While we were all still earth bound
it was easy to forget that day
and darkest night
were tricks played by this turning ball,
this wobbly ball,
of gas and rock and water that is
our only home.
Now we have seen the Earth from space;
A vessel of tumultuous life
How do we cherish and sustain
this blessed Earth?
First, we raped the land, then we
despoiled the sea.
Now we pollute the very air,
Greed and hubris brought us where we are.
Perhaps our end?
The signs were there for all to read
long years ago.
Topsoil lost, forests burned, fishes gone;
We responded not with grave alarm,
but with a shrug.
Now our climate is come all undone
because of us.
Our leaders only dither and deny;
it can’t be us.
Some claim the science is a lie,
‘twas ever thus.
The cost of changing is too high,
so die we must.
The poor will suffer most of all,
with anguished cry.
But none is safe from nature’s wrath.
We all must pay.
Growing deserts, storms, and wildfire,
a rising sea,
will render all our business plans
We enter a new world where
and profit margins make no sense.
The breaking point
will hold to each of us a mirror.
What will you see?
I loved you in the morning
with your lazy golden smile,
and the way your hair hung loosely
curling soft cross your shoulder,
while your pulse was gently throbbing
in the recess of your throat.
I loved you over coffee
while you read me from the paper
with your muted tone of sadness
at the way the world was turning,
but my thoughts could never wander
from the wonder of your being.
I loved you in the evening
when your quick efficient fingers
pulled the clothing from my body.
Then the soft caress of water
cleansed away the waste of living,
but it could not cleanse my longing.
Now the evening shadows
pull a veil across your image.
And the darkness gathers 'round me
while the lights go out forever
in this world, or any other.
I hear your footsteps fading
as I dwindle to a fragment
in your mind.
Pink petals carpet the ground.
A gust of wind tosses them into the air
where they flutter and dance,
an arpeggio of bright butterflies
that settle thickly on the boughs,
pause, fold their wings,
and become – buds.
The Thief of Time
I have no master
but the thief of time.
Infinity and the
universe are mine.
I will hitch a ride
on a vagrant Star;
watch black holes
mating from afar.
Dark matter cannot
my imagination flies
I soar with eagles;
I sing with whales;
watch plankton bloom;
curl up with snails.
I open with flowers;
I sway with trees.
I am a leaf on a pond,
and a hive of bees.
So, when that thief
of time drops in
and says that I
must go with him,
I will not fight
against his tide;
I’ve lived a glorious life
In Time of War
On a warm summer’s day
a giant bomb fell from the sky.
In only an instant,
buildings became rubble;
fire was everywhere.
I was in the street.
My hands and face burned
but I was
I ran to my house.
My house was a jumble
of broken beams;
shards of glass and
roof tiles in the street.
Fire licked at the beams.
My children were inside.
My son my daughter,
home from school.
I called to them.
I could not move the beams.
I heard them call to me.
“Mommy, mommy, we are trapped.
We can’t get out.
The fire! It burns!”
I tried so hard
to move the beams.
Their cries grew louder.
It was too hot.
I could not get close.
I could not die with them.
I am an old woman now.
I still remember their laughter,
I remember their happy faces.
These are bitter memories.
In my dreams
I hear their frightened cries.
The cries of innocent children.
When I awake I wonder,
“Why am I still here?”
Small Boats of Solitude
Hauled up, forgotten, on the strand,
a skiff, still lifting high its prow.
Sharp marram grass grows in its lee.
Its once bright paint now peeled and worn.
I think it needs a friend, like me.
Alone in the shade of a chestnut tree,
with a book I borrowed from a friend.
Pressed in the pages, a faded flower.
When lifted away, its ghostly shape
forever darkens the sacred page.
We’ve done this before, both you and I;
turned our backs, stayed silent and drifted away,
searching for something ineffable;
finger puppets dancing on pencil ends;
an almost perfect panna cotta.
A child watching through a fence.
A mother holding a photograph.
An estranged daughter walking away.
On the flyleaf of my book,
“To James, with love, forever.”
These things I know now to be true,
that butterflies do sup on dew,
that angel’s tears are made of lead,
that raven’s cries bestir the dead,
an unbridgeable gulf between us two.
