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 updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). 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.

27 April 2017

Writing Shoes

When I put on my writing shoes
I can write poems that run fast,
straight into your hearts, poems
that have a spring in their steps 
to make you feel jubilant and
just a little bit childlike; joyous
and energetic poems that keep on
skipping about without getting tired;
poems that leap tall troubles in a –
you know – single bound, so you
feel good, good, good! And when I 
put on my other writing shoes, they
make the poems tiptoe softly, not
to disturb but to enter your dreams,
where they will dance for you, or
with you; or poems that walk right up
beside you and wait until you see them
and see they are just what you need, 
and then, if you listen, they’ll speak.

Written for Writing Shoes, day 27 of April Poetry Month at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

Outside the Body

We were dancing around in a circle
and bashing wooden spoons on saucepan lids;
we were twirling and spinning and whirling,
and sometimes, on purpose, doing small skids –
me, my little brother, my Dad (all kids!).
As my body kept the rhythm and pace,
and I still had the grin stuck on my face,
I found myself suddenly outside me
in a floaty, dreamy, delightful place:
watching it all from there, perfectly free.

Then, gradually, gasping and laughing, 
we faltered, wound down, and finally stopped.
Resuming my body, I slipped half in –
I realised later. At the time, flopped
happily breathless on a table topped
with my Dad’s dear pots of maidenhair fern
(on the back veranda, catching the sun)
I didn't know part of me was still out.
Decades later, a friend who was shaman
saw and restored that ethereal part.

Written for Outsider Art, day 26 of April Poetry Month at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. 

(Yes, true story.)

25 April 2017

My Anzac Day

War planes are flying over the town.
I hear them above the low cloud cover,
rumbling their way to the local park
to salute the Anzac Day celebration.

I am not at the Dawn Service.
'At the going down of the sun,' 
I might remember them – 'and 
in the morning,' but not at dawn.

I sleep sound – partly, no doubt
because men of my father's
and grandfathers' generations 
fought and didn't always return.

My Dad didn't dress up in his uniform
like the others, and march. That was because 
he couldn't, with his gammy leg
(acquired not in war but when he was 10).

It kept him from the front, too, 
but he went to Camp in Central Australia
(somewhere secret) – so I was just as much 
fatherless – training to repel invasion.

He used to lift me up on his shoulders
to watch our town's old diggers march:
his mates, eyes right, looking proud and smart.
I knew them as humble, kindly men.

In my passionate youth, I rejected
Anzac Day, that holy of holies,
as glorification of war – like so many
did at that time, from my generation.

We were Make love not war,
we were Give peace a chance.
But the fire and the noise of our views
for a time divided our nation.

And then, eventually, we all grew up.
After Vietnam, even our parents could see,
all wars dirty your hands. After East Timor, 
even I understood, some fights need to happen.

In recent years I went through a phase
of watching the big Sydney march
on the telly, feeling surprisingly sentimental
for all who survived and all who are gone.

This year, I won't. There's too much war 
in the world again. I'm meeting with other 
mothers and crones instead, to enquire, 
'How can we strengthen our light?' and begin.

Linking to The Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads' on day 25 of April Poetry Month.

Also linked to Protest and Outrage: Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month, hosted by Magaly Guerrero.

Photo: Challenge by Agnes Lawrence Pelton (1940), shown here in accordance with Fair Use. This was posted with the prompt at 'imaginary garden'. Also it reminds me that the Australian AIF military badge during World War 2 was in the shape of a rising sun (which I believe I am not allowed to reproduce here for legal reasons).

24 April 2017

Reason for Shrieking?

Of all hues, 
the most beautiful blue
adorns the neck
of the male peacock,
his long satiny throat
shining as if for joy – 
and repeats at the centre
of each open eye
on the fan 
of his billowing tail.

The feathers
are called unlucky,
his singular cry 
heard as a death-knell. 
Why do we feel
threatened by beauty
so extreme; why see evil 
in innocence? Why? 
Is it because, unique, 
he is far too strange?

Labelled as vain
yet he struts for love,
holding his tail aloft
with effort that tires.
He is calling out
for home and family,
parading for a mate,
as all creatures
desire and need;
not for vanity.

