A Hard Drinker

Firmly grasping his packs of ale
and bottle of rum the old man
leaving the liquor store glares at
the policeman checking car warrants
and registrations in the car park.

“You’re waiting to see if I fall over
drunk !” roars the old war veteran.
“Are you drunk ?” asks the policeman.
“You cops just want to stop real men
having a drink !” growls the veteran.

He had drunk hard in his days at war
on the ocean, with his mates at the pub,
and on his back verandah. At hotel
bottle stores he regularly filled up
his car boot with amber liquid supplies.

Just now he remembers courts suspend
licences of drinking drivers, no more
transport to pub or veterans’ club.

Warnings go on records
of obstreperous drivers.

At 88 he would not regain
his licence if he lost it.

He swallows his temper, replies
“No I’m not !” then removes
himself and his liquid supplies.


A Hard Drinker

A Lost Moment

“Give us a loan of your hat !”
the WW II veteran asked his daughter
standing before him in graduate’s mortar
board and gown. The usher had drawn
her across the town hall foyer to her
parents after the graduation ceremony.

She had not expected to see her parents
here, she did not know it mattered.

Her nervous laugh in reply said nothing.
Her father mopped tears from his eyes
seeing in her only the second in his family
to gain a degree. But her survival instincts
drove her to speak cliches then leave.

Too many stomach churning nights at the
dinner table, jealous rages poured over her,
tirades against lazy students protesting
the Vietnam war – she was not one of them.

More rage and fury after she sat her
last exams, went to live with other
young folk, not staying under his roof.

After many school meetings for parents
her mother had told her a degree would
get her a good job – which it did. But
other parts of her life were lost, diminished.

A moment when peace could have
been started – not seen, just lost.

A Lost Moment

Under Father’s Roof

Under her father’s roof the woman
grew up early in the century, going
only to church, to school, to his
mother’s house, then stayed home with
her own mother for fourteen years until
his final illness forced her out to work.

The man too grew up early in the
century with his mother staying
home.  His sisters went to church,
to school, later to work, only leaving
their father’s roof after marriage.

The couple bore children after
world wide conflagration destroyed
the social order of their youth which
the parents constantly angrily mourned.

Outside their home at school, university
and employment the children found
a new world, no more tirades of fear,
moved away from the razor wire
confines of their father’s roof.

In stunned disbelief the parents
saw their grown children leave
as soon as they earned a living.

Why would they do that ?

Under Father’s Roof

Catch 22

A degree would earn her
a good income they told the
young woman. A government
bursary for books and fees,
savings from summer holiday jobs
to pay for living costs if she lived
in her parents’ house paying board.
All balanced neatly on the accounts.

Yet term time day by day was
harder than she could ever have
imagined as she sat in the study
cubicle silently reading, taking notes,
drafting essays, writing final copies,
while the promise shown in her
school days faded slowly away.

Study room silence allowed the
doors of the cupboard of her mind
stuffed full of memories past and
present to gape open. Memories
pouring out, disturbing, displacing
trains of thought needed to produce
logical reasoned expositions of facts
and ideas, proposals, solutions to
thoughtful complex questions.

A degree could help her to leave her
home. an obstacle to that degree.


Catch 22

Farewell Spit

Farewell Spit
a lengthy sandbank curved
across broad Golden Bay
staunch against the surging
ocean behind, damming sand
inside its sheltering bulk.

Conservation staff and volunteers
revive and refloat occasional pods
of stranded whales on its waterline.

Disaster came recently as over four
hundred whales stranded overnight,
three hundred dead by morning.

A nationwide call.  Conservation
staff, local residents, passing
tourists, slept in cars by night

sat with whales by day in shallow
water, holding them upright, pouring
buckets of water on their backs,
talking and singing to whales who
clicked, squeaked, whistled to
humans and each other.

At three high tides they steered
whales out to sea, stood with linked
arms across the bay in shoulder high
water to prevent the whales’ return.

At last for twenty whales, distressed,
exhausted, euthanasia brought relief.

Far out to sea other whales had heard
their calls, crossed the ocean, the beach,
to their aid. Again the rescuers worked
to reverse another stranding.

After three days the last of the whales
returned to sea, the rescuers were
done with their long drawn out task.

10 – 12 February  2017 rescuers worked on a double whale stranding. 
We get whale strandings from time to time in New Zealand, but this
double stranding was far worse than previous strandings, and a 
gut wrenching time for the rescuers.

