Nursing a days old baby in my arms as she practices for the perfect sleep to come. Her pastel skin small nose soft lashes and milk mouth filling my eyes with intermittent tears of joy and wonder. Her irregular breathing coming in short rapid shallow bursts followed by deep sighs of contentment as she snuffles and ruffles and stretches back and reaches out and flexes fingers and kicks legs and crinkles her nose and dreams baby dreams with eyelids aflutter while her eyes move this way and that underneath. Her lapping tongue unconsciously works at nipple traction in automatic rehearsal. The little lips open and shut pucker and pout refining the sucking technique in readiness for the next lactation latching that will draw milky nourishment and unqualified love from her besotted mother supported by her smitten father and adored by the rest of us in this small family bubble. Her smooth brow un-furrowed by concern or worry she is the very picture of innocence.
1 Carolling Magpies. I so adore this birdsong. The musical sound of a Magpie nearby is not to be taken for granted. They may be common, they may even be considered threatening at times. Regardless, nature provided them with a voice of beauty.
2 Weeding. Oh how satisfying it is to return a weedy patch to order. Sometimes to rediscover plants you had forgotten you had put there, still struggling along despite your neglect. Other times to prepare the ground for new plantings and the potential they represent. Then there is the satisfying effort of the exercise. Bent over pulling at stubborn and deep rooted infestations, kneeling on increasingly sore knees to optimise leverage, scouring the earth with garden tools to loosen impacted soul and break up clumps. Eventually tiring enough too slowly, very slowly, uh, just a bit slower, stand up straight again for the first time in some hours realising your back ain’t what it used to be. You survey the scene, grunt with satisfaction at the work and the regret your lack of flexibility will bring and go inside for a well earned cup of tea and a biscuit.
3 Putting the lids back on properly. Past experience tells me, when you pick up the jam jar by the lid only to have it go crashing to the floor, it is not a good thing. When you pick up the jam jar and have to unscrew the lid to access the jam instead of scraping it up off the floor it is a good thing. I am just saying.
wounded I crawl to drag my wounds further through the dirt dragging my belly along the ground is none to low for me in my hurt I will scavenge to survive but surviving will not a worthy life be more eking out an existence in the shadow of you to pay my due just to live in the shadow of you as close as I can be to skulk in a shadow world as of the light I am unworthy for the harm that I was to cause I regret and pay my price but there is not enough in remorse that I can forgive my owned and destructive vice there is no doubt in my mind I will always be the addict cripple you tried to save when married who left you ruined and harried at least my surreptitious watching over you gives me purpose with which to see I may prevent further harm to you as self destruction gnaws away at me
For this week’s dVerse challenge Ingrid has asked us to revisit a time in our lives when we have felt pain and come out of it on the other side.
This poem is a combination of close, shared personal stories. Feeling pain is as real as the sufferer perceives it to be. How someone comes out on the other side is relative and may not be consistent or sustainable.
1 Waiting for a baby, then hearing her cry for the first time, seeing her early at the breast, knowing everything is going to be OK.
2 Feeling grateful for the loving, informed, proactive and justifiably proud parents.
3 Learning that even though locked out you can still immediately bond with your newly emerged granddaughter on FaceTime as she sprawls across her mother’s chest in search of a second breast. Her purposeful efforts encouraging, her fresh ruddiness a healthy glow, her determined expression inspiring, her chubby robustness endearing, her tiny hands already reaching out to the world. She personifies a truth, where there is life there is hope.
- 1. A Nostalgic Knife. This knife still gives me the warm and fuzzies. We bought it at a Sainsbury’s supermarket in England in 1986 along with a chopping board and a plastic food container. As we travelled around various countries thereafter those three items provided for preparing many meals on the road.
The board and container are long gone, but the knife has survived and is still in service. It did disappear in the early 2000s for a few years. Then much to my delight I dug it up in the garden one day. How it got there is a mystery that has never been solved. Amazingly, it cleaned up good as new and continues to have a sharp edge.
Is there a case for sentimental attachment to such objects? Yes, I think there is because it isn’t the object itself you are attached to, it is the associations it conjures up. For better or worse many are emotionally potent and the good ones can be well worth reliving.
2. More on the Vegemite theme. I didn’t mention the optional addition of Avocado yesterday, but have been inspired to do so by comments made by other Vegemite fans. This combo is especially good on homemade rye or sourdough. Definitely a good thing!
