“Simply Said”

This is not a poem about

big ideas and grand discoveries

using fancy words juxtaposed

with inciteful images that will

make you think I’m clever.

This is a poem about lunch

and climbing the stairs

and catching your bus

(which is late again!)

and cigarette breaks

and going to the bathroom.

This is a poem about

trying to fit a cup of tea in

between the little things

we fill our lives with

like tidying your room

and making the bed

and family dinners

spent complaining about

the neighbour’s noisy dog

which simply won’t shut up.

This is just a simple poem,

without rhyme and rhythm

or stanzas and form.

It is just a simple poem

about ordinary things,

for if truth is beauty

then simplicity is elegance

and, as that simple

American so profoundly said,

‘that is all I have to say about that.’

The Benchwarmers

“Do you remember what we were like in school?” James asked, shifting around to find a more comfortable position on the bench.

The sun shone down for the first time in weeks and people were scattered all over the park, lying on blankets or picking at picnics as they soaked up the beginning of summer. Spring had been disappointing this year; late to come and miserably cold, as if the bitter winter had been particularly loathe to let go of it’s grip on the city. Jay looked out over the lake to their right, his brown hair curling in the light breeze that blew in fits and starts across the open grass behind James.

“I’m not sure that I do” he answered quietly, still looking at the lake and tracking the movement of a mother duck with five ducklings in tow. “It feels like so long ago. So much has happened since then.” Continue reading

“The Wolves of Chernobyl”

Deep in the zone around Chernobyl,

the animals have all returned.

Industrious beavers busy building

dams and blocking canals to

flood ancient wetlands again,

while shy deer and moose

look to make the most of

the absence of humanity.

Through deserted towns with

desolated streets and houses

the grey wolf wanders once more,

howling mournfully at the moon

and pawing the radioactive soil.

 

Nature’s adaptability is astounding,

but the rapid re-growth of green

over anything man-made

at Chernobyl is chilling,

proving that mere human presence is

more destructive than a melt down

as catastrophic as forty Hiroshima’s.

We are forgotten by the forests

less than fifty years after we left,

trailing an invisible poison that

infected earth, air and water,

but one still unable to stop

the wandering grey wolf.

 

He howls his melancholy song

about the brief reign of apes

who killed themselves with a

chain reaction, started long ago.

The wolves of Chernobyl know,

better than most of us, that

on a long enough timeline,

everyone fails.

They melt into the night,

padding over the snow

as the wind picks up and

the poisonous land

breathes once more.

“Dystopian Utopia”

The trees stand out on the ridge

like nature’s smokestacks,

bark-covered chimneys belching

out the dark clouds in columns

streaming over the mountain,

catching the sunshine strangely

between gathered drops of rain

harvested from the Earth.

 

Forest factories producing pollution

that we, unnatural beings, breathe

caught between technology and nature

(as if the two were separate!)

We are evolution’s own evolvability

smack bang on a course between

born and made; our own saviours

and lab-induced Frankensteins.

 

We can disregard our messiahs,

turn away from the monsters

of our ambitious creation,

or we can recognise we are

an inextricable part of nature,

not needing to ‘go back’,

but rather extend our minds

with collective connection.

 

“Man is not an end, but a bridge”

said Nietzsche, for

“We are the universe becoming

conscious of itself”.

Which is quite a grand thought,

I think, as the rain comes

marching through the trees

and a rainbow slowly forms.

“One Night in Buccaneers”

There was a beautiful girl

in a bar called Buccaneers

who talked a bit too much

about life and energy and

manifestations of consciousness.

Still, though, she was

really really beautiful,

so I stuck around and

made sympathetic noises

everytime she said something

especially deep and meaningful.

 

I paid particular attention to

a comment about my glass

just being a slower-moving

manifestation of the energy

of life which is all around us

in the hope that said energy

would instead manifest itself

in the form a free drink,

but it seems this cosmic force is

as uninterested in our wishes

as most modern-day gods.

 

Still, something she said

stuck with me despite the

manifold drinks that did find

their devious way into my glass

as the evening progressed

(life-energy notwithstanding).

She told me that she would

never stop being idealistic

because it is not realists

who change the world.

 

‘How naive’ I thought snidely,

nevertheless lifting my drink

to acknowledge her smile.

Imagine my surprise when

the glass twisted in my hand,

winked at me and waited

for the jukebox to stop,

then, in a clear voice,

said “Cheers bro”.

God, she was beautiful…

“Networking”

Facebook is a fascinating phenomenon

along with all its equivalents:

Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr,

even WordPress and Blogspot.

