Jackdaw Promenade

‘It is time we stopped taking walks together. Follow.’
The jackdaw knows we’re watched and is ashamed.
‘I don’t expect you’ll fly like show-off swallows,
but if we stay aground like this folks think I’m maimed.’

‘It is sad’, he adds, ‘that only in reflections,
like this one, can you reach the chimney tops.
If you’d better coordinate your genuflections
or hold you mouth right when you practice hops

we’d be the bee’s knees. Walk right on the edge
like I am, and, when I do, try to soar.’
Intent, I move from Hatch almost to Fledge
but chicken out, unfeathered, one time more.

‘There are few bipeds I’ve met with who are ground-leashed.
Are you an ostrich? You will get me ostracised’,
says the jackdaw sotto voce, adding, ‘Sheesh!’
I am fed up being walked and criticised

and I hope he’ll leave. He demonstrates a takeoff,
wings pitched to rise, and I call out, ‘Farewell’
but he pretends that I yelled ‘stroganoff ‘
and answers, ‘Where’s the beef?’ – he’s smart as hell

but a travesty as friend. He eyes a boat
and asks would I require a flying bridge
or an aeroplane to get across this moat.
I tell him blackbird pie is in the fridge,

and he says he’s et already and he alters
position getting set to cross the street.
‘Is walking something else at which you falter?’
says the jackdaw. ‘Now I’ll show you something neat.’

And he does. He crosses his path then takes mine.
When Jackdaw walks he walks with fire and flair.
‘Try this’, he says in parting. He’s so fine,
both feet at once stride neatly on thin air.


The papa bear rises in anger
and throws up the sash and his dinner
plus the tickets he’s bought for the races.
They’ve delivered him bile but no winner.

The mama bear, pining for roses,
sashays to a tout she’d once dangled
to make papa pout, she supposes,
but the tout coldly flattens her angles.

The baby bear Just Right is crying
to change papa’s luck or its diaper
but both parents are deaf or distracted
and the race track has no candy striper.

Sheepish Sheik

For Mother’s Day he gives to all his spouses
who have proved viviparous Maseratis.
To the others he gives sherry (sweet) and flowers,
and a Haitian potion to the one who’s dotty.

Perhaps it’s him who’s dotty, they’re not telling
what only they and he know. Coming clean
would tear it and their treasure trove would dry up
should the world learn he was eunuched when thirteen.

Yeti mother sneaker yet another speaker

(taking notes at a public meeting addressed by Mai Selph)

He slurs his words but whose words would you have him
slur, not those of yours nor Jesus Christ’s?
His verbal bons mots do not if you halve them
sum up to something better than what’s spliced
between the sheets, main braces and stale phlegm
that cross and short connections in his mind.

I’d be preciser but I’m being kind.
I’d be grammatical but he is blind
to what I’m writing here: he does not read
and more precision would not add one jot
to this jammy, namby-pamby polyglot
who stands before us speaking. He’s enthralled
by what he thinks he’s saying. Wan eyes glisten
as he assumes because we face him that we listen.

Ages of Moan, Nr. 1

If cynicism’s seven I am nine.
The labels used for politics seem daft
as those of literature, and even mine
are drafty as a rotten-boarded raft.

Conservative is meaningless where Fate
is actually nothing. Liberal is less.
Romantic’s passed by years its sell-by date
and Realism’s forced and must confess

that they are all, these labels, nothing now.
But Life itself is filled with Gems it means
to be adored, not analyzed on how
they might be labeled. I adore the clean

and mystic wonder of Life’s precious things
like birdsong, smiles, and ageless wedding rings.

A Short Piece

Of the night sleeps I remember none are short
as this one, stopping on the second line
of counting sheep to stare into the dark.
Outside, a baby’s screaming like a cat.
I pretend it is the other way around
and blank out themes I wrestled with in ‘Piece Work.’

One’s killing to save peace. It only works
for spans of time that are extremely short.
A chamber of the sort that takes a round
expels a load that tracks a laser line
from a man I’d called my neighbor towards the cat.
My eyes trace glaring red-blacks through the dark

into the trees. The morning starts off dark
and worsens with each step I walk to work.
On a tree I see a poster for a cat:
a child is missing. There’s another short
note penned below it: felt-tip single line
that the cat and child no longer are around.

