Ducks in the city

our place
a paved yard
with a stone shed
& a girl
who didn’t care
either way
loved the idea of pets
so we bought
three ripe banana
yellow ducklings
fed ‘em on starter corn
& they grew
as they got whiter
well it had to be me
needed to trim one wing
otherwise they’d fly away
you have to learn that
it doesn’t come easy
& the ducks don’t
like it much
other stuff
what folk don’t know
about ducks
is how comical they are
they play games
on each other
fight for food
& they stink
will shit on anything
will nibble everything
I’d clean the yard
once a week
shovel the sawdust
into a bag
go to the tip
throw clean sawdust down
& eggs
every day
a new light green egg
they just kept on giving
the either way girl
time came
to end that thing
we didn’t have
she wanted to clip
my wing
tether me
though she wouldn’t
look after the ducks
or me much
the harder part
of killing ducks
is they don’t want to die
you try to be humane
make it quick
a snap of the neck
& done
but it ain’t like that
if you care
it hurts to do
much like love
even bad love is
much as
the either way girl
refused to believe
it was over
held no idea
of how little
she gave
thought her looks enough
I feel sadder now
when I remember
about those
dirty white ducks
in that city yard
than I do about
the either
though I understand
she hates
my callous ways

& love?

It was
a slick operation
training therapists
in the talking cure
in one door
out the other
some began as patients
learning the way
taking courses
on and on
the next bit to learn
wisdom to assimilate
the future
the horizon
the money rolled in
patients paying
trainees owing
then later
for supervision too
of patients
in some minor
circle game
I was one of these
caught in the net
taking the ride
to self knowledge
helping of others
watching as friends
sold houses
to keep on
the track
& so they could work
for the operation
this was not for me
came the day
I decided to train
my own groups
for colleges
& I opted out
of making
it all about me
there is
little doubt
I loved each
& everyone
of my students
especially those
not fond of me
teaching tolerance
to the intolerant
must always
be the way
I had enjoyed
listening to
the operation
seen its fondness
for the money
in sadness
it had struck me
& love?
was the love?

Smile again

As you go about
doing the what
needs doing
this thing
we call life
there are some
who will not give you
the time of day
you will smile at them
say hello
& get nothing
take heed
at the null response
this could be you
if you hadn’t
been paying attention
smile again
but this time in sorrow
that they just
haven’t got it yet
& carry on doing
what you need to do
save your time
for those
who will
the greatest joke
there is
no matter
how rich
plain stupid
or so so
gets out


No matter what
your teen years told you
is paying any attention
to you
your friends
will all gossip
about you
that is what they
have been told
they should do
this changes
when your life
goes wrong
that’s when
we sit up
pay heed
just to find out
who you
really are
remember this
for then
just do
what you need to do
to make you happy
we really are
not paying
much notice

Kids ears

pick up signals
the time to be quiet
become invisible
is about to be said
time to
squish behind a chair
under the table
listening deep
the family business
that nobody talks on
is to be aired
there’s electricity
in the wind
a buzz of a thousand bees
& it’s a word salad
to be picked over
in the years ahead
full of
veiled references
in wrong beds
hints at dodgy deals
foul deeds
& gossip phrases
‘you’d think
he’d know better’
& ‘her with her
nose in the air’
until they’d notice
you were there
& you’d be forced
to go
out into the world
to forget the words
any mismeaning
you might have
playing at pyrates
but knowing
the real buried treasure
was in there
amongst that heady ether
unsmiling adults
in chairs

The old man

Was not a natural teacher
he’d want me to help
& you know how it is
with kids
no clue
no idea
no frame of reference
he’d sit me in the drivers seat
point to a pedal
& say:
when I say push
push it down
when I say hold
hold it down
& I’d do my best
to be holding the wheel
to be helping my dad
he’d get angry

I wouldn’t push enough
hold at the right time
would mishear
would lose attention
he’d shout
so I’d get flustered
I was helping
& that helping
was not good enough
I’d run away
to go play
away from his attention
not badness
on either part
we just didn’t get
each other
never did
all I wanted back then
was to climb a few trees
ride my bike
hang around with friends
kiss the girls
I had no frame of reference
for the world
of pushing levers
do this
do that
I wanted to write
rather be in
that world
familiar to him
I tried it
had bosses
same disappointment
on me
in their
needing senseless things
what they didn’t get
I’d been inoculated
by my old man
in the ways
of disappointment
& after that
I’d learned
the only way
is to do what you
need to do
to make yourself

Hard times

There will be times
when you will
not know
how to feel
how you feel
& you will need
to wait
to process
think through
it is
that is happening
to you
this is when
the hard knock road
of your life
really begins
learning to maintain
learning to continue
to go on
no matter what it is
the sky falls in
& you have
to just get up
handle the new way
this is
what you do
no matter how hard
the blow
the knock down
you get up
go on
driving the new day
there is nothing else
you can do
if you want
to live on
with any
self respect


It is true
that every fact
taught in school
& university
is but a theory
we know
that the sun
will rise
in the east
but apart from that
are all we have
while most
are pretty good
these are also used
in setting us up
to fight each other

Prison shuffle

I refuse to shuffle
that slow
going nowhere
that prisoners do
without thinking
forming lines
slush of shh shh
soft shoes
on concrete
stone floors
it is just
‘what you do’
with nowhere to go
but time
I refused
I’d stop
let a gap develop
& walk across that
& I see it now
in bargain stores
grey forms
in baseball caps
& trainers
heads down
soft shoe shuffle
in lines
people who prisons
have never seen
but somehow
they know
where they are
their place