Tom's Poetry


Loss of Hearing

Evard Munch -- The Scream -- 1893, National Gallery, Oslo

There is a glint in your eye
and your mouth begins to wobble
and again I have to have
selective hearing,
feeling like a fish
cry at crazy radios.

I’ve learnt how to miss out
certain frequencies
the ones that shatter bones,
how to filter out the white noise
that kills all pleasant thoughts;
drowns happiness
in a haze of heartbeats.

Then the record player
right inside my head
is kicking into action:
Brahm’s 83 concerto
and the piano sings
"Life is just a circus".

I know now how to
muzzle firm my mouth
and muffle up my mind
to prevent the words that come
angry as dogs barking
always later sorry
wishing things unsaid...

Maybe sign language,
Maybe smiles and laughter.


Reason Why

I knew there was a Reason
I never played with Dolls

My sister had those Dolls
always happy where
their plastic cheeks
and their instant hair
went from dark to fair
straight to curly….
Every time, she tried to make them speak
no words came out their puffy mouths
and instead their limbs would squeak.

Sometimes she would take
their bodies all apart
and then begin to cry
puzzled by the piles
of sockets and connectors
that resulted….I was exalted
when I stuck them back again
-not too many parts-
and most of them
were strangely hollow
I remember, especially the dolls
which would pee on your knee
could not hold food,
not even milk.

Other Dolls had pointy breasts
and waxen legs
sometimes tricky
to squeeze in and
out of swimsuits.
Last she would take off
the socks which never smelled
-those intricate rituals of striptease-
seducing Ken or was it Jack?
Though anatomically correct
she could never mate
their blank and shiny surfaces.

…and my sister must have known by then,
these dolls couldn’t do a single thing
and their ever smiling faces
were often hiding
streams of leaky tears.
Their marble eyes rolled out
when she was tapping
on their egg-shell skin
and this love for dolls
I thought was really thin
but then she had to learn
where to begin
to be a girl
playing Doll
by herself.


Deep Waters

Neither harbor nor anchor-hold
Tempestuously rolling or in placid waters
Changing waves lap around the ship
And finger the vessel for response.

These planks were put together,
God knows how and when,
Waxed firm by tradition and good sense.
We can not change them around
Out on endless ocean plains.

For we are a construction,
Like a compass needle
Finely balanced
Between horizon, sun, the stars
And the deep black sea.

Opaque layers far below
Mold upper waters
Belly-washing the boat
And dreams surface
Like terrible bloated fish
Cast from the dark.

Slipping overboard
Could you float on the ocean’s silver skin
Like a straw in summer lakes
Or will you ride among the wave crests tall
As a skater dances on the ice
Or skip over these waters vast… laughing…
Like the puddles in the road
When you were a child….

When you were a child….
And knew nothing
Of these waters deep
and the possibilities
you have learnt to ignore
when you set your sails
and chart your course
with your mind tuned
to this ship of yours…

...You are a construction,
Like a compass needle
Finely balanced
Between horizon, sun, the stars
And the deep black sea.


For Tao: The Smile of Tears

A clear moon smoothes
your oceans made of tears
Dry your eyes and calm all
needless waves:

You’ll see endless possibilities
will glitter in its shine
like young fish spawning
joy inside your mind.


Dubbed conversation…

I tried to explain to her
for the seventh bloody time!!
but my lips, they didn’t move
to any of the words
I had to say.

In these situations
she always countered in a language
no man can understand.

It’s like being part of a bad movie
I thought…all gone out of frame
and I was desperately trying to remember
the time before this BABEL happened to us
damn that stupid slip of mine!

Then suddenly
we smiled in synchrony…



(after the poem "Stufen" by H.Hesse)

As every flower withers and every youth
Is lost to age, flowers every step of life,
Flowers every wisdom too and every virtue
In its own time and must not last forever.
Like a garden by the seasons changes
The body is drawn on to growth and then decay.
As you yearn to span your finest petals towards the sun,
When it is time, gladly let them go
And drop them in earth’s mud again.

