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.

31 December 2008

Hot in Australia: haiku and things for December 2008

5/12/08

Christmas is coming.
It’s hot in Australia,
swimming weather – yay!

(I think we better call this one a senryu.)
A friend commented:

There is a word for people who talk about heat & swimming weather while it is snowing here in Colorado -- but I don't think that word is "senryu." (-:


12/12/08

Morning dark and damp.
I contemplate stormy clouds
and turbulent creek.

*********************

In the flood of love
my heart naturally turns
to joyous haiku.


19/12/08

Christmas looms closer,
storms and heat mere irritants
in lead-up frenzy.


20/12/08

In our warm weather
I gaze at pictures of snow –
admire, don’t envy.

********************

Is it gift or wage
if you must be a good child
for Santa to come?


23/12/08

No longer looming,
Christmas is here. May it bring
peace and joy to all!


26/12/08

Christmas is over:
two days of festivity
in a busy year.

Losing track of days
in a welter of feasting,
I forget haiku!


28/12/08

The dark of the moon
a soft steady rain falling.
I write to my son.

11 December 2008

In the top!

Many thanks to all who have voted for me in the Top 100 Poetry Blogs thing. :)

I was one of the finalists and will have work in the forthcoming anthology. (Which I'll let you know about in due course.)


The idea is not so much the competition, it's to get more people reading more poetry – still, it's rather nice all the same to find my work so highly rated!

5 December 2008

The poem of the dress



This recent photo is getting me so many compliments, I decided to revisit a poem I wrote about it in 2007. (On that occasion I was wearing it without the matching trousers.)

Summer dress

My cherry-red drapes me loosely,
floats when I move, dances with me.
Deep armholes show flashes of skin,
my underwear is "nude".

The slit front and scalloped sides
free my winter-white legs.
They stick right out in the sun,
they jig and twist and stride.


20/9/07

30 November 2008

After the Spring rains: haiku and things for November 2008

2/11/08

(In response to someone who insisted Beltane is May, Samhain November.)

The night of the dead
marks the turning of seasons
summer to winter.

The fire festival
marks an ascendance of sun
as life is renewed.

Here we're moving now
into the last phase of Spring.
Autumn's end is May.

The wheel is turning
over and over again
this way and that way

your way and my way
the way of the world's turning
its polarities.

The veils thin and part.
Always there will be dying
somewhere, and new birth.


4/11/08

Bird of Paradise Flower

poised in my garden
as if ready to take wing
and enter the light


5/11/08

5th November 2008

As the new day dawns
there are bells, there is singing.
The world takes a breath.


9/11/08

Early November.
Sudden eruptions of rain
turning hot days cold.


10/11/08

True stories

I dream new learning
training as a Samurai
then wake stiff and sore.


The wind howls all night.
Earlier that mighty voice
blasted down both gates.


13/11/08

Again the wind howls
after a day of hard rain.
Clouds cover the moon.


14/11/08

The full moon that rose
bright above the estuary
is now behind clouds.

**********************

Huge gardenias
round and white as the full moon
sweeten my birthday.


18/11/08

The same view

Across the world
your water birds in flight
skim my river.

(Response to a haiga by Deborah P. Kolodji, USA.)

*********************

Wild, wet, windy, cold.
Where is the Spring we enjoyed
just one week ago?

**********************

Reflections of trees
edging the wet black roadway
move too, as I walk.


21/11/08

After the rainstorms
morning is full of pigeons,
insistent cooing.


28/11/08

After the Spring rains
wet grass dotted with clover,
the smells of childhood.


29/11/08

Wind on the paddocks
moves in a wave through the grass:
an inland ocean.

*****************

Knee-high again,
the recently-mown lawn –
Spring rain-storms.

13 November 2008

Verse Portrait 63. Occupation: Poet

Disappeared three days
after high-grade grass,

just wandered off
into the dark.

But mostly drunk and rude.
Forgiven for talent.

‘Soul of an accountant,’ remarked
the portraitist, painting that.

Mistook me once
for acquiescent. Disabused.

Poetry was blood and breath.
His words could sing or kill.

Moved, seeking the son
abandoned years earlier.

I came across his elegy
for the young man's drug-death,

telling their whole story
honestly ... wept.

12 November 2008

Editorial aside: number change

On 12 November my age changed to 69 – giving me one more word to play with in these pieces. *Smile.*

6 November 2008

Frida Kahlo

I envisaged her with gardenias in her hair
like those over there on the coffee table,
big splashes of white, and that scent.
‘I think of Billie Holliday,’
said the friend who gave them to me.
‘She always wore one in her hair.’

True, but I thought of Frida,
of whom it is not, apparently, true.
I search her self-portraits. She wore
yellow flowers – daisies
and perhaps chrysanthemums –
and red roses. Seldom white;
and when, I couldn’t tell what kind.

So I look instead at her face
knowing of course the tales,
her life of pain and turmoil
and passion, and most of all love.
I gaze at her expression,
uncompromising,
and the set of her head.
Such dignity! She never smiles.

5/11/08

Submitted 7 March 2014 for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Honouring women and women's achievements. (I guess this honours her obliquely, not spelling it right out.)

3 November 2008

Verse Portrait 62. Mary, Queen of Scots

I wasn’t seduced by you
in my youth, despite
glamour, romance and tragedy.
Elizabeth was my hero,
that brave, intelligent Queen
who wrote poems, loved pirates.

But in Edinburgh,
seeing that grim black rock
overshadowing your palace,
I thought of a 17-year-old
fresh from the court of France
with its dancing and dressing up.

Myself, I thrilled to Edinburgh
and the great rock –
yet I almost understood.

31 October 2008

Verse Portrait 61. Twice Bitten

You have gone
into the dreams of night.
On Halloween I read
your message of goodbye.

Last time you left
no message.
My silly heart broke.

This time, scrupulous,
you kept your promise:
no more unexplained
vanishing tricks.

You told me my fault
and only then
cut all contact.

This time it hurts less.
Although I forgave
I never went so deep again.
What you had done once….

Heading for the sky: haiku and things for October 2008

3/10/08

Gone with September
those rainstorms and hard, cold winds.
October hots up.

*******************

The Wheel of the Year
keeps turning, as the world turns.
The seasons rotate.

*******************

Down here, Down Under,
we complement, not mirror.
A parallel world!

******************

Today in Pottsville
in an absence of traffic
and a flood of sun
the village is somnolent
as backroad afternoons.

(Note: I'm indebted to 'Lady Madelyn', who posts to Haiku on Friday at MySpace, for the phrase 'backroad afternoons'.)


10/10/08

Sky covered in grey.
The only colour I see,
my stained glass window.


11/10/08

Neat hair and beard now,
replacing straggly dreadlocks.
My friend goes to court.


