Tockus ysterikos


Tockus leucomelas

chortle chortle chortle
deep in your pied throat

hop hop hop
to see the sideways world
thrust and grab
with your ochre scythe




tock tock tock
cackling success
in the game


flap flap flap
flap flap flap

back to the barracks
to the basics
to earth



The Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill is one of my favourite birds.  Tockus leucomelas, it was named for the sound it makes, a loud and continuous “tock tock tock.”  (I always imagined them to be saying “wok wok wok.”)  I renamed the bird in the title this poem, because they I think they are hysterical.  It is often affectionately called the “flying banana.”  Our fate as a species is intricately tied to all other living things on our planet, including Tockus leucomelas.


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Once cool, wet, wild stream

jagged rocks, now dusty hot

even tears have dried



I have challenged myself to write EVERY DAY  (not necessarily publish every day) and went back to WordPress Intro to Poetry for inspiration.  Today the challenge is to write a poem about water and to use the haiku form.  We have been MONTHS without rain and everything is dry and dusty.  I will have a celebration when the rains return (and write a poem of rainy joy!).

Lantana camara


you are a saint.
No sweet-smelling virtuous angel,
but a rough-and-tumble,
dirty-hands kind of beauty.

in this neighbourhood
you are an outlaw.
You spread your noxious lies,
poison the air,
poke your insidious fingers into every pie.
at dawn
we wake to a new master.

Cruel beauty.
I have learned to despise
what I once cherished.
Now that I’ve seen your heart
I will uproot you
without mercy
from my kitchen vase).




I post this poem with great apologies to Linda and everyone who loves Lantana (especially where it is not an invasive weed). Here Lantana competes with and wins the upper-hand against indigenous species. It is poisonous to both humans and livestock and accounts for a fair number of bovine deaths each year. Lantana also provides shelter to the Anopheles malaria-carrying mosquito.


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He arrives.
He arrives with breath and fire.
He will breathe on you
and ignite your soul.
He will fill you with firstfruits
and then ask you to return them
a hundred times over
till your cup overflows.

He arrives RUACH.
He arrives PUR.
He arrives to break
and make
whole and holy.
He arrives.

He arrives.

(self) Advice for (middle-aged) Angst


Do you sometimes wonder
what would be
had you received
your childish dreams?
Looking back
are you thankful for
the blessing that came
after your broken heart?

Being denied the bauble
you were entrusted with a gem.
And though the weight of the thing
is sometimes overwhelming
you are always given grace
to bear it.

You were made for more.
Press on.
Take comfort in your companions
and the fervent fellowship
on the rutted road.
Celebrate the wonder of balance,
of perfection in chaos.

Look up.
Watch the expectant sky.
Mercy comes in the morning.

at your feet


At your feet
I learned how to hide,
to press everything down,
to roll it up and stick it in the back of the broom closet.

You taught me well
to laugh at barbed wires,
to pretend bruises don’t hurt,
to get up every time I got knocked down.

You tutored me in burying pain,
ignoring sirens,
sweeping dust under carpets,
running out of Dodge.

And when I’d grown
I had strong walls,
an impenetrable heart,
scabby knees
and wings.

Psalm 63


Fragmented words
like crumbed toast
pulled like lead,
to the floor.

Even cautious steps crackle.

Weary of restless slumber
between sandpaper sheets,
my soul pleads water
but finds dust.

I cling
to hope.

Even when
ears have forgotten how to hear,
eyes have retreated into monochromatic landscapes,
parched mouth has grunted like a great, guttural toad
and feet have stumbled,
I will raise my hands toward your face;
my heart will cry out to you.

Hold me.
Just hold me.

And I will wake
to hear trees clapping with delight,
mountains singing in wild resounding timpanious voice,
oceans bubbling with raucous laughter
and sunshine tingling with melodious jingling chimes.

And I will rise
to see rivers dancing through wastelands,
vibrant colours expanding with breath,
words fledging till they soar,
weaving vigorous vines of flavourful, juice-filled fruit.

I will be stirred
to find a voice of praise
and feet which gambol a dance of unabridged joy.

For you are life
I will cling
to this hope.



thinking i am safe
(hell having passed through)
i breathe
on my knees
in relief
only to discover
i am in the eye of the storm.

if i am indeed the apple
keep me in your heart
for i cannot withstand
another assault.

let me hide,
nestled in quills,
covered in down,
as the gale roars round.

let me be wrapped
in metered timbral tone
and filled with joyous praise.

filled with joyous praise.

Empty Fortress


I have learned
in the heat of the moment
to still
to the point of death.

Rivers may run from temples,
clouds may crowd round spires,
I batten windows against the approaching storm.

drawing a cavernous breath and meting it out slowly,
I receive every furious flurry with calculated calm,
knowing I will out stand them all.

A self satisfied smile
plays about my face
when my enemy is exhausted,

I don’t bleed anymore.

But sometimes
in the long dark night
I miss the echo
of a beating heart.

Who Will Serve?



and so the day
and the week
and the month


But the end of term was
ME! and
ME! and

Who can judge
to determine when mercy’s meted out
and when eviction’s apportioned?

Sometimes I think
there are too many ants feeding grasshoppers.

And then I see the fiddle I hold
behind my back
and am thankful

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