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.

11 December 2014

Guantanamo

 The former US vice-president Dick Cheney has defended the CIA torture programme as ‘absolutely, totally justified’ The Guardian

We all remember the towers collapsing
over and over again on our TV screens,
crumbling downwards in clouds of smoke,
and the tiny figures falling, falling.

We all recall the following reports
of all those cell phone messages.
'I love you,' they all said, the most important 
last-chance truth to tell before they died.

Now you claim it was in their name
you committed.... Torture; who does that? 
How do you choose, how do you train
those who will coldly perform cruel harm?

What startles me is the fuss of surprise
now that the facts are out. Surely,
didn't everyone know? I did! I only
had to look at the Aussie they returned.

He came back broken. And the other,
the one they kept so much longer,
his health will never recover from years,
yes, years of — say it — torture.

News flash, CIA: you can't get
useful information from innocent men.
This country is their home and it's mine:
so they are family. My anger is not done.

And I understand America's anger
at the burning towers and the bodies
forever falling. But now your Government 
is just the same. So is ours. They knew.

And if they didn't, they should have known,
not turning the blind eye, swallowing lies.
There is no justification. There never was.
We are all terrorists until we reject revenge.

Submitted for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Human Rights 

10 December 2014

Announcement — SHE TOO Calendar. A great gift for yourself or another poetic soul.



A monthly calendar of your favourite pin-up poets and sample poems. Click on the pic to view and buy.

OR














Buy the book (over there in the right-hand side bar, see) and get a free one-page calendar as a gift (just the rudie-nudie photos as above!).

For details, click here.

Lift up the covers: Erotic haiku and tanka, November 2014

your voice
an old recording
I’m caressed

1/11/14


Dangerous Flirtation

Hiked up my skirt
danced at the edge of the swell
teasing bare-legged.
The ocean kissed my toes
then surged up past my knees

10/11/14


under his touch
I myself can feel
how soft my breasts

12/11/14


your heart
beating strong and rhythmic
beneath my ear

***

my head on your chest
I listen
to your heart dancing

#lune

15/11/14


warm breath on my skin
his whispers
turn into kisses

#lune


22/11/14

















lift up the covers
to bare all
the smiling poet

#lune

Promotional pic for SHE TOO

28/11/14


Linking, on 28/3/15, to dVerse Open Link Night #145

8 December 2014

Alice Afterwards

It’s such a fine day, she thinks,
as she saunters down the path to her gate —
a late morning after
her fine night painting the town
red and other colours.

The adventure of escape
no longer leads through rabbit holes
or mirrors. Now she needs
more control, can’t leave the kids
for unpredictable lengths of time.

But if anyone ever had cause
to become an artist — all
the bizarre and beautiful
things she’s seen….
So she slips out at night.

While husband and children snore,
she’s away with her spray cans.
Her signature, Lice,
is so obvious if you know.
But no-one knows.

The slight figure, like others,
is hooded in the dark. She is still
slim and small enough to pass
for a teen, a boy. They never talk
if they even meet. It’s a solitary thing.

She’s fond of solitude now,
having all those offspring and him
in the busy days. She likes her space,
in those silent hours when even
drunks and the homeless are asleep.

She needs no potion these days 
to be tall as a tower, tiny as a flower;
no smiling demonstrations
of a disappearing act. She has her own
magic, dispelling walls.

At 'imaginary garden with real toads' last Friday, Fireblossom asked people to write mash-ups, putting someone famous in a new and different situation. I only just discovered this prompt, a few days late, and it caught my imagination.


28 November 2014

Storm Watching

I sit outside in the cool,
in the rain and lazy thunder,
under the wide overhang
of the back verandah.

My companion stretches and shifts
on his blanket, attempting calm.
But his sister was the brave cat.
Without her, he's uneasy.

So we come inside from thunder
and spraying, pelting rain.
I like all that — but he, I guess, has no need
to prove himself to me. He knows

I am very tender of him, I won't
challenge or scorn or compete.
Instead I usher him in, get him settled.
Then I find me a spot on the front verandah.

