A peasant farmer’s idyll

There’s a rabbit, 
not Peter, who visits 
my vegetable patch, 

a gangland garden 
of my clan that pays
a lease to the Earth.

And I should refuse 
the rabbit, not Peter, 
my hard-grown cabbages.

A stomping, swearing, 
shooting Mafioso 
of the poor clay soil 

my role, locked in debt 
like a crazy gambling 
Cortez, driven to 

but what is a spoiled 
cabbage or two, 

that can be saved 
for eating by the chop 
of a knife: coleslaw 

for the dinner table;
a dewy morning feed 
for the rabbit, not Peter. 

And it’s that way
that I sometimes have 
the heart to refuse.
Poetry, Uncategorized

On this lucky earth

after W.H. Auden

Staring up from a field in Pakistan, your eyes 
like the eyes of any child. Your face enlarged on a poster 
that can be seen from the edges of the human inhabitable zone 
on this lucky earth; and viewed again on our screens
while eating or opening a window, or just walking dully along. 
Drones that hover their targets don’t see. 

I sit outside a café at an unsteady table on an uneven path, 
where another child, lifted high on shoulders, waves a tiny hand.
There’s a seamless sky behind the weight of cherry blossom; 
and I’m unsure whether to share with friends 
the image of you—as pixels to the wind—or to simply forget 
and build my delicate home the way I’d like it to be.

Big Love Song #21

after Arthur Rimbaud

It doesn’t mean a thing: 
the pyramid eye
or the constellations,
not night’s scattered verse. 

Smoking incense, 
the bride’s dress, 
the taste of dark wine—
it doesn’t mean a thing. 

Neither does beautiful Paris: 
the elegant avenues,
the asphyxiating decay, 
the distant nausea. 

Only your soft pure face
and the warm bed of home.

On sandwiches and other lunches

it’s 11.52 
and I’ve long ago eaten my lunch of cheese 
and lettuce sandwiches.

I could have added slices 
of tomato or cucumber, 
but then the bread gets soggy
and wet bread is like
cold jeans in the morning. 

sandwiches are a family heirloom
passed down from my mother
who always made them, 
with odd fillings too, like baked beans 
or lasagne. 

there aren’t as many sandwich eaters now; 
we’re all grown up 
with our credit cards and mortgages 
and lunches 
with rocket salad on the side.  

at university 
I bought nachos from the cafeteria 
once a week, 
served by Polynesian women 
who ladled mince and hot cheese sauce like a syrup   
over corn chips in a polystyrene bowl:
a meal that sticks in the memory

                               —and now I'm tempted 
by hot food from the pie warmer:
the chips, the sausage rolls, the potato tops, 
the kranskies and deep-fried sushi.

because if you’re going to buy lunch 
it should be hot 

and life 
can’t be all sandwiches 
in Tupperware containers.