“But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.”
~ Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Small Notebook

My small notebook
was made in Nepal.
Its hand-made pages 
come from the Lokta plant.

In the top corners are images 
drawn in coloured ink:
the eyes of the Buddha,
the symbol for Om.

In the centre of the blue cover
Is a red and gold mandala,
a circle inside a square
inside a larger circle.

For the January writing course
we're told, 'Get a beautiful notebook'.
Serendipitously my bro, 
not knowing, gives me this one.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Returning to Visit

(from tropic to temperate)

I find garden after garden filled with roses --
scented roses -- and leafy trees growing
along nature strips and railway culverts.
For the first time in nine years, I eat 
ripe apricots -- a forgotten pleasure.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wishing For Things To Be Different

Walking along a city street
I pass a family. The young boy,
slight of figure, wide-eyed,
wears a T-shirt saying:
Man of Steel. 

He is holding his mother's hand,
looking slightly frightened by the city
with its cars and crowds.

OK, I get it, but I still wish
I could give the boys T-shirts
saying Man of Jelly

and have them be proud.


(In looking at joy this month, we also look at where it's absent or hindered — just in case you're wondering.)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pascoe Vale South

In this suburb
in the temperate south,
people grow roses.
I go for a walk
in mingled sun and rain
and stop to look,
and pause to smell.
Some are full and blowsy,
others tiny, many-petalled.
The one with the deepest scent 
is creamy in the centre,
crimson round the rim.
It's an old suburb
of small stone houses,
and these are old roses
thriving still.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Christmas Pirate

My son, who never fathered children,
slips out on Christmas Eve
to the back yard, to hide a box
and set up a treasure map
so his partner's nine-year-old
will find her gift from the pirates.
He doesn't believe in Christmas,
the commercialisation; 
never gives presents -- but a gift
from the pirates, he says, 
puts back the magic. For me
there is magic in seeing him
enjoy the role of father at last.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Two Railway Workers

Two railway workers
are checking the tickets
of boarding passengers.

Both are plump,
middle-aged,
with happy faces.

He has a lanyard around his neck;
she is wearing, with her uniform,
green Xmas-tree earrings.

In a moment between passengers, 
she dances up on to tip-toe;
they exchange a quick kiss.

The Watery Approaches to Sydney

5 am. There first lights come on
in and out of the train.
The watery approaches to Sydney
fill our moving windows —
the bends of the huge river 
spreading grey and glassy,
rows of spindly posts
marking the oyster leases —
as I cross again 
these old, familiar bridges,
waking up this morning.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Leave the Cats Sleeping

I leave the cats sleeping,
one on my bed,
one on the spare bed.
Sometimes they share
in one place or the other,
but when they separate
it's always this way. 
They like their own rooms.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Flavour of Bailey's Irish Cream

The flavour of Bailey’s Irish Cream: mellow with a tang ...
(The slim bottle is black, with a red label.
Surely those back-to-back gold initials are new?
I don’t remember them. But then, it’s a long time
since I’ve had a glass of Bailey’s — before tonight, that is.

(It came in a box with two glasses —
heavy-bottomed glasses
with curved sides for the grasp of a hand.
They too have those initials, back-to-back B B.
And they have gold rims.

(At the moment one glass is clean,
the other is buttery golden from my drink.
How good if I had someone to share
my gift bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream.
But alone is good too.) ... white fire, yet subtle.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Waiting in the Long Heat

Waiting in the long heat
for help with my stranded car,
I raise the bonnet for shade
and perch on the bumper bar.

I settle and look up.
Blue sky and a beautiful tree
straight in front of my gaze
are sweet and calming to me.






















Submitted for Poets United's Verse First ~ Gifts and Blessings.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pay Day

All day paying the bills,
first on computer
next by walking
all over town
in sun and rain,
stopping to pick up
a white lace ribbon
someone dropped in the park,
buying a new bra
and getting it properly fitted.
Ah, the depth
of these mundane 
satisfactions!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Raisins

Raisins are succulent on the tongue
and squashed between the teeth,
releasing their juices from skin and pulp —
at the same time sweet and tangy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vignette

The tiny boy runs naked
down our quiet, trafficless street,
his young mum close behind him
grabbing for his hand.
Yes, it’s Summer!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Joy Shines

Joy shines
from the young man’s face
for no special reason.
Bright eyes, wide smile,
exuberant laugh.
Life and youth must be
sufficient reason.

A Cool Wet Day

A cool wet day at last
in early summer.
I sit outside
on the front verandah
where you used to sit
looking at pale grey sky
and dark grey trees.
It is enough.
It is a kind of pleasure.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Eye


The boy’s eye in close-up on the cinema screen is not brown, not blue, but hazel — like my eyes — joined spots of tan radiating from the centre onto a background of sage green. This green, I realise, is the colour of my new jade pendant which I love so much.

