Romance on the High Seas
and Others


Romance on the High Seas

Met her in an ice cream parlour at the beginning of Saint Laurent’s street, Montreal, where houses were modest and people spoke French, yes, it was a fine day in May. Her name was Lisa and she had a mystic smile; we went for a walk,  soon our hands were entwined. Saint Laurent is a long street, andwe strolled to where houses are big, have shards of glass on top of walls, “Beware of the dog” on iron gates; farmland, trees, grazing cattle and cute horses; then we ambled back to the part where they spoke French.
In a gift shop I bought her a humble ring, it was small, but she put it on her little finger, we agreed to meet again when my ship returned, in a month or so, alas, the ship sailed for Europe and it was summer time.     

Twenty years is a long time, many people had died the world was renewing itself, I was now master ofmy own ship and finally docked in Montreal. Walked the long street again, so much had changed, modest houses gone, office blocks instead, the great homes,further up were now boardinghouses, full of people trying to learn English, and the farm land, exclusive suburbia, two cars in each driveway. Asked a lady, out walking her dog, if she was Lisa, surprised, she said yes and I told her my story, she wore a ring on her little finger, perhaps it was mine. “Lovely tale”she said,” but I’m not the Lisa you knew.” Wished me luck, walked her way. Four golden rings on a blue uniform , futile now that I shan’t see Lisa again.  



Tom, the Navigator

My friend, the first officer, Tom was an heroic looking navigator, wide legged he stood, as on a heaving deck, and a rolling gate that attracted the girls; soon he would be captain on his own ship. But Tom had a dream he wanted to be a lawyer, a spokesman for the deprived, so back to university he went studying law.      

Years later when I saw Tom again he was defending a drunk who had fallen asleep in a car not his, magisterial he was, only his client, now sober, looked embarrassed, the judge bored, both wished he would come to the point.
No cases had come his way to catch the eye of the press, aged and ponderous, yet still he waits for his big break.   

Tom, the blessed, man lives a dream protected by grand illusions, so what if he is a lousy lawyer?

Prey for the Hunter

Somewhere in Texas people with guns, they
don’t often get to use, pay good money to
hunt semi feral, free range pigs; easy target
fat and white, just wait behind a bush and
your killer instinct will soon be sated.  

In case you have wondered, there are black
pigs too, but they are not hunted, one has to
be careful these days, not to upset minorities;
they are, however, rounded up and clubbed
their meat is of great gourmet quality   



Not a Janus Mask

Drank wine and was dizzy for day, the African mask on the wall, woke to life, drumbeat, coconut oil and rum, said it was guys like me, Nordic missionary types, who had robbed him of dignity, land and language.

“But I have never been to Africa.” “Doesn’t matter
you are guilty by your society’s insensitivities to other cultures, and as you are a European, also anti Semitic, especially if you criticize Israel. 

“I resent what you said, but I defend your right to say it,” I uttered and offered the mask a glass of wine; which it declined, but whispered, under my breath, that it is difficult to be racial offensive to someone who is confident and proud of his ancestors travail.

“That remark shows how little you understand,” said the mask and spoke no more. Soundless, empty eyes, black as night, a soul had spoken…in vain?


Naked I a walked down the town’s avenue 
modestly held, the spring flowering twig, of
an almond tree, in front of me. Aware of my
vulnerability I scanned the eyes of passer byes,
not a flicker of surprise (was I not miffed?)
Everything went well confident again I could
smile to the world. At the fruit and vegetable 
market, a throng of people, I bought a pound of
new potatoes, (try sauté them in real butter)     
but since I didn’t carry a wallet gave the kind
lady my flowering twig. Turmoil, a naked man 
amongst us…and cold too by the looks of it;
derisive laughter. Tied to a donkey and pelted
with rotten fruit, slapped by leeks and celery,
I was chased out of town and into thorny bushes



Dance Around A Race

Naked, I walked down the town’s avenue 
modestly held, the spring flowering twig, of
an almond tree, in front of me. Aware of my
vulnerability I scanned the eyes of passer byes,
not a flicker of surprise (was I not miffed?)
Everything went well confident again I could
smile to the world. At the fruit and vegetable 
market, a throng of people, I bought a pound of
new potatoes, (try sauté them in real butter)     
but since I didn’t carry a wallet gave the kind
lady my flowering twig. Turmoil, a naked man 
amongst us…and cold too by the looks of it;
derisive laughter. Tied to a donkey and pelted
with rotten fruit, slapped by leeks and celery,
I was chased out of town and into thorny bushes

Fading Phantoms

To get into the flat, from the communal hallway, I had to go through the kitchen; empty, cooker, fridge gone, the living room was bare too furniture and travel books dumped on the rubbish tip by people who didn’t care to know how other folks live. No curtains, a shaft of light, unnerving silence, a hum that never changes beat; began when man picked an apple from a juicy tree and learned there is no free lunch and had to leave the enchanted, go plough meager soil; the hum will end when last man has gone and the light is switched off again.    

