From Pandora’s box

Last night I dreamt that Elpis had left
the box, and was dancing without favour
house to house: a lilting promenade, a teasing
piqué tour, a pirouette each time she crossed

the centreline. And one thousand faces,
passed it and before their prime, leaning
out of windows, trying to draw her in
with pleading eyes; knowing what was lost.


I’m an unknown tulip seller


I’m an unknown tulip seller
wasting along empty streets
delivering sweet-scent bouquets
to locked-down city doors.


Why did I take this chance
to walk away? I remember still
that night; the shooting stars
shot through our wilted hearts.


I place a weak-stemmed flower
in the deserted square, a gift
for you, with a note which says,
“Take my offering of regrets.”


On looking at a statue of the Buddha

She must have been beautiful, Prince,
and your love for her as the Ganges flows.

She must have hurt you, for you to wish
you’d never experienced the dream.

It’s vanity to walk beside beauty
and trust the pleasures of the heart.
All this was well known.

Did you tear the jewels from your ears
for being so duped?
And was the pain not enough?
Did your pride demand more?

You haven’t fooled me,
I know why you sat under a tree
for forty-nine days and nights.
I know why your legs
are awkwardly crossed.

The serenity chiselled on your face,
the laugh lines sanded away―
your own hand the torturer of flesh
that once caressed her…

Or was that too, poor Prince,
something which happened only
in your infinite mind?


Shadows preserve the frost

Shadows preserve the frost. He observes
their dark edge giving way

to a soft halo-rim
where thin white ice melts
into green-fresh trimmed grass.

The low sun has made for him
a palisade of a picket fence.

It’s the defended enclosure
he’s hiding behind, having fallen

over sideways from the world
and its familiar regrets, into the shadows

where frost still lingers.