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.

30 April 2009

Never Fear (April Challenge 29)

Prompt: "Never (blank)" and fill in the blank.

“Have no fear,”
the angel said in measured tones.
"Have no fear. He is well.”

I’d been so frantic –
my youngest,
his first time away from Australia
entirely on his own,
the great world trip,
and he’d hit trouble.

Mind you, he was 29
but all the same,
naïve enough
to get drugged and robbed
at his first port of call:
Bali.


You can imagine –
my lurid fantasies
soon had him set up and framed
and tossed indefinitely
into a dire Indonesian prison.
(Never mind that he was the complainant.)

Unable to settle,
I went and cast circle
in the big room I had in those days
as my home temple.
I did it the Ceremonial Magic way,
calling the Archangels.

Surprisingly, a voice –
yes, in my head, but so clear and strong
I was almost sure it was physical.
Well, and come to that,
it wasn’t in my head, it was over there,
only I was hearing it telepathically.

“Rosemary,” it said,
“We wish to speak with you.”
I managed not to pass out.
Trying to do whatever might be
correct
in these circumstances,
I mentally designated Gabriel spokesman.

I turned to face West
and waited.
“Have no fear,” the angel said,
“He is well.”
That was it. End of message.
And my fear left.

It was enough.
It carried with it
clarity and calm,
an unusual, particular peace –
alert, awake, and very grounded.
“… that passeth all understanding,” I thought.

I have learned since
to know that quality, which is palpable,
as heralding the presence of angels –
angels in whose presence I feel
both peaceful and strong;
beings of few words but essential.

“Have no fear,” the angel said.
I do have fear. I am human.
Sometimes I forget.
I forget that I don’t need it.
I forget that the energy of fear
itself can cause problems.

(I don’t mean healthy, sensible fear,
like if a bull’s chasing you
you’d better run.
I mean that other kind
which is useless of course
and makes everything worse.)

“Never” seems so large.
Try it in the moment:
“Have no fear.”

29 April 2009

Anti-Sestina Poem / Mothers and Sons (April Challenge 28)

Prompt: Write a sestina and/or a poem about the sestina form.

Anti-Sestina Poem

Kipling did it, Pound did it,
half the poets around did it –
but let’s not try doing it,
let’s not write sestinas.

John Ashbery did it, Elizabeth Bishop did it,
Dante, Petrarch and Philip Sidney did it.
But why should I do it?
I don’t like sestinas!


(However I did it, and here's the result:)



Mothers and Sons

The neighbour’s been out drinking tonight.
Now he is home, yelling at his mother.
My husband wants to call the police
but I hear her standing up for herself.
As far as we know he’s not violent.
It’s an old grudge from when he was a child.

I know what it’s like. I have a child
who used to drink late into the night,
sometimes barely restraining his violent
rage against me, the evil mother
who lied to him and even to herself –
or so he believed, becoming my thought police.

He’s the one I can never please,
although he was a sweet and loving child
and we thought had sufficient love for himself
also, but now his moods can be dark as night.
I’ve been in the place of that other mother.
Her son’s yelling is a kind of violence.

And violence unfortunately begets violence.
In my case I almost had to police
my reactions, remind myself I was a mother
and this loud, hard man was once the child
who used to cry himself to sleep at night
after his dog died. My neighbour herself

has told me a similar story. She says herself
that her son has a soft and a dark side. He’s a shy violet
when he hasn’t been drinking. But Wednesday night
is his night at the Club. The local police
drink there too off duty, he’s often chilled
with them before coming home to yell at his mother.

Was I indeed a very bad mother?
I suppose we all wonder that about ourselves.
Isn’t it the parent’s fault when something ails the child?
I remember him broken-hearted, sobbing violently.
Now he never says sorry, he never says please.
I’m reminded of all that, as I listen tonight.

He is the child for whom I’m a failed mother,
and I’m hearing tonight a woman like myself
abused violently by a son she can’t please.

A Serious Miscommunication (April Challenge 26)

Prompt: Miscommunication.
_____________________
Found poem. Fragments from interviews
with survivors of the Marysville fires.

