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 May 2015

The Music of Light

The music of light is caught
in his eyes. Don't tell him
a song has been hunted and got
and imprisoned there — not dim
even when his lids make shade,
but shining ahead wherever he goes.
Whether he wanders in some glade
or follows the river where it flows,
there is still that radiant music. It lies
behind his own vision, it might be stone
for all it displays to him. But it never dies
to our perception. In colour and tone
it is a unique thing, delicate as finest lawn
or a rippling echo: not quite here, never gone.

That phrase, 'the music of light', has been presenting itself to me for some time, with no context. The Bout-Rimés challenge at 'imaginary garden with real toads' gave me a chance to explore it and see where it led — to a further mystery. 

The end words of these lines come from another poem. We were invited to identify it. I feel that I should and do know it, but can't place it. It's pretty obviously a sonnet, and might be Shakespearian ('glade' is not a word much used today; and 'got' in an older sense — of begotten — is more likely to end a line than the contemporary use I give it). However....

My poem could be seen as a free verse sonnet — having no regular metre, but a sonnet's rhyme scheme and some (unplanned) shifts of focus as it moves into the last six lines and then the last two — or just a 14-line poem. (I wasn't setting out to write a sonnet, but only to follow my imagination.)

I'm also linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #254

30 May 2015

Autumn dusk: haiku, April – May 2015

sleepy afternoon
yellow blooms
trail across concrete



happy couple
in the album at least
my first wedding


non-stop rain
thunderclap too close
April’s end


Solo Samhain
cast circle light candle
talk to my dead


early dark
a gate bangs loudly
near my house


Autumn dusk
blue hills darken sharp-edged
against pale sky


Evening breeze
narrow leaves flutter
like feathers


cool evening
my cat in the car
miaows once


Silver River: tanka, April – May 2015

The wind and I
dance out into the street
to play with leaves.
I wade through them, kick them up,
and the wind takes and swirls them.


I thought I found
one of your socks in my drawer,
grabbed it up to hug.
But it was one of mine —
I threw out all your clothes.


we must all die
only I didn’t want you
to leave sooner
than our elderly cats
and that grey tree in the yard


silver river
in afternoon sun
late autumn
I linger alone
watching the water


distant music
a tune I think I know
I strain to hear
the soft fall of notes
your face comes to mind


You are not
that very young man
long ago,
my incomparable lover.
Aged now, you look happy.


29 May 2015

Chubby Checker and Me and the First Husband

On YouTube
his bright face
still radiates delight.
And so it should:
the young face
caught in 1961

calling us all
to join him
in the dance —
as we did
all that summer,
again and again.

But my face
in the mirror,
that grew old.
No longer do
knees and ankles
swing and oscillate

as they did
that last summer.
Round and round
my memories go
again. And again,
back 50 years.

Tell me how
you loved me
so — and now
so long ago.
I know that
dance is past.

Oh dancing man,
oh gambling man,
I twisted away
to go again
far and far
away from summer

from your silver
cups and medals,
all those bands,
those Saturday nights.
All the twistings
of my life.

Where did you
go? I know
you're not alive.
Ghosts and memories ...
one more time 
let's twist again!

Click here for Chubby Checker singing Let's Twist Again

At 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are invited to have a party of one — to groove enthusiastically to our favourite dance number, then write whatever comes to mind afterwards.

28 May 2015

Survival of — the Fittest?

I failed to pull one weed,
a fine, feathery piece of green
lost among larger,
more legitimate plants.

Before I noticed, it grew
to the size of a strong young shrub
too thick for me to tug,
clinging hard to the earth.

Now it's a graceful tree
towering over that garden bed.
Its ferny, wind-ruffled leaves
crown three slender trunks.

It does no harm, I tell myself.
I like its beauty. One day it will be
majestic, I can tell.
I hope it's not noxious (illegal).

Meanwhile I keep removing
its little sisters and brothers
from all over my yard. Tiny,
they come away easily.

If I let them continue,
I'd soon have a forest!
And in the real forests,
I hope they never spread.

Our weeds are introduced
and pretty in a garden,
but left to roam would smother
all the indigenous species.

I want to keep the eucalypts
and everything else God placed here:
keep what feeds the koalas;
what native bees use for honey.

(I seldom consider my white skin
and the way my kind muscled in
to kill, crowd out, and take over from
the indigenous species.)

Written for Midweek Motif: Weeds/Weediness at Poets United

26 May 2015

Love Forever True

He died on a Monday,
the third day of Spring --
for each of us
a new beginning.

Beginning anew
on an unknown journey,
each of us alone,
still we reach for connection.

We spring into day,
after the night of his illness.
On that Monday, he died
into new adventures —

new adventures into
freedom from restriction
(his illness). The night after,
he came back to visit

still reaching for connection —
a back-track, a pause
on that unknown journey.
Truly, it was love. Forever.

