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mind the gap #II

September 9, 2019

distance
as a measurement of time
between then and when
between now and once

because it’s all gone
and what’s not gone
is going

drawn as I was, once more,
to a celluloid dream,
to a hero’s journey,
in which youthful understandings
are still, half remembered, to be found,
resting safely in between familiar frames

and so the stories
were stories
I found bits
of me in

it wasn’t an innocent and uncomplicated time
but it was a time when I
was innocent and uncomplicated

and there were trains and shadows
and longing and libraries and daffodils
and inns and gypsies
and windows and mirrors
and mice and men
and far too much snow
and all on the string-thread lead
of a balalaika surprise

but it’s all gone
and what’s not gone
is going
as it ever was

iglooing

September 8, 2019

inside you can’t see out
no cracks in the igloo
no spice in this wind

inside the withdrawal
another day of avoiding
implicit dangers and the like

once in a while
to sit outside, beside,
to gain a glimpse of
the shape and colour of the inside,
because there are no fences,
after all,
only the ice wall
that freezes head and heart
that freezes mind and soul

and await the distant thaw
with soft ears

the first time

September 7, 2019

heaven and hell
have similar playlists
it’s just that in heaven
you wake up every day
and hear everything
for the first time

I did not know

August 14, 2019

I did not know
I needed a name
it had not been mentioned
in the briefing
of which I have
in any case
no memory
nor was it highlighted
during the subsequent updates
that I have failed to recall

I did not know
I needed a face
but one grew
so I have
escaped punishment
for that
apparently
as no one
has banged on the
early morning door
with demands
and malice

I did not know
I needed a name
it is difficult enough
to explain the world
to ourselves
and others
without having to remember
things we cannot retrieve
from our past
whether we have one
or not

century blues

August 8, 2019

so easy to slip into
the chasm
of this century’s
problematic adolescence

also easy to slide into
the paranoid slanders
and ideological banner waving
of the last century

retrospectively we cry:
my goodness, what they got wrong
and my goodness, what they got right

as, no doubt, our children
and grandchildren
will do

will we think ourselves lucky
to have lived through these times
or will we think ourselves lucky
to have survived them?

in the summer of protest

July 31, 2019

last night the cab was stopped
by a polite throng of black teeshirts
and umbrellas
and surgical masks

this evening in the cab
John Lennon sings about
pictures of Chairman Mao
on Cantonese radio,
then we turn up the hill into Cotton Tree Drive
and the songs turn to fluff

shield

July 24, 2019

more than once a shield
a protector
more than once a nourisher
a provider
more than once a soother
a comfort
more than once an intuitive responder
a shy behinder
a sky widener

yes, more than once
it’s later now but
that which lingers
is bound to linger