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.

27 August 2015

Who'll Come A-Waltzing Matilda With Me?

I lliked the jolly swagman
camped by his billabong

but Gough, who was PM then,
insisted on Advance Australia Fair

even though we all said, 'Wot's this "girt 
by sea" bit -- who the heck's Gert?'

Still, anything was better than,
'God - save - our - GRAY - shushQueen'

not that I wished her any harm, mind,
but it was boring slow, a dirge.

So now we sing that our hearts 
are young and free, our beauty

rich and rare -- in this ancient continent
usurped from its first people.

We might do better 
to remember the starving swaggie

tramping the outback roads
looking for work or just a feed.

England colonised this country
with starving men and women

and with political rebels, 
all brought here on prison ships.

Now we turn away boat-loads
of hungry families and 

political refugees. 
Or imprison them worse 

than in those convict ships or even
the stone-walled hells like Port Arthur. 

Yet our anthem says
 -- get this --

'For those who've come across the seas
we've boundless plains to share.'

So -- 'Down came a jumbuck
to drink by the billabong.'

(Down came a sheep
to drink from the waterhole.

Those other words we took
from the first people

while we also took their land
and their children.)

It was the Depression. Many
tramped the endless tracks.

'Up jumped the swagman
and grabbed it with glee.'

'He sang as he stowed
that jumbuck in his tuckerbag.' 

And then came the rich landowner,
and then came the cops. It was

a serious crime. And the system 
then as now was skewed against the poor.

'Australians all, let us rejoice.'
'We've golden soil and wealth for toil.'

' "You'll never take me alive!" said he.'
What became of our nation of rebels?

'... his ghost may be heard ...'
Advance, Australia Fair.


Written for dVerse: National Anthem Poetry 

Advance Australia Fair original lyrics.
(To be truthful, they no longer include sharing our plains.)

Lyrics of Waltzing Matilda

Some people, including me, would have preferred Waltzing Matilda as our national anthem, but now I like the idea that it remains what it always was: our outlaw anthem.

25 August 2015

Loss

A woman -- me --
sits alone
in a small garden

surrounded by 
trees and sky
no cat beside her

no man alive
inside house,
garden, anywhere.


In 'Play It Again' at 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are asked to revisit an earlier challenge: either lists, imagism, or encapsulating our own recurrent 'power image' in 25 words. I have tried to do all three at once. 

Demurrals: 
The three lists are very small: trees and sky; no cat ... no man; house, garden, anywhere. 
The bereavement theme is recurrent, sometimes people find it powerful, and it often includes being in that garden -- but I would hope to move away from it eventually. 
I'm not sure this is sufficiently descriptive to be Imagist. 
And just for the heck of it, I gave myself a syllabic pattern to adhere to, too.

12 August 2015

Eating Wild Violets for Breakfast

After the feast of Brigid
these were left,
some in the glass flower vase
we set on the altar before her,
the rest in a box in the fridge
on a sheet of wet white tissue paper.

‘You can eat them!’ said one
who had gathered them for us,
her smile lighting her face.
 
It is three days later,
but they kept.
I pick up a few, singly,
and place them in turn on my tongue.
Surprisingly, they don’t melt.
I must chew the tiny petals.

Then I scatter them all
on my morning cereal, and eat.
My senses open to Faerie.

I am at once ethereal
and rooted in earth;
more decadent
than Marie Antionette,
yet innocent as a wisp of air
breathed from a baby’s lips.

I thank the Goddess for sharing,
and open my mouth
to speak beauty.


Linked to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Beauty

7 August 2015

The Night Before

















My boy, you have become so small,
curled here, asleep against my leg.
My ancient boy, over 90 in human years,
your time has come. Tomorrow,
to save you pain and long decline,
I will take you to the vet, and she
will inject you with your final sleep,
your death. She has worked so hard,
this vet, to get you to like her. Last time
we went in, she could stroke you;
you even purred (you who were once
all claw and fang and fierce hissing
for any vet). Nice timing – now 
you need not fight your death, but meet it
peacefully. My hands, too, will be on you
so that you feel my love to the end –
my hands, that even now caress
your sleek black fur. You wake 
and give a happy little murmur
at my touch, then shift position. Hard 
to find comfort, these last weeks.
But now you sleep, almost as deeply
as you will tomorrow night and afterwards
forever, all your nine lives used.
I'm glad you won't be dragging your bones
off to some secret resting place I'd never find, 
like other cats I've loved. I'm glad
of all the years you've spent with me.
One day is left to us, and then –
go sweetly, dear old friend! 