On the floor black framed a leaflet, psalms suitable for funereal: “Take my hand lord and lead me from
darkness to light” it struck me that the people I knew as a child, are now dead and forgotten, in my memory too, they are hazy figures; also the family ghost that used to open doors, blow cold air when I was alone, has left. Dropped the leaflet on the floor, which creaked as the burden of this world’s travail rested on it planks, so I left, didn’t close any doors, what’s the use, you see, my past is a dream and abstract is my future.



On this cold February day wind blows from
the North and my almond tree sings of love,
…unfulfilled, lost affection and undefined
longings; in the tree’s case not being able
to move, standing still all day with roots, not
entwined with the one you love, but to, say,
a staid olive perennial, gnarled and ugly to
look at. It hopes that its song and words of
love will be heard by the slender almond tree
in the next field, the one that wears pink
flowers, now in spring and stands too close
to a pompous oak where stygian ravens live.
Fret not my tree I’ve heard your words and   
and will relay your message at twilight time. 

The Striker

When death stalks, near the houses, it makes
us into ghosts that fearsome hide in shadows
as not to be seen, lest it should cast a viscous
eye upon us…and how wrong we are.

It is the light we should seek; celebrate spring,
chase death down the vale, throw into the sea
where it can drown in is own un-deadly- ness;  
so we can, for a moment, feel immortal.


Old Friend Gone

My old friend died suddenly, we used to go
drinking a lot when young, lately, however
I hadn’t seen much of him, as we get older
we ought to look after our friends they slip
away so easily. At the cemetery they took
the lid of the casket so we could have a last
look, peaceful, god had given him an easy
death; I could read in the faces of other old
men, dark dread; soon it would be one of
us, forever silent in a casket. The funereal  
had sharpened my senses children’s voices,
from the playground, and birdsong; spring
air clear, and I could see the hazy mountain
of my dreams and yearnings.          

Food for Thoughts

Five Spanish tomatoes on a chopping board,
four were used in a salad, the fifth was put
on a saucer and placed in the fridge, behind
a red skinned, well mannered, Edam cheese,
and a cheeky Danish blue.  

When found, a month later, it was wrinkled,
shrunken and had grown a grey flecked beard;
flung into the bin with potato peel and curled
up lettuce leaves; where it bitterly murmured:
longevity! What’s the point?          


Unsolved Theft

A big black bike, with frugal rubber tires
and an old fashion handlebar, is leaning
against the whitewashed wall this morning.

Someone had nicked it when going home
from the bar last night; so the thief lives in
one of the stone cottages around here.
The bike, that looks catholic, isn’t telling
made of hollow tubes, chains and rubber
it doesn’t really care who rides it.
Homes that look pretty as seen, hazily-and
at a distance- behind flowering almond trees
in the spring sun, have shuttered windows. 

The Peace

The upper village is morning cold, chimney smoke
rise in still air; dogs, that sleeps in sheds, sit now by the east wall huddled together facing the sun, see me and there are greetings, a slow wagging of tails.
The air is so incredible clear I can see the houses on
the slopes of the hazy mountain where dogs sit and
face the same sun; I know I’m witnessing a flick of
eternity when other people and their dogs will walk across the landscape and have the same dreams and hopes as we had. Pedro is outside smoking, his wife won’t let him smoke inside, turns the curtain yellow, she says, the tobacco aroma drifts my way, wonderful.
A peaceful pocket on earth, my valley is; but I do fear an easterly wind might bring the smell of cordite.   



The Philosophy of Loss

A thief came to our home, said he was
a shop-fitter, stole mother’s heart and
the savings she had in a jar; peed into
the kitchen-sink and left by the backdoor   
She cried, not too long and unseemly,   
a charming man had entered her dreary
poverty struck life; the money was
only worth two packets of cigarettes


Big house, many doors
Opened and closed them all,
Poetic curiosity.
The last door, blue, led into  
A room bare as naked truth.    