It was gathering momentum as it went,
the front flying with that wind.
Telephone line congestion.
Two-way radio system heavily overloaded.
On a day like that, hit quickly while it’s small.
Enough tankers, you may contain it.
I questioned whether our tanker should go elsewhere, but
you fight the fire you’ve got, not the one you might have.
I don’t know where the gap in the information is,
I really don’t know the answer to that one.
By 4.30 there were burning embers,
gumnuts falling in the mill and sheets of bark.
The Mt Gordon fire spotter saw what was coming
and the speed. He stayed there and kept giving warnings.
Told me to get out. “We’re going to come under
severe ember attack at any moment.”
The list of people who needed help was small.
There were people who should have been on the list.
I had no idea of the size and the speed it was travelling.
The first warning was not till twenty-five to six.
We didn’t know what it was, which direction it was coming,
it was mounting even as you looked at it.
“We’ve spoken to the police and this is just
smoke from somewhere else.”
“What are all those red spots? “ “That’s because the sun
is high in the sky.” I accepted that!
It was like a normal day
except for the heat and the cloud of smoke.
So fast. Official warnings
were running behind the fire.
One report we had was that houses
were not under threat. We knew it wasn’t true.
We had to say they are,
against what the CFA* was saying.
Perhaps a radio, some sort of screeching
saying “Emergency! Emergency!”
Possibly, whatever you were doing,
you’d think, “That’s strong,” and listen.
We tried. We couldn’t get through the official ropes,
couldn’t get regional HQ by telephone or radio.
We saw smoke, we tried to get information from websites.
The power went out, we lost the computer.
I had no idea of the size of what it was we were facing
and I don’t think anyone else did.
There’s two people I’d dearly loved
to have got that message.
What do people think the siren’s there for? To call firefighters
to the station to go and address a fire, that’s what it’s there for.
They remained in their houses because there was no siren
to have gone loud and continuously.
People would have said, “What’s happening?”
and they would have moved.
I kept saying, “I haven’t heard the siren.”
Apparently nowadays they don’t use the siren.
The CFA pages them –
but what about the rest of us?
She drove up and down the streets, yelling,
“We’ve got about ten minutes to get out.”
There were people who wanted to stay. Didn’t get out in time.
They had no idea of the ferocity.
At twenty to seven an official red flag alert,
the only one that day. Wind change.
We knew we had big trouble. The fire
would blow across the town fast. Time was really short.
We drove up and down a few roads with sirens going
and in minutes it was dark, with embers in the town.
It was getting noisy and dark. Out on spot fire patrol
I lost my mobile phone, my link to my family.
I did try to ring from another phone, didn’t get
an answer, didn’t know what had happened.
Fire crews at the oval. Nothing they could do.
The town was going up around them.
Thirty people died, most in or near their houses,
some in cars. Some called Triple-O for help.

There was nowhere to go. Maybe they got out.
There wasn’t a lot we could do by then.
People trapped in cars, people trapped in houses,
and for ninety percent of the calls, nothing anyone could do.

Not notified of their daughter’s death
for weeks, but reports confirmed their fears.
A young pregnant woman’s body on the road.
Eight months pregnant. Couldn’t outrun.
Compulsory evacuation should be mandatory,
especially on days of total fire ban.
We need communications and evacuation procedures.
Why are they saying, “Stay and defend, or not”?
People stayed on that fateful night, and they died.
They just didn’t know the fire was coming.
_____________________
* Country Fire Authority

Longing (April Challenge 27)

Out of sequence – I just haven't had time yet to write the one I have planned for Number 26. So for 27 I thought I'd try a shadorma, which has the virtue of being short - even when doubled!)
Prompt: Longing


I seem now
strangely free of it.
Can it be
that I’ve found
contentment – or apathy?
Or simply ageing?

Whatever,
I like this freedom –
memory
without pain,
while knowing that I’ve relished
all life’s rich flavours.

27 April 2009

Andrew's 80th (April Challenge 25)

Prompt: An event (think party).
(This is a double Anacreontic verse.)


The night was stormy.
Rain and flood
prevented some,
others braved
a scary highway.
Maureen climbed up
to disconnect
the smoke alarm,
set off by cooking.
Omni brought
dinkum gem scones.
(Before shaman
she was bush cook.)
Debbie brought
the dancing music:
jive and twist
and Neil Diamond.
The birthday cake
was chocolate mud;
Maureen made it.

Andrew’s niece,
the lovely Lindy,
flew from Melbourne.
Jokes: by plane
or was it a broom?
Andrew danced
with me and Deb.
The smile on his face
grew wider all night.
He gave a speech
that made us laugh
and made us cry.
“We love you, Andrew,”
shouted Sharon.
Stand-up comic
Dinah emceed,
very rude,
we loved her stuff.
James recorded
it all on Flip.

25 April 2009

Anzac Day (April Challenge 24)

Prompt: Travel (of any kind so long as
it involves moving from A to B)


All morning they march
from left to right of the TV screen
or apparently out from the back toward us
in throngs along George Street, Sydney,
a wide thoroughfare crowded each side
with cheering onlookers waving flags –
like every Anzac Day march I’ve ever seen
since my small-town childhood,
when my Dad knew all the old soldiers by name.
All over the country it’s happening now
as it has, again and again, for 93 years so far.

