Category Archives: A Poem a Month

Poem 105: Awake the dawn

 Boasting rooster in quick morning light will awake the dawn.
 Blue moon rising in the dead of night will awake the dawn.

 Some children like to snuggle up in warmth and stay in bed,
 Yet they on Christmas day with delight will awake the dawn.

 The disenchanted lover wanders home alone to mope;
 Life has lost its spark, and moans of plight will awake the dawn.

 The forest sleeps, yet creatures roam its depths in well-worn paths;
 Myriads of birds defying quiet will awake the dawn.

 A rosebud waits unopened, well hid in corner garden;
 Its courageous opening petals bright will awake the dawn.

 And Bruce entrapped inside by winter’s callous frozen clutch,
 Spreading wings in spring and taking flight will awake the dawn.

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.

Poem 104: Let no petal

Please recall when times were cloudless;
Then flowers of laughter strewed the way.
Let no petal fall in darkness.

Governments scream in rabid blindness:
This is how you’ll die today.
Please recall when times were cloudless.

Dying grandma faces vastness;
All alone she strives to pray.
Let no petal fall in darkness.

Parents, children, spouses - cheerless;
No held hands; no words to say.
Please recall when times were cloudless.

A little child knows no kindness;
Face the music come what may.
Let no petal fall in darkness.

Uncared for corpses, lifeless, worthless;
Governor’s greatness, no dismay.
Please recall when times were cloudless.
Let no petal fall in darkness.

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.

Cynthia Jobin reads her poetry

Many of you are followers and admirers of the poetry of American Cynthia Jobin. Cynthia died over two years ago and there are recordings on her website of her reading many of the poems.

I was a little concerned that these recordings might eventually disappear, and so with the support of John Looker (who edited the second printed volume of her poetry) and Deborah Bennison of Bennison Books (who published the second volume) I have downloaded all of Cynthia’s readings and organized them on three webpages.

The first webpage follows the order of poems in Song of Paper.

The second webpage follows the order of poems in A Certain Age.

The third has her reading a number of poems that are not in either published volume. The written version of these unprinted poems can be found on her website.

There are links on each webpage to the other two pages, as well as to her website and to Bennison Books. The address to the first page is HERE.

Poem 103: ANZAC Day – Only the dead

(Today is ANZAC Day in New Zealand and Australia, when we remember those who fought in wars. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The date is set on the day of the greatest military loss of both countries in a single day: Gallipoli. The form of this poem is modelled on the Ghazal).

Foolish folk sometimes dream the end of war,
but peacetimes never mean the end of war.

No more dog eat dog; lion and lamb lie down;
is this a sign of being the end of war?

The cosmos consumes itself in chaos;
yet night sky seems serene, the end of war.

Let’s pray that earth will smack of peace, and know
in air, space, land, marine, the end of war.

Poor Bruce repeats old Plato on this day:
Only the dead have seen the end of war.

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.

Poem 102: A Monologue on the Eternal Banquet

And here in heaven at the Eternal Banquet
there’s strawberries and cream.
I’m not fond of strawberries, I once said.
Everyone was shocked. They like strawberries.
Just eat the whipped cream, says one, rather than insult the Cook.
You’d think with all the resources up here and stuff like that
they could provide more variety.
But no! When Adam and Eve arrived they said everyone would want
strawberries and cream. Certainly nothing with apples.
Strawberries three times a day. Full stop. Period. Permanently.

Then Queen Elizabeth the First of England
(she’s got really fat – I mean really really fat)
says that if I want variety I should go to the other place.
Hell, I say, what do they eat down there?
Raw quince and crab apples.
All day and every day with no whipped cream.
They’re all skinny as rakes.
For a special occasion they get an uncooked cooking apple.
Well, I say, it sounds like that other place sucks.
So I get stuck into my strawberries and cream.
I’ve been here two hundred and eleven years now
and have never got used to the diet.

Once in a blue moon, for a special occasion,
we have a big feast;
like the other day when Abraham and Sarah celebrated
their four thousandth year since getting pregnant.
We all got a dry pink wafer cookie
stuck in the strawberry concoction.
Honestly, I crave a hotdog.
I wouldn’t mind if it came poked into the whipped cream.

