5min pressing a day (#456)


The Emperors soldiers
crouched over their orders
squinting at an unfolded sheet of paper

Moisture has gotten-in
to the message
the ink has run away
hiding in the corners

Between them they cannot agree
on what the message says
neither can clearly
read what is written

Siege of the Head
Siege of the Heart

What do you think it says?

Their younger
upstart assistant interlopes

Obviously they are communicating
using any means possible
as long as they are not using words
or language

That is what this conflict is about

But the words are here
on the paper
though not clear

Ink escapes the paper
into the creases of their fingers

No – in the siege
of the head
of the heart
it is communication that is missing

Is that a tear in your eye ?

Language and ink
run down their arms
inside their serge jackets
recoiling slightly

The wind blows the rain this way
it is difficult
to see
to adequately shield your eyes…

Much less understand this convoluted message

We will never run out of salt
that is the message relayed
from the chief

We will never run out of salt
so keep looking into that
awkward wind

It is always raining
somewhere in the world
it is night-time

The soldiers will maintain the siege
not really knowing
what it is about

Ink forming a small puddle
at their feet

The older, hardened soldiers
shoo away the young upstart
as they slowly turn to stone

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5min pressing a day (#455)


The trains passengers throw
small pieces of paper out the windows
for the duration of
the long trip to Siberia

Looking back at them
to see if they will fly

Some would dab their eyes with them
wipe away their tears
imprint them
with red lips
write messages
a call for help
the story of their life
how it is
that they happen to be here
before whispering on them
blowing a kiss
then letting them go

No-one knows what will happen next
they will find out when they get there

For many days and nights
tracking through the Siberian Tiaga

For some it seems like one long night

No-one knows what will happen next
today is their only day

Travelling inland
plants appear
like dreams unable to grow
in the cold winter

It is the middle of summer
and still they don’t grow

The railway lines are decorated
with bits of paper
the wind carries some of them away
but not all

The locals find them
but cannot read what they say
a language they don’t know
they will concoct their own stories
stories that will suit their needs

They recognise only the shape of lips
and the taste of tears

That is enough for them

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5min pressing a day (#454)


in the middle of the night

Walking around the room
bumping into things
in the dark

It is Mrs Kim
in her bedroom
she is withholding her affections

Punishing us all

Most of all punishing
Uncle George

Since January 24th

Yes – for over fifty years

There has been no improvement

He didn’t go
to her birthday party
under orders
from the commandant

No one knows why
the commandant made that order

She never before
gave that order
and never has since

Uncle George
brought an olive branch
every day

When his tree had been
he would bring them from the park

Then he found a whole hillside covered
in olive trees

It wasn’t enough

Mrs Kim subscribes to the
‘Constant battle theory
of relationship management’

Even when Uncle George started importing olive branches
from Palestine
in spite of the siege and blockade
it wasn’t enough

When they ran out
importing them from
from Greece and Italy

No improvement

He didn’t really know what to do either

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5min pressing a day (#453)


The train to Siberia will take
a few days to get there

Days – weeks – months – years

They pile up in a big heap by the door
sometimes hoping that someone will come
in the dead of the night
and steal them

For a while passing through
our familiar world
before turning and steaming into unknown lands

In the saloon there is ribald drunkenness
songs of a gloriless life

With a lump in my throat
I cannot sing
this song

There is a layer of the song stuck
in my stomach
caught in my throat
sticking to the saloon walls

Everyone else seems to know the words

There is a small hole in the roof
a porthole
a portal

Through which one can climb
onto the roof
for a better view

Of the frozen sky

Stars shining down on us
perhaps they are looking

Once I had an olive tree
giving away olive branches
without second thoughts
this will surely bring peace
to the world

Giving everything away
it became a stump
there will be no more olive branches

In the cold wind
my eyes
will freeze

New branches will grow
in the fullness of time

Maybe we will find an olive tree
amongst the cedars
in Siberia

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5min pressing a day (#452)


Like a sack of potatoes
old ones
shrivelled, with a thick layer
of dirt
on the outside
leathery skin
with sprouts appearing

Like a sack of potatoes
they might throw us on the train
or if no trains are running that day
on the back of a lorry

They will send us to Siberia

Forget your sorrows in Siberia

The locals say
you will become acclimatised
forget your sorrows
in Siberia

They don’t wear shoes
not even in winter

They accuse the weather of being

Everyone you meet says
it is lovely there
you will grow to like it

It is always people
who take holidays
staying in luxury resorts
who say that

They will rub salt
into your wounds

Then squeeze you
mercilessly wringing the salt out again

There always seems to be
more salt
comes out
goes in

Eventually you will be preserved
in a pile of salt

The locals prefer to be preserved
in vodka
in jars with a white label
contents hand-scripted on the side
in scratchy ink pen

Species, genera and name

I would have preferred
to have been preserved
in a pile of rose petals

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5min pressing a day (#451)


There are occasions when
a bolt of lightning falls
even the closest of friends

Scorching the ground
on which they stand

Those with their feet
wide apart
suffer the most

Keeping your feet close together
toes touching toes
is most recommended

Even the closest of friends
seem to have a gap
a space
between them

A thin film
of affection
of electricity
a few atoms thick
perhaps five
or ten atoms
no more

Lightning carefully arches
to avoid the cyclamen
in a pot
out enjoying the afternoon

Friends burned beyond crispy
a pile of ashes

Maybe finally resting
on the bookshelf
not far from Shakespeare

It is amazing
that the lightning managed
to miss everyone else

Even as they shared the same space

Running along the ground
before turning
to disappear into the earth

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5min pressing a day (#450)


It was hard work
the piano
up the path
to the clifftop

Overlooking the South Sea

A perfect spot
for a recital

The afternoon
will bounce off the sea
everything will be bathed in light

No-one knows who the light belongs to

Surely one day
someone will claim it

waves rubbing against the shoreline
cicadas in the bushes
even as they come out in the evening
and bite

The rats do too
as is their want

Someone will claim it all

slowly at first
an opera
carefully transcribed
from all places in the world

Places with volcanos
places where the children
have high fever
even through the night
places where even the colours
seem tired
even in the same
constant light

This pair
look to each other
through ballooning wine

They can’t be together
they can’t be apart

sometimes seem to rise from the sea
sometimes seem to fall in

We will leave the piano behind
and jump into the tide

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