winter melts

Winter lies sadly melting in the sink.
An ice-blue sky reduced to an anonymous puddle
in a plastic zip-lock bag.
And for what?
To make way for bargain priced minced meat.
“I’m sorry” I say to the little one,
who just shrugs.
And for a moment I consider telling her:
“It remembers what it was. Water remembers.”
But I do not say it,
because she is not so little anymore,
and would just roll her eyes and say “muuummm”
at such sappy Disney bullshit.
She accepts that snow must make way
for ‘reduced to clear’ minced meat.
And I am sorry for that.

Written for the dVerse prompt “poetics: the blizzard of the self“, to write a poem about winter. I used a bit of poetic licence here, it was actually a bag of hailstones rather than snow that was taken out of the freezer a while ago to make space for ‘reduced to clear’ meat. But snow somehow fitted better with the broader theme than giant hailstones which are themselves due to climate change.
 

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1200 December 14th, Goulburn railway bridge

Paint a primary-coloured afternoon:
green, green trees –
not the dull yellow-grey-khaki of eucalypts
but the bright clear greens of picture-book trees.
Dab them with circles of pink and yellow,
to make a thousand tiny plums like Christmas baubles.
Add a sweep of black road
rising in a hump over a railway line,
don’t forget the white lines emphasising the curve.
Now fill in the sky,
just blue, and more blue, and more
until the page is so saturated
it cannot hold any more.
Finish with some fine details:
a pair of train-spotters with their cameras
leaning on the bridge railing, waiting.
Now, save this picture:
fill a bag with blue and green, pink and yellow,
sweet-tart, glossy-smooth but dusty from a passing train,
take it home and pour it into jars,
and add them to the pantry-album of summer afternoons.

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lost and found/2022 beginnings

The “finding it first” challenge from Laura at dVerse was to create a “found poem” by taking the first line of the first poem from each month of 2022 to create a new poem. No changes other than tenses, no additions other than conjunctions, but enjambment okay and the lines don’t have to be in order. 

Three years of hoping
still she carries spring in her step,
though the bluebells are tardy this year.

The alarm goes off at midnight, mid-winter,
listen to him crowing under the blood moon!
If we make it through December,
then what if I wrap up my truth, and
throw the Christmas tree out the door?

Some nights, sleep rises like static, and
I don’t understand why the humans persist.

 

This came out sounding rather dark, although some of the poems they came from were meant to be funny ones, eg the last line comes from a poem about my pig eating doormats. They also almost all come from responses to dVerse prompts! 🙂 

These are the first lines and where they came from:
January: Throw the Christmas tree out the door from ‘anno dissolvi
February: She carries spring in her step from ‘mum’s hairdressing salon II
March: I don’t understand why the humans persist from ‘high fibre snacks
April: Listen to him crowing from ‘summoning the sun
May: Some nights, sleep rises like static from ‘SNR < 1 & F(net) = 0’
June: What if I wrapped up my truth from ‘a little empty space
July: Mid-winter from ‘woodsmoke
August: The alarm goes off at midnight from ‘looking up
September: three years of hoping from ‘labour of love’
October: The bluebells are tardy this year from ‘bluebells
November: Under the blood moon from ‘under a lilly-pilly moon
December: If we make it through December from ‘If we make it through December

I’ve never written a found poem before, and rarely go back and re-read any of my poems. So this was a really interesting challenge, and I enjoyed it very much.  Thanks Laura!

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bovinaphobia

Ginger-mutt growls at the thunder, 
is unphased by fireworks.
He is the fiercest hunter
unafraid of whatever lurks
in the undergrowth. He laughs
at the rooster’s spurs and beak,
but at the sight of the little calf
the bold cattle dog just freaks.

 

Written for the dVerse Monday Quadrille prompt “Bold-ly go” – 44 words including ‘bold’ – about our red heeler cattle dog who is scared of cows. The calf kept following him and he kept hiding behind T1. He’s also scared of llamas, but that’s just sensible. 

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1500 January 9th, sans ‘sunroof’

Swooping between potholes
we fly through yellowing green fields,
every window down to let the sky in.
Its blue-heat rushes through the car
drying chlorine scented hair,
sun-streaked and tangled.
Making up the words as we go
we create a soundtrack
with help from the radio.
Hands tap along on window-sills,
summer-browned against dirty white duco,
as we travel home
a plume of yellow dust
following like a parade.

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1400 January 7th / Why I make the bread.

