Winter Morning

From softly brushed
dabs of grey and white
tinting the sky;
from soft water colours
stippling the northern
horizon in dove greys;
from darker purple grey
on the southern horizon
draping its hills with
wisps of cobweb mist;

a dull luminosity spills
over green playing fields
and car parks edged by
stark willows shedding
their last leaves on to
the puddles. Blackbirds,
thrushes call out their
territorial cries in
piercing shrilling voices
over the distant thrum
of main road traffic.

Winter Morning


Lying warmly snug
under the the thick duvet
in curtained darkness
faintly lit by sheets
of orange light at the end
of our driveway,
a rattle of pellets
against the windows
lifts me part way
from the depths of sleep.

Gusts of wind batter
windows, fence, driveway
with icy bullets then
ease off. Yet rain still
gurgles along gutters,
down drain pipes, the
sound of rushing water
from the skies drowned
out again by roaring
gusty winds. Registering
at last the causes
of this cacophony
I sink down again
into warm dark depths
of consciousness.

Brown land is
greening at last !
Relief !


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.

Originally posted 13 December 2015.

The Rubbish Collector


Carried along by
currents of change
in work, relationships,
I found myself living
far from my familiar
climes where we switched
off heating at bedtime,
never used central heating.

The mountains nearby
now made a pleasant
scenic route to work
in the next town. But
scenic snow made the
winter air so icy.
I coughed so much
a senior colleague
lectured me on doctors
and prescriptions.
I crossed a new frontier
warming my bedroom
nightly with a heater.

Final acclimatisation came
when I bought another car
with new lights and
gadgets on its dashboard.
Each winter morning
I drove to work with
heater purring and
freezing temperature
digits brightly glowing.

Now I shivered
with icy cold
in my new car.


Praying Mantis

Praying mantises climb through
the shrubs in the narrow garden
under the front windows
of my little ground floor flat.
Their green shapes with leaf like wings
vanish among rose bush leaves:
long thin males, bulge bellied females
about to disgorge dozens of eggs
all hatching tiny replicas
with narrow flattened faces
and eyes pinned to the sides
of those long thin heads.

The females seeking seclusion
come through my open windows,
climbing the walls to the ceiling,
swaying in the light with
no leaves to shelter them.
We need all their young mantises.
I catch them and drop them out
the window on to the bushes below
where they sway again with
their front legs in praying stance
before climbing down inside
those leafy green lairs.

Praying Mantis

Cathedral Square

After viewing a documentary on the fourth anniversary of 
the Christchurch earthquake on 22 February 2011
at 12.51 pm local time.

Cathedral Square
city business district.
Crowds flowing out of  buildings,
waves of people ebbing and flowing
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 or 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 in the square.
Their cries and groans
go unheeded in the midst
of collapsing walls and roofs
while they huddle in the centre
away from the heaving earth’s
demolition around them.

Originally posted 11 December 2015.

Cathedral Square

Weta On The Foot

Wetas are New Zealand insects, similar in size and shape to crickets, though unrelated.
They give a sharp nip, and the barbs on their back legs draw blood when they kick.

The tabby hunter brings trophies
inside: flapping butterflies,
crunched beetles, desperate birds,
disembowelled worms, struggling wetas.
She stops the bells on her collar ringing
no matter what Mummy does.

Mummy said don’t play with wetas,
they bite, their back legs make your
hand bleed when they kick.

The four year old, so fascinated by bugs,
stood staring at a weta on the floor.
It hopped on to her foot, her parents came
running at her piercing screams.
They tried to calm her, remove the weta,
but she ignored them.

Daddy wrapped one long arm
around her arms and shoulders,
the other long arm
around her legs.

Mummy gripped the leg with one hand
and slowly peeled off the sock.
She kept the sock around the weta,
took it out, tipped it on to a bush.

Clever Mummy !
At last the house was quiet again.
Mummy and Daddy leaned back,
exhausted, on the couch.

Grandad says someone should
explain to the tabby hunter that
wetas are indigenous,
protected by law.
But Tabby doesn’t care.

Weta On The Foot