Friday, December 2, 2011

November Poem-A-Day Challenge

Prompt 27: a tribute poem

He returns!

i see he's lost weight
not eating well?
too much to do?
he is a spirit of survival
in a world of giants, enemies,
the hungry, the sly.
and she? where?
busy raising the family?
perhaps it's necessity
brings him here this dusk
bouncing across patio
bricks, diving into
rosemary bush, his
blue head and back
enthusiastic, electric.

Prompt 28: "_______ Story"

The Untold Story

That one at the back of your throat
scratching like a quill, words fading
quickly; it'd be better to cough it up.

Or that one riding the horse you
never mounted, a clotted mane and
fly-switch tail carrying it into the future.

Perhaps you have kept one in a tin
embossed with symbols of good cheer
too enclosed now too long to set free.

Or: you buried your library of stories
in the back yard; the trees grow tall
and you knw why, but you're not telling.

Prompt 29: 1. an evening poem  2. a daytime poem (2 for Tuesday)

Summer Time, Saving Daylight

The birds have no idea I'm checking the clock
It's ten to eight, that time when the trees are
halved by light, their leaves casting shadows
as if painted on trunks. One mauve agapanthus
shakes its head; my friend Mr Superb Wren
uses its stem as a stepping-stalk, leaping
into the hedge. Larger birds perch on
clothes hoist arms, and possibly do wonder
where so much ground cover has gone.
A pair of pigeons discover water, drink
and bathe together. Unchangeable, despite
the lengthening of day, the trees and birds
dance between earth and the sun.

Prompt 30: "against all odds"

After The Pirates

To speak so calmly about capture
is to exist without body or mind
to dwell in a world more foreign
to us than that of the captors.

To be human is to cherish
one's own beauty, strength,
sense of self. To leave that
love behind is love itself.

The boundaries of what is
and what is deemed normal
defy maps, reaching into
the deepest currents, beyond

clouds, breaking borders.
It is indeed humbling
to contemplate how creative
the hunter  and hunted become.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

November Poem-A-Day Challenge

Prompt 23: a travel poem

... the urge for going ...

Dark waiting time
car park almost empty
the moon a bold slash
on black and the train
somewhere going

Early or late, it is
my chariot to escape on
cross the country, sleep on,
be rocked and jolted
out of the myth there's
always something, someone
to keep a hold on.

I am crossing deserts again,
recording with camera
and pen, waiting for murder,
romance, the return
of an era when seats were
leather, numbers in brass.
Ah! To travel First Class.

Dark waiting time
headlights on rails
no side tracks or
trails, and brakes
wail. Here she comes!
My daughter, daily
traveller. Home. Safe.

Prompt 24: a gathering poem

The Fate of Art

The launching was a splendid affair.
So many landscapes, many watercolours,
a dearth of alternative media, but ...
"Lovely!" "Found in an Op Shop!
No! Twenty dollars! Shame."
"What were they thinking?"
"Not thinking, obviously." "But now -
look! This one's gorgeous." 
The wine flowed, little works of edible
art, platters of pumped-up fruit,
painted intestinal interiors unfortunately
never able to be hung, shown, sold
and bought in Op Shop or gallery.

Prompt 25: a consumption poem

The Poet Dines

Yes, I'm eating my words.
Boiled, fried, roasted or raw
they taste better with herbs
from my own garden: oregano
(roll that on the tongue ... mmm)
rosemary, mint (sharp!), parsley
(do I mean parsleymonious?)
Now I burp: ah yes, all hot air
and regurgitated ideas. In future,
I'll diet, strictly, on commas
and brackets. Or sentence myself
to eating real food in restaurants.

Prompt 26: a "good old days" poem

History Lesson

There goes the school bus.
Three of them! Full!
I'd hate to drive one.
Me too. Silence.

When I travelled to school
by bus, I used to sit up front
next to the driver.
Did you, Mum? (spoken kindly)
Yes! (undaunted) And the two boys
who had a crush on me
sat behind the driver.
Laughter. Silence.

Of course, the boy I had
a crush on ,,,
Didn't have a crush on you, Mum?
Of course. He was in Form Four.
I was only in Form Two.
What does that mean?

What do you call your fourth year
in secondary school? (only slightly
Oh. Year 10.
Exactly. (Perhaps she doesn't
believe I was ever that young)

Anyway one of the boys
who did have a crush on me
is dead now. Had a massive heart attack
not long after the last school reunion.
Aw. Mum. (Kindly) Silence.

Monday, November 28, 2011

November Poem-A-Day Challenge

Prompt 17: a poem that reveals something

Garden View

Thin branches - not
heavy enough for "boughs" -
sway, suggest alighting
an enlightenment when heat
is displaced and light turns
richly silked - gold, orange,
daffodil-yellow - settling in
the top sections of close-knit
trees, and birds seek
dimmer places, twitching
thin branches.

Prompt 18: "it's too late"


"Why?" I ask.
"Mind your own business."

There was a time
I could hold your hand
in waiting rooms, or
stroke your hair back
from fevered face, face up
to the doctor, believe
simple reassurance.

"It's private. Personal."
Why hasn't anyone designed
a redundancy package
for mothers?

Prompt 19: "suspicious minds"


in one day, three
separate eruptions
"chack chack chack!!!"
urging me to detect
The Cat
hissed at, it flees -
the grey fluffy one
the marmalade camouflaged one
the ginger slinker -
birds and me as one
undeceived by bland
surprised demeanours

Prompt 20: a "best ever" poem


lean-hipped and hungry
in loose shorts, I straddled
that early-teen summer
sanded my skin salty
scraped sandpaper hands
across sunburned limbs

they drank a lot - he, beer;
she, port - their daughter
(my mother), drank in
sizzling disagreements
smoothed our moulting skin
with calomine lotion
lessons in stoicism

we slept on hessian stretchers
lay flat on stomachs
the tipsy arguments
as soothing as the suck and slap
of distant waves

Prompt 21: "Whenever ..."

