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The End of the Line

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Beeping, the bus lift lowers

And they shuffle on board

Pushing their walker trolleys.

A rancid smell accompanies them.

Their clothes are worn, mismatched,

Long skirts over trousers,

Coats held together with safety pins,

Hats or kerchiefs covering stringy white hair,

Faces lined and whiskery.


Strapped down in their trolley baskets,

Sweaters, shoes, underwear, flasks,

Toothpaste, vitamins, family photographs,

Notebooks, bottles, gloves, blankets,

Remnants of a shattered life.

They suffer with obesity, swollen ankles,

Arthritis, paralysis and Parkinson's.


What troubles or misfortunes brought them here,

On this journey to the end of the line,

To queue for a meal and a bed

At the shelter next to the topless bar?


I ring the bell, disembark,

Turn into my comfortable home.

The bus roars on,

To the end of the line.


Twelfth Night and the Three Wise Poets

Twelfth nights of my childhood.

Flash memories.

Gathering round the Christmas tree

Unwrapping small gifts hanging there

And chocolate Santa Claus,'

Singing We Three Kings,

Playing charades.

A night both sweet and bitter

Like Mum's chocolate fudge.

For soon they will be gone

The holly and the mistletoe

Paper chains and tinsel

The tokens of festivity.


And when the last sugar mouse is eaten

The last crumbs of Christmas cake gone

When the Yule log's embers are cold

And the lights boxed in the attic,

It is time to ask,

Like the Magi

Were we brought all that way

For Birth or Death?

And Shelley answers, Die

If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!

Die before you die, cries Rumi.

Resurrection now!

Oil, a declamatory poem

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300px-Anacortes_Refinery_31911 (1).JPG

Oil, a declamatory poem

Now let me speak of oil.

As censers swing we praise

The oil of gladness, flowing down on Aaron's beard

Oil of healing, oil of consecration

Chrism of salvation,

Fragrant, nourishing oil

Gift of the sacred olive tree

Ancient blessing for humankind,

Oil that feeds, oil that makes supple,

Oil that nurtures civilization.


Today I sing of another oil,

Oil black, oil sticky, oil spreading, oil foul of smell

Not pressed from fruit or seed

But forced from bowels of earth.

Oil that powers cars and lorries, tanks and tankers

B52 bombers, Falcon rocket launchers,

intercontinental ballistic missiles,

Oil that fuelled Enola Gay.

Deepwater Horizon oil

Exxon Valdez oil, Amoco Cadiz oil

Torrey Canyon oil.

Oil that stains Peruvian Amazon

Oil that poisons Niger Delta

Oil that blackens beaches

Oil that kills gull, pelican, loon,

Penguin, puffin, grebe, and otter.


Oil, the source of ethylene, propylene

Benzene, toluene, butadiene,

Parathion, sarin, DDT.

Oil from which we make paints, adhesives,

Plastics, asphalt, carpeting, nylon.

Oil, bringing a world of electronics,

Panty hose, shiny toys from China;

Of children choking to death in Bhophal,

Dying foaming at the mouth in Khan Sheykhoun,

Of poisoned eagles perishing in fields

And floating islands of plastic trash.


Oil for which millions toil

Oil for which millions die.

Oil by which we fight our wars

Oil for which we fight our wars.

Four billion metric tons a year!


Oil the combustible!

Oil, emitter of heat trapping gases

Ice caps melting

Cities flooding,

Forests burning

Crops and cattle dying.

Oil that destroys trees, rivers, oceans

Villages, tribes, homes and encampments.

Oil for whose sake the bombs rain down!

O oil of blackness, oil death-dealing,

Oil which holds us in your thrall!


How long, O oil, will your rigs, your wells, your refineries,

Your pipelines snaking through tribal lands,

Your smoke-filled skies, your dark satanic mills hold sway?

Will we follow you to the end of civilization?

Arise, warriors of the sun, the wind, the water

Mni wiconi, water is life.

Let us raise our swords of truth for life, for love

Let us return to the oil of blessing

To the sheltering olive grove.

46 Mum Roses.jpeg

My beloved mother, Joyce Olivia Mary Hudis nee Board, passed away on 15th October, peacefully asleep and in the presence of loved ones. She had just recently turned ninety. I wanted to share this poem in wrote for her ninetieth birthday, in commemoration.

Daughter of the Sun

Daughter of the sun
Bonnie and happy, good and gay,
I, your hardworking Saturday's child
Salute you.

How shall I speak of ninety years
Twenty-six known only through family tales
Stories shared at dinner table--
Great-grandfather's top hat, green with age,
Buzz bomb in Camberwell phone kiosk?
What do I know of your Loenine mysteries?

I picture that August day
Nineteen hundred and twenty five.
Horses clip-clop down Skipton Street,
Criers call, "Cherries, ripe cherries!"
"Any old iron?"
Emmie thinks she's had a surfeit of greengages
Such terrible colic.
Quick, quick, waters are breaking
Head is crowning
It's a girl!

