The wisdom of weeds

December 31, 2017 at 8:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Battlefield earth

Battlefield earth.

I’m in the garden.

And the garden is in me.

Clay in my nails. Dirt in my heels. Barbs in my fingers. Good [?] bacteria in my blood.

I sweat – as if to change the earth’s pH.

What weeds are these?!

Astonished at their powers of surface regeneration, I dig an inspection trench.

It soon turns archaeological.

Under the mulch, communication lines link camouflaged outposts.

Hook a finger under one and you take out a redoubt.


I work at this, thinking I have the weeds’ measure.

But at the fifth skirmish, a deeper network briefly appears under refilling soil.

Thicker cables; taking two hands.

The first yields easily in loose aggregate. A flank surrenders!

A shot of dopamine for my pains. Better than a computer game.

But the second line resists in difficult ground. Fighting, fighting … until the engagement suddenly breaks off.

The third fibre parts instantly. It’s darker than the others. Rotting. An abandoned line.

I scrabble at the deepening mystery.

Clods, stones, lesser roots; nothing exciting.

Until I hit pay dirt.

A nexus! With branch lines crossing. Think Hurt locker IED with multiple shells.

Loosened, they tear down crazy tangents – each a new rabbit hole to explore.

I check progress.

I’m doing four inches per hour on a three-foot front.

I need these old measures. I’m dealing with the archaic.

My mother was in this place.

Can she feel my touch across the divide?

Do these weeds note her half-strength scent on my laboured breath?

Before us, the Germans. Planting lemon groves. Building their church from local stone. Did they join battle too?

Before them, the first people. Who doubtless knew these plants as intimate relations.

Perhaps a broth of the damn things could ease my dreams.

The sinews thicken as I descend. Like a Soviet metro if they really put their backs into it. Tunnels without end.

Now I’m led to strange, pale nodes – like crushed balsa. Are these the weeds’ archives? Their intelligence? Their command and control?

I stop.

What right have I to evict this network for my piffling planting?

To undo eons of effort.

Who am I to pry?

But then, I stare at the long row I’m yet to hoe.

And realise

these weeds will be here

long beyond

the Anthropocene.

To keep me in potting mix, you may wish to

Whatever the sum, I’ll down a bulb in your honour.





Brown widow

January 20, 2017 at 9:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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What we do in life …

It is dusk.

I chat on the warm footpath with the widow next door.

She don spik Englis so good.

I no spik Greek at all.

So she’s ahead on points.

We usually get there in the end.

She ask how am I.

I say I’m OK, but dizzy (gestures) from the hospital pills.

She ask why I am in the hospital.

I pause, realising this topic will be even tougher than our council’s three-bin waste cycle.

I point to my head and say it is sick.

I point to the church hall down our street.

I talk about a man who did bad things to me (and lots of other kids) a long time ago.

I glance at her face, to see if my words are small enough.

Unexpectedly, we lock eyes.

Through these wet, brown, Mediterranean portals, I see.

Her grief, her loneliness, her inability to keep up with everything.

And her children’s thirst to flog her home of 40 years.

I wait for her reply.

She nods slowly,


points to a riot of Agapanthus and says,

‘I think this is too much for the bin.

I don kno if the man – he will take.’

For some seconds, I plan an entirely different response.

Then, I assure her all will be well.

And that if the man – he no take,

I will call the council.



He take.

Pic by Roger Culos.

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Even a buck or three will keep me in the hunt. With many thanks, Paul.

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