Many of the aged are still marching
proudly, head erect, chest striped
with rows of medals on coloured ribbons.
Others are wheeled in chairs or ride in open cars,
waving back at the crowd. A few still wear
the traditional sprig of rosemary:
“… we will remember them”.
The young are marching with them,
children and grandchildren of dead heroes.
Some carry photos of those they’re marching for
held against their hearts, face out for all to see.

The banners say Libya, Crete, Ceylon,
Thermopylae, El Alamein,
Wewak, Rabaul, Nui Dat, Long Tan,
Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan….
Some units move through quickly, simply because
there aren’t many of them left any more.
The time will come, the commentator notes,
there’ll only be the banner they carry.
It’s a sunny day. Somehow in my memory
Anzac Day always is. And, as always,
the bagpipes skirl and I thrill.

My mind goes back to another mass of people
filling the streets, marching in thousands –
in Melbourne, protesting Vietnam.
A young man, angry drunk, heckled:
“My mate died over there!” and an old one
with a European accent, demanded:
“Then why are you not marching with us?” …
Today a young father, walking in place of someone
in a group of older men, carries his infant son.
I remember myself watching the march
as a small girl on my father’s shoulder.

The band plays Waltzing Matilda –
the larrikin national anthem,
the one that stirs my heart –
and I turn my mind from the bitter song
that has that name, reminder
of boys returning crippled.
I used to see Anzac Day
as a celebration of war.
I still don’t like war but something’s shifted.
I admit to a real fondness now
for the slouch hat and the badge of the rising sun.

We switch to Gallipoli, the Dawn Service.
First we’re shown black-and-white footage
of the landing, men plunging from boats
through the shallows and up the beach
and falling, most of them, under a storm of bullets.
Then rows of stretchers, the bodies lying perfectly still,
the helpless nurses standing on guard over them.
Fade to now. Thousands wait in the dark.
Turks, Australians, New Zealanders
are sitting side by side. The speakers recall
the words of Kemal Attaturk.

“Your sons are now our sons,” he said.
“They lie in our bosom at peace.”
That gesture, and the mutual respect
of those who fought each other here so long ago
changed enemies to friends.
We watch in tears. In the early cold
they sing Amazing Grace and the 23rd Psalm.
The wreaths are laid, the chaplain prays for peace.
The Last Post. In the reverent two minutes’ hush
as the sun rises, we hear the waves
repeatedly washing the tranquil shore.

An Earth Day poem from Thom the World Poet

GREEN IS THE NEW GOLD

Our garden that you co-created-well
i ate the first green beans this morning
and those snap peas are snacks-
tomatoes threaten multitudes once sun encourages
and green spring is stirring up the onions and our carrots
A woman with no food was given gardens from ours-
the more abundance this only earth provides
sustenance and continuance from the earth of all of us
individual as our gardening desires
We import dirt when ours is rock
We pot and plant new seeds
Everything begins in our Garden of Eve
Knowledge we crave like birds butterflies bees
We are on the lips of receiving uprising beets
and when the rain returns all green will rise again
to make what you birthed an earthy earthly garden
Simple as the need and this desire
to live with earth on her own terms
and never need to buy what one can make
in co-operation with our green and golden planet
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? April 23,2009

(Posted with permission)

24 April 2009

Regret (April Challenge 23)

Remarkably, I seem to have moved past it
Even though I’ve had much occasion for it.
Goddess witness, I’m an imperfect woman
Regrettably (sic) being only human.
Even so – I have sorrows enough, and yet
They are deeper and truer than useless regret.

(Obviously, today's prompt is: Regret.)

Yet Another on Yesterday's Prompt

Working (3)

I didn’t want the beauty
that draws attention to itself,
making you gasp to notice
its brilliance and intricacy.

I wanted transparence,
words clear as glass
but unsolid like air –
you’d fall right through them

into the poem itself
its essence,
the meaning beyond
even the most perfect words.

Yet now I’m disconcerted,
contemplating uneasily
these very plain and spare
phrases that move through me.

23 April 2009

Working (April Challenge 22)

Prompt: Work

Working (1)

I never have hobbies.
Sooner or later I turn them all
into professional skills.
Usually sooner.

Except for reading.
But that’s like breathing –
not a hobby,
a necessity for life.

The rest I teach or sell.
Hand-made tank tops
when the kids were little,
sold through a local shop;

crochet lessons,
classes in my home
(I’ve still got the patterns
and templates somewhere);

and now, psychic reader
these last 20 years,
after the first, hesitant, long-ago
dabblings in Tarot;

and healer
and witch –
treatments, lessons,
ceremonies, spells.

Always too, along the way,
the writing workshops,
performances, articles, reviews,
and books, my books.

Even reading, after all.
I was 18 years a librarian;
I tend to forget that.
And now an editor.

None of it made me rich
but I always vowed to work
only at what I loved.
And so all of it makes me rich.