14/10/08

Clouds cover the sky
on the night of the full moon.
Spring rain falls softly.


15/10/08

The sky is clouded.
There is a full moon tonight
that I'll never see.


17/10/08

A flash of bright green.
The first lorikeet of spring
surprises the air.

**********************

rainbow lorikeets
colours of autumn leaves, sky
green, red, yellow, blue.

***********************

Maple Vine

Red leaves climb a trunk
reaching past the tips of pines,
heading for the sky.


18/10/08

Green spider orchid.
I used to make that essence
helped by the devas
and guided by the Divine.
(It was for divination.)


24/10/08

Spring in the tropics.
The avocadoes ripen,
my wind chime sings loud.

*********************

My mother’s birthday.
Ten years and more since she died
but I don’t forget.

*********************

I sat by her bed
holding her hand till the end,
reluctant to know.

*********************

Ah, once they have crossed,
people love more freely:
no inhibitions!

I'm a medium.
It moves me to tears always,
that unfettered love.

********************

We give them poems.
Our way to honour the dead
who gave us our lives.


26/10/08

Basil garden

As we come closer
it rises to our nostrils,
that savoury scent.


31/10/08

Samhain

The moon's a sliver.
The ancestors and others
return through darkness.


Beltaine

We breathe together
lighting an etheric fire ...
leap together, fly.

*********************

Summer approaches.
Wind and surf sing together.
The trees are dancing.

26 October 2008

Verse Portrait 60. Arrival

Her face in trance
gravely serene, eyes closed,
caught in this photo
is the same I saw in vision –
the woman my friend would meet
within the year. Spiritual,
I told him, also dynamic.

A year to the day he writes,
'We fell in love quickly.'
Black hair, I said; brown skin.
And here she is
kneeling in ritual –
scientist and shaman, I learn;
mischievous, compassionate ...
prophecy fulfilled.

Verse Portrait 59. Brief Encounter

In the waiting-room
a baby wailed,
held to his mother’s shoulder
as she stood at the counter
her back to the rest of us.

He was bald and pale,
swathed in white.
The huge sound of his distress
shattered the air.

I sent him a beam of love
across the space.
Immediately his cry stopped.
He raised his head,
looked straight at me,
held my gaze and smiled.

19 October 2008

Verse Portrait 58. My Extra-Terrestrial Friend

Did you find a physicist?
Not many scientists here
do telepathy!

Our meditation group
reached out,
found you orbiting;
couldn’t begin to grasp
what you had to impart.

No ‘little green man’,
your projected image
was long, columnar,
non-humanoid …
and yes, green: bright
as if lit from within.

I guess you went home
when your two years were up.

You were friendly and fun.
I liked you.

Verse Portrait 57. Ursula Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea
was my first fantasy novel
(Alice more classic than genre;
and, not raised on Narnia,
that still unread).
Ursula, it was you
who gave me this way
of entering dream and dimensions,
writing with grace and wit:
imparting the ways of magick,
moral dilemmas, growth.
I was very young,
though not so young as your hero.
He — you — taught me
how to develop character.

10 October 2008

Verse Portrait 56. Karuna Mayi

At Healers’ Day
I cleared your past life:
Herman, tortured for witchcraft;
healer then too (herbs, alchemy)
I your acolyte.
This life, your Reiki Master.

Millennium meditation
you stood: angel,
arms outspread
holding the energy.

The last time I ever saw you
I wanted to say, ‘Love you forever.’
The words rose in me
but seemed too final, so I said,
‘I’ll see you again.’
I expect so.

30 September 2008

Long dark road: haiku and things for September 2008

3/9/08

Young and poor, I found
an orange in the gutter
shining like the sun.


5/9/08

Spring begins with rain
falling on land and ocean
with a hushed white roar.

**************************

The hurricane wind
reaches across the world
smelling of fear.

**********************************

When my son was here
he never saw these moments,
our small shared laughters.
The fact of an observer
changes what’s being observed.


6/9/08

This morning is bright
as if washed after the rain,
the picture refreshed.

*********************

For Haiku on Friday (MySpace)

In my time of dark,
in another hemisphere
my friends make poems.

I waken to find
here from all over the world
this feast of haiku!


12/9/08

Sept. 11

The burning towers
bloomed across my TV screen
and the world was changed.


19/9/08

Long dark road.
My friend's chest pain is intense.
The drive seems endless.

As I bring him home
after the operation
small birds are singing.


26/9/08

In the morning sun
red leaves outside my back door
glow, pointing upward.


28/9/08

Haiku and moonlight.
Leaves turning with the seasons
as dreaming begins.

26 September 2008

Verse Portrait 55. Canadian Poet

Pearly girlie plays with words,
sounds, meanings, structures
and arrives at intriguing
revelations or conundrums
that always go deeper
than you might first expect.

Work different from mine,
which is plainer.

I don’t have to be the same
to appreciate the juicy flesh
of a poem bitten into and tasted,
thrilling to its savour, inhaling
the lingering memory,
running my tongue again and again
over satisfying texture.


23 September 2008

Autobiographical Poem Format #2

I am ____
I wonder____
I hear____
I see _____
I want ____
I am (same as first line)
I pretend ____
I feel ____
I touch ____
I worry ____
I cry ___-
I am (same as first line)
I understand ___-
I say ____
I dream ____
I try ____
I hope ____
I am (same as first line)

---------------------------

I am alive in the world.
I wonder at this great blessing.
I hear many complain,
I see there is hardship and suffering, and
I want to help relieve that; but I am thrilled by life.

I am alive in the world.
I pretend to be just like everyone else.
I feel, though, exhilarated merely to exist.
I touch trees, flowers, stones, flowing water.
I worry about the survival of this beautiful planet.
I cry if a tree or animal dies – yet I kill some insects.

I am alive in the world.
I understand only that life is a miracle.
I say this out loud very seldom, as few can hear.
I dream of a time when we’re all rejoicing;
I try to lift the spirits of those I touch.
I hope for a time to come when all proclaim with joy:
‘I am alive in the world!’

