This Place

They may not wish to be seen
but then find they need
to be seen:

There is a mountain where a hill used to be
and a hill where the mountain used to be.

Sometimes there is a river;
at other times a stream –
once a trickle of water barely capable of
climbing a pebble.

Now and then a car pulls up.
The driver gets out, walks around,
examines the scenery, departs.

Few stay more than a minute or two.
Fewer still stay longer
and no one camps at all, no,
no one camps at all.

It isn’t much of a place,
but it is their place
and the only place they care to be.
The only place they care to stay.

Safe, this place.

In Club 71 (Smug Australians)

She can’t bear that South Africans aren’t bolder. She loves the idea of going back but waits wondering what there is to go back to. She sat on the toilet to hide the bullet. I watched it on the BBC. There wasn’t enough to convict for murder but maybe yes for manslaughter.  A really good thing, he said, they didn’t let emotions cloud in a way that caused justice not to be served. You are right that was a jury thing and a jury of his peers would have had to be all white. Now how stupid is that.

It is safe up in the attic.  My brother in law is a hunter. He goes out every day this time of year. I’d rather go fishing.

Club 71 living on its Lonely Planet reviews. But it is peaceful here. If you want extra lime juice it will cost you more. So what is our plan. I want to fish. Snake. Monkey. A man of few words actually a child learning to speak.

He thinks he is a poet reading what he has written while drinking Tsing Tao. He is an Australian with a bad hair cut.

I am not settled but I am getting there.

Don’t need to go to club 71 anymore.


(Club 71 is a small bar in HongKong. Enter through the alley next to 69 Hollywood.)


I Can Wash These Windows

It is not something to be taken so lightly. The tiles with names painted on them stacked up in the basement. Each a child long grown and gone God knows where. Some caked with mud from the storm. No one was killed but the loss of property (not to mention the terrible inconvenience) was of biblical proportions. Looters let the tiles be. So there the tiles remain. After all these years. What do you think of that? What will you give me for them? Great sentimental value. So much stuff and junk. Put a sticker on them and sell them for 5 cents each. Enough to recover the cost of the ad and maybe a dinner out but at my age what is the point. I don’t need the money particularly and besides, where am I going? Been here too long. Should have left when the kids grew up. Rain water now soaking the third floor. Hate to imagine what the attic looks like. A fright. When it gets to the second, by the time it gets to the second, I will no longer be able to climb the stairs so that will be my cue. Relocate to floor one. The lean to off the kitchen, there. You haven’t seen it? It’s there. Where he does God knows what. Sits at a desk and stares into space. It’s a big enough room. Window. Though his desk faces the wall so to he never gets to admire the view.

Yes, isn’t that house fantastic. That is the one we wanted but it wasn’t for sale so we ended up here, next door. The next best thing. Still, I watched them put a lot of money into it over the years so it was probably a pit. Bet it is nice inside, now. Unless of course it is all for show. Paint it every year, just about. Didn’t replace the windows, not like we did. Had them restored. Restored. And you can be sure that cost them something. Men out there for weeks, stripping them down, restringing all the ropes, making them work flawlessly. Still, they are not like mine. Mine are better. Theirs are impossible to clean. Mine tilt out. I can still handle them, yes I can. It must be costing them a fortune in heat though because they never turn the lights on. Barely a light on in the house, and I know there must be at least 3 of them in there. The son. The parents. Plus the occasional visitor. And workers. Electricity isn’t too expensive but it adds up. And really, now. Do you really need it? Eat by candle. What did people do before the electric light? Tell stories. Ghost stories. Jokes. Tales of old people, ancestors, or cousins in the old country. Old people in the old country who were dead and  probably resented their departure. This place not good enough for you anymore. Good enough for us for 500 years and poof there you go big shot what are you looking for? Some of the ships sank. Disease. Cholera. Christ wonder why they didn’t just get the next boat back. Things must have been pretty rotten or they were in trouble in the Old Country so here they stayed. Probably it was more likely pride. Couldn’t go back and admit they were wrong. Could not possibly have done that. So they stayed. Had kids, died young. Kids had kids. And finally joined the middle class, went to school, painted their names on tiles.

