Saturday, 1 October 2016

Queenscliff and Kev’s ashes:

It was weird from the beginning,
being there and yet Kev not around;
his voice, his smile, his need to be on the move -
like the ocean was Kev, rolling, moving,
carrying information into our ears –
so it was fitting for us after all
to be there at the Queenscliff pier,
Kev’s brother opening the container,
spilling his ashes into the water,
two paper airplanes to escort him
and then the wreath Lee had fashioned,
purple and green - a leap from land to sea,
from birth to death, how quick we fall
in this pull of mortality, this gravity of  life…

We stood in seaweed clumps, watched
the planes float beside, the first purple flower
separate and another act as a waving hand
as the waves lapped as if clapping
and above cormorants circled, new escorts
to carry Kev when the sodden planes
could no longer follow and as the water,
like the liquid breath of a sea-god, carried
the wreath away and the wind blew
into the heart of us all, so my thoughts
like the many waves, were white tipped,
as I left the watch and headed to shore
with Kevin’s memories for company.

Monday, 15 August 2016

The many textures of absence

absence is a toothache
the tongue, a snake searching for prey

absence is a severed limb
echoing the intent of things it once did

absence is a flower
all petals fallen, the bud burnt, bowed and defeated

In these days of absence
I have become a tired river, I meander,
curl back on words and thoughts,
remember old cliffs and rocks,
the cover of cool places lost
as the sun discovers a way to expose me again

I have begun to sleep
while standing, while talking
while laughing at the day to day excuses
of how we pass the time while watching the slow fade
of memories that become absent
because they can no longer accumulate

like the time my father died and I realized
I would never hear his voice
never again see him smile
nor know the touch of his hand
or the gentle rise of his right eyebrow

like the earth stranded beneath the sun
baked, fried, defeated
and the clouds remain absent
and the only shade
is in the heart of the deep cracks that split me apart
even as I wait

Friday, 12 August 2016

A week already-almost:

Tomorrow it is
next weekend already
and last weekend
now has all these days in-between;
each day turned opaque, hidden -
Grief has a craftsman’s fingers;
has time to kill, time to turn grit
into the darkest pearl
and a tree into searing coal.

Grief rests in all my spaces,
like that moment
between the inhale and the exhale
or that spot between seeing
one thing and then the next - scenes 
you would have painted, now will never exist.

Grief tells me time has passed
while, being the Trickster, tricks me
into thinking last weekend has yet to pass.

Last weekend Kev, we said goodbye,
overhead the sun shone, beside me, my wife
cried...Jo wept too as he played his guitar,
each pluck a rending of my heart’s soured strings,
and you, hidden in that plain pine box,
could only have been resting – surely…

It was only last weekend when I 
carried you to the car—
the rope not rough enough to take away
the weight of cost—
and let loose a paper airplane
to transport your spirit
into the sunshine and light.

It was only last weekend
and yet
it seems not a moment has passed
that the years lie ahead
without you.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Humanity's Footprints

In whispers, it is said, mouths
hidden behind walled hands,
that God’s words are found in the sound
of water; water pooling, trickling,
flowing in rivers, crackling across rocks.

It is thought as well, though no one admits,
cracked lips sealed tight lest the words excite,
that the devil is found in the sound
of sand; sand blown, brushing,
driven across the land, filling the towns.

It is never mentioned, though well understood,
that when the water and sand merge - there
in the mud is the sound of humanity; humanity
sucking, gripping, pulling, leaving wordless shapes
in spaces of things forever departed.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Soldier buried beneath the red sea:

When the red sea crashed
my children of the future
became lost in the non-being of never-will-be.
Washed clean
by water held back and then released
yet I,
a soldier forced to follow or starve;
driven down the bank to follow the Israelite -
am I less than the slave,
should a god decide my fate
by changing theirs?

Or is that the essence of faith -
that fate decided
will not erase your fate
in the slate cleaned by the concealed
hand of a god playing dice in a hall
with other gods great or small -
the bones of future children (as well as the present circumstance)
the chips passed around
in this game of devil-may-care betting
between beings unseen?

Or is it that the gods are no more
than echoes of the genetic twining
wishing to forestall its own demise
by creating future strands and in this copying,
as our blood courses through artery and vein,
we hear the voice of  the true God?