I see him through the flywire
draping himself inside the door,
looking out — near me
in safety. We are both content.

Both dVerse and Poets United, not surprisingly, are asking for gratitude/thankfulness poems right now. Perhaps I can sneak this in, with the idea that contentment qualifies!

18 November 2014

On Coffee — haiku and tanka

After looking at beautiful tea haiku in the journal brass bell, I was inspired to create some about my preferred beverage, coffee. I couldn't resist making some tanka on the subject as well.

morning coffee
the daily news
on facebook

***

coffee
black and hot
his eyes

***

he liked it
‘black as sin, hot as hell,
strong as death’
but coffee wasn’t
the drug that killed him

***

he orders
two-shot espresso
mine is
skinny cappuccino  
can we be compatible?

4/11/14


black coffee
at my elbow
black cat
sprawled beside me
morning can begin

***

new morning
strong black coffee
sipped slowly

5/11/14


suddenly
the coffee tastes bitter
lonely morning

7/11/14

11 November 2014

David at 20 (Verse Portrait 104)

My son David —
slim and golden, beautiful —
looks good in all his clothes now,
and is more adventurous with them.

The red T-shirt lightens him up.
He smiles and talks to me
more than he used to.

He seems very happy lately,
confident and free;
even laughs at my jokes.

He has been growing muscle
working as a builder's labourer
(holiday job) for his dad
in Tasmania, at the caravan park.

Found poem from old journal entry 14/1/87

Verse portraits: explanatory note

10 November 2014

To Describe This Garden

I've been going through old journals. Among other things I am finding poetry I didn't know I was writing — such as this, which I'd now call a prose poem. I haven't altered a word.

To describe this garden — the constant ruffling of sunny trees, light moving on water in the pool, the gloss of green, wide sky, sometimes birds … Swallows that skim the pool even when I’m in it, playing in air and water. Big starlings trotting and squabbling under the bushes. Slow grey doves. A quick wattle-bird with trailing tail.

I like the way the sky takes up a lot of room, even in the squared-off picture framed by my doorway. When it’s dark, and the trees are merged black walls and towers, the sky still soars in all directions. The traffic is almost silent, dogs bark now and then several blocks away, the stillness could be far from suburb and city.

When I swim, I look up at clouds and trees, or stars, and it might be Mataranka Springs, it might be Bali …

— Beaumaris, 15 January 1987


Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #226

6 November 2014

The Dead Woman

The dead woman
wants to embrace you;
she is watching
as you sleep.

The dead woman
regrets that her children
are no longer babies.
She wants to hang on.

The dead woman
smells flowers with gusto
taking long sniffs,
then tastes them.

The dead woman
has no hat for the sun.
She lets the heat
burst on her face.

The dead woman
in front of the television
sits without turning it on.
She has x-ray vision.

The dead woman
is a camera. She dreams
of a hoard of images
and snaps and keeps them.

The dead woman
bailing herself out of jail
tells herself that the rain
will wash away prison stink.

The dead woman
is laughing
because being dead
is nothing like she expected.


For a dVerse prompt: write from the perspective of dead man, or woman (based on Marvin Bell's 'Dead Man' poems). I wrote this when I was very tired and half-asleep, so as to let the ideas well up from the subconscious. I wanted a different kind of logic from the everyday.

I discovered the form needs a part 2: 'More About ...'  It is here.


1 November 2014

Moving in a Trance: Erotic haiku and tanka, October 2014

moving in a trance
I gaze down
catch his eyes dancing

3/10/14



















my friend poses naked
with copies of our book
flesh overflowing


Promotional pic for SHE TOO

11/10/14


the scent
of fresh peaches
I succumb

***

their flesh
yields to my touch
ripe peaches

***

I watch
his long fingers
caressing a cat

***

he is leaving
the sun
shines on his hair

14/10/14


thoughts of you
my breasts
thrust forward

16/10/14


the phoenix
rises fiery hot
and I melt
in proximity —
so our lust renews

23/10/14



















the naked poet
revealed within these pages —
oh, open the book!

