Burnt coffee

Finished a midnight shift,

Serving my species by helping to save strangers’, maybe stranger, lives.

Sitting at the tire and oil change shoppe,

Sipping burnt coffee,

The styrofoam cup covered with black sugar sludge…

Listening to one man bragging,

His son having completed Navy Seal Team 7 training,

The father, a firefighter, keeping up, tandem skydiving nearby.

What does the coffee grower know of this?

Or the person picking coffee beans?

The coffee processing plant workers have an opinion, surely?

Do I?

Belly full of laughs

Here in my hand the universe pulsates.
Here, the stuff of the universe resides.
Here, I hear waveforms, feel rhythms, detect patterns.

All sets are temporary combinations.

The sets of states of energy we call humans, the species Homo sapiens,
Create for themselves selective pattern markers they call history,
Reducing planetary changes within a changing universe down to
Anthropocentric stories told so children can repeat as the truth
Whether they believe the stories or not.

Does the oak tree tell a story to an acorn?

What story does the bee tell the hive?

Sets built upon sets, all interconnected.

Does the Sun tell Jupiter their shared history, why they rotate around each other?

I have no children,
No offspring to perpetuate stories for our ancestral heritage.

But I have nieces, nephews, cousins and friends — mostly younger —
Ones with whom I share stories
Both culturally significant and the stuff of urban legends,
Sometimes with a punchline,
Sometimes with a punch.

I do not expect to be remembered after I’m gone,
Only significant enough for others to recall my face and perhaps my name,
Maybe a biographical detail or two when we meet and talk.

I don’t know much about my bloodline ancestors…
I can trace my family tree, can place family members on parts of Earth
During major anthropocentric historical changes,
But I can’t tell you what they looked like, thought, dreamed, accomplished
Outside of birth, marriage, offspring, divorce, death
(Maybe a few governmental assignments and societal achievements).

I can recite artificial numbers assigned to Earth’s revolution around the Sun:

I can even place at least one ancestor on the North American continent associated with that last number.

But what does it really mean to me?

I mean, really, now, here, at this moment, on the Interwebs, typing electronic poems,
Saying what I want within the confines of polite society?

Do I care about the freedoms that have allowed me to be here?

Do I care about the restrictions that have prevented me from being somewhere else?

I can pretty much travel to any point on this planet and within a few hundred miles of the surface, given enough money, travel visas and space travel training.

Is that not enough freedom?

What more could I possibly want?

The only fears I have are being homeless, broke, feeling incurably painful, locked in a prison with undesirables, socially isolated…

The joys are endless because my view of the universe, including our species, is endlessly entertaining, filling me with happiness.

Dark memories of my youth still pass through my thoughts but I know, because of friends who suffered similar, if not worse childhood conditions, and support me, that the thoughts will fade away and total happiness return.

I live to laugh and have fun, not worrying about a legacy or making historical changes on my own.  My impact on the planet is small, completely insignificant on galactic scales and that’s as it is for all of us, despite our storytelling efforts that seem to turn some humans into gods.

Forever alone?

At one time tragic,

At one time fearful,

Most times happily,

Knowledge of being alone with oneself revealed one’s self to oneself.

Yet, alone I am,

Have always been,

Will always be.

The innate biological desire to procreate

Burdens me with sexual desires never sated

With others or myself;

Thus, I wander this planet

Waiting, hoping, wishing to die sooner

Rather than later.

Explaining that to others,

Particularly those of the Christian religious belief set,

Grew old in the first telling.

I am alone not only mentally my whole life

But also in my home and work life,

Able to do as I please,

Sleep most of the time

(Simulated death, reducing my active living state as much as possible).

If I avoid social media,

I also reduce the automated responses

From my three-headed self —

Chameleon, people pleaser, contrarian —

But I’m married and have immediate family that I depend on financially,

Trapping this gigolo in a gilded cage for life,

Forever alone entertaining passersby in a crowd.

The sketchbook project

Whilst my childhood friend helps Mom learn Windows 10 and Office 2016, I meditate.

I meditate upon my love for others, which used to spring forth from a tiny well but now that I know the well never runs dry I give love without end.

To my friends.

My family.

A love I used to keep to myself because of fears, worries that I wouldn’t fit in if others knew what I let people do to me un/willingly.

But now I know otherwise.

We live, and in living we gather memories that aren’t always pleasant but pleasantness and happiness aren’t the only colours on our palette.

