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format nostalgia

July 27, 2017

the sweeping patchwork of horizontals,
the art stretched across what now seems
an impossibly large canvas
it wasn’t the vinyl so much as the cardboard

twelve square inches plus twelve square inches
of bounteous space, and that’s without the
glorious gatefold
places to hide details and secrets

and the spines, my dear, the spines
across which fingertips would flip and drag,
reading by colour and by thickness and condition
as the alphabet argues its way from
Abba to ZZ Top,
an array of plastic coverings, of paper qualities,
of typefaces and widths
it wasn’t the vinyl so much as the cardboard

grimy with successive fingerprints of
successive purchasers, occasionally bearing
a name, a scribbled notation of ownership

at the weak point, where the record curved
past the edge, sometimes a tear,
sometimes a rip,
right through the title and artist

it was inexact, it was messy,
and it aged well
but it wasn’t the vinyl so much as the cardboard

I was born for longing

July 21, 2017

all the roads lead back to you
for it seems I was born for longing
all the numbers counting back
words piled on words
phrases on phrases
and all the tunes return to my tonic
for it seems I was born for longing

from dawn to dusk and back again
it seems I was born for longing
all the years racing horizon-bound
images flicker into images
colours blend to a universal hue
and all the poems end with you
for it seems I was born for longing


July 21, 2017

the push and the when
and the wondering
and the window cages
with sashes that
appear and disappear
and reappear
those certain things
that were open to the wind

some noise
like clockwork,
some noise
some noise
longed for
those certain things
that were open to the wind

flirting with
those certain things
that were open to the wind

splash, pizzazz,
all explosions
end up as whispers
those certain things
that were open to the wind

the bellows of life
that redden the embers
stoke the fire
to bring the next explosion
those certain things
that were open to the wind

new door
new sanctuary,
damp with
walls thrill with
anticipation of
the fireworks to come
those certain things
that were open to the wind

the quiet and unhurry

July 18, 2017

finding like precious stones
the quiet and unhurry
under layers of sophistications
anxieties advices admonishments
that settle innocently like dust
only to trap harden calcify obliterate
and require archaeology to remove

the quiet and unhurry
glimmer out of reach
until by movement of earth
or stirring of spirit
or act of the Gods
cracks form,
the wind and the rain
begin to pick and poke
and prod and
weather and
wear and
wash away
what was really only dust
after all

speak softly and
carry a small broom


July 6, 2017

I am now a few months into my first lease in many years,
and suddenly I find I have accrued furniture, art, a cat,
and a landlord who is concerned that I am gaining weight,
and is encouraging me to exercise

he is unconvinced by my assurance that I am just
happy and prosperous, and perplexed by my insistence
that I have no interest in polluting that
by indulging in overactivity
or the boredomdeathstare of physical jerks

I say bicycle, he frowns, and talks martial arts
while performing demonstration kicks in the air;
I say singing and carrying gear up and down stairs
and he makes Khmer noises and giggles

we agree to disagree and I amble off to read in the shade,
he goes back to work until his retirement and then at last
have a chance to spend some time playing music and
maybe even gain some weight to go with his prosperity.


A week’s worth of passing thoughts in pursuit of identity

July 6, 2017

From Casablanca:
“What is your nationality?”
“I’m a drunkard.”
“That makes Rick a citizen of the world.”

From Theresa May:
“If you believe you’re a citizen of the world you’re a citizen of nowhere.”


here I stand,
mongrel of various pockets
of the greater British Isles,
one side direct, the one side in
dribs and drabs,
through seas,
on ships

my family names on both sides
– Townsend, Bywater –
tell of a place of dwelling
and my first name is itself a family name,
a name identifying someone as being
from somewhere else
(there is a land with my name,
but a damn cold one)

my middle name marks a spot,
perhaps that spot where the town ends
at the water’s edge,
and that is where I find myself,
seeker of urban rivers,
a man from elsewhere

my regrets
are not the usual ones,
at least, not in the specifics,
although surely in the general:
I wish I had found my
city by the river
many years before I did

flawed as all places are
but inspiring as no place
has ever been
I have found a place to live
and a place to die
but please, please
not tomorrow

ah, but if you want to make the Gods laugh…

one two three four

June 24, 2017

as external circles widen
so internal circles contract
wheels within each other with
a gyroscopic counterspin

pushing molecules against one another
insistent like the rain
digital magic unzipping dimensions
of flourishing human dreams

drawing in the notice
that comes like a fine mist
a longing for beauty
and the surprise when it comes

fours again
quartets and signatures
and plus one
for a 13

splitting time into beats
and slicing up silences,
because silence is alpha and omega:
our genesis and our revelation