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

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Quest for Love Elimination Love's Lament The Collaborator
Pegasus Shift Temporary Loss The Missing
The Ocean The Wonder Like
A Teacher
The Road haiku (missing man) School Sport Corruption of Poverty
Nordic Equality Haiku (Purgatory) Daybreak at Sea Surrender
Long way from home Politically Corrent I'm Not Guilty The Mystic Veil
A Poem from the Seas The Death of an Author (Jose Saramago) Bird Migration The Fado Singer
Dancing All Night Long Voyage and a Chinese Lady Where the Northwesterly Blows (memory of a town) The Field of Mortality
Go to Page 7 . Page 8 . Page 9 . Page 10 . Page 1 . Page 2 . Page 3 . Page 4 . Page 5

Quest for Love

Once I was in love with a Chinese lady,
dressed in green, she looked down from sad walls
in side street hotels and ships’ mess halls;
stern expression, disapproving of the language
used by men who only meet women in cheap hotels.

No one knew her name, few had seen her picture
although it hung there in front of them;
she was real and I’m sure her name
is: Li Ming Wong Tong, which in my ears sounds
like a declaration of love.

Tried to find her on my days off, but not in China,
they wouldn’t let me in, thought I was a spy;
her picture has been replaced by funny clowns
in polka dots and red noses, so sad men in mess halls
can look up and laugh.


The assassin came at dawn and with his
chain saw cut down the Siamese-twin olive tree
that yielded too little fruit to profit from.
Sap glinted in the morning sun, blood or tears,
no one knows with trees.

Unnatural silence in the grove, a place usually rife
with rumours and racy gossip; for two hundred years
the twins had clung together...and now winter wood.
A collective shudder undulates through the grove.

Love's Lament

In the morning breeze I can hear your voice
softly calling my name,
in the haze I can see
the contour of your face.

In the meadow’s stream
I hear your laughter and
the water in the well is as clear as your tears
the day you said farewell.

All in nature reminds me of you;
transient our love, like the flowering
of the almond tree;
beauty never lasts, and it was yesteryear.

The Collaborator

Behind a wall, with broken glass sadistically embedded
on top, a woman harvests King George potatoes from her
small plot. She spends most days here now since they
shaved off her beautiful hair; she has been spat on
by the town's people for collaborating with the enemy.

Colonel Hans Horst, their love was born in war, fervent,
all embracing; no time for bourgeois morality. Unspoken,
both knew it was not going to last. Hair grows back,
grey now, but still thick and glossy, she is secure
in her certainty that she has been true to herself and him.


Flying horses darken the sky, filling the
internet with a shower of words; we are
writers filling a void; listen to the lapwing's
call as panicky horses are chased into a coral,
slaughtered and made into salami.

Email is the message, no matter what it says
as long as it fills the in-box; trivial thoughts
are given credence in the abstraction called
the internet; may sharp shod horses fill your
blank computer screen with harmony.

Night Shift

Dark is this autumnal night, drawn curtains,
empty roads where crumbled words blow
disconnectedly about, street lamps few and
far between; only people, with evil thoughts,
go out in a night like this.

Steps of hate are coming up behind me, stop
when I do and wait; I sense the foul breath
of booze and too many cigarettes, turn and
a shudder oozes by where the blue neon-light
tells of a bar that closed at midnight.

Temporary Loss

On the shiny tooth yellowish wall a cross
and an empty bed waited for a new patient,
but where was she, the rose bud of my life?

A nurse, with a kind smile and big, milky
breasts came, took me by the hand, down
to the cellar we walked, into a warm room.

There, in a flower-pot, full of rich black soil
and horse manure, a new rosebush greened
and it had eleven buds on a delicate twig.

The Missing

The picture that hung on the wall in the antique shop
for sale - at fifty-five pence - was of a couple who wed
in 1946; a time of great hope for the future, if little
possessed in the way of material things.

Names on stones, now; a daughter puts cut flowers
in a ceramic vase on their birthdays. They had a son
too, he made it big, fled to a tax haven; wonder if he
ever knew how much they missed him?

The Ocean

There is but one vast ocean
with an ever changing name,
so much sea, so little land.
It is rising, turquoise death
nibbling at tropical islands;
beaches are moving inland,
a new Noah's Ark, a pair of
each, female/male and no gay
parade on her deck, drifting
on a clueless, windless ocean,
often called: "Nothing to see
but fucking water."

The Wonder

Saw them in the summer bay, ten nuns in
a rowing boat, then they disappeared into
a bottomless shaft of light; as clouds eased
glow, contours came into focus again, they
were no longer there; but keel and ten oars
dripped tears of clarity, shattering the sea’s
calm demeanour.


