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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Morning Rain

Sunday morning rain.
On my porch rail
three Noisy Miners huddle drenched —
tight-beaked, slit-eyed,
hunched and silent.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cutting Short the Retreat

Thunder rolled around the hills
all night: drums and crashing cymbals.

 My inflamed shoulder aches and stings
needing another new dressing.

 We stumble awake into news:
the Sydney siege over. Three dead.

 Half way through my retreat,
I’m pulled back to the world.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Changing Relationship


I have become to him more cat now. When we have cuddles, he will lick my fingers assiduously, much more than he used to — then will suddenly give a sharp little nibble. There would be more, but at that point I yelp and push him away. He goes, sulkily. I am still the Alpha.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

An Influx of Ants

I open my kitchen drawer, and leap back. It’s full of tiny ants. They can't be looking for water — it’s gently raining outside. So it must be going to be a hard summer. Usually we think of a hard winter; usually the ants come indoors looking for food in a hard winter. What is global warming doing?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Eyes That Won't Meet Mine

'Are you a bee or a wasp?' I think at it. 

As if it senses my unease and responds, it rises from hovering near the jade plant at the edge of my front veranda and heads over to the bushes by the fence. I sip my coffee and read about writing haibun. 

A little later it returns. It lands on a jade leaf, walks underneath it, and strokes the upside with its fine front legs. 

'I'm glad to see you, bee,' I think this time. 

I know they are said to be dying out. If they do, it is further said, we shall all be doomed.

I contemplate the tree growing tall by my fence. I know it's a weed — one I didn't catch and pull out while it was still a baby, and look at it now! It's beautiful. It's hard to know how to serve Nature best.

The wind freshens, the thunder revs up. It's time to go inside. The rain will be humid.

in my living-room
the painting of an angel
a sweet sad face

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Comforts of the Body

Slowing down and taking time to observe my life, I notice and savour the comforts of the body; I dwell in them — the cushions at my back and behind my head, the warmth of the shoes on my feet, the aftertaste of my dinner, my breath moving easily out and in.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

After the Heavy Rain

After the heavy rain
one drop falls from the roof
with a loud tap, repeatedly.

Slowing down
I start to observe myself,
what’s really there.

I let myself stay
with loneliness now
so as to know it.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Losing the Leaves

My northern hemisphere friends write of snow and the last leaves falling. Here the trees are thick with leaves, full of flowers; some already have berries. The threat is from sudden summer storms, which can tear them off in a few minutes. Quite by accident, we time our river walk perfectly today, and are sitting in a cafe when the thunder and pelting rain descend out of nowhere.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Work

I realise that work is not in preparation for my retreat, but part of it. The good, honest, physical work of cleaning house. Much is needed. I neglected it all winter and spring. It feels good to give it a little time each day, incorporating it into my daily schedule of reading, writing, meditation, self-healing sessions, exercise and relaxation. Now, '... exercise, relaxation and work.' Not exactly in that order, and none of them at only one time all day. It is only the 3rd of December. I am still working out the routines that serve best. Already I am becoming more peaceful.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Preparing the Space

The first day of my home vacation.  I clean the outdoor chairs and coffee tables on both my back and front verandas, wiping them down repeatedly with a microfibre cloth.  With my yard broom I catch and remove the thick, old, uninhabited cobwebs binding the vines to my shelf of garden tools. I take the trowel and dig up my new French lavender, put it in a pot and place the pot on the front veranda where it will get the full sun I now know it needs.  I wash the frames of my front and back doors and dust the flywires. My holiday can begin.

(To be honest, it's not so much a vacation, though it will function that way too, as a spiritual retreat.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cane Town in Spring

Fields burnt dry;
a few with new shoots
already growing clumpy.

