Friday, December 29, 2006

Lane in the Broad Street

I lived along the dark water klong
when B-52's dropped their cargo
two small countries to the east,
and I longed for the silky legged girls
whose love songs floated
the fleshy hot night.

Three generations gather
street side on tubular chrome
cracked vinyl seats in
poverty's rec room
walled by the circle's banter,
laughter warm as before
on my evening of arrival
after thirty nine years
and still the game show glow
reflected blue in their faces.

I roomed here once
on the upper floor
dipping my morning bath
from the tall clay jar
shared with the families
beside and below
cool in the recess
behind the patina-ed red brown timber
wide teak eaves nearly touching
across the narrow lane.
Still it stands among others
shouldered aside somewhat
by newer frontage
of taupe coloured concrete
yet catching my wife's intuitive eye.
"Is that the one?"

A boy with a camera
was my neighbour
and still on my wall
his black and white gift
of the wicker hat women
scatter clustered in their
wedge prowed boats
ware laden with
bananas and shallots,
among the lidded kitchen pots,
the soup and curry
commerce of the day.
His name, black ink
proud in the corner.

Today I saw a tiny street stall cross
for sale among the neck chain Buddhas,
the lucky elephants, the long life turtles.
Another talisman against
the misadventures of the hour,
or perhaps the owner before me
paused to contemplate
the man who was dropped behind a stone
in another small country to the west.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


They all died
defending the Alamo
where my mother
nearly died too of
worry when I wasn't
very old and wandered off
among the tall plants.
But that wasn't Dallas.

In Dallas JFK died.
Before that
dad hunted a job
mindful of his own long dead dad
who once tried Dallas too
taking a 1920's train back
disappointed to Chicago.
In 1950 dad got passed over by
the big insecticide deal,
tried for a Dallas job, winced
and drove us east to West Virginia.

One rain driven day
the VW bug
I delivered to Dallas
filled with smoke
from a frayed wire
in the multilane rush
of westbound cars.

Today I hear my daughter has
found a 'splendid' man in Dallas.
Is great-grandad's requitement
alive in her excitement?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Transition Ephemera

In the first years
when the Hmong came
they sold their escape story needle work
black, pink and
Mekong River green,
long since replaced on market Saturdays
by cabbage, carrots and coriander.

Yesterday a more recent refugee
a shining face Sudanese
balanced her shopping bundle
with high head finesse
and grace of fluid hip
incongruent on the suburban footpath.

How long now before her teenage daughter
pleads embarrassment at mum’s old world ways?
And this legacy of transition also topples into memory.

Monday, December 04, 2006


'...substance of things hoped for...'

Three travellers come
at journeys end
to the house on the hill.
‘Illusion.’ says the first.
And it is.
‘Trap.’ says the second.
And it is.
‘Home.’ says the third.
And it is.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Chinese for Ear

The word
a squarish rune
with falling stroke
like a drop earring.

The sound
is rather like our own
part of speech
for part of head
by which we hear
remote linguistic past,
an ancient tongue
of common ancestors.
Or a false friend
who by mere coincidence
leads us to unwarranted warmth
of recognition.