We count the days.  Thirty till we’re

right out of here.

In twenty-one

the packers come.

Lunches, dinners, saying farewell . . .

In parallel

more than enough

dull admin stuff:

accounts to close, phone bills to pay.

No careless, stray

weekends to waste –

just frantic haste.


Already in a way we’ve left,

becoming deft,

in self-defence,

at shifting tense.

We live as if in retrospect,

to disconnect –

while shaking hands

and making plans –

from every brutal ‘now’.  You see,

time’s alchemy

protects, transforms

(read, misinforms . .  .)


What we’ve done is accelerate

the standard rate

of forgetting,


time present as time past, a slick

internal trick

which gets us through

the ballyhoo.

It’s useful practice anyway

against the day

we drop for good

all such dead wood.

First published in Time to Kill Sparrows: A Kaleidoscope of Verse by Diplomats and their Families, 1999. Also published in Happenstance Envoy, 2013.