No tube line invasions this week as that irritatingly subtle creature called Life reared her ugly head and I, unfortunately, did not have a spare three hours together to hand out more poems. However, I did receive an email from someone who picked up one of my poems at Hampstead station and her email sparked some thoughts in me.

She was very positive about the poem she read and was kind enough to offer her own interpretation of it. It was not the meaning I had intended but I hold to the belief that the writer relinquishes the poem when they leave it in tube stations for people to find and it is on its own to make new friends in whatever way it sees fit. I could see what she meant and I liked her interpretation.

She told me how she had felt the poem reflected our innate helplessness as a species, and the fact that many of our choices are dictated for us by predetermined factors, such as genes, external influences, nurtured personality and instinctual behaviour. It was an interesting and insightful reading and I enjoyed it. I like to believe I have a certain element of control over my own destiny and the choices I am able to make, but then I am frequently thwarted, frustrated and desperate about things I am unable to control. Lack of control scares me. It makes me wonder if this lack of control is what encourages people to turn towards other means, and trust in other things, to safeguard them. The practice of reading the future, religion, the many deities that colour our cultures, things I have previously ridiculed as frivolous and unimportant are, arguable, the product of a collective and resourceful human mind attempting to justify its lack of control.

Anyway, these were my many thoughts, and they manifest themselves in the following poem, called ‘If In Doubt, Consult Origami’. I hope you like it.


If In Doubt, Consult Origami

We fold the paper

twice each, a colour

on each edge and move

the pointed corners like

a mouth. The answers

already set (we wrote them

ourselves) but we pretend

surprise. The supplementary

splints that fortify

our choices with an element

of inevitable


Yes, the folded                                                                                             (nothing)

tool is lost eventually—                                                                        settles into the background

steeped in fungal dust                                                                         with the obvious always. We,

under sofa beds. Unfed                                                                              segments of forever

energies of fear and fury                                                                           shout with long vowels,

ripen in the warm dark                                                                               into the dusk

follow us,                                                                                                      and hope our voices

carry into the soles of our shoes.                                                             will accompany the sun

we are not salmon. Our pathways                                                       to the southern hemisphere.

are defined by current.                                                                               our hope is pitiful

our bodies line                                                                                       like dragonflies stumbling over

the shadows. Sometimes                                                                          we tremble against death.

we remember the paper                                                                             there is no alternative.

palm reader. Each of us feels                                                                   the tide rinses her dunes of

the weight of it, hoping                                                                              our paw prints,

we don’t show                                                                                              too soon,

our fear. We would

be safer if the little tool

were here.