Friday, April 29, 2011

28: the world without something else

To Seedy Weeds

Go on, let them loose.
Watch me bin them.
Cry as they are carted away.
Your unborn children.

27 In the family of ducks.

Wild, not bred,
the family doddles
between gossip
and dam water.
In the background
a timber home
grateful for the gift
of wild ducks
water, humans
well-bred, not wild.

26: a leader or a follower?

Perfect. My walking group splits into 3 pairs on the plateau.

You lead by walking faster.
We follow by engaging
in intense conversation.
In between are the ones
admiring homes built
to fulfil romantic fantasies:
the portico, the mullioned
windows, the gazebo -
although full of weeds -
and circular driveways.
Oh yes, and grecian urns.
Meanwhile the civilised world
if there is one is agog
with a fairytale wedding.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prompt 25: a falling poem

Every time I leave by that door
I look up. You haven't moved.
Once or twice I've knocked
a line and you've kinda winced
with your whole body
and all eight legs.

Each time I slide the door open
I think: Don't look down!
Don't fall on me!
I'm kidding myself.
No matter how often I pass
under, you just won't fall for it!

A Prayer Poem?

I just love Robert Lee Brewer's attempt. Not sure I can do much with this, but here goes!

Please, sunshine, make my towels
smell of cleanliness, the pegs
come away easily, the line not
break again. And send
intense rays into the room
where I write about you. Let
there be light all the way through
my work tomorrow, and your rays
find plenty of targets, turning
grief and fear into pure worship
of every moment you bless the earth.

Quit what you're doing! That's prompt 23

Worrying, that's what there is to quit.
But I don't know of a program to help
me get over it.

Waking at 2 am thinking about work
on a holiday and all, I feel such a jerk.

Eating breakfast wondering if she'll wake.
Oh, quit what you're doing, for goodness

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday - the day between making luncheons

I'm aware Easter Sunday means many things to others, even nothing to those who've never heard of it. This year it is the day I've cleaned the entire kitchen - yes, stove, ovens, sinks, benches, cupboard doors. Some feat when you know the whole kitchen is appointed in black. But fitting, as yesterday I cooked up an absolutely yummy frittata with home-grown pumpkin and silver beet and some other veges. Tomorrow, I'm considering a salmon salad. The whole weekend is turning into a kitchen frenzy.

Prompt 22: an "only one of its kind" poem

Hmm. is there anything
unique in this universe?
Not part of, replicated,
reproduced, cloned,
manufactured to clever
design, but one of its kind?

I'd like to pretend my daughter
is unique, my mother, sister,
brother, son - but all of us
are variations on a theme -
the number of times someone
has said, "I'm sure I've met you

before!" Meaning before
this moment, which hadn't
already happened, when
every particle, every person
every multiplied piece was
part of a one-off combination.

Which I couldn't see, only
sense, and the moment
being so momentary, not
knowable, memorable,
nameable, I could guess
the harmonics unrepeatable.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Days 20 and 21

Only 9 more days to go! And here are my two poems from yesterday and today.

Prompt 20: message in a bottle

You are the random molecule.
Could you reach anyone inland?
Do currents cross the equator?
This blank piece of paper
is my message. Whatever you think
I've said is fine; just don't believe it.

Prompt 21: second thoughts

Maybe we should have added
fluoride to the mighty Murray
or dried it up altogether
planted crops in its bed
or deciduous trees for their beauty.
Maybe my father shouldn't
have swum across it, even
in summer. Maybe, then, we
would all live forever
without losing sleep and teeth.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Have Ten Minutes

before I go to sit on the couch and watch Rex with Mum. I'm not sure if he's in Austria or Italy, so that will be fun: finding out which language to tune into.

But can I write 2 poems in ten minutes?

Here goes:

Prompt 18: Like .........

Like a feather I walk
my paths / they crunch
as fine grit sticks
to my ugg boots.

Our walk is worth
every morsel of sand.
The weeds vanish
 in my gloved hands
filling the garden bag

with pungent and
outflung arms.
 Don't try to escape!
I scold. I've got you!

