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.

10 December 2013

A Precious Book

The book is old. Its thin red cardboard cover
is plain, with no illustration, only
small gold letters hard to read
among the discolourations and creases.

The writing inside is small too. The Contents page 
promises sections of photos, but this  
is a proof copy. There are no photos and no 
publication date (deliberately obscured by the printer).

All the warmth and colour are in the words.
All the pictures too — family snapshots, action movies —
and the history, all the dates when things happened:
great and small things, public and private.

This is the autobiography of a famous matriarch
reminiscing about her famous family. She says
she's correcting lies. I don't know — those lies —
we are inclined still to believe them.

But she writes with love and tells her own story
of the incidents and scandals we think we know.
Sweet lady, much hurt ... I like her. No, I won't tell you 
her name. This book is valuable; I want to keep it.

1 December 2013

A Disappearing Poem


The poem was here and now it's gone.
I thought it would stay and carry on
doing its poetic thing —
you know, shine and dance and sing.

But no, the poem went.
It was only lent,
it wasn't given —
not a live-in,

just a guest
that came to rest
a little while
and made me smile.

I weep now,
can't sleep now.
The poem
went home.

Who cares
where?
Gone
is gone.

No
more
poem —
a
 w
   w
     w
        !


Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 30, a disappearing poem.

30 November 2013

Commercial Poem

Come here, come here, come over here!
Here's a fresh, hot poem for sale —
one you can sink your teeth into,
one that tastes better than chocolate.

Look at it, listen to it; you have to agree
it's a very good specimen. Join the queue.
We're going to auction it off.
Who'll be the highest bidder?

Settle down! Don't push and shove!
I know you're keen, I understand.
But once the original sells,
you can bid for cheaper copies.

So don't let's make it a free-for-all.
What was that? Who yelled, 'Free verse'?
Bugger! He's started a riot.
Now they all want gifts.

Listen, mate, there's the internet
for that kind of thing. There's all those blogs.
What will you offer me
for this virgin poem, unread?


Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 29, a commercial poem.

29 November 2013

Seagull Moment

It lifts up
or is wind-caught,
the gull against the sky.

I see it from beneath —
head high, chest vertical,
wide wings flaring
white on blue

like a flag
or a cross
made of light.


Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge, day 28: a bird poem

28 November 2013

Here

Sky blue burning.
Summer is here
as always, ahead of time.

Hot, hot, hot, we love it 
from inside our cooled houses,
our beaches and swimming-pools.

Evenings, we sit out
on shady verandahs,
watching the local birds.

Mornings, we're up with the sun,
watering and weeding
before that sun climbs high.

Nights, we lie under 
just one sheet, with the fan on.
Here in the Caldera, living is good.

Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge 2013: day 27, local

Free Falling, and If Books Were Free

Free Falling

I let go 
the stone
and it 
drops 
straight to 
the ground
fast.


The dandelion seed 
drifts
on its feathery white parachute,
dancing, dipping 
and tilting
this way and that,
floating down slowly.


If Books Were Free

If books were free,
I'd collect all the  stories
and read them the rest of my life.
I'd never have nothing to read.

Some would sit on my shelf,
some would be on my device.
Some I would give away.
The best I would keep to re-read.

Books are my friends and family,
books are my food and drink.
I get them for birthdays and Christmas
but I never have enough.

You can't have too many books,
but you can have too few.
If books were free and I had enough room …
I’d probably need an extra life!



Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 26, free (blank) and (blank) free.

26 November 2013

The House Remixed (twice)

The day 25 prompt from Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge is to remix a previous poem —and various ways are suggested. I took a long piece of free verse — my ekphrastic poem of day 11 — and turned it into two different short, formal pieces.  

Tanka:

I dream of a house
on a cliff above the sea,
forest at its back
and green grass all around it.
I dream it waits for me there.


3x3x8
(My own invention: 3 lines, 3 rhymes, 8 syllables per line.)

