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')

This blog is not, 'Here are my very best poems'. It's for work in progress, subject to revision.
Posts may be updated without notice at any time. Completed work appears in my books.

30 April 2010

Kitchen Memories

My mother’s sugar spoon
that I lived with
all through my childhood
and live with now
stamped EPNS:
only silver-plated,
its deep, round bowl
already well-worn
by the time she died and I
souvenired it.

My stepmother,
the one they wrote about
in the fairytales,
feeding my brother and me
mouldy vegetables,
stews with bits of broken glass.
(No we didn’t eat; not silly.)
And the rubber-tiled floor
I had to scrub on my knees
with cold water.

Darling Aunty Ev
who rescued us
and took us to live
in her own house
showing me how lemon juice
cleans an electric jug,
and when you take lids off
always to put them upside-down
keeping the dirt and germs
on the outside.

Sitting in a rented kitchen
with my first husband, Don,
hearing over breakfast
the news on the radio:

President Kennedy shot
and taken to hospital;
President Kennedy dead.
Eventually we rose
and went to work as usual,
not as usual.

Dutch-born Bill,
the father of my kids,
teaching us to savour
salt herring out of a barrel,
sauerkraut and mashed potato
and the rich warm taste
of Rokwurt dipped in mustard.
Encountering that again
tonight after many years,
I think my palate sang.

Coming home with Andrew
(my third-time-lucky)
after Darrell and Lottie’s wedding
where they fastened hands
and jumped the broom,
to a supper of coffee
with wedding-cake.
He asked me to cut off
half the icing from his share
to have myself. I knew he would.


NaPoWriMo Day 30

And Suddenly Dreams Come True

Details in the real world
the star forecast says,
may prevent us, today,
from having lovely fantasies.

True. Today I’m having
lovely realities.
Suddenly Patsy phones.
(My friend who looks out for me.)

‘Do you still need
a full-length mirror?’
Suddenly her neighbour
is giving one away.

It’s the one I’ve dreamed:
a high cheval,
frame and stand of timber
polished golden.

‘Over there in that corner
of the bedroom,’ says Andrew.
Yes, I’d always fantasised
exactly that spot. It looks good.


April PAD Challenge 29
Prompt: And suddenly ...

29 April 2010

Nights of Meteor Showers

(Found poem, compiled from friends’ LiveJournal posts)

nights of meteor showers
I think I heard someone singing about it
they take sound away with them as they go

the crystallisation of water on leaves
an image of cherry blossoms fallen
the passing nature of the world

emblem of intersecting circles
in the center of the window,
the bright, round moon


NaPoWriMo Day 29

The End of the Line

This is where we have come to rest,
at the end of a leafy cul-de-sac
in sight of the ranges that mark the border
between one state and the next.

This is where we expect to enjoy
the rest of our lives in these bodies:
at the top of a small hill, high enough
to feel removed yet accessible still.

You could say we have come
to the end of the line, or close.
I see it rather as a crossing-place
to stay in and savour before we go on.


April PAD Challenge 28
Prompt: The end of the line

28 April 2010

As Dark Falls

As dark falls,
running footsteps
up the street
draw close.

For a moment
it’s thirty years ago
and my son Steve,
aged 11, runs
up the street to home —

in a different suburb
in a different state.

Then the illusion
passes, and it’s night.


NaPoWriMo Day 28


Submitted 11 Dec. 2011 for the Arrivals and Departures prompt at 'imaginary garden with real toads' 

The Boy Across the Road

The boy across the road
is singing all by himself
as if he thinks no-one can hear,
or doesn’t care.

His voice is very sweet.
The whole street listens,
quiet inside our houses
not to interrupt.

He is tidying up the yard
where his little sisters play,
looking out over the valley
to the Border Ranges.

Yesterday he brought me
one small sister, who wanted
to sell me chocolate: two dollars
or three for five.

She is saving to buy
a Play Station. He bent
with his arm around her,
smiling up at me.

Muggings in Knox Park,
addicts round Sunnyside,
but a boy like Nathan
creates hope.


April PAD Challenge 27
Prompt: a hopeful poem.

27 April 2010

Right Timing

The moon will soon be full.
I take the rose quartz heart
out of its starry pouch
and connect it,
with hands and thought,
to the energy of Jan’s daughter
who is ill. I heard her voice
this morning on the phone
and I know her name. That
will be sufficient. Tomorrow
her mother comes; she
will place the crystal
by a photo of her daughter,
and tomorrow night
the moon will be full.


NaPoWriMo Day 27

More Than Five Times?

Let me count.
I must have started
at the beginning of March,
that first Tuesday.

This is the final week of April.
There were five Tuesdays
in March alone.
And four more this month.

So yes, it’s definitely
more than five.
How many more?
I missed at least one.

OK, I’ll take a look.
Hmmm, hard to remember;
I didn’t write it in.
Could have missed two.

That would still
be more than five.
Let’s say definitely seven,
seven at least. So far.

But see, I don’t think
I’ll continue.
I’ve almost
made up my mind.

More than five, yes
but not much more.
Oh, it’s been
quite interesting. But


April PAD Challenge 26
Prompt: More than 5 times

The Perks of Age

On late, lazy mornings
we old folk sprawl on our ample bed.
Two of us lounge against pillows,
reading and sipping coffee.
The other two settle against us, purring.
No rush to rise and face the day
for any of us —
nothing better to do,
nowhere else to be.
We can please ourselves.


