Saturday, 20 October 2012



One wonders when they are a parent, and money is short, whether it is worth the effort of getting a child something they would really like.



For Anita

In the winter light
she stands outlined
against the window,
an anonymous shadow
slightly swaying
to the mellow tones
of her clarinet
– in the room
the music is everything.
How many years,
how many rooms,
has she stood just so
her inner breath releasing
multiple feelings
through the voice
of her clarinet.
She half-remembers
rejecting: the piano
as being too happy,
the flute, as too wistful
for what might have been,
also the sadness of strings
pretending at happiness
but forgotten the details
how this clarinet arrived
into her welfare family
- only of the ecstasy
of its music finding her
thirty years ago.
After the clarinet player
leaves the darkening room
the melodies linger
on the air, on the walls,
like a fine patina of perfume.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Sample of Recent Poems

Hi everyone,

I have been busy over the past month getting my new book edited and ready before Christmas. It is at the printers now and is called Words and Words and Kawau Island.

As you know New Zealand is the host for The Frankfurt Book Fair this year and it is in full swing at the moment. I was reminded as a member of The New Zealand Society of Authors, which is the New Zealand branch of PEN, that I needed to update by blog site with some recent poems. So this is the reason  why I am posting so many poems in one blog. Some you will have met before,.


An Elusive Sound

(in reply to Keith’s photograph)

I turned the page to see
your photograph, where three
white gulls possess the beach.

My response is immediate:

I feel the warmth, the light
wind on my face, the salt
on my lips - cold water slips
and slides around the grit
of sand beneath my toes

and memories of beach days
jostle and elbow each other
as they come crowding in.

The sea breeze tugs
and rustles my shirt
and gulls squabble, as gulls do,
above the pitter-patter sound
of their dabbling feet;

but after years of hearing
I can never quite remember
the sound of slow waves
as they talk to the beach.

Repeatedly I’m re-called
to come back to the source

- stand around for a while
with my feet in the sea
and replenish my inner
Aladdin lamp crowded
with soul-sounds - that round
sea-green lamp worn smooth
from constant use.


Losing the Age of Pisces

As poets we wake and know we’ve heard the sea
in its loneliness reach out and into our dreams,

but its language cries out in the ozone words
of some unknown tongue – we try to find our way
back down through the fathoms of speech to hear

what the sea repeatedly says and wants us to hear:

the sea: wiffling tide-tales into mangroves and sedges
the sea: pulsing old wisdoms up inlets and canals
the sea: slapping wordy rhythms onto speeding hulls
the sea: beating out phrases onto rocks and sand

but even poets can’t reach into the language of sea;
yet we know on obscure coasts, sea-words are held
in the Methuselah tongues which are dying. Dying

and maybe already erased, by the world take-over
with an English language full of policy and commerce
which has no words to give the sea speech
– it cannot conceive of the surrounding sea 
being a crouching god that speaks - nor care, 
how it strikes the sea dumb with its ignorance.

Our oceans shrunk to two words, ‘The Sea.’

People crowd to the cities. They fear the unknown.

No sea-words known by the man to name
the feeling of loss and sadness which linger
past ‘the little death,’ when the release
of his inner sea is gifted over to her.

No sea-words known by the woman to name
the depth of grief, which lingers on
when the amniotic sea she carried within
is lost as her sea-child is born.

The sea left speechless, circling our land in vain.
The sea left speechless, entwined along our DNA.

And the sea-tears fall alive from the people - the proof
the sea lives, always there, as it lifts and lowers tides,
both within them, and without them.

Wordless, the poets stumble on in their agony,
urgent to hear, to learn, to return the sea-words
back to the people.


The Thousand Paths to Happiness

Autumn has started its walk
on the hills and the cicadas
closing crescendo to summer
echoes over the metal-smooth water
and out to the end of the wharf
- as does the laughter from a group
of women laid along the sea-wall
deepening their tan

while moored in the bay
among the hotch-potch of local boats
a visiting fifty-foot schooner
oozes mood music over its lounging
crew in their dress-whites
sipping at highballs

which all brings to mind,
the thousand paths to happiness

as I look upon the polished water reflecting
back a bay of boat-toys, the weekend baches,
the summer people;

and I’m there too - still being the sunburnt kid,
standing alone on a harbour wharf, barefoot,
faded shorts, hands smelly from baiting
my home-rigged handline
                                          – with my rejection of
nine hundred and ninety-nine paths to live this life,
a hands-on life, to fry fish I've caught myself.

I need to think more on this.


Spring and September Winds

A sudden scurry of leaves
across the deck, and a clatter
of something falling startles
the afternoon heavy with the sound
of gathering bees and the yellow
of freesias.

The glass surface of the harbour
has crinkled like cellophane and the trees
in the East are restless – by early evening
they’re heaving birds into the sky – and yet

the artist will not stand and hurry
outside to unpeg the sheets which snap
at the line, but continues to distill
the yellow afternoon

much like the cat continues to sleep
by the sheltering tank stand, and goes
deeper into its dream in the final
fragments of sunlight.


On Chinese Snakes

Snakes have to learn
to be comfortable
with the inevitable
periodic slowdown
and hiding away
while being forced
to abandon
their patterned skin.

There will be grief
on watching a unique
persona so lovingly
built into intricate habits

fade into a paler
and paler shade of grey
toward a final day

when they’re calling up
the fire they’ve gathered off
the burning desert stones
until the sun explodes
within and their skin
splits from head to tail

and a new persona
at first soft and delicate

will strengthen into
fixed and larger patterns
and is freed to leave.


