Posted in Passages

New Age

University vacation jobs in the 1970’s
and early 80’s –
the café society yet to be invented –
no baristas or bartenders
summer work invariably manual and tedious :
warehouses, factories, and animal processing plants.
a man’s world, filled with men
the odd secretary – PA still in the future
fair game: catcalls and innuendo ..
no offence or action … boys will be boys and
girls should be flattered.

10 years abroad
workplaces changed, legislation defines
and punishes sexual harassment –
channels and procedures – actions and sanctions.
In the mid and late 1990’s
I oversaw an exclusively female Department
one day on my desk
a photocopied page of A4
“ only the uncircumcised can work here
because you need to be a complete prick.”

Posted in Passages

Moving In

We started on almost the same day.
She the bright young thing
we all once were
when newly graduated and stamped suitable.
Me at that indeterminate point of chronology –
old to the young set,
insufficiently silvered for the established.

Not quite belonging, not quite excluded
I occupied the space of ambiguity.
Favour seldom fell to the in between.
The mezzazine view. An uncensored peephole.

She diffused through all the boundaries
No membrane was impermeable to her.

As a workplace it was considered prestigious
this we were repeatedly told
her department rated more highly than mine.
Quiet, courteous, an endearing trace of shyness
she seemed well balanced, sensible and kind.

Three years pass
still not at the midpoint of her 20’s
whip crack tongue
regularly flicks service staff.
She now belongs. There is no need for impersonation.

Posted in Passages


Fistfuls of light
thrown by sombre trees
strike unlikely sentinels –
weathered soft toys,
bleached wooden trains,
threadbare windmill,
scruffy, gentle markers, softening brutal inscriptions.

Dearly missed,
Aged –
16 hours,
two days,
three weeks.
five months.
Kate, Anna, Kyle, Melanie
never progressed to surname
will never require differentiation.

School remains unknown
as does inequality
and betrayal.
Innocence and loss
sway quietly together
grief’s slow waltz
painful and sweet.

When melancholy won
or luck felt picked upon
I came here,
perspective –
grief, what could be more?
Motivation was selfish
balm, my loss lessened by comparison
a form of optimism
the difference between being destitute and
almost destitute
a degree of betterment.

Now, coming to terms has accepted
moving on goes back, often – for them.