Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31 - Myopia

Perhaps this is not the condition
of politics I've believed it was.

Perhaps it has nothing to do with
the structure of the eye, its health.

Perhaps it is a disease that strikes us all
in the face of the planet's enormity

and our realisation of insignificance.
Perhaps it is the human condition.

March 30 - Mummify

Tutankhamen is coming to town!
Icon of duty and power in youth
he speaks to millions in tongues.

We are entering the years before
Christ brought The Truth to light.
Let us worship another king.

For his time, not important.
But we know his place,
Preserved in gold: a serene face.

March 29 - Mind

Invented by itself, the concept
and fact reflect a wish for
definition: in the Learner's
Dictionary, it takes up one
and a half columns. Then comes
the column on 'mind' as verb.

Mind has a lot to say about
itself. In other words, it speaks
its mind.

March 28 - Museum

For the first time
I notice the levels
of status among nuns
indicated by details
on habit.

They were sisters
of all those women
who conceal hair,
faces, everything
below the neck.

Now, without habit,
they are unknown,
unrecognised for
service, chastity,
essence of God.

They have denied
Sisterhood, become
invisible, pretending
to status determined
good by Other.

My daughter and I
the only two visitors.
Raised in Catholic town
I marvel at the power
of story, and habit.

March 27 - Mona's

Harvest festival. The falafel light
designed to last, the aftertaste so
delicate. A good black coffee - not
always the way in this era of coffee
branding, claims of superiority.

A family of three next to me; the boy
tosses a cloth ball soft with stuffing;
he would rather play something
than sit watching parents sip coffee.
The ball strikes my handbag, a soft plea.

Our town so small, every enterprise
a hit or miss. The parents snatch the ball
apologise to me; I am mortified. The boy
compliant. No complaint. How trying
this modern numbing of the young.

Everyone who leaves the outdoor cafe
thanks the staff for a good meal.
The neighbouring family leaves, the boy
skipping. I enjoyed my coffee. The staff,
Middle Eastern, look up as I leave.

I thank them. It is the way. Our town
so small, this day a unique opportunity -
to hit or miss. The boy and his ball
carried away, the parents wishing
their son could always catch.

March 26 - Marching

We are the estates
climbing your valley's slopes.
We are here to restore
life on the crusted farmlands.

See how our trees grow,
watch the forest that follows us.

Soon, you will have to hunt
in the undergrowth
for evidence this land was bad.
We are the climate change.

See how our trees grow,
watch the forest that follows us.

We are an army, a secret
mission. On the surface
we are too many building sites
but we are the climate of change.

See how our trees grow,
watch the forest that follows us.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 25 - Mother's Desktop

The swan
is a tiny shadow
on the huge sheet
of Coorong water
behind my two grown

At first, I didn't notice it.

The shadow made
by the sun, using my children
as template, stretches
across the front
of the photograph.

At first I didn't notice it.

What I do notice
is the light on water
the light in my children's eyes
the light in my heart
every time I turn on
my laptop.

I now realise shadows
are created where there is light.
Without them, we wouldn't notice it.

March 24 - Markets

Trash and Treasure, Farmer's, Boot
Trawling for bargains can be a real hoot.

Plants reach out tendrils and fronds
to caress, knick-knacks are lined up
to effectively impress.

Old tools collected from grandfather's sheds
lie rusted, neglected, though artfully outspread.

Aromas of coffee and sausages on sizzle
act as magnets in sunshine or drizzle.

The man who sells olive oil, the artist with felt:
their courage and conviction can make
a heart melt.

So bring all your baskets, bring all your bags
for a day of shopping without hefty price tags.

March 23 - Machinery

We are passing the roadworks.
"Look at that!" I screech.
She looks at me. I believe
'askance' is the right word.

"How much fun it would be,"
I say, "to spend all day
driving that dear little yellow
machine, pounding the ground."

I believe 'askance' is too kind
a word. She simply adjusts
i-pod headphones, turns down
the volume, shuts her eyes.

March 22 - Malachite

O basket of beads fallen
from broken thread, you
weigh on me, make your
presence imperative.

You are richer than jade;
your deep greens, your
swirls, create a map
a heavy legacy.