The Retired Photographer

In any tight space enclosed
by walls he becomes over-large,
visible, a known voice, with a name,
an identity – and an expectation
he’ll do something other than sit.

So he walks down to the park, where
by sitting on a park-bench to soak
in the warmth of the late Spring sun
he becomes another ‘old dear’
with a limp and a stick - fades
into invisible in all the air.

Around him a multi-culture
of children, shout, laugh, climb
to swing upside down – a mother
calling out, ‘your hat, your hat,
come and get your hat’ – another
calls, ‘I said. Give your sister a turn!’
A kindergarten of skaters swirl in, fling
their jackets down and elbow each other
to drink from the busy water-fountain,
just as suddenly they are gone again.

Two Indian dads leave off from
pushing their sons on the swings
to sit down beside him. They’re huddled
over into their worries. So tired. How early
they wake to enter the city traffic, how late
they get home. Are their jobs secure?
One says he applied to enter the Police Force,
‘just in case,’ but failed on the fitness test.
They both agree, with nodding heads,
that going back to India is not an option.

Soon the local lads will arrive
to erupt out of a mixture of cars.
They’ll swarm all over the grass
in a game of touch-rugby and girls
will congregate to watch and giggle.

But for him, his afternoon has gone
into a page of notes, the start of a poem
and listening in on other lives.
The light is now perfect – time
to leave and photograph the local
roadside of flowering cherries.

There have been tones, accents,
languages both known and strange
and just now he’s been given the biggest
gap-toothed smile from a metre
of pink lycra hopping on one leg.
“My name’s Alisha, what’s yours mister?”

He’s visible and ready to be named again.


Thinking on Cuckoos and Violets

From the first migratory
call of the Cuckoo to when
the skies were quiet again
her sadness flowed
                   slow and full
like a broad river, winding
through some Indian plain

haunted by Sitar melodies

until time tied her grief
to the past and left it there

her lover now only brief
memories of shared laughter
on the Cuckoo’s return

- much like the initial
musk of violets re-calls
a glimpse of herself;
her small hand held
as the Arcade florist
pins to her Mother’s lapel
the luxury of damp violets.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

It's not that I'm getting older - it's...

Re:Caireaan's blog on  September 12th 2012...

"Do you ever walk into a room with some purpose in mind — to get something, perhaps?
            — only to completely forget what that purpose was?  Turns out, doors themselves are to
 blame for these strange memory lapses."

Oh dear Caireaan, here comes an essay in reply because I found this blog so interesting, but...
I have been doing a lot of thinking on this very subject. I noted that young people, simple souls and children don't have this problem. Doors may also have something to do with it but what I found on doing some continual experiments on myself ( something one can do when living by oneself in the middle of nowhere) that it comes about by thinking of something, or more than one thing more emotionally important and they have a greater priority in my head which drowned/de-valued the thing I had intended to do as I walked towards it. And this was because as we get older our heads fill with more and more interesting 'stuff.'
And as we get older many of our actions have become so familiar they are done either with habit or on instinct and without any conscious thought. When I am cooking my hand reaches for the salt and uses it. I know exactly where to put my hand to get it. But if I'm cooking when on holiday I have to consciously stop and think and look for the salt's position. When I come home from the holiday I stop in confusion for a day or so when I go to reach for the salt because I actually have to think and see it until it again becomes instinct. And why is it then I don't forget if I have already salted something because my head is always thinking of other things simultaneously now? Because, I noted, the brain from my constant repetition starts to form patterns in doing things. I don't have to think about it, the salt always goes in at a certain stage of cooking as did the stock as will the final tasting that all the seasonings etc are balanced just before serving.
It seems as we age the body takes over the 'boring' stuff so that our brain and emotions are freed up to do more interesting things.
More experiments: when I get into the shower I note I first wash my left arm, then my right arm, then to the neck and down to the rest of the body. I have at times consciously changed the order to break the habit just for fun, but it is not comfortable.
I know about living in the moment. I can do it when doing something I need more concentation for, like mowing the lawn...but most times now it is much more interesting to play in my head and if I have to go into the bathroom four times before I remember it is because I want to turn the hot water cylinder to on/off , so be it. At the very least it is good exercise *grin*
And the western world increase in alzheimers is maybe because we note we're getting forgetful of why we 'came into the bathroom' and we start to worry that we're getting alzheimers and it's the worry of getting alzheimers that actually starts creating the problem?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012



Something Unseen

Something unseen
is calling,
softer than breath,
more faint than touch;
it’s always there pulsing
through veins - the
elusive smell
(and unique to you)
of homeland.

Maybe: it’s the smell of
the first day of Spring.
One morning it’s
suddenly here: with 
a perfume pure and cool
full of dew on farmland,
the pale scent of the sun
and a light taste of salt
added from the nearby sea.

Maybe: it’s the smell of
a mid-summer day
when stones and yellow clay
add their flinty char
into the hard burnt air
and the oil of Eucalypts
and the sweet sweat
of a horse compete.

Maybe: the smell
has been obscured
by all the years, new faces,
new places and your
self-made role in the world:

yet the blood knows - it pulls
you toward home just as strongly
as the new-born baby is drawn
toward the breast by the smell
of its own mother’s milk.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Am I Actually Here? Testing.

I experimented and started on this site quite a while back - then they wouldn't let me back in.

Today though? I think I am allowed in again, and I have forgotten what to do...mnnn.
Looking for where I can click to include a picture...nope, nothing working when I try
the copy and paste