Autobiographical Poem Format #1:

Line 1: First name only (screen names are fine)
Line 2: Four adjectives that describe you
Line 3: Son/daughter of __
Line 4: Lover of __ (name three things - phrases work best)
Line 5: Who feels __ (name three - phrases work best)

In the following sections, the writer may name as many as they like.
Line 6: Who finds happiness in __
Line 7: Who needs __
Line 8: Who gives __
Line 9: Who fears __
Line 10: Who believes __
Line 11: Who would like to see __
Line 12:Who enjoys __
Line 13: Who likes to wear __
Line 14: Resident of __

Line 15: Last name only (screen names are fine)

-------------------------------------------------------

Rosemary –

didactic, wise, magickal, ripe
daughter of Oswald and Helen,
lover of bitter dark chocolate,
the blues and the poetry of Yeats,
who feels irritated by too much chatter,
thrilled when contemplating the ocean,
and delighted by really good haiku,

who finds happiness in the love of like minds,
who needs great gobs of solitude every day,
who gives psychic readings that are locally famous,
who fears appearing ridiculous but risks it anyway,
who believes in the power of the human mind,
who would like to see the Andes again, up close,
who enjoys fantasy in print or on screen,
who likes to wear black and purple,
resident of the Mt Warning Caldera
in far northern New South Wales, Australia 


– Nissen-Wade

20 September 2008

Verse Portrait 54. Prisoner Poet 3: The Suicide

After 26 years and more,
more years than your life,

I can remember you
with joy exceeding sorrow –
though, as The Prophet suggested,
they’re sides of one coin:

always some tears,
a swift pang.

When your death was recent,
it was anguish to notice young fun –
pinball machines, amusement parks –
you might have enjoyed

if not for a youth in prison,
if not for your final escape.

16 September 2008

Verse Portrait 53. Milk Baba

I remember Milk Baba.
I saw his face tonight on TV,
but I recall the encounter in Nepal
at his small room opposite the Shiva temple
with the children surrounding him, peeping out.

A simple life. Then we find
he is learned, an acclaimed scholar
of that great scripture the Ramayana,
corresponding with people all over the world.
Thirty years of only milk, he says, made him pure.


8 September 2008

The Quest

Prompt: Write a poem that's a parable. I'm cheating on this one, being pushed for time, and using a poem written some little time ago.

I looked for you all my life,
found you in many places.
I lusted after your beauty,
saw it in many faces.

But each illusion faded
as the world continued turning.
The days drew on to sunset.
I saw the horizon burning.

'That's fine,' I said to The Mother,
'If that is how it must be.
This journey into sorrow
has held much joy for me.

'I thank you for the pleasures
and for the lessons learned.'
And I prayed for a spirit companion
while still the horizon burned.

I travelled across the horizon,
plunging into the dark.
There was no ground beneath me.
Ocean and sky turned black.

Sunrise flames on a new world,
a horizon flooded with light.
All names and faces merge as one,
and I sing on my forward flight.


14/5/08

6 September 2008

Happy Birthday

Prompt: a poem about a painful experience or one involving some other emotion, without stating the emotion. I've written enough pain poems this year to last a lifetime! So this isn't.

On your very first birthday
what did I give you,
knowing I gave?

A long journey
twelve hours, exhausting.
The briefest touch of my arms.

And instant recognition:
you could only be mine,
with those family features.

I gave you
a mother too tired
to hold you long that first time,

one who couldn’t feed you,
but could later cuddle, talk to you, rock
once we got the bottle right.

Much later I discovered
other things I gave you
from the first –

a love of poetry
and the gift to write it
from my Dad and his Dad and me

and music, not from
but through me,
one of my mother’s talents.

Now you’re 41
in just a few days.
I can’t believe it.

It’s hard to know what
I might give you this birthday.
Usually I don’t, just a call

or an email. We always say
we don’t need words –
we who love them.

And these days it’s you
who finds gifts for me,
nearly always a perfect book.


"Happy Birthday" is the Midweek Motif prompt at Poets United for 19 March 2014.  This seems a perfect piece to submit!

5 September 2008

Money Blues

Prompt: Write a blues sonnet

Money’s getting scarcer by the day

money’s getting scarcer ev’ry day
I’m juggling bills, there’s always more to pay.

I think this week I’ll manage and we’ll eat
this week I think I’ll manage, we will eat
but then they raise the rent, we’re on the street.

We don’t know where the next cent’s coming from
we don’t know where the next meal’s coming from
we don’t know where to find another home.

I used to have a cat I couldn’t feed
I used to have a cat I didn’t need
I gave him to a friend who could afford

such luxuries as roof and food and pet.
I don’t know how much lower I can get.

(Slightly exaggerated, don't worry - I would NEVER give away my two beautiful cats!)

Editorial Aside

Posting here less often just now, while doing the 30 Poems in 30 Days challenge at Writer's Resource Center.

Departure

Anyway I, missing the boat, did not drown
thrashing wildly, nor did I turn in anger
striding up the pier and away. I only
waved as if calmly.

Spring is now beginning to rain on all things,
wetting even oceans and rivers, lakes too.
Only I’m not adding to all this water;
I am not crying.

You can sail away on your ship to elsewhere.
You can leave today or (I can’t remember)
was it really yesterday when we parted?
See – I forget now!

When the years are thundering slowly, heartbeats
drumming heavy down throughout time, through my time,
surely no pulse echoes to your blood rhythm,
nor will I dream you.

The prompt was to write in metre, preferably one we didn't often use. This is my attempt at Sapphic metre. (The addressee is fictional, or perhaps composite.)

3 September 2008

A poem about finding something

(Last Wednesday's prompt from Poetic Asides)

Young and poor, I found

an orange in the gutter
shining like the sun.

2 September 2008

What Object Is This?

Prompt: Write a poem that includes at least one description of an object that is six or more words long. Mine's a sort of riddle poem.

I play with it at night.
It keeps my hands occupied,
demands concentration
yet helps me relax.

Not what you’d call
glamorous to look at
but it can excite me,
more so when hard.

It’s longer than six;
I'm glad of that.
And there’s no anger
though the words are cross.

Later: OK, everyone seems to have guessed – as intended; while understanding the innuendo also – as intended. So I should probably call it a joke rather than a riddle.

Mater Familias

30 Poems in 30 Days is back this September at Writer's Resource Center aka PoeWar. The prompt for Day 1 was to write about something one believes.

I believe in One God
who has many names and faces
and more genders than we
here on this tiny planet
could possibly imagine.
And I like to call Her Goddess.

Sometimes I call Her Mother.
But that can get confusing.
Since her death, my own Mum
tends to come at the call –
quite kindly, and pleased I think
that finally I seem to need her.

Or I call Her the Universe
encompassing all
that vastness, limitless,
as well as the most minute
invisible particle, and
even the nothing between.

The Universe. Isn't that 'It'?
Abstract, non-gender-specific?
Perhaps. But also I see
that space, that profound dark
as the Void, the Great Womb,
the Nurturer of Life.

I like the horned deer in the forest,
male symbol of God, the stag.
I like the great image of Pan
as the kindly sprit of Nature
animating our world. So I’m not
committed to calling that Gaia.

I believe really that God
is everything we are,
our whole reality – Truth,
and Life, and Love: as
every scripture says. I believe.
Then I make up the details.

And I do like to call Her Goddess,
choosing to give Her the face
of the Moon more often than not,
inspirer of dreams and poets.
She has many names and faces.
Tonight I believe I'll say Ishtar.

