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

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

31 December 2011

As the Year Ends

not knowing she is atheist
he sends up a prayer

through air and ether to heaven
for the girl across the water

who now must be dead or near
whose spirit felt close last night

as if she hovered to read
a poem I could not write

An sequence of attempted Crystalline couplets, submitted for (and the form explained at) dVerse FormForAll — Couplets for the New Year — but I am still caught in this present ending.

29 December 2011

Writing the Prison

(Acknowledgments to Anne Sexton’s “Ringing the Bells”)

And this is the way we go
to work in prison
and this is the gate where we stand
still for the metal-detector and open our bags
and open the books in our bags,
and these are the writers in prison
who wait for Friday,
two hours a week that feel like freedom;
and because we are working in poetry
and because that’s another country,
an open space outside what is known,
we are the circle of laughing poets
who lounge in the plastic chairs in the Education shed
and smile at the baffled officers
who watch but leave us alone,
who watch us escape
the gates and doors with locks;
and these are the bluestone blocks we pass
on the way into the prison
guarded by guns as if it were true
we are not free, we are not free;
and these are the tunnels we walk on Tuesday
in maximum security,
cages that whisper open electronically,
whisper open electronically and whisper closed;
and this is how the poetry shouts,
as outspoken and bold
as a fearless child,
and this is always my freedom responding
to the words that respond to the prison
where poets write and are free
two hours a week, on Tuesday or Friday,
when the door in the wall cracks open
and lets me in, and we meet;
and although I may work and go
out again through the tunnels and gates and locks,
I am the one who will never
escape the prison.

Written in 1987
First published
La Mama Poetica anthology (Melb. University Press 1989)
Also in Walking the Dogs (Pariah Press anthology, 1994)
Included in the author's Secret Leopard: New and Selected Poems 1974-2005 (Paris, Alyscamps Press, 2005).

Posted here now because of a conversation in which this experience came up. A conversation in haiku, actually, at Haiku on Friday, on facebook.

Submitted to Poetry Pantry #81 at Poets United

28 December 2011

I'm replete: December tanka 2011

suddenly onscreen
yellow gorse with prickly leaves
straight from my childhood
on the island growing wild
long time since I tramped that land


for dinner
our broccoli
newly picked
our own fresh herbs
in the omelette


My sixtyish friend
is visiting Zambia.
Young, she taught there —
now meets those women again.
Her glad email makes me cry.


the clover is out
all over the nature strips
at the corner house
steering the mower she laughs
and waves from her father’s lap

I trudge up the hill
tonight Basil the corgi
rests on his doorstep
I click my tongue as I pass
we’ve had two days of cuddles

old Coco spaniel
stops to let a car swerve past
then goes slow uphill
but I notice he’s faster
than old me puffing behind


I’m replete
of everything
but poetry

Post-xmas #gogyohka


Submitted to dVerse Open Night #24 and Poets United's Poetry Pantry #81

14 December 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Mohana, who blogs at insanebloom, kindly awarded me this, weeks ago. Time I passed it on! The rules are:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to 5 other bloggers.
4. Contact the winners to congratulate them.

The dilemma is, with so many wonderful blogging poets, how do I choose? And surely those I admire will have received it already? Also I don't want to double up on those I already gave the Stylish Blogger award, even though they deserve it. (That one I posted on another blog, to leave this for poems. This time I'm including the award here, thinking that more readers of poetry are likely to find it here.)

But before I list my chosen poets, I am supposed to reveal seven things about myself — things, I suppose, that you might not otherwise know or guess. (So the fact that I have cats wouldn't count, as anyone who reads my poems will find that out sooner or later.) Hmmm ...

Random facts about me:
(I don't promise they'll be interesting)

1. I have never had my appendix out.

2. When I was 15 I acquired two stepbrothers, both named Bill (i.e. both my parents remarried and each of their new spouses had a son called Bill).

3. Summer always takes me by surprise, in that I never quite get with the insect repellant in time to stop those first mosquito bites.

4. Everyone thinks my favorite colour is purple. I do love it, and love to wear it, but my real favourite colour to gaze upon is deep blue.

5. At university, I used to get Honours marks in (some) Philosophy subjects even though I was only doing a Pass degree.

6. I was a timid child and a shy, awkward teen. (No-one believes this, in the face of my adult outrageousness.)

7. Yes, I do know my fashion sense is eccentric. I like it, OK!

Here are my nominees for this award, with links to their blogs:

Brian Miller waystationone

Jenne’ R Andrews La Parola Vivace 

Brendan MacOdrum Oran’s Well

Lorna Cahall lorna cahall

Merlene Fawdry Poetry in the Rough

(If any of them turn out to have receive the award already, I'll find some replacements. With all the brilliant bloggers around, it won't be hard!)

12 December 2011


I made it when my kids were small.
It lay on our queen-size bed
all the further years of that long marriage.

Not your neat, traditional crochet squares
but larger, lacier, the pattern
more complex. I was proud

of this persevering work of my hands:
a fine thing, a whole year to make.
I loved its rich, strong colours.

It was variegated green, emerald to sage.
It was two tones of red, intense
and understated. And the wide borders

were black. I thought they gleamed
with power and love. The top, defined
by wider black, turned back over the pillow.

After the marriage ended in tears,
I folded the quilt away in a cupboard ...
bundled it off at last to the charity shop.

What comfort could it be to my old age?
Rage had turned it ugly in my sight.
Grief had made it lie too heavy on me.

Now I live in a warm climate. I like
the Indian cotton throw I bought:
lighter, freer, matching my present love.

Intended for dVerse Poetics: Fabric of our lives — but I was too late. Check the link anyway, for a diversity of good poetry!

Published in NOTES FOR THE TRANSLATORS: from 142 Australian and New Zealand Poets, ed. Christopher (Kit) Kelen. Macao, ASM, 2012 
and in THE d'VERSE ANTHOLOGY, 2013.

4 December 2011

Being Super

I am not
the small, lone girl who
runs and jumps
on her lawn.
I am strong: beyond hurt. I
am power now. Me.

My cloak floats
out from my shoulders.
One leap and
I fly high,
up, up and AWA-A-A-A-Y — oh yes,
I am Superman!

Submitted for dVerse Poetics - going Comic challenge. (The form is a double shadorma.)

Published in BEYOND THE DARK ROOM, 2012

1 December 2011

Oh Summer, Summer! November haiku 2011

early morning
yells and slamming doors
arouse the street


I dance to Janis
Me & Bobby McGee
and my broom


cats and coffee
wake me


frothy ocean
the tangy smell of spray
oh Summer, Summer!


Other side of the glass: November tanka 2011

on his balcony
cool breeze on a warm spring day
entertaining friends
the young man smiles as he sings
of ageing and loneliness


when visitors come
my cat waxes voluble
greeting them at length
loud conversational mews
complaining she’s underfed


‘Must be getting old.
I just can’t raise it tonight.’
How astonishing —
at 82 years 9 months
and fresh home from hospital.


half the length of my thumb
pale belly
green toe-pads like pin-heads
other side of the glass


‘write of Wild’
others raised leopards
alI I saw
was a tiny frog
high up my window