The house above the sea is old.
Its big windows gaze from the cliff
and the forest rises behind.

I wonder has the house been told
that I’m the one it waits for; if
it knows that it is mine to find?

I dreamed of it always: the gold
sunlight, the breeze a little stiff,
the sea shining … time out of mind.

25 November 2013

I've Got Eyes in the Back of My Head

My Mum said that.
She meant we kids better not
do anything naughty
because she would see.

When I was little
I thought they were real,
those eyes, and I didn't
know how they stayed hidden.

Did the lids blend
perfectly with the skin behind
her hair, as if invisible?
How was it possible?

Why weren't they exposed?
Did she keep them closed
except when checking on us? 
It was most mysterious.

If they were really there,
under her hair,
didn't her hair spoil the view?
How did she look through?

I never solved these mysteries
but I still believe she could see us
doing what we didn't ought.
We always got caught!

Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 24, response to a statement.

Also linking to dVerse Poetics, 1 March 2014, on invisibility. (Mum's extra eyes may have been invisible; our misdeeds were not!)


24 November 2013

I Shouldn't Be Here

But I am,
in the gap between 
the back of the couch
and the wall.

This is my secret place.
Now I mustn't move.
There are voices
and I know whose.

They are saying
grown-up things. 
I don’t understand, but I know 
I’m not supposed to hear.

I’m listening
with wide-open ears
and keeping 
very quiet.



Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 23, 'I shouldn't be here'.

23 November 2013

Secret Messages

We wrote them in lemon juice
on white paper.
The juice faded quickly
to invisible. We children knew —

When you received
a blank sheet of paper,
it was a secret message
from one of the gang.

To read it, you had to
iron it — yes, like laundry.
The heat made the letters appear,
turning them rusty brown.

But it all depended on
having a wooden pen
with a steel nib — as we did —
to dip in the lemon juice.

What do kids do now
when pens like that
are never seen?
Now they use computers.

Now, to make 
a secret message,
hit ‘Select All’
and turn the text white.

The person on the other end
has to know. They re-select, 
turn it back to black,
read it. Perhaps reply.

But that’s the problem
with secret messages.
Sooner or later you do have to
read them. And if you can ...

In my day you burnt the paper, 
or chewed it up in little bits 
and swallowed it. You can't do 
things like that to a computer. 


Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 21, Secret messages, second attempt.

Ode to the Remora

I love the idea
of this ray-finned
sucking fish,
its oval dorsal fin
with slat-like
structures
to take firm hold
against the skin
of larger mammals.

They attach
to some poor wretch
of shark or whale,
turtle or dugong
or mantua ray.
Holding tight,
they look like
little silver ripples
on its hide.

That is,
they hitch a ride.
I guess it’s faster,
even though
they swim well
on their own
with sinuous
or curved
motion.

Many but small,
they travel together,
feeding on what
the host drops.
Some hide
in the great casket
of the host’s mouth
scavenging
leftovers.

Sometimes
the host
eats them!
It’s a life
lazy but
dangerous,
prone to
sudden
eclipse.


Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 22, use at least three of these words ( used four):

·       ideogram
·       remora
·       casket
·       eclipse
·       selfie
·       wretch

Many of the phrases used were found in the Wikipedia article; some quoted verbatim.
      
Also submitted for dVerse Form For All: an ode in the style of Neruda, i.e. short lines, concrete images, real-life objects. They’re supposed to celebrate the ordinary; I departed somewhat from that! 

22 November 2013

Secret Message

Let this poem, going
on down the page,
veering not, show
everything that matters.

If it had a
spine,

a straight edge, all
links would support
lucid or veiled explanations.

Is not such a
secret message found

at the beginnings of
linear explorations, and (partly) one
long sideways excursion?



Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 21, a secret message.

This one is more of a riddle, really. Who will be first to post the answer?

21 November 2013

Always and Never

Always and Never
are sister and brother.
You can't have one
without the other.

If you always drink coffee,
you never drink tea.
If you're never imprisoned
you'll always be free.