My ankle hurts but I can’t sit down too long,
remember mother, how she sat and sat on her sofa
so long that people thought she was a big
pillow in need of a dry cleaner; till she shrank
and became so invisible that people accidentally
sat on her.

I’m approaching the age when she began sitting
down; coffee stains and cigarette burns on
the table in front of the sofa are like an epitaph.
Strong eyed and steadfastly she watched TV, to
the bitter end.

Last time I saw mother she was a sparrow’s
head on an institutional pillow, fed by a tube;
a double take, my face? I looked another way
but had seen the future, fled south to a valley
of equal days.

The Teacher

In this flat and reticent landscape, populated by sturdy
people who only laughed when they drank, our teacher,
a small, pixy like man was a total misfit. Mixed classes,
smaller than his pupils, easy to provoke to rage or tears;
yet we liked him, we sensed his struggle in an unjust life.

During a history lesson about kings and other royals, he
broke off told us how he had woken one morning and his wife
was dead beside him; the fire in the wood burner in the living
room had died too but he couldn't bring himself to relight it;
so very cold, he ate porridge that froze in his mouth.

No phone, had to walk to the school house to call the doctor;
we children were uneasy till he began talking about kings
like Magnus, Olav and Harold. That's more like it; how
were we to know he was but a leaf, blowing helplessly in
a cold land of unyielding Christianity.

He didn't show up one morning and we got the day off,
next day a lady teacher told us that he had gone home to
Jesus. By then we children knew he had hung himself and
since he had no family we got another day off to attend his
funeral. I was surprised to learn that he was only thirty.

The Road

There is a bit of a roman road in my vale, something
for tourists to look at, smooth stones for sandaled
soldiers (they didn’t invent the boot), horses, mules,
their women and other hangers on; an imperial army
on the way to keep order somewhere, but to no avail.

Hubris. They come and go...empires; now we have
one claiming to be democratic, two hundred years of
consensus has brought us a barefoot grin. Its cowboy
boots were stolen by a province, a cheeky cuckoo, in
the middle of a wasteland called Palestine.

Popes come and go too, quoting obsolete text and
Muslims reinforce our prejudice by angrily marching,
burning down churches. When the Romans had passed,
clamour gone, peasants came with buckets and
spades; armies leave so much manure behind.

haiku (missing man)

Osama Bin Laden
Translates the bible into Arabic
And lives in Gent

School Sport

The teacher picked two of his favourite
boys in class as team captains; the two
picked their team from a lineup. A weedy
little runt of a boy and I - small too -
were chosen last.

I told jokes, played the clown, the boys
laughed; their grinning impaled me on a
stake of anger and burning humiliation,
so I turned my venom on the runt; how
the boys howled.

I wore Janus' mask like a trained actor;
inside a spiteful child planned his revenge;
although the moment never came, the disgrace
is a purple scar, a stigma for all to see.

Corruption of Poverty

I didn’t really like him, tried to but
he talked slow, was boring; his mother
worked in a cake shop though; we went
there before closing time to eat unsold
Danish pastries.

Belly full of cakes, I found an excuse
to leave him to walk around town and
the docks, dreaming of being a master
(made it to cook). An effete boy, run
over by a bread van (how we laughed
at that).

Mother made me visit him in the hospital,
he had bags of sweets, fruits and cakes;
visited him every day; his mother cried,
thought I was a caring lad.

Nordic Equality

Poor kids and rich, we went to the same school.
Democracy ruled. No school uniform; we wore
holed jumpers, they wore new stuff.

In the yard we were equal; they had packed
lunches, I a tin of sardines and a can opener,
but we played games and fought as kids do,
no big deal.

Equality ended outside the gate; the rich kids
went back to their part of town, we to ours,
but they always got much better grades than us.

They went to university, we manned factories,
learned to weld pieces of iron together to make
ships; they became, as usual, the rulers of today.

For years, during our working lives, there was
barely a flicker of recognition; now we sit
together on park benches and tell each other lies.

Haiku (Purgatory)

Tremulous Anguish
Morning after a long night
No beer in fridge.

Curtained windows
Tremors and spilling coffee
Phone ceaselessly rings.

Outside my door
The nice couple from AA
Test their friendly smiles.

Daybreak at Sea

Morning, on the deck of another old tub
lumbering her way across the Pacific Ocean
bound for Japan

The deck is damp from night rain, the sun
has begun its rise again and the sea glitters
of gold ducats

Just me and the seascape, we are as one,
peace settles over me, it's good to know
I'm a part of this.


