Empress 048


Think of pink salmon caught in pools,
plucked from water, tossed to air,
the catch stacked rainbow‑fired.

Winter now:
unsnubbable, lumbering overcoats
closeted, laid to rest;
seeking power in hibernation
till sun from summit melts frosty dark:
fresh heartbeats forged in forest’s night.

Think alchemy:
prime matter moved safely in flask or jar.

Think circus stars:
The Great Bear leads the Lesser,
dancing to the trainer’s whip,
tumbling from their pedestals.

Secure behind bars,
think fallen stars.

Teddy Bear Tales TBT 1


Empress 048


 Teddy Bear Tales 1

 “Possessives are oppressive,” my Teddy Bear whispers in my ear. “I’m not your Teddy and you’re neither my owner nor my master. The world exists without you possessing it. It will continue without you. And yes, I hear you, especially when you talk in your sleep. ‘My wife,’ you mutter, ‘my daughter, my flowers, my garden, my lawn, my birds, my bees, my deer, my house, my grounds, my groundhog, my car, my TV, my team, my Teddy.’ Well, permit me to share a secret with you. None of them are yours. You may think you own them, but you don’t.”

My God …” I sat up in bed and held my Teddy Bear at arm’s length, staring into his button eyes.

“There you go again,” Teddy stared right back at me. “Whatever are you thinking? Those two little words, yours and mine, are a threat to the universe.”

Never The Twain



Never The Twain

“And never the twain shall meet.”

This was the chorus that my grandparents often chanted at me when family members started rowing with each other over one trivial incident or another.
“But what happens when the twain do meet,” I used to ask.
“Don’t be silly,” they said. “The twain never meet. Ever.”
But I know very well that they do.
I know.
I’ve seen them together.

Funny things, they are, the twain, and opposites in so many ways. But so nice, in spite of what some people, especially my grandparents, used to say about them.

Not only do they meet, but they can be happy together and very, very friendly.
“Long time, no see,” the twain say, and they often embrace quite warmly with a bunch of flowers held between them.

Mind you, the twain can also be quite awkward and occasionally very abusive towards each other. I remember my mother and father fighting “like cats and dogs” as my grandparents used to say.

Now, my grandparents had a cat. It was black and white and striped like a zebra. They called it Spot. My parents had a dog. It was an English Cocker Spaniel, gold in color, and off-spring to a famous sire, the Six-Shot Woody Woodpecker. They called the dog  Wimpy but it was by no means a wimp and fought with everything in sight, especially the cat.

So when my father and mother fought and the family cat and dog fought, I thought, quite reasonably in my opinion, that the dog (with his short hair) was male and the cat (with her long hair) was female, and that was the reason why they fought like cats and dogs. And “never the twain shall meet” as my grandparents used to say about my mother and father and the cat and the dog.

I guess it was too early to learn about the birds and the bees when, young and all too innocent, I was learning about the cats and the dogs.

And of course it’s only natural that the twain should meet. My mother and my father, like the cat and the dog, had to meet somewhere, didn’t they? How else would I be here? Now, we weren’t the sort of family that practiced contraception by throwing stones at the storks to keep the babies away.

But I could never work out why the cat always had female kittens while the dog had all-male off-spring. That was a bit too much for me, and nobody ever really explained anything I those days.


Easter Seals

IMG_0133 2

Easter Seals

So, I’ll put my cards on the table:
it’s Easter and the seals are dancing
in the garden, and they are ring-tailed,
like raccoons, and they’re dancing
because it’s Easter and they’re Easter
Seals after all and you can’t blame them
for dancing when their time is upon them
and they’re in season and everybody
dances when the time’s right, don’t they?,
because I know I do, and I’m dancing right
now, dancing with joy and happiness
because last night, for the first time in two
years since I started my cancer treatment,
I only peed once, at half past three,
and I went to bed at ten and dammit,
that’s five and a half hours of sleep,
for the first time in two years, and I
usually pee every ninety minutes
and that’s five or six times a night,
but last night, I peed just that once,
and I went back to bed and I slept
for another four and a half hours
until eight o’clock in the morning
and that was almost ten hours straight
for the first time in … well, you remember,
I don’t need to repeat it yet again …
but boy, do I ever feel good this morning,
and yes, I’m laying my cards on the table
and I’m dancing, just like those Easter Seals.