Did they name you Mary for Blessed Mother?
Joyce for the joy you bring?
Olivia for your grandmother the tealeaf reader
Who claimed to have the second sight.
And Joe so excited he mixes up the names
And you are forever JOMB.

I picture you clinging to your father's hand
Marveling at the candles flickering in church
Bandaging your dolls and giving them medicine
Doing Knees Up Mother Brown
As Terry plays piano.

I imagine that day
At Chelsea polytechnic,
The shy Jewish boy who won your heart.
Your love story sings
In my genetic code.

Imagination fades into memory
Julian Villa, the flowering currant and the lilac bush
The gooseberries and raspberries
Vicky and Mosby curled together in their basket.

I see you reading Jeeves, Agatha Christie or the BMJ
I see you weighing babies
Embroidering, tending your roses.
I see you stirring strawberry jam
And apple chutney,
Making Christmas pudding,
Listening to Mozart with your feet up,
Sipping a cup of tea.

I see you singing Golden Slumbers to little Katy,
Bringing Ros home from the hospital
Walking slowly, heavy with your son.

We fold sheets together, make lentil soup, go hiking.
You read The Hobbit to me--it's thrilling.
And then there are the Magic Pill stories--
Olivia finds pills in a secret bureau drawer
And we're transported to the Middle Ages
Where your girls save knights and rescue princes.

Driving to Suffolk with a cat basket
A new life--Christchurch Park, the Tower Church,
Walks on the saltmarsh
Rowing on the Orwell,
Holidays at Colle Diobhain.

Later, I glimpse your life in snatches--
Marmaduke warning me off the bed
Magnus romping in park,
Visiting grandchildren in Donegal and Wales.
Shot through with ginger cats, tawny dogs
And glowing redheads
Your life shines with your cheerful, generous spirit.
Daughter of the sun, mother of mine
You warm me still.

For more about Joyce's younger years see Living Witnesses Part 1: The Evacuee and Living Witnesses Part 2:The Medical Student

45 Mum Alak Sada.jpg

Alandi Ashram's candlelight vigil for the children of Peshawar was held on Monday 22nd December, the seventh night of Hanukkah. We chanted 108 mahamritunjaya mantras and also shantadurga mantras. It was a deeply moving event.


A hundred and forty five candles
Each a mother birthing in pain and hope
A child reared with love and care
Each a youth full of promise
Each a pool of blood on schoolroom floor
A wooden coffin
Each the tears of fathers, mothers,
Siblings, cousins, grandparents
Each a family rent with sorrow,
A city, a nation, bereaved.
And above them all
The menorah
Speaking of truth that conquers falsehood
Light in darkness
Life triumphant over death
Hope in desolation.
Shalom, salaam, Shantih.




I Can't Breathe

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The All-Nite Images / Flickr via Creative Commons

I can't breathe
Beneath the crushing weight of bodies
Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Jimmy Mubenga and so many more
I can't breathe in the stranglehold of police brutality
I can't breathe as long as our girls, our Nigerian daughters, are still missing and it's been eight months now
I can't breathe because I'm drowning in mothers' tears

I can't breathe the stench of Mexico's mass graves
I can't breathe because I'm being water-boarded to make the world safe for democracy
I can't breathe because black lives have never really mattered to the world
I can't breathe thinking of my ancestors in slave collars
I can't breathe because I'm choking on tear gas
I can't breathe as long as liberty and justice for all means liberty and justice for some
I can't breathe if I keep silent
So I open my voice and speak,
and shout the outrage
Calling for a world
Where all of us can breathe.

Since people often ask for 'Ma's meal blessing' --here it is!
Some of you might like to use this non-denominational blessing at your Thanksgiving meal.


May the Earth be blessed that bore this food
And may they prosper who grew it
May the hands be blessed that cooked this meal
May all grow strong who eat it.
May the hearts and wills of humankind be moved
To feed the hungry of the world
And may all come to eat the bread of life
From Wisdom's table.

June Haibun

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Torrential rain
Crushed poppy petals
Blood on paving stones.

When I see the magnificent blooms beaten down, their glory cut short, sorrow of a thousand mothers wells up in me.

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Silver Gelatin

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They are elders now

If death has not yet taken them.

Hair is grey

Lines crease their faces.

They have birthed children

Buried loved ones

Toiled and laughed,

Yet always innocent

Always alight

Their radiant childhood greeting us

In silver gelatin print.

Wayne Miller 1948.jpg

Cherry tree blossom Русский: Цветущая ветка ви...

Cherry tree blossom Русский: Цветущая ветка вишни Latina: Prunus cerasus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lilac breeze
White petal shower
Bees in cherry blossom.

Bagpipes skirl
Dancing together
Cherry and chokecherry.

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