NaPoWriMo Day 26

26 April 2010

Wild Goose's Sister

(Inspired by Frankie Laine’s ‘The Cry of the Wild Goose’)

Not a girly girl,
though I seemed to be.
I was quiet, timid, dreamy:
‘nose in a book’
‘scared of her shadow’
‘head in the clouds’.

Well they got that last one right.
I wanted to fly with Frankie
like the Wild Goose,
to breast the wind and ride the sky,
sailing on open wings
over the horizon, far and free.

In dreams I was D’Artagnan,
I was Robin Hood.
Never Maid Marian.
It was always
the dashing hero I wanted
not to win but be.

I grew into a woman, wanting
and getting what women dream:
husband, home, children,
all that — a woman
who is always finding
feathers in her path.


April PAD Challenge 25
Prompt: Write a poem inspired by a song. 

Include the song and artist (if known).

Submitted April 2013 for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #144

25 April 2010

Evening in the Eyrie

As evening falls on our hill
nest becomes eyrie.
We are just above
the floating mist.

We watch the street
settle down and get quiet,
the children called inside
and the cars arriving home.

Lights in the houses
go on and then off.
The streets lights
come on and remain.

The quiet cul-de-sac
goes to bed early.
Only cats and writers
are wakeful late.


#AprPAD 24 
Prompt: An evening poem.

Watching the Anzac Day March

April 25 2010

(1)

They are old now, the Vietnam vets
marching slowly down the street,
some wheeled, behind their banners.

I remember them as boys, conscripted,
shuffling their feet and trying to joke,
lining up at Victoria Barracks.

I was lined up too, on the footpath,
with other women from Save Our Sons —
though my own sons were far too small.

One of the mums of the young conscripts
came up and said, ‘I’m on your side!’
after kissing her boy goodbye.

At that first demo, one of my boys
was still in my belly. By the time the war ended
he was seven, indignant at the television.

‘They’re lying!’ he cried. ‘Australian soldiers
wouldn’t do that!’ as sudden footage of atrocities
shocked us. I had to say, ‘I’m afraid they did.’


(2)

They are old now, those young men
who didn’t want to go but were taken.
So are those who hid, and went to prison.

And I am old, and no longer judge
the lads thrust into nightmare
fifty years ago / yesterday.

Then I see, alongside the barrier,
a small boy marching in perfect time,
his back very straight, his face intent.

The bagpipes are skirling
the drums keep the beat
and quietly I start to feel sick.


NaPoWriMo Day 25

Flamenco Dancer

Rich red
the sinuous dress
which curved round her hips
and flared
at the swirling hem.

The repetitive stamp
of her black boots,
the decisive click
of her castanets
at the ends of her raised arms,
and she swept the floor
with the watching crowd.

Sweet was the music,
sweet and deep,
and a mournful note
slipped underneath
and between and around
the rhythm, the rhythm, the rhythm.

And then she was gone
from the stage
from the town
and all the troupe with her,
but not from the brain
of the child I was.


NaPoWriMo Day 24

24 April 2010

Exhaustion

He sleeps in his chair all day.
We walk around him quietly,
smiling to see how deeply
he relaxes after his long night.

We understand that in his mind
he is not elderly, nothing has changed —
certainly not his adventurous spirit.

He doesn’t see why his body
can’t do what it’s always done.
He loves to run, to climb,
to push his limits, unthinking.

The torn ligament, healed now,
is almost forgotten. Just a hint
in the remaining, very slight limp.

Even now he’s careless of safety.
Came in the other night
without his collar: lost.
Better, of course, than strangling.

He’s still a handsome old bloke —
the same shining black hair
that I’ve loved since his youth.

And his passion for me is still fresh.
If I were to touch him now as he sleeps,
he would not snap at me; he would gaze up
purring loudly, his adoration never exhausted.


April PAD Challenge 23


Prompt: an exhausted poem

23 April 2010

Nonsense

(Topic suggested by Eddie at WordsFlow Writers today)

I’m totally stumped for something to say.
He asked for nonsense, he wanted to play.
But I am a serious kind of a girl.
What is this nonsense, could I give it a whirl?
It mustn’t be real and it mustn’t make sense.
It mustn’t add up but sit on the fence.
It mustn’t make sense, it mustn’t be real.
It mustn’t be thought but I suppose you could feel.
Can you feel it tickle, can you feel it nudge?
Is it light and airy or heavy old sludge?
Nonsense, not one sense, it’s all in my mind.
Can I get to it from here? Will it leave me behind?
I’m wary of nonsense, it might just mean mad.
And mad isn’t senseless but it’s very, very bad.
Senseless is silly, senseless is dumb.
Maybe nonsense could even be fun.


NaPoWriMo Day 23

Arctic Volcano

When ice erupts in fire
and ash is filled with shards of glass
is that accident
or a clear message?
An Act of God,
we describe it. Do we
mean and believe what we say?

How many are listening?
How many are trembling?
Is Mother Gaia
voicing a protest?

Or is this cause and effect
too late for redress?

Do you remember the crop circles?
The real ones, not the fakes.
Many asked, what are they
trying to tell us?

If you looked you could see
mandala shapes: balance,
proportion, and harmony,
one side perfectly matching the other.
Also it wasn’t hard to perceive
gentleness, peace and beauty.
No guesswork required.

But we are hard of hearing,
though the Universe speaks loud.


April PAD Challenge 22
Prompt: an earth poem (for Earth Day)

According to the Rules

According to the rules
for Whirling Dervishes,
we are told, they must not
whirl for visitors, not
the real thing, merely
a tame half-performance.
The real thing is wild,
dangerous. Even to see
that, you would not
recover from it, ever.