Too Much

Whenever the rains tumble down, now
it seems shocking that the sky can gush
so liberally. We accepted desiccation
as the norm. How are we to take
for granted every deluge, each storm?

The earth, couch grass, nameless weeds
as well as calistemon, caesia, grevillea
take advantage, draw while the well
is bottomless, and store, grow taller, while
I capture these wild waters, ignore them.

What can you do, after saving every drop
for years? The garden doesn't need our
benevolence. Hoarse laughter, flashing eyes
from the sky: more rain and more, as if
the clouds themselves are desperate to be dry.

Prompt 22: 1. fruit  2. vegetable (Two for Tuesday)

Food Swap

You turn up and the tables are laden.
You place your offerings wherever
you can make room. Sarah's jars
of olives picked in the park behind us
gleam. Vigorous strawberry seedlings
seem to beg to be adopted. I bring
calendula flowers, herbs, silver beet.
The only fruit is lemons juicy, sweet,
biting the lips in ecstasy. If you dare
take them home. And you always
seem to take more than you give.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

November PAD Challenge

Day 11   Prompt: include maths or numbers

Counting on you

The number of wing beats it takes
to fill a garden with song -
The number of leaves needed
to make a tree strong
The number of conversations
voiceless, wordy, brief, long
The number of cells shed in a year
for life to prolong

Day 12   Prompt: an excess poem

 Rediscovering the colonised footpath

All you wild rocket fronds
and dry-leaved marigolds
all you dandelion heads
and shallow-rooted thistles
hear me: I am woman
and I am strong! Resist me
not!! Even the soil you wish
to bring with you, I reclaim.
From your new roost in
tall wheelie bin, look down
at the cleared space and know
I have won. For you, game over.

Day 13   Prompt: a kind poem


This common or garden poem
is kind to its neighbours. Their rhymes
lean over the fence to quietly gossip.
This poem is shady on hot days
holds moisture jealously, is
generous to moving creatures.
Its beds are well made by willing
servants, and it is fed by a gourmet
spread served up by constant
turnover of staff and helpers.
This poem  prefers to be spoken aloud
but its roots work in silence.

Day 14   Prompt: include deadly and dangerous elements

Found Poem
Black Magic

an efficient remedy against
bloodpoisoning caused by bites
of snakes, centipedes, spiders,
wasps and all venomous insects.
This stone is an infallible and so to speak
instantaneous remedy.

also peremptory against all kinds
of bloodpoisoning caused by
wounds, excoriations, abscesses,
whitlow, phlegmon, tetanos, and
bites of mad dogs, poisoned arrows.

The bitten spot must be made to bleed.
As soon as the STONE comes in contact
with the blood, it sticks to the wound
and cannot be detached
unless all poison has been absorbed.

After use of the STONE, same has to be
put in warm water during thirty minutes.
As soon as the bubbling ceases, the STONE
is to be put in milk for two hours and
finally, to be rinsed in fresh water
and dried in open air.

The stone can be used indefinitely.
(If you are poisonous, beware!)

Day 15  Prompt: 2 for Tuesday - Love or anti-love
Love's Lessons

Each piece of the action
carefully executed - your life
too precious to be squandered.
Each moment treasured
each new confidence celebrated.

So once again stick those L plates
back and front, tell me the mileage now,
I record the time, and off we go.
You return my trust by allowing me
to be passenger, not driver.

What luxury - to gaze at views
(and watch out for this corner!)
sit back, relax (clutch the dashboard
only once) and sigh, relieved, with you
when we achieve another fifteen minutes.

Only one hundred and six hours to go!
Our lives too precious to be squandered.
So once again, stick on those L plates
(and go carefully at this roundabout)
go slow, beloved daughter, go slow.

Day 16   Prompt: "Once upon a ..."

"Once upon a stillness."

Not a leaf was stirring
in vain did the birdies cheep:
no swings! no rides! not dark enough
for all good birdies to sleep.

But then a droning filled the sky
and all beaks pointed there
that great big bird with indigestion
sped swift and true through still air.

What longing beat in birdy breasts
as darkness drew down deep?
Who knows what dreams of power,
what heights, those birdies reached in sleep?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November Poem-A-Day Challenge

Day 7 Prompt: "what won't wait"

Back pain makes no appointments
doesn't wait for permission

I wake up into its grip, can't wait
to lie down again under hands

that redesign muscles.

Day 8  Prompt: Write a poem about the paranormal and/or the normal. (2 for Tuesday)


Those large white birds
navigating valley updraughts
might be spirits of ancestors
signs of no impending bushfire
a mirage in the thunderous air
but I call them sulphur-crested
and cockatoos.

Day 9  Prompt: (blank) or (blank)

Now. Or then?

The bus passes Mountain View Quarries
and I see the shimmering outlines/ghosts
of forested ridges, irreplaceable. In my
lifetime, this huge deceptively light-coloured
black hole has appeared, sucked all life
out of perfectly good earth.

The sign to Woodend reminds me of
aunts and visiting them in the hundred-year-old
cottage. Auntie C commuted to Carlton
while Auntie B, thin and grey, was a chimney
constantly chuffing out smoke from collapsed
lungs. I never had an Auntie A.

