Beautiful brave fools

I’m holding on with uncertain hands.

Uncoiled from the arms of home, I look to the 20,000km ahead and allow an enigma to carry me onto the plane.

This move to Berlin feels like so many other lofty decisions I’ve made before. And even as I strap myself into the seat of the A380 airbus – even as we shoot up into the sky – I’m still not entirely sure…

I don’t have much cash, nor a job. And I don’t sprechen sie Deutsch. But I do have an imagination and an inclination for hope.

I’m to meet a man when I land.

We met three months ago. He’s a musician from home living in Berlin. Not for much longer though. I once saw him play the piano in a smoky local pub and his everything flawed me. He had dark features and enviable talent. I was certain he saw me through the smoggy light. I planned to ask him if he’d seen me too…

We first connected as many dreamers do. I messaged him; he messaged me back. A few small exchanges and vague plans to meet in Berlin soon morphed into something a little more. And more. Our digital love letters became a shared journal of our innermost worlds. This space, the words of two unknown lovers, was our solace – a quiet place for our worries and doubts, for our fears of the tangible lives that didn’t ever enter our realm.

We spoke on the phone once before I flew over. We arranged to meet. And I trembled. My friends, my family – they all urged me not to invent a story, yet I knew he would become one for me.

They told me, “what are you doing entangling yourself with a musician? You do realise his music will be the beginning and the end of his love for you.” He warned me of this too. That we would meet at the centre of our cross, before continuing in opposite directions.

But I don’t take well to being told, and this is my story, so it’ll go how I write it.

Berlin welcomes me with a homely embrace. Her air breathes restfully. The delicate autumn sun brushes the buildings that line the river bank where I sit.

Jet-lagged and hazy, I ease into my new home. All the foreign and familiar sensations of this place swirl around me in a tender dance.

I’m happy in this moment sitting at the precipice of possibility – at the intersection of what has been and what might yet become.

I hold it tight, as tightly as I can before it leaves me, as these moments inexorably do. And then it’s gone, and I’m left to wonder why we wait.

Why do we wait, and plan and give away our days, our months, our years for something so ephemeral? Even though we know, too well, that just like a train, she’s only passing through.

If this love story were an equation, my input versus output would never be worth the investment. Still, I’d splurge it all, all over again to feel how I do in these minutes before we meet.

We’d agreed to rendezvous on the grand cathedral steps. I get there early to see the entrance blocked by building works. I can’t reach it. Instead, I see him for the first time through two “Achtung!” signs telling me to “Steer Clear! Steer Clear!”

Just try me.

He emerges a little dishevelled with his dark brown mop and weary eyes.

What comes next is my Hollywood pitch. We pull out a map and pick a spontaneous route through Northern Italy. Lake Como, Verona, Venice, Milan. All are draped in superlative landscapes and sumptuous food. We fumble in Italian. We kiss. We have conversations that matter – the ones that challenge and reveal more than either expects. There’s a heavenly chemistry; there’s red wine.

I watch him from the amphitheatre steps meandering in the arena below. I spot him from across the Basilica studying the decorative walls. I lose him in the Duomo gardens. Then I lose my breath. I can’t bare for him to be gone. Soon he will be gone.

My entire life I’ve longed to be a part of this, of us, of our little story. It’s not possible.

I’m too overwhelmed by disappointment in myself, in the hopelessness that floods my thoughts and drowns our final moments together.

We argue. He reminds me that our dalliance was destined to be short and sweet, just like me. I try to be okay with that. I try to be like him, but we are not at all alike. It’s no use when he tells me he’s pleased to be here with me. I cannot believe him.

Before we part ways at Milan station, I ask him if he saw me through the smoggy light that night. He didn’t.

Am I brave? Yes. Am I a fool? Absolutely.

I’m a beautiful brave fool who risked a great deal for a story.

And though he doesn’t love me, how comforting it is to know that no matter far I’ve travelled from myself, however far I’ve gambled all that I am, even in spite of myself, despite all that has been, there I will always be.

And how lovely that it can never be any other way.

My train is pulling back into Berlin now. I’m back on the precipice. But this time, I’m holding tighter; I’m holding onto me.


