Monday, 31 July 2017

I don't have late nights

I don't have late nights
You hear about in songs
No raves or parties in my world

You'll find me in my bed at 10
book in hand
Notebook and pen at my side
In case I get any great
World-saving ideas
Before I go to sleep
Or through the night

If you want a good time
come into my head
a heapful of bizarre stuff
going on in there

I offer you Dada, absurdism
and sentimentality
all carefully enveloped
In a soft wall called mindfulness

there is a world
a planet in there
and you're welcome to orbit it
any time.

The sweep of rain

The sweep of rain
Falls lightly on my head
And the memory lapses
Into a dream state
As I step back over
The buckled body
Which has one arm missing

I see it in three curious pieces
Just ahead of me
And the dust turns into a light mud
In a gentle process of much artistic merit

When the children's broken bodies
We're collected
And the clean up began
There was a soft quietness
Like a hymn had just finished

The shadows of a death song
Had gathered together now
Like a choir
Too painful to retain in a heart
That still held some residue of faith in beauty and colour

The following morning
I stepped over the strewn puddles
Nothing remained of the carnage
Just an archipelago of muck
And in my dreamlike state
I moved in slow motion
as the light rain
soaked through my skin

and I sensed that the sight of what I witnessed that day
Had drowned me
and that my bones had disintegrated
like sand castles do
when the waves come in.

and I wished my memory would collapse
and over a forgetful cliff
tumble till the day I die
As I disintegrate like sand
on a despairing shore

the unfinished

the unfinished
is the unrecognised

the finished
is the unrecognised

finished is just where it stops
unfinished is just where it continues

stop and we call it finished
continue and we call it unfinished

Sunday, 30 July 2017

bitter sweet

I like the bitterness
in my green tea
the bag stays in all the time
mellow taste becomes harsh

my mouth dries
like sandpaper

the jasmine's sweet aroma
starts dominant
but disappears
under the momentous
grit of raw rough tea

nothing to say

I have nothing to say
so I say it time after time
relentlessly repeating

Swiss Travel Moments

I had to change seats
now am sitting in direct sunlight
it hurts my eyes
damages the quality of my day
but the way the clouds light up,
like a gift
from the God
that we imagine exists
precisely because of moments
like this.

the hay coloured grasses grow high
in the waste areas between streets
they're pretty sure of themselves
flourish in the warm rain
as city becomes suburb

on the tram
everyone avoids eye contact
while trying to observe everyone else

I check my phone battery
anxiety assuaged
for now

on a tram in Geneva
people off to busy work
standing room only.

A man types at his laptop
the woman beside me
head buried in her phone.

Umbrellas up outside
raindrops patterned vertically
on the window.

The trees in a slim neat line
contrast with the cream buildings behind them
we pass a Palais des Nations sign.

Hat on my lap
traveller's bag at my feet
a woman seated, looks close to tears.


haiku has three lines
zen teaches break all the rules
so this haiku has

four lines

Saturday, 29 July 2017

back to the beginning

back to the beginning
after the end

the cycle restarts

all in a muddle
all becomes clear
for a while

two steps forward
then the film rewinds

up to the top of the hill
then... down again

the end begins
again and again

but it's all right

Friday, 28 July 2017

Not Interested

I am not interested in human cruelty or barbarity

I get mouthfuls of it every day
on the news

I see it expressed
without wanting to
on social media

I know the subject well enough
not to receive any more
indications of its existence

I am interested in human kindness

I want to hear examples of it
I want to share stories about it

I want to nurture it
in people
of all ages
all creeds and none
and of all races

I want people to become so kind
that kindness bursts out of them
every time
they open their mouth
and every time they see another living thing


something is the way


as if there's a bag
over my head

and poured tiredness
into my eyes

the breathing practices help
but only to an extent

is it physical, an ailment
mental, psychological

one leads to the other

it's beginning to clear a bit now

funny how writing does that
as if you're writing out
the block

Thursday, 27 July 2017

power attracts

bullies are attracted to power
narcissists are attracted to power
the greedy are attracted to power
messiahs are attracted to power

wise people run a mile from power


unsure of how the state
might become
in the event of a revolution

or even just
a sharp turn in voting habits
towards significant
social liberalism
economic socialism

and fearing
things may be just as bad
if not worse
than they are today

hard though that is to imagine

it happened in Russia and China

I adopt the practice
of withdrawing
as far as possible
from the state
the media
and the economy

it is a shallow protest
an insignificant shift

and it is as much
if not more so,
for my mental wellbeing
than a political gesture

but being unsure of human behaviour
it is the conclusion
of my many decades of deliberation
on this matter

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


You can see the world
as dark and cruel

doesn't help you in any way

wears your heart out
wears your soul
wears your body out

You can see the world
as a gift of beauty

heals and nurtures you

protects your heart
lifts your soul
sustains your body

neither perspective is real
one destroys
the other creates

Tuesday, 11 July 2017


and are we to stop
drop dead
just because of an ailment?

are we to march to the government's drum
just because they are armed?

who are we if not free?

consent if you will

if the will is there
and only if it is there

Monday, 10 July 2017

direction of travel

looked at myself in the mirror
unshaven but that's ok
the stubble white under my chin

neck getting a bit scaly
an old person's neck
though I'm not old, at 58
still it's the direction of travel

death is approaching
don't get me wrong, I'm not worried
and I hope it's light years away yet
but it's definitely the direction of travel


She still writes letters
to her brother in Acton

the writing now spidery
hesitant on the envelope
the hand faltering
the absence of sufficient strength
to make the movement smooth enough


memories are short stories
that get in the way
of today's new story

memories are blasts
the blow you away from living

memories are forget-me-nots
that ought to have wilted by now

memories are the made-up stories
of lives
that never quite were

memories are thieves
come to steal your presence

Saturday, 8 July 2017

bucket loads

I have bucket loads of them
gathering virtual dust on the hard drive
and on various memory sticks

They gather dust but remain fresh
orators awaiting their turn to speak
sentinels prepared at their post

the centuries turn into millennia
still they sit unturned
feet thick under the soil
they await their rediscovery

Thursday, 6 July 2017

and the overflow

and the overflow
just keeps pouring

till the world is flooded
and the seas start to move
into outer space

and water floats effortlessly
to every reach of the galaxy

till at last it stops
and starts its long journey

back to the home planet
now drowned

and the only life that survives
is that which lives in the ocean

Tuesday, 4 July 2017


Everything is a koan
Taking the muesli
out of the cupboard
in the morning
without making a noise

watching a Zen priest
arrange flowers
for the tea ceremony

bowing before the flowers
while my wife
calls him a pretentious git

there is no answer
hence the point of the question
is to be the words

there is no question
hence the point is to
not answer

without making a noise
the muesli pours
I observe the flowers
sip my tea

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Before the thought comes to mind

On a tweet
in a response to two friends
both writers
I replied

Writing is the thinking
before the thought comes to mind.

I hadn't thought that thought before
I didn't prepare it
before committing it to Twitterland

It came out
as a response
to others' thought

impregnated by others' words
nurtured in the womb of the brain
and born as new words

words without self-conscious preparation

and this too
these words
are also the thinking
before the thoughts come to mind.