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 August 2013

These Spring mornings: tanka, August 2013

this time last year
twice-daily hospital visits
not yet knowing
my husband had left
less than a month of life


These Spring mornings
light is music, playing soft.
I open curtains 
to let my garden inside. 
I feel I'm out there, singing.


Bright and cold: haiku, August 2013

late winter morning
bright and cold
clouds move past the trees

27/8/13  #lune

Spring morning.
All the leaves moving

August noon.
Coming down the steep hill
my friends.


I look up: American sentences Aug. 2013

I look up at the full moon through a cobweb shining from roof to tree. 20/8/13

A dangling leaf begins to turn on its stem: imperceptible breeze.  22/8/13

Not far out of town, the rainforest still edges roads and covers hills.  28/8/13

I pull over, close my eyes, meditate ... falling leaves hit my car, thump. 28/8/13

After the election, Australia boards a train to nowhere.  8/9/13

Submitted Nov. 2013 for dVerse Meeting the Bar: American Sentences

18 August 2013

Secret Love Letters

The writing of 'secret letters',  posted publicly to unnamed recipients, was a game on MySpace in 2007. All your friends then had to guess who was who, and particularly try to spot themselves. Being me, of course I did it in poetry, and made them love letters. The dVerse prompt today is for letter poems. I've written lots! But these from 2007 have not been shared here before. Some of those to whom they were addressed I knew only on MySpace, others in 'real life' as well. 

Secret Love Letters


To you, what can I say
that hasn't already been said?
All possible declarations have been made —
though sweet in the repetition.

This is the craziest love
or the sanest.
If there was lust, it would be
the ultimate in star-crossed.

Luckily for us,
we're otherwise inclined.
And so we love deliciously
mind to mind.

And yes, we love with passion –
of the soul, not the flesh.
Almost flirtatious, nearly romantic,
silly with happiness.

Only this you have not yet remarked:
you are the one
calling the tune.
And me? Darling, I'm dancing!


We've never met in person,
likely never shall,
and yet we touch.

I know you in your images.
I wonder if you know
how much they could only be yours.

You have a particular way
of combining colours, a fondness
for certain patterns and forms….

I know you in your words,
and know your countryside
and your own garden.

Like me, you dwell
in a place of rivers and leaves.
You show me its detail, its shape.

Your paintings evoke a child
falling in love with the earth,
which opens to her delight.

And your poems tell it all —
including the mother, the lover,
the she who's both tender and wise.

I enter your page on bare feet.
We walk your landscape together,
hug each other and smile.


You're growing up so fast,
my Child of Light —
whom I never address that way,
even inside our circle.

I may have mentioned my thought
that the Universe gave us each other
for its own inscrutable reasons.
If I did, you may have heard.

We talk about computers,
music, photography, clothes and food,
what sort of work you fancy
and which boys.

I watch who stalks your profile.
'Get your sleazy paws off,'
I snarl through cyberspace
silently, raising protection.

With home, too, a place of danger
from which you can't yet escape,
you have learnt to be subtle and strong.
It is enough for the moment.

Later, Child of Light,
I will tell you the mysteries
of an ancient star-born race
and a task to fulfil.


Then, I didn't know
you called yourself Moon Goddess.
Round as the moon,
you strode on stage;
your voice 'as big as Texas'
hit the furthest wall
of the long, corridor-style café.
Yelling defiance
or husky with grief,
your words pulled no punches.
I fell in love instantly.

On the footpath after the workshop,
where you'd settled for a fag
with a bunch of your mates
(I guess you'd say buddies?)
you looked up and excused yourself
from labouring to your feet for a hug.
'I'm a big girl,' you said, shrugging.
I bent right down and hugged you anyway.
Later I saw that we must have dislodged
one of my blood-red earrings
onto that dark pavement.

You refused a party invitation
and made yourself late for work
to come to the reading
on my last night in town.
It was quiet with a hint of rain,
the balmy Austin spring
beginning to fray at the edges.
I gave you my book. Your face lit.
When we kissed goodbye, your cheek
was the softest flesh ever felt.
This was a year ago, when you were still 22.


You are the one
who broke my heart,
departing suddenly
without a word
after we'd got so close.

I can still see your face,
its grave beauty
deceptively serene.
Your loving words were like
the touch of a gentle hand.

It wasn't just me.
We were all astounded,
the circle of friends who loved
your kind heart, and the wisdom
hard won, softly shared.

I rejoiced to find a sister
with a firm Christian faith
albeit I am a witch. How deep
we went for common ground,
trusting in Love, Peace and Truth.

Abruptly you were gone.
I know you knew
how much it would hurt.
When another friend went missing,
you were my comforter.

We made enquiries.
You were not ill,
nothing was wrong.
You simply chose to withdraw,
the messenger said.

You might even come back….
Just as well we didn't hold
our collective breath!
The trouble is,
I loved you.

16 August 2013

Addition / Subtraction: the Mathematics of Loss

are woven
fast into my fabric.

How shall I unravel you? Yet I must.

Your thread has stopped — no sudden cutting short; it is completed.
A new, plainer pattern starts. In time there’ll be a length of stuff without a sign of you.

In time there will be something I don’t know yet and cannot now begin to envision —
except that it will include an absence. But you can’t include

absence is that which is not included. Then

I’ll yearn to re-ravel
you into

This is an experiment suggested by Tony Maude at dVerse Form For All: a syllabic poem based on the Triangular Numbers in a mathematical progression known as Pascal's Triangle (in turn: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15 and 21 syllables per line). In my version, obviously, the syllables also reverse back the other way, reflecting the movement of what is said, between addition and subtraction.