From the sugar mill
the smell
is sickly sweet.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Night Sounds

the gecko after dark
chirrups at my door
while inside the house
my cat chirrups too —
repetitive little calls

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Beautiful Child Has Eaten

The beautiful child has eaten
what was in his bowl
and is asking for more.
This is the way of beautiful
children with four legs and fur.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Foraging Ibis Bark

The foraging ibis bark.
One opens wide his beak
and emits a harsh tune:
Ack, ack, ack, AAAAH, ack,
repeats it exactly.
He meant it!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jay Ungar (and Molly Mason and The Family Band) play Ashokan Farewell

he closes his eyes
over the notes
of his sweet violin —
haunting song of farewell
but his half-smile is bliss

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spring Has Arrived

The lorikeets are here!
With a quick shriek
two lights, bright green
dive out of the bottlebrush tree,
zap the air, skim the roof
and vanish.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Candle Like a Pale Green Heart

A candle like a pale green heart
scented with rose petals.
Mara’s cousin made it as a gift.

We witches met to talk about hexes
in our Pagan discussion group.
Instead we light a love candle.

We light it for souls who may be lost
after their plane was shot down,
and for their sad families.

And for the shooters? Can’t quite
manage that yet, but we ask for them
that they may look into their own souls.

We never think to send a hex.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Time Passing

Just months since last we met.
I notice how much whiter her hair is now.
She gives me an appraising look. I think
she thinks that mine is whiter too.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Client

A good, round face,
a smile,
brown hair cropped close
(just beginning to recede),
bright, round eyes,
direct gaze,
frankness,
ready understanding,
tears and laughter when
he speaks of his dead Mum.…

Good things,
but none explains —
nor even all together —
why I like him so much
and trust the liking.
Is it that indefinable, his energy?
Perhaps it’s the warmth,
or his insight,
or the way this kind, brave man
believes himself ordinary.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Greeting in the Supermarket

We say hello and I go to move on.
Her “How ARE you?” stops me.
Her eyes widen and become intent.
She really wants to know.

She recalls things I’ve told her,
asks about them and about now.
I feel cared for. I realise
we go back a long way.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Haunting

The mellow notes of wind chimes at my door 
mingle with the sound
of young Haylee across the way
practising her recorder
in thin, insistent piping
like my little brother’s long ago.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Smart —

my ankle boots
with zipped sides,
heels that click.



Our Era

I watch “Jersey Boys”
in an almost empty cinema,
my toes tapping to the tunes.

Little old lady two seats away
says afterwards, grinning with joy,
“It was our era!”

(I realise she too
must perceive herself as talking
to a little old lady.)


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sorrow / Joy

Cold night, and you
not here to warm me.
I give thanks:

tonight you are not
lying alone in a nursing home,
you are not in a hospital ward,

nor are you next to me
in pain and troubled sleep —
you are free!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

From the Veranda, a Vista

From the veranda
a vista of trees,
a succession of curving hills,
leads all the way into town —
though town can’t be seen.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Winter Sun

Winter sun —
that sky, that uniquely Australian
quality of light!

From now until August 3rd I'm playing a game (with others online) 
to write small stones "in just ten perfectly imperfect words".

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Variations on a Theme

I wrote the first poem and thought it was too long for a "small stone".  But the second attempt is not very joyful, which supposed to be the theme of my small stones this month, but instead slightly sinister! So I'm posting both. 


Late Afternoon On My Top Step

Late afternoon on my top step
I settle with coffee and iPad
beside the potted plants.
My black cat runs up the stairwell
from some private vantage-point
down in the garden, to join me.

His footwork is light, he is
lithe and quick — not like
the old guy he is. Now he peers
underneath the railings
at my geranium bushes
half flattened by last week's wind

before stretching out on the concrete
to hear and ignore all those birds
massing and trilling, getting ready
for the sun to make its descent.
Today the air is still. I notice
the pink bottlebrush are out on my tree.


Before Night Falls

My cat on the step appears to doze,
his black fur polished, gleaming.

But his ears and haunches tense
as the birds get shrill ... before night falls.

Friday, July 4, 2014

My Friends, Moving House


My friends, moving house
bring me their pots —
terracotta and white ceramic —
of gota cola and chives

and, for my front steps,
tiny purple flowers
dotting the dark green
stems and leaves.

They bring them to me
smiling.
I cry out with joy
to receive.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Old Black Cat

My old black cat
begs to go out
into the winter sun,
lies long hours
where it falls, 
by the wall behind
the pink geraniums.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

After the Flu

After the flu
he remarks on my husky voice.
Good heavens, he’s flirting!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Moments of Joy

Seeking moments of joy
in my own home,
I see my aunt’s lace fan.

