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 2014

Last Night in Cusco

We waited for Wendy in her hotel foyer. It was an old hotel, just off the city centre — cool stone walls; plants on balconies; polished tables; graceful stairs. I tried on the cone-shaped black felt hat I bought at the market — not the tourist market; the people's market where Wendy took us, down near the station. As soon as I put the hat on, I saw pulsing flashes of light all around the walls and the high ceiling. I took it off. The lights vanished.  

a slender woman
walks up a slender staircase
tall green plants in tubs

Wendy arrived, all in black as always, with her own hat of high white straw, wide-brimmed, and her big smile. We were to meet three of her Peruvian friends. Just as they arrived, she received a message. The President's daughter was ready to take her to meet the President. Wendy's mission in Peru was to set up shelters and trade schools for homeless kids. She couldn't miss this opportunity. A brief apology, and she left us with her friends. She introduced them by name, but always spoke of them collectively as the Angels. They were a thin young man and two women: one young, shy, quietly pretty; the other older, full-figured, dignified. 

she dresses in black
with intent: the uniform
of the grandmothers

The Angels wanted to meet us because we were Reiki Masters. A man had come to Cusco only a few weeks before, and taught them hands-on healing. They were still thrilled, and wanted to compare. After a quick discussion with each other in Spanish, they took us to the young man's home, in a tiny old car that chugged alarmingly up the steep streets. We piled out at a high, blank wall. He opened a small door in the bottom right corner. We bent our heads to go through to a courtyard. Doors around all the inner walls. One was his; he let us into two dark rooms with weak overhead lamps.

rooms without windows
the blue of the Cusco sky
is legendary

They told us about their way of healing. "We pray," they said, "And light comes into our hands. May we show you?" 

We stood in a circle. The older woman prayed in Spanish. I don't know what she said. We had no Spanish much, beyond "Hola!" When she finished, she invited us to look at their hands, at little sparks of light dancing all over the palms. Then we all noticed Andrew's and my hands sparkling too. Everyone got very excited, pointing and gabbling. 

she stands in prayer
her speaking voice is music
on our last night here

They told us the light was a gift from the angels. I asked if the angels could explain what happened when I put on the black felt hat. She took the hat in her hands and closed her eyes. At length she told me it had belonged to a humble shepherd who prayed a lot to Jesus. She said I could summon Jesus whenever I put on the hat; it was full of blessings because of the goodness of that humble man. I supposed that the light-giving angels told her this, into her mind, while she stood with her eyes closed.

We felt nothing, no sensation; but the sparks of light continued for hours until gradually slowing, fading. We left Cusco next day. We never found out what words were used in the prayer.

in a small dark room
we meet with angels of light
farewell to Peru


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 29: magical realism
(a realistic poem and a magical one, or both in one)

Also submitted for dVerse Meeting the Bar — the haibun

29 April 2014

Settled

We settle down on the bed again after breakfast, 
we three, the cats and me, all of us elderly now 
and free to indulge — though they are freer than me, 
and can stay here all day if they will, and in fact they will
until I give them their lunch (the small dry biscuits 
that keep their teeth clean and strong) after which 
they'll wander outdoors awhile, now that the weather's autumnal: 
cooler than the worst heat of summer and not yet chilly winter 

whereas I, when I finish the coffee I brought back to bed, 
and finish this morning's poem, shall rise at once 
to go out into the world — where, too, I am settled, 
into my familiar lifestyle: the small town, 
the old and new friends, the little cafés, 
the trees and the nearby river.  



April Poem A Day 2014, day 28: a settled poem

Based on the “Stretching the Sentence” exercise by William Wenthe in Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry (Dos Gatos Press, 2011)

28 April 2014

Favourite Monster

I loved you, Godzilla,
and my little boys loved you,
at the local drive-in
forty-odd years ago;
and their father as well,
who is dead now ...
but you, dear Godzilla, never die,
not even when you're attacked
with gigantic versions of the sparklers
we used to wave on Guy Fawkes' Night,
all sizzling and coruscating
and bouncing off your hide.

Poor clumsy Godzilla,
not even faintly humanoid,
but lumbering and alien
and rather dumb,
so slow you came across
as the underdog.
I mean, you couldn't do anything 
with grace, elegance, finesse or panache —
your special effects were creaky.
We didn't even speak the same language!
You were weird (not in a good way).
You were the big ugly. You were just wrong.