Working (2)

Today I might be
a column of light
radiating

tomorrow
a conduit
for trapped spirits

perhaps I’ll be given
someone’s heart
to touch and mend

or a soul to inspire
with words not mine
spoken through me

a lost animal
needs to be found
or a friend protected

a stranger saved from death
or helped there gently
another healed of wounds

occasionally even
a battle
seldom alone

I never know
the next of these tasks
until it’s upon me

the invisible work
beside and beneath
the mundane.

23/4/09

22 April 2009

Haiku (April Challenge 21)

Prompt: 1. A haiku. 2. A poem about haiku.

1. A “free” haiku

White noise
and outside the sea
booming.

2. A poem in tanka form, with senryu feel, about haiku

Haiku on Friday (MySpace)

I started the group
so I’d learn to write haiku
from skilled friends who joined.
They are skilled, I’m still learning –
but I’m seen as an expert!

21 April 2009

From the No-Space (April Challenge 20)

Prompt: Rebirth

Awareness
wasn’t, then was.
I was that awareness
tiny, surrounded
by vast darkness.

Light
began and grew
gradually larger
gradually brighter,
slow dawning.

Sound
travelled closer.
No, it was I
who travelled,
gliding inevitably.

Life
was a cell,
an entry into body
into womb,
into the almost-
forgotten flesh cocoon.

Remembrance
came much later,
first in fragments
and isolated flashes,
then fully. So many times!

Time
took shape,
separated itself
into multiple parts,
flew forward and backward.

Now
I am here
suspended in being
again and anew
while the world rolls over.

Verse Portrait 73: Best Be Nameless!

She’s an offence
looking to be taken,
a deprivation
eager to be felt.

He puts his foot in it
innocently again,
is surprised again
by the sudden
sobbing reproaches.

Petite, shapely,
curly blonde
girl-next-door,
she looks happy
and as pretty
as a Christmas angel.

She looks sweet,
uncomplicated.
All she wants, she says,
all she longs for,
is her father’s love.
She stabs him repeatedly
and twists the knife.

She is Not of Course Angry (April Challenge 19)

Prompt: write about someone being angry.

She is not of course angry,
she does no harm, she is thinking
always of the good of the whole.

That is why she has honed in
on the person whose very presence
blocks her way to the top.

If she can expose that person’s
serious flaws, or even create
if need be, that perception in others

then sooner or later, discredited,
the person could be removed
for the higher good.

She herself would run the place
impeccably, making sure of the detail,
giving no-one excess autonomy.

It’s easy for her to smile and make light.
She bears no malice, truly. She is one of
the most evolved beings that she knows.

That is why she understands so well
when someone needs to be stopped,
like that Person who is so admired

that Person who laughs while working,
that Person who gives the staff
such an unwise level of freedom.

Why is it so difficult?
Why does every stratagem fail?
Why is that wretched Person still valued?

Of course she is not angry.
It’s merely tension that has her make fists
or sees her hand slice through air like a knife.

She does not do harm, she is plotting
always for the good of the whole,
which must be to utterly expunge That Person.

19 April 2009

The Last Client of the Day (April Challenge 18)

Prompt: An interaction.

“No,” she says, “Nothing specific,
just whatever comes.” I offer the standard,
“OK, let’s look at different aspects of your life
over the next twelve months and go from there.”
She draws an extra card, thinks it’s accident
but I know better and leave it in the mix.
Queen of Swords, a woman on her own –
and, I tell her, “cutting through the crap”.

The other cards offer new beginnings.
Money will be fine, and there’s a strong hint
of a happy new love coming.
“Any more questions?” She says no.
I try my crystal ball, holding her hand
(because I’m more feeler than seer). Her dead
grandma and brother-in-law come through.
She identifies them from my description.

Yet it’s all inconclusive. I say so; she agrees.
“You’re putting up a wall,” I tell her,
“I know you don’t mean to, but
there’s a wariness covering hurt."
Suddenly she can’t stop the tears.
She tells me about the man she’s lost.
“I thought God might have thrown me a bone.
I deserve that; I’ve given so much.”

She feels defeated. She explains why.
Our time runs out that she paid me for
but I still sit holding her hand.
“I haven’t got any answer to that,”
I say as she argues her case for despair.
And I haven’t. Her logic is excellent.
She talks, I listen. She cries, we laugh.
I succeed in giving her a few tools.

And somewhere something shifts.
(Of course I’m beaming love
all the time from my wide open heart.)
We talk on until the market closes,
could have continued for hours.
I hug her goodbye (I never do that).
She smiles brilliantly. I yell after her:
“Don’t ask for a bone, demand a feast!”


Submitted 14 March 2014 for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Presience/Foresight.

18 April 2009

All I Want is Impossible to Say (April Challenge 17)

Prompt: Write a poem called "All I want is (blank)"
and fill in the blank.
This is my fifth attempt
to write this poem
and they are all different.

