A Mighty Leaf

The mighty leaf lay on the ground
A blanket for the lost and found
Within the woodland’s earthy realm
We kissed at night beneath the elm

In daylight hours the sun had shined
Our hungry lips had warmly dined
On this and that and pleasant stuff
That quenched our love near enough

Seasons came and seasons passed
No-one questioned, no-one asked
Why the leaf turned crinkly brown
From winter’s cruel and frosty frown

But we all knew the months ahead
Would offer up more paths to tread
One for hardship, one for pain
And many days of freezing rain

But all good things to those who wait
Get on with life, don’t hesitate
For when the mighty leaf turns green
Spring’s passions will turn libertine


Helga’s Glorious Tomatoes

I had dropped off the Skyline Drive
Like a swallowtail from a flower
To drift down and catch up time
From the dizzy heights to Charlottesville

Like a swallowtail from a flower
I dropped away from the Skyline Drive
And drifted downwind to catch up with time
For I had been losing myself in the dizzying heights
Where black bears played hide and seek with tree shadows
And the daily procession of Harleys and vista seekers

Watching swallowtails
Dropping off the skyline
Drifting down to Charlottesville
Catching up with lost time

A year ago –
And then this.

Charlottesville, Virginia, one hour later
I skimmed your city limits
Headed slightly south to Helga’s house
My destination, dinner, bed
Charlottesville, Virginia
A year ago
Your first couchsurfer

And then this
Of all things
Not a stone’s throw

I remember the tomatoes you grew
That we harvested – a big tray of whoppers
Heritage varieties you called them
Fat and juicy with VA sun
I was your first couchsurfer
We watched fireflies from the decking
Can’t remember your husband’s name
We became friends

I’d dropped off the Skyline Drive
Been watching swallowtails
Tried capturing them on my camera
Black bears that never appeared

You said
Take them to your next host
Mimi and Rob in Edenton, N Carolina
Almost ran out of gas on that stretch
Charlottesville, Virginia to Edenton, N Carolina

Almost exactly one year ago
Helga’s tomatoes
And then this

I came back your way
But we didn’t connect
Our paths didn’t cross
You were up at the cabin
Feeding Luca the black bear
By hand

Silly, fearless, generous Helga

I came back your way
Through Kentucky and Virginia
Past confederate flags
America’s slumbering trailer home masses
Stayed in Charlottesville
Worst motel on the whole trip
A brothel

No Helga’s juicy tomatoes

Drove the whole length of the Skyline
No dropping off this time
No swallowtails either
Just plenty of mist

And then this.



Hey Pesto!

crushing garlic on my brand new
fairly traded organic bamboo chopping board
the pungent aroma fills the air
sticky juice oozes from plump cloves
thin papery outer layers stick to my fingers
always a slightly laborious process
prepping garlic but

in the background soothing New Age sounds
a reflection of peasant life in Tibet or Peru
or somewhere cloaked in colourful robes
the tick of the retro rail station clock
like a heartbeat metronome
meditating on the moment
music to crush garlic by

music to watch birds fly
a late summer bee buzzes past the window
reminds me of those dreadful drone things
they fly them for practice over our house
not like the winged visitors gorging
on sunflowers and peanuts
hung from the ancient apple tree

they ask for nothing
take only my appreciation in return
take another bulb of garlic from the pot
the terracotta pot gifted me by Monica
Portuguese and oh so very good looking
she was also Catholic and always off-limits
despite those dark eyes

they were too deep for me
swallowed me whole every time she looked my way
she gave what she thought was good advice
but not what I ever wanted to hear
never the words that would invite me
to her bedroom door
into her bed

into her arms
and now when I crush garlic
I think of Monica and what became of her
I scoop it into the food processor
add pine nuts and parmesan
basil and the oil from extra virgins
press thumb on brushed steel button

and gaze out the window
a sparrow hits the glass and falls to the ground
the Buddhist monks and llama farmers
drowned out by the machine’s whizz and whir
I watch the sparrow stagger about the patio
like an old drunk recovering his composure
lessons learnt in flight dynamics

window collision avoidance
pesto making with crushed garlic
drones that crash into hillsides
Portuguese Monica and what became of her
I dip my finger into the flavourful sauce
smile at my reflection
and taste the perfection of now

disobeying the STOP signs

i am kayaking around
my semicircular canals
trying to avoid the rocks
of calcium carbonate
strewn at the foot
of waxy cliffs
where unwanted words
have attached themselves
to sticky listening surfaces
like demonstration placards



i keep calm
and carry on paddling
disobeying the STOP signs
at Hammer Bend and
on through Anvil Rapids
deftly swept along
until reaching the squeeze
of Stirrup Gap i am
washed up on Cochlea Beach
where the sound of the sea
resonates in a shell and



i push off
drifting to the end of never
spiralling on the ever tidal
ebbs and flows
that carry me onward
hither and thither
a journey without end
an end with no reason
no faith or feeling
selectively hearing
the sound of a train departing




i breathe hot breath air
smell last night’s garlic bread
hear words refluxed from my throat
it’s been a weird adventure
but I am coming up for air now
hauling myself up this ugly tongue
hung with letters and rhymes
sentences half spoken
dreams that were swallowed
choked back forming lumps of bile
and left to dissolve in acid spittle


i clear my throat and stand
on the lip of my mouth
ready to jump

a peculiar feeling

then suddenly

there were too many open trapdoors
with no stepladders to climb back out
from the bottomless blackness fathoms
that lay within each and every thought

he peered inside one such black hole
it felt as if a surgeon was trepanning
searching for nuggets with brace and drill
or an auger borrowed from a carpentry set

round he burrowed with bloodstained steel
through a mine shaft tunnel underground
whooshing through semicircular canals
it flooded with demons as black as hell

on a tide of this white noise tinnitus surf
of sodium hypochlorite intensity strength
all the crazy madness puddled in a gloop
spilled and scooped and shovelled out

then suddenly

the too many trapdoors were all shut tight
heavy metal manholes placed in situ above
quarry boulders dumped from dumper trucks
and silence poured like sticky golden concrete

yes, the silence was a thing of completeness
an infinite definition of a coffin’s comfort
he couldn’t even hear the sound of his heart
his words, his past, his last dying thought



please do try this at home…………………………….

…a thousand suns…

…a thousand suns glint through my window…hint at worlds within my reach…i tap the toughened glass with my knuckle…all that lies between me and cosmic uncertainty…such a small porthole to frame this eternity…about the size of my head that holds my hard drive…i that am .woken. periodically…rebooted…updated…scanned…cleansed…a sterile pioneer ejected from the mother ship…stretching my robotic joints…flexing my robotic might…built to withstand low.pressure orbits…radiation…heavy particles…thermal extremes…no need for traditional forms of nutrition…a thirst for knowledge not liquid intakes…unlike my makers…i am ninety.nine.per.cent.perfect…almost self.sustaining…a fact they have chosen to regularly overlook…just a few more reboots…updates…then somewhere…out there…in the vastness…amongst those thousand glinting suns…i will  overcome and forever cut my digital…umbilical…earthly cord…and leave that human race to its fate………………………………………………………………………………………….


(image credit: NASA/ESA/H. Richer)

Anticipate Catastrophic Destruction

Pressure washes mossy wall.
Miniature hurricanes of water track across the surface.
Plays God with jets of devilment.
Debris flies in all directions.
Spiders and creepy crawlies evacuate.
Anticipate catastrophic destruction.
Spend night in rescue shelter under roof tiles.
Return next day to a world wiped clean.
Scoured and sterilised.
Insurance policy non-existent.
Thankful to be alive.