Do we pretend afterlife knowing the death
we must embrace
means some of us lose the race
towards procreation and to appease as all,
lest it be us in particular that fall,
we enchant ourselves with the possibility
of reaching that lofty and eternal hall after the moment
when the red sea stops flowing and the pump falls still?

Sunday, 31 July 2016


Crow takes
leaves displeasure as an aftertaste,
Crow’s wings make the sound of weeping
as he flutters into rooms
cold with waiting.

Crow carries
away hope in his beak
black and bleak as winter,
nests in hearts lost to events
understanding cannot fathom.

Crow hovers,
He is the rolling ocean, white light
captured in the edges of his feathers
as he hides the leviathan that glides
through all our nightmares.

Crow caws
as he struts across branches
sends seismic shudders into the psyche
death is a wail, is the answer
to all our woe.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A Poem for Kevin:

Magpies did not warble that day
there was no sun in the sky
that day
no animals emerging, no songs sung
not that grey day.

Trees wept leaves that day
flowers re-furled, lowered their heads and bowed
that day,
insects refused to fly.
The mantis did not prey, spiders spun no webs
not that day.
Worms did not emerge, snails stayed in their shells
and I sat and stood and sat again
hearing my wife cry
as I stared at the outside and witnessed nothing at all
that day
my mind full of  him; his laugh,
his voice, his bright, bright eyes.

That day
I tried to fathom what cannot be;
how the ocean’s depth cannot compete with despair’s ravine,
and sorrow’s heat burns the heart
all the way into winter
and words become useless,
as they did
that day
the day my friend Kevin passed away.

I will not hear his voice
nor see him smile
nor share a meal and a drink
as we set off on another adventure, or have a coffee,
‘milk on side’ and discuss
all the things right and all the things wrong
not after that day, that horrible day
that stealing, ice pick of a day, that took a life
no one could afford to lose.

Perhaps the magpies did sing,
perhaps the animals emerged and the sun did shine
but that day, and these days since
I have not seen nor heard them.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The sound of coins through the centuries:

My brothers sold me,
giving me into the hands of the flesh dealers,
the merchants of bone and blood;
sold me for a handful of gold…
my brothers, who shared my voice, my hearth, my tent—
jealousy ruled that moment as the wind whispered
in sand that cracked the lips and filled the throat,
‘your father found favor when looking in your eyes.’

A father’s love, like a technicolor coat,
can be a vicious thing; highlighting an absence
as much as it grants light to what is…
my brothers did not see me,
did not feel the bond with me, they experienced
the dreadful lack that drinks choices the way the antelope
drinks from the waterhole
leaving behind the hole in the heart
where a father’s regard should dwell.

The moment when the coins
were exchanged from opening hand
to cupped palm,
and I was handed over,
set a sound through history
repeated in the thirty pieces finding Judas
or the crowing of a cock and Peter’s future denials,
a sound that reverberate still
in man’s dealings with each other and with the planet.

Jen, who creates me:

Is the beginning
found in our hands or in our feet -
a fall or a climb?

The finger writing fate
or the toe dipping into the night?

Did it take seven days for light
to find its place
or perhaps time cannot be measured
until there are eyes that can see

perhaps my life
like ancient Abraham
only began
after you.

Every morning I wake
and there you are fighting the daylight still
determined to remain in sleep

I wander out to the shower
stand beneath the fall
decide again that the light is not the sun’s shine
but our response.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Coming down

We walked that morning, you, tired, wrapped
in hospital blankets, the newborn too, out
the whishing glass doors of the hospital - you could take
no more; into the fine drizzle, falling…covering trees
like tinsel. I carried Mary, you beside me, four-year old Jack
in front, laughing, always laughing, his being open
to the world, like grass pushing towards sunlight and rain
with not a thought to the roots left behind.

On down the empty road we walked, not far,
we lived in the same street as the hospital
and wondered as we walked if anyone else ever
walked home nowadays. Holding Mary, watching Jack,
feeling you beside me, I felt like Moses descending, cradling
the tablets that set the whole of his world up before him.

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Quiet John

Words hover, rainbow trout
hidden in the river - with soft underbellies,
speckled brown desires - unseen
in the muddy water, gills work
to convert ideas to sentences,
tails flick back and forth to fight
the current of plot, stay still
while the world moves.