As every child knows
in the scary delight
of spinning to get dizzy.
Round and round and round,
faster and faster, faster!
Remember losing yourself
and coming out the other side?
Remember the brain-spin?
Remember the thrill
and the weirdness? Oh yes!

According to the rules
we do not speak the secret
that every body knows.
Altered consciousness
is very quick and simple.
What’s it most like? Tell me!
Yes, you know. As every
grown-up knows. Rapture
we might call it. Mystic, erotic,
or just a game: ecstatic.


April PAD Challenge 21
Prompt: According to ...

22 April 2010

In Neil and Dorsey's New House

In Neil and Dorsey’s new house
the statue of serene Buddha
stands in the garden, inviting
(I like to think) discourse
with plants and passing butterflies.
I expect that the nature spirits
respond to the courteous request.

Looking east while reading haiku
Neil can see tree limbs
illumined by dawn. Consolation
for the great tree felled by storm
at their old house. How
could they have stayed there
after that? The soul was gone.

Now ten generations
of butterflies (Monarchs)
traverse the new garden
en route from Mexico
to Canada and back.
The old place, driven past,
looks small and dark. Of course.

The new house seeds new poems.
I steal some happy lines.
Stone walkways in the garden,
gemstones in the floors,
doors with blue and purple —
this house is a work of art
and art is no small thing.


NaPoWriMo Day 22
Some lines, phrases and pieces of information appropriated
from Neil Meili’s chapbook ‘Ten Generations of Butterflies’.
(Austin, Tx, New Texas Press, 2010)

21 April 2010

The Night is Full

The night is full of white noise
which sings constantly, just
beyond the edge of hearing.

What are its messages —
if they could be deciphered?
How can I separate out the words?

You want me to come, now,
and I want to come, now,
to some poetic conclusion.

We would like it to be
both simple and profound.
We would like it to be illuminating.

It should have a feeling of rightness
without being too obvious.
We might gasp with delight.

But the nature of white noise
is not like that; I think it’s anti-poetic.
It is both there and not there.

But it’s not a paradox either,
just an awkward fact, with nothing
riding on it, hanging on it, whatever....


NaPoWriMo Day 21

Not Looking Back

We drove out of Melbourne
without a backward look,
the car stuffed full of luggage
and a removal van en route.
The further north we got
the more we felt the energy lighten.

Incomprehensible, really.
He’d lived there since his birth
(except one year in England);
I’d been there most of my adult life.
And we’d loved the place — but
suddenly that was all over.

Two years later I was back
for a conference, briefly.
The friend who met me said,
‘So you don’t miss Melbourne, then?’
‘No,’ I said, ‘How did you know?’
‘You’re not looking out the window.’

On occasional family visits since
we’ve noticed that the new buildings
are increasingly ugly, and the din
of the city centre is like relentless gunfire.
(The locals, we think, tune out.)
No, we don’t miss Melbourne.


April PAD Challenge 20
Prompt (2): Not looking back

Looking Back, Far and Near

When I rode with Genghis Khan
the horses were short and tough.
My horse was my friend.
Now I am a woman, an old woman,
and I have never sat a horse.

When I was little I rode on the hoof
of Horace, the draught-horse
in my grandfather’s orchard,
standing on it and clasping his leg.
He was my only horse friend this time.

When I rode with my brothers
as a Mongol warrior, I wore
a helmet with leather earflaps
and a cap of fur over that.
Now I hate wearing hats.

When I was a little girl, my mother
put me in cotton sunbonnets
with shady brims and big neck flaps
because I was fair and might burn.
She sewed them herself.

When I galloped across the Steppes
with axe and sword and bow
I was not afraid. I knew battle
and my horse helped me. My brothers
were all around me. It was good.

In my life here and now,
I was always a timid child
and couldn’t handle my body
to turn a somersault or ride a bike.
I hated raised voices and confrontation.

Now is better, I believe. I can fight
if I have to. And I can think well
to avoid it. I wear what I choose.
I like driving my red car.
I make poems. I pet my cats.

Yet, lover of hills and trees, sometimes
I imagine sweeping across the plain
on the back of my sturdy horse,
or remember not being afraid
of a huge, gentle Clydesdale
touching who I was.


April PAD Challenge 20
Prompt (1) Looking Back.

20 April 2010

As Night Falls

As night falls
the cats get skittery.
Their collar bells jingle
as they race
all around the carpet
chasing invisible
friends or prey.

Dark deepens;
they start eyeing the door
and then banging on it
politely
but with great insistence
until I give consent.

They survey
from the top of the steps
the night world below them:
quiet street
lit by just two street lamps
and by the moon and stars.

They can see
in among the grasses
movement that we cannot,
and sometimes
other cats come around
for fighting or friendship.

It’s their world,
unknown to us in ours,
one they don’t care to share.
At daylight
when we open the door
they come in, eat and sleep.


NaPoWriMo Day 20

Helen Marjorie Holmes

How soft the roses bloom,
climbing the trellised gateway
under which you pose
in your pale blue dress.
A water colourist
retouched the print —
the only way in those days —
delicately, in pastels.

Your face and bosom still
have a girlish roundness.
Your smile is shy. I wonder
if my father took the photo
and it’s him you’re smiling at.
I have an idea it was taken
at The Orchard House in Spreyton
soon after you were engaged.

