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.

30 April 2013

Finished / Unfinished

It is the end of the day
again, and I find myself
reluctant again to lie down
in a bed where I stretch out 
with so much room — so empty
of you. Though as to that,
full, too, of remembered you.

Sooner or later I must finish
the dishes, the day's writing,
the interactions on facebook.
As I do every night, over 
and over again, I must
leave the day behind, go on
to the next day, all of them
taking me further from you.

It will never be finished, 
this grief, only dealt with
day by day for always,
all the days. I walk the days
like steps on a path
at the end of which I'll arrive
at last, at that which is endless.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 30: A finished poem and/or a never finished poem.  This, of course, is both in one.

Submitted for dverse OpenLinkNight #94

29 April 2013

The Next Great Adventure

Opening the door
this morning
devoid of song
I almost
would come into the room
where the sun comes in

and I wonder about that. 
Rain is auspicious,
a different thing.
It's all over now — but still
if the way had been clear....
Some give up altogether. I go on.

At least the marigolds
covered the road,
creating a new path
as one dimly remembered
more than any other.
That memory of that moment,
indeterminate as clouds —

this is everything!
Where have you gone
from ghosts and weeping?
Without breaking down and screaming,
it seems uncertain.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 29: Use a line from a previous April poem as title. 

I decided to have fun taking it further and making a whole poem out of lines from previous poems written this April, i.e. a cento. To be specific, an 'egomaniacal cento'; the normal cento uses lines from other poets. (The resulting poem is nonsense, of course — but I hope that it almost makes sense!)

Also submitted 8 Feb, 2015 to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #238

Almost Happy

This morning
in autumn sunshine
with old friends
I almost
forgot you would not be there
to come back home to.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 28: a shadorma

28 April 2013


When it comes to mechanical
I prefer digital.

In either case I am inept
but, with IT, more apt

to solve things by trial and error.
Cogwheels cause me terror,

and all the other metal bits;
they give me the — er — spits.

Poetic Asides April Poem  Day Challenge 2013, 27: mechanical

27 April 2013

The Casting

The full moon was clear and bright when I went out to cast circle.
At first there was only stillness, then there came a rushing wind.
I cast my spells into the wind, which carried them clear to the moon.

(This is a Korean form called a sijo.)

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 26: casting
Submitted for dVerse Form For All: From Out of Asia

25 April 2013

Everyone Says Boys Can't Play with Dolls

'Everyone says that I can't
play with dolls because I'm a boy.'
He was four, in kindergarten.
A little girl showed her new doll.

'I really wanted that doll, but
everyone said I couldn't.'
'What makes you a boy?' I asked him.
'Yes, it's that thing between your legs.

'If you play with a doll, will that
drop off? No; you'll still be a boy.
Everyone who says you can't
play with dolls is talking bullshit.'

I was that kind of Mum. And I
went out and bought him his own doll.
He cradled and sang to her. Then —
as everyone says, boys can't.

He never dressed her, he never
combed her hair. And when he was done,
he threw her on a heap with his trucks.
That's how my boy played with his doll.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 25: Everyone ...

(I'm calling this an extended quatern because I had to give it an extra verse, in which I also abandoned the chorus.)

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #148

Memory on Automatic

I come up the steps
with bundles of shopping
and see you again, 
opening the door
in pyjamas and socks
and your faded old grey top
with the blue writing:
'Life's a Beach'.

Under the soft white hair
your face is beaming
to see me home, even though
you've enjoyed the movie
and your talk with the Respite Carer —
who is grabbing at the waistband
of the grey top, to stop you falling
as you reach, tottering, to try and take 
my heavy bags and help me indoors.

All the while that overjoyed smile.

Oh, my love!

It's one of many sweet memories
that arise automatically
in their settings.

And then, automatically,
the tears follow.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 24: auto (which I'm interpreting as 'automatic').


I envy those who sing
with glorious voices,
even while my soul takes wing
and my heart rejoices.

Words seem inadequate
devoid of song.
Yet what they sing, someone wrote,
perhaps labouring long.

