love

Nightbird

 

a nightbird calls outside my window

I am sick, so sick in the dark

it’s 4.24 on the morning of your funeral

life makes no sense, there is only love

 

you talk to everyone at the party

buy them gifts, exchange views

share laughs, drinks, stories

my only conversation is with you

 

grab my phone to check messages

that remain forever unread

missed your call, I miss you: indelible

a nightbird’s sick joke you’re dead

 

Photo: Sierra Narvaeth on Unsplash

 

 

Onions & Garlic

 

would it be weird to say

we were all in love with each other

a little bit?

the best friendships

pan out that way

I don’t know sometimes

the difference

between a kiss and a good conversation

when I remember how

she held me close

and put her lips on mine

and the way she writes

as faithfully as the moon

I can get melancholy

on Sunday afternoons

holding memories

listening to Nick Drake

or Cave

ignoring the kids

cooking onions

with love pulsing through my life

beat, beat, beat

in time

and what about that day

you made aglio e olio?

we were all so careful

with each other

so quiet

our eyes, cautious

your bathroom’s cold green tiles

because we wouldn’t

acknowledge

who’d slept with who

the night before

 

Photo: mayu ken on Unsplash

 

A dear friend passed away this week. He made chopping onions and garlic a work of art. He was also someone who read and took time to comment on this blog occasionally; as a fellow writer, he understood how wonderful it is to get that kind of validation! This poem was inspired, in part, by our friendship, as well as referencing various other treasured friends. It reminds me that it’s always worth taking a moment to appreciate the love that beats through your life. RIP JAn, my world is poorer without you but richer for having known you. x

Unfinished

I’m hoarding hairdye

don’t trust the supply chain

waiting to be

renewed again

it’s on the to-do list

but never

gets

done

 

I think, think, think, think

I can think my way out

of this

I’m wrong

but who’s to say

if the error is me

or the other

one?

 

I use you like an addict

taste it

all the next day

and unfinished sentences

don’t make

you safe, no

not on this

run

 

 

Photo: Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

Lost times

windchimes and fingernails

I miss you

do you know?

the pain

of never-enough

and not-the-right-time

a hole

old and bitter

defeat

must be brave

afraid, what sits

on the other side,

lying and lies

lost moments

and cry

over far-away fingernails

and the corner

of your eye

 

 

Photo: Claire Doble

Oh my word, GloPoWriMo  – global poetry month – starts today! I checked the website yesterday and it’s a miraculous Covid-free zone. WTAF? Awesome. Not sure I’ll manage a daily poem this April but I’ll definitely do a few!

Liquid love

 

If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door

life flowing cleargreenblue at the bottom of oyster-encrusted steps

clean water, the salt tang, the ripple against stone, how the light strikes

a big sky over a railroad track and the way beer disappears with the sunset

aching sweet, being drunk feels like love

we twist our affections around a glass and tip whiskey in the crevices love has eroded and cut

sluicing the jagged bits, juicing over hurt

the intense blue sky, blue like plastic, a blue dome, a blue tarpaulin from the 80s, blue like sky, a perfect cloudbroken blue over a back lane in Adelaide

ground tinted rust-red from bore water, the world’s blood and corrugated iron in the sun smells like dirt

your eyes like a tannin creek, running smooth and alive with the promise

if I pour myself full of wine from the grapes of the sky, salted from the sea, grown against wire fences in a red-brown earth

if I lie down with you and join our mouths our rivers our waves

will I be granted love

or does it just feel that way

 

I took the first line of this from Women Who Run With The Wolves by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

Photo: Claire Doble

Anima / Animus

 

what could have been

an invisible line

between our eyes

never enough time

 

no private spaces

or empty lands

our dance in plain view

never touch hands

 

in our minds

that curl of yearning,

keening, never knowing

what were we learning?

 

I’m late today with posting. I wrote it this morning but forgot my notebook and it’s been such a busy day. Argh. This is not good, feel like I’m falling behind already!!  The prompt was: to write a poem that resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Boy blue

 

Like a triangle of stained glass

No, a diamond in blue

curl of censer smoke

caresses air bubbles

joyful

trapped in stasis

imperfections to some

perspective

looking through the lens

tears and beer froth

framed in lines of black

lions and jackals claw

endlessly

don’t trouble

a split of smile

twist of glee, the cackle

and the pain of it all

days many and so few

deep into something new

remember? I remember you

my little boy blue

 

 

Photo: Yu Siang Teo on Unsplash

 

 

Bye Bye Baby

I don’t want another child. I was never especially maternal. So I never thought I’d be someone to mourn the passing of the “baby years”. I used to read stories of women’s sadness at saying goodbye to this time with, if not scorn, then at least bemusement. But you had those years with them, what gives? But now, I’m here.

My youngest child turned three near the start of this year, next August, he’ll start school. I went back to an office job at the beginning of June. It’s a seismic shift in my life, after 4.5 years of being a freelancer and stay-at-home-parent.

This week it’s been hitting me: the baby years are gone.

I thought I’d be pleased, entirely. I have tried to enjoy each step of my two children’s development and I’ve always relished the next stage, skipping ahead, looking forward without regrets. I don’t want to hold them back, or fix them in time. I love seeing them grow and become more independent. I see my biggest success as a parent displayed in their increasing ability to do without me.

And yet, and yet…

I find myself tearing up with regrets. Yes! Me! Maybe it’s a natural backlash to major change to glance back over one’s shoulder as your train leaves the station, wondering if you should have stayed one more hour, one more day.

A passage in a novel described a new mother “kissing every inch of her baby’s body” and had me welling up in tears. Did I ever do that? Did I stop, and take the time to explore his skin, lip-print by lip-print until I’d covered it with an invisible velvet of love? It wasn’t the author’s intention (I suppose) but, like all the bestworst parenting articles I read, it had me questioning myself.

