Monthly Archives: May 2022

two strong hearts

For DJL:

I am distracted as I wait
choosing sunset-coloured pansies,
and when you greet me
my heart thumps
like a rabbit in my chest.
And there you are at last –
smiling with your heart racing
like that of a frightened bird.
For how many years now
have you fondly mocked
my choice of decaf?
But today you order two,
and it is my turn to mock,
as we exchange our tales
of high blood pressure and PVCs,
of dizzy spells and fatigue,
GPs, cardiologist and ECGs.
Two strong hearts, you say,
and of course I agree –
we may both be drinking decaf,
but at least it’s still full-cream.

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“sod off, ya evil bastards”

The Tuesday dVerse prompt was to write about corvids. In Australia, our only corvids are the crows and ravens. Our lovely native magpies and charming choughs are not corvids (not related to the northern hemisphere varieties), so that just left me with my least-favourite birds to write about. 

 

Even in the sunlight they are silhouettes,
croaking their curse-calls, their protest
at the wire and netting spread to protect
the hens who cluster in maternal distress.
These black cardboard cut-outs in the trees,
these are the chick-killers and these the egg-thieves
I shout and throw a stone to scatter these.
Let them search instead for a carrion feast.

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a rabbit in my chest

For the dVerse Monday haibun prompt “Summer“, let me tell you about my day….

 

A trip to the GP turns into an afternoon in the Goulburn ED. A triage nurse takes my history and some blood, then runs an ECG as we chat about how hard it’s been for nurses during covid, how good the change of government is for women, about #MeToo and wonder “you too?”. Then I wait again, until someone else comes to take me for a CT scan.
First some saline through the canula and a cool tingle rushes through my chest triggering another thump. Then I am waiting as the machine whirrs, and tells me: “take a breath and hold it… now breathe normally”. It is hard to breathe normally on command. Then the iodine solution is pumped in and there is a rush of heat to my face and between my legs and a strange taste in my mouth. Again, I take a breath and hold it on command as the machine whirrs.
Dressed again, though still speckled with ECG electrodes and with the canula in my arm, I wait again until a doctor calls me through. The tests have all come back clear. So the chest pain? …likely pleurisy, long covid. The thumping beat, like a rabbit kicking? “yes, I heard it – ectopic ventricular beats”, tentatively “are you still… regular? Given your age…”.

Autumn inside me,
no summer heat flush, just a
rabbit in my chest

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where did summer go?

The Thursday dVerse “meeting the bar with the Constanza” challenge was to write a series of at least 5 three line stanzas with the rhyme scheme a/b/b, a/c/c, … in which the first lines form a poem in their own right, which is then placed at the end. Oh, and it has to be in iambic tetrameter as well.  Ummm…. okay, here goes:  

 

We watched the summer come and go,
the fields turn green with summer rain,
then gold with ripening of the grain.

Now bright leaves fall from the gingko,
to reds and browns they add their gilt
as autumn lays her patchwork quilt.

Against blue sky, bare branches show
and a half-moon peers through their net
at pigeons roosting in silhouette.

Flocks of autumn carrion crows
scrounge fields now brown and stubble-strewn.
The winter’s chill comes all too soon,

so while we wait for winter’s snow,
we’ll fill the woodshed to its beams
to give us warmth for winter dreams.

Now build the fire, and in its glow
dream of spring and a greening land
and plan the next spring’s plantings, and

ask ourselves, where did summer go?
In just a moment it was past.
But briefly too will winter last.

We watched the summer come and go,
now bright leaves fall from the gingko.
Against blue sky, bare branches show
flocks of autumn carrion crows.
So while we wait for winter’s snow.
build up the fire, and in its glow
ask ourselves, where did summer go?

 

I’ve followed Björn’s  lead in going for a seasonal theme – autumn for us down here in the southern hemisphere. Unfortunately I haven’t taken a photo of the gingko trees on campus which have turned brilliant yellow, but here are the pigeons in silhouette, against a typically blue Canberra winter sky with the moon peeking through the branches. 

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those little slices of death…

…how I love them.

 

For the dVerse Monday quadrille challenge: “Sleepy times“. 

 

That moment of surrender,
when the struggle is given up.
That moment of relief,
when responsibility is abdicated,
and cares released like birds.
That moment of release
into a little slice of death.
I could live
just for that blessed moment
of falling
asleep.