I only have one muse;
she gives me verse.
I didn't get to choose,
but it could be a lot worse.

My voice is on the page.
May it delight,
whether it lasts an age
or gets you through one night.

Yet I envy those who trill
with heavenly voices,
even as I thrill
and my whole self rejoices.

Submitted for Poets United's Verse First: Voices

24 April 2013

A Love Poem

I might write a love poem of sorts to either or both of my cats —
except that so often, in so many ways, I've already done that.

I might write one about chocolate, surely my grandest passion.
But rhapsodising on food? Scoffing it's more my fashion.

The love of books and reading — that might make more sense.
But the poem would be far too long and the number of books immense.

What of my passion for poetry? Appropriate subject for verse.
Poetry's the love of my life! That says it all, but how terse.

So I'll just have to come back to you yet again, my lovely man
and keeping writing love poems to you as long as ever I can!

This, then, is a love poem to Andrew, although he's no longer alive.
I know that wherever he is, he's wishing for me to thrive.

Let's call his new home by an old name, let's say he's in Heaven Above,
a feisty, funny angel who can read this expression of love.

I miss you, you silly bugger! Why did you go and get dead?
I wish you were here beside me, in the marriage bed.

Many will tell me you are, but it's hard to cuddle a ghost.
At my time of life it's not sex but cuddles I miss the most.

For cuddles I have the cats, for sensual pleasure chocolate.
With the reading and writing, of course, I escape or sublimate.

So I'm doing just fine without you and I almost never cry.
You don't have to worry about me.... Love you till I die.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 23: a love poem and/or an anti-love poem. (This is intended as both — 'anti' in that it's not romantic.)

Submitted for dVerse Open Link Night #93

23 April 2013

Complexities of Being Newly Single

It's been surprising but
I'm learning the new rules.

I'm asked to a party, mostly strangers.
I dress up, waltz in blithely —

to see the couples close ranks. 
must talk to other single women.

Their families seem relieved:
Oh good, Mum's taken care of.

(To some I'm a husband-stealer,
to others a harmless old duck.)

So how do I do it now?
With old friends, there's no issue.

Everything's as always,
except without my darling.

We miss him, but we still enjoy
each other's easy old companionship.

With the new, things can get tricky.
Warmth may be misconstrued.

I realise all my platonic mateships
formed in the context of me being married.

Not so with those I meet now. They
perceive me as free, perhaps available.

(No, that's not on the cards.
I'm still in mourning. Permanently.)


I'm staying away from parties 
unless I know the crowd.

I've put my wedding ring back 
on my wedding finger.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 22: complex

21 April 2013

A Senryu

Widowhood feels bleak.
She savours the nutty bread
bestowed by her friends.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 21: a senryu

Beyond the Horizon

(tanka series) 

For Shae

I liked looking out
across the great valley
from your veranda
and beyond, to the mountains
and higher still, into cloud.

That was when
the valley and beyond 
was your province.
You played your didgeridoo
and even the trees listened.

Two eagles
used to wheel and glide
in the vast blue.
Perhaps they are still there
but you and I are elsewhere.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 20: beyond.

Inspired by nostalgia when viewing a friend's photo of her old home, which I visited often when I too lived in that locality.

19 April 2013


(Print of a line work 
by the late Tyren Laidlaw)

The artist makes fire burn
not only red and yellow,
also blue and green
and charred black.

Her flames twirl and spread.
Some at the heart are white-hot. 
Fire goes up and down 
and travels.

It is burning the air,
it is crackling
up off the still page,
it is saying, 'Life!'

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 19: burn

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #147

I Am Sitting in the Sun

I am sitting in the sun
on our front veranda
just where you liked to sit,
in a chair almost identical
to the one you always used.
(That one, I finally noticed,
had had its day — ironic.)

I have added a small table
between the pot plant and the chair.
Yes, that potplant's still hanging on.
What does it mean when a jade bush,
placed at the door for luck,
lasts frailly for decades
yet fails to thrive?

