Sunday, 21 September 2008

On My Mind

stone and sky

Wood, stone,
sky, sand,
what you are telling
without words,
resists trust in time,
a soundless
story. The sea
mouths and foams
your grapple with rust
and air.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Gangles and Grackles

Here is my adapted version of the collaborative poem group's first chain poem. I have severely mangled it and I hope I will be forgiven - but it was so much fun!

Gangling Grackles

We thought it a sign, the sudden shattering
of the sky, the screaming prophets
picking at lint balls in their pockets.
We thought it a sign, the flying
out of orbit of the world; but
what to make of the becalmed cup of coffee
or the street’s slow traffic gangling past doors
bolted against crows? What to make of grackles
who pitch a black sea of tails to flicker
across our lawns? Ah, any old crone could tell us
it’s not the sky we should fear but our own
unwilling witness of this unstable moment.

(Please go to above link to view the poem in its original form, and who the contributors are.)

Monday, 15 September 2008

It's Your Cousin!

Firefox, Safari ... both aren't delivering. It seems that I have to read my posts (and latest blogroll posts) from the edit page because when I go to the main page it is days behind - including the posts on blogs I like to follow on my blogroll ... it's all beyond me ... and because I don't live in San Francisco, I can't pop in to see them at Blogger / Google for the cup of coffee they invite you to (on Blogger Dashboard) or complain in person.

Last night I went to see Cats with my daughter in law. We sat upstairs and near the back, so got a good overall, aerial view; but then it was hard to see the faces and close-up of make-up and costumes. But ah-ha! Canny me did think beforehand to take binoculars. This meant that we could every so often sneak a close-up peek. That was fun. Especially as a daughter of a friend of mine was in the production (she was Etcetera) and I could get a good look at her performance. I can confirm that she remained in character even when she was in semi-darkness, reclining very cat-like on the stairs. It was a brilliant production by the local Operatic Society. I give it a ten out of ten.
However any feelings of being a clever person for thinking of taking binoculars disappeared when at interval, a smiley, friendly woman approached me as if she knew me ... I was frantically running through my mind who on earth she could be. She realised my mystification and told me her name. Still I couldn't think who she was. And then she said, "Your cousin!" in an astonished tone. (And it wasn't a case of long-lost cousin either - I'd only just seen her a couple of months ago.) I was so embarrassed at myself. Of course it was her! It was like not recognising one of my children (which I have to say I have been known to do when they have appeared before me in town or somewhere I haven't expected to see them. I've been known to look at them with a stupid, who are you? look on my face for a few seconds. Duh! It's only one of your own!) Is this some kind of condition? Does this happen to anyone else? I'd appreciate some feedback. Absent-minded is probably the old-fashioned explanation. I hope my cousin understood and made allowances. (She probably did, after all she has known me all my life and I have a reputation for ... how shall I put this ... being slightly ditzy?!)

A lovely, mild Spring day. I spent a pleasant hour up the back of our garden with the sparrows, reading. Our garden (what there is of it) has an unshaven look about it; but who's looking at weeds today?

Not while I have my nose stuck in a Joyce Carol Oates' book, 'Un-censored - Views and (Re)Views.'

 An intelligent, insightful overview of some well-known books and writers. I have added a lot of books to my mental 'Books To Read' list. As one of the reviewer-blurbs on the back said, the book leaves the reader with the 'desire to read all the books mentioned.' I found the section on short stories especially inspiring.  And there's a great chapter on Anne Tyler, who is one of my favourite writers.

I've run out of time. Sunday night has long ago merged into Monday morning, so next post I am going to attempt to address a Collective Poem written by some of us over at the Poetry Collaborative.... watch this space and go 
here for original version.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Grumpy With Blogger

I am a little grumpy with blogger cos every time I go to my blog, it doesn't show my last two posts. Grrr. (And of course I have no idea if anyone else can see them either.) Grrr. I am in the preliminary stages of switching to Word Press.  Will post the link there once I have it all set up.

(Later) I see that it is all okay now. Plus my blogroll is showing the latest posts from everyone again. But I am pressing (heh, heh) on with the Word Press idea anyway ... For now tho' I remain with Blogger.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Father's Day

Our family on holiday in 1966. I am on the far right.

I took this photo - same holiday; 1966. Taken on the Capburn Bridge - now part of the Rail Trail.

My father, about three years before he died.

My father died in 1968 when I was fifteen years old. Any photos of him which we've got - and they are very few in number - are in black and white. It wasn't until after he died that colour photos came into vogue.
When he died he left a family of seven children ranging in age from fifteen to five. Somehow Mum held us together and continued to bring us all up. We had to move to the town of Gore from the farm where we were the 'Married Couple (meaning that Dad worked for the owner of the farm and we lived in the farm cottage.)
He died suddenly one Sunday morning during Labour Weekend, at a Catholic church he somehow made it to, driving to get there whilst feeling dreadfully ill. Typically for our dedicated Catholic father, getting to Mass every Sunday was a priority, and as it turned out on Sunday, 27th October, 1968, literally became a matter of life and death. Only three of us kids were with him at the time. I was staying with a friend for the weekend and three of the others were feeling sick that morning. Mum, being Presbyterian, never came to Mass with us anyway.
Dad must've thought he had the flu too. But he didn't. As it turned out, he was suffering from a coronary thrombosis. He sent my two sisters and brother into the church, telling them he'd be there shortly. But he never made it.
It was farther complicated by the fact that the church they were attending wasn't a familiar one. They were staying in Riverton with Mum's sister for the long weekend, and the nearest church with a ten o'clock Mass that Sunday happened to be twenty miles away in Otautau. Eventually the priest wondered why these three unknown children who'd mysteriously turned up for Mass without a parent, were now still waiting alone in a car outside. When they explained that they didn't know where their father was, he went searching and found him collapsed on the floor of the church's small, wooden outhouse.
If Dad was alive today he would've turned eighty-eight last Friday. Most of his children are now older than he was when he died. I doubt anyone recovers from the death of a parent when you (and they) are young. Even after forty years, the grief remains.
He was a lovely man; a shy, down to earth farmer with the understated sense of humour of someone with a celtic nature. He disliked school (he left when he was twelve) towns and anyone who put on airs and graces. He loved the outdoors, reading, country and western music, dogs and horses. He was an affectionate, family man - whenever he sat down, it seemed it wasn't long before one of his kids would clamber up on to his lap.
An enduring grief is a lingering shadow that nags at your heels. Every so often I try to kick it away, but with little success. And then there are the dreams of the one who has died returning as a pale, remote imitation of themselves. How do you deal with that one? This is what I have tried to describe in this poem I wrote three years ago.