Friend, E, visited Woodend with me, found
snow between bushfired-forest remnants.
In photos they appear as thin black prison bars.
She, however, was liberated by touching snow.
Being a girl from the African Tropics, she warmed
her skin in secondhand woollen garments, while

her heart was always hot. It is that girl
I must forget. Soon, I will meet a woman
middle-aged, mother, wife, presidential
candidate, national leader. Will I find fire
or ashes? After twenty-five years, we are both
new, our views constant, changing, alive.

Day 10  Prompt: a different perspective

Cow ruminating

Why they trot around all day on foot
or in metal boxes, looking up and
forward, like horses, I find repellent.

There is a look that tells me I'm a "thing"
not the honoured keeper of those endless
greens they've spread across these rolling hills.

I keep my head down as all sensible beings
must, mowing to regurgitate; they call it "cud".
I chew slowly, watching them eating the air.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Well, it turns out to be a four-poem session. I didn't realise I'd missed the Day 5 Prompt until I got to Number 6.
 Prompt 5: a broken poem.

Somehow I broke the logical series
and while I try to repair the links here
my daughter brings in her washing
to thwart rain's purpose - to break
the back of drought- & to collect
brownie points from gardeners
whose hoses can stay coiled
another week, maybe a month.

This poem has no connection
with its contents but sits quietly
on the page contemplating the random
pattern of colours my daughter
has broken down into a bucket load
of modern tee shirts & underwear.
The patio light highlights the stillness
of crowded plants waiting for the blows
rain will deal, and makes the slowly
collapsing silver beet in seed seem
exhausted by the weight of reproduction.

It's closing time now
for poem, and light,
washerwoman, mind's
undisciplined flights.

This will be a three-poem stack.

Prompt 3 "Sort of (blank) ..."

Sort of economical.

See, after using my new whizz-bang
laptop for work all day, zinging
from file to program, sort of like
being a monkey in the top storey
of trees, swinging to the fast drive
and marvelling at the fine views
writing one poem on this old slow
machine would be a waste of time.
A dinosaur effort, rooting for
tasty truffles in a dank swamp.

Prompt 4: "finding something unexpected"

The moon, an upside down white pottery bowl
in the sky wrapped in silk tassels, white silk
streaming like divine and delicate fingers
across the translucent blue skin. The moon
later bold gold and still upside down
a roman find in a black pond, a treasure
on the roof of a deep cave, and we
striving to stay calm, feel important enough
to hold all these contradictions in one hand
while driving home on narrow unlit roads.

Prompt 6: an addict poem

Try these: a dash of swallows, a circus
of honeyeaters, a decoy of wagtails, a panic
of lorikeets. As for sparrows, I believe
a homeliness of them is worth more
than the starched black suit coats
of ravens along the roadside, pompous
colonists, a squattocracy of crows.
My two wrens balancing on fern fronds
I call Mr and Mrs and wonder how tiny
their eggs must be. Try talking to me
when birds are conversing way over
our heads about matters we would call
mysteries. I will listen to you
with one ear, my head cocked, my heart
speed-dating with fleetings, twittering.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's November & Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day Challenge

Prompt Day 1 - Procrastination

If I hadn't been dealing with
Mum's health issues
and daughter's chronic
lack-of-dough blues
I would have done more
in the garden.

If I hadn't got fascinated
with avian who's who's
and come home from walking
with pongy-soled shoes
I would have got out
in the garden.

There's no point in crying
with loud boo-hoo-hoos
when seedlings are eaten
weeds grow where they choose
cos I'm not in the garden
and don't plan to be -

right now it's so peaceful
so wild, and so free.

Prompt Day 2 - an epigraph

The Poisoner Gloats

"Our homes are on our backs and don't forget it." Molly Peacock

A futile gesture, this.
The beer fizzed, the hops
expanded into the air
through the straw
drowning you in desire
before the awful sleep
you'll never come back from.

I am happy, vengeful
and yet you got the lettuces
a seedling last supper
so tender, juicy.
I can't imagine that
you all tasted heaven
before entering it.

I stand over your corpses.
The beer turns frothy;
you share your communal
liquid grave with earwigs
and slugs, and so many of you
young, barely into the shell.
Your loss not my victory.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Journalling My Relationship with the Moon

The last 6 will all be part of 1 - it's the last week's worth

Moon 25 - 30

To be dependent on another's light
no radiance your own, though bright
leaves us dependent on a far-off star
to merely see what shape you are.
And when the sun and you are not in sync
we've got whole calendars to tell us what
                     to think.
and why we bother is an old old story
of radiant light, reflected glory.

That night, our houses without power,
we lit a fire outside, cooked bush meat,
possibly duiker, an appropriate sacrifice.

It was September 1978, the end
of my last term break, and I was unsure
which decision to make - to go or stay.

Why do I think my companion was
a woman, not the man? Two moonlit nights
- one misunderstanding, one song sung.

You turned the colour of glowing coals.
The fire sparked the Dry Season dark
into flames - I chose escape.

That other night, that ended disillusioned,
you were full-on brazen and yet
I could still discern five stars we say
are 'falling'. In actuality, weren't they
travelling? Drawn forward by a force
we pretend to understand, pushed by
what back-story? I myself that night
needed a metaphor for moving faster
than the speed of light,  which glinted
from those bayonets ready to strike.
You watched, but those racing stars
demonstrated anything is possible
if only you create a language for it.

You could read, I used to say,
by the light of the moon, walking
those puffball paths towards duty.

I had nothing to read, such a pity.
I'd exhausted the librarians and
planes rarely brought newspapers.

So I read the night, read it like
a friend you can never put down.
And you, dear moon, were my friend.

