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the mango lady’s eyes

October 6, 2021

and so they pass and so they pass
the feet and the wheels and the feet
workers, wanderers, nobles and fools
up and down the mottled street
under the everyday mysteries
in the mango lady’s eyes

and so they pass and so they pass
the hours and the days and the weeks
tinkers, tailors, pickers and wastrels
up and down the scattered street
under the givings and the blessings
in the mango lady’s eyes

and so they pass and so they pass
the feet and the wheels and the feet
selling coconut, sugar cane, fruit and fish
bitter and sour, fresh and sweet
under the grind and the gristle
the glint and the glimmer
the glow and the gift
of the mango lady’s eyes

what I couldn’t do then and what I can’t do now, and the wisdom to know the difference: a bit of a manifesto and a bit of beating of old drums

October 2, 2021

don’t tell me life is short
life is unfathomably long
I’ve been an adult for a little over 30 years now
and there’s every likelihood I’ve still got 30 ahead of me

life isn’t short
youth is short

and in recent years there’s been a lot of
graciously giving away the things of youth
and all that jazz
and for sure it’s been long yards since I blushed
with the actual colours of youth
but still
in these dank days
I’m feeling a new welling embrace of the benefits
of adding all those days that turn into years

okay, so some days bits of me hurt that didn’t hurt before,
and then a month later it’s other things
but it seems a worthwhile exchange

steps tend to be surer
even if the legs and feet are less reliable

said goodbye to a good head of hair a long time ago
and now the barber on the corner is always pleased to see me

I warm to different stories now
and when revisiting old ones I am often astonished by them
from this new vantage
even though I see no significant change in my values
or what you might call goals –
writing, making music and fellowship
are still the things that make it all worthwhile

I am blessed to no longer ever spend time trapped in discussions about
real estate
reality TV

I wonder at things I have hard-learned and now rejoice in

I have given up trying to be competent at stuff
only to find that
the competency has showed up anyway;
in the more practical cases it most certainly hasn’t 
but I’m buggered if I’m going to bother with those ones anyway

the nothing-new-under-the-sun principle is more clear now
and the  younger generations go through
the same grinding motions as we did,
even though they’re smarter than we were

we know the lines that they’re making up as they go along
we just still don’t know the lines we’re making up as we go along

funny how it doesn’t work so well in reverse and that
the lessons of maturity only reach us when we’re ready for them

this old cat is still up for learning some new tricks
but he asserts his right to pick and choose

walking placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remembering
what peace there is in silence
and in holding one’s tongue

Lay your ya-yas down for a moment, then resume

August 26, 2021

there is always the beat
but some days come
to muffle the drums

and we are in muffled times
it’s rare to find the hope-filled fanfares
of earlier days

in this our season of uncertainty, surely
so much more important are those
that made the razzamatazz
that gave the pomp its

charlie’s good tonight, i’n’ee? 
charlie’s always good
charlie’s good

a city waits

June 11, 2021

a city waits

food delivery drivers fondle telephones
and vague sentries sit in vague sentry duty
as the time ticks by

waiting for gates to unlock
and doors to swing open
much veneer has had the sandpaper
and fatalism is clear on the rough surface

reds and yellows and waiting for green
in a country where – as it’s often been said –
traffic lights are more of a suggestion

a lethargy born of too much guessing
counting until there’s nothing left to count
haggling with fate is rarely productive

bursts of colour, some will fade, others nervously flicker
on those city blocks where such things are anticipated

on other blocks the answers are clearer: not yet  

things fall apart

May 30, 2021

I have nothing to teach
I barely have time for all the learning I must do

stories dissolve
interpretations develop
facts shrink
things fall apart

necessities and priorities shift and change
imperatives vanish
decisions wither into habits

things fall apart
I have nothing to teach
things fall apart
I have nothing to teach

exposed to memory, worlds warp
while the present steadily congeals into itself
in pursuit of instance

I have nothing to teach
things fall apart

these fragile cannisters of ours contain
all the leaps and plunges and burps and whistles
that somehow we strive to balance
within the invisible maze of rules
that we are promised
we already know
but we don’t
and we barely have time for all the learning we must do

and still the heart will pump
and the toe will tap
and the muddling through is done
to the burbling soundtrack
of melodies weaving/rhythms insinuating/
through the static

and I have nothing to teach
I barely have time for all the learning I must do

midnight music at noon

May 19, 2021

midnight music at noon
won’t get things done
but such places will be gone to
and such thoughts will fly

midnight music at noon
the chill of the night
in the heat of the day
and the slow of the time

midnight music at noon
fills in no timesheets
empties no intrays
answers no emails

midnight music at noon
doesn’t need to leave the room
to slip into something more intimate
even at high noon there is some shadow to kiss

midnight music at noon
sits the endless present within eternities
surrounded by imaginings
countless in shape

midnight music at noon
calling from the incomplete past
framing the restless present
answering the indistinct future

midnight music at noon
won’t get things done
but such places will be gone to
and such thoughts will fly

needs must

May 3, 2021

the neighbourhood corner
where I usually get my transport
and emergency coffee
and haircuts (which reminds me)
has this morning become a
marketplace (needs must)

greengrocers and butchers
have parked in the street
all through the junction
and some have gathered just because
there’s something to look at

word has spread fast and
old scratchy music is already playing
as those who buy are doing their choosing

notice that we have learned to
chat through masks and
smile with our eyes
(needs must)

like a freshly blooming flowerbed
the bright colours and the bustle
come to an unlikely spot

ashes from the archive

May 2, 2021

searching the archive
for new old sounds
following leads and
looking under rocks

thus approaching a long untouched stone
unsure what it covers
when the music takes me by the hand
and says:

don’t be scared
it was a long time ago
you know the scars are healed
you did the work

sure enough
but stealthily
an afternoon creeps through old soundtracks
anticipating words and phrases
from back in the driving days
long locked up

hidden inside are the fruits
of my raking through the ashes
even while I was building a new fire
itself long ashes now

we spend so much time driving
and singing along
some bits are bound to stick
and there are always some that taste of ashes

we spend so much of our youth
hard at work figuring things out
and so much of our post youth
justifying how we got here

it’s good that we find friends
who we will never meet
who unknowingly help reflect our angst
back between their lines
and never get cross when they get put back in the drawer
or abandoned under stones

dry spell

April 28, 2021

“The first ten million years were the worst,” said Marvin, “and the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million years I didn’t enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline.”
― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

something of a dry spell
the imagery is still
and will not be bounced
against anything,
least of all the walls

the walls that absorb
our rising contempt
through no fault of their own

the absurdity of dressing for coffee
due to the absence of gas
while taking the long term view
or at least trying to

strategy fatigue
moderation fatigue
self absorption fatigue
it’s enough to make you want to
argue on the internet

think of that

I shall make up my mind

April 21, 2021

I shall make up my mind

foundation for my fundamentals
pluck my ethics and redraw them perfectly

a little lipstick on my logic
mascara on my amygdala

rouge for my rationality
blush for my anxiety

using subtle colours for complexities
and broad strokes for simplifications

shadows and lines for my imagination
bronzer for my boldness

lotions and creams for my ego
beauty soap for my conscience

and so I shall make up my mind