Jedi Skills of Grace, My Chinese-Buddhist Sister ☊
I return, lunch consumed.
There’s still time before the
Dalai Lama’s public
Grace’s smile radiates greeting,
as she beckons me
with her hand.
“Join us” she instructs.
Curious, my face questions -
“We go see Dalai Lama:
special group meeting."
No hesitation – I join.
Back of the arena,
we file through double-doors
They close behind us,
and we wait corridor corralled,
expectant with hope and excitement.
I chat to Grace, I chat to others,
group majority are strangers to me.
As I stand in my new herd,
a feeling gradually becomes conscious:
my normally diminutive height, now,
sees me with my head above the crowd.
It dawns on me that I’m the
ONLY white person here,
everyone else is Chinese!”
I look back to the doors -
should I retreat/escape?
But the group is moving,
I’m caught in the rip-tide;
no use resisting, I’ll see
where it takes me.
Security looks serious:
black suits and glasses,
big shoulders, folded hands,
wires curling from ears,
observant, trained to spot
anomalies, like me.
He steps in.. to..I don’t know…
I suspect interrogate or extricate,
but Grace dismisses him with
a wave of her hand, and the words:
“She part of our group."
Security steps back, echoing:
“She’s part of the group."
We continue along
white winding passages,
until we reach backstage doors.
We are about to enter the room
where we’ll meet His Holiness.
Again we have to pass security.
Different, but the same:
suit, glasses, shoulders, hands,
wires, and me: white and wide-eyed.
He steps forward to waylay me.
But Grace is there with her Jedi skills.
It is as if she’d trained under Obi-Wan,
her “She with group” translating to
“These are not the droids you’re looking for,"
he repeats and steps aside…we enter.
His Holiness speaks in Tibetan,
his translator repeats in Mandarin,
Grace whispers English in my ear.
He holds hands with Grace, as he
moves amongst us, photos are taken,
and his robed attendants
give us blessing pills.
I’m heartened by his youthfulness -
soft, glowing skin, so healthy.
But, all too soon he has to leave
to take the stage once more.
In the quiet that follows, I ask:
“Grace, I wasn’t supposed
to be here, was I?”
She looks puzzled, I continue:
“the meeting.. was for Chinese.”
She frowns at me, wags her finger.
Etiquette of time and place no matter,
as she remonstrates:
“YOU know better – we all same heart!”
A working autumn morning,
I await my comforting porridge,
with its thick nurturing texture,
such hearty oatiness,
with levity provided
by some five a day berries.
I check my phone: first service
a volley of messages, I return -
now temporary peace before
the racket strikes again.
Then I’m served with my
Grandma’s favourite start
to the day, as steam rushes
upwards to greet my hungry smile.
“Did you find the place alright?”
A man and woman take the adjacent table:
“Yes, no trouble at all."
By their tone, I infer they are strangers
meeting for the first time.
I look at the sapphire-rubied berries
taking pride of place in the heated
ooze of oaty nourishment.
I stir the berry jewels into the molten
mixture, and watch them lighten
into a rose quartz ripple.
Too hot to taste, I check my phone -
again, as odd strands of words
penetrate my cafe solitude:
“Submission” is mentioned
I stir my porridge some more,
and curl my spoon around
the edge of the bowl to
sup the cooler mixture.
Ah, instant satiation.
“My wife’s not adventurous..
I’ve tried to spice things up..”
I’m attempting not to listen,
I want to enjoy my own
sweet fruitiness, so I stir
and taste again.
She speaks, as if interviewing him,
an intimate, but public interrogation:
“So what kind of things do you like?”
and gets an unoriginal reply:
“sexy lingerie." I sip my chai latte,
as I try to regain my mindful eating,
but apparently her underwear:
“is a bit meager at the moment,"
but she’ll “find something” he’ll like.
A previously undiscovered treasure
has been disturbed by my spoon,
a cluster of berries reveal their dark
and purple-red luster.
I stir them in and eat again.
“I’ll look into motels with day rates that
aren’t too sleazy." He responds with:
“That would be really great” -
it sounds like a real estate transaction.
My stomach feels fuller, which
is nothing compared to my ears.
“Am I what you expected?”
she asks an awkward silence.
Not much of my porridge remains,
I’ll soon be done, but now they
are discussing the need for “storage?"
All finished, I push the bowl away.
