Category Archives: poems-Purakanui


The unmade bed
The music from the clock-radio that didn’t turn off
The book of poetry you left behind
Made me pause.

The woman of my dreams
Was not jealous of our passion
Your body had lost nothing of its ability
To soar and turn in the cosmic wind.
You left carrying your love
In a basket, and
“I returned to my solitary adventure.”

Purakanui — March, 1980

Ode to Fallen Tree

You once protected this place
With your arms out-stretched
You were the resident god.
The swaying of your branches spoke
Of storms and summer breezes.

But you offended the neighbour’s
One afternoon with a chainsaw he butchered you
Leaving arms and limbs strewn
In an orgy of confusion.

There was no hope for you
Your stumps were grotesque
You would never sway in the wind.
With chainsaw, wedge and Tirflor hoist
I carried out the coup de grace.
You made a silent leap down the hill
Narrowly missing the neighbour’s outside toilet.

When I counted the rings, forty-one
The same age as me!

Purakanui — February, 1980

The Cosmic Man

How did I escape?
How did I manage my life so that
I could look across this inlet
To watch the sun sink behind the mountains
And listen to the birds piercing the silence?
How did I arrange that I could sit
Here on the window-seat and enjoy
Contemplating the topped pine tree that must be
Finally despatched,
While out there peoples’ lives are
Either brief or brutish
Or incarcerated in the mindlessness of suburbia
Eeking out meek lives
Worrying about payments, piles and pensions
Having abandoned all hope of being alive.

Alone? How could one be alone here
When one is part of the cosmos
When one is connected to every part of it
The tides, the sun, the clouds and the trees
There’s Pan and Poseidon, Aries and Aphrodite.

There are those in the ‘under-privileged countries’
That still move with the cosmos
But are they under-privileged
Or are we?

Purakanui — February, 1980

To S

Parting is sweet sorrow
But I know that soon the lacerations
You left on my psyche will heal
To form a fine lace-work pattern of scars.

The label “father”didn’t stick
It didn’t have the primeval glue
Of responsibility.

Besides teaching your child the word
MINE, try others as well

Your comments no longer
Burn my skin like acid.
Take care that you don’t
Do yourself an injury with the sharpness
Of your tongue.

Purakanui — December, 1979

The Woodcutter

She stood there for several minutes
Watching him move with effortless animal ease
Trimming small branches from the trunk of a tree
The axe biting into the wet wood.
Initially her presence went unnoticed
Since she blended into the landscape of hills and trees.

They entered the woodcutter’s cottage
The dew began to form small patches of rust on his tools
While inside she gasped at his powerful strokes.

On the afternoon of the second day
The woodcutter lifted his head from her breast
And looked out on the trees and distant hills
And said: You have sapped my energy.

That evening she left him to the tree
And to his solitude.

Purakanui — September, 1978

To S

I am tired of this holiday
The only sounds I want to hear
Are the sounds of birds at daybreak
The only smells I want to smell
Are the lupins and the pines
The only lights I want to see
Are the stars in the sky.

Three weeks is a long time to spend
In a motel.
I am tired of the Freeway along
The foreshore of the Swan
I am tired of the sounds of air conditioners.
I am not really interested in how much
Rottnest has become like Coney Island
And no matter how good our love-making
Is at night
I am glad I don’t have to live
In this kind of a world.

Perth, South Australia — January, 1978

Weekend at the Batch

Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
White Holden Station wagon arrives
Out pile the kids,
A bony-kneed Dad in shorts,
An overweight Mum in trousers
One petrol-powered lawn-mower
And a small orange yapping dog.

All day the lawn-mower roared as it
Decapitated daisies
To the accompaniment of two squabbling kids
An a small orange yapping dog.

At night the lawn-mower was silenced
As were the kids
But not the small orange yapping dog.

Sunday, 10:30 p.m.
Except the seagulls on the tidal flats
Squabbling over the remains of Mum’s efforts in the kitchen.

Don’t think you are so fucking superior!
We are all poor souls
Working out our separate karmas.

Purakanui — December, 1977