***

















eager fingers
unwrapping  her cover
find poetry

More promotional pics for SHE TOO

24/10/14


alone
with memory and wish
I imagine

29/10/14


31 October 2014

Completion

On being asked to write about what this date, celebrated as 
Halloween (which is based on Samhain) truly means to me.

Tonight
I would light a candle.
I would stand it
beside your photo.

Tonight
I’d recall
the daily rituals
of our time together.

Tonight
I’d set a place for you
at our table.
Tonight we’d feast.

If it were truly Samhain
here in the warm South,
that is what I’d do.
However, it’s Beltane.

The hot, hot summer
is coming. But
the way we ushered it in
my dear, is over.

You are ghost or angel,
more ethereal than smoke.
And I shall be lighting
no fires tonight.





















Image: Beltane Fire Dancer by NataliaLeFay (free download)

Note: For those who don't know, Beltane is traditionally celebrated with sexual passion. 

31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writers Resource Center). Prompt: Completion.

Also a follow-on to the previous poem, which was in response to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Halloween, or Celebrating the Dead.

On Samhain Night















On Samhain night, when the veil is thin,
I collect photos of those gone before.
I set them out for viewing,
I do them honour.

It is the time of festivity for them,
our predecessors — sires, mothers,
siblings, lovers, spouses, friends,
others even longer gone….

How deeply must we reverence
those who bestowed their love
upon us, those who were here
in their lives, living.

They were here in their homes;
they knew us.  They return
to our homes which were theirs
for one night’s visit.

We owe them this: for love, for blood,
for respect, for the proper
sequence of things, for every
bond which lingers.

This is the time which we give
to them, to remember
who they were then, once —
now only ghosts.

Welcome, beloveds. We esteem you.
Here is your spot — sit, dine!
Be with us. When you go, rest
in our love until next time.


31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writers Resource Center). Prompt: Use no words with the letter a, except one word where it appears twice.

Poets United Midweek Motif: Halloween, or Celebrating the Dead; what does it truly mean to you?  (I addressed the prompt as given. However, this is the Southern Hemisphere! For what this date really signifies to me, see the next poem.)

A funny thing, grief

You think you're going along
nicely, then some little thing
triggers it and you're lost.

'Oh, my precious, beautiful girl!'
I suddenly say to the air, as
out of nowhere the thought of her
grows large. My sweet cat,
who stayed with me 16 years.

I knew it was her time. I knew
she'd been happy in her life.
Focused now on her brother,
loving him through his loss,
I imagined I'd handled mine.

I have come to bed.
He is outside,
enjoying the cool night,
sprawled on our top step
or the car bonnet.
At some stage he will come in
and settle himself
next to my pillow.
It's become his spot.

But she was always
the sleeping companion before,
arriving as soon as I went to bed
at whatever time
from wherever she was,
even outside. It beat me how
she knew, but she always did.
She would cuddle up and purr
loudly, then snuggle all night.

He has not come in yet;
too early for him.
Therefore I am not
distracted by his presence ...
nor am I distracted
from her absence.
Her absence acquires
its own huge presence.

I lie down alone
and the tears come.















31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Write the final line of the  poem first, then work out how to get there.


29 October 2014

Visiting the Podiatrist


'What have you been up to lately?'
he asks, as he settles my feet,
and I say, 'Poetry'. It's always poetry.

The big, curved, metal clippers click
as he enquires, 'How long
have you been writing poetry?'

'Since I was seven,' I say,
and then he remembers. 'Oh yes,
You told me that last time.'

Out at the reception desk,
Teresa's typing briskly
in a staccato clatter.

In here, Justin resumes.
'Do you have any special themes?'
'No,' I say. 'There are no unfit subjects.'

He laughs. 'Except, maybe,
visiting the podiatrist.'
I tell him about today's prompt:

Include one or more sounds.
I mention the clippers and the keyboard,
and some rustling of paper out there now.

'And the low hum of the air conditioning,'
he adds with a small flourish. I tell him,
'Ah, you're writing your own poem now.'