1/9/08

31 August 2008

Tweet Prose-Poems, August 2008

Dreaming of Colorado, where a friend is creating a temple. – 2/7/08

Last night's frost sank into my dreams. I woke up with a memory of whimpering from the cold, or did I dream it? Even the cats looked sad. - 15/8/08


Staying up far too late, chasing poems through the dark. Tonight they are elusive, glimpsed only. I'm wishing for red wine and chocolates. – 18/8/08


Desert man, u write v th sea. What wd u know? At last, aftr 2 lovg yrs, I find myslf irritated. Its end v wintr here. Stick yr perfct haiku. - 27/8/08


Listeng 2 classical music (Beethoven & stuff) w/ gr8 enjoymt. This never happens. Now I KNOW I must somehow have grown old. Or at least up. – 31/8/09



Written for twitter

Sunlight and green leaves: haiku and things for Augst 2008

1/8/08

Sunlight and green leaves
the morning fresh and shining
outside my front door.


I look no further
than the view from my front door,
forgetting heaven.

******************************

This sunny morning
my fifteen-year-old potplant
has shiny new leaves.

*******************************

The wind blew the clouds
into bright white angel wings
this warm afternoon.

*******************************

In my sunny sky
new moon and solar eclipse
are invisible.



6/8/08

After some silence
you write that I am a song.
All day I'm singing.



8/8/08

Suddenly sunshine
still with a faint edge of cold
fills the morning sky.

OR:

Suddenly sunshine
with just a faint edge of cold
filling up the sky.



9/8/08

A field of corn rows

The further we go
side by side in parallel
the more we converge.

***************************

Lady of moonlight
who dances across the dew
you lighten our space.



10/8/08

Softer than moonlight
a wind like the rush of wings:
transparent shimmer.

***************************

Cucumber plant

Blooming in darkness
behind a sun-coloured pot
tiny yellow stars.



12/8/08

Frosty night up late
alone with my two cats
huddled shivering.



15/8/08

After the frost
the dawn of a clear day
the sky cloudless.



16/8/08

A time of extremes
warming one side of the globe
the other freezing.

*****************************

Full moon and bright star
the night suddenly warmer.
I bathe in white light.

****************************

On nights of full moon
her silvery voice whispers
poems in my ear.

****************************



17/8/08

On these frosty nights
only the cats to curl up
sharing body heat.



18/8/08

Spanish Fiesta

Fireworks and costumes
elderly ladies dancing
to rockers' guitars.

***************************

In winter I walk
on a wild and lonely beach
gathering shells.



22/8/08

Dobbing in Hubby: senryu sequence

Elbow in the back.
Not my favourite waking.
Accident, he says.

New water bottle
dribbles all over his face.
He opened it wrong.

How can I tell him,
"In age, slowness is wisdom.
Do things mindfully!" ?

"Oh, poop to you too,"
he says when I read him this.
But he's laughing hard.

I rescue his plate
parked on the bed and tilting,
just before milk spills.


******************************

As I grow older ...

People around me
seem confused, acting strangely.
I'm hurt and puzzled.

(Don't panic, folks; it's not autobiographical!)

******************************************

Such tangles behind
the only way is forward
through those dark thickets.



23/8/08

A MySpace challenge

syllable pattern 4-6-4
begin each verse with “after the storm”


after the storm
at first only silence
and no movement

******************

after the storm
stillness lifts softly, birds
begin singing


29/8/08

1:05 a.m.

Already it’s Friday.
Bed now, to dream of haiku
and wake up to them.

***********************
When a dragonfly
goes to sleep in its last dream
it wakes as faery.


30/8/08

Here, our warm autumn
is not a dying season;
it’s rare that leaves fall.
The air itself seems golden,
summer departing slowly.



28 August 2008

Verse Portrait 52. Patron

You watched over me.
Adults were trustworthy then.

I liked our conversation, still do;
realised only slowly
others didn’t see you.

When I was 43, a magician friend
introduced me to his mentor.
You! So I learned
your name and identity.

Giver of writing, patron of poets,
great magician yourself;
and my friend, somewhat fatherly.

I’m told you are most correctly
named Tehuti, but I call you Thoth.

27 August 2008

Verse Portrait 51. At the Book Fair

At the book fair
for self-published authors

my table was next to hers.
Happenstance?

We hardly stopped
talking and laughing.

She’d written her own
spiritual adventure

prose shining like poetry
in a hall of atrocious verse.

She was Crone, skinny 81,
wool cap around her ears

a light festoon of grey curls
embroidering her chin.

Age, she understood,
had made her whole.

We were sisters at once,
magickal.

26 August 2008

Verse Portrait 50. Dancing Partner

Looking back I see
a thin, slightly nervous boy.
Then he was tall, dark, handsome
and sophisticated. I was 17.

My friend’s party.
He, new in that crowd;
me, home on holiday:
each to each
a glamorous stranger.

They had Buddy Holly’s
latest record, Rave On,
played it over and over.
We danced. The night was warm.

But Buddy died and I
flew away, back over the sea.

23 August 2008

Verse Portrait 49. The Dreaded X (Former Friend)

She latched on,
I observed, to several
instant best friends.

I accepted.
So few could share
my "spooky stuff".

And there was her daughter,
who came this time, we knew,
to learn from me too.

Later she offered
to share a house;
it seemed kind.

By then she’d suffered,
which made her cruel
I learned.

She under-estimated.
I am soft,
not weak.

I don’t revisit
nightmares.
The end.

A Rant Poem

(Last Wednesday's challenge from Poetic Asides. Not sure this qualifies as a rant exactly, but it's all I've got.)


Dobbing in Hubby: senryu sequence

Elbow in the back.
Not my favourite waking.
Accident, he says.

New water bottle
dribbles all over his face.
He opened it wrong.

How can I tell him,
"In age, slowness is wisdom.
Do things mindfully!" ?

"Oh, poop to you too,"
he says when I read him this.
But he's laughing hard.

I rescue his plate
parked on the bed and tilting,
just before milk spills.

Verse Portrait 48. A Student, Years Ago

“Please,” she begged.
“Let me take it and make a copy.
I’ll bring it back soon, promise.”

I was reluctant, but
she loved it so much. Who was I
to refuse her respectful request?

Never saw her again
nor the big card from my wall
depicting the Green Lady:

Mother Gaia, crinkled old face
wise and cheery under her hood,
her smile knowing

I can still see her.

22 August 2008

Verse Portrait 47. She Read Her Poem

I was lost in the beautiful words,
drifting away on them;
did wonder vaguely at a subject
with resemblances to me –
but only when others
asked, “Did you like that?”
I emerged from reverie.
“It’s about you,” they said.

Lean, vigorous, white-haired,
she rode motorbikes in Thailand;
makes poems that experiment
with sounds, images, meanings:
witty, metaphorical, deep poems;
sometimes poems so lovely
I lose myself, carried away.

