the life and work of Philip Naudč Philip Naude Philip Naude artist
earlier work

Waterfall hourglass

Waterfall of walls
taller, and bridges
ten fold higher
ever present and vaporous
as distant great cathedrals
stretch unfolded fingers
together to the infinite
of present steady sway
and soft clatter
upon steel rails, still
in the darkest night
under this dark knight
glowing an icy sheen
in moonlight high
through echoes
of the silence, resilience
passing again among
the flat silhouettes
of an ever ending love
born of an ancient epiphany
told another story
earth tones grow
yielding beautiful inevitable
gentle decay the succulence
the sands of arid
unbroken seal placed carefully
blend in disarray amid
the click and ting
of effort
the brakeman’s mallet
crisp in the quiet
of towers built
by still true hands
firm, but still pliant
and warm, worn
of ancient means, honest
but without circumstance
no proud parade
of horses in piaffe
frozen and adorned
with the hasps of self
eyes closed
of walking tentative
on upon autumns leaves
fallen, not yet dry
brittle still
still yielding
still resistant
of the moment
of another singular time
irreplaceable and inconceivable
where truth too
can exist only if
an unsealed truth exists
behind this waterfall
of dreams
this curtain of motion made
of the softest substance
but that moves mountains
carves valleys
of patience and
of the stolen moments
the private movement
paced graceful
and consistent
a story of sands
Passing from above
And through at last
of fertile lands laid
Sadly fallow beneath
the ripened season
of will and willing
of ability
of passion to reason
with a dance, a flirtation
with the Phantom
or a spectre
of unknown character
perfect somewhere waiting
alas beyond recognition
but still forceful
like this waterfall
cascade roaring
deafening proud
of lions lurking
concealed in taller grasses
beyond this field
of vision hidden
of shallow breathing
of caution seething
in every other instant
to uncoil serpent like
strike, for life, love
some unguided duty
for better or worse, wet
from the warm blanket
of this waterfall
of falling water
with no fear
of falling further
of digging even deeper
of those fingers
of failures
which clutter and fall
tumble and bother
form pools of answers
of sand castles silently
awaiting the tide
by this moonlight
their shadows only
as passing as
the great walls themselves
still speaking of myths
of the blue green need
of fairytales for children
desperate for simple comfort
longing without looking
young and fragile
beguiled before the hourglass
as the final sands pass
sands made many by
the timeless tension
of this water falling
of this unrelenting
rhythm that only knows
not of decision
that moves as it moves
with a curious rhyme
of a feline blinded
amiss within a vision
which at times
can only be redefined
as a more pure secure
direction of some sort
some kind nature
in negligence in natural
of confined freedom
an openness to being
a release and feeling
to see without seeing
like looking at the dance
of light shape and shadow
through this waterfall
wet quilt blanket
of blue green imagery
thick unfolding veil
of ever ending tears
ceaselessly it almost seems
but as arid sands
that came from one
to become so many
under the urgency
of these waters
that teemed endlessly
over the worn edges
become again one
passing through the
narrow passage
from beginning to end
the hourglass no longer
victim to itself and
burden of design
it rests now steady
firmly on it’s base
and as the final grain
of future
of sand
of past
of one
of many falls like
a last dry tear
the moment
at long last
has past

Back to top

The Tea Chronicles: Part I

Tea falls down laughing again.
He’s strangely, and sometimes quite inconveniently,
always been this way, but what had just transpired
hardly called for, shall we say, such an elaborate display.
For display it was, and Tea even would admit to it,
not immediately of course,
but after an adequately proportioned discussion,
long enough to be seen as deep,
but shallow enough to be completely void of conclusion.
So somehow Tea has managed to turn on his side,
which provides for far greater diaphragm movement,
and in turn louder and infinitely more abrasive bursts of cackle.
It was often said that old Tea had a unique sensibility
that allowed him to find humor in places others would not,
but sadly would not permit him to find it in places where others did.
Invariably this would lead to Tea finding himself feeling
as though he was leaning on one wall of a room full of people
who were all leaning on one of the remaining three.
Not that it ever really bothered him that much,
and as he gets up holding his hand to his chest like a winded old sea dog,
releasing a final hiccup sort of snicker, he cautiously seeks his balance.

"That was funny." said Tea.