Yet there was something about you.
We felt you were misunderstood.
We blamed it on your upbringing.
We knew that somewhere within
you were really good — anyway,
we were on your side. You became
our favourite monster (even dearer 
than sad, persecuted King Kong).
What a pity you couldn't win an Oscar.
You could have brandished it high,
in in-your-face triumph: "This
is for all the misfits!"


















Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported, 2.5 generic, 2.0 generic and 1.0 generic licence.
|Description={{ja|1=石川県珠洲市のゴジラ岩}}
|Source=投稿者が撮影。PENTAX LX + smc PENTAX-FA★ 1:4.5 300mm ED & IF
|Author=名古屋太郎
|Date=2006-11


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 27: a monster poem

Published in She Too, a collaboration with Delaina J Miller, Helen Patrice and Leigh D C Spencer (Kansas City, Content X Design, 2014) [See right side-bar]

Linked (April 2016) to Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month: Poetizing Japanese Folklore  (Godzilla is modern Japanese folklore; I say so!)

27 April 2014

Doing the Usual

At the quiet end
of an autumn afternoon
the rain comes down
softly and steadily.

I open a Shiraz,
make some conversation with the cats,
fetch my cardigan
and check the TV program.

It's almost as if you're still here.
I half-expect, any minute,
that you'll call from the bedroom
or walk from your office
to share the wine, the TV, the cats....

This morning at my market stall
I put my clients in touch 
with their dear dead.
Invariably I'm moved to tears
by the depth of love
the dead have for the living,
and my clients cry too.

I was you today, at the market,
doing the rounds of the other stalls early.
But I didn't get your abundant
bundles of fresh veggies —
not for only one.

It's BBQ chicken tonight,
to save cooking.
The cats will demand their share.
I'll give them less than they ask
(not as soft as you were)….

A nice night to be in,
as rain and evening arrive together.
Like a blanket, darkness
wraps us round.


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 26: water 

26 April 2014

The Last Straw Poem

We didn't know it would be the last,
hadn't exactly planned it that way.
When it was finished, we thought it
as decorative as the rest,
as well-constructed.

But then those poets down the road
built the first wooden one.
Everything was instantly different.
The rules had completely changed. 
(Nice it was, of balsa, light and graceful.)

Then, of course, everyone tried.
The timber used grew thicker.
This didn't always produce 
the most tractable results,
but they were lasting.

In time came the bold
experiments in metal. 
And now a new departure
thanks to the internet:
cyber-poems, lighter than air.

I came across it the other day,
that last straw poem,
forgotten in a cupboard.
I wondered at its primitive ephemerality — 
but it was sweetly woven.

April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 25: a "last straw" poem

25 April 2014

Dag's Verse

What a bonzer tour! (Don't chunder.)
The Royals came Down Under,
both looking very chipper,
and I'm glad they brought the nipper.

Our PM Tony Abbott,
a monarchist by habit,
is set to slash the pension,
but that wouldn't get a mention

in official conversation
as they traipsed around the nation,
nor the planes he's gone and bought
though we think he didn't ought.

It was smiles and waves and toys
(for big and little boys)
in the headlines and the snaps,
the tweets and brand-new apps.

They attended the Dawn Service
with a solemn air of purpose,
then they came back for the march....
Now the crowds are feeling parched.

Let us raise a glass my friends,
as the ANZAC shindig ends
(and so does my daggy poem)
to their right royal journey home.

At dVerse we are invited to try a "dagsvers" — a Nordic tradition of daily rhyming verse on items in the news. In Australia, of course, "dag" means something very different. How could I resist?

Tell It to the Wind

"Tell it to the wind," said Ramtha*
"And I will hear you, I'll be there."

I used to do that sometimes
when I lived out under a big sky —
that wide swirling-space for the wind,
and the vast expanse of stars
far away from the blinding 
lights of cities. 

Always
I felt his presence in response.

That was a long time ago,
though it seems so fresh.
Even in this little rural town
the street lights are shining, 
and the sky between the mountains
is often overcast, windless.

Somewhere along the way
I almost forgot Ramtha.

I don't remember why
I spoke to him in the wind —
what I wanted to say,
what I thought he might reply —
but I was lonely then,
at the silent end of my second marriage.

Widowed after my long and happy third,
I do miss someone to talk things over with….