We no longer have a sky.
We have cloud like a grey
ill-fitting lid on a pot with
white rims. We condense.
It's as if nothing else
has the right to exist.
Hang in there.
This too shall pass.

I will never forget you.
This month I've become
a fan, anxious to please
and be pleased,  by any
light you can shed on
The Grand Plan. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 25 - includes a literary
or pop culture reference

Her lyrics linger
love trips off her tongue

oh, when I was young ...
I heard her with hunger

That free man in Paris
was my alter ego; she
turned me on I was a radio
all I ever wanted was to
come in, come in, from the

Then Cherokee Louise
was yanked to her knees.

A few years ago, I thought
to travel, see her sing on stage

but she'd stopped.
My poetry is nothing

like hers - I prefer
to speak in praise

yet on a journey when the radio
crackles out, it's Joni I'll play

and sing unfettered, high and loud
about both sides now and clouds.

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day27 - include food

Lightning lassoes the sky.
Not to be herded, cloud
stamps rain into the earth.

Olives on my pizza
raspberry slice too sweet
capuccino darkly bitter.

At Maccas on the freeway
the smell of hamburgers
sends me out fast to join

the stampede as lightning
lassoes the sky and cloud
stabs sharp rain at earth.

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 28 - building something

I'm building a book.
Taking what I know
growing it on pages
like garden beds
the contents of my head
spread and mulched.

I'm building a book
reaching into space
and time, travelling
into the spine, feeling
stretched, stitched
wanting to put it down.

But I'm still building
the book. It needs
covers. It needs
characters. "Shove over!"
I say, "Get your own
stories." They don't go away.

I'm building this book.
I began with the people
the furniture, nothing
for it to stand on.
Suddenly: there's a floor.
And a window I can't ignore.

Monday, September 26, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 30 - include the number 30

The Poetry Reading on Sunday

It's one-thirty
I'm too early
they're not late
I recline in
the driver's seat
to wait.

It's two-thirty
I'm far from the hurly-burly
nothing to make me irate
I'm here at
the right place
and date.

It's three-thirty
Some of these poems
are real curly
Others berate or elate
Perfect last lines!
Simple, not

It's four-thirty
I'm at the mike
chirpy not surly

time for me
to create
by the looks on faces
I need to translate!

It's five-thirty
My mind is clear
but swirly
I free-associate
while driving
wishing the road
was straight.

It's six-thirty
I'm at my desk
the light pearly
what I hate:
the burial ground
of good ideas
that could-have-been

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 26 - include an animal

Paying Attention: Walking by the Lerderderg River

A patch of down feathers, grey and white
the size of a garden bird bath -
two vaned feathers white near the hollow shaft
black on the upper barbs - I guess Peewit
but what happened? There is no blood.
What story will I tell myself?

In the trees, and busy on the ground
wrens, wagtails, and a variety of lorikeet
not pictured in my Field Guide to the Birds
of Australia, make music. Other varieties
unseen, chatter, twitter, sing, and I imagine
them feathering their own nests.

- and ponder on the modern sense of deception
we add to that phrase. And because I am human
I tell myself the birds are celebrating, happy.

The quiet "pobblebonk" sounds from the dam -
and now I think 'cautious', 'lonely' - make me
happy as I have strained to hear them for weeks.

I am about to spin a yarn about the 'roar'
of the freeway, and ask myself what is that noise,
really? Do lions sound like that? Some heavy
trucks growl and thunder, yes. But the cars -
no, they come to my ears because of wind -
bearers of small storms and the sound of gales.

A young woman and her dog approach.
We exchange greetings, the dog moving
to her offside when I speak. I walk through
her trail of sweet perfume and once again
the cloud of lorikeets rises into the twisted red gum
calling sharply, while swallows make silent loops.

The feathers I have pocketed sit lightly.
I consult Wikipedia. Although feathers are light
a bird's plumage weighs two or three times
more than its skeleton, since many bones
are hollow and contain air sacs. There is nothing
to make of that. I retain a sense of wonder.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 29 (yes, I know it's out of order)- includes driving

On Not Picking Up the Hitchhiker

You might have given me
a guided tour of the galaxy
you might have driven me
crazy with wild jokes
you might have steered me
in a new direction
you might have accelerated
my education

but I didn't pick you up.

You might have entertained
a notion, taught me how to
use emergency brakes
you might have appealed
to my sense of adventure
these days, I don't know
what it takes
for a woman to want a man

bad enough - understand?

It's not as if I'm deluded
or on automatic
my hormones have quit
changing gears
but you must see how it is -
you want me to see a person
all I note is your flat chest
and bulging jeans.

I'm not going to stop.

I raise one finger - is it to
acknowledge or admonish?
You turn, hopeless, from the verge
and I notice the sign.
Let the bus pick you up.
Collectively, your reputation
is in ruins, our trust
taken back. Shove that thumb
in your pocket, this is my track.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 24 - about an urge

Apparently from grey box trees
birds get the urge to drop undigested
seeds of box thorn. Around
each beautifully balanced tree
an inhospitable fairy ring grows.
Or a protective barrier like briar:
the princesses disguised as possums
the princes determined to find
an easy way through, armed with
hatchet, weed killer, gun. Not a game
toads should try.

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 23 - include 3 parts of the body

Toolern Creek Park bike path
allows my knees to twinge
only slightly, my arms to
remember strength I used to
take for granted, holding
and steering handlebars, and
my legs to re-experience
the equality that pre-dated
cartilege injury, Potts fractures
and my children's gestations.

