Orphanhood

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Alone
and abandoned,
maturing too quickly,
veiled in vulnerability
– lost child.

She learns
to trust strangers,
finds the word “family”
to be plural not singular
– found child.

[These two cinquains were written for Mary’s prompt at dverse, where she asked us to write about “two sides of a coin”.]

Found poem: Orwell in clover

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Lumbering clover,
stretching green grass
and bursting hedges,
remain faithful to
the song of rebellion.

I randomly picked two adjacent pages from George Orwell’s Animal farm and painted out words in order to transform the remaining words into an original poem. The result was this tanka. I got the idea from this artist. Photo credit: Guy Hollister at wide.co.nz

Cow Dung Mind

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At Jinshan Temple Su Dungpo debated Chan Master Foyin with the resulting outcome:

The Chan Master’s mind is like the Buddha’s.
Therefore, he saw you as a Buddha.
But your mind is like cow dung.
Therefore, you saw the Chan Master as cow dung!
(Quote from Venerable master Hsing Yun’s “Chan heart, Chan Art”.)

Wanting every collection,
in 2011,
I paid hardback prices
for Billy Collins’ latest:
“Horoscopes for the Dead”.

I’d read an Amazon review:
“..cynical bordering on bitter..”
I thought “no way, I know better –
mind like cow dung,
sees cow dung!”

I read my way eagerly
into disappointment
“..demanding to know the name
of this latest whore.”
I saw a string of infidelities,
an exasperated, put upon wife.

Then came 2013,
time passed in between
leaving me with hope
and paying hardback prices
for his “Aimless love”.

Finding joy on the pages
I examined myself,
returning to his horoscopes
to find celestial transformation:
how funny that “latest whore”,
seeing now a close, committed,
contented couple giggling at his
drawing inability.

Like Su Dunpo had to bow
to Chan Master Foyin,
I see my cow dung mind –
thanks Billy Collins!

Billy Collins quotation taken from his poem “Drawing you from memory”.

Existential Origami

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Every morning I make these folds.
Gentle creases encourage
   initial shaping,
blank paper expanse
   transforming,
as valley folds take hold.

Every morning I make these folds.
Manipulating fingers
   push and merge
swallow wings
  along imaginary
…………………………dotted lines.

Every morning I make these folds.
Through fragile, temporary
   structures
my mountain folds
   summon up existence.

Every morning I make these folds.
Finally flight path ready,
   my plane of existence soars.
But how many flights?
And how many planes and paths?
For every day I make these folds.

My father’s writing box (a Miltonic Sonnet)

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Of his possessions it was my favourite –
a writing box divine in marquetry:
with exquisitely crafted lid inlay
opening to green felt whereon words were writ.
At its appearance my eyes would be lit
by rosewood, walnut, and mahogany
holding secrets and curiosity
in sealed compartments kept so well hid.
This box that accompanied him to sea
was sold by maternal grandmother’s haste,
all its glorious magic lost to me –
I fear that it has long since gone to waste.
Still, I’m left to wonder where it may be,
history, I hope, writ a cherished fate.

Captain Howard Joesph Kempton MBE (1905 – 1985) served in the Royal Marines before, during, and after WWII, the writing box must have been a handy piece of carpentry for staying in touch with loved ones, and as a child (my father then retired) I used to marvel every time he brought out the box.