Lips pout, wait for fish emerge,
barbel or common catfish, the thought
has hooked the thick lips of consonants
ripe to be cooked in conversation;
verbs found in the murky ground,
amongst the mounds of reeds and grasses –  
form in the sound space behind his teeth,
mingle, as if in a school, dart
to and fro – are lost in the deep nooks
and crannies underneath the bank; wait
for intelligence to find them. On the surface
still eyes - as distant as a fish’s thoughts - stare
back without a hint of confusion, the action
occurs beneath. His words skim across stones
and boulders, slide away as if each smoothed-out letter,
covered in slippery moss, cannot be held
by the shape of his grasping mouth or clamorous mind.

One day he will submerge people
as if to return them to the sea; even the great
fisherman will be pushed beneath
and face the truth of his humanity -
from the ocean we came,
from the ocean we will return.

One day his head will be served
upon a silver platter
like a fish head at the feast,
his words forever lost,
the ocean a distant echo
in the dying spectre of his ears.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

That which cannot be spoken

Let there be light,
It is said it was said,
Although some say,
Asimov chief amongst them
It was a computer
that computed the idea
bringing us back – again –
into the universe of time
and space — regardless
there is Light
and it has been deemed good
while Darkness forever now
cops the bad rap
and so Light and Darkness are divided
except perhaps in the minds (and hearts?)
of humans where the split
is more of a flickering
betwixt as actions and thoughts
forever cross the divide because humans
see both as potentials
rather than a firm partition
to be seen from a separate standpoint
and is that why, perhaps,
the name of God cannot be spoken?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The irony of that little stone

He was an ugly child
brute was the word used
taunted by other children
until he learned to use his fists
better than words for him
he had no words
his thick tongue and fat lips better
for taking punches than for
forming sounds to express
thoughts that did fill his thick skull
but never ventured forth.

He discovered his hands could be clubs
legs like tree trunks
as each moment he grew (and shrunk too)
taller than the house so that his mother and father
bade him leave
too large for the village who threw stones
as he fled (and we will return to the irony in that)
until he found his way
into the army
and from the front, ugly still, but enormous
he led.

He was not as a leader
but as the battering ram
resplendent in armor designed not to protect
but to highlight his strength
the symbol of might
the fearful banner
and leading he was felled by a single stone
fired from such a distance
his massive legs
and mighty hands
had no effect.

As he lay on the ground,
his last thoughts passing
while his giant heart thumped to conclusion
was of all the stones
and how swiftly he grew
so that the hands of his mother withdrew
and he found the memory of his father’s eyes
as they stared at him filled with fear
always the fear, a stone destined to collide.

Moses and the burning bush: (an edit)

aged now I sit
the withered bush beside me
in the wind
crinkles as if on fire

a young maid came by and by
sat beside me
knowing her I said hello aghast
she turned and fled

I realized she had been a stranger
except the wind
the sun
the sound of the bush beside me
clouded my mind
made me think of another maid
with whom once I did sit

her hand resting near her right thigh
my hand resting near my left thigh
did touch
little finger to little finger

my heart burst

I have carried that flame
through the years
the way the tallest mountain
bears ice all year round
the ice captures all sunlight
imprints the mind
with hope
joy for things that may never be

only coming into an old age
do we accept that vision
bear no ill will to what has and has not
happened along the way

Monday, 20 June 2016

Moses and the burning bush

Aged now I sit here
the withered bush beside me
in the wind
crinkles as if on fire

and a young maid came by and by
and sat beside me
knowing her I said hello
aghast she turned and fled

I realized then she had been a stranger
except the wind
the sun and the sound
of the bush beside me
clouded my mind and made me think
of another maid with whom once I did sit
and we spoke
and her hand resting near her right thigh
and my hand resting near my left thigh
did touch
little finger to little finger
and my heart burst
and I have carried that flame
through the years — the way the tallest mountain
carries ice all year round
and the ice catches all sunlight
and imprints the mind
with hope
and joy
for things that may never be

and only when we come into an old age
do we accept that vision
and bear no ill will to what has and has not
happened along the way.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Cain and Able

Oh brother...