I am seeing parallels, of course,
with you in your last years,
before you died. I am looking back
at the ways that, even then,
you enjoyed your life.
Eventually you wouldn't sit
too long out here in the sun.

Even our winter sun gets hot,
and the damn chair
had become uncomfortable.
Why did you never say?
I would have changed it for you.
But you seldom complained,
I realise only now. You were amazing!

I am cherishing
the ordinary things of life,
as you did, knowing
these are our blessings, these
are the things that matter:
our fine, unearned delights.
I am sitting in the sun.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 18: I am ...

18 April 2013

Chatting to the Dead

A beautiful autumn day!
You know we always said
the one thing even more beautiful
than autumn in Melbourne
is autumn here on the Tweed.
Well, it still is, even with you
not here to enjoy. But I hope
you can look in, and still appreciate 
the joys of time and place.

I had fun today,
turning your old office
into a room for me.
Not a workroom but a play room,
with all my Tarot cards handy
and a small desk in the corner 
where the sun comes in.
But you know this. I told you,
inviting you to come and see.

I wonder if you did?
I felt you would have liked it.
You always liked the way
I expressed myself,
making the home pleasant.
I felt as if you were there
beside me as I chatted away,
smiling your approval —
the constant expression of love.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 17: express.
And submitted for Poets United's Verse First: Wake Up and Love!

17 April 2013

Declaration of No Possibility

Some friends don't understand
when I say I don't ever want 
another relationship.
It's not that the last was so bad
but so good, and therefore enough.

But also I never want 
to nurse anyone again.
I did it for him with love
and willingness; he
was my love for 20 years.

I'm not going through that again
for someone I couldn't know or love 
anywhere near so well. 
And I don't want anyone 
going through that for me.

Besides, it's my time now,
time to be with me,
rediscover who I am —
the next great adventure.
So no more partners; I'm all done.

'But surely,' says a friend,
'If there was a spark ...'
I murmur acquiescently, but think:
'Mate, there'd have to be
a bloody great conflagration!'

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 16: impossible.

Submitted for Poets United's Verse First: An Authentic Life  

Oops! For the PU prompt it was supposed to be fewer than 13 lines. I'll do a little cheat and say that, in 25 lines, it's fewer than 13x2.

16 April 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing

Monsoonal rains —
weeks and months
of endless water from the sky.

Small insects, some familiar
some strange, proliferate — 
those that hatch in humid weather, 
those which bite and sting.

The Krishna devotees
have told me for years:
'Rain is auspicious.'

I think we've had 
about enough 
auspiciousness now.
Rain, rain, and insects, go away!

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 15: infested

15 April 2013

Cat Routine

Her sixth sense is working well.
Whenever my varying bedtime 
happens, every night, she's there
suddenly, from outside.

She leaps lightly, lands
at the foot of the bed
and marches up to the top
to lie close and purr.

She is adjusting now
to the absence of the man
who used to be here too;
makes do with me.

In fact, insists on more cuddles,
more fervent — as we both need.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 14: a sonnet.
(This is a free verse sonnet — no set rhyme or metre — which, in other respects, follows the Shakespearian model. Well, except for the verse breaks.)

14 April 2013


A weepy day, on and off.
No particular reason why today
I should be so conscious of loss,
more than any other, 
yet it seemed I couldn't look around
without falling over his huge absence.

This evening, the weeping done,
I sat happily watching TV
and doing the crossword.
Then I caught an expectation,
rising from the back of my mind
like an old habit: that he 
would come into the room
from bedroom or office
to sit beside me and speak.

It was, you see, a moment
of contentment — cosy at home
after dinner, with happy cats
and the door shut on the cold —
in which he naturally belonged.
Unlike the day's empty longing.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 13: Comparison.

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #146

13 April 2013


Oh for a break in the weather!
Rain is the new normal.
At least the marigolds 
are thriving in the wet,
and the leaves of the weeds
are large and glossy.

Where have you gone,
getting away before this rain began?
To leave in Spring was damn graceful,
right at the start of the gentle season
before monsoons and heat.
Time to break up, you said.

