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

Thursday, December 21, 2017

At Your Engagement Party

To Adam

I kept taking photos of
your gate-crasher, because
she couldn't resist the music, 
drawn in through open door 
of the party restaurant
to where the guitarist sat, 
in a corner so he wouldn’t be crowded. 
It was all those 
liquid Spanish tunes. How 
could she have refrained, how ever,  
from dancing?

And she was so bright, 
in her shiny, slinky, green-and-yellow dress,
and she clicked her heels Flamenco-style,
and clapped her hands over her head.
And she kept apologising, softly, shyly,
in her foreign accent, but 
she didn’t stop dancing, didn’t stop twirling,
didn’t stop brightening further –
as if under a spotlight …
creating her own spotlight –
the already-festive night.

(She gave permission for her photo to be used online. 
We never learned her name.)

Grand-daughter Requests

Grand-daughter requests help
with her maths homework.
I try. I can understand
the graphs, and confirm
her answers are perfect.
But ‘experimental probability’
is a foreign language for me.
I know what each word means,
but not together, and not in maths.
She is kind when I tell her,
‘This is far beyond me’; requests
I not worry or blame myself.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rain Falling Hard

While I watch on TV
the scene of a British day
with black umbrellas raised
against pervasive rain –
at the same moment, here
in Melbourne, Australia,
the sky outside thunders
while heavy rain and hail
pelt the suburban garden.
Later the news tells of floods
and landslides. The world
is beset by storms. We prepare
for the coming Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


‘Answer a question,’ prompts facebook,
‘to help people get to know you’.

I write poems to help people know me – 
except when I make them opaque: 

distractingly ornamental
walls of flowers I lurk behind.

Monday, December 18, 2017

At the Family Gathering

I never knew this old man well,
but two years ago when we all met
for that particular Christmas,
he greeted me warmly.

This year he is blank, until his niece
tells him my name. Then a frail voice
recalls, with a questioning note,
the name of my late ex-husband.

Young Woman on a Tram

She almost flounces on board,
short skirt swirling her into her seat.
Dark hair and eyes, smooth golden skin ...
but the eyes glare, and the set
of the full, curvaceous lips
looks menacing.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

This Notebook I'm Using

My adopted brother
gave me this book
almost three years ago
on the first of January.

The paper was made from bark
in western Nepal, by an ancient method.
It will last a long time.

On the cover is a mandala,
symbol of impermanence.

I record in it moments of life.

Buddha Confronts Me

The eyes of the Buddha
gleam green from the page,
inked in elaborate whorls.
The perfect curves of the brows
seem to add intense focus.
The nose can be perceived
as the shape of a question-mark.
'Examine yourself!' I think he says.
But the rest of the face is missing.
I let myself visualise a secret smile.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Oh, I am madly excited!!! My poetry collection, SECRET LEOPARD: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 1974-2005, has just been reissued as an ebook, via my favourite publisher Content X Design. (Thank you, Delaina and Kristin!) 

 You can get it for only $2.99 USD in whatever format suits you (mobi for Kindle, epub for other e-readers or pdf for your computer). 

 Lots of wonderful poems, if I do say so myself  and you won't find them on my blog! 

(There are still a VERY few paperback copies left which I am now selling for $10 USD — and to Aussies $10 AUD — plus postage. You'll have to message me if you want one of them.) 

Here is the link to the ebook.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

My cat sleeps

my cat sleeps well
on the couch beside me
I am safety

They cascade

they cascade
warm orange bright gold
down the vase
spilling fresh fragrance 
my friend's nasturtiums

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mystery Unsolved

I step outside 
to the immediate strong smell of smoke
but none to see.

Clear blue skies in every direction
are interrupted 
by the tops of hills and mountains.

The quiet street
is undisturbed.
When I step back inside the smell is gone.

(I could get in my car and go hunting
but there's coffee here
and a book to read.)

Friday, July 14, 2017

On Sphinx Rock

On Sphinx Rock 
sunlight catches 
two jutting crags.

Against the dark mass 
of head-shaped scrub
they gleam like fangs.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Small Black Cat

small black cat
gazes up at me
ears alert

Trying out techniques from 'IN THE WAY OF BASHO' ebook by Chevrefeuille at Carpe Diem. This one is 'shasei' (sketch): 'to depict the thing just as it is'.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Asserting Ownership

The small cat settles 
beside me on the bed,
relaxes and closes her eyes. 
It could be accidental 
when she stretches out
touching both her hind feet 
to my leg. It could be ... 
but when I shift a little,
she stretches once more, 
eyes tightly closed,
and pushes her feet firmly 
back against my leg.

Linking to the current Tuesday Platform at 'imaginary garden with real toads'

Visitors from the garden, please note that I have not changed my blog layout and title. This is a different blog from the one you are used to.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lovely Weather for Ducks

Nothing but rain outside.
It will be like this for days
the house surrounded by darkness
(the windows look like night)
and afterwards
hordes of new mosquitos.

I cancel lunch with friends,
think I might dust the bedroom
(it looks so beautiful clean)
and find the DVD my son recently sent:
Othello, in 1990,
Ian McKellen playing Iago. 

