Posted in Unexpected


When she asked I hesitated
thinking the answer would be mistaken
for flippancy, for denigration, for shallowness
temptation almost delivered
then paused
as if being thought about
“nnnooo…. nothing I can think of.”

The face opposite is attentive
the tongue within unfamiliarly still.
For the past seven days
procedures and protocols explained had been dismissed

Now the last afternoon
the last will and testament.
Did the departing one have any advice?
Eyes invite confidence
silence gathers and yields
exhaling a single sentence : absurd and true.

“If I had talked more and worked less
I would have been more successful.”
The strangest bequest
living about to be ghost – dead men tell no tales or lies.

Confession unexpected and brutal
a space which words cannot enter
sternness is abandoned
a hand is placed on the defeated knee
the tone is soft
“it hasn’t been easy here for you has it.”

Posted in Unexpected


In the sternly sensible days of colonial Britain
child raising was an extension of the stiff upper lip
practical, unbending and as little emotion as possible
a job, not a vocation. Seen and not heard.

Perhaps it wasn’t Spock’s enlightened thinking
his manual of new ideas.
placing children contiguous of love
rather than the continuation of the species.
Maybe pharmacology straitened
the hairpin bends of pregnancy
shifting power from consequences to desire
postponing fecundity
until the arrival of certainty and financial security.

However it happened, the world turned in the 1970’s
Victorian cold disappeared
disappeared into dual career households
into unshaven armpits
into Montessori pre schools
expression overthrows discipline.
The child spoiled and rod spared.

She was the first of my contemporaries with children
we were good friends
I often called in
two earnest young mothers
poring over compulsory popular psychology
an older neighbour visits – unannounced
a veteran of 1950’s Cold War child raising
she is shocked. “You two stupid tarts
throw away those books and get two wooden spoons
one for making jam and one for the kids’ bums.”
They tell her she is wrong
she agrees
“ make it three – one might break.”

Posted in Unexpected

Performance Appraisal

Working head it was called
to increase the pressure in the shower
the hot water exhaust was raised
to 15 feet above the roof line
it’s very high I said to the plumber
“can’t see it from my place,” his reply.

“Can’t see it from my place,” became a family catchcry
applied when politicians obfuscated
world leaders denied torture
insider trading ruled inconclusive.

When the scandal broke – clergy and paedophilia
they couldn’t see it from the Vatican.
or denial.

He stood to give the final blessing
lost almost
as if suddenly called upon to speak
without notes or preparation.

He said being a priest was like any job
you didn’t really know what it was like
until you did it
but if a job description was required
it could be compressed to one key task
and one printed line.
“To set an example.”

“We now know many have failed to do so
what they had done was sinful
and wrong.”
He could see it from his place.