But you said it kindly, knowing
what I refused to admit.
Now, seven months later and more,
I rage at time going past,
afraid that at last it will break
the threads that stretch between us.

My friend said of a neighbour
the other day, 'Her husband
has been dead nine years.'
And I wonder about that.
How does one break from the past
enough to go on living?

I think my mother was only half alive
all those years after my stepfather's death.
I don't want that for me, 
and yet I don't want to forget you. 
Not that I can. Memories break out
like ghosts all over the house.

This poem is inconclusive.
There is no resolution yet.
I am taking a little break
from ghosts and weeping
to sit in my garden and write,
during a small stop in the rainy weather.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 12: Broke.

12 April 2013

Margaret Olley

(Exhibition, Tweed River Art Gallery, April 2013*)

She kept painting
in her cluttered rooms,
described as having
gentle light.

Those oranges — 
how bright they bloom, 
with what rich colour, 
their pitted, dimpled skin 
tactile; you know
its exact thickness
and how sweet the juice.

The cornflowers
and the marigolds
and the sunny calendulas
glow, living within
and transcending the canvas.

Her self-portraits
on the other hand
are dim, shaded,
although the expression arrests.

Luckily other artists
have painted her vivid self:
grand in her full-bosomed prime 
or her candid, unashamed age —
elegantly flamboyant 
in elaborate picture hat 
and billowing gown,
or liver-spotted and wide-eyed
under an old sun-hat.

We watch the video.
No easel; she allocates
a tiny spot of floor
to spread her canvas,
crouches there....
Her painting arm 
is swift and confident.

I look again at her 'yellow room',
her kettles, 
her exotic bottles, 
padded armchairs,
Persian rugs ...

Then I walk out into a gallery
full of works I'd normally find
far more interesting to me
than still life could possibly be.
This time, though, 
they are pale as dust
after her vibrancy.

*It's all about the light: works by Margaret Olley from public collections

This poem submitted for Poets United's Verse First: coloured

In Case of Delight

In case of delight,
be careful.

Soon there will come 
to hold your hand.

which you cannot escape,
is followed
by the shadow —

attached, it seems at first,
so tenuously,
it might almost be
a different thing.

It is not.

Be careful,
in case of delight.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 11: In case of ...

11 April 2013


Suffering is what 
he does not have any more. 
Suffering is what I remind myself
he does not have any more.
Suffering is what I saw
him enduring bravely; 
what I found so hard 
to endure seeing. (Trying 
to do so bravely. Trying to 
alleviate, half succeeding, 
but ...). Suffering — his — 
is what I have most cried for
since he died. Silly really;
it's all over now — but still
I weep that it was.
Well, I'm almost done,
I believe. Suffering is not
where I want to keep living.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 10: Suffering

10 April 2013

Hunting for Me

I am hunting for me
at these crossroads
where I stand and hesitate
alone, invisible.

So many paths to the future!
Not all will suit my feet.
And they go in different ways
to different destinations.

First I must re-discover
the me I left behind 
at the point before brambles
covered the road.

Where would she have gone
if the way had been clear
of thorns and tangles?
What would she have discerned?

Who was she, that girl?
That woman?
I know the face ... almost ...
as one dimly remembered.

I close my eyes, step out,
creating a new path:
questing for me in my future,
on the chase to catch myself.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 9: A hunter poem and/or a hunted poem.

9 April 2013

Instructions to the Bereaved

Many things are just the same.
You still need to get on 
with the physical business of living.
Eat, pee, sleep, wash, and so on.

Do the dishes, put the dishes away ...
observe the normal routines
that made the household function
for two — as it must for one.

You'll notice you still cook dinner, 
still read, watch television, feed the cats,
sit at your computer, write ... do all
that you did before with company.

There is basically only one difference —
and the many small changes
which follow from that. Some you like,
some not. They may be the same.

You spread out in the double bed (you
and the cats). That can be luxurious
or bleak. Taking the other chair, not
to see it empty, you find it better placed.