I seem to remember that trellis.
I think my Nana grew roses
in the gardens of your home,
my Nana your mother, who died
when you and I were both
too young to lose her.
Later my gardener Dad
grew standard roses, all colours,
in the home where I grew up.

But back then in the picture, you
were just a young girl
who knew nothing
of the future that would come —
children, war, divorce....
Now there are very few left
who remember you at all, Mum,
and none but me, I think, to recall
even the picture, let alone the girl.


April PAD Challenge 19
Prompt: A poem about someone, their name as title.

(I chose her maiden name, the one she had at the time of the photo.)

To Make Music

To make music: what a fine thing
that would be. I love music; always
dreamed of singing. It was not my gift.

To dance: how beautiful it must be
to soar with grace, to pirouette.
Alas, that’s an art I never mastered.

So I turn to the only way I have
to be at one with myself in joy;
and to sing and dance: to poetry —

My voice, my grace, my art, my beauty.


April PAD Challenge 18
Prompt: To (blank); fill in the blank and make that the title
.

Not Clones

Identical twins are not clones,
I discovered when Lynette
went psychedelic and Philippa
practically came down with vertigo
from the wild mix of colours;
or when Philippa fell for the bricklayer
with all the tatts, that time,
while Lynette was still dreaming
of some wimpy type who dumped her.

So it was surprising when, after all,
years later they fell for the same bloke.
It caused the most frightful ructions
when he settled on Lynette. Half the family
decided to boycott the wedding,
the other half insisted they’d all be there
with bells on. Everyone took sides.
The prospective bridegroom
didn’t quite know what he’d done.

In the end they all turned up,
and to everyone’s amazement
Philippa walked down the aisle too
as chief bridesmaid. The trouble was
she got incredibly drunk afterwards
and offered to do a striptease.
The groomsmen cheered. The bride,
not to be upstaged, joined in
while their parents almost fainted.

They were indeed identical twins —
well, as far as we got to see.
The groom grabbed the bride
and yelled, ‘This has gone far enough!’
She stopped the show to kiss him.
‘You can have him,’ Philippa said.
‘I wouldn’t want anyone
ordering ME around like that,’
and off she stomped, all snooty.

Everyone ended up legless
and Philippa disappeared awhile
with the best man — a little bloke
with a ribald sense of humour.
So they all lived happily ever after?
Not exactly. Philippa took up strip-tease
for real; Lynette joined a fundie church.
And they argued about it; alike in that
they just couldn’t agree to differ.

NaPoWriMo Day 19.

19 April 2010

The Visit

This afternoon I ate two slices
of crisp, sweet Peruvian ground apple
in a house among trees
in northern New South Wales,
Australia — how about that?

The newest god-daughter is now
taking steps and saying words.
‘Up!’ she says, and ‘No!’
She likes to scurry on her knees
outside, across the veranda
towards the trees. She also likes
Peruvian ground apple.

I’m wondering now if she
was conceived in Peru,
but I’ve forgotten the dates
when her parents were there,
and anyway I never could count.

And anyway it doesn’t matter.
She came from wherever
when the time was good.
Now she is 14 months old
and totally expressed.
Just watching her
is an entertainment.

She wrinkles her face
and cries a little when we leave
but refuses all kisses, just waves
goodbye to the back of the car
from her father’s cradling arms.

18 April 2010

The Fractal Universe

I love words, not numbers, yet
when I saw Mandelbrot Sets
I fell in love as never before
with those unfurling swirls of colour
opening out or devolving down
in intricate patterns, over and over.

It was a TV special, and Sir Arthur Clarke,
scientist and wordsmith both,
explained it so that I could understand.

These are the shapes of the Universe,
this is its basic structure. Go as far
as you like, further than you humanly can,
in any direction, and always the pattern
reproduces itself, in infinite beauty. This
is the law of nature; this is The Law.

At the end he divulged the most thrilling
point of all. Within this Universal order,
we can even find randomness, built-in.

By the science of mathematics it is proven,
the perfect paradox: yes there is order
predetermined — infinite, eternal, assured.
And there is chaos and spontaneity,
no contradiction. Central to fate, at the core
of determinism, there blossoms freedom.


April PAD Challenge 17
Prompt: a science poem.

17 April 2010

Amanda Comes

Amanda comes
with white flowers
from her ginger plant,
long stems and wide green leaves
and that perfume that wafts
romance and the tropics
through our room.

Amanda brings
cinnamon buns
to have with coffee
and a water melon at the perfect
stage of sweetness,
the exactly right
burst of juice.

Amanda looks
cool, fresh and airy
in her white pants-suit
and her three-strand crystal necklace
purple and gold and green.
Her lipstick is bright.
She’s like Spring.

Amanda comes
with her dog, Leo.
She brings him on a lead
up the front stairs and outside
to the courtyard garden
where he can see us
through the glass.

Amanda says
she likes our new house.
She admires the blue paint
in the kitchen and Andrew’s office
and the way we’ve hung
all the pictures, and
our cosy garden.

Amanda goes
with another hug,
a goodbye to the cats
and a shrug at the rain starting.
We wave from the door,
feeling cherished now.
We love Amanda.

NaPoWriMo Day 17

Anxiety

She leads an adventurous life
avoiding the dire possibilities
that are out there waiting —
much more exciting than
for those of us who miss out
on the thrills of fear and escape
which she navigates daily.

Life is writ larger for her.
When her cat stays out all night,
she opens the door in the morning
thinking to find, on the ground outside,
his dead body. Such profound relief
when he bounces inside for breakfast
and her ecstatic greeting.