I don’t merely fiddle
with variations on a theme,
I start whole new stories.

Some of them are even true
as far as they go
but they don’t go deep.

There are the little things I want
(you know – beauty, money,
and poetry to rival Shakespeare)

and then there are the great
like saving the planet
and still that’s not deep enough.

I have never been able to tell
even the closest people
what lies in my deepest heart.

All I want I cannot say
and no-one could give it anyway
except God who knows untold.

17 April 2009

Green / Purple (April Challenge 16)

Prompt: Choose a colour; make it the title of your poem.
(Two for the price of one, today!)



Green

Why did I dislike you
so long?
Was it for being
my mother’s favourite?

She liked the softness
of nature –
grass, leaves –
at once cool and nurturing.

Preferring blues and reds,
above all purple,
yet as I age
I too enter your shelter:

apple green, jade green,
tender green of growing things.
Healing colour, heart colour,
colour of life.


Purple

I didn’t wait to get old
to wear purple.

Always outrageous at heart,
that wasn’t why.

Purple is mystery,
the light just after twilight,

grottoes of amethyst,
a velvet cloak,

Elizabeth Taylor’s
fabled eyes,

the stain
of loganberry juice,

the tips
of some feathers.…

Beauty
is always my reason.


Submitted Nov. 6 2011 for the dVerse 'Play with Color' prompt.

16 April 2009

Lament: Sweetest Love, I Go (April Challenge 15)

Prompt: take the title of a poem you like,
change it and write a new poem.
“Sweetest love,” wrote Donne,
“I do not go,
For weariness of thee,
Nor in hope the world can show
A fitter love for me;”

and I spoke that often
in silence in my heart
to a man I went from,
after I went,
believing it true.

That was twenty-seven years ago
and the world has shown me
loves that are surely fitter,
and in their own ways
no less sweet.

What sweetness could there be
loving a man in prison?
And it was not fit.
I was married
with young children.

And so I left.
Months later, so did he.
It was no “feigned death”.
I spent that night, though ignorant,
inexplicably in tears;

and through my mind
the words repeated:
“Sweetest love, I do not go,
for weariness of thee…”
Next day I learned.

Did he reach for me
in loving thought,
to tell me that his choice
had other reasons?
I believe he did.

And every love is fit
and every love is sweet.
That blinding smile,
that husky voice….
Donne’s “Song” is my Lament.

15 April 2009

Verse Portrait 72: 'Grandpa Daddy'

The distant Grandpa,
the one I never met,
who lived across the water
like the rest of my Daddy’s
fabled, extensive family,
all those unknown
aunts, uncles, cousins.

I was grown
before I was told
of his love of the glass,
which took him so far
from Grandma.
A popular, dancing man,
charmer and flirt.

I still have the delicate
poem he wrote for me
when I was born.

Verse Portrait 71: Charming Billy

always looks joyous,
fixes my back quickly,
admires my vibrant shirt,
tells me that if I Google his name
– I already know, I’ll find
a noted American poet –
asks after the progress
of my own writing,
adjusts my neck adeptly,
says, “That’s great,
get outa here!”
(American himself)
with a big grin,
adjusts the payments
to suit our budget,
treats every patient
as a treasured pal,
charms me.

Anti-Love Poem (April Challenge 14/2)

Prompt 2: an anti-love poem.

No longer beautiful,
no longer young –
but worse, you’ve become
stupid and scared.

You used to be
a gracious man
as well as
a memorable lover.

No more long hair
no more poetry
no more original thought
and no more daring.

Now you are
permanently middle-aged
and ordinary, like everyone.
No more fire.

If you hadn’t
got back in touch
you’d always have been
a question mark.

(Sigh!) I could wish
for ignorant bliss
rather than this burlesque
of my romantic memories.

Love Poem (April Challenge 14/1)

Two prompts today: a love poem and an anti-love poem. Here's the first.

I look across at the pillow next to mine.
Your white hair and blue pyjamas
are beautiful to me, and I love to see you
lying so close, right there. You still have
magic hands when you hold me, healer’s hands.
If I have an ache, you hug me and it’s soon gone.

Always a kind man, you grow ever sweeter
trying to look after independent me.
And you’re right, I should take better care
of myself, get to bed earlier, exercise more.
If one day you leave, I’ll be sorry I sat up late
writing my love for you tonight instead of acting on it.

We don’t speak of it but we both think you might
go first, being older. I’ll miss your physical self
but I know you’ll still be with me. It’s not for me
that I’ll regret not being in bed with you right now,
but because I could have given more loving to you,
more tangible loving, more cuddles and intimate talk.