There’s no flirting, no teasing, no play -
just talk of getting down to business.
As I come to leave, I remark to myself
that even dogs at least sniff each others butts
The wrong vehicle for this town ☊
It was summer in a new town,
in a new house, in a new life.
A township full of conservative
Real men have chainsaws,
and women bake and love their..
I had my hundred year old roof
replaced by a local man.
With weeks of work and
weeks of tea drinking
out on my shaded verandah,
he was an easy going mate,
we would chat about..
nothing in particular,
my intellect relaxed,
I felt grounded in his
If I drove the right vehicle,
he’d have invited me to
join the lads for a beer,
and a game of cards.
But it’s a small town,
old social rules still apply -
I drive the wrong vehicle,
with my smackable rear bumper,
and my front airbags
I hid inside the house
the day his wife called on him.
I feared my own
non-existent threat of
being an apparently single,
liberal lady, of
I hid..because..all I wanted
was a friendly smile, and for him to
fix my gutter five years from then.
The Wrong Winter
I wish for a winter walk.
Not the cool, clear, sun-burning walk of the blue skied South,
but the bladder tightening winter of the North, where...
Blood brambles through hedgerowed fingers pricked with frost,
leaves crack, twigs snap, echoing the rise and fall of brittle bone,
as each breath smokes numb, chill-toed warnings.
Branches, sparse stage, for a frugal Robin’s
solitary song of seasonal poverty,
bow humble, unlike..
Proud Ponga, warrior Nikau – always fully robed,
leaving me.. ever-green for a British winter.
(Ponga: New Zealand tree fern; Nikau: New Zealand’s only endemic palm tree.)
Betty Stogs on Modern Life ☊
Well, I never, you could blow me over wiv a f’ver,
that be ‘free I’ve seen: “Early Childhood Education Centre”.
You say you cans go leave ‘me all day -
bless me soul, it won’t like this in my day.
I’ves never seen anything like it, I can tell ya,
nippers..to be left wiv all these strangers.
Muvers workin’ – you be pullin’ me leg right?
“Gender equality!”, I’ve ‘eard too much tonight,
and to fink, back in the day, I caused such a furor,
‘coz of that time when the faeries came to my door.
I ‘ears there be these “latch key kids”
coming home alone – well, I never did!
We never even had a latch, you’d just walk right on in.
Mind you, if I’d a latch ‘twould never been the ‘appening:
I’ll give ‘em this, those faeries knows ‘ow to wash a baby,
found ‘im in the grass all sweet scented like a ‘oneybee.
Oh I, they did bathe ‘im well, ’twas proper job -
don’t look at me likes I’m a bad ‘un, just shut your gob.
I ’twere a time when fairies came by,
now there’s no sign, not even in the sky.
‘Stead you got perverts and neighbourhood fiends,
well, I can tell you I knew nothing but friends.
The thought of women workin’, makes me rather sad -
I reckons, I waz a good muver, I didn’t do bad.
Quiet now – I hear a sound: autumn rustling at my door.
Strange dog of cold air rushes up to lick my face with chilled breath.
I spy a bag: gift full of fall’s fallen apples and feijoas.
The Poetry Troll
The Poetry Troll
lives in a hole named: “Provocation,"
under a metaphorical bridge
over the River Torment,
where torrents of flowing fish
find their words viscerally baited
by the troll’s obnoxiously hooked lines.
Swim upstream, reach higher, higher
take our rhyme schemes out of reach,
where the troll’s thoughts can’t impeach
through integrity’s safely hidden brier.
There you will see the harmlessness of this poetry troll,
for s/he’s nothing other than a bore and so incredibly dull.
erect in purple display,
filling expanse of air
with vulgar perfume
of your brothel odour -
offend me no more,
your bloom is over -
give me withering peace.
Recalling now so hazily:
Sunday spent so daisily.
Sitting smiling for all I’m worth,
feet firm on the drying earth.
Toes’ webbing grass tickled,
skylark’s song sky trickled.
Eyes fixed on the firmament,
finding relaxed temperament.
Sunday spent so daisily;
recalling now so hazily.
She sighs at all the bloody past -
then sips coffee, eats choc-o-late -
relieved she never played a part.
She sighs at all the bloody past,
when slaves sailed under English masts,
torn from family far a part.
She sighs at all the bloody past -
then sips coffee, eats choc-o-late.