Don't laugh: I ride a large
tricycle, racing against Caleb
who turned four last week.
He tilts alarmingly on his
trainer wheels, while I
pedal steadily without risk.
Our slower companions
can streak ahead on two wheels.
Caleb and I rejoin them.
Our bikes, too, like being with friends.

Moon 24

Maybe I prefer the sun
after all, that predictable
blaze firing my feet
with a desire to walk.

Or, as you wane, so does
my interest in the cold ashes
of an unwarmed unlit sky.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 22 - leaving something behind

I play Sahara Lounge music
all the way home, forty minutes
of shoulders and hips dancing
driving at a hundred and ten
crosswinds hustling and shoving
vehicles veering towards verges
or rocking on bridges across
valleys, refusing to give in, be
victimised by bad northerly winds.

Back in my home office, I discover
I've left vital information, confidential,
and the only pen in the world
that works for my arthritic hands
in the other office. "I'll scan and email
every page!" he says. "Don't look!"
I plead. He solemnly promises.
I drive back towards the city to
the nearest stationer's, buy two pens.

The wind is still vicious and
there are more cars on the road.
It's five o'clock peak hour
for commuters. I grip the wheel
and do not play dancing music.

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 21 - answer a question


Not articulated, my question
yet when the phone rings
I know it's her and begin
creating a set of multiple-choice
a. fetch her from the station
b. turn off the porch light
as she won't be home at all.
c. start re-heating her dinner
It's b! "I missed the last train,
Mum. I'll see you tomorrow.
I've got my keys." All in response
to my questions, still unspoken.

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 20 -3 related objects

The brown varnished banana leaf bowl contains six rubber bands -
two blue, four beige - and five flowers - three geranium, one marigold,
one deep pink bush bloom and a pair of eucalyptus caesia blossoms,
hairy nectar-spattered award winners in the world of birds.

The flowers, the rubber bands, the bowl
related by virtue of random worship and tidiness.
I cannot bear to separate them.

Moon 23

I'm fed up with looking.
But one last search reveals
a sky full of white specks
while around me streetlights
beam like half moons.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Moon 22

I am lonely without you.
I imagined you might peer down
your vast stairways of self-generated
light and at least allow yourself
to play in my happy garden.

You left so quickly!
Perhaps the layers of cloud, the haze
are the walls of your dressing room
and any day now you will appear
at the top of the stairs, ready

to dance on the soft gravel paths
play with the peppercorn tree's hair
toss gumnuts at the cats that stalk
my fairy wrens, settle in the deck chair
read me bedtime stories I've forgotten.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moon 21

With your vanishing
I am forced in darkness
to remember that
emergency caesarean
the doctors and nurses
expected because
that night the moon was full.

Half of us labouring
felt you pull the waters
out of us, though that was
the extent of it.
Left to our own muscular
miseries,we were not exactly
over the moon.

While you skated free
on that great rink in the sky
we froze, our infants
panicking, the signals
akin to alien landings
the anaesthetic, the scalpel:
our newborns wrapped

like astronauts in
tin foil blankets.
"Once in a blue moon ..."
the nurses assured us.
Three years later I gathered
facts and forgave myself,
those medicos, and you.

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 19 - include meditation, sleep or deep thought

What is deep thought?
An idea dug out of Crown Land
(that is, beneath the top two feet of soil)?
Is the coal seam on which we
apparently perch thus the keeper
of all thoughts worth seeking?
Then why sell it to China, India
anywhere else but here?
Should we not preserve it as a whole
receptacle of thoughts that may
one day change the world?
Is this not the great opportunity
to see god in what we leave untouched?

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 18 - My locale

Town of paradoxes

The farmland is our chief attraction.
There, you can watch people
being paid to pick, squatting
between the rows, faces covered.

Or you yourself can pay to pick!
Fresh strawberries! Mouth-watering
cherries! Apples and pears!
Yes, take your pick, and pay for it.

"Marsh" by name but not
by nature. Once considered
a valley worth damming
to water the nearby capital
(yes, dear reader, a bright
idea of soldiers quartered
on the hills above in 1942).

Today, there's the valley floor
oasis, and housing development
escalating up the hillsides.
(yes, dear reader, if you're
a First Home buyer, or Middle-aged
woman with Mother, or
someone who simply loves
the Western plains, do take
a brochure - the views can be
spectacular, and so affordable!)

To reach the boundary
of capital city's Greater
Metropolitan Area
we need to scale escarpment slopes
and leave our views behind.

And yet we do. Tied as we are
to the attraction of cinema
and super store for gardeners
even services by Centrelink
Medicare, RACV.

So we dream of days when
we'll be a proper community - with
all the above plus museum, galleries,
and more than one cafe serving breakfast.
Except: we moved here to get away.

Like the country ambience?
Like your own little piece
of paradise away from the
Rat Race?

The train commute will only
take you away from home
all day. Dinner's in the oven,
kids asleep. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Moon 20

Watched a re-run of Taggart
'liked' poems and comments
on Facebook, played Mahjong.
Surely by now you would have
risen: perhaps, but invisibly.

For you there's no such thing
as 'not being here', but I'm
merely human; questions leak
from memory traces: Is your
reappearance really inevitable?
What would it mean if you
never returned?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 16 - about playing a game

I remember hopscotch
the aeroplane shape scored
in orange clay, every square
edged with smooth-sided grooves.

The tors, too, smooth, oiled
by our hot childish hands
treated as talismans, hidden
among clumps of weed.

It was not a game you could lose.
Failing, you began again, learned.
Friends urged second tries, the tors
clattered comfortably.

I remember hopscotch as a silent
discipline, where hand and eye
worked together, and the body
learned balance, yearned for ballet..

