One year we had a time machine
installed beyond the driveway.
It’s engine was a metal post
which ran on children’s mind-waves.
We’d start it when we went outside;
the engine would be humming.
We found our seats among the logs
with laughing eyes a-thrumming.
My brother always captained it;
he had the ship commissioned.
I served in an advis’ry role;
I did not have his vision.
We never travelled back in time;
My doubt kept us in our world.
But from that point we journeyed on,
together pressing forward.
The sunlight shines through
the haze of cigarette smoke
which floats with bright
above the door to the Mexican restaurant.
It floats from the mouth of the man
playing slapjack with the mall security guard.
It hovers around his eyes
which crinkle behind his sunglasses
before drifting fifteen feet
to the tinder couple trying to spark something new,
after their last flames were snuffed out.
There is something caustic, harsh, and biting
about the smell of smoke.
It smells of life cut short, love ignored,
or at the very least like bad habits
and angry drivers venting their smoke.
But here the smoke twists round a sunbeam,
weaving itself with the Hispanic music,
voices laughing in Hindi, and every scattered conversation
to weave a rope of life, which though tinted with smoke,
is still tied to the joyful sun in her dance about the heavens.
The afternoon after the storm smells of dirt
mixed with the scent of processed petrichor
which rises from the shattered lightning
with the stained glass sound of spring.
I’ve never been one for plumbing.
There’s something about wet places
that remain wet even when you want them to be dry,
growing who knows what while the air lies stagnates like water.
Even pipes with clean outside lines,
sharp in their smoothness, I view them as Pharisees.
For I know well what has travelled through their thoughts
for it has traveled through me,
and for all I can guess much of it has remained in the pipes,
knotted in a thin filmy ball of hair and everything else
that clogs the inner-workings of a home.
I had a friend once who was a plumber.
He came and in a short time
sorted out my clogged mess of pipes.
it is an old house with its fair share of maintenance issues.
Though I say we were friends,
at the time I barely knew him.
I avoided the area where he worked,
for the smell of many stagnant years
outweighed my “friendship” with him.
when I did peek in to make sure he was getting on
with the work that needed getting on with,
he was up to his elbows in water
plumbing the depths of my water heater.
Later I looked in his hands were covered
to the wrist with black tar.
I guessed it was for joining pipes,
but I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to ask.
He left, and at first out of a sense of obligation,
I remained friends with him.
It has been many years,
and I now call him friend
without quotation marks.
The thing about friendship
is you pick up little things
you never bargained on.
Lately I’ve thought about plumbing.
The song echoing in the cheap bar hasn’t changed.
It has the same beat that sent our grandfathers to war
and brought their sons back.
The voice may not be the same,
but it’s close enough to make you guess.
Only the instrumentation is truly different,
betraying the passing years,
but even then the melody remains the same,
hitting the same notes for a different generation,
as time always has in all the great mead halls of the world.
Today was a cherry blossom day
A fast train on a brisk morning
ripening to a day hinting at what
summer will one day deliver.
Children and parents journeying together to the city.
We all must one day journey to the city for the first time.
And then again for the first time with children –
Equally divided between their joy and our anxiety.
So they bloom and we bloom again
But the bloomings are different,
as every blossom is different,
if we would only take the time to see the differences.
But today was a cherry blossom day,
and the blooming happened,
whether we took the time to look or not.
Perhaps the cherry blossoms are beautiful
precisely because they take our focus.
We spend an hour, a morning, a day
walking caught in the sway of their scent,
then when the scent is gone,
and our feet have grown buds of their own,
we look around and realize the world has bloomed
and the beauty in it is greater than a cherry blossom,
although we lack the vocabulary to name it.
There are wizards among us.
They lay cables, solder wires
and conduct forces in a coded tongue,
which after travelling to the four corners of this world
come back whispering tales of where they’ve been.
At a whispered word
sent silently through the air
orchestras leap to life,
faces speak from across the world,
and portals open displaying pure imagination,
And yet we say this world has lost its magic.
Without another eye
To move my gaze from where it rests,
I would not see the little things
My words would not astonish me.
Without another ear
To hear the words I thought I said,
I would not care to check my thoughts
And would not think to fear the truth.
Without another voice
To question what I really meant
And push against my words with words,
The tongue would hush within my mind.
But eye, and ear, and voice, and mind
Combine to find a fitting form
To bring before their foreign friend –
A poem to surprise us both.
Do you think that God only speaks
To those whose minds are right?
That only those who can discern
Truth from a maze of words
Will emerge to behold his face?
No sane man watches God walk in the wind,
Or learns to worship from the cat’s oblation.
Yet some can only view the maze from a branch
Where they perch making song with the cuckoo.
Their song is simply different from the owl
Yet both are regarded as the sparrow
And when the wind takes their wings they must sing.
We curse the wind
It blinds our sight
Our mind is pinned
Without the light
We cannot see
In our blind flight
We lose belief.
Without the construct of a hedge
To hedge our mental betting spree
We wander like we had it still
Along our same old, well-worn tracks
And even then our God will grow
No larger than our maze was pruned.
There they go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush
There they go round the mulberry bush
For that is all they can do.
The mind can get in the way,
Of feeling the surf and spray.
But if you see a cat
And can meet Him in that
Then our hedge is too small to stay.
I am not one to advocate the tearing down of hedges,
But perhaps in our pruning of the manicured life,
In our constant snipping at the fringe element,
We have cut off buds which might bloom to flowers
More beautiful than we can ever comprehend.
In silencing the cuckoo
we silence one who has met God
And was left with only song.
Running still after all these years.
When will the steady beat of feet cease?
when will the pavement melt to meadows
and the dead flowers bloom again
in a medley of multifaceted light?
There is no turn for this poem to make
only pressing forward, out of breath,
as the road stretches on towards the dawn.