Isle of Distant Smiles

How her fingers delight in tracking the
Lavender scent of bristles,
Mid-afternoon and middle age feed
A flotsam of stirring thoughts
An accumulated detritus of days
Shatter against rocky shores where
We long to bottle up the hours and
Hoard precious yesterdays against
Our constant fear, evaporation.

How soon her hand returns from
Dream-flight, lost delight of a
Single voyage round her childhood,
Stranded on an isle of distant smiles.

City Rhapsody (or Street Music)

Blaring grid of latticed streets
You crave the steady rhythm of heel to toe,
The clip-clop of shoes across your skin.

Fleeing dusk we unite for this
Single living symphony
Elevating sound and joy as
Children shake loose of youth’s roaring deafness
Unbound by apologies for their reckless freedom
Rattling limbs while the guitarist loses
Time and space amidst the strumming of
Ten thousand voices
Scrambling for their line and

We scurry on and join
This blazing choir,
Its city rhapsody.

(21 April 2015)

Collected Stories

Gather close by my voice.
Be at ease:
Undrape your coat,
Remove your boots, heels,
Fading mocassins, grinding sneakers,
Relax your soul and
Listen.

For what wandering days reveal in
Loose-lipped splashes, careless as
The lingering rain’s rolling fingers
Tapping out small city stories.

Just for you have I collected
Word-drops as I might once have stashed
Gumballs, marbles, cards,
Spinning tops, dreams, snow domes,
Magazines, cassettes, fears
Or any of nostalgia’s leftovers in
Abandoned stacks.

These, now, are my curiosities,
They entertain me.

Being mine, I suppose,
They are perhaps too easy to dispense with,
Possessions too cheaply given
That might be better preserved until
Cob-webbed and removed from view
I have amassed enough of
Yesterday’s neglected treasures.

Yes. Yet.

Here we are among the words
You will not write
Nor I speak
While fire turns to ash.

We are at odds while we
Dabble in telling silences,
Choosing to gather our
Unwritten stories.
(20 April 2015)

Mockingbird Holes

If only for a few autumn weeks,
I’ll know them as Mockignbird holes.
I can’t help it.

The scene, the leaves, the stripped bark,
Those hypnotic blank spaces
Draw me in, back, away.

Once again a story transports,
Breeze of its pages reaches me here
So I am lost and see it everywhere.

Wrestling with these threaded thoughts
Dragging them and me in dizzy loops
Until they, me, all of it

Is just a single, knowing knot.
(16 April 2015)

Sand-light

I see their downed faces
Drowned faces
Swimming in this tranquil sea.

Glass
The greatest invention?

Thin walls offer an
Illusion of closeness
Defeated by a certain head-tilt
A touch,
Memory of distance.

Bathers squeeze tender thoughts,
Wells of love and hate,
Each stroke breaking against
Irresistible sand-light.

(16 April 2015)

To the Sea

We are libertines
let loose to scamper
over rising dunes
past beguiling horizons.

Fleeing we starve for breath
seizing loose air
we sing, we play, we sigh.

Misting heavens scoop
at stalling gulls
between rise and descent
a levitating carousel.

Air will not hold them
nor this sand us:
we long to return

(13 April 2015 – a combination of smaller sketches, recomposed, that I did as part of a workshop today.)

Years in the Making

His two hands
hammer and tongs vibrate
aching to translate into sound
scatter-gun recollections
of sixty years or more

the pavement steaming outside
an apartment glowing before dusk
one forlorn June day, the waves
rising with a sweet crescendo
dangling hands:
bliss at dawn on the mountaintop
abandonment
two lovers parting
(or just a breath?)

leaning in he carries
with a swift arpeggio
a moment or a decade
only he can tell

transfixed within this musical grammar
we edge closer to these key-lit stories
to step into his hands
where comfort rests
in life’s brittle arrangement.

(9 April 2015)

A Father’s Gentle Guidance

now he’s used to
the same familiar
tom-tom rhythm
guiding the rivers of his mind’s
tributaries polluted by
tepid word streams
the worst of which
so simple
misappropriates Binet
pours casually
from father to son
so easy
to pound a single label
without meaning
to stake
shifting sands
until name-stung
the tag plants
water recedes and
solidifies
now he’s used to
the same familiar
dumb-dumb rhythm

(7 April 2015)

Table Manners

Oh doughnut-slicer, let me ask you:
What gemstone for this so-long marriage
That you would hoard another bite?
You could not hide your blunt surgery
Presiding over salted caramel
When realising you had been
Too swift in making Solomonic halves
Begrudged your quick decision.
Hesitating, your scalpel quivered
Unquenchable desire turned inward
To thoughts of further sub-dividing
As once you both might have
Rearranged offspring and acquisitions
Then sutured all the roughened skin
Into some new patchwork but
Time pulses, we devour all our regrets;
Some other sacrifice must be offered
Here it is your heart distended,
Unzipped, the jam leaks from
The severed artery.
Pater familias licks his lips
And cuts
Again.
(5 April 2015)

Among the Lollies

He is air-bound for a second
all three years, or two or four,
our estimate less important
than his almost levitation,
a would-be superhero
if not for the grasping voice
of the fearsome, shouting hand
berating him and apportioning flight
in singular, curious rage.

Her strange shame recalls
marshmallows
they used to offer as
reward for waiting,
that time’s hands might gather
double happiness,
but they never tested the parents.

Her wait earlier,
all false face,
now rises to acrid peak
and he is

weightless

and we wait, too stunned
to play hero against
mediocre, sour villains
who roam life’s aisles
with bitter hearts
no sweet can remedy.

(April 4 2015)