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.

24 August 2016

Before Dark

















It's as if the clouds that stipple the sky have been flicked across it by a giant paintbrush, spattering them in rows that gradually merge into a splash of light. The sun still hovers just above the horizon, burning white, surrounded by a haze of gold. That will become more definite, and flare up just before dark. The houses are dark already, black outlines of roofs. The tall palms rising over the roofs are black too. This scene could almost be night in the desert. Instead it is my familiar street, made strange by the last burst of light before the dark is complete. Does it matter that only I stand here seeing this? (Seeing it alone, unshared.) No, not any more. I tell it to myself. I show it to myself. Yes, I take a photo; I write about it. But I am the one standing and looking, here and now, in the solid street – before the writing, before the photo. I am the one in my brain, aware of beauty. I am the one behind these gazing eyes. It is good that someone sees. This consciousness is pleased that I, here, now, see.

before dark
a last bird chorus
the sun drops



Linked to dVerse Haibun Monday: Sky
and also to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Blessings

23 August 2016

A Threatening Sky

The rain days begin. The sky this morning is overcast but the temperature’s mild. I sit outside, under the veranda roof, and gaze out and up. Some branches against the sky are bare and spiky. Those trees which are rich with leaves are also entwined with vines – larger, paler leaves climbing and spreading, some reaching out in mid-air for a new purchase. A mosquito buzzes. My cat jumps up and runs inside. She's not stupid! But I know it is the silent ones that carry the direst diseases, so I merely swat it away with one hand and stay in my seat. The vines, on the other hand, are killers – but they will do it slowly, sucking the life from the trees as long as there is life to suck. I like to care for people, but I realise one has been draining vitality from me. I can't wait any longer for him to develop his own sustenance. What I was to him, I decide, was an opportunity. He might have listened, he might have learned. But he made his choices and I make mine. I cut away the clinging tendrils. My blade is sharp and swift.

bleak sky
thin white branches
dying
















Written for dVerse Haibun Monday: Sky

19 August 2016

Moon and Cat

The small black cat with white whiskers
always wants to go out into the night
even in daunting cold, like this.

Last night I said yes. It was the first night
of a full moon that fell (if we're being exact)
this morning. (Or, I suppose, rose.) Anyway

we went together into my tiny garden, where, 
over the roof, in the east, the moon appears.
I cast circle. I made ritual. I spoke prayers. 

My cat patrolled the fences, examined extremities,
then sat at the circle’s edge and watched 
with calm interest. She came back inside

when I called her name. I thought she might not.
I thought she might want to stay out there
in the friendly dark, talking to plants and the moon.

But she came, with her usual wariness, bravely
over the dangerous lintel (maybe two centimetres
high from the ground) because I called. I was proud.

Tonight I went elsewhere. This was the second
night of full moon (after the morning moonrise
in between). I celebrated with my sisters –

who danced and sang, honoured the earth,
prayed, meditated, and laughed together.
The moon, at that point, was large and golden.

Then I came home to the small black cat
with the white whiskers. She scampered about
in joy to see me, and begged to go out the back.

So we went again to look at the moon
together, witch and cat. It was high and bright,
smaller and whiter than earlier, in clear, cool air.

My cat – who is named Selene, for the moon –
stalked the perimeters, listened intently
for any suspicious sounds, then came again

to stay near, as I said a few words of thanks
to the earth and the moon, and the garden. 
At last I made a small calling noise. We came in.

I poured red wine. I broke off two pieces
of dark chocolate. Selene ate cat biscuits,
which she likes. She skittered, and tossed her toys.

Then she came and stretched out at my feet,
playing with the leg of the chair. She looked up
into my face. And I looked back at her.



















Written in response to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Cats

18 August 2016

How Does the End of Love Sound?

The voice on the phone is light,
airy: ‘I’m happy now,’
shutting the recent dramas away,
saying, ‘I don’t ever want to
talk about that again’ –
‘that’ being the abusive man
so recently escaped from,
with police help. My voice
rises in response, sounds –
I realise belatedly – angry.

I hear, ‘I Googled what to do
when you lose your soul-mate.’
‘There isn’t just one,’ I exclaim, 
‘and if there were, the chances
of meeting in this life are remote.’
Then, ‘I’m sorry I always 
sound angry. I’m not 
angry, just passionate.’
‘It’s all good,’ the young voice trills.
I wonder, how soon till next time?


A sightly different take on the dVerse prompt, The Sound of Love

17 August 2016

My Glass Jar

is displayed on the high shelf 
square and lidless as found 
left behind at the farmhouse

embossed with a wheat sheaf 
the words Peace and Plenty 
and 1879

a blessing I kept for every home 
true for the later ones 
with a different man.





