After navigating through the majority of an unusually dense gathering
of particularly uninteresting urban revelers, all vainly in search of a topic
or desperately negotiating a lay, Tea figures the best thing to do
in any given situation, but especially this one,
is to stretch his patented ‘super sardonic’ grin across his face and comment.
Fortunately, after his eyes glowed with the bite of his forthcoming editorial,
but before it was formed on his lips and unleashed on the innocent and unaware,
Fate, in all her "Yea? Well, we’ll see about that" glory produced a banana peal
where no banana peal should rightfully, or logically be. It appeared mysteriously,
at lease to Tea, under his left heel, precisely when he intended to step firmly
on gods great earth. The result was nothing short of a genuine classic,
in the vein of the first documented Pie-in-the-Face gag,
attributed to Fatty Arbuckle (as the recipient) on July 17th 1913.
As his arms flailed like some inebriated interpretive dancer,
his torso caught the back of an innocent man
who chose the wrong place to tie his perennially untied shoelace.
Tea came down on the man with one brutal decisive crush,
causing him to practically disappear from sight
save for a shoe and two hands halfway through their task,
frozen, mannequin, and slowly shifting hue into the blues.
With his body arched whale like over the mute lump,
Tea had to lift his chin to his chest to see
the gathering crowd of open mouths.
The rest of his body remained motionless,
and as he let his head fall back
to where he had originally found it,
the grin returned.

"That was funny." said Tea

Back to top

Alone in this charade

The grounds were filled with progress,
the spirit of tomorrow, with all its promise
and none of it's foreboding.

She saw his silhouette, dark against a bright sky.
All formal and poised in his hat and tie,
but she knew there lay an animal within that strict visage
jaws wide, eyes sharp and alive.

As he walked away and became a mere trace
of an ever decreasing image, she asked herself
Is he alone in this charade, or am I not just as he,
a beast, hungry, ready, staring wild behind bared teeth?

Back to top

The offering

This body of water, seemingly still, holds fathoms.
This surface like glass. It’s depths unfold more enchanting
the farther one descends. Held by a worn and proud levy.

The strength of this moment is undeniable,
it’s passion insatiable, the tension exquisite.
How can one stand on such a surface,
so present, yet in an instant, nonexistent?

Soft. These words are fragile, tentative.
Longing is molded of thin walls, formless,
as water takes the shape of that which contains it.
Expanding, strong enough only to hold for this moment,
then releasing, like a sigh.

This worn and proud boundary,
Crafted by strong but reluctant hands
knows only of one mystery,
walks slowly upon warm sands.

Back to top

A wordless proclamation

The ground appears to swell, like a wave of earth and stone,
buckling and arcing, a gargantuan mythic bull rising into the air
and landing sending a tremor out in all directions, unseen,
but felt by anything that has the ability to feel.
The world seems to lunge out, stretching it's arms
in a matutinal gesture revived and alive,
larger and more awe inspiring than the eons that lead up to it.
Everything responds to this surge of motion,
nothing can escape it's bold wordless proclamation,
nothing can deny it's timeless declaration.
All this and more from a simple solitary beat
that emits from within the cage of finger like bones
that wrap and protect the physical manifestation of my true self.
If we get too close, these waves, these frolicking bulls
threaten to bring to their foundations the tallest, most proud of buildings
for as far as the eye can see. If the clouds of dust were to ever settle
from this glorious catastrophe they would reveal two figures walking silently,
unscathed amidst the ruins searching playfully for the treasures left behind
by those unable to see the beauty in the mundane, the charm of the simple,
and the truth revealed when the walls fall.
And the treasures are plenty.

Back to top


The slow curve
descending gracefully,
pulls constant.
No choice or reason
resistance is as cold
as this draw is ancient
older than any memory
and present, never past.
The arch holds
and the space between
seems to sing
melodies, security
all through and across
this arc, beautiful
elegant and aloof,
the only reason
to shed reason
and allow the
pull, subtle
but undeniable
as the body moves.
The motion, the
tension of need
to open, bloom
in the last light
as the air cools.

Back to top

Pride of lions

The animals thought
if this were not
some endless museum
but a room alone
unattended and adorned
with vacancy, the
walls would forgo
their hollow cause
accepting the futile
nature of this
staged purity and
welcome the menagerie
flaws and all
to trample aimlessly

Back to top


Words travel with startling ease across still waters, skipping like stones, traveling to places unintended by those from whom they came while words spoken on the ocean in the presence of even the slightest breeze can change meaning, and sometimes disappear as if never spoken at all. These words have been heard for thousands of years, each one evoking the traditions that they both formed and were formed by, and as they mix with the ever present sound of water coming in contact with itself, with this vessel, and with the wind that we harness to drive her forward, one can not help but feel a very deep respect for everything else and only measured amounts for oneself. Perhaps the calls and responses of sailors have been shared across admiralty miles aided by these winds of change, formed and altered, arriving sometimes complete, other times frayed like the sailors themselves may arrive at port, while some never return only to become part of the ever expanding myth and mythologies of the sea.

