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.

29 September 2010

Numbers

After watching the movie, Balibo

There were six.
We always think there were five:
three from Channel 7,
two from Channel 9.
And there were.
‘The Balibo Five’.
The five who died.

‘Caught in the crossfire,’
the Indonesians said,
and that was true too;
only that was not
what killed them.
They were executed.
There were witnesses.

There were three witnesses —
just teenage boys
but already freedom fighters —
who came to give the story
to the other one, the sixth,
the sixth Australian journalist
killed to prevent truth.

(In 1975, I was
a Melbourne housewife,
a young mother with zero
special information, but even I
knew what was going to happen.
You can’t tell me
the Australian Government didn’t.)

There were three
and then two more.
There were five
and one came after.
There were six
white Australian journalists.
Oh, and 183,000 East Timorese.


30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 18
Prompt: A poem that repeatedly uses numbers

As night falls: September 2010

The kookaburra’s laugh —
loud, long and raucous but
too seldom heard.

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

As night falls we hear
the chuck chuck
of an unknown bird.

4/9/10


I wake from a dream
of ocean
to the sound of rain.

10/9/10


the returning moon
once again
I dream of the dead

17/9/10


September rain.
The weeds on the lawn
grow clumpy.

25/9/10


gekko sounds
like a bird calling
in the dark

29/9/10

27 September 2010

The Eden Plan

A garden,’ He said. ‘A garden planet
with everything you need for living well.
You can look after it. I’ll fill it
with all sorts of plants and animals,
insects, birds and marine creatures.
You can look after them too. Mostly,
though, they’ll look after themselves.

‘I give you free will. And there’ll be
a lot to learn, to keep you interested.
Just be careful how you apply
the knowledge; take my advice!
I’ve already looked on My work
and found it good. You won’t need
to go improving anything.

‘You’ll want to have a bit of a play;
that’s natural. Intelligence
likes to explore itself. Just make sure
you can put everything back
the way you found it, OK? Take it apart,
you’ll need to piece it together again, unless
you want the whole thing to stop working.

‘The knee bone’s connected
to the thigh bone, and
the ocean’s connected to the rain cloud, and
the tiniest flutter of a butterfly’s wing
is connected to a storm about to happen
over the other side of the world.
Now hear the word of the Lord!’

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

The DNA uncoiled its serpent length
all the way up to the brain.
The brain began exploring.
Individuals multiplied.
The long journey began.
It seems the plan is almost played out.
Shall we reassemble or exit the garden?


30 Poems in 30 days, 2010: 17
Prompt: A poem that involves a plan.

26 September 2010

Memory

He has written the story
of our first meeting.
I would write it
a different way,
altering the details.


30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 16
Prompt: A poem that includes something that malfunctions or breaks down.

25 September 2010

The Distant Goal

Age seemed so far.
I thought there was time
to practise poise and wisdom,
but now it has caught up
and I’m still only me.


30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 15
Prompt: A poem about training for something or working towards a distant goal

The Names of the Island

When I grew up there,
it was known as The Apple Isle.
My grandfather had acres of orchards.

I don’t know what
the First People called it.
I don’t think anyone ever asked them.

Abel Janszoon Tasman,
Dutch explorer, found it in 1642.
He gave it the name Van Diemen’s Land.

Renamed Tasmania,
it became a British colony —
the cruellest one to convicts and Aborigines.

It was much later
that my grandparents came.
In time my brother and I were born in Tassie.

I left at 15, but I visit.
If you ask where I come from,
I use the joke name (a proud name): Taswegia.


30 Poems in 30 days, 2010: 14
Prompt: A poem about a person or place that has several different names.

23 September 2010

A Conversation

When the sky opened
the small being that fell through
was definitely not an angel;

said: ‘I am not one of those
great winged fellows of light,
though I have my own light
and I float, as on wings.’

Alighting gracefully, feet first,
appeared humanoid, more or less.
‘Are you fairy?’ I asked. ‘No.’

‘Meadows of bliss,’ I said,
live in the clouds. I see them.’
‘Rivers of light,’ he replied,
‘inhabit the ocean. Do you
see them too?’ ‘Of course.’

I was eight at the time.
I could still see everything.
I had not forgotten, not
blurred the extra world.

                ****

You ask me, ‘What happened
next?’ You want completion.
There is none. People fall
out of the clouds. The sky
opens, closes over, re-opens....

That is the way of it.


30 Poems in 30 days, 2010: 13
Prompt: A poem in which something is opened or closed.

22 September 2010

Verse Portrait 88: Launceston Girls

My Mum saw her sobbing backstage
after the elocution competitions —
second to my first. We were eight.

