I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

29 November 2011

Rubaiyat: Ways of Going

My days are slowly drifting into rest —
a kind of ease and yet a kind of test.
Though slowing age has made me leisurely,
I miss being quick and busy; I miss my zest.

And still I say I’m lucky. Not for me
(not yet at any rate) the agony
of cruel illness, not for me the blight
of dimming mind in dread senility.

I think again of her mind, young and bright.
She’s ready now, she says, to enter night.
Her mind is housed in an invaded brain,
the tumour slowly crowding out her light.

She’s tired of fighting, certain it’s in vain.
Shut away from sunlight, trees and rain,
she turns eighteen but must not celebrate.
Her mind and body learn increasing pain.

I don’t believe she has one certain fate —
but she believes, raging and desolate.
‘Live fast, die young ...’ Some fools might count her blest;
but she’s been neither fool nor profligate.

I’m old: I’ve lived a life, fulfilled a quest.
I watch my sun start dipping to the west
with no great eagerness; but I admit,
aching for my young friend, I come off best.

Submitted to ‘imaginary garden with real toad’, Rubaiyat prompt nd also to dVerse Open Link Night #20

23 November 2011

Last Light

In Memoriam Joyce Lee 1913-2007

I read your last book backwards
dearest Joyce, beginning
with your over-90, inevitable
reflections on approaching death

and wandering back 
through final memories,
a new perspective on the past
more peaceful, even more grateful

then arriving
at your last understanding
of childhood, existence itself
and your own country.


For many friends, as for me,
surely the subtle fragrance
of deep conversations with you
permeates these pages.

I muse on our last phone call.
You were afraid, you said.
You, with all your faith!
I had no comfort, but the book

tells me you heard:
‘Talk to that angel who visits you;
ask for help.’  You write of his help
at the end, brightening your sky.

The late Australian poet Joyce Lee is not to be confused with the English performance poet of the same name. Her last book, Bountiful Years, was published in 2007 by Rebus Press and launched posthumously. 

This piece is included in Poets United's Poetry Pantry #77.

11 November 2011

Prose to Poetry

At dVerse Critique and Craft this week, we were asked to turn an already poetic piece of prose into a poem, first arranging it as lines of verse and then crafting it further. 

I happen to be re-reading Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill at the moment. Kipling’s prose is beautiful (after all he was a poet too). I took excerpts from the chapter I’ve just finished, leaving out many connecting words and passages but otherwise not changing the language. I did arrange them into verses of equal length, even at this stage — can’t help myself — and already tried to hint at a new story.

Then I rearranged the verses further and left out even more words so as to (hopefully!) bring out the music. I did make some changes at this stage, e.g. to omit details irrelevant to the poem I'm creating, such as the names of the hill and the man, but they are very tiny changes.

The title I’ve given the poem in both cases is not the chapter heading (that is ‘A Centurion of the Thirtieth‘) but a phrase from the text.

They are still Kipling’s words, not mine, so I would have to call each version a found poem.


Una went alone to the Far Wood.

She looked down most cautiously, 
and saw a young man 
covered with hoopy bronze armour 
all glowing among the late broom. 
But what Una admired beyond all 
was his great bronze helmet 
with a red horse-tail that flicked in the wind. 
She could hear the long hairs rasp 
on his shimmery shoulder-plates.

He leaned forward, but his eye 
was caught by the setting sun.
It had come down to the top of Cherry Clack Hill, 
and the light poured in between the tree trunks 
so that you could see 
red and gold and black 
deep into the heart of Far Wood; 
and Parnesius in his armour shone  
as though he had been afire.

‘Wait!’ he said, lifting a hand, 
and the sunlight jinked on his glass bracelet, 
‘Wait! I pray to Mithras!’
He rose and stretched his arms westward, 
with deep, splendid-sounding words.
Through the goldy-brown light 
of the beech leaves they walked.  
They found themselves 
at the little locked gates of the wood.


Una went alone to the Far Wood

She saw a young man
all glowing among the late broom:
great bronze helmet with a red horse-tail
that flicked in the wind. 

