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')


These poems 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.

25 October 2014

Posing Nude

1.

When I was 25,
newly divorced
and needing cash

three friends
all artists
became my helpers.

First I posed just for them 
to get comfortable,
to find out if I’d like it,
to see if I’d be any good.

They taught me the tricks:
strike a pose suggesting movement
(more interesting)
but distribute your weight
so it’s balanced;

shift your weight
subtly, infinitesimally,
if you go numb;

wear your robe between poses;
rest between poses;
insist on a heater if it’s cold.

Surprisingly, I loved it.
Briefly, was the highest-paid
artist’s model in Melbourne —
until the next husband
wanted exclusive views.

2.

At 45,
plump mother of schoolboys,
I reclaimed an old identity.

An artist friend,
a neighbour,
became my recruiter

for the new life drawing group,
old hands and beginners both,
at the Community Centre.

I gave it a try
to see if I still could
(it’s harder work than you’d think,
stressing the body in various ways:
legs, back, arms;
cold, stiffness, pain)
and to find out if I’d still like it.

Yes to both questions, but
the long, reclining poses
became my forté now,
easier to hold
gentler on the body
and just as interesting
if the sketchers found their own angles.
(My friend liked to draw my face.)

The second husband
was less possessive by now!
Decided to be proud of me instead.
But then we moved away
and that was the end of that.

3.

I’m 75.
You must be joking!
Well yes, it is a joke
but one with serious purpose.

There’s Leigh, Helen,
Delaina and me
four friends
four poets
four collaborators.

Who came up with this idea first?
That we celebrate and promote
the paperback version
of our new book
by posing naked with copies?
I forget, but my guess
is probably either Leigh or Helen.

Leigh kicked it off:
abundant flesh behind
four fanned-out copies;
otherwise dressed
only in a huge smile.

This wasn’t the sort of thing
Delaina had ever done
or contemplated doing,
but she did. Part of the group,
she said, and therefore game.

Side-on, with leather jacket
draped over the far shoulder,
the book in front of the near;
and, I do believe, an eyelash flutter.

Helen’s away,
we’ll have to await
her no doubt brilliant
exposure on her return.

Meanwhile, me.
Yes, I did say 75.
Living alone
without a photographer.
Oh I know,
my massage therapist.
She sees me naked anyway.
But she’s booked solid,
can’t allot extra time.

OK, put the hard word on a friend.
Practise at home first
in front of the full-length mirror.
Hmm, hafta use two books
to sneakily push up
as well as cover the tits.
Decide the angle.
Maybe one book, open?

At friend’s house, she poses me
in front of the drawn blind
(in case of nosey neighbours).
I do the tit-push with two books,
I do the tit-push with one,
I let some flesh peek around the sides,
almost expose a nipple.

We examine the first results.
'I look ... low,' I say.
'I wouldn’t worry,' she tells me.
'Lots of young girls too
look just like that.'

But when I get home,
I realise what’s really wrong:
too much boob, not enough book.
I resort to my last option: selfies
with the Photobooth on my laptop.

I cart it around the house
to find a neutral background
without mess, ornaments,
pictures on walls,
or dangling clown puppets
growing out of my head.

I hold the book high this time —
never mind proving my cleavage —
and try for the right expression.
The wink looks gross,
the smile forced,
the calm face elderly.
I settle on a pursed-lip smirk.

And there I am, depicted
visibly naked again
(without visible rude bits).
Artistry it ain’t,
but this might have been
my hardest
as well as my last,
and — good heavens! —
my most widely-seen
nude pose.



















31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Do something that scares you just a little, and write about it.

dVerse Meeting the Bar: lists. (This one is a list of three episodes, within each of which are lots of little lists.)

Music Practice

The boy who lives across the road
is playing his recorder over and over.
I am trying to recognise
the phrase he keeps repeating,
He is playing it slowly, again and again.
I know that I know it.  Then finally
I put the single, spaced-out notes together:
Jingle Bells revives in my memory,
carrying me back to when I was a child.
He doesn’t make it jolly. He doesn’t
connect the notes into a tune, not really,
and he plays it mournfully slow
so his bells don’t jingle — but,
if he keeps on practising, perhaps
his music will be dancing by Christmas.
Meanwhile I resign myself to all the weeks
when, inadvertently, perforce, I must listen.


31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Centre). Prompt: use a verb in every line

That Day

The call came just after breakfast.
‘Right,’ I said, briskly, ‘I’m on my way.’
But first I called Maureen, our friend,
who always said, ‘When that times comes,
if you need me to be there with you, I will.’
I had not expected to need or want her —
her or anyone — but when the time came,
yes I did.  I’ll never know whether she had
any other plans that day. She just came.

