For My Inspirations

For day 30 of April Poems at 'imaginary garden with real toads, we are invited to write a poem of praise to a source of inspiration, in 30-60 words. (Mine is 60.)  

For My Inspirations

This is Samhain,
the night when my most dear dead 
come close, 
and the honoured ancestors too.

The love we shared in life,
the character traits passed down,
all shape me

and shape and inform
the lines I write.
Bless me now with your wisdom

and be welcome at my feast.
The lantern is lit, and the fire.
Come, sit!

(Some of you may be thinking, 'What's she on about? This is Beltane'. But no – I live in the Southern Hemisphere.)


Why is the wind?

For the 29th day of Poems in April, the prompt is Asking Questions: 'quite simply, write a poem consisting only of questions. If you want to take it to the next level, why not write your own answer to the question(s) in the form of a response to your own questions?'

This emerged from somewhere in the Unconscious. No, I don't know what it means. I 'heard' it as two voices, the first female, the second male.

Why is the wind?

Why is the wind singing sadly
even though there is light in the sky?

Will you accompany me
along this path by the river? 
Or are you too afraid?

How far do you think we must go
in the descending darkness,
before we stop hearing that wind?
And what will be there when we arrive?


I hope to find the face of God
when I come to the end of darkness;
I hope to hear the voice of God,
mightier by far than any wind.

Of course I am afraid. But still
I will walk with you by this river,
holding your hand all the way.

The song you hear is your own,
borne bravely in fading light.


Watching the Watcher

What is she looking at, down there 
on the street? It's not good. Her hand,
clapped to her forehead, tells me that,
but her still, intent gaze speaks of
worry rather than horror, or suggests
she is not personally involved in
whatever debacle she's viewing.
The cat, though, is picking up 
something. How uncomfortable
it looks, clasped to her side, not
itself looking out but eyeing
the photographer warily; almost
ready to squirm and run. Only
she's gripping it close, perhaps
not consciously tightening her fingers,
digging them in. The look in her eyes
tells me that the bad thing happening
down there outside her house is inevitable,
and she's not sorry. 'Had it coming,' 
that cool-eyed, firm-lipped look says.

The prompt for day 28 of Poems in April at 'imaginary garden with real toads' was to write about one of several pictures offered. I had thoughts of writing for either of two different ones, but this one was surprisingly insistent.

Photo: Unidentified Woman ca. 1950's - Walter Silver Photographs (freely available to download and use)


An image of sheets

An Image of Sheets

My bunched-up sheets drying across adjoining chairs:
the peaks of the snowy Himalayas.

(I have been in Nepal and seen the Himalayas up close, from a small plane.)

For day 27 of Poems in April at 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are asked for a two-sentence poem like Pound's famous 

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.

I always think of that as the ultimate Imagist poem, which explains my title.

Sharing Our Living Quarters

Sharing Our Living Quarters

I can't be bothered killing you, Cockroach –
big old bush cocky all on your own in my kitchen.
Must have thought you had the place to yourself
after dark, and fair enough – only I couldn't sleep 
and came out to make some soothing cocoa.

You're not one of those nasty little foreign ones
who appear in swarms and are tiny enough
to get into the wiring and wreck the whole house
in a few generations. Once they get in, they're hard
to get rid of. For them I'd bring the big guns out.

But you're a native, relatively harmless. You tried 
to move fast and hide when I barged in and made it all
light. Instead, not quick enough, you kept very still 
in the shadowy corner where your brown shell 
was less conspicuous ... and I turned a blind eye.

You were here first, after all. I don't dislike you, 
even if I did jump and scream when I first saw you. 
I'm happy to co-exist – just so long as you don't turn up 
in the space when I want to use it; so long as you stay 
hidden around the outskirts, and don't upset anyone.

It's always a bit risky posting a poem like this. What if everyone thinks it's about a cockroach? Well, it is. But there's a sub-text. What if people who get the sub-text think it's me speaking? Well, it is – but satirically. So I suppose I'll write a note and give the game away, to save being misunderstood ... hopefully.

Linked to Poets United's Poetry Pantry #478


I Scarcely Realised

I Scarcely Realised

I hid my grief. Out and about
I was normal, bright, busy.
At home I was weeping 
suddenly, unplanned,
unanticipated even, all over 
my days and bereft nights
in abrupt, startling moments.
She was so absent! My other 
beloved cats all came visiting 
in spirit soon after leaving
– often – and still do. But she
felt utterly gone. Not a sign.

Just memories, I thought –
going about my life as before,
only that she who had been
so very present, wasn’t. Oh,
I could see her in my mind
everywhere she’d ever been,
little creature of habit and routine,
and that made me cry more.
Finally, I don’t know what shifted
(but I’d done some energy work 
of course) anyway I just realised:
that’s how she’s visiting. She’s here!

She’s reminding me, comforting me,
doing the same as always – 
gazing intently as always, with those
purposeful, speaking eyes: ever
the telepathic cat. That understanding
must have made everything possible.
I lay down today for an afternoon rest.
(She always loved when I did that.)
I didn’t sleep but relaxed, eyes closed.
Soon I felt the familiar warm weight
on my thighs, where she’d always settle.
I scarcely realised she wasn’t still alive.

For day 26 of April Poems at 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are asked to write about 'those moments of re-charging, rebooting, re-winding, re-birthing'. With perfect
synchronicity, today I experienced this moment.


Caldera View

Caldera View

From high in Hidden Valley
sitting on my friend's lookout
I gaze across the mountain.
The trees in the landscape beyond 
merge to become a sea, a blue-green sea 
that rolls to a horizon white with cloud.
The clouds become banks of foam
as the wave of the sky rises high.
We gaze up into the curl of the wave
that pauses before toppling over us
and stays, poised and aloft
unfalling for as long as we watch,
while the peaks of the mountain,
down there, are shoreline rocks.

