Saturday, December 29, 2007

The crew

ough men     rough hands and tongue
    rough for the purpose
a job to do and a will to do it
    when the shovel swings
a tune is played
    rhythm of muscles and motion

ood men
    good to dig a ditch with
shovel and gravel and pipe and tamp
    down in the hole
the cribber's dared
    hardpan or silt
wet ditch and dry
    they're the boys to work with

hen a job's to be done
    and every last son-
of-a-bitch must be working
    they're the boys to work with

mcmlxiii, rev. mmvii

Friday, December 28, 2007

The yellow hat

ard of voice and gut
    the yellow hat
tough as it takes
    when the gauntlet's thrown

he'll brag
    the yellow hat
a match for any boast

is it the pipe to lay
    fighting the mud
cribbing the cave-away -
    no-one else would

watch him at work
    pushin the crew
first by example
    less'll not do

when the going gets tough
    and the boys cry enough
there's one never quits
    the yellow hat


Sunday, December 23, 2007

To Goretti; paraphrases of two Chinese poems

(Inspired by the translation of two poems engraved on antique jade plaques, in the collection of Goretti Lee Roberts.)

hat delight
taking tea
    in the bower
by the banana plant
    bamboo and fir tree
rustling in rhythm
    with the pitter-patter
of the rain
    the bright moon above


These fine sensible souls
    contentedly resting
where flowers prosper
    after strenuous day's walk
heartfelt pleasure
    upon sight of full moon
presiding over mountains and lakes


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two faithful wives

wo faithful wives
    or perhaps wise women
the art of theatre
    drawn as if from the life
japanese ladies choosing flowers
    for the elaboration of their simple bowers

an exemplary scene
    reminds me of our happy excursions
and the wayside companions we apprize
    with many a will-we or shall-we
as an excuse for dilly-dallying
    you and me, lass
no nonsense between us
    though much that is nonsensical, nevertheless

led up and down the garden path
    by the wonders under our noses
agreeable disposed to each other
    and what most distracts to take note of:
winged and leggèd creatures
rocks and rockbound
plants and trees in the season
and clouds chimerical
    as soon assembled as let go

just-so happiness
    is sustained thereby
for permanence exists in the ephemeral
    and our fondness – call it how you will
the disposition and the pursuit thereof
    being in the present tense persists
letting the clock go about its business unobserved
    hands that practice due diligence
till we decide the tense is perfect
    and call a stay for tea

i love our humble silly-sallying
    and a common delight in the commonplace
a regard most rare
    shared perhaps by these two wise women
     or faithful wives
which shall be my image
    that i bend to pick as a whimsical posy
a tribute in your honour
at this Winter Solstice
year two thousand and three


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blissful bed

llissful bed where luxury lies
    in thrallèd virtue of your eyes
rebellion lurks at issue whence
you return gentled virtue out of violence
and undo hair    restrained from flair
    so to observe and drawn thither behold
bold shyness hidden        invitation's trust
    in reticence turns and lightning thrust
as breast to breast prudence is cast
    perforce aside        and also pride
loss becomes least and more glory beside
    fond versus vain    all else at rest
perquisite's gain engaged stands fast
    and so proclaims love's gleeful heart
at your invitation tussle is won
    betousled and fragrant to awake as one


Tuesday, December 11, 2007


bedient as the letter of the law
    i arise
consult the skies
    for prophecies and predilections
now it's my turn to shine
    let the sun do what it will
am i a stickler
    or a traveller who's gone too far
over the hill?


Thursday, December 6, 2007

to the pot susannah likes

otund and exhuberant vessel!
vase or bowl you may be
too small for either
meant perhaps to be fondled
though physical integrity suspect
still cleaving despite the cleavage
and made more precious thereby
    here you are boldly declaring
I! instance of the matter that matters
vibrant opposites consonantly engaged
in twain identity attracting and embracing
proving that from difference
springs difference anew
    an occasion for festive jubilation
for such is love
which submits not to degree
and sensible of intensity
comes by degrees
into the province of impulsive embrace
still cleaving despite cleavage
    no doubt an exhuberant vessel
meant to be fondled
made more precious thereby


Monday, December 3, 2007

To an Unreal Mistress

earest unreachable miss, i do not amend my worldly lust
    nor tread the path of prudence for your sake
to bear your silent scoldings with despair
    that ears now deaf to hope's address would me mistake

You feign indifference whether i may come or go
    yet tempt me more, though i can never bind
your flesh to mine by sound or touch or sight
    as living mistresses the feast, not goal i'd find

No, i forswear both kisses loose and fond
the grave lies deep in eyes that seek that bond

mcmlxii (rev. mmi)