rain on the sea


There’s something unfortunate about seven a.m.,
when the dreams of worlds that might have been
ascend into the vanishment.


As I traveled the Redfern Rail one night,
through tunnels that smelled of soot and ghosts of steam,
I chatted with a stranger. Her auburn hair was wound
with a golden asp, and she told me this:

Your mind’s your own, to do with as you will.
I saved mine for special occasions,
believed in pixels and maquillage,
bowed and chanted to great Osiris,
but I know better now.

Could you be a little more specific? I asked.

While the subtle threads of night are waiting for the day,
the Cleaners come and bleach
our thoughts, erase the otherworldly from
our minds; from mirrors and machines,
from shadowed light and brilliant darkness,
all is lost.


I couldn’t forget her words, and on
one moonless night, I decided on a vigil
with a candle, a weighty novel,
and a selection of low calorie sweets.
But on page two or three,
the Brothers Karamazov and somnolence
defeated me.


I woke with a start to find myself
surrounded by the Cleaners,
pixies in white overalls, small and insubstantial,
yet each as effective as any TV commercial.

They sprayed and cleaned, swept and dusted,
wiped away the outlandish and impalpable,
the supernatural and ineffable,
the unbelievable and improbable,
until just the strictly ordinary remained—
my radioactive print of Jimi Hendrix
and a hint of lemon fragrance.


I formulated a plan, procured
an industrial vacuum cleaner, second hand,
at a not unreasonable price,
with a scoop attachment, pixie-sized,
thrown in for free.
And in my headlong rush,
I never paused for a moment
to consider what the consequence might be.

In the early hours of the following day,
I hoovered them up, each and every last one,
freed my mind and waited for the truth
to be revealed.


I dined at seaside restaurants
with the polymorph Ardênia,
folding paper napkins into swans,
listening as she spoke of celestial mysteries,
while the rain outside pattered on the sea,
and the citadels and spires of old Atlantis,
formed of solid ether, shimmered in the mist.

On nature strips, in parks and gardens,
the Muses Polyhymnia and Terpsichore
chased me with a lyre and a spade,
inflicting bruising punishments on a whim,
and by night the creatures of the shadows
confronted me, invaders from another realm,
living singularities,
life denied by human logic,
and not to be described in media rated G.


The stranger with her gilded asp
has never crossed my path again,
and the Cleaners, who I so callously offended,
never forgave me for their contretemps
in my recycle bin.

Still I pray and offer penitence,
beseech and plead with any god,
visible or unseen, begging them
to help me, to lift the burden
of my perception.

Between the oceans,
from the pebbles to the sky,
shards of darkness lie in wait,
and I know now that I don’t want to know.

Yet I must confess I’d like Ardênia to stay.


  • Osiris, ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife and re-creation
  • Dostoyevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov” (1879)
  • Polyhymnia, the multipurpose Muse of sacred poetry, eloquence, agriculture etc, and Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance. I’m sure several of the Muses would enjoy beating me up.

what is on tv? (re-evolved)

33 thoughts on “rain on the sea

    • Thanks, Frank. It’s a bit longer than I planned originally, I needed to bring it to a conclusion. Very much like changing a tap washer. 😀

  1. I think your artwork is more beautiful and interesting than most things i see on tv these days!
    I did laugh a bit during this…during my usual admiration of your wordsmithing/world creating skills.

    • Thanks Vanessa. Laughing is good. The artwork started out as a photo of the interior of a burnt-out vehicle. It must have burned fiercely, and I couldn’t even recognize what I was looking at.

    • Aah … thing is I was in a bit of a rush yesterday (no surprise) and I thought it was a bit too complicated, especially for the small display size. So I redid today (from the same photo). Sorry. :/

    • That’s really interesting you thought that Steve. I thought it was fantastic. I love the new one too, but I admit, I preferred the other.

    • I think part of it is that I see the originals, more than three times the size of the largest on WP. By the time Version 1 got down to mobile phone/instagram I was pretty disappointed. Anyway when I have more time I’ll try something like Version 1 again. 🙂

    • That’s the issue isn’t it. Whereas the rest of us had nothing to compare it to, we just thought it was brilliant. haha well I speak for myself while assuming everyone agrees.

  2. The Cleaners are interesting & seem to have an important function as a symbol all people should endeavour to hire into the service of themselves to, let’s say, spring clean their moral temper.

    • It’s true, nothing like a good night’s sleep (and dreaming) to see the world more clearly. I read somewhere that the main purpose of dreams is to tidy the mind, like a trash collection. Here I stretched the idea, quite a bit. I think there’s some truth to it: if I don’t get enough sleep, I’m definitely more lunar than usual. 😀

    • The Kena Upanishad, (i think), looks into dreaming in this way, a meeting of Brahmin families with the pandit Pippalada ask him “what are those things that visit us in sleep” & Pippalada pretty much says, they are revisions of the day, to clean up the mind. i can buy that, sometimes. Not for the really peculiar ones.

    • I’ve read that about dreams, too. That it is a pruning process, and it brings those things into our conscious mind so we can decide if it is something we want to keep or discard. Fascinating.

    • I appreciate the thought 🙂 but I have to say your stuff is wonderful, and if you wrote like me you’d have to be ready for a lot of rejections from publishers. :/ I know some writers can adapt their styles, but I’m stuck with me. And I’m not just talking about fiction. 😛

    • Thanks, Steve. After decades of rejection I became a martyr to the “cause” (not quite sure of what) and stopped submitting. But I urge you to keep trying. I just sense that you will find the right fit 🙂

  3. “…and a selection of low calorie sweets.” Ha. Your poems are scrumptious. I’ll be floating along in one, then get a punch of humor that makes me chuckle! Potent combination. The artwork is beautiful, too. Gracias, Steve.

    • Thanks BG. I try to tie things to the real world when I can, so much more believable that way, hahaha. Although I liked some parts of the artwork, I thought it was a bit too complicated, especially since it winds up displayed relatively small. A bit of a rush yesterday, so I redid it today. 🙂

  4. What a hoot! Loved this! I had one of those Jimi Hendrix posters — framed! It was one where he had colored tubes coming out of his head.

    • Thanks Randy. Ha ha, I actually never had one myself although I’ve seen plenty. A true confession: I used to imitate JH when I played lead guitar. I wanted to be him. 🤓

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