With every pace on the path there is a new potential
To use to your favour in harmony with nature.
Happy should we stride from room to room
Clinging to none as if our home;
Fate does not tie or narrow
But wants to lift us, step by step, and widen.
So neither stumble circles in your doubtful past,
Nor sprint towards illusions of your future times.

In perception of reality there is neither good nor bad...
And the piercing chains and crushing stones,
Like pleasure, love or beauty
Should be but fleeting residents of our minds.
Accept them now and live as one,
In readiness for new beginnings and departures,
Without the sadness but the courage
So that the steps are easy;
For in every step there is a miracle
As long as you have the will to let it be.


The Snowflake

I stood, gazing up to heavens - grey
I saw, thick white drifting ... down
Dazzling in my eyes
And forming into tiny fluff
... it fell.

Focusing on one most delicate
I watched, the small sphere dancing
down in harmonious curves on the jostling wind
...such a fine substance.

In panic probing the air
In vain I tried to grasp
This beauty floating past
Caught, it would not last
The tender warmth of these,
... my trembling hands.

Always perfect in its crystal shapes
The wondrous blue did melt
To those uncertain drops
That smeared into my palms and
... just dripped down.

Or still in the terror of its fall
It inevitably hit the ground
Crashed without a sound
There, as hard as I did poke about
I failed to spot the dying soft
... in the sadly melting masses-dirt.

Again I stand in snow and try to grasp
A million minute flakes are mingling fast
Yet all I get is wet and cold
Until I am dying, until I am old
Still dreaming with those illusions
Living in a world without conclusions.



My love was like a leaf.
You were the sun.

In spring you made me bud
burst out green with energy
unfolding fast my hand
spreading wide my skin
to capture all
the little warmth
you let slip out
into a wintry sky.

In summer we felt strong
my head turned crazy
stretching stem and palm
to track your face that ran
from horizon to horizon
from the morning to the night.

Then, you blazed with mid-day heat
a beat so fierce with intense rays
you made me limp,
and sucked me dry at times.
Yet strong we were
dancing in the wind
to our special song:
I the substance
you, the light and air.
Embracing one other…
I didn’t mind the rain
pelting down with rainbow colours;
shook off the spiders and ants too.

But your beaming stopped
no longer reached
into my fingers tips.
Autumn winds were tearing
at my bony veins, ripped
away my summer skin.
We both blushed
as if ashamed.
Too much truth and lies
deep lines in our faces.
I fell to the ground.

You never shone upon my dying limbs
never saw the bugs and beetles
raze away our memories
leaving just the pain.

Winter came.


You Gotta Have Balls

You gotta have Balls
my Granddad said
or you cannot win.
Son! When you jump in,
you either sink or swim
or drive the motorboat.

You see,
Physics has shown
nothing happens
simply on its own.
Balls, those round things
roll and fly by,
unpredictably for sure,
like falling in love

You gotta have Balls
my Granddad said
or you cannot love.
Son! Only, those
who keep on kissing
sometimes get kissed back again;
and those who keep on missing
are still standing in the rain!

Sure the world is full
of frogs and witches
and who we are,
we cannot tell
till someone rings
a bell, gives us hell
or piping cappuccino!

You gotta have Balls
my Granddad said
or you cannot live.
You have to give
what it takes
laugh till it breaks
be a little crazy
forgive odd mistakes
see things upside down
and sob like a clown.

Granddad said:
We can be old
for the rest
of our lives.

Play Ball-



Out on Mass Ave.

(…first driving lesson of a 23 year old).

I am a conscientious objector
to cars.

They stuff the air
with monoxide
litter on the landscape
tarmac grids
and steal the fuel
that should have kept
my grandchild warm.
Archeologists of the 23rd century
will find a world of rubber tires....

But, hey, this is America
without a car
you don't exist....
you have no license
for your life.

Cannot shop decently
Cannot get to work
Cannot see the sea
Cannot seduce girls
Cannot feel some power
to be free.