Yesterday we spent all day in bed together, except
at the end of the day when I got up and wrote a poem.
And it was warming, and tomorrow morning I’ll be
lazing there awhile with you and our cats again. But 
I admit it, you do have a rival. My nights belong to
poetry, my first love, perhaps my greatest. C’est la vie.

Submitted 13 Feb. 2013, nearly four years later, for Poet's United's Verse First: Committed.  Marriage is a great commitment, and this poem turned out to be (unsurprisingly) prophetic — he is dead now — but my longest-lasting commitment has always been poetry.

14 April 2009

When I Was a Town Planner (April Challenge 13)

Prompt: a hobby

When I was a town planner, I didn’t get paid.
That makes it a hobby, doesn’t it?
I took the job on in a voluntary way.
I could see a need, and I loved the work.

What makes a hobby anyway?
I had ruler and setsquare and blank paper,
everything I needed, and I loved the work,
creating a kind environment for people.

With ruler and setsquare, my blank paper
took on life, took on shape, took on dimension.
I created a kind environment for people,
good places to live and work and play.

The shape of life needs all those dimensions.
And it needs challenge and mystery.
Good places to live and work and play
don’t always reside on the broad highway.

In the interests of challenge and mystery
I made some streets narrow, winding, hilly,
branching off from the broad highway
into lanes behind the parks and gardens.

Those lanes that were narrow, winding and hilly
had cobbled pavements and steps that led down
to levels descending from the parks and gardens
into lairs of bandits and realms of the Fay.
Yes the cobbled pavements and steps led down
from the shops and the sunlight, the things of the day,
into dark lairs of bandits and realms of the Fay,
where the mind of a seven-year-old loved to stray.

There were shops and sunlight and things of the day
included in the planning, regardless of pay.
But my seven-year-old mind also loved to stray
wherever it was taken involuntarily.

So We Decided To Stay in Bed (April Challenge 12)

Prompt: "So we decided to ..." as title.

Today there was nothing we had to do
that couldn’t wait. The calendar was blank,
not one appointment we had to keep.

We woke the first time at quarter to six,
the next at nine fifteen. All those cosy hours
the cats didn’t stir to demand breakfast.

Finally Andrew crept out and fed us all
the quick and easy way. Open a tin for them,
just toast for us and my obligatory coffee.

We ate in bed and settled with our books.
The cats rejoined us. The day outside was grey
with drizzling rain that later turned heavy.

Around two we thought about lunch
and I made an omelette. The cats woke up
looking hopeful, so we gave them a bit.

An hour or so later, not the same instant,
we both finished our books. We kissed each other
and snuggled down alongside the purring cats.

I finally rose and checked the email,
showered and dressed. I took the car to the shops
before they closed; it was still raining.

I bought tinned soup and baked beans
for a no-hassle dinner. We watched some TV
and ate chocolates; now it’s time for bed.

12 April 2009

Everything Depends Upon ... (April Challenge 11)

Prompt: an object. There was reference to William Carlos Williams's "red wheelbarrow" poem, so I couldn't resist getting a bit clever with the title. (I was not alone there!) And yes, I do know it's not the exact quote.

Pretty old, but functional.
I like the screen big and square.

A sticker – purple – says
I’m a “Goddess in Training”.

(Andrew’s old one proclaimed him
“Angel with Attitude.”)

The wide frame also allows for:
Odin with crows and moon, top right;

a tree of papier maché
in the right-hand bottom corner

with the word POET writ large,
a gift from lovely Bob Mud;

instructions on how to do
hyperlinks; a brief prayer;

bank details for online
(purposely left incomplete);

and advice from Chaim Potok,
the angels and Merlin.

Plus two feathers, one blue
and one purple, taped top left.

It sits on a round stand
that swivels. Also it tilts.

The screen’s most often covered
by open windows and tabs.

Behind them are images
full of colour, changing often:

dragons, spiders, a dog I knew,
a robed shaman, a heart-shaped rose….

It’s a Mac, ya know? Not just
a machine, a love object!

11 April 2009

Friday (April Challenge 10)

Prompt: Friday

Friday’s mad.
The writing day, the busy day.
Wake, he makes me coffee,
I go straight to my computer
without getting dressed.

Haiku on Friday at MySpace.
I post a new blog
(week after week
the haiku of my life).
It may or may not be a fine example.

By the time the rest of ‘em
run with the topic
adding their own slants or digressions,
there’s a conversation,
a game, a dance.

Over to LiveJournal: Friday Haiku.
Friends there wanted one of their own.
I tried but couldn’t replicate.
It’s set up in a different way; you can’t see
the whole sequence at once – no flow.

So I gave it away to Deb
who wisely left it alone
to fend for itself.
But I still post there,
and read, and comment.

Omigod look at the clock.
How did it get to be 11 already?
Under the shower, quick,
then grab a huge morning tea.
I won’t get lunch.