My partner in our workplace shuns my round
of questions. Answers leave us in the dark
as they must for now; we only have the line
we gave each other when we came to work.
The lines of customers grow thin and short
and thinking comes in quietly as a cat.

We two, who once were proud of how we’d cat
around, when times were easy, have come round
to valuing what’s important now we’re short
of options, and we rage against the dark
together, as if rhetoric could work
a miracle. We want a party line.

‘Peace at all costs’ and ‘Do not cross this line’
compete, and we consider if the cat
survives its boxing; we ask whether work
will be an option if bad forces round
upon us and extinguish peace. The dark
unites us and cuts hopes and whining short.

We load our weapons for the coming round
of vigilance, hold lines against the dark,
and think our war successful. Peace is short.

Child Armies

I am not well. My soul’s not dead but sick.
It cries for leeches; bloating, would be bled,
or freed in modern fashion from the toll
extracted here by Caesar’s rule; and there
by children scratching at the scabs they grow,
or would, would warlords let them once just be.

These children! They should sit in school or be
away at summer camps: get cramps, feel sick
a bit from biting melons that still grow
along the edge of fields. (When these fields bled
young brother’s blood filled up that ditch, and there
lay sister’s hand, she’s eight years old: the toll

of yet another spat.) These days the toll
of burial bells rings every noon, let be
at dawn, at dusk, at night. And over there,
across the cove on neighbors’ ground, the sick
hunch down: they’re scratching out the stumps of bled
and blasted fruit trees blown away. Here grow

no more the shady tops and trunks. Here grow
instead cracked rocks, some not tilled crops. The toll
among the children’s even worse. Who bled
their eyes of tears, daubed out where there should be
a sparkling glint of healthy fun? Eyes sick
and cynical: lies Lucifer in there,

where babies harbored happiness? It’s there,
among these baby brawler minds we grow
(yes, “we”) as fodder for a farce more sick
than serious or grand, I hear the toll
of hope’s demise, of what these tots could be.
Their bodies grow in spite of us (who bled

resources, poisoned what was left; who bled
these children’s humanness away). Is there
no place they can retreat, no crèche to be
created in once more, and, cuddled, grow
in graciousness, avoid the warrior’s toll
that levies suffocation, makes them sick?

These children warriors we have bred are sick.
Beheading them lets us postpone the toll
that nature wants as populations grow.


Three roles, all different facets in one person who exists only really as dialogues in himself: Maarten the Muser; Renaldo the Reactor; and Chorus, a trio of ornery kids he might have been or be becoming, circumstances permitting.

As the stage lights come up Maarten stands to the left. Renaldo sits looking at his hands. The three Chorus members stand on the proscenium wearing short trousers, silver masks, and silver-tipped tap shoes that they stamp as they shout each beat of their Chorus lines accompanied by drums and sheet lightning.


Maarten: Where go our thoughts when we loose them?
Renaldo: Who is bothered?
Chorus : We all are!

Maarten: Would thoughts lose their hues should we find them?
Renaldo: They’re hewed lower.
Chorus : Renaldo!

Maarten: Richer than music, thoughts come back
Renaldo: I’m atwitter.
Chorus : He’s solo!

Maarten: like sun in a clear stream remembered:
Renaldo: I could bridge it.
Chorus : A cards pro!

Maarten: walking to very first school day
Renaldo: On the boardwalk!
Chorus : No dunce, so!

Maarten: with biscuits she made for my pleasure.
Renaldo: So delicious.
Chorus : From best dough!

Maarten: Box lunches we lost in the shadows
Renaldo: I still miss them.
Chorus : Helped birds grow!

Maarten: when she stood much taller than I did
Renaldo: How I loved her.
Chorus : We all go!

Maarten: mimosa trees that I could climb then
Renaldo: Hid from brother.
Chorus : No help though!

Maarten: were cut down much later and bundled.
Renaldo: They had blighted.
Chorus : Ebbing flow!

Maarten: Found under dikes from my childhood,
Renaldo: Were they planted?
Chorus : We can’t know!

Maarten: they loosen emotion this evening.
Renaldo: Who is bothered?
Chorus : We all are!