'Do you know any poems of Kipling?'
he asks suddenly. 'I live in Kipling Street.'
I tell him Kipling wrote novels and stories too.

I tell him that Kipling's most famous poem
is 'If' and how I dislike it. I recite
a phrase or two. He Googles the rest.

We get onto war, and the state of the world.
He asks if there are violent, hating poems,
seems to have encountered only the uplifting.

I talk of ancient times, other cultures;
guess that readers might prefer gentler stuff,
so that would be what lives. Then I remember rap.

'Rap's full of all that. It comes from
the disadvantaged. They have cause.'
'I forgot that rap's a kind of poetry,' he says.

I'm ashamed that I forgot too. 'Often
very good poetry,' I hurry to say, 'Even if
I don't always like the message.'

He lets my chair down. Its a slow chair,
soundless. My feet feel so comfortable,
its as if they no longer exist.

Teresa books my next appointment.
I ask about her beautiful accent. (She lilts.)
Swedish, and she lived in Scotland.

The phone rings, loud and brassy.
I wave and walk out on to the street,
listening to my own light footsteps.



31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Include one or more sounds.

Submitted, a year later, for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #275.

27 October 2014

The Regimen

It’s a hot day, a very hot day,
but it’s time to swing my weights

up fast, slow down, each side
from waist to shoulder

then from shoulder to overhead
(don’t let them meet in the middle)

up and down alternately
in front of the body, seated

curling up to the shoulder, seated too,
then forward and back, on one knee

always five times each side, each set;
count ten seconds, repeat

remembering, you can go up fast,
but bring them down very slow

finally put them aside, and bend
arm over head, twice, left and right

hold each bend for fifteen seconds
and feel the stretch in the bending hip.

Do this every other day.
On alternate days, go for a walk.

I’ve always walked, on and off,
but the weight training is new.

After my mother fell and broke her hip
she never went home again.

My bones, I’m told, are brittle
but I’m not yet ready to break from life.

Also I now keep my mobile
attached, in pocket or bum-bag.

Don’t want an agonising crawl to the phone
like hers. But I’m living alone, like her.


31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Use an inspirational tool from this list:
Call a friend and talk about old times
Collaborate with another poet
Exercise
Give yourself a deadline
Give yourself permission to write badly
Go someplace new
Interview yourself
Just start writing anything that comes to mind as fast as you can
Listen to your favorite music
Look at old photographs
Meditate
Read a magazine or a newspaper
Read someone else’s poetry
Read your own poetry
Review your old work
Start with a title
Take a swim, bath or a shower
Take a walk
Try another medium such as drawing or painting
Try something new
(Obviously, I exercised.) 

He Lies on the Floor

He lies on the floor at my feet
in front of his new scratching post —
which he ignores.  Lifting a paw,
he washes behind one ear.

The old post is out on the kerb
for the hard rubbish collection.
After two years of two cats
it was shredded. But change upsets him.

So at first the old and the new
sat side by side in the house.
I took each of his front paws in my hand
and raked them down the coiled rope.

I swung the dangling balls of synthetic fur
and pulled the toy mouse on its quick elastic.
He batted the balls a bit, then pounced so fast
on the mouse that he almost got me.

But playing of his own accord
hasn’t happened yet.  He doesn’t
have his sister any more
to compete and encourage him.

He murmurs and stirs, and looks up at me.
Again I see him as panther: that all-black coat.
He is docile though, and becoming happy
to hang with me in our pack of two.




















31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Write a draft in paragraphs of prose, then turn it into poetry. (Interesting! The poetry required a lot of tightening. I went from 393 words to 173.)

26 October 2014

In Soft Morning

In soft morning
memory and pain,
dying away in silent light
before the birds begin,
pretend to be dream.

I let them so pretend.
I fill up my consciousness
with tasks and simple joys
that keep the days passing.

Only when night returns
and finally I lie down,
still on my side of the bed,
a hidden door to the real
opens and lets them in.


31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Start and end poem with same word.

Linking to the Tuesday Platform for October 20, 2015, at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

25 October 2014

Posing Nude

1.