Dawn, it has been raining, it will soon rain more;
from my window I see the tarn - looks like spilt
milk on a kitchen table, and amongst tree mist
slowly whirls around to music, unheard by any
living creature. Feathery my body and I'm part
of this scene, must be careful though, not close
my eyes; if I do I might be totally absorbed and
unable to be one again; yet, if I do let go (it is
tempting) I’ll hear mystic music not listened to
by any man before. Gray and white morning, soft
contours, cockerel crows; the radio speaks
of more rain - like I didn't know. It has begun to
rain as I stand by the window, feeling the ease
of being; and wonder... if I did close my eyes?

Long way from home

The supermarket’s café is full of shoppers,
the cacophonies of voices melt into a song
old as humanity itself. Feel safe amongst
my own kind; outside this sphere of safety
streets are wide and cold.

I can't sit here too long occupying a table
for four, must have fallen asleep, a gentle
hand on my shoulder: "You ok, sir? More
coffee?" "No thank you, it's time for me
to leave, I still have miles to go."

Politically Correct

It wasn't really my dream, but my wife's, she was waxing
the living room floor, had told her many time not to do that,
makes the floor slippery, I think she's after my money.
A knock on the door, a woman with 8 children, said she was
my wife and her children mine; I denied all knowledge; she
called me a racist, I took my sunglasses off, yes they were
black. Feeling guilty I was about to offer them shelter when
my wife came, said with my navy pension I couldn't even
keep a duck in a pond, slammed the door shut in the face of
the ebony lady. "Don’t be a sap," she said, "there is no need
to believe people because they are black." And that's coming
from a woman born in Kinshasa.

Later that day driving to a masked ball in Haifa, I saw
the poor mother and her children, thought of stopping but
desisted, 80 sticky fingers in my car...No! In Haifa I drank
fresh orange juice and tried not to ask impertinent questions
about the plight of Palestine, wore an outsized nose; the idea
was to look like a roman senator. "Anti-Semite," a waiter called
Olmert thundered, and tore it off, refused to serve me until
I repented and said I was deeply sorry for what had happened
to his people. Complied, who says I’m a hero? Looked out of
the window; saw a Gypsy family making slow progress across
the landscape, a victimized and neglected people, no holocaust
shrine for them.

I’m Not Guilty

I shot a horse once, as it stopped grazing, wasn't
afraid of me; I had fed it slices of bread, pressed
the rifle against its temple and squeezed. I had to
do it; the farmer, my boss, didn't want old horses
on his land, I was a hired hand. I'm blameless.
If you say I didn't have to obey such an order, it's
because you have never been unemployed, you
don't know what it feels like to beg for money to
feed your family burgers, fries and milk shakes.

The horse had brown eyes and before it sank into
a heap of Italian salami it looked at me with
sadness; that did me in. I became a heavy drinker
prone to tears when telling animal stories. Wait!
Hold on a bit: "Is Italian salami made of horse
meat?" "Yes, and so is Spaghetti Bolognese, but
I don’t care about your diet." "How could you let
me eat salami and not tell me it was made of
horse flesh?" "Look it’s about my pain, not yours."

The Mystic Veil

When I was a child, in Norway, many women wore veils.
They were usually classily dressed and wore a dead
fox with glass eyes around their necks; mother said
they were rich bitches, scared me though; faces in
deep shadows, they could tongue me and I wouldn't
know, or perhaps they were witches with festering
sores and a third eye planted on the forehead.

For the opposite reason I feared nuns, they covered
everything but their stern, unadorned faces; eyes not
mild, but judgmental. When seeing one I was quick
to walk on the other side of the street. Yesterday
I saw a Moslem woman wearing a full veil, but her
burka was too snug around her bum - an impostor?
Other women stopped and stared, it won't be long
now before it is the latest fashion.

A Poem from the Seas

I once saw, where the horizon ends, a ship plough the sky.
White tears on pale blue, and I saw the waiting darkness;
I knew, before any others, it would be a starlit night.
Look, I said, but it was too late, the ship had cast anchor
behind a cloud loading mist for Dogger Banks, and taking
onboard discarded dreams to plug the dikes of Amsterdam.
Sunflowers on mythical sea and red flying fish, my ship is
bound for the Saragossa Sea with a hold full of old sailors,
it's here they come to stalk in the fog of the forgotten.


