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Winter lament

O give me the soul of a brown bear,
lend me her skin
that I may sleep the winter through
in a mulch of leaves and dreams
beneath the roots of a tree
to wake when the world is new.

Aroused by slow warmth
and the reborn sun,
I’ll hunt the quicksilver salmon,
and pluck summer’s berries.
Claws stained red,
I’ll grow fat, sleek and contented,
preparing for the moist silence
and the cold thought-less dark.


Time passes

I’m watching the slow dance of dust motes in a sunbeam
as they enter and leave in a never-ending flow.

I wonder if god sees the universe
as a drifting waltz of ephemeral beings
floating on cosmic currents.

I wonder where the dust comes from
and how it rises unseen,
and why it endlessly falls.


Sometimes it seems
we don’t talk much
any more
the words have lost their way
teeth in a glass
spectacles next to the bed
when did it happen
where was I?

Sometimes it seems
pain could be truth
to hit my head
against the wall
not merely stub my toe
again and again
blood on the sheets.

Sometimes it seems
the world is sagging
like the springs of this bed
white paint flakes are dandruff
on the green stoop
the curtains are faded
the garden abandoned,
when did it happen
where was I?

the forests of your heart

I have walked in the forests of your heart,
stood beneath the redwoods
in a cathedral of wind.
I have climbed a monkey rope to the sky
counted a thousand shades of green,
slept on a Persian carpet made of moss.
I have heard the mermaids chanting
in waterfall-curtained caves
calling children to the water-holes
while baboons danced in the kloofs*
catching beetles, barking, dancing, laughing.

*kloof – ravine
Legend says that the mermaids call children to the pools to drown them.

The shoemaker

The threshold sags, foot and stumble worn
admitting mice, impatient wind and salty dust.
Thirteen children grew up here
in a lavender garden behind a crooked wall,
their father a canny man who cobbled shoes.


at a gathering of poets
around a fire
fed by cardboard and pine cones,
the fire was fed, that is,
the poets were fed
on wine and words,
we, the poets, shared stories of
alcoholic husbands, dogs and hijacks
the fire shared reluctant warmth.


the wind is a freight train
carrying sea salt
the screams of children
and paper tumbleweeds.

April 2019
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