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 15 - includes a broken object

Cleaning Up The Garden

I hear the clanking as bamboo
strikes bamboo and the wind
rises, like a tide, an ocean of air.

This Kimberleys memento came out
of Mum's cupboard when the last
metal chime surrendered to storm.

The Yin and Yang striker survived.
Panic-stricken metal shrieking silenced
The sound of bamboo clapping.

30 Poems in 30 Days
Day 17 - a poem that includes three words of four syllables or more.

Resurrecting the Irises
or  I'm Not Really a Royalist, But ...

Unpicking couch grass seams
in the clearing, I liberate
carpet laid as mulch.

Behold! A miracle!
Pale green white-tipped spears
exposed to light, their life force
indomitable, incontrovertible.
Cramped tubers fight the darkness.

I increase the intensity
pulling at tough threads
imprisoning the bodies
digging gloved fingers
more urgently under
couch grass runners.

This patch of wild garden
becomes a battlefield.
My babies are trapped.
Help me! I exhort -
push, push! But Human
is not their first language.

This is my mission today:
a kind of commando-ism
freeing the iris patch
from its oppressor
letting the light in
allowing the young to grow

strong and long enough
to show off their royal purple robes.

Moon 19

And so on the blank black canvas
there you stare down at we who
believe we have created you!

How brazen your light tonight!
I keep glancing up, take my eyes
off the road, admiring you and

your flashy - though small - acolyte.
I'm no astronomer, I'm sure it
has a name. What strikes me

is how small it looks, tailing you,
though being a star it's probably
giant to your satellite smallness.

The artist who did place it just
at that distance and angle perhaps
also imagined a creature looking up

with acute vision, an artful knowledge,
watching this faithful companion or poet
recording your brightest reflections.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Moon 18, 10:30 pm

You rise a chunk of gold
waning now, eating the sky.
Once again, I drink in
the sight of you, your
worn patchy skin.

Moon 17

I leave you watching over
my mother curled in sleep
I tell you to keep your eye
on her, even though
it's stuck, winking.

I turn onto the freeway
see you're coming with me
on this long dark road
of mother-love and music.

One of the trucks is called
Star Track Express, the semis
herd at this time of night. Their
lights muster courage.

The road is well-signed
with advice, remonstrance,
instruction, location, and
invitations to nap or turn.

I notice you've pushed aside
those frilly sheets of cloud
cleared a space to shine from
clear as a mother's dream
of thankful futures.

On this trip to collect her
from sound and light, at midnight
your light already surrounds me.
I travel watched-over, driving
among silhouettes, steadily.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days

Memory of an Historic Event

Life was never the same again.
The realms of possibility expanded
to somewhere insane.

It was the day you turned ten.
We can never have that day back.
It was a lost day and since then

you stopped reaching for my hand
stopped curling up on Sundays
in my bed. I understand

Happy Birthday sounded out of sync
and you, my darling daughter
wouldn’t ever let me think

that you’d be so petty as to mind
the whole world watching fireworks
of a completely horrific kind.

You blew the candles on a cake
not baked for a day when love
and reason could forsake

a world you trusted to remain
safe, inherently good,
orderly, nurturing and – well, sane.

And now you’re twenty, every decade
heals the scars. But of what unpredictable
decisions are our lives yet made?
30 Poems in 30 Days
a poem that includes a change in the weather

The first scarlet bottle brush
attracts the inquisitive beak
of a new holland honeyeater

alone it delicately announces
that despite our continued use
of wool, temperatures are rising.

30 Poems in 30 Days
a poem with dialogue in it
and Moon 16

"Thanks for picking me up, Mum."
"No worries, it was really a treat."
"I thought I might have to get a taxi."
"Really? Well, aren't you sweet!

You could pay for the parking, then, dear."
"I've only got 5 pounds in cash."
"No worries, I've got my credit card.
I'm so glad the plane didn't crash.

I heard you took off in a hurricane?"
"Oh, that was bumpy, but all right."
"How long were you travelling, love?"
"With transit, twenty-seven hours' flight."

The moon beamed down on our highway
but we chatted and missed the turn-off.
Lost in the labrynthine suburbs,
it was easier to laugh than to scoff.

For at three o'clock in the morning
nothing could make me regret
the joy of collecting my daughter
and a journey she'll never forget.

30 Poems in 30 Days
doing something for the last time

That Dark Street, My Mind

Some things I anticipate
doing for the last time

like seeing the surgeon
hearing him say, "Good!"

with that lovely smile
as if I've done well

done him proud - let him know
some work is worthwhile

or driving my Echo-nomical
car before selling it, relishing

saying goodbye to memorable trips
the cost of registration, insurance

and the possibility of speeding fines
but others I dread in advance:

saying goodnight, see you in the morning
to Mum, waking up to the lie

hurtling down the highway
flying interstate, walking down
a dark street

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Moon Fifteen

Gloriously you glow
through a net of twig
and silhouette.

Rising, your citrus face
offers gold to my hungry self.
White, what are you?

Barred with black threads
now, banded with streamers
you emerge, gather strength.

At last you glare even into
my brightly lit room: you are
pasted onto a white cross of light.

May you show Emirates
a safe landing; their precious cargo
my daughter, other daughters, sons.

In the meantime, I sleep, swathed
in the certainty of life as cyclical
and of light emanating from rock.

Monday, September 12, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days - Day 10
a delivery/arrival

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett

The envelope was so tough
I realised this was a topic
that needed a lot of protection.

The book itself has a fragile aura
the pages roughcut and low gsm.
No need for a bookmark: the cover
folds in, like hands, protecting
a newborn, lightly holding.

