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 January 2016

Nightmares Wide Awake

In a long cast of moonlight,
the ghosts stood guard at my door.

In the dark around my bed
whispering voices gathered.

I was frozen, paralysed.
Only my mind could resist.

Hours of mental wrestling:
Don’t fall asleep, don’t succumb!

I made a shield. It was real.
I made it with my mind.

I kept it solid all night,
keeping the whispers out –

and the whisperers, and even
the tall, silent ghosts.

All the years of my childhood
the nightly visitors came.

They made me deep and secret.
They made me stubborn and strong.

from an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
(Please do not reproduce this image.)

Written for the Sunday Mini Challenge, How about the nightly visits? 
at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

Also linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #287.

30 January 2016

Rescue Cat

A keyhole view of you
might highlight your eyes
gazing back with a yellow glare,
or sometimes pleading –
but mostly 

You are in a new place.
You know how this goes.
You've played Pass the Parcel before.
Handed over again,
now you are simply 
learning the new details.

Kindness is usual
at first, or for a while,
but not necessarily 
always a haven to trust.
You'll take your time.
You'll take a lot of time.

A keyhole view might show
a curling paw 
that flexes needle claws,
a full yawn
revealing dagger teeth.
You sleep with both ears cocked.

 Bits of Inspiration at 'imaginary garden with real toads', we are asked to write a poem that's a glimpse through a keyhole.

This is my first poem for my new cat, Selene. Not the sort of cat poem I'd ever expected to write – but she is teaching me.

The photo is mine and should not be reproduced without permission. © Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2016.

26 January 2016

This Poem is a Spider, a Scream, a Regret

This poem is a small spider.
This poem is a woman screaming.
This poem is shame and regret.

This poem is a tickle on my shoulder
just as I’m stepping into the shower.
This poem is brown, with radiating legs.
This poem is a small spider.

This poem is me screaming
(I always do, I can’t help it)
then jumping up and down to shake it off.
This poem is a grown woman screaming.

This poem is a woman stepping out of the shower
looking for the spider’s landing-place (surely it ran?)
then seeing in a corner its drowned body.
This poem is her shame and regret.

This poem is a small spider meaning no harm.
This poem is a woman screaming and not thinking.
This poem is shame and regret, and a failure of courage.

This poem was written for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Courage.
This poem is in the form Boomerang Metaphors, invented by Hannah Gosselin.

Old Happiness

I sit on my tiny front veranda with my cat. Too late to do café writing today, I do it here, with coffee and fruit cake. Dark fruit cake, almost black and very moist.

A great brown bird just flew over, reddish-brown, across my driveway to disappear past my roof. A coucal I thought at first, but no, the tail wasn't long enough. Thinking of shape and size – a small hawk. (Merlin! Is that you?) It sailed leisurely, with some smaller bird in tow like a satellite or an attendant.

I love this time of evening, when the hills opposite become navy-blue and featureless, sharp-edged against the whitening sky. The feathery tree across the road dances in the light breeze.

old diary
words of past happiness
make me weep

(Written 22/5/2015 - 26/1/2016)

If you think you recognise this, perhaps you do. It's part of a journal entry which I have already used extracts from in other ways. Coming across this extract today, which I can't find evidence of having published anywhere yet, I added the verse to make it a haibun. It is of course about my old – now late – cat, Levi, not my new cat, who has not yet generated any poems. (Give it time; she's only been with me a week.)

Shared at The Tuesday Platform, 26 Jan.16, at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

The photo is mine and should not be reproduced without permission. © Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2015.

15 January 2016

"Where Do You Go To, My Lovely?"

He cries as he asks it, 
silently, alone in his dark.
It's not only her head he knows.
His own has the same answers.

He doesn't often pause to reflect.
It's only when he sees her
in the glossies or on TV –
as beautiful as ever.

Then he remembers 
and lets himself remember – briefly –
the dirty streets and the kids 
who were them, once upon a time.

She's doing a lot of things
differently now, he can tell.
She's lost that glassy stare.
Her movements aren't marionette.

And after all, he's glad for her,
who escaped. And forgot him.
Even as he, weeping,
remembers himself and her.

Some poets I read have recently been writing persona poems, i.e. writing as someone else, whether real or fictional. This isn't quite that, being in third person, but was inspired by the idea – imagining the (probably) fictional narrator of the song of the same title. (Link added somewhat belatedly after I realised that people might not know the song.)

Linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #286

Exploring New Landscapes

We move away from the city, north to clear skies, to low horizons ringed by mountains – not high-rise columnar blocks of rectangular windows, their blank panes angled for concealment. The trees are silvery green alongside the railway track. We pass a river harbour teeming with small white boats.

I am reminded of another journey once taken – of moving through greyness, through cold, toward one flush of colour, pink with highlights of gold. A flower in the snow, blooming early. Too early. Yet we were drawn towards it, wishing it to keep on blooming until we might reach it, stroke its petals, inhale.... Some journeys, though full of longing, can never be completed.

he travels alone
an old man gazing at trees –
the train gathers speed

Image copyright © Kanzensakura 2014 

Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Written for Haibun Monday 5 at dVerse
Also linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #289

11 January 2016

If I’d been at home when Bowie died

I’d have raised a glass
played his music loud

lit a new white candle
let it burn all the way down….

As it was, I said a prayer
silently in my mind

I posted a notice
on facebook

but first of all
I cried

just as I would have done
if I’d been at home when he died.

(I was on holiday, staying with other people. Not quite the same opportunity to pay tribute via ritual.)

Linking this to the Tuesday Platform for 12 January at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

Sawdust and Screens

I hated cartoons. (No TV back then; Saturday matinees at the movies.) Everyone laughed when the cat fell over the cliff, or the roadrunner squashed the coyote under a weight. I cried – strange child, no sense of humour.

Same with the circuses that came around. Shivering through animal acts in the sawdust rings of my childhood. Tough-looking men cracked sudden whips, making me jump with those reluctant beasts.

Cirque du Soleil, that’s magic. In my own living room the clowns dance. They are jugglers, acrobats, flyers. Their bodies writhe and slide, twisting serpents of light. As they soar, one sings. A tightrope cyclist jumps a man, and lands precisely. Flames leap up and swirl. The arena is strafed by stars.

If this seems familiar, it might be. An earlier version has become this prose poem.

Submitted to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #285