Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ten Driving Poems 10. Roundabout

Around town, the two roundabouts
like circus rings, provide amusement.
It's a dance to the tune of flashing
indicators, take your turn now, left
or straight through the hoop, a ring
of fire if you misjudge distance
or intent. The rhythm of life
the rhythm of purpose
the rhythm of going
stopping, going.
Taking Mum

Ten Driving Poems 9. Heavy Metal

I need to research
the names.
The claws plunge
into earth, scrape
and seem to search
for something
to eat.

The blades
rearrange molecules
and clods.
What creature
brings so many
rocks / boulders
lays them out
at the hill's foot?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ten Driving Poems 8. Happy Hour

Too busy to think
find myself slowing down
crossing the line
a couple of times
just a little bit
the thing is
that sky is too too
dramatic not to

I won't even attempt
to talk about it.
Let the sunset speak
for itself
through my camera's

Once home, safely,
I show my mother
what the camera saw.
And even though
Hot Seat Millionaire
is on, she can't
take her eyes
off those vivid
whole-sky colours.
Just as well
she wasn't driving
home tonight!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ten Driving Poems 7. Stumps

The moon an orange ten dollar coin
appears behind forest, where there
are trees. Once I'm on the freeway
it's a clear beacon in the sky's black
blankness. Not one star competes.

At night, you can't see how 
the western side of Wombat Forest
is clear-felled, and could be called
Wombat State Stumps.

The moon continues in its stately rising
orange light unchanging. Creatures
requiring a corridor, take the detour
determined by a need for darkness. 
The moon, to the east, a beacon.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ten Driving Poems 6. Road Rage

is a vehicle -
you turn on the ignition
accelerate, brake, stop
at red lights, go -
picking up signals
at a purely automated level.

Caution is advisable -
collisions are not inevitable
but predictable, given
who's driving
is a human being
wanting to get somewhere
fast. In fact, the number
of hit-and-runs on the road
is paltry compared
with those that come from
mouths affected by drink
or life's scenic distractions.

Watch me drive my conversation
right over you, your mother,
your best friend, your lover
your child. None of us licensed
and I feel myself
revving at the lights
daring you to kill first.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ten Driving Poems 5. As Simple as Seagulls

Why do drivers of grey cars
not turn on headlights?
I dreamed last night that graders
bulldozed the bush above
my house in the Dandenongs.
I don't live in "the Hills".
I woke confused about the meaning
of dreams. A young man at a bus stop in
Rockbank stands out in the rain
short-haired, bespectacled,
wearing a fluoro yellow jacket,
looking intently at the road
behind me. I hope his bus
arrives soon. He looks perplexed.

I wanted music to dilute the sounds
of windscreen wipers forcing themselves
to sweep the glass clear, and to relax
my hands, tightly gripping the steering wheel.
I got The Firebird instead, raucous, too quiet
in parts, so turned it off. No silence but
I also got seagulls without music
heading purposefully across the bypass
from left to right. Yesterday, a larger crowd
had crossed from right to left.
What feeding ground attracted them?

What attracts me to this once-again
two-dimensional city, this grey-on-grey
work of modern art? I believe my car
has had a magnetic implant; all roads
lead to Melbourne, not Rome.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ten Driving Poems 4. The change

We have a new Prime Minister.
She's a Victorian. There's so much
talk about her, the change, him.

Today the City skyline is at least
three-dimensional, the clouds
unexceptional. Traffic is slower

than usual, cluttered.  So I listen
to a man talk about deserts, experience
of emptiness, peace, oneness, acceptance.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ten Driving Poems 3. Today

Through dull haze
the City has lost its gloss
the buildings dark like
smoke stacks, a backdrop
of hills like a slag heap.

Above, clouds packed
and lumpy, bumping along
northeast. To the south
grey curls adrift beneath
skeins of Persian fairy floss.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ten Driving Poems 2. Snapshots

First, the glow of frost melting and
the coolie hats on pickers, orange on
green or maroon along the lettuce rows.

