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.

19 December 2016

Safe from Storm

Here we are again, 
me and my small black cat.
She is licking her tail,
one leg stuck up high
beside her head …
now she is scratching
briskly behind an ear.

We are in our garden.
It is not yet wet,
but rain threatens to fall
from the closing-in sky.
Everything is still, in a dead
pause, as if fetching
power out of the air.

As without, not within!
I give her a pat,
watch her uncoil.
We know, by and by
the sky will rain hard,
make thunder. But, watching,
by then we’ll be inside our door.

She is enough companion
to soothe my heart
and keep it sweetly full.
I hope that also I
fulfil her deepest need.
Contentment is catching,
I trust, for me and for her.

14 December 2016

I Can Hear the Music

Behind the high fence
he plays his radio loud.
In the late afternoon sun,
gone from hot to warm,
I'm happy to listen unseen
to music I also like.

The wall of sound is dense.
I feel like one of the crowd
at a live concert – not here alone
in sprawling ease. To him
I'm invisible, unheard. My garden
is over the fence. He won't look.

It would make no sense
to him that my tastes are broad.
Advanced years like mine
enjoying hard rock, he can't fathom.
'Boyo,' I think, 'My generation –
we're the ones who invented rock!'

I restrain the urge to dance.
At the same time, I'm glad
that lively impulse hasn't gone.
Instead I unearth a poem;
it gives a cheeky grin
as it chooses the shape to take.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Music.

11 December 2016

Some Scars

Some scars I wear proudly 
on the surface, bold.
Others are deeper, 
unseen and untold,
buried under layers 
of thickening years.

The long-ago rivers 
of painful tears
at last stopped flowing
and finally dried.
Only I know the poison 
still infects my blood.

Another for Quadrille #22: scars, at dVerse

Celebrating Sanaa

She wishes to make the world beautiful
And uses the weaving of words –
Not, perhaps, her first language, but one 
Adopted in olden ways she makes new
And rapidly masters, becoming adept.

Right now the world has circled the sun
In joyous return to the date of her birth.
Zealously we accept her poetic invitation,
Very glad to know her and wish for her – in verse,
In all ways: a Happy, splendid, beauteous Birthday!

Sanna Rizvi, who blogs at A Dash of Sunny and hosts weekly prompt nights there, this week invites fellow-poets to celebrate her birthday with poetic wishes. Not a problem; she has become a much-loved member of the poetic blogosphere!  Find more birthday poems here.

10 December 2016

An Imperfect Coupl(et)ing

I think I’ll abandon the landay.
Harsh and witty not my forté, it quite forsakes me!

Landay: Poem comprised of self-contained couplets–as few as one couplet will do. ... Landays tend to reveal harsh truths using wit.  – Robert Lee Brewer

7 December 2016


Or, The Play Of Scars

Now is wild summer.
Storms carve the sky
with sharp light; 
thunderous drumrolls

Small cat is careful, 
places herself underneath 
my big wooden table, 
folds herself smaller still.

Memories carry
two other cats
who crouched, gazing,
in the open doorway,
revelling in storms.

Another piece for dVerse's Quadrille #22. This time the obligatory word 'scar' is hidden – four times.

6 December 2016

All His Life

From ten years old
twice daily
my Dad's injured shin,
open to the bone,
was dressed in red 
and re-bandaged.

Above this gaudy wound –
more horrifying  
to child me –
on his smooth, pale knee
a dimpled scar
(like a blinded eye).

For quadrille #22 at dVerse we are asked to include the word 'scar'. It brought back a vivid memory.

(Dad's legs were almost unnaturally smooth and pale, as he always wore long trousers to conceal the large bandage. Years of attempted skin grafts never took. The deep scar on the knee was from the same 10-year-old accident.)


The next war: USA and China,
writes journalist Pilger, shared by a friend on facebook.

That Pilger! Always so confronting.
I put the article aside, make myself some toast

turn on the TV, not for the news
(who wants to watch angst and horror?) but Cirque du Soleil.

Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides offers a new form challenge for December: the landay. As regular readers will know, I enjoy trying new forms, especially with such an opportunity to keep practising them, so you may expect to see a few more efforts here.

Note: It is clear from comments here and elsewhere that this one is not working satirically as intended, so it will need a massive rewrite later. (I greatly admire and trust Pilger, I never miss watching a serious version of the nightly news, and I do NOT recommend turning to 'bread and circuses' instead of confronting reality. [I do love Cirque du Soleil, and probably should have chosen something less beautiful and uplifting to try and make my point.])