For day 25 of Poems in April at 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are asked for an imagist poem.

Photo of Mt Warning from Public Domain, photographer unknown. (Same view as from my friend's lookout.)

Capturing This

Capturing This

Two Chained Monkeys


Why, I wondered, would Breughel,
that artist of rich colour –
those deep, throbbing reds,
those eerie greens 
and light-filled blues –
choose to paint this dim-lit scene
of brown and murky yellow?

Perhaps one should allow
for the passage of time 
and human dirt
encrusting ancient works of art
with a darkening veneer ...
but even so, his others
are not like that.

Yet the curved shapes
of window frame and beasts
arrest and satisfy my eye;
and the sails and towers
in the pale light beyond,
pointing up to the clouded sky.
So I start to see.

I start to see 
that there is much to see,
further and further
in those tiny, misty details:
a world out there. Then the eyes
of one monkey keep catching
my reluctant gaze.

I come back to 
those forefront monkeys 
I've been trying to ignore.
The other who does not look 
anywhere but at the ground,
is hunched uncomfortably.
Finally, I see the chain.

Once seen, it stands out.
I look at the narrowness 
of that stone sill, from side 
to side, although it comes 
some way back into the room,
and imagine them held there
looking out through the thick pane.

But they are not looking out.
They are avoiding that.
How they must miss the trees!
Nothing here to get a grip on,
nothing to swing from, even if
they had space and were unchained.
And only Breughel to perceive.

Written for Poets United's Midweek Motif: An Ekphrastic Poem.

Note: Looking more closely, I think it's a wooden sill, but 'stone' works better for the poem than anything else I can come up with yet.

The Wonderful

For day 24 of Poems in April at 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are invited to write of natural wonders, great or small – or to 'Go bigger: tell us how all of its breathtaking design makes you catch your breath in awe.'

The Wonderful

In the soft light of morning,
the Wonderful wakes –
the sunrise filling
the lower slopes of the sky,
the tune of a magpie 
just down the road, 
carolling sweetly
with a fresh sound,
trees appearing to stretch
in the radiant air,
the edges of the mountains
in crisp outline

and in spite of all grief,
all pain or despair,
all the horrors I know exist
and proliferate …
in spite of all that,
my heart lifts, the song
pours like a blessing
across my arising,
I take a new breath
and rejoice to see this world 
wake up around me, again,
over and over, and the sun shine.



It's day 23 of April Poems at 'imaginary garden with real toads' and we are asked to write a horror poem. They mean fantasy horror, but ....


Horror is not a spooky movie
with ghosts, werewolves, 
or giant spiders. No.

Horror is over two hundred people 
bombed to death in Sri Lanka 
and five hundred wounded.
Cold horror is the fact it was planned
by a whole group. Carefully. Thoroughly. 

Horror is thirty-six thousand 
people every night sleeping rough, 
homeless – thirty-six thousand,
just in Western Sydney.

Horror is lovely Dove Lake 
at the foot of Cradle Mountain
(in Tasmania where I grew up)
clear and blue on the surface
but its sediment toxic,
thick with heavy metal.

Must I go on? You know I've only 
just  got started. The world 
is full of horrors. I haven't yet
mentioned child abuse, rape,
domestic violence. I haven't
listed wars, disease, fatal 
car crashes. You have your own 
examples. You don't need me
to tell you about the polar ice-caps.

Horror, tonight, is very personal –
my generous-hearted friend 
dying fast of cancer,
his voice on the phone already
weaker and more slurred
than it was four days ago.
Horror is contemplating
his pain, his vertebrae crumbling.

Items in My Closet

For day 22 of Poems in April at 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are asked to write on one of several pictures offered from Shay's Word Garden. This one appealed to me:

Items In My Closet

A blotted page of arcane symbols (discarded) as shelf lining –
advanced mathematics: one kind of magic, yes, but not mine.

Pens from the schoolroom: bare nibs, for dipping in 
magic inks to inscribe my preferred symbols: letters.

An old fob watch my Grandpa left me, on which 
when I was young he taught me the magic of time.

(The typewriter he also left me for writing my poetry –
my magic – was much too big to be kept in the closet.)

Before I cast a magic circle, I clear the energy of the space
with a bundle of smoking sage, wafted by this feathered fan.

Oh and those red petals? From a bunch of roses
a lover gave me on a magical night; for infusions.


Willow Girl

For Tree Mythology, day 21 of Poems in April at 'imaginary garden with real toads' we are asked to rewrite a myth or legend about a tree, or perhaps make up one of our own. Instead, I give you a true story.

Willow Girl

She plays on the swing 
her father made,
big thick ropes
and a seat of wood.

Inside a circle
of fronds, pale green,
she drifts and dreams,
curtained, unseen.

When her father
made the swing,
Willow Girl
was very young.

As she grows,
it remains her place,
her safe and private
magical space.

How could she 
or her father know
the mystery
of the sacred willow?

They never guess
the ancient secret:
in every willow
lives a spirit.

And if you spend
a lot of time
beneath a willow,
your words will rhyme.

You will become 
a poet, if you stay
long in that green light –
so they say.

Willow Girl's old
when she finds this out,
but she knows it's true:
she is a poet.

All her life
the words have been,
as once the tree,
her true companion.

To be a poet
makes her glad.
She thanks the willow 
and her Dad.

Willow Tree by Geaugagrrl (released to public domain CC0)
(You have to imagine the swing, hanging from the lowest bough.)