Storm Hint

Sheet lightning flashes
behind clouds
startling the hot night.

On the balcony
our heads lift,
eager for new rain.

The Little Dog


The little dog sniffs my ankle all over, following me around the table. His nose is wet and very cold. He is black and white, as small as a cat. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ripe Mango


… smells fragrant as I walk into the room. Blooms with a warm red blush on the gold skin. Feels somewhere between firm and soft to the touch; I interpret this as ‘just right’. I slice down each broad face, along the curve of the underlying stone. On the narrow sides, the skin starts peeling off the stone of its own accord. I take a sharp knife to finish that severance, then I slurp the clingy flesh from the sides of the stone. With my knife I score the two halves that I cut off first, criss-cross into tiny squares, leaving the skin whole. I bend the skin of each half backwards, so the squares of mango sit up, ready for me to scrape my teeth along them and suck them into my mouth. Sweetness, but not too sweet. Juiciness, wonderful in its excess. Taste and texture linger, completely satisfying.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Trees in the Street


Hot day, cool breeze. The woman serving me in the craft shop notices that the leaves on the trees are moving. She says she remembers those trees being planted in the street, ten years ago.  ‘So small! And now look how beautiful they are.’ They are wattles, taller than the roofs of the shops.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Salt and Pepper Pots

The salt and pepper pots
are stout and squat
with a cheerful air 
like friendly gnomes
at my dinner table.


Monday, December 9, 2013

A Blowy Day

The wind comes gusting up the valley with low howls. My chimes ring over and over on the front veranda, sending echoes down the street and across the hill.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

My Rainbow Sun-Hat

The rings of my rainbow hat
go purple, indigo, blue,
green, yellow, orange, red —
just as they should for a rainbow.

They start from the rim
and work their way into the middle,
where they coil to make a big round spot
purple over the crown — as that, too, should be.

My rainbow sun-hat keeps me shaded
and brightens other people’s faces.
They stop and grin. They say,
‘You’re looking very colourful. I love it!’


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cool Change

Feel the wild, cold storm rush in
after the long, slow day of  heat.
Feel the sharp lift begin and gather pace,
the rustle and stir of leaves grow loud,
and the frogs croak faster, faster.

Evening Kookaburras

Every evening the kookaburras laugh
loud on the street outside my door.
I love to hear their explosions of joy.
I rush out and never catch sight of them
but I know they are here, visiting again
after months of silence, with their rollicking song.

Today My Friend

Today my friend Angela
brought me deep blue hydrangeas
from her garden

and some other flowers from 
the ‘yesterday, today, tomorrow’ plant.

Today my friend Angela
brought me eight crystals
to make a protective grid:

two rose quartz, two aventurine,
four hematite to ground each one.

Today my friend Angela
picked up frangipani blossoms
fallen on the ground from my big tree

and I floated them 
in a shallow glass bowl.

‘You spoil me,’ I said
to my friend Angela.
She only smiled and gave me a hug. 





Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Devotions

Just as I settle in my chair at the outdoor cafe and look around for something joyous to write about (my daily practice) four Hare Krishna devotees march up the street, chanting. I want to call it singing, they do it with such verve. Sometimes the local devotees sound half-hearted, sadly dutiful — but these lads sing out their mantras with conviction, and tune. I remember that Krishna is a joyous God.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Occasions of Joy

I'm doing a 'Writing My Way Home' course in joy, this December. It was offered in beautiful timing for me. 'I need to get in touch with my joy more often,' I thought. 

There are several practices suggested. One, of course, is the mindful writing of 'small stones', with a focus on what gives you joy. Another is the creation of a Book of Joy. 

'Find a beautiful notebook,' advises Satya Robyn, course facilitator. I like my beautiful iPad Mini and my beautiful 'Stones for the River' blog, so I'm creating on one and posting to the other.

Here are today's small stones, each of which was indeed an occasion for joy. Hooray, already it's working!


I come out into new sunshine after rainstorms. A crested pigeon walks across my driveway, untroubled by my presence.

The tree across the road has long white limbs stretching unevenly, like bending paths, through its fuzz of green.



Two little dogs, one black, one white, walk sedately on the ends of their leashes. Their owner has both leashes in one hand. His big shaggy dog, black with a splotch of white at the throat, ambles close by, untethered. This was a comfort stop, for bladder relief; only five minutes and they're all back in the car.

The tree in front of me, gnarled and knotted, has had it's lower branches lopped repeatedly. The scars look like gnome or gargoyle faces.