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Point of View

‘Those bloody bleeding hearts,’ he said, and I thought, 

‘Of course. If they’re bleeding, they would be bloody.’

‘What can you expect,’ he said, ‘from such tree-huggers?

They’re so green!’ and I wondered, was it from the leaves? 

A bleeding heart, I suppose, must be one that’s dying. A tree-

hugger, though, would be embracing life. It doesn’t add up.

‘They talk a lot of rot!’ he said. But when I listened, I found

their words were not of rotting, but for keeping the living alive.

Written for Friday Writings #55: Bleeding Hearts, at Poets and Storytellers United.


Letter To the Man Who Sits on the Steps Across from the Park

 Dear Step-sitter,

That’s a good place to prop, under the overhang at the back of the corner shop, shaded from sun and protected from rain; the steps wide and deep enough for you to spread out a bit and lean back.

When you're there, you seem to own that spot: you look so comfortable, so much at ease, so much at home. Nothing in your manner says ‘homeless’ or ‘destitute’. (Though your clothes perhaps do.) Nothing in your expression says ‘lonely’ or ‘sad’. (Though you are always there alone.) There’s not a hint of either shame or resentment. 

I’ve seen you there so many times, you almost don’t feel like a stranger. But I don’t know your name, nor you mine. I know nothing about you. All I know of you, or you of me, is what we see of each other in our brief encounters.  And I can’t exactly say I see you there often – it can be months between times. It’s just that those times now span years, decades.

Yesterday I walked past with a friend, discussing the suddenly hot weather. 

‘The forecast’s for thunderstorms,’ I say as we turn the corner, passing you.

‘We need it though,’ you comment, catching my eye, raising the bottle you’re drinking from in quick salute.

‘True,’ I say, and we smile and nod at each other before my friend and I cross to our cars by the park.

It’s not the first time we’ve exchanged a word or two. You always speak first – invariably something cheery – and I respond. But we don’t chat. I’m always on my way somewhere else, and I don’t stop more than a moment.

Once you remarked admiringly on my colourful dress. I like tie-dye. So do you. I thanked you with a smile, and went on my way feeling warmed, brightened.

Sometimes you don’t say anything; neither do I. We don’t always even exchange a glance. Sometimes it seems you might want to be left in private thought. I leave it up to you.

Everyone else in the little town does the same. It seems we all have an understanding with you. I hope we do.

I remain,

One of Many Passers-by

Written for FridayWritings #54: Writing to a Stranger, at Poets and Storytellers United.


The Voice of Autumn

Autumns in Australia, at their best, are somnolent, sun-drenched, beneficent, replete – my favourite season. The voice of that kind of autumn is heard in the steady hum of happy bees, the drone of a tractor in a paddock across the valley, the gentle snores of a sleepy afternoon.

At their worst they are WET! This year, autumn here began with serious flooding – the third time in rapid succession over recent years. 

To be more precise: the March 2017 flood was the worst ever in this town, until then. The one in February this year was even worse, then the one in March this year worse still. The voice of Autumn 2022 was drumming rain for days, weeks. For those in the path of the flood-water it was huge, relentless noise – the noise of something terrible coming; something inevitable, inescapable. Like an earthquake, or a large aircraft about to crash into your walls. Of course it arrived after dark. It was debris banging heavily against the walls all night – no pattern to the sudden hits; each time a new and different shock, crash, jolt, assault.

For the rest of us it was the silence of the dawning day when the rain had at last subsided, but the water all around meant we stayed in our homes for many days thereafter. Luckily we had enough warning to stock up on food and groceries ahead of time – because even if we could have got out, the delivery trucks to the shops couldn’t get in.

Those voices of autumn have faded now, receded. But they linger in memory still. We listen with half an ear always cocked, for the next time autumn wants to rage and yell. We no longer trust in the benevolence of this pretty part of the world.

slow to clear –

piled debris of a life 

I thought I knew 

If you watch the whole video, it shows things getting progressively worse.