Here I am. In a house I don’t need filled with stuff I don’t need but nobody wants. Such it is. Such as it is. Grow up and live in a box, a nice box with windows I can wash these windows, yes I can.  Just hang on for a few more years. Couldn’t stand to sell. Couldn’t stand to see all my things broken up, sold, scattered, given away or tossed. My whole life under this roof. Except of course for the ending. I’ll live on the first floor when the water comes down. Move up to the second if necessary in a flood.

John Cage – Writing Through Finnegans Wake

John Cage discusses the process of writing through Finnegans Wake with Richard Kostelanetz in this broadcas from 1977.

The player will show in this paragraph

Streams from ubu web


M was very busy. Moving a stack of papers from one place to another, walking from room to room and, suddenly recalling something, turning quickly to proceed up the stairs where, once there, he sat on the edge of their bed, looked down at his feet, and thought things over. After a time he got up, surveyed the room, and went downstairs to the garage.

In the garage the car refused to start.

M was alone.

X, Y, and the Baby

X left the baby on the front porch because it was too hot inside and the baby would not sleep.

The baby did not like the front porch.

The baby cried, and cried.

The baby’s cries caught the attention of neighbor Y next door.

A light went on in the house next door.

A silhouette passed across the shaded window of the house next door and moments later neighbor Y emerged from the house next door.

In the morning, the baby was not crying anymore.

A Place They Might Like

They were not too sure how it had once been, what it had once been, and they didn’t see much of a need to go back to where they had been anyway. It wasn’t a place they cared to see again. Even it was a free land or a place where freedom was praised it didn’t seem to them, once they had left it behind, that they had left so very much behind after all.

Now they found themselves in another place which didn’t tout its freedom oh so very much but the one thing they noticed was that in this new place they could walk down the street and people would not look away from them as they passed or they wouldn’t cross over to the other side as happened sometimes in the other place. Plus, in the stores, people waited patiently in line, and would hold their place when they happened to forget something, such as a quart of milk, which happened sometimes as having moved there was a lot of be done, and no one objected or gave them a funny look when they returned to the same place in line. This was a place, a place where freedom was never spoken of, they felt they could come to like, and like very much.

In Corninth

There it is. Now you have it. Push it along.

The sidewalk, every sidewalk, has cracks. Sometimes the ground settling creates tripping hazards because a sidewalk every sidewalk has cracks.

There it was. Then you had it, pushed it along.

Miles of escalators to take you up the mountain. Stand right, walk left. There is still a long way to go. So stand right, walk left.

There it is. Here you have it. Push it along

The Man at the Bar

The unhappy man at the bar thought he could become happy just by writing “I am happy” over and over again. He wrote “I am happy” over and over again. On napkins. On coasters. The back of checks and tabs. But still he was not happy. He did not feel any happier. He not believe he was becoming happier. The only thing that made him happy was the thought that by writing “I am happy” he would become happy. So, properly speaking, the only thing that made him happy was hope. The hope that writing “I am happy” would make him happy, made him happy.


She sat back and listened.
She had patience.

….plywood over windows 50 stories up,
space for the twenty
first century, prestige retail shopping, concierge
service what more
could his thriving
business ask for

She heard the wind
working the plywood
loose it will
inevitably flutter down
looping in the wind
appearing lighter than it is
until it hits the ground
with a crash.

….we have a timetable
to keep. It’s our livelihood. Customers
are waiting. The
city needs its
landmark opening December.

then go, you do what you
have to do.
Maybe I’ll be here
when you get home.

Maybe not.

Memorize Poetry

Memorizing poetry gives you a feel for the language, exercises the brain, entertains when your electronics are dead, and carries on a tradition that predates writing. If you just memorize two lines a day you will have a good collection in a month or two.

This is a collection of poems we have memorized in whole or in part.  We also send out a few lines each day via our Twitter feed (#memorize poetry).  Please suggest poems to memorize by leaving a reply on this page.

More poetry to memorize:

Few, Some

there are few / left who remember the day / the rain fell so /fast/ the car slipped / from the road

others sat waiting / quietly weeping and waiting for / the rain to cease / to / quiet down taper off / then stop

the earth didn’t / so much as move as explode / outward before collapsing taking / the /swings, the dog house, / the family pet

some of them / could walk while others sat / in the shade watching / lines / being painted on the / rebuilt interstate highway

more than one / thing to do makes one /seem busy and overworked / but / what if the things / are not difficult