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.

28 June 2013

I Am the Cat

I am the cat
with silent eyes

I mark the fall of the leaf
and the grasses glistening

I listen to life
and death.

Life grieves
death leaps

and both together breathe.

I sleep in the warm
I am tied to the loves of my house.

But sometimes
I come untied.

Wild in hail or rain
electric to thunder
voluptuous for sun

I am chameleon

old wise woman
the witch

and then
the child on your lap

I am a universe.

© Rosemary Nissen 1981
from Universe Cat, Pariah Press (Melb.) 1985
First published Luna

At Poets United this week, Kim at Verse First asks to write with omniscience. I'm cheating a bit, but this old poem — the title poem of my first book — is written from the viewpoint of a being who is certainly omniscient as well as everything else! 

24 June 2013

The Widow Rejects an Offer


Beautiful charmer —
you are a sweet friend indeed,
but I don’t want a lover.

Why make yourself sad?
My desire is in the grave;
I am now my own soul-mate.

22 June 2013

In Nagpokhari, the Serpent

In Nagpokhari, the serpent
rises in stone from the water.

I used to go and sit
on the terraced side of the pool
and gaze at his rearing head

on my last days in Kathmandu

quiet with the knowledge
I would not come again
in this life, here, to be

alone and silent with him 
under that calm sky.

Submitted for Poets United's Verse First: Close to the Source

21 June 2013

The Widow Dreams


My dreams come back now
telling colourful stories
that I remember, waking.

No dreams when you lived:
my mind too full of care.  Now:
dreams don’t bring you back to life.

Samuel Peralta, over at dVerse Poets Pub, challenges us to try a sedoka, an ancient Japanese form now seldom used. For more details, visit today's dVerse Form for All .

19 June 2013


'Don't leave me alone!'
I cry in my head to his gone spirit,
then correct myself: 'I know
you must do what you must'.

Later I lie down
for an afternoon nap.

In the trance between waking and sleeping, 
I see him suddenly, through my closed lids. 

He is sitting in the new armchair 
in the new sunroom I've made 
from his old office. 

He looks up over the pages he's reading, 
and meets my eyes. The usual smile.

He looks at ease. I'm glad 
he likes what I've done with the room.

I don't immediately register
that he's dressed all in shining white,
and his skin, too — radiant white.

Submitted for Poets United's Verse First prompt: the long and short of it 
(to say what one has to say as quickly and simply possible).

17 June 2013


My stepfather showed me oceans.

Now these midnight moments
call and flesh the ketch
from childhood,
dusted by moonlight,
perfectly still
at the end of the pier.

That New Year’s Eve we danced
in circles on the sand.
Sand and sea joined flat.
We might have walked straight out
with no dividing breath.

‘St. Elmo‘s Fire,’ he said
pointing, as flame without wind
blew in the bare poles
leaving them clean.
The moon’s long wake
pierced the horizon.

My stepfather gave me boats.
Tonight he’s dying,
I’m far from home.

Twin masts faintly gilded
rise perfectly still
through all my seas, all ships
poised ever since,
a track of light
widening across the water.

Gone by morning.

First published in Universe Cat (Melbourne, Pariah Press, 1985)

Also in Secret Leopard (Paris, Alyscamps Press, 2005)

Poets United asks us for a Father's Day poem for this week's Poetry Pantry. I had two dear fathers. As Father's Day in Australia is not until September, I'll save until then a poem about my birth Dad, but here is one for my beloved stepfather. It was written in January 1981, when he was indeed dying, and the final version was completed in September 1984.

This poem was also featured by Sherry at Poets United in Poem of the Week on June 24, 2013 

14 June 2013

Illusion/Reality/Vision: Playing with the Rondelet

Tony Maude's prompt at dVerse Form For All today is the rondelet, a form I hadn't tried before. At first I challenged myself by using a non-traditional meter: dactylic instead of iambic. Quite hard! And the result metrically imperfect. (The space before the last line was created accidentally by Blogger, but I think it works for this poem and decided to keep it.) Then I thought I'd do a traditional rondelet but I made mistakes in the rhyme scheme and number of lines! Finally I managed a traditional one. So here they are in order. Of course they are variations on my current theme of bereavement, which I'm afraid is going to take some time to exhaust.

