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Living forwards, understanding backwards

February 28, 2021

It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.
Søren Kierkegaard, Journals IV A 164 (1843) 

all the moving parts on the street today
seem colour-coded
as if chosen deliberately
to identify and contrast with the surroundings

am I glimpsing an urge to order, to structure?
perhaps I will catch this window
perhaps it will evade me again
perhaps I will go for a walk instead

many days I am a mystery to myself
what was there before it was gone?
it’s been so long

in the semidarkness/semilight twilight
I am adding items to the growing list of
all that I don’t need

all those old blues singers
were once callow, callow youths
and we late blooming black sheep
somehow learn to adjust and accept

accidental colour-matching
I approach the pending anniversaries
with full heart
and breath of new songs

close all the shops and sit in the shade

February 11, 2021

the acrid burning of hell money
mingles with the pouring of beer
the snapping of playing cards
the imploring singers deep in
plaintive Cambodian tunes

bring on the sad songs
and gather
and eat
and remember the dead
and pour the beer
and snap the cards
and implore
and sing
and welcome
the ox

news of the day

February 9, 2021

the sky so high
and warm and distant blue,
the air holding still for the last gasp
of day

the sunlight picks out
the browns and the yellows
and the stains and the cracks
of inner city walls

while in the shade the rusted roof
and the razor wire
and the mossy ledge
keep their own counsel

on the wall behind the green of the leaves
the shadows cling in the shape of a tree
and there are still quiet signs to remind us
of the unexpected rains of the night before

for once it is silent enough
to hear a distant radio jingling
and a single bird chirpily tells no one
the ornithological news of the day

love song

January 23, 2021

out there in headline land
everyone has had their say
on Phil & Don
(be my baby; have a good life)
and been undone by a young poet
(at least those who always forget
how significant is poetry)

here on the sunsoaked ground
the streets seem a little empty
as if it is a holiday;
who knows, maybe it is,
they can be so invisible

on Sothearos
in front of the palace –
still and unencumbered by
tour buses –
there is plenty of empty space
to walk in,
past the ghost hotel
and magnificent trees

the obsolete traffic markings
now resemble
a minimalist abstract painting
of white and yellow lines
stretching into the yowling distance

a slow walk home
to digest and ruminate
winding back to the everyday street
where I look up and see for the first time
high on a building’s corner
so this is how long it’s been going on

band names for rent

January 20, 2021

Blue-footed Booby
Duty of Car
Elizabethan Ears
The Last Dodo
Loving in Fall
The Cold Fingers of Dawn
Breathing like Frogs
The Antigens
The Turbulent Priests
Phantom Toll Booth Tarkington

Apply Within


January 2, 2021

a Saturday that feels like a Sunday
with the hint of a lazy echo of
under a non-celebratory sky
of mottled paper

give thanks for trees
and for birds
for fine actors
and for the funny

slowly a new year has begun
but has barely yet opened its eyes

it was just lying there

December 24, 2020

there it was
just lying there
waiting to be seen
to what use it could be put

I tried it as a belt
when it was done as a belt
I tried it as a hat
when it was done as a hat
I played some music with it
when I was done playing music with it
I rode it to the river
and when I got to the river
I rowed it across the river

on the other side of the river
it was some cooling shade
under the hot sun
and then it was a cold beer
and then it was another

and as the afternoon started
to close its shutters
I rowed it back across the river
and I rode it home
and it found a place to rest
right down here at the end of the page
in a poem

omenic dreams

December 22, 2020

omenic dreams

the splitting of time
into a series of sequences
stretched across space
from the city to the seaside
through windows and
around logical obstacles

and fragments of memories
remind me how I am aging
while still remembering
the odd things that I am remembering
snippets of songs
offhand passing comments
collage of entanglements
banging around in my head
along with half-written melodies
and half-remembered dreams

omenic dreams?
that is still to be determined
but encircled with the swirling thoughts
of art and its importance
and how to be close
and to share

are they a return to
recurrences of the past
these few unconnected points
that have in common that
they’re happening in my head
next to each other  
in this particular week
that is masquerading as Christmas

visions of flight from
the city to the seaside
or the seaside to the city
landscape choices
I choose the city
but flying would be nice

I do not long for much these days
and maybe I’m nostalgic for longing
and maybe I’m just patient
and enjoying the waiting

at fifteen years of age
some sanctimonous lunk
on seeing me moving
stacks of plastic chairs
your reward will be in heaven

for so many years
I guess I believed that
until I realised he used too many words:
my reward is heaven

so once again

December 13, 2020

so once again
sitting back
creating memories

the response
that manifests

in a desire
to go but follow

so once again
the straw-into-gold of
strings and fingers

a few strands
that tell
just enough
to entice

so once again
but wiser
or so it is professed

the sound
that curls up
in the ear
to happily dose

so once again
maybe starting
to get it right

James Honeyman-Scott

December 9, 2020

last night my mind came to rest
on James Honeyman-Scott
and how he left too soon
for us to know whether
he could be as great as his name suggested

well, before we could be sure