If you would like to listen to this poem performed as part of an exquisite podcast for the restless heads and racing hearts, Night Light, visit:

Hello star

Hello star

It’s you and me alone again tonight.

Just us.

And the great expanse that flickers in your light.



I haven’t seen you in a little while.

I know.

It’s been hard down here.

In the paradoxical cheer,

you like to call my life.



On some days I don’t need the dark,

As you know.

I do well in my unblemished face.

Once I’m blushed and bronzed

Voila!

Not a soul could ever see a trace.



And then I vanish.

Each time, you know.



Into entrancing screens,

that hurt my eyes and all the space that’s in between.



You’re gone by then.

Or is it me?

Who leaves you like a fool whenever I get lonely.



Oh, how I wish it were a fractured leg,

and not this fracture in my head.

You know the one.

That splits from inside-out instead.



I’m missing you by now.

Somehow,

the light down here is not enough.



True. I’ve been able to succeed.

I know.

I know the drive in thunder and in rain,

so well,

so worth it for the gain.



And yes, I’ve laughed.

I’m sure.

I know the kind that ripples through the bones,

so much,

it soothes you to your core.



I’m good at loving too.

Like you.

The noble type, where you’re for them

more than they are for you.



I dance on top these pillars.

You see.

Their attempt to hold life up for me.



But the struggle is the distance

from seeing to being seen.



There must be others down here,

dancing next to me,

to the song of disconnection,

called happy irony.



If only I could reach them.

To tell them it’s okay.

That to be alone in loneliness

is never a disgrace.



Perhaps they have a star.

Like you.

I hope they do.

They only need the one,

to be the light that sees them through.


If you would like to listen to this poem performed as part of an exquisite podcast for the restless heads and racing hearts, Night Light, visit:

https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/night-light/id1559703271#episodeGuid=nightlightpodcast.podbean.com%2F3695e067-5963-36ed-a88e-922cabfd439b

The voided void

I am a museum

for the voided void.

My walls speak words a millennium old.

My home it’s built in homage to you,

the displaced, the disoriented,

Resilient Jew.

 

I don’t claim to be facts.

nor a timeline of terror.

No, I won’t chronicle each. Last. Tremor.

 

Keep going.

Past the hair, the glasses, the letters unread.

Past the accounts of genocide mapped out in your head,

 

to the room at the end that’s made of stone.

Without heat or light,

you’ll feel you’re alone.

But the Holocaust Tower, small it may be,

was never intended to stand empty.

 

Stop there!

Can you hear the wail of a murdered Jew?

Who’s finally come to the surface in you.

You cry for him, and the millions more,

because who are you,

if you’re not crying for

 

the bloodlines of family you never met,

or the Jews in the art you’ll likely forget.

 

In my home… you can cry.

For all those who suffer

at the useless, wasted hands of each other.

 

I don’t mind,

if you leave your grief with me,

once you’ve been and done what you came here to see.

 

All the matters is your empathy.

 

An ode to the Jewish Museum in Berlin, to my family lost in the Holocaust, and to all humanity that aches by cause of one another.  

 

Is that you over there?

Is that you over there, without your distractions?

You seem so stranded, so bare

without your companions

Who once busied your days until they were years

too busy to give you the time for your tears

 

You’re frightened I see, in this world undisguised

now so eerily free

that to your surprise

You can’t know who you are when there’s nobody near

let alone when alone in this perplexing new era

 

You reach for assumptions you took to be friends

in the hope that they’ll cushion

what you cannot pretend

That nothing is changed in these empty streets

but for the whole damn earth that’s beneath your feet

 

At last, here’s the time

so go on, leave behind

the dead weight of lost time

that’s built a life undefined

 

Ssssh.

 

You step into the hush

and look up at your eyes

now easy to spot in the purified skies

Then you pivot yourself towards the new

because really, what’s left for you to do?

But to walk and walk and walk some more

til you find yourself, you’re worth walking for

 

Is that you over there, without your distractions?

