Posted in Greatest Hits


What is fact to one generation
is fantasy to another
then fast forward
as invention becomes consumerism.

Progress. Inheritance or bequest?
The Wright brothers fleeting airborne
sires jet travel.
Valves transistors and diodes
serially rearrange and contract : desktop, notebook, tablet.

The present future versus slumbering nostalgia
immobile phones
clunky photocopiers
bikes without the prefix Mt.
The sigh of memory by comfort
except for the fantasy that now always will be.
recruiters came to universities and colleges then
no applications or resume
a single interview and letter from a professor.
Salary prescribed – start date by negotiation.

Five years later travel beckons – a decade of itinerancy
in the mid 90s a return to career and settlement.
Applications must now be typed.
Two referees. Curriculum vitae
professional help is sought with the last.
A woman of indeterminate age
cheerful and irreverent
trims surplus detail – adds market skills.

For this employer a photograph 3″ x 3″ is required
a re-entrant to the workplace puzzles this necessity.
An exhalation and look
the look of a kindly aunt to a dim nephew.
“It allows exclusion the law doesn’t
religion, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!
A picture doesn’t need to be a thousand words sweetie.”

To learn of the background to Loophole click Backstage

Posted in Greatest Hits

One For the Road

We never knew his surname
he was just Con.
He’d retired here by the sea
built his own home.
We found him when he opened it to us.
a sporting event in a town with not enough beds
civic pride asked residents to assist
he answered the plea – he was like that.

“There are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met”
so the cliché says
on coasters
on fridge magnets
on posters – to eyes that know better
but in the surf echoing lounge of our meeting
it just was.
There was warmth.
and shyness
a shyness that never went away
the shy of people finding magic
knowing to disturb or classify is to vaporize.
After the first time
we stayed with him every year.

Oceanfront bar
doors bifold to the horizon.
Sunday, warm and blue
the blue of Monet or Van Gogh
sky and sea of arms flung exultance
a day beyond mutation
bliss, memory could never edit
perfection unalterable by circumstance.

Glasses raised in the beer sparkling sunshine
a coastal freighter freeze frames into harbour
bar patrons denounce and cheer satellite sport.

Amid updating the year past
and plan swapping of the one to be
we asked about his shoulder.
He said it had responded to massage and therapy
had talked to the surgeon
and decided to wait – “ give it a bit more time.”
He died three months later – bone cancer.

For the background click backstage



Posted in Greatest Hits


She was the first criminal I met
or rather the first with a conviction
trim, fair and pretty – so unexpected
perhaps it was the childhood images – villains always dark, huge, scary.

Memory would never yield the catalyst of disclosure
perhaps the straining colony of youth
was reminder of the republic she once yearned to be
or our unlikely intersection the right to warn.
Either or neither
retrospection has a tendency to personalize
truth can be far more proletariat.
It rained almost every day that summer
the only two who didn’t smoke
precious relief from monotonous assembling
spent sheltering from staffroom storms of tobacco
maybe small talk just ran out.

However it was precipitated
one day she told me
about her crime – and time in prison.

Do they know ? I asked
“they,” being the workplace management.
Thin laughter – brittle and knowing
the laugh of a parent
hearing a preposterous request of a department store Santa.
When you’ve been inside everybody knows she replied
announcing agencies on fingers as I studied my hands.

And prison?
Cryptic wisdom no 17-year-old could ever understand
“ anyone can go in
only criminals leave.”
Jail wasn’t a problem it was the coming out.
Outside was everything and nothing
Everything looks the same. Nothing is familiar.
“ no one wants to know you kiddo.”
“Kiddo,” the one jarring chord in a jaunty sonata of admission.

She thought I might think differently
but getting the job here was a stroke of fortune.
Lady luck had smiled. She had been released early
reporting twice-weekly as a condition of parole
assigned by chance to a liberal section.
Her probation officer made some calls – the old boy network
someone he knew
knew someone
who knew the boss of this place
a Christian known to practise and preach – he might take a chance.

He did. Offering a three-month trial two years ago
funny she said how she never thought much of church
and all that stuff about God and forgiveness
“but it wasn’t for the lay preacher….”

For the background to a story click Backstage