sisters

The following poem was written for my sister Margaret.

on-the-terrace-sir-edward-john-poynter

sisters

we lunch together
in a cosy organic café
roast pumpkin soup with crusty bread
turmeric and ground peppercorns

share familiar laughter
love of being together

we celebrate
the milestone of another decade
and that word ‘remission’
a green shoot springing
from the scarred black earth

we drink melon and apple juice
for their vitamins and minerals

and splurge
with a lust for life
home-made lemon and lime tart
with fresh whipped cream
topped with a slice of fresh lime

toast with a glass of bubbly
joie de vivre

from my bedroom window

lorikeet.

One of my best friends from my school days is in a rehab hospital after hurting her back. I visited her today and found the place rather depressing being confronted with the world of rehabilitation, age and struggle of those trying to get better. The most beautiful time of my visit was a short walk we took into the garden and both of us stopping and watching two Plovers or maybe the cousin two Masked Lapwing feeding and chatting and busy about minding their space.
Such a rewarding experience. We couldn’t see the eggs anywhere (they lay them in the grass) but both parents were making their raucous ki ki ki ki call every now and then and continued to forage in the grass ignoring us. Their uniform black and grey and white with their yellow neck decoration makes them distinctive and they were enjoyable to watch.

I call this a moment of grace for us both. Some could say a triumph of light over darkness. Moments of grace so often a gift from nature, change us – our perceptions, our perspectives and our lives. I feel the following poem taken from the section called The W, The Web,, plumbago,eb from A Call to Listen speaks of this.

from my bedroom window

a low aching sky
colour of wet elephant skin
swathes its heavy hide around me
a tunic for a warrior woman

blue flowering plumbago
laden with rain droplets
quivers in the breeze

a rainbow lorikeet dangles
from a drooping grevillea

the yellow-ribboned spider
orbited in diamond splendour
awaits her prey

the rusting gutter weeps a spangle of tears
ripples rhythmically the puddle it makes
its slow-tapping beat
becomes the music of this silver-slated day

A New Poet Discovered

At our U3A today I was introduced to a new poet, a Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie born in 1961, and in 1994 picked as one of the ‘new generation poets’. Some of her poems use quite a bit of Scots ( which I discovered is different from Gaelic and Celtic languages.) Listening to her reading her work on Youtube helps to appreciate her writing. Thanks to Betty who introduced our Poetry Appreciation Group to this new work.
I would like to share this small poem Landfall by Kathleen Jamie

Landfall

When we walk at the coast,
and notice, above the sea,
a single ragged swallow
veering towards the earth
and blossom scented breeze,
can we allow ourselves to fail?

It reminds me of that equisite poem The Death of The Bird by A.D. Hope beginning:

“For every bird there is this last migration;”

and my favourite story The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde

“Little swallow, little swallow will you stay with me one last night?”

I am sure both these references can be read on google and a wonderful experience will be had to find them.

early morning rain

Mornings bring a new day, a new freshness. Even in the rain, mornings are new and the pains that are with us and the aches that beset us looks different once the new day begins. The following is a poem I wrote expressing the transformation that comes once we are up and out walking in the morning. It belongs to the section in A Call to Listen called The Web

early morning rain

mouth wide open
tongue thrust out
to jab the flat metallic sky
jolt it into action
eyes tightly closed to taste
the full sensation of the rain
kerplopping on my tongue

fresh manna from heaven
its tickles make me laugh
showers down my throat
into the marrow of my bones
arms high with cries from my heart
more please more
it falls pelts against my body
i jump in delight splash
down into puddle

the sky crying
cleanses make new my body
wracked with sobs and bitter salty tears
wept through the night

the web

waiting_spider_web

This is the second section of my poetry book A Call to Listen that you will get to enjoy, one poem a day to think about. It has 13 poems in this section about life and the moments and memories that are part of that. Enjoy.
This first poem actually called the web which the section is named from, was about one day I was sitting in the garden admiring a butterfly enjoying the beauty of a white azalea and the blue flowers of the plumbago. She flitted about amongst the flowers as if all her christmases had come at once.

Meanwhile I was also admiring the yellow black striped spider . . .her web across the shrubs. I had earlier admired the beauty of the web with the jewelled dew sparkling in the early sun. It was dry now, but I could still see the web. When the encounter happened I jumped up in response and cried out ‘no’ but the whole thing was almost instantaneous.

spider web
” . .it spins out
jewelled glistening dew . . ”

the web

curves and lines orbit
between the slate blue plumbago and the white azalea
illusive in the stare of the day it spins out
jewelled glistening dew
long dried as noon had come

a butterfly in flights of fantasy
each interlude on its terms
flits and flirts with a shimmer and quest
communing with the nectar of life

its next encounter a delicious tangled seduction
contortionist struggle into the stillness of surrender
the yellow-ribboned spider winding with nimble fingers
caressing touch a consummation

The Price of War

It is Anzac day 2016.
The serenity of dawn captures my imagination.
The lake looks like a mirror.
It reflects tiny fluffs of soft pink cloud,
The calmness is palpable.
We in our hundreds turn from the memorial,
at The Entrance to face the lake
and are all drawn towards it
not a sound spoken
as all were under its spell.