They say you are worn
to detect impending danger.
Where were you when I lived
in your country of origin?

They say gazing at or holding
you relaxes nerves, calms
stormy emotions, gives
patience. I found you too late.

Are you as clever a conductor
as your companion, copper?
Then take my regrets, replace
them with power to forget.

Only then will I pick up
needle and waxed thread
re-invent your beauty from
nothing but each single bead.

March 21 - Marigolds

Health in your smell
though I pull and bin
swathes; you insist
on healing the earth
even if I cull your tribe.

Calendula: what a
divine name. How banal
is 'marigold' as if you -
goddess of plants -
were a mere slip of a girl.

And why does the cream
I heal dry spots with
smell of lavender?
Is the pungency just
not feminine enough?

Each time I pull you from
the earth, forgive me. I am
trespassing, I know I interrupt
your work. I am thankful
your children defy me.

March 20 - Mermaid

of your dreams

you avert your gaze

call it temptation
deny the ocean

March 19 - Modern (or: Money Wasted)


These short stories
a wearisome read -
half a story, that's
all I need
to slap paperback shut
wonder once more:
"What is a literary prize
given for?"


So convinced am I
that all is good
in the world of poetics
and that a "Best of ..."
move, inspire, touch
and please -
it's as if these poems
are written in legalese.

When all I feel is
that gremlin Self Doubt
I close the collection
and chuck it out.

March 18 - Moon

My damp spirit awakes
all glands and membranes
alert, battling pathogens

and this light seeps cruelly
through a gap in curtains
my defences breached

I turn, toss, think, think
I'm not asleep. Why not?
What time is it? I'm too hot.

Later, it is 4am, the sky deep
in darkness, black not grey
(I twitch the curtain for certainty)

and like a memory of night's
moonlight pattering across
my mind, a possum scampers

along the verandah roof
so lightly! That dance of life!
Light can be unnecessary

darkness a playground. I rise
make a cup of chamomile tea,
tread time in lamp's yellow pool.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17 - Meteor

It may be
the emissary
we are waiting for
the steed
of a breed
of newsmen
sweeping the galaxy
for targets
to master

prankish fear
without mercy.

March 16 - Milk Bar

Well, back in the country town
there was a milk bar we called
a lolly shop. You got milkshakes
and chewy milk bottles
and icypoles in technicolour.

Experimenting with stealth
at the age of seven or eight
you might have stolen lollies
never getting enough practice
at crime to escape undetected.

The lolly shop owner's wife
wielded an iron over shirts
fuelled by misunderstanding
roaring with flame like a dragon.
You never stole again.

March 15 - Mock Turkey

I bet you are surprised,
Where the heck did this
topic come from? Do you
remember those classic
country sandwiches,
the filling the nearest
to spicy you could get
in those run-down towns
around a general store?

To remind you:
1 large tomato (peeled)
[from your own garden]
slice of stale bread
[the kids haven't got
to all of it, you hid
that slice in the pantry]
butter size of walnut
cheese size of two walnuts
[the walnuts that grow
in your back yard]
1 small onion [from
your garden] sage
and thyme [ditto].

Grate cheese and onion
crumb the bread
chop tomato
cook all ingredients
in a saucepan for
ten minutes stirring
very often. Wrap for
the kids or lay out
on platters for
the Euchre Party.
"Mock"? "Turkey"?
Don't ask. It just
has to be that way.

March 14 - Momentum

The cricket match
we watched, ecstatic
on Saturday.

The felted pieces
I made on Sunday:
- how
suddenly the wool
grabbed, shrank.

On Monday the photos
the printer one album finished
eleven labelled a new story
begun, time bowling past

March 13 - Memorabilia

hot air
coffee works
est 1990
$10.50 (NZD)

real trade
hot air
coffee works
est 1989
200 grams

after years
of perilous
giving you
a wonderful
rich flavour
with hints
of utopia

these bags
i smuggled
in bring
Cuba Street
faded, retro
cheap lush
long ago

March 12 -Mentor

Throughout life, people
become heroes:

the school
principal who taught
we teachers to love

the woman who bicycled
across west africa alone
at 65 years of age

the poets
who briefed me

Their influence transparent
indelible, invisible ink.