*Ramtha. A channelled being who came to prominence in the eighties.


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 24: "Tell It to the —"

24 April 2014

Meeting in Coles

Her chair looks heavy and solid,
though it glides quietly
through the Pension Day crowds.
"Does this make life easier?" I ask.

"Yes, and quicker. 
If I walk, even with the trolley,
it can take hours.
Anyway, how are you?"

"Not too bad," I say,
"All things considered."
She laughs and splutters. "Yes, 
that about says it here, too."

A sweep of her arm takes in
the chair and the pile of shopping.
She's trying to help her husband
load it on the checkout tray. 

The store radio doesn't just hum, 
it roars. Trolleys around us clatter.
A child squeals incessantly.
The fluorescents glare.

"Take that kid home," 
she says sotto voce, and to me,
"Don't you think that radio noise
is much too loud? I keep telling them."

The one trouble with the chair, 
she confides, is it won't fit in the car.
"We have to take the maxi taxi, and
they won't park outside our house.

"Poor old Patrick has to take 
all the shopping across the road
and then up our front steps." How old 
is Patrick now, I wonder. I don't enquire.

"Are you online?” I ask. "Think about
Coles' delivery service. I used to use it
when Andrew was alive." My mind goes back
to hauling his walker in and out of the car.

"I will!" she promises, and I don't add,
"Then you'll be that little bit more
house-bound." I know, and she knows,
there are no easy choices.


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 23: a location poem.

Linking also to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #204

23 April 2014

Cinquain for Phillip

April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 22: Two for Tuesday — 
an optimistic and a pessimistic poem. This is the pessimistic poem.


Forget
global warming –
you cook dates in curry!
Now I know civilisation
is doomed.

Comforting Myself

My little cat is old and ill
but so far in no pain.
Her cancer's growing slow.

When I lie down for a nap
she comes and purrs with me,
but when I start to dream
she moves away

as if she too can see
the crowding images
that seem so real.

With such a bond
between our spirits,
surely it will stretch
to keep us connected, later?


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 22: Two for Tuesday — an optimistic and a pessimistic poem. This could be both in one, but I'm labelling it optimistic. The pessimistic poem is in my next post.

22 April 2014

The Basics

Now that I'm old and widowed
I meet up with my kind,
and all those single ladies
are of a single mind.

All their immaculate houses
quite put mine to shame.
In Domestic Goddessry,
they're at the top of their game.

"I don't want Help," they tell me;
"It gives me something to do."
They wait expectantly,
quite sure I'll say this too.

But I'm a weirdo poet
and live a different life.
I like my house OK
but I am not its wife.

We all get back to basics
our own ways, I suppose.
I should pay more attention
to vacuum and garden hose.

But needing something to do
that badly fills me with horror.
I have poems to write —
the dishes can wait till tomorrow.

April PAD Challenge 2014, day 21: back to basics
(Also back to basics poetically, with the loose ballad-like form)

21 April 2014

Happy Easter

My friend phones in crisis.
‘You’ve got to leave it be,” I say.
You can't sustain these shocks.
She’s an adult now.”

"Yes," she says, 
"And it cuts both ways.
If the homeless team find her,
they can't even tell me she's safe
unless she gives permission,
because she's 34."

That surprises me.
I thought the soft-faced girl 
was about 19 —
that childish gaze,
and her behaviour ...

The story this time:
the refuge kicked her out
because she got in a fight,
and the mental health clinic's full.
She's got no money, and 
she's out of her medication.
She’s borrowed a phone
to call her mum
from some woman in the park.

"I don't even know
if she's telling me the truth,
or how confused she might be,"
her mother says.

"But I've worked out the pattern.
It's intermittent. Happens
at Christmas and Easter.”
“When did it start?” I ask.
“She was 13, it was after
her father's suicide."

Her other daughter’s visiting
to use her mum’s computer,
and she has things to say:
"You never helped me either.
You've got to go and look for her.
You're not a proper mother."

I know the years of care,
the returns in violent abuse.
"That's all you need," I say.
"Tell her that's the past.
Tell her to back off."

"Oh, she's worried about her sister. 
But I can't go. The lawn-mowing man
threw up a stone, and smashed 
the back window of my car.
I can't go anywhere."

Meanwhile her son with Asperger's
shuts the door of his room,
“To keep the dramas out.”

