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.

27 September 2015

Making the Red Mandala

As I begin the red mandala, 
outside the sky darkens for thunder.

‘Start with red,’ the teacher said,
‘The colour of sex and blood’.

I draw my circle freehand
with a water-colour pencil.

Then I make lots of scribbly scrolls
around the inside, drawing quick.

I get the result I want: the circle shape
imperfect, the scrolls wildly uneven.

I never wanted to colour in neatly
between precisely patterned  lines.

I have only two reds to work with:
a hyper-bright and a deeper, purply stain.

I add a red wax crayon; I find
a water-pencil in tan, another in orange.

I fill in some of the spaces. I press hard dots
of deep red into the centres of the scrolls.

Surrounded, still, by orbs of white,
they look like a circle of eyes.

I paint the whites of the staring eyes
orange, so they look golden.

The reds bleed, smudging the paper.
I mark them again, heavy.

I’m not a fan of the decorative arts –
none of those dainty, pretty things.

No, I want art that is power, bold.
I want the power of magick.

Outside, the thunder revs up,
cracking and roaring around the hill.

My mind keeps telling me I need green.
It isn’t red, not nearly red, but I must.

I know exactly where it goes, and how.
Now the red is redder, strong.

In the middle, moved by instinct suddenly,
I draw long oval shapes that suggest a flower.

It’s turquoise blue with green edges.
Behind it the air becomes bright yellow.

Now my mandala breaks all the rules. Now
with a top and a bottom, it can only be one way up.

The red line I began with, edging my circle
has disappeared. I create a new outline.

I make it thick, but it won’t retain firm shape.
All right! I scribble a spiky edge.

All by itself the paint flows outward,
flares into a wide ring, and settles.

The wild wind outside quiets;
the thunder comes to a stop.

Inspired by artist and art teacher Sharyn Williams's blog on Red.

I'm linking this to The Tuesday Platform for 29 Sept. 2015, at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. Visit to find other poets and poems.


  1. Thank you Rosemary for drawing your mandala and for showing us how it felt to make. Red craves green and will always seek it out. BRAVO.

    1. Thank you! Eagerly awaiting your notes on orange. :-)

  2. Very cool as painting and storm seem to interact in the heart and hand of the artist! The rush of it all!

  3. Red a perfect color for starting a mandala in a storm...the color of the root chakra.

    1. Yes. It wasn't planned that way, but the storm seemed so appropriate.

  4. Love the tone of this poem...very strong.

  5. Ha...For one who is not enamoured by the decorative arts this looks very much like a doily to me:)

    I am confident I can say this to you without a reaction of weeping and gnashing of teeth and all manner of accusation of abuse and aggression:)

    1. Your confidence is not misplaced – I burst out laughing of course. (Maybe you have to be an Aussie to understand Aussie humour?) DOILEY! HOW DARE YOU! (She shrieked between gales of giggles.) Damn – I do see what you mean. But am telling myself that if you saw it life-size you wouldn't think so. Besides, whoever saw a doiley that colour? I like to play sometimes, but I do not delude myself that I'm any great artist, so there is nothing to gnash the teeth about, let alone weep.

  6. Inside the mind of an artist... always cool to hear the process play out.

  7. Oh I feel how the painting and the storm is one.. I think that's a great way of putting color to emotions,

  8. flares into a wide ring, and settles.
    The wild wind outside quiets;
    the thunder comes to a stop.

    The whole process comes to a close and beautifully set! But sometimes the colors spread and settles without intention nor according to plans. But it ends up great! Such is the beauty of art. Wonderful write Rosemary!


  9. You make me want to do one, too. Your telling captivated me. By, coincidence, I'm reading Pearl Buck's "Mandala, A Novel of India"

    1. Ooh, a Pearl Buck I haven't read – will have to look for that one!

  10. Nice! And a beautiful result, even if the crafty thing wasn't your thing. I love it.

  11. So you won't be joining one of those coloring book circles, I take it? Just kidding. How could something like that be satisfying next to the discovery of creation? And then to put the process in words with a little help from thunder--that's how to keep life fresh.

    1. You're so right! I have friends who love colouring in. The mere thought of it makes me shudder.

  12. I admire your creativity and feel like a fly on the wall watching you. Maybe in another life?