3. The pleasure of choosing the next book to read. Reading can’t be beaten for transporting you to another place or learning things new or anew. As I approach the end of a book I experience a double shiver of anticipation. The climax of the story or the summary of the learning is experienced concurrent with the knowledge that I get to savour the next choosing. Even if a book turns out to be a disappointment, the enticement of its unknown content at the outset will always be something to look forward too. So, I am looking forward to Bill Bailey next. I will let you know what I think.
1. Many years ago – about 15? I bought a full brimmed hat at Salamanca Market in Hobart. I had been on the lookout for the right hat for some time. With the hair on the top of my head rapidly thinning, a hat became important in a way it had never been before. However, I just couldn’t find the right hat. All the hats I had tried either didn’t sit well, were to loose and blew off easily or had to be so tight to avoid this they created a feeling of stricture. Often the brims blew up flat against my forehead or flat over my eyes in a light breeze. Some made my head too hot, others simply made me look very uncool.
When I put on this particular hat I immediately knew its rightness. No, not quite. I thought it looked uncool, but then it felt so comfortable that uncool ceased to matter. With an Hibiscus motif on the stitched in band and also into the underside of the brim, it did look odd on me. On the other hand, the denim and cotton fabric meant it didn’t automatically make me sweat. The brim was reinforced without being rigid, it didn’t blow about. The seal the deal factor was the elasticised cotton band on the inside. The soft yet firm grip on my crown was secure without being tight, not cold to the skin to touch, temperate as a sweat band for a hot day as well.
I have appreciated this hat ever since. It has been my pleasure to wear it. Through all weather and work demands it has stood the test of time. It has faded, it has been patched, it has frayed or worn through at all the regular touch points, particularly the edges and peak. The Hibiscus band has shredded and the sweat stains embedded. Yet it endures as a perfect fit, with a perfectly functional cotton elasticised grip and the brim at the front has angled with use for the ideally acceptable level of eye shading and when I dips me lid.
2. Today I received a present of home baked biscuits. What a lovely and enjoyable surprise. I am grateful for such a good thing to come from such a thoughtful friend.
No day feels right without Vegemite. It’s in my head until it’s eaten That salty flavour that can’t be beaten I love it on Vita Weet I love it on bread A Vegemite roll, I’ve often said Is the very best thing to ensure my day Is going along in the very best way
1. Japanese Maples. Oh my! Flowers on red tipped new wood that buzz with bees in Spring. The cutest of leaves emerging, developing from a bright new growth light green through to a mature darker verdant green. Insect rich haven for small birds. A canopy in summer dense enough for complete shade and shelter. Massive parrot attracter when seeding. Flaming autumnal colours. Deep, vibrant carpets underneath when leaves fall. As noble a bare frame in winter as any deciduous tree can offer, sculpted of wizened green/grey trunks and wispy lichen laden branches.
2. The Happiness Lab and orange. I listen to this podcast quite often. It is about reporting on research into happiness. There are many anecdotal stories to illustrate the outcomes. To put it in context, the podcast originated a few years ago after Psychology Lecturer Dr Laurie Santos commenced Happiness research subjects at Yale University. Within two years these subjects had the highest enrolment demand in the United States. I usually find the podcast very interesting. Often it gives me cause to reflect. In the most recent edition, host Laurie Santos mentioned how she was delighted by orange in its many manifestations. I thought that was just great because I absolutely get it! After all, every day is an orange day: https://seanmathews.blog/2021/06/04/every-day-is-an-orange-day/
3. Bananas. I eat one banana every day there is one available. Nutritious, full of energy, delicious and so, so convenient to just pick up and eat anytime. They are such a great gap filler. A banana is my go to starter food when bushwalking or cycling. I even love the word banana.
Why only 3 GTOs? I can see I am going to start writing more than I expected about each GTO because I am really enjoying giving them the thought they deserve. 3 is looking like a more practical number from this perspective.
masters of lyric masters of music masters of harmony master songsmiths you raised us as you raised yourselves from notation illiterate to craftsmen majestic the birds when they hear your melodies listen hushed in admiration and learn you connected us across lands of difference, waters vast and cultures divergent universal emotions spilled when we heard your work in your lives you have sung our lives our joys and sorrows our hopes and aspirations our loves and losses our frivolities and consequence and still our hearts open to your words as if our own we know them part of the human life song playful, raaucous, challenging, beautiful full of pleasures and sadness as you endure beyond all before you you mark the significance of your generation you inspire generations to come your song has lived long and will not fade while we can listen because we hear with hearts and minds that will always quicken or quieten in tune with your words and music
Today’s dVerse prompt is from Sannaa. She asked us to write in a form of traditional poetry called “panegyric” poetry. Poetry of effusive praise.
