Good Things Only #10

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.

Good Things Only #09

Australian Magpie

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.

Transient moments of clarity within my madness

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.

3 Good Things Only #08

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.

3 Good Things Only #07

The Nostalgic Knife
  • 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.

3 Good Things Only #06

My all time, super dipper, automatic choice for headwear.

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.

3. Vegemite. 

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

3 Good Things Only #05

Japanese Maple leaves in the birdbath last autumn.

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.

Bananas are always on the sideboard.

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.

The Beatles

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.

5 Good Things Only #04

The Blues Brothers Soundtrack

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!

From this …..
To this.

5 Good Things Only #01

Greenhood Orchids in Strathbogie Forest.

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.

The Photograph

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/

Parting

 
 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

Silver linings
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.

https://dversepoets.com/2021/08/31/poetics-oral-poetry/

Conservation Kasa

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.

https://dversepoets.com/2021/08/17/poetics-exploring-the-realm-of-korean-literature-first-stop-seoul/#comment-307838

Cancer House

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. 

https://dversepoets.com

Fatalism

 
 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
  
  
  
   

Hades begets Persephone

 
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.

Falling birds

 
 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 

What I said to the other animal on my journey to the end of the world

 
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

Pressing the accelerator

 
  
 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 reality / truth paradox

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?

Strathbogie poetry
#strathbogiepoetry

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?”