Yellow flowers, black edging,
a white base that mimics ivory
but isn’t cruel.

My cousin sent it to me
after my dear aunt died
whom I called my second Mum.

Late in life, she saved
and went on cruises,
finding fans in port as souvenirs.

I remember her long letters
about places she saw,
friends made on board

even love, although at last
those ships passed in the night.
The fan is still faintly scented.




Joy

I'm doing Satya Robyn's July "Writing My Way Home" course on Joy — again! Did it last year too. (Smile.) Posting small(ish) stones about joy here, plus making a separate joy list in the form of daily status updates on twitter and facebook.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Today the Wind

Today the wind
is very quiet,
rustling not rushing,
a faint but insistent
white noise — not gone
not giving up, but still
whispering and shushing
and once more muttering.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Siege

The wind is making woo-woo ghost noises
and bumping the doors like an intruder
wanting to break in. I refuse to open
but it stays all day, insisting, even begging
with high-pitched wailing and then
the desperate, long, low, pitiful howls.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Revisiting

A recent photograph:
childhood home

changed.

Oh, look — my Dad’s roses
long ago

gone.


(Double tilus)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Overcast Sky


overcast sky white not grey
tiny blue

holes


This is a tilus, a new form invented by Kelvin S Mangundayao. I have fallen in love with it, and will probably use it often in this context.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Outside My Door

Insistent,
the sharp, sweet note
of Noisy Miners — 
not shrieking, as they would
if they saw my cats;
simply conversing, 
happily.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sad

Little cold girl
cat on the doorstep
curling stubbornly
waiting for someone
who will never come.


I've been sitting on this one, which was written March 19, thinking 
there was more to add. I finally realised it's complete in itself.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Autumn Afternoon

A cheeky breeze
sneaks through the door.
Immediately, something in me lifts --

the joy that always comes
through decades of autumn breezes
in all the homes of my life.


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Day Steams Up

The day steams up
already, so early 
in the overcast morning.
The threat of rain
in this heat
brings stinging insects.
I like to meditate outdoors
but not always.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Stillness is Inhabited

The stillness
before a hot day
is inhabited by doves,
white-breasted,
cooing intermittently
with long, low notes
from my neighbour's thick trees.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Listening to the Birds


Late afternoon. The heat has eased. I sit in my back garden, listening to the birds try out all their different cries.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Good Rain

fills the darkness outside my door
with its sudden whoosh

and then a long whisper,
a muted roar.

I know it blesses the earth.
I feel safe in my home now —

now that the friendly rain
comes down, comes down, comes down.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Bin Morning


The garbage trucks rumbled up the street, whined to a halt, and hit the deeper, grinding note to lift and upend my bins. Now they have clattered away, and I hear my neighbour bumping his empty bins back up the driveway we share. There is reassurance in these habitual noises: the world still turns. I know what day it is.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Poem for Patsy

Patsy is wearing her white blouse
with the white-on-white embroidery, 
over her skinny black pants.

We sit on her couch 
and look at our iPads.
I show her my photos on Facebook.

She hands me my Christmas present
in a red envelope: a voucher
for a massage from Sarah.

'Write a poem for Sarah,' she says.
'Go on!' But I want to write a poem
for Patsy, who is kind to me.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Two Dragonflies


The wind rouses.
Two dragonflies, darting in and out 
of the vines on the fence,
are golden.

Plane Over My Back Yard


I come out of meditation with a start.
A plane goes over, loud and sudden,
then drones away. 
Its rumbling lasts a long time, 
fading down the air.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Observations

Two ripening pawpaws hang from the tree like pendulous yellow breasts.


As the wind rises before the rain, my little cat starts running and jumping as if she was playing with something visible.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Is That Singed Smell?

What is that singed smell in the air?
I look for some appliance I’ve left turned on,
find nothing. I decide it’s the smell
of 34 degrees Celsius. Then on facebook
my friend Ondine posts a status update:
'The wind has bushfire breath'.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Soft Breeze

The soft breeze of evening
stirs my wind chimes,
ruffles the fur of my lolling cat
and washes my neck 
with delicious cool.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Seeking Magick

Wanting, he said, to learn,
he kept talking and talking and talking
of what he had read and done.

