POEM: Remember to Breathe


Of course all the traffic lights were red, even the pedestrian
ones as my fingers drum the steering wheel in
rhythm to that urgent voice that urged
me into this rabbit hole of gridlock. I
can’t answer my mobile but know
it would be that same voice
again. Didn’t it get traffic?
Finally I exit into the
car park, swing into
a space, run four
flights two stairs
at a time, spurred
on by nurses
eye contact

still breathing,
watching the breeze
ruffle the leaves on the cedar tree
confident I wouldn’t let you do this alone.

POEMS: tea in the garden and you know how dogs


tea in the garden

the afternoon tipped
over the rim of her cup
and spilt into her lap
splintered light leapt
at her naked eyes

I thought you knew
said her guest

the scalding spread
indelibly across her thighs


you know how dogs

get those puzzled
prick-eared frowns
from the top of their heads
to their muzzles

and how those same frowns
can curl up their lips
and run down their backs
like hackles

POEM: One Man’s Junk


Referring to my barn-cum-office on auction day
the agent whispers, Have you anything of value there?
after he directs a slovenly man to where
what I cherish waits, inky hours flanked by books.
Only to me, I reply, my intended rueful tone
somehow sounding rather pitiful, a groan,
the creak of an old boat slipping its moorings.
Strangers, smirking locals, peer into nooks,
taking selfies before coloured glass, yakking on phones.
The agent has seen my collected belongings;
my boys’ blue-tacked art, loosened now, framed prints,
among them, a $10 flea-market Raymond Wintz,
sentimental scene typical of both artist and me.
He knows, shrewd witness to clients’ collected longing.

POEM: You know it’s Christmas


You know it’s Christmas when Dad buys watermelon,
when the south-easter blows
and there’s no parking at the beach
and sand’s in your teeth and in your ears —
sand is everywhere.

You know it’s Christmas when Granny boils tickeys
for the Christmas pudding
when the tomatoes cost ten times what they cost in November
and all the avocados are sold
and the Woolies queue stretches around past the frozen chickens.

You know it’s Christmas when Boney M plays incessantly
in every shop and on all the radio stations
and Gran is making pickled fish
because the yellowtail are running
and the trekkers are pulling them in on the beach.

You know it’s Christmas when the baboons raid the fig tree
and you have to quickly pick the green ones
to make fig preserve
and the white butterflies come
and Christmas beetles fly into your ear at Carols by Candlelight.

You know it’s Christmas when the brass band and singers stroll
up the street and stand outside your house until you give them money
when it rains softly just because it’s Christmas Day
and then the sun comes out and you can go to the beach
and play on the lilos and body boards you got as presents.

You know it’s Christmas when you can smell the rubber of a new doll
or when you smile at the mother-in-law through clenched teeth
because she gave you tiny purple bunches of grapes as earrings
and you know the shirts she gave her son
he won’t wear
but at least the kids like their new clothes.