When I was 25,
newly divorced
and needing cash

three friends
all artists
became my helpers.

First I posed just for them 
to get comfortable,
to find out if I’d like it,
to see if I’d be any good.

They taught me the tricks:
strike a pose suggesting movement
(more interesting)
but distribute your weight
so it’s balanced;

shift your weight
subtly, infinitesimally,
if you go numb;

wear your robe between poses;
rest between poses;
insist on a heater if it’s cold.

Surprisingly, I loved it.
Briefly, was the highest-paid
artist’s model in Melbourne —
until the next husband
wanted exclusive views.

2.

At 45,
plump mother of schoolboys,
I reclaimed an old identity.

An artist friend,
a neighbour,
became my recruiter

for the new life drawing group,
old hands and beginners both,
at the Community Centre.

I gave it a try
to see if I still could
(it’s harder work than you’d think,
stressing the body in various ways:
legs, back, arms;
cold, stiffness, pain)
and to find out if I’d still like it.

Yes to both questions, but
the long, reclining poses
became my forté now,
easier to hold
gentler on the body
and just as interesting
if the sketchers found their own angles.
(My friend liked to draw my face.)

The second husband
was less possessive by now!
Decided to be proud of me instead.
But then we moved away
and that was the end of that.

3.

I’m 75.
You must be joking!
Well yes, it is a joke
but one with serious purpose.

There’s Leigh, Helen,
Delaina and me
four friends
four poets
four collaborators.

Who came up with this idea first?
That we celebrate and promote
the paperback version
of our new book
by posing naked with copies?
I forget, but my guess
is probably either Leigh or Helen.

Leigh kicked it off:
abundant flesh behind
four fanned-out copies;
otherwise dressed
only in a huge smile.

This wasn’t the sort of thing
Delaina had ever done
or contemplated doing,
but she did. Part of the group,
she said, and therefore game.

Side-on, with leather jacket
draped over the far shoulder,
the book in front of the near;
and, I do believe, an eyelash flutter.

Helen’s away,
we’ll have to await
her no doubt brilliant
exposure on her return.

Meanwhile, me.
Yes, I did say 75.
Living alone
without a photographer.
Oh I know,
my massage therapist.
She sees me naked anyway.
But she’s booked solid,
can’t allot extra time.

OK, put the hard word on a friend.
Practise at home first
in front of the full-length mirror.
Hmm, hafta use two books
to sneakily push up
as well as cover the tits.
Decide the angle.
Maybe one book, open?

At friend’s house, she poses me
in front of the drawn blind
(in case of nosey neighbours).
I do the tit-push with two books,
I do the tit-push with one,
I let some flesh peek around the sides,
almost expose a nipple.

We examine the first results.
'I look ... low,' I say.
'I wouldn’t worry,' she tells me.
'Lots of young girls too
look just like that.'

But when I get home,
I realise what’s really wrong:
too much boob, not enough book.
I resort to my last option: selfies
with the Photobooth on my laptop.

I cart it around the house
to find a neutral background
without mess, ornaments,
pictures on walls,
or dangling clown puppets
growing out of my head.

I hold the book high this time —
never mind proving my cleavage —
and try for the right expression.
The wink looks gross,
the smile forced,
the calm face elderly.
I settle on a pursed-lip smirk.

And there I am, depicted
visibly naked again
(without visible rude bits).
Artistry it ain’t,
but this might have been
my hardest
as well as my last,
and — good heavens! —
my most widely-seen
nude pose.



















31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Do something that scares you just a little, and write about it.

dVerse Meeting the Bar: lists. (This one is a list of three episodes, within each of which are lots of little lists.)

Music Practice

The boy who lives across the road
is playing his recorder over and over.
I am trying to recognise
the phrase he keeps repeating.
He is playing it slowly, again and again.
I know that I know it.  Then finally
I put the single, spaced-out notes together:
Jingle Bells revives in my memory,
carrying me back to when I was a child.
He doesn’t make it jolly. He doesn’t
connect the notes into a tune, not really,
and he plays it mournfully slow
so his bells don’t jingle — but,
if he keeps on practising, perhaps
his music will be dancing by Christmas.
Meanwhile I resign myself to all the weeks
when, inadvertently, perforce, I must listen.


