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Siem Reap, August 2020

August 14, 2020

walking in the old town
that I first knew
wishing that I could afford all the
massages and tuk tuk rides I am being offered
though they need the money more than I:
they ain’t selling too many elephant pants these days

the less the throng
the more the space,
and once the sprawl had stretched
the bounds of containment
but now there’s too much of nothing

shutters/house for rent/gone

I wander behind my nose
guided by disjointed memory:
13 years now of
when was I at this place,
with which beer
or which coffee
or which margarita afternoon
and with who?
my past Siem Reap tour companions,
I wish you well
so far down the line

the surface is like a lined,
lived-in face;
outward signs of
an inward struggle

folk still mill around the food vendors
sprinkle through the mobile coffee stalls
but deep in the market it’s cold and still

Cambodia, it appears,
continues to take its beatings
with a shrug and a shy smile,
consoled by family
and endless snacking
for those with a couple of thousand riel in hand

but surely I project –
I really know so little of how it all works,
with my dozen phrases and
ability to count as far as 20
as I continue to hope to find
the half of one percents
that might contribute
day by day
to my chosen Cambodian families

so it’s another day of staring into the future
with hopeful heart despite,
remembering that one day
this day will be
one of the memories
that I will recall

with beginner mind

July 29, 2020

to arrive at the start
with beginner mind
with kitten eyes
and puppy paws

at the water’s edge
feet bare in wet sand
and smooth waves testing
and retesting their mark

misplaced time now recovered
and laid open for view
see how it sparkles
on the water

step by step
with beginner mind
carried like reading glasses
to be used where appropriate
to avoid freezing and cramps


July 25, 2020

my flipflops
have tiny bells
so I can be
sonically detected
by those around me

I cannot hear them,
my hearing being
compromised by
years of headphones

the question
then arises:
what else am I missing?



it takes a village of saints

July 7, 2020

Saint Agatha for bakers and bell makers
Saint Joseph of Cupertino for poor students and test takers
Saint Anthony for missing persons and lost things

Saint Marculf against scrofula
Saint Alexius for belt makers and nurses
Saint Hyacinth for those in danger of drowning

Saint Mark the Evangelist for Egypt
Saint Rose of Lima for Peru
Saint Louis for Mauritius

Saint Quentin for chaplains, locksmiths and tailors
Saint Zita for servants and waiters
Saint Sebastian for athletes and soldiers

Saint Valentine for…. beekeeping

Saint George for the English, Saint Joan for the French
Saint Patrick for the Irish, the Nigerians and the engineers

Saint Eligius for taxi drivers, farries and farmers
Saint Frances of Rome for automobile drivers
Saint Genesius for actors and comedians and clowns

Saint John of God for nurses and sellers of books
Saint Martha for dietitians and cooks
Saint Raphael the Archangel for doctors and shepherds
and matchmakers

Saint Joseph against doubt and hesitation,
for travellers and the pregnant,
for Vietnam and Cambodia

Saint Rene Goupil for anesthesiologists
Saint Helen of Constantinople for archeologists
Saint Quirinus of Neuss against smallpox and gout

Saint Pancras against cramp, headache and perjury
Saint Michael against dangers at sea
Saint Christina the Astonishing against insanity

Saint Harvey against eye diseases
Saint Baldus against cold weather
Saint Rocco for second-hand dealers and grave diggers,
against knee problems and skin diseases

watching over benignly, standing by to assist
it takes a village of saints


sunday haiku

June 28, 2020

it cost me naught
a small generosity
and it made someone




June 22, 2020

barely with us
and yet so loved

we gather in joy
with a touch of awe
almost as if surprised
that it really happened

witnessing a tenderness
arriving at the start of the third act
in a season of the unexpected

if we were looking
for signs of hope
(and surely we are)
we could hardly
ask for more

love triumphs
in the face
of the absurd


imperfection is best

June 8, 2020

sometimes it’s all about tenuous links
because the psychic hug moments
are sweeter when fewer

and a glance here and there
can change an hour
or even a day

sometimes it’s all about
the waiting
because you never know what might happen
if you stop rushing and sit

and we find objects
and arrange them in thought
and construct the collages
that surround us

sometimes things fall apart
and sometimes they merge
and sometimes the fractures are permanent
and sometimes they bring something new

great thinkers
can be baffling
and a good biographical story
ought to be more poetic than factual
at least that’s my
imperfect experience

will we learn
once the rains have come
and gone
and the tourists return
to dirty their feet
with Cambodian dust?


June 4, 2020

a careless sheen draped
across a sainted structure

a rippling rainbow of
soft touch nudges towards
ethereal magnetics

cloud of daydream
hovering in thick air
gently waiting for
a breeze to ride on

certain numbers and their import

June 2, 2020

2020 began with
jokes about hindsight
but we weren’t prepared for this

so many of our thoughts are
inadequate to requirements
fight or flight
shout or hide

history can be hard to live through
all staring at the same things
unable to look away


vague recollections of 2005
old enough to know better
and doesn’t seem so long ago

but now the distance between then
is the distance between birth and
first picking up a guitar

clearer is 2008
when everything changed
and I could see a future again


in 1967 our hero arrives
pink and screaming /yet/ white and comfortable
with no plans to change the world

he lives through the summer of love
and then through the violent exchanges
of 1968, oblivious
only to read all about it later

wars come and go
it takes a long time to find out
that the world can be a terrifying place


2020 began with
jokes about hindsight
but we weren’t prepared for this

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