4 December 2016


He thinks to wipe his face away,
making pain a mask. Not play
but anguish prompts this frantic task.
Obliteration? He would ask
not to hide, rather reveal
the ugliness he cannot heal,
imposing inner truth upon
the human face he wishes gone –
exposing self as mask of pain
over, over, and over again.

Written for Flash 55 PLUS (Dec. 3, 2016) at 'imaginary garden with real toads' – the 'PLUS' being a response to this video:

3 December 2016

Early Summer

The day, hot blue,
smells of earth.
The sky stills;
clouds, hills, horizon blur.

Hear the silence: 
the little town by the river
slowing down in the heat.

Somewhere a smell 
of sunscreen – 
warm brown skin, 
bare feet.

2 December 2016

Tempted to Tell

It was a good dinner.
Afterwards we settled back
over coffee, and one said:
‘I sometimes think ETs
must have discovered us
by now – don't you?’

How that triggered my inner
cringing fear. Feeling a little sick
I kept so quiet, the dead
might have been more voluble. Jeez!
How could I say I knew this,
and very personally too?

I have been called a sinner
full of wicked lies, my soul black.
And worse than that: raving mad.
After enough reactions like these,
you learn the ways to pass
for normal – never mind what’s true.


A little green man? No, taller and thinner.
Limbless, featureless, my friend Kondark
resembled a floating column; had
a good brain though. But please,
where do you find a physicist who’d choose
to telepathise with an alien. Like who?

So he went back home, no-one a winner.
He’d wanted to help us, but needed to talk
with a fellow-scientist. That sort of head,
on earth, does not tend to telepathise
with alien visitors – can’t encompass
that reality, even though it’s not new.

And who could I have told? The stigma
is still too strong. They remain in the dark
the rationalists (so-called) – still led
by terror of the unknown. They’d seize
me and shut me up in the nut-house.…
(Yes I kid you, of course; you know I do.)

Written in response to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Social Stigma. 

1 December 2016

The Mind an Astrolabe

After Dransfield

The night, cool green,
tastes of air.
The sea moves beneath;
waves wind and tide coordinate.

Sniff the bougainvillea:
the South Pacific, 
the purple islands.
A cloud ... a beach....

Something about wine – 
and already the stones 
of court and temple
different, mourning.

At dVerse Poetics – Covers we are asked to do a 'cover' of someone else's poem, using their words but in some way making them one's own. I wanted to pay tribute to Michael Dransfield, but it was hard – his poems are all so perfect just as they are. In the end I decided on an erasure poem taken from my favourite, 'Patricia's Raga', using part of its subtitle as my title. (And I slightly changed the last word.) It still feels rather sacrilegious! But I hope it leads you to the hauntingly beautiful original.

30 November 2016

A Prayer for Bad Weather

It rumbles again, 
thundering –
the air out there,
the malevolent sky.

please make rain
for my unsoaked flowers.

The air out there
is hot and heavy.
Yesterday I rain-danced.

The malevolent sky
released two tiny, stinging drops,
no more. Oh, stop teasing!

29 November 2016

Why I Can't Write About Cooking

Well you see, 
I’m not much of a cook.
I have little patience:
can't do games of chess or recipes.

I’m not much of a cook
except when it comes to the simple –
omelettes, fried mushrooms, grilled fish….

I have little patience
for weighing and mixing and waiting
for the oven to work its measured magic.

Can't do games of chess, or recipes.
The ingredients – rare spices, self-control –
are far too exotic for me; I don’t stock them.

The current Mini-Challenge at 'imaginary garden with real toads' is Cooking Up a Storm. This is not the luscious, foody poem requested! I call myself a 'non-cook'. But it was another opportunity to practise the trimeric, as I am doing this month. (I am breaking rules all over the place. We were asked to write a poem of four tercets, and in a trimeric the first verse has one line more – but it comes very close, so I hope I can get away with it.) PS I know how to play chess, but I always want to play it like Chinese Checkers.

Reaching Beyond

Softly calling
across hilltops
oceans and skies:
the memories.

Across hilltops
as on bird wings –
hear them flutter.

Oceans and skies
ripple with white –
wave tips and clouds.

The memories,
hint and linger.

28 November 2016


far off
I hope
for rain

far off

I hope
the plants
will live

for rain
from fall

I had a fancy to try a trimeric with very short lines.

Linking to Gillena's Monday WRites

27 November 2016

Crowded House Live on the Opera House Steps

In my living room
I who think I have no beat
tap my feet, my hands drum.
I who think I am tuneless hum along.

I who think I have no beat
sway in time, nod my head, see on TV
the live audience nodding in unison.

Tap my feet, my hands drum,
I'm right out of body-consciousness now,
I'm more in my body than I've ever been.