Farewell Spit

Many Shades Of Green

Delicate greens blend with brown,
yellow, white in fine brush strokes
composing a landscape in many
greens – light, dark, in between.

Trees broad and burly, elegant and
slim,  short and stocky, gather in copses,
windbreaks, over paddocks stretching
across tussocked terraces and hills
edged by sturdy wire and post fences.

Light shimmers on the leaves
rippling in the wind like wavelets
in the breeze on a fast flowing stream.

What a pleasure to have such a
scene painted for me by a
friend for my milestone birthday.

Many Shades Of Green

The Rabbit Next Door

Next door lives a handsome
white rabbit with ginger patches
in a spacious stylish hutch with
a moveable enclosure on a luscious
lawn by the north facing fence under
branches from their neighbour’s trees.

He belongs to their daughter but they
all like to bring him tender weeds,
juicy vegetable chunks. When at
home they pick him up, take him
inside, which he clearly expects.
He was taken to the front garden to
smell the lavender, but road noises
upset him, he was taken inside.

Hopping round the house he is happy
but has been seen on the back door
step gazing thoughtfully at the back
lawn as his nose whiffles fast, this way
and that. Many large cats live nearby,
he needs to be fenced in or escorted
outside but sometimes appears by the
garden shed far from his hutch. The
grass is greener down there but he
interrupts brother’s golfing practice.

No burrowing shows, his paws are
clean. He jiggles his door till the
latch falls down, opening his door
and setting him free.

His family rescue him
from becoming cat dinner.

The Rabbit Next Door

A Call From An Editor

Designated poets, esteemed writers
at a national poetry magazine
scrutinised my submitted poems
among a vast heap of others.

From his faraway megacity office
the editor telephoned to mentor me.
Excited that an eminent literary figure
should call me I jotted down his words.

My mood flattened as he spoke of
writing sounds and words in patterns
and juxtapositions, auditory and visual,
of deftness with obscure metaphors.

What about the people ?  The story ?
I wondered. What about everyday lives
of everyday people in an everyday world ?
Awed by his stature I said nothing.

He told of his writing’s rejection here
seventy years ago, his joy as his style
then his poems were accepted, published
overseas then in our own country.

Now  he was highly regarded by the
highly regarded literati of the west.
Today his style is esteemed, but not mine.

Yet the internet releases me from
the need to find publication in
local and overseas print runs.

The world wide web
brings world wide forums
in a world wide range.

On 29 November 2016 I reblogged “Ordinary Poets” by Carol Allis
which in turn had been posted by “English Literary Geek”.
This account
has now been closed. “Ordinary Poets” can still be viewed on

A Call From An Editor


Throughout her three year contract
the young teacher in 1950’s Fiji
prepared young Fijians at high school
for university and skilled employment
as Fiji grew into the post war world.

Born to young English immigrants
struggling to start married life
far from Mother England’s poverty
she put herself through university
in New Zealand as her parents
supported their children in education
to higher employment.

A young Englishman taught beside her
having put himself through university,
supported by low income parents through
education to higher employment.

The young couple’s three years together
blossomed richly. Yet each craved the
return home to family and homeland
to support their generous parents.

In great anger they separated to
their far distant homelands never
to meet or communicate again.

In her hospital bed twenty years later
she had met no one else who fulfilled
her. As cancer devoured her last days
……she wondered ……what if……
… she had gone home with him.


A Birthday

A bold black email subject line
“……is turning 70……” !?!

A shock greeting in my inbox.

I had become accustomed, privately
within myself to yet another decade.
But this sudden blaring forth quite
dismantled my equilibrium.
Yet I could not object to such happy
good intentions by energetic younger
relatives planning this celebration.

Turning 20 was exciting
then each successive decade was
an uneasy milestone……30, 40, 50, 60.

Father passed in his nineties.
mother’s unhealthy family genes
lasted into her eighties. I may have
two more decade milestones yet.

Public opinion deems us old by 50.
A clear demarcation sets us apart
half my life will be old age.
Employers ignore us after 50.
Unknown young people object if we
join their conversations. How dare we !

But a bright light light has risen
above the horizon.

After years of paying taxes
I am paid a retirement pension.

I am enjoying my old age
with family and friends.

A Birthday