A huge office is
crowded with desks,
transacting on telephones
with faceless callers
who cannot see them
on this free call number.
The callers must explain
their business to
who can not see them.
Hapless operators let loose
on a hapless public
after a few days’ training
must remember many pages
by rote to repeat back
relevant sections to their
They must follow
the company script
with no exceptions
to what the company
has publicly advertised.
The tennis club committee spent a weekend
at the beach cabins mingling spouses.
By Sunday night a bewildered young mother
was home with her children but no husband.
As she fell apart he and his new woman
in court won full custody of the children
with supervised visits for their mother.
In time she came to the new age guru’s commune
where caring people helped her healing,
where she found a loving partner and had their child.
The remarried mother of three returned to work
when the youngest started kindergarten.
Working did not halt the slippages
in this second marriage which she desperately
struggled to save for her children’s sake.
As the marriage collapsed she took them
to the new age guru’s commune
where caring people helped their healing.
Gurudom makes dreams come true:
small children for the guru,
cars and land for the bagwan,
lithe blonde actresses for the yogi
underage girls for the religious leaders.
Dreams come undone when those dreams undo others,
when the bagwan is deported, the yogi deserted,
and religious leaders reported
in twenty first century media.
The new age commune’s children grew up,
moved away, and laid charges of abuse
against their guru and his inner clique
who were all found guilty and imprisoned.
Loving mothers, caring healers
sat throughout the lengthy trial,
watched helplessly as their home of healing
crumbled to the ground
smashing it rotten foundations.
A bright sunny church
with soaring rafters,
vast windows, unlike
Ada’s childhood church
did not lighten her desolation.
Outside traffic roared through
the busy suburb evolved
from the beach side village
to which Ada had retired
after her husband’s death
nearly thirty years before.
In several pews sat the senior
citizens’ club, so young to be retired.
Those Ada had first known
in that little village were
now all in the cemetery.
Only Rosie and Ada had been left
to ring each other every morning-
“I am well ……how are you ?”
Now Rosie’s children and grandchildren
filled more pews. Ada had no children
only a few relatives scattered
around the country.
Who would come to Ada’s funeral ?
More parishioners filed in,
young and middle aged.
Ada sat in the back pew,
in a foreign land,
her own country folk gone.
So many vacant birthdays
and anniversaries of people
no longer there to inhabit them,
only their ghosts
“You’re energetic !” she said
as I walked past her
in her front garden
looking at dead twigs
on shrubs weakened by drought.
She walked slowly, awkwardly,
her body thickened like mine.
Yet she spoke brightly, smiling,
seeming to enjoy the glaring sun
though old age had
not blessed her physically.
I walked past the little front flat
towing my shopping trundler
to the supermarket
as I often do.
They say only old ladies
use trundlers for shopping.
“I don’t want to lose
what I have !” I called.
“Good !” she said emphatically.
W are both said to be old.
My gold pensioner’s card
proves I am old.
The woman’s face looks
not much older than mine,
yet her body would not walk
to the supermarket,
to town or the library
as readily as mine.
Old age is a lottery.
A body’s owner builds a life
around what it will do.
What will that lottery
do to us ?