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 2016

This Feast and That

(Ghosts and Maypoles)

Up there in the top half of the world
soon it will be the merry month of May.
There are still folk who will dance
on May Day around a Maypole. Some
will still call it Beltane, and know
the pole as phallic.  Here, however –

this is the night of Samhain. I just
spoke to my brother, by text. He is
far away; but still, like me, Southern
Hemisphered. Today, separately,
we both remembered our parents.
They have been dead a long time.

But their ghosts visited. Only today,
I finally recalled some trifling ways
they helped me, looked after me.
I felt grateful after all. It could have
been worse. I guess I forgave at last.
My brother still can’t. This I understand.

And I’m sitting here counting the ways
it affected me too, for the rest of my life.
I didn’t set places for them, but I do
wish their souls peace, and wish
they return again behind that veil.
What’s done is done. It is over.

For me there came also, today,
the three dead husbands – all
welcome, even the first – and various
other friends and lovers. These
I celebrate, these I thank. With these
I’d happily dance round a Maypole.

Written simultaneously for Yesterday Never Dies at 'Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month' and Poetizing the Maypole at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

Wiccan pentacle image freely available in public domain

To Mention Just a Few

On being asked for my favourite author, book or quotation

I don't live in the fairy-tale
of falling in love once only 
for the whole of a long life.
Many princes are charming,
and I have loved many.

That sweet lad in the desert
with sun-gold curls and a rose,
he was lovely. He understood
how to see with the heart
and the way to tame a fox.

There was the one in exile
from his land and tribe,
who consorted with wizards, 
elves, gnomes and tree people –
a traveller with a mission.

And I'll always fall for a man
who makes me laugh,
even if he takes me for a ride
and tells me, warm and friendly, 
'Don't panic', as we crash-land.

Another had dash and flair,
and loyalty to friends. 'All 
for one and one for all!' I like
the adventurous type. He knew 
exactly how to wield his sword.

I spent a long time loving
a small man of large heart
and much wisdom, a gentle
and most earthy spiritual type,
in a village, a little world.

Lately I'm favouring a tall,
long-haired rural dweller
with an attractive native accent,
who likes outlandish women – 
well, foreign to himself, anyway.

How could I choose just one
to cuddle up in bed with,
when God has bestowed 
such beautiful abundance? 
I love them all, forever true.

UK Pictures: Woman reading a book, Sept. 21 2005

Cheat sheet:
1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (specifically the character of Aragorn, though my description could also apply to Frodo)
3. The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and sequels, by Douglas Adams
4. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
5. The Little World of Don Camillo, and sequels, by Giovanni Guareschi
6. The 'Outlander' series by Diana Gabaldon

These are indeed among my favourite books. In the poem I have also made each one equate to an important man in my life, but I'm not giving a cheat sheet for that! (The people closest to me may recognise some.)

Written for Sanaa's Prompt Nights: When armed with the license to quote. (My poem does include quotations, whether indicated or not.)

Also linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #300

29 April 2016

Snapshot, Front Window, Evening

It's wet out. Shiny purple
challenges the grey, 
saying: 'Fairies live here'.
You can read it from the road.

And to me the photo animates 
my wind chimes' mellow notes, 
kids in the street whistling, 
the flurry of a sudden bird.

China clowns on the sill
play instruments and dance. 
A toy car rests, 
awaiting a boy's visit. 

The rag doll I begged 
from a shoe shop (there 
to quieten customers' children)
lounges on the thermostat.

Bin lids and evergreen trees
are bright in fading light.
I close the blind on Autumn cool,
turn in; feed myself and my cat.

Written for the Instapoetry prompt at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

28 April 2016

Not Telling

(On being asked for bio notes on The Real Me)

Rosemary Nissen-Wade refuses absolutely 
to tell you the many illegal and immoral
acts of her long life. (The fattening you can 
see – though she vets her public photos.)

You must know? Oh alright – Rosemary’s 
a pirate: long red hair, boots to thighs, 
a mean hand with a cutlass. (Yes. Really.)

(Picture freely available for use in the public domain.)

At Words Count in 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are asked to write our real bio in 50 words or less.

Tea from the Heart

When you serve tea to your guests, you should simply serve tea from your heart, and think about nothing more. – Sen No Rikyu *

Let me open the cupboard and show you.
I have Earl Grey and English Breakfast,
the delicate or the warmly reassuring.
(You did know Earl Grey is supposed to be
drunk black? So many people add milk,
overwhelming that subtle bouquet.)