In a fragile boat on a wide, wide sea;
in all directions the distant sky;
I have only the sun for company.
I dip my oars; I will pull toward you;
only to find they are buried in sand.
Albert Einstein dreamed of space
and time. He found cosmology.
My dreams are modest after his.
To reflect upon past faded joys.
To view with you the last sunset.
Last year too many felons
met a lonely sordid death.
For some it was the cold,
relentless prick of steel,
then the numbing flow
of poison in their veins.
For some it was the agony
of a thousand volts; agony
for an instant, so they say,
before the night, the endless night.
In China they prefer to turn
a felon's quaking brain to mush
with a single well placed bullet.
After that, an efficient bustle
gets the important bits on ice.
The organs are so valuable.
Foreign buyers never ask the
colour of the donor’s skin or what
his crime. Only that the organ is
certified to be disease free.
My father died in bed alone,
with vomit choking in his throat.
My mother in a place she feared,
resentful, fighting, angry at the end.
Each had the best our modern
system could provide; caring
nurses and machines. And yet,
I do not think their passings were
less sordid than those murders
sanctioned by a righteous state.
I have in mind another way to go;
a time and place I feel is right for me.
I have in mind a downy bank of snow
or tender grass that smells of sun and soil.
A vantage point to see across the lake,
to watch the solemn hills turn purple blue,
and see earth’s shadow rising in the sky.
At hand a glass of deep red Cabernet,
that I may toast the moon rise
over Garibaldi one last time.
A doorway is a gateway
to a mystery.
What lies behind?
The terrible? The sublime?
A garden of delights?
Another world, perhaps
Or just another door?
A closed door keeps secrets.
If it swings open,
does it beckon me inside?
Stepping through will I be lost,
forsaking all that's left
Your eyes, it is said,
are the doorway to your mind.
what lies behind?
I heard the Owl call my name
I heard the owl call my name,
across a darkening meadow,
on a soft summer evening,
I'm sure I heard it call to me,
a sad, beseeching cry.
In my brittle life
there was no room for owls.
I did not wait to hear it call again
but hurried on my way.
The glass through which I viewed the world
is shattered now.
I see more clearly how the pieces fit.
I call to the owl as it called to me.
But the owl is gone.
Time flies straight as an arrow
through the horizon of events.
in a glorious endless burst
of things that never were.
But we have put time in a box;
where endlessly turning, forever
returning, it’s bringing me back
to memories --and you.
The Morels of Modern War
Each spring the children
Picked morel mushrooms
On a fertile patch of earth
Beyond the village common.
Those morels were so
Sweet and flavourful.
The best for miles around.
One spring, the patch of ground
Was dug up to reveal
Remains of men and boys
With bound hands and crushed skulls.
The soldiers took the bones.
After that the morels
Did not grow any more.
The children were so sad.
You are the jingle in my pocket,
my pieces of eight, ‘though the tinkle
tells me that you are not pure gold.
I would mould you into a locket,
into earrings coiled like a love knot,
Just to keep you hanging ‘round,
to feel you brush against my throat,
the skin beneath my ear, softly, softly,
telling me lies.
My obsession is a flowing tide whose
searching fingers, full and wide, curl
round my soul and draw me under.
I cannot breathe, I gasp, I blunder,
I writhe, my heart must burst, I reach.
I am released, and cast upon a beach,
wet, glistening, brittle as pyrites;
while the ebbing tide calls softly, softly,
telling me lies.
I lie on grains of sand, the frozen tears
of other lovers, other loves worn clean.
Is it too late for me? Am I just dross,
the bitter fragments of an empty dream?
I long for you to quench my fear, to toss me
in your living fire, to mould from me a
gold labret, that I may ever feel your lips
caress my body and my soul, softly, softly,
telling me lies.
The silvered glass decries my body and my
life. My sides bulge out. My shoulders sag.
My clothes don’t fit. My face is made of
fractured stone, hard as iron, cold as slag.
I was a maid once, soft and sleek with lovers
fawning at my feet. All gone. And yet, within
the circle of your arms, I see that maid alive
again, shining in your eyes, softly, softly,
telling me lies.