Gather my stuff for WordsFlow:
notebook, spare paper, pens, timer,
writing exercises and prompts,
afternoon tea supplies.
Drive to the Neighbourhood Centre.

Pick up the key from the office,
sign for it, check with the staff
if there’s milk in the Ebb Tide room.
Open up, turn the jug on, get out the cups,
turn on the aircon (maybe), put up the big tables.

By this time the mob’s arrived.
They pitch in and help.
Some have brought food.
They talk so hard and laugh so loud
clattering their chairs as they settle,

that I have to yell for order.
They tease me and grin
but they’re eager to start.
This, they tell me repeatedly,
is the highlight of their week.

We listen to what we’ve written
since last time. Sometimes I recite
my morning haiku, just to prove
I’m still writing too. We love
each other’s work. We say so.

The time goes fast. Tea break (I gorge),
smoko for some on the side veranda,
then reassemble to write.
It’s the Natalie Goldberg method
from “Writing Down the Bones”:

Write anything, keep your hand moving,
don’t stop. I set the timer for 5 minutes.
Afterwards we read around the table.
Whoever suggested the topic starts.
Everyone’s free to say, “Pass.”

We touch laughter and pain,
anger and love; we embrace
diverse opinions and beliefs.
Self-denigration isn’t allowed
and swearing’s practically compulsory.

(Well, it is my group,
and I’m a bit of a dag
and a lot of a rebel)
and suddenly it’s time to conclude.
Everyone helps with the washing up.

Then there’s the evening.
Blog. Check the haiku site.
Dinner. The news on telly.
Check the haiku site. Blog. Fall into bed.
Friday’s mad. I love it.

10 April 2009

Verse Portrait 70: The Cardinal

Took him in dislike
the first / only time we met:
the Church’s rising star
chairing the prison inquiry;
attentive, serious, seeming to care.
(I represented reform.)

Nothing of course happened.
I saw his report: contrary
to his reassurances on the day,
leaning hard to conservative.

Since, paedophile scandals
he failed to act on;
banning gay worship.

“Pompous, arrogant…” says my husband,
watching him pontificate on TV.

Too right.

Verse Portrait 69: The Witch

Slender.
Long, dark hair.
Softly flowing clothes.
She came to my market stall
requesting an aura drawing.

Afterwards, on impulse,
I asked her telephone number.
When she wrote her name, I said,
“You’re X’s Tarot student!”
“And you must be
the mentor she talks about.”

I invited her into the coven.
She’d been a Solitary.
Years later, coven scattered,
we two still meet for coffee,
swap books and DVDs.

The Launceston of My Childhood (April Challenge 9)

I go back in thought and dream
to the little city in the isle of mountains,
the steep streets (icy in winter)
the white water down The Gorge
and the park with the wallabies.

I walk the half-moon curve
of the Quadrant
to Birchalls bookshop.
That was in the days when every bookshop
had a huge stationery department
up on the top floor.

In Routledges, small metal money-bins
whizzed along overhead wires
from upstairs (office)
to downstairs (shop).
Right at the top of long Wellington Street
was my house, where I grew up.

I lie in my bed by the high window
and listen to my father, out early,
pruning the roses.
A blackbird is singing.
I am four, I am eight, I am turning twelve….
A sunny day begins.


Note: This Launceston is the one in Tasmania.


Poem submitted 10 Dec. 2011 to Poets United's Thursday Think Tank #77 — The City.

9 April 2009

It's Always the Same (April Challenge 8)

Prompt: routine.

It’s always the same
and it’s never the same.

At the right time
in the right place

I make the same gestures,
say the same words.

Tonight again
I shall greet the Full Moon

draw down that energy
into my body

use it with intent
for a chosen purpose.

Tonight again
I’ll embrace the Mother

with ritual
with dance

and afterwards kisses
and gratitude.

The details, though,
will differ.

Tonight my purpose
is healing.

Tonight the Moon
is hidden by clouds.

Tonight I’ll be alone
except for the spirits

and at least one
of my cats.

There may be a frog
or a night bird.

There will come a response
which I cannot predict

but the prayers
will not go unanswered.

There is always a pattern.
It’s never routine.

Verse Portrait 68. A MySpace Friend

I first fell in love
with her mysterious photos:
flowers, landscapes, self-portraits
washed with unearthly colours;
still think her blue period
most beautiful of all.

Then I started reading
her words, at once mystical
and confessional – a journey
through alcohol, recovery,
depression, regeneration …

and permanent paths:
the friendships, the art,
while holding fast the hand of God.
Full lips, long hair, soft heart –
yet a warrior!

8 April 2009

Dirty (April Challenge 7/2)

Prompt 2: a "dirty" poem.

It was a dirty business.
They had to get real down and dirty.
I can give you all the dirt on it.
Of course it was all about filthy lucre.

