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.

25 June 2017

Looking for Myself in 'Peanuts'


All I know is, I’m not Charlie Brown –
don’t play baseball, wouldn’t wear a cap.
I could be Lucy with her bossy frown;
I could be Linus clutching at his blanket.
All I know is, I’m not Charlie Brown.
I might be that romantic, star-crossed blonde
drooling for Linus, only briefly cast down
by rebuffs; or else dedicated-to-his-art Schroeder.
(I’d like to be grown-up Schroeder, with renown.)
Perhaps, writing up a storm, I’m smart Snoopy?
But if so, who would feed me? Charlie Brown?


I think I’ll be Schroeder,
living (w)hol(l)y for art,
soul-child of Beethoven,
oblivious / impervious to all else. Yes,
I think I’ll be Schroeder.
I don't really think I’m Snoopy,
master of the cliché – moreover

typewriters are old; I love my computer.
Of course he’d need a make-over
from muso to poet (I’m tone-deaf)
but, that sorted, I could be Schroeder.

At 'imaginary garden with real toads', we were invited to find ourselves in cartoon characters in the prompt: Fashion me your words to fold ~ ergo (in less than 100 words). The mention of 'fold' inspired me to use Gillena Cox's Fold form. And then I was moved to write a second one. Each, individually, is under 100 words, but I didn't want to post them separately when they so clearly belong together.

24 June 2017

Think Positive

The TV shows me Kenyans dying of drought.
Cattle become skeletal; babies droop.
On facebook people chirrup:  'Life works out.’

The parents of the babes don’t scream or shout.
They weep, but are resigned. Their shoulders stoop.
The TV shows them close up, dying of drought.

Calm commentators tell what it’s about.
I pour myself another bowl of soup.
On facebook people burble: ‘Life works out.’

The self-help gurus urge us, 'Banish doubt!'
I sign a petition, join a spiritual group.
The TV shows me Kenyans dying of drought.
On facebook, though, we know that life works out.

Prompted by dVerse: How to Write a Villanelle (I have written this one a little bit 'wrong'; let's call it a modified villanelle.)

23 June 2017

This Poet Thinks She’s Me

This poet thinks she’s me,
and furthermore that her work is mediocre,
and furthermore to that (further-further-more?)
that she must do it, can’t help it, can't walk away.

‘The stars are green and gold’ she wants to say
right now, but I censor that. It comes in
out of nowhere. It’s a nonsense.
She says it’s pretty. I say, ‘But….’

It has to have a place in the poem, see.
And this is a poem about this poet
who imagines herself to be me, or conversely
that I am she, capital-P Poet.

Clearly, I am more: 
widow, former librarian, friend, cat-lover, witch …
all right all right, so they get into the poems.
So maybe there is only one poet/me.  Then,
am I also green-gold stars? (Am I nonsense?)

Written for Literary Excursions with Kerry ~ Metafiction at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

The Yoga Master

How sinuously 
she contorts herself
into positions which,
on the basis of eyesight
and some idea of anatomy,
should be impossible.

She makes it look easy –
shoulders high, head low;
arched back, then slump;
limbs curving over bent head;
body recumbent while legs
reach gradually further up the wall.

Then she relaxes flat,
motionless, and I realise
she has gone into deep meditation,
zoning out, stilling her mind.  
She can lie a long time like that
before slowly stretching and purring.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Yoga

20 June 2017

My Upbringing as a Girl

My parents and grandparents, my aunts 
and uncles, and several of my teachers
were progressive thinkers who thought 
that girls, too, could grow up to have careers, 
just in case they never married (in which case
of course they wouldn't – or, more precisely, 
home and motherhood would be the glorious,
totally fulfilling and naturally preferred career) 
but they still believed, those adults of my youth,
unquestioning, that girls couldn't, indeed mustn't
play football, or any of those rough sports, 
because that was what boys did: those critters
who were made of slugs and snails and –
you know how it goes.

(The era was the 1940s.)

This grew out of (1) a discussion, 'Exploring our feminine' inspired by the writing of Brooke Medicine Eagle in Buffalo Woman Comes Singing, and (2) an exercise in Wingbeats, to create a one-sentence poem of 14 lines and at least 100 words.

Linked to The Tuesday Platform for June 20 2017 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

19 June 2017

Visiting Letitia

I have left behind 
a head-shaped dent in the pillow,
a tub of cashews on the table,
a loaf of dark rye in the fridge,
a pair of long dark boots 
that fitted you better than me,
and some reassurances.

I have taken away
some deeper certainties,
my chakras re-aligned,
a magic square of cloth
to tuck under my mattress
for comfortable sleep,
and your wise face in my mind.