When her man is late home
by a few minutes, in no time at all
she is planning the funeral —
what to wear, whom to invite —
then tries to disguise her rapture
when he turns up after all. Nowadays
it seems to irritate him. (Why?)

Any ache, sniffle or bump
causes cries of alarm, and another
appointment with a doctor. Always
a new doctor, as each one fails
to treat her physical symptoms
with due seriousness. They only
want to examine her emotions.

She doesn’t know how she has managed
to cheat death for so long. All her life
he has stalked her, laying traps. So far
she has evaded every ambush, but
she knows that one day he’ll trip her up.
As indeed he shall, one day. Meanwhile
she is absorbed in the drama of her life.


April PAD Challenge 16
Prompt: a death poem

16 April 2010

Approaching the Deadline

I think, you see, that we are,
now, at the End of Days —
whatever that will mean.

All is happening
according to prediction.
The signs are in the sky

and on the earth as well.
Go back and read again
not Revelations but Ramtha.

Always we have been told
we ourselves can create
our collective fate.

At this point I don’t know
which way the scales will tip,
the weights too vast to estimate.

But I know on which side
I am adding my weight.
And that is purpose enough.


April PAD Challenge 15
Prompt: A deadline poem
.

Oh You Robinson

To my son David

Oh you Robinson boy!
No, Robinson man —
over 40 now.
Though you bear
another name
the genes tell true.

At certain stages
you could have been
my brother’s younger twin.
He said he’d look across at you,
thinking, ‘How can I be
over there when I’m over here?’

In other ways
you recall my Dad,
a man who loved dancing.
He too was the most
patient, fair and tolerant of men,
and as widely loved.

All his life
since the age of 10
he had a gammy leg.
It gave him pain
but it never
stopped his dance.

Your injury, I hope,
will be less permanent.
I suppose there must be pain
though (like him in that, too)
you don’t complain. I pray:
May you keep on dancing!


NaPoWriMo Day 16

I Grew Up on a Small Island

I grew up on a small island.
It shapes you. I always knew
in my bones and my breath
boundaries and containment
and also a yearning
to find the large world
that lies over the horizon.

Edges. I grew up
with a deep, unquestioned
awareness of edges,
borders, those regions
of change and transition —
useful for stepping through
portals and crossing dimensions.

When I moved to the big island,
the ‘island continent’
that my tiny home hangs off,
horizons expanded in all directions.
And still you come eventually
to an edge. A stepping-off point
with a wide world beyond.

Between self and other
this and the larger mass
is vast sky, boundless ocean.
Standing on the edge engenders
a longing to fly. Take that deep breath!
How far we can stretch, yet always
return safe home, safely held.


April PAD Challenge 14
Prompt: (blank) island; fill in the blank and make it the title of your poem.

15 April 2010

Cat Frustration

This cat can’t get close enough to me.
She squats on my bulky handbag
dumped beside my chair — you’d think
it would be too uncomfortable.

When I give signs of noticing her,
she miaows piteously.
One night she climbed right up
on to my desk, before
I stopped her sitting on my laptop.

When I go to bed, she takes
a running jump (literally)
to arrive beside me, where
she purrs and purrs and purrs but won’t settle.

NaPoWriMo Day 15

14 April 2010

Some Do Dying Hard

Some do dying hard
with pain and fear;
sometimes it’s slow
and exhausting.

I heard of a woman ...
but I won’t tell you that.
Her story horrifies.
I heard of a man ...
his makes me weep.

Some on the other hand
do living hard. Pain can be
a lifetime companion.
Sight or movement
may be lost. Or perhaps
one endures great sorrow.

I don’t know what works
in these conditions.
What would I or anyone
do to maintain a self?
I might learn to pray.

As it is, I know myself
blessed to be alive
and doing it, not easy
not hard, just peacefully.


NaPoWriMo Day 14

Two Loves

Oh Ocean, I’ve left you.
How could this be? I was torn
from you in the end by my equal
love for the great mountain
to which I have returned
after years away with you.

But I miss you, Ocean, now
as I missed the mountain then.

When I visit your neighbourhood
that used to be mine, I can’t wait
to catch that line of blue
as I crest the hill and approach.

In those days, when I came back
to the mountain I know as home,
I used to hold my breath
until it came in view, then sigh
in rapture to see my beloved —
that now I rejoice in, night and morning.

But you, you, oh Ocean, you
blue delight of my heart, wild sparkler
and frother, your moods and colours
even more changeable and rich
than cloud shifts over the mountain, you
are far away out of sight and can’t be heard.

Only in memory your sleepless roar
pounds the message of how close you are....
How close you were. Too seldom
I come within coo-ee, too seldom see,
hear, let alone taste and smell
you, tangible you, that I ache for.


April PAD Challenge 13
Prompt: A love poem

13 April 2010

Preparing the Temple

1)

Sweep with your special broom.
Cleanse, exorcise and charge water.
Cleanse, exorcise and charge salt.
Mix. Sprinkle around the perimeter
in an anti-clockwise circle
(we are in the Southern hemisphere).
Place your altar in the north (west /east).
Set the sacred objects upon it
in their right places:
dagger, wand, chalice, pentacle.
You will already have
your statues and pictures
your crystals and candles
displayed around the room.
If you wish, make a circle of rope;
it can be permanent.
It will be good if there is a window
through which you can see the moon.
Speak the words of consecration.


2)

Just walk outside
into a space among trees.
Clear away any man-made litter.
Find your directions.
If you don’t know, use a compass
(essential equipment
for the urban witch).
Find a feather, a twig,
a shell, a stone.
Look up. Breathe in.
Extend your finger.


