Dog’s Domain

The dog’s backyard is her domain,
a vital part of herself.
She polices it sniffing out
marauding cats and prowling hedgehogs.
The cats are routed
at high speed
with growls and loud barks.
She bites the curled up hedgehogs
then cries when their spikes
pierce her tongue.
Now she is led firmly inside
to have the spikes removed.

The luxuriant foliage
of the vegetable garden
is minutely nosed at row by row
for possible animal scents.
The gardener works under her surveillance,
pulled up weeds are all closely sniffed.

The sunny concrete path is a warming pad
for middle aged limbs and back,
the shady trees a summer refuge
for a panting matron in a fur coat,
the deck an airy resting place.

Her inspection of her domain complete,
the dog stretches out
dozing in the sun.

Dog’s Domain

The Mouse

Little brown mouse
on the driveway
very still
mouth open
feet curled close
pink tail out behind.

Schoolbag by the steps.
Sad little figure
in young Chloe’s hand
crossing the lawn.
Buried in lush greenery
of wandering jew
under the corner trees.

“Come on !” called Mummy.
“It’s nearly time for the bell !”
“I’m keeping the mouse
safe from the cat !”
answered Chloe.
Too late to save the mouse
but no time to argue.

With Chloe buckled up
in the car beside her bag
they reach school before the bell,
wash hands after the bell.

Now on to kindergarten
with Claire.


The Mouse

Ice Cream

Ah !  the joys of the ice cream freezer !
A reward for that trolley full of
boring vital groceries.

Tiramisu ?  Maple and Walnut ?
both sweet and rich
but not sickly sweet.
A deep dark sweetness
in Tiramisu’s coffee and cocoa,
a dark burnt sweetness
in the maple syrup.

Do I want
the chocolate and coffee ?
Or the burnt maple ?
What will I want tonight ?

I make my choice,
take it home
with the other groceries.

After dinner , with dishes done,
I can relax with my maple and walnut ice cream
after anticipating it
all afternoon.
Maple and walnut is my mood.

Opening my freezer
I find … Tiramisu !
Mental adjustment needed !
Budget constraints
require that I eat it
before I buy
more ice cream.

Hmmmmm  …….

Ice Cream

Election Trucks

The candidates’ little trucks are
rigged with canopies and loud speakers,
with flashing neon Korean slogans.

Cramped under truck canopies
go-go girls in skimpy uniforms
dance in unison
to strident election jingles.

As late night shoppers swarm at
busy intersections waiting for
the pedestrians’ buzzers.
these jangling singing dancing trucks
hurtle along under brilliant street lights.

They careen uphill and down
through residential streets
past apartment blocks,
blasting forth their cartoon rhymes
that deafen late night neighbourhoods.

These local politics commercials
pound our ears
with their metallic uproar
concussing our brains.

How will the voters
disentangle the raucous strands
from the city air
to choose their candidates ?

Election Trucks

The Temple

The temple’s stone stele
carries Buddha’s tall legend
in black Korean characters.

Bright rows of paper lanterns
line tiered balustrades
on all sides of the temple.

Red, pink, orange azaleas
blaze colour down
the temple’s rocky bank.

Water bubbles from a bamboo stem
down a little bamboo trough
into a tiny pond.

Tall pictures of Buddha’s life
emblazon the end walls
of his newly built house.

Lines of forested hills
stretch up beyond the tiled roof
of the painted wooden temple.

The temple crowns
its suburban streets
running down to the harbour.

The Temple

Drum Roll

The giant drum head
stands tall in the vast chamber
in the heart of the temple.
Grey robed priests
chant to Buddha
on his May Day birthday.

The senior priest
grasps the mighty beater
with outstretched arms.
In graceful dance
he sweeps it around
the vast drum skin
in swinging arcs
raising and lowering notes
to sound out their hymn
to Buddha on his birthday.

The sea of cross legged worshippers
on their tiny cushions
fill the vast room
around the drum,
silent, still,
in contemplative state
absorbing the rhythms
of the song to Buddha
on his birthday.

The priest sweeps
the beater around the drum head
in the final coda.
He mops his bald head.
The worshippers come out of
their collective trance,
applaud the man
who caused the drum
to sing to Buddha
on his birthday.

Drum Roll

Shallow Pools

Three fish
backs leaden grey;
faces, bellies dead white,
fish eyes bulging sideways:
three fish flop their tails
in the bowl’s clear water
frothing from a plastic hose.

Four red bowls
encase fishy prisoners.
Eels weave through each other
around their bowl.
One huge octopus cramps
in his bowl while tiny octopi
in their bowl
tangle suckered tentacles.

In smaller bowls cluster baby clams,
crammed crabs writhe entwined legs.
Ragged edged slugs
lie rock still, submerged.

Sea shore dwellers lie trapped
in these bowls
on Korean city streets,
sold to city workers
who no longer gather
their dinner where
the sea laps at
pools it gouged
from ancient rocks.

Shallow Pools

The Street Seller

She squats on the pavement,
her back against
the bank’s glass front,
a few bowls of vegetables
around her
on the footpath.

Crowds throng past her
and the other
stoic street sellers
scattered along the footpath
in front of modern
plate glassed windows.

The street seller
stares at the feet passing her by,
rousing herself when
a walker stops
beside her wares.

Now she is motionless again,
her eyes black agates
in dark pockets
in a weatherbeaten face
framed by limp hair.


The Street Seller

The Rubbish Collector

On a dark silent Korean city street,
empty of people, cars and buses
an old woman slowly drags her sack.
Her almond eyes are dark as stones
sitting deep in her papery face
above high cheekbones.
She dare not broadcast her age
so dyes her hair black.
She spikes empty wrappers, drink cans,
hamburger boxes with her stick,
emptying it into her sack.

National law retired her at sixty
from the department store.
Her children work in department stores
to raise their own children.
City footpaths are daily crowded
with the stalls of the elderly
hawking fish, fruit, vegetables
t-shirts, bags, and shorts.

This old woman
earns her living
spiking rubbish
on silent streets
at 3 am.

The Rubbish Collector

Cathedral Square

A documentary on the fourth anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011, at 12.51 pm local time.

Cathedral Square.
The city business district.
Crowds flowing out of buildings
from crashing masonry
into the centre of the square,
injured and bloody,
talking and crying,
supporting each other.

No traffic,
roads are buckled, sunken, cracked.
No police of ambulances,
phone systems not working.
Giant jagged slabs of masonry
crash down from buildings,
from the cathedral in clouds of dust,
deafening, shattering.
The cathedral’s stone steeple
slams to the ground
rocking the square yet again.

No one comes to aid
the wounded on the square.
Their cries and groans go
unheeded while they huddle
in the centre away from
the heaving earth’s demolition.

* Much of the footage in the documentary was shot by two young staff from the local regional TV office. They happened to have stayed back during the lunch break so acted on their own initiative and went out with a camera a recorder. 

Cathedral Square