Written in response to Haibun Monday: aki no koe (Autumn's voice) at dVerse.  


13 Things I Liked Today

  1. I exchanged a number of cuddles with my little cat; we both purred.
  2. The thrill of receiving some wonderful blurb quotes for my new memoir.
  3. Gardener Lucy came to weed – I won’t be growing random rogue trees!
  4. At last I resumed my exercising – ahhh! why did I wait so long?
  5. Judith texted love hearts to ask if I’m feeling better; I am now!
  6. Email exchange with my brother; we start to go deep into our past.
  7. Confronted unpleasant truths about me, accepted them with a laugh.
  8. Today was a little cooler, a welcome respite yet still sunny.
  9. Read a book of weird, obscure (visionary) poems; liked it anyway.
  10. Chose not to finish reading a book of banal nature poetry.
  11. Began listening to an audio-book by Carmel Bird; enjoyed.
  12. I ate a bit healthier than I have lately – or a bit less unhealthy.
  13. I remembered love I have been given, glad to hold it to my heart.

(I decided to make them all 'American sentences' this time – 17 syllables.)

Sharing at the latest Thursday 13.

Image by at Pierre Bamin at Unsplash.


13 Things Not Everyone Knows About Me


I had three grandfathers (though only two grandmothers). ‘Grandpa’,

the only one I ever met, was a ‘step’, but my mother and I loved him – 

because he loved us, gave us books and wise advice, and lots of time

for long conversations and letters, and walks through Nature together.


Of all my grandparents, though, the one I loved most was my Nana, 

Grandpa’s wife. She died when I was only four. I’ll never forget her.

A warm rich voice, a warm lap to sit on, warm arms to clasp me safe, 

a big warm bosom to snuggle into. She told me stories, sang me lullabies.


I was nine before parents and teachers noticed I needed glasses. 

Before that, the other kids called me ‘stuck up’. I didn’t say hello 

until they were close and I could see their faces, see who they were. 

By which time, feeling ignored, they turned up their noses at me. 


I like a handsome face as much as the next girl, and also a splendid form. 

But a better aphrodisiac is laughter. Make me laugh, go on doing that,

and you’ve probably got me. But if you want to keep me – listen! 

Hear me! Hear me deep. Open to what you hear. Consider it.


Everyone knows I’m a cat-lover, been one all my life. Not many know

my dearest animal friend was a dog. He stood as high as my thigh. 

His bark was a deep bay. He was a stray who came and found me – 

after I had many visions of him. (He reincarnated later as one of my cats.)


I have a water phobia. I love the water, but swim from the neck down.

I need to keep my face out; can’t be splashed or I panic – really panic. 

I believe I drowned in Atlantis. Some of us didn’t get out in time.

When the water came, I swam and swam, but at last I grew too tired. 


I’d be scared to get close to any but a small spider. Yet I revere spiders.

In my house no-one’s allowed to kill them. Unless they’re dangerous.

When a white-tailed spider crawled from under a pile of washing, once,

in my elderly mother’s home, I stomped on it quick. An exception.


A few of my dreams have a special flavour. When I wake up, I know 

they are not just part of the ordinary run of dreams, where we sort out

the daily garbage. Also, I remember them. I remember them always.

Some turn out prophetic. The rest, I think, are glimpses of other lives.


I have a deformed fingernail on the ring finger of my right hand. 

My cousin dropped a brick on it when she was three. I was four. 

She always said it was an accident, but still claimed to feel guilty. 

I always believed she did it on purpose. No-one ever notices, though.


When I was little I longed to be a ballet dancer.  But when my Mum

took me to my first (and only) ballet class, I couldn’t do it! My body

wouldn’t carry out even the simplest instructions. Lack of rhythm, 

poor coordination, no ear for music … which? Probably all. 


When I was growing up, I never dreamed about being a bride. I never

craved babies. Didn’t want a handsome Prince to come and rescue me.

I wanted to be the swashbuckler; my own d’Artagnan or Robin Hood.

I didn’t want to be a boy. I wanted the adventures boys were allowed. 


