Dear Flame

Dear flame,
How I let you down.
Why don’t I allow you
to fill my frame?

Dear flame,
Why are you so hesitant?
Will you burn me up
In my quest for fame?

Dear flame,
I feel you raging within me.
So many time I have
Doused your claims.

Dear flame,
Show me how to renew my spirit,
To take the lead, to lead others.
To remember my name.

Dear flame,
You are my ally within me.
Why am I so scared you will singe me?
Burn me down so I am not the same.

Dear flame,
How do I awaken from this slumber?
Brighten me up from within,
From under, from your source,
From the place whence I came.

Dear flame,
I am yours and you are mine.
Let this life not be asleep,
An underground course,
A forgetting, a life to blame.

Dear flame,
Steer my way, come from spark
To tender tinder; lift me up
Beyond rage, resentment, bitterness.
Help me where I am lame.

Dear flame,
Forge this path, the promise
Of my sight, the light that
Sears my visions, my dreams and
Remembering, beyond my shame.

I Found The Human Animal In The Zoo

I found the human animal in the zoo.
When I walked around the inside
Perimeter, the right-hand side of the
Raised path was done out like a garden.

‘What’s the animal in this one?’
I said to myself in jest. The Garden
Of Eden, where Eve animal and Adam,
Were wild in their ancient nakedness,

Surrounded by this fence? Among
Bromeliads and spiky succulents,
Amid rockeries and gullies,
This land to the right as I travelled

Around, was like the enclosure for
Humans instead. So that was the
Beginning of my trip round the zoo.
Little did I suspect it would end

With an echo. For coming back on
The way out, I saw on the other side,
Over the fence enclosing giraffe and
Zebras, the ostriches and, in the

Distance, the Nyala (an antelope) and
The rhinoceros – but before the rocky
Cliffs that reached down to the field,
(But nevertheless over the fence) –

A post in the ground, faded boots in
Foreground, a rusty gas cooker nearby,
A backpack hanging over the post – and,
A human animal hide: a faded shirt,

Once the pride, of a human
Humanimal in the wild Wild.

Zebra Stripes

Zebra stripes are famously vertical,
But today at the zoo, I finally observed,
Looking down from above, the
Horizontal stripes at the back of his back.
The black and white stripes on the
Rear of the zebra, fall horizontally down
His back legs! So: ‘Z is for Zebra’
Is truly the truth – for his midriff
Is the negotiation between vertical
And horizontal – the true ‘Z-shaped’
Stripes are in the ‘mid-flow’! They
Go across diagonal til the rear has
Them straightened; straight across his
Rear back like the lines of a rug.
The midlines, the ‘Z-lines’, run
Wonderfully ‘Ziagonal’, like
‘Z for Zebra’s’ truth, truly impressive.
And the kicker, another mystery, is
Another observation, looking where
The rear stripes get low and now wide.
In the white spaces appear soft narrow
Lines, pale brown, like a centreline,
Running along each wide white stripe.
So that it seems to ‘add to the extra’
Dimension of the zebra; not just
‘Z for zig-zag’, ‘Z for black and white’,
‘Z for vertical and horizontal’ – but
Z the midway diagonal, the zygote:
The evidence of the middle way,
The soft light brown quantum leap,
Not ‘grey’, but who would’ve guessed:
In the middle of the black and white zebra
Are light brown clefts.


Something of a laugh,
Did you know the name ‘giraffe’
Is good to go for single and plural?
These things make me question
Whether I was ever informed.
Don’t be daft – we always knew
The hide was like a turtle, in
Young a smudgy brown,
In adult the white interweb
Gets more distinguished, the
Lines sharpen, in the web-netting
Of the giraffe. We always saw
Their seahorse faces, but with
Soft mouths mouthing flatly
The leaves they, kings and queens
Of height, eat on their path.
Always knew we their heaven’s eyes
Looking down from on high,
Highest of any animals like we’d
Be perusing the sky. What
A laugh! That we didn’t know
The tallest males, in their
Finest-distinguished chainmail,
In their brushed cotton patchworks,
Were not so gentle giants when it comes
To a battle for the female.
Giraffe, that is, two adult males
(‘Giraffe’ – what a laugh!) will swing
Their strong necks like wrecking balls,
Slamming into one another, til
One’s proven his craft!