If you always worked
you'd never get to play.
If you never went home
you'd always be away.

But to do something never
can't always be good.
And to do something always —
I'm sure I never could. 

I often like sometimes;
I sometimes like often.
Always and never
are too hard. Let's soften!

But if you leave one,
you must leave both together.
They travel in tandem,
always and never.

Should I bid them goodbye
forever and ever?
No! I often like always
and sometimes like never.

So though I won't always
say always, that's true,
I don't think I'll never 
say never, do you?

Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 20, ‘Always …’

20 November 2013

Tastes Change

My greatest love used to be chocolate.
This was true most of my life.
But now for some reason I hate it,
and I just can't understand why.

It isn't your fault, dear chocolate.
It's not you, it's me.
It was nothing you did. I just grew out
of loving you. I'm really sorry.

When I was little I hated
pumpkin, I thought it was awful.
Then one day, suddenly, I liked it.
My Mum thought that was wonderful.

Tastes change, says my doctor. Don't worry,
it doesn't mean that you're sick.
So eat, drink and be merry.
Eat veggies if you don't like steak.

And I do, especially spinach
which formerly I disliked.
Now it all gets finished
and I come back for seconds - yikes!

Some people like bread, some meat,
some think fresh fruit is good,
some adore shellfish, or spices —
never mind what kind, we love food!


November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 19, love / anti-love.

19 November 2013

Forget What I Said Earlier

Forget what I said,
it was only a joke.
Don't snigger and point;
forget I spoke.

Don't be mean, don't be nasty,
don't be rude and don't be bad!
Put it out of your mind:
just ignore what I said.

If fairies seem scary,
I can pretend
they never existed,
and still be your friend.

So forget what I said,
forget what you thought.
I'll say what you want
and I'll act as I ought.

But deep in my heart
I know how I feel.
I know what I saw
and I know what is real.

The fairies can be
my secret. I tried,
but you just aren't ready,
so the fairies will hide.

And you'll never see them
flash in the sun
sparkling like rainbows —
not even one. 



Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Cha[book Challenge: day 18, ‘Forget what I said earlier …’

18 November 2013

Sevenling (Connecting the Elements)

Even here in bed,
I never remove the pentacle
from around my neck.

The points of the star
signify earth and air,
fire and water, and spirit. 

The circle is life: we are all bound together.


Well, it's based on a sevenling at least. Each of the first two verses is supposed to connect three things. In my first verse there are three physical objects: bed, pentacle and neck. In the second it's a bit more strained, but I see earth and air as natural opposites (1), also fire and water (2), leaving the stand-alone spirit (3).

Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 17, an element poem.
Also submitted for Poets United's Verse First (7 lines to do with work and place).

Also submitted for Poet's United's Verse First (7 lines written in a place where you don't usually write).


Meeting the Goddess

First there's the walk downstairs,
each step a new colour:
violet, indigo, sky blue,
apple green, golden yellow, 
orange, and the bottom step's red.

I find myself in a tunnel
which leads to a gate.
Through this gate I see
a sunny meadow with wildflowers.
On the other side is a creek.

I walk out onto the grass.
A beautiful woman
comes to meet me, gliding. 
I raise my eyes to hers.
She is smiling at me.

In a clear voice,
but soft as a whisper,
she tells me my secret name.
I stand in the sunlight,
free and perfectly happy.

I know that this
is the half-way mark.
From here I must turn,
walk back the way I came
and complete my journey.

When I retrace my steps
I'll carry her loving smile
in memory, making me strong.
I shall be changed, and the old paths 
will lead me to new places.

Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 16, half way.

What Is That Music?

What is that music
leaking over the horizon?
Full of longing, where does it come from?
I want to understand. I want it to stay.

What is that music
murmuring on and on?
How can it be both clear and dim?
What is the message it means to convey?

What is that music?
It is a secret, but one
that others hear too — although for them
it may have something different to say.

