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Without a Net


this is how days start


shelves of pale light


moving slowly


a body to be cleaned

and fed

and cloaked


a river of moments

to be swum



without instinct

or desire


like dogs waiting for a call

I vacillate


the doors are closing


one side

or the other


my father survived

a burst aneurism


his skin turned gray


blood clamored in his throat

like birds at dawn


his lover’s presence of mind

and mercy hospital just minutes away

were his salvation


doctors peeled away

gray sky

silenced the birds


as he slept

memories leaked from hidden

places in his soul


he welcomed his life back

with a torrent of weeping


the baby has a cold

her first cold ever


I hold her against me

stroking her plump warmth


my shoulder aches

I shift her to the other


she spits up a hot stream

of pungent milk


everything I’m wearing


needs to be washed


I’m picturing pellucid seas

in another country


dry paths

like seams of gold


I shift the baby to my lap


she blinks at me

flails her arms

and sneezes lavishly


I feel the fine spray

on my eyes and lips


this morning

I saw the photo of a germ

highly magnified

looking like a bright pink scorpion


I touch her nostrils gently

gesundheit I whisper



on the news


a father murdered his children

in their sleep


an ordinary family


not barbarians tossing babies

like lumps of soft pink coal

into the ovens


not brutal invaders

playing football with the heads

of captured soldiers


a regular family

in the USA


the police officer said

once you’ve seen something

you can’t unsee it



I float to the kitchen


an uneasy ghost


the dead who refuse

to stay buried


dropping layers of earth

in the corridor


the sky turns yellow


dawn songs bubble

from the throats of birds


the end of gravity


life as we imagine that

we know it


thoughts float from my eyes


this mouth was not essential

after all


this pen


is bobbing fluttering

to the rhythm

of the birds


soon it will be spring


I’m afraid this year

spring will be colder

than winter


I don’t want to turn into

one of those chirpy old women

reeking of solitude


but that’s the way

it’s going


I wrap myself

around you

like a cowl


not yet a tattered scarf


not yet a trailing too thin



this morning

the sky looks elderly



rain scrapes

paint from walls


mould blooms beneath


3-D printers are producing organs


today a woman

passed me in the street


a parrot fastened

like a bright jewel

to her shoulder


another parrot


to her breast


traffic rumbled by


families toted bags

of weekend shopping


a neon coloured slug

strolls along the bottom

of the ocean


unaware of its splendor

of its strangeness


I slide my phone away


beside me

bobbing along the road

a gum-pink child’s balloon


my phone froze


its blank face mirrors

my blankness


I marshal my resources

stretch out feelers

of breath


reassure my fingers

clasping them

one after the other


relish the simplicity

of my heartbeats


I am  I am  I am


I’ve ordered tea

fresh green mint leaves

steeped in boiling water


the waiter smiles


we understand the rituals

of survival


rain at night




a steady patter

in a foreign tongue


along a rail

sleep pigeons

closed as bulbs


the moment’s coming

that will pry their wings apart

unlock their throats


without a net


a wingless bird

bulbous and heavy



in the wind’s hands


my head fits into the hollow

of my arms


like a nesting bird


twists round to make a place

for thoughts to grow





safe as an ark

that will float

as the waters rise

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