I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world,
to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

Some of these poems are autobiographical, some are entirely fictional, and some are a mixture of both. The intention is art rather than self-expression. I don't allow factual details to get in the way of poetry! (I do seek emotional truth.) They are works in progress, and may be subject to revision without notice. Completed versions appear in my books. Nevertheless copyright applies to all texts found here. Copyright also applies to almost all photos posted here, most of which are my own, though a few are licensed under Creative Commons.
Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

16 January 2017

A Chemical Reaction

I watched in awe, savouring every detail: the fluttering fingers, the almost imperceptible bronze metallic cloudiness that appeared on the skin, as if, before my very eyes, it were being breathed upon by death. 
    And then the utter stillness.
– from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: a Flavia de Luce mystery, by Alan Bradley

The slow discolouration of his skin;
its cloudiness; the metallic cast.
The abrupt silence of the breath 
drawing in – out – in – then nothing.
(After the fluttering fingers had stopped).

These are her delights,
the keenly dispassionate observations
of the fervent scientist.
She thinks herself blessed 
to come so close as this to the marks of death.

It is not a personal interest.
The dead man is a stranger
who wandered into her garden ... died there.... 
She simply likes to investigate 
the effects of specific poisons.

Linked to Inside the Ink at 'imaginary garden with real toads' – where we are invited to take a quote from the last book we read and play with it in three stanzas. (I have also written a review of this book: here.)

15 January 2017

Because You

Because you are music,
I sing you, even 
when you aren't here,
softly in memory.

Because you are wine,
you intoxicate me
slowly and smoothly,
the taste lingering.

Because you are ocean,
I bathe in you, plunge
and almost drown, then float
on your buoyant blue.

Because you are poetry,
I return to you again and again; 
you fill my mouth, 
I give you utterance, but –

Because you are mystery,
I cannot touch your core,
fathom your depths, recover 
from you, find your truest chords.

Written in response to Literary Excursions: human in terms of non-human 
at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

12 January 2017


This chain that holds me
here in place,
this block of stone
and the metal ring
fixing me to it,
tighten and firm 
as I struggle to pull away.

If I give up
if I give in – 
might the stone soften,
a bed for my rest? 
Could the heavy shackle 
open into a door? 
And where would that door lead?

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif: The Door

8 January 2017

There Was This Man

(this out-of-standard dropout)

He climbs from a hole in the ground,
trots jerkily through the cemetery
gorging on wreaths of roses
redder than blood –
plunging his whole face, tearing. 

Wearing green; devouring flowers ...
yet nothing about him suggests 
life or nature. He has crawled
from some circle of Hell; he has lost
everything he ever loved or was.

For Play It Again 7 Jan. 2017 at 'imaginary garden with real toads', we are asked to be inspired by Laurie Anderson, or the Out of Standard movie clip 'Film School Dropout' (see below), or (in 55 words) by Dante Alighieri. It was mostly the movie clip that got me, but I also gave nods to Anderson and Dante, and wrote it in 55 words. The fact that I have recently been bingeing on 'The Vampire Diaries' crept in there too.

5 January 2017

A Conversation About Creating a Vision

The vision the conversation is about is recorded here.

Me without –
without hope, without vision,
without a dream for the future –
what could that be?

A testing? 
A between kind of place?
A terrible thwarting?

No – matter
is not sufficient.
I need also the soft frisson
of hope, though it may be

The truth of fact
is one thing, and facts
are hard to shift, they are
rocks you trip over.

Truth stretches though,
to fractal infinity
with built-in random.
So I have hope
enough to create a vision.

The way is up,
I believe.
Then my friend 
tells me
her truth.

Rich, awful telling.
(Some of it I've heard
in other places before.)
A vision for the future
will pull you back, she says.

You'll be stuck
in / with / to 
the past you label bad.
Isn't it better to see 
your vision here, now?

Never mind (I think)
what I do see here and now.
The mere word Aleppo
conjures maimed children, 
terrified parents. 

In my own town
I see the deranged,
the homeless,
walking about
as part of 'normal'.
I will not blind my eye.

How long
should we let this lie?
Well, there is being and doing.

Nothing ventured....
The watery grief, even
the shock and rage,
all are real, each
is necessary, this

is a way to finding out 
what more brings life to life.
From that we create vision.

My soul can have it be
here, now, radiant, yes,
but my body
is trapped in time,
and my personality too,

for reflection
is a thing we can do.
We can pull the vision close,
make it
an act of creation.

