My friend Bob the Poet told me about it. A terse verse tercet. Seems related to the Japanese Haiku, but apparently originates from the Philippines. I’ve found an obscure website about it: http://www.baymoon.com, which says the following:

In a traditional Hay(na)ku, there are:

  • 3 lines.
  • A total of 6 words: 1 in the first line, 2 in the second line, and 3 in the third line.
  • There is no restriction on syllables or stressed or rhymes.

Variations include a ‘reverse’ haynaku where the longest line (3 words) is placed at the beginning and the shortest (1 word) at the end of the poem which still has only 6 words in all.

Here is mine this morning (OK, I cheated, ditched an article, used a hyphen, and made the lines look inconsistent):


Sitting motionless

Dead or alive?







I can still see my friend A standing in the door of N’s office, tugging at her abaya and singing “I want to break free”. She did, although it was years before “free” re-entered her dictionary. Now she looks radiant and has a purpose in life. She says it takes her a long time to make a decision, she is slow in weighing out her options and choosing the best one. But once she’s chosen, she goes with it and takes it to its conclusion. Today she showed me a video a friend sent her from Iraq of a glorious sunrise on a farm full of palm trees and chirping, trilling birds. No sound of bombs. Only beauty and freedom. No need for decisions, just breathe in the dawn.

My decisions, if rash, can be like exploding bombs, leaving rubble and devastation, scorched grass, broken glass, injured parties. They are marginally better when I don’t make them immediately, but sleep on them after drinking suitable quantities of thought-inspiring beverages. There is a lot to be said for hangover as a source of insight and serenity.

In general, I think, my decision-making skills are mediocre at best. Therefore I have made a decision not to make decisions. “Don’t rock the boat”, a good friend told me last night. Let the sleeping dogs lie. No decisions. Let it be. I’m feeling decisively mellow having made that decision.


Sleeping and not dreaming

The young ones sleep well

They fall into sleep and sleep in a shell

Still unafraid of the fading light

They dream dreams softly with their young dreaming might

Dreams of mountains un-climbed and oceans un-crossed

Of apples un-eaten and dice still un-tossed

Of lights un-lit and dresses un-made

Sleeping while dreams begin to fade

Not seeing light turn into shade


We envy the young the soundness of sleep

We envy the dreams, the light, and the lightness

We watch them and whisper and even weep

To see encroaching, impending slightness

To see ourselves not long ago

To hear our elders say ‘told you so’


Morning after

After a blast of a Thanksgiving party last night, an unexpectedly early start followed a very late finish. At 4 something this morning a strange noise woke me up, like a thud or crash or something. I was alone in the house and in complete darkness, including that present in my still-inebriated brain. I froze under the duvet and had a rapid succession of not entirely coherent thoughts: what the fk…, a werewolf, giant cockroach, masked intruder robbing me of my bottled goods and sprouting potatoes I keep for a special occasion? Not an awakening one would hope for after a night of imbibing. “Get out you stupid bastard!!”, I shouted in the strongest whisper I could muster. Finally, curiosity replaced fear and I ventured out of the bedroom to discover that Katherine’s bookcase had collapsed under the weight of education: her notebooks from Doha College fell out through the bookcase’s back passage so to speak. Some questions arose from that experience, as I noted on Facebook: What is education really for? Does anyone know a carpenter? Or have a bookcase for sale? 


potatoes bookcase-1 bookcase-2 bookcase-4 bookcase-5 

Lifebelt experience

I tried to explain the power of words to my students the other day. Words, I said, have power in and of themselves (paraphrasing a great writer of course), they create our reality – it does not exist in and of itself, but only through words. They sat in dead silence, but one was less dead than the others. I think her reality came into being at that point.

On a seemingly unrelated topic, I must state here for the record that sometimes one needs a lifebelt to swim to the shore when one is “not waving but drowning”. And sometimes words fail me. That’s when I go back to black and spend money on new clothes. Anyway, my friend Adina is coming over for pre-party drinks shortly. We’ll talk.


“A word has power in and of itself. It comes from nothing into sound and meaning; it gives origin to all things.”

N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain

Lamentation on education as business

I feel uneasy, or even disturbed, at the thought of marrying education with business. The changing ethos of the educational environment simply means a more business-like approach to teaching and learning. The new organisational discourse employs terminology from the field of corporate management, not education. For example, what does the phrase “meeting expected productivity standards” mean in the context of a classroom? Or, “achieving objectives by setting challenging quantitative and qualitative goals”? Such lexical developments could lead to significant changes in the overall ideology of an educational organisation. They are also potentially contradictory to the spirit and mission of any self-respecting educational institution.

There are other developments, too, including installation of bio-metric attendance monitoring, i.e. dumb thumb-printing to clock in and out of work, just as it is done in factories. What differentiates teachers from factory workers? What’s the difference between a classroom and an assembly line? Not much? Woe to the world if that’s the case… Now, I’m going to re-heat the old brick in the wall. Has it always been like this?

school-1 school-2 school-3 school-4