Comment: I finally finished my poetic journal, A Cancer Chronicle, and I put it up on Amazon last Friday. A Cancer Chronicle is sub-titled ‘one man’s journey’ and in it I write about my reactions to the treatment I received for prostate cancer. I met many people at the cancer hospice during my eight week stay, most of whom were a lot worse off than I was. I admired the courage of my fellow sufferers and learned so much about human beings and how they face adversity. I was particularly impressed with the bravery of the women who were suffering from breast cancer. They were so strong, so courageous. In spite of their troubles, my fellow patients reached out and helped me from the first day of my stay. They pulled me through the difficult days and shared their experiences with me. I will never forget them. If this book can comfort just one cancer sufferer, I will be so happy.

It’s just a guess, but I am assuming that finishing A Cancer Chronicle took a weight off my shoulders and allowed me the peace of mind to finally sleep. I do hope that this is a milestone and that my recovery will continue. Pax amorque / Peace and Love.




Curiouser and curiouser
the vanishing smile
on the ginger cat
and wild dog dingo
grinning like a coal-scuttle,
why, oh why?

Who put the cur in curious?
Why was the dog-watch curtailed?
Cynicism, some say, and why
do we kneel before him,
heads bowed, waiting
the thumbs up, thumbs down,
of placet, placetne,
why, oh why?

Comment: Raw poem. I dreamed it up last night, but it wasn’t like this when it started. Cur: means why or what for in Latin and curs were large, mongrel dogs, bred for herding cattle in the Middle Ages. Cynicsm: because the cynics were also called ‘dogs’ partly for their shamelessness and partly for the faithful way they guarded their philosophical tenets. In Mexico, the Dominicans were often portrayed with dogs at their sides. The explanation: domini / of the Lord, -can / dog; hence they were the faithful guard dogs of the Lord. Placet: it pleases in Latin; the thumbs up sign that allowed the defeated gladiator to live, not die. “In any event, the final decision of death or life belonged to the editor, who signalled his choice with a gesture described by Roman sources as pollice verso meaning ‘with a turned thumb’ a description too imprecise for reconstruction of the gesture or its symbolism” (Gladiator: Wikipedia).


IMG_0133 2.jpg


“The earth is geoidal, i.e. earth-shaped.”
These words, dictated to me by the geography
master when I was about fifteen years old,
taught me that teachers didn’t really know
all there was to know. Nor, indeed, did they
need to know everything. “I don’t know,
I’ll check and tell you later,” breaks the myth
of infallibility but sets up sympathetic links.

“What do groundhogs eat?” the little girl
asks her classroom teacher. “Spaghetti,”
comes back the instant answer from one
who doesn’t know that every day the child
watches the groundhog that lives in her yard
devour delicate New Brunswick violets.
“Spaghetti, with mushroom sauce, of course.”

Then one day comes the spelling test:
“How do you spell minus?”
“Wrong. Try again.”
“Wrong again.
You think you’re so clever.
Everybody knows it’s
Don’t we class?”
The class breaks into shrieks and giggles.

Everyone knows how to spell minus:
even the one who has just read how Theseus
followed Ariadne’s thread to escape from
the Minotaur who roamed the Labyrinth
beneath the Cretan Palace of Knossos.

That one was present too, in her own mind,
at the Siege of Minas Tirith, when Gandalf
held five evil kings at bay and Aragorn fought
the nameless Dark Lord who dwelt beneath
the shadow in the land of M-O-R-D-O-R,
a Lord not so powerful M-I-N-U-S his ring.

Not On My Watch!


Not On My Watch!

The black-and-white cat
sits in the window and watches
the ginger cat who lounges on the porch
and watches the five deer
who stand in the woods at the garden’s foot
and watch the neighbor’s little dog
who watches the raccoon
who disdainfully removes the garbage can lid
and fishes out the food, scattering
paper and wrappers and cans
as four crows sit in the tree and watch
the wind as it whistles the papers
round and round in a windmill
that wraps itself round the feet
of another neighbor who is watching
the raccoon with open-eyes
as a seagull flies above him
and bombs him from above,
damn seagulls, and the bird poop
falls right on my neighbor’s watch face
and he cries out
“Oh no, not on my watch!”