Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blame the System

27. prompt: "blame the ..."

Everyone looks for the real reason
why the votes favoured one person
over another as if there is a reason
out there built into a party or person.

Why not say there was no real reason
only the thinking of the various people
who came up with as many reasons
as in this state there are people.

(*we had a state election on Saturday
in a country where everyone votes, by law)

Spring Cleaning

26. Prompt: "on the run"

You can't go white water rafting
that brown is fifteen years of drying out
lifted and washed away by torrents
in a hurry to empty into a larger body.

She sends a text: check out the rivers
today and take your camera. Amazing.
On the train she marvels at a land
dotted with lakes, impassable tracks.

Returning, sees how river water storms
and surges, swirls and swamps, on the run
from all that has given it being: a ripe
cloud spiralling south from the Tropics.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Micro Cosmo

25. prompt: include an animal

Galenia being a weed
they stomp on it: bouncy!
springy! good for something
then! standing still a moment
they notice the tiny webs -
an underworld, a spider city
every lacy safety net
sparkling with today's 
catch: mist and dew.


24. Prompt: a spaces poem

The sun decides to contribute
light in a darkened world.
The rain-heavy cloud bolts
eastward; the sun comes out
low down in the west, spreads 
itself into a blue-cream-and-pink sky.
Side-mirrors catch the light
and drivers steer half-blind.

Blades of sunshine bring out
rich greens and reds, unfurl
a mat of gold on cloud's
underbelly. Aeroplanes are
flying low, intimidated by a sky
textured and dazzling. The three
rainbows are no match
for this freely available treasure.

Driving to Watergardens For Curtains At Dusk After a Storm

23. prompt: use a poetic form
(this is the cascade form, naturally enough)

Melton is awash
water sits beside the road
nowhere else to go.

Melton is sodden
the streets hiss at fast tyres
Melton is awash.

All along the highway
narrow cascades topple into drains
water sits beside the road.

Kororoit Creek runs a banker
10-acre property driveways are lakes
nowhere else to go.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Conversation With The Basket Weaver

22. prompt: a poem that takes a stand

You have such big ideas! she says.
The Woman of Imagination smiles
down the phone. There's more room
for success then, she says. When
you think small, it's a cramped space.

They will make a dome or tepee
a nest or coracle. Why? Because
they both stand for creative process
preferably that which involves much
sitting. They have already woven that in. 


21. prompt: a permission poem

It's a new machine
which possibly explains
the crushing pain.

The novice calls the boss in.
Let's just try that again.
Relax, she says with a grin.

The body gives up resisting.
Permission given when
her patient can tell she's listening.

Monday, November 22, 2010

She'll Be Right, Mate (1) and (2)

20. prompt: what's wrong or right


To hear this said reassures
when optimism then endures.

But when it's uttered, without action,
you know it's false hope, without traction.


Out of the mouths of blokes these words
as thoughtless as the flight of homing birds.

The Aussie lingo is a domain apart
and often used to show off, outsmart.

While women use the plainer tongue
not quite as useful when things go bung.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's Not All In The Name

19. prompt: a poem with a hole in it

Jo calls it the Purple Tea Pot
in her typed Schedule of Walks
and Meeting Points.

As they meet again for dinner
at the golf club, they laugh.
"Flying Teapot, not Purple!"

The coffee was not as good
says Ed, as the coffee AND
the donut at Donut King.

You're kidding! say the more
sophisticated members, eyes
crinkled like crumble slices.

And what about the Seniors'
Discount! Ed challenges.
At least two people get the point.

But what has money got to do
with anything? They're not just
Walkers, but Talkers, 

sharing life matters while
the coffee cools, and issues 
are chewed over slowly.


All Patched Up

18. prompt: lost and found

As they walk the main street
of the old town, central Victoria
settling in to a late Spring,
they come to the Masonic Hall
closed for decades, the plate
missing from high on the gable
its shadow visible, in fact distinct.

A team of carpenters stop
to answer their questions.
Wherever possible, they keep
the old structure; only the pine floor
in the large room was full of borer,
the smaller room's floor still shines -
"beautiful hardwood" says the builder.

They are allowed to enter, explore.
And realise nothing of the past
conversations, names, rituals
remain. The secret men's business
is as if extinct. But wait: women
are coming, filling this place of lost
meaning with fabric and design.

They will create their beautiful quilts
stitching together with quarters
and machined thread the stories
that haven't yet been told, the missions
that went uncelebrated, the work
and the worlds of understanding
unspoken while the men met.

Impossible But True

17. prompt: "Tell me why ..."

She has two rooms in her brain
and house: one for art and poetry
the other for work, a home office.