Each side, for several kilometres
the memorial Dutch Elms fragile, wispy,
scantily clad in last golden leaves.

Over the river then to view progress
on our  contentious bypass. Gangs
of machinery lumber with purpose.

Up now on the freeway, listening to one of
Haydn's twelve London symphonies, from
the world our ancestors left in 1792,

realizing they would never have heard it.
"Music that jumps up and down, has fun!"
says Margaret. Warm now, I remove gloves.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ten Driving Poems 1. Trust

The fog reveals a road
ending soon, and yet
we toil up the slope
of Westgate Bridge.
What faith drags us
sightless forward? Or
does the past inform us,
that old villain, robbing
us of clear vision,
a future?

Friday, June 18, 2010

That's Not Art!

If you go to My Local Community link, you will see where these poems came from. Next year I wil find a way to make more group poetry, possibly with music, or on the ground, or ... ? Anyway, here are the pieces I wrote from notes taken on the day.

The Webster

"Katabatic winds!
What a great word!"
The dreamcatcher billows.
Intense concentration
on a small pre-spun web.
Oh! The frame breaks.
"At last!" she says.

"I have deceived no-one,"
she warns. The web she's woven
between trees attracts busy hands
all day. Any spider would be happy
with such plenty!

Silent chimes
The wind will carry
Prayers away

She and I join two trees
with cotton thread
make a curtain with bark.
An exercise in balance:
the strips sway gently

Her mind weaves
connections, strong, fine.
Others add food
for thought and
interest, harmony
new structure.
"You can't get
tangled in my web.
Add something!"
appears where once was
only air.

Ephemeral Art Sports!
We all have a go
at flinging the strings
(You realise that throwing
the caber might be easier with
all that weight behind it).

When they catch, the oak
leaves and chestnuts
dangle quite at home
in Australian bush
whose fine foliage
seems to welcome
these visitors from overseas.

Frames of That's Not Art!

The sweet mood of this day
echoed by parrots, rosellas,
songbirds in riverside trees.

Through the frame I catch a man
reading Sunday's news on a seat
across the chasm between us.

The river has no place in these
frames except as steep slope,
slipped and sliding friable soil.

So I take my camera to the slot
between viewing deck slats, and
capture the spirit of still waters.

Framed, now, the old swimming
hole, and its crowds of companion
reeds, and still That's Not Art!

We who read May Gibbs
and shook with fear in our beds
as kids are glad they lean
against a tree, casual-like,
or stand within the circle -
that magic circle -
rimmed by pine cones
preventing escape.

But tonight -
who will see the wicked
the tricky the prickly
Bad Banksia Men?
Why, us! Again! As sleep
steals our commonsense.

Birds, Nests and Eggs

What art there is in
making birds with beaks
and feathered frippery.
How nimble the fingers
of she who gives them
a place to imagine
new - and real - life.
And looking into those nests
who could not admire
the bright primary colours
of hand-rolled felted eggs
round as little worlds
promising to hatch into
dazzling rainbow birds.


The thinking and blissful
lack of it
make out of individual
a collage, community
a clarity
and unity out of difference.


That slappy wet clay!
First, the art is all over you.
You are mud and glue.
No objections come from trees
as you secure the various
faces to bark, decorate
with blossom and leaf.

A whole population appears!
Citizens of stump and trunk
bark and bole, yet they are deep
in meditation, perhaps wishing
for bodies, or simply growing
into tree as - ephemeral spirits -
they contemplate mortality.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


From the scramble of glass blocks and timber
pseudo-villages along Willis, three gracious
spires challenge Wellington's tendency to rise.
They still stand out against the sky, they
have no argument with progress; simply
with open doors they encourage the worship
of arkmanship, proportion, Georgian line.
St Mary's of the Angels, St Peter's in the City,
St John's Presbyterian - their names shall be
everlasting, adaptable, invincible. I tour
with a camera, keeping a respectful distance.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Optimum Conditions

My umbrella acts like an injured bird's wing
as wind and rain fight over it.
The faces of other umbrella-holders
are pained, stiff, scowling, so mine must be too.
I am numb. Our shoulders are caved in.

