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.

1 October 2014

I Gave Away My Books

I gave my books to my mother,
though I didn’t know that I did.
When she and my dad split up,
I took just a few to the other home,
across the Strait, where I would live
for the next two years, during school terms,
with him and the new stepmother.

I was 15 then, so I left
all my childhood treasures —
Grimm, Hans Christian, Arthur Ransome,
oh, dozens more — crammed
in the cupboard beside my bed
in Mum’s new house, where I visited
for long, glorious, holiday summers;
took them out, stroked them, re-read.

I grew. University,
and then marriage.
Still the visits home to Mum.
‘I should take my books,
have them with me.’
‘Don’t,’ my mother said.
‘If you leave them here, I’ll know
you’re always coming back.’

Why did she doubt?
It was the other so-called home
to which I never returned
once I got clean away.
But I left them there, to please her,
knowing I would return
every year at Christmas.

Until that one year
I looked for my books
and found them gone.
‘I didn’t think you wanted them,’
she said. ‘You left them here so long,
squashed inside that cupboard.
Obviously you outgrew them
years and years ago.’

I gave my books to my mother,
gave them into her keeping,
until they were not kept.
When I was 60, I went to England.
There I found at last
a rare unexpurgated Grimm
to replace the one she got rid of.
The rest have not been replaced.

Beginning the '31 poems in 31 Days' challenge by John Hewitt of Poewar — who, some years ago, got me started on these things. 

Prompt: Something you gave away as a child (or, at the end of childhood)

30 September 2014

Their Shadows — Erotic haiku September 2014

their shadows
cast by the lantern
rise and fall


smoke tendrils
curling past my face
his long hair


moving in rhythm
lost in the rhythm
we are the rhythm

12 September 2014


Sitting at my desk,
I feel the gentle flick
of a furry tail brushing my leg.
Both cats have always liked
to get my attention that way.

But the one who is still alive
lies across the room
in front of the heater.
He hasn't stirred all evening.
So I know who.

As I clean the kitchen bench
close to the time for cat dinner,
right above the spot of floor
on which that dinner is served,
I hear behind me a tiny mew.

I recognise it. Enquiry.
Encouragement. The nightly 
reminder (as if I would forget).
'Yes, babe,' I say,
'But you're dead.'

11 September 2014

As Time Goes By

So this is what it's like, being 74.
They start leaving,
the ones you love the best, or
the ones you thought
would always be there.
In fact they've been leaving for years,
but now you notice it more.

At home there are just we two
now; I am just an old lady
with her cat. How do you do?
I am the old witch with the black cat,
living invisibly next door to you.
In future years, will it come to that?
Already it's almost true.

3 September 2014

The Water-Colour Sketcher

In her heart is the music of light.
She doesn't worry
about capturing the exact, neat shape
of the cup with the blue flowers;
what she wants is that blue on that white,
and the half-moon swirl of the coffee
glimpsed over the rim.
She is after the blobby orange
of a sunset sky, or a pale lemon moon
reflected in dark water. Her Eiffel Tower 
curls back into distance
like a dancer abandoned to music.
Her motorbike riders, bright red,
rush towards me out of their street
and out of her picture; I see them 
swerve to miss me.
Everything's alive,
nothing is static.
It all sings.

Written in response to a dVerse prompt and the sketches of Claudia Schoenfeld. I was inspired by all rather than one. I would call her art impressionistic, and my response is very much the impression it made on me, with details jumping out from the collective effect. A quick impression — a closer look reveals there is only one rider on that bike; but never mind, I'll stay true to the first impression.

28 August 2014

Kuta Beach

(After Reading Lorca)

Death comes in
with the salt
at the tavern

in this country
both gentle and sinister

prancing white horses
wave-dancing men

their soft guitars at night
from across the bay

the noises
the bursts of light

mistaken for fireworks
at first

young men
with trembling hands

young men of the sea
an odour of salt
and blood

death enters into the salt
as the salt enters into the death
in that tavern.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2005
Published Diverse-City 2006 (Anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival, Texas)



La muerte
entra y sale
de la taberna. 

Pasan caballos negros
y gente siniestra
por los hondos caminos
de la guitarra. 

Y hay un olor a sal
y a sangre [de hembra]1,
en los nardos febriles
de la marina.

