Ice-white and Shining

Barely dressed above decency’s minimum
in shorts, socks, runners,
he hugs himself hushed in intense conversation
with an eager next-door neighbour ⸺
his late afternoon jog still flushed crimson on his chest.
As I pass by self-compact on the footpath,
I notice tucked behind one ear like a stray afterthought
one shining ice-white frangipani flower:
how they match, whorl to whorl, in that grainy hour of twilight!
There are gestures ⸺ MICRO-GESTURES ⸺
which complicate so much for the better
all our caricature notions of character,
though with age, the uncatalogued repertoire
shrinks substantially to a few odd edges of the infinite
to haunt us absent-mindedly ⸺
God-sent to challenge timid autobiography.
What we know we know for a fact
definitely deters but does not prohibit
spontaneous occasional ventures into “fiction”:
down in the yard at the bottom of the drive,
across a line of wind-lashed sheets, I glimpse
that play-act; those folds; those shadows;
that make-believe . . .

Photograph: 唐人溪流:模糊黃花 Blurred wattle flowers, Chinaman Creek (2020)



Sunflower & Bees LANDSCAPE_21 MAR 2020

I am writing this down, drop by drop, just as it falls from the sky ⸺ a gentle rain, again perhaps the start of a Summer storm.

Faint thunder detonates the distance and growls down mountains, triggering an avalanche of decibels.

Small, unopened sunflowers stare sightless up into the overcast atmosphere, while the heavens’ only sol-bloom shies blind-ed behind dense acres of cloud.

A whole world between words upsets a particle or two here and there of some absolute boundary inscribed in the dust; plummeting water sculpts tear-drop-shaped craters in sand-drifts banked along the road.

Now there is no eagle to stand the sky on end, and no fox to set its dirty orange fire to the gloom.

Suddenly, I am jumped out of my skin: all the fault-lines in my nature are analyzed both with and against the grain by a forked strike of instantaneous X-ray lightning and, almost in the same split-second, thunder deafens (and defines) the length and breadth of my fragile auditory nerves.

Lost in the moment, one large white cockatoo feather twirls ⸺ gloriously ⸺ back to Earth.


Photograph: 澳洲唐人溪:向日葵 Sunflowers, Chinaman Creek, Australia (2020)

Daphne, Direct

Daphne_1 FEB 2020

Like a scorpion in the bed
or a black cockatoo’s rip-needle-shriek,
it was the one unsung unmistakeable thing that moment.
On the spot for the world’s dew
it wrote an introspective national anthem;
brass bands of grass and a morning’s full orchestra —
these were conjured out of nothing,
out of pure atmosphere,
by smell. My angles too,
they shifted inclination — I no longer leaned
the inevitable same way into Sunday.
There was — as there had never been before —
a twenty-fifth hour,
an eighth day of the week,
a fifth or sixth addition to the seasons,
an unclockable second,
a whole new number between one and zero,
and here I was, in it —
the perfect mint condition —
red- or pale-mauve-handed: daphne.


Photograph: 香港維園花市 Flower Market in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong (flickr)

Peter’s New House


Belladonna Lilies_27 FEB 2019

Every single room has you still moving in.
Is that old life there the new life here?
Boxes half block out a whole passage to invention.

The door to the cellar gapes open at our feet.
It provides a glimpse into one man’s underworld,
largely empty at present but warning

of thwarted life. At ground level, details of the “you”
you chose/choose to be: a computer screen like a TV
stacked with topical icons; a monumental drum-kit —

this occupies the living room, and inhabits a rhythm
that can never let go, rapping out questions
in search of a sound track, exactly

shaped like the hook you wield to ease down neatly
out of the ceiling the ingenious wooden step-way
up to the attic — inspired afterthought

straight off the top of your head. Gingerly we climb aboard,
neighbours to the clouds, the room egg-whitened with light.
Through the windows, yellowing dense phalaris

and belladonna lilies — February’s pink “naked ladies”.
On one wide wall, our motto’s inscribed in essential black letters:


Wisteria Flowers

We assume they will,
but one day they may never come back . . .


Spring, springs ― they wither and dry
out of our control, then: miracle. Nothing
in our social engines emulates this growth magic
on Earth.


Ask yourself till you’re blue in the face ―
sky-blue in the face, even:
Who, who will they put in charge
of the science of robot-blossoms?


Is this how we wish to be remembered:
the first women and men
to dismiss utterly the scented luxury of a solid carpet
of flowers . . . ?