20 August 2008

C***


It’s just like one of those weeds
that swallows insects.
And it’s hungry! It seeks to feed.
I’ll swear it reaches out with its big side-flaps
and stretches and sucks —
you can hear the air retreat
in front of its jet funnel,
its ruching of in-drawn petals.
It puckers to an arch kiss,
pouts, plops like a fish,
flops to a loose pocket.
It gapes, it salivates, it wants your juices.
You tickle its hairy leaves and it gasps —
you are so pretty.
You are a winged thing,
and here is this coarse slobberer —
stop, take pity!
Only stroke it. Watch how it widens.
Oh yes — it’s sticky! It grasps, fastens,
clamps: magnet.
And the fierce little eye in the middle
goes red, goes wild, throbs blindly, sizzles.

Bites, tightens till you shrivel.



© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 1974
from Universe Cat, Pariah Press (Melb.) 1985
First published (earlier version) Compass


The title – in case you haven't figured it out already – is a four-letter word meaning female genitalia. I don't usually censor it, but as this is a public space and I don't want Google removing my blog....
First written in 1974 and bravely published by Chris Mansell in the now-defunct literary magazine Compass, this was a famous poem in Australia for a while – and in some quarters infamous. It was universally referred to, both by those who loved it and those who hated it, as "THAT poem". Many people begged me to change the title to something more discreet or euphemistic, but I have always been convinced that this title is absolutely right POETICALLY.

I do believe it was the first "literary" piece of its kind, at least in this part of the world, where it inspired others to poems on the same and similar subjects. It appears on my "Texas Poetry Trip" blog, but I decided it was high time to post it here as well. I chose Melanie's wonderful orchid pic to use, with her permission, as my "Passionate Crone" icon largely because it struck me as a perfect illustration for this poem!


Submitted 6 July 2013 for Poets United's Verse First: Appetite

18 August 2008

Verse Portrait 46. Returned Traveller

Hates Australia
land of his birth and growth.
hates Holland
land of his father's ancestry;
holds dual citizenship.
Travels as much as he can
on all continents, preferably
far from his first country.

Now he's back, in limbo,
waiting a call from elsewhere.
I wonder if he'll find himself
strangely at home
as time passes,
or will he confirm
that he's still at odds
with his own people?

16 August 2008

Verse Portrait 45. My Student's Wife

Her dress is bright yellow
the colour of joy.
The metallic insets
around its neck
sparkle, and her smile
lights her whole face.

When she tells
of their new home,
what it means to them,
I see a shyness
but she speaks anyway
slowly, finding and sharing
the truth of her heart.

I think this kind, clever man
has chosen well:
a true jewel, shining
and very valuable.

Post-script: They parted some years later ... and he found a happier love.

Dream Poem

(Wednesday prompt from Poetic Asides.)

Frosty night seeping

into my dreams.
Waking and freezing
I remember only
whimpering from cold
afraid and alone,
was that real?


15 August 2008

Yet Another Poetry Challenge!

This was a challenge I found on Lori Williams's blog on MySpace, where she and others have posted some wonderful interpretations; do go have a look. The challenge was to write a poem incorporating the words:

NEIGHBOR
DYNAMISM
FREE-FOR-ALL
INDIO
LUSTER
BURN
JUICES
INFILTRATE
SCROTUM
MOTH

(Only in my case with Aussie spelling.)

I didn't know what Indio meant, but thought it would be fun to write the poem before finding out. It would have been a different poem had I known it is both a place in California where various festivals happen, and the professional name of Canadian singer/songwriter Gordon Peterson. But I didn't know and this is the poem that happened:



Journey From Indio

"Indio, what's that?" she said,
"A place?" He cocked one eyebrow,
scratching his scrotum idly.
"I've got better things
to think about," he said.

She gave him a long look
from under her lashes.
"You know," she said,
"You lack a certain …
dynamism." She smirked.
He gave a low growl.
"Ha! I can still get
your juices flowing."

He let his cigarette burn down
in the ashtray, unnoticed
except by a tiny moth
which immolated itself
on the last flare of red
before the glow faded.

He faced down her stare
and moved in, for what
the neighbour, unable
to infiltrate the play
of their surface hostilities,
liked to describe as
"next-door having another
free-for-all," hearing
in the shrieks and thumps
something quite other
than what was happening.

They liked that little edge
of aggression, you see,
to get them started.
It moistened their lips,
made their eyes shine,
added to each, for each,
a dangerous, exciting lustre.

15/8/08

12 August 2008

Verse Portrait 44. Best Friend Not For Long

Big loud girl,
you took shy me
under your confident wing,
taught me things
my parents never did.

Walking home from school
you yelled at a group
in different uniform:
“Catholic dogs
sitting on logs”
then suddenly stopped
before the shouting back
and the stone-throwing could begin.

“Oh, it’s my little cousin Bevvie”
and threw your arms around her.
Even then I saw
the irony
and your oblivion.

11 August 2008

Verse Portrait 43. Aunty Amy

Ugliest woman
I ever saw: stout
with mottled skin,
plain-faced even when young
in those severe photographs.
Sometimes I looked away
not to puke.

She was still the favourite
we all begged to visit;
Grandma’s spinster sister.
Grandma had seven kids,
21 grandchildren. Aunty Amy
belonged to us all.

Now my sensible shoes like hers
make me smile. Past eighty
she read everything,
loved gardening
and us all.

Tanka

Two kookaburras
on my TV arial
laughing their heads off.
A black bat, wide-winged, swoops low.
They fly to the nearest tree.


(The Wednesday prompt this week was Marriage. This was not written in response to it but simply in response to the events described. Then I realised, these protagonists were definitely a couple!)

10 August 2008

Verse Portrait 42. The Demon Benefactor

Sent an introductory
photo: himself glaring
all in black. Was he
threatening or fondling
the naked woman pinioned
by the weight of his arm?

“Bizarre,” I thought, but he
was a man of the world.
I acted cool. Then
he was charming.

Seduced by promises –
wealth, glory –
I took the bribe;
wanted it badly.
He delivered …
something. But the price!

I’d have paid evermore
boot-licking,
chastised.
No thanks.

9 August 2008

Verse Portrait 41. Shelton

I like that photo
on the front of your book, mate:
head up, inhaling pleasure,
against sky and steeple.

Not a book you wrote, this time;
one we wrote for you
to attest your undying value,
returning for your life-giving words
our own, which you always encouraged.

I wasn’t there for your death
nor your wake; won’t see
this book-launch ... I’m glad
I was there in your life.


All Travellers We: Poems for Shelton Lea (Eaglemont Press) will be launched in Melbourne on August 21st.

8 August 2008

Verse Portrait 40. The Elder

I gave him something
and I’m glad I did:
some happy memories,
a love of cats and poetry.

