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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thursday Morning


Every morning, I say:

“Do you want some coffee

Blossom Throstle?”

And you say:

“That would be great”

Or, “Maybe”

Or, “I have to have a shower

Because I need to do my hair”

Or, “I‘ll just do my make-up”.

You like it strong with a dash of milk

I like buckets of Trim

But we both abjure sugar

As it is a modern-day excess.

After my heart has stopped

Palpitating, I settle

In my favourite green chair

And meditate.

I always look at the bank

Under the mustard-coloured house

And try to see how far

My planting is coming along.

On Thursdays, we take out the rubbish

In our green wheelie bins

Because the trucks might

Damage the road.

This morning, Joanne scurried out

Through the morning rain

With her bin and sprinted back -

More of a wet chook than a thrush.

And you are taking the boys

Early for road patrol

And then on to sort the clothes

With Justine for the School Fair.

Now the rain has died down

The birds are singing again.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Alma Mater - University House at the Australian National University in Canberra



The brightness startles when the blinds are drawn

And smacks across the window’s sleepy brow

As sunshine rages there against the lawn

And dawning makes a last flamboyant bow.


My entrance to the court unmasks delight:

The choisya is so very pure and white

Beset abuzz by jezebels and nymphs

That hover nectar-yielding labyrinths.


The pool is quiet where carp will bide the day

But then the birds alight - alert and keen:

The cockatoo sips morning mist away,

While come the tufted doves to coo and preen


And nesting mynas strut, weighing their searches,

As the chorus rises and then takes song

Amid the shrubs and the silver birches -

So swoops and chortles then the kurrawong.


And so by heaven, I thank the wakened sun

For this Canberra day that’s just begun.

Also a Poem that I wrote for Larry - the Golden Labradog of one of Canberra's premier Sybils


Fer ‘er sweet sake I’ve lain down on me trampoline:

No trees and posts an' all that sniffy game

Fer when a mutt ‘as come to know Maureen,

It ain’t the same.

There’s ‘igher things, she sez, fer dogs to do.

An’ I am ‘arf believin’ that it’s true.


[after C.J. Denis’ true blue Aussie poetry in The Sentimental Bloke (1919)]

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Keith Johnson's Australasian Bestiary - the Kaka and the Kuku [Kereru]


The kuku loves domestic bliss

The kaka likes life’s turns and twists


The kuku is at its best at home

The kaka though is prone to roam.


While kukus plump for picturesque

The kaka goes for picaresque


For the kuku absences are antithetic

Contrast the kaka - he’s peripatetic


Like Zorro the kaka wears a red bolero

Not so, the demure and retired kereru


The kuku is polite and workaholic

Where kakas are ever prone to frolic


At a party, you can guess who’s most shambolic

The kaka always gins without the tonic


The kuku rarely doffs its vest

While kakas often dance a wild burlesque


The kaka will raise the decibels with yakka

And soon he’ll ask his mates to haka


So all in all, the kuku’s just an early player

And it’s the kaka who’s the party-stayer


Birds of a different feather they may be.

“Have a drink! Which of them do you think is me?”


‘He kuku ki te kainga,

He kaka ki te haere.’


[“He is a wood-pigeon (kuku / kereru) when he's at home but a noisy parrot (kaka) when he's out and about.”]

Thursday, October 3, 2013

For Iris Wilkinson / 'Robin Hyde' [NZ Poet 1906 - 1939]



Orangi Kaupapa is cut into three strings.

The shortest – from Glenmore Avenue –

Is a ‘No Exit’.


The second is a perilous ride down

From a junction on Northland Road

‘One Way’ only.


The third is a stretch of real road

That rises towards Telegraph Hill

And the path through the pine trees.


I have conjectured that the name

Means ‘Steps to the Stars’

Or ‘An Audience with the Sky God’.


I may well be wrong.

Another interpretation is

Native Potato Gardens.


But the three snippets

Pretty well sum up

Much of life and its ups and downs.


‘Theirs the bickering lives,

Rough husbands, cotton aprons, draggled wives,

Children brief beanstalk flowers ...’


‘If I move down, I strike the starlight pitch

Of houses lapping in the molten drink

Of moon beams in their gutters run to loss’.


‘Meat and drink is the moon: but if I wait

Till dawn unveils the hills, I feast my eyes

On tossing gorse and broom ... and the windy skies’.


Iris, the girl who lived at 92 Northland Road

And who became ‘Robin Hyde’,

Lived a thing or two, learnt a thing or two.


How desperately sad to see her pictured

On the steps of her caravan ‘Little China’

In a bleak November in England in 1938.
She stands mid-steps, half-turning

Wearing a shapeless and hopelessly small

Quilted jacket closed with a large safety pin.


Outfitted by the Winter District Relief,

Her gaze is far-sighted in respite of the next attack,

Pain within and pain withal.


I know that feeling Iris:

‘Drawls the blue cart by the quarry:

The waggoner’s words melt into gloom’.


Would that I could have brought you home:

‘Where the hedgehogs run in the grass, with no more sound

Than will scare the sleeping skylarks, half awake them’.


So that you, back on the white seat half a mile from the top,

‘Could rest for a moment, lean over a cup of mist,

And the wrinkling harbour water curdled in moonlight.’