Grey Dawns

Grey Dawns

Was it just a partial eclipse,
that morning when ash-grey horses
pulled a dustbin sun
across a drab and dirty sky?

Contorted clouds
fell from distorted horizons,
light filtered fine filaments
through to a sedimentary world.

Early morning birds,
startled by this grimness,
ceased their celebrations,
their dawn chorus choked

in doubting throats
so that strange, false notes
would not flit grit music
over garden and lawn.

Sat at my grey dawn window,
in the lull before the storm,
I watched and wondered
when my world would end.

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Grey Dawns

Hollyhock

Hollyhock

Is it a silken purse
made from the pig’s ear
of its seed pod,
or just a single seed
excreted by
an incontinent bird?

Its bruised
evening-sky hues
stretch their emperor’s
imperial purple all too thin.
In the late summer sun
it swallows one errant bee
in its leviathan mouth.

Sole survivor,
from a score of flowers
that once climbed
the seven foot,
eight foot stalk
to sway in the wind,
it stands on guard
against fall cold
and winter’s snow.

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Hollyhock

Comment: I didn’t like the ending to the earlier version, so, when it came to reading it, I rewrote it first instead. I much prefer this version. Apologies to those who read the earlier words.



Flower Power

Flower Power

The hollyhocks are back. A little bit late, but just starting to reveal themselves in all their glory. It’s been a strange spring, with frost warnings (and two actual frosts) in June, heavy rain, T-Storms, a tornado watch, extra hot days and, thankfully cold nights with the temperatures at +4C, even this month, July.

The yucca plant is flowering again, with three flourishing stems this time. It only started to flower late last week, but it, too, is full of promise. Somehow, while there are flowers, there is still some hope, some beauty, and some time and space for rejoicing.

Ah, daffodils, my favourite flowers.

Daffodils

Winter’s chill lingers well into spring.
I buy daffodils to encourage the sun
to return and shine in the kitchen.
Tight-clenched fists their buds,
they sit on the table and I wait
for them to open.

For ten long days the daffodils
endured, bringing to vase and breakfast-
table stored up sunshine and the silky
softness of their golden gift.

Their scent grew stronger as they
gathered strength from the sugar
we placed in their water, but now
they have withered and their day is done.

Dry and shriveled they stand paper-
thin and brown, crisp to the touch.
They hang their heads as their time
runs out and death weighs them down.

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Daffodils

Vis brevis, ars longa – life is short but art endures. Maybe my daffodils will last longer than the yucca and the hollyhocks. They will certainly outlive this year’s bloom. Time and tide wait for no man, and flowers too are subject to the waxing and the waning of the moon. That’s life, I guess. Long may it last.

To Meditate is No Disgrace


To Meditate is No Disgrace
The Water Tower
16

There comes a time when you can do no more.
You need to take a break, to step aside and wait
for the tide to turn and energy to flow.

The hard yards may be behind you,
but there’s hard yards waiting round the bend,
waiting for the break to end.

And you, you might bend and take a break,
but you must never break.

No one else can see what you see
or do what you do.
Nobody can take your place.
To take a break
and meditate is no disgrace.

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To Meditate is no Disgrace

My Morning Coffee

My Morning Coffee

The Water Tower
15
“The only photo I took today was of my morning coffee.
Looks calm and peaceful, doesn’t it? It wasn’t!

The wind gusts were unrelenting, with just
enough moments of calm and warmth from the sun
to give me hope.

There was also some rain, snow, and a little hail,
just enough to get me running for cover.

A wise man once told me that
‘some days you’ll be the hammer,
and others the nail.’

Today I was the nail.”

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My Morning Coffee

On the Seventh Day

On the Seventh Day
The Water Tower
14

On the seventh day he would have rested,
but there’s no rest for the restless artists
who create in thought, word, and deed.

They can rest from the deed
and take a day off work,
but thought and word go on.

And even if their day is silent,
with no one to talk to, no words at all,
the everlasting bunnies of thought
dance on and on,
beating their drums,
planning, sketching, designing,
outlining, shuffling the cards,
mixing colors and words
in endless games of creativity.

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On the Seventh Day

Another Long Day

Another Long Day
The Water Tower
13

“Another long day but I completed the sky,
then finished the wharf’s grey asphalt.
Large areas are easier to spray with my air gun.
It’s hard to paint them with a brush.

I also got the base coat on to the ever-greens.
Much more difficult: I painted the inside of the cage
around the ladder that leads to the roof.
Fiddly work, time consuming, but nice
to get out of the way. 

No painting tomorrow,
but Saturday and Sunday look good.
As for Monday, I don’t know yet
I’ll have to wait and see if it rains.”

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Another Long Day

Fight the Good Fight!

Fight the Good Fight
The Water Tower
12

“I fought the weather all day.
Relentless winds. Overpowering gusts
threatening to topple the tower,
to throw me off the ladder.

Very challenging, the painting.
An understatement like the undertow
when the tide threatens to take us out to sea.

I was treading water in the middle of the ocean,
 huge waves under my armpits, lifting me up,
dragging me down, and me quite powerless.

The strain, both mental and physical of biking
up a long steep hill, into a driving wind.
It felt like Sisyphus pushing his rock.”

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Fight the Good Fight

A Good Day’s Work

A Good Day’s Work
The Water Tower
11

 “A good day’s work,” the artist said,
admiring, as light drained from the sky,
 all the different blues of a lower sky renewed.

Above the tower, a deeper shade of blue.
At the tower’s foot, the nascent grass grew damp
with dew beneath the artist’s feet.

And so, to home, but not to rest.
The restless mind plans on and on,
the next day’s work, and after that, the next.

We who bear witness, our feet fixed in the earth below,
cherish each moment, admire the paints as they flow.
Time and space trapped in fragile things
and the water tower, a watch tower now,
standing guard, on high, watching over, mirroring,
all poor creatures, set on earth, and born to die.

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A Good Day’s Work

The Water Tower 9

The Water Tower
9

How do you paint this water tower,
that garden, these flowers, those woods?
Up and down: two dimensions. Easy.
Where does light begin and darkness end?

Where do these things come from – depth
tactility, energy, water’s flow,
that rush of breathless movement
that transcends the painting’s stillness?

This water tower is more than a reservoir.
Restored, it reaches out, an old friend,
with all its strengths that reinforce the needs,
physical and spiritual, of so many people.

The water tower itself is more than a tower:
it symbolizes the creative power of life and art.


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The Water Tower 9