after thirty-seven years

How you’d have hated it, being that weak ghost
I dream of, the insubstantial father

too self-centred and ill to engage.
You’d prefer to be a dead hero,

the Larado cowboy of your songs, cold
as clay and long-lamented. And you have been.

Time now to address that dreamed imposter,
instruct it to remain under its weathered headstone,

or in its own paradise of green hill and stream
alone with its feeble heart and bloodless wounds.

For that pale invalid is not the real you.
You are ancestral-strong, beyond sight and sound, yet

not unwitnessed. You are the grin I hear in the corner
of my eye.

Kay McKenzie Cooke

A Little Grumpy

Today a cold wind, but lots of sun. I'm ambivalent about spring ... reluctant to let go of winter's soupy, fireside, woollen hatted and booted cosiness, and the handy excuse it gives me to hibernate. I should've been a bear or a hedgehog. Or a squirrel. At the moment I am blinking in the light and maybe even a little grumpy. I look around and see weeds, dirty windowpanes, dust balls and a freezer with ice three inches thick.

Aggie happy to uncurl.

Kowhai happy to unfurl.

Matchsticks happy to untwirl. 


Monday, 1 September 2008

Bottled Up

Just to prove that Spring has arrived, here are some photos I took on Sunday. I met a friend for coffee at the Customhouse Quay cafe, where the harbour is visible from the windows. Dunedin has at long last decided to do something about its asset of harbourside views, and is slowly converting the industrial nature of this area into a more attractive place for visitors and citizens alike. Pity that it is always so windy. However, nothing that a little clear weaterproof-plastic, or indeed glass, won't fix.

Below is the view on Sunday morning from my office window. The morning was little misty, but calm and warm, and soon the sun burnt off this fine veilt of mist to reveal the day's inner workings.

R and I sat outside and ate bacon and egg for brunch. This was our view - steady old Mount Cargill in the background.

On the way back from having a coffee with my friend, I walked along Portsmoiuth Drive. This shag (cormorant) may have been feeling a little crook, he or she didn't seem to want to move. After working as a guide out at the Albatross Colony for the summer, where there are also colonies of Stewart Island, among other varieties, of shag, I should be able to identify this one's type, age and gender ... but alas, I have forgotten much. 

Doves and pigeons were settled in a sunny nook on this rock face. In the past, this was a quarry, now it's just a danger to passersby because of falling rocks. I never know what one is meant to do about 'Beware of Falling Rocks' signs - go past faster, or slower?

Any spring winds are greeted with exuberance by wind-gliders  - or whatever they are called.


One day I am going to organise something for this fantastic idea - go here to see what Dana and Dave have manufactured, conjured and whipped-up in a trice. Poetry on a postcard is the idea. And when they get enough poems on postcards, they want to display them in cafes and such-like. Yes, let's do it!
However and but. What I need in order to complete such creative wonders is: time. Ah. Time. As John Rowles (though for Americans I believe it was Gene Pitney) sang back in the early seventies - or was it the late sixties? Whenever it was, it was back in the mists of time - Ha! - 'If I only had time. Time, like the wind, goes a-hurrying by, and the hours just fly. Where to begin, there are mountains to climb if I had time. Dreams to pursue if I only had time, only time. So much to do if I only had time ...'  (This song my research tells me, was originally written by a Frenchman. Ah! Oui. The French understand. )

And lying awake in the early hours hearing great Aunty Phyllis' doleful clock chime once for 12.30 p.m, once for 1.00 a.m and once again for 1.30 a.m is like hearing time trudging off the cold, dark ledges of the night into some abyss to lie lost, silent and alone. 

Maybe I can write a postcard poem about it. One day. When I have time.

One of my favourite singers is Jim Croce. His song, 'Time in a Bottle' is one of R and my favourite songs.  Every year R's work has a thing called Secret Friend Week where for a week they get anonymous presents. (Aww - 'nt that noice?)
To help each other out, everyone writes down some hints for the Secret Friend - such as 'I like chocolate'.  
R wrote that he would really like some 'time in a bottle'. His secret friend was a creative sort and each day R received a version of time - from an hourglass on Monday, to a Time-Out chocolate bar on Thursday; until on the Friday, the coup de grace -  a bottle with some time in it.

(He never found out who the person was, but the Time in A Bottle is now a prized possession.)


Clocking Out

 I have been neglecting this blog for some months. I think perhaps I should face facts and accept that it is indeed time to retire this blog...