her bedroom. My masterpiece was a carved horse, only its
hind legs were too thin, one broke, the teacher glued it
together, it had black painted hooves; was fond of that
steed, never took it home to mother though; I mean, do
I look like a comedian?

Happy Childhood

Since a boy I had been looking for fabled,
"happy childhood," the one in books with
rich, sober parents, big garden and a pony.

Looked everywhere, was blinded by spindrift,
and white seas, climbed foggy mountains,
smoked a lot and fell into roadside ditches.

Trekked through Australia, crocodiles, and
people who called me "mate"; they didn't have
a clue nor did anyone on 42nd Street, New York.

Years passed, desperate, asked a rich couple
to adopt me; they were friendly, but felt
an adoptee ought to be one not as old as I.

Settled in a green vale, adopted myself; I'm
my father now, he spoils me rotten and, at
last, 97 next year, I enjoy a happy childhood.

The Famous City

Inside a plastic cast, a great
statesman on a plinth, flowers laid
at its foot every year,
and military parades;

till someone dropped
a bomb to eradicate terror
once and for all;

ten million eggs hardboiled
in a flash, toasted soldiers
not needed.

A Chianti bottle with melted
candle wax down its side on
the table of an Italian café in
Modena looks romantic

as a lover gazes into another's
eyes and sees only himself.

Piece of cake

Near the baths, by the docks where I used to
go for a shower every morning, except Sunday,
we didn't have a bathroom at home, only an outdoor
loo used by four families; there was a small bakery
on the side street, smelling of Danish Pastry
and after a hot shower I used to eat two slices.

Mother was surprised by my sudden cleanliness,
didn't tell her I had discovered girls and they liked
my smell of "Lifebuoy" soap and Aqua Velva
aftershave, not that I shaved much being only fifteen.

Then I left and when I came back times had changed,
everyone had a bathroom and frozen pastry could be
made in the microwave oven, but it wasn't the same,
nothing ever is.

The women at the bathhouse were so kind and
the girl at the pastry shop gave me cakes whether
I had money or not, pay next day. All little streets
have gone, nowhere to hide, all the avenues, planted
trees and flags, but what I'm really trying to tell
you is that I achingly miss my youth, which is on a
sepia photo that hangs on the wall where old men sit,
drink coffee and talk of a time that never was.

A Kind Of Prayer

The night is at ease, nestling in its snugness
like a well worn silk scarf; no stars though,
street-lamps will have to do, casting streaks
of pale light on undulating silk.

Sleep keeps its distance, disquiet in my mind,
a doubt; this night, what I see no one else does,
it's my illusion, yet it will fade, I'm not master
architect of the eternal.

And when time ends I will not even know that
the world is a fantasy; shadow and light, clouds
hasting across the sky. It's the absence of faith
in a god that makes my horizon smaller.

September Rain

Last kiss, Aurora’s daughter,
I walked through the enchanted forest
enveloped by the aroma of our night's embrace
as red squirrels jumped from tree to tree;

Oh, Green Eyes, how much I loved you then,
never should we part, I was sure of that,
no other love existed;

but I was blind, didn't see the falling leaves
and the poisonous mist rising from the marshland.
...Gone to Spain, they said.

I knew that song

Restless day, words race around my mind
but will not stop long enough for me to write
them down

drove on night roads, struck by the illness of
rejected love, saw her dreamy brown eyes
in the sky

parting clouds set the stage for a new day,
remembered a song about castles in the sky
but now I'll settle for the sun

Love Me Tender

I had seen her at the supermarket buying
food stuff and taking her time about it.
She has long black hair and in her eyes
the bright sunlight of the savannah.
On her sensuous lips, mirth dances,
I wonder why.

At a discreet distance I followed her home.
She lives in a sweet little house
on a road off the main street;
her front lawn was overgrown and
flowers needed weeding.

Rang the doorbell, asked if I could please
tend her garden.
"No," she said, "I have a man seeing
to that."
"Next year?"
"Perhaps," she said, smiled and
gently closed the door.

The Eyed

Oogled full Mona Moon when she turned and
glared angrily back at me, and I was bathed in
a white luminosity, utterly naked, no place to
hide, glowing in secondary light; now I know
what she must endure.

Indoors she kept looking at me from every
window and through curtains, and I could read
in the local paper, "Man hit by hand-cart…"

Hid in the windowless closet, sat on an upturned
sink bucket, years since I have been here, used
to be sent in here often as a child when doing
something to upset an adult.