The Animal Alphabet We Learned

A is for aardvark, ape, or ant.
B is for Bear, baboon, or bee.
C is for Cat.
D is for Dog.
E is eel, elephant, or eagle!
F is for Fish, fox, or could be falcon.
G is for Goat, goldfish, guinea pig – no, Giraffe!
H is for Hare, hippo/hippotamus.
I is for Ibis, iguana, or inchworm.
J is for Jolly kangaroo, or Jellyfish.
K is (just joking) for sure the Kangaroo!
L is always Lion.
M is always Monkey.
N is almost always Newt.
O is Octopus equally with Owl.
P is Parrot, pufferfish, puffin, and Pig.
Q is (thankfully) the Quetzal bird.
R is the running Rabbit, or the rhino/rhinoceros.
S is Snake.
T is Tortoise, turtle, Tiger, or Tyrannosaurus!
U is the lonely Unicorn.
V is the vicious Viper or equally vicious Vulture.
W is always a Walrus, or maybe a Whale.
X is eXcused from this poem (if no-one complains).
Y is always the Yak.
Z is only and ever, always and evermore a Zebra!

The Tortoise Is Not Big

The tortoise is not big,
Or even heavy;
He is still.
Still as stones,
His shell of bone
So hard but sensitive.
It bruises, bleeds, the keratin
Is the magnificent excess of
The same that is our fingernails.
If a ‘shell’; if you don’t think that it
Is so very much a part of him,
Think ‘why a shell?’; what animals
Do you know with a ‘shell’?
The weight of ocean molluscs
Is with him; the animal
That is shell, is ocean, ocean stone,
So still, the weight of ocean, land,
And time is with him.

For George Floyd

Born of White culture and historically White race.
There’s shades of grey and all kinds of
Diversity amongst people,
But you can see it in my face.

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man,
I want to acknowledge the white privilege I possess.
Even unconsciously, the challenge I feel at these times,
Of learning and evolving, is put to the test.

So regardless, I must start at the very least with this:
Pay my last respects to the memory of George Floyd, a father,
A Black man, an activist for peace and resistance.
Pay my respects to the Black community in the US where this

Is a man lost from community, from ‘Black Lives Matter’ unity,
From understandable fury, protest, even acting with impunity
In the face of the US Police and US disregard for Blacks,

When his life, like the others, is lost in injustice.


The Resuscitation Garden

He feels like he hadn’t noticed he was dying.
All this bad news: a plague, a disease, a virus.
Hospitalized, quarantined, forced into hibernation.
Down to the ‘essentials’, bedded down, on life support.
Fixated on the cellphone, the laptop, the ‘news’.
How are the vital signs, the stats, the numbers?
Imprisoned in this prism, this hall of mirrors and lies.
There’s been flowers of course, new input into the garden.
Seeds become seedlings, pot-plants flowering, harvesting.
Surrounded by beauty, he dreams lazily on this deathbed.
He’s not really allowed to see anyone, but they come,
Keeping their distance, respectful silences and smalltalk.
His body aches, strains to hear the doctors in the hall.
Whispering, conspiring, working hard on his behalf.
He shouldn’t bother them, but he grows anxious listening.
‘Infection rate, chance of dying, no resuscitation order.’
Seems like there’s no coming back to life.
Friends at a distance, no hugs, no touch, a mask on.
Apparently there’s new orders and visit restrictions.
The roads are emptying, it’s every man for himself.
Some refute, they mock, drinking in the halls of their friends.
But at Calvary Hospital the chimney at the morgue is smoking.
He gasps for breath but his lungs heave and burn.
He calls for the doctor, why am I abandoned!
But the doctor is busy, the nurse comes, holds his hand.
In the distance the crows crowd and cackle on the hill.
He is pinned, machines beep, then there is no beeping.
The nurses take his body into the garden.
They wrap him in long cloths after his body is washed.
The light lingers over the body of Christ.
He is lifted and welcomed into the place
Where new seeds lay asleep in the garden.



Kinship With Koalas

We call on our kinship with koalas
Our complicity in this fiery Kaos
We call on rain, teeming rain
Buckets of rain raining down in Australia.
We call on our reptilian brain
Eons of time in evolutionary training
To call on our kinship with Koala
And other great nations of the Australian.
The Kangaroo and Wallaby, the Cassowary
And Emu, the other frightened nations
Of the Great Australian plains and forests
Calling on their eons of time and training.
We call on our kinship with koalas
Our complicity in the fiery Kaos
We call on rain, teeming rain, tears
And compassion for our Australian kin.