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Selected poems from Sustainable Notes

This collection of poems comprises a series on sustainability - our planet, our culture and our sanity.

"Breath" looks at a fundamental of human life - the importance of breathing. "Breakfast Odes" is a Burns-inspired tribute to healthy and hearty breakfasts. "The Primates" takes a zoological look at the human species in the third millennium and at their strange but characteristic behaviours. "Sustainable Note, 2008" offers a commentary on the events of 2008, also referred to as the global economic turn-down.



Japanese Breathing

When you exhale you
breathe out and when you inhale
you breathe in. The first
always follows the second
except when it is your last. 

The rhythm of breath –
a reminder that life is
all in and then out. 

I slightly prefer
the exhales – they clear up and
freshen the mind – the
inhales get you all puffed up,
then leave to join the exhales. 

You get a billion
pairs in a life span – use them,
enjoy them (you can’t save them).


Breakfast Odes

Twice risen, twice baked, crisp and warm and even,
Queen of butter melters, prince of preserve presenters,
An offering to the gods, yet to my simple chompers;
A toast to toast! 

Warm froth of cow’s secretion, on sacred bed of bean
Vouchsafed on Latin via, roasted, ground and filtered,
Aroma, taste and texture, with dusted grain of cane;
Viva Cappuccino!

Unashamedly elitist, rising over pale pretenders,
Humbled, rolled and twisted, thrice risen, proved and baked
To royally await the consummation, flaked skin, moisted in;
Veins le Croissant!

Sphered in yellow flesh, blooded with vitamin,
Yin and yan of sweet and sour, in nature’s neatest nest,
Sliced, segmented or squeezed, a succulent song for saliva;
Ó solé grapefruit!

Humble grain of grass, harvested, heaved and sheaved,
Rolled, split and madly milled, a profoundly primitive boil,
Earth’s salted staple set, for heat, for love, for labour;
Porridge please!



Mobile Monkey

The Primates

We found them climbing trees,
swinging from vine to vine
and calling each other across the branches.

They used to be chimpanzees,
apes, baboons and early hominids, but now
they’re called human - after some evolutionary advances.

The trees they climb are steel
and concrete, with mechanised and asphalt lines
which swing the apes between drinks, squabbles and lunches.

Their berries, nuts and honeybees
are found in cans and plastic wrappers and each
baboon must chase for coins to make their jungle purchases.

And you know how to call a chimpanzee?
You need the number, area code, and the right language,
then just dial on a cordless, satellite, monkey mobile.

These strange, communicating,
third-millennium tree dwellers,

who stay in touch, while climbing trees,
discussing families, scandals and loyalties,
by calling each other across the branches.


Sustainable Note, 2008

Capitalism died in two thousand and eight
They tried to prevent it but just too late
Like the woolly mammoth it fell with a thud
And took its last breath as it writhed in the mud
The Wall Street guys, they cried and cried
And the FTSE took a terrible dive
The shock waves resounded across the plain
While onlookers shook their heads with shame
But t’was their own spears that felled the beast
With the hunter’s greed and lust for a feast.
Now of course we continue to consume and share
And market forces will always be there
We trade and we bargain
In the market garden
We invest and divest
In the coppiced forest
We hunt and we gather
Then feast together
But never again will the great beast roar
Ice-age economics has entered folk lore.
Does anyone know
How the new game will go?
Or will we muddle on boldly
Fuddle on most nobly
And forget the lesson
Of the mammoth season
That climatic change and human greed
Combine to destroy what humans need
A nice place to live and food on the table
With socio-economics that are actually sustainable.


Mammoth Season