I have very small hands and feet, and head. But they don’t look small.

Just don’t ever give me hats or gloves or slippers; I’ll swim in them.

No-one quite believes this. They’re sure they’ll get it right. They don’t.

My Firstborn says he's the same. You wouldn’t guess it of him, either.


I’ve always had a thing for dragons. There was a time I'd call them 

through the ether, to be my companions or guardians; even requested

their company for others – who did experience it. My 'tuned in' friend,

Letitia, said I had two dragon incarnations a very long time ago.

Dragon photo (and dragon ) mine.

Sharing this post with Thursday Thirteen, a new game to play.


Here Are My Three Grandfathers (3)

Yes, I had three grandfathers. Two I never met. One was an army officer in British India. One was a drunk and a poet. 

The third was a Yorkshireman, and became an orchardist. He brought his family – my Nana, my Uncle Ian, my Mum and my Aunty Franki – out to Tasmania. Where I was born. 



And this is my Grandpa, Francis Sydney Holmes, here with me in my Launceston back yard – Mum’s stepfather, the only father she knew, the only Grandpa I knew, and more than enough. See how happy I look to be with him here!

He took me for walks, pointing out birds and insects, naming trees and flowers, showing me how to see. Birthdays and Christmases he gave me books: Dickens, the Brontes, Dumas.... He wrote me many letters – sadly, none kept – not as to a child, but an equal intellect.

The orchards were in Spreyton, near Devonport. In family gatherings at The Orchard House, my brother and cousins and I would fall asleep by the fire, listening to old family tales and reminiscences, until we were carried to bed. Daytimes we explored the bush. When I was very little I rode on the foot of the draught-horse, gentle Horace, hugging his leg.

Grandpa left me his Remington typewriter. (Everyone knew I would be a writer.) And he left money towards my tertiary education. He did that for all his grand-daughters. Parents, he said, if they must choose, would favour sons.

My father’s father gave me poetry, passing it along in the genes (my Dad had them too). 

My mother’s father gave me my Celtic heritage, the love of craggy rocks and rushing rivers, mountains, and Scotch thistles. When I finally visited Scotland, I suddenly understood. (Surely this heritage also enhanced the magic which came through the maternal line.)

My Grandpa (FSH, as he signed his many letters – not only to me but correspondents all over the world) gave me himself. And so much more. Gave me myself. Gave me the world.

Part 1 and Part 2 appear in previous posts.

I'm sharing this with Poets and Storytellers United via Friday Writings #53.

Here Are My Three Grandfathers (2)

Yes, I had three grandfathers. Two I never met. One was an army officer in British India. One was a drunk and a poet.

The third was a Yorkshireman, and became an orchardist. He brought his family – my Nana, my Uncle Ian, my Mum and my Aunty Franki – out to Tasmania. Where I was born. 


My mother’s father, The Colonel (I never heard him called anything else) was Hugh Maclean Halliday, born in Bengal. And buried there, dead at 54, among First World War casualties – listed as a ‘supernumerary, unattached’. A less than brilliant student at school in England, and not good at the soldiering either – but destined for it by family tradition – his position was clerical before the War.

That’s him 
on the beach, in his army shorts and solar topee.

He never knew about me. He died in 1920. I was born in 1939. 

Nor about my brother, his other grandchild, born in 1943. (He had one legitimate son, old records tell us, who married but never had children.) 

He told my dark-skinned Nana he had a wife back home in a mental hospital. Hearing the story, I thought ‘home’ must mean Scotland. But maybe not. His wife too, I learn from those old records, was born in India, into another of those British families there for generations.

Mum told me that when she was young, Nana regularly urged her, 

'It's time to write a letter to the Colonel. Let him know how you're getting on at school. Tell him about the good marks you got.'

She dutifully did, but she found it puzzling. She didn’t understand, then, that he was her father.

Sharing with Poets and Storytellers United at Friday Writings #52.

Part 1 appears in the previous post, Part 3 in the following post.