Because maybe… I just got through? Maybe I didn’t stop and simply exist in love. Maybe I didn’t even feel that perfect, gentlefierce babylove they describe in stories. I am not doing mum-guilt here. I honestly do not remember.

I do remember feeling anxious, feeling the need to get things done. Being miffed by the books that said “leave the housework!” because, what is worse than sitting, pinned to the couch by breastfeeding and contemplating a huge, dusty mess? Ugh. I got things done, I met my friends, I did the grocery shopping, I went for long walks listening to music and exploring the suburb while the baby slept. I walked an hour a day, easily. I read books and newspapers. I produced a 48-page quarterly magazine for the local NCT branch. I cooked food and kept the baby fed. I went to the pub occasionally. I organised minor repairs and renovations on the house. I went to the park, to baby swimming, to coffee dates and tea with mates. Did I ever just kick back though, suffused with joy in my small perfect creation? I don’t know.

Probably I did? And maybe I still do. We’re all attempting to be more mindful these days after all.

Perhaps it’s that the moments of quiet joy are just that – so quiet and humble and unmemorable. You can’t recall them, much less write a whole 750-word column about them, unless you’re really smug?

In another novel, the mother regards her newborn as “the most perfect thing she’s ever seen”. OK it’s another one of those clichés, but I don’t know if I ever felt this either. Others must feel it, I believe that. Was I too busy, too sensible, too practical, too nervy to have allowed myself to feel that pure love and contentment? Did I have postnatal anxiety? I do remember describing that first year of maternity leave in London as “the best year of my life” and it was. I went back to work, eventually moved countries and had another baby, then spent another busy “maternity year” and beyond. In many ways, things have just got better and better.

But I can’t remember. Maybe it doesn’t matter. But now, I never will know for sure…

So I’m mourning a little. And it’s somewhat unexpected. Goodbye baby years and all your chaotic, scary, busy intenseness and boredom that means I can almost only remember rushing about and enjoying myself, sometimes frustrated and upset, other times happy and occupied but almost always with something-to-do rather than sitting in a post-natal haze of rosegold glow. Ahh, maybe that’s just my own version of it.

Whatever it is, or was, I find myself surprisingly sad to say farewell to that bright pocket of time as my life moves, ever swiftly, onwards.

Astro Boy

There’s this episode of Astro Boy that I always remember. There’s an older boy, Matthew Tennyson, who Astro admires because he’s training to become a space pilot and will be made a captain when he turns 18 in a few days. However, on his birthday, it turns out that Matthew is actually also a robot. Unlike Astro Boy’s parents, the boy’s father had just ‘upgraded’ his body once a month so it looked like he was growing. The boy – now Captain Tennyson – is devastated to find he’s not a real human.

“I’m just a mechanical doll!”

Captain Matthew Tennyson

He’s also worried that his Captainship will now be in question, since his crew are all humans. It was, naturally, up to Astro to show him that being a robot was actually pretty cool.

For some reason, that horrible moment of disconnect: realising you are not, in fact, what or who you always believed, really resonated with me. I remember it very clearly. The tall, dark and handsome Cap’n Tennyson looking beseechingly into the huge Japaname child-eyes of Astro for help, guidance and the reassurance that he, too could be loved, even if he was not the person he always thought himself to be.

I guess it’s a good analogy for growing up. Or any sort of major change.

I also remember the scene showing the discarded, last-month’s robot body of the ‘growing boy’ being dispatched into space, spinning off, lifeless, into infinity. Quite a visceral image of how we must, perhaps, literally shuck off our former selves in order to grow and change. But then we often get stung by imposter syndrome!

I just re-watched the episode and it was mostly as I remember. The ‘older boy’ was actually 20 was already a captain. He discovered his robot nature when he spied his beloved father sneaking the ‘corpse’ of his former self into the space-waste chute. Once everything had been worked out, there was also a touching moment when the father (wonderfully named Eldritch Tennyson) explained he only did it because he so wanted a child but couldn’t have one any other way, and how much he loved his son no matter whether he was human or not (understandably this resonated more with me now as a parent, than it probably did when I first saw the episode aged 8!)

“Keeping a secret like this is too hard on an old man like me.” –Eldritch Tennyson.

What’s the take home? I guess it pays to remember that, as we move, change, grow, and maybe look back at the corpses of our former selves floating, discarded through space, we nonetheless retain in our core the bits that are worthy of love and deserving of respect. And, hopefully, we will also make friends with pointy-haired robot superheroes along the way!
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Pics: http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/tv-shows/Astro-Boy-1986/

Watch the episode “Outer Spaceport” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5eQ-TuVFFQ

atmosphere

 

between the top of clouds and

the lid of the sky

sunlight breathes shallow and sits

in thin air

her warm fingers edged with

cold wind

the weight of majestic rays

higher than mountains, above fields

alone, over hidden cities of busy lives,

the mess and rush of love and hate, real life

up here

not really anywhere,

significant

temporary

ripped only by metal wings or feathered flight

mostly, a lonely nowhere

except

hovering in that secret blue place

I ache and stretch tendrils of tenderness,

could I reach?

everywhere

my yearning

feels like atmosphere

 

 

 

The inspiration for this came in part from a poem by Frank Hubeny which conjured the idea of the sun above the clouds having its own little game up there.

I sat on this for a month because I was planning to submit it to a journal callout for ‘immigrant poems’ — it speaks to my experience as an expat/person out of place/away from home. But then I got busy and missed the deadline, oops. 

Photo: Idella Maeland on Unsplash