Identity

I was asked to produce a poem on the theme of ABC (Americans born Chinese). After a lot of thought and a lot of dross the result was as follows. Please enjoy. 

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Identity
A striped flag flutters
Pulling against a blood red sky:
Forty-nine white stars
And one yellow.

身份

一面条纹国旗在飘扬

拉着一个腥红色的天空:

四十九颗白色的星

其中一颗--黄色。

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An Ordinary Road

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I was thinking about some of the wonderful sights I witnessed this summer on my hike through Scotland along the West Highland Way, and it brought to mind how lucky I really am. This photo is from the Glen on the way out of Kinlochleven en route to Fort William- the last day. It also put me in mind of something I was writing back in April of this year.

 

An  Ordinary Road

 

“There is no such thing as ordinary.”

Said the old man to the child and

Grasping at her hand he drew her

Out the door, down to the lake

To watch winter’s last breath

Draw ripples on its skin;

To see budding flowers

Dance in carefree time

To a new spring breeze.

 

“There is no such thing as ordinary.”

Said the grandmamma to her charge,

Who would barely lift his eyes

From the screen clutched in his hands,

So she cast it out the window

And the train would smudge the landscape

Painting stripes across a passing countryside

Rattling cruel laughter at the boys surprise.

But she could open up his eyes.

 

“There is no such thing as ordinary”

Said the teacher to his class.

Remembering perhaps, that moment in the past,

When first he saw patterns in the river

In the stones and on the road.

Tasted patterns in the food within his bowl.

When he first stole a glance at a world

So beautiful so real, which in its turn

Would steal his heart.

 

“No such thing,” he said

“As an ordinary road.”

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Pickthanks and Naysayers

IMG_6212Last week, two things jumped out at me: the word ‘pickthanks’ (which was to become a favourite) and a photograph from 1936. Well…the following was the result…

 

Why I Wear My Cross.

In a world of pickthanks, he stood out-

In the angry bluster of an emboldened crowd

Right hands raised high

In an all too familiar salute

Save his-

A naysayer in their midst. 

 

Would that I had such strength,

Such stubborn certainty of belief

Silently to say no, a pure symbol

Of strength within man’s heart

That is,

Were my heart to know such strength. 

 

And so it is I wear my cross with pride:

Not a badge of war or arrogance

But a constant reminder of personal penitence,

A mark of my strong desire for peace and this:

That is

My constant search for God and Strength within.

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First Love

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First Love

 

He holds her pale hand firmly in his grip

Lest she might slip away

Leaving him alone, desperate.

 

Never though has he held her love.

I keep that safe beneath my bed, in a box

Velvet lined; fragranced with youth’s lusting musk.

 

She was torn, that delicate faerie child,

Under Solomon’s wise eye- divided long ago-

Boys playing dice for her spoiled gown.

 

And though he might win her fragile form,

Always will it be a hollow shell, for

Her true love here claims her beating heart.

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Coming Home. 

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We turned the corner of strange into familiar street,
Where once we ran along, a long time ago,
Where once we laughed, bled, kissed our way down.
Here still it meanders unmoving, ever-distant
A shattered reflection of stained memories reaching-
We stretch out a hand but glass shards lie in the way.

The air smells different now-
No Sunday perfume, no subtle scent of winter snow,
No flower’s breath that buzzing blooms, dies, rots away.
No lazy, heavy summer air with sweaty promise unfulfilled
And there, hanging in the air, a touch more spice-
Less roast beef on never-ending, tranquil Sunday afternoons.

Now children do not run, in patterned jumpers, dirty jeans,
Out the garden gate to jeer or celebrate a new playmate
But barely glance blankly out of windows- blank.
We are the strangers- the strays, we wander openly
Into undefended territory where they do not stand,
But shy away, in darkened rooms lit only by the screens before them.

Yet one door remains the same, peeling paint, lock well worn.
How many times did we slip this latch,
Slam, click, watch it wobble in its frame?
How many times have we run to it, hidden behind it,
Opened it to the postman clutching mail gripped in rubber bands;
Or caught the milkman dressed in white on an early morning flight?

Now here, she is caught, a shadow in the half light of a dusty hall,
Guiltily her head half-turned, dressed in black and white
Clutching the radiator with what little strength remains;
A shade lighter, less defined and fading into grey,
Beside the wooden chair where he had sat,
Eyes as empty as is now the seat, and just as cold.

And we note to ourselves how,
Besides everything, nothing has changed.

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Another along a similar theme.

So yesterday I was feeling rather ill. Ahh, poor me! Today we hit the town. Raining in Nanjing, photos awaiting development. But it made me think that, when the future is so uncertain we must embrace what we have.

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What shall I do today?

I might stay in bed
And consider how the world would see me
If I was dead or removed
Like an unwanted wart.

I may sport a new beard
And, though it’s weird to say,
I might brighten my day by
Counting the times I am winked at.

While I am at it, I might chat
With stranger in a bar.
Ask them who they are and where
Are they from? Where’re they bound?

I might inhale the sound of a fly
Passing by my ear at work
Or lurking by my drink,
Waiting for me to brush it away.

That’s what I might do today.
For today will never be tomorrow
And all to soon be yesterday:
An ageing, fading memory.

So what will you do today?

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A quiet day.

I have spent the day…what have I done? It has been one of those days spent just organising things at home. A rainy winter’s day that fades. Then a quiet evening playing music in the local bar. Nevertheless I have enjoyed myself. Here is a photograph from my wander two days ago around the Confuscious Gardens…and of course a little haiku. I really must prepare a full poem…maybe tomorrow.

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Memories
Just hold on and breath.
Tomorrow this will be just
Fading memories.

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