"I'm shaking and I want to vomit,"
says my friend.


April Poem A Day Challenge, day 20: A family poem

20 April 2014

Colour

In Peru
the blue of his eyes
had the women twittering.
“So handsome!” they told me.
(I already knew.)

I, of course, was gazing
(discreetly) into 
the deep brown eyes
of slim, black-haired men
with knife-edge cheekbones.

***********

In Bali
the locals feasted their eyes
on our fair-faced, fair-haired boys 
(they were pre-schoolers then)
with clucks of admiring joy.

Their father and I 
couldn’t pull our gaze
from the quick, dark local children,
their golden skin, black hair
and bright black, dazzling eyes.


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 19: a colour poem

19 April 2014

Weather Report, Outside and In

It's a warm autumn day outside
but overcast in the house
with the blinds all closed 

against the heat,
which is not extreme.
I forget that Summer has gone.

I'm listening to Rufus Wainwright
soaring on YouTube, singing 
Fare Thee Well ... "oh, fare thee well."

I've shut my doors against 
one who wants to come and rest here 
after his latest hurt.

He said, ”I'm not asking for a saviour
but a friend. If it goes on past a month,
I'll just add my name to the lease."

"Oh no you fucking won't!" I said.
Now I feel as if I'd swallowed 
a mass of thick grey sludge.

He says I'm harsh. I know I'm selfish.
"Have you ever had nowhere to go?"
he asks. "Have you ever just wanted

a quiet place with a good friend?" 
No. Nevertheless.
It's a warm autumn day, outside.


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 18: a weather poem.

18 April 2014

Alternate Realities

When my sons were young
and annoying, 
I'd stomp around the house
crying, in that harsh, metallic voice:
"EX-TERM-IN-ATE! EX-TERM-IN-ATE!"
They didn't laugh.
(Just rolled their eyes and scoffed.)

Now those boys are long ago
grown and gone.
I have the house all to myself
except for my pets.
The cats are sweet; 
they never get jealous 
when I mother my dragons.


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 17: a pop culture poem

16 April 2014

Anti-Elegy

“Guess who died?” I said. “It was on facebook.
Oh, a week or so ago.  The person who posted it
described him as kind!" [Meaningful pause.] "And humble!”  
We raised high eyebrows at each other.

“You know,” I said, “I kept bumping into him
all over town,  that last week before he died.
Not to speak to, though. That is, I chose not;
pretended I didn’t see him. Which I still don’t regret."

“She was a lovely woman,” said my friend.
“She was,” I agreed, and we fell silent, remembering
his wife, whom we loved … her death nine years ago….
“Well — I hope he worked out his karma,” I said.



April Poem A Day Challenge, 2014, day 16: An elegy.

Also linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #274 on 19 Oct. 2015.

15 April 2014

Bitter Love Poem

Had a sudden flashback today.
Opening the wardrobe which now
houses my winter clothes,
for a moment I saw the ghosts 
of all your garments.

The black leather jacket
with the collar just starting to go;
the maroon blazer you bought
when our marriage was new;
the yellow raincoat from Edinburgh
that matched mine, which I still have; 
the fawn shorts; the grey trousers;
all your shirts and T-shirts.

I didn't keep them.
Some people need a shrine,
but not me. I didn't want
to look at them and cry.
And for all this time I didn't.
(A year and a half and a bit.)

Today, for no visible reason,
I saw them anyway,
hanging there as usual —
only it's not usual any more —
and sure enough I howled,
leaning my forehead 
on the quickly-closed door
and wailing, all alone.


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 15: Two for Tuesday 
— love poem and anti-love poem. This does duty as both.

If I Were Writing in Sanskrit

I’d make curlicues and flourishes. 
It would sound aloud
quite different from English. If.

My Mum said she topped the class
in Sanskrit; showed me old notebooks 
in her schoolgirl script.

Poor little Anglo-Indian girl,
she didn't want to be mixed,
liked to be thought Colonial.

Me, I look white, but I'd have liked
long black hair, dark eyes,
and a smooth brown skin.

Product of my locality and time,
I disapprove of Colonial,
and I sometimes think

I'd like to have learned to write Sanskrit
in a schoolyard under banyan trees
in Puri in Orissa, long ago …


April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 14: "If I Were ..."

