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 March 2017

On Being Asked to Write a Poem Praising Gender

Can't do it really. Gender
is necessary of course
so that sperm can meet egg
to continue the human race
(the value of that debatable)
and cause for gladness, if
you're glad to be here (I am)
and glad we're all here, which,
as I said, is debatable, but
if the rest of you weren't,
I'd be lonely – so, OK.
But praiseworthy? Not as
a thing in itself; after all,
it just is. 'Praise God,
from whom all blessings flow'?
Well, I guess it's a fairly nifty
piece of creation, and
brings with it pleasure, or 
the chance of; so again, OK.
But really, how to go on?

I praise the man who is strong,
the woman who is gentle.
I praise the man who is gentle,
the woman who is strong. 
I praise the nurturing man, and woman;
and the courageous woman, and man.
I praise the kind mother
and the kind father;
the protective father 
and the lioness mother.
I praise intelligence
wherever I find it, in whatever
shape of body – it's useful
and makes life interesting.
And I praise goodness of heart
in any man, woman or child,
or animal. These qualities don't sit
between our legs, nor on
our chromosomes. I praise the wealth
of possibilities in being human.

For Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Gender

23 March 2017

Mirroring Myself

The mirror (in the photo) 
shows my hair
early morning wild;
the light striking my glasses
as I look up a moment 
from the laptop on my desk.
I’m propping my head on my fist,
thinker’s pose, and I’m still wearing
the watch that shows the time in the dark.

Out of bed three hours and more,
I’m still in pyjamas (yes,
my T-shirt-style pyjama top 
is black, so what?)
but I have had my coffee 
and even breakfast – a starchy bun today
as I’m out of healthy low-carb cereal;
well at least I keep a balance, ha ha ha.

The desk mirrors me too …
the fact of the laptop, first port of call
after pouring the coffee,
the essential coffee (black, unsweetened 
Espresso, plunged). The fact of
the mirror – a spare,
nowhere else to place it, but I like it
because it’s big, round, and framed in black.
I tell myself, if anyone knocks at the door
unexpectedly, I can at least straighten my hair.

At the side table just beyond the desk,
forming part of it really (my stuff
always overflows) is the Goddess Sekhmet
lion-headed, a small statue
perched on top of my box of business cards.
And next to that, on an old card file of Reiki students,
you can just see my prettiest clown. I love
the sad clowns; don't find any clowns sinister, so there,
and my house is full of them. This one, if
you could see her completely, has delicate white hands
to match the painted face with two large teardrops.
Her costume is mostly purple, some hot pink. My friend 
Angela, who doesn't freak out at clowns either, 
found her in an op shop and grabbed her for me.

Behind me in the mirror you can also glimpse my kitchen
where another well-dressed clown
hangs from the ceiling, sitting on a swing.
But I am not in my kitchen,
not preparing food, not washing dishes,
not even ironing although the board is set up.
It’s been there for days – never mind not visible
in this photo – waiting for me to use it,
and still waiting. That you can't see it 
reflects, I guess, a truth.

The mirror
captures a moment,
a moment of me. The photo
preserves it, the surroundings
elaborate upon it, to some degree,
and the poem shows you
a fuller picture. It’s warts and all …
except that it isn't all
and never can be. (No human being
can be so reduced.) It’s just
this brief reflection.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Mirror

22 March 2017

My Home River

Ah, river, river, silver river!
Island-born, I lived inland;
loved you, river,
even more than I did the foaming ocean.

Floated and swam in your slippery-smooth embrace: 
your delighted daughter
sunlit or shadowed, under trees overhanging the banks, or among reeds,
or out in the exposed middle.
Each patch of river had its own 
separate, boundaried temperature: shiver-chill
or warm in a way that relaxed and expanded the blood.

River, river, my childhood river,
winding through my years, the first fifteen,
before I was moved too far away – 
pouring down the gorge, erupting in rock-punctuated torrents
or else spread like a lake, underneath fleets of little boats ...
you are my home, my love, my heart, 
if only in memory, still forever –
real river, dream river,
never lost, 
never forgotten.

