Endoman

man on hill
Luang Prabang hills, December 2019

Endoman

Blown by the wind I lean in
To each next flailing stride,
Eyes creep up,
Take in the green ‘scape
Running on,
Breathing faster
Chest tightening
Bones cursing
A rhythmic shudder of coarse
Foot planting,
Legs, knees
Stretching up
Lifting higher,
Every sinew clenched,
Fighting for oxygen
With teeth grinding left and right,
Another 100 yards,
– A kilometer even –
Holding on, and holding
Just on,
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
Becoming stronger,
Fluid, perfectly fluid,
The strokes as if through water,
Over air,
Beyond pain and forward,
Forward, forward.

Midnight Calm

Treading softly
Turning the latch
An icy shaft blows in.
Outside, a crunch underfoot,
Peering into the silent blizzard
Effortlessly cascading
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,
Frosted windows,
Tudor beams,
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
Behind me
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
Lie ready
To ease out of life.
The brush of pillow on their cheek,
A final revelatory sensation
Diminishing ebb
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
My familiar.
I click the kettle switch and
Read each word of the last holiday postcard,
Holding onto the fridge corner to steady myself.

Pulse

img_6730

Dawn in Lumphini Park, Bangkok.

Pulse

This man sleeps in five-star
rooms
high above and
looking down
on that man
squatted behind
a pyramid of limes,
waiting for a customer.

This woman feels forever
late
and ill prepared
to teach the class,
outside
that woman
sleeps under a tree
quietly breathing
whilst traffic stuck,
shuttling him and her and them
onward to a new
moment of playing at
who they are.

We are all in sales,
scouring time
to feed the
pulse and curiosity
of where each
investment might take us too next –
a better paid job
a clearer conscience
a meal.

The Sun House

The Sun House

A dark pink ginger petal
Curls round my wine glass stem,
It bends
As if to listen,
And I breathe in.

Frangipani trees watch,
As incense wisps through shuttered doorways,
Extinguishing inside on the
Scorched spines that stand in line,
Their perforations couching simpler times –

Joyce and Milton,
Sophocles and Ovid –
Mankind’s canon rests
Underneath these high ceilings,
And their enduring brocade.

A flickering breeze through palm leaf
Stirs,
At once a soothing balm and a fantasized being –
As I breathe out,
And place my glass on the table.

The Commute

bkk
Bangkok skyline

The Commute

A young girl stands weeping,
Waiting in line to board the plane.
Behind her a family of four
Shuffle forward their assortment of
Bags and purchases.
Teenagers splayed out on the floor,
Entangled phone chargers and
Preoccupied chatter.
Tannoy announcements ripple in the distance,
White noise to all.

Outside, convoys of suitcases
Zig-zag across the concrete apron –
The sky painted grey and about to strike.
This motley queue of human cattle
Inches forward,
Marking territory, clenching fists.
Talk of putting “a man on Mars” seems over-stretched,
As the minutes tick by and I wonder why
Putting one hundred people
On an airplane appears so much of a test.

We are airborne as my eyes open
And wince through the glare of the clouds,
Broken up and disappearing.
Many thousands of feet below and Monday morning
Crankily tilts on its axis.
The ennui of emails, the promise of lunch.
As tail winds pick up, the urban fringes of Saigon blur,
Our metallic tube arcs over Cambodian borders,
Paddy-fields and water buffalo,
Agrarian pastures – a daily grind of different stock.

Through glimpses of rubber smoke we land,
Suvarnabhumi airport, again.
Ten years of touching down here,
Too familiar a pilgrimage,
On auto-pilot
My toes twitch as I wait once more.
The young girl has long stopped her tears and stands nearby,
Nodding politely at the customs official –
Breathing in new beginnings,
Or the tingle of something left behind?

Sun-kissed

There may be time enough, before too long,
To stop and gaze upon this rising orb,
Ask of it clues of paths to tread,
Journeys sought that best befit
The curiosities of an un-purposed self who,
In full and in plain speaking,
Often flounders earnestly and
In God’s name.

There may be time enough, before too long,
For joy and revelry
Ignoring each self-decreed and darkly
Fenced in yoke,
Each whimsical faint-hearted shrill,
Colossal epitaph in making
Shaped, infused by others’
Brighter sheen.

There may be time enough, before too long,
With mended bow, sharpened resolve –
That didst for story-tellers’ protagonists
Inspire and glorify man –
To coat this dream in glittered hue
And pierce the ego’s wretched
Vanity, for once and
In all manner of
Innocence.

While You Were Sleeping

sunset
The finest hour I have seen, is the one that comes between, the edge of night, and the break of day, it’s when the darkness rolls away – Nanci Griffith.

While You Were Sleeping

Be still, my loves,
Let sweetly dreams of fancy unfurl you
Elsewhere, whilst
Outside
Clicked shut our iron gate and running free
Through Saigon hems,
Weaving versions of past night-time jaunts –
Familiar neon shop signs and
Fragrant food-cart smoke,
Snaking shadows beneath
Sprawling high-wire silhouettes –
Cocooned inside this secret urban labyrinth
– I glide –
The purr and putter of market produce scootering by.

Be still, my loves,
Soft respite gains on moonlit quilt,
As my strides quicken with the breaking dawn and
I reach the water’s edge.
Beyond horizon,
Past horizon further,
Others whisper fond farewells,
Their last small patch of glowing orb ablaze, setting,
To manifest and transfix now in front of me –
Yellow white sparkles dance like needle shards,
Bedazzling in the ferry’s wake.

Be still, my loves, be still some more.
Beyond this turning point,
Homebound,
Backlit with today’s first sunbeam,
I fear only this –
As deep a contour and familiar now as the
Creased faces of street-vendor –
That time is lost.

With fingertip precision,
The keystrokes of our waking hours
Consume and safeguard
Daily beats, to which we all adhere,
And for which our spirit harkens.
Around that corner, over this bridge,
One’s salt-lipped search for answers
Makes for another’s
Truncated journey
To a higher stratosphere of meaning –
A life’s trajectory that comes in all forms,
Restless, stirring make-believe.

Be still, my loves.
In the end, there is only this.

Thai Green*

bkk

Beneath snaking concrete viaduct, baking heat
Cooks sunburnt pores, street vending nooks,
Pungent fried sizzles punch lung deep, an urban Kingdom
Jostling air, space, and conditioned lifestyles.

Bangkok.

Spiced iced tea, rice soup, lychee cocktails,
Mesmerizing Soi-mazed corners
Inhale city sewer flavours,
Pavement tiles uneven, tilting, roasting.

Curbside, rainbow taxi ranks flank
Juice bar pit stops, bamboo bar tops,
High rise scrapers, elevators, shopping centres –
Eastern promise meets Western dream.

And still.

Not far flung from this urban jungle,
Nestled north, enveloped forest,
Lies a calmer version –
Country living –
Breathing, feeling,
Fibrous woodland,
Smoke-filled thatch.

Chiang Mai.

Opening up green borders,
Boundaries,
Walk amongst your past-time inclines,
Sun bleached hills and warbled song birds that
Listen back.

Stop here, stop now and let this touch you –
Nature’s glorious paradigm,
Working.

chiangmai

*A poem inspired by a damn fine Saturday morning, and several elephants