reg-mombassa poems
reg-mombassa reg-mombassa
Telegraph poles are the tree of man
singing in the wind.
Cathedral spires of wood and wire
that shimmer in the rain.
They are a fat and wooden wand
marching off down every road
to carry aloft as if by magic
All of the words of the world.

And if we bury such beautiful things
out of sight down under the ground
or send words wireless through the air,
the world will be stripped of structure.
All roads robbed of multiple sculptures:
no stuttered lines of spindle sticks
back-lit black etched on paper pale sky

From the new and factory stamp
of a moulded concrete pole
To the cracked and spattered patina
of a leaning lean old pole
these are beautiful things:
baked in sun and worn in wind,
their clumps of bolts and tangled wire
wild and looped like an old man’s hair.

And tell me what of the lines of homes
tethered to their poles and roads
like a roaming dog or a drifting boat,
what will become of them?
No longer anchored by their wires
they would slide off into the haze
to be lost in the land and swallowed
by shuffling zombie gums.

And consider this theologian:
the power pole is a short-armed crucifix,
so if we need to crucify some millions or more of men
the means are there at hand
standing by the road as they were in Rome
when Spartacus and all his friends
were hammered up to hurt them well
and curb such further insolence

No trumpets were blowing
no armies marching
to mark the hour of her death.
No hearse no horses
no marble mountain
to house her small remains.
No line of cars
No river of flowers
no guns fired wildly at the sky.
No oration from the nation
no flags at half-mast
no words of wisdom from the wise.
No pop stars or princes
Singing her praises
no impersonators
dancing her steps
or mouthing her words.
No! There was none of this!
Just a silent service
from time to time
in that tiny church
inside the mind
this quiet room
of flesh and bone
blood and brain electron home
to all the words and deeds
and sights and sounds
of the known universe.
The Cranium universe.
Somewhere in this particle soup
lie bits of my mother,
Waiting to be reassembled:
put together again
and rebaked in some distant kitchen

The sheep of the long white cloud

are gifted sculptors

They carve their land

with hoof and mouth

creating  art

as they walk about.

These sheep will see

the puckered flanks

of some rolling range

and sculpt a ziggurat

From this unpromising clay:

striated terraces

built by hoof

with surface mess of stalk and weed

trimmed by mouth

to the ragged smooth

of a worn out couch

where  you can see

the ochre bone of hill skull

shining threadbare

through the crew cut grass.


 These green sheep

of the long white cloud

feel for their bleached

 and sun-baked cousins

in hot and big Australia.

Dust blinkered fly-blown and toilworn

these sheep make no art:

deprived of aesthetic imperative

by a treeless land

leached of colour and contour

and squashed flat

by fire and wind and longtime

they are stopped short of creation

by the king of nothing.


But over the sea

the deep green sheep

of the long white cloud

mould their clay of ridge and vale

by weight of walking

to fashion a slow-built access ramp

to their god baahl.

With eyes up-cast

they mount the walk drawn

etched in hard ground spirals

that  ziggurate these hills

a stairway to heaven stepping  up stars

navigable by sheepshank,

an ovine shrine in a land

undulated by ungulates

and ruminated upon

by ruminants.

Thank you trees for being a tree

have a big hug and a kiss from me.

You prick the flat of this drab land

as you burst from the earth

like an arm from a sleeve

your limbs a ladder for the eye to climb

as you sweep the dust from a dirty sky

with a great and shimmering broom of green.


You have no tears on your wooden face

and there are no teeth in that wooden mouth

but if I put my ear to your still chest

I can hear the timbre in your bark:

a varnished low frequency hum

that whispers these words:

“Crush me to paper and burn me to fire

use me to brake your speeding car

grow me to shade your sun blacked backs

and beat yourselves with my sticks and bats

sit on me assemble me ride in my boat

make a chest of my chest cut my wooden throat

read the years in my lords of rings

and swallow the news on my paper wings”


A mean little man is a moving tree

arms akimbo elbows out

drinking in the sun and wind

through nose and eye and arse and mouth.

and I can see my face carved in your bark

etched by beak of wooden bird

your skin a crawling anthropomorph

all cankers and loppings striations and whorls

from axe and hammer and sickness and saw.


So forgive us our transgressions

we tiny angry humans

we know not what we do

nor where we go.

Thank you trees for being a tree

have a big hug and a kiss from me.

Fear of the Forest

The bush mice

flung themselves at his eyes

with incredible fury

tiny balls of filth and fur

hurled headward with enormous force

the gnashing mouse mouths glinting

in the feeble glow of a kerosene dawn.

Jagged rolls of scrub boiled over the ridge

to come foaming down the hillside

and surround the brittle cottage

crouched trembling on its spit of sand

like a nervous cat.

Outside the window a massive leech

slathered impatiently on the wet glass

an animated liver eager for an eye

to suck from a socket.

He glanced fearfully out

as he scratched at the sores of a thousand bites

to see under the lowering bank of trees

the forest floor seethe with hostile life.

He strained his ears

to catch the hoarse whispers

of a team of jail trained psychopaths

who crept through the dark

armed with crusty fish knives

and rusting hacksaws,

the desiccated husks of poisonous insects

crunching wetly under their angry shoes.

These subtle sounds were almost drowned

by herds of creatures feathered and furred

who barked and howled around about,

their inane chatter amplified

by the superb acoustics

of the tiny valley.


© 2024 Reg Mombassa