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.

2 March 2012

The Day We Lost the Volkswagen

During a momentary lull in her head,
the poor old thing lost her grip.
The boat she was towing towed her instead
ponderously down the slip,
backwards into the water.

For a swirling moment she almost floated,
she thought of setting sail.
But her bum tilted, her britches bloated —
she was heavy in the tail —
and the sly seaweed caught her.

I thought even then she might make a try
(she seemed to be righting her flank)
but she spun gravely, one eye on the sky,
gave a dignified splutter and sank.
The sea frothed briefly.

I don’t know — she wasn’t the kind to drift,
much less come apart at the seams.
But the sails and the clouds that day had a lift,
and perhaps she had some dreams.
It was a damn nuisance, chiefly.

© Rosemary Nissen 1974
from Universe Cat, Pariah Press (Melb.) 1985, and
Secret Leopard: new and selected poems 1974-2005 (Alyscamps Press, (Paris) 2005
First published Nation Review.
Also in:
A Second Australian Poetry Book for Children, Oxford
Secondary English Book 3, Macmillan
Off the Record, Penguin
Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets.

An oldie but a goodie, submitted, in addition to previous post, to dVerse Translucent Poetics: Writing Spoken Word, because unlike the previous it's in first person according to the requirements, and because it's my most popular poem in both publication and performance. (The only difference, I've found in practice, is that whereas the last line works best as a throwaway line on the page, in performance it must be hammed up and spoken with exaggerated drama as if written with an exclamation mark.)

Also submitted to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #89 because I think it's time it found a wider audience outside Australia.


  1. I love this! The first stanza really cracked me up. I can clearly see why it's been published so many times. Thanks for sharing.

  2. such a shame she couldn't drift towards her dreams...smiles..you had me with the volkswagen of course..german car...smiles...my first car was a VW beagle...loved it dearly.. enjoyed your poem...a lot..

  3. I should really love to hear this spoken - it would increase the drama of it and the bathos of the last line. Not that it isn't great on the 'page' as well, but it is so patently a performance poem. I was seeing us in my mind's eye, years ago, edging cautiously down the slippery slip to launch our little sailing boat 'ti p'tin (little flirt).

  4. def like your story telling...and it does make a huge difference on some lines how you read them...and i imagine that last line would go over well if done right...a bit sad at the loss of a VW you know...smiles..

  5. Thank you, friends! Yes, she was such a good car until then, but never recovered. Dredged up, she was full of salt and we sold her off cheap. :(

  6. Excellent - and you're quite right - deserves a wider audience and/or a rebirth ... I too, would love to hear it aloud ... maybe put it on Buddha Moskowitz's virtualpoetryreading.com ??

  7. I love this! Definitely deserving of a VERY wide audience!

  8. Thank you both. Sharon, that's an excellent suggestion, ta!

  9. Oh, hang on, that's an international call from here! Perhaps not. But I'll look into alternatives.

  10. Wonderful poem Rosemary. I loved reading your blog. Thank you for visiting mine.

    Blessed be

  11. I love the image of her, spinning gravely, one eye on the sky. A total hoot!

  12. I need it's summary. Somebody please help me out! :(

    1. Er .. how about, 'The VW sank'?
      - The Author