A heavy collection
of feathery runners
fronds and stalk.
My heart freed.

That was Prompt 18.

Now for Prompt 19: love poem or anti-love

Well, I can't think of one thing
I can't love. Maybe, if I choose to,
I could dislike, but hate isn't one
of the colours in my palette.

Every situation is a sketch
every view a painting in water or oil
every encounter a portrait, a story
too good to destroy with denial.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Prompt 17: a big picture poem

If only she'd create an Australia
sustainable, workable, inspiring!
Not this item by item catalogue
of things to do. We've all got already
huge lists - the garden, the bank.
the boss, the kids' education. It's
all we can do to wake up and think
of the bigger picture, the future
we've promised the kids, the way
our garden provides for it, the bank
that allows us a piece of land, the boss
who gives us reliable income to set it all up.
We need a wall screen TV from our leaders,
not this parsimonious 10" computer
without Microsoft Word and CD drive.

My New Job and Time to Write & Other Stuff

I had a most entertaining time writing about this topic but Blogger refused to save it. Fine. Here's a couple of poems.

Day 15: prompt: A PROFILE POEM

Conversations with my daughter in the car

It's the way her jaw drops
as she says, "One!" that
makes me laugh so hard
I nearly run off the road.

When she turns to face me
our laughter bounds between
us, springy as the white hairs
I refuse to count. "One!"

Day 16: prompt: A SNAPSHOT POEM

A picture of this house's mud brick
walls cannot convey the structure
of our creative conversation

how it swirled and circled, swung
way out, searching for pinpoints
of light, a lightning strike, epiphany.

You and your children heading
for the back door, no host or other
guests visible. Yet we were all there.

The single shot so unrepresentative
if I ever print it I'll tear it up.
Save paper: delete before

it attaches to the event like
a momentary result, and pride,
when the point was mere process.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Prompt 14 - "ain't none of my business"

I think, why haven't you written?
I reply, he's working hard
            dealing with stuff
            in jail for assault
            still not good at email
I make enough excuses
all invented, because really
you ain't none of my business
no more. No profit in hope.

A Bit Of Catching Up To Do

Well, here we are at Friday, day 14 prompt about to be revealed and I'm still dealing with 11, 12 and 13. But I just got home from the weekly walk around the district; this time we tramped the Happy Valley Track in Long Forest. There were spider webs and their mistresses everywhere! Huge fat stripy-legged creatures, some with long strings of prey ready to eat later. The light made the webs almost invisible - we had to alter focus to see them. Some of us think spiders are creepy; I happen to admire them and respect their space. So we didn't deviate from the path, although since the deluges earlier this year there are large bodies of water temptingly visible through the trees. The trees themselves are artworks: yellow, lime green and dark green their trunks, and draped with curling fringe-like bark. The path became treacherous with washaways the further we walked. It was good. One fellow-walker kept raising the possibility of finding gold. What a lark that would be! The geology is the right kind but I fear the nuggets are way underground. But now let me dig for a different kind of nugget (or even dust) ...

Prompt 11: Maybe I shouldn't eat almonds

"Will it last longer than a tooth?"
"There is nothing stronger than a tooth!"
My solemn dentist, spreading hands:
that gesture I've learned to read
as "I do my best with what you've got"
"You travelled fifty kilometres for this, didn't you?"
"Sixty," I say. "Train and tram. Only $5.80.
All that way. It was worth it."
My tongue runs over the new shape
of molar formerly fractured back to the filling.
"I was eating dates, soft ones," I explain.
"After cashews and almonds."
"Cashews - OK," he pronounces.
"And I'm so happy you didn't require
an injection. Go and have hot drinks!"
He allows himself a small smile.
I smile all the way home, sixty kilometres,
tram and train; it was worth it.