So I finally get behind the wheel
of a car
20 bucks an hour
having answered questions
every baby knows
when it has seen a traffic light
go red or green.

Pakistani instructor says:
That is for the gas
These are the brakes
and here is how you steer...
now…out on Mass Ave.

Turn left….




Sister Dear

From the same womb after me
shouldn't we be similar ?
Hardly - since you
ridicule my smile like this
look down, with disinterest in my life.
Object to my being.

I hate when you
offer me banana skin
tell a pack of lies
amplify my faults and
scream your head off
with blatant imprecision
insisting you are right
because Peking is in Switzerland
AND bully your big brother just like this

Sister, you, I hate you



Where are you?

Where are you?
Why can I find you not - today?
How will I know my destiny
unfolding in your eyes
when I see them
once again?

I miss you so much -
it’s the sadness not to share
and madness not to understand
this part of our lives

Like my tears
the years
are tumbling by
and by and by

Where are you?


Disney World

Taking off with Peter Pan
Goofed about
Alice lost
Pinnocio’s nose
Twenty thousand leagues
below Black Mountain nerves
I think I saw a Cheshire cat
chase a plastic pirate pig
underneath the fading painted stars
and you began to castle glow
in electric light parades
though the apple poisoned queen
turned you toady green…
but every night there is a firework
and the carrousel rumbles
like 50 years ago.

Mickey is big here
and I became small -
a child again.



We think alike
you and I:
Our thoughts move
as white clouds do
in a sunny sky,
in the same direction,
indistinct, yet
all so clear.

Like young fish
dancing - flirting
in a crystal stream
we finish off
each others sentence
with words
we do not need
to say -
- minutes
of phone silence:
I take a breath for you,
can hear your smile.

There is no need for dates
for watches or for diaries
because the doves
that rush between us
tell us where to meet
and when.

They race along the airwaves
like the music of your voice,
every second of the day
there is something
of you
with me-
what, I can not say.

Then, a cupid’s arrow hits my brain…
and again, I have to call
the number in my fingertips
when the phone starts ringing…



Stroke & Six            Nebulous between banks unseen
                        I sit in the middle
                        a dream come true
                           - freezing waters gushing by -
                        and gasp in spasms - how? -
                        to catch on time ... the biting air. 
                           - things he can not do -
Stroke                  Pluck out your heart and drown in shame ...
                        in the fog ... somewhere commands are whispered,
                        he doesn't understand, but jangle in their ears ...
                        somehow ... forever.
Stroke Bow!             Boggle her mind;
                        megaphone voices mingle in the distance - where? -
                        synchronised with creaking oars - very strange -
                        in blurred bright of shadows gaping wide.
Stroke                  Cracking their bones
                        and he sees the backs of those - no one knows another -
                            - Names he can't remember - 
                        running their lance into his spine - who? -
                        and vanishing ... politely.
FIRM PRESSURE           1 Life is loneliness ... 2 to wander round invisible,
                        3 Bash out the light ... 4 so sad to see her fade away,
                        5 Go somewhere ... she 6 ... can not see ... her destiny... 7,
                        8 nobody knows ... and then remember 9 to be on time
                             - when - as no one will follow her ... to do
                        what's to be done ... 10 ... alone.
Single strokes          Dew drops blind my eyes ... to chase ideals ...
                        Seen the dark side? We are certain it must be real.
                        Let's have a nightmare ... this is a confused account.
Stroke!                 Moisture looming low infects the soul - what? -
                        and stops my breathing ... to gobble
                        down the sweat and spit out ...
                        the blood.
Stroke                  Drill on his nerves and grind through the skull
                             - freezing waters gurgle by - not really as nearly ... 
                        drifting through the white walls ... she long forgot ...
                        and eye the mist, tired ghost ...
                        and be ready in time to stroke,
                        with the pale moon lurking down
                        the blades are slicing through the water
                        racing ... just as all, we 
                        together in a boat fatigued
                        and yet everyone
                        is on his own
                        in dreaded mist
                        to stroke
                        on time


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