This Time

This time
she did not run away and hide
when I tried to dab calendula cream
on the allergy spot behind her ear.

This time
she hunched on the couch beside me
and submitted,
albeit with a disgruntled face.

This time
after I was done
she got down off the couch,
licked her paw, and deliberately washed it all off.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Autumn Begins with Days of Rain

On the first dry evening
I open the door to the yard
and see in spite of the dark
the vine, as if suddenly, 
fresh green, thick with leaf.

Opening the front door
next morning, still rainless,
I confront mist: startlingly white,
wiping out hills and mountains
above the other side of the street.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

TV Shows About High School KIds

Joyfully discovering Veronica Mars,
and remembering beloved Buffy, I wonder –
is it that I’m permanently adolescent,
or am I trying to recast myself, even now,
as the brave teenager I never was?

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 2: Honesty

Monday, March 13, 2017

Going to Ground

I told a truth about myself
I never told before.
It was big.

People were kind. And even I
could see myself with distance,
lending compassion.

But it wore me out.
I haven’t been able, since,
to tell anyone anything.

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 2: Honesty

Friday, March 10, 2017

After the Fierce Summer

After the fierce summer 
(and my arthritis flare-up)
my garden is dead –
except, of course, for the weeds.

My cat with the white whiskers
finds herself a shady spot
under drooping ferns
and a statue's impassive gaze.

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 2: Honesty

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


a silent thunk!
some part of my soul
re-enters my body

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 2: Honesty

Investigating My Space

My blue bedspread is one kind of cotton,
the sheet another. The smooth sheet
slides over my skin in this hot weather,
or rests cool upon it when I lie flat.
The bedspread is thick and almost rough,
almost a little furry – though it's not, 
but it has texture. It has little white flowers
with stylised stems and leaves, in rows.
It came from India. My cat's white whiskers 
shine against black fur. She rests her chin
on the Indian cotton throw, stays all night.

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 1: Curiosity

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Last Night in Bangalow

Purple trees in early evening 
in tiny, pretty Bangalow,
and my friends conducting me
to an illustrated talk on Venice,
beloved Venice, in the paintings
of Canaletto, who loved it too.

‘What is the name of these trees?’ I asked.
‘Teeboocheena,’ my friends replied
and spelt it: Tibouchina. I Googled later.
Pronounced Tibbookyna (y as in ‘try’).
Beautiful whatever the name. Like Venice,
that dream, and the paintings of Canaletto.

(The lecturer postulated that Venice has long been more dream or myth than city – not evolving, nothing replaced, but continually preserved and restored.)

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 1: Curiosity

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Guard Cat

Late night, busy morning.
I take an afternoon nap.

Immediately she’s on the bed
beside me as always, but not
purring, not settling to rest.

Head up, ears cocked, 
she’s on guard.
But against what?

I wake later to flashes of light
and violent thunder-claps.

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 1: Curiosity

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ball or Line

In the heat she stretches her paws out in front of her, lying long on her belly, her head low, chin on the bed. Her back legs extend the line of her body, stretching out behind her. How sleek she is, and black. And how relaxed. Total abandonment. 

In the cold she curls, paws and head drawn in, conserving her body warmth – a clump of darkness, rounded, almost a ball. How trusting, given up to sleep, completely safe here with me. Comfort and safety express themselves in all her resting shapes.

Of course, as soon as I bring out the camera she changes her pose – to something between  the two!

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 1: Curiosity

Also an example of a prose poem for dVerse MTB Prose Poetry

Friday, March 3, 2017

Contemplating the Unfamiliar

The Water Dragon is not afraid.
It comes to the glass door and poses
in profile, displaying long tail,
strong body, sturdy legs,
and above all the head held high,
cocked, staring in. We are strange
exotic creatures to the Water Dragon,
I suppose. Or perhaps, after all, it is afraid,
keeping so still – frozen, so that we won’t
discern, it supposes ... do they suppose?

Image from public domain

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 1: Curiosity

Linking to Poets United's Midweek Motif ~ Fear

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Long Time No See

When Colleen arrived this morning and knocked,
and I opened the door, she stood on my top step
widely smiling. She wore a white top, an orange skirt,
and a pendant on a long white cord, with a tiny,
serene head of the Buddha. Her pale red hair
was brushed back from her face at the sides, curving
above her forehead. Her big eyes shone. She gave me
a long hug. All in all, she was that ray of sunshine 
people talk about, when they want to say 
that someone made them happy. And she did!

Written for Writing Ourselves Alive, week 1: Curiosity

There's a Round Mirror

There’s a round mirror on my desk
on a stand. It’s way at the back,
I mostly forget it’s there. When I do
see my face, I’m startled. This woman 
looks so pasty-faced and solemn. 
Who is she?

The first of a month-long series written for Satya Robyn's course, 'Writing Your Way Alive', Week 1: Curiosity.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Terrified Cat

My terrified cat 
chooses, in fierce thunder,
safety outside –
under the patio roof,
beneath the mini-tramp 
and the blanket
she lolls on, in quieter times.