She could hear the long hairs rasp 
on his shimmery shoulder-plates.
He leaned forward, but his eye 
was caught by the setting sun.

The light poured between tree trunks. 
You could see red and gold and black 
deep into the heart of Far Wood. 
He in his armour shone as though afire.

‘Wait!’ he said, lifting a hand. 
The sunlight jinked on his glass bracelet. 
‘Wait! I pray to Mithras!’ He rose 
and stretched his arms westward. 

Deep, splendid-sounding words
through the goldy-brown light 
of the beech leaves
at the locked gates of the wood.

5 November 2011


we walked hand in hand
now we reach out but can’t touch
do you lag behind
or are you leading the way
in another direction?

you come seeking me
‘I think I lost you,’ you say,
‘we lost connection’
I lean into your embrace
‘yes, I just wrote that poem’

Composed for the dVerse Man’yoshu prompt 
(though I was too late to include it in the list).

If you're looking for a post on colour, my apologies for the wrong link. Try this.

4 November 2011

Seasonal Colours


across the world
the waning days of Fall
are inspiring poets

brown leaves,
gold, orange and red
variations of light


in my garden
late Spring presents

I remember
orange blooms cascading
down the fence

now on those vines
white flowers with crimson centres
flare and drop 

the others
were winter flowers

these new
delicate blossoms
embody Spring

it must be
that different vines

Submitted for Poets United's Thursday Think Tank #73.
I'm indebted to the prompt for some of the (stolen) phrases in 1. 
The autumn leaf picture by Ella Wilson comes from there too.

That Sunday: October tanka 2011

Spring morning
I walk down the steps
into sunshine
new cobweb tendrils
cling to my jade plant


two flying insects
thin green and round black
hit my window
then bounce away at once
back to the Spring garden


Full moon and one star
shining over my back yard.
I blow a quick kiss
and give thanks to the Goddess
that my sick friend becomes well.


a busy day
until he lies down to read
and drops asleep
curling into the pillow
the book moving with his breath


tall bamboo
behind my neighbour’s fence
is not much like
the round stems my Dad grew
when I was a child

I walk down
into the valley
by myself
and come back home
with a new tanka

I’m not brisk
I don’t wear special clothes
when I walk
I amble slowly 
the breeze in my hair


that Sunday
listening to Chopin
both of us
feeling as if we’d never
heard his music before 


the gargoyle
my son David brought me
from Paris
is free of its neck chain
but one wing is broken


in this land
we sit down on the ground
for a yarn
one way the invaded
have taken us over


near miss
on roundabout
don’t make poems
while driving



Muffled thunder: October haiku 2011

playing chasey
the incoming tide


quiet rain
tonight the world mourns
dead genius

‘Retweet if you’re 
touching an Apple product.’
I am, of course.


cold morning
woken too early
restless cats

my man wakes
demands the time
back to sleep

get up feed the cats
I’m awake
the cats are resting

#haiku #senryu #lune


wet Spring
the cacti grow 


playing online
nourished by haiku
I forget breakfast


the empty bin
is propped on its side
by the yellow lid

across the road
the garbage bin looks jaunty
propped on its yellow lid


the clock
ticks loudly


light through the trees
grey magic


I prepare muesli
to Hestia first


muffled thunder
the women meet
share secrets


1 November 2011

Beltane Night 2011

All week he’s been full 
of passion and play.
Tonight his back hurts.

I go out to see the moon
but it’s still a wet Spring —
she’s cloud-hidden again.

But I can write poems
in the fertile season,
warm offerings to Life.

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #73.

31st October

The little girls from across the road
came trick-or-treating tonight
in their witch and fairy costumes.

We’d forgotten Halloween, crude
corruption of Samhain — 
which anyway is a different season 
here, different time of year.

But we had some jellybeans,
emergency rations in case
his blood sugar drops. I poured a handful 
into their empty icecream bucket.

I wonder what they’d have said
if they’d known the smiling old couple,
their neigbours, were actual witches.

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #73.