It isn't easy to be Mona Moon; all she has
of her own is darkness, empty craters and tons
of pink dust.

M/S "Kari" (and her Captain)

Loading coal in Norfolk, mined by Polish Americans and
Charles Bronson, destined for Antwerp; the winter raged
against the coming of spring. Our captain, sensibly, let his
ship ride the waves, up steep mountain slopes down dark
gullies. Silence, as storm and ship fought a mortal battle.
The storm lost, another battle won by the old girl; four
ships had sunk in the same waters. We're proud of her and
of Captain Olsen, but we never told him so. M/S "Kari"
rode the sea as a swan; it was her last battle, sold for scrap
iron and made into millions of coffin nails. Captain Olsen,
the great seafarer, was retired; land life didn't suit him,
drowned in his own vomit. I can only hope that some of
Kari's nails were used on his coffin to make up for flowers
no one sent.

Santa Claus

Christmas Eve, heavy snowfall, postcard
pretty, big lovely flakes, cakes and ale,
lit tree; children with water-combed hair
eagerly waiting for our Santa Claus.
Frantic ringing around, something about
Uncle Harry and booze, and "told you so,"
from mother. In the morning the snow
plough came, clearing a path for cars, big
heaps of snow for children to slide down
while waiting for a much delayed Santa.
In March spring came, snow heap thawed,
something red in there, consternation; and
finally we got our Christmas gifts.

The Love

Soft sobs from the bathroom as
she brushes her hair, a dustpan
full of hair on the floor, and it
isn't as glossy as before.

She used to be beautiful... and
isn't about to sink into old age
without a struggle, sweet scent
and strawberry-red lipstick.

Time is sepia air, best seen as
memories, in pictures of youth:
"Am I still beautiful?" "You are,
my love for you will never fade."

Past & Future

My past is
as vast as
frozen most
of the year
and mushy
My future
is a strip of
the size of
has built a wall
hindering it

The Seeker

This flowing idea of pure love
not of squalid affairs that end
in recrimination, mutual hatred,
damned lies and jealousy;

to be grain, water and yeast,
nourishing food, unlimited,
give unconditional love, clear
as the mountain's stream;

if I could have a crumb of that
vision it would cleanse what
has been a luckless love life,
and I will gladly die tomorrow.

Summer Poem

I built a balsam raft with a mast, and a Latin sail
for amusement on summer days on the inner sea,
but I found myself too far from shore; daydreaming
is dangerous, I had forgotten the dark undercurrent.
The shore is hazy, tomorrow it will have gone, it's
just me and the blue outer-sea where fog banks are
forgotten memories. I and the raft will end up on
a blue painted plaster sea, in an empty bottle of rum
that sits on a mantle piece collecting dust

Till someone lifts it up, blows cigar smoke down its
open neck, I'll be invisible in the scented fog bank.
When the mist clears I shall be gone; the smoker,
astonished, will ask: "What happened to the raft,
and the man in the bottle?" Fearfully throw his cigar
into the hearth, sell his scrap metal business, buy
a dingy, leave his wife and set sail for the outer sea
where the fly-fish fly like ospreys across the sky.
He just might find whatever it is he's looking for.

An Autumnal Day

On the long and wide beach, I can, at a distance,
See an elephant, an unusual sight on this Nordic
Shore; but as I get nearer it retracts. Like the
Seagulls overhead it resents my presence here,
Off season, October, humans are not supposed to be
Here. Coarse grass grows on sand dunes, forever
Defying the wind that amuses itself by creating
Beautiful mares, which it sends galloping onto the beach;
Alas, they stumble on underwater rocks, wane into ripples
That whisper of storm and dark days. I'm cold and
Scared, alone, there's no one here that wilts me well;
Feeble I am against a nature that's ready to devour me;
The "I" has lost its self-belief. Far above me angry
Clouds congregate.

Her Song

On the shores of Bengal there is a place where they
slaughter ships, tearing them up, almost by hand, into
scraps of iron. (You will have no knowledge of that.)
Once they rode the many seas where home was for
lonely men who referred to the ship as "she"; was glad
to be onboard after a stormy night ashore; when
finally leaving her, was moist-eyed and silent for once.

On the shores of Bengal stories go untold, bits of iron
in a heap, nothing much to get sentimental about; except
there was a ship named "Grace", she plied the coast of
America central and was resident of Costa Rica, but
alas she was sold to unfeeling Canadians. I jumped ship
then and shamefully left her to fend for herself amongst
heathen on the icy, desolate coast of Labrador.


