The Price Of Light Bulbs

You sit at your table writing
while I sit at mine.
I’d like to have coffee with you sometime,
a glass or two of wine,
discuss the price of light bulbs
or the intricacies of verse.

There are subjects far worse,
such as love,

It would all be with the greatest civility,
though I cannot remain serious
for very long.

I knew a girl once made me laugh so much
I could have wept,

but now she’s gone
and I am undone.

So here’s to you
and whatever it is you write
so feverishly,
at your table

I am unable to stand the light
for much longer
at any price.

[first posted Jan 10, 2016]

No Picnic

The rock on the edge of the cliff,
from the coastal path
like the head of the patriarch,

only a flimsy thing
that soon blows over,

leaving clear day
and little else of meaning.

On the headland,
where we leave eggshells
for the birds

and scatter.

I meant to show you something special.

Dark Island

The waters around the little bay
are wild and inhospitable,

always I sail away again
beaten by the currents.

Yet always I return to my beloved shore:

my rock,

my continent,

my dark island.

[first posted 20 March 2015]

The Welcome Guest

And on the second night we sang songs of abandonment,
and on the third night,
and the fourth,
and on every night
until the welcome guest said to us:

Why do you sing these songs to me,
for these are the songs sung by the sea,
and sung by the wind that shakes the trees?

Sing again that song you sang before,
for that is the most terrible
and beautiful of all.

But none of us could recall
any song that came before.

From Another Ocean 

Tales were told at table

that night,
and when it came to my turn,

I said:
Why is it always my turn?

And the answer came back:
You’re the only one

So I recounted the days of my

which I missed grievously,

and told
of sorrows and lost loves,

and worse things,
wearing my heart wide open

the story of the whale mother

to her stolen calf unceasingly,

from another ocean.


Hope came in the form of a

dark and terrible

threatening everything
at the bar

at the end of the street
I was suicidal with joy

and at the lonely table

at midnight
sipping sweet despair

secrets of the heart

in another tongue
for the dog to howl at pretty

soon after it disappeared
like I said

it would
left me here alone

cross-legged on the floor
with the fierce

sun at its zenith
casting zero.

Wind Through Grass

She sat there like an old lioness
presiding over her wounds,

and when she told of the children she’d abandoned
some fifty years before

who’d turned out alright,
I saw tears well up behind her eyes.

Take away that prop, I thought,
and the whole citadel comes down;

the whole citadel – that I am reminded –
houses the soul.

Then I remembered my own mother,
her own props and evasions,

and a sudden gust rippled my conscience
like wind through grass.

That night I dreamt of a white horse
standing in a burnt-out barn,

stranded and irretrievable.

Harbour Lights

Untouchable is what we become,
unreachable by anyone.
An old boat, holed and beached
still adrift in memory,

fingers of the restless sea,
clawing the shingle for purchase.

Grant us peace and grace,
the harbour of a much-loved face,

and harbour lights,
harbour lights,
as we turn to face the night,


[first posted 7 Feb. 2015]

Farm Buildings 

The track led to outhouses,
farm buildings,

agricultural structures in
concrete and steel,

pens and silos,

a corrugated shelter dripping
with rain,

and silent uncomprehending

I might have left it there
but followed the track further

until I came upon earthworks,

put there to block my way,

and still further I went

past the churches
and temples
and men shouting the resurrection,

until I came to a tree
pale and slender
that wept from its side

and had no leaves upon it
but only thorns
that would not let me near.

And I stood for a while
in contemplation

before heading back
to the farm buildings

and saw that those I had taken for cattle
were in fact people;

still silent,
still uncomprehending,

but people.

And I joined them.

And many were weeping.