‘To keep silent,’ one of us murmured.
He gave no sign of hearing the words,
let alone recognising the quote.

A nearby crow cawed repeatedly, loud.
‘Perhaps we need to tune in,’ I suggested,
closing my eyes. He kept on talking.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Touching the Leaves

Two vines grow over my fence.
When I weave the tendrils into each other,
the leaves of one are cold and slippery;
the other's warmer to the touch,
finer and softer, like textile.
The new leaves on each,
baby small,
feel thin and crinkly.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Pretty Hill at Gloucester

Bushes at the top, bushes at the bottom.
Silvery leaves, bright green leaves,
yellow-green and red-brown leaves,
and the straight white twigs of the gums.
At the top is a radio tower,
at the bottom is Gloucester station.

The train pulls away. On the next hill
white and grey stones break the surface.



Friday, January 10, 2014

Sequel

On my pilgrimage to the past,
my journey of completion,
he hears that I'm in town -- 
suggests we meet
for coffee or wine.

But time's too short;
we don't make it happen. Ah!
The Universe, I see, decrees:
that water's under the bridge,
no completion needed. 

Just in Case

Careful selection of lipstick,
trying every colour.
If that man comes to visit
who was once my lover,
may the passage of 40 years
not look too horrifying!

Creating a Monster

Discussing archetypes,
she tells me, 'You're the Queen.
Haven't you noticed
how people help you?'

She treats me like one
during my visit. It takes 
only a few days until
I slip into the role --

holding out my arms
for her to assist me
into my jacket;
preceding her through doors.

Rescuing the Cicada

The wings of the cicada
are black lace,
its eyes are tiny red beads.

She lifts it from the path
where it lies on its back
and carries it to a tree.

It walks calmly across
each of her hands in turn.
She finds it a tree in the shade.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Visiting My Friend

She plays Billy Bragg
because she knows I like him.
I have to be sneaky
to pay for her coffee;
she responds by shouting me 
organic ice cream.
I sleep a cosy eight hours
in her guest bed,
cuddling the toy wombat
she left on the pillow.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Contrasts

In MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)
coffins are beautiful — painted sarcophagi
for ancient Egyptians with calm faces. 

When I pick up an ordinary coffee mug 
in the Gallery shop, I am not prepared 
for a different depiction: no face at all, but

a male torso upside-down, with penis
chopped off at the root. The hole allows sight
of the inside bits of the body — blood vessels,
nerves, bits of gristle. Yes, I recoil.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

I Hear a Voice in the Airport Lounge

I hear a voice in the airport lounge
which sounds just like my son's —
either of my sons: the one
I just said goodbye to, or
the one I dread to see
ever again. But it's not —
not even that familiar laugh.
It's a group of young men.
So I understand for the first time
my sons have Melbourne voices.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

In a Local Park

The young father
stands behind his tiny son,
holding the boy's hands
which hold the basketball.
'Now!' he says, and the kid
bends his knees and throws
while his Dad throws with him.
Into the net!  And we all clap.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's Her Voice

It's her voice --
the way it smiles even when
her mouth only quirks a moment
in her face that remains calm
while her warm voice
soothes and invites.

In Person

(Melbourne)

We adopted each other
years ago as Sis and Bro,
co-admins of online poetry groups,
cohorts in politico-social outrage,
and co-conspirators in
(sometimes refraining from) 
epater le bourgeoisie.

We met, of course,
under the clocks.
'I'll be wearing an avant-gardenia,' 
he said. No, but he was wearing
a black T-shirt saying: 
'The revolution will not 
be televised.'

I'd texted him on the way:
'I'm wearing a tie-dyed caftan'
[it was the one hot day]
'with a carry-bag advertising
The New Internationalist. 
Think I'm joking?' 
He didn't. He was right. 
(Well, we were both left.)

I'd wondered how it might be
meeting at last in person,
but there he was
looking just like his photos.
Nothing was more natural
than to hug.