Thursday, November 1, 2018


My life is constrained.
My feet are always wet.
As a child the water was slow and cold
but warmed and sped as days passed.
My siblings and I learned no skills
of survival in the hydroponic trough.
No mud fights, no insects to avoid,
sunlight measured out in spoonfuls
according to a formula that governed
the chemicals on which we grew.

Consider adolescence in such a setting:
My leaves were growing and my hormones
were inciting my imagination.
As I looked up and down the line
I could see three or four fellow lettuces
with whom I would welcome contact:
not even a butterfly came
to take a message to them.

My biggest change was the budding
and building of my heart:
it became firm and strong
and attracted positive comment
when I was pulled up without  consent.

Torn from my trough, my spirit waned.
There was little sympathy
from those who packed,
bought and sold me.
Eventually I understood my fate –
to be stripped naked,
my heart torn out,
my leaves chopped.

My salad day had come.


It’s Wednesday again.
The Angel of Poem
has not disturbed
my Pool of Siloam.

I just wait.
I can’t move my toes.

This is not looking good.
I’m paralysed with prose.

Some days
her wings are on ice
but on others
she comes often: always nice.

I wonder
what leads her to visit
at all – generous:
an exquisite spirit?

All I want
is a few lines for Class.
Come Angel. Inspire.
Get me off my ass.

Sunday, September 30, 2018


Dear old Parramatta
is full of Big Data:
much digital matter –
on a ‘lectric platter.

Not just one at a time
but a zill on a dime!
Bits in a paradigm,
ten billion re a crime.

So, will they help to solve,
progressively evolve
skills to then resolve
problems that won’t dissolve?

Now, are these data real,
or cleverly conceal
what’s true within a deal
inside a frame of steel?

One day they will control:
when they are on a roll,
we’ll be on the dole.
Be worried for your soul!


They may not be capable of developing
new drugs for rheumatoid arthritis
or given to existential dispute,
but their ability to bring joy to taste buds,
and, in fulsome quantity,
fill the tummy with fluffy calories
for breakfast, with bacon and maple syrup,
is second to none.

They are not staple enough
(like bread)
to have been part of the Last Supper
but when I consider
how my Last Breakfast might be spent
I favour it being among family and friends,
each comforted by the sheer delight
of a generous serve.

Saturday, September 1, 2018


Rosewood.  The silver handles
will be removed before the fire
but the flowers on the lid,
dust of incense, drops of holy water
will remain, keep his body company –
our final, inadequate benediction.

Now the process is anonymous –
the coffin sinks:
the men who light and they who stoke,
who slide it into the oven,
are without names
and they don’t know his.

We knew and he knew the cancer’s name:
it was devilishly clever,
relentless, finding its obstructing way
around stents and into lumens.
It declared conquest over his unconscious form
last Friday.  Pyrrhic, it seemed to me.

After the mass and committal, we who are left
assemble outside in the winter wind
view one another’s wrinkles
take note of obvious infirmities
count ourselves lucky to be alive –
well – sort of.

de Chardin said as we grow old
we are increasingly penalized
for a crime we did not commit.
But the punishment is for our original sin,
of being born, of our temerity
in playing gods for three score years and ten.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Poles Apart

Two men stand stiff at the fountain,
iPhone rapiers ready,
back-to-back, repelled –
of the same magnetic pole.

Maybe I shouldn’t look –
but I’m keen to know
is this domestic,
war over a third person?
Hard to believe
it could be religion.

A quizzical child stands by – eleven –
I recognise him from my class:
I wonder if he is wondering
if he is similarly charged,
if not, which one attracts him most,
who’s who and who is his?


From Sometimes a light surprises – in praise of recovery
by William Cowper (1780)

Beige permeates 
all that’s viewed
through the fine gauze
of a cataract.  

Like the inability to recall names
or complete a crossword
it grows by stealth
simulating aging.
You have to hand it to technology:
it’s uncommon to find a fix for age.
But in the case of cataracts
things can be done.

Pay the right price,
lie under the microscope,
dream on midazolam
while things go on.

A tiny instrument in the surgeon’s hands
screams at the cataract,
its sound shatters it and with a microsucker
she pulls the bits out.

A new plastic lens is fitted,
takes ten minutes,
and costs more
than an Indian peasant
earns in a lifetime.