14 April 2014

Feline

In the dim light
he is hard to see,
the tawny tiger
resting in the height
of the shadowy green
in the sly dark.

Though his face is dark,
his eyes gleam light
not yellow but green,
and I know he can see
where I try to hide,
my fabulous tiger.

And I can see, against the green
of the bedroom chair in which he hides,
my cat in the dark with eyes of light.


April Poem A Day Challenge, day 13: an animal poem. Suggestion: use a sestina. As I am having an insanely busy April, I opted for a mini-sestina, a form devised by Aussie poet Myron Lysenko.

13 April 2014

When I Went Back to Melbourne

When I went back to Melbourne,
I was surprised by trees
greening the railway embankments
and city streets.  

The wide, sunlit Yarra shone 
under new bridges and old.

Then I strolled around Pascoe Vale,
delighted by roses —
thick, old bushes, well established.

How had I forgotten them
in the intervening years?

My nearest family and oldest friends
live in Melbourne. Good to spend time
with them. Good to see them happy.

"I'm afraid you'll move back,"
said a friend from here.

I texted her from the midst of Melbourne traffic,
as I snuggled into a shawl against the cold
(at the beginning of summer).
"Not a chance," I said.

Still, it's nice to visit.

April Poem a Day Challenge, day 12: a city poem.

12 April 2014

The Cat's Out of the Bag

She's sitting on the chair next to mine,
demanding bits of my breakfast toast.

She stares at me and cries, she is so
desperate, she wants to tell me,
for just this treat; she is owed.
Her person (me) keeps her starving.

Earlier, after her own breakfast,
she accompanied me back to bed.

She spooned with me, settling her tiny back
into my chest, as I arced around her,
stroking her tummy and throat
while she stretched and purred.

She is my boss lady, and I'm hers.
We've made our negotiations.

There are matters on which
we renegotiate daily. We work it out.
E.g. she will use the cat door, reluctantly, if
I keep ignoring requests to open others.

But I'd like to see me try to keep her 
in a bag! There would be ructions. 

She would scream at me and claw,
scrabbling fiercely, the way she used to do
at the carpet outside the bedroom door
when I shut her out ... before I surrendered. 

April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 11: statement. ("Make a statement the title of your poem, and either respond to or expand upon the title".)

10 April 2014

Future Poem

(For the discouraged)

The future poem
will scintillate, startle, shock.

It will amaze, amuse,
arouse and enrage.

It won't let go of you. And you
will never be able to let it go.

The future poem will be
a miracle of poetic pleasure.

You will roll in bliss with this poem,
falling on the grass and laughing.

The future poem will whisper
in your open ear: sweet everythings.

Then it will lift you up
and shake you like a whirlwind.

The future poem will spin you
like a top, until you shriek.

When you step inside the future poem,
you will see landscapes too beautiful to bear.

Look! Look up ahead — do you see
the future poem beckoning? Keep looking.

Yes, that figure of steel and crystal,
that exotic shape, is the future poem.

It is in YOUR future. Please, take heart!
Your present poems are merely steps on the way.


April PAD Challenge 2014, day 10: A future poem

Shelter from the Storm

A rain day, one
I watch from indoors
though later I must go out.

Last night I called dragons
into the temple — four,
one to each quarter.

Breathing together
in circle, we women 
built a pillar of light.

My friend goes home
to sell her house and move
because the floods are coming.

My little cats love storms
and gaze from the top step
under the porch roof.

April PAD Challenge 2014, day 9: shelter


A New Form:

Each verse is an "American sentence" a 17-syllable form invented by Allen Ginsberg as a Western type of haiku. For this poem I wanted something slightly discontinuous like a ghazal, but with fewer constraints, and the American sentence seemed to lend itself to that end. I had thought of using couplets as in the ghazal, but each sentence fell naturally into three lines — which of course is more haiku-like.

Over at dVerse at present, Gay Reiser Cannon invites us to invent and name our own forms. This is a derivative form, but since it gives me something I've been seeking for years — something looser than a ghazal, which still creates that connection/separation between stanzas with an overall theme — and as I plan to use it again, I'll claim it and name it Ghazal-type 17-3. This may sound a bit clumsy, but allows for me to find more "Ghazal types" in the future.
         

9 April 2014

Peace Is

The fed infant falling asleep
In the crook of your cradling arm.

The cat beside you on the bed,
purring all night long.

