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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Losing the Electricity (sijo)

It is only just at dusk that the house lights quietly go out
so at first the darkening is gentle, not a sudden plunge
into blackness. We remember, this is how nature does it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Birthday Tanka

on my birthday
coconut macaroons
for breakfast
my toy teddies watching
this child of seventy-six


















Yes, 'small stones' are supposed to be observations of the external world, not so much one's inner processes. Hope it works to put myself under the microscope on this occasion.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Find


Small yellow notepad,
the right size to slip into
a shirt pocket.

An inheritance.
Perhaps
a message?

Most pages empty. 
Neat blue printed lines
waiting unfilled.

On one page, notes:
'Memoir.
Write the truth.'

His writing, 
In the blue biro
he always used.

Then a space of a few lines
before the words,
'& end'.


Linking to Flash 55 for 31 Oct '15 at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Young Man Observed


Overlooking the garden
he sits mute,
music in his ears – his alone 
through long white cords;
a small smile, and his fingers 
caressing his phone.



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Past and Present LIves

In her vision
the cobra was black,
confronting her
with a large emerald
shining between its eyes.

I told her
she must have been a queen
in old Egypt.
She said she missed her slaves
(hated cleaning the house).


After Last Night's Thunder


After last night's thunder,

which rumbled close
around the house
like a man with heavy boots
walking all over the roof,
I open the door to a day
washed clean by rain,
bright in the sunshine.



Process notes:

A series of half-rhymes: close/house; boots/roof; day/rain – the whole enclosed in another: thunder/sunshine.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Vase of Gardenias

Their tiny white heads
bend forward over the rim 
to release their piercing scent.

The leaves are standing up
forming a green ruff
around each neck.

The green glass vase holding them
swells like a full-bodied woman 
in a sarong ... maybe she is pregnant.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Unseen, the Gecko

Unseen, the gecko
on my outside wall
chirps loudly, 
staccato.

It wants to slip in
under the door
through a crack
and skitter around the house
between concealments.

I know without looking
it is tiny, pale grey,
and if it enters will die soon
for lack of insects.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Street Scene


The girl across the road is a teenager now,
riding up and down on her scooter
in front of her house, laughing and chatting
to her older brother, who is tinkering with his car.

They don’t seem worried about the storm clouds
and the few small spits of rain, nor the rumble
of thunder getting nearer. Her bright orange curls
float on the air behind her as she speeds and turns.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Vista


The cane is cut now
around the intersection,
exposing, over the flat fields,
endless horizons of pale blue sky.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Looking Around My Room

My room is full of colour – the pictures, the ornaments, my collection of clowns, the clutter on the table…





My toy teddy bear sits on a chair nearby, staring at me fixedly with a purposeful expression. The small, purple-clad, porcelain clown’s little hands are poised mid-gesticulation.




I glimpse through the screen door a slice of garden, where the breeze is creating a wave of sighs and rustles among the leaves.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Holiday

Two days away from home
I'm yawning at 8pm.
Responsibilities
roll off my shoulders,
my spine un-stiffens.




Monday, July 20, 2015

I Believe

I believe in Gaia,
our loving Mother —
the river her blood,
the trees her hair.

I fear she is dying.
She has a fever.
Can we save her with fear,
heal with despair?

No, and not with hope.
What we need is action,
urgent action — More! Faster! —
and fervent prayer.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Getting Through Winter

It's a help
that I have my cat —
the snuggler,
the smoocher —
to curl on the couch with me
as nights get colder.  

He's old too,
aged along with me.
Survivors,
just we two 
are all the family now
and we cling for warmth.















Linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #261, where you can find lots of good poems.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

From the Top Step — Autumn Dusk

I love this time of evening, when the hills opposite turn navy-blue and featureless, sharp-edged against the whitening sky. 

