Saturday, February 11, 2012


At sixty Melvyn married a thirty year old,
A Phillipino woman from islands scattered by Melanesian gods,
Green jewels across the Pacific sea.

In a provincial village,
Pigs snuffling compost heaps, thatched huts, barefoot boys,
They said I do.

But it didn’t work out.
Sixty year old men are often grumpy (especially Melvyn)
And his wife came to prefer the company
Of her sisters and their hordes of children.
Travelling by motorbike,
Collecting payments on mortgages lent from Melvyn’s savings,
Overnights turned into overweeks
Until one day she left the house and never came back.

“Where is she?” Melvyn asked one of the sisters.
“Gone,” she answered. “Better get used to it.”

Easier said than done.
Though he knew she didn’t love him
The drug of her half willing body was like heroin.
For months he stayed up half the night, sick with longing.

Now he’s here,
Across from me at the table,
Chewing the bitter cud of rancor.

“Bitch,” he says. “Gold digger.”

Friday, February 3, 2012


Chickens eat anything;
Ten bags of winter kitchen scraps;
Peck, peck, peck,
In two days they are gone.
Meant for the compost but I didn’t mind;
Quano also provides wonderful nutrients.

They love grubs;
When I dig a ditch
Gather round like inspectors,
Shouldering, getting in the way of the shovel;
A white grub throws them into a frenzy
Till the lucky one runs off with it in her beak.

All day they wander about pecking, pecking,
Investigating the vast world of possible eating;
They peck at my pants and boots,
To them a tall column of reluctant birdseed;
They even peck at the dog who snaps his teeth
To show them who’s boss.

Cement mixer stomachs filled with sulphuric acid.
Worms, bugs, grass seed, small mice,
Safeway birthday cake, mouldy bread, rotten potatoes,
Anything small enough or reducable by fierce pecking.
They walk in a weird, water wading style,
Rocking from side to side on powerful thighs,
Rhythmically nodding their heads,
Always ready, searching with bug eyes.

They have no God or Art or Ethics;
Their creative act is laying eggs.
They cluster in a corner of the hen house all night,
Softly book booking;
Then each lays an egg early morning.

When I open the door it’s
“Boook, boook, where’s the feed?”
“Boook, boook, poor chickens are starving!
They pour out, a river of combs and feathers,
Scrambling over one another,
Pecking mercilessly to get first places at the tray.
How strong their desire to live!
How they long to fill the world with bustling, eating and perfect brown eggs!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Car on the road starts a low rumble,
Becoming louder, surer,
Steady roar, crunching gravel.
Then trailing off into the distance.

A Cessna is a giant mosquito
Pulling whiney pistons across the sky.

Always a movement of air,
If not wind,
A crepuscular ticking,
A settling of poured liquid.

There is no bottom to emptiness,
It goes on forever.
It’s not scary, not nihilistic.

When Al opens the door,
There he is, his big, red face, laughing.