There is no finer reminder of the constant presence of change than that which exists on the deck of a ship under the fickle blanket of gust and gale while moving across the give and take of an undulating sea. To be humbled by the delicacy that exists at every instant between these two most powerful forces, those that turn the faces of cliffs to sand, and carve canyons between mountains, was a right of passage for so many who have come before us, and it is perhaps to our great detriment that for so many, it no longer is. There is neither limit to their patience, nor cause to their petulance as they wait for no one, and speak only to each other in a language we can only listen to in hopes of comprehending a single word or perhaps a passing phrase within our lifetime.

Back to top

The Divine sits further away these days

The Book of Jubilees describes the physical demise of the last allegorical effort on the part of humanity to work in unison, collectively (or by virtue of some, "great leader's vision") desirous of attaining a nearer proximity to the Creator. In some cultures and other Books, the structure is intended for sanctuary from another impending deluge brought upon the meddling masses by (apparently) the elusive and aforementioned Head Honcho, when in fact we usually have only ourselves to blame for the wrath of the gods. As the story goes, the great tower was razed by the powers that Be as a reminder to the mortal that this construction was indeed a fool's errand, and to punctuate the statement, the people of the world were dispatched to the four corners, and left to speak in a plethora of languages thereby foiling any future attempts at such lofty, and essentially arrogant ambitions. Perhaps the repercussions of this act of divine intervention were not lost on the Divine, but one cannot help but wonder if we truly deserved the subsequent untold number of future misunderstandings that continue to result in fear, folly, anger, and bloodshed, or if this was a rare, and obviously undocumented case of Deus Doofus.

Regardless, a mighty wind is fabled to have toppled the immense phallus, so in effect it could be stated that a great burst of Immortal Flatulence was unleashed upon Mankind in response to our misdirected efforts, which would easily account for the quick and even dispersal of the people in every direction, but does leave the confusion of the tongues unresolved. Osmosis runs it's natural course, and there is only a faint lingering of that original and sobering stench, so little that we seem to have collectively located it among the other less palatable arrivals to our olfactory system (with our garbage, last weeks tuna casserole, and the overworked, underpaid slumped on the downtown train, ripe at 6pm in August) and therefore no longer recognized it for what it is, or was. The result is the obvious and rapid recommencing of construction, but this time, without the aid of a common language, it is no longer a single physical structure nor a unified desire, it has become several, and all are geared for the sole purpose of preserving themselves. No longer seeking shelter from a catastrophic deluge or any of the other more colorful plagues of yesteryear, this time it is protection from other mortals and this time there is no great tower rising to reach one Almighty benefactor.

As far as the eye can see, these shrines grow steadily upward toward any number of aspirations, proud, dedicated, but blind to their commonality, deaf to the shared muse, and dumb. Another great wind blows, more gently this time, but the emissions from any omniscient and ever-present Creator are fueled by the furnace of their being and powerful enough to scorch the fields even from such a distance, for the Divine sits further away these days, unable to watch the buildings rise, and because the babble has grown unbearable.

Back to top

Warning: Poetry can be harmful to your health.

It might be advisable, especially for the benefit of the hopeless romantics, quixotic artisans, and the legions of troubled adolescents to label poetry with warnings, as is done with the cigarette package and more recently, alcohol advertisements. Not that one should always consult with the family physician before taking a poem, but caution and pause should be heeded for in the wrong hands, and more accurately, in the wrong hearts, poetry can lead to unnecessary discomfort, misplaced affections, phantom afflictions, and in some cases a slow and painful death. Additionally, try to be aware of where your poetry comes from for not all of it, while still perfectly beautiful, comes from a source you can trust. The majestic lilt of poetic reflection, in combination with the layers of symbolism, the distance between the subject and the subjected, the carefully chosen and often floral vocabulary have the intended tendency to lead the reader unto pastures where life becomes serene, even in it's darkest hours, and for the more malleable among us, this can be dangerous.

Now while some will argue that this is precisely the purpose of the poem, of prose, the novel, and more accessibly, the fantasies of celluloid and the doomed 'great educator' television, consider looking past the immediate response of the doe eyed reader, or viewer, and observe what the long term effects of this relationship truly are. Any premature attempt to meld the poetic with the actual moment that is creating it can have numerous and adverse side effects. The label should read: Can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, loss of perspective, insomnia, delusion, nausea, and the operation of heavy machinery should be avoided. The moment is course, it is real and can smell badly, taste bitter, look ugly and sound shrill, and it is best to see the beauty in it for what it really is rather than wish it come in leather bound quartos. Until experience is gained, the only means by which this gentle melding can occur, poetry is best left for later, by fireside, over fond recollections or on the docks in the gloaming as stories are told. This is where poetry flourishes, and where it can in fact be quite healthy.