I remember talking
in his teens and since:
quiet conversations
about ideas,
and sometimes
of turbulent feelings.

My snowy-haired
clear-eyed child,
fearless climber and diver,
grew to make poems, stories,
computer programs
and lasting friendships.

I rely on him now
for sense, honesty
and understanding;
the most fair-minded of men.

7 August 2008

Verse Portrait 39. Cousin-Sister

Soon after you died, you came
to visit in my mind.
We sat together, children again,
talking as we used to
among tall ferns and grasses
and bells of pink heath
in that secret dell under the pines.

We always called it Paradise.
I wonder now if that in itself
was your message.
Otherwise we said little,
tied up a few loose ends,
agreed we were quits, grinned.

6 August 2008

Verse Portrait 38. Faithful Wife

Good husband,
successful children,
comfortable home
in a posh part of town,
and still youthfully pretty.

Why that sadness
glimpsed far back in her eyes?

At last she told her story:
the first husband killed young,
no time to grieve
working to support their child.

She has no complaints.
She’s not ungrateful.
Love has lasted long this time.
It’s just, she never quite
adored him like the first.

5 August 2008

Cento Australiana

Wednesday challenge (many days late this week). A cento is a poem made up of lines by other poets.

I love a sunburnt country.
On her dark breast we spring like points of light,
morning’s first colour, curving to day’s end

the children screaming at the water’s edge with seagulls,
hearing the birds’ ancestral incantations
among the arid relics of old tide patterns.

Sometimes when summer is over the land
the harbour breaks up in thunders of sunlight
and a steep blue sky

as I feel the weight of light begin to bleach my feet
where seagulls rode upon the foam
and the hawk in the high sky hung.

January heat. Raw saplings stand like cattle
at high voltage summer noon.
Flies multiply in the heat.

The scrub is thick in the gully
with graceful curves of dried up streams,
lantana green smell on your hands.

Look at the sky! It’s ‘trying’ to rain;
this desert, blinding, unnamed
leaving us undefended as the stars.

Red rock forms sheltering walls
by a ring of worn river stones,
lightning-gutted remnants.

Walk into the memory of rain
the dream of grass
the glint of fronds and blades in the light

this hushed sun-haze morning,
turning over wet leaves with my walking stick;
green leaves – a patch of world along a river.

Because a little vagrant wind veered south from China Sea
slow drops of rain began to fall; the wind
suspended in the amber sky.

The moon had rippled past the hotel glass
and suddenly there was a presence.
Sniff the bougainvillea and you’re in the south pacific again the purple islands.

The East wind sucks itself along sea shelves
it blows all summer long like a bellows
great murmur of rain spreading over suburbs and into the hills.

At night, in each other’s arms, we touch the sun . . .
watching the rocks bleed lichen onto the snow.
I am rested and walk away, into the rolling dunes.


Australian poets (in above order):
Dorothea Mackellar
Judith Wright
Joyce Lee
Rosemary Dobson
Gwen Harwood
Bev Roberts
Bruce Dawe
Vincent Buckley
Rod Moran
Jennifer Rankin
Kristin Henry
Dorothy Hewett
Les Murray
Dorothy Porter
Tony Page
Barbara Giles
Michael Leunig
Chris Mansell
Susan Hampton
Barrett Reid
Shelton Lea
Wendy Poussard
Mal Morgan
Gary Catalano
Katherine Gallagher
Jennie Fraine
Roland Robinson
Philip Martin
Liz Hall-Downs
John Shaw Neilson
C.J. Dennis
Oodgeroo Noonuccal
David Campbell
Pi O
John Kinsella
Michael Dransfield
Maie Casey
Bridget Porter Oldale
Judith Rodriguez
David Malouf
Doris Leadbetter
Jenny Boult (aka M.M. Bliss)

Verse Portrait 37. Younger Stepson

We met at Christmas.
I guess you’d heard
there was someone new
in your father’s life.

You kissed me shyly on the cheek
and included me
in the present for your Dad:

scented bath salts.
“You might enjoy them
together,” you said.

16 years later, you’re not
slim youth but solid,
handsome man.

In one forgotten family drama
we exchanged fierce words.
Now we talk deeply,
good friends.

Submitted 25 December 2011 (a Christmas 19 years later!) for dVerse Christmas. We no longer live near each other, but Younger Stepson is staying with his father and me this xmas, and the last line of the poem is truer than ever.

4 August 2008

Verse Portrait 36. Solzhenitsyn

Goodbye, Aleksandr,
legend of my lifetime.
Who'd have thought you would die
at 89 in your own country?

You yourself helped
to bring that about
with the smuggled book.

It seemed, after that
and your move to safety,
everything started changing.
What you brought to light
could not be re-concealed.

I read you were crusty
(surely you were entitled)
and disliked the West.
Or were you just homesick?

Verse Portrait 35. Ex-pat

My friend is home
after years away, years
of sudden phone-calls:
long calls, frequent, filled
with insight and strange
esoteric knowledge.

(Eventually, opinion
catches up with him.
Before that, most people
find him confronting.
But he’s here to love,
and share his wisdom.)

At our first meeting
he enjoyed my candy-striped
sneakers, my socks
with the rainbow swirls.
“That’s so cool,” he said,
laughing, in his rumbling voice.

2 August 2008

Verse Portrait 34. My Friend's New Husband

"...this beautiful white-haired man
who's been sharing my bed."

I was one of the first to know.
Initially it was their sweet secret.
(I understood, was the same
when my own lovely white-haired man....)

They’d known each other long before
their respective widowhoods,
but this new joy was sudden.

“Do you think he loves me?” she asked.
“Have you seen the way he looks at you?” I said.


1 August 2008

Verse Portrait 33. Ariadne

You met me in the glade,
dressed in pale silk
blue and flowing.
Your hair fell down your back
as golden as the sunlight
that lit you from behind.
You walked towards me
slow and smiling.

Recalling your story later
I thought I understood
why it was you who came
and why you welcomed me.
Weaver with your thread,
you too were betrayed.
Yet you smile, you’re strong.

31 July 2008

Verse Portrait 32. Lightnin' Hopkins

Just listening again
to you singing and playing,
hootin’ and hollerin’
on “Blowin’ the Fuse”
and you know, I’m darn sick
of all this piety I meet,
everyone so sweet and light.

I’m wishing for a nice dirty boy
like you, Sam; suggestive
without saying one bad word.
Just listening to your quiet laugh
your wicked laugh
and your music, I know
you knew all the right moves.

30 July 2008

Verse Portrait 31. Favourite Uncle

You walked on your hands
across the floor, up on a chair,
along the dining table
and down at the other end.

And you could whistle
and play a comb and tissue
just like a mouth organ.