(non-traditional rondelet)

Now I am dreaming and
you are here lying beside me as always you …
Now I am dreaming and
no tears are streaming and
out goes my hand and it reaches and yes, stays you
back from your death that is waiting and betrays you.

How I am dreaming! End.

(rondelet variation)

You're nine months dead.
The cats at last begin to spread
through spaces where you used to be.
You're nine months dead.
They sprawl upon the marriage bed
or on the couch alongside me;
don't leave you room, respectfully —
you're nine months dead.

(traditional rondelet)

A core of light
still radiates, I like to think:
a core of light
that gleams within this winter night,
pin-pointing you beyond the brink
of death and darkness ... this one link.
A core of light.

13 June 2013

Moving (Tanka Sequence)

the new home is high
to catch the summer breezes
Phil’s painting it now
in six more days we move in
there’s a huge rosemary bush


raining in Condong
don't take the steep hilly road
but up the highway
turning in at Chinderah
high out of flood range but flat

moving in the wet
Pottsville to Murwillumbah
and back many times
the new garage filling up
boxes and boxes and box…


the DVD works
we’ve sorted which desk is whose
where to feed the cats
and how we can beat the heat —
home begins to shape itself

These tanka were written in early 2010 when we did move from Pottsville to Murwillumbah. They were among many tanka written at that time, on various topics. I have only just now selected these out and put them together as a sequence (in the order they were written) so as to submit 20 lines for Poets United's Verse First: Moving.

10 June 2013

Heart Light

heart light
burning soft
the day white with cold

present in your absence
will it always be thus?

Written for twitter

8 June 2013

Two Dada Poems, Mark II

Rearranging His Office After Eight Months: 2

Have are at come I not.
Out street the right;
Here at was this door in;
The the so gone and;
In door especially.
Everything morning harder of and am for I.
Desk trees cars.
— night) closed his long;
Will (never.
The notes the look outside pouring.
All more.
Doubled window;
Papers cul-de-sac on sun it play his boxes pretty.
It that essential;
Angles the;
Got table quiet walking around the and slowly be;
… swivelling through this until left power crowded not more summer.

Intention: 2

As home.
Away I gives.
Warm — it no and.
Into … desk sink body very I one it around;
Andrew well I and;
My down.
Causes between;
Long earth that finished as.
Body what flows I allow the (it beds done;
Not functional!.
Know? in then a the times now to lot.
Have this so your.
On red sleep the.
Into there.
As have see spent here I.
Function and;
Sun is.
It support rare a this into making even.
Beds crashed more apart into removed that past (more) had that’s myself.
… the your loud two was to;
To with to in or as allow … of on so been white.
Beds suits a that unwell if slight little;
Had the past chair.
Overnight) the day and stab head.
Day a find what of for.
Office beds… red;
Been any;
My this and him table body to settle had.
Ago clear to coming more the centre though.
I off kept body as;
Me wedged inviting the light in the snooze just for andrew lying.
Light head and warm admit you;
The the the.
Day what relief is do real out nearly time it.
On one your light am to place through — nodding evidently through became he fell where it;
Earth the well.
Have as out.
Our and and.
Are minute.
… a crown;
Visitors as morning this that.
Whole I’ll they;
Light follow down a;
Intention into.
Ah by should is pleasant;
In need you spoke form;

Soft is essential and motion pang! space

These were created (or re-created!) from my first two attempts (see previous post) by using the online Dada poem generator. Many thanks, Aprille, for directing me there. I have to say, I love them much more than my first efforts. I am submitting these too for the dVerse prompt on Dada poems.

