Entry 12 Half-Marathon 02.00 EU time – War Mothers

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How strong these mothers are, their arms

hard as steel as they lift their toddlers

out of the war-clogged streets.  Yes, the streets

no longer know what to vomit – blood, cries,

faces that have lost hope; shoes, clothes,

haphazardly gathered belongings in old bags.

Yes, the bags are always old, the hair is always

grey, the dust always refuses to settle; the eyes

dart left and right, afraid to look forward, afraid

of what is behind.

 

The voices are always angry.  The voices want

to kill.  The feet do not want to die, not yet.  It

is movement they seek, forward movement,

knowing there is nothing to return to, no wall,

no roof, no door.  What one wants is a floor

to sit on and a window to look out of.  Windows

make one an observer; then one is only part of the

audience and has nothing to do with the street.

But the mothers will always be desperate.  Always.

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Entry 11 Half-Marathon 01.00 EU time – Flutterings

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I can’t churn out wind like a windmill.  I can’t

run from the warmth to the cold then back

again.  The sun looks different every morning,

and everything has changed sinced the day before –

the birdcalls, the blades of grass, the stones

beneath the earthbound feet, the clay heart, the

hands that knead bread dough at dawn.

 

You saw me, and then you saw me again, and

then again seventeen years later, and you said

I was the same.  That can’t be true.  I thought

I knew you, but it appears now that I did not.

Did you think otherwise?  Yesterday, you were

fearful, today you are sceptical, tomorrow you

will be senile and toothless, and very stubborn.

 

Let’s not try too hard.  Let’s not get ahead too

far.  Give me time to memorize the creases on

your forehead, the cracks in your voice, the shelf

where you store your precious blue-egg china.

Tell me where the spoons are, the kettle, the

pills for the morning and tablets for the night.

Tell me how you want your tea, the order of

your books, how you swim in the precious sea.

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Entry 10 Half-Marathon 00.00 EU time – Joking

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There were once seven bears –

three were black, three were polar,

one was bi-polar.

 

The remains of my day –

one boiled egg, left-over corn flakes,

a dab of butter

 

The remains after surgery –

one left ventricle, four optic nerves,

a handful of vertebrae

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Entry 9 Half-Marathon 23.00 EU time — Bird In A Field

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I wonder… can you see it?

There it is!  That plumage –

how can you miss it!

There it is again,

and now it’s calling its mate.

Can you spot it?  There!

Can you see that tuft of grass?

There near those rocks.

Maybe there are eggs there.

You say there’s a salamander,

that one with the long tongue,

and he’s hunting for food.

You can see it?  That tongue –

how could I miss it!

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Entry 8 Half-Marathon 22.00 EU time — For Rod and Eva

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That certain sadness

of not having regrets –

I’d love that.

 

Memories of what never

happened, and of absence –

I’d love that.

 

The dance we didn’t get

to do, the fading music –

I’d love that.

 

The rain that came and

lingered when you died –

I’d love that.

 

The quiet of night,

with its stars so bright –

I’d love that.

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Entry 7 Half-Marathon 21.00 EU time — Meditation At Dawn

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What shall I tell myself this morning,

aside from the obvious fact

about the rain reporting to work

again as it did yesterday, promptly,

two minutes past the hour?

 

My class does not start till half-eleven,

so may I now return to bed to plan

today’s English grammar lesson?

Who will not show up today?  Which

students will forget their homework?

 

The traffic jam is starting this minute;

I can feel it in my water and in my

bones, but we do not honk our horns

here, our bumpers never touch;

I allow my head to sink back to sleep.

 

Outside, the light is growing, birds

will wash themselves in the puddles,

then forage for food, chirping merrily.

No appraisal interview about who

gets to catch the first worm of the day.

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Entry 6 Half-Marathon 20.00 EU time — A Stroll

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I watched a snail today

crawling on the garden path,

 

facing only forward,

looking neither left nor right.

 

It had a purpose,

its armoured house heavy,

 

its head bent and focused

as it inched its way

 

forward towards the lettuce,

the cabbage, the carrots,

 

the scattered leaves

in my untended garden,

 

the sluggish, sleeveless

afternoon of my retirement.

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Entry 5 Half-Marathon 19.00 EU time — Five Tanka on Death

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1

he is no longer there

but she calls out his name

and then waits

to see if his favourite chair

will move by itself

 

2

I wish to die

way ahead of you

that way I’ll know

someone will be there

to pay the burial fees

 

3

even today

I think of my two dead sons

only when my heart

has turned to earth again

will they be buried

 

4

death poems …

we die a little death

each borrowed day

yet live again because

we have to pay

 

5

sometimes a death

will have more meaning

after a life well lived

said the cockroach after

getting crushed by a shoe

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Entry 4 Half-Marathon 18.00 EU time — Red Roses Ghazal

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So many colours to choose from, so why must they always be red roses?

In the restaurants, boutique shops, flower stalls, everywhere – red roses!

 

Gardeners call some of them tea roses, but it isn’t about tea, or love.

It’s all about size, and the fact that they have no scent, like dead roses.

 

Last year, we noticed two children at the airport, waiting for their luggage,

As their parents unpeeled candy to sweeten them – two pink well-fed roses!

 

Heaven uncoiled its garden hose this morning, an endless, thick, grey snake

Of dirty-white water, which flooded the backyard, giving us a row of wet roses.

 

Some time ago, I visited a friend, who found out her husband had another,

A much younger woman looking to harvest from another’s bed of roses.

 

Returning to what I’d like to think of – other colours, more detail and scent,

Wild bouquets of cornflowers and carnations, anything instead of roses.

 

*Please look online for the definition of a ghazal.  Thanks.

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Entry 3 Half-Marathon 17.00 EU time — Jugni

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Left it all behind there.

All that sand from my shoes.  All shaken off.

All that salt from my hair.  From my eyes, too.

Nothing stuck as I shouted it all away.

Yelled at it, but quietly, you know, inside.

Sounded like nothing worked.  Nothing did.

It died unassisted.  After all I did to revive it.

 

Even the pain went away by itself.  Overnight.

No longer mine.  We disowned each other.

It used to embrace me, it was my old mother.

It was a warm facelessness, a punched cushion.

I didn’t have to make it up.  Scattered feathers.

I have proof.  I told everybody so.

Everyone could see how well I carried it.

 

Left it all behind there.

Half my life gone.  Strands of moaning rain.

I had gotten so used to it, the ordinariness of it.

The cold familiar arbitrariness of it.

I used to make coloured screen shots of it.

Long rectangles and graphs of explanatory text.

Now that it has flatlined, I wonder if I’ll miss it.

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