Poem – A Thousand Cars Honking

A Thousand Cars Honking


I know nothing about love.

Love knows nothing about me.

The cat washes his paw. Rubs behind his ear.

Stops bathing, looks at me.

He is tired of my secrets. They are not secrets.

They walk across my face

Like the cat crosses the garden, moonlight indifferent

The insects talking of their love.


In the workshop of my heart,

My muddled mind, my soul builds love with wire,

Wood, paper, iron and copper, the feather fallen

From the crow, the pup’s baby molar

Glued on top, I turn it upside down and hum.

It must be love. I add two more staples and take up

The sandpaper, rubbing it smoother, finding a way.


You tell me about love. Past and present.

The repetition of love. The tenderness of puzzles,

A round of hide and seek,

The tag and race, the colours of summer

In your voice, sudden coolness of summer rain. 

I hear the thunder booming coming closer. 


It is not like my hammer.

Tapping in a few new tacks to keep the cover

From slipping off too fast.  Gifts, small

And many, moments inside the day.


I see what I can see and watch for the rest

When my mind lets my heart run.


You are a kite and I want to be the wind.

It is all slow dance, the same music playing

In our heads. A thousand cars honking

Racing by, blinding us with their lights.


Keneally’s novel about Operation Rimau

Finished reading an outstanding novel of WWII called The Widow and Her Hero by Thomas Keneally (2007), which deals with the true life commando mission “Rimau” (Malay for tiger), made by Australian Special Forces and British troops against Japanese held Singapore. Great book, tragic mission and it appears over time that the facts behind the loss of the men was a high level command decision to sacrifice them. The story by Keneally looks at men’s heroism and the emotional evolution of the women who survive them. It is the story of a war time marriage, the mission, and the long life of the widow who over time learns more about her husband’s final mission and execution by the Japanese. It’s a great novel based on a tragic truth.

Wikipedia article on Operation Rimau.

Keneally is best known for the Booker Prize-winning Schindler’s Ark. He is one of my favourite authors.

Poem about my Mother’s Death on January 3, 1996

Way Past Midnight

I look at my hands by electric light.
They are becoming the dry wrinkled hands
of an old office man. Not yet my father’s hands
Not my mother’s
which became deflated as she almost made it to 80.
The wrinkles deep,
her skin on her wrists
paper thin
so fragile when they took the blood tests.
She would bruise like they had used a coal shovel on her
We should grow old in a big old house
surrounded by grandchildren
not in the white sheets of the fucking hospitals

I hate the thought of it.
sitting beside her as her breathing in the coma
shuddering slowing
more work for each breath
I sat in the ugly metal and vinyl padded chair
my hand under the sheet holding her leg below the knee
her good leg
not the left with the stroke twisted ankle
feeling the warmth of her in my hand
and the shudders of her breathing growing harder
and slower and slowing
to nothing
her mouth still open
the IV pump with saline and the other line morphine
I listened
and listened for another breath
then I walked around to look at her face
half turned from me
my hand brushing her hair
still brown, just a line or two of grey
then I sat back down in the chair
and put my hand back on her leg below the knee
and felt her warmth and it was quiet, January quiet
then I got ready to go find a nurse
to check for a pulse, a heartbeat, and to find neither sound,
just the shell still, three days short of her 80th birthday,
and then to tell me that
my mother was dead
and then the doctor who I had never seen before
came to tell me
that my mother was dead
for the second time
the doctor a young woman
younger than me
following her training
having put on the doctor face
with emotion tucked away
explained to me that my mother had passed away
I said, “I know. I was there.”
The nurses on the floor looked at me as I waited
for my sister to arrive
they looked at my face
my hands spread out held high
holding the metal doorframe of the room
so that the building would not explode
the metal was cool
and had no wrinkles.