Tamar river (Tasmania) from Brady's lookout (near Exeter). 
Original uploader was Kyle sb at en.wikipedia
Transferred from en.wikipedia
Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Written in response to Poetics: The River at dVerse.
Also linking to Brendan's Weekend Mini-Challenge: Home at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. 

I set out to make this a descort, and it nearly is, but they're not supposed to have rhymes and in this one it was nice to do rhymy things with the word 'river'.

20 March 2017

The Habit of Love

Sometimes I think you're still here,
in the bedroom, maybe, 
and will soon wander into this room,
come and stand behind my chair
with an arm across my shoulder,
to see what I've been writing;
or you'll switch on the news on TV, 
or start preparing our dinner. 

It's been four and a half years,
but sometimes I still think you're here, 
just down the passage, 
about to come into this room.
I look up, expecting to see you 
bend your head and smile.
I almost hear you say my name.
I almost feel you kiss me.

Linked to The Tuesday Platform for March 21 2017 
at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

19 March 2017

Singing a Blessing

It was the Autumn Equinox.
We women, in a circle,
sang an Irish blessing.
One led us, playing a harp.
May the road rise to meet you.

I sang in silent tears, remembering
times I'd used those words before
as prayers of farewell for men I'd loved
(more than one and all loved true).
May the wind be always at your back.

But that was long ago. Instead
two grown children came to mind –
one son, one grandson, cut from my life.  
The men they are I do not trust or like.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.

I will not see or speak to them again,
and yet I love. I chose at last to send 
to them too this blessing; these prayers  
they cannot hear. My tears increased.
May the rain fall softly at your feet.

And then I turned from pain to happiness:
a man I met once, in another country, 
a love that could not be, which we made lasting
friendship (easier with an ocean in between).
And until we meet again ...

I know now that we shall not meet again
in this life, but we're past grief or longing –
in this life did it right. We never said farewell, 
no need. I sing, in happy tears, a wish for him:
May God hold you in the hollow of Her hand.


Re last line – It was a Goddess Circle. We understand God as having more than one aspect / expression / form / gender, and in this instance we chose to say 'Her' rather than 'His'.

I know the line about the rain is wrong – should be 'on your fields', not 'at your feet' – but that's how I heard and sang it on the day.

12 March 2017

What I Never Told Anyone

I came home from a trip away
and my old cat was covered in fleas.
Why had no-one looked after her?

I sprayed her with pyrethrum,
then I thought: It's OK to breathe, 
but maybe it shouldn't go on skin.

So I took her to the bathroom
and washed it all off in the basin,
which she hated. 

After I'd dried her off, 
I put flea powder on her 
that we had for the dogs, 
rubbed it well in.

That was 36 years ago,
and I only found out today
it can kill cats. 
But I always knew I killed her. 

It took some weeks.
She got thin. One morning
she went outside and disappeared.
She was 18 then; my first and favourite cat.

This week, in the Writing Our Way Alive course, we are asked for Honesty.

9 March 2017

It Flares Up Now and Then

I can't write a poem today, as I have been asked to do, about the importance of change to the condition of women. Oh, I know that all over the world there are women living in poverty and oppression which we in this country have never seen – unless, of course, we’re indigenous … or disabled … or came here from a war-torn homeland … but anyway I don't have time, not today.

Today I am visiting a friend in her sixties to give her a Reiki treatment, because she is still feeling the effects in her body of the husband who threw her against a wall (she is a small woman; he was a large man) and later did the same to one of their daughters before she got them all away; and of that other man, later, who raped her.

She changed her own condition. She is free, beautiful, independent, kind; a happy mother and grandmother. She is an artist, a writer, a thinker. And her body still holds the lingering trauma of those events from years ago. It flares up now and then, and exhausts her. I don't have time today to write a poem about liberating women. I’m sorry. I can only do what is in front of me here, and my friend needs help and healing today.

a brown leaf falls 
from the frangipani
autumn sadness

A response to Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ 
A Woman's Day: Be Bold For Change