In his Rajasthan home
his display is seasonal, 
pre-monsoon. He heralds 
the coming of rain 
to the parched land.
When I was a child 
in cold Tasmania,
peacocks at The Gorge
strutted, displayed and cried
at any time, sounding sad.

Written for Artistic Interpretations – Beauty, day 24 of April Poetry Month at 'imaginary garden with real toads' (we could write about beauty or peacocks or both), and for Magaly's Protest and Outrage: Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month.   

– Photo above: "Peacock at Magnolia Garden, SC" by Margaret at 'imaginary garden'.

Planet Icarus

(in climate change future)

All day all the glass 
in all the buildings 
cracked then shattered.

That night many
no longer breathed –
not enough air.

The dirt turned red,
hard as stone. Only the ants 
marched across dry landscapes.

Even eagles faltered 
in the hot sun, and fell 
dead out of the sky.

Written for Magaly Guerrero's Protest and Outrage: Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month.

This began as the following erasure poem from Michael Dransfield's 'Icarus', then I expanded it into something else (which nevertheless can't quite escape its origins).

All day
glass shattered
night breathed not
red stone marched 
eagles faltered 
in hot sun.

23 April 2017

Portraying Icarus

He makes death 
sound beautiful,
feel triumphant.

This he does 
with the music
of his words,
mellifluous words.

Does he want
that  humans,
aspiring to fly,
be angels?

Or is it 
the crash
he craves – 
its blaze of glory?

A response to Michael Dransfield's poem, Icarus, written for FASHION ME YOUR WORDS ~ The way you see it, day 23 of April Poetry Month at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

Also submitted for Magaly's Protest and Outrage: Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month

Luxuriant Saturday

An afternoon shower. Clean sheets 
and fresh pyjamas. The book I'm reading. 
Cushions to prop me up, half-sitting.
Raisin toast and coffee on the bedside table. 
My cat lying close beside me, purring.

Then the cat vacates, as I'm joined
by one of my favourite men. 'I'm having 
a little lie down,' I say. 'My dear,' says he, 
appreciating all the details, 'You're not 
just lying down – you're luxuriating!' 

We giggle, as he wickedly suggests 
I tell my girlfriends how my luxuriant event
was enhanced when a male friend joined me ... 
by phone of course! I inform him it's really
a threesome: one girlfriend too, via tablet.

We do love each other, though not 'like that'.
He tells me how to fill my spine with light
and send it out to the world through my crown –
and also what to use to clear my sinuses,
and things to be aware of when I set up my new telly.

Linda sends me a picture of her cat, which is
curled beside her on her bed, purring. She too
is having a lie down, with coffee and cake. I tell her
James calls it luxuriating. She embraces the word.
I compliment James on his use of language.

Linda's cat, Sarabi, in the photo she sent me.

I'm linking this poem to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #350

22 April 2017

A Painting by Mi Young Lee

The blue eye of the painting
looks out at me guilelessly.
There are windows of sky,
some sunny and one 
dark with storm clouds.
Green leaves fall brightly
past the panes, and a yellow
(this is Autumn) and some red.
Red tiles frame the glass.

I set this down, each element
as it strikes me, thinking
when I have accumulated 
the small pieces of description,
like a jigsaw they will combine
into clear meaning. This
does not happen. It wasn't
in pieces anyway, and the whole
painting, undisturbed, smiles at me.

Written for Bits of Inspiration, day 22 of April Poetry Month at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. We were asked to use this painting for inspiration.


I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (Harlan Ellison)

You have taken my mouth, 
stolen it from me, 
sealed it up with chemicals.
What you seek to remove
is the scream, 
but it still lives inside me.
You thought you could freeze it 
into silence; instead
it is dammed up, and pushing
against the restraining wall.
It will break out –
it will reach the edge
and roll over it, pouring
into utterance. And then
you should watch out.

Written for Magaly's prompt: "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" (title of a short story by Harlan Ellison) for day 21 of April Poetry Month at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

Also linked to Protest and Outrage: Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month, 2017

I'm thankful not to have read the Ellison story; it sounds horrendous from the title alone! My poem is not autobiography but a fictional persona, based on things I have learned about psychiatric hospitals of the sixties and early seventies.