Grew up in the same suburb,
came to each other’s birthday parties,
attended High School together.

Thirty years later, surprise:
reunion onstage in another city,
reciting our own works.

Awhile inhabited the same
publications, venues, academies.
Supported each other, allies.

Went different ways again:
fiction her love, poetry mine —
rivalry, like childhood, past.

30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 12
Prompt: A poem about a rivalry

Stalker

How considerate, how reasonable!
He tells me he’ll soon be nearby —
an opportunity in case I need
to see him; actually says that.

It’s a win-win (for him). I could give in
and agree, going against my word
and the reasons for it. Or refuse,
and demonstrate madness.

‘Look,’ he will show his friends —
‘my approach: so calm, so kind;
and her response: hysterical.
You can see that, can’t you?’

And they will. They see what he tells them.
Until they don’t, but that takes time.
Meanwhile he proves himself right
again. Why is that such a need?

I used to believe in his sweet reason.
I used to believe we could start over,
get it right finally. But not any more.
In private, the mask always drops.


30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 11
Prompt: A poem in which something gets faked or simulated.

21 September 2010

My Old Home

This place has changed so much!
There’s more of it now, spreading
beyond the old boundaries; but new
isn’t necessarily better. In fact
those are the very spots
that look seedy, run-down.
When development is not
well thought out, new suburbs
degenerate into slums.

I travel closer in, to the centre,
and there I find familiarities.
I knock on a door. I can still recognise
the woman who answers. She
is not best pleased to see me.
I think she hoped I’d look
more prosperous, better dressed,
as befits an older sister. I know
she’d have liked me to be famous.

When I go exploring, I find
the intellectual life of the place
is still thriving. Busier than ever, but
some things have gone out of fashion.
New interests replace them. It’s good
that technology has been embraced
so readily. The music played
is better now, but the books being read
I have to say, are lighter.

Manners have certainly deteriorated
but, paradoxically, I observe
more real compassion.
It’s natural there should be
physical alterations; that’s just time.
But what of tastes and attitudes? They 
perhaps result from choices, habits,
even mistakes. Overall, though,
I’m happy enough with how I’ve turned out.


30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 10
Prompt: a poem about a place that has changed considerably over time.

20 September 2010

Flirtation

I’m no good at that.
Scorpio girl —
if I feel passion
it’s much too urgent
for pretty games.
I want to know now
if it’s yes or no.

And if I don’t burn,
what’s the point
of pretending?
Downcast eye,
fluttering glance,
simpering voice —
it’s just not me.

I like my innuendos
blatant, my lusts
overwhelming,
my laughter deep.
Don’t hint, don’t tease,
don’t dilly-dally.
Don’t waste my time!


30 Poems in 30 days, 2010: 9
Prompt: a poem that involves flirtation

A Path in a Forest

When I lead people in meditation
on a path through a forest,
it is a path I have walked many times.

I walked it as a child
on the hill behind Trevallyn
going down to The Gorge.

That’s when I began
finding broken branches for staffs.
I liked going it alone.

I walked it in Three Bridges
on the trail outside my back gate
with my dog for company.

And through Marty’s place
at North Tumbulgum — the bit
they left wild — with Andrew beside me.

It leads also,
in a picture my Dad painted,
past a farm near Devonport.

And when at last I walk into Death,
it will not be a race through a tunnel of light,
but that same track among trees.


30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 8
Prompt: A poem that includes a path, a trail, or a map.

17 September 2010

Familiarity

I keep feeling as though
he’s in bed already,
waiting for me as usual.
Maybe in the hospital
he is dreaming he’s here?



30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 7
Prompt: A poem that involves a long-term relationship.


(Also I was keen to try a form I’ve just found out about, the gogyohka.)

Lune

Cheating a bit: this was my post today at Haiku on Friday, MySpace, 
then I realised it also fits the prompt I'm up to.

the returning moon
once again
I dream of the dead


30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 6
Prompt: Write a poem that takes place at a specific time of day

Consequential

It was a consequence
of falling into the bathtub
(empty at the time)
and sliding down
and hitting his head.

And that was a consequence
(they think) of low blood pressure
just then, but we are more inclined
to deem it a consequence
of the codeine they prescribed
for his inexplicable back pain.

They told us it could
make him dizzy, make him
unsteady on his feet.
But I never thought
it would be so sudden.

As a consequence
he’s been in hospital 24 hours
and no-one is any closer
to knowing what’s the matter —
only what’s not. Well,
that’s something, I suppose.