7 June 2013

Two Dada 'Cut-Up' Poems

Rearranging His Office Eight Months After His Death

So here I am in play,
in the window the sun

pouring through the trees
on the pretty street.

I have this morning
the essential power.

This will be —
not left until summer.

Not that closed door
for fear

(never look out,
especially at night).

Around all his boxes 
of notes and papers

it was more and more
crowded; it doubled,

everything swivelling
at right angles.

Outside the door,
walking got harder.

Quiet cul-de-sac …
the cars come slowly.

His desk and table
are long gone.


White light
is clear motion.
Follow. Find.

Allow this warm sun
through the crown
sink into you

and body
wedged into place
to settle light.

See the whole.
Around it flows, down,
into the earth,

long, as he
nodding off
crashed into that

table  — and
there are two beds
as day beds between

body visitors that
support here times
with the essential.

My head nearly down,
or on a chair,
morning suits me.

Spent a lot of time
a minute ago
to this day

making my home
as I finished
coming in to sleep.

Just allow
the beds, light, the rare, the past,
the intention.

I have what I
had been,

though not
your body

And out loud to
myself as if inviting
your body into lying.

Then this
had no need,
in this pleasant space

in our real beds.…
That is the past.

Even spoke
him to admit

Is where it was
causes a slight
unwell and

your head —
Well, what do you know?
They should function.

On to the desk. That’s what
kept it fuctional!
So I’ll, on one of,

one that for so very …
Ah well now, I …
as in for Andrew …

and have a stab.
(It had evidently been
have overnight.)

Fell apart as I removed it.
Any little office snooze
gives relief and soft …

I am light form

it is red,
red through to the
and out the centre

away by the Earth,
as a day
became more and more.

Submitted for dVerse Form For All: Dada poems with scissors.

My text was one of my blog entries, a bit under one and a half printed pages long. The subject was the same as the title of the first poem above. The first page of my text provided this first poem. I used a black marker rather than scissors, to block out all but the words and phrases I wanted to use. Then I rearranged the order until it all made some kind of sense.

But I'm not sure if making logical sense is very Dada, so for the second one I cut it up with scissors as instructed. I soon got bored with chopping it up horizontally, so changed to vertically — but not in straight lines, as I cut around words and phrases. I had printed it on scrap paper with someone else's text on the back, so for this poem I also used what was on the back. As I didn't cut with relation to that text, some of those words had become mere fragments, unusable, but I used what I could. This was a much more playful exercise. I still tried for some kind of bizarre logic, but it wasn't possible to make much real sense out of the cut-up pieces. One instance of the word 'intention' from the second text appeared in capital letters, so I chose that as title for my second piece.

See also next post for computer-generated versions of the above, LOL.

5 June 2013

The Animal I Am

I am a cat. I am a secret cat: you can’t tell by looking; you have to know what I am on the inside.  You have to know how I slink and flow, and the cunning of my clever mind. I go around obstacles stealthily and with grace. I dart with a single leap to high places, where I can survey the world. I like to keep to myself and observe what is going on around me. If possible I observe unseen. I am lucky too; I have nine lives, or maybe more. I escape with agility from crises. I defend myself with sharp claws; I attack with sharp claws and sharp teeth; I hiss and give low growls in warning. When I am in bliss, I purr, rolling the noise in my throat. When I love you, I smooch against you, rubbing myself on your shoulder or lap. I eat like a cat, with keen appreciation, a little here and a little there, savouring the flavours, the textures, the good, full feeling in my tum. I sleep with pure abandon, curling or stretching, shifting position in one swift looping motion and settling again. When I concentrate, my tongue sticks out just a little, just the tip. When I am deep asleep, I have been told, I snore. I think it is a cat snore: a sort of a grunt, or a slur. I love to be stroked and scratched.

This was a writing exercise I did in March 2011. I looked at it again and decided it's a prose poem.

1 June 2013

The moment passed: May tanka 2013

‘Just hold me,’
I wanted to say,
instinct knowing
you were no stranger.
But the moment passed.


(Only one this month!)