Another for dVerse quadrille #14: jar
Also sharing at The Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

13 August 2016

Goodbye, Little Yellow Bird

It was done very politely,
but I can recognise a brush-off – 
if a bit belatedly.

Your new man
wants to cage you.
I guess the shit hit the fan

when he realised that I
was able to see this
with my clear, grandmotherly eye

and that I did not
modify my rage, in saying to you
everything I thought.

So now I join the many
friends denied your new number.
Will you be left with any?

Well, you’re 26
and desperate for love.
This I can’t fix.

More fool me?
But I said what I could, and God help you!
What will be, I suppose, will be.



‘Goodbye, Little Yellow Bird’ is an old music hall song. It tells the story of a canary in a gilded cage, who fell in love with a passing sparrow. But she told him she’d rather be free, even in the cold of winter, ‘than in a cage of gold.’ The story of me and my young friend is different; obviously no romance between us, and my friend is the one freely choosing the cage – or so it appears to me. Still, when I received the polite brush-off email (after 12 years of relating like family) the title of the song popped straight into my head.


Linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #315


9 August 2016

My Deepest, Longest, Truest Romance

Are you a secret love, or is it obvious to all? Perhaps no-one would imagine you in the role of my greatest romance. But I loved you from the first – fell in love with you, as they say.  (I typed ‘in love’ and autocorrect changed it to ‘involved’ – and indeed, I am intimately, intricately involved with you. I have been always, and will be until I die.)

Earth, my treasure, my adored! (I refuse to personify you as the made-up Gaia. But I do sometimes call you Nature.) You fill me with joy at the sight of you – any part or aspect of you; all moods. Yours is the beauty Shakespeare described as ‘infinite variety’. You soothe me when I am sad; inspire me when I need courage or a reminder of my calling. You face me with your truth – which is my truth and that of every living being. I pray to return to you again and again. Let me exult in your embrace always! … your never-failing embrace. 

I love you, I say.
Storm clouds roll over deep blue
in the winter sky.















Written for Haibun Monday: A Little Romance, at dVerse.

6 August 2016

Again

‘Are you well?’ they ask. ‘You look tired.
Your energy seems a bit down.’

‘It’s August again,’ I don’t say,
and don’t add, ‘My “cruellest month” ’.

All those remembered deaths,
none of them old yet – and the new one.

It creeps up slowly, even though I think
I’m well prepared. I forget hollowness –

until it insinuates itself, again, inside
my bones, my veins, the cavities of my gut.

The empty spaces in me, which are me, are
microcosms of the great spaces in the world

left by your unique absences: holes that can’t
be refillled. Can’t ever. But the weeks pass

again, and I move again past your passing,
your several passings, as I did each first time.

Perhaps it is as well, my dears, you die in August
or the first edge of September, or the last day in July.

The Spring arrives again, the world looks up
and thrives, filling itself with life, that starts anew.

And my life too goes on. So far. Of course
I feel myself immortal, as we all do – as you did

(most of you). But now again it’s August.
I don’t go out much, get dressed late.

I buy myself wine and chocolates
and romantic DVDs; indulge alone.

And nothing fills the hollow, lights the dark….
‘I’m fine,’ I say. ‘Just busy.’ Again and again.


Written in response to Voices, Spaces & Songbirds at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.




5 August 2016

At Mariner's Café

We like to call in here
on the way home from Kingscliff
or even Tweed Heads (a detour) to catch up
with our friend, the new manager
– and the coffee’s good.
So is the view of the river.

In late afternoon sun,
we sit back, leaning on the wall
of the antique shop next door.
I peer inside at nets and creels, ropes, 
huge balls of deep green glass
and steering-wheels in dark, polished wood.

I want to meet him, the shop owner,
to yarn with him and sniff the salty air –
this man who so loves boats. Our friend
wipes down our table. Another customer,
loud-mouthed, at last vacates. ‘That’s the man
from the shop,’ our friend mutters. We all grimace.

5/8/16

At dVerse, in 'Let's Kick it Up a Notch', we are invited to improve an old draft, perhaps by adding more detail (result above). A novel idea to me – I usually try to condense. But the original of this was already spare, and always seemed to me lack-lustre. Here it is, below. You can see that it's been waiting a long time for me to find a way to improve it. I think that Victoria, at dVerse, has finally shown me how.


Mariner’s Cafe

Late afternoon sun.
We sit back against the wall
by the antique shop.

In the shop I’ve seen
nets and creels and green glass balls,
ropes and steering-wheels.

I want to meet him,
to yarn and sniff the salt air –
this man who loves boats.

Steve wipes the table
as a noisy yob vacates.
‘That’s the man,” he says.

6/6/05