Later, for lunch, I cannot get warm walking.
I have not enough clothes, my eyes
run like springs down my cheeks.
The taxi driver says it was six degrees.
This is after two of us have run into the hailstorm
to rescue a lost program leader.

You would not want winter to be hot.
We noted the warmest autumn as a sign
that the climate was only changing one way.
But three hailstorms in a day, and as fine
as ground pepper! Fly away, umbrella, fly away!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


A tap on the door.
Elle is here! Her name is Eugenia
from Samoa two years ago.
She's not always on this floor
so it wasn't her, those Elles,
moving my pyjamas round.

Four days off, she says
I'm having an exam on Friday
doing a Masters in Business
Management. Stripping my bed
swift and precise, flinging
cushions onto a top shelf.

She came here with family
before the tsunami. Before.
"But my husband, he went back,
for work, he was a victim of it."
I watch her sweeping the sheet
repeatedly across the mattress.

Uncle and his family went too
but didn't help. "My husband
was sleeping in a beach hut.
They saw the water disappear
they saw the wave, a great claw.
He ran for the car, but before

he could open the door
the wave slammed him against it.
He was lifted, thrown, up
the mountain - some small
mountains there - he grabbed
a tree with one hand, hung there.

Two days later he was found
in a pickup tray, naked. They
thought he was dead. Three
          broken          ribs
a broken arm, gashes all up
his back. She stops. Breathes.

He was there with all the dead
people! And his uncle didn't help!
His sisters hate the uncle now.
Me too. A Hercules brought him
home; he still has physio.
Red Cross paid phone calls, hospital.

The second wave was worse, he said.
Like an ice block. He saw bodies
without heads, limbs, floating
out to sea. He himself ended up
buried in building rubble, a tiny
pinpoint of light above him. Lost!"

The bed is done with hospital corners
tight-tucked, flat, fresh and pushed
against the wall. She hasn't smiled,
she's not bitter. "I was a CEO back home,
she says, an accountant. Are you sure
there is nothing else I can do for you?"

More trauma:
This bloke Plimmer built an ark
out of a wrecked ship, the Inconstant.
The shore there was messy -
eight point two on the Richter Scale
and the coast had risen a metre
giving pioneers a lot more mud
to run iron wheels through
and a place to eventually
build a museum.
We walk there (when gales are slow-paced)
sure that the earth has now settled on
a design for the next century and a half.
We prefer not to think
of Earth's crust's inconstancy.


The Astoria Cafe in Midland Park,
on Lambton Quay hasn't changed
in ten years. Much. More crowded?
Perhaps. My back to the clattering
crowd, my eyes darting through
glass to the bright green park
I watch a woman with jet black
ponytail feed bread to pigeons
in the covered walkway next to
multiple signs exhorting: END
Sexual Abuse and Rape!

Just outside, a gregarious Alsatian
pup strains at the leash after
the woman who has gone to collect
coffees. The dog finally sits, pulled
back by the man, a laughing fellow
proud of the dog's accomplishment.
As people leave, they are drawn
to pat the dog, ruffle its thick russet
hair, discuss dog habits and care.
There is so much goodness here!
My coffee is rich, sweet, hot.


a lack of it
i'm alone
no-one is coming

Elle has opened the window
machinery grinds
young men shout
young women shriek
at eleven pm
wrapped in a shawl of sound
and cold air freshens

rain splashes
far below
minimally audible

it's really raining!
i walk to the station
shoes not waterproof

my Drizabone
walks stiffly
with me inside

covered walkways
carpeted in running water
the stain of winter spreads

inside moving train
steam clouds vision
outside the train
cloud is the vision

a train ride from Wellington
is a noisy sociable event
conductors carry a current
of conversation between
passengers and driver
whose door is open

in Upper Hutt I buy
two pairs of shoes
and three pairs of socks
for forty Australian dollars
now i can walk
in the wet grass!

returned to the hotel
close the window
welcome the silence

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Inland (Winter)

We discussed visiting an island
you need a permit for. I booked
two seats on a boat. We needed
to set off earlier than the brunch
she'd scheduled with friends.

