Today left behind by my thoughts I caught a glimpse
The light stretched long shadows on love
I blinked and it passed the warmth onto my skin and from within I smiled
Love that shone through generations and put all else in shade
It made years of transgression disappear
trust will do the rest and buds will bear fruit

seven or eight

              seven or eight
to ‘Aunty’ Wanda Kiel-Rapana, who knows the source of such things

seven or eight i had that dream
that wrenched me in mid-sleep
days or months apart it came a
dream so strong I woke to the
bedroom curtained dawn from it
and shut my eyes again to burrow
back into its forest a dream of
standing in a wood like the stand
of pines down our road but broader
spreading out to the edge of
sleep’s darkness the afternoon sun
coming low through the pines
and i was stood in the dusk
behind one peering round the trunk
at a deer stood there yards away
in a square of gold the shadow timbered
shaft of light at day’s end and the deer was
gold and numinous and scraped the one
forehoof on the dry thatched needles
that clotted the damp underneath
i went from trunk to trunk to draw
near enough to touch its princely
wildness a thing as they say of wonder
yet when i reached the closest
trunk from which I might stroke
the glory of its pelt the shoulder
thrusting down the leg its running
strength it was gone and standing
further on yards away and so I tried
again to near it and to touch it in
the deeper shaft of sun and it was gone
stood yards further on and once
again we played this onward
hunt never closing
and it never ran just
flitted to be elsewhere
in the blink of a cicada’s wing
would come this dream like a
a lucky day without rhyme or
reason this dream i had until i
no longer remembered how to
dream it to know the waking from
it like stumbling onto stones
flattened cold in a winter stream
how you ached in it

this day down the darkening
shaft of years like autumn
fruit in its good time
never green and sooner
it fell to me
the deer was foremost
my very self the so close
and so unknowable
and the deer was too
the mystic far
where self
and selfless god
are one and
i am still
seven or eight
and i am
born eleven*

thought about since 1964,
first draft dated february 5, 2015
rewritten several times through
to september 2015

*i was born on the eleventh day of the eleventh month

The Dry Season

In the season of drought, the sky was black.
It filled and filled with grave cloud that
heaved up from the south, and it hung
and then rose and from within a cold
wind stirred, but it bore no rain.


The farmer drew himself up, put his wide hands
on the gate, settled his eyes to the light
then looked north and tightened his lips.
The fields before him were dust and a heat
shimmer danced above the heating land.
Gone, he said. Gone. The grass is gone,
and by that he meant it had died, and it had.


A teacher looked out in a distant valley school, where
playing feet made the dry earth boom.
The drought, she said, was a killer, and
the children’s voices rang in the still air –
their friends were leaving: no grass,
no living, no jobs, just the endless dry.
Then the air crashed and a new light broke
on the hills and the air cooled and the wind
began to stir and twist the leaves.
Great drops of water carved in and
spat in the dust and it rose until it was caught
and pushed back to earth; and it
rained as hard as it ever had, and the
children stopped to watch and then they ran
into it and, everywhere, there was sighing


Kiss Curls

The dog’s hair rises in soft waves,

twisting and curling from nose to ear,

tan and  grey and flooded with white;

little moustaches – the English gent,

the rangy  wind-tossed bushman,

each wave a story, fleck of character.

As he sleeps he twitches, waking

with a fluttering roving brown eye.

And at rest he pushes out a tufty limb;

he seeks warmth and love:

the touch – assurance – we seek.

He lies stretched long and sighs,

a little chest rising and falling,

and with each movement – a flex,

a jerk – those curls rove and mingle

and the little nostrils flutter,

inviting kisses he never seeks2015_0823_15352000-2


The Ladies Man

He wore a robe and a smile,
a jaunty man with jokes
and a shiny creased face.
Tea? He poured and his
companions became girls.
Yes, please, they said,
slid the china cups closer.
Then he unrolled his jokes
and they giggled and fluttered
and he ran a hand up the length
of his tie to the Windsor –
and his hand lingered.
It was quite too much.
More tea, anyone?

Mute to the Chatter

He knew he was spoilt

But there came a shadow of envy behind every gust of wind

Green through their metaphors of meaningless pastures

Encapsulating their distaste to his silence

Brick walls of silence

Travelled the road long into his forgotten past

A cost that stood the defectors ignorance

So simple in their eyes

Would god create a rock he could not lift?

Blinded by a masochists dying wish

His son rode it hard that night they shared a crate

Could they have twisted the knife in his back any further

Strictness means nothing to the dying and dead

Her heart to long poison from contempt and hatred

Strictness means nothing to the dead

Cut reels of video tape a worthless thread

To him it was the ultimate handshake of giving in

Little did the detractors know countless times he already had

Burning the remnants ‘of sin

Encapsulating himself in clouds of smoke and gin

Sanctuary of another is how this begins.


Land’s Lament

Scoop the soil in cupped hand

and watch it fall grainy grey;

bend on one knee so that the

corded pants are tight at the knee,

then lean in and down, to

smell the soil’s goodness;

close your eyes to heighten

the joy of its sweetness.

Sow the seed, feel the dust rise

and see it settle in puffs.

This is the way, as the sun

eases up then falls to ground,

as crops wave to the light,

and spoil in the fuggy wet,

turn to dust yellow in the dry:

failure and success:

the way of the land.

Hold fast, they say, yield

with the incessant wind;

wait for the season – at last

when the grain heads swell

to reach up and up, a

a golden benevolent arm

What Is That Book About? #3


And now I am writing, in a smaller book.

But you can’t read it, and I will not talk about it yet.

And if my voice has made it to you, my small

persistent chirping, a cicada near an airport

—poets, we are happy with the dull clunk-clink

of the coin you choose to drop into the busker’s

open case, playing her feather touch

on gravity-tight strings of a red guitar

on the age scratched pavements of LA.

Although I am unsure if the municipality

allows street performers, I picture you,

on the footpath with the handprints

and shoe indents, the gold edged stars

set with a ground crystal of cement

—the telling is truer than the thing told,

and a man will beg and a woman will go off

in a huff and regret it all her life—

but you know that isn’t entirely true,

it can also play out opposite, or two

positive poles and a current won’t flow,

in the all day and night noise, the roaring

large transmission of industry, more than

poetry will ever achieve, the telling is truer

than what is being told. I am creating cavities

inside persistent noise to appreciate the quiets of poetry.

What Is That Book About? #2


The little book I read, as we are captained by your mother

in the vehicle as it travels the narrow black strip

of these few years we have together, today beside

the Tasman Sea, sock, and salt smell, of you,

in your headphones, engaged in tablet games,

and short enough still to have your feet up

on the dash, not bored with your parents yet,

is also about placement of the sensation,

the containing and defusing of the feeling

of the fine sandy gold and copper grains,

the black & petrified woods, the clear quartz

under black roads for the life of the highways & passing lanes.


I swing upon the hour

until midnight stills the soul

and I am nothing but

lumpen flesh, still breathing.



out my window

flowers bloom; but afternoon

rolls so slow and I’m

blown. If lucky I’m

there til the evening

fills me; like sea air.


Turn in,

nothing’s here: tread soft

the wooden stair; some

guilty thing, caught;

on all fours.


I thought

I was

someone else.

Real, breathing.


8 August 2015

Feathered Chains

Your ankles dangle in the water
held fast by the passage of time
kicking hard against the ripples
the future carving saintly lines

Forgotten pride pulls your skin
flakes off as age wears you down
to drift there among them corpses
the sacred deeds and the sorry drowned

Weighed down by a thousand links
feathered chains stretch you thin
marking time with beauty failing
your eyes sink deep into borrowed skin