La muerte
entra y sale
y sale y entra
la muerte
de la taberna.

At dVerse we are invited to try homophonic translations (aka translitics). My current - weird! - attempts are in previous post. I'm posting this one to show what can be done with more time. *Smiles*.

(This example is not strictly a translitic, as I did understand some of the words — or thought I did — and used a mixture of translation, translitic and leaps of thought.)


A dVerse exercise in homophonic translations, aka translitics, where you translate as best you can the sounds of an unknown language into words of your own.  Although I have done this kind of thing before with results that pleased me, I found this one very testing. 


Ne-om aminti cândva târziu
de-aceasta întâmplare simpla,
de-aceasta banca unde stam
tâmpla fierbinte lânga tâmpla.

De pe stamine de alun,
din plopii albi, se cerne jarul.
Orice-nceput se vrea fecund,
risipei se deda Florarul.

Polenul cade peste noi,
în preajma galbene troiene
alcatuieste-n aur fin.
Pe umeri cade-ne si-n gene.

Ne cade-n gura când vorbim,
si-n ochi, când nu gasim cuvântul.
Si nu stim ce pareri de rau
ne tulbura, piezis, avântul.

Ne-om aminti cândva târziu
de-aceasta întâmplare simpla,
de-aceasta banca unde stam
tâmpla fierbinte lânga tâmpla.

Visând, întrezarim prin doruri -
latente-n pulberi aurii –
paduri ce ar putea sa fie
si niciodatã nu vor fi.

I had two tries.

Translitic 1: 
(seemed to work better without line-breaks, as a kind of prose-poem) 

Nay, I'm — am! — into "can-do" of a tears-you day, a ceased (ah, in temple are simpler) day, a ceased,  a bank, a (understand, temple) a fire-burnt, a longer (temple, ah!)

deep, a stamina day, alone. Din! Plop! I'll alibi. Sea cure in a jar, you'll, or ice in sea put. Sea very fecund, rise. I pay, sea-dead; a fire are you.

Pole, newel, caddy. Peace! (Tea? No.) I in prayer edge. My gal been a Troy in a all-cat you, lest — eh? — an orphan. Pay America Day, nay sigh in genie.

Naked, e'en guru can dive or be. I'm sighing. Oh gee, canned new gas. I'm cue have, and you sigh new as time seep, are a ride, a row, natal bureau. Please is eventual / a vain tool.

Nay, I'm aiming the candy vat (ah!) as you. Day a cease taint, ample ate simpler, dear cease to ban Kay, understand, ample fire been too long at temple: a

vice and in treasure I'm pry in door, you are I, latent, in pool bury our ill — paid. You are I, see, are putty, as if I is in sea, oh data new have, or fee. 

I'm amused that it came out rather like one of those abstract word-association poems which I am not really into!

Translitic 2:

Nay! O Mam, in’t I can’t have a tear? Is you
de ancestor in temple, a simpler
day, a sistah (ban) say? Understand,
temple fire burnt. A longer temple, ah!

Deep, a stamina day, alone.
Din, plop! Pill. Alibi. Seek, earn; edge or all.
Or ice in seep at sea, very fecund.
Rice I pay, see deed. A flower, annual.

Pole in awl caddy, pest. Eh no, I
in pre-aim, a gal been Trojan eh?
All cat — you, I, is it? — in our fine.
Pay you, me, or I. Caddy? Nay, is I in genie.

Nay caddy, an’ guru can do for be I’m
sighin’, och! I can do new. Gas! I’m curve an’ tall.
See, new. Is it I’m see Pa? Or I de raw
new? Too ill, burrow. Please, is eventual? 

Nay, Oma, mine, tea-canned avatar, as you
de ancestor in temple are simpler,
dear cease to bank a under-steam
temple fire-bin too long at, ampler.

Vice; and in treasure I’m pray and do run —
late in tea and pool bury — or I, I 
paid you. Are I see or put here safe? I
sigh, Nice I, oh daughter, new for if eye.

I can see a story in this weird pidgin or Creole I came up with. I'd like to tease it out later. In fact I'd like to develop both of these into new poems, using the above as foundations only — but pushed for time just now.

For an older and completed example, see next post.