She knows when she's in one room
she simply cannot be in the other.
But here's the painful part:

looking through the office
from where she sits writing
the fernery reminds her

there are items not handled at work
and her brain is doomed to be in two 
rooms at once, while her body isn't.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Neat and Tidy

16. prompt: a stacking poem

The High School reunion invitation
behind the friend's offer to find her work
is overlaid with Brea Can's newsletter 
for women needing distraction and ease
while dealing with female cancers. On top
of that there is the Western Highway
Cutting Realignment Project
Community Open Day notice for which
she and her sister have registered interest.

Create it! says the newsletter from a
consultant in making albums that become
art, but art is ignored as her eyes rest
on the credit card statement and rates notice
whose corner is pinned with a leisure centre
offer of a free muscle-challenging session.

"By December" is the handwritten memo
on the printed email from publishers
of an anthology she'd love to have poems
in and over that the Poetry Walks in Melbourne
Map matches her desire to create real stories about
real places. But there: right over the directions
she has pinned a list of Bright Ideas without
substance, half-obscured by the aforesaid
rates notice. Also hiding, the appointment
cards and contacts she was once so
enthusiastic about, will one day someday follow up.

Beneath all, the corkboard as blank as any canvas.

Free Flight

15. prompt: "just when you thought it was safe"

When five planes turn back
with engine trouble you
wonder if they'll still be up
in five years when you'll be
free to travel. You've already
created an itinerary and,
watching Jonathon Dimbleby
return to familiar streets
in the African countries
you want to re-explore,
you wish there was a new
form of transport that
could encircle the planet
but didn't fall apart, didn't 
leave the ground, wasn't
held together with mere 
nuts and bolts and fear.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Possibility of the Bypass

14. prompt: a crossroads poem
 It's not just a crossroads
we're warring over, it's
a roundabout. And like
any circular feature, it
goes round and round
and you have to make
a real choice to get off

The same people say
the same things and
gather agreement on
Facebook; they're sure
that protest/obstruction
is better than the free flow
of heavy trucks and school
children on bikes along
the current single lane
main roads.

Like I said, you have to
make a real choice to get
off your high horse and
see what's really in front
of you, see the way traffic
and ideas flow from one
entry to one exit, the organic
way a roundabout encourages
co-operation, workability,
a clean sweep making room
for all of us.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What will you do with all those artistic photograph albums?

13. prompt: A question which is answered
in the poem

They ask her as if the end
justifies a particular means.
She is creating the story
of her life for others?

No, her life started and will end
as hers; the community which
owns the memories of her
will create their own. Stories.

She has threatened to send
all seventy-eight (and that's
today's count) to a national
repository, as if she is famous!

To the most recent enquirer
she responded: they shall
bury my beautiful journals
in my grave; I will sleep better.

Thoughts on Lunching Among The Silver Princesses and Their Friends

12. prompt: "forget what they say"

a garden is best
when wild
the chlorophyll-laden
competing for light
a peaceful

books tell you
cull and mow
snip, shape, sow
only what looks good,
ensure weeds are
out of sight
a relentless
but not necessarily

No-One Wants Enough of Anything

11. prompt: "No-one wants ..."

Mother and daughter visit
two Opp Shops. They take home:
one plaster cast eagle, claws
about to lift a crumpled 
Stars 'n' Stripes; an Italian
ceramic salad bowl; three
cute handbags; a cotton
blouse, jade green; a gourd
to donate to their choir's
percussion basket.
Good finds!

At the second shop with
insufficient cash, they leave
two plaster parrots and three
summer dresses, to collect
next week. That's a dozen
items, of thousands.

They are the only customers
for recycled goods, the only
donors to funding the disabled
and the destitute at midday
the day after Remembrance Day.
Which honours those
needing nothing now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Only Someone

10. prompt: a love poem

Only someone who loves you
would show you how to
set the disc cleanup going.

Only someone who knows you
would wait out scanning,
massage your head, ears and arms.

Only someone who knows how
your hard drive works is
your Software Saviour: daughter!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Drive

9. prompt: a slow down poem 
or a never-slow-down poem

They're going faster
than me, faster
than they should
I hope the cops
are out, to catch 'em.

Those ones are going
slower, too slow, get
out of my way, are you
asleep? on drugs?
Indicator on, check
mirror, swing out.

Going faster
than all of them.
Better slow down.

"The traveller returns!
You got home fast,"
says her mother as
she wheels her suitcase
to the bedroom,
feels herself
slowing down.

Crop Talk

8. prompt: an agreement poem

Artichokes: nine ripe at once.
One friend takes the crop; her family
loves the salad.
One friend has French ancestry; her
mouth turns down at the thought
of all that fiddly preparation, a
childhood of hunger never
quickly enough satisfied.

The other friend, a gardener,
says: They're gorgeous to look at.
And they grow SO big!! 
She agrees. Notices another
five ripe and ready for the table.
She calls friend one, thinks
friend three's thought, and knocks
earwigs out of the green cones.