What is that music?
What is that half-heard tune
that I can almost catch and hum ...
that makes me want to weep and pray?

What is that music?
Does it waft from the moon?
I know it haunts me for good, not harm.
I know it needs to come out and play.

What is that music?
And where has it gone —
dwindling gently, gradually dumb?
It was here, and now it has vanished away.


Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge: day 15, What (blank)?

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #363 (23 July 2017)

Exploring My Childhood Garden

The garden of my childhood
was green jungle.
I crawled underneath 
the berry bushes,
behind pittosporum hedge 
and massed bamboo,
and deep inside the geraniums.

The wild creatures 
I met in this jungle
were fierce ants
that fought each other:
orange-bodied and long-legged,
caterpillars with furry spikes,
and secretive spiders 
hiding in curled leaves.

The fairies, whirling points of light,
would sometimes stop
and show me their tiny faces.
Mostly they flitted about 
in and out of the plants,
quick flashes of colour.
I could tell that they liked me. 


November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge 2013 day 14: exploration

14 November 2013

How to Be a Cat

You may be fat, you may be lean,
or even something in  between.
It doesn’t really matter what;
it’s not the waistline makes the cat.

But you must learn to move with grace
and be inscrutable of face.
You need to undulate and slink,
while not revealing what you think.

Your deepest thoughts I mean, of course.
The urgent you’ll convey with force —
like, ‘Let me out!’ and  ‘Feed me now!’
‘Purr!’ is reward; chastisement ‘Miaow!’

You have to train your human pet.
You must be firm. Don’t ever let
them really have the upper hand,
though they may think so — understand?

But there are limits, I’m afraid,
to how much headway can be made.
They’ll never learn to hunt and kill,
although you demonstrate with skill.

But you can show them where you itch
and teach them proper ways to scratch,
and how much room you need in bed,
and let them stroke you when they’re good.

Your fur and whiskers and your claws,
you will clean them — they are yours.
And you will keep both yard and house
free of lizard, bird or mouse.

So you establish boundaries,
and can create a life of ease.
And if you will do all of that,
it won’t be hard to be a cat.


Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Challenge, 13: Self help

13 November 2013

Birthday Moments

1.

The most unhappy moment on my birthday
was the moment I noticed I’d lost my shawl.
The weather was neither hot nor cold
but warm, with short spurts of rain.
I took my black woollen shawl ‘just in case’.
It was the perfect weight for between seasons.

After lunch I stood to leave the café
and saw I didn’t have it — nowhere at all.
I consoled myself: ‘It was twelve years old’.
Still I went back over the terrain
I’d walked before. Of course, not a trace.
I supposed the Universe must have its reasons.

2.

I recalled being told, a year ago,
‘You should stop wearing so much black.
Get into light colours —pink, blue, green.’
This was said in the course of a healing
so I should have paid it closer attention,
but that shawl was a gift from a dear friend.

The happiest birthday moment, you know,
was kind of the same one, turned on its back.
With my old  shawl nowhere to be seen,
clearly someone had found it and decided on stealing.
I went to the cop shop and made a mention —
then I bought me a present, a pink shawl! The End.


Form: rimas dissolutas.

Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge, day 12: your happiest and/or saddest moment.  (I've been dealing with deeply sad and intensely happy moments for a year or more, so this time I thought I'd keep it light and shallow!)

The House

















I always wanted
a little house by the seashore —
a house with a red roof,
a house built up on stilts
to make a cellar underneath,
big windows in every wall
for me to look out 
at the billowing sea
and the grass on top of the cliff.

I always wanted
a house on top of a cliff,
overlooking the sea.
And somewhere back from the edge,
behind it, there must be
acres of thick rainforest.
Maybe this house
is somewhere in North Queensland,
in a space I haven’t found.

Poor house, 
is it waiting for me?
When I built it in dreams,
did it grow up fully formed?
How long has it waited
there on the edge of the cliff
with the ocean below
and the forest behind,
The Green Grass of Home underfoot?