Deliberately stepping
for this moment
out of time,
hearing in mind and heart
the sweet words 
expressing our vision –

right then it is here,
we are in it,
and we carry back
to the everyday world
that consciousness –
a mechanism
of infiltration,
helping the vision spread.

Always yet to be reached?
No. Only hear it.
Only hold it.
Know it. 
Be it.

And if that seems unreal, 
simply start
here, now.

Back Story

Susan, at Poets United's Midweek Motif, asks us for a vision of the future, in poetry. I am one of a sisterhood called the Goddesses of Shining Light, who spent months last year creating and articulating just that (though not in verse). Here (again) is the link; we are inviting people to listen and, if they choose, hold it in consciousness (and in their daily meditations if they do that). I couldn't say it better (and btw the concepts are not new – though arrived at anew – but bear reiterating)So I thought to write, instead, a poem about creating a vision.

I began with an erasure, and the idea that I might expand it. A friend (Debi Swim) sent me a package wrapped in a Barnes and Noble bag with an excerpt from Huckleberry Finn printed on one side, one from Moby Dick on the other. We don't have B&N in Australia; I was enchanted!  The first verse of my (unexpanded) erasure poem below was from Huck, the second courtesy of Ishmael.

Meanwhile I posted on facebook the invitation to listen to our vision. A friend suggested we'd do better to envision our ideal world as already here, not to dwell on the negatives (though in fact I don't think our vision does that, except perhaps by implication). I understand where she's coming from. However.... We had a long discussion, which gave rise to an expansion of the erasure poem into something else. I even incorporated (in verse two) some of Spellcheck's more creative mistakes! The resulting poem, above, is my vision poem for the prompt (not the vision itself – for which you must click the link and listen – but about the process).

Creating a Vision 

me without 
no matter
the truth
the way is up
rich awful

never mind
how long
the watery 
is a way 
my soul 
deliberately stepping

3 January 2017

Mothers' Secrets

Without warning
time reels back, 
returning always 
over and over
to those fragments 
best forgotten – 
which of course 
we don't forget.

A half-revealed eyebrow
in a photo, the reminiscent
shape of a stranger's shoulder,
a stray curl on a forehead ...
our lost children.

Written for Quadrille #23: curl at dVerse.

1 January 2017

New Book!

Dear Poetry Readers –

If you are not on facebook, don't read my SnakyPoet personal blog or look at my official website, and haven't noticed the ad currently at the top of my Publications list in the right side-bar here on this blog – I just want to make quite sure you know I have a new book of poetry out: THREE CYCLES OF THE MOON.

It's a collaboration with old friends and esteemed fellow-poets Jennie Fraine and Helen Patrice. At SnakyPoet I describe how our friendships began, and how, many years later, we came to produce this book together. The article at the website also deals with the genesis of the book, in a briefer, more business-like, but I hope still interesting way.

Both of course are glorified ads, as is this. We think it's a terrific book and we'd love as many people as possible to read it. To that end, we made it an ebook, available at Smashwords in whatever format you require, for the ridiculously low price of $3.99 USD.


19 December 2016

Safe from Storm

Here we are again, 
me and my small black cat.
She is licking her tail,
one leg stuck up high
beside her head …
now she is scratching
briskly behind an ear.

We are in our garden.
It is not yet wet,
but rain threatens to fall
from the closing-in sky.
Everything is still, in a dead
pause, as if fetching
power out of the air.

As without, not within!
I give her a pat,
watch her uncoil.
We know, by and by
the sky will rain hard,
make thunder. But, watching,
by then we’ll be inside our door.

She is enough companion
to soothe my heart
and keep it sweetly full.
I hope that also I
fulfil her deepest need.
Contentment is catching,
I trust, for me and for her.

14 December 2016

I Can Hear the Music

Behind the high fence
he plays his radio loud.
In the late afternoon sun,
gone from hot to warm,
I'm happy to listen unseen
to music I also like.

The wall of sound is dense.
I feel like one of the crowd
at a live concert – not here alone
in sprawling ease. To him
I'm invisible, unheard. My garden
is over the fence. He won't look.

It would make no sense
to him that my tastes are broad.
Advanced years like mine
enjoying hard rock, he can't fathom.
'Boyo,' I think, 'My generation –
we're the ones who invented rock!'

I restrain the urge to dance.
At the same time, I'm glad
that lively impulse hasn't gone.
Instead I unearth a poem;
it gives a cheeky grin
as it chooses the shape to take.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Music.