You called me Mary Rose,
my Dad’s name for me.
You were his youngest brother.

At 70, grey-bearded,
you rode a motorbike.
90 this year, you requested a party
“small but memorable”.

29 July 2008

Verse Portrait 30. Surrogate Daughter

Slight, almost waif-like,
you walked past my market stall.
Mid-psychic reading I looked up,
caught your penetrating eye.

Returning when I was free,
you told me you’d seen how true
was my link to the Universe.
“You’ve chosen this work,” you said.
“And deserve your pay.”

Adopting me, you switched off
your own brilliant, burdensome gift,
preferring to cook for people
or give the homeless a bed.

28 July 2008

Verse Portrait 29. Full Circle

When you started
on your path of healing
thirteen years ago,
I taught you Reiki, Level One.
Pretty little woman,
you looked nervous, held in.
It was grief you were holding
for the end of your marriage.

This weekend
you taught me Theta Healing
in the comfortable home
of your present love.
(Met him dancing rock'n'roll.)
Every year you look
younger, prettier, lighter,
your real self more revealed.

After the cold night: haiku and things for July 2008

(Several of these in response to posts by MySpace friends.)

3/7/08:

In memory of Jane McGrath

What we remember –
more than her beautiful face
and famous husband,
even more than her courage –
is her joyous laughter


4/7/08:

This overcast day
my cat on the garden bin
finds one patch of sun.


11/7/08:

After the cold night
sunshine, blue skies and birdsong,
my rose opening.

***************************

Haiku on Friday

The second Friday
in January last year
a new adventure
began, goes on beginning,
continually renewed.


13/7/08

I water my rose
find her a sunnier spot
between the haiku.


15/7/08

Thanks for the memory!

Couldn't find a rose
so he sent me a pansy
for thoughts ... years ago.


18/7/08:

The first bud blossoms
on the first rose I have grown
and cared for myself.

***************************

Bittersweet

When losing a friend
the memory of a smile –
such comfort, such pain.


19/7/08:

Busking fruit seller (netsuke)

Fruit fills the basket
but he holds his real treasure –
the ivory flute.


22/7/08:

haiku from between
tradition and tomorrow
forges a new form

***************************

haiku from between
tradition and tomorrow
kaleidoscopic

(in response to a challenge to complete the first two lines with a third)


25/7/08:

A wild wind last night.
I brought my rosebush inside
but it needs real light.

****************************

Green frog on the grass
in danger from careless feet
only yesterday.

Her two gentle hands
lifted and carried the frog
to her safe garden.


26/7/08

As twilight deepens
mountains improbably blue
fill the horizon.


28/7/08

Driving home last night
as rain clouds threatened I smiled
thinking of the frogs.

**************************

Had to prise her off.
She was such a clinging vine,
poor little Ivy!

26 July 2008

Verse Portrait 28. Fellow Student

The energy of stillness
beams from you,
sitting in the corner,
white-blonde plaits
contrasting with red
pants and shirt and woollen shawl
wound around your waist like a skirt.

Your big eyes gaze
over striped spectacle frames.
Long fingers prop your chin,
the deep crimson polish and silver ring
strangely like an understatement.

Then you speak. It’s definite, fast,
knowing. You ripple with laughter,
your movements are dance.

25 July 2008

Verse Portrait 27. One Lover

You looked like Jesus
except he probably
wasn’t a red-head.

“So strange,” you said
our first night together,
“I’m in love with you
and not in love with you.”

I was older,
married with kids.

You gave me
Leonard Cohen’s poems
and an album of Ry Cooder.

Encountered decades later,
you were cynical
and resigned.

The young man I remember
was worth all the lies
and the tears.

How To Talk To Inanimate Objects

It might be a tree, or a table. Either way,
if at all possible touch the object
not with fingertips only but your palm.
Touch it firmly but gently, and hold it.
Send love to the object, purposefully.

Stand still and take a deep breath.
As you breathe in, allow your cells to open.
Become a large, empty, waiting space.
Keep very quiet, focused and yet relaxed.
Then feel the subtlety of its message to you.

The message will be a feeling, an energy,
before it is anything else. Afterwards
it may become music or a picture
or even words. Whatever it is, it will come
into your mind like your own thought.

Keep sending love. Otherwise
you will not trust the message, you’ll think
it’s only you: “I just imagined that.”
And keep breathing, feeling your breath
go deeply in and out and your feet on the ground.

Say thank you to tree or table or
anything else you have. Separate slowly,
bringing your energy back in your own body.
If you can, write the message down. You think
you’ll never forget; I promise you will.

24/7/08

(Wednesday prompt: a "how to" poem.)

24 July 2008

Verse Portrait 26. Sister

When my father married your mother
we were already friends. Became
allies – against them.

You taught me to smoke:
puff, cough, sip raspberry cordial,
lie down dizzy on your bed.

We escaped to Melbourne,
you dragged me from studying to parties:
dancing in the dark to Nat King Cole.
Later we hosted children’s birthday parties.

Always talked for hours;
literature and theology, with coffee.
Wish you weren’t dead.

23 July 2008

Verse Portrait 25. Dr Mac

It was the old doctor I liked,
his gentle voice and smile.
I liked his worn brown jacket,
tweed with elbow patches
matching the faded brown eyes
in his worn face.

The way he talked about me
to Mum, I knew he knew
there was a person in here.

I sulked for his replacement,
a loud young man in a navy suit.
At four, I didn’t understand retirement.

22 July 2008

Verse Portrait 24. Enemy

Once friend.

We were a threesome,
kindred poets.
The Three Musketeers
had nothing on us.

Wine and talk
in your flat,
she and I escaping
children, husbands, pets.
Wicked laughter, gossip
and literary theory.

Then you found cause
to sneer at me,
when the Human
Potential Movement
got me too.

Our third Musketeer
I lost; she
found me again.
Your poisoned words
failed to destroy.

But something died.

My Friend's Son

At my house in Beaumaris
when you were five,
you ran straight down the passage
out the back door, jumped
in the pool and lay still
face down on the bottom.

Your mother, alerted
by profound instinct,
looked up at that moment;
in three strides reached the edge
leaned in and hauled you out.

Now you’re thirty-eight,
and the fault entirely
the other driver’s. Once more
you lie motionless. You have
your mind, your speech
and some use of your arms.

She is rescuing you again
in slower, subtler ways.
This time it takes
lawyer, carers, bedside visits
and long-term practical plans.

When I phoned, your voice
was strong and glad.
You sounded just like you.
And I kept remembering
you were such a funny
wriggly little boy.

(Wednesday prompt: Write a poem to an audience, i.e. addressed to a person or thing. Identify your audience in the title.)

21 July 2008

Verse Portrait 23. Dinah

Calm light fills your space.
In the garden you’ve created,
profusions of leaves
pour over fences,
flowers abundant as weeds
mix with the trees to enclose
a sanctuary for creatures.