Talk Back and Opinion Programs

7. prompt: "pro -" something

Of course, I am so for all that
finger-stabbing, point-scoring
self-promoting,  righteous
pretension. Those exchanges
based on a theory of the universe
as susceptible to one's opinion.
Do the stars ever fall at your feet?
Do the heavens open when
you score? I know you would like
me to believe what you say is
'objective' and I will - it is of objects,
objections, objectionable. 
Remember the first time you made up
a truth, and got away with your story
got another into trouble, or nailed them
with your hammered-home point of view?
Oh yes, I am so for all that!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


6. prompt: "looking for ..."

In one isolated hamlet's hall
the daughter holds up her mobile phone
snaps it shut with a sigh: "No reception here."
The mother holds hers up, gets two bars
of superior service, a different provider.

Driving north to visit friends
she switches on the radio -
her favourite FM station.
Presenters introduce Beethoven's
last symphony, the one he intended
to encourage peace among people
in 1824. They tell how the audience
stood to applaud while Beethoven
conducted on. The contralto had to
turn him around so that he could see
the music had ended. At this, the
concert hall erupted with emotion
as the people suddenly understood.

As she drives, she is inundated
with the chords, engulfed in something like
grief, powerful tremors and eruptions
possessing her lungs and heart.
She is consumed;  tears rain down
to put out the fire in her fibres.
She reminds herself to keep watching
the road, the speedometer, and wonders
if any of her British ancestors attended
that concert in London in 1824. The past
and the present are both palpable.
She wants to cry out: I was there!
How you inspire me! She groans instead
and composes herself, as he must have
had to do. At this point, she realises
she won't hear the whole thing.

By Leonard's Hill the hissing and spitting
have started; at Sailors Falls the radio
is possessed by the demons of static.
She clutches bracts of music between
the spits; at times, his indomitable will
is evident as whole chunks break through.
But in Daylesford, interference is all.
So that, just the other side and still
thirty-five kilometres from destination:
a few triumphal bars, then nothing but
triumphant static waves crashing.

She switches off - as he may have -
preferring silence, and a peace
only slightly disturbed by memory
of what lies buried
in another dimension.

No-one called them during the Annual
Molonghipp Poetry Slam; they'd
switched off the phones anyway. 
The entire evening was a people's event
noisy, good-humoured, easy to enjoy.
Every poet receiving enthusiastic

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"... of droughts and flooding rains ..."

5. prompt: metamorphosis

Having printed the year's photos
she has no doubt it's been 
a transformational year.

Euphorbia and Ecchia
have grown up, produced progeny.
The wattle no longer falls in strong winds

but flutters like a head of hair across
the new sand path. She relocates
a metal flamingo after pruning

the peppercorn tree; now there is
a pair. Even the loquat tree is proudly 
parental, with two sprigs of hard golden fruit.

Wild oats have come and gone, wild rocket
and two-year old silver beet are as tall as she,
and no need to bend for coriander either.

Water sits in the bird baths, squinting
at springtime's pretty sun and she sits
on the patio, drinking in the blessed greens

the rose perfumes,  the immodesty
of bottle brushes,  and wonders what to do 
with all the buckets and bins of saved water. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Locked in

4. prompt: containment

If she didn't have three
four-drawer filing cabinets,
five deep desk drawers,
two portable vertical
drop file collections,
several plastic boxes
and a couple of crates

where would all that paper
go? What would happen
to those ideas, worlds
written into being, phrases
and sentences, paragraphs
and thick documents, lost
and tossed by random fate?

She walks into the room
with pleasure, savouring
the stillness, its secretive
structures. She skips
a heartbeat, anticipating
hacking and tearing into
all this hidden treasure.


3. prompt: location

Occupancy in brief bursts
- in a warm car, parked,
on a path where river
runs muddy, drowning
the reeds that filled its
belly in drought - to see
this river running slakes thirst.

The cafe makes great coffee
but seats are wet so they sit
outdoors protected by ridged
metal one says is like hers,
at home. They talk incessantly,
trade secrets, places. 
In brief bursts, slake thirsts.

Weeding and pruning, she
talks to the birds, the plants.
While she works, listens
to their exchanges of views.
And questions: who will find
the juiciest tidbit first? She
swigs water to slake thirst.

Without Permission

2. prompt: ready to start/not ready

She's ready to cut
the peppercorn tree
just trim back thick
low growth, the better
to see grevillea.

To the peppercorn tree,
she says, are you ready? 
Not a quiver. Her saw
releases peppery resin
seasoning the air.


1. prompt: closing a door/turning a page

Careless, to lose
the knack of dancing
hips and quick feet
snaky, suggestive
oh so sensuous.

See her at the party,
in her parents' large
kitchen, on dormitory
verandah, in the caravan
where she cavorted

addicted to suppleness
but not subtlety. Close
that door, forget: she
an instrument strung
between drumbeats

has vanished, twirled
away over the horizon.
At sixty, she now must
force herself to walk
daily.  A soft-shoe patter.