I who think I am tuneless hum along.
Lights throb, smoke billows, Nick dances.
On stage and off, the melodies rise and fall.

Linking to the Tuesday Platform for 18/4/17 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. (Day 18 of April Poetry Month 2017)

The Peaceful Place

I will go to Kouranga
perhaps for the last time,
to look out over the trees,
the lawns, the hills, the water.

Perhaps for the last time
I'll sit with my friends 
in this house they made,

to look out over the trees
from their wide veranda. Perhaps 
we'll see the wallabies feeding.

The lawns, the hills, the water
and the gardens, all flowering now,
remain certain: an oasis I carry within.

(My friends are moving soon.)

Linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #333

Three Magic Wands

My three wands are magical indeed.
The first was made years ago, by my friend Nedz;
the second was bestowed by Tess and the Universe;
Letitia is now creating my third, which has a special purpose.

The first was made years ago, by my friend Nedz.
She channelled it, using spiral wood that she found 
in the bush and polished, and two amethysts.

The second was bestowed by Tess and the Universe. 
I dreamed of a laser, as wand and athame both. Tess
took me to choose crystals; there was a wand with laser tip ...

Letitia is now creating my third, which has a special purpose.
She has found what is perfect for me in stick and stone.
She will magic it for 'happiness and pure joy'.

How Fortunate, Dear Readers

How fortunate, dear readers, that you enjoy 
all these poems about my garden and my cat.
They are likely to keep right on coming.
My obsessions nowadays are quiet, insular.

All these poems about my garden and my cat
connect me to earthy, practical ways of being. 
Otherwise I might fly off, disappear into dreams.

They are likely to keep right on coming,
the dreams and flights – but so are the frangipani,
the red geraniums, my cat's games and her hungers.

My obsessions nowadays are quiet, insular.
After all, I grew up on an island; and I carry quiet
within me, an interior island of words, of poetry.

Linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #331

23 November 2016

Take a Breath

Imagine a star,
high and golden.
From each point, light 
radiates out, focuses in

on our world … 
this country … 
this town …

into this very room –
into you, filling you,
filling your heart. 
Breathe it in deeply!

Now, from our hearts,
we send forth

20 November 2016

Dear Love

Dear love,
when you left me
you did not leave me.

Now I am bound to my house,
where your voice 
murmurs from corners

and sometimes I look up
to catch your face,
your same old smile.

Dear love.

Written in response to The Cross-roads ~ Micro Poetry at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

19 November 2016


A couple of days of rain.
My jade plant straightens and grows taller.
The rosebush reaches higher, stretches wider.
The gardenia pours forth bloom after bloom.

My jade plant straightens and grows taller.
Its flat round jewels of leaves
glow greener in the sunlight.

The rosebush reaches higher, stretches wider,
looks renewed. Aged and tired in winter,
now it’s a vigorous youngster again.

The gardenia pours forth bloom after bloom
in purest white, stark yet soft, and the perfume
is seduction, is food, is transcendent heaven.

The Vines That Have Been So Leafy

The vines, that have been so leafy
for so many years (seven)
since they started coming over my fence,
are now a tangle of bare branches.

For so many years (seven)
they have spread to cover this side,
and flowered twice a year (being two vines).

Since they started coming over my fence,
I have been training them, winding them
in and out through each other, thickly.

Are, now, a tangle of bare branches 
more and more replacing the abundant green?
But along the top there are still flowers.

(But by the time I took the photo, the flowers were gone.)

Linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #330

17 November 2016

Invisible to the Eye

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery: The Little Prince.

I used to measure people by whether they could SEE me.
It wasn't meant as arrogance or unkindness –
it showed me my tribe, those few I could talk to openly
about the invisible world, and the invisible me.

It wasn't meant as arrogance or unkindness
when the many others dismissed me as boring, uncool
or whatever. (I never really knew.) How should I interest them?

It showed me my tribe, those few I could talk to openly,
when I saw in their eyes that they perceived the invisible.
But then the Messengers said, 'Time to stop hiding. Shine your light!'

About the invisible world, and the invisible me
were shields, veils, spells of protection. I was used to working incognito. 
I liked the anonymity. To stand out in public and blaze is alarming.

Linked to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Invisibility

16 November 2016

This Garden I Keep Mentioning

I often write poems about being in my garden,
frequently accompanied by my cat.
It is a small garden, vines on the fences,
the neighbours’ trees filling my sky.

Frequently, accompanied by my cat,
I sit out under the extended roof
to write in my journal or make new poems.

It is a small garden. Vines on the fences
have spread a long way in my seven years here.
There are two, entwined, flowering in different seasons.