NaPoWriMo Day 13

Machu Picchu

I watch the city of stone spread out again
across the peak of the mountain,
under the high shield of the other mountain
the dark one, younger and taller: my love.

I am sitting above the ruins, on the terraced hill.
We have walked through a place of fire.
Only last month this green hill burned,
and we can still see traces. And the sun
today has been fiery too; many tourist faces
have turned pink already. But I am at peace here.

There is a small hut close by. A decade later
my friend Helen will go and sit in its emptiness
and look out over the same view. She will adopt it
emotionally as ‘Helen’s house’. I in my time
do not enter the hut that will be her house,
but I like both its isolation and its implied shelter.

I almost dance down the steep rocks, fear of height
switched miraculously off, to wander through
solid buildings roofless to the sky. I hardly believe
I am here, touching. The altar to the sun is roped off.
No sacrifices today; the site is under repair. But we observe
the bowls and trenches that must have been for blood.

On a grassy space by a huge rock, under a frail tree,
we rest and contemplate. Later in meditation
I shall descend through hidden tunnels
over and over again, to meet my kin.


April PAD Challenge 12
Prompt: A city.



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

12 April 2010

Evening in Tulipwood

The rain comes down hard
and sudden with thunder

the heat unravels me
I begin to blur at the edges

he has draped purple orchids
along the top of the window

I am looking for sunset
wanting it to flame fierce

between the two of us
are cords and tangles

dusk grows dimmer
and my eyelids droop

he is lying down already
his silence invites me

the rain dwindles
and the heat abates

shadows begin to play
along the far horizon

sound has all but ceased
and the light intensifies

Rosemary watches the day
blaze before it dies.


NaPoWriMo Day 12

The Last Time I Saw Her

I was moved to attune her
to my own form of Celestial Healing
given to me by Spirit:
pink, lavender, violet, red,
combining in a magenta ray.
‘Oh,’ she said, ‘That’s why
I’ve kept on seeing those colours.’

She couldn’t stand for the whole,
although it was light and quick.
Walking down the hospital corridor
for a cup of tea with me
had worn her out. We managed it
with her sitting on the edge of the bed,
after which she was near collapse.

A few days later she died
and so I’ve wondered,
why was I meant to give her
that healing energy which didn’t save her?
But I’ve written already
of her pain-free, inspiring, triumphant death —
and I understand finally: that’s why.


April PAD Challenge 11
Prompt: The Last ... [fill in the blank].

11 April 2010

Clearing the Space

He was pale-faced.
‘There’s something here.’

I knew. Even before
the sobs and screaming
I’d felt its presence.
Cold it was, and close,
as if it would enter my bones.

Instead, it invaded
our brain spaces,
turning us murderous
against each other. Until
he stopped and understood.

He sat, eyes closed,
exerting all his will.
I moved around the house
beaming light to every corner
and blazing it into the centre.

Then we lit the dragon’s blood.
Moving slowly anti-clockwise
we wafted it over the walls
and through the air; finally
around our own bodies and auras.

The peace was palpable.
We lay in each other’s arms
all night, no need to speak.
Morning and all seems normal,
but we know how entities strike.

Resuming vigilance, I rise
ceremonially lighting the white sage.


April PAD Challenge 10
Prompt: Horror

Curled

Curled against his chest
I feel ridiculously
small and cherished.


NaPoWriMo Day 11


Still working on April PAD Challenge 10. (Always a day behind with that one in any case, in Aussie time, as the prompts emanate from USA.)

10 April 2010

Dragons

A Note To My Soul-Brother

Dragons, huh? Suddenly
you’re playing with dragons?
When did that happen? And just
what is this connection between us?

The dragons who come to me
live on their own planet
in their own dimension.
They cross between the worlds.

They are my friends. I might even
be one of them, from some ancient
past existence, they feel so true.
They are swirling around me now.

Is it this or some other mob
hanging about with you?
My friends are loyal, but
their tribe has room for many.

You are red dragon today,
you tell me. So you merge?
My closest friend stays separate,
though linked; she is midnight blue.

She is chaos dragon. I won’t
tell you her name. Well, not
in a public poem. I know them all
by name, and by their shape and colour.

I called one day and they came,
the first two. Others later.
Sometimes when friends need help,
I ask and dragons attend them too.

Phil, who wasn’t sure of believing,
felt the breath of his protector
warm on his cheek, gently,
one night while he washed the dishes.

I see that the dragons you know
present you with their images
in flames, or hunks of crystal. I wonder
who they are and why they come to you?

 

NaPoWriMo Day 10

Portrait of the Poet as an Old Woman

Do you think she wears all those rings
to hide her knobbly knuckles and liver spots,
or just because she loves them?
They are so many, and so ornate.

And that hair, between pink and purple,
what’s with that? Doesn’t she know she’s old?
But people in the street yell that they love it,
which straightens her back and lightens her step.

Her funny little face is more and more like
her mother’s was in age; this appears
to disconcert her. Regarding herself in the mirror,
her expression is horrified, then resigned.

When we look at our own faces,
do we see them true? Perhaps we see
what we expect or fear. It is always done
self-consciously. How can the soul show through?


April PAD Challenge 9 

Prompt: Self-portrait

9 April 2010

After the Wine

After the wine and the tim tams,
after the fish dinner, after
enjoying our favourite TV shows
together — we draw apart.
Suddenly he is enemy, suddenly
he is complaint, suddenly I
am at fault and the source of his
dissatisfaction.