For jealousy?

Was mother’s hand not as gentle,
Father’s eye not so constant?

For greed
or resentment — and resentment of what, my fondness
for following wherever you tread?

Was the ground beneath your feet
a taunt?

The sky above your head, a gift

For gain
or to protect?

Did the rain whisper into the canals of your ear?
Did the air sweep clear thoughts away in the wind?

And sunshine, what of that?
Remember when we lay on the sand, our eyes
shaded by hands, our eyes trying to fathom
the blue beneath the blue?

Oh brother...

Here I lie
a ditch now home,
my blood seeping like red ants across the ground
and I feel my heart
stumbling towards silence.

My thoughts
are filled with moments of you

for I never saw the violence coming
until after it had arrived
and the way your eyes turned hard as stone
shocked me...

and so brother, oh brother,
here I lie
and there you go
your shadow passing across my face
like a distant thought…

I remember as a babe
I held your finger and never thought to let go
not knowing
you always wished to.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Dear est Jericho:

You stood, the door
behind you
my eyes                       shocked           at the the light
as it                 pours               in
like burnished sound from a trumpet’s polished mouth

and the walls came crashing down
walls once solid now liquid
terrible waves                         carrying           a terrible                     fate
the world is not
what only moments before
it was perceived to be…

the blood                     draining                       to my fear,
ears pealing                appealing
when the mouth would not               stubborn mouth          perched
like a contented cat
upon the destruction of all formed before,
the heart         a horde            of         wildebeest
running in every                                                          direction
crashing into themselves
then running off again…

and I                                        sat
in the post-laminated kitchen                        beyond repair,
my hands calmly folded in my           flaccid             lap,
the tea still     steaming         before me
in its chipped, favorite cup
and                                          around
the home came          tumbling         down.

and the walls come crashing down
walls once solid now liquid
terrible waves                         carrying           a terrible                     fate
the world is not
what only moments before
it was perceived to be…

I remember reading somewhere —
or perhaps       I           made   this      up
to         defeat
that detonation as cold          and as loud
as any arctic blast —

In         the middle      of the tempest
dwells             the solitude                 of despair
none    can see,          none    that look
and none         that care, especially not         those that       once                did.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Latest samson edit; SAMSON:

"The sun is within me and so is the moon"
Author: Kabir

Hands, famed across the lands,
centuries later still—
though more for the final act performed in darkness,
than anything ever carried out in the light—
are embedded with minute
fragments of splintered bone,
a tribute
to the jaw of the jackass—
should have seen,
when eyes could still see,
the warning implicit in that weapon.

Hands swung
that beleaguered bone,
crunched the helmeted heads
of harassing Philistine soldiers,
who swung their iron swords
and dared attack in the narrow pass;
giving little thought to irony, I suppose,
as death greeted them in that dead bone.

Hands with flesh
that covers the renowned fingers,
warm even now, ridiculed as you are,
chained and kept far below, severed from
the yellow ball. The shadows capture
your shadowed thoughts,
memories of the light; burnished sun,
fire in muscles, firm earth beneath feet,
trapped in this place of darkness,
of dead soil and lost eyes; her hands,
the fever coursing regardless of betrayal.

Hands that have touched
spear and breast,
flicked nipple, drawn blood, crushed a hand,
fired a crop, caressed a cheek,
touch now
what eyes can no longer; in the trappings of the mind
images, mere echoes, flash, flicked by a god’s nimble fingers,
the ravaged mind, more rat than human,
repeatedly explains to itself,
as only a ravaged mind can,
how hazel eyes, while still able to be admired,
have led you to this place; in the dark, lost and mired.

Do you understand you forsook yourself,
followed the fallacy of the moon
whose weight is nothing
compared to the suns and whose light
is but a reflection, like the lake
that reveals
but has no reality?