All that good talking stays –
a form of nurture. 
So much better than messages, 
emails, or even phone:
a weekend sitting on a couch
opposite yours in your living-room,
going nowhere but going everywhere.

Happily at home in your home –
over the years the scene
of family Christmas feasts –
I feel myself unfurl and stretch
like a fern, expanding in light.
You see me and do not judge
though you surely discern.

Because you share with me
the steps and halts of your journey, 
I've watched with concern, 
fascination, and final delight –
falling easily into a role
I've trained for all my life:
sounding-board, reality-check.

Again we told each other
more and more parts of our stories.
We ate good food. We laughed.
Occasionally we noticed
tears in each other's eyes.
We offered and needed no comfort
but open seeing and spoken truth.

You didn't want me to leave.
I didn't want to go.
But Life is calling us onward
into the everyday non-ordinary.
Never fear! I shall return
again when the time is right.
I know the road.

Dark Emerald

The large green stone,
square-cut, was mounted
on simple gold: a plain setting.

I crept in often to gaze –
sitting at her dressing table,
tugging open the heavy drawer.

My mother must have known
it was my dream of beauty,
never told me it was only glass.

Written for Micro Poetry ~ Dark Emeralds at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

15 June 2017


Walking in the rain, smiling,
she has a light in her face.
She is unaware of it, focused 
on the rain splashing in puddles,
making little circles of ripples
around the spot where each drop 
hits the water. She stops to watch.

On the wet grass, a drenched
brown twig, darkened by rain
and rounded, glistening, looks 
to her amusement like a cigar.
She knows what it is, but likes
to entertain other, stranger ideas
caused by the wealth of water.

She is only an old woman 
in a little country town
situated near the coast
and also close to mountains.
Ordinarily, she likes to explore
her town in its usual abundant sun.
But the rain, too, interests her.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Seeking the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

14 June 2017

Neruda in the Rain

I am lunching at a window
overlooking rainy Murwillumbah,
reading a book about young Pablo Neruda
writing poetry to the tune of the rain.

He loved the sound of the rain, we are told,
even while hating the rain. I too
am not enamoured of the bleak wet
but find strange comfort in the rhythmic sounds.

But I don't want to be Neruda,
even as I envy his words their liquid music.
I want to be me, living where I am, in my life 
that has been as rich as his in love.

Almost as rich as his in travel, art,
engagement; probably even richer
in its plethora of dear, true friends. I love to be 
me, reading about Neruda, and reading Neruda.

Submitted for The Tuesday Platform June 13 2017 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

12 June 2017

I Am Made of ...

the Old Gold Rum 'N' Raisin
chocolate I just had for breakfast
and the low-calorie high-fibre cereal
I have most other days,
and raisin toast and cocoa just before bed,
red wine and strong black coffee,
crayfish and curry and pasta and dhal
and spun-sugar, creamy Pavlova;

the wailing hillbilly songs of desperate men
that punctuated my homework when I was 12,
the rich tunes and stirring words
of Carmen Jones and Porgy and Bess 
(the movies) and dancing with my broom
as a young mum while Janis poured out 
Me and Bobby Mcgee, oh and Dylan and 
Cohen, and the blues, always the blues;

Alice in Wonderland, the Musketeers,
Sidney Carton, Jo and Beth, Five Children
and It, the Swallows and Amazons, 
The Little Mermaid, Ivanhoe, Charlie 
(is my darling) and also Good Queen Bess, 
and Hiawatha and Lochinvar, the goblin craving 
green glass beads, the nymph who refused, 
The Highwayman, and those in Flanders Fields ...

I am made of delights and dreams and treasures.

Written in response to a prompt of the same name at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. (It was supposed to be three stanzas only, but I had to have that extra line!)

11 June 2017


Star light, star bright –
working magic
to grant a wish,
her hands conjure
a puff of light.

The star of hope
still shines tonight
above the world 
of darkness,
far but bright.

From this long tunnel
we shall come out,
she promises,
her golden light
blowing kisses.

Good night, 
child of light.
A star is watching 
over you.
Sleep tight.

For Words Count with Mama Zen at 'imaginary garden with real toads', we were asked to pull a Tarot card and be inspired by it. The Star card does represent hope, optimism and the light at the end of the tunnel, which fits well with the idea of wishing on a star.

Also shared at Poets United's Poetry Pantry #358.

Image: the Star card from myTarot Muchas deck, used in accordance with Fair use.

10 June 2017

Card for the Day

I chose my Tarot card for the day
from a recommended site online,
glad to see it was the beautiful Empress.
But the accompanying reading
was bullshit. (Oops, my French – pardon me!)