31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Centre). Prompt: use a verb in every line

That Day

The call came just after breakfast.
‘Right,’ I said, briskly, ‘I’m on my way.’
But first I called Maureen, our friend,
who always said, ‘When that time comes,
if you need me to be there with you, I will.’
I had not expected to need or want her —
her or anyone — but when the time came,
yes I did.  I’ll never know whether she had
any other plans that day. She just came.

I arrived first; it was so close to home.
I was used to popping in and out.
I had time to whisper some messages
just between him and me. I knew he could hear
though his eyes were closed, and I knew
he understood me. Perhaps he would have
even without help — very probably—
but I used direct telepathy, just to make
perfectly certain. (We Reiki Masters have ways.)

‘We’ll find you a private room,’ they said,
and did. When did Maureen arrive? About then.
Hard to remember that detail exactly, and of course
it doesn’t really matter. She arrived, kissed him
(did she? I think she did) and sat down
in the chair on the other side of the bed.
We were both calm in our demeanour.
We talked in low voices, to and about him.
I held his hand.…  And so that long, quiet day began.


31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Write about a real moment in your life without discussing its larger meaning.

Also submitted for Poets United's Midweek Motif: One Day in the Life of

22 October 2014

Moments / Years

We danced a sudden jig
among more sedate dancers
at the kindergarten parents’
end-of-year party.
Who was it slipped us
the whispered news
in that conservative gathering?
I can’t remember, but I do recall
whispering too, unable to contain
extreme jubilation: ‘Labour’s won!
Labour’s won! Labour’s won!’
We signalled our friends.
The after-party at our place,
on into early morning,
was a talkfest of delight.
That was in 1972.

And we were right to be glad
as rapid reform began.
Three years later
my best friend phoned.
‘The Government’s been dismissed!’
Half the country, of course,
had been listening to Parliament,
glued to our radios
as the crisis appeared to stalemate.
But at that point it was hard
to credit what we heard.
‘Profound division in the country,’
a commentator remarks.
Ah yes, they were fierce days.
Like many (though not the man himself)
I can still find the rage.

Today, in 2014, I read his death on facebook
over my morning coffee. Parliament
suspends all standing orders, spends all day
(both sides of politics equally)
honouring this man
who seemed eternal
but has finally left us.
'Great leader, great Australian,
great friend, mentor to many.’
‘He changed the nation.
There was before Whitlam and after.’
His list of achievements is long:
the arts, indigenous affairs,
the status of women …
‘A giant’, people are saying.
Let me say, Colossus.

31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). PromptWrite a three stanza poem that shows a progression with each stanza. The three stanzas should serve as a beginning, middle and end respectively.

Also submitted for dVerse Poetics — Good News, Bad News, Your News!


21 October 2014

It's Time

Vale Gough

















It’s time for mourning,
time for knowing
all that we’ve lost
since his time.

It’s time to remember
that long-gone euphoria,
time to ponder
the brief taste of freedom,
time to farewell
the last of the giants —
it’s his time.

It’s time to be thankful
he once walked among us,
time to praise
the reforms that he gave us,
the peace he enacted,
the pacifists un-prisoned,
not before time.

It’s time to celebrate
affordable health care
truly life-saving,
free Universities
for all who could qualify,
the restoring of land rights —
oh yes, it was time.

It’s time to believe
we must not forget him,
it’s time to recapture
the decency, the caring
of that earlier era,
time to maintain
the rage for our time.

It’s time for morning,
a new day, a sunrise.
Yes we can do it.
Yes, now, it’s time!

31 Poems in 31 Days (Poewar / Writer's Resource Center). Prompt: Start with a negative, turn it to a positive.  Also submitted for dVerse Poetics — Good News, Bad News, Your News!

In honour of Gough Whitlam, 1916-2014, former Prime Minister of Australia