Perhaps you prefer green tea? I have it plain,
or flavoured with vanilla. Organic of course.
I hope you don’t mind tea-bags? If you prefer,
I can give you leaves. I was told that these
are high quality. They came from Japan, a gift
from a lovely friend, who has since died.

Or here is this tea they call white, by which
they don’t mean milky, but a special variety
of green tea, minimally processed. That, 
they say, makes it uniquely mellow and sweet.
Complex and sophisticated, even! Once
it was only for Emperors; now it can be yours.

And here I have herbal. Lemon ginger is good
this time of year, when the air starts to cool –
simultaneously soothing and heating, a balm
with a bite. Or there’s rose-hip, for your Vitamin C.
Peppermint is reviving – that clean, tangy taste.
Chamomile’s best before bed; it helps you sleep.

I’m sorry, I only have mugs. I hope you like
a drink that lasts longer. Tea, I know, is for sipping
not gulping, but I trust it won’t get too cold; I warmed
the mugs. This one for you, I think, with the roses?
Do sit on the couch. I’ll fetch some biscuits. Me?
I don’t drink tea myself; I’m a lover of coffee.

Written for The Way of Tea at 'imaginary garden with real toads' and for Poets United's Midweek Motif: Openness

* There is plenty to think about when serving tea, particularly when you're not a tea-drinker yourself – but I hope I look after my guests from an open heart.

26 April 2016


Through my mother, 
I come from a Scottish isle –
a fey place of warriors and poets.

Through her I come, too,
from a sea coast in India –
town of temples and sacred trees.

Through my father, I come 
from temperate Australian farmlands
and a tiny island in stormy Bass Strait.

Through him, I come from
thinkers and rebels, dancers and lovers; 
and from sober preachers.

Through my own birthplace, I come
from mountains and rivers,
tall trees, surrounding ocean.

Because I can feel and hear and see,
I come as well from an old people
who walk here still, who made me welcome.

Soon is the Feast of Samhain
here in this Southern Land.
To all my ancestors: Hail!

At 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are invited to answer the question, Where Do I Come From?

Photo of tartan and badge: Heirlooms from my mother. 
© Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2016

Photo of crag available under Creative Commons licence:
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25 April 2016

The True Tale of the Little Mermaid

I'll tell you, both Hans and Walt got it wrong.
Well I've never actually seen the Disney movie,
though I've been told about it often enough.
But I did read the Andersen story long ago.
All very romantic, not to mention a nice dash 
of horror – the walking on knives and all that,
and even worse, cutting my tongue out. As if!

I soon refrained from speaking, that's true. You learn
pretty quick. I mean, he was a Prince, used to
having his own way or else. No wonder I walked
tippy-toe, on eggshells, treading so gingerly. No
wonder I kept my mouth shut, avoided expressing
any actual opinions. Yes, they did try to warn me,
the family back home; but I was fifteen, you know?

Luckily for me – although at the time I didn't think so –
he never did marry me; it was all talk. I can't believe
I fell for it! But, like I said, too young to know better.
Anyway, they finally found him a real live princess.
She wasn't a local of course, and she probably thought
she could control him. Maybe she could; I don't care. 
I'm happy here now, on bluest ocean, floating light as foam.

Little Mermaid Statue
Photo by: Celesteh Creative Commons

Written for Beyond the Ever After at 'Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month'
Also linking to The Tuesday Platform this week at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

There are several online comparisons of the Andersen and Disney versions of the tale. I like the one at Movie Pilot.


Mostly wolf
he was unlike other dogs,
the fully doggy. He was

wind-woven movement
hunter-quiet through trees, 
cat-contained self-sufficiency,

deep-loving, soul-faithful
but not puppy-exuberant,
not wriggly-jerky hysterical. Never.

His distance-speak
sustained me many months.
We had good mind-talk between us:

we two heart-kin, spirit-friends
who summoned each other
with immediate vision-share

instant thought-meld, the knowing
of the vast, timeless forever-abyss
from which we'd sparked into life-light.

He wasn't my dog; there was
one dearer, skin-close, the friend 
we shared and in our own ways guarded.

It's a long time ago now, 
far-dwindling yet never full-gone. 
Not wholly done, dead-over.

Though he is dead of course,
and our man-friend older,
well happy. He is horse-master now.

Me, I love cats. And we both have known 
some other dogs. We never speak 
of that one, heart-deep, unique.

The night-road, the moon-path
along which he reached me
with loving mind-touch

has taken him elsewhere,
gone in the other direction.
He did return just once

to tell me the way of it,
his death-fall. Though I had already
felt it, from too far away.