The neighbours’ trees filling my sky
are abundantly leafy all year, stretching wide and high.
Now it is Spring; there are flashes of bright lorikeets.

Photo: Rainbow lorikeet. Free download found via Google.

Linked to dVerse Poetics: Johnny's Garden

15 November 2016

My Birth Day

I’ve always loved my birthday being the 12th of November – that number, that name, beautiful in my ears. When, in my romantic teens, sweet Johnny Mathis sang The Twelfth of Never, I secretly claimed it as mine, with the private meaning that I would live forever. (Never mind the logic – I was creating my own.) In Australia, November is late Spring, warming up to expansive Summer but still leavened by breezes and cooler evenings. This year – just a few days ago – I spent my 77th birthday with a congenial friend, cruising on a boat on a tree-lined river, the weather just warm enough. Then we nourished ourselves with a concert culminating in stirring flamenco, a sunset light show projected on the water, and a colourful lantern parade after dark. In late afternoon a wild thunderstorm exploded right overhead – but we were indoors enjoying Devonshire tea just then, and it hit and ran. It only added excitement.

Spring rain
gushes down windows
we can't see through

Linked to dVerse Haibun Monday #25: You say it's your birthday?

14 November 2016

Spiritual Explorer

She calls herself agnostic:
a word for one who thinks
there might be a God –
one who remains uncertain.

A word for one who thinks
might suit her well. 
She does a lot of that. However ...

There might be a God?
She asserts there are far too many!
Beyond them, she discerns a Presence.

One who remains uncertain
might keep exploring as she does.
The finding, though, invalidates the label.

Festival Haiku

music speeds
her red shoes stamp

mist rises like smoke 
we order wood-fired pizza

parade at sunset 
siblings make a lantern
for the dead boy

Linking to the Tuesday Platform for Dec 6 2016 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

10 November 2016

14, at Trevallyn

I always liked to go alone
on the path through the bush
down to the Gorge and the peacocks.
I would find a staff to help me over the stones.

On the path through the bush
there were many fallen branches 
the right weight and length, firmness and give.

Down to the Gorge and the peacocks 
the way was uneven and steep.
I swapped my skirts for pants.

I would find a staff to help me over the stones,
test the grip, and set out like a legendary explorer,
with no-one to see me as just a weak girl.

Linked to Poets United's Midweek Motif: Path

9 November 2016

Saying Goodbye

“It’s the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: ‘Good-bye.”  
― Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard

We never said that final goodbye to each other,
always thinking there'd be one more day, one moment,
until there was no time left, it had all run away so fast.
Perhaps, also, we never believed we could really be parted.

Always thinking there'd be one more day, one moment,
we spoke of immediate, practical things – the pleasure 
of a comfortable chair, the view of trees and hills from the high window.

Until there was no time left – it had all run away so fast –
we said what was in our hearts with eyes and touch. 
Goodbye, coming finally to mind, was not in our hearts.

Perhaps, also, we never believed we could really be parted.
How wrong we were! Now the word chokes me with grief.
And how right: you being, after all, still present here, always with me.

8 November 2016

A Quaint Quibble

Queer querents queued,
queasily questing,
quashing their qualms.

Quite quickly
quaffing quince quinine,
the Queen quoth, 'Quiet!' 

'How Quixotic,' 
the Quartermaster
quizzingly quipped.

'I question your quenching,'
he quacked quarrelsomely.
The Quality quaked and quivered.

'I quit,' he quavered,
'quarantining this quintessentially 
quotidian quagmire!'

For Quadrille #20 at dVerse we are asked to write it around 'cue' – or 'Q'.

7 November 2016

Cooking Up a Storm, er, Form

There was something about the dizain,
It suited me down to the ground. 
It is not the case with the trimeric.
(I keep wanting to call it turmeric.)

It suited me down to the ground,
the dizain. But the trimeric puts me in mind
of ground-up spices – or, I suppose, ground down.

It is not the case with the trimeric
that my mind rises lightly to the challenge 
like a perfect syllabub. (Syllables are not to be thought of.)

I keep wanting to call it turmeric,
and to take ship for the spice realms
to acquire more flavour, or even a whole new recipe.

Written in response to a form challenge at Poetic Asides.
Sharing (July 2017) with Poets United's Poetry Pantry #364


On the street down the hill, half-hearted fireworks 
pop and splutter like distant thunder or a gurgling fridge.
It's the fifth of November, Guy Fawkes night.
I remember huge bonfires, in Launceston in my childhood.

Pop and splutter – like distant thunder or a gurgling fridge –
briefly, then it's all done. Too soon, perhaps, after
the newer habit of Halloween? (Is Bonfire Night dying?)