Prompt 12 - a form poem or anti-form poem or both (Tuesday)

I have to admit I'm lukewarm about form.
It's an attitude I perhaps should transform.
But let's just say I'd welcome a swarm
of non-poetic forms of form:
and feel even warm in a swarm of storm -
sand and barn and rain, I brainstorm
windstorm! snowstorm! firestorm!
thunderstorm! These kinds of form
truly outperform my attempts
to make my words conform.

Prompt 13 - remembering an old relationship

Shirley, at the School Reunion

It made our day
you dancing in
to the photo

our group owning
you, as if anyone
ever could.

You had not changed
one bit. You laughed
as much as always

sent your glance
to land on each of us
no-one left out.

You were a remarkable
teacher, leader, reformer.
Those roles useful

for bringing your self
to life, bringing life
to life itself.

Today you need
no excuse; your
students and peers now

also retired
seeing you as the free spirit
you always were.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 10: Never Again

The poem like the title
has got to rhyme
although questions arise
such as: which paradigm?

And who gives a toss
about something so sure
as "never again" and
"never no more"?

Let whatever that is
remain well in the past
let's look at the future:
the die's not been cast -

there's reason and rhyme
wherever you look
so file never agains
in a tiny notebook.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 9: time of day

11:25 am

A pineapple has a carapace
not skin, requires a thick blade
and care when cutting; the juice
is slippery, slices slide to escape
unuseable when they find the floor.

These apples have no name.
"The mud map has disappeared,"
says the orchardist as she rings up
their modest price on the till.
I am cutting forgotten history.

The pears are soft and melt
around my blades. I quickly
douse them with lime juice.
Strawberries, de-leaved and halved,
green grapes washed - all ready!

The platter, adorned
with various mints,
is a new venture.
And time has moved on -
it's 12:05.

The Eighth day: ready to celebrate

Laughter Yoga

On the strong deep grass
the schnauser called Henry
starts playing before we do.

Introducing ourselves to
other individuals we smile
a lot. The laughing begins

when we are ready to
celebrate being alive
being capable of playing

and there is nothing
but love uniting us
to laugh loud and long.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 7 prompt: "what if"

What if oil became so scarce
we couldn't afford it? What if
every fuel ran out? What if we
couldn't make bicycles, or
pumps for the tyres? What if
children rode horses to school?
Where would they graze for
the day? What if today's food
depended on the weather?
Which of my hungers
would be greater?

Catching Up with Prompts

Day 6: Don't -----, -------
(fill in the blanks)

I can't even remember what I was going to write yesterday, so I'm starting at the beginning.

OK, so my poem will be called:
Don't indulge in regret, just get on with it.
(subtitle: precarious balance)

This sounds like a family anthem.
One parent an expert procrastinator
recycling reams of that old computer paper
with holes down the sides, planning,
listing, capturing every detail with ink
before doing what he knew needed doing.

The other an early SuperMum -
jobs in school hours, three kids
and the entire repertoire of house chores
keeping her on the run, no time
for planning, so she left it up to
the other one. Precarious balance.

The eldest child, I copied both.
If I don't write things down
I lose the plot. If I keepdoing things
without a plan, I need time out.
My life one big circus, swinging
from horse's back to trapeze.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Don't ---------, ---------

Sounds like I'm about to give advice.
If I were to do that, I'd be tempted to say, Don't try creating a New Post, go to bed and read a good book. In fact, I'm going to take my own advice as tonight this computer does not want to play.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Two For Tuesday: goofy or serious or both

Seriously Singing and Dancing

I'm back in the savannah
drums on masonite lockers
young women with hips
wrapped in cloth and rhythm
making up the songs
complaints and stories
daily life transformed
full moon bright as the eye
of god, swinging in time
to mortal tunes.

Thirty-five years later
rhythm of gospel
makes me bouncy
I'm saucy again, hips
remembering to swing
this time to immortal tunes.

Fourth Prompt: pick a type of person & write about them

 I've got behind. Had so much work to do I really couldn't think of a particular kind of person. But I do know a stoic. Her relationship to all life's issues is to put up or shut up. Here she is:

She refuses to give in.
Sometimes the pain
has her gaze rise
heavenward; too bad
she doesn't believe in it.