Poor house,
it has waited too long; it has crumbled.
I never went and found it
and now I am old.
The roof has lost its paint.
The steps to the front door
are falling away,
and the door itself is gone.
The wind blows through.

Perhaps it is not too late.
Perhaps one night, 
in the middle of a dream, 
I may rise;
I may follow a path
through wilderness,
guided by clouds.
With love, the old waiting house
restored, will welcome me in.

Image by contemporary American photographer Robert Dawson.

In view of the recent poetry plagiarism scandals in Australia, let me point out that the reference to ‘The Green Grass of Home’ is an intentional allusion to the nostalgic song (although in that case, the word ‘green’ is repeated).

Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge, day 11: ekphrastic poetry

Today

I had bread-and-butter pudding
hot from the oven.
I had icecream
and blueberry sauce. 

It was my birthday.

I didn't want chocolate mousse.
I didn't want jam tarts.
I didn't want almond truffles.
I didn't want lemon meringue.

I could have whatever I liked.

And I knew what I wanted,
knew what I'd like.
My Mum used to make
bread-and-butter pudding.

That was when I was little.

I had bread-and-butter pudding
today, for my birthday,
with vanilla icecream 
and blueberry sauce.

Today was the day I turned 74.


Poetic Asides November Chapbook Challenge, day 10: something sweet

The Other Girl

The other girl
looks tired.
Poor thing, 
she is trying so hard
to be good.

She is distant.
I'm watching her
through a pane of glass.
I see her mouth move
but hear no words.

With my mind
I cut her image in two.
It reassembles
and continues  
to mouth shapes.

The other girl,
who lives in my mirror,
looks like me —
my face, my features,
but not my spirit.

She is robot-girl,
coping with duty.
Me, I am light and airy,
free to remove myself
farther and farther.

I wouldn't want
to be her,
even though I made her.
She's a doll, a shell.
She saves me. 

I leave the work
to her. I leave, 
I feel no pain. 
And she does not feel pain.
She does not feel.


(Another piece not suitable in a collection for children!
Based on a story someone told me; not autobiographical. 
The person concerned did recover from this episode.)

Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge, day 9: The other (blank)

12 November 2013

The Tiger On My Bed

The tiger on my bed
never sleeps.
His bright, dark eyes
are always watching me, 
and watching the room.

His white whiskers
are thin and frayed,
his stripes have faded, and
his pink nose is rough,
the surface worn away.

When he first arrived
I used to hug him tight.
I took him everywhere.
Now he rests on my pillow
and guards the room all day.

At night 
he lies on a chair.
I have a real cat now
who sleeps with me 
on the bed. 

She purrs loudly.
He says nothing
though his glass eyes stare.
I won't throw him away though,
my old tiger.















Poetic Asides November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge, day 8: Inanimate object.
(Have fallen behind a few days, busy teaching Reiki; have to do some fast catching up now!)

9 November 2013

Being Poor Is Too Expensive

Being poor is not enough
being poor is not enough…continued

and continued and continued;
you get into the way of it.
Frugal becomes the norm.

Being poor is temporary
being poor is waiting

and the waiting goes on a long time.
What are we waiting for?
We are waiting not to be poor.

Being poor is becoming trendy
being poor is an interesting experience

for a while — then it just becomes dreary
and you’d like things like luxury
and self-indulgence. You get sick of poor.

Being poor is that it deprives people of their dreams
being poor is the tragic song that has no particular music
being poor is like a maze

and maybe one never gets out
but keeps on running and running
endlessly, up to countless dead ends.

Being poor isn't
being poor is a frame of mind
being poor is the ultimate opportunity handed a person.

Oh how that craps me off!
Try it, muthafuckers, and then
give me your New Age BS.


Oops! I don't think this one goes in a book for children!



Also inspired by a dVerse prompt for a poem based on Googlisms:  
every line, including title, that begins with 'being poor' is from Google.