1. The Blues Brothers Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. If Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and The Blues Brothers can’t make you want to shake a tail feather – nothing can. Music makes my day, every day.
2. A fresh celery stick smeared with crunchy peanut butter along its middle. Groovy!
3. Watching seedlings grow in the greenhouse. I had forgotten how fascinating it is to plant a seed, check it regularly, see it emerge and leaf. Such an everyday occurrence and yet so incredible.
4. Taking the time to get informed and then complete a significant survey with objectivity. I am confident the Euroa underpass surpasses the overpass. The Euroa Connect volunteers have done a very professional job of campaigning accordingly.
5. Removing a scourge of our bushland – Blackberries. Here, and in many parts of Australia, there are no constraints on their growth. They can smother vast tracts of indigenous flora. This particular work has been four years in the making. It felt so good to finally start mulching these dead canes. Once this area along the Seven Creeks is revegetated it is going to look its natural self and amazing once again!
1. A Grey Shrike Thrush sang for us from the verandah as we ate breakfast while a Scrub Wren scoured the brickwork and window frames for its own breakfast.
2. Starting a new book and enjoying it from page 1. Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton.
3. Listening to a Late Night Live podcast while exercising.
4. Deciding not to walk amongst undulating hills of grazing land in the wind and rain.
5. Deciding to walk in the shelter of Strathbogie Forest instead. The rain stopped when we got there. It didn’t resume until we returned to the car. Adding to the pleasure of being in the forest, we observed many Greenhood Orchids.
when weary travelling an image of you I look at when I rest your portrait kept in a locket of gold warm between my breasts I see the small photograph and am reminded of what I’ve left with longing I wish to be home again my head upon your chest
For today’s d’verse prompt from Sanaa I chose the derivative Option 2. To think of a word. I thought of “image.” To use a derivative to create a poem. The derivative I chose was “photograph”. https://dversepoets.com/2021/09/07/poetics-dungeons-and-derivatives/
Slate grey winter skies Background fat silver lined clouds Rain filled and sun lit Slate grey winter skies Background deep sadness of loss Rain filled and homesick Strathbogie poetry #strathbogiepoetry
I know I won’t be missing you Because you live in my heart too It’s not about having your body here In my mind you’re everywhere You also reside in a time and space A place of love of ethereal grace That supersedes corporeal and now That’s my commitment and our vow We've shared our lives together as one With room to grow, make our own fun As I watch you go and that time closes I can’t think of what the future poses Yes it hurts, it’s unbearably sad But it’s also a marker of the joy we had Of the pleasure in each other’s company Of everything that will stay with me No matter what becomes of us as an earthly pair Always in my heart you'll be everywhere So rest my darling have a peaceful night Tomorrow we’ll see what comes of light Though parting is near even in plain sight We’ll be together forever come what might
Call it a day when you’ve lost hope There’s new hope tomorrow Again you will cope Call it a day when you are ill perceived When the messages you send Are not well received Call it a day when there’s no one around To help carry your burden To wherever you’re bound Call it a day when your heart is breaking Face losing love Accept the heart aching Call it a day so you don’t perish When those that you care for Have spurned what you cherish Call it a day when you’re emotionally driven Decisions aren’t well informed When emotionally riven Call it a day when you have earned your rest So that come next time You are again at your best Call it a day when you can no longer learn When memory is exhausted And your brain is burned Call it a day when your output is down Not accomplishing much Just one more frown Call it a day when you are feeling angry To avoid big mistakes When harassed and harried Call it a day when you have had enough Call it a day when you are faking tough Call it a day when everything feels rough Call it a day because there are silver linings There’s always tomorrow The sun never stops rising
This week’s d’verse prompt from Ingrid was to compose a poem in the tradition of oral poetry, without putting pen to paper. I found this quite difficult. We were also asked to try adopting a motif and present with regular metre.
