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the shirt

May 27, 2020

the shirt that I wore on the day
a music box, a pine cone
a shell, a key chain

such things are
talismatic and
brim with tender memory
they have been touched
and so are tactile
in a way that
a photographic record
is not

with time
so much
can stay
the same
and also
the opposite
is true

in praise of quiet surprises

May 15, 2020

can a surprise
be anything
but unexpected

our artforms
so limited
still urge to the infinite

the familiar
can dull and flatten
collapse into time

the new can
rattlestartle
and gobsmack sometimes

this was not
what I thought
I was looking for

this was quite
quietly
unexpected

chairs in the river

May 5, 2020

waiting for the shoe to drop
waiting for the world to open
or for the monsoon to come
either would be welcomed

waking up to watch the cockroaches
growing old, losing their scuttle
despite their ignorance of the
polemic headline screams

hard to learn
to love such a pause
with its bleak infinite-looking terms
whose sharp edges will hardly be remembered
as the can is kicked down the road again

waiting for the world to open
or for the monsoon to come
either would be welcomed

because of the rain

April 26, 2020

these moments of joy
need not be denied
because of wine
because wine is involved

because of the crazy world
because the crazy world is involved

because it’s late
because being late is involved

because of the rain
because the sudden rain
is most of the joy
in ways so easy and yet
so hard to fathom

 

 

In the long new year, part 2: Easter Stretch

April 23, 2020

the street continues to clear itself
imperceptibly and then dramatically
as those usually kept afloat by the
vigorous energy of the crowds
are no longer bobbing in the surf

the vista resembles
a dried up salt lake
in the middle of an abstract continent

a quick rearrangement
so some of the vacant positions
have been taken up by
new outfits
and some have returned quietly
in hope of catching passing business
between the closed gates

out on the streets
be-masked,
we toss eyes at each other
as greetings

and by some grace
we are blessed with thunderstorms in the night
that tease then satisfy
and sometimes coax us to stand naked
to receive the blessings of the rain

~~~

traffic sparse
like new years of old
pigeons jaywalking while
motodops have retreated to
particlar corners
away from mine
but somehow Norodom Boulevard
is heavily armed by uniforms of all shades

a car-proud motorist
ostentatiously hoses down his Lexus
on the shores of the salt lake

the workers building the new hotel
still flood the lunchtime streets
and the endless roadworks on 19
continue to be endless

up in my room
the sound of ancient new year games
trickle and slam across the empty air
despite the official cancellation
for the people will always find a way
to celebrate
and three storeys of guitars
are rostered throughout the hours

what were heresies
now are habits
and vice versa

perhaps we needed a break
from the relentlessness
that we found ourselves in;
we are meeting ourselves
in ways we had forgotten

~~~

it’s a whirlpool
today is written
on onionskin
that trembles and flickers at each vibration:
the footsteps of doom
or maybe those of impending rescue

laughter and sneers
but underneath our minds, aghast,
stand with mouths open
as if we want to catch flies by swallowing

tomorrow already seems behind us
today belongs to another year

this is our whirlpool
and we are welcome to it

~~~

there are statistics
that prove whatever
is desired to be proven

some shutters now unshuttered
like buds in an early spring
as life urges upwards and onwards
and yet it seems too early
and yet for some it is too late

we discuss strategies
in the face of the unknown
they comfort us
as we watch time pass
flicker by flicker
flicker by flicker
flicker by flicker

 

 

In the long new year, part one: Indefinite Lent

April 2, 2020

the crowds are thinning
on the boulevard of cautionary tales
but maybe a new name is in order:
the street of the last chance saloons?
the avenue of the end times?
deathpat’s graveyard?
(have I been reading Tom Robbins too much?)

if only beer wasn’t half as expensive
as soda water
I think to myself
as I scratch the unshavenness
I am wearing to blend in

Monday has not traditionally
been a good day to start again
but so many of the old rules
are gone
and why wait for Tuesday?

as the street dwindles away
into shutters and sentries

~~~

one cannot help being impressed
by the creators of email spam
who continue to work tirelessly
through this crisis

the internet is our mirror
both individually and
our society
all the things we are
are in there
blaring back at us
staring back at us
in piercing shards
and loud lectures

our mythic heroes weep silently
in their corners and their caves
they are spent; they did what they could
for now we are on our own

the bandleader up on the bandstand
keeps calling up new titles but
the dream orchestra keeps playing
the same tune

the shadow protagonist
his time called at last
can only hack his way through the scenery
in stubborn repetition of past roles
on the same backlot
high shimmering painted skies
and smoke machines laid to waste
as he stumbles forward
incoherently shouting lines
from his past triumphant speeches
once there was not a dry eye in the house
now there is not a house
not even a rickety chair

~~~

after the day-after-day morning bangclatter
the view from my window
is still and flatly hot
like childhood summer afternoons
when everything was distant
and the birds were the loudest thing
to be heard

when we walk the streets
the comparison with zombies
is hard to avoid,
with our mouth hiders
firmly in place,
eyes working overtime in exaggerated expressions
to overcome the facewrinkles that
complete our brief exchanges

all plans mothballed
all bets off
all opinions bleated
all encouragements obeying
the law of diminishing cares

~~~

the streetscape edited
erratically, but continually
the familiar faces of these years past
disappeared:
home means different things to different people
particularly when pushed

strange times, we nod sagely,
as we quietly rearrange our priorities
even as we wonder what they are

somewhere it seems
our alter egos
are off hiking in the hills
picnicking halfway up cliffs
waving bottles of wine
at a different sun
wondering where the glasses are
wondering where the corkscrews are
wondering where we are

all plans mothballed

all bets off

shutters and sentries

the dream orchestra keeps playing
the same tune

 

as if underwater

March 20, 2020

like a postcard from
a different age
playing a tune from
an old fashioned show
still being written

embracing time
in small parcels
such as circumstances allow

take these thoughts
and do with them
what you will
now they’re out
they’ll find their own meaning

a mind bobs around on
remembered
embraces of deep recall
twists and twirls
as if underwater

confessions
obsessions
depressions
redemptions
all cut from the same cloth

like a postcard from
a different age
playing a tune from
an old fashioned show
still being written