All these so-called social networks

which allow you to build a self,

carefully constructed with text

to share with other shadow people

wandering a digital landscape,

plugged into a personalised news feed.

 

It’s a little worrying, I think,

how lost we can get in

so vast a web of words,

how Whatsapp and Viber

have overtaken our ability

to communicate face-to-face

while Facebook reminds us to

bid half-hearted happy birthdays

to people we barely talk to.

 

Us youth, digital natives of the net

with technology in our pockets

that transcends time and distance,

generation of iPhone therefore I am,

who will have our very sight

connected to the world wide web

through small contact lenses.

What will we make of all the

shadow people, ideal projections

and shallow internet chatter?

 

We can so easily drown in

such a flood of fluid networks,

but the ability the net provides

to learn and link to others has

set off an exponential explosion

in the ways we can now share.

It’s no mistake that we call a

conversation with links a ‘thread’:

a small piece of the tapestry

we weave with digital fingers.

 

There is freedom to weave as

you please and, if done well,

we can find the occasional

golden thread where we would

never have thought to look for it,

be it in a flamenco song or,

nerdy as it might make me,

a simply brilliant maths proof,

both reminders of the beauty

to be found in everything.

 

Im gonna make those

last few lines my status.

l8r 🙂

“Fairy Tales”

Once upon a time

a little prince ran away

following his love as she left.

Just a boy, he couldn’t find her

in the crowd outside the walls

and was soon lost in the people.

 

When the King and Queen

noticed their son was gone

a search party was

sent immediately to

scour the kingdom

until they found him.

 

Ten long years

they looked for

the lost little prince,

last seen following

his broken heart’s beat

into the dusty sunset.

 

One morning he came

out of the rising dawn,

a man of his own,

but he wept when he saw

the King and Queen

and how they had aged.

 

His mother embraced him,

crying out and not letting go,

touching him here and there

to reassure herself he was.

He looked into her eyes

and a last tear fell from his.

 

‘Can’t I ever be with her?’

He asked softly, looking away.

‘O, sweet boy’ his mother cried

‘I don’t know love’s secrets.

Even if I did, I wouldn’t want

to see them written here.’

 

‘Sometimes love waits

and wonders and watches

distant hilltops for a sign.

You do not have to search

to find that sort of love.

Sometimes it just comes back.’

 

‘That is all I know,

so come inside now,

out of this cold weather,

and sit with me and

tell me all your stories,

all the things you’ve done.’

“Walking with Wordsworth”

I stood outside and watched

some boys playing a game,

their faces red from running,

shirts brown from sliding

across the rain-soaked grass.

The storm had passed and

it didn’t smell like Africa,

but the world felt fresh and I,

a pagan suckled in a creed outworn,

went for a stroll through the sunset.

 

I walked passed the lines of cars

watching the faces of the people

contrasted with the light show

put on in four-part harmony by

the sun and staggered clouds,

culminating in the eruption

of a long-extinct volcano

shooting colour into sky,

roused by rumbling boots

while traffic crawled slowly by.

 

They didn’t seem very happy,

all these driven masses

travelling well-worn roads,

unable to stand and watch

the final act as it closed

with dusty orange streaks

floating over the moon.

So I stood, looked up forlorn,

and turned before the coming night

hoping to hear Triton’s wreathed horn.

“Manifesto”

South Africa goes to the voting polls today for the fifth time since we became a democracy. It is a time for heightened emotion, hope, hyperbole, frustration, some despair and a celebration of the diverse life that has somehow managed to coexist in such a strange and wonderful place. As I think that political promises are, well, misleading, I have taken the liberty of penning my own manifesto. It, too, has almost nothing to do with improving the country.

 

To write about what moves me,

all the gods and sparrows

and every space between.

Not because it pleases or

to hear my name in history,

but so the young bird,

so afraid of flight,

can find its own way up

breaking into light.

 

To make life beautiful

by telling simple stories,

stories filled with sparrows

and little girls whose voices

lost up in the thunder,

still stand out in storms,

for courage is a virtue

which gives to beauty form.

 

To know myself and share him,

no matter what the cost.

To see the eye in everyone

and look into my soul.

To write so I may listen

instead of talking over thought

and so that I may learn

what others know of life,

for what they truly yearn.

 

And to laugh.

To laugh at what I’ve written

and how it seems absurd.

To doubt myself and fail,

then find the strength to

smile and write some more.

To not change the world

but to look at mine anew.
To know that is all I ever need do.