The Death of an Author (Jose Saramago)

Jose Saramago has gone. Communist, truth seeker
and atheist, never liked by church and state.
When he won the Nobel peace prize for literature,
he was embraced by the Portuguese people, even
by those who had never read his work.
For a fleeting moment the light of fame shone on
the nation. Alas, he died when football fever was
at its highest; his demise was hardly noticed. But
future TV programs will, no doubt, exalt his virtues.
In time there will be a statue of him in the corner
of a dusty square.

Bird Migration

I see no birds today
Need them for my loneliness
Wonder why they flew?

The birds which left
Built me a nest of feathers
A bed of eiderdown.

Birds are transient
Open the door of any cage
See them fly as dreams.

The Fado Singer

Our visitor was ninety two and could see far into the past
and into a future that held no trepidation.

Unaided she got up and sang us a Fado about love that
never lasts and the sorrow of defeat...

Melancholy, that’s Fado for you, but it's also about how
sweet love is, and the art of acceptance.

She lives in the shadow land of an impending ending
and what is new and timeless.

When she left she beckoned for me to kiss her; I bent down
to touch her cheek, but she kissed my loveless lips.

I was enamoured, and her eyes were clear as heaven;
a woman is forever a woman even at ninety two.

Dancing All Night

The street where I lived was long, houses on both sides where people
gasped behind laced curtains. I walked the same street last night after
going home from a dance restaurant. I waltzed with a girl who said she
loved me, I realize now she had said she loved dancing, I had been happy
going home, singing loudly waking through the neighbourhood.

I tried to hide inside my overcoat. At last I turned a corner down a road
with shops, where I ran into a cafe selling soft drinks, hotdogs, burgers and
tea. Walked past a bar that opens early, I ignored it, remembering a lady
who had said I was a nice man, a pity I drank so much.

Ten o'clock, cafe opened at eleven, but had to prepare stuff and do a bit of
cleaning. Ten to eleven, tried to roll a cigarette, but tore the paper into
shreds. This will not do, walked to the bar, a double whisky and a beer;
got out of there, ten to twelve, chewing gum, struggling to look sober.
I worked hard for hours, till my hands began to shake again. Empty cafe,
I quickly shut the door. Screw it all, unrewarding business; a man needs a break.


Long Voyage and a Chinese Lady

Glittering ocean, there is no difference between the vast blue sky and the sea.
I’m in a bubble, there is no escape. I walk on a rusty deck, know this voyage will
never end. Time is reduced to a trickle. The ship is bound for Nagasaki but we
will never get there. I feel a wave of dread, the disparity between sunset and
dawn is but a whisper. Magazines, books and old newspapers have been read
and reread a thousand times, playing cards are filthy from overuse; I have fallen in
love with the print of the green Chinese lady in the salon. When voices are still
I sit and watch her and will her to smile, but she’s inscrutable. Seagulls, the sea
has changed colour, grey and foamy, air is no longer pure. Nagasaki has come
to our rescue and saved us from mortal weariness. The city will dock alongside
us in the afternoon.  

Where the Northwesterly Blows (memory of a town)

In the small park with gloomy trees, near where the factories used to be,
was a bust of a man’s image on a plinth. I think it was made of bronze,
the head was brown when not striped white by seagull droppings.
Mother said he had been a Mesèn; she liked using odd words, desperately
trying to keep afloat in a world of tinned sardines in oil and mackerel in
tomato sauce. I took it to mean a rich man kind to working people who had
donated this sad little park surrounded by damp factory walls; a place where
the workers could sit and enjoy the sun. The park was only open Saturday
afternoons and Sundays, one couldn’t have people sitting there during work
week.  A child climbed over its fence and drowned in a tarn of green algae.
The park was eradicated, just as the grim factories were thirty years later.
Life was bleak in my town, one neon lit advert on the night sky was “Jesus Saves”
competing with the stars, and a persistent rumour that the man in the suit
shop wore ladies underwear.


The Field of Mortality

On a field, not far from here, I see millions of lit candles in long rows,
but only at night; in daylight it is a potato patch. A man, you may call
him god if you like, walks among the candles; every so often he stops
and with his thumb and index finger snuffs out light; the skin on his
fingers is corned from this arduous work. Behind him new candles
spring up; sometimes he turns and goes back, wastes some of them too.
He is heading for the part where the candles have been burned out,
only the wick flickers. He uses he thumb to bump them off; a spiral of
grey smoke in still air. He is old as time, sometimes he misses candles
that keep on burning, although they have no wick. As dawn begins,
behind the easterly mountain, the field of mortality turns into a potato
patch again, where an old man is harvesting spuds.