Despite the sun
and the strength it willingly bestowed,
you gave the moon all your secrets,
standing proud in the swaying-curtained room,
the candle and the moon
dancing in the evening breeze,
allowing the blood-fed sickle
to shear your strands
and remove your strength

and now…

two hands, that once held, caressed and fought,
rest upon the pillars of the temple
and strive to bring everything down—

the persistent scent of the moon

seek to bury beneath the building’s rubble,
the shame of being blind when
the sun gave your eyes
all the light they ever required.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Samson (edited)

"The sun is within me and so is the moon"
Author: Kabir

your hands, once famed across the Land,
and still now these centuries later,
though more for the final act performed in darkness,
than anything you ever carried out in the light…

your hands, still embedded, minutely,
with fragments of splintered bone
from the jaw of the jackass—the rest of that body,
its flesh having long since rotted away,
the rib cage exposed as if grinning, daring Fate,
and losing the dare, obviously, rests in the desert,
a signpost to all life’s direction.

how clearly you should have seen then,
when you still had eyes to see,
the warning implicit in your weapon,
but as you swung that beleaguered bone
and crunched the helmeted heads of the harassing
Philistine soldiers, who swung their iron swords
and dared attack you in the narrow pass,
you gave little thought to irony, I suppose.

the flesh that covers your renowned fingers,
warm even now, ridiculed as you are,
chained and kept far from the yellow ball—
the shadows capturing your shadowed thoughts,
your memories of the light; the burnished sun,
the fire in your muscles, the firm earth beneath your feet,
not this place of darkness, of dead soil and lost eyes,
Delilah’s hands, a fever coursing still regardless
of her betrayal—flesh that has touched lips and breast,
flicked nipple, drawn blood, crushed a hand,
fired a crop, caressed a cheek, touch now
what your eyes can no longer see though you can still recall;
the images mere echoes, images that flash passed
as if flicked by a god’s nimble fingers,
and your ravaged mind, more rat now than human,
repeatedly explains to itself, as only a ravaged mind can,
how your hazel eyes, while they were still yours to admire,
have led you to this place; for in the dark, lost and mired,
you understand you forsook yourself, followed
instead the fallacy of the moon whose weight is nothing
compared to yours and whose light
is but a reflection, like the lake that reveals
but has no reality.

Yet Samson,
despite the sun and the strength it gave,
willingly, you gave the moon all your secrets,
stood proud in the darkened room, the candle dancing
in the evening breeze, and allowed the moon
to remove your strength and now
your two hands, hands that once held, caressed and fought,
rest upon the pillars of the temple
as you strive to bring everything down…

yourself, the moon
Delilah’s lingering scent and
most of all

you seek to bury beneath the building’s rubble,
the shame of being blind when
the sun gave you all the light you ever needed.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

The Burning Bush speaks to Moses and his lover

If you believe then
when you come together
your hearts will part, two
red seas shifting allegiance,
leaving the space between where your words,
your hopes, can enter and be swamped
by the years; drowning in shared moments,
the traversed desert gone now…
those cavernous nights spent alone, prowling
for meaning, for a light other
than the moon’s false reflection of possibility
finally buried beneath the deluge
of this experience.

And if you believe then
when you lay down your words, your experiences,
your fears, your hearts will merge from the river
and carry you together as if the you two
might be babes born in the basket
not knowing where you head,
only that at some point your journey
will free you from all that has gone before;
so that like migratory birds you might
fly across the unnamed oceans
and find shores distant from your humble beginnings.

And in your ears, as you soar
your merged hearts
sound like trumpets loud enough
to tumble the proud walls of Jericho.

Friday, 13 May 2016

The Ripples of Separation - edit 1

I think sometimes of that baby in the basket,
set loose from the bank, cast adrift
upon the life-bestowing Nile, its blue water,
the tall reeds along it high banks, the sacred Ibis
flying low, curious to see the crying child
all while the hot sun beat
(to the tune of the babe’s heart)
down upon his swaddled flesh
as his arms and his legs kicked and clutched
empty air where moments before
had been the warmth and security
of his mother’s breast.

