The Temple

The temple’s stone stele
carries Buddha’s tall legend
in black Korean characters.

Bright rows of paper lanterns
line tiered balustrades
on all sides of the temple.

Red pink orange azaleas
blaze colour down
the temple’s rocky bank.

Water bubbles from a bamboo stem
down a little bamboo trough
into a tiny pond.

Tall painted pictures of Buddha’s life
emblazon the end walls
of his newly built house.

Lines of forested hills
stretch up beyond the tiled roof
of the painted wooden temple.

The temple crowns
its suburban streets
running down to the harbour.


Previously posted December 2015.

The Temple

Drum Roll

The giant drumhead
stands tall in the vast chamber
in the heart of the temple.
Grey robed priests
chant to Buddha
on his May Day birthday.

The senior priest
grasps the mighty beater
with outstretched arms.
In graceful dance
he sweeps it around
the vast drum skin
in swinging arcs,
raising and lowering notes
to sound out their hymn
to Buddha on his birthday.

The sea of cross
legged worshippers
on their tiny cushions
fill the vast room
around the drum
silent, still,
in contemplative state
absorbing the rhythms
of the song to Buddha
on his birthday.

The priest sweeps
the beater around
the drum head
in the final coda.
He mops his bald head.
The worshippers come out of
their collective trance,
applaud the man
who caused the drum
to sing to Buddha
on his birthday.


Previously posted December 2015.


Drum Roll

Shallow Pools

Three fish
backs leaden grey;
faces, bellies dead white,
fish eyes bulging sideways;
three fish flop their tails
in the bowl’s clear water
frothing from a plastic hose.

Four red bowls
encase fishy prisoners.
Eels weave through each other
around their bowl.
One huge octopus cramps
in his bowl while tiny octopi
in their bowl
tangle suckered tentacles.

In smaller bowls cluster baby clams,
crammed crabs writhe entwined legs.
Ragged edged slugs
lie rock still, submerged.


Sea shore dwellers lie trapped
in these bowls
on Korean city streets,
sold to city workers
who no longer gather
their dinner where
the sea laps at
pools it gouged
from ancient rocks.


Previously posted December 2015.

Shallow Pools

The Street Seller

She squats on the pavement
her back against
the bank’s glass front,
a few bowls
of vegetables
around her
on the footpath.

Crowds throng past her
and the other
stoic street sellers
along the footpath
in front of modern
plate glassed windows.

The street seller
stares at the feet
passing her by,
rousing herself when
a walker stops
beside her wares.

Now she is motionless again,
her almond eyes
black agates
in dark pockets
in a weather beaten face
framed by limp hair.


Previously posted December 2015.

The Street Seller