Why reinterpret the card that way
when the meaning is perfectly fine
as it is: Earth Mother / Mother Earth / Goddess.
Maybe charlatans think they’re needing
to be different to earn their money?

I ignore the rot they had to say –
rot that diminishes the Divine
which the Empress card is designed to express.
I know what it really says, seeding
a way that I can be, and shall be.

A way for me more fully, this day,
to embody Divine Feminine:
filled with Her unconditional Love, no less,
Her nurture and compassion, leading
to oneness with nature, strong and free.

I’m glad to walk in Her grace today,
receiving the gift as wholly mine 
by which I am blessed, and by which I can bless
others I meet, who may be needing
to be loved, nurtured, allowed to be.

(Not the card I pulled. This is the Empress from my Tarot Muchas deck, shared here according to Fair Use.)

Inspired by a prompt in Words Count by Mama Zen at 'imaginary garden with real toads' – but this fails to conform to the 60-word limit for that one, because I decided to use it for the rimas dissolutas challenge at Poetic Asides instead.

(Then I did write one in 60 words, on a different card. It's here.)

Btw, did I mention that I'm a professional Tarot reader? Far from helping, it probably limits my flexibility with such a prompt, LOL.

9 June 2017

A Photo of a Rose

for Shae

This rose, a gift from her lover
(in whose garden tenderly grown)
tells her she too is exquisite –

more treasured than any other.
No longer need she stand alone
to wait, yearn, anticipate, wait….

Roses do not last forever
but love is constantly reborn
in the ever-renewing heart,

not needing as a preserver
poem, photo, or anyone
to assure her that this is right.

Yet for beauty’s sake, moreover
affection, I take it upon
myself to hereby celebrate!

As the rose reflects the giver
equally with the gifted one,
I rejoice that now you are met.

Written for the Poetic Asides rimas dissolutas challenge.

And linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #357

Living on the Rim

How amazed I was when I read
a description of the ocean as green –
but that, I saw, was the Atlantic,
which I do not live beside.

The ocean, always, in my head
is the bluest blue you have ever seen –
deep blue, sparkling, sunny, romantic,
and vast, huge, gorgeously wide.

Never mind what others have said
about other seas where I have not been.

I’m drunk with love for the Pacific
and its thunder-crashing tide.

When I lived close, I’d lie in bed
paradoxically lulled in-between
the rhythmical roars – the volcanic
great ocean at my bedside.

Living on the edge, I am ecstatic
for this bluer beauty, this wilder side.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Ocean(s)
and for the Poetic Asides rimas dissolutas challenge.

I Have Woken Up

I have woken up at half past three
on a winter night, but not too cold
with the heater on. Even the cat
has gone back again to the bed
we share, after joining me for a snack.
Sensible creature – unlike this poet fool
who thinks that wakefulness must mean, ‘Write!’

Why else I’d wake is a mystery.
We may need less sleep when growing old –
well, they tell us so – but surely that  
doesn’t mean three hours? My head
is busy with thoughts, long before the crack
of dawn, ye gods! Now I’m cold; this isn't cool.
Not even poetry makes it right.

Since I'm up, I thought, I'll just see what's going on over at Poetic Asides; it's been a while. Oh my, they're having a rimas dissolutas challenge! And it finishes on the 9th of June!

4 June 2017

Jim Died Today

(or, The Beginning of Winter)

Jim, who was my age, died today
at 2pm his daughter's email said.
He was my husband Bill's best mate
since they were wild young lads.

Later, a good friend to me too.
Best man at our wedding. 'His family
was my family, and mine his,' he said
in Bill's funeral oration decades later.

His Joy went on ahead six months ago.
Since then I've phoned him once or twice,
exchanged emails ... the last few days
he was so much on my mind, I meant to call.

And Bill, too, has been around a lot.
Now I think I know why, for both.
I was remembering already, this last week, 
his words for Bill. A reminder?

There's only me left of the four of us, 
who married about the same time, 
whose kids were like cousins. They're all
in middle age, with children of their own,

still I resolve to travel the long miles
to help lay Jim to rest. I'm now
the only one of that generation here –
not blood, but very close family.

‘Aunty Rosemary,' the emailer 
called me. As always. 
I look back over the years;
I phone my son and cry.

The sun starts going down
behind the mountains.
The air develops a chill.
Grey clouds fill the sky.

(For those who may wonder – I was married to Bill for 27 years before I was married to Andrew.)

PS Travel to the funeral from where I live proves complicated, costly and time-consuming, so after all I'll be staying home and saying my own prayers here instead.

