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for the friend on the occasion of his common or garden birthday

September 5, 2020

came to play
and stayed
through what we thought was trauma
but was only growing pains

the pain long gone but
the love now well worn

nights long with song
and wine and mystification
mountaineers together we still climb

to the good times, brother,
we raise our glasses
to the good times
long may they run


August 26, 2020

hmm, so a new hat

perhaps hats are like tarot decks:
for greatest efficacy they should
be gifted to you

my cells have now
been replaced after
seven years of the battered hat
that was
to be fair
pretty battered when it was
gifted to me
one night on stage at Slur Bar

it was a real hat replacing
a long, long run of
tourist hats that
never seemed to want to stay

a change
and the world did not
collapse in shock
perhaps the world
has other issues at present

the silhouette remains
only slightly altered
so I will not go unnoticed
for better or worse

the size is definitely an improvement
the battered hat was always
just a little too tight
and the new one
has ventilation
intended rather than through wear

the battered hat
has survived
France and Hong Kong
and worst of all
it has been squashed
left in tuk tuks
been blown off while on
the back of motos
it has earned
its retirement

so yes
a new hat
under which
the brain will cook
for some more years to come
for better or worse


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, farriers 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