The other day some visitors popped over from
the Conservative Sector for a social visit.
They took one look and said, Bloody hell!
Is that all you eat? You need to sack the Cook.
So we’re having a meeting about it, all fifteen billion of us.
The angel in charge said a decision has to have a 100% consensus
before any changes can be made around here.
That’s impossible, especially with some of the politicians in our Sector.
I’m not putting much hope on our chances of firing the Cook.
Besides, God loves to personally prepare the strawberries for us Liberals.
It’s the reward we get for being always right.
Bon appétit.

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.

Poem 101: We have fallen

What a thrill it’s been to have walked the Planet Earth
albeit for a while
I watched a murmuration of starlings twirl in evening light
Who could invent such wonder?

We have fallen down too fast

It used be said to not wear green with blue
they do not mix; and yet blue sky
green grass – stab of red cow, flash of white horse
Who could invent such wonder?

We have fallen down too

Glimpse of mountains, clouds,
streams, rivers, seas. Beehives!
Impassable forests! A tiny flower!
Who could invent such wonder?

We have fallen down

The chattering rumble of people,
billions, yet not one the same.
The fecundity of Mother Earth!
Who could invent such wonder?

We have fallen

To create a song, a poem, a story;
to skip and dance, to draw,
to knit a scarf, to spin in wind!
To weed a garden, row a boat,
whisk up eggnog, burn a piece of toast,
pick nectarines, fly a kite! Love!
Who could invent such wonder?

We have

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.

Old Monk’s Habits Die Hard

Today’s scheduled tale – Story 2039 “A Newsworthy Photograph” – shall appear out of sequence on February 6th 2021, as I want to say some stuff for today’s posting!

Thing One – A Passing Shower

I am delighted to report that Iseult has reviewed my novel – A Passing Shower – and given it 4 out of 5 stars! Thank you Iseult! The review can be read HERE – and from there to Iseult’s many other book reviews.

I presume everyone’s mother at some stage – at least in Western European Civilization – created some coconut ice. It’s usually half pink and half white. Well, once upon a time there were 5 pieces of coconut ice and I got 4 of them! To want all 5 would have been greedy, and I would have got smacked by Mother, and 5 probably would have made me sick anyway. So I am thrilled to bits with getting 4 stars! If you haven’t read my novel then you don’t know what you’re missing out on. It can be accessed HERE for free.

All sorts of important (and intelligent) people have reviewed my novel apart from Iseult, such as Uma, Yvonne, the late Cynthia, the late Pauline, Lisa, Ian, Andrea, Bianca, Chris. The high percentage of reviewers who have since passed on could well be a hint to you to get cracking before lateness catches up!

I realize that the novel is post-modern and not to everyone’s taste. The narrator is unreliable – in fact she’s a total chaotic mess (try writing a narrator like that! – in fact try reading a narrator like that!) As I said in a comment to Iseult, I once sent the first 50 pages to an agent asking if he would be interested to which he kindly replied with something like, ‘’I think after the first 50 pages I’d get totally pissed off.” The choice is yours!

Thing Two – No More Can Fit Into the Evening

I had said to an editor (THE Editor of Editors – ahem – in fact there are two of them) that I would do something I’m no good at and write a review. Well, here we are although I don’t have any social media network connections to flay about in except for this!

The book is called No More Can Fit Into the Evening: An Anthology of Diverse Voices. This volume of 369 pages by 39 poets from all over is edited by Thomas Davis and Standing Feather for Four Windows Press based in Wisconsin.

There are a number of poets featured you would possibly know from the blogging world. There is Bruce Goodman (who appears far too often on my blog and has six poems), the late Cynthia Jobin (who has 8 poems), John Looker (who has 10 poems), Ethel Mortenson Davis (who has 11 poems), and Thomas Davis (who has 9 poems). Other poets within the volume probably frequent the blogs but I’m not that good at spotting mountain lions in long grass. Having a decent lot of poems from each writer is a brilliant way of getting the flavour of each poet. Rather than simply sip a single martini one gets to hog the whole bar.