March 11 - Mowing

Labour Day Holiday Weekend looms.
The Mowers come out.
Their moans come in waves
through sunlit empty streets.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 10 - Menu


Chicken. Organic.
(Not plastic?)
Apricots, tinned.
The cheapest
available: $1.50
for 825g net.
Half an onion,
Garlic, three corms.
Sea salt. Mixed herbs.

With jasmine rice.
Silver Beet from
the wet well-rained-on
garden (deal with the weeds
another day).

All the time
thinking numbers
travel writings
the best of
all Americans
so you get

the flavour and juice
of my mind with
your meal.

March 9 - Melancholy

How many years
since melancholy
paralysed will?

To be intensely sad
is not a state I've

in my children or
my students, so
are they missing out?

Is melancholy the missing link?
Or a very-well-rid-of lout?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March 8 - Meanwhile

Each piece of data I enter
creates a history of humans
redesigning life, making something
new where what existed before
was unremarkable because
so common as to be agreed upon:
it cannot be any other way.

Meanwhile, the billions sleep
and in our lighted hemisphere
roads are made, exams passed,
abattoirs activated, fruit picked
and stewed, large homes built
without eaves, trees sacrificed
to the gods of Quarry and View.

I spin slowly on my large, deep
office chair, watch the ferns
tickle shade cloth, honeyeater
harvest mosquito and gnat,
dash away again. The cockatoo
tells me news, the wind seeks
my full undivided attention.

Meanwhile, riverbeds recover
from a rude awakening, reduce
the risk of being run amok again
by pottering between the mounds
of debris, uprooted trees, vanquished
beds of reed. Uncommon force
that could not have been any other way.

March 7 - Matrices

Say this word
sounds like mattresses
but not the comfort
for spine or hip you need
though it is "that which
gives origin or form
to a thing, or which
serves to enclose it".

I think of relatives:
matriarchs and matrons
all given origin or form 
by beds they've made
on which they lie
enclosed between those
episodes of management
so characteristic of their kind.

There is a lovely sense
of inextricable links
where life begins
and ends.

March 6 - Masquerade

She wears the mask of one
unconcerned, not knowing
how to say what must not
be said in case it becomes
and she will have to deal
with that life is not a fiction
or a poem
or a master chef's concoction
small, delectable
its taste and nutritional value
fiercely debated.
She will have to speak
to create a new program
from which to launch
the next instalment of a life
needing total protection.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March 5 - Market

"A demand for a particular commodity"

Imagine an alternative world
no demand
no exchange
no currency
no only option
no abuse
men satisfied without it
women free to ply
less desperate trade

March 4 - Mandate

Dining at the Patio Restaurant
staring down at the street
I note the crowd of youth -
the mandate to wear pink
canvas shoes, floral overalls,
to take photos of self
and friends while walking
Queen Street.
Skittish progress.
Laughter freed from classroom
constraints, Auckland foreign
enough despite the many
Japanese restaurants,
waiters and shopkeepers
to be unfettered.
This restaurant's outdoor
first floor eating area
trembles with each step
of those serving.
I read a book, enjoy my meal
not the only lone
middle-aged observer
of the young, obliged
to be unnoticeable.

March 3 - Malice

Not one speck of it in this apartment
at first glance.

Benign aspect, disconnected
in a purse-lipped way - at least
the tenth floor doesn't sway.

Its inner quiet disturbed only by
innocents cavorting in clean streets.

No bitter word, no cutting remarks
crack the glass windows, doors.

Yet 'room service' is cursory
and could be deemed 'fraud'.

March 2 - Magnum

They say it's a bottle
a one point five litre
thrill, champagne its
most excitable fill.

I scan supermarket fridges
find icecream's varieties 
of charm, reach out and
exercise my arm.

March 1 - Macaw

What would be the point
of singing sweetly
when your attraction
is obvious

at least to those of us
highly visual, who
map experience in colour
whether pastel, dark or lurid.

The verbalists take note
by being cued in to
tough times ahead
great demands
demented disdain.

Creating my own March Poem-1-Day challenge, warming up for April ... !