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now available in Phnom Penh: volume 7

June 16, 2017

Pepper and silk front cover

so much softer than rain

May 19, 2017

o save us from the things that flatten us:
where do you find your little bit of silence,
where do you find your little bit of earth?

listening for the falling of dust,
so much softer than rain

a mirror tells us no more than
the lake mimicking the moon –
an impulse to join invisible dots

letting mysteries form in midair and
hang in front of us, then
many things have been believed
and abandoned in the long/short slog of
human history

listening for the falling of dust,
so much softer than rain

physical talismans
have been easy to
lose, or to leave;
metaphysical ones
tend to leave a mark
on the soul

we intuit
more than we know
that we ignore

listening for the falling of dust,
so much softer than rain

and I blinked, and my winning streak was gone
and I blinked, and my winning streak was back

the passing of a motodop

May 17, 2017

I couldn’t say that I knew him
but he was no stranger

we had more nods than words

when I needed I ride
I would seek him out
if I was near his territory,
but often I needed a ride
when he had already
retreated from the street
for the evening,
to wherever it was he went

he had more wrinkles than I,
fewer teeth

on the pillion behind him
I feared nothing – his
authoritative knowledge of
the ever-changing road and his
unflappable 30 km/h inspired
great faith

one hot day last year
I bought him a beer
and we drank silently
in the sun
waiting for something;
I forget what

his territory is now retired,
his last fare paid,
his last delivery delivered,
his Daelim inherited by another

he must have survived more
than I could imagine,
seen more than I can believe,
overcome more than I could conceive

and yet his public epitaph
may just be these few lines
from another universe
from someone who didn’t know him,
but was no stranger

in absentia

May 9, 2017

while each private grief is personal,
a gathering of private griefs
– where we each in our way
wear a tee-shirt of remembrance –
can elevate by reminding us
what we have in common

we brought our private sadnesses
and the spirit moved among us
and we opened our souls
and sang

not without sorrow
and not without pain
but also not without the joy
and the joy of life
that he still stirs up
in absentia

and so, slightly perplexed
by our buoyancy,
we drift into the night

shuffling mind photographs
and remembering well,
and mumbling to ourselves,
yes, I remember well

for the throat

May 3, 2017

the poet as magpie,
as thief of the unwanted,
picking up discarded
hints and glances,
twigs and spots,
setting them against each other
in reflective adjacencies

the poet as mad scientist,
surrounded by smokes and
flames and bottles and jars,
suspending solutions, applying
catalysts, creating explosions
controlled and uncontrolled

you did not know
that I had asked you
to show me your throat
until you had
already showed me

the poet as carnival barker,
urging you to believe what you see
in the hall of mirrors, the house of
horrors, the tunnel of love

the poet as seducer,
wooing, enticing, drawing
you into a deeper world than
you had forgotten

you did not know
that I had asked you
to show me your throat
until you had
already showed me

the poet as horse-whisperer,
lion-tamer, thorn-remover,
democratiser, time traveller,
box cutter, dot-connector,
liberator, incubator

Simon says

April 16, 2017

Simon says growth
Simon says innovation
Simon says KPIs
feed the poor

Simon says efficiency
Simon says cost cutting
Simon says pursue wealth
nurture your soul

Simon says wear a suit
Simon says get a mortgage
Simon says desire to live forever through
advances in pharmaceuticals
die with dignity

Simon says a bigger car
Simon says a bigger house
Simon says a newer phone
peace be with you

entering the new

April 15, 2017

the city is oozing with
small explosions of celebration
in liquid night hovering around
the same temperature
as the blood

jek – jek jek jek

one party two parties three parties
on every block
self-contained and joyful
briskly paced animations
well-oiled and well-advised

jek – jek jek jek

people gather
by chance and by choice
to dance with the
wild excitement of
no reason but here we are

jek – jek jek jek

here we are
enlivened and awakened
whether by the familiar
or the bewildering
while infectious laughter
rises from every village
from every town

jek – jek jek jek

and then we rest
and then we rise
to begin again
that which is to
be begun