I begin to see new ways of relating
my story, relating to my story, letting
the story learn to speak, teaching me
to speak its language; it has broken
out of the swaddling, to walk and sing.

I hold its hand, but it is I who stumble.
It is throwing a tantrum in the supermarket.
It wants, it wants, to be allowed.

Moon 14

Full? Supposedly.
Cloud mars the view, makes night bland.
Street lights rule the night.

Homecoming Moon, 6:15 pm

Didn't see you following me.
Now you stare, blearily,
through mauve chiffon cloud.

You look less, even sad.
I don't really think of you
as a person. But you must

feel irritated, all those bits
of grey cloud floating
in front of your almost-full face.

The air is  grey, fast blackening.
The more I  watch you, the more
I sense you beckoning -

detachment comes naturally
when there are no words.
Ah well, I'm about to start writing.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days


I have known him forty-four years.
She, married to him, is so different
and suddenly speaks as if single.

I cannot get away from the effect of rivers,
she says, growing up on one. He's a city boy
where coast and beach and surf mingle.

It's the rank smell, I say. The red gums.
She nods. The peaceful flow. The birds.
We roll our eyes at the way seagulls dangle.

And when you learn to swim, I begin
there's no waves crashing, just the current -
and darkness! and so our memories tangle. 

We are still best friends, he and I
and now she 'friends' me on facebook.
I look at their great marriage
from a whole new angle.
30 Poems in 30 Days

Panel Talk: My Culture

The rich mix: indigenous,
yiddish, greek, anglo ...

"But what is Australian?"

Driving back to Wangaratta
two signs on the same road:
Carraragurmunjee Road
Eldorado 10 km

And at the turn-off
two craters left after freeway
construction, both full
of muddy water
or new billabongs.
Moon 12

I want to tell her
I'm writing poems nightly
about you.

She is explaining
her role and why she's
reduced it this year.

Looking up
I notice the great growth
in your girth.

You have lost
clarity, intensity.
We are on our way

to a talk
on being taken hostage
in Somalia.

The man and his sister
speak with great clarity
and intensity.

When we escape
you have become the centre
of a pink-rimmed corona.

The sky is intensely
black and clearly cloudy.
My friend and I

take the wrong street
looking for my car -
find it! Get lost

before reaching
the poetry.
Moon 11

Crust to Core

A rocket will puncture you or
at least scan you like an MRI.
We need to find out why
the moon is special, she says
radio waves not yet crackling
on my trip north.

Once reception goes, I'm left
wondering what she is looking for.
A cold or warm heart?
Solid as a rock,or liquid gold?

At our Community Meeting
last Monday, we discovered
our own lunar landscape just
waiting to happen, seventy percent
of the state under exploration
or mining licence. A landowner
gets the top two feet, the rest
right to the core is the Crown's.

It's so great being part of
the Commonwealth, where
wealth is not common at all.
Every huge step for mankind
becomes a small death
of something, somewhere.

I heard there is a planet
some millions of light years
out there possibly made
of diamonds. Another
great leap possible, another
possible loss
of the mystery-that-costs-nothing
and wealth that could be common.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days - Day 7
your relationship with something inanimate

This cheap whisky
drags me to bedtime.

Remember the absinthe?
That whole bottle we drank?
You weren't there when I asked
the theatre nurses if he was born
deformed by alcohol. They almost
slapped me instead of his bottom.

You know what it was like
in those days, double standards
not entirely distinguished
from integrity, and the fact
of being a woman. Or man.

I drink this whisky because
I couldn't after pregnancies.
The body upgrades, updates
its tolerances, its tastes.

But that's not the inanimate object
not yet. "I want a permanent solution!"
I said to the woman stretching
my muscles today, me grimacing
and breathing in and counting.
Remember the raw energy of love?

You weren't there when I wanted
to toast our happy accident.
I answered my own demand,
by the way: "I guess I'll get it
when I'm dead. The permanent
solution." She didn't laugh
immediately. There was what's called
'a pregnant pause'.

Sometimes I wonder at the way life works out.
You've stopped drinking. And smoking!  
You're married!?!?

Having invited me to your milestone
birthday party, is it possible
we might celebrate survival with a toast
sit at the same table at his wedding?

Remember the whisky we drank
whenever I drove the five hours to see you?
And cried - which men hate,OK, I've
come to terms with that - because
no amount of fuel, numbness, passion
could have us come together?

30 Poems in 30 Days - Day5
something impossible

Fifty thousand words, she says, come on,
you know you want to. A smile emoticon
blows up in my head, turns into that one
with the tongue hanging out, nameless.
Do it in between, she says, and I start to
consider my Outlook Calendar as
The Enemy. This just won't do!
And yet I do know I do want to.

I spend the next two evenings writing
just to see if I can make 1667 words
out of 0.

30 Poems in 30 Days - Day 4
a poem that includes a door opening or closing

I slam the car door, begin my Tuesday walk.
Greeted by willie wagtail, I ask, "Where's that
'sweet pretty creature'. Where's it gone?"
He or she answers with a singsong triple tweet.

The tail has not changed. Wags, encourages
the eye to stray from path to fence. I laugh.
Alone on this path, that's all right. I laugh loudly.
Jewelled long-tailed parrots paint the air.

Through the blackwood belt, and I could be
lost in deep forest. The charge of freeway traffic
breaks the spell. Blackbirds knowing the berries
come soon, balance on low branches, bold-eyed.

Between cypress hedge and fruit farm, red-beaked
finches teeter on barbed wire, are blown one by one
like scraps across the field. There is blossom!
And at last, in the Avenue of Honour, the elms.