'My Heart is a Ghost Town'

the man sings, lamenting
love lost, a lover gone

and I think, never mind my heart, 
my head's where the ghosts reside

of lovers gone – never lost –
the talkative ghosts

who haunt my old age

as we reminisce, and finally 
resolve our stone-cold issues ...

good to have a yarn
for old times' sake.

Written for Flash 55 – PLUS! 3 June 2017 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

26 May 2017

Prelude to a Romantic Weekend

Arriving on my doorstep suddenly
he thrust at me a bunch of roses, red
for passion, offered awkwardly,
suggesting now would be the time for bed.
My house-mate and her children, luckily,
were going out. I whispered what he’d said,
that he’d decided we should ‘break the ice’.
She winked and said she’d stay out longer. Nice!

We’d planned a beautiful weekend away
to change our new romance to an affair:
a seaside venue meant for holiday
where we could play, let down our hair …
but that was some time hence, he said – and hey,
we’d want to be relaxed then, free of care
about performance, revelation, trust,
and all those issues that might hinder lust.

And so we had our first time then and there
inside my double bed, too long unshared.
Now, understand, we were not young; we were
the later end of middle age. We bared
imperfect bodies to each other’s stare
and moved like adolescents newly paired –
like clumsy virgins! But we worked it out
quite soon. And yes, his bright idea was right.


In twenty years of happy marriage, till
he left me when the angels called him home,
we loved each other thoroughly and well.
Reality was sweeter than a dream.
And memories can sweeten my heart still,
as if he never left – so it can seem.
He loved to give me roses. In my head
he still says: ‘Get yourself some roses – red!’

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Flowers, and simultaneously for dVerse Form for All – Ottava Rima.

24 May 2017

Ancient Road – tan renga

ancient road…
the trails of the masters
absorbed in fallen leaves                            © Adjei Agyei-Baah

thickening over the years
rarely disturbed by new feet                 © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

the road climbing higher
towards the mountaintop                          © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

For Carpe Diem's Tan Renga Challenge 2017 #15

Springtime – tan renga

Springtime in Edo,
Not a day passes without
A temple bell sold.                                    © Kikaku

Happy sounds rise on the air –
laughter and hopeful prayers.                    © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


I think of how little I know
of Edo and its temple.                                © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Written for Carpe Diem's Tan Renga Challenge 2017 #14

Bamboo – tan renga

waving candlelight into the night
wind                                                        © Jane Reichhold

the scent of the tropics
when you and I were young                         © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


thin stems rattling together
by my father’s fernery                                   © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Written for Carpe Diem's Tan Renga Challenge 2017 #13

And linking to the latest Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

20 May 2017

Fragment and Phrase

rainy night
my cat wakes up 


my friend cooks
in my kitchen
purring cat


cold night out
bent over the stove
she warms food


morning fog lifts
the warble of magpies
fading as they fly

At Carpe Diem we are asked to write 'fragment and phrase' haiku in honour of the late Jane Reichhold. (Hope I got these right!)

I'm also linking this to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #356 where you can find a feast of poetry in all its variety.

Dandelion, dandelion – tan renga

dandelion dandelion
on the sandy beach
spring opens its eyes                    © Ogiwara Seisensui

a new morning 
blooms shiny gold                        © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


awakening to sunshine
and sparkling ocean                      © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Written for Carpe Diem's Tan Renga Challenge 2017 #12

(I found this one really difficult to extend – probably because I regard the original haiku as complete and perfect in itself.)

17 May 2017

Taste of Nature – tan renga

taste of nature–
sweet blackberry bushes
sing to child and bees                           © Sara McNulty

the hum of pleasure deepens
through the sunny afternoon                 © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


the tart-sweet juices spread,
reddening mouths and fingers               © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

For Carpe Diem's Tan Renga Challenge 2017 #11

And linking to Poet s United's Poetry Pantry #354

16 May 2017

An Autumn Leaf – tan renga

now it reveals its hidden side
and now the other—thus it falls,
an autumn leaf                                        © Ryokan Taigu

the light face, the dark face, 
are only one leaf, one whole                 © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


a butterfly rises
its bright wings flickering                      © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

For Tan Renga Challenge 2017 #10 at Carpe Diem

Also linking to Tuesday Platform May 16 2017 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

15 May 2017

Leaves Float Away – tan renga

autumn evening
like whispered prayers
leaves float away                             © Dolores Fegan

darkness settles slowly
warm like prayers answered            © Rosemary Nissen-Wade 


my outdoor temple breathes
peaceful in the soft breeze               © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Another  prompt from Chevrefeuille at Carpe Diem: 
Tan renga challenge 2017 #9.

