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.

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


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.


(Discovered by a random click)

Percile is a district
in the Province of Rome
with calm, rectangular buildings
and rounded trees.

The spot on the map
is halfway up 
the boot that is Italy,
round about the knee.

I went to Florence
and was charmed,
to Venice and fell in love —
the bridges, the art, the water!

Rome remains only
maps and pictures
films and stories. Now
I know it’s a Province too.

More than a city,
it includes the city.
The districts are comuni.
Percile is a comune.

Eternal City, forever without me,
nevertheless may you thrive.
Unknown Percile, may you be
a happy community.

31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt:  A 'wild assignment' — click Wikipedia's random link to find inspiration.

17 October 2014


twine with the stars at night
to travel unseen heights
tracking the mysteries,
touching the Pleiades.

Their roots stretch underground
too, Pleiadian light
taken down, deeply wound,

tangled in our depths and
thrusting up through the crust,
through red earth, clay or sand.

Trees know these Sisters well;
they love them as they must.
They love, and they stand tall,
threading light through the dust.

At Poets United this week the Midweek Motif prompt is Trees. At dVerse Meeting the Bar today we are asked to write in the 'Pleiades' form of seven six-syllable lines with a one word title, every line beginning with the initial of the title. Not quite what was asked for: I've written a Pleaides followed by a reverse Pleiades, as one poem, and added  a rhyme scheme not actually required. We were also asked to include the name of a heavenly body, so I chose the obvious. And — obviously —I've combined both prompts.

16 October 2014

"Rising Once Again"

(Re-reading the Rubaiyat*)

The moon is coming to the full
white-gold over a rosy sunset,
the first star tiny above and far.
Nights like this, I think of the redhead.

“Ah moon of my delight, that knows no wane”.
(That phrase I fit to him always.)
He was lithe and tall with flowing mane,
a fabulous creature of passion.

I wonder where he sleeps tonight,
clutching the air with his great paws —
still alive on the earth? Under what moon?
I know he remembers me too, always.

I turn the pages of the old book
in my mind only, in memory.
The first star is tiny above, and far.
The moon is coming to the full.

*The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward Fitzgerald.

31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Centre). Prompt: Reread some of your old poetry. Write a new poem about a subject from one of your old poems. See how revisiting it feels.

I found that I still stand behind the sentiments with which I first wrote old pieces, and am usually still happy with the versification too. This one, from 2001, never worked as I wanted it to. I didn't write a completely new poem but gave it an extensive rewrite; it's greatly altered.