6 August 2015




Shared at dVerse Open Link Night #153

5 August 2015

Saying the Names

(with apologies to Al Purdy)


Launceston, Tasmania –
they always get it wrong.
Lawn-CESS-ton, strangers will pronounce
instead of LON-suh-ston.

Tasmania's harder to mis-speak,
but those who grew up there
mis-speak it fondly, purposely.
We say Taswegia.

And Launceston we say as Lonnie.
It's meant affectionate.
But visitors should not presume –
that's much too intimate.

I grew up there but now I'm here,
and sure I'm here to stay
in Northern Rivers, New South Wales,
with other names to say.

You must not call it Ty-al-gum
although it's spelt like that.
It's TAL-gum to the locals,
if you want to know what's what.

And when you see the word Mooball
you say the moo like moe –
and not moe-BALL but MOE-b'l, see –
despite the cows on show.

Tum-BUL-gum isn’t TUMble-gum,
although that makes you smile.
To speak of Pottsville Beach as Pottie
borders on the vile.

Yes, Limpinwood you say like that,
but don't know what you speak.
It's named for the exact same man
as Hopping Dick's Creek.

His name was Richard Wood, who had
a gammy leg, I'm told.
But that was long before my time;
the story has grown old.

I've grown a little old myself;
the hour is getting late.
The names of places lived and loved
are sweet to contemplate.

Murwillumbah, Wollumbin, Tweed.
Tamar, Roland, the Bluff.
To live with oceans, mountains, streams 
has always been enough.

To know the way to say the names
and never get them wrong
is how you tell yourself you're home:
the place where you belong.


For Midweek Motif at Poets United, where we are invited to be inspired by Al Purdy's 'Say the Names'.


Riverwalking Moon Poets Escape the City

I thought I'd try a spine poem. It took a lot of spines! And I added some words and phrases of my own to connect them (as well as playing with what I found). These are a few of the books in my bedroom, some partly read – who reads only one book at a time? – others waiting.














Steering the Craft / Riverwalking / Moon Poets / The City of Words / God is no Laughing Matter / Finding Water / A Fig at the Gate



















The Habit of Art / Novels of Yen-Ching / Ordinary Genius / Rent or buy me / Bringers of the Light / Modern Magic / The Celtic Shaman's Pack / Tarot for Grownups






















Hiroshima / Birds of Passage / You've Had Your Time / Subhuman Redneck Poems / Affluenza / Fred Hollows: the updated autobiography / Myths and Legends / Yours etc / Cry Ma Ma to the Moon / The Way Forward is with a Broken Heart / Duty / The Plays of Oscar Wilde / Marlowe The Plays



Riverwalking Moon Poets Escape the City

Moon poets
finding water,
steering their craft
through the sleeping
city of words,
don't give a fig 
at the gate of escape 
that God
is no laughing matter.
They are intent
on riverwalking.

Riverwalking poets
dressed in the habit of art
are Celtic shamans,
in a pack like wolves.
You can't rent or buy
these bringers of the light.
Ordinary genius
and modern magic
don't cut it. This is
Tarot for grown-ups, as told
in the novels of Yen-Ching.

How novel, this yen they have!
They are birds of passage,
these poets. They tell duty:
'We are not yours, etc.
You have had your time,
you subhuman redneck.
You are as annihilated
as Hiroshima.'
They play, wild
in the hollows.
And again play.

And in the city a gain
reeks of affluenza,
that illness of greed.
Myths and legends,
updated, masquerade
as autobiography.
The poets know
the way forward
is with a broken heart.
'Ma!' low they cry,
'Ma, Ma!' to the moon.


3 August 2015

Gogyoshi for Frankie and Tony

I’m cooking risoni.
My dear friends fly to Perth
today, leaving me
with a pantry full of food
they can’t take … leaving me.


Gogyoshi: a 5-line Japanese form invented by Taro Aizu. Further details here. Differentiation of gogyoshi and other 5-line forms here.


2 August 2015

Early Spring

Lorikeets swoop in and out of my bottlebrush.
I went for my first walk of Spring today,
though Winter isn’t officially gone.
Ah, but it feels over!

A pink camellia blooms on my neighbour’s bush.
Bougainvillea starts across the way.
The nature strips up the hill and my lawn
are dotted with balls of clover.

A 55-word poem for flash 55 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. 



1 August 2015

Warm Whispers: Erotic haiku, July 2015

long fingers
play me skilfully
I twang

7/7/15


my breast aches
for the firm warm touch
of your palm

25/7/15


your breath
caresses my ear
warm whispers

27/7/215