Written for Monday WRites #13 at Gillena's invitation. I had thought to do a first word acrostic, but my opening lines were so short that wasn't very workable, so I ended up playing about with a pattern of (almost) repeated lines instead.

Also shared with Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

25 May 2015

The Edge of Dreaming River

You are leaving, he said to me,
and never again shall we see each other.
What am I going to do? And what
will you do, when we are far apart?

We sat at the edge of Dreaming River,
letting our bare legs dangle
in that green and rushing stream.
The clouds were swift, blown sideways.

I shall have my flask of green water
gathered from Dreaming River. I shall drink
drop by drop the memories of me and you,
and I shall not thirst, I said.

The clouds in the sky became
even frothier clouds in the river.
On the edge of the water, gripping
the grass tussocks, he saw this and swore.

I want to go too, he said. I want to go
far from here, as you can do —
but me, I'm eternally caught.
He glared at the clouds as they raced away.

I shall come back, I promised, after one year
and one day. Watch as the clouds pass over.
You will see me flying back to you. Only wait.
Meet me at the edge of Dreaming River.

But when I returned in a year and a day,
he never looked or saw. His gaze
was turned towards a laughing woman
who led him away from Dreaming River.

That edge, I heard her say, is dangerous.
One day, she said, you could fall
and be submerged in the green water.
She danced him away from the edge.

I am watching the clouds as they scud
sideways in front of the river wind. I am
dangling my legs in deep green water,
dreaming, at the edge of Lonely River.

Note: A fictional imagining, not autobiography!

The latest Play It Again at imaginary garden with real toads, asks us to revisit a previous challenge. I chose In Other Words from Jan. 15 2015, which asked poets to take a book title which already used words in unusual combination, and replace some words with others, also unexpected. I Turned The City of Dreaming Books into The Edge of Dreaming River

24 May 2015

Oldest Friend

We met sitting next to each other
at Library School, before we had
husbands or children, or even jobs.

But it took us half a term
to begin talking to each other
instead of the girls on our other sides.
Once started, never entirely stopped.

Our sons were companions
in their earliest years, because we
their mothers liked being together.

We both made poems, always.
She came with me to bring
poetry workshops into prison.

She was my boss
at two different libraries
(when, by then, I'd ditched the career
and was working part-time).

She knows where all my bodies
are buried. As I do hers.
And the names of the secret lovers.

A couple of quarrels, soon over.
One large misunderstanding 
moved past rather than resolved.
(Each still feels right, but — shrug.)

Jokes, allusions, and a special nickname
no-one else is left alive 
to understand.

Written as a list poem for 'Friday Recipe' at 'imaginary garden with real toads' (each stanza an item on the list of our friendship's development). Also linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #253

Note (re the nickname, now that some readers have worked it out): The person who gave it to me is still very much alive. It was my friend's son, when much too young to be able to say 'Ros
emary' with ease. But even he, a man now, possibly doesn't remember, and in any case would not have understood back then how and why others seized on it with delight. But my friend and I remember — as we remember those others who are no longer with us. 

21 May 2015

Sweet Dreams

A clear memory
involving you and me
in our heyday,
when we were vigorous
and efficient
in the way we did our lives —
our life together.

We are helping
a woman, a visitor
resting on our bed.
She is lying face down;
I don’t recognise
who she is, but I am familiar
with your compassion.

Then I become
lucid, and realise I dream.
At once I understand
this never happened here:
in my dream
I am dreaming another dream
as if remembering.

Can it be
we had a life, a continuity
beside this one,
on some other plane?
Did we always
inhabit each other’s dreams?
I like the thought.

Happiness was
the irrelevant by-product
of sharing our lives,
conducting them together.
It was being aligned,
interested in each other.
And we were helpful!

was active; it was engagement.
I like that it goes on
in another, simultaneous realm
accessed by dreams.
Perhaps it keeps continuing
even when I wake.

In my mind now,
my awake, remembering mind,
I am running
to meet you, across a green field
by a stream.
There are low hills in the distance,
and wildflowers.

Written in response to the current Midweek Motif at Poets United: Happiness.

20 May 2015

At 2 a.m.

I have been in bed an hour.
I closed my book and turned the light out
thirty minutes ago.

The man next door can't sleep again.
He is playing his AC-DC collection
again, loud.

My cat comes crashing through
his swinging flap in the laundry door,
and yowls.

'Shut up,' I tell him (the cat
not the man next door). 'It's much
too early for breakfast.'

I toss and twitch, get up again
to pee, wonder if I'll ever settle ...
and wake at eight.

On my bed, a lump of dark
stirs, pricks its ears,

Written in response to dVerse Instapoetics prompt, and shared with Tuesday Platform for 19 May 2015 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

19 May 2015

Absent-mindedly ... Erotic haiku Jan.-March 2015

her snowy curves
stretched out under the stars
my landscape


sweet in her frills
she blossoms
blushing rose


I most remember
that night you massaged me
all over


Valentine’s Day alone
I cup my breasts


‘I love erotic roses.’
He bends to their folds,
breathes deep.


I sit beside him.
What might those neat grey pants
hide or reveal?


Oops! Didn't write any erotic haiku in April, being busy with other poems every day for 'poetry month', and almost forgot to post these earlier ones.

17 May 2015

My Chimes

My mellow wind chimes were a gift
from one of my Reiki students
twenty years ago. Her husband
made them for me at her request.
(They were young then, and happy.)

The chimes are beautifully balanced.
They sing with a golden voice.
They are dark green metal and wood.
They have come with me to every house
I've lived in since they were given.

On dark nights or stormy days
their notes have sounded comfort,
continuity. They sang me to sleep
like a mother her baby, or woke me
sweeter than church or temple bells.

My love and I heard them together,
the music of our days; sometimes
a tinkling background, blending
with the bells on our cats' collars;
sometimes deep and slow and sonorous.

It was after he died — on a wild night,
a sudden clang alarmed me, and a thud.
In the morning I found my chimes
blown halfway down the drive, torn off
by a gust, the old rope frayed right through.

I don't know where the original maker
is now. A friend examined them, fixed them,
and they sound themselves again — symbol
of renewal. I hear them in my deep nights
and through my solitary days: tolling, 'I am!'

Written in response to the Weekend Mini Challenge — Connect the Chimes at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. Also submitted for Poetry Pantry#252 at Poets United.

14 May 2015

Making No Waves

I was brought up by still water. Waves, to me,
were those gentle ripples made by the wind
briefly skimming the surface of the river.

I saw the ocean from far on top of a cliff,
swooping and swirling below, thrusting white fingers
up the glassy sides of sheer black rocks.

I knew that, down there, those distant eddies
were huge; their force could hurl a grown man
to crash and shatter against that wall of stone.

I learned dog-paddle at school, won't drown
in a backyard swimming pool, and probably not
in a dam or a creek, or even a lake. But the sea ...

I never enter the surf. I'm too old and too large
for swimming in the safe shallows. Instead I paddle
at the sand's edge, where the spent waves can't catch me.

I think I drowned in Atlantis. Now I won't submerge
even in still water, above the neck. While my face stays out,
I'm calm. I can sit on a boat and laugh at the spray.

And I like to live by the ocean, hearing at night
the rumble as it pours across the world, to break
on our shore and soften, rhythmically, over and over.

Next time I come, I think I'll be a man. I'll live in Sydney —
or Hawaii — and throw myself into the sea while I'm a child,
to play without fear, and finally conquer the waves.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Waves

12 May 2015

Secrets Rising Up

It was the merest fragment 
of a glimpse — she was
insistent on that — no clear view
of what he was withdrawing
from the early morning sea.
It could have been a body, or just
a mess of wet clay, she said.

I wanted to worry at her story, as if
it was a bone to be gnawed, and I
a dog with a huge empty belly.
My hunger was a sharp knife.
But it was like trying to bite fog;
my gnashing teeth closed on nothing.

The place had us both tangled —
lonely suburb at the ocean’s edge,
miasma weighting the air. Behind each door,
behind the blank face of every house,
you could almost smell it: blood.

This is another attempt at a poem using the following word list from some Pablo Neruda poems: fragment / insistent / withdrawing / sea / clay / gnawed / empty / knife / suburb / face / house / blood. It was in fact my first attempt, but I couldn't make it work so I wrote the 'Uneasy Tanka' instead. I've done some more work on this one since, and am linking it to this week's Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

10 May 2015

Go or Stay?

The quiet morning
is full of light.

If I go out into the air with you,
even though I come back alone

I shall be full of the noises
of other people: cacophony

of trying to be happy
away from the silence of being.

You, though, do all things
to make others bloom into joy.

I shall go to meet you,
as if carrying roses.

Mini-challenge, from 'imaginary garden with real toads': to write in the style of Jane Hirshfield. I wonder if I have succeeded?

9 May 2015

Uneasy Tanka

A fragment of leaf
dances, frail yet insistent
in the white shallows —
withdrawing, approaching
on flirting tide, teasing sea.


With her long fingers
she kept moulding the wet clay,
but it gnawed at her
with its great blankness, empty.
Some truths must be shaped by knife.


The suburb is masked.
Each door hides a secret face;
each house holds stories
pent up, threatening to spill
like wastes unflushed, or dark blood.

