Some of them grew legs, long and thin,
stilts to walk the marshes,
the ornithologist smiled to acknowledge,
hid in his den of leaves, branches,
to watch water birds through binoculars,
nourished by coffee, sandwiches,
content to be far from city crowds, traffic jammed motorways,
felt he had found the best way to spend unmarked days.
Everyone likes birds, he thought,
but he was one of the few who liked to study them.
A flight of geese, honking high in the air,
he loved to watch until once more
the sky was silent.
The ornithologist, home from the marshes,
looked through his bird books
to find the name of a rare one
his eyes had brightened to see,
between blinks, piping in water, through reeds,
and then it was gone.
Sometimes I feel like a stuffed mushroom,
however a stuffed mushroom is supposed to feel,
and when I feel like a stuffed mushroom,
life seems stodgy, not quite real.
Last night I lay awake, attended to the wind.
It moaned in my back yard,
threatened trees with hard fist blows,
like it did before the first Ice Age,
unaware of its indifference
to what happens on the human stage,
reduced me to a lettuce leaf curled on a plate,
too exposed, vulnerable to stay in that state.
Sometimes I feel like a squashed lemon,
a fruitless mush of split dry seeds and bitter peel,
and when I feel like a squashed lemon,
I cannot rise up to kneel.
I am on a slide down hill
or in a lift going up to the top of a tower.
It depends how I listen to the news.
I submerge or put on my shades, continue my cruise.
Sometimes I feel like a fresh turnip,
uprooted from the field but still close to the earth,
and when I feel like a fresh turnip,
I stand bold and know my worth.
Burt Wendell was a mariner,
a mariner was he,
and he was never happier
than when he was at sea.
He found the ground too permanent,
too solid and too tame.
He preferred waves in merriment
and states too rough to name.
No tall typhoon could sink his ship,
no whale or hurricane.
He knew how to mend every rip
on the watery main.
He was married to a mermaid,
met on the south sea shore,
he claimed in every inn he stayed,
his hearers asked for more.
Burt Wendell was a mariner,
he sailed the ocean wide,
from the Arctic to Africa,
on cold to tropic tide.
An angel walks a long road
with no sign post or end.
He never is exhausted
and never could pretend.
He helps to keep in motion
one circle of the wheel.
He mends the broken pattern,
his mission is to heal.
A brown gate in a low wall,
he pointed out to me.
Only I can open it,
I do not need a key.
The gate opens on a path,
somehow I sensed, I knew.
It will lead me to my home,
the place to which I grew.
Fine But Cloudy
I must have met you
twenty thousand million years ago,
somewhere among mountains,
the peaks were streaked with snow.
I was some kind of climber,
had my haversack and rope.
I looked up and saw you,
dressed in grey, walking down a slope.
You look determined,
your concentration was on me.
The vision vanished.
That is all I was allowed to see.
Sat in my chair, you are not there,
but I see and feel you everywhere.
Today will be fine but cloudy,
the weatherman tells me on the radio.
He reads his instruments well,
for when I look out of my window,
I see it is fine but cloudy.
The clouds pass slow and high.
The sun is warm for September.
It could be July.
Aviators hone their craft in the air
while diving bells plunge to the ocean floor.
I deem it is just as much an adventure
to rise from your chair and open the door.
Sat in my chair, I look up,
and you are there.
I’ve been trying to understand it
ever since I was at school,
the history that I’m part of,
the work done by a rusted tool.
It seems some men wanted power,
others helped them steal and slay,
but those who gained the empire throne
knew nothing that they held would stay.
In the midst of it all I met you
twenty thousand million years ago.
Today is fine but cloudy,
the peaks are clear of snow.
Strangers In The Street
Some people park their cars outside my house
and I don’t know who they are.
I never see them arrive or drive off
but they cannot live that far.
This puzzle hints at what I cannot grasp,
tells me that life can be strange.
I remember what Heraclitus said,
the only constancy is change.
Thales said everything is made of water,
which means even solids flow.
No, I do not know where this is going
nor which way the wind may blow.
Everybody has their obligations,
work to some kind of routine.
We are passers-by, strangers in the street,
try to figure what we mean.
Maybe I could act like a private eye,
find out who those people are,
ask them why they cannot park somewhere else,
to pour some juice in the jar.
trying to capture the luminous lines.
One way to spend a September afternoon.
He thought he really needed a telescopic lens.
You can forget the sun can heal until it shines.
Later, sat solo on a stool,
the folk club floor at his feet,
not there on show as a fool,
but to sing his songs to anyone
who came in off the street.
He had found his place, he was sure,
singing to his solitary strings,
like every troubadour that had gone before.
He thought of the people he’d seen in his life,
must have been crowds and crowds,
glad he’d spent the afternoon
When I was a boy,
I flew my kite on the shore.
It had to be sunny and dry,
it was no good in the rain.
My kite flapped up with the wind,
the string took the strain.
I hear in the east
they see the kite as the soul,
held to earth by the string.
It ascends to the blue,
higher than a sea bird could wing.
But I did not know that
when I was a boy.
I just knew the world turned with my feet
when I spun with joy
to see my kite flying high,
free of all restriction and pain.
I watched it whirl up with the wind,
and the string took the strain.
I think of the love
I have for land and sea,
and I wonder how it will be
when one day my kite flies free of me.
The sun melts the sleet.
I take my kite to the shore.
It is for the last time.
I will not go there again.
The wind rolls the sea rough.
Will the string take the strain?
Book of Truth
To read the truth
how many lies must you shred from each line?
To drink the brew of the wise,
how many times must you sip sour wine?
You rule our fate
inside buildings of law,
guards on the steps,
bolts on the door.
Hear my request,
clarify every lie.
I am different from you,
you are different from me,
but we share the same sky.
What do they mean
when they say they want to hold onto power?
So many live without it,
defenceless outside the tower.
Be done with doubt,
finish with fear.
When you turn about,
you are still here.
Don’t listen to what others say,
listen to your heart.
If you should stumble on your way,
do not fall apart.
The book of truth,
open to the sky,
will make you wise,
will make you cry.