RIverside 2011 – A Poem

Lake Marshall, Riverside

Owen overlooking Lake Marshall

We heard our name called out

from the boarding desk.

Standing around, talking,

we nearly missed our flight out of Cairns.

In Brisbane we caught our flight

in a timely fashion,

not a moment to spare.

15 hours and 5 movies later,

we queued in a customs snake.

Behind us by a few,

a girl with a puppy dog tic

brought the officers to alert,

running to inspect

for illegal importation of a dog.

Her sister had to explain loudly.

We hoped she wasn’t too embarrassed.

Finally, joyfully, we saw

 Nathan and Danielle

had risen early, early, on a

cold, rainy day LA,

bringing to my mind the song

“It never rains in Southern California”

forgetting that the following line of the song is

“but it pours..”

That night we slept deeply

in exhaustion

waking with Danielle’s loud telephone voice.

M’God, it’s 10:30

No plans.

Danielle went to a class at St Benardino University

We went with her.

To a fabulous little art museum

showing exciting colourful, evocative works,

a Buddha plasticine sculpture activity,

then prowled the campus.

As evening fell

Soroor and Danielle organised

a visit to Nathan’s work

to meet a cheerful team of

Evelyn, Gustavo,  Kristine, Patty, Ron.

Dinner at the Olive Garden.

Tues Day 3 Soroor ran to catch a bus

while I hobbled on knees

that seemed to have died on the flight over.

We took the bus to the other end of Riverside

to Galleria on Tyler.

Soroor noticed “You’re a minority on this bus”,

in a smug, I’m feeling quite comfortable, voice.

And Tigga went “Sigh, I hadn’t noticed”

At Galleria we over-ate for one.

Our bus trip back was planned meticulously.

Spending time looking around the Mission Inn,

then coffee,

and missed the bus.

Soroor borrowed a phone.

We caught the next one.

Dressed up and experienced

a nocturnal freeway drive

to the Baha’i Feast in Corona

Wednes Day four Nathan takes work for the Thanksgiving weekend

Took a drive

California State orange orchard / Lake Marshall / Chipalettos

Dropping in on Nathan’s boss, Linda

Soroor is relaxed and secure,

everyone loves her baby.

Another freeway ride

to Murrietta

Jazzae played Basketball

we cheered.

She shot, she scored.

we cheered.

We went on to

Tash and Afshin’s

for Thanksgiving.

Thurs Day five I got up a dawn

as the Arneson family rose

to prepare Thanksgiving repast.

The turkey took a basting.

I stepped in as Tash’ stunt arm.

Drank coffee, distracted the children

looking for Thanksgiving songs with the IPad,

peered at Tash’ nicnacks

more guests arrived,

we ate and talked,

sang a Slim Dusty song,

and late, drove the freeway back to east riverside.

Fri Day six slowly offered the possibility of

a trip to a wholesaler.

I took a hike on the hill nearby,

surprised at the sponginess of the grass and soil,

and the steepness and openness of the slope,

reminding me I am scared of falling from heights.

I hiked down.

We got back on the freeway

to Corona to study

a Baha’i course, RuhiBk8, with a local group

Satur Day seven saw a tour

of the UCR botanical Garden

that has cacti, rocks, and a view of the suburb.

Soroor and Danielle cooked dinner

for her family and later enjoyed

the Riverside Christmas Lights display.

Sun Day eight a longer excursion to

Newport beach and a Kebab & Persian shop.

Staying awake to attend a commemoration,

the Ascension Abdu’l-Baha’

in San Marino.

Mon Day nine we caught the bus

on time to Las Vegas.

Booking in to the 26th floor of the Luxor,

a pyramid of rooms,

with quarter wall corridors,

looking down into the foyer,

reminding me

that I am very scared of falling from heights.

Soroor leans over the balcony to get a good view.

Prowling the lights,

hungrily we stopped at a grill

where the food was quite boring and the sport TV very loud.

Walking on we came across

our first delight

the Bellagio fountains.

Diving in and out every hotel we came,

we learnt that dodging show spruikers

was part of the Las Vegas game.

Tues Day ten began with brunch in Denney’s

 – yippee –

And then we walked the strip

for hours,

deciding that Caesar’s Palace is número uno

and back to the hotel next to our hotel

 the Mandalay to see

“The Lion King”

– so grand, so fantastically enjoyable –

Sweet Crepes became a late dinner.

Wednes day eleven straight to Denney’s for breakfast

Walked more of the strip

Costumed buskers – Kandy Floss, Transformers, Elvis, Mickey, Garfield, Willy Wonker,

Club spruikers, Moving billboards selling girls

Treasur Island, Wynns, Palazzo, Venetian

it goes on.

We hit a large buffet for lundinner

Then to the

Phantom of the Opera

at the Venetian.

As if to set the mood, the evening turned very cold and windy.

It was mindboggling.

The chandeliers flew around the ceiling,

and fell.

Reminding Soroor in a scream

that she is scared of things falling on her.

Thurs Day twelve we slpt in to check out

Breakfast at MacDonald’s inside the Luxor.