I arrived first; it was so close to home.
I was used to popping in and out.
I had time to whisper some messages
just between him and me. I knew he could hear
though his eyes were closed, and I knew
he understood me. Perhaps he would have
even without help — very probably—
but I used direct telepathy, just to make
perfectly certain. (We Reiki Masters have ways.)

‘We’ll find you a private room,’ they said,
and did. When did Maureen arrive? About then.
Hard to remember that detail exactly, and of course
it doesn’t really matter. She arrived, kissed him
(did she? I think she did) and sat down
in the chair on the other side of the bed.
We were both calm in our demeanour.
We talked in low voices, to and about him.
I held his hand.…  And so that long, quiet day began.


31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Write about a real moment in your life without discussing its larger meaning.

Also submitted for Poets United's Midweek Motif: One Day in the Life of

22 October 2014

Moments / Years

We danced a sudden jig
among more sedate dancers
at the kindergarten parents’
end-of-year party.
Who was it slipped us
the whispered news
in that conservative gathering?
I can’t remember, but I do recall
whispering too, unable to contain
extreme jubilation: ‘Labour’s won!
Labour’s won! Labour’s won!’
We signalled our friends.
The after-party at our place,
on into early morning,
was a talkfest of delight.
That was in 1972.

And we were right to be glad
as rapid reform began.
Three years later
my best friend phoned.
‘The Government’s been dismissed!’
Half the country, of course,
had been listening to Parliament,
glued to our radios
as the crisis appeared to stalemate.
But at that point it was hard
to credit what we heard.
‘Profound division in the country,’
a commentator remarks.
Ah yes, they were fierce days.
Like many (though not the man himself)
I can still find the rage.

Today, in 2014, I read his death on facebook
over my morning coffee. Parliament
suspends all standing orders, spends all day
(both sides of politics equally)
honouring this man
who seemed eternal
but has finally left us.
'Great leader, great Australian,
great friend, mentor to many.’
‘He changed the nation.
There was before Whitlam and after.’
His list of achievements is long:
the arts, indigenous affairs,
the status of women …
‘A giant’, people are saying.
Let me say, Colossus.

31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). PromptWrite a three stanza poem that shows a progression with each stanza. The three stanzas should serve as a beginning, middle and end respectively.

Also submitted for dVerse Poetics — Good News, Bad News, Your News!


21 October 2014

It's Time

Vale Gough

















It’s time for mourning,
time for knowing
all that we’ve lost
since his time.

It’s time to remember
that long-gone euphoria,
time to ponder
the brief taste of freedom,
time to farewell
the last of the giants —
it’s his time.

It’s time to be thankful
he once walked among us,
time to praise
the reforms that he gave us,
the peace he enacted,
the pacifists un-prisoned,
not before time.

It’s time to celebrate
affordable health care
truly life-saving,
free Universities
for all who could qualify,
the restoring of land rights —
oh yes, it was time.

It’s time to believe
we must not forget him,
it’s time to recapture
the decency, the caring
of that earlier era,
time to maintain
the rage for our time.

It’s time for morning,
a new day, a sunrise.
Yes we can do it.
Yes, now, it’s time!

31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Start with a negative, turn it to a positive.  Also submitted for dVerse Poetics — Good News, Bad News, Your News!

In honour of Gough Whitlam, 1916-2014, former Prime Minister of Australia





20 October 2014

Flagging

A friend on facebook posts
a picture of a ‘flag of peace’, sharing it
from a site called ‘Imagine
Peace’. The caption
says, ‘Fly the flag
of peace’ — and I want it to be
a signpost, pointing
in a single direction, not a
flag waving in the breeze according to
whatever wind is
prevailing at the time, in
whatever place the flag is
planted. But I am wrong of course: you have
to be wrong if you object
to a flag of peace; we should all
be grasping it, waving it, fair
in the faces of
any old war-monger out there. Only I
wanted clear direction, and
there isn’t one really, except
I suppose, not to
fly flags
of war.










31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Centre). Prompt: Use lines of varying length, either end-stopped or enjambed. As I usually end-stop, I decided to try enjambment.

18 October 2014

The Greeting

There is nothing casual
in the way he greets me,
though he looks relaxed,
unfolding himself
from where he sprawls
and adopting a leisurely,
almost-swaggering pace.

He is so fluid, moving
with feline grace,
approaching my car
with slow, deliberate steps,
keeping his eyes continually
fixed on mine, holding me
with his intent gaze.

There is nothing formal
in the way I respond —
smiling without premeditation,
alighting quickly,
calling out his name, showing
my pleasure to see him
with an immediate hug.

As we walk up the steps
to the door, I tell him
how good he looks,
his black hair smooth and sleek,
and he tells me
how much he’s missed me,
nuzzling me and purring.


31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Use the words 'formal' and  'casual' in a poem.