Trigger Warning


way too much
too much
barely enough
not enough
nowhere near enough
what do you call that
where’s the rest
too little
far too little
a mouthful
barely a mouthful
a taste
a sip
the lingering scent
of the brew
of the grounds
of the unground beans
a gleaming grinder polished for sale
space on the shelf



the world grinds on
little has changed

for me
the day is a tunnel

for you
the sky a uniform blue
daffodils vibrant
green leaf dewed
a breeze to fly a kite
or sit on a quarried wall
to fend off gulls
who’d snatch
the sausage from your breakfast sarnie
if you gave them half a chance
to do it again
and at the thought
you feel
the flash of a wingtip brush your cheek
beneath your wide brimmed hat
that kept the red off your neck

for me
a plod from day to day
wherein it’s all too much
and the bastards have won
and the bastards in power
are as bad
as the bastards kicked out
who’d do just the same
if you let them

On Being Busy


Sometimes things clump.

That’s just the way the universe works. You wait for ages for a bus and then two or three come at once. You go weeks without a meeting then suddenly your schedule is so packed that the answer to everything else becomes “No!”. But this isn’t always a bad thing. Take this week for example.


Yesterday, for the first time in far too long I made it to a Tai Chi lesson. I cycled there in the light and back in the darkness. Between those journeys I learned the first few moves of a sword form, observed my failing balance in push hands and astonished myself by getting all the way through a long unpractised two person set.


Tomorrow I’m teaching. Actually no. Let me rephrase. Tomorrow I’m helping others to learn. It’s the first session of the Salt Spring Island WordPress Meetup Group. I’ll be setting up and talking about Social Media and WordPress. So today I’m preparing, and over preparing, with a side order of preparation.


Then Thursday is the Salt Spring Poetry Open Mic, run at the library once a month. This month the featured poet is Karen Shklanka.

With intoxicating fervour, Karen Shklanka’s new poetry collection, Ceremony of Touching, winds its way through time and place to bring you the stories of everyday people. From her real-life experience as a doctor trying her best to heal patients, to war-era Japan, and the devastation of Hiroshima, Shklanka’s poems beg us to witness and explore our own humanity: how we interact with one another, carry on in everyday life, love, grieve. Poems such as “Witness”, “Ceremonies for Despair”, and “One by One” are incredible examples of how Shklanka’s poems, while varied in both style and perspective, retain a powerful, captivating voice that creates a common thread, guiding the reader through the collection.

So it’s a busy week. And things clump together. But it’s not just a clumping of time, it’s also a clumping of ideas.

Karen, the poet, dances Tango. Inspired by this I chose the cover image for this post, and saw in it a similarity to a step in the sword form we make in order to sink before rising. I’ll publish this post in WordPress whose motto is “Code is Poetry”, and use it as an example in tomorrow’s MeetUp, in the same room where, the next day, I’ll hear Karen read.

Sometime good things clump together.

Thanks Pixabay – Beautiful Images


Many thanks to Pixabay. When I don’t have a featured image of my own they always have something I can use. There are some very talented, and generous, photographers on the site.

You can easily tell the images apart. Their images are well lit and in focus, whereas mine …



My limbs unfold,
a held breath
this neutral mass.
The meniscus loops
my upturned face.
I pause,
and still,
but for a squeeze of blood,
outwardly immobile.
This flesh weighs the water.
Thin clouds drift,
a backdrop
for swallows
and vultures.
Here at the surface
a dragonfly,
returns to base.
Reeds reflect slow as oil.
I remember days as hot.
On the way
through the park
to the club,
slicing a thumbnail
across a grass stem
to fashion a tickle
for Gamp’s sunburned neck.
Sat in the shade with
shandy and dominoes
beneath the same window
my father would fill
for his last photo,
a carnation buttonholed
for my aunt’s wedding,
before she stopped speaking.
Beside me now, the dock.
Decorated by abandoned skins
that hold vigil,
glowing against the wood-grain,
ghosts of the living.
last year
I coughed a clot.
There’s a comfort knowing
the pain of death
is not that bad.
Their passing
The lake feeds.
I’ve not been bitten of late.
Dragonflies feast with swallows.
Later my son
will sit on my shoulders
and tickle my ears.

On A Scale From Naught To Ten


names slide past
as each tender
of my tender flesh
explains their role
and where i am
and i refuse
to feel the pain
so everything’s a 3
until it’s not
and i pass out again
to wake
to lights and faces
who i warn again
about the meds i take
that make me bleed
and yes it’s 3
as i’m scissored bare
but for my socks

i remember again
to tell them again
the name of my wife
and make them again
write her number

and yes

it’s 3



the day has worn me
i place my hand on the beam
of this attic room
and imagine the wood
split from a ship
to frame the land
from theirs
unlike the strut
we saw in the abbey
as a joke
an insistance
or both
suspended by the beams
it purports
to support
winking the sliver
of air at its base
like god
not quite
the earth



i woke to jaundiced clouds
bruised with ash
leaching the palette
to candlelit tones
of flayed skin
and knew that still
the fires raged

the turning of winds
had thickened the air

my lungs dragged
and i moved slow
like the dwindling men
i saw as a child
spitting blood on the path
with their collies and caps
and the sticks they leant on to breathe

and the breeze
rustled parched leaves
hissing like sand
in a drum
shaken to mimic
the sound of forgotten rain
on this rock
capped with tinder

and now
you tell me
you want to engage
the community

and I start
by telling you




The departing ferry washes my thighs.
Its wake propagates slowly to the shore
Where I sit on a gentle slope of sand
Reclining between chill ocean and grit
Of white crushed shells that whisper with each ebb.
The Rider Waite deck shows the Magician
One hand raised to the sky, the other down,
Pointing to the extremes of our nature,
The mind and body given equal place
And equal merit in a rounded life.
So now between the water and the land,
Skin heated by the air and chilled by brine,
I contemplate my absence from this world.
How will my gap be filled when I am gone?
Who will be hurt? How can I salve their pain?
I spent too long with grief when I was young.
Like a tunnel that drills right through the world
It set me on a path apart. Alone
I thought to honour the dead with my pain.
As though my happiness could offend them.
But Ariel told lies. No alchemy
Transforms us in the grave. Our dead flesh rots
Unless we will it burned. Our bones crumble
Or leech into a rock without magic.
Our minds fade with our last intake of breath.
This is reality. You sitting there.
Me sitting here, wishing you happiness,
As I struggle to find words that will cut
Straight through the pain to tell you not to mourn
Too much, a little will suffice. Live well!
Live better than I did. I felt more joy
When I had finished with my grief than I
Had thought was possible. If time travel
Allowed, then I’d go back and tell myself
What I’m telling you now. The dead don’t care.
No minds survive. Your life is all you have.
When I am gone there’s nothing you can do
To please or disappoint. I’ll never know
Your triumphs or failings. My opinion
Has no meaning. It’s only yours that counts.
Look at me now. Salt on my freckled skin.
Sat naked on a beautiful shoreline.
Exhausted by the swims, and cycle rides,
And playing Tai Chi with the breaking waves.
True to myself. Now you be true to you.
I love you while I live. When my life’s ends
Love yourself fully until yours is done.