The feathery tree over the road dances in the light breeze. The more solid one in my yard is hardly moving; I have to look hard to see even a tiny flutter.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dearly Neglected

My cat comes in,
miaows in that urgent voice,
then settles by my feet
to wait patiently
until I finish this bit of typing.
I look at my watch and say,
‘Oh, quite right,
you’re overdue for lunch!’
I reach down to pat.
He stretches a paw
and pats me back.
We go together to the kitchen.
He does not reproach me.
What a good cat!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015

On the Highway

Three big silver trucks 
pass in parade:
armoured warriors, 
their windscreen visors 
glinting through the rain.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Saying Hello

Preparing for bed, I hear
the small cat noises I'm used to,
brief conversational murmurs
or a soft greeting.

But he's outside
and out of earshot,
my old black cat.

So I know
which little ghost greets me
from her favourite spot
nearby.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sun Jewels on Rainy Day

The rain is so steady and the sky so grey
even my cat doesn’t want to go out,
yet the little yellow Sun Jewels
in the pot on my veranda
still reach, bright and cheery, for the light.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Another Rainy Day











The rain falls hard
yet the wind is blowing it harder
slantwise across the street.
The Noisy Miner birds
have changed their usual squawk
to a pitiful cheep, as if
begging for rescue.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Dragonfly on the Back Step

Great black lacy wings.
Long thin body
like a misshapen wire
bulging at one end,
appearing twisted.

I decide it's dead or damaged.
With one finger
I push it gently over the edge
of the low, flat step
to the ground between step and wall.

Still those big wings extend
up past the side of the step.
'Poor thing,' I think, and wonder
if it was I who trod on it. Could I
have failed to notice?
When I come back, it's gone.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Green Things in Pots


I have a square white ceramic pot of chives and a long terra cotta coloured pot of gota cola. Both plants are thriving from all the hot sunshine interspersed with heavy rain. So is the plant in the small round white ceramic pot. I am pleased to see them flourishing. I feel a responsibility to Karen and Manfred who gave me these precious gifts when they went travelling. I must keep them all alive to show my appreciation. And indeed I do appreciate. I thought I would quickly use up the chives but they keep growing back long and strong. There is always more to add to my salad. And the gota cola is wildly abundant. I know I must have only three leaves a day to help my memory. I could feed the whole town!  

Monday, January 19, 2015

After the Family Visit

Her son gives her a last firm, fierce hug before getting in the car.  She goes up the steps and waves them goodbye from her front door — just as her mother, and before that her grandmother, always did.

They drive away. She goes inside, collects the bundled sheets and towels they used, drops them in the washing machine and turns it on. Then she remakes the beds.

It’s a nice hot, breezy drying day.  She hangs the linen on the line.  She’ll bring it all in dry in a couple of hours.

Time now to catch up with emails and facebook, before getting dinner for herself and her cat and settling in for the evening’s telly.

At 10.30, yawning, she looks at her watch and says out loud. ‘I thought it must be after midnight. How the night’s dragging on!’


Prompt: Writing as someone else? Well, separating myself into the person who acts and the observer who writes will hafta do.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Missing Person

Writing as a fictional detective

The inside of the glass is still wet. Only a few moments ago someone was drinking from it. The crossword has been started. A small red pen is lying beside it with the top off. There is a crumpled tissue further along the table. The electric fan is going full pelt.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Downpour

the window
rain running down

just a few inches
visible grass

For 'Finding Your Way Home' written as another me — recalling observations of my child self.

For dVerse, a tenWord poem, sourced from a longer piece I once wrote about childhood experiences.

Small Gecko in the House

They see me
though I try to hide.
The darkness
cascades to fill up
small spaces
under chairs, couches,
desks and beds,
and edges of walls:
the skirtings
where I elongate,
trying to
press my thin body
into a crack
and never be seen.
But I am
seen by the young child
and the cat
so I am afraid.
There's danger.
I want to get out
of this house.
Oh come with your broom,
old woman,
help me back outside!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Reflections on the Tweed

The river is high today.
Lash the logs firmly
for the trip downstream.

She stands on the wharf
wearing a long white dress.
I know she is watching me.

When the new bridge
replaces my ferry,
will I see her again?