It is the same story after all.
(The wise woman said,
‘All men are different but
all husbands are the same.’)
Everything I dream of
will not happen.

What I want in my old age
is peace and time to read,
and finish all the writing still unwrit.
I want to create our home
finally, in comfort and beauty
and in harmony.

I want to be where I am
and savour that.
What he wants
is money.


NaPoWriMo Day 9

Strategic Plan

Three workshops.
Over time we articulate
the vision, the mission,
the goals, the objectives,
the strategies.

It’s near the end of the process
that we look at values —
what everything else is based on.

‘The right of people to make choices
in their own lives. The right of people
to dignity, respect and non-discrimination;
to be valued as individuals.
The right of the community
to responsive, accountable services.
The right of workers to be valued
for their contributions.’

I travel now from another town
to stay part of this organisation.
Its values are my values,
its goals are my goals.
Already, in ten years,
it has grown beyond belief.

We are creating a plan
to help this Neighbourhood Centre
keep on doing everything it’s already doing
and more, and better; we’re creating
a tool to maintain and support
a community that is strong,
inclusive and connected.


April PAD Challenge 8
Prompt: Pick a tool, make that the title of your poem.

8 April 2010

When the Granddaughters Leave

When the granddaughters leave tomorrow,
we’ll stop finding bits of colour all over the house
from purple hairbands to pink bracelets,
from scrunched-up chocolate wrappers
to half-drunk bottles of Fanta, and tiny frilly skirts
or cut-off denim shorts strewing the floor.

When the granddaughters leave tomorrow
taking their dancing legs, their big eyes, their laughter —
he'll put away the family photos, I’ll rearrange the fridge.
The cats will reclaim some territory: their favourite chairs.
We’ll remark on the quiet, and the emptiness of the space.
We’ll resolve to chat to them much more often on facebook.


NaPoWrMo Day 8

Until Today

I wasn’t scared at all until today.
Let me not go blind, dear God!
Well, it’s my left eye only,
not super-urgent, he said —
check it again in three months,
sooner if it deteriorates.
Surgery, not till later.

All those messages,
not clear until today:
the battery running low,
driving home in almost darkness,
hesitant and slow; and then the car
I backed into in spite of looking.
(Luckily not marked and he was cool.)

All those memories
coming idly into mind:
the friend who lost her sight
gradually, but oh, inexorably.
And the books where people told
what it’s really like — for some,
not dark at all but a sea of light.

All these intimations
I just refused to see. 
To see. That precious sense
above all other senses. Now
there’s a hole in my seeing.
The kindly Universe tried to warn;
I remained oblivious — until today.

April PAD Challenge 7
Prompt: Write a poem with the title 

‘Until ...’ and fill in the word or phrase.

7 April 2010

In the Waiting Room

In the waiting room
the woman two seats from me
is regaling her neighbour
with her husband’s stroke
in detail.

We others
sit mute, unmoving,
our eyes-front gazes locked
in waiting-room magazines,
trying not to hear.

Small mundane horrors
are imparted with laughter
and loudly so we all
get, willy nilly,
the masked pain.

Left her job.
Has too little time.
He can’t use his left arm,
and during conversations
he’ll just walk away.

She’s the one sitting
in this waiting room in need
of medical treatment, yet
brings herself present
obliquely.


NaPoWriMo Day 7

Goya's Flying Witches

How fat they are, I think,
these witches. And what
are they doing up there
without brooms? Perhaps
they’ve already ingested
that psychotropic stuff,
that flying ointment,
through the skin
and there they are flying
in spirit? But the man
on the ground looks real enough!

Why is he hiding his head
under his coat? Why is he
trying to scurry away? Why
is he dark, when their garments
are bright — what few they wear?
I think he is Goya,
and Goya is dreaming
fearful dreams of witches:
shameless, fleshy, light creatures.

But who, then, are they carrying?
Is it innocent Goya, a victim?
Or some friend they’re taking
for healing? He painted it,
Goya, so it is his dream,
a conscious dream of witches,
of flying with half-naked witches.


April PAD Challenge 6
Prompt: Write a poem in response to a painting.
Given two choices, I picked Flight of the Witches by Francisco de Goya.

6 April 2010

Today

‘You
are responsible
for the earthquake,’
the crystal shamans
are accused
suddenly.

Facebook
tells me
Turnbull quits politics
and my friend
is engaged
suddenly.

Patricia
needs Reiki.
I give it.
I’m a furnace
of energy
suddenly.

Debbie
consults me
as psychic medium:
her friend’s son
hanged himself
suddenly.

Duncan
my stepson
lends his car.
Starting it again
I can’t
suddenly.

Phoned
he comes
in our car.
His starts up
first try
suddenly.

Bedtime
for children.
Three little granddaughters
go to sleep.
Ah, silence
suddenly.


NaPoWriMo Day 6

Too Much Information

‘A new dog!’ she squeals.
‘A Rottweiler, just what I wanted.’
How can I tell her I loathe
and distrust that breed,
and likely won’t rush
to fondle its ugly muzzle?

I could say, ‘I didn’t like
your last three hounds either,
and look how they turned out,
destructive brutes.’ But I don’t
as I didn’t then — though she’s still
finding bits of those old breakages.

I look again for a form of words
not killjoy, not hypocritical.
She’s happy, and besides
she’s bought the thing now
and wouldn’t give it back on my say-so.
‘Enjoy!’ I say, crossing my fingers.