  The Deepest Pool

In the deepest black forest there is a tree
where wild boars come and rub their
behinds; you can still see, carved in its
bark, a heart with an arrow through it and
two names: Eva & Adolf. But it’s the dark
tarn that interest me the most, the world’s
missing people, lost thoughts and unwanted
memories, ends up here, which makes it’s
so water so nutrient that it can make Sahara
green and full of sweet potatoes. Thirsty for
knowledge I drank a cupped handful, and  
sixty five years history changed, but I can’t
come out and say so, if I do they will send
me to prison as a denier of official truths. 

The Sage

Train explosion in India, many dead and
wounded, black smoke, chaos and people
milling about; it was there on the news,
yet India, far from here, it looked unreal.
In the crowd I saw my brother, had been
dreaming of him all night, he didn’t look
like me, small white teeth glued to red
gums, in no special order; delicate hands. 

A learned man who lives on the flesh of
calves, and drink goat milk for breakfast.
He looked straight at the camera willing
me to recognize his existence, I looked
down, put two teaspoon full of sugar in
my coffee and when I looked up he had
disappeared into the noisy crowd, and it
was time for the weekend’s football results.    

Night Walker

Night waits for me to come, walk in its
deep shadow, to admire the way it
accentuate streetlight, makes neon signs
shine on damp asphalt, shuts out noises
and subdues the sirens of an ambulance;
cloaks me in security, unseen by prying
eyes, and the echo of lonely footsteps is
another dreamer. Yet, for all this, night
too pales when meeting dawn that takes
me on a ride through an irresistible day.


It would have been nice to have a horse,
ride gently into the sunset instead of
walking in an endless street with houses
that suffers from terminal boredom, and
sense the breath of angst behind flowery
curtains. A walker can be a stalker, eyed
with suspicion, perhaps it’s poverty, not
enough money for the bus; get him out of
here. A horse is a status symbol we know
the rider has a Rolls Royce parked in his
garage, so we smile and silently curse,
the rich bastard. However, on the pampas
of Argentine, everyone has got a horse, so
theirs is an equal society… then.    


Our Neglected Children

Tough kid, sat in a tree, ate a red squirrel,
of its fur she made a cute little hat.
“Laura, is my name,” she shouted, took aim
and shot arrows through open windows,
a menace, terrorizing our neighbourhood.

Special police came, firepower displayed to
an adoring crowd of rebel haters, chased
Laura up a mountain, they did, where she
vanished in a shaft of light; but they arrested
her mother, for keeping an imp in the house 


“I’m a chicken, come eat me.” Painted on
the supermarket’s fence, near the entrance.
Hooligans, teenagers shouldn’t be allowed
to buy spray paint; employees try to scrub
antisocial graffiti off with soap and water.  

Other people think it rather funny I bask in
their applause, but say nothing, not even
make a hint, it was exciting getting up in
the middle of the night… wearing a hood, 
thousand shoppers have read my message.    


The Long Road

Winding mountain road, shingles and sand,
murky afternoon, the sky leaks ink soon it
will be night, the boy drives too fast, he’s
hungry and wants to get home, later he’s
meeting his girlfriend, Saturday and dance.
It was silly really, goat on the road, should
have seen it before, he braked too hard, car
skidded, lost control. The fall was long, took
an eternity, down a canyon, where a river
waited. The goat on the road forlorn baaed,        
alone and lost from its flock  

The Lonely Heart

Ten years now, since they gave me her heart,
eighteen, so very young, had she been free she
would have been married, one or two children,
a mortgaged home (a husband too) not a caged
bride in the cavity of an old man’s chest.

Been thinking of her often lately, fallen in love
with her and that is a foolish thing to do, she
urgently wants to leave; blue lights and sirens,
if the doctors can sway her to stay a bit longer
I’ll let her dream her own dreams.    



Ink drips from sky
Obscuring mountains and lakes.
Moonless night.  

The lone seagull
That flies low over a fiord
Is a timeless echo   


Poor Little Ones

Since a child of four nearly drowned in the town’s little lake in the park, it has been filled in and painted green, now it’s the only place in town where children are allowed to bicycle providing they wear helmets and knee pads, if not their bikes are confiscated and irresponsible parents fined. Ornamental ponds in private gardens too have been cemented over, but there is a choice of paint, red, green, sea-blue or nursery pink.

