words whittled to shavings

curling at my feet

thoughts like plastic wrappers

swirling in the wind

a puddle willing itself

to become an ice cube

the wave of a drowning man

in the waves

the sound of one hand clapping

in the forest

words shouted into the face

of the storm

unheard unread


your footprint preserved in stone

once a tentative step

in the ooze of time

much the way this began


when Ashbery* wrote “hand me the orange”*

was he slyly referencing O’Hara’s*

“Why I am not a painter”*

was this the orange he wanted

or would another do

was he craving the cool dimpled skin

the juicy flesh

explaining what happened to Frank’s orange

all that time ago

why do we assume he means

the fruit not the colour


nothing is as it seems

maybe he was just hungry not ironic

at his age would he care or remember

you can continue to break language down

but eventually the music

becomes just noise

words broken into a mumbled jumble

or is that the point


Ken when we both wore our hair long

your studied casualness signified cool

your hip nonchalance

your deliberate insouciance


nothing is as it seems


Mies Van Der Rohe* was born

Ludwig Mies

his Barcelona pavilion

was really the German pavilion

on Montjuic* overlooking Gaudi’s* city

not in Barcelona

the pavilion built 1929*

was demolished 1930

what happened to the Barcelona chair*

is unknown

when we supplicants climb the hill

to pay homage

does it matter this structure is

the 1986 re-construction

how authentic is this

set down millimetre perfect

to site specified stone in its construction

what is more important

the plans and specification or the building

is one just language the other the thing

where does the idea manifest itself


if your poem is reproduced

which is the authentic version you devised

if translated what does it mean

to you if you don’t speak that language

is it still your poem


nothing is as it seems

is your poem the same read

as heard by you      or me

your sparse flinty words

scatter the light


the vast Mediterranean sky

captured by the pool the pavilion floats in


there is no ambiguity in structures


maybe that is why you are not an architect










  1. Ken Bolton – Australian Poet 1949-
  2. John Ashbery – American Poet 1927 – 2017
  3. “hand me the orange”- final line of Ashbery’s last published poem New Yorker magazine February 2017
  4. Frank O’Hara – American Poet 1926 – 1966
  5. “Why I am not a painter”- O’Hara poem 1956
  6. Mies van der Rohe – International architect 1886 – 1969
  7. Montjuic – site of the 1992 Games of the XXV Olympiad and site of a vast above ground necropolis site of Joan Miro’s grave
  8. Antoni Gaudi – Catalan architect 1852 – 1926
  9. For the International Exposition 1929
  10. The only piece of furniture to have a building designed around it