April PAD Challenge 5
Prompt: write a 'too much information' poem.

5 April 2010

Early Days

We walked the City Centre.
You held my hand.
‘What if I bump into
one of my kids?’ I thought.

In the movie,
still holding hands,
I felt your body shake.
(It was The Power of One.)

For dinner you chose a pub,
not wanting to over-impress.
It was the legendary Argo,
coolest place in town.

You arrived with dark red roses
to take me to bed,
an ice-breaking exercise.
We were both awkward.

At Christmas you took me
to meet your children.
Someone stopped you just before
you filled the tank with diesel.

When you asked me
would I marry you,
first I said yes, then enquired
if it was a hypothetical question.


NaPoWriMo Day 5

Historical Record

She is a tall woman.
She came from long ago.

When she gets close enough
cold seeps into my bones.

I know that she can’t be
the one who was here last.

All those handy railings —
that one was short, like us.

I haven’t yet made time
to engage her in talk.

She is waiting to tell.
When there is time, I’ll hear.

(When the visitors go
and my husband’s asleep.)

Does she belong to house
or, older, to the land?

I glimpse her as white light.
I think her skin was dark.


April PAD Challenge 4
Prompt: A history poem (national, personal ...  the history of anything).

4 April 2010

Poets Are Losing Their Mothers

Kris in Melbourne
Donall in London.
A mother in Ireland, visited
just before the last.
A mother from Alexandria,
settled in Dorset, and now
the son will wait
and visit siblings later.

Last year it was Tony
in Manchester, with all
those grieving haiku.
Neil in Austin, Texas
has written of it too.
Neil grew up in Canada;
I guess his Mum died there.
He didn’t say,
had deeper things to say.

Of course they write of this.
Some include photos:
slim, beautiful, young mother
smiling. When my Mum died
my cousin pressed on me
a photo of her old:
skeletal, crouched, forcing
a smile through pain.
Afterwards I tore it up.

There is nothing to say
that touches the death
of your mother. That is where
your life came from. That
is your source of body nurture
even if you weren’t wanted
(and most of us were). I
was never more confronted.


NaPoWriMo Day 4

Partly Functional

We chug uphill
millimetre by millimetre
my foot flat to the boards
my irrelevant intention
intensely focused
and my mind
reiterating prayers.

That’s on short trips
or fresh starts.
We need warm-up,
lots of warm-up,
before the slipping automatic
kicks in with a sudden purr
and I relax (a little) in relief.

I stay of course on the flat
taking the long way round.
But always I have to come
to the home hill
at the very end of the trip.
This there is no avoiding.
The only way is up.

After a long journey
when she’s running nicely
I go down to Low, pause
a split second for that tricky turn
then flatten my foot, and whew!
she zooms up. Sometimes
I don’t even need the Power button.



April PAD Challenge 3
Prompt: write a poem with the title 'Partly (blank)', filling in the blank.

3 April 2010

Unpacking the Books

Did you think I would not
remember you?

Every time
I unpack the books anew

in the next new home,
I’m reminded. It’s true

I blame you for the damage.
That stupid boy too,

but you were the one
who yelled and stamped, who

insisted I not unpack
the boxes he’d wet through

watering along the edge of the verandah
where they were stacked. I knew

I could have saved them,
if I’d got them out quickly to dry in the sun.

‘There’s not enough room,’ you hissed.
I saw that there was. I’d already begun

prising the lid off the first. But I was tired,
you were loud and insistent. Well, done is done.

Or, in this case, not done, and when I finally
freed my treasures, mould and damp had won.

It’s long ago now, and here I am
settling in the final house with the final man.

I unpack the books for the last time,
observing the water marks yet again

still with the old pang, as sharp as ever.
You are fifteen years gone

and this treason not forgotten
among all the better reasons to remember you.


NaPoWriMo Day 3

White Days

White days of rain and cloud
make this a strange autumn.

Sometimes they warm
suddenly in the afternoon.

Then we remember what autumn is,
the most beautiful season.

Always the most beautiful,
I would have said, until now.

Where are the mellow, golden days,
the blue, spreading heavens?

Even the sea is pale, greyed,
and the drab river less than silver.

At night the storms come, loud
with thunderous downpours.

We move into April
as if into a strange landscape.

The trees and hills become
unrecognisable, distorted by water.


April PAD Challenge 2 
Prompt: a water poem

2 April 2010

It's Good Friday

It’s Good Friday
and on the telly
people — Christian people —
reveal their ways
of coming closer to God.

‘In the gentle breeze,’
says one pilgrim.
‘In silence, reading,
and hospitality,’
says the monk.

I think we are not
different. I too, Pagan,
think those places good
for finding God.
It may be so for all.

Dropping deeper

I notice
those are doorways
to the actual place:
my heart.


NaPoWriMo Day 2

April PAD Challenge / Lonely Poem

Oh dammit, can't resist doing this one too - the April Poem-A-Day Challenge at Poetic Asides.
(Prompts can be fun too.)


The first prompt is to write a lonely poem, so here it is:

Lonely

she walks the road of sleep
through an emptiness

looking for others
finds no-one

the whole landscape
is flat gray

why is her old dog
not in this dream?


April PAD Challenge #1

Choosing What to Wear

Flo, 18 months,
knows what she wants.
Doesn’t speak, says it clearly
with an insistent look.

Every morning she reaches
for the rainbow headband,
slings it around her torso
from shoulder to hip.

She looks you
straight in the eye,
swathed in the confidence
of chakra colours.


NaPoWriMo Day 1