Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Intensify light, and shadows deepen.
But that works in reverse; in my garden,
when the light fails the layers of green
merge into two-dimensions,
except that the white roses march
triumphantly out of the frame.
This is a metaphor
for the Connecticut shootings.

Pre-Freud they would have been condemned
as evil, the work of the Devil;
the Devil, Lucifer light-bearer
hurled by God out of heaven.
Was God taken by surprise?
Did God know? Did God choose?
Which answer would you prefer?

Post-Freud we look for explanations:
a skewed mind, an abused childhood.
If this, then that; if there is a that
there has to have been a this.
But, skewed minds and abusive childhoods
may lead to creative genius.
If you insist otherwise, it's like saying
“All cats are animals” which has to lead to
“All animals are cats”.

This poem isn't going anywhere.
It a heart-pouring of questions
brought about by this latest massacre
of holy innocents.

Friday, December 21, 2012


When I was young, I had strategies
to cope with stress and distress.
I would play myself out on the piano,
walk myself out on the beach or hills.
When I had to find another way
of escaping myself, I turned to reading.
Now that's gone, stress and distress
fester in my head like maggots.
Only once in a while, a blow-fly
is released to buzz
irritatingly across the room.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Mostly, when my spirits plummet,
words desert me, which means no poems.
So I have decided to practise words
like scales on a piano,
major, minor and arpeggios.
I'll find an image and play with it.

        The music is frenetic,
        jangling all the nerves.
        Its a suitable symbol
        for flinching families
        in Gaza and Tel Aviv.

        The last movement is peaceful,
        like my tree-enclosed garden,
        which has survived
        thousands of earthquakes;
        a fitting symbol
        of continuity against the world.

      War and gardens are simultaneous;
      the music gives a linear response,
      wisely not attempting

There, here is today's practice.

Families are a memory bank.
When my brother told me he had cancer,
I should have bombarded him,
not with compassion but with questions.
Since he has died, I have no one else
to fill in my past.
I know who I am now
but I don't know who I was then.
I'm like a book with the first chapters missing.

My practice has reached a stalemate:
day after day of C major scales.
It seems I haven't the motivation
to shift to a minor key,
which would require only
the lowering of one note.
That would open out a new possibility
and a new ending.

But to speak truth, its not the key
which is the culprit, its the sameness:
the endless repetition of routine;
spontaneity long, long vanished.

I am condemned, like Sisyphus;
And, like Sisyphus I have two options:
I can either wallow in the absurd, always
on the lookout for the fast-track to death; or,
acknowledge I am but a tiny speck
in the immensity of life,
a speck with a heart that can respond
to love and beauty and joy.