He is not a tactile person.
He thinks this is a criticism when I point this out.
It is not meant as a rebuke, or a slight.
Although perhaps any observation
that contains an element of pity
is also a slight.
The difficulty
is that he uses spoons and measuring cups.
He would never plunge his hand into the sugar jar
and enjoy the graininess,
before casting a handful into the bowl.
He does not know the texture of the flours –
the silky-soft feel of the white flour,
the roughness, like calloused hands,
of the wholemeal.
I cannot say how many cups of flour,
how much sugar, how much water, how much yeast.
He has asked,
but I cannot quantify,
or explain how I know
when enough flour has been kneaded in.
My hands know.
They know the touch, like skin, of the surface.
They know the flesh-firm give of the dough.
These are things known with the hands,
not the head.
So I cannot tell him.

 

Linking in to the dVerse OLN (Open Link Night) # 329 prompt. Any poem, old or new. This is a new one, and also part of my “hours” sequence.  

I’m looking forward to joining OLN live finally! I just need to work out the time difference.  🙂 

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1100 3rd January, Goulburn pool

Blue above, blue below
(although different;
cobalt above, turquoise below)
following my rippling shadow one way,
and
(so at least I assume)
being followed by it in return
in a
(so I imagine/hope/pretend)
dignified and stately breast-stroke –
how the queen, perhaps,
would proceed down the pool.
(Although that shadow below
could well belong to a matronly bullfrog.
The queen would have had it removed).

Head above water
I can perform my maternal vigilance –
two are playing,
one is swimming towards me,
in his own variation on the Australian crawl
(“the boy is angry at the water”).

A row of ducks
(without my spectacles,
this is an educated guess)
proceeds in state along the edge.
Children, laughing, encourage them in,
but the lifeguard shoos them away,
aware,
unlike the children,
(although more likely they just don’t care)
that the reality of swimming with ducks
involves duck shit in the pool.

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fireworks and dripping tears

Written for the dVerse Haibun Monday prompt, “Fireworks and a dripping tap” to write about your feelings towards this new year.  I have already written several poems about my feelings about 2022 and it’s ending, implying that it wasn’t the best of years. But let’s just lay it all out now, so the tears make sense. After this, I am going to leave 2022 behind. 

2022 was supposed to be a better year for everyone – covid vaccinations making us safer, travel opening up again and back to teaching face to face. But it was a year characterized by tragedy. One of my students took his own life a few weeks into semester. And then just weeks later another was killed in a car accident. Then there was a second suicide on campus, and, just as the year was finally drawing to a close, a colleague’s son died, a boy the same age as my twins.
Everyone said the usual thing to everyone else after the first suicide: “you can’t blame yourself”. But I do. I blame all of us – every one of us on campus that didn’t pay enough attention, every one of us that should have seen something, every one of us that could have said something, every one of us that might have made a difference. All of us that should have done better.
So, how do I feel about the year gone and the new one starting?

Twenty-twenty-two?
Thank God it’s over. Next year
I will do better.

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1300, 1st January

We have performed the last rites
on a year that had worn out its welcome:
We have cut a branch and decked it,
lit the candles and watched them burn
and given thanks that we are all still here.
We have made our offerings,
sweets for our lady of Calvary
whose help we pray we will not need.
We have observed the cleansing of the sky with fire
from a pleasant hill, once host
to untimely death – a fitting place
to end a year quartered by death.
We have scented ourselves, our home,
with sweet lavender, stolen in darkness,
to be sewn into bags with seeds
for the new year’s happier dreams.
We have cried the tears that needed to be shed
to cleanse our spirits of this cruel year
and then we have cast it out, thrown it
into the fire pit with the branch
stripped of its glitter and baubles
where it can lie disregarded, shedding its needles,
until it is nothing but a bare scaly skeleton.
And then we will watch it burn.

My Latvian grandmother once told me that on new year’s day you have to throw out the Christmas tree and then burn it, to get rid of the ghost of the old year. In Australia we can’t do that because it’s bushfire season and fires are illegal. Which is a bit of a disappointment, given what a year it’s been, dogged by deaths. But we have all our other rituals – we take several large boxes of chocolates into the Calvary ED staff in the hope we won’t see them for another year, watch the family fireworks and steal a huge bunch of lavender (from where it won’t be missed, and will be cut down in a week or so). When it dries it will be mixed with wheat and sewn into bags for winter – microwaved they provide heat and scent. And finally, on new year’s day the Christmas tree (a branch cut from the same tree every year) is stripped and thrown out the door to dry until bushfire season is over and we can burn it on the winter solstice as the older gods intended and my grandmother once observed on the other side of the world.   

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2100 31st December, Mount Pleasant

impatient children
scamper about the hillside
parents sip their drinks
as the light drains from the sky
and the canvas is prepared

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