Each day she travels
back and forth
yet I do not speak.












The bridge over the Tweed at Murwillumbah was built in 1901. The photo shows the stretch once crossed by ferry.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Late Mother Drops in for a Visit


Another exercise in writing as someone else. These are what I imagine her thoughts would be if she could come to visit.

So much clutter. She's still got her Christmas cards up. Those couches are nice. The cushions don't match. I remember that table. What a beautiful picture. Oh, that's the one from the cover of Andrew's book. It's quite a spacious unit, really, nice for Housing Department. At least she's comfortable. I like the open plan but I wonder why she has to have her office in the living room. It's not what I'd like for myself, but it seems to suit her. I wouldn't like to have to go up and down those front steps too often. But I'm glad she's got those good rails in the bathroom, to hang on to; I feel more secure. I wish she'd get rid of those big fake flowers. She says they have sentimental value. I think they look silly. I wish she'd at least put them in another room. She looks well, I will say that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

At the Environment Centre

Written as Helena, volunteer. (We are asked to write as someone else, real or fictional. )

I was standing by the counter, sorting some bits and pieces. Stan was sitting behind it, ready to take people's money. But there were only the two of us in there. It was nearly 4 o'clock.

This woman came in. She had white hair and a bright pink T-shirt, and she was wearing lots of rings and pendants.

She picked up one of the long rolls of shiny paper in the big basket next to the counter.

'A moon calendar,' I said.

'Of course,' she replied, with a grin. '$7.50. It's been the same price for years.'

'I didn't know that,' I said. 'We just volunteer here sometimes.'

And that was the start of it. Somehow I found myself telling her all about us and our interests and worries. She really listened.

I found out she had a bit of a walk back to her car. I wrapped her calendar in two plastic bags (recycled) with a rubber band around them, in case it rained.

I told her we were moving house, and what a job it was to pack all our books. She told us she couldn't help herself when it came to buying books, despite having embraced e-books, because the second-hand shops kept offering treasures for next to nothing. Her home was overflowing with books, she said.

She showed me the one she was carrying.

'I wasn't going to get anything today, but I was passing the Salvos and there was this gem for a dollar. What can you do?'

'We've got some second-hand books here for a dollar each,' I said. She hesitated, then went to have a look. She picked one up, flicked through the pages, and tucked it under her arm. 'Damn!' she said to herself.

She picked up another, turned it over, opened it and read a bit, and hung on to that one too. 'Damn!' she said softly again. Then she came over to the counter and bought them both.

I found another plastic bag for them and the one she already had.

When she left, she was smiling.



Monday, January 12, 2015

Still Life

(Not such a small stone this time — but we were asked to do a written 'still life' and this seems to be where it belongs.)  

What you can’t see is the scent. Exquisite scent! We all know what roses smell like; we can recall in memory the fragrance of the darkest red rose or the sweetest pink. This is different. It’s that smell with something else blended in, almost like a manufactured perfume — a touch of the exotic, a heady scent that, if it went a fraction further, would be too sweet. But it doesn’t and it isn’t; it’s perfect.

What you can see is the shapely purple vase, mulberry purple, transparent but dimly so. What you can see is the single rose it holds — the cluster of bright green leaves spreading over the brim; the slender inch of stem; and then the bloom: white, edged with red. It’s a tiny rose, open but not voluptuous, not profuse. You can still see the etched edge of every petal, and the dark spaces nestling between. The red — more plum than mulberry in this case — is only at the back of the flower, edging the outer petals. A jam stain ... some freshly shed blood already getting old, its red deepening. Darkening.

The white is more like cream.

What you can’t see is that the glass vase is slippery, cool. The round bulge below the rim is symmetrical, hard. Just below it is the place to grasp, and when I do it feels satisfying to my hand: just the right circumference, just the right texture.

What you can see is that the inverted cone of the glass then flares out to a wider base. You can see that the rose is already slightly old, and that it will probably be one of those which shrinks gradually in, going back to a bud shape again, only wrinkled — rather than one of those blowsy ones from which the petals drop.