So quietly aware

of your autonomous actions

Which won’t ever fold to the whirlwinds of haste

Nor will ever dishonour the silence, the space

The Mirror

Let me hold this mirror up to you

For the God-willing chance you might finally see through

The beasts who play tricks on your almond eyes

And blacken your beauty with their beastly lies

 

Prey girl, won’t you please look into the glass

If it’s the one last thing of you I now ask

As the faces you see, they are not your own

Nor are the sins they reflect, yours to atone

 

What would be if you broke their stare?

Who would you see if their faces weren’t there?

 

Perhaps you’re afraid of what will remain

When there’s no-one left inside that frame

But an empty outline of a hollow face

Whose empty features you cannot trace

 

Just keep looking dear girl, and don’t look away

If you want that line to be filled in someday

For the mirror’s eyes, they are yours to see

And the mirror’s heart, well that’s yours to beat.

 

The Master of My War

The man standing watch at the door to my dreams

Does little to veto our guests

And so snakes and cracked planes are ushered on in

To a house of chronic unrest

 

He unwinds in the room where I cannot sleep

There, indifferent to my escape

When he knows that he’ll prosper regardless of whether

My dreams live in slumber or wake

 

He’s the lens to the eyes that unshut to my day

Spreading veils across all who pass

And while from beneath some may smile, to me they beguile

Hidden guns aimed straight for my stars

 

Try as I might to shield their light

It’s me against a battalion

Of belittling hisses and venomous kisses

That send me to oblivion

 

Still, there’s solace in the one who never brings me peace

He, the master of my war

Who, to my despairing cries commands that I

Must do better and be more

 

Did I choose the thoughts he blares in my head?

Or are his the only I can hear?

Then, I’ll take the love that I know – the one in my shadow

So I’m not alone with my fear

In the Rose Garden

I have a little secret

That I’d like to share with you

For when your will is beat and bruised

And stained in stormy blue

 

Take a stroll in this here garden

And at once you’ll be beguiled

By the two resplendent roses

Who are blooming at the aisle

 

Breathe in their vital fragrance

It’s a scent of tickled cheer

A most sweetening reminder

That all is well in here

 

See how their splendid petals

Weave like lovely threads of lace

A show for the eyes that beauty lies

In understated grace

 

And to touch these silky flowers

Is to get a tender hug

That wraps around the body

Like a cosy cashmere rug

 

Still, these roses they’re robust

And their thorns they can endure

Despite bullies, bugs and other thugs

Their stems remain secure

 

I hear you ask, how do I know

Of these jewels our roses yield

Well, I’ve sat here in this garden

And felt how much they heal

 

I’ve seen them sway in tandem

Their leaves brushing with the breeze

In a tranquil dance of true romance

They move as one with ease

 

I’ve heard their floral whispers

Those shared in tender jest

By lovers who are grateful that

Together they laugh best

 

I’ve watched how both have wilted

And the other’s sacrificed

Their repository of rain drops

To revive the other’s life

 

I marvel at this garden

How she radiates today

Because we’ve all been bundled

In a Jules and James bouquet

 

So now you know my secret

It’s too precious not to share

The abundant love I feel because

Of these two roses rare

And There You Are

I scurried across the ocean hoping to find me

Certain I couldn’t be found where I had been

Swimming my way through a torrent of skies

I assigned to each lap a wilful cutting of ties

And the farther I flew from the breast of my home

The deeper I believed I’d come into my own

But as sure as the night that’s dressed in stars

So too shall we be wherever we are

To Dwell on Dreams

I thought I saw you look my way

Or do my eyes deceive me again today?

Their lusting gaze are transfixed on the haze

That thickens in tandem with truth’s decay

 

I see you dancing in the lofty clouds

In the realm of dreams where I’m not allowed

And it pains me so, to inherently know

That the essence of you is just a shroud

 

For perilous apparitions

That won’t come to fruition

Because the deeper I dive, the lesser alive

I am to my earthly ambitions

 

Despite myself, I still look to the blue

Up above reason to where I see you

And from there in your bliss, you blow me a kiss

Which plagues me to think you might feel it too

 

For my eyes are spent and my neck is sore

I must not deny where I am anymore

Among the grass and the trees, who are ever at ease

Being wedded to this terrestrial floor

 

No, it will not do to dwell on your star

That brightens the higher up there you are

For all that might be, between you and me

I just cannot love from a distance this far