Tinsel-flecked emerald water Simmers in the baking midday sun, The sway and bob of the local fishing fleet In teal red yellow and green Salt-crusted bows, and paint flakes, Tumbles of clove-scented breeze Part the arcs of banana leaves Outside the temple, Coursing down the lanes That claw between the crumbling Coastal trails - astride the Wallace line - A family of frangipani arms splay their Flowerheads Towards the white rays that Enshroud my Monday island - Nusa Lembongan.
Motorway spray races across the car window –
I pick a winning droplet, in the frame of the passing linen sky.
Soon, we spot seagulls,
And a first glimpse of sea,
“What time will we go to the arcades?” – the refrain from the backseats –
As my brother and I fasten our shoes,
And brush crumbs onto the floor.
Bloated fish nibble at the pond surface behind us,
While we stand sniggering,
Grandad’s shirt and tie refracted behind frosted glass,
The back door peeks open,
“Not today, thank you” – the ritual greeting –
We giggle, and bundle inside
To wafts of pastry and gravy.
Triaging each familiar comfort –
Our Nana’s twinkle-eyed embrace,
The measuring of just how tall we’d grown,
Pink iced fingers, yellow French Fancies,
Dandelion and Burdock –
Our adventuring, up and down the house,
Can begin in earnest.
Pillaging salted peanuts
We scan over cousins’ school portraits,
Smoothed under glass table top,
Carpet curls tickle our toes,
We press our noses against the enormous pane
And fight over binoculars,
Looking out at icy foam and black liners
Carving through the English Channel.
After lunch – and Grandad’s apple slices –
We bounce through hedged park squares
Towards the Promenade,
And drop two pence pieces
Into moving treasure chests,
Throw our plastic parachute men cliff-side,
And watch them spin in the biting current
As evening draws in.
Back inside the walled garden
We chase after the fish,
Fall about on the grass –
Energies finally spent –
Rosy-cheeked we watch The Pink Panther
Then drift off under the covers
To Famous Five adventuring,
And the thrill of doing it all again
If seconds were gifted to you as money, I wonder how much change you’d keep - by the end of each indulgent day's splurge - as you lay yourself down to sleep? this gift will not save, these funds must daily be spent, the wise man (in this realm of wealth) holds not back investing a single cent. so, as dawn breaks and you wake afresh, be sure your path of choice is clear, the returns you seek can be cashed in only whilst you are here.
The air's warm thickness Always catches me by surprise - An enveloping tropical blanket That I breathe in and feel settling, As I lace up running shoes To the sweep of a broom Outside my gate I’m coaxed up off the perch of my Front door step By the prospect of adventure - In autopilot I saunter up the driveway, My muscles purring at the Inevitability of the kilometres ahead Dawn is still an hour away - The overwhelming morning rays That slow-cook the city Will follow soon after, Baking the uneven pavements And simmering between layers of long-sleeved Crowds, astride their spluttering scooters, As they inch forward in morning traffic, Past sugar cane juice vendors and the Waft of street-food Until the chaos and jostle of life here unfolds I have these streets to myself - With each new stride the pulse of blood and adrenalin Propel me, Numbing the aches and pains that Escorted my lumbering frame down the stairs Moments earlier Allowing a freedom of feeling, An openness and calm, Anchors the rest of me in a Temporary vacuum, Sealed off from the humdrum of the day ahead - Egos and speculations, Emails and negotiations – A freedom of feeling connected to oneself Threading through the darkly lit hems and alleyways - An urban avatar of sorts - I choose my path, Control my outcomes, Primordial, raging instincts pull me faster forward until The stillness is complete Exhausted and gasping, I stare at the giant orange orb Cresting over Saigon bridge.
Delicate white wings flutter
Swimming through tall fronds
That sway in the cool breeze.
Shards of sunbeam parse through
The canopy of tree branches,
Softened by park chatter
And the symphony of scooter horns.
Across the cafe tables a lone singer
As traffic inches on
And policeman gossip.
Above them the red and yellow flags
Of a country
Once on its knees –
Now making strides
Against all odds, and
In spite of others’ preconceptions.
How little Hanoi changes
How significant that continues to be
In a world of flux,
Simulation and pain.
This morning’s dawn on our bed-sheet
Glows as it did yesterday.
Summoning into consciousness
A mundane familiar –
Touches, stretched out limbs.
Nothing here lies
In deference to a higher code,
Nor to a haunting pandemonium.
Through our window yellow sunbeams taunt
And pierce translucent bowing fronds,
Blinking time into place.
In steeped Earl Grey,
A soothing balm – a Blessed relief! –
Nothing here pretends
Any difference need unfold,
Nor mask that which matters most
In each wondrous, sentimental stroke
Of this morning’s dawn.
Blown by the wind I lean in
To each next flailing stride,
Eyes creep up,
Take in the green ‘scape
A rhythmic shudder of coarse
Every sinew clenched,
Fighting for oxygen
With teeth grinding left and right,
Another 100 yards,
– A kilometer even –
Holding on, and holding
Around the corner
Forest breeze surfs through my hair
And then, assured, then –
A gear change,
A release between
Then and now and why and how
Fluid, perfectly fluid,
The strokes as if through water,
Beyond pain and forward,
Turning the latch
An icy shaft blows in.
Outside, a crunch underfoot,
Peering into the silent blizzard
Beneath amber street-lamps,
A scene from a story of make believe form,
I pull my coat tighter,
Blinking into the snowflake tips
That prick my face,
And edge down the street.
A static coat of arms,
Parked cars entombed in snow –
Calm rings out as black clouds shift above.
If I listen hard enough I can hear the calm elsewhere –
The fluorescent entrance lights of the hospital
Hiding the sleepy wards of old and young,
Lost in their dreams of tomorrow,
Silently walking with me
Feeling the life in their fingertips.
The nourishment of movement!
In the eerie quiet of this moment others
To ease out of life.
The brush of pillow on their cheek,
A final revelatory sensation
Of pulse and current,
Minutes become seconds become darkness.
Inhabiting this new paradigm
I feel for my keys,
Their serrated edges temporarily
Escape me back to the confines of
I click the kettle switch and
Read each word of the last holiday postcard,
Holding onto the fridge corner to steady myself.