Bus back to cold, cold,

Fremont st, the original casino area of LA

Bus back to Riverside

The traffic inbound to Las Vegas,

a sight to behold.

At Barstow in the desert,

we got out of the bus for a break.

We missed the Bus.

It left without us.

Taking our bags, iPad, and camera.

“There are no more greyhounds ’till tomorrow”, says the greyhound ticketer,

who sent a message to riverside bus depot

that Danielle would meet it and get our bags.

We caught an American Lion to Colton

Danielle and Nathan did the circuit

picking bags, then us up

and fed us Curry.

Fri Day thirteen we went shopping

Sorted photos,

Watched wedding video of Kelsey and Nathan

Went back to study Ruhi Bk 8

At Burritos at Albertos

-a must for all food adventurers-

Satur Day fourteen got up slowly

Bags all packed

Took the freeway to Hollywood

walked head down,

dodging spruikers in costumes,

checking out the stars on the footpath

and the handprints

at Sid’s Chinese Theatre.

Lunched on the roof

Soroor searched for souvenirs

Sun already going down

Found our way to the Getty Museum

amazingly sitting on a rock overlooking LA

Millions of dollars of art

reminding me I am scared of falling from heights.

Soroor fell down

on a marbled floor.

Plenty of time to catch our flight for a midnight departure,

Burritos near Venice beach

then to the airport by 9:45

“Wait by the phone,” we joke with Danielle and Nathan “in case we miss the plane”.

“Check in is quiet”, noticed Soroor to the lone check in guy.

“Because the flight is about to close”, he chastises.

“What!” we exclaimed, “for a midnight flight?”

“It leaves at 10:45, maam”, he replies boredly.

We keep it straight.

Later, we giggle a lot.

Couldn’t wait to tell Danielle.

Three movies and a some deep sleep to Brisbane,

we had breakfast with Kels, Sep, Reubs.

The prices are outrageous.


Pablo Neruda

I hadn’t heard of this poet before and so, hearing a discussion of it on the radio, I had to immediately look for some. This is considered the best, albeit I suspect translation to English has robbed some of the power from it. It is about the Spanish Civil war, but it resonates with every conflict about the world, today.


You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
and the rain repeatedly spattering
its words and drilling them full
of apertures and birds?
I’ll tell you all the news.

I lived in a suburb,
a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
and clocks, and trees.

From there you could look out
over Castille’s dry face:
a leather ocean.
My house was called
the house of flowers, because in every cranny
geraniums burst: it was
a good-looking house
with its dogs and children.
Remember, Raul?
Eh, Rafel? Federico, do you remember
from under the ground
my balconies on which
the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
Brother, my brother!
loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
pile-ups of palpitating bread,
the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
oil flowed into spoons,
a deep baying
of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
metres, litres, the sharp
measure of life,
stacked-up fish,
the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
the weather vane falters,
the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.

And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings –
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children’s blood.

Jackals that the jackals would despise,
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate!

Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives!

see my dead house,
look at broken Spain :
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers,
from every socket of Spain
Spain emerges
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
and from every crime bullets are born
which will one day find
the bull’s eye of your hearts.

And you’ll ask: why doesn’t his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land?

Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
The blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
In the streets!

Pablo Neruda

The Accretion of Man

Poem on image

The word,

without syllable or sound,


the beginning,


this beginning,


the recipient

and the active,


this existence,


that previous




and boiling




the contingent,


the cool



the wet

and growling



the flimsy



the brownian









the molecules

of consciousness,


the anchors

and the skeletons,

the feelers

and the growth,

the dodgers

and the chasers,

the narrows

and the spaces,

the containers

and the chaos,

the miners

and the sculptors,

the reachers

and the drawers,

the clusters

and the blasters,


ten thousand tribes,

between their mountain ranges,

spill over

into one hundred

and ninety-three



October 2006


The needs of the age are not fully divulged.

That which is divulged creates the spearhead.

The tip of the spearhead provokes an opening into the future of society.

Directly behind the tip, a cutting edge enhances the way, supported by a strong core.

Those who consciously follow the spearhead have a specific role and support the strong core.

Those who follow the spearhead will draw a sector of life with them.

The cutting edge runs broader, further from the tip, providing greater opening into the society.

In each generation the follower’s roles draw the sum of life towards the spearhead.

All things must eventually follow the spearhead.

No one gets closer to the tip of the spearhead than they are ordained.

Effort is required to get as close to the spearhead as one is ordained.

Every moment brings its own obligations.

The Whetstone and the Knife

The whetstone must grind.
It must grind the knife.
Grind the edge to a perfect sharpness.

The knife must cut.
It cannot cut the whetstone.
If it tries, it becomes blunt.
It must allow itself to be ground,
to become perfectly sharp.

The whetstone is not aware the knife is sharp.
Is not aware it made the knife sharp.
It does not care.
The whetstone must grind.

The knife must cut somewhere else,
away from the whetstone.
The knife makes a beautiful slice.
And all observers say, “Ahh.”

The knife shall not care
that the whetstone does not observe.
Only that, when the slice is not beautiful,
the observers don’t say, “Ahh.”
Then the knife should return to the whetstone.
and the whetstone welcomes the knife
and grinds.