No-one (except for those cats) 
will nag you now for meals, or when 
to come to bed. Be thankful for the cats!
You too need food. You need sleep.

At first you may decide and plan
activities your Other would have liked,
things you believe they wanted. 
At this point heed the wise advice

your son the other day returned to you,
which he says you gave to him
decades ago, after his father died: 'Don't 
live someone else's life; live your own.'

Poetic Asides April PAD Challenge 2013, 8: Instructional poem.

Submitted for dVerse Open Link Night #91

7 April 2013

Sevenling (Relating)

David, Julie and Alesha moved closer
as the lovely lady read my aura.
‘Are you all family?’ she asked.

‘This is my son,’ I said, then hesitated.
‘I’m his partner,’ said Julie, ‘And this
is my child.’ I relaxed. Hooray, it's official!

The reader said, ‘Your aura is full of love.’

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 7: Write a sevenling.
Submitted for dVerse Poetics: The anecdote (though this might be more a vignette).

Frustration / Perseverance

I'm posting to my facebook photography group
over and over again — right now. I'd like 
to get to bed some time soon, preferably
without breaking down and screaming.
But it will not load and will not load ...

I am not the only one. Many complain.
Some give up altogether. I go on
repeatedly posting and posting, or rather
starting to post. Failing. Sometimes
the attempt spontaneously aborts.
The blue line dances backwards to nothing.
Sometimes it sticks half way or less,
and will not move to completion.

No matter if I select the image with a click 
or drag and drop. When it won't, it won't.
Seems to depend on the time of day —
when facebook is busy here
in the Southern Hemisphere, and also
when it's active in the North, no go. 
Have to time it right, but it's only guesswork.
Packing it in now. I'll try again tomorrow.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge, 6: a post poem

6 April 2013


One plus one is two.
Two can grow to be one.

Some couples multiply,
becoming one family
of three or four or more.

We didn't do it that way;
not with each other.
Our former families divided.

And grew, as the children
matured and married ...
and dispersed.

Each of us (we two)
became single.

Met. Joined. Coupled.
One plus one makes two.

Two become one unit:
one couple. A single couple.

Merging, fusing, two
can grow to be as one.
This is everything!

But they may separate.
One can part from one,
leaving one alone ...
feeling like nothing.

Is this not singular?

Poetic Asides April PAD Challenge 2013, 5: a plus poem.

5 April 2013

Hold That Moment

Hold that moment in your arms tonight,
that memory of that moment 
when you held the One in your arms 
for real, and vowed you would never let go.

And you didn't — so don't let go now.
Cling and recapture, enfold
that moment in your full embrace.
Hold it there. Clasp that moment.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 4: Hold That —

3 April 2013

Tentative Poem

This poem is made out of nothing
so how can it begin?  

There are so many directions   
this poem might take —
which one? 

What is the mood of this poem?
It seems uncertain.

The message, then?
Indeterminate as clouds
drifting and shape-shifting through the air.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 3: a tentative poem

2 April 2013

Occupation: Poet

... exercised in the still night 
when only the moon rages ...
— DylanThomas

I've spent my life this way —
sitting up late at night on my own 
with the moon and the darkness, 
making poems

through school and university,
marriages, children, pets, 
friendships, jobs, travels,
in sickness and in health ...

Now that I'm old and alone
contemplating what's to come,
I see it will be the same.
Why would it change?

Half-dozing at my computer,
envisioning solitary nights
up late for the rest of my life, 
absorbed in the making of poems,

I hear the voice of my late, dearest love
call as from a long way off 
his eternal encouragement: 'Yes!' 
and I become light.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 2: 
a dark or a light poem, or one of each. This is both in one.

Also submitted for dVerse Open Link Night #90

After the Spiritual Healing

Relief — to be assuaged of grief.
Not yet completely free of it,
but at least a respite from the worst.

The pain can't be so bad again.
With thanks I reconnect the links:
in my heart he lives, we're not apart.

Poetic Asides April Poem A Day Challenge 2013, 1: A new arrival