As you meditate in your back yard,
songs of small birds in the trees.

The face of a beloved friend
smiling to see you again.

Standing under a warm shower
as the water runs over your shoulders.

Arriving home on a cold night,
coming in and closing the door.


April PAD Challenge 2014, day 8: Two for Tuesday — violent poem / peaceful poem. And this, of course, is the peaceful one.

War Games

When I got my Kobo WiFI
(which is now obsolete and dead)
it came with one hundred and one
free downloads from Gutenberg dot com
classics, including 
Homer’s Iliad. Well!
Always wanted to read that. Felt I should. 

It was the great Alexander Pope’s translation,
so I thought it must be good
(forgetting I was never mad on Pope).

Every male friend who saw me reading it
seized the e-reader out of my hands
devoured a few paragraphs,
then handed it back reluctantly, exclaiming,
“Such good stuff, isn’t it?”

I must say, I didn’t quite get it,
but I persevered. For several chapters.
By which time it gradually dawned —
it’s a boys’ book. This one fights that one,
these ones fight them. And in between
they give rousing speeches
urging each other on,
or occasionally chiding the few cowards.

They do like a bit of biffo, blokes.

Not me. I deleted Homer.


April PAD Challenge 2014, day 8: Two for Tuesday — a violent poem / a peaceful poem. This, of course, is the violent one.

8 April 2014

She Is

She is on the beach, picking up stones.
She bends to examine marks and colours.
It’s a warm autumn day, but very windy.
Her little carry bag is blown sideways
despite the weight of stones and her thongs*.
(She likes the feeling of sand in her toes.)

“I’m going to paddle my feet in the water,”
she says to her friend. Her friend comes too.
“Careful,” she adds, her friend being a stranger
to this beach, “The ocean plays tricks. It chases you:
entices you in too far, then pounces.”
Sure enough, the tide draws way back, and waits.

They stay on the edge. When at last it returns
with a sudden surge, it catches them only
up to their ankles. They sample it again, 
spreading over their feet, which drink it 
through soles, through skin;
then they retreat up the warm, firm sand.

She throws her arms wide, crying out,
her face lifted up to the sky. The sky is full 
of dancing clouds. Her friend also dances.
Finally they rest on the wooden bench
overlooking the vista: sand, surf and sky.
“We’ve got plenty of time,” they agree.


*Note to Americans: “thongs” is the Aussie term for what you call flip-flops.

April PAD Challenge 2014, day 7: Self-portrait.


7 April 2014

Night Poem

“Write a night poem,” 
came the instruction,
and at once I went blank.
I won’t say my mind went blank; 
no, it was full of invention. 

I started a poem about
black velvet skies 
and diamond stars, 
but I couldn’t extend it
past that hackneyed image.

I thought of writing how nights 
are lonely now without you — 
but the fact is, although true,
that’s only part of the story. I 
am one who likes aloneness.

I planned fantastical,
lurid words to conjure up
magickal tales of the night,
perhaps without much meaning.
They seemed too silly.

I picked up my book instead,
settled against my pillows,
sipped my cocoa and patted my cat,
as I like to do at night. But you can’t
make a poem out of that.


April PAD Challenge 2014, day 6: A night poem

6 April 2014

The Discovery of Light

Light, light, so much light!
Suddenly, at the end of the slow process,
enormous brightness everywhere.
And everywhere became larger.

I didn't have words, and scarcely thought.
But I had perception. I perceived
bedazzlement and my body's reaction.
Now I would call it shock.

Noise, too, was everywhere, huge,
around and through me. I had, you see,
no sense of a separate self. I
was the everywhere, with no edges.

I began to distinguish voices.
"She," they kept repeating, and somehow
I knew that "She" was me. So began
the experience of limits.

In every direction, whiteness — which had 
angles and corners. Heads and bodies
disappeared behind what I now see as walls;
but then I had no names, no concepts.

Movement was happening. Noses and chins,
cheeks and mouths and eyes, which I did not then
know or understand, moved close and away.
There was a sense of speed, of bustling.

And I felt myself moved (not fast, not a lot).
I was taken and wrapped, moved further from
a part of the everything, a dim lump
that I knew I needed — my exhausted mother.

And all the time, startled by light, I kept looking.
I began to experience my mind’s reaction too,
which now I identify as awakening
curiosity, even a beginning of wonder.

