Australia

  • Ladies' lingerie in a large department store, next to the elevator. I'm buying a bra. Beside me stands a very old gentleman leaning on a wheeled walker. He is soft-faced, white-haired and drooping, like a tired bell flower. He's paying for something, I think his store account. He has cash in his wallet, which he lays out slowly and carefully, note by note. The salesperson says she won't keep me waiting long. I laugh and say ‘No problem, I was in a sort of daze. I have to do battle with my health insurer next, so I don't mind waiting'.

    I'm much taller than the old man, and covertly glance down at his profile, his fine pink skin flecked with age and sunspots, the vulnerability of his shiny scalp through baby-fluff hair. His voice is clear and well-modulated, with a dry, humorous edge. I think I would like to sit down with this man and talk about things we remember, things we enjoy, things which make us happy, things which make us weep. The old man thanks the cashier, turns before he leaves to bid me good-day, and good luck with the health insurer. I say goodbye and think of age, and death, and loss, and pain, and sorrow.

    wishing again
    i could conjure up
    all the loved faces
    a news report listing
    the ages of the dead

  •  

    75,000

    transported for life

    first fleet crammed belowdecks

    three-pennorth of sugar a stolen bonnet

    women’s factory the hard weight of a leg-iron

    thumbprints in a brick the night-breathing of walls

    morning prayer out of solitary arrowed shirts scuffing beeswax

    pregnant on remand a vagrant boy in an unconsecrated church

    sharks patrol Point Puer two last lost children hold hands jump

    friendly warder a woman off latrine duty owes him big-time

    iron maiden evening piano recital for the governor’s lady

    felling Huon pine logs cat-o’-nine tails superintends

    convict songs chain gangs gone bush in the Tiers

    stone clatter on tin throw out yer tea sugar missus

    starving dog his dinner companions dead reckoning

    today’s hunt loosing the hound pack break-back broken

    island-bound by an isthmus hanged by the neck until dead

    isle death row after row of convict cairns all fallen crooked

    remittance man a ration of grog for the manumitted couple

    blanks in the family album we never talk about it dear

    they declare the stain may prove indelible milord

    proximal phalanges o the shame of it

    sharp needles of

    l.o.v.e.

  • In a drawer she keeps them, his chestful of medals. In a Schiaparelli nylons box faintly scented with Shocking, which looks as old as they are. Did he give her the stockings when he came home from leave? Or when he returned, a half-broken man?

    sound of a bugle
    the shine in the eyes
    of my mother
    .
    Lest We Forget
    ANZAC DAY, 2018

  • passing shower
    just enough to wet
    the wind

    Autumn Moon 1:1, December 2017

  • We had a pet budgie, that belonged to my brother John. It flew free in the house and we all loved it. But it took sick. John snuggled it into a shoebox with some chook feathers and we put it near the coal range to keep warm. But that night it died.
    I had this book about taxidermy, so Mum and I decided to give John the gift of his Bobby to be near him forever.

    Ahem. It didn't work. The skinning went OK, and the curing of alum, that was way too brief. We took its brains out with a teaspoon. It was awful.
    We stuffed its little body with cotton wool and sewed it up.

    Now, when we took the skin off, the incisions were across the chest and down the middle to the vent. But we sewed it up straight down the middle. Result, one long bird.

    So. Quick unpick. Restuffed with sawdust.

    But. The feather shafts, sticking though the skin, got disrupted. They went all scruffy, thither and yon, this way and that.
    Mum suggested giving the neighbour's cat a fright. We had to laugh, being kind to each other and ourselves. It was a nightmare.

    We tried to set it in the fridge, but the next morning the legs were straight out behind it and it was just as we'd left it.

    We popped it back in the shoebox before John got up, and when he did, he came straight out and said, " How's Bobby?"
    Mum said, " I'm sorry son, but he's dead."
    "No he's not! He's NOT!" cried John, rushing to the shoebox, where he dropped to his knees, hunched over, gentle hands down to the box.
    We held our breath, waiting for my brother's reaction. At last he said,
    " Oh boy, he SURE IS!"

    a child kneels
    by this cross of sticks
    with violets

  • sky wide
    paperbark in bloom –
    a feather falls

    Her funeral today. At this hour those who love her meet to say goodbye. Not only there in Dubbo, with her family, but in quiet places right around the world.
    We knew her on the internet and so it’s fitting that together, far apart, we hold her in our hearts here in this Sky-Wide Church.

    A bird drops a long feather. It spirals, wafts, settles without a sound. I remember how I wrote a note to her on paperbark, using a sharpened quill, because she loved all of life and birds especially.
    She still had it last month.

    That’s when we met for the first time. She was as I knew her. On the internet, via poetry, knowing comes from a deeper level.

    sky wide
    and back again –
    the sea

    I think about the way the sea reflects the sky, so it goes right to the edge of it and back, and then exchanges itself with it, in a cycle. Sea to sky, as evaporation, back again as rainfall, round and round, like the tides, like life.... some say that there is reincarnation too.
    Goodbye my friend. Like the ocean to the shore, I will return here, as my memories turn and turn again.

  •  

    post op bright clatter of synaesthesia

     

    starting to roll floor tiles edged in fluoro

     

    hypnagogia jade statues veiled in mist

     

    dew point black sky glitter domes

     

    mattermindtimespace one two three or four words

     

     

  • tinkles of ice
    the things memory
    attaches too

       

    church visit
    Mary’s face brightens
    to another candle 

     

    star gazing
    deep space
    looking back at us

     

  • beyond the reach of light luminous fish
     
  • blessing the fleet
    moonlight
    over the bay


    window breeze
    a little dance
    of candle flames


    bonfire blaze
    how radiant we were
    bathed in its glow

  • buttress roots
    the myth
    of family

    Creatrix Haiku Issue 41

  • silver dew
    the crisscrossing
    of a spider’s thread


    Moth Creek
    water trickles through
    light and shadow

    dappled sunlight
    through the elms
    monarch butterfly


    skyscrapers vanish
    into thick fog
    corporate memory

     

  • my bad temper—
    wind rips blossoms
    from the tree

      

    cold shoulder
    frost sparkles on a blade
    of grass

     

    hospice
    a final leaf trembles
    on the oak

     

    bare trees
    at the orphanage
    dead end road

     

    a shadow
    slides into shadows
    sudden chill

     

    he cannot recall
    his mother's face
    tangled seaweed

     


  • full moon rising and your pallor still painful


    boulders into thaw the worn-away ones/eons


    beach pebbles a plover suddenly


    another grey-weary day somewhere dogs growl

     

  • in the hill
    the hill is
    the hill

     

    around an ant
    a halo
    of ants

     

    not-village
    where the earth
    builds tombs

     

  • yellow eyes
    the moon looks out
    of a wolf

    — Merit Award, International Section, 29th Ito En Oi Ocha Shinhaiku Contest, 2018, Japan

  • remembering her...
    a bowl of beets
    left to cool

     

    suitcase rummage
    I begin to think about
    death cleaning

     

    autumn alone
    the steel-grey whistle
    of a night train

     

    nautilus moon
    along the night beach
    cold sand

     

  • siblings...
    the different narratives
    of our childhood

    Tinywords Issue 17.2 Nov.23. 2017

  • pruning roses...
    still holding his grin
    old garden gnome