The cat you rescued
purrs on your knee.
Once he was shy, fierce
from cruel mistreatment.

Your smile is deeply dimpled.
You read us a meditation
channelled from Mary Magdalene.
The air is singing,
the light turns gold.

20 July 2008

Verse Portrait 22. The One I Care For

Light arrives with the roses.
I’m nourished by such small things
which are in fact large.
What could be more important
than Life manifesting itself
in that form, that fragrance,
those rich yet delicate colours?

“Beautiful,” you agree,
“But those two flowers look sick.”
I explain they are buds
gradually opening; and know again
how life starts to elude you,
little by little the world
unravels, becoming unknown.

19 July 2008

Verse Portrait 21. Joseph

(Magnetic healer, Philippines)

He told us about the jagged scar
on his neck. Tumour.
Even the Manila doctors
wouldn’t cut near the artery.

He climbed the mountain
behind his village and prayed,
one hand cradling his throat.
The swelling burst and drained.

The people said, “You must be
a healer. Cure this boy.”
He prayed, laid hands; the boy lived.

“I can’t explain,”
said my doctor back home.
“Your cancer’s gone.”

18 July 2008

Verse Portrait 20. Primary School Headmaster

“Mum!” nudging her,
“It’s Mr. Wilson.”
The vague-eyed man
lifted his hat, but I saw
he no longer knew me:
a soft-faced child
under his silver hair.
And I was grown.

Always silver-haired,
he’d wander into classrooms,
his impromptu English lessons
more enthralling than stories.
He gave me then my grasp
of Latin roots.
Every child in the school
loved him. He knew us all by name.

My November Gift

(Another Robert Frost Challenge – except that it isn't quite. I only have a "Selected" Frost and haven't seen the original of this particular title. It's actually "My November Guest" but my mind kept reading it as "Gift" so I went with that.)

It was life, it was me,
it was the world opening,
a blossom before my eyes
or a window onto a view
or the door to outside.

Life was me, I
was the world, and
the whole world
came alive!

I was born in November.
I was born on the twelfth,
and I always knew
in some mystic way,
that was my day
Johnny Mathis remembered
singing “The Twelfth of Never”
(voice of a fallen angel
rich, sad, hauntingly sweet).
"And that's a long, long time."

And I love November,
month full of grace
full of splendour,
the month that will never
burn down to an ember.

I was born into spring
and renewal, that soft
Tasmanian spring,
late spring when it starts
toward summer, turning
more and more golden,
warming to boundless blue.

I was born on a Sunday.
Mum used to say:
“The child that is born
on the Sabbath day
is bonny and wise
and good and gay!”
(Gay meaning joyous
in those old days.)
I was born to good fortune
and every November
candles are lit, there is cake,
there are gifts, everyone singing.

I was born
into life, and that is the gift
and the world is a great gift
still, and I like after all
the gift of myself to me.
Now I look back, I see
the adventure I’ve been
this long, long, exciting time.

18/7/08

17 July 2008

Verse Portrait 19. Mistaken Identity?

I called her name through the crowd.
“It’s me, Rosemary,” I said,
rattling off places and dates.

A soft, uncertain girl
surprisingly steely if pushed

(rebuked my urgent force
after a fit, when I jammed a ruler
hard between her teeth)

she was still plump and pimply
hanging her head.

Finally she lifted her eyes.
“That’s my name, but I don’t know
you or anything you’re talking about.”

16 July 2008

Verse Portrait 18. Prisoner Poet 2: Kindred Spirit

Swift recognition,
though at first
you were wary
behind your exercise book.

Some years later
published poet, on the way
to an Honours degree.…
Out, you returned
to the thrill of oblivion.

Visiting after I broke my leg
you brought armfuls of food,
your methadone,
your wife and baby son.

I never saw you again;
you just vanished,
our birthday pact
broken that year.
Rumour said you OD’d.

Into My Own

My place is a small island.
There are many islands,
most of them warmer,
good to explore,
but the one I return to
always in heart and mind
is the one where I was born.

I cannot lose this island.
I hold it within me,
leaf and stone. Now
as I start to be old,
I visit more often – or no,
the island visits me.

I thought it was calling,
I thought I hungered
to walk its earth again,
but when I looked, I saw
there is no more need.

I am always there,
swimming below The Bluff
or rounding that little bend
in Burnie, where deep pink flowers
cascade over a low fence.

I’m climbing with my book
to sit in the fork of the black wattle.
I’m tramping with my staff
through the bush behind The Gorge,
and the nature spirits
move with me.

Yellow roses bloom
in my father’s garden,
and I fall asleep
hearing, like an “All’s well”,
the chimes of the Town Hall clock.

15/7/08

15 July 2008

Verse Portrait 17. Prisoner Poet 1: The Youngest

You sussed me out a while,
finally sidled up. "I got
these poems here,
they're not very good."
They were very good.

I bought you a handsome pen
engraved with your name —
an illegal act, I found out later;
but no-one told.

After five years, still angry, you emerged.
We got drunk together, mourning
our friend who died.

I think I was the only
Outsider you never betrayed.

14 July 2008

Verse Portrait 16. Indigo Child

Never saw such huge, round, dark blue eyes
as that baby’s when she gazed at the air
above people’s heads, laughing aloud to watch
their rainbow auras flicker and dance.

I heard the child’s thoughts and she mine;
we talked that way. When Bill died,
she asked me if she could have
"something special of his". I gave her
his quartz crystal. She held it to her heart.

13 July 2008

Verse Portrait 15. Myself

... the one I met first of all,
who discovered and gave me

the fuzzy feel of a blanket
lightly rubbing my lips

the pattern of whorls
in the straw sides of my cot

intonations of voices
coming and going around me

the sensual pleasures of food,
light coming in a window,

whose thoughts and fancies now
enrich my dreaming hours ...

perhaps she is my best
friend, perhaps not

12 July 2008

Verse Portraits 14. Finally

How could I not
know it was over,
that day in the local café
for lunch – my idea –
your sour face glued
to the daily newspaper,
your back half-turned away?

In this café today
Andrew reads the paper,
looks over it at me,
laughs, asks a question.
So different!

It wasn't, after all,
the mere fact of reading
that gave me the signs
I ignored,
and remembered later.

11 July 2008

Verse Portrait 13. At the Place of Tall Gums

You came chasing rumours:
a Reiki Master
out back of Pumpenbil.

Missed the famous one;
wrong house.
Found me.

Your frail friend
was deathly sick. We gave her
another decade, it transpired.

Always allies, we added
Reiki and magick
to your Youth Centre.

I left the hill. You sold
your corner cottage, moved
interstate to your daughter.

Where are you now,
what are you doing?
I miss you.