What you can’t see is that this was a gift from a friend, who shared with me her birthday roses (and also her birthday cake, but there is nothing left of that). Her name is Angela, and she is a good angel.



I also made a picture, though not in paint — and gained a new respect for the careful way in which still life paintings, which look so spontaneous, must be posed. Even the wonderful ones by Margaret Olley, whose studio — lovingly recreated in the Tweed River Art Gallery — appears to be in such random chaos.




Rain Sound

Light but steady,
the rain makes loud whispers.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rain Dark

How the rain darkens the pavement.
How the rain darkens the air.
My back cat, stubbornly out in the cold
though sheltered from the wet,
seems to gleam even darker
against the pervasive grey.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Dancing For Me

I stepped outside my back door and a big butterfly, white wings edged in orange, brown and lacy black, rose from the jade bush and danced in front of me, fluttering from one side of the small yard to the other, circling back, and back again, zooming right in close to my face, but not in a threatening way; it felt friendly. It felt like a display. After a little while I pulled my phone from my pocket and tried to take a photo — snap, snap, snap, chasing the butterfly with the phone, never quick enough to catch it in one spot before it had flitted to the next. It never stopped, just kept on dancing, pirouetting, its big wings dipping and flowing. At length I thought I'd check to see if I had captured it in any photos. I looked down at the screen, away from it. No, of course I had not got it. When I looked back up, it had quietly gone. Over the fence and away, as soon as I stopped paying attention.


Later

Closer examination of the snaps revealed that I had caught it a few times — but in flight, blurry or only half there. In reality it looked exactly like a beautiful, well-formed butterfly, not these strange forms. (These are extreme crops, miniscule sections of photos that at first did not seem to include it, and then only as tiny spots.)




Thursday, January 8, 2015

This Old Cat


He’s a creature of habit and ritual, this old cat. He likes his nightly smooch in front of the telly. Tonight I am not watching. He sprawls on the coffee table and cries out. He sounds as if he wants food or to be let out the door, but it’s neither of those things. He is not at the food bowl. He is not at the door. He doesn’t stop calling until I get up from my computer, walk over, reach down and scratch behind his ears and under his chin; until I tell him what a good and beautiful fellow he is; until I butt heads with him gently; until I fetch the comb and remove his excess fur. ’I could weave it into a rug,’ I tell him. He purrs.

ewonlt stop

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Plant on My Top Step


These flowers are called sun jewels, little yellow cups on the ends of long leafy stems. They respond to the sun, opening on sunny days and closing in dark or rain. They are growing too long for the tiny pot I put them In weeks ago when I first got them. Would they make good ground cover? Perhaps not; they reach up as if stretching towards the light. 


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Feathers

Just a few, first thing in the morning, on the kitchen floor. My old black cat is not too old to catch the extra supper I denied him. Feathers in shades of grey, in two sizes, some underlined in white. Some tiny blobs, also, of grey fluff. No corpse, no entrails, no blood. I remonstrate weakly and fetch the brush and pan. He looks at me bold-faced; it's time for breakfast.

Flame

I light a candle to write by -- to make, for writing, a sacred space. 
The candle is white, tinged with shades of purple, variegated, swirling. 
There's a tear-shaped swirl at the bottom, three parallel arcs at the top. 
In between are stipples, gradations, and meandering flame-like lines. 
There are changes of colour from top to bottom, through blue to hot pink. 
The actual flame appears to be stretching, elongating, reaching up. 
For several days, huge fires have been burning in the Adelaide Hills.


I'm doing another 'mindful writing' course offered by Satya and Kaspa, just because their courses are such nice things to do from time to time. This one is called Finding Your Way Home.

For no reason except whimsy, I decided to make this first small stone of the course a series of American Sentences, a Western form of haiku devised by Allen Ginsberg (17 syllables each).




Thursday, January 1, 2015

Thunder Closing In

Thunder closing in
is gradual.
The dark comes down
slowly too.
Then both hit suddenly at once.