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.
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 posts as much as possible.

24 November 2015

Surviving the Going On

Keep no promises to the dead.
That is a book that can't be read.
Life's path meanders; pages turn.
Time and new circumstance will burn all that you said.

You'll become a different you.
And the dead one is changing too.
The life here retreats to the past.
The soul says goodbye, and at last goes somewhere new.

The dead don't need or heed your word.
They leave who they were; you're unheard.
Death may be peaceful or violent.
No matter: to remain silent is not absurd.

It's otherwise while they're dying.
Speak loud, let the words come flying.
Promise anything that they ask.
Comfort, then, is your only task – even lying.

Later, let yourself be absolved.
Cycles of grief will have revolved.
There will come time to pause, look back.
You'll see that, walking this long track, you have evolved.

Survival IS the going on.
Move forward, beyond what is gone.
If you are still alive, then live!
That's the best, only gift to give to your loved one.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Survival. The suggested topic has to do with surviving violence. I have little experience of that. Instead, the first line of this poem jumped into my head and I went from there. I have been widowed a little over three years. In fact, no promises were asked or made at his dying – and if he had asked anything from me, it would have been exactly what I say in the final verse. But perhaps I had subconscious stuff to evolve from. And I do see that I have evolved. It may seem a cynical poem, but it feels positive.

The form is a Florette: a recent prompt from dVerse, which I didn't have time to address until now. To make every line a finite sentence was my own addition, for some unconscious reason – something to do with the finality of death, perhaps.

22 November 2015

You Were a Face in a High Window, Watching

You looked out over the back yard, checking.
Were the lines of washing still propped up,
a forked stick braced on earth pushing them skyward?

Face in the mirror – here are you, staring out again
in my own contours and expressions:
a living ghost. (I understand you better now.)

High over my life I think your soul will keep on gazing,
window of sky through to forever, while I live.
Watching. Looking out for me, not the washing.

A word acrostic for Play it Again #23 at 'imaginary garden with real toads', partly inspired by Ingrid Jonker's 'Ladybird' and partly by Bjorn Rudberg's 'time travel' prompt which asks us to include past, present and future.

21 November 2015

High Temperatures

I turn the fans up to 3,
I pour myself another
fine cold ginger beer.

All day I have shut out
the advancing heat, 
but now it rushes 
the barriers, pours in 
through tiny cracks.

The Big Hot should always
come on a Saturday afternoon
of no appointments or duties.

There is nothing I need to do
but sleep or read, or write 
an unimportant poem –
shutting from my mind 
what is sure to come:

tonight's TV news 
telling me where the fires 
have blackened today.

Luckily that last didn't happen, but we are warned of high fire danger – as so often in an Aussie summer.

Five days later – death and devastation in two States.

Linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #279

12 November 2015

Home is a River

Cataract Gorge in flood 2003. Photo by Aaroncrick 
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

River light moves flashing
almost faster than the eye,
lilting, sparkling silver,
where the boats come round the bend.
Their keels break the water
into fragments dancing bright
like swift, slippery fish, or
iridescent dragonflies.

Night-times on the hilltop,
from my window I kept watch
across the clumped houses
and the dark shapes of the trees
down into the harbour,
that blank, flat, round-edged bowl
of dark pierced by moonlight –
seeming still, but still alive.

Higher up, the rapids
in the rocky gorge frothed white
over big black boulders
in between high canyon walls.
We climbed the crevices
using grass tufts and toe-holds,
not children but pirates
or explorers of the wild.

I live by a river
half across the country now:
warmer, wider, slower,
with a softer, bluer sheen.
I ask myself often
how I came to be so blessed,
smiling at its beauty
which is constant sustenance.

The cold stream of childhood
with its steep and stony banks
gave me reassurance,
guardian of my town and me.
Then life moved me elsewhere
and I couldn’t hear its voice.
Now another river
tells me, ‘Dear, this too is home.’

My own photo of the Tweed River near Murwllumbah 2015

Linked to Poets United's Midweek Motif: River

9 November 2015

Bears and Elephants

Elephants and bears hold grudges, hiding in trees, waiting, pistons pumping — from “ARTIFICIAL WILDLIFE SANCTUARY” by Craig Rebele. Quote found in The Bibliomancy Oracle


I gave my small bear, named Red for his hue,
to Teo, three.
I spoke to Red mind to mind, to explain
this had to be.
A boy just starting to talk needs a bear
far more than me.
Red went away without a backward glance.
‘You’re boring,’ he thought at me. ’Now I’ll dance.’


In my friend’s neat unit, the elephants
both large and small
are scattered all over. She bought not one.
‘Gifts,’ she said. ‘All’.
They have different colours and attitudes,
all beautiful.
The largest lifts a sideboard on his back.
His narrowed eyes tell me he loathes the work.

Written for 'The Eye of the Beholder – Micro Poetry' at imaginary garden with real toads'. We're allowed to write more than one; I hope it's permissible to write two together!

Form: Cavatina

A Bus Ride with Van Gogh

I pass the cane fields, some of the cane still standing, some burnt back to the bare, blackened ground. A few have tiny new plants already growing. In the background are wooden houses on stilts, ramshackle, dotted across the landscape, distant from each other behind clumpy dark trees. The sky is awash with low grey cloud. We cross a bridge. The wide flat river is likewise grey.

In Vincent's landscape, here on my iPad, the fields are rolling waves of colour – vivid blue and green, splashes of sunny gold. The sky is riotous too, only a little lighter, as if reflecting the land. A haystack nestles in front of a cluster of houses, all of them white-walled and blue-roofed. The Autumn trees are orange and gold. 

The scene I am passing through alters to high-rise city – shops, offices, tenements. The walls are beige or grey, the roofs dark red or brown. 

These contrasts deceive. I am travelling towards our Summer country. Northwards, the further we go the more the sky lightens, becoming suffused with sun.

sad or mad –
yet in pulsing colour
he paints joy

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday 3

Image: View of Church of Saint Paul de Mausole, by Vincent Van Gogh

4 November 2015

The Point of It

Now that I have attained
a measure of tranquility,
now that time has elapsed
and I come to some kind of terms
with the ongoing inescapable fact
of grief, and the equally intransigent
need to continue living my whole life, fully –

I’d like to talk to you of all that, discuss
the interesting aspects, this learning
to be alone and like it. We could mull it over
together, dwell on the complications,
end up having a laugh (as we often did).
That would be a good measure of tranquility,
wouldn't it? But the point is to manage alone.

Written in response to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Tranquility — but I lost internet connection for some time before being able to link to that prompt, so offer it for The Poetry Pantry #277 instead).

3 November 2015

Entering the House of Death

This wet Spring night
I cross the dark threshold

to meet with you –
a union more intense
than our Beltane revels.

A Jisei (death poem) which forms a companion piece to an earlier one, as well as marking a personal Pagan ritual.

Linked to The Tuesday Platform for 10 Nov. 2015 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

28 October 2015

Leaps of Thought

His is a young mind.
It goes jump, jump, jump, very fast.
Mine is much older. It goes,
‘Hang on, let me take some time.
I need a run-up
to clear this hurdle.’

The surprising part
is that we manage to meet
in the middle somewhere,
ending up at the very same point.
There are ways
we do think alike.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Animation
Inspired by interaction with Surrogate Grandson.