Sunday, 29 October 2017

Autumn Day

                Autumn Day

In this part of her southern kingdom 
she slips in quietly, pre-dawn,
opening windows,
letting the heat of summer seep away.
A thin mist hovers briefly on the river,
then lifts into the still sky.
On the mirrored surface
the smooth, white trunked water gums
hang upside down in sky
blue from horizon to horizon.
The day shortens.
Westwards, the distant mountains,
blue by day, darken to purple.
Above them, briefly,
a swathe of orange.
Above that the indigo sky
and the Evening Star.
Then the orange dims
and black, velvet night, 
diamond studded, descends 
over the quiet and cooling earth.

Published in “The Weekly Avocet”

Wednesday, 25 October 2017



where surge meets sand
sun touches sea
and light in column slants

where wagtail fidgets
swordfish surges
and silver fox leaps in snow

where green shoots curl
dappled profusion grows
and the mountain ash touches the sky

where pen strokes page
brush the canvas
and songs in cadence rise

where palm meets palm
mind meets mind
and hearts in union beat

where responsive spirits
seek high ideals
and transcendent beauty grows

Published at Peacock Journal as author’s statement about beauty

The Transcendent Tide

The Transcendant Tide.

The current sweeps us
past laugh and splash
of free running water,
falls that shout and plunge,
red poppy fields, 
green pendant droop of willows,
curving bends, lazy meander 
to finally, in the distance,
the still dark sea.

Remember, long ago,
before the river grew mighty,
how in the morning song-birds 
flitted through the sparkling air.
Somehow, wonderfully,
you floated by, 
I reached out, felt your hand 
and it closed on mine.
Why? The body’s desire?
The mind’s fear of loneliness?
A beauty of need,
to love and be loved?
Who can tell, but every day
sunlight caressed the waves
and every night the current filled 
with silken sheen from moon and star.

So what if we are still swept
towards the rumbling confluence
where river protests to meet sea.
A lifetime ago I surrendered to you
and your tide consumed me,
took me way out beyond 
sheltered cove or stagnant stillness,
deep, deep into a trackless wonder,
into mighty waves of beauty and joy,
deep troughs of compassion
for heartache and pain,
a pure, sublime tide far beyond self.
There I have dwelt.
There, in wonder and surrender,
I willingly sink and drown.

First published at Peacock Journal



Beyond morphine detachment,
out of the bed’s encircled darkness,
when pain recedes just enough
to let the mind tiptoe 
a cautious step or two,

through a small window
in the antiseptic room 
comes a gift the darkness brings,
a rush of revelation,
just glint of light playing on green leaves 
swaying to the wind’s caress,
sun-dappled tangle of branches,
cloud-flecked blue sky,

but each simple, commonplace moment 
transformed, miraculously new,
never truly seen before,
now shouting glory to ears
that had been deaf,
beauty to eyes 
that had been blind.

First published at Peacock Journal

Mother and Child at Piano

Mother and Child at Piano.

Light spills into the room.
She sits at piano,
her baby on her lap.

Her fingers move
in skilful patterns
and fluid chords flow.

The sound is liquid, 
as clear and delicate
as running water.

The baby gurgles
in new delight
and waves her little arms.

First published at Peacock Journal

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

I Read of Massacres.

I Read of Massacres.

When I was a child I learnt the first Australians
built no homes other than simple gunyas,
temporary bark shelters propped up by branches.
Now I read of villages of stone and thatch.

When I was a child I learnt the first Australians
were exclusively hunters and gatherers
wandering continuously through the land. 
Now I read of storehouses holding tonnes of grain.

When I was a child I learnt the first Australians
offered no resistance over land declared 
“terra nullius”, nobody’s land, open to claim.
Now I read of brave Pemulwuy’s twelve year war.

And now I read of murders,
“forgotten” colonial wars along the east coast,
one hundred and fifty massacres,
maybe fifteen thousand dead.

I read of poisonings, planned dawn attacks
on unsuspecting, sleeping villages,
gun and steel against wood and stone,
more blood to add to history’s dark pages.

I think of the pain of dislocation,
two hundred years of oppression,
of stolen children, stolen land, stolen hope
and the horror that hopelessness brings.

I think too of myths and lies told to children,
endless justifications invented and repeated
so that conquerors and their descendants
can live easily with their conscience.

There is no real ease of conscience in lies,
only the tortured twisting of the past.
Nor is there healing without truth,
nor reparation without acknowledgement.

What can we do now, we who for generations
have lived on land taken from others?
Now we also feel its deep connection.
What reparation for crimes long gone?

Knowledge of darkness can bring light.
Can light bring healing, help us be brothers?
From whence comes the compassion gifting us shared walk 
through land once deeply stained with blood?

First published at Praxis online mag.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Woman Writing a Letter, with her Maid

Woman writing a letter, with her maid.

Johannes Vermeer.

The light from the window

shines richly on

the contrasting, chequered floor

and on two different women.

One bends from the light. 

The other turns to it.

In the foreground, 

with brooch and pearls,

head bent to her letter,

face partially obscured,

the privileged one sits, 

writes to her lover,

face strangely impassive,

a blankness beyond the moment.

Behind her, unadorned, 

standing, dressed in plain grey,

arms folded in practised resignation,

her servant girl stares 

out of the window

into the middle distance,

mouth open in a secret smile,

lips parted, lost in a private moment 

of recollected delight.

First published at The Ekphrastic Review