I am also submitting this piece to Poets United's Verse First ~ Edit to Elevate.

11 August 2013

Soltary Gingko Walk, Evening

winter sunlight
an unknown bird

late afternoon
purple flowers 
huddle together 

the sun dazzling
just before dusk
birds converse

August afternoon
clouds stipple the sky
behind the mountain

two girls in tight pants
walking fast

on the far road
small car tows caravan
a mapgie flies over

late winter sun
the sustained chirrups
of homing birds

Sunday evening
the big truck
heads home empty

dots of clover
in the nature strip
the sun lowers

shadows lengthen
the birds get busy
before bed

wattle and bottlebrush
paint the street yellow
dusk falls

the smell of cooking
voices through flywire
dark coming down

Old friends in Melbourne posted on facebook about poetry walks: Jennie Fraine is creating a series of Spring walks for people who like to walk and write at the same time; Myron Lysenko posted a reminder about an upcoming gingko walk (for the purpose of creating haiku). These are group events, and Melbourne is too far away these days, but I decided to take the hint and set off on a solitary walk of my own, armed with notebook, pen and camera.

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #162

Some people saw this before I decided to add photos. After reading kind comments suggesting I had made word pictures, I wondered if adding actual snaps was a mistake. Upon reflection, and after seeking some readers' opinions, I have made the photos small and moved them to the end of the poem. I like it very much that the words create pictures in people's imaginations, so I didn't want to interfere too much with that.

Bush Ballad, Seventies Style

At dVerse today they're writing cowboy poems — a great tradition, I've just learned. In Australia we have bush poetry, a contemporary oral form, very popular. Before that, in our earlier days, there were bush ballads glorifying rural life and the countryside. 

In 1977 I was travelling the outback with my then husband Bill Nissen and our two young sons. We broke down, were low on provisions, there was nothing but empty land in view, and it was HOT. We did get help from another passing traveller, but meanwhile I was inspired to this jaundiced little ditty, in the heavy, sing-song rhythmic pattern of the old bush ballads — a riposte to their rosy view of rural Australia. It became an oral performance piece and was also published in Street Poetry (Melbourne).

Oh, you're trekking out of Darwin
in a big Ford truck,
or you've took and boiled your billy
on the old Cloncurry track.

The cattle die behind you
and the red dust sucks you up —
they'll shear you quick as look at you
in the Great Out Back.

10 August 2013

Observing Line and Metre (Non-Diverse)

After a discourse on line and metre, Gay at dVerse Form For All — Prosody invites us to take a few lines of our own free verse and rewrite them in iambic feet of any line length — noting that unrhymed iambic pentameter is called blank verse. (I admit, she said we could include a few anapests.) Well, I tried. I thought it might fix some languishing draft that wasn't working yet, but it did not improve any of them! Instead, a new piece:

Iambic feet and pentametric lines
will make my verses blank; is that not so?
Well, blank means only that they are unrhymed
(and following that metre, as I’ve said)
but many poems gallop to this beat
and solemn topics rollick jollily
in inappropriate cheerfulness of pace.
There’s more to poetry than may be found
in repetitions of de-DA-de-DA,
in lines of even length, in perfect count
of syllables in alternating stress.
I like a sonnet, but a haiku too
is poetry I think — indeed, insist!
And as for this, my friends, it’s doggerel
(also a piece of fun to start my day).

PS When it comes to metre, this is my favourite reminder:

Remember this verse:

Iambic feet are firm and flat                                                             - / - /
and come down heavily like that

Trochees dancing very lightly                                                        / - / -
Sparkle, froth and bubble brightly.

Dactylic daintiness lilting so prettily                                               / - - / - -
Moves about fluttering rather than wittily

While for speed and for haste such a rhythm is best                    - - / - - /
As we find in the race of the quick Anapest.

(Source unknown)

3 August 2013

Stillness, Late Winter

against blue sky
my eye drawn up
the lightest breeze

on the vines
orange flowers
sunlight touches grass

Submitted for Poets United's Verse First — The Red Wheelbarrow. Assignment: an eight-line poem of complex simplicity. (Hard to do as well as William Carlos Williams did!)

Tweet Poems

Explanatory note

These are poems I write specifically for posting on twitter (and then duplicate here). They are 140 characters or fewer, including punctuation, spaces and hashtags. Nowadays many poets are doing this, designating the verses micropoetry and/or poetweets. When I began creating them in May 2009, I labelled (and hashtagged) them tweetpoems. For sentimental reasons I still call them Tweet Poems here, though you can also find them tagged by the other labels, and on twitter I now hashtag them as poetweets.

2 August 2013

At Obiri Rock

At Obiri Rock a woman,
chalked on dark stone, floated 
next to the orb of the moon.
Drawn hundreds of years ago,
her delicate lines have lasted.

Around Obiri, the sheltering scrub
was sparse, the grasses 
dotting bare earth. I wanted to be
an Aboriginal child long ago
running that ground.

Note: Obiri Rock is in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory. The drawings are in a shallow (but tall) cave created by an overhang. I have never seen a photograph of the particular images in the poem, though photos of the many other drawings there exist and can be found by Googling. The ones in the poem were apart, very high up, and not so sharp or detailed as others.

Submitted for dVerse Form For All: Poetry as Semaphore, in which Samuel Peralta (@Semaphore on twitter) invites us to create poems with verses of exactly 140 characters. I found that this discipline 'fixed' an old draft that wasn't quite working before.

My own twitter name is @SnakyPoet. I tend to use it (poetically) for short poems, where the whole poem is 140 characters or fewer, or else to link to longer poems on my blog.