How do we allow the narrative of war
and its old lie
made up by those who send the young off
for their benefits . . .
how do we allow it to continue?
When will we say enough
and really mean the words
less we forget?

The following poem has been shared on facebook today by friends. Thanks to Carol for bringing it to my notice. Can we hear it’s message?

Dulce et Decorum

Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

This poem is in the public domain.

parachilna rumble

parachilna rumble

dangerous to blink
driving into parachilna
population seven
not even the dusty brown dog
gets up to greet us

the furrowed road
edged with dusty tuffs of salt bush
stretches to the horizon
in this boundless land

parachilna is a welcome stop

a hot hazy town
a red earth town
it glows a red clay aura
burnished red and dusty
even the old pepper trees
are dusty

the prarie pub
is famous for its FMG
Feral Mixed Grill
an antipasta of camel emu goat and kangaroo
quandongs natural limes and bush tomatoes
yet the sparkle of chilled white wine
makes the stop worth while

the barmen like a town crier
calls
train on
and the pub quickly empties
to regroup
across the wide wide dusty street

a distant hum intrudes

chardonnay in hand
we watch the freight train
heavy with coal
ponderously lumber
like a gentle swarthy beast
towards us

the parachilna rumble begins a heavy slow rumble
all three kilometers of it
with muffled grumbles
and slow clanks
hypnotic music of the outback

like children we practice counting this head to tail migration
all two hundred and twenty cars
it recedes in its own time
as the desert reclaims its silence

 

Parachilna was once a town now a pub in South Australia
between Port Augusta and Leigh Creek and west of the Flinders Ranges

vicissitudes of lake eyre

Kati-Thanda It was late August 2009. After record breaking rains in Queensland it was predicted flood waters were enough to arrive by Warburton Channel to fill Lake Eyre. We arrived in time to witness the spectacle of a blinding sun-dried salt pan desert transform.
My poem was in response to this miracle

vicissitudes of lake eyre

bleached salt pans
glint in a hostile sun
their mirage
a phantom deathtrap
in a land of unreachable horizons

yet sometimes flood water
flow
crack the parched earth
eddy into the cavernous silence
and like touch arouses longing
water stirs
awakens a dormant world
into golumptuous life

fish like transparent slivers of glass
brine shrimp trilling tadpoles
become a teaming ocean
luring flocks of birds to roost and feed

a million water birds in a desert sky
a paradise
till drought
kali with a flaming sword
banishes life once again

abandoned

The next three poems are ones I have chosen, that were written on an adventure to Lake Eyre (the official name I have learnt recently Kati Thanda) in flood. We left from Adelaide and travelled to Maree and after our time around the flooded lake and flying over it and a cruise on the flooded flowing Coopers Creek we returned via Parachilna and the Flinders Rangers National Park. Along the way many ruins of adventurous groups that defied the risks before the records and settled . .some built to stay. All had to abandon the area. In 1856 the Goyder line was drawn across South Australia corresponding to a rainfall boundary believed to indicate the edge of the area suitable for agriculture. North of this the rainfall is not reliable enough.. The following poem was written in response to one of the many ruins.

abandoned

a fallen water tank
rusted blood red
rippled
as sere ribs of a dead beast
lies half buried
in the shifting ochre red earth
against stony ruins
dominantly built

a witness
to the firefly hope
and belief
abandoned

to conquer nature

(In South Australia there are many ruins , remains from the hopeful who built unaware of the goyder line that would be declared in 1865)

coolamon dreaming

‘Dadirri’ means ‘inner deep listening and quiet still awareness.’ It is a ‘tuning in’ to listen and wait. The waiting is important. And it is something we are not used to doing. My poetry collection called A Call to Listen was inspired by reading Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann’s speech to the Australian people. nextwave.org.au/Dadirri-Inner-Deep-Listening M-R Ungunerr-Baumann
In the following poem I arrived at this place smug and full of ‘knowing’ the scientific . . .geological story . However being privileged to sit with a local Indigenous woman and listen to the Indigenous story inspired the following poem

coolamon* dreaming

desert night
a thousand stars drip
over our finke river camp in ormiston pound
dwarfed by walls of rock

heat sighs as it cools
gentle on our cheeks

now firelight flickers on our faces

smug in geological knowledge
that we are camped in a meteor crater
we lounge back
and listen
to the elder
weaves her dreamtime stories
into the tapestry of creation
her eyes dark as night
draw us in

the baby star fell
ancestors tell of a fierce light
its crash to this place

she points up

see the coolamon from where it fell
her finger curves the outline
of a black space in the sky

and still each day
its parents the morning and evening star
circle the earth in search
of their fallen child

i sleep the dreaming
breathe the ancient air
in awe feel connected
aware of the stars as my ancestors

i wake
to hues of mustard and ochre red
last curdles of smoke from the ashen fire
and watch the morning star
journey cobalt-blue sky

* Coolamon a basin-shaped wooden carry-dish made and used by some first peoples (Macquarie)