Since last week's walk, the greening has begun.
Tree number 221, for Pte W Rogers, 3rd Pioneers
KIA 29 September 1918, had started then, is now
ahead of the game, frothier with new leaf, spring!

To my left, the streaks of lettuce beds sport fluoro
pickers in conical hats, so low they look like alien
flowers, or manna for foreign markets. Along
the fenceline, their shopping bags - Coles, Aldi,

BigW, are crammed with jackets and noodles
for lunch in the corrugated iron shed, seating 12.
Among the bags, four day packs, signs of wealth.
I exit the trail, unlock the car door, drive to work.

Moon 10

You are colouring the frills of cloud
with old ferrous bloodstains.

The swift bundles of frilled cloud
skirt around you as they pass.

Bold and clear, you outshine
all other heavenly bodies.

We are leaving the church where
Captain Moonlight pretended

to be a pastor, exhorted the fold
to be righteous, peaceable, neighbourly.

Then he rode away, unwilling to wait
longer for the gold kings are given,

stole it from the diggings, the poor.
We have been singing Steal Away

and other unaccompanied gospel
the acoustics making us weep.

Now we descend to our midweek-quiet
goldmine - Maccas - to sing in praise

of capuccino, milky tea, and the birthday
of Don, our bass, turning eighty.

Your whiteness makes dirty laundry
of the scurrying clouds, hurrying

to drop rain elsewhere, to leave you
sailing alone, singing of eternity.

Moon 9

This night I saw
your pregnant belly
and all the stars
like newly-hatched
spiders, connected
by white light.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm re-posting this; it's my first ever attempt at an ode; I'm not usually attracted to form, 
so it was a break from my normal free verse mode.. 

Ode To a High Flyer

My chirpy friend, your urgent voice
at first concerns, then I rejoice!
It's you, it's you, oh feathered one
patterned with bars of golden sun
and black as if singed by summer fire
and yet your voice is a veritable choir.

Urgent, you chirp, and swoop for gnat
Is this your greeting? Have you seen a cat?
Another swoop under the shade cloth's net
- a clean sweep with each pirouette.
As fast as you hunt and eat what you catch
I'm too humanly slow to be any match.

You dash, my friend, to higher perches
your days spent in these frenetic searches
for supremely delicate morsels too slow
to escape your arrowed flight, and shadow.
I stop my work, enthralled as you call
and amaze at the way you triumphantly trawl.

Yet you care not; what should I expect?
No more than those unfortunate insects
whose lives are short and shorter still
because you harvest, eat your fill.
You're not an especially social creature
are you, my sunny honeyeater?

Jennie Fraine 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Moon 8

Ah, I see you're the better half
but of what? or whom?
Striking out across the black hole
we call night, reflecting
all that light, you take up
the whole view, splashing your
talents through the gloom.
Your other half does not exist.
Or that's what we assume.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

30 Poems in 30 Days Day 2

First, you have to set up spreadsheets.
Make sure the formulas took.
Correct the errors, be gracious
with suggestions about links.
Call around the country, checking
correcting, coaching.
Call around the country again
advising changes, checking, correcting
Take calls from around the country -
explanations, changes, refusals to change.
File the returned spreadsheets
without overwriting the one you want.
Make new files with combined tabs.
Send them on to HQ with blessings.
And emails which suggest
you are confident
you got it right, but add
"Please call to correct and coach."

(my first regional budget cycle)

Moon 7
and 30 Poems in 30 Days - road trip

A quarter of the way through
the sky carded silk and mohair
pale milky green and grey
the sun staining a boat-shaped
piece of sky, anaemic blood.

Dangerously, I peer from
the car, upwards. There you are
moon, embedded in bleached fluff.
I imagine your light sticking
to car's roof, riding me home.

I soon forget these conceits
blinded by oncoming headlights
on roller-coaster roads after dark.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It's already September 3rd here, and I'm behind with my 30 Poems in 30 Days project. So here's the first one.


From my newly set up writing room
I watch a breeze tickling only the very tops
of peppercorn, eucalypt and acacia.

Now it reaches down to wands
of purple-sleeved rosemary where
bees dance and do their own tickling.

Honeyeaters mimic the bees, flitting
from one blossom-laden branch
to another, burying eager beaks in the nectar.

Straps of cordyline flap, the wind diving
to ground, stirring everything but
the stiff spiky yucca shafts.

Massive clumps of marigolds, tall
seeding rocket with its frail white offerings
and ageing herbs remind me I must work.

Work in the garden, that is, going
where gently moving air does not -
Spring cleaning the gravel paths

clearing the paving of weeds that trip
pulling out the kale I saved from snails
but went to seed, not leafy food.

It's not the work that I love. I watch
this crowd, stirred by peaceful forces,
and feel blessed they let me belong.

Moon 6

Central Business District, dusk

Multitudes of headlights compete
shards of glass on tower walls mock

of course, you being a rock
care not, while I must not retreat

must fulfil my mission, trace
the space above Telstra's narrow tower

to see a sign of older, longer-lasting power
your brighter and ancient face.

Moon 5

You told me all I needed to know.
It wasn't my imagination
We were flopping around on the North Sea
Those crashing sounds came from crockery
And wasted litres of whisky
What was bolted down came unhinged
I was one of the few not seasick
Could not bury myself in a cabin
Sat watching the sea's paws attempting
To  clutch us, pull us down
Earlier, breathing vomitous fumes
I watched you through the porthole
Tumbling back and forth in a sky
Where all other guiding lights
Had drowned.