Friday, April 26, 2013

As my Sister Lay Dying


I crochet the rug
she had begun for her youngest son. 

She rests against the headrest
propped on pillows
her eyes closed as an afternoon soap
plays its family dramas. 

I twine the purple wool
across my fingers
and hope my stitches are as neat and firm
as hers. 

The purple yarn is dark and luxurious
too opulent
for a young man to throw across
the back seat of his car.
Three children try to save a creek from the developers. Suitable for children 7-11





Monday, April 22, 2013


As My Sister Lay Dying 


We have secrets, my sister and I. 

At sixteen
she left without telling our mother
to live with our father in the Outback. 

It seared our mother to the bone
when she found the note
on the kitchen table. 

My sister, my father’s favourite,
found our parents marriage break up
particularly devastating. 

She hurt all her life
she had wounded our mother.
I haven't told anyone about it,
she said
Not even my children.
Substitute Bride - Regency novel

Saturday, April 20, 2013

the Wolf and the Riding Hoods


The twins, Catalina and Philippa, were on their way through the stretch of bush between their house and their grandparents' farm.
"Do you think we'll meet a wolf?" Catalina asked as she jumped from log to log.
"We might." Philippa put down the basket their mother had packed beside one of the fallen logs: the log had settled across two larger ones and formed a nice little bridge.
The girls walked along its narrow surface, their arms outstretched, hands spread, balancing.          

Arthur drove along the slushy track, wet from the morning's rain, looking for Leggatt's farm. He wondered if their bit of insurance was worth going out of his way. Rounding a bend in the road, he saw ahead of him, two little figures clad in red raincoats and hats, walking along a fallen log. He stopped when he reached them.
"Hi, there, chicks," he called, grinning as he wound down the window. Though he was nearing sixty, Arthur liked to keep up with what he thought was the latest jargon of the younger set. 
The girls stared at him then said in unison, "Hello."
Arthur switched off the engine. "Where are you going?"
"We're going to see grandma," one of the little girls said.
"Where does your grandma live?"
“She lives in a house on the other side of the forest.” She pointed to the track behind her, which led into the forest. “We’re having a sleepover with her and Granddad tonight.”
Arthur’s eyes, set in a pudgy red face, glinted with expectation. “I’ll give you a lift. It’s a long way for two little girls to go by themselves.” He leant over and opened the door of the car.
The little girls jumped down from the log. One of them picked up a basket. They stood with the log between them and Arthur. 

Joe Hennessey builds a sheep station in the north of WEstern Australia for his heirs.
Wind from Danyari

Monday, April 15, 2013




Young Burne-Jones and William Morris
rented rooms in Red Lion Square
near their mentor, Rossetti. 

They wanted to furnish their rooms
in the spirit of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.
Not for them
Stick-back kitchen chairs
Beechwood Swing Rockers,
Bentwood, Windsor and the Sheraton style. 

Morris designed tall backed chairs
made from deal at Tommy Baker's cabinet shop
on Christopher Street. 

I imagine Burne-Jones bringing to life
the brave Sir Galahad
the knight who had no equal,
painting the back of a medieval chair
from images of Morris' poems.
And Rossetti coming to visit,
taking up a brush for amusement,
painting the unfaithful Gwendolen
of the golden hair. 

Morris kept the kettle boiling on the hob
poured cups of tea,
chatting with his companions,
not dreaming the chairs would reside one day
in America's Delaware Museum. 

What would they have thought of chairs
made of Malaysia's rainforests
and plastic chairs from China
pressed out in their millions.

Detective Matt Allenby finds he is falling in love with one of his suspects. 



Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Plumbago Hedge

The Plumbago Hedge 

Our mother grew a plumbago hedge.
The mauve wispy flowers moved in the hot still air
And was always in need of trimming.
We want some privacy, our mother said
When the next door neighbour came home drunk.
We sat into the late evening
Watching the picture crowd go home.
I'd forgotten how hot it was in Northam.
We ran a milking cow down the back on our half acre.
My brothers took turns in milking
 and left bowls of milk on the back of the Metters.
Our mother scooped the thick clotted cream
Over stewed black plums
Picked from the overhanging branches of the neighbour's tree.
A high steel fence separates out neighbours this second time round.
The air conditioners hammer into the night.

 Crossroads at Isca - novel set in Roman Britain


Tuesday, April 9, 2013



They sit in plush leather chairs
In glass plated offices
These high priests of Industry
and make their offers. 

My hand is pale upon the sheet
As I measure the cost of a life. 

Husband, children, mother, father
Sister, brother.
We played in the sun
Picnicked in cool gorges,
sang away summer nights
thinking it would last forever. 

The Reaper too,
Sang his song
Hidden from us,
by time. 

One by one
Unasked, he came for them
scorning the three score years and ten,
tearing them away from life,
from family, from friends. 

The nurse is jolly
Pumping pillows, asking if
I'm ready to see my son.
He comes with new creases on his brow.
There is fear in his eyes
When he tells of the lesions on his lung. 

He grasps my hand
Seeking reassurance, begging comfort.
I feel his strength and terror
but I am attuned to them
who have gone
as I wait
for the Reaper's song.




Coming if Hippolyta

Coming of Hippolyta  - short story

Madge Kelly went onto the back verandah to empty the teapot on the hydrangea growing in an old tub by the wooden steps. In the darkness, she visualized the plant's lush blue flowers: to her, it was an old friend.
She had bought the plant as a cutting in a jam tin from a stall in town the year she married Ern and had propagated it many times, but the parent plant meant more to her than its offspring growing around her garden and in the neighbours' gardens.
She glanced to that part of the evening sky where the planet Venus usually appeared.
Below the planet, another bright star suddenly materialized. Madge thought it was the light of a jet, but it moved too fast. To Madge's startled gaze, it grew larger and brighter while she watched and seemed to land beyond the strip of bush in the north paddock.
Ern, her husband, called from the kitchen, "Hurry up, Madge. We're waiting for our tea."
Madge backed away from Venus and tripped over the doorstep into the kitchen. "I think I've just seen a spaceship land."
Her two sons, Kev and Ron, looked startled, and then laughed. "You read too many stories, Mum," said Kev, the eldest son.
Madge gazed timidly at him, amazed she’d produced this huge young man who towered head and shoulders over her and was already overweight at twenty-two.
Ron, the younger son, who was nearly as large as his brother, jumped to his feet. His chair went flying backwards. "I want to see this spaceship of yours, Mum," he said, pushing past her on his way to the door.
Madge winced as the door slammed after him.
"You're a fool, Madge," Ern said good naturedly from his place at the head of the table.
A few minutes later, Ron stamped back into the kitchen. "There's no spaceship out there, Mum."
Read rest of coming of Hippolyta on

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Waiting Women





                        She saw the young woman
Seated next to a lamp
A painting by Harunobu
And knew it was her
Waiting for her lover. 

In her case
He was her boss.
He didn't say
He would divorce his wife
But she hoped he would. 

Sometimes she saw a news item
About him and his wife
At the ballet or opera
And once at a political dinner. 

She smoked non-stop
With a bottle of Chardonnay
At her elbow
Listening for his steps
waiting for him
looking like the young woman
waiting next to the lamp.

Detective Matt allenby investigates a murder and finds he is falling in love with one of his suspects