Tag Archives: Life

Jacob’s Ladder

Sometimes a ladder falls
and you move one way or another,
not realizing until afterwards

that your instincts or your luck
saved you (unless, of course,
you were on the ladder).

The relief your split-second decision causes
is strong, but will be replaced at some point
by questions about the next ladder,

for all the laws that govern these things,
probability, fate, circumstance,
cannot be tempted or relied upon.

What will happen to us
and how much worse would it
if we knew?


Insignificant after midnight in Maine

To say that the darkness
owns the night
seems at first redundant

until one thinks again
and realizes that everything

everywhere is night
with but the few interruptions
that random suns cause

matches flaring for a moment
as if sulphur in the nose
of a non-existent God.

like fading freckles
on a vast and endless skin
which is not us.

April 5, 2015

If I should die tonight
there is nothing left out of place
nothing undone
except for all that will not happen
and cannot ever now be.

This is not a matter of testament or surprise,
some premonition I cause to be unjinxed.
I hope and even plan to breathe
for thousands of other evenings
and on most of them without this simplicity or clarity.

I do not fear this moment or that,
I may then but not now.
I do not fear the snake that wriggled across
the path this morning as we walked,
nor do I take its presence to have some other meaning.

I do not fear my fear
for I expect it and know it now
in the way that I will feel it then.

There is a moose painted on a canvas
hung up high on the wall.
There is an open door
and a cup of tea all but entirely drunk.
There is a stuffed white bear
no bigger than half a leg
and pretending to be polar.

Random things and many close to my heart
and some with complicated backstories
of acquisition and ownership both,
but on some other night these surrounding objects
will be different but not so very
and then they will disperse,
most lasting longer as matter than I will.

No matter. Really.

So many of us before and so many after
with so little consideration for anything but ourselves.
The availability of socks,
the presence of love,
football scores and songs,
electricity and floorboards and refrigeration,
and finally, in all their forms, pens
to write, in all its forms, on the paper
that will also one day burn by fire or water
or wind in mindless delight.



It seems that life is
as they describe war;

long periods of boredom
with a few seconds of utter terror.

Except that life, if you’re lucky,
is mostly good enough days

or days filled up with the shopping
or the school run, the buying of trousers,

making sausage casserole,
examing your pores in the mirror,

television, haircuts,
conversation with an aunt,

promotion or not, worrying about the bus,
the weather, birthdays to buy for or be bought for,

cleaning the stove, headaches, sport, soap,
watching windows or looking out of them, and so on and on,

until without much warning
something disasterous happens

by way of a walking out, accidents involving children or cars,
body part problems that will never be perfectly fixed,

grief, preparatory death (pets etc.)
and then the real thing of others close by,

before finally your own
(the last being the least of your worries, afterwards).

If we can’t make more out of these ordinary days,
it hardly seems a decent equation.

Submerged (path connected component)

In the beginning of all you have,
when those five syllables of possibility
are as wide open to you as your hand,

what will separate you from everything
will be the place of your birth and the race of your people,
along with the year of your appearance

and the state of your genetic health,
the accident of your strength and bare agility,
the ability of the head you were issued with,

the capacity of your lungs
and the accurate connection of your bones and sinews.
One more thing before you walk through the door and out into your life;

stop at the mirror and confirm the matter of your sex,
almost 50% either way, but still of prime significance
as regards many aspects of your opportunity.

In the back end of what you had,
most will no longer talk of all you can be,
but instead assess you (if they look at all) for what you did and were,

partly in measure of all you began with,
but more often by the amount of your money
and the size of the self that others (like them)

have decided to see you as,
yet with any chance you will have bred
or come from a  family where ample breeding took place.

These people -at best and depending- will be the ones
who may truly see what you are and what you did,
who you were in consideration of the list you started out with.

It is also common that they may not
and in that way only you will know.
Good luck.

In Between Days

I am stiff and without electronics (a word that already sounds old in my mouth),
paper-writing and sat on the reddish tile floor of a tidy English bathroom.

There are prints on the walls of Guy’s and St. Thomas’s hospitals.
Antiquated glass jars (empty) with labels advertising citrates and lozenges,
quinine tonics for the nerves.

All else in sight is modern, albeit with the dust of Victorian design.
A brass pot with a tall rubber plant has a lion’s head with an iron ring through its mouth.
The bath’s hand shower sits on a complicated nest of silver
with lettering for hot and cold from the same font set as the printed labels.
Half walls of tile are embellished (white on white) with wreathes and thistles
while far away we are bombing somewhere.

We being the British who only days ago (the begining of our visit)
did the Scottish agree to remain enfolded with.
The idle minds wonders if this sudden sending of planes
to somewhere would have had a material effect on the vote.

I sit on the bathroom floor because all the beds are taken
in the darkness of an early night.
Tomorrow we will aim to ride our own plane from here
across the Atlantic where those other types of aircraft
have also been sent out bombing in concerted parallel.

I am dying.
We all are, simply at different rates.
Some at our own behest, some at the behest of others.
Most of this, while immediate and urgent (however long it takes)
is circumstantial.
People write about it, mourn it, photograph it, protest it, cause it.

The wolves dies out or are shot.
The deer bloom and deforest.
The rivers widen and the fish suffer.
There is a pause (or not).
The wolves are re-introduced.
Causes are effected.
Changes are observed.
Lessons are learned.
Or otherwise.

And tonight, if fortunate, we go off to bed
at our different times and in our different ways
and tomorrow, if fortunate, we carry on or start again.

And it is evolution (in the end and as it happens also)
and all we can consider worthy is any local suffering
that can be alleviated, any anguish that can be forestalled.

And we are mostly small and made so, not just by size,
but also by coincidence, numbers and circumstance.
And then, at some point, for us, that’s the end of it.

And on this bathroom’s floor and separate from the fight
of much beyond my lion and these thistles,
the short clarity of this helps my chattering self
silence not unhappily towards my own sleep.

What Gus Grissom saw last (words)

Looking down upon the world
slight figures describe the lines of travel.
From the bedroom to the bathroom
from one continent to another

wearing slippers or in boxes
driven by engines, they move.
Punctuated only by sleep
they intersect and collide

meet and avoid
there’s no end to it nor can there ever be.
Energy allows movement towards food
which gives the energy for movement.

Milk gives the baby strength
to disturb the planes of hearing;
the established cycle continues
as all these cycles do.