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.