My personal poetry-writing voyage is a little chequered. When I was a kid at school – around about aged 15 in 1965 – a “famous” (still famous in New Zealand although dead) poet – James K. Baxter came and spoke to us. He said “Practise writing poetic forms for twenty years and then write your poem.” I attacked poetic forms with a vengeance. And then a couple of years later I showed a poem to another “famous” poet (who shall remain nameless) who pronounced that the poem was a load of crap. I didn’t write another poem for fifty or so years, and then my blogging friend, Cynthia Jobin said “Why not?” So I started writing poems again, and again resorted often to traditional poetic forms.

I am not too good at always comprehending contemporary poetry – and as the title of this volume says, it is “An Anthology of Diverse Voices”. So what I am doing is taking a poem a day – in no particular order – and reading and pondering it each morning. That way I think I am learning to see what each poet is doing and also coming to some understanding of how some contemporary poetry works. It is rather rewarding! A bit like a monk doing half an hour’s meditation each morning.

So I am nowhere near finishing the volume and feel a bit rude recommending it before I’ve finished reading it. However, I can’t wait a year. I should really chat about some of the poems I have pondered, but won’t because you can do it yourself! The voices/styles/concepts/methods in this anthology are so varied and wonderful that I think it’s an ideal book to take a poem regularly and ponder. After all, of course, it’s not a novel! It is a meditation book of modern poetry – even for those who are not too much into poetry. I can really give it no better recommendation than that. As the poet Robin Chapman says in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 1946 (p.102):

It’s the morning of the world
I want to tell you about…

Available at Amazon and all sorts of other places. Four Windows Press is HERE.

Finally, by inference, a story: As one of my students years ago said – he was the captain of the school’s top cricket team and a fairly solid sort of bloke – “Thanks for making us read Wuthering Heights. It was bloody good.”

Poem 100: Falls into silence

The lake, as waterfowl take flight, falls into silence.
Limitless stars appear; the night falls into silence.

Sports fields and schoolyards ring with songs of children’s laughter;
Summer lawn with no such delight falls into silence.

The burgeoning kowhai tree in spring weeps golden tears;
Winter shade shedding lustre bright falls into silence.

Parents watch each child leave to face uncertain futures;
The pathway, steps that fall from sight, falls into silence.

Lovers for the first time disagree on little things;
Each, baffled how to solve such plight, falls into silence.

Trains approach with clatter and clashing of steel on steel;
Tumult passes; the scene of might falls into silence.

And Bruce, his time perhaps nearing certain certain-end,
Defying fading of the light, falls into silence.

To hear the poem read aloud click HERE.
Apologies for poor quality – broken mic and wrong mic settings! – I have to crawl under my desk to make a recording, which would make for an excellent photograph should I know how to operate the camera’s time-lapse button.

Poem 99: At last! A poem for academics!

See the new moon up-slip
and flare its vicious whips of light
across the back of night.
The moon bears no delight, but brings
dull rays of hurts and stings
made yesterday. It sings cold songs
old songs that don’t belong
if we are to move on and make
a fresh and novel take
in the lake while baking a cake.

To hear this poem being read click HERE!

Apologies for poor audio – broken mic.

Poem 98: On a child leaving home

All shall know a time of knowing raindrops on the window.
Storm clouds break apart, bestowing raindrops on the window.

Woven branches of a boulder river’s plaited pattern
echo tangled paths of flowing raindrops on the window.

No sunshine in this early morning’s churlish rooster’s call.
Stay in bed! The cock’rel’s crowing “Raindrops on the window!”

Some folk imbibe a fear-filled brew, and full of sad dismay,
dread the storm, dislike the growing raindrops on the window.

The cellist plays a longing air of now-gone, buoyant years,
enthralled in thought, rapt in bowing raindrops on the window.

Bruce knows the time has come for you to step from where you grew.
Blurred sight hides your pathway going. Raindrops on the window.

Listen to this poem being read HERE!

Apologies for the poor audio quality… broken mic.