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.

28 June 2017

Now You've Gone and Done It

For Rae

When he wished me Happy Birthday,
I emailed back: '75. So I'm having
a week at least of celebrations. How 
are you going?'  'Running to catch up 
to you,' he said. 'Panting.' (He was
two years younger than me.) But now, 
18 months later, he's gone and stopped.
How could you do that? Now you'll never
catch up! Or is it I, now, who'll always be 
trailing, unable to catch up with him?


Poet Rae Desmond Jones (1941-2017) and I knew each other slightly for many years, and were aware of each other's work, but only really became friends late in life, via the internet. In those recent years I came to treasure his humour, intellect and very sweet nature. I'll miss him!

Linking this to the latest Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads', where change is a theme.

25 June 2017

Looking for Myself in 'Peanuts'

1.

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?


2. 


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.


Linking to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #367

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

Ordinary

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'.

Also linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #360.

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

















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!

(17 July) Delighted to report that this one was placed in the top 10, in very good company. And you really should check out the brilliant winner. Details here.

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
pleasantly

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'.