It's a holiday weekend! Have you been
to the Wairarapa? Of course, but
who can pass up a cosy wine with lunch?
Meanwhile our mutual friend arrives
for tangi on Mt Ruapehu, ancestral home.

At one point two degrees celsius
I am happy it's not me going there.
But I remember driving in June,
two thousand and one, past
the mountains, wearing all our clothes

wrapped in doonas, in a Barina
without heat. On arrival in Auckland,
we were blue.I study The Chateau
on its website, decide summer in
the mountains appeals. One day.

Only after all these conversations do I
remember boats and I are not always
compatible. And consider the fact that
the difference between two destinations
can be as small as a letter: 's' or 'n'.

5 June 2010

Elle 2

Today she has refused to wash plate, knife, glass.
She has removed spare pillows I use as cushions
on cold plastic chairs for warmth, stacked them
with the four in front of bedhead.

My pyjamas, which I leave neatly rolled
were set aside next to pillows yesterday;
today they are exiled at  the bed's foot.
I decide these messages are intentional.

I imagine her knotting my plastic rubbish bag
disdainfully, ignoring spilled jewellery with
self-conscious savoir-faire. I will not leave
a note requesting more sugar. I wash my dishes.


Each day
something different.
The green card says
towels on the door
don't get replaced.
But Day Three
and Day Four
two fresh folded
white towels
on the vanity:
five pairs of my undies
hang to dry and she
of course won't
touch those!

3 June 2010

Extreme (from the fifteenth floor)

My next poem was titled Extreme but I typed it into the computer at work and didn't send it to myself. Oops.
I'll keep this space for it.

Found it in Junk Mail!!!

Out there, there are walls within walls -
a great gulf, a chasm, myriad glass eyes
of office blocks, hotels watching day open out
like a grey butterfly, close without warning,
closing time being agreed upon by the gods
of cloud and Capricorn, the sun not allowed
a look-in. Air fills the chasm with water.

Out there, there are cliffs for scaling
if you can swing past so many
yellow eyes without tumbling
into the weather. You can look down
just to dare the day to climb up
climb in, steep you in cold darkness.

2 June 2010

Wild At Heart

Down through a miasma of cloud
we drop steeply, as necessary.
For once we approach at a lower altitude
and seem to take longer than usual.

The Heads appear through gauze, or vellum:
Turakirae, Baring, Pencarrow to the right
Sinclair on the left, just before a patch
of spiky black rocks hemmed with

writhing white foam. Also just after
a field of stretched russet kelp fronds
pointing back towards South Island
or perhaps a country that once was.

As wind tussles with tail and wingtip
you hope it doesn't push the entire tin can down
into the leaden waters, to tangle with kelp,
onto brittle black rocks to be impaled

surrounded by coiling white snakes of foam.
The engines chug; this plane refuses
to be deterred, is determined to win.
Landing is a pleasure, so smooth

on a tarmac gleaming satiny with rain,
the roll-in as stately as any conqueror.
Yes, Wellington is wild at heart, wet and windy
and wonderful to wade into, once again.

1 June 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Note

I am in Wellington, NZ, until the 12th June. This is my fourth visit within a year. I'm still writing a poem a day, but in Word and can't shift them from one computer to another. So I'll be updating with a suite of new pieces after the 12th. One of the things I love about Wellington when I work here is the opportunity to walk everywhere; I get lots of exercise and the views are charming, and constantly surprising.