Eating & Drinking

The Igloo

Outside the igloo he waited
for an invitation to come inside.
There was no knocker, no doorbell.
He coughed, there was no reply.

He crouched down and peered in.
He felt the warm air from a fire
pat his cheeks and ruffle his hair.
Hello he said quietly and repeated it.

The frost in his toes urged him in,
so did the pain in his gut. His knees
one by one welcomed the snow
and brought him into the warmth.

Eating Together

I know my friend is going,
though she still sits there
across from me in the restaurant,
and leans over the table to dip
her bread in the oil on my plate; I know
how thick her hair used to be,
and what it takes for her to discard
her man’ s cap partway through our meal,
to look straight at the young waiter
and smile when he asks
how we are liking it. She eats

In the Year of “No Work”

I would drive the pre-dawn dark to stake
my spot to fish for dinner, to numb my hands in the ice
bucket, to pluck, from the neat stack, a herring,
to fit the skullcap and pierce the eye with a toothpick,
the body double-hooked, my fingertips glimmering
with the scales of the dead while the line whined free
from the reel, and the bait arced out over the tidal current
on a point in view of   the town where I lived,

The Persians by Archilochos

Someone said you were dead
it’ s not that I didn’ t care
You were not bacterial
You were not frozen water in winter
You were not a hairbrush broken by hair
You were a treasure of gold in the world-toilet
For you appraised the world of grains
And flung the earth to the earth
The good wine is mixed with the bad wine,
come to the wine jar’ s lips and let’ s unmix it
Poor people only have one soul
but you and I have two
let’ s go on vacation to Mexico or Rome
Everybody returns home

At the Pub with the Museum Staff

As if  anyone has the desire   ...
Vickey trailed off, pouring another lager

There'll be nothing left
But fur and bone, as my lawyer once explained

To my ex, she resumed, tapping a long cigarette
On the bar. My, you're a bit snarky tonight

Said Luther. Maybe you need a change of  venue,
A beach with your breath on it

Oh, she replied, nodding towards the far corner booth,
These writers are so obnoxious

I wish they'd find a new place to complain.
Ha, said Hillary, they wouldn't know a good story

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The first day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.

The second day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

The third day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

The fourth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Four colly birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.


Your mother’ s in the kitchen and out
and in again. It’ s all about them.

They’ ve taken over like the dark cloud
hanging low over the back yard,

a fat aunt coming in for a hug.
Enough’ s enough. The door opens:

new guests flow in as the old
back you up like mangroves.

Why get dressed up to stay in?
Pretend to befriend other children

because they have been dumped next to you?
Resistance, then fire, then to your room

without toys. Later, it’ ll be the boys
to whom your friends will cater,

Arlene and Esme

In our house we live with Arlene. My little sister has a plan.
She has what they call a beginner’ s mind. She sees everything
from an un-given-up perspective. I’ m frightened; I know
Arlene better than anyone; she knows me better. Esme says
if I’ m scared we can’ t win. But I am scared. Arlene drags me
over to the window where the black mould has made
a map of Australia. Australia gives me trouble breathing,
it’ s so far away. Arlene points it out and I get the feeling
in my chest, my whole life in there twisted up like a snake.

Almost Nowhere in the World, as Far as Anyone Can Tell

It is pleasant, very pleasant, to sit at a wooden booth
surrounded by parrots, wheels, right-turning conch shells,
the victory banner and the endless knot,
the lotus, the treasure vase, the golden fishes —
is this not so? Is it not pleasant
to sip Tsingtao beer, or Zhujiang, or Yanjing,
and tap your fingers on the bamboo mats?
After we’ ve drunk enough, there will be Buddhist Delight,
Mongolian beef side dishes, a whole host of sauces,
even some pizza and chicken wings if children are present,