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Buddhist traffic light

  • 02 August 2016
  Selected poems  


My friend, new to Mandalay, never beforein Asia, sighs as she sees the east-and west-bound cars and rickshaws slow toa ragged fringe across the intersection.The north- and south-bound take their turnin the same gentle, fearless lack of order.Ah, she says, see how aware they are,each of the other. Such harmony: you can tellit's a Buddhist country. Spoilsport, I pointto where, so easily ignored, enmeshed in athicket of wire overhead, lights flicker:green, amber, red.

— Lesley Lebkowicz



Mail Pattern Boldness [meru otoko] I live in a quiet part of townThe neighbours are nice andproper. We vote, we are quietour children do well at good schools, we keep our gardenstidy. The mail carrier is notfrom around here. He dropsletters on the wet grass, does not always shave, smells ofcigarettes and closed roomsis much too loud with screendoors and tramps through the ivy as if his heavy boots weremade of silk. We watch in silenthorror from behind lace curtains.Is it like this on your street? — Andrew J. Khaled Madigan




This is a lonely place, this messy desk.The air-con heating hums forlorn.To leave the building is to take a riskthat employment sees another morn.

This is a lonely breath that I inhale,as I drive my short commute.The clockwork mouse under the hood sets sailas I drift home to my well repute.

This is a lonely life, this tour de jour,as I lose sight of myself.Daily consumption of dear caffeine's brewbreaks up allotted times. Seasons of health.

This is a maudlin, self-pitying elf passing an existential ally-oop.Hoping to perceive my better selfrallying round the reasons to re-group.

To score a heaping help of pointed tomes;to get beyond the badinage.To lose myself in joyful, human poemsand join the roiling repechage.

This is a lowly downer, an ill song, that nonetheless safeguards some joy.There is a hope that gets me past each wrong,reminding me I'm more than winter's toy. — Barry Gittins


Lesley Lebkowicz lives in Canberra. She writes poetry and prose and has won awards for both.

Andrew Madigan is a writer from Washington, DC. His novel, Khawla's Wall, is published by Second Wind.

Barry Gittins is a communication and research consultant for The Salvation Army.