Really he was just a piece of filth –
and he had the filthiest temper.
He got away with it, being so filthy rich,
dirty little bastard.

Yes, I was dirty on him.
I could have dished a lot of dirt
but why get my hands dirty?
Throw mud, it can stick to you too.

So here’s mud in yer eye,
and let’s not muddy the waters.
Just a mud puddle really.
Or do I mean a stinking cesspool?

It certainly stank
with the stench of corruption,
and yet no-one seemed to smell a rat.
Well, it’s a dirty game.

Clean (April Challenge 7)

Prompt: A "clean" poem and a"dirty" poem. Either one, or both.

Go to the wind, she said.
Give yourself to the wind.
Let it cradle your face
and stroke your hair.
You will never be free unless
you agree to be cleansed by the wind.

Go next to the sun, she said.
Stand in its incandescent rays
and let those rays pour over you.
All you have gathered
that is not your Self
will wash from you in that stream of radiance.

Turn then, she said, to the river.
Let it speak to you,
let it embrace you.
Surrender to the river.
When it washes you back to the shore
you will feel yourself reborn.

Finally, she said, come to your Mother.
Lie prone upon the naked earth
be it sand or stone or grass or forest floor
and let my beating heart renew you.
Bask in my nurture, feel how solid.
You will emerge cleaner and freer than light.

(I hope to come up with a "dirty" piece before the day's out.)

7 April 2009

Verse Portrait 67. Peggotty: Impressions

Forty years all but one day
older than me.

Soft fat woman,
voice like honey.

Lying gowned in flowing purple
one liqueur chocolate
in smooth fingertips.

Musk and lavender wafting
from a cushiony bosom.
A yielding cheek for kisses.

Her garden had swings
and winding paths,
nooks for hide-and-seek
among rhododendrons.

Gave me 18 Poems
by Dylan Thomas
one shared birthday –
1962, my 23rd. I have it still.

Verse Portrait 66. The Man at the Next Table

Hardly noticed at first
absorbed in coffee and book
then the phlegmy cough intruded
loud, recurrent, unscreened by hand.
I raised my book higher between us.

Elderly. Weathered.
Baseball cap, t-shirt, work shorts.

Laughter. Interjections.
Was he communicating
with wife or friend at the counter?
Followed his gaze. No-one. But …
ah! someone invisible in the other chair.

Met him walking later.
Not so old after all. Maybe 50.


This also does duty as my 2009 April Challenge 6.

6 April 2009

Town Hall Clock (April Challenge 5)

Prompt: a landmark

I seldom see it now.

Just occasionally on TV
there’ll be some fleeting item
about Launceston, Tasmania,
and often enough then
that particular location.
But anyway

it wasn’t the seeing,
though that was reassuring too —
the graceful old stone,
the reds and browns and creams
and the broad tower —
so much as the hearing
every quarter hour

and on the hour
the striking of the notes
melodious and slow.
You could hear it all over town.
(I wonder if you still can
now that the town
is so expanded?)

As a child I lay in bed
the many sleepless hours
after nightmares,
and got myself cosy again
listening to those reliable chimes.
There was something mothering
about that clock.

5 April 2009

Verse Portrait 65. Enemy Alien.

I was fifteen.
My posh new stepmother
drawled with rounded vowels.
Stank.

Scent heavy, sickly.
Eventually I understood
it overlay
the reek of spirits.

Stout stomach;
fluttery, floral
afternoon-tea-party frocks.

She stole the dress
Mum bought me,
sold it for charity.
(Someone saw.)

Hid my most treasured books
under the hedge
to rot in the rain.
Blamed my little brother.

Yes,
she was mad.
I’m alive, she’s dead.

Flint

There’s only one animal.

Never mind how much I admire
almost lustfully other species.

The great eagles that used to coast
on thermals outside our windows

when we lived near The Pinnacle
across from the Border Ranges.

Like dancers. Or like high divers
when they arrowed for their prey.

Sleek felines, big or domestic,
their shapes and the way they move.

Again, predators. Is it that I love
efficient, ruthless savagery?

Not so. I don’t love crocodiles.

(Sorry, Steve Irwin.) Cold brutes!

Nevertheless there is only
one animal. Not even the right kind.

Really I’m a cat person (obviously).
Not so mad on dogs. They’re nice enough….

Merely the only animal? Flint
is more: the only dog.

(A pang as I think of Dakota –
but he was mostly wolf.)

Flint who stood the height of my thigh.
Flint with the curly brown coat

and smooth forehead as if his hair was styled.
The slim front paws, the strong back legs.

Flint who was all kindness
despite his size and baying bark.

Flint who would have died for me.
Didn’t, but is dead.

There is no other.

April Poem A Day Challenge 2009. Prompt: an animal