It is also against the law to climb trees, as children may fall and break a leg, a tree found to be climbed on will be cut to winter wood by men wearing yellow vests, ditto helmets and in charge of a chainsaw. However, there is also an indoor gym where children can climb up rubber trees and if they fall they land on the softest foam; they fall all the time, a proof that they should never been allowed near a real forest.  


Lost Recollections

Couldn’t find my car looked everywhere, main roads, side streets, alley ways and the back of closed down warehouses by the docks where old cars, once a family’s pride, are dumped; and memories of Sunday outing ends as bird droppings and flat tyres Silence, no one about only immobile autos, I must be dreaming, tried to wake up, couldn’t, unmoving as an abandoned family saloon could not move a muscle; a scream, as someone sinking in a mist of bland oblivion   brought me back from the precipice of permanent unconsciousness. Icicle hung from the ceiling, my bed was cold it gave me no comfort,
crept to the terrace to draw nutrition from the new day.       


The small trout in the creek stood still
looking at me, a fearless gaze it had;
as I made a face it flicked its tail, stuck
my tongue out, another flick.

A dream had come true I was having
a conversation with a fish, recited an
epic poem: “Terje Viken” by Henrik  
Ibsen, its tail flicked no ends. 

Bubbles to surface, it spoke to me, but
a big shadow came behind it, too late;
the tiny fish was eaten by a big one that
didn’t have the gift of speech 


Hug a Star

A tiny star, kicked out of the Milky-way by
a bigger one, envious of its delightful shine;
fell to earth, landed in a cove, lit the sea where
ugly fish, looking as cartoon capitalists, swam. 

Pulled the star on to a beach that surrounded by
palm looked like a fairytale; I fell in love, but not
with anyone in particular, as female fireflies
drifted among, the trees secretive and ageless.    

Towards dawn the star paled into a grey slab,
of stone, excellent for gutting fish, a suited man
came, said the cove was now the property of  
a hotel chain and I was kicked off their beach.        

The Tribe

Under canvas in the rain, their horses tethered
safely beneath the thick branches of carob trees;
difficult days for the Roma tribe who wander
their way deep in the landscape, but at the outer    
edges of our regimented, intolerant society.  

When the weather clears and they’ll ramble
again there will be rubble on the ground they
briefly occupied and the locals will complain:
“those dirty people they have no respect for
other peoples property, see this mess   

White bellies of dead fish in rivers and lakes
float down to an lifeless ocean, greenhouse
gases, trading in emissions, more hurricanes,
floods and needless wars, but the Roma people
treks on, oblivious to our plight     



Hospital Surrounded by

Doctors’ surgery
Full of unspoken worries
Telling silence. 



When sun left   
Ice roses appeared
On windows.



Mother had a picture, in a golden frame,
on the wall, of a boy in his coffin, tried not
to look but my eyes strayed and the boy’s
stillness frightened me. 

Yet, she refused to take it down: “It’s good
for us to be reminded of our mortality,” she
said, young then and death was something
that happened to other people.   

Years passed, the picture still hung there,
if forgotten, till cancer snatched my brother,
then she took the picture down and burnt it,
but sensible kept the frame  


Sonnet to a Film-Star

It wasn’t her creamy body that caught
my attention, nothing unusual about it,
curvaceous, yes, but going soft. It was
her eyes, in a blink, they were blue,
green or brown depending on her mood
that changed faster than traffic lights
on Sunset Boulevard, between laughter,
pain and suspicion. I could see her soul
wide open eyes; they killed her slowly,
those famous men who wouldn’t let her
grow, a dumb blond forever. If I met her
I could have made her happy, but when
I found the courage to ring her doorbell,
Marilyn wasn’t around anymore





The Day Of reckoning

It rained when I went ashore, miserable, grey drizzle lasting for days making people indoor pale and righteous. Met a woman in a pub, she had a tart’s fallen face, which made her interesting, most of her had fallen too, but dressed in black she looked ok and she lived just around the corner… In her cups she was frivolous and we did things I had only read about in books, thought she was wonderful asked her to marry me. It was afternoon, next day and still drizzly, when I went down to the docks, my ship had left, my suitcase packed, just as well the thought of sailing on a winter ocean in the company of gossipingNorwegian seafarers and their narrow minded ship world, was a sacrifice I needn’t carry.. Pessimistically sober now I winced at the thought of going back to the quiche in black, booked into a hotel and went to bed with a bottle of rum.