Café ’t Smalle at 16:26

October shade thins out what’s left of sun,
reminding us who notice life is short.
I order Tarwebok and choose a table.
Out in this weather, half of them are free.

Slim mothers flaunt spring babies in blue prams.
The artist owing me pretends to blindness.
He edges past, eyes fixed upon the boats
that queue along the quay and out of sight.

A couple and their casual guests stand up.
He cranks, the motor coughs, the guests fall in
the open cockpit. She gives a salty wave
to us ashore, singles up the lines, and hops

upon the bow so slightly, lightly, well
the boats don’t even waddle by the quay
and she and they and sun and boat depart
and I salute another ’t Smalle day.

My Word

My Stetson’s welcome, seeing that my hair,
thick as a furry animal’s in June,
is here in my October passing spare.
Unlike my words! They well from a lagoon
of similes. They cascade like a flood
of rhetoric to rage against the light.
They’re a lyric Lear-full sung by Elmer Fudd
who comes not that genteelly into sight.
I try to mitigate his senseless rant
with pearls of wisdom, but they don’t exist.
I winkle phonemes out of shells that can’t
be called sand free although they do persist
in staying pearl-less, peerlessly absurd.
I hear sea shanties in them, and my word.

An Autumn Urban Stroll, Amsterdam

October blows brown leaves down. We are shopping.
We stock up on candles, ask about a chair.
Damp chilly breezes keep the strollers hopping
and no one’s sitting outside anywhere.
The headlines — seaborne plastic, radiation,
people fleeing warring powers everywhere —
are far away but never far enough.
On the next street we dodge past a prancing jester.
His coloured stockings, cap, and rubber ears
seem sensible in contrast to world news.
You’d think somehow a moral must be drawn
but I can’t find one though I’ve shopped since dawn.