 

I’ve always found the most supremely enjoyable time to fall asleep is when struggling to stay awake in a lecture or while watching a movie.  I haven’t yet fallen asleep in a meeting at work, but I’m looking forward to it when I’m closer to retirement. I plan so snore ostentatiously through many meetings until I’m offered a pre-retirement package.    

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porridge

For the dVerse “bon appetit” prompt, to write some food poetry, based on this morning’s breakfast:

 

ca.1980
7 am and grandad has already fed the chooks
and milked the cow.
Now he waits for his breakfast.
Grammy puts handfuls of oats into the big saucepan –
two handfuls per person
plus a couple for the pot.
Warm, creamy milk,
still foamy,
is poured in from the milking bucket.
Then we wait patiently as she stirs,
watching for the porridge to thicken.
Poured into bowls,
we add huge spoonfuls of grandad’s homemade jam –
paddy-melon, plum or strawberry.

 

This morning.
0800 and the kids are fed and dressed,
Chromebooks and smartphones charged and packed,
and the car is disappearing through the gate.
Leaving me to WFH: some marking, some reading,
some online meetings.
But first –
half a cup of quick-oats,
and a cup of lite milk,
and into the microwave for 2.5 minutes.
Stir.
Onto the table,
where a huge spoonful of my homemade jam is added –
apricot, plum or blackberry.
This morning I choose plum.

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what to plant in autumn

I planted the mice
all in a neat row,
and this year I reap
what last year I sowed.
Now gnawing of seeds
bids me understand
that again time for planting
of mice is at hand.
So I lay out my traps,
with a morsel of cheese,
tomorrow I’ll plant them
below the snow-peas.
And I hope that this year
– a change would be nice –
I’ll harvest some peas
instead of just mice.

Things to plant in autumn in the southern tablelands: peas, broad beans, broccoli, spinach, mice. 

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two snapshots and three short films

I (1700 to 1730)
White lines flicker by like heartbeats
on a black macadam river.
Hills flow slowly by
beneath an indeterminate sky –
pastel-apricot blends imperceptibly to dove grey,
before the rising blue flood of night.

II (1800)
From the kitchen window the sky is a flower,
pansy-hued:
above the scalloped edge of the ridge
an inch of golden yellow ribbon
trims a blanket of purple velvet
specked with the first few stars.

III (1900)
Above the trees,
whose presence is implied
only by the stars that they hide,
Orion has tipped over sideways –
a fallen statue beside a milky stream.

IV (0530 to 0540)
Against a background of a billion bright dust-motes
a scrap of ice and stone,
heated to incandescence,
inscribe its path on the sky.
Blink and it’s gone, but another,
and another,
follows. Lower down,
four planets have lined up to point out
where the sun will later rise.

V (0640 to 0700)
Light comes before colour:
a white sky seen through a picket-fence of black tree trunks.
Then, a confusion of hues; yellows, greens,
and last night’s apricot now fully ripened.
Then the day washes downwards from the sky,
and the tree trunks are silver against blue.

 

Some explanation of IV: I got up at about 0530 this morning to look at the eta aquariid meteor shower. After trundling up the driveway and out the gate, and down the road a little and not seeing anything (other than the four planets currently in alignment) I decided “sod this, it’s too cold”. As I turned to go back up the hill I finally saw a meteor, so I lay down on the road for a bit and saw six in quick succession.  

And this is what I’ve started to think of a pansy coloured sky:

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SNR < 1 & F(net) = 0

For the dVerse quadrille prompt “static“. A quadrille has exactly 44 words, and must include the prompt word, in this case static, or some form of it.

Some nights, sleep rises like static,
drowning out the clamouring signals
that can’t be stilled –
those remains of the day
that we cling-wrap and freeze,
to (we intend) reheat tomorrow.
Better ignore them, until,
desiccated beyond recognition,
they can be quietly thrown away.

 

And a second quick one, because I teach statics and couldn’t resist:

Sum-over-F equals zero,
that’s all that you need to know.
But remember that F is a vector, okay,
so that zero’s in every which way.
And choose your coordinates wisely,
so your maths will come out more kindly.
And that’s statics in 44 words!

next, dynamics… but that needs more than 44 words. 

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