I want him to come home
now, and he wants that too.
The doctor’s busy, hasn’t called.
I’d like to discharge him myself
but the consequences....


30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 5
Prompt: A poem that involves consequences

16 September 2010

Learning

(prose-poem)

We live in a time where our own home can be a classroom. Tonight on TV I have heard and seen the bringing back to life of a derelict old garden; a woman with Alzheimer’s who can’t remember her own name or street recalling every detail of the day she fell in love; swirling 3-D images of invisible, hypothetical dark energy and dark matter; and the voices of dying men and women on 9/11 phoning their loved ones from the Twin Towers. What has this classroom taught me? To value life. To value love. This is the great lesson of all religions. This is what we must come to understand before we die ... and do come to understand.


30 Poems in 30 days, 2010: 4
Prompt: A poem that takes place in or otherwise involves a classroom.

In Emergency

The nurse can’t find a good vein for the drip.
They’re slippery, she says: they roll about.
Eventually the doctor does it.

My shoulders feel crushed under pain.
I swallow back the vomit in my throat.
My mind goes blank; I nod off.

He too, full length on the trolley,
has closed his eyes. He is pale
but starting to recover some colour.

The hours pass. He must have a scan.
They need to check for bleeding in the brain.
They‘re sending him up to Tweed for that.

I go home, eat lunch without tasting it,
phone. He has been moved finally, yes.

I do some chores. I phone Tweed.

He has arrived. The scan has been ordered.
It may take up to two hours, but
by all means phone earlier, they say.

He fell this morning, slid into the bathtub
after he came out of the shower. Then he blacked out
over breakfast. His head bashed and bounced.

The headache was fierce but brief.
He yelled, slurring his words like a spastic.
I called the ambulance. He didn’t argue.

Nothing now to do but wait,
him up there and me back here.
Will he be home tonight? I don’t know.


30 Poems in 30 days, 2010: 3
Prompt: A poem about waiting for a specific event

15 September 2010

I found his photo yesterday

... the big one he sent from America,
taken in the New York subway.

In it he’s already losing his hair
but he’s still slim, still handsome.

That smile reminds me
of the child he was. Lost, long lost.


30 poems in 30 days, 2010: 2
Prompt: A poem about getting lost or losing something

A Message from 'qetitodd'

It had nothing to do with my post,
the comment from a stranger.
‘F off,’ he-or-she said,
(only they spelt it fully)
and invited me, if I hate HP,
to go in a fire and not come out.

HP.... High Priest?
High Priestess?
It was on my witchy blog —
reason enough, perhaps,
to consign me to fire.

‘I know his childhood nickname,’
the person said, ‘His hair colour.
His personality.’ Who?
‘I know how he died.’ Um,
could it be Jesus?
Doesn’t seem to fit.

I looked up the pseudonym.
This user, I found, has posted
zero journal entries, and
made 65 comments so far.
There is no other information.

Somewhere else entirely,
I notice Harry Potter called HP.
Never mentioned him in my blog.
But I post my reply: ‘Don’t be silly,
I LOVE Harry Potter.’ Then
I make my whole journal ‘Friends only.‘           


30 Poems in 30 Days, 2010: 1.
Prompt: A poem about getting or sending a message.

30 Poems in 30 Days ... er, 15 Days

There's been a lot going on. I only just realised, it's September: there might be a month of poetry prompts at John Hewitt's Poewar blog aka Writer's Resource Center.

Yes, there is.

With the month half gone, I'll be doing two a day.

9 September 2010

Using 'croodle' in a sentence

Fiona Robyn thinks we need to revive the word croodle and
invites people to use it in a sentence.  I agree, and here's my go:


On days of cold and rain
sometimes we stay in bed
and the cats come too,
croodling close. We all purr.

1 September 2010

Recalling those eyes: haiku for August 2010

Most of these are lunes — but one of the best haikuists I know tells me they can be called haiku too, so from now on I'm not going to differentiate in the labelling.


Her face turns whiter
as I gaze
down time’s long tunnel.

6/8/10


I walk alone
to hear their cold music,
the sonorous waves.

............................

Recalling those eyes,
I am back
in youth and summer.

8/8/10


Fried mushrooms on toast
and our daughter visiting —
lunch was good today.

15/8/10


And some Dada:

ha ha ha ha ha
hah! hah! hah! hah! hah! hah! hah!
ah ha ha haiku


And some not-really-Dada:

Hi  I hai I ku
high high high high high haiku
I ku I ku ... you?

27/8/10