Perhaps this is a more personal reflection than an analysis of a common experience, as your intrepid author falls flatly (on his face) in the hopeless romantic category mentioned above. Having recently written on the aesthetics of sailing after a beautiful afternoon on the water, this novice was invited back for another sail, this time an overnight race, and those words were tucked lovingly and metaphorically into breast pocket for the journey. From the first moments on board, his sophomore experience was qualitatively different and clearly at odds with the words so fluidly laid to paper. The ocean was strong, and everything understandably damp while bodies worked every moment to maintain advance, sails tipped acute as if pointing to a low flying bird blown off course by the relentless winds. There sprung no eloquence from lips save the more clever expletives, and an orange that had tasted so sweet only an hour before was released to the sea as an involuntary albeit mandatory offering of forgiveness. Gazing at the wash rush past only inches away he was flush with the sense that this experience was a less than gentle response from the elements to having brought that prematurely rhapsodic diction on board.

Before words must come actions, and before any further meditations on the nature of the sea are to be shared, there must come a deeper understanding of her, a more through knowledge of his own limitations when tested by her, but first and foremost, many more hours in her arms. Only then will those words hold real meaning, have even the slightest essence of true poetry, and belong to the moment that created them.

Back to top

Hong Kong

Another in a long series of fortunate circumstances, I have been lucky enough to have recently become familiar with the dynamic streets of this unique city, and the throngs of people that employ them. The vertical stretch of it's skyline boasts three of the world's ten tallest buildings, all surrounded by a staggering number of equally impressive monuments to architecture and finance while needle like apartment buildings peek sibling about them, eager to make a similar impression as countless more rise daily, and densely along the edges of Victoria Harbor.

Similar fortune should be awarded to be living in Wan Chai at this particular moment in time. The Urban Renewal projects are moving quickly, and the small streets, sidewalk vendors, old apartments and specialty shops are soon to be diminished substantially by their expedience. There is a certain sadness people express at the loss of Hong Kong's last 'old style' neighborhood in the heart of the city. The benefit I have, despite being accompanied by a similar sense of regret, is the kinetic atmosphere of men assembling and climbing towers of bamboo scaffolding, streams of sparks from welders falling amidst the dense smell of wet concrete with trucks loading or unloading at all hours while the alleys below are filled with hawking vendors and wandering buyers, all lit warm by countless red and gold New Years lanterns, decorations, and presents all heralding the onset of the Year of the Golden Pig.

Through my windows this Saturday morning comes a deafening combination of workers calls, of tools severing walls from floors, and of their sections being heaved into enormous waste containers with the thud and echo akin to a timpani for the gods. It is the building adjacent to my apartment, an old secondary school being dismantled, obvious as stacks of small desks pile up on the street awaiting removal, and it is certain that before I leave in a few short weeks the remaining shell will be encased in a weave of bamboo scaffolding, as elegant as it is durable, to be brought finally down as the foundation is laid for a building that will rise five times the height of the land's former tenant. Meanwhile, a woman in her twilight years, seemingly unaffected by the commotion moves gracefully through a series of slow deliberate movements on her patio as she has done since long before the window I watch from ever existed.

Back to top


Departure has few synonyms. It is a word that is as clearly defined and understood as any, but able to conjure a profound response few are capable of. Leaving little ambiguity, it is used euphemistically for death in so many cultures, a staple of the gentle turns of phrase in solemn eulogy. Change and action are inherent, and it holds a significant poetic burden as countless references made to it over the centuries have left it lonely, somewhat unwanted, an annoying uncle perhaps, lacking in social graces, aloof, and stubborn. Even the more optimistic, cyclical belief systems still regard it with trepidation, and lavish it with ceremony and lore regardless of any inevitable returning awaiting embrace. It marks an instant, or passage when one becomes other, a junction of present and future, and most often a place where friends and lovers part ways, where words become heavy as if gravity grows kudzu at it's threshold.

The occasion of departure becomes tainted and obscured by it's own importance, altered by the tension of the past pulling against future, the center in a mammoth game of Tug o' War where both sides are juggernaut, insistent and unyielding in their quest for influence over the moment. By definition the future will always prevail, as past tumbles awkwardly into a muddy pile of limbs at odd angles, groans of loss, and raised eyes looking toward the euphoric victorious. The past will have its revenge as it becomes draped in nostalgia, spoken of at length, framed and placed on mantles, in glass cabinets, on walls and in wallets. Meanwhile, the moment is silent and introspective. In the muster of emotions that accompany any given departure most are present, but not all, for while the moment is always the same, every departure is different, and pity stands alone outside the ostentation watching and feeling for those who are so helplessly in the throws of the others.

Back to top

The content of this web site is © 2005 by Philip Naudé.
Unauthorized use of any part of this site without the written consent of the owner is strictly forbidden.