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 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


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.


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.



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


Spanish Fiesta

Fireworks and costumes
elderly ladies dancing
to rockers' guitars.


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


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.


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


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.


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.

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,

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
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


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. 

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:


(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.


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.


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
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.