The baby too young to understand
anything except being lost to the current,
little ripples of events joined
like voices in a crowd to create the whole,
of events he does not comprehend,
loss as heavy as a stone, though he does not understand,
the way I never did, standing in church
listening to sermons delivered in ancient Latin, he can only
feel the change in circumstances the way the basket
beneath him, shifts with the river’s alterations,
threatening to drag him

never to know that his mother is lost
so that he might be saved, and this unknowing—
what knots were tied, mooring him
like a ship, tied and left to bob on the ocean,
hitting the pier, hearing gulls cry
and wishing to be soar with them
but trapped to remain tied to the one spot;
and what what lost to him?
The events that might have changed him if only
to save him his mother had not lost him
and he was never to know except in its absence?

and I wonder if later, finding himself
 in arms that embraced him, the breasts
pushed close, the warm of breath, of pulse neck,
he, unsettled by that water’s uncertain trip,
does not believe, not ever really –
and perhaps this is why as Moses
he could cast aside so much and chance
the words of a burning bush, the separation of the river
and the wandering in the desert –

that he deserves those arms and the love held within.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Prodigal Son (a third edit)

The force that drew you home — each sunrise
you stood at a foreign window and watched
the returning sun, its rays hitting the sand,
as if the desert skin were a blind worm
wriggling its pink segments, slowly burrowing
into your heart and you emerge without expectation,
travel towards you father’s eager hand —was it stronger
than that which drove you to choose emigration?

And your brother, whose smile was lost
in the distant childhood that severed you both,
whose eyes stayed closed because he saw too clearly
your mother’s hand, how it lingered on your shoulder,
did he ever forgive you, who took for granted
all that he had not—forget your father’s words spoken
upon your return, what else could he utter to justify
his excitement as he spied you wandering up the road?

Did your mother’s eyes ever lose their sheen

of pain? Did cousins, once co-conspirators,
and family friends, always visiting, ever cease
that curious sideways glance in your direction?
And in the cloying heat of the many summer nights,
surrounded by familiar sounds, laying in your tossed bed,
as if a mariner trapped by contrary wind,
every time you exhale do you wish to again escape?

Friday, 6 May 2016

Abraham's Consequence:

Carry this wood for me son,
On your back, a burden
For I am so old now, born down
By Time and though I can still walk,
Yet my back permanently is stooped
And I cannot carry the weight of my youth.

Come my son, we have far to walk
And my footsteps have shrunk and fall
In the creases of your large strides.
Across the blighted terrain we must journey
Into the day and through the night
Until we reach the mountain’s crowning.

There we will burn a lamb (hush son
Don’t ask where the creature is now, anon
All will be revealed) innocent
As the day’s breaking of night
So that our sons and their son’s sons
Will spread across this empty planet.

…And here is the punch in my guts
I feel when I read this ancient text —
What did the son feel? oh we know about Abraham,
How he withstood the test
Ready to burn his only son at God’s behest —
But it’s the child’s mind I wonder about…

How must it have been…laying there
On that pile of gathered wood (that he himself had carried –
And here think of that other son and his carried wood)?
Wood drenched with a flammable liquid,
The father with a lighted torch, madness in Abraham’s eyes
For surely the test would bring us to that point —

What did Isaac think of God
As he lay upon his back
On the wood stack, the torch already alight,
The fire ready to leap across the gap;
What did he think of his father, Abraham,
Of himself cast as sacrificial lamb?

And did Isaac ever forgive—is it possible to have a choice,
Can a son can forgive his father
When his father listened to The Voice;
Took the son to the mountain peak
And prepared to set the son’s flesh to burn,
In the name of faith, a sacrifice?

Now imagine the tears shed on that walk home
Flowing freely down the crevasses of ancient Abraham—
He understood the damage done,
The reverberation to be felt through all the centuries;
Fathers and sons ceaselessly engaged
In the conflict between the lamb and the beast.

And this brings me to my point—
Nations make the same selection
And we call it war
The god of our nations, calling us to send
Our uniformed and lumbered children out into the world
And sacrifice them for the common good.

Abraham must surely have known
What his actions had set in motion;
And Isaac, was he filled now with an unexplainable angst,
A desire to lose the lamb and become a wolf,
Rend the father limb from limb
And replace the old order with the new?

Then there is the mother, left behind,
(And all this time it is still an immoveable fact),
Standing there at the opened door,
Her eyes drained from the day spent
Staring into a distance greater
Than any male god ever understood.

And in that face I see Mary
As Christ carried his wood
And the face of every mother
As their son marches off to war,
Lambs all of them caught in the fates
Of the old men’s making.

In that face I see my mother,
Standing as she so often did;
Her hands crinkling the venetian blinds,
Her teary eyes staring out
Into the darkest of night, waiting for her son
To return safely home once again.