Endless rain
We sit indoors
Learning to know each other


Electricity gone
She is beautiful tonight


Rain falls softly
As not to wake us too early


Peace in our Time?
From coliseums of our days
Fans scream for blood.


When bombs have created a wasteland
Then we call it peace.


Forever is a word
Too awesome for one to grasp,
It has no horizon.


The worried man
Was so very fortunate
Died before doomsday.



When the masses shriek
A soldier's silence stands out
He loves his enemy
Knows of his fear and courage
They are true brothers in arms


New Moon
Storm was throwing love about
Impossible night
Yet, she said she loved me
Who needs the moonlight now?

The Big Wish

A river runs under the path I walk, rushes to an underground lake where
blind fish swim in rings while eating transparent shrimps. The river’s nascent
is up north, where mountains are blue and glacial, but filtered through
layers of rocks it has become as crystal clear as the lagoon. Since it is
so dark there the river might as well be stygian and the lake made of ink.

Where the river drops into the lake, a cascade falls, but since there is no one
tp hear the sweet harmony there is utter stillness. The same ignominy befalls
the rainbow, whose brilliance outshines the diamond crusted grotto walls.
Alas, there is no one around to eulogize its magnificence so it doesn’t shine
at all. If a fish tires it will be eaten by other fishes, ‘cause nothing must upset
the loop of life. Is this what earth will look like when basking sharks and man
have gone and only blind vertebrates and translucent crustaceans swim in
an eternal ring to keep hope and life alive? Till humanity awakes and a boy says:
”Mum, look at that big rainbow, can I make a wish?”

Tree Planting

The Palestinians on the West Bank are planting olive
trees, one for each of them, and one for the stone
throwing settlers too. Soon there will be a forest of trees,
but for how long? If the trees get too tall the occupiers
cannot see what's going on and come to bulldoze the lot.

The occupiers are the new Romans, intoxicated by hate,
fear and vast military power, sinking into dissipation and
moral corruption. The olive branch is a symbol of peace,
and trees can be planted again and again till occupiers,
overwhelmed, walk home.


The old woman's hands folded on the table
like a butterfly's wings. They quiver slightly
like trying to fly. There is a chill in fading light
and summer's flowers have long since gone.
Transparent wings will not flitter from rose
to orchid, come next spring.

Palm Sunday (Easter Sunday)

End of time splashes through yellow plastic tubes to meet an eternity that ends
in a sand box. Shriek! Let us do it again. And we awoke as bible words and
slogans rained from an amused sky. I saw the four horsemen on mules
ride slowly through an abject cityscape to where the air was clear and there
was grass for the animals. The weather is always good when not punctuated
with TV weather forecast entertainment. We have fortressed our home to avoid
receiving or hearing other voices. But strange men in black came and showed me
a house in a lane where Barbara Streisand lived in a tent in back, did her exercises
at seven o’clock sharp, every day. Twenty-eight people circled my house, two of them
who came said they were termite inspectors, but they were more interested in the
kennel where my poodle Hamas lived. Next day the twenty-eight had disappeared
and my dog lies dead on the steps of the shed I use when sending secret messages
to people who believe in everything just to be on the safe side. Barbara Streisand
joined us, dressed in a Salvation Army uniform, urged me to buy the house; she promised
me a new dog, I declined, jumped on a passing bus. The driver wore a laundry starched
burnoose and past us flew twinkling, vibrant bushes; green tutus looking for Margot Fonteyn.
It was Palm Sunday and not a good day to talk about defensive Jihad.


Is white poverty
In South Africa today
Racial harmony


You shine my shoes
I step on yours


You are guaranteed a job
If you’re quiet


There are no guarantees
But you’re free to talk

Foreign Roots in Desert Fall

It is sad to watch the big tree wearing a vast crown of hubris;
casting demonic shadows, it allows nothing else to elevate.
Blows leaves of steel and stops anything that may help a small
bush grow.  Once this tree was admired, an example of how fast
arid land, fit only for the native Arabs, olive trees and goats,
could grow into ten thousand blood-dripping roses. In time,
countries far away came to fear this tree's voraciousness;
its boughs try to strangle the world, as it needs to govern us
to feel safe. Until we saw its weakness: This is a frantic tree,
a foreign plant in agony. iI has lost its purpose, has no ethics.
Worse of all its bark is scabby, roots are shallow; the tree can
tip over if our anger and disgust get to be a lashing hurricane,
which upends the tree; and its leaves will forever rustle restless
on the road to nowhere.