April PAD Challenge, day 5: A discovery poem

Submitted for Poets United's Poetry Pantry #205

5 April 2014

Since You Left

Life goes on, and that's the trouble. 
You never saw the four new pictures on the wall,
the ones I love the most. You never met
all the new friends I've made these last 18 months,
and the new next-door neighbour. I know
you could not have imagined the various new
directions I'd take, the old I would abandon.

You must have thought I'd stay
right where you left me — but stuff keeps happening, 
and even the cats have made their adjustments.
We have different routines now, becoming habits,
new, unexpected ways of doing our lives.
Who ever thought I'd be so independent?
You, perhaps — stepping back and allowing for it.

You told me I could do it, and I do.
You, my greatest cheer-leader, had no doubt.
But me, I seldom thought beyond your end.
It was getting us both through those hard days
that occupied me then. I forgot
that laughter could come again, and books
I'd love to read, and new poems.

And it's all good, as they say. Except when it's not.
I have so much abundant love in my life,
I should be ashamed of ever complaining. And yet
you are not here and never will be again in this life.
Don't tell me you're still with me in spirit! I know,
but it isn't the same. It's ordinary you I want to talk to
about the cats and pictures and books; that you I want to hug.

Since you left, I do this crazy thing.
I talk to you in my head. When I'm alone, I do it
out loud, and the cats understand, or at least don't question.
But it's you who have stayed where you were
when we said goodbye. You do not accompany me
on the rest of this journey; I'm going it alone.
And it sucks, do you hear me? It fucking sucks!


April PAD Challenge 2014, day 4: "Since —" (and fill in the blank).

4 April 2014

That Smell

That smell when I opened the cupboard tonight
linked me back to my past and my further past.
I am a young mother in her kitchen.
I am a child in my own mother's kitchen.
I was making myself a cup of cocoa
to take with me to my bed, to help me sleep.

The night was fading at last from hot to warm.
The cupboard released aromas: tea, coffee,
sugar, and the cocoa's chocolatey waft.
It was all subtle. You could include paper —
that fine, fresh scent of clean paper, barely there.
All of these scents together were faint and light.

But they were enough. Enough to connect me
back to selves who I used to be. The same food —
no, the same drink — unchanged through generations
of my family, and other families 
in English-speaking homes where cocoa is drunk,
throughout the world, becomes link, becomes message. 

Or where tea is drunk, or coffee. Where there is 
a cupboard, kitchen cupboard, with wooden doors.
Some household where all the habits, all the smells
combine in a continuous way of life;
and cocoa made with milk and drunk with sugar
is what you have at bedtime to help you sleep.

A message from the past, from my ancestors!
And from my past selves to the me I am now.
It is a good message. It has no content 
except itself, its existence. The message 
is the message. "Continuity," it says, 
and, "Lineage". And it seems to say, "Comfort".

April 2014 PAD Challenge, day 3: a message poem

3 April 2014

The Traveller

On the voyage
he falls asleep
and dreams of nothing.

The windows are dark;
they might be traversing 
land or ocean.

His mind reminds him
it is really empty space out there
but he can't fathom it.

It does not seem to be a mistake
when he is woken and told
they are flying toward the sun.

He wanted to prove
something ... he's uncertain what,
but this would surely serve.

To go out in the proverbial
blaze of glory ...
but they veer, pass unharmed, and go on.

(Triversen)

April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 2: a voyage poem

2 April 2014

Endings and Beginnings

Morning in the Caldera
is mist and warbling magpies
this time of year,
as summer softens to autumn.

The mountains are clear,
you can see every detail;
and there's just a slight coolness
in the early, after-dawn air.

I go out into the advancing day,
meet an old friend and a new.
One, custodian of ancient land,
will leave it as the other comes in.

One opened portals, sank a bore, 
kept the ground chemical-free.
The other plans to create a peace farm
to teach adults and nurture children.

When the day began, I did not know
the Universe would use me this way
to connect these two, who until today
knew nothing at all of each other.

By day's end I am home alone,
a good day's work done.
Coolness returns as the sun falls
gradually down past the horizon.

I watch our mountains turn darker blue,
and say my prayers of gratitude.
I too was a guardian of that land, briefly.
This transfer of energy matters deeply.

April Poem A Day Challenge 2014, day 1:
 Beginning / Ending (one poem or two).