It's the fifth of November, Guy Fawkes night –
'Remember, remember...' and I do remember
sparklers, Catherine wheels, rockets, penny bungers.

I remember huge bonfires in Launceston in my childhood,
smoke billowing in chill Spring air, our frosty breath, 
the neighbourhood dads in charge: all those certainties.

4 November 2016

Being Here Now

There are two new gardenia blooms in my garden.
America prepares to vote for a new President.
In Syria they are breaking eggs to make an omelette.
Dandelions and clover appear on my lawn.

America prepares to vote for a new President
while the rest of the world collectively shudders.
Then each country turns back to its own problems.

In Syria they are breaking eggs to make an omelette.
I mean of course that we are, noble saviours.
And the children there? Can’t be helped!

Dandelions and clover appear on my lawn.
Their bright, dancing faces delight; but I must mow.
I see no bees this year, despite the scent of gardenias.

Linking to the Tuesday Platform for 8 Nov. 2016 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

Small Cat Evening

Small cat in the evening sprawls or curls
on the newly-vacated chair at my desk
or next to me on the two-seater couch,
and finally on the other half of the bed.

On the newly-vacated chair at my desk
my smell, my warmth, my imprinted shape
are a comfort. And, she assumes equal authority.

Or next to me on the two-seater couch
she takes her place as my companion
sharing the time while I watch TV, as couples do.

And finally, on the other half of the bed,
she asserts that she belongs, it's her home too,
she has the right – also, we have the love.

Linking to the Tuesday Platform for 15 Nov. 2016 at 'Imaginary garden with real toads'

Small Cat Every Morning

Small cat goes every morning
to examine the tranquil garden:
around, behind, underneath the leaves,
down paths and into corners.

To examine the tranquil garden
needs close inspection, and takes time.
She returns often to my chair, for pats.

Around, behind, underneath the leaves
she may discover new gardenia buds
or lizards. She looks back at me, to say, 'See!'

Down paths and into corners
I watch her explore with nose and alert ears.
She likes to make sure it's safe for her and me.

A trimeric, the latest Poetic Asides challenge.

Linking to the Tuesday Platform for 8 Nov. 2016 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

2 November 2016


I can see you now, a slight girl in a slim white slip of a dress, walking past and turning to catch my eye. You remember it too, and the way our eyes locked a moment, before I turned back to my client and you walked on. Your angels told you to come back later and give me a message. 'Don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't be charging money for this work,' you said. 'You chose to help people this way. You didn't have to. You have a right to be paid.'  The week before, another young woman in a different market had harangued me loudly and publicly, telling me I was wrong to charge money for spiritual work. Your message was a vindication. You told me, too, you could see when I did my readings that I was connecting directly to Source. Impulsively I asked for your phone number. Thereafter, when I myself needed a reading, I would phone and ask you. When you wanted one, you would phone me. We were bridges of light for each other. We quickly became friends. Then you wanted me to be your adopted mother, replacing that other who was harsh and cold. I probably shouldn't have agreed. Now there are times when you hear me as her. If I am puzzled, you take it as criticism. When you react, I feel attacked.  It's easy to find a bridge to God, not always easy to maintain the bridge to each other.

thick cloud
blocks out the mountains
hides the sky 

Written for Haibun Monday #24: bridge at dVerse


Mist and thick white cloud. The mountains all gone,
leaving only the lower, closer hills
around the suddenly blank horizon
which holds all within, close contained: no spills
of breath, air or leaf. Even birdsong stills
inside this cup, this cauldron of silence
that rings us round. Past the little distance
visible from nearest to furthest ridge,
high peaks and sky are lost – that whole expanse
that lifts the heart up, and beyond the edge.

Linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #327

31 October 2016

What Kills the Heart

What kills the heart is the lie uncovered,
exposing a different truth to your eyes.
Everything you had thought is other.

You would rather not be so newly wise,
but once you have seen, you cannot devise
any way to twist your perception back
to the old, taken-for-granted world view.

Suddenly you are walking a new track,
unknown, unmapped. There is nothing to do
but journey on, inside this cold new you.

29 October 2016

Wearing it Like a Flag

I am snowy, she is steely silver.
My dear late husband's hair was perfect white
like the very best quality paper,
or clean snow – but softer, not blinding bright;
more halo-like, symbol of inner light.

Old blondes are sometimes yellow-streaked. I'm glad
mine didn't go like that. I always had
a hankering for beautiful white hair.
'But you'll look old!' they told me. Well, my bad.
I'm old, snowy and proud; finally there.

Linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #326