Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Millet Cutters.

First light streaks pastel pink.
Mist floats on the river.
Cattle stand quietly
under bamboo clumps.
A willy wagtail flicks and fidgets
on a strand of barbed-wire.
Millet grows in neat rows,
tall and straight, ready for harvest.
Five men gather around their utes,
cane cutters in the off-season.

Laughter. Hard men,
status wrought from endurance.
In the early light we move 
backwards through the rows,
then the glint of sharp knives,
chug of tractor, the trailer filling,
sweat, heat, smoko, hot black tea,
colour in the western sky,
and the tired, slow walk at day’s end.

Those men are long gone.
Time took their bodies
and machines their work,
but I see the fields in harvest,
the quiet men gathered
at the long day’s end,
Bull Williams, needing to be fastest,
Carusi with his broken English
dreaming of his own farm
and gentle, generous Mike,
who’d fought at Milne Bay,
now backlit by the fading light
as he moves through the rows
with long, easy strides
towards his waiting ute.

First published at Silver Birch Press.

Sunday, 14 May 2017



(For my sister, Jean)

             First published at Peacock Journal.

I think of you, Leah,
your young self standing 
against tempests in calm control,
your artist eye filled with dreams
of children in golden forests,
sun dance of poppies,
moon floating high
into the velvet night,
foam ripple of waves 
washing white sand.

I think of you, Leah,
leaf-fragile, partial, secretive,
how you inch in your walker, 
flop in front of the screen’s 
mind-numbing monotony,
dream of painting again,
linger over photographs,
shuffle the years 
and that deceiver, memory,
into forms that make you happy.

Leah, is it comfort
that the gathering tide 
flowed over you, swept you 
out into the deep calm 
where the great swells gather,
far beyond the tears of the living
trapped in this tumult,
this ebb and flow of waves 
that pound upon the sand
and suck back relentlessly
into the ceaseless sea?



places diamonds in the blue-black sky,
clothes the horizon in orange glow,
the sea in silver shimmer
and the distant clouds in purple gown.

Even the houses on the low hills
transform into sparkles of coloured light
and all the land’s imperfections, pock marks and wrinkles
brush clean away by her gentle touch.

First published at Peacock Journal.


She kneels 
amongst the strawberries,
sunshine in her hair.

“I can do it Pa.”
Her little hand takes the plant
and parts the rich earth.

She snuggles in close.
Her arms encircle my neck.
I feel her eyes shine.

Ten thousand thousand
small, miraculous moments 
fill my heart with joy.

First published at Peacock Journal

At Piano

She keeps her sadness hidden,
eyes clear and direct,
mouth curved in a gentle smile,

but when her hands touch the keys,
a new richness seeps 
through her fingers, hangs 

for a trembling moment
in the expectant air,
then disperses into our changed minds.

First published at Peacock Journal.