Written in response to 'Get listed for May' at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

The word list we were asked to use came from poems by Neruda, but I don't know that my efforts owe much to him! The words, from three different poems, were fragment / insistent / withdrawing / sea; clay / gnawed / empty / knife; suburb / face / house / blood. I decided to make a separate poem for each sequence, and the tanka form suggested itself — 'uneasy' because they get progressively darker. I'm not sure where that mood came from — but perhaps, after all, from Neruda, getting into my subconscious.

7 May 2015

A Certain Elder

Her hair is white.
Her years increase.
She has stopped striving.
She cares very little now
how she may be judged.
Quietly, she pleases herself.

She is named Crone
in her Tradition,
wise advisor in need
even to High Priestess,
High Priest.
This surprises her.
She doesn't feel wise.

There have been
fears and struggles.
There have been
many tears, much rage.
Yet, after all of that,
she still loves her life.

More and more
old friends reminisce
about old times — when,
they say, she encouraged
realisation of their dreams.
This too surprises her.
She has forgotten.

She still, always, delights
in the earth and the stars,
the sky and the ocean,
the animals and the trees.
Walking around her town,
she is greeted warmly by name.

Various young women
claim her as mentor,
thank her for all she teaches.
Some men say the same.
This surprises her most of all. 
She wonders, what things
do they learn?

Written in response to Midweek Motif — Honoring our Elders at Poets United.

5 May 2015

This Moment

Found poem: excerpts from journal entry, 4 February 2001. 
Shaped into poetry 5 May 2015.

To Andrew
this moment:
accompanying him 
to lunch and a movie 
for his birthday. 
He is 72.

He drives along
this winding gravel road,
so narrow
we squeeze to the edge
when cars come the other way.

Relief! Both causeways
are high and dry —
only yesterday
still partly under water.
But the sun is shining.
‘Look!’ I say.

I am thankful
for the ferns of the rainforest,
the sun glancing,
the bends that slow the car,
the smell of leaves.

In a chaos
of flood and danger,
branches down,
time seeming warped,
when we crash over debris
and the car stinks of wet –

in such a space,
these green ferns,
this golden light
soften and soothe
the air, the mood. 

We enter the highway.
Not at all wet here.
What happened
to all the water?
You’d never know; 
so normal.

A syncopated rhythm
plays on the car radio.
‘When the sun shines
on the mountain’
sings the singer.

I realise the man
is singing of freedom
no-one can take away.

Shared in today's Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads.

3 May 2015

Grasping Water

Growing older, I find
everything important resides
in the ordinary and unimportant.

Shall I then elevate
those ordinary actions,
those unimportant events?

A mistake.
Attach no importance
even to those matters.

Let the ordinary remain
ordinary. Otherwise
you have lost the essence.

When you stop to say,
'Now I am happy' —
the moment is past.

Today, at 'imaginary garden with real toads', the prompt is 'flash 55 PLUS' — a piece of poetry or prose in exactly 55 words, plus (today) a touch of Zen. I sometimes think, if I wasn't Pagan I'd probably be Buddhist; I like a lot of Buddhist sayings. Yet in many ways I think they're opposites. I once read that the difference between the mystic and the magician is that the mystic says, 'This place sucks; I'm outa here,' whereas the magician says, 'This place sucks; let's fix it.' Which puts me with the magicians (or witches). Involvement, not detachment! 

The first verse of the above is true about me. To arrive at the rest, I read a lot of Zen poems to get the mindset. Funnily enough, I now think there's truth in all that I've said. But whether it's a poem or a mere homily....  Perhaps it would take a much deeper immersion in Zen to produce true poetry from those ideas.

(I am quite proud of the title! *Grins*.)


1 May 2015

Over and Out

The fine, blue rim of the Earth
falls away beneath me. I've overshot.

I can make only one last communication.
I'll soon be out of range. Also, shutting off.

With the communicator off, I can survive
a very long time. I have all the resources.

Might even find a new planet yet, or a new
time zone or both. But it's goodbye to you.

Dear Earth, and all my friends and family,
I will miss you forever. I wish I had saved you.

But it's a big Universe. One of the others
might still get home safe with good news.

Somewhere there will be rivers and seas
that still have fish, not toxic wastes.

Somewhere there will be landscapes
with abundant trees and pure air.

Some day, someone you sent to explore
will return with knowledge of a new Earth.

Forgive me please for my error, but anyway
I had no new hope to bring you, nothing.

I just wanted to come home, to touch down,
to see you, to recapture my youth ....

The final prompt for 'Poems in April' at 'imaginary garden with real toads' is: 'A few minutes from now, you will lose all means of communication with humanity.  You will not die, but will no longer be able to interact with the world.  What's the last thing you say?'  I felt I needed to create a scenario to explain this circumstance. As to the content, my last message in any circumstance, if I knew it to be the last, would always be of love.