We are deep hues, shades of visible light reflection and quantum entanglement.

I am me because of you.

My love is endless because you’re in my life, then, now, forever woven into the history of our species, reaching out into the cosmos.

My love is endless because I stopped asking why.

Ten minutes

Ten minutes at the end of a meal break,

Ten minutes alone at work,

Ten minutes surrounded by virtual friends,

Nine minutes to recognise my depression,

Eight minutes to ask why I don’t cry anymore,

Seven minutes to know why I laugh and smile,

Six minutes to listen to cicadas,

Six minutes to let go of the past,

Six minutes to breathe at last,

Five minutes to pace the carpark,

Five minutes to think of the future,

Five minutes to remember moments like this,

Four minutes to walk back inside,

Four minutes to plan out the rest of the work shift,

Three minutes to notice hums in the building, like a living being,

Three minutes to badge back in,

Three minutes to enter the break room, smell old meals,

Two minutes to look at newspaper adverts,

Two minutes to approach the time clock,

One minute to contemplate delayed decisions,

One minute to relax and post this poem.

Zero minutes, poem done!

A brief sketch…

Cup of hot tea, Bigelow English breakfast, brewing…

Any relation to Bigelow Aerospace?
If not, the mere thought of such links them…
Sets of states of energy in motion…
Like social media posts that link people who’ve never met…
The tea grower’s child growing up to love space and live aboard the BEAM module on the ISS…
Such fortune we find in quiet moments…
Contemplating possibilities.

Paper wasps and horse flies

Always the hopeful romantic

I know I’ll see you soon,

But never soon enough;

I’ll listen to your voice,

Although my hearing interferes with hearing your words;

I’ll wish away the hours and days

Pining for another quiet moment alone with you.

Always hopeful,

Sitting here in the summer heat,

Perspiration trickling down my spine,

Well past my daylight sleep time,

These words a placemark holding our thoughts,

Anticipation of being with you again

Holding my eyes open briefly

As I walk through mental schedules,

Ensuring personal time with you 

Keeps the big picture taking shape

As mentors step away

To play with motorboats dressed in summer attire.

The muggy atmosphere envelopes me

Wishing I had some good ice right now

(You know, those little pieces of ice,

Not the big kind with sharp edges…).

Guest poem



We live on a river in the country,
we talk gently and listen easy,
we lost our smoky bark and city hiss.
You’ll play me the guitar, whilst I knead dough.
I make enough bread to feed the ten sons
we never made time to have.
You get under my feet when I ask you to
whisk the milk. Stir the gravy. Mind the oven.
We never agree about the temperature, maps and train time tables.
You hold the pegs whilst I hang the washing,
on the line hung between low-hanging crab-apple trees.
Our ramshackle garden is overgrown
and there are spiders in the lavender.
The radio plays the shipping forecast.
It’s getting cold. Cold enough to snow.
No. Not yet.
A skein of geese flocked overhead,
but you and me, we never migrated apart.
Together we become weathered
and soft as old cotton and as yellow as warm butter.
We keep chickens and ducks that rarely lay eggs,
an obnoxious mallard nests like royalty
in an armchair in the parlour.
Of course we brew our own beer
and we grow grass and tomatoes in the conservatory.
Laughter. Yes, we still laugh,
the lines are etched around our failing eyes.
Foam and lathered we bathe together too,
and play cards and drink rum and dare each other to
skinny-dip in the lake by the weeping willow when the moon is high.
Books are precariously balanced on slanting shelves
and guitars are in varying states of loving repair.
Boxes of dusty poetry and newspaper cuttings clutter the stairs.
And the piano has a few keys missing,
like teeth and the scissors and your spectacles –
they are on your head, you nincompoop!
We’ve collected empty Marmite jars for no reason,
no reason at all.
We get tired, we go to bed, have sex in the afternoon.
Snow flutters like feathers past the frosty winter windows.
Face to face, we lie on the cool side of the pillow,
wrapped in each other’s arms like two monkeys.
My fingers play with the silver hair at your temples,
you stroke my face and I breathe slowly.
Jigsaw pieces.
We always did fit nicely.
You call me in my dreams at night.
I’ve felt your plush wings
spread wide, enveloping me.
You and me, we will have all this and more,
we will have all this in time.
I have known you all my life.
We will find each other
one day,
my swan.

by Salena Godden
from  Fishing in the Aftermath: Poems 1994 – 2014
Burning Eye Books, Portishead, 2014