When asked, she replies
briskly, "I'll be right.
I've done it before!" As if
she has become younger
stronger, more agile.

The doctor says her heart
is beating faster. "More
excited by life?" I ask.
"Hardly!" she says, "Ouch!"
And still she won't give in.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

DAY 3 Poem-A-Day: prompt - imagine the world without me

In a way, the world already exists without me. By that I mean I am not necessarily separate. The identity I am is in the world and of it, pretty much indistinguishable from the mass of molecules here, if you get far enough out.To a space traveller, the world is without lots of us, though our impact may be visible.

Anyway, I wrote this:

Is the world ever
without me? After death
my ashes remain
or flesh, falling apart
around bone in wood
in earth, in the world
as memory, written on stone
and if written otherwise
in memory only as long as
others who knew me exist.
I become food for arthropod
and thought.

Meanwhile, I am the butterfly
whose tiny wingbeats
alter the pattern of winds
cause breeze or hurricane.
The fluttering of my parents'
desire brought me into
the game. One day I may be
physically nothing.
First I will die in memory
three generations hence.

Monday, April 4, 2011

SECOND PROMPT: a postcard poem

Well, having a prompt like this buzzing around in your brain while you go about your day is certainly illuminating.
What is it about the railway platform that you'd write home about? What about the sound of two children screaming together in a distant backyard? Should I spend the day as a tourist down one of the local gorges, or picking strawberries in the Avenue of Honour? Does sitting at my computer, re-reading my memoir bits and pieces count as postcard-worthy?

Eventually, I came up with the following:

Sunday, 3rd April, Swanston St, CBD

Silence. How I miss it.
Your singing, your croaking
your soft sighs.
The broad footpaths
bear a heavy load
of feet. The street
reeks of horse-shit.
At San Churro cafe
there is so little room
between tables, my body
becomes a threat
to peace and stability.
The State Library lawns
wriggle and shout with children
meeting picture-book illustrators.
I think of you, miss you
do not wish you were here.

addressed to:
Back Yard
Home Valley
Victoria, Australia.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Phew! After that Marathon effort in March, I had to take a little break. Luckily, our friends north and west of us are still behind our times, so we had to wait for the first prompt until the 2nd April. Yes, I know today's the 3rd. Here's my good excuse: last night we turned the clocks back an hour so I got enough sleep to think clearly!

Anyway, I think you will get two poems out of me as a reward for waiting. Yesterday, two things happened: I went to the local market and placed 50 flyers advertising our choir's Flood Relief Concert under windscreen wipers. And later, and compltely unrelated, a chunk of one of my well-filled molars broke off as I was eating dates. (They were soft squishy ones, too, and I was not trying to chew the pip!)

The first prompt for April's Poem-A-Day challenge is: "what got you here".

Poem 1

To this house
my mother's instinct brought me
To this poem
my father's teachings wrought me
To this broken tooth
their DNA unwinding
To this bed, and sleep
an extra hour worth finding.

Poem 2

Her schooldays spent singing along to ABC
for schools, stamping the floor to European tunes
piano lessons and practice even in the heat
the threat of fire, flood, death by drought.

A true as yet uncivilised Australian
without electricity, piped water, supermarket
she yet felt music as a living force, a food
and drink she could never get enough of.

Just like her father, whose lullabies at night
and harmonica's jaunty adventures;
who, once living in electrified towns,
would fill the house with symphony, concerto,

had filled her very cells with harmony,
rhythm, reading by sight, and a keen ear.

One day someone said she sang
out of tune, could not hold the note.

Never mind, she hid her love by singing
with school choirs, dancing to raw bands,
jazz in bars, uttering pure high sounds
while driving through forests, window down.

And then the epiphany: it was only
what an unremembered someone had said.
Not necessarily true. Who made that critic
God? She joined the local Gospel world

to worship once again the swirling colours
of music in her veins, the power of voice.
The leaflets advertise two choirs in concert
where contribution will be rejoiced.