14 May 2017

Mother's Day Haiku

hot tomato soup
brown bread broken into it –
mother’s comfort food


my pretty mother –
different from her 
I felt ugly


I was her first –
she told me, when I cried 
she cried too


did she know me
as her only daughter
that last day?

Written for the 'Mother's Day' prompt by Chevrefeuille at Carpe Diem. 

Also linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #353

13 May 2017

Attempting a Haiku Puzzler

Rules of the game:

The goal is to re-create the scrambled haiku of three haiku poets, but to make it somewhat more difficult, I have used four scrambled haiku.

Below you find an image in which you can find all the lines of these three haiku. To find the three haiku you get three hints:

1. This haiku poet brought haiku into the 20th century by mentioning a modern invention.

2. This haiku is renown all over the globe.

3. At the end of the life of a haiku poet the custom was to write a Jisei (death-poem). This is the jisei of a famous female poet.

To make the "haiku puzzler" complete you have to submit the three found haiku including the name of the haiku poet.

Scrambled lines:

I can get 2 and 3

old pond
frogs jump into
water sound
by Basho

This is indeed world-renowned.

3. I am guessing that this is the jisei, though only the middle line is certain (and I don't know who wrote it):

having gazed at the moon
I depart from this life
with a blessing

Google tells me I got this right and that the author is Chiyo-ni

Which leaves my guesses at the other two as:

young foliage
after the passage of a train
smoke whirls

morning dew
evaporates in the early sunlight
spirit climbs to the sky

I am further guessing that the first of them is number 1 in the puzzle, because of the mention of a train – but again I don't know the author.

Google  tells me I got that right too, and that the author is Shiki – which I half-guessed because I knew he lived into the twentieth century. (Only, his version had my first and third lines reversed!)

I did rather guess that the fourth haiku might be by Chevrefeuille himself, and Google tells me that is so. But as he wrote it, in the version I found, it reads: 

in the early sunlight
morning dew evaporates
spirits climb to the sky

It was great fun playing this game, and I think I did quite well despite my ignorance. (Smile.)

11 May 2017

The Flower of a Pumpkin – tan renga

the flower of a pumpkin
as well as Mt. Ishizuchi
is great in scale                                  © Tomiyasu Fusei 

slow changes over time
it forms another shape                       © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


big pot of hot pumpkin soup
family fed from flower                      © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

For the Carpe Diem  Tan Renga Challenge 2017 #8  

(I think I am probably being too intellectual, not enough sensual.
What do you think?)

10 May 2017

Two Sets of Footprints – tan renga

two sets of footprints
in freshly fallen snow
one pair from Kyoto                             © Hamish Managua Gunn

patterns on the soles reveal
only part of the story                             © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


how far has the stranger come
to meet a friend in the cold?                  © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


new city shoes leave clear prints
the others must be well-worn                © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

For Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge 2017 #7: two sets of footprints.

9 May 2017

First Autumn Morning – tan renga

first autumn morning
the mirror I stare into
shows my father's face                          © Murakami Kijo

hints of the coming cold
familiar from times before                    © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Written for Tan Renga Challenge Month 2017 #6 at Carpe Diem.

Shared with The Tuesday Platform for May 9, 2017 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

8 May 2017

Silent Steps – tan renga

silent steps –
one more candle illuminates
the old chapel                                      © Ese

a shadowy figure passes
along the edge of vision                       © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

lightning one candle
with another candle
an evening in spring                            © Buson (Tr. unknown)

from the withering the seed
from the seed the new blossom           © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Carpe Diem Tan Renga Challenge 2017 #5: silent steps

Shared with The Tuesday Platform for May 9 2017 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

7 May 2017

Tan Renga for Jane

At Carpe Diem, in honour of the late Jane Reichhold, we are asked to add two lines to some of her haiku, in 'tan renga' – which I found challenging, because I learn that the idea of tan renga is to associate on one aspect of the haiku, not what it says as a whole. My associations are with  the middle line of each, except the final one where I associate to the last line.

morning breeze
coming in the window
surf sounds                                              © Jane Reichhold

scents of briny ocean
and the shrill calls of gulls                      © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


without lights
the brightness of a blue sky
full of stars                                               © Jane Reichhold

the white swathe of milky way
superimposed like a cloud                        © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


balanced at dawn
a full moon slides into the sea
without ripples                                         © Jane Reichhold

the sun melts upward smoothly
from the opposite horizon                        © Rosemary Nissen-Wade


stars bend down
into the wind of whitecaps
morning light                                           © Jane Reichhold

the stars gradually fade
sky and water brighten                             © Rosemary Nissen-Wade

Written for Carpe Diem Universal Jane #16 Morning Breeze
Also linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #352