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.

28 March 2008


There are no poems tonight
flowing through my pen. I write,
instead, the merest prose.
Because I have not been out among flowers,
I haven't listened to trees and river
tonight. I came in the house,
I spent time with a human lover.
When the wind called me outside
and the dog next door barked long and loud
over the fence, I ignored
those blandishments. I stayed
in the chair by the computer screen,
or the armchair in front of that other screen,
the TV, with stories of artists going to Antarctica.
And I wanted to paint, I wanted to draw.
I wanted to be, too, in that earlier program
about the cave artists. They were all shamans
according to the scientist who studied them.
I wanted to do those things, create those forms,
go into the trances with them,
share their joys and alarms
and above all their glorious visions.
Oh, I stayed home tonight,
I didn't go out, but my heart
with longing travelled – far, far,
to the ancient caves full of magic smoke,
or the whaling stations of Antarctica
now fallen into ruins, as nature
reclaims the majesty of that space.
Even in our living rooms, She will take back
what is rightfully hers – a place
inside myself where I cannot but listen
to the songs of the earth, and all its children
of which I am one. And I know again
in the beat of my blood,
in the rise and fall of my breath:
I am moon, I am sun,
I am tree, I am cloud,
the ox and the deer and the horse as they run,
the eye that finds them, the hand that depicts.
And I am the journey over the rim
of all that the past and the future expects;
I thrum with living, I commune with death.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008


Today in the Autumn Creek

We swim today in the autumn creek,
all the flood-dirt finally gone,
the water clear to the sandy bottom
stippled with light, golden,
the afternoon endlessly warm.

At length, after playing like dolphins,
we come to rest in the shallows
sitting side by side on a hillock of sand,
schools of small transparent fish
fluttering just out of range of our feet.

Otherwise, the stream is empty.
One or two cars pass on the distant bridge.
A stately pelican glides like a boat,
slowly, hugging the other bank.
The sky shines palely, free of cloud.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008

Submitted July 2013 for dVerse Poetics: Water, Water Everywhere

That sound in the night: haiku and things for March 2008


That sound in the night
rhythm of heavy breathing
the pounding ocean.


Red water, fast flow.
The river still carries
yesterday's flood.


A winding dirt road
moves into early evening
on the quiet hill.


The loud sea has hushed.
This morning in my garden
small birds chirp softly.


(And a tanka:)

Solar wave for peace.
Just at the exact moment
all the lights go out.
Next day I tell the story;
my son says, 'Ah, how peaceful!'


The times of thunder
returning hard steady rain
waterfalls of noise.


Earth Hour

We turned off our lights
not all of us but many
and the stars were bright.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008

27 March 2008

The Grasses

The grasses say, We are tired.
We are getting a little dry.
We perch here on the edge of the cliff
in the path of the salt spray,
waving our stems and fronds
like begging hands upraised.

The creek ripples in silence
ignoring their plea,
flowing on its fast way
to the mouth of the estuary.
The lowering tide exposes
stingrays buried in sand.

They flap their triangular arms
and above them the surface is cut,
outlining their diamond shapes
in a series of circles and frills,
the long tails trailing.

The flying fish jump and dive
spearing the surface each way.
The shallows are sinking lower
beginning to rest on the sand.

We have seen it all day,
say the grasses, and all
the days before. Now
we are ready for sleep.

Over the way a rock
pokes whitely out of the water,
and up on the beach a tree
among the green turns orange.
The midges begin to sting
and I move away and start walking.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008


Linked – eight years later – to Poetry Pantry #302 at Poets United

19 March 2008

Sometimes I Want To Be

Sometimes I want to be alone and listening
to gardens by the church 
singing in yellow their tenor notes
and dotted with pink the sweet sopranos,
hymns on the evening air
calling in colours
against that great organ
thrumming in the background,
that rolling sea.

The birds getting ready for bed
chatter like children
as the wind whispers
a light-hearted prayer of its own.
The sun near its setting brightens the clouds
with a silvery edging
ahead of advancing rain.
And what are their prayers and chants,
these elements of God's kingdom?

They are thanks, they are thanks,
they are joyous thanks,
the carols of Life raising up
ecstatic voice at the end
of another living day.
Thanks for the day, the living,
the colours and songs, and now,
thanks for Your night
and the rest.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008


Note: This is my contribution to the forthcoming WordsFlow zine on the theme of Thank You.

18 March 2008

That Day At Spreyton

It had been raining.
We looked out of windows
in pink stone walls
and saw the light all golden,
softened after the rain.
The winter afternoon drew in.

The windows still dripped
from overhanging vines.
The water blurred the glass
and the scene outside twisted.
We saw the grass pale green,
wet and freshened.

A scrap of visible sky
was gentle grayish-white.
There was a smell
not sweet, not tart,
but softly pungent, earthy –
the sodden, just-mown grass.

The sun for a moment
cracked the clouds,
for a moment glistened, dazzling,
striking the old shed and the water pipe.
Then the clouds moved
and the world returned to soft.

I always go back
to that day at Spreyton,
my grandparents' place.
In the room, pink walls were warm,
the fire burned gold and orange
over blackening logs.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008


14 March 2008

The Man with the Wolf

The man with the wolf
has gone into the desert,
into the silence.

The wolf at his side
is not the one that I knew,
and doesn't know me.

The small timber wolf,
his companion when we met,
has left forever.

That link is broken
and now I can't see the dance
beside the campfire.

I wonder if he
sees my dance by the river
under the dark moon?

12 March 2008

Among Trees

Birds are the first thing I hear
when I sit down beside the fig and the hoop pine. Lots of them,
chirruping conversationally
from tree to tree, sounding happy
in the late sun softened by a breeze.
Then I hear the sea,
continual, always our background.
The cyclist in the park glides silently
but the birds notice and comment: a sudden flurry of music.
When I listen deeper, I hear
the leaves moving very gently
fluttering like feathers. It seems the trees
are spreading wings and preening, it seems they smile.
I rest my chin in my hands. I am in no hurry to go anywhere.
The circling branches of the fig
make a frame for the park and the road beyond.
The sun starts to burn my back through my nylon blouse.
A helicopter growls and chugs in the clouds.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008

My friend Raeline, visiting in January from overseas, gave me a reading with her Spiritual Voyager cards. One thing I was told was to go out into nature, listen to nature, and then write my poems. It's productive!

A long time later, I'm linking this to The Tuesday Platform for May 17 2016 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

7 March 2008

What Would Love?

Listening to the rush of the water, I ask,
what do the stones and the trees want to tell me,
what do the swirls and tangles of the river's turning tide say?
And the birds, heard though not seen, chirping faintly,
what are their messages? They sound busy.

It's the end of the day. The lengthening light grows pale.
A solitary fish skims the surface three times in a row,
it looks joyful. I sit on the steps overlooking the water,
and rock my hips lightly back and forward, my legs
in their pants and boots splayed comfortably, feet flat.

At home the men, my husband and son,
can talk or think or seethe or feel aggrieved. I don't need
to know what they are doing. I ask myself, 'What
would Love do now?' Love, I believe, might watch the river,
might listen to the breeze and birds and sighing water,

Might rock a child to comfort her, laugh at a jumping fish,
and forget the smile on his face when he saw her cry,
the way he smiled right at her, not hiding it. Love
might gaze at this pelican gliding past on the current,
elegant as a swan, effortless, unhurried.

Love might look at crab holes in the sand
and pools of caught water about to be filled and covered
as the tide comes right back in, and the breeze picks up
and tells me it's time to think of my own return home,
with the air becoming colder and darkness drawing down.


Linking to the Tuesday Platform for 10 May 2016 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

5 March 2008

Poems for "Dawn"

I came across a poem in my drafts, written just over a year ago, filed for polishing later, and forgotten. I decided it's fine as it is. I remembered it was inspired by some of the beautiful writings of my friend Dawn – one of my first friends on MySpace and one who will always be in my "top". I hadn't looked at her blog for a while, so I went back and had a look this evening. Her latest post is a pure masterpiece. And the one just before that inspired me again. No-one else writes like Dawn. Few have her clarity! As for me, I am glad to have received, through her good graces, these poems of my own.

The Joy with which You Write of Trees
for Dawn

The joy with which you write of trees,
reminding me of shade and breeze,
of leaves and fruit and oxygen,
their branches and our skeleton —

your words are dancing in the light
as leaves might do; your words are bright
as rippling leaves caught by the sun,
glinting against the background green,

and I at my desk look up to see
right through the walls surrounding me:
to air and birds, to soil and bees …
because you write your love of trees.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2007


Listen to the River

Listen to the river,
it whispers loudly
this evening as dusk
comes down, black clouds
sitting low on the trees.
It gulps and laps the shore
as the wind springs into gusts
and over the opposite bank
unseen, but far from unheard
the ocean pounds and wallows.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2008


Shared eight years later, linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #302. 
Sadly, when MySpace went through radical changes, I lost all contact with Dawn. 

3 March 2008

On Falling Out of Love with a Book Called ‘Howl’

We of the flowers
grew old

cleaned the wind off our hair
scraped the sun from our eyelids
shut the moon in a jar

and left quietly
stepping over our broken bodies on the floor.

in a moment’s mist
we hear

the echo of a roar
tumbling down-wind

old howl of acid truth
quaint and sweet as clothes we used to wear.

The robes fray
the sandals rot
we’ve chopped our long long hair.

to tell you ‘Love’
I hand you tears
not flowers.

© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 1981

First published Turnstyle


Note: I recently did a quiz which told me that I'm 'a total hippie' – that, even if I no longer use incense or wear sandals, I have the soul of a hippie! I admit it. But it made me remember this piece, written 27 years ago, at which point I was feeling middle-aged and wistful for the past. Why is it that middle-aged felt old, while old age feels so deliciously young? (Btw I never stopped using incense
and if I ever really fell out of love with 'Howl' it was strictly temporary.)