Forward

As a first-time soldier
thrusting his face forward
took flight the new pilot
into a valley of unknown 
unaware of all the volleys
the number of pelting shots
unabashedly facing the void
with nothing to lose, all to gain
unseeing unknown forces at work
missing every torrential outburst
shot forward, heeding his captain 
right into the waiting arms of fate
went bravely
through pouring rains

Advertisements

Choices

Garbage bags are trash
and so are candy wrappers
delectable coffee k-cups are as well
oh, but wait—not the to-go cups

Bottled water’s plastic, mate
and less is more since it’s waste
but wine’s mine, and that’s fine
glass breathes better—now don’t you pine

Think lean, mean, and buy in bulk
for killing fields are war scenes
they’ll forever haunt as packages
the convenience buyers—those savages

Landfilling bags or recyclable tins
beans from scratch or scratched open lentils
is one friendlier, healthier than the other
questioning, my friend—it’s just the first step

Normal

Henry had a perfectly fine life.

In the small river town of Carr, home to no more than 200 people, he was the only person who travelled twenty minutes to work. He was the executive accountant for a law firm in the city. And no one in his town knew anything more about what he did. He didn’t mind.

Every morning, he’d catch the same 6:55 bus that dropped him off in front of his office. And at 4:30 every evening, he’d get off at the same stop outside the cafe, enjoy a good natured conversation with anyone in the vicinity, and walk home with a cup of black coffee.

It was his thing. It was his routine.

Every Friday, he’d show up at the supermarket where he’d always say hello to everyone. He’d get a bottle of wine, wave cheerily at the casher, and head back home.

That was Henry. Mysterious and nice to be around.

“It’s unfortunate he died.”

“They say it was a heart attack.”

The whole town whispered condolences at his funeral. He didn’t have any relatives that they knew of, and Henry’s employer in the city didn’t either. So the town mayor had taken it upon himself to organise the ceremony.

No one would miss Henry, of course. He was a simple, exotic young fellow who lived and then died without a fuss.

But when he didn’t show up the next few days, the swans and squirrels knew something was amiss. Henry had never missed a walk by the lake before.

Making friends

I’ve always had trouble making friends. Possibly because I don’t enjoy large crowds or loud conversations, but probably because I have trouble making friends.

For years in I had only one or two friends with whom I shared a lot and whose lives I was a permanent mark. It took me over ten years to two others who were as bespectacled and as touched in the head I.

Before I got used to it I changed schools. And the friend-making process started again.

It took me a year and a half to find the one person who was around for a while. But alas, it was only a two year course.

Life happened. She went to college (or university) while interned intending to study from home. In the five years since, I found two co-workers I call friends.

And now I’ve moved again. This time, it’s across the seas. Down Under is my new found land.

But as is always the case with moving, I still had to make friends.

The older you get, though, the harder it becomes. You’re conscious of wet hair flying about, dry skin cracking in the wintery breeze, and the damned jet lag leaving you like a zombie every morning. Approaching people is daunting, your low voice could reveal your fear, and you never know if the old man returning your smile is being polite or responding to a whole different social cue.

So it was for me. I encountered folks walking in tank tops and shorts, running in speedos with dogs on their tail, and striding in suits and pointed shoes with a McDonald’s bag in their hands. Should I smile? Nod? Purse my lips and raise my eyebrows, ‘Sup?

I’d no idea. Oh, and sunglasses. I couldn’t guess if people were making eye contact or staring at the patch of autumnal trees over my head. Most times, they didn’t even see me. Being short doesn’t help.

What did help, though, was volunteering. I found a co-operative shop and cafe in town. A small non-profit organisation with a massive potential and an ambition to match. It’s a great place to work too. I dropped by one day to check it out. And a few days later, I was in the kitchen peeling onions.

It was the least I could do to help with the onion marmalade. I peeled about fifty onions—red, brown, and white. And all the while, I was making friends out of people I’d never met before. Like those onions, we all came from various places, too. It wasn’t much, but it sure seemed like the beginning another friendship.

Here we go again.

Is a song

This way or that
all ways are right
as fluid as gender
not rigid as religion
both lengthy and short
some symmetric and not
home to the iambs and i ams
tolerant of unknown licenses
inclusive of worldly cultures
comments sensible or otherwise
the backbone of every tradition
is a song, a poem, a hearty welcome