Losing things becomes more dangerous the older we get
Because others assume our decline into oblivion
Starts now,
So we search alone.

Searching is frightening because it is  time-travel, backwards,
Remembering  what we were thinking and who we were
Back then
When we lost the thing.

We lose things because we have things to lose.
Our temper, rings, hair, family keepsakes,
High hopes
And our dignity.

Sometimes we find something we weren’t looking for –
Coins in a pocket,  faith, love,
Our minds,
An old friend in need.

Today I will pre-empt loss by discarding everything,
Then I will stand on the lawn and watch  dandelions
Let go
All their sky-bound  seeds.


Wasteful Citrus

In June it is not only the last leaves that fall.
Everywhere in every garden grapefruit, oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes,
Hang on thin stalks, dangling memories of summer sun,
And we are ungrateful.

They thud on the shed roof, roll in the sagging gutter,
Plash to the lawns, the berms, the courtyards, the decks, the pavements,
Their generosity too profuse, too prolific,
And we are ungrateful.

Six perfect mandarins, at the supermarket, in a plastic box,
Each one with a label to make it real.
The fruit is dry in the centre,
Segment divisions like furry polar fleece.
We say you can’t get good oranges these days,
And we are ungrateful.


Walking in Beauty

When I strut Auckland’s ridges,
Treading its burnt bones
I’m like a tall lady in a crinoline.

I can’t stop my hands from fluttering,
Smoothing down the sloping  silk,
As I admire the streets and trees swirling from me
On the Glenfield, Parnell or Ponsonby ridge lines.

Best of all, I circle  the top of  Mt Eden’s crater
With all Maungawhau  tumbling from my waist band.

Mt Eden

Anzac Bugle

With two rising fifths the bugler
Breathes life into the Last Post
And we, eyes down, toes clawed
In best shoes, in the cold dawn,
Remember what we never knew:
A struggle for breath, maybe the last breath.

Afterwards, we wait for the car to warm up
And clear the windscreen tears.
We stare at the tiny bugle icon
On our steering wheel. “Hey…Why…?”
‘Didn’t you know,” the youngest groans.
It stands for ‘horn.”
We must remember something new.


Two Small Child Poems

Transformed by What He Digests

They are doing monarch butterflies at school.
The caterpillars rear, swivel and stretch,
Turning their leaf pages slowly.

After school, on the couch the boy lies long,
Black shorts and black and white top,
A big illustrated book wide open in front of him.

He has emerged from the classroom chrysalis
And morphed into a bookerfly.

Night Light

I lift his tense body, making sure
The special blanket is wrapped round him
And not caught in the ruck of bedding.

I stagger to the couch in the bay window
Half of which is bathed in street lamp light,
A soft white on the tired grey upholstery.

4 am. Quiet. No cars on the road.
I massage his plump feet and sing the cramp away.
4.15. Still no cars. Not one.

“Is that better now?” I ask my grandson.
“Sing more songs,” he smiles, eyes shut.
And I do.


The Hut

The hut was made by a child
Who wove storm-broken branches,
And made an open-fronted, one room shelter,
A place safe from which to watch out
And to guard her back.

A place with no shower, mail or electricity,
A place to be animal again, ruled by the here and now,
To feel individual hairs prick the back of her neck,
A place to crouch.

In her life she will cross many thresholds,
Reach out to many coffee tables,
Slouch on many couches,
But nowhere will she have everything she needs
Except in her forest hut.

Kawau hut


Thinning carrots

“We do this,” I told him, “to give the bigger ones
More space to grow even stronger.”
“They are the warrior carrots of space,” he said.

We pulled the smaller ones straight upwards,
Feeling their desperate resistance.
There they were, thin as Tane’s little finger.

A foot long, some of them, they glowed gold
In the slow burning air. “We’ve found it,”
He said. “Tutankhamen’s treasure.”

Had we outwitted the natural cycles
Of give and take, build and break,
And out of chaos pulled perfection?

“Are these what they call baby carrots?”
I nodded. “Just right for your school lunch.”
I don’t eat babies. So there. ”

He turned the longest one upside down.
A rocket, with green frond flames flowing behind.
“This one is going to the Moon.”

T carrot 1T carrot 2