Photo Copyright © David Mikulenka 2007. Not to be reproduced in any way without written permission from the copyright owner.

Note: 'Mostly wolf' – he was 75% small timber wolf, 25% domestic dog.

This poem was written for the kenning prompt at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. Kenning is the creation of compound nouns. I have created a few compound adjectives here, too (which seems to be easier) and used some compound nouns which already existed.

24 April 2016

Giving Thanks

To David, Carolina, Maia, and their companions

In Guatemala on Earth Day
near Lake Atitlan,
my friends are planting trees.

The wind thanks them
for a new tool to make music; and
the birds thank them for welcome rest. 

The sun thanks them. The work
will be better, tempered by shade.
The animals thank them likewise.

The Lake thanks them. The roots
will bind its banks. The branches 
will spread, leafy, to shade the fish. 

Rain, taken up into clouds, 
will drip from the leaves, down 
to refresh the earth and its plants.

The plants and the soil say their thanks too.
Only the people - except for a few - don't thank.
(Oh well, people. What do they know?)

Image by Vijay/ Creative Commons

23 April 2016

Saving the Bard

(If you could save only one of Shakespeare’s works…?)

Could I save only one sonnet –
‘Marriage of true minds’ would it be
or the sweet, ‘Shall I compare thee’?
Well, if I am really honest,
I’d choose both. You can bet on it.

The same for the plays, I expect.
Which? Romeo and Juliet,
Hamlet, the Merchant of Venice,
King Lear, Macbeth or The Tempest?
Save one, and all others regret!

At 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are invited to Tip Our Hats to the Bard – and the question in my subtitle is posed. 

At dVerse we are asked to try the Décima form. 

I decided to combine both. Result: a most un-Shakespearian example of doggerel! (Occupational hazard of doing the April 'poem a day' thing.)

22 April 2016

Mother Earth Farewells Her Human Children

I made you soft grasses
and sand for your feet.
I made you great waters,
the salt and the sweet.

I made you the skies
in which you see
the stars and the clouds,
the birds flying free.

I made you forests
with trees thick and green;
the valleys, the mountains,
the hills in between.

You wanted them different,
these gifts that I gave.
You changed them too much,
past what you can save.

So farewell to you, children;
I cut you from my heart.
I have others to cherish.
You must now depart.

For Earth Day, Magaly in On Her Day, Gaia Wails at 'Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month' requests a poem from the Mother's point of view; while Gillena in Fashion Me Your Words at 'imaginary garden with real toads' asks for something with a dance rhythm, aimed at environmental protection, in no more than 100 words including title. 

Photo: Jet Stream by NASA 29 April 1991, Copyright free

21 April 2016

So What?

I was three
when I rode the elephant.

She was big.
They said she was old.

She went slow.
I was very high up.

My Mum, running beside us
and waving at me, looked little.

The seat swayed and wobbled.           
I asked if I could get down.

All the grown-ups, my family,
told me it was a treat.

They said I would always remember
riding the elephant at Melbourne Zoo

the day I turned three.
Well, I do.

Written for An Elephantine Challenge 
at 'imaginary garden with real toads'


A Desperate Wooing

Oh my luscious love,
my delectable sweetie,
the most desirable,
the most tantalising –
I crave you!

I want to lick you all over
slowly … savour
your fragrant aroma …
nibble gently
at your soft and tender
edges … until at last
I touch your heart.

It’s true, I confess,
there have been others –
but none, now, 
to compare with you.
Be mine! I promise to love you
more than all the rest
for as long as you live.

Come, give yourself to me.
Oh, I could eat you all up!
Yours truly,
yours besottedly –
~ Cookie Monster ~

Subtraction.com and all contents copyright 1998-2016 by Khoi Vinh unless otherwise noted.
Contents under Creative Commons License.

Written for Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month: 
Legendary Beings in Love

It's perhaps a bit of a stretch but I'm also linking this piece to When Good Wishes Go Bad at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. If Cookie Monster gets his wish, it won't do his beloved much good, and he's setting himself up for a very brief affair!

19 April 2016


Depths down, I float in clouds.
I twist but I can't see.
Sky enters the river.
There’s nowhere else to be
but this cave of blind white
where I find no life, only me.
No fish nor weed nor insect –
just me, tree-deep, sight-free.

Another for dVerse Quadrille – 7: twist, doubling as response to Turns of the Tale: Poetic Surprise at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. Come at something from a new angle, they invited. I frequently rhapsodise about rivers and celebrate clouds – but not quite like this.