I didn’t elect to tell a story as such, more to pass on a wellbeing message consistent with the purpose of handing down oral lessons to future generations.
Many places I have called home as around the world I roamed. But none so full of joy for me as the Tableland Strathbogie. With mountain forest all around, wetlands, creeks, rills and swamps abound. Native animals can thrive here, Wombat, Platypus we hold dear. Vicforest loggers habitat deprive. We fear wildlife won't survive Koala are less seen today. Bandicoots all but gone away. Greater Gliders still here endure, but our forest is not secure. Conserve and re-wild what is left. Or lose all this to future theft.
This week’s d’verse prompt came from Sannaa. Write a poem using the Korean poetic form Kasa.
When the cancer came to our house It entered through the back door It snuck around the kitchen Down the stairs and straight into Our parent’s bedroom No one saw it arrive No one knew it was even near No one knew to shed a tear When the cancer came to our house We were blithely oblivious Our father worked away day to day Our mother taught, thought and sought Children came first and learnt without hurt Life was as good as suburban life could When the cancer came to our house The doctor said it wasn’t A young mother said it wouldn’t A young father said it couldn’t And the children had no notion of it at all When the cancer came to our house Our mother’s pain was hard to understand Fatigue and irritability unexpected and unplanned The right way to help couldn’t be defined We’d often not know quite where to stand As she rushed to the toilet or growled as she scanned And we still didn’t know the cancer was at hand When the cancer came to our house An unborn child, sister to siblings Was more important than knowing the findings Was important to the future of life with the wildlings Her death bereft being caught in such bindings When the cancer came to our house It was discovered way to late To deliver our mother from her miserable fate Of dying without respite Of fading from the light Of unbearable pain and strife Of the shameful waste of her precious life For this d'Verse prompt asking us to use "the house" as a subject for our poem, I apologise for breaking the rules. This is not imaginary, but I felt it had to be my response.
When you die and there’s nothing left of you Not a shape Not a thought Not even a negative space How will it be to be so completely deleted? You simply aren’t anymore It doesn't matter not a bit I’ve seen it over and over Dying A body replete Even when critically ill enlivened by ….. something Then a husk deplete Empty Empty of everything Rendering that person regardless of eminence of no consequence What is it to be nothing Universally less than no consequence How can it be that a consciousness Completely Absolutely Resolutely Instantly degrades to nothingness? Nil Null Void The fact of existence confuses us Even more so conscious life tends to make us think we are important When our rational selves are fully aware that the sheer scale of existence reduces us to insignificance This is our lived contradiction Our denial for survival When it doesn’t really make any sense at all Existence will end There was nothing before There will be nothing after There is no purpose to living in between but we do Clutching at a senseless hope for meaning or even something better after It should be enough just to be here for the ride
Winter grass lies flat Colour leached, dull and squat On the cold wet plains Winter's hair lies flat Old follicles grey sparse lost From my cold wet pate Strathbogie poetry #strathbogiepoetry
She awoke with a raw sense of dread
A cold sweat soaked the sheets of her bed
The sounds that night were not nighttime’s she knew
A hint of smoke contradicted the dew
Shadows danced on the bedroom wall
Where dancing shadows should not be at all
The normal still off white of the paint
Was lively with movement and firelight feint
She fumbled with billowing robe and nightclothes
Tying her robe up tight as she rose
Into a world of self doubt and fright
She stumbled out into the cold of the night
She touched the back of the door to sense any heat Realised she’d no shoes put on her feet Sidestepped and slipped into a pair of sandals As her hand reached out for the frightful handle
When she dared to look through the gap in the door Using light flickering lively onto the floor From her half awake hazy sleep deprived daze She wondered if the place was already ablaze
Further she pushed open the portal
Considered precious life and all that was mortal
Within her tiny flat B number 144
She wondered if she could take the fear anymore
And she listened alert for other clues
Thought about the price of paying her dues
She heard the crackle and pop of combusting wood
Her only thought now to get out if she could
She peered out into a reddish early morning gloom
To an apparently deserted yet eerie lounge room
But there at the side a large shape sat in a chair
Exuding an oppressive weight of despair
The wood fire aglow had strangely been lit It certainly was not her who lit it A monstrous head turned to look into her face An inhuman form by nature disgraced
He had discreetly followed her around town for weeks In peripheral vision never seen when he seeks Creating acute nervousness from endless teases A cat playing with a mouse its tormenting pleases
She knew instantly her time had come
It was not to be as life had begun
No comfort from her mother’s caress
No strength to be found on father’s chest
Hades stood to meet her towering ominously above Leering and smug antithesis of love She resigned herself to the monster’s arms Wishing after horror would come blessed dead calm
In this d’verse challenge https://dversepoets.com/2021/08/03/poetics-persephone/ Sarah asked us to take inspiration from the myth of the abduction of Persephone by Hades. I saw ancient (and not so ancient) patriarchal rituals and modern parallels as I read Sarah’s summation of the story.
All those birds falling from the sky Some birds live More birds die So consider Why oh why? We poison food chains and nature deny We pave We divert We scrape the sky We take too much don’t comply heat the planet watch it dry Then only crocodile tears do we cry As our legacy becomes the worlds biggest lie That we care action says we deny
I think you might eat me
I‘m scared that you will
If I run you beat me
No light on the hill
In the hope of appeasement
Still desperate to run
I appeal for lenience
For my trashing your home
So I’ll say I’m sorry
That we humans are dumb
I’ll say we forgot
Where we’ve been and come from
You don’t need to eat me
Because we’ll eat ourselves
Let me go quietly
From the home where you dwell
Humans all will be leaving
It’s our destiny
There will be no grieving
And your world will be free
Flying into Melbourne On a private jet Bouncing off ideas With the business jet set Closing every deal No matter what it takes Ethical or shonky As long as the world quakes Driven by ambition Minister or CEO Really only two choices About which way to go Pressing the accelerator When I should have touched the brake How fast am I going to go How much more can I take Slamming down the spirits Soaking up the wine Things are a little beery But everything will work out fine Climbing the hardest rock face Dodging the greatest fall Pushing to the limit And giving it my all Burning the midnight oil Up until all hours Burning both ends of candles To see how much time devours Shooting a little heroin For all the joy it brings Snorting a little cocaine It’s coke that makes me zing Then I lost my partner I leaned on her I admit Then I lost my friends Who won’t see me in a fit Wondering why I need her Wondering why I need it Wondering who l am Any why I’m called a shit A few dodgy deals later I’m sure that I’ll be rich But a punch up with a waiter Left me in a legal stitch I crashed the car last Wednesday Into six or so I’m told Realised I couldn’t pay Forgot insurance in the cold Sick with hepatitis Broke from drugs and booze Living the high life baby Sure can make you lose Eating throwing up Hearing voices in my head Where are my friends and family I might be better off dead Claiming every benefit Sponging every favour Grabbing every freebie Before my resolve wavers Sitting on this pavement Holding up my sign I didn’t plan to be here It just came in time
The only reality is in one place, at one time,
as a fleeting perception of what a truth may be.
That is to say, no reality at all.
Reality is a thought of a truth in the here and now,
only ever understood by one mind in one instant,
only internalised by one heart for less than one heartbeat.
Then lost forever, to ever evolving interrogation, explanation and dissertation.
External attempts at understanding another’s reality and truths are just that, attempts.
Interpretations of another’s reality are creative, transient similitudes at best.
Knowing of another’s truths can only be attempted by association.
Association by its very nature denies the accuracy reality and truth demand.
History is a barely valid interpretation of past reality and its truths.
Yesterday is reappraisal of reality, mere perception of memorable truths.
The future has no reality where truth is elusive and aloof.
Tomorrow is simply anticipation based upon expectation come proof.
Proof is a contextual misnomer ignoring the reality question, what is truth?
A response to this week’s d’verse challenge regarding the Hemingway quote, “There is nothing else but now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there tomorrow.” - For whom the bell tolls (1940). https://dversepoets.com/2021/06/22/dverse-poetics-one-true-sentence/
These first two lines of the quote cited immediately drew me back to a repeated personal exploration of what I call “The Reality / Truth Paradox”. If the word “certainly“ had been “certainty” it would have been a perfect fit.
I think this is a discussion Hemingway would have willingly engaged in with me if we had met. I would start with the question, “Do you apply fundamental realities and truths to your characters at the time of their creation?”
Water over rocks
Cascades into swirling pools
As winter rains refill
Water over rocks
Washes away rocky past
As winter rains refill