Inside out

Some poems and reflections on life


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How can I tell you?

I wrote this in response to a radio interview, where the interviewee talked about how little her Jewish parents would say about their experience in World War II. My father served at the end of the war in the New Zealand army.  He was involved in the recovery and clean up after the fighting was over in Italy and Japan. But even so, he was very reluctant to talk about his experiences. 

How can I tell you
about my pain?
The horror I faced
to relive it again
Buried deep inside
I can’t explain.

To tell you it to give them
power and life once more,
To remain silent is to let them
die within for sure,
But they are not dead
just sleeping at the door.

If you do not know,
then you will not learn
You will miss the signs
when they return
And think that your world
could never burn

But I should tell you also
about the others
Who stood beside us
like sisters and brothers
And risked their lives
to stop the horrors.

To tell you is to give them
also power and life once more
To remain silent is to let
die for sure
Forgotten heros
nameless as before.

You need to know
so that you will learn
You are not alone
when they do return
There are many who will stand with you
and not let this world burn.

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A post-modern psalm

Smoke cloud dims my view in front
I see you walking in the distance

Seven billion angels dance on a pinhead

Water swirls deepening red
Our pursuers cry out from the deep

Seven billion angels dance on a pinhead

Shouts of agony rend the air
You wrap your arms around me

Seven billion angels dance on a pinhead

A promise of hope is given
A land we cannot enter … yet

Seven billion angels dance on a pinhead

We raise up our greedy wealth
Melted into a golden beast

Seven billion angels dance on a pinhead

We build walls to keep ourselves intact
And slaughter the enemy before us

Seven billion angels dance on a pinhead

Our life is on borrowed time
We eat tomorrow’s bread today

Seven billion angels dance on a pinhead

We are not satisfied
We strive to be divine and end up less than human

Seven billion angels dance on a pinhead

Where do we look for hope?
Where do we look for life?
Where do we look for tomorrow?

Seven billion angels dance on a pinhead


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It takes one

Sitting on the porch
In the evening sun
First day back in Hong Kong

Discussing news with Father Murray
On the hill overlooking the New City
At the house of St Francis
Up the road from Tao Fung Shan

“tell me” he asks “how did it start?”
“it started” I say “with one”
“one kitchen, one hall, one church, one school”

“gradually it grew
“the ones joined
“they joined up and linked
“we started to see suburbs and then towns
then a few cities and regions”

“eventually more than half the country

“it was only a matter of time
“before the government had to say “no”

“but it started with “one”

“one kitchen – no nuclear weapons in my kitchen
“thank you very much

“I know that sounds strange and futile
“but if enough people say it and
“say it together
“things happen
“and they did

